Friday, July 22, 2011

The End is Nigh

Apocalypse Nigh? by Alexander Cockburn.

As usual with Mr. Cockburn, I like some of what he says, and dislike other things. All usually in the same piece. The part where I thought he was quite persepctive begins with this....

On August 3 the lights might start to go out: the US government is scheduled to send out $23 billion in social security checks to 56 million people. If the checks don’t arrive, within a couple of days America’s old folk are going without food and can’t make the rent. US Treasuries will lose their top rating and the entire credit structure of the planet starts] to come unglued. Goldbugs will be crazed with triumph as the precious metal soars to $3,000 an ounce and hyperinflation roars into life. Next thing you know, greenbacks are being tossed in the trash and we’re heading back to a barter economy.

America is in love with Apocalypse. It always has been. Every couple of years someone says the End is Nigh. When I came to America’s shores in 1972 Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth had just been published and sold 30 million copies over the next 20 years. Lindsey wrote, rather presciently, that Antichrist would rule over a ten-nation European Community through the 1970s until the Rapture – scheduled for the 1980s – and the Second Coming.

Except, these days, the book to reference about this stuff is Naomi Klien's "The Shock Doctrine". In that book, Ms. Klien lays out how some very greedy people learned how to manipulate a crisis to rip us off. At first it was exploitation of an existing crisis. But then they learned how to create a crisis to provide the excuse to rip us off.

All of these claims that the end is nigh are used to push a political agenda that otherwise would not be popular in a democracy. Every 'pundit' screams about how horrible the situation is, and that measures must be taken to address this immediately. There is lots of screaming and yelling about how we are in dire straights. Then we, the people, get screwed.

We saw this play out at the very beginning of the Obama administration. There was a huge amount of yelling about how we needed a wall street bailout. To the point where when at one point it was delayed by just a day or two, this was regarded as a catastrophe. In the end, wall street got our money, the wall street bonus checks went out as planned, and suddenly the world wasn't ending any more now that wall street had our money.

This time, all the yelling and screaming is apparently to get the people to accept that their benefits have to be cut, the retirements of their children put at risk, and health care denied to the elderly all so we can keep paying for our foreign wars and of course shell out money to wall street whenever they need it.

We've had huge expenditures in these areas. You don't have to be a nuclear engineer to know that having two surges in Afghanistan while starting a new war in Libya while buying the military and the spy agencies every toy they want while also paying for every homeland security pork project while the economy was otherwise crashing into the worst downturn since the Great Depression would raise the debt. Now, we are told that none of this can be cut, be we all have to 'sacrifice' to pay for all of this.

As far as I'm concerned, I know exactly where they can stick that. We need a whole new Congress in 2012. It can happen. We can change this country as quickly as the people of Egypt changed theirs. And we have the benefit of a scheduled election by which we can do it. If enough people have had enough, and have figured out that both Democrats and Republicans are out to screw them, then we can have a whole new Congress meeting in the winter of 2013.

They are lying.

New study proves falsity of John Brennan's drone claims

Apparently an Obama administration official has been running around saying we haven't killed a single innocent person in all of our drone missile strikes in Pakistan this year.

"in the last year, 'there hasn't been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we've been able to develop." He added: "if there are terrorists who are within an area where there are women and children or others, you know, we do not take such action that might put those innocent men, women and children in danger."

A London-based group called the Bureau of Investigative Journalism investigated this and other similar claims from Obama administration officials.

Contrary to Brennan's public assertions, "a detailed examination by the Bureau of 116 CIA 'secret' drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2010 has uncovered at least 10 individual attacks in which 45 or more civilians appear to have died."

and ...

A British photojournalist providing on-the-scene reporting of the aftermath of drone strikes in Waziristan documented this week that "far more civilians are being injured or dying than the Americans and Pakistanis admit" and "for every 10 to 15 people killed, maybe they get one militant." To describe Brennan's claims as merely "inaccurate" or "untrue" is to be unduly generous.

To say we aren't killing anyone when a very conservative investigation methodology finds "45 or more" deaths in drone attacks is not just mis-speaking. That's more a deliberate lie to the American people. This is a direct attack on democracy, as citizens can only act on information they know. When their government deliberately lies to them, then the government is subverting democracy and preventing the people from acting in a democracy. When a journalist on the ground says we are killing 10 to 15 people for every 'bad guy' we get, to have government officials stand up and say there are no such deaths is just a blatant lie. Your government does not want you to know what they are doing, and they are willing to lie to your face to keep you from knowing.

In an honest democracy, John Brennan would resign or be removed from his post for such a deception of the citizens of this country. Don't hold your breath.

There is one piece of good news in all of this. The government that is killing 10 to 15 people for every bad guy in Pakistan believes that they have to lie about this. This means they believe that people will not accept this if they know about it, and the only way for them to be able to keep killing is to lie to the citizens about this. That's good news, because I hope they are right. That means the American people won't stand for this when they know about it. And eventually, the truth always does come out. If they are telling such lies to keep this going, then it can not go on forever.