Saturday, April 7, 2012

Render to Caesar, Extraordinarily

Render to Caesar, Extraordinarily by Ray McGovern

As always, Mr. McGovern is very much worth reading. He ends with ...

Granted, now that drones have come into their own, it is much easier to kill folks rather than to capture and "render" them — like Jesus was rendered to the Romans by the corrupt religious authorities.

Good Friday is a day for pondering such things. While I believe what happened to Jesus gives those of us of Judeo-Christian heritage an additional, highly poignant reason to do so, my atheist friends have warned me against attitudes boarding on snobbery.

One said, "You don’t have to be a Christian, Ray, to know instinctively that human beings simply must not torture other human beings." He is right, of course.

And my friend’s caution reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Kurt Vonnegut who, at one point named himself Honorary President of the American Humanist Association:

"How do humanists feel about Jesus? I say of Jesus, as all humanists do, ‘If what he said is good, and so much of it is absolutely beautiful, what does it matter if he was God or not?’

"But if Christ hadn’t delivered the Sermon on the Mount, with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn’t want to be a human being.

"I’d just as soon be a rattlesnake."

Are you human? Or, are you a rattlesnake? Then again, I might be insulting rattlesnakes. I don't think I've ever heard of rattlesnakes torturing other rattlesnakes. Maybe the question should be are us monkeys capable of being as good as rattlesnakes.

Kurt Vonnegut Was Very Real

I Am Very Real, By Kurt Vonnegut

On a site who's secondary title is "Correspondence deserving of a wider audience". So very true. This is Kurt Vonnegut's response to his books being burned by Americans. This is a letter to the North Dakota School Board head who had ordered the burning of his books. It ends with the following passage.

I read in the newspaper that your community is mystified by the outcry from all over the country about what you have done. Well, you have discovered that Drake is a part of American civilization, and your fellow Americans can’t stand it that you have behaved in such an uncivilized way. Perhaps you will learn from this that books are sacred to free men for very good reasons, and that wars have been fought against nations which hate books and burn them. If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own.

If you and your board are now determined to show that you in fact have wisdom and maturity when you exercise your powers over the eduction of your young, then you should acknowledge that it was a rotten lesson you taught young people in a free society when you denounced and then burned books–books you hadn’t even read. You should also resolve to expose your children to all sorts of opinions and information, in order that they will be better equipped to make decisions and to survive.

Again: you have insulted me, and I am a good citizen, and I am very real.

Kurt Vonnegut

This happened nearly 40 years ago, when Americans were still outraged by the banning of books and censorship. Today's America is very different. And so it goes.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Drone and the Cross

The Drone and the Cross by BRIAN TERRELL

There's a famous quote from the 1930's by novelist Sinclair Lewis "When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

The Roman Empire employed crucifixion as its preferred method of executing suspects deemed threatening to its imperial power and to the “Pax Romana” it imposed on the known world. The history of empires is banal and predicable even in its cruelty and the United States is more clearly than ever the successor of this imperial tradition. Empire will always be on the technological cutting edge, from bronze swords to nuclear missiles, with each advance extending the reach and the catastrophic potential of successive imperial powers, but the history of empires is really one single tragic story told over and over again with incidental variations.

Today those deemed threats to the U.S. Empire and its “Pax Americana” are increasingly targeted by Predator and Reaper drones armed with missiles and bombs. Just as Rome considered Jesus a “high value target” for execution, it is unlikely that today’s world empire would view Jesus’ life and teaching with any less suspicion. Were Jesus to preach today as he preached in Jerusalem two millennia ago, instead of a cross of wood the instrument of his passion might be a hellfire missile fired from a predator drone.

If Jesus wasn't killed by an American drone, he'd probably be captured and held in an orange jumpsuit down at Gitmo. Meditate on that for this Good Friday and Easter. Our empire probably wouldn't tortuously kill Jesus by nailing him to a cross and leaving him in the hot sun to die a slow and agonizing death. Instead, we'd torture him to learn the names of his so-called disciples that make up his terrorist cell, then we'd send him to Gitmo for more slow psychological torture and leave him in the hot tropical sun in those cages to slowly rot and die.

Can anyone honestly read the words of Jesus Christ that have been passed down through the ages to us and honestly believe that modern America is a Christian state? Oh, we my have lots of churches and symbolic crosses. But, as a nation we torture and kill around the world and at home we leave our poor to suffer and die in the streets with their feet unwashed. Both Jesus and Jefferson would be ashamed of this nation that acts in their names. And the rulers of today's America would target each with drones for elimination.

And, just in case you had any doubt about where this is heading, the US Air Force is seeking contracts to continue to expand the Drone Wars eight fold between now and 2016. This expansion is entirely of the newer, bigger drones designed to launch killer missiles.

Air Force ramps up drone war BY JEFFERSON MORLEY

A Struggle of Memory Versus Forgetting

East Timor: A Lesson in Why the Poorest Threaten the Powerful by John Pilger

Mr. Pilger is being brilliant again. Please read. If only to remember.

Milan Kundera’s truism, "the struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting," described East Timor.

Visiting Australia last November, President Barack Obama issued another of his veiled threats to China and announced the establishment of a US Marines’ base in Darwin, just across the water from East Timor. He understands that small, impoverished countries can often present the greatest threat to predatory power, because if they cannot be intimidated and controlled, who can?

If you support the USA as a "predatory power", then vote to re-elect Obama. If you think America is supposed to be something better than a robber-state, don't.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Can BRICS Tear Down a Wall?

Five Challengers of the Neoliberal Jackboot

As Mr. Prashad points out, the recent "BRICS" conference (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) was woefully under-reported in the USA. If you just simply view American corporate "news" as a propaganda and advertising machine, this is no surprise. One of the constant themes pounded into American heads on a daily basis is "there is no alternative". Needless to say, a conference of nations trying to form an alternative can't be reported on within that larger, constant message.

Such mischief has finally enraged the BRICS states. They have thrown their support behind the UNCTAD round, and have pledged to work in a united fashion to contest the North’s protectionist policies regarding its agriculture, to push for reform of the financial system, and to create an autonomous development platform for the South. To the point about the financial reform, the Delhi Declaration pointed out, “It is critical for advanced economies to adopt responsible macroeconomic and financial policies, avoid creating excessive global liquidity and undertake structural reforms to lift growth that create jobs.” A majority of the world’s workers are now in vulnerable employment or in the informal economy. Austerity programs make life harder for these workers, who are often made to carry the burdens for family members who lose formal sector employment. Austerity might create GDP but it will not create jobs.

Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff told the press that the monetary policy of the North “brings enormous trade advantages to developed countries, and results in unfair obstacles to other countries.” To counteract this, there is now a move to create economic linkages outside those of the dollar-denominated financial system dominated by the North. The BRICS states created a new credit facility in local currencies, so that BRICS states and others can now trade with each other without recourse to the dollar or other such “international” currencies. This reduces the transaction costs for intra-BRICS trade as well as threatens the dollar from its pedestal as the main currency of international trade.

The BRICS states directed their finance ministries to research the possibility of the creation of a new development bank, a Bank of the South (a BRICS version of the South American Banco Sur, founded in 2009 with an initial capital outlay of $20 billion, to supplant the hegemony of the World Bank and the IMF). The new BRICS bank, it is hoped, will mobilize resources for infrastructure and development in the BRICS states and in other developing countries. If it were influenced by the Banco Sur, the BRICS bank could be a practical venue for the creation of a new institutional foundation outside neoliberalism.

This is of course how empires fall. They overreach. The powerful men who surround the King only think of their own personal enrichment, and in doing so force the empire to act against its own best interests and instead only serve the interests of the powerful.

Twenty years ago, no one could have imagined a bloc of Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa and most of the "Global South" joining together. American policies have forced this. When America became a sole superpower, and then sought to abuse that power by forcing the entire world into economic subservience at the threat of endless wars, America created BRICS. If not BRICS, then there'd be some other gathering together of the nations of the world to try to create a bloc that could challenge or at least withstand Washingon's might. The fact that its necessary for their survival means that it must exist. Perhaps the only surprise is how long its taken to come together.

This is how empires fall. And, of course, the fall of the empire, and the BRICS in the wall that lead to that collapse, will be woefully under-reported in the official organs of the empire. Don't count on the Czar to tell you about the revolution. The good news is that word will get around. Its there if you look for it. Even if they make the internet illegal, or so restricted to corporate selling sites as to be worthless, look around, the word will be out there. Maybe printed by some samzidat press and secretly passed around as mimeograph copies to activists willing to take a risk to know a little truth. But, the truth will be out there.

These days, you have to look for the truth. Its out there. It always will be out there. Just remember that, and don't forget to look. You just got to poke around. Don't forget to poke the link above and read a fuller account of the BRICS conference and movement.

Homeland Security Has a Bullet With Your Name On It.

Obama's Department of Homeland Security has put out a contract for 450 million bullets. If you take a rough estimate of 300 million Americans, that's 1.5 bullets for every American.

The Department Of Homeland Security Is Buying 450 Million New Bullets

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office is getting an "indefinite delivery" of an "indefinite quantity" of .40 caliber ammunition from defense contractor ATK.
U.S. agents will receive a maximum of 450 million rounds over five years, according to a press release on the deal.

And that's only the .40 cal ammo stockpile.

We've also learned that the Department has an open bid for a stockpile of rifle ammo. Listed on the federal business opportunities network, they're looking for up to 175 million rounds of .223 caliber ammo to be exact. The .223 is almost exactly the same round used by NATO forces, the 5.56 x 45mm.

In case you think there's some misunderstanding about what these bullets do.

The high performance HST bullets are designed for law enforcement and ATK says they offer "optimum penetration for terminal performance."

Feel like you've got a target on your back? Apparently you and every other American based on the quantities of ammo they are buying. And no, this article is not an April's Fools prank. Unfortunately, this is very sadly true.