The fact that no group of disaffected Washington insiders have even attempted to form a centrist third party is, in itself, a pretty strong argument that all the insiders already know the game is rigged. There’s no chance of a moderate third party gaining significant support anymore. The time was ripe, even just a few years ago, but as this article about the decline of the Blue Dog Democrats — the conservative wing of the Democratic party — points out, voters are voting out moderates.
There is an element of irony to this; the Blue Dog’s centrism was directly responsible for the toning down of some of the most progressive aspects of the original House version of the Affordable Care Act (AKA healthcare reform) and the elimination of the “public option.” Republican and moderate voters rewarded their centrism by voting them out. Despite some of these members’ popularity, the Democratic brand in their districts had been too tainted.
As the first commenter on the above article mentions, the same is true of moderate Republicans. Moderates on both sides of the aisle are being ostracized by their parties and shunned by voters (partially as the result of decreased financial support from the party apparatus, which means less TV ads).
Cast out of their jobs and their respective parties these wandering politicians and their staff would no doubt commiserate at the bar and start unifying into a cohesive new political force, right?
Wrong. There has been no serious attempt at centrist third party and it’s really suspicious that there has not been one. The idea is so obvious that you have to wonder if the insiders are afraid of something. Instead of the natural fractioning and reassembly of a multi-party system we are watching the two parties get more extreme and less able to agree on anything (except their mutual preference for a two-party system), so it leaves us with a completely deadlocked Congress. Voters on both sides thought the solution to the financial crisis was to swing the ship of state to their side, but in the end we just kept going straight. The so-called “super-committee” set up to shave trillions off our debt failed, just as it was designed to do. The rocky shoreline is now dead-ahead.
Who can turn this ship? Obama? No, he has no real power. With a completely deadlocked Congress the president is rather impotent. Any radical solutions on Obama’s part will be crushed with fervor by the right and with meekness by the paid-for left. The number of uncorrupt, intelligent and generally decent congress-critters probably numbers less than 100. The other 435+ will simply outvote the patriots and the zombie system will continue on its merry way towards the threatening shoals.
I wrote earlier that the chance of forming a third party to rebut the extremism of both parties is now zero. That’s for two reasons: First, the jagged shores are too close and second, the Occupy Wall Street has already claimed the political center and simultaneously radicalized it.
I must admit, I’m delighted by the movement’s acceptance by the mainstream population. Around 70% approve of or don’t mind the protesters nationally and 87% of New Yorkers are okay with their branch of Occupy Together. That’s a fantastic number for a protest group, and the weasel-faced party apparatchiks in Washington have surely taken notice by now. There must be a barely-controlled sense of panic in their hearts as they notice that OWS is out-polling Obama, either party, Congress (which recently came in at a laughable 9% approval rate) or basically any other institution like journalism, banks or the Supreme Court.
Despite the general perception that Occupy Wall Street is a leftist group, most of the people actually camping out are political independents. That means they either don’t vote because they think it’s rigged or they vote mostly third party and for the occasional mainstream politician who has won their support. Barack Obama was that candidate in 2008; can he be the one again in 2012? Things look doubtful, but Obama has wisely positioned himself near the group that is, essentially, more popular than he is. Will that lead to a more radical campaign platform, even one featuring bold, but practical solutions to the problems we face?
Anything is possible, but the conventional wisdom says … what? What does the conventional wisdom say we should do in a time like this?
There isn’t any “conventional” wisdom for these unconventional times. And any attempt at forming a moderate coalition will be crushed by the two-party apparatus — the only time they work in unison is when the two party system is threatened.
Humanity is facing a triple crisis: The most powerful nation is politically deadlocked and fading fast, the world’s economy is deeply sick and appears to be close to slipping into a coma from which it can never fully return, and the planet’s environment is calling out in pain and metamorphosing at an alarming rate. We are changing, but into what?
Maybe we should take a look at the birth-place of civilization as we contemplate its demise. In Egypt, there is hope.
First Egypt united to overthrew their rancid dictator in-all-but-name Hosni Mubarak, and now they have wisely and quickly sniffed out Field Marshal Tantawi’s attempts to subvert the transition to democracy by grabbing more power for the military. The people are back in Tahrir Square, protesting and dying for their freedom. It is heartening to see such a brave stand for democracy in Egypt, something we haven’t seen in America in a long, long time. But the Occupy Wall Street movement is borrowing the energy and idealism of the people of Egypt — and Syria and Tunisia and Yemen and even Israel! There are tent cities springing up all over the tiny state as its economy is squeezed by the global crunch.
We are in global revolution territory, folks.
The Occupy Together website shows just how global the movement really is. There are activities happening on every continent. There’s even an Occupy Antactica. Seriously.
As usual, the politicians are way behind the people. I’m not sure how much time is left before the 3 major crises’ Rubicons are reached, but somebody needs to do something before it’s too late. I don’t expect the current economic system to survive 2012. It might not even survive 2011 with the way things look in Europe. Every major economy is running on fumes, even China’s. We now stare down the precipice of complete and total collapse.
The powerlessness of Obama’s office notwithstanding, it is still an important center of symbolism in America. If he can find a way to tap into the Occupy Wall Street anger to effect real change in Washington it could be the trigger that’s needed to unleash the new world. The old economic system has to die, and politics-as-usual has to find a new normal. Then we can clean up this planet, unleash the hidden technologies suppressed by the oily elite and begin our journey into a Star Trek-esque future instead of a Terminator-esque future. Until the kidney-stone that is the global elite is removed from its obstructive position there will be little to no positive change on this world. To that end we must unify, occupy and reclaim the sword of liberty.
So rejoice, for the spirit of democracy still flows through the people. That is enough for me to sleep a little sounder at night, even as Late-Stage American Capitalism approaches the End-Stage. I hope there is a solution waiting in the wings (and I think there is), because this was is teetering on the edge. When it falls, Occupy Wall Street will only get more powerful. So you might as well occupy the future now.
President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden with great formality and solemnity tonight. This news has the potential to change our nation’s direction for good. It will be interesting to see what happens next as the global hoax that is the War on Terror (war of terror, more like) is getting wound down. That seems to be the natural course for things to take: We set out to kill bin Laden and we finally did it nearly 10 years later. It makes narrative sense to wrap this story up and move on.
And that’s what it is: A narrative, a story. The president took no questions and presented no evidence, be it DNA, a scrap of clothing, a gun, a flack jacket or even a Quran. No, what he did was tell a story. First, he told the story of 9/11, using the simplest terms and the broadest strokes, but identifying al-Qaeda as the perpetrator. Then he told a tale of how he was given intel on bin Laden’s possible whereabouts, followed up and eventually gave the order to move in and capture/kill.
The whole government-sponsored astroturfing of the al-Qaeda brand is an interesting tale in itself. If you have time I highly recommend watching The Power of Nightmares, a BBC documentary about how fear is used to control the populace and how threats like Al-Qaeda are magnified or even created in order to manipulate the masses.
That’s how things went during the Bush and Blair years, but we’re seeing a new path emerging ahead. Is Obama showing the way out of the War on Terror’s Twisted Hall of Mirrors?
A Chance for Obama to Show his Quality
That’s what he has the chance to do. Will he seize it? It all comes down to what you think about Obama. He’s a tough guy to figure out. Don’t listen to the Birthers and the racists and the Islamophobes and the knee-jerk conservatives. Hate Obama if you want, but you should at least take the time to figure out why you hate him. There’s certainly a lot to take issue with on civil liberties, the escalation in Afghanistan, his dopey dismissal of the marijuana legalization movement, the limping economy and the way his administration has handled Bradley Manning. But I’m not convinced we can paint Obama with the tyrant brush. Tea Partiers who compare him with Hitler are out of their minds. GW Bush killed probably over a million people in Iraq and Afghanistan all told, but Obama has only a few hundred deaths by his order (which is not great, but seems to be par the course for American presidents). This new death is probably more of an illusion than reality, but it seems to be a lie with a somewhat more noble purpose than Bush’s lies leading to the invasion of Iraq. Obama is no saint, but painting him as a sinner like the Bushes is bit much.
Who is Barack Obama? A smooth operator, for one. He knows the game of politics as well as anybody. He has a way of floating above the fray. His “take the high road” approach is not an occasional tactic; it’s at the core of his strategy as a politician. But there are many times when a politician can only take the “somewhat less than the lowest part of the gutter road” because the political establishment has aligned itself in such a way that there are no good options. This happens quite a bit, unfortunately. The whole Beltway establishment is invested in the War on Terror and the Hunt for Bin Laden. You can’t just show up on the first day in office and pull the plug on the media’s favorite storyline. You’ve got to write the next couple chapters, as Obama did by ramping up our forces in Afghanistan — the Afghan Surge.
Next Obama set up the operation that would provide the cover to announce what he wanted to announce 2.5 years ago, but couldn’t because telling the truth in Washington is a good way to get mocked and ridiculed — or even assassinated.
No doubt bin Laden has been dead for quite some time; running around with a dialysis machine while being chased by American special forces in the wasteland of Tora Bora is not a good way to extend your lifespan. Around 2003 or 2004 Osama bin Laden stopped making videos… so the CIA and Intelcenter started making some fake videos for him! Most likely he was dead by then but the Bushies wanted to continue using Osama to spread fear and justify the War on Terror so they kept it quiet. Benazir Bhutto mentioned that Bin Laden was dead and managed to get assassinated herself shortly thereafter.
Stories Matter. Evidence? Not so much.
Was Obama able to procure bin Laden’s body? Who knows, but the physical evidence doesn’t really matter that much from a political point of view. The evidence has never mattered. There was never any evidence directly connecting bin Laden with 9/11 any way. The FBI never even put it on his wanted poster. There was never a good explanation for why 2 planes hit 2 buildings and yet 3 buildings fell down. A lot of people don’t even know about WTC Building 7 even though it was a 40+ story office building that hosted office space for the CIA, SEC, Secret Service and many more. A lot of people don’t know that the BBC reported that the building had collapsed before it did, despite it happening at 5 in the afternoon after some minor fires.
Evidence, I’m afraid, does not matter in Washington. What matters is the ability to tell stories and have people believe you. George W. Bush told a story about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The story turned out to not be true later, but it was too late by then. That story had given the neo-cons the cover they needed to invade, and once that was done they cast it aside and didn’t bother to defend its veracity anymore.
Stories are powerful. They don’t even have to be plausible to get us hooked. Remember the story about bin Laden hiding in huge James Bond villain-esque underground fortress with cave entrances that Donald Rumsfeld told? Yeah, that was another fake story. But it worked, didn’t it?
Osama bin Laden was our bogeyman, our Emmanuel Goldstein, our Ernst Blofeld, our Commie-Nazi enemy par excellence. He was straight out of a James Bond movie and the mainstream media went wild with his tale, elevating him to Darth Vader status in our collective imagination. The stories were endless and they all came back to fear — that is if this guy seemed remotely threatening to you (he always seemed a bit fey and soft to me). The story always ended with the government needing more power to fight this shadowy enemy. Don’t ask questions, just let the nice man grope you at the airport.
The great thing about imaginary wars is that you can imagine a conclusion to them whenever you want. That seems to be what Obama has done to his near namesake, Osama. Now the story is over. People can start to relax, right? I’ve seen a bunch of people on Twitter asking if we still have to take our shoes off at the airport.
“Can we travel with big shampoo again??!”
“Guy on CNN, “Killing Osama ends the war on Terrorism.” Yeah, um, does that mean I can have more than 3.4oz of liquids in my carry on?”
“Ok. So *now* can we start the 21st century?”
“Is gas still $4+? :/”
It’s time to end this story and start a new one. A better one.
In a brilliant move to avoid being discovered, the Obama administration has said that bin Laden’s body will be treated in accordance with Islamic law. That means it will be buried within 24 hours.
Update: They claim they buried him at sea! No one will ever find the body now! So, we hunt for this guy for almost 10 years and first thing we do after catching him is chuck his body over the side of a boat? Okay…. (By the way, Abbottabad, where the operation took place, is hundreds of miles from the ocean.) I did some quick research on Islamic Burial Law and guess what — burial at sea is only permissible if the corpse would start to decay or cause problems:
620. * It is obligatory to bury a dead body in the ground, so deep that its smell does not come out and the beasts of prey do not dig it out, and, if there is a danger of such beasts digging it out then the grave should be made solid with bricks, etc.
621. If it is not possible to bury a dead body in the ground, it may be kept in a vault or a coffin, instead.
622. The dead body should be laid in the grave on its right side so that the face remains towards the Qibla.
623. * If a person dies on a ship and if there is no fear of the decay of the dead body and if there is no problem in retaining it for sometime on the ship, it should be kept on it and buried in the ground after reaching the land. Otherwise, after giving Ghusl, Hunut, Kafan and Namaz-e-Mayyit it should be lowered into the sea in a vessel of clay or with a weight tied to its feet. And as far as possible it should not be lowered at a point where it is eaten up immediately by the sea predators. [emphasis mine]
It would’ve been perfectly acceptable to keep the body in a coffin until the Navy returned it to American shores. Instead, they decided to dispose of the evidence — if there even was a body in the first place. It’s perfect — they don’t have to show us anything, except maybe some grainy photographs a few weeks later. This is a smart move on Obama’s part; Islam provides cover for the quick burial (or at least enough to keep Islam-ignorant Americans satisfied) and Obama can pretend he did it to appease Muslims. He also made a point of saying we were not at war with Islam during his speech. Most Americans won’t question the obvious because they’re so glad to finally be rid of Bin Laden and Muslims won’t raise a stink in the hopes that America will stop persecuting them.
Obama is finally mopping up the remnants of the Bush administration’s horrible stench. The Global War on Terror, the Invasion of Iraq, the Hunt for Bin Laden, the Crusade Against Islam — all of these elaborate tales are being given their dénouement. And all on the anniversary of the announcement of Hitler’s death in 1945, too. It all seems so staged, but Obama has to play the game if he wants to change the rules. And now that he has successfully wrapped up Bush’s parade of lies Obama will reap the benefits of it in his approval rating. It also buys him more time to sort out the economy, which was teetering on the edge of utter collapse. Obama, in his deceitful way, has given us hope.
Are we finally free from the clutches of the powerful cabal that still strangles the world under the economic tyranny wielded by the Federal Reserve’s fiat money system? No, but we do have some breathing room and the wind at our backs for once.
I must be getting so old and cynical that I’m not really bothered by Obama’s go-along to get-along deception, perhaps because he understands the power of stories and how they can affect our collective mood. Obama has given us the happy ending we wanted when this story started 10 years ago. Who cares if it wasn’t a true ending? The beginning wasn’t true and neither was the middle. It was all a big fairy tale to cause fear, mistrust and anger, which the neo-cons could then use to make one last stab at complete world domination. But they failed, and now they’ve let Obama act as a Presidential Pooper-Scooper and clean up the office for the next deranged neo-fascist warmonger. But Obama is making the most of his role and moving us forward in a way that might push him to an easy re-election (given that the GOP’s leading candidates are either punchlines or wallpaper) and spare us another dip into madness for awhile. If he plays his cards right he might just tell us enough stories to permanently put the American oligarchy out of business. We’ll see. It’s a lot to ask of a guy, but these are stressful, dangerous times. We’re staring at so many economic, political and environmental problems that to do nothing is suicide. The Shadow Government thrives in the darkness. But expose it to the light and it shrivels up like a snake’s skin. Obama needs to seize this moment and move forward boldly to push his agenda (which manifestly seems to be much more positive than Bush’s even though Obama is not perfect by any stretch).
It’s strange that he’s been parrying with a man named Trump recently over his birth certificate. First he laid down the long-form certificate in question (a low-res PDF…), and how he’s played his presidential trump card to great effect, with perfect timing and excellent execution.
All Part of the Plan
He even seems to be trying to make friends with Pakistan, praising the country for its help (despite not clearly indicating that he asked permission to launch such a mission in their country) and hopefully signaling a withdrawal from that country’s western mountain-land. In another amazing “coincidence”, Pakistan/US relations are at an all-time low after CIA agent Raymond Davis killed two ISI agents on the streets of Islamabad and was arrested (and outed as CIA) by the Pakistanis. Obama really had no choice but to end the charade since the CIA could no longer freely operate in Pakistan; hundreds agents were being kicked out by the local government (there are supposedly 3,000 CIA spooks operating in Pakistan — and that’s the official number! One can only imagine how many there really are). Now that Obama has done so, he has the political cover necessary to drastically scale back the CIA’s operation in Pakistan and eventually get us out of Afghanistan, too. We’re looking at a whole new national security paradigm.
In another timing “coincidence” Obama just reshuffled his national security team as Secretary of Defense Gates retires again and Leon Panetta replaces him, who, as head of the CIA, needs to be replaced, which opens the door for Petraeus to step into the role. And that’s not the only ground-shaking national security event that has taken place in the last week or so! There was a new national security grand strategy floated by the office of Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces (all the heads of each branch of the military). It replaces the “containment” strategy that the US used during the Cold War — and even afterwards since it was not replaced, only tweaked for the War on Terror era, which is now ending. The new document is credited to a Mr. Y, the pseudonymous follower of the Containment Strategy’s Mr. X. The new document suggests ways to shrink the military and completely realign our national security posture. Look at these 5 key strategic shifts:
From control in a closed system to credible influence in an open system.
From containment to sustainment.
From deterrence and defense to civilian engagement and competition.
From zero sum to positive sum global politics/economics.
From national security to national prosperity and security.
A narrative is a story. A national strategic narrative must be a story that all Americans can understand and identify with in their own lives. America’s national story has always see-sawed between exceptionalism and universalism.
A New Hope?
Obama is ending the Bush-era story of terror and beginning a new narrative of peace. It’s hard to overstate just how incredibly important this change is to our nation. Prepare for a couple weeks of breathless analysis from the media. No doubt few people will point out how ridiculous the whole story is — it’s too much fun to ruin it with reality. Nobody will question why Navy Seals were involved (in the most mountainous and landlocked part of Pakistan), or how Osama managed to live in a million dollar mansion undetected for months (even years) and nobody will question a dialysis patient supposedly firing his gun at US troops (but missing — bad guys have bad aims, right Hollywood?) or that Osama was hiding just 50 miles from the capital of Pakistan. But that’s besides the point. The point is that we have a chance to write a new future that doesn’t include the paranoia, aggression and hatred that the Bush admin’s narrative did. We can unify the world under peace instead of terror. Let’s all celebrate this happy news, even if it is totally fraudulent. Why? Because buried at sea along with Osama Bin Laden is the War on Terror, the Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan and the whole wretched Bush presidency. Good riddance to them all.
Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead!
This story is old and played out. Let’s write a new one that includes peace and unity throughout the world… and beyond.
Sources familiar with the program say that the government’s data gathering has been overzealous and probably conducted in violation of federal law and the protection from unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.
According to a senior government official who served with high-level security clearances in five administrations, “There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.” He and other sources tell Radar that the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention. [emphasis mine]
Are you on the list? You have no way of knowing. There’s no way to reason with them, to tell them you’re not a threat. There’s no recourse, no due process, no rights.
This is the dark heart of our government, silently beating away in the darkest corner of a military base somewhere deep underground. There are people in position who long for (or at least plan for) the chance to take power in the next emergency. The Constitution would be suspended, Congress rendered impotent, martial law declared and cities locked down.
Fear. This government fears its citizens, not because they’re all terrorists, but because many of them still believe in democracy. Such people are dangerous. Believing in the Constitution might be enough to get you on the list.
Let’s imagine a harrowing scenario: coordinated bombings in several American cities culminating in a major blast—say, a suitcase nuke—in New York City. Thousands of civilians are dead. Commerce is paralyzed. A state of emergency is declared by the president. Continuity of Governance plans that were developed during the Cold War and aggressively revised since 9/11 go into effect. Surviving government officials are shuttled to protected underground complexes carved into the hills of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Power shifts to a “parallel government” that consists of scores of secretly preselected officials. (As far back as the 1980s, Donald Rumsfeld, then CEO of a pharmaceutical company, and Dick Cheney, then a congressman from Wyoming, were slated to step into key positions during a declared emergency.) The executive branch is the sole and absolute seat of authority, with Congress and the judiciary relegated to advisory roles at best. The country becomes, within a matter of hours, a police state.
Why? Why do we need to become a police state in order to become “secure”? Well, I already mentioned it above; the people who put these COG plans together are not patriots. They are traitors who wish to dispense with the annoyances of representative government and move instead to a system where everything is much smoother… for those in power.
It’s strange that they would throw 200 years of liberty at the first sign of trouble … if you don’t know who these people are. Notice who gets protected in the scenario above. They aren’t saving the Constitution, they’re saving their own asses. They don’t have contingency plans in place to ensure that citizens’ rights are upheld; no, they’re only concerned with maintaining their power and their control over us.
It’s not necessary that the government be saved. We can start a new one and Lord knows it’ll be better than the one we’ve got. But the one we’ve got is intent on saving its own skin, Constitution and Bill of Rights be damned. This isn’t a Continuity of Liberty plan. This is a Discontinuation of Liberty plan.
The totality of this plan, the way every tactically-important aspect has been planned for seizure and “continuity”, is to me indicative of Totalitarianism. The state and those in power can’t even imagine why we wouldn’t want the government to control everything. The idea that we could survive just fine without a bloated Federal government doesn’t even occur to them.
You know, the United States of America was originally supposed to be an alliance amongst soveriegn states. If something bad happens in Washington D.C. that shouldn’t directly affect Arizona or Minnesota, except as far as Federal money is concerned (the main tool by which the Federal government has tightened its control over the states).
Realize this: We don’t need a strong Federal government! We have state and local governments to take care of things important to every American; things like roads, power, water, communications and other services.
And who’s planning all this stuff anyway? Surely a competent agency with a devotion to civil liberties, right?
Haha, just kidding. You know we’re fucked: It’s FEMA!
Under law, during a national emergency, FEMA and its parent organization, the Department of Homeland Security, would be empowered to seize private and public property, all forms of transport, and all food supplies. The agency could dispatch military commanders to run state and local governments, and it could order the arrest of citizens without a warrant, holding them without trial for as long as the acting government deems necessary.
Well, I guess I should look at the silver lining: FEMA will probably be just an incompetent at taking our liberties away as at helping those in need… But that’s probably optimistic on my part. The reason FEMA sucks at disaster relief is because it was never really set up to be a benevolent agency; the idea behind FEMA was always this: Seizing control of the nation during an emergency.
This is the real purpose of the War on Terror. It’s to get us used to the idea that the government needs to step in and take over when things get rough. What they don’t tell you is that they’re intentionally creating a culture of fear to make the poisonous medecine go down easier, and they’re probably working the other end of things too, creating the conditions for terrorists to thrive so they’ll launch attacks and trigger the COG plans that were the whole point of the War on Terror in the first place. So, like the War on Drugs, the WOT is reall just a War on Liberty.
All this brings us back to the Main Core database:
Another well-informed source—a former military operative regularly briefed by members of the intelligence community—says this particular program has roots going back at least to the 1980s and was set up with help from the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has been told that the program utilizes software that makes predictive judgments of targets’ behavior and tracks their circle of associations with “social network analysis” and artificial intelligence modeling tools.
“The more data you have on a particular target, the better [the software] can predict what the target will do, where the target will go, who it will turn to for help,” he says. “Main Core is the table of contents for all the illegal information that the U.S. government has [compiled] on specific targets.” An intelligence expert who has been briefed by high-level contacts in the Department of Homeland Se
curity confirms that a database of this sort exists, but adds that “it is less a mega-database than a way to search numerous other agency databases at the same time.”
The fact that there are 8 million of us in this database is nothing less than horrifying. If there were really 8 million terrorists in the USA we’d have people exploding with Baghdad-like regularity… but we don’t. Nope, it’s far more likely that the people in this database are those like myself who believe in liberty and democracy. We are the true threat a tyrannical government would face in an emergency because we would want the Constitution to be reinstated. The COGers won’t let that happen.
That is why we need to be monitored. All of us. All the time. For no reason other than we might be a threat some time in the future. Maybe. The pesky 4th amendment makes this so much more difficult than the government would like, but after years of merciless attack there’s not much left of it in the public consciousness or on the law books. Here’s a look at what they monitor:
The following information seems to be fair game for collection without a warrant: the e-mail addresses you send to and receive from, and the subject lines of those messages; the phone numbers you dial, the numbers that dial in to your line, and the durations of the calls; the Internet sites you visit and the keywords in your Web searches; the destinations of the airline tickets you buy; the amounts and locations of your ATM withdrawals; and the goods and services you purchase on credit cards. All of this information is archived on government supercomputers and, according to sources, also fed into the Main Core database.
The privacy concerns are horrifying enough, but what’s worse is that the database is probably useless at preventing terrorism:
In any case, mass watch lists of domestic citizens may do nothing to make us safer from terrorism. Jeff Jonas, chief scientist at IBM, a world-renowned expert in data mining, contends that such efforts won’t prevent terrorist conspiracies. “Because there is so little historical terrorist event data,” Jonas tells Radar, “there is not enough volume to create precise predictions.”
But there is a lot of data on regular Americans who aren’t planning any attacks. And that data can be misused, and it probably will be at the first opportunity.
But where did the 12 crystal skulls come from and do we need to gather them by Dec. 12th, 2012 to stop the Earth from flipping over?!! Anybody know where the 13th skull can be found?! Paging Dr. Indiana Jones…
But though no crystal skull yet found at archaeological digs has proved to be authentic, the 12 located around the world continue to arouse interest and speculation.
Apart from the Paris, London and Smithsonian skulls, nine belong to private individuals — the skull of destiny, the Sha-Na-Ra skull, the synergy skull, the Max skull, the Maya skull, a so-called E.T. skull, the amethyst skull, the reliquary cross skull and the pink crystal skull.
Each skull was supposed to correspond to 12 worlds in which human life was present. They were brought by the Itza, the ancient people of Atlantis, to their civilisation in order to pass on their knowledge to man.
The 13th world, the land, also had its own crystal skull, and all 13 skulls were kept in a great pyramid by the Olmecs, the Mayas and ultimately the Aztecs.
The Aztecs are said to have been responsible for the dispersal and loss of the skulls, which when brought together possessed great powers, including being lined up on the last day of the Maya calendar — December 21, 2012 — to prevent the earth from tipping over.
Yes, this all may be a bunch of mumbo jumbo but I think it’s pretty fucking cool. After all, this is the stuff great movie plots are made from.
Wouldn’t it be cool to own one of these skulls? Imagine whipping it out at parties: “Yeah, this is an ancient Olmec skull that was brought to South America by the escapees from Atlantis. It needs to be gathered with the other skulls on December 21, 2012 or we’re all fucked. Pretty sweet, eh? I had to kill a bunch of Nazis to get it.”
Ah, true fiction. Chicks dig guys with ancient crystal skulls possessing mysterious powers… or so I’ve heard.
It was cold. February cold. -5 degrees cold, plus windchill.
But that made for perfect viewing conditions. Amazingly, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the moon filled up the night sky like a giant flashlight searching for some ancient, lost love. I watched the eclipse envelope the moon in shadow over at Andy’s place and then drove home after finishing up practice. I told myself I wasn’t going to break out the telescope since it was so fucking cold, but after staring at the moon in my driveway for a bit I figured, “what the hell; why not?”
I nearly froze my ass (well my hands really) off trying, but I eventually managed to snap a decent shot with the aid of the telescope. Check it out:
The moon looked amazing through the telescope. I couldn’t replicate what I was seeing because my hands kept shaking from the cold. I snapped about a dozen crappy shots before the one above came out. I fled inside instantly and put on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
I don’t know what an eclipse “means” but this one meant something to me. I just wish things were different. Everything’s fucked up in my life and the world as a whole, but I think seeing an eclipse can remind you that some things really are preordained. How many hundreds of years ago was this eclipse predicted in some ancient ephemeris? I dunno, but like clockwork it happened last night. There’s something comforting about that.
Mostly I hope that this eclipse is the harbinger of a new era, as it was 500 years ago when Columbus used a similar eclipse to scare the shit out of some natives. Maybe this time we can start off on the right foot and bring everything up a notch. We each set the tone for our reality. We can erase our fears and free our souls from this torment if we’d each let our hearts ring true. But there’s the rub; we need to do it together. One person freeing his mind is a lunatic. A billion doing the same is a global awakening.
I keep hoping against hope; a fool’s hope. But sometimes that’s all you’ve got. And even with the pain and heartache of being let down so many times I wouldn’t trade that foolish hope for anything except the truth. I know the bell is cracked, but I hope it will ring again someday anyway. Is that stupidity? Delusion?
I know it’s stupid. My logical brain tells me unequivocally that it is. But something deeper tells me that things are not always as they seem.
The pyramid scheme that is our economy is teetering on the brink of collapse. The subprime loan disaster is looking more and more like the detanator that will nuke the dollar, the banking industry and our economy as a whole.
When US homeowners default on their mortgages en-mass, they destroy money faster than the Fed can replace it through normal channels. The result is a liquidity crisis which deflates asset prices and reduces monetized wealth, says economist Henry Liu.
The debt-securitization process is in a state of collapse. The market for structured investments, MBSs, CDOs, and Commercial Paper—has evaporated leaving the banks with astronomical losses. They are incapable of rolling over their their short-term debt or finding new revenue streams to buoy them through the hard times ahead. As the foreclosure-avalanche intensifies; bank collateral continues to be down-graded which is likely to trigger a wave of bank failures.
Henry Liu sums it up like this: Proposed government plans to bail out distressed home owners can slow down the destruction of money, but it would shift the destruction of money as expressed by falling home prices to the destruction of wealth through inflation masking falling home value. (The Road to Hyperinflation, Henry Liu, Asia Times) It’s a vicious cycle. The Fed is caught between the dual millstones of hyperinflation and mass defaults. There’s no way out.
We are so fucked.
Unless somebody has a new economic system waiting in the wings I’ll have to start learning how to survive on rats, rabbits, squirrels … and probably human flesh at this rate. And that is not my idea of a good time.
The worst part is the feeling of helplessness. I can only watch these “financial experts” make one stupid decision after another. They’re only really experts at making themselves massive short-term profits. They don’t care about the damage they’ve done to the economy, which affects all of us.
The whole affair is depressing and maddening, but if you want to learn more, visit the Market Oracle.
As for me, I’ll be learning to hunt small suburban mammals.
So yeah, I know this isn’t a big shocker to anybody with a functioning brain stem, but the Bush administration systematically lied its way into the Iraq War. A new study by the Center For Public Integrity has analyzed the public statements of administration officials in the run-up to the war and come up with 935 lies in a two-year span.
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.
Everybody makes mistakes. Accidents happen and people do stupid things… but 935 mistakes? No fucking way.
So Many Lies, So Little Time
This was an organized campaign of deception. It was a fraud perpetrated on the American people and, most especially, on the people of Iraq.
935 LIES! That’s 1.28 lies per day for 24 months straight by my calculations.
Take a look at the chart below (click for a larger version). You can see that the lies are concentrated around the pre-war and immediate post-invasion period. The peak lying period was the February before the invasion (which began on March 19, 2003). This was no accident.
This is not just a bunch of anonymous interns leaking statements to the press. The study concentrated on just 8 top officials:
President Bush, for example, made 232 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and another 28 false statements about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda. Secretary of State Powell had the second-highest total in the two-year period, with 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda. Rumsfeld and Fleischer each made 109 false statements, followed by Wolfowitz (with 85), Rice (with 56), Cheney (with 48), and McClellan (with 14).
The study can only look at public statements, so we have no way of counting the many lies whispered into the ears of journalists. It’s interesting that Karl Rove was not included in this study, but he’s more of a behind-the-scenes operator. Also missing are gobs of military men, mid-level staffers, the whole pundit class on TV and many more folks who are not directly connected to the administration. These 935 lies are just a drop in the bucket, but they all originate from very high-ranking officials.
The Impeachment Fantasy
So now that we’ve got a study in the mainstream press clearly delineating the fact that George W. Bush made at least 260 false statements in just 24 months, that means the impeachment hearings are just around the corner, right?
The Democrats will wag their fingers and cluck their tongues and do…. nothing. The Republicans have long since sold their souls, but it’s the Democrats’ betrayal that really hurts America. We need a true opposition party more than ever, but we don’t have one.
If you’ve been reading this blog you probably know by now how Washington really works. Democracy, hearings, investigations, intelligence estimates, blah, blah, blah. It’s all just for show. The real power resides behind the scenes. The oligarchy, the establishment, the powers that be — whatever you want to call them — have decided that there will be no impeachment hearings. So there won’t be.
I don’t know what else to tell you. “Write your congressperson”? Fat lotta good that will do, but it doesn’t hurt to keep the pressure on.
The Oligarchs’ Dilemma
Just try not get too depressed. Yes, American “democracy” makes Pakistan look like an oasis of liberty, but it’s not all bad. I’ve got a feeling that there are some people in the establishment who want to change things. No doubt they’re biding their time, waiting for things to fall into place. But we don’t have much time. I don’t think the Bush team plans to leave office, ’cause if they do they’ll have to leave the country, too. Even the oligarchy can’t stop a limited investigation into the Bush regime by any successive Democratic administration. They have to continue the illusion of democracy, even if it hurts them in the short term. And that could mean a war crimes tribunal for Bush and crew.
Cheney knows this so it’s more likely that there will be another terrorist attack before or shortly after the elections (before inaugeration). Bush will declare martial law, lock down the nation, suspend the constitution and retain power “temporarily” until the emergency has passed. Of course, just like in Musharraf’s Pakistan, the emergency will never pass.
If there are any oligarchs still loyal to the constitution, they will have to move quickly. There’s a very small window (less than a year now) to execute their counter-coup. Bush will move to arrest the constitutional loyalists on trumped-up charges. Impeachment is the only remedy. We’ll need to take to the streets and camp out in every single senator’s office and demand justice.
If and when it does happen we’ll have to be ready. We need to stand up for democracy, no matter what the cost. The future of America hangs in the balance.
It gets annoying, you know, constantly explaining this to people, only to receive blank stares or mockery in response. I’ve long wished the Establishment (or “Illuminati” if you prefer) would just come out and admit it. It’s not like we’re in a position to do anything about it anyway. Well David Rockefeller (or D-Rock, as his friends in the international finanace ‘hood call him) has finally cleared the air:
“For more than a century, ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” – From Rockefeller’s “Memoirs”, (p.405).
Uh, yes, that is the charge, Rockie, and what’s more we charge you with using any and every means at your disposal to accomplish this, including bribery, murder, lying, fraud, coups, mind-control, and, ironically, belligerent nationalism.
“The anti-Rockefeller focus of these otherwise incompatible political positions owes much to Populism. ‘Populists’ believe in conspiracies, and one of the most enduring is that a secret group of international bankers and capitalists, and their minions, control the world’s economy. Because of my name and prominence as the head of the Chase for many years, I have earned the distinction of ‘conspirator in chief’ from some of these people.
“Populists and isolationists ignore the tangible benefits that have resulted from our active international role during the past half-century. Not only was the very real threat posed by Soviet Communism overcome, but there have been fundamental improvements in societies around the world, particularly in the United States, as a result of global trade, improved communications, and the heightened interaction of people from different cultures. Populists rarely mention these positive consequences, nor can they cogently explain how they would have sustained American economic growth and the expansion of our political power without them.”
You will notice that he does not deny it. If anything he has confirmed that their is a “secret group of international bankers and capitalists, and their minions, [who] control the world’s economy”. What more is there to say?
Just this: Certainly we all appreciate the many benefits of modern capitalism and the technological goodies we’ve gotten our hands on. But at what cost? Politically, economically and ecologically it’s a loser for those of us who aren’t moguls. Who is going to control the one-world government he so fervently desires? If past performance is any indication of future performance, we can expect these internationalists to keep all the power to themselves. Democracy is simply “incompatible” with his smooth, orderly, one-world utopia.
The scary thing here is the idea, now realized before our eyes, that not all people who want to conquer the world are madmen. Some of them, clearly, know exactly what they’re doing; they plan decades ahead, carefully lay the groundwork and, with considerable patience, skill and cunning, achieve their goals through whatever methods required.
The whole affair is amazingly complex, but then again, so is collecting stamps, memorizing Tolkein or learning to program in C++. I suppose when you’re the billionaire son of a billionaire you need to have a hobby to keep occupied.
You see, I work in a fairly ritzy office building, but sometimes I start to hallucinate and think that I work at a hockey rink. Despite the fact that it is about 90 degrees outside at this very moment I am shivering cold. I have goosebumps and I’m rubbing myself for warmth. Hang on, before my fingers freeze off, let me put on a fleece pullover I keep in my office for this very reason.
Okay, that’s a bit better. But I’m still pissed off that I have wear winter clothing inside during the summer. Can somebody tell me who decided office buildings should be kept at refrigerator temperatures in summer? I would like to shove that person into a walk-in freezer and lock the door.
Confession time: I am a skinny person. I have a runner’s build (I had it before I started running) and I generally loathe the cold and winter. I’m shivering and uncomfortable all the time during the winter, and if I thought it would be reasonable, I’d crank the heat at my place to 80 degrees in January. However, the point is that I don’t! I put on extra layers of clothing and work out or play drums to keep warm and get the blood flowing. I understand some people hate the heat and think 82 degrees is unbearably warm, but at this point I don’t fucking care. I suffer all winter, why should I have to freeze all summer, too?! It doesn’t make any sense!
From a global warming perspective, the people who set the temp at 70 or 71 degrees in the summer are basically lighting our atmosphere on fire. Long-term, this obsession with air conditioning is totally counterproductive. You like it cool? Then don’t turn the damn AC on, because every time you do you burn more coal and spew more CO2 into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide causes the planet’s temperature to rise.
Personally, I can go outside on a 90 degree day like today and feel totally comfortable as long as the humidity is not too high. The body naturally acclimates itself to the seasons, so my suggestion to set the thermostat at 80 or 82 degrees in the summer is not that crazy. If your body is sweating profusely at 80 degrees, the sad truth is that you’re probably too fat.
This is a touchy subject, so I’ll try to be kind, but I am getting fed up. It’s one thing to be fat on your own time, but when it starts affecting me that’s where I draw the line. If you are sweating like a pig while sitting in the office and using a mouse, it’s probably time to lose some weight.
Clearly, it doesn’t help matters that I sit all day and stare at a computer screen. I’m sure if I were doing hard physical labor the 72 degree air would be bliss. But if construction workers can construct buildings in this heat why can’t you sit on your ass, in the shade and deal with a temp of 80 degrees? I don’t think I’m being unreasonable, fellow office drones, but please let me know if I am.
Making matters worse, I swear the building temp is dropped a few degrees from 12 to 2 pm. Why? I think it’s to counteract the after-lunch sleepiness that afflicts many workers (but which is actually a sign of sleep deprivation — hell even the unemployed are sleep deprived in 2007). Gotta squeeze every last bit of productivity out of those serfs, right? Even if it’s at the expense of the environment and their health.
Humans are so fucking stupid it blows my mind. Our planet is going down like the Titanic and we’re not even re-arranging the deck chairs. In fact, we’re not doing anything. We’re sitting on our fat asses trying to figure out a way to get even more comfortable when it should be clear that we have only moments to live.
At this point, our dwindling time left on Earth is my only consolation.
It’s a potent look at our present, despite the fact that the movie is set in 2505. Intelligence declined precipitously over 5 centuries, leaving the people of 2505 incredibly stupid. Luke Wilson’s character, Joe, is frozen cryogenically for 500 years and when he (implausibly) wakes up to discover this horrific fact he is arrested for not having a barcode like everyone else in the future. Though arrested, he simply talks his way out of jail and runs off to try and find a time machine to take him back.
Although Joe is the smartest man alive in the 2505 he certainly isn’t very smart by 2007 standards. It is with this dark idea that Judge weaves his vicious comedy. If this idiot can solve the world’s problems, why can’t the rest of us?
The idiots of the future think Joe’s intelligent points are actually the pompous ravings of a “fag”. During Joe’s speech to the nation at the end he says, “… And there was a time, a long time ago, when reading wasn’t ‘just for fags’.” When was that, exactly? I’m afraid the idiocy Mike Judge is skewering is our own.
Idiocracy is very good, but Fox decided to release the movie the same way most of us release a monster piece of shit; quietly and discretely. (I hope that’s how you take a dump anyway. It could be loud and with a huge PR campaign, but I’ll be discrete and refrain from asking) The movie was quickly flushed away and won more praise from reviewers than it did from Fox’s publicists. Surely, the world is upside-down and the idiots are in charge. There can be no doubt at the end of the movie that the decision to bury the movie was a political act. The movie’s depiction of corporate and political life hits too close to home. And the best part is: it’s funny! You might even learn something.