Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Another day in government's office

Today as I do every day I went to my website’s many RSS feeds and read reports and commentaries that have become painfully familiar.  Here are some items I found:

David Stockman’s hard-hitting article that urges Donald Trump to slam the Fed in the upcoming presidential debate for its crucifixion of what Stockman calls Flyover America.  “The Fed’s core policies of 2% inflation and 0% interest rates . . . are based on the specious academic theory that financial gambling fuels economic growth and that all economic classes prosper from inflation and march in lockstep together as prices and wages ascend on the Fed’s appointed path.”  Stockman adds: “Putting the wood to the Fed is the right answer for what ails the American economy. Monday night would be a good place for the Donald to line-up with the 90% who have been left behind.”

Unfortunately, putting the wood to the Fed doesn’t mean eliminating it, in Stockman’s view.  

Ron Paul’s Liberty Report that featured former state department official Peter Van Buren as a guest discussing the Snowden movie and the nightmare surveillance state in which we have been caged in the name of protecting us.  You better not become a “person of interest” if you’ve ever so much as given the appearance of venturing from morally approved paths.  If Big Brother takes an interest in you, no part of your life, past or present, will be hidden from its all-seeing eyes.

But wait — you say you’re a good guy, have done nothing wrong, have nothing to hide, and therefore don’t care that BB is watching your every move?

Think again.

Who says you’ve done nothing wrong?  As security expert Bruce Schneier wrote in 2006, “the government gets to define what's wrong, and they keep changing the definition."  Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? ("Who watches the watchers?”)  

And you have nothing to hide?  Words can be taken out of context.  Intended humor can be misconstrued.  Someone may have it in for you.  The issue is not security versus privacy.  It’s privacy versus control.  Schneier, quoting Cardinal Richelieu: ”If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.”

The frightening but unsurprising trend of tech companies amplifying the war-making powers of government through ever more powerful autonomous killer robots.  “When it comes to lethal autonomous systems, proponents argue that they could one day save lives, precisely targeting only opposing soldiers and machines while leaving civilians safe from harm.”  Right.  And who determines what those soldiers will look like?  US enemies have a nasty habit of dressing like civilians.  Safer to wipe out everyone than risk not killing a “terrorist.” 

Lew Rockwell’s speech on War and the State, and the many ways it has distorted our lives and the lives of others.  “War and [war propaganda] encourages us to think of other peoples as dispensable or simply beneath us. A wedding party is blown to smithereens in Afghanistan, and Americans yawn. But we’d certainly pay attention if the federal government blew away a wedding party in Providence, Rhode Island.”

Robert Wenzel’s report on former Speaker John Boehner joining the law and lobby firm Squire Patton Boggs.  

“With Speaker Boehner joining our team, we're better positioned than ever to grow our brand throughout the world and to fully capitalize on our integrated global platform,” said Squire Patton Boggs CEO Mark Ruehlmann in a statement.  Boehner’s “former deputy chief of staff, Dave Schnittger, and former policy adviser, Natasha Hammond, already work at Squire Patton Boggs.”  Nothing like a revolving door to capitalize on an “integrated global platform.”

The Guardian reports on Donald Trump’s plan to take the oil from all the states controlled by ISIS, particularly Iraq.  Starve the savages.  Quoting Trump: “We go in, we spend $3tn, we lose thousands and thousands of lives, and then … what happens is we get nothing. You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils.”  And: “You’re not stealing anything,” Trump said. “We’re reimbursing ourselves … at a minimum, and I say more. We’re taking back $1.5tn to reimburse ourselves.”   

Let’s see.  The Iraq invasion of 2003 was a war based on lies. Writes Amy Goodman:
Just one year after the invasion, at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association annual dinner in Washington, D.C., President Bush joked to the hundreds of journalists at the gathering, “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere.” Slides of Bush crouched on the floor of the Oval Office, looking for WMDs under the furniture, accompanied his comedy routine. As dead U.S. service members were brought back to Dover Air Force Base, where photographing the body bags was banned, and while Iraqi corpses piled up in streets and morgues, Bush’s behavior was unfathomable.
After the government’s killing, maiming, and rendering homeless tens of thousands of Iraqis and destroying their infrastructure, a Trump administration would find a way to steal the country’s oil.  Is that not like murdering a man then cleaning out his bank account?  

Might as well strip the US government from all moral pretenses.  Make the Iraqi’s pay for the US government’s mendacity, death and destruction.   That will certainly cast a healing pall over the devastated Middle East. 

Jacob Hornberger comments on the recent blowback in New York City and New Jersey.  “U.S. foreign interventionism in the Middle East has been the motivating factor for every act of anti-American terrorism since 1993, when terrorists first attacked the World Trade Center,” he writes.  

The US government has killed people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya, yet Americans are shocked and puzzled over why some of them retaliate.  In Hornberger’s words:
Under no circumstances can the U.S. killing of people in the Middle East be permitted to stop. 
The reason is simple: The national-security branch knows that if the troops were to be brought home today, anti-American terrorism would evaporate. 
What would that mean? It would mean no more “war on terrorism.” After all, if there is no more anti-American terrorism, then why do we need a “war on terrorism”? Why do we need a PATRIOT Act, an assassination program, Gitmo, secret surveillance schemes, indefinite detention, and perpetual state of emergency?
And so on.    

This is the US deep state at work.  It’s been doing this for as long as it could get away with it, which goes back no later than the Spanish American War in 1898.  And on Monday night, September 26, there will be a debate between the latest candidates to serve this rogue institution.  A record number of viewers is predicted by some experts, even though it will be competing with another major entertainment event, Monday Night Football.  

Paraphrasing Russell Crowe as fighter James J. Braddock in Cinderella Man, at least football players can see who’s hitting them.  American voters cannot. 

If by chance you find the news and candidates appalling and want some assurance that dawn might be approaching instead of an oncoming freight train, consider this inspirational video: “Surgeons in Oxford have used a robot to operate inside the eye - in a world first. A team at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital used the device, controlled via a joystick, to remove a membrane one hundredth of a millimetre thick. Patient Bill Beaver, 70, said it was "a fairytale”.”  Mr. Beaver was going blind in his right eye, which the surgery corrected.

Better a “fairy tale” surgery than a nightmare presidential campaign.

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