[…] I managed to smuggle away some documents, among them some that indicate the Gaddafi regime, despite its constant anti-American rhetoric – maintained direct communications with influential figures in the US.
I found what appeared to be the minutes of a meeting between senior Libyan officials – Abubakr Alzleitny and Mohammed Ahmed Ismail – and David Welch, former assistant secretary of state under George W Bush. Welch was the man who brokered the deal to restore diplomatic relations between the US and Libya in 2008.
Welch now works for Bechtel, a multinational American company with billion-dollar construction deals across the Middle East. The documents record that, on August 2, 2011, David Welch met with Gaddafi’s officials at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo, just a few blocks from the US embassy.
During that meeting Welch advised Gaddafi’s team on how to win the propaganda war, suggesting several ”confidence-building measures”, according to the documents. The documents appear to indicate that an influential US political personality was advising Gaddafi on how to beat the US and NATO.
Minutes of this meeting record his advice on how to undermine Libya’s rebel movement, with the potential assistance of foreign intelligence agencies, including Israel.
The documents read: “Any information related to al-Qaeda or other terrorist extremist organisations should be found and given to the American administration but only via the intelligence agencies of either Israel, Egypt, Morroco, or Jordan… America will listen to them… It’s better to receive this information as if it originated from those countries…”.
Well, Bechtel has been in the propping up and deposing business, along with their lucrative construction business, all the way back to Chile under Pinochet, so this part comes as no surprise. If you read on, however, there’s a tidbit about Dennis Kucinich that makes the stomach crawl a bit. Not sure what to make of it yet. A slight amount of dissonance would be an understatement.
Mesopotamia was different because the state emerged unevenly and incompletely. At first there were giant bureaucratic temples, then also palace complexes, but they weren’t exactly governments and they didn’t extract direct taxes – these were considered appropriate only for conquered populations. Rather they were huge industrial complexes with their own land, flocks and factories. This is where money begins as a unit of account; it’s used for allocating resources within these complexes.
Interest-bearing loans, in turn, probably originated in deals between the administrators and merchants who carried, say, the woollen goods produced in temple factories (which in the very earliest period were at least partly charitable enterprises, homes for orphans, refugees or disabled people for instance) and traded them to faraway lands for metal, timber, or lapis lazuli. The first markets form on the fringes of these complexes and appear to operate largely on credit, using the temples’ units of account. But this gave the merchants and temple administrators and other well-off types the opportunity to make consumer loans to farmers, and then, if say the harvest was bad, everybody would start falling into debt-traps.
This was the great social evil of antiquity – families would have to start pawning off their flocks, fields and before long, their wives and children would be taken off into debt peonage. Often people would start abandoning the cities entirely, joining semi-nomadic bands, threatening to come back in force and overturn the existing order entirely. Rulers would regularly conclude the only way to prevent complete social breakdown was to declare a clean slate or ‘washing of the tablets,’ they’d cancel all consumer debt and just start over. In fact, the first recorded word for ‘freedom’ in any human language is the Sumerian amargi, a word for debt-freedom, and by extension freedom more generally, which literally means ‘return to mother,’ since when they declared a clean slate, all the debt peons would get to go home.
Read the whole thing here. One of the most interesting things I’ve read in months.
“I, unfortunately — and I’ve admitted to this a number of times, publicly and privately — was the person who put together Colin Powell’s presentation at the United Nations Security Council on 5 February, 2003. It was probably the biggest mistake of my life. I regret it to this day. I regret not having resigned over it.”—Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (via azspot)
As it turns out there is little cause for concern. The recommendations of the National Commission on Social Security Reform in 1983 led to the growth of a large surplus in Social Security. This surplus was used to buy bonds and now Social Security holds more than $2.6 trillion in government bonds. As a result, the Congressional Budget Office’s projections show that the program will maintain full solvency through the year 2038. Even if Congress never makes any changes to the program, Social Security will be able to pay slightly more than 80 percent of scheduled benefits from then on.
If you were to retire at the normal retirement age for a person born in 1957, you would initially get a benefit of $34,802 (in 2011 dollars) per year through 2038 and starting in 2039, a benefit of $27,842 (also in 2011 dollars) each year for the rest of your life. Clearly a program that is projected to pay substantial benefits for decades to come is not in danger of bankruptcy.
Inside the country club, it was reported that you told the Greater East Dallas Chamber of Commerce that the budget crisis is fueled by growth in entitlement spending. In fact, under the law, Social Security can only spend money that came from its designated tax or the interest on the bonds held by its trust fund. It has no legal authority to spend one dime beyond this sum. In that sense it cannot contribute to budget deficits or the national debt.
I wasn’t surprised when the administration of George W. Bush sacrificed the environment for corporate profits. But when the same thing happens under a Democratic administration, it’s depressing. With little or no public input, policies that benefit corporations regardless of the consequences continue to be enacted. […]
Sacrificing the environment for profits didn’t stop with Bush, and it doesn’t stop with genetically modified organisms. Take, for example, the Keystone XL pipeline extension. XL is right: the 36-inch-wide pipeline, which will stretch from the Alberta tar sands across the Great Plains to the Gulf Coast, will cost $7 billion and run for 1,711 miles — more than twice as long as the Alaska pipeline. It will cross nearly 2,000 rivers, the huge wetlands ecosystem called the Nebraska Sandhills and the Ogallala aquifer, the country’s biggest underground freshwater supply.
They say, too, that the pipeline could create 100,000 new jobs. But even the Amalgamated Transit Union and the Transport Workers Union oppose the pipeline, saying, “We need jobs, but not ones based on increasing our reliance on Tar Sands oil.”
Sounds as if union officials have been reading the writer and activist Bill McKibben, who calls the pipeline “a fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent,” and NASA scientist Jim Hansen, who says the oil Keystone will deliver “is essentially game over” for the planet.
I do expect that, and I am insulted. President Obama can deny Keystone the permit. A truly environmentally friendly president (like the one candidate Obama appeared to be) would be looking for creative ways to leave fossil fuels underground, not extract them. Perhaps he doesn’t “believe in” global warming at this point, like many Republicans?
When government defends corporate interests, citizens must fight. McKibben has helped organize protests at the White House against Keystone, and he’s one of hundreds who’ve been arrested in the last couple of weeks. These people are showing that the role of government as corporate ally must be challenged.
As it will be in the fight against carte blanche for genetically modified organisms: From Oct. 1 to Oct. 16, there will be a march from New York City to Washington to demand that genetically modified foods be labeled, something a majority of Americans want. This small, perfectly reasonable request has run into joint opposition from the biotech industry and (here we go again) the Food and Drug Administration.
“The basic physical property here is that warm air holds more water vapor than cold. You can get stronger storms. The atmosphere is about four percent wetter than it was 40 years ago. That’s an enormous change in a basic physical parameter. It loads the dice for both drought, as you’re getting increased evaporation, and deluge and downpour and flood. And that’s what we’re seeing all over the planet. You remember the pictures from Pakistan this time last summer, with a quarter of the country underwater. You remember the pictures from Queensland in Australia. You remember the pictures earlier this year in the Missouri and Mississippi River Basins, which saw more water go down them than ever before. As Governor Shumlin said, the Northeast was hard hit earlier this year. We had absolutely record flood levels at Lake Champlain, where there are records dating back more than 250 years. Now we’re seeing, as this water drops across the Northeast, rivers and streams at levels that we have literally never seen them before. That’s what it means when a 250-year-old covered bridge goes washing down the Quechee River. It’s, on the one hand, entirely predictable and, on the other hand, the greatest sort of series wake-up calls that we could possibly be getting. So far this year—it’s only August—so far this year, the U.S. has suffered more billion-dollar weather-related disasters than any year in history. Last year was the warmest year in the planet’s history, Arctic ices at record low levels—on and on and on…”—Bill McKibben (via azspot)
The WikiLeaks website has fallen victim to an apparent cyber attack after the accelerated publication of tens of thousands of state department cables by the anti-secrecy organisation raised fresh concerns about the exposure of confidential US embassy sources.
“WikiLeaks.org is presently under attack,” the group said on Twitter late on Tuesday. One hour later, the site and the cables posted there were inaccessible.
WikiLeaks updated its Twitter account to say it was “still under a cyberattack” and directed followers to search for cables on a mirror site or a separate search system, cablegatesearch.net.
The apparent cyber attack comes after current and former US officials said the recently released cables – and concerns over the protection of sources – are creating a fresh source of diplomatic setbacks and embarrassment for the Obama administration. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.
UPDATE: The site appears to be open now - last night I was unable to access the site at all - my request just hung as though they were being DDoS’ed.
Women and children had their hands tied behind their back and were shot in the head in house raid, which was covered up by the military
“As revealed by a State Department diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks last week, US forces committed a heinous war crime during a house raid in Iraq in 2006, wherein one man, four women, two children, and three infants were summarily executed.”
“[Michael] Gerson contrasted the “arrogance” of Paul’s libertarian approach to the approach of “a Republican presidential candidate [who] visited a rural drug treatment center outside Des Moines. Moved by the stories of recovering young addicts, Texas Gov. George W. Bush talked of his own struggles with alcohol. ‘I’m on a walk. And it’s a never-ending walk as far as I’m concerned… . I want you to know that your life’s walk is shared by a lot of other people, even some who wear suits.’” Gerson seems to have missed the point of his anecdote. Neither Bush nor the teenagers in a Christian rehab center were sent to jail. They overcame their substance problems through faith and personal responsibility. But Gerson and Bush support the drug laws under which more than 1.5 million people a year are arrested and some 500,000 people are currently in jail. Our last three presidents have all acknowledged they used illegal drugs in their youth. Yet they don’t seem to think — nor does Gerson suggest — that their lives would have been made better by arrest, conviction, and incarceration. If libertarianism is a second-rate value, where does hypocrisy rank?”—Drug Decriminalization Has Failed? (via azspot)
It is a concrete rationale that fuels opposition to Israel’s apartheid regime and the United States’ duplicitous and violent policies in the Middle East. It is a concrete rationale that imbues the condemnation of and struggle against authoritarian rule in the Arab world. It is a concrete rationale that inspires and necessitates the support of resistance to all the above. This rationale is an expression of the most basic forms of moral and political principles. It is this reasoning that must apply to the brutal suppression of the Syrian uprising.
But part of the leftist camp in the region, specifically in Lebanon, faces the unfolding bloodiness of the Syrian scene with a striking measure of ambiguity. Should “good” leftists support the opposition, condemn the regime’s unbridled brutality, or remain “neutral” (the latter decidedly a position in and of itself)? This “dilemma” is a false one. It emanates from the arguably legitimate reverence for the Syrian regime’s support of the resistance - principally through Hezbollah - to US and Israeli imperialism. Few leftists disagree with this basic position, even if they were critical of, or condemned, Syria’s own domestic policies prior to the eruption of mass protests. [….]
Where is the principle in all this? While this question may indeed be naïve, it is directed here to those who claim to take positions on principle, and on principle alone. The Syrian regime has long passed the threshold when those who prioritise resistance must return again to principle. As with hyper-nationalism - i.e., “my country right or wrong” - unfettered exhibitions of loyalty to the Syrian regime have no place. If one opposes imperialism on principle, then one must oppose the Syrian regime’s crushing of the protesters on principle. Whatever resistance credentials the Syrian regime possessed withered when it started killing its own people at a rate of approximately one hundred per week (for the last five months). [….]
Earlier this year, while most of the state was focused on his union-busting efforts, Scott Walker quietly took control of the power to directly appoint the head of the Veterans Affairs Board.
With this new authority, Walker appointed John Scocos, a man who had already been fired from this position in 2009. Scocos is also currently suing the board members and the agency, seeking $500,000 in damages.
As a result of this controversial appointment, Peter Moran, the Vice Chairman of the Board and a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, resigned today.
The Triple Agent: The Al-Qaeda Mole who Infiltrated the CIA, by Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick, ranks among the very best pieces of narrative journalism I have read related to the history of America’s conflict with Al Qaeda. Like the other books in that category—George Crile’s Charlie Wilson’s War, Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, and Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars—Warrick has pulled off a truly remarkable feat of reporting, bringing together a rich constellation of sources on a sensitive matter and telling a story that, prior to his efforts, had remained obscure despite our all having known it was there.
Unlike these other books, however, Warrick’s story does not deal with the big sweep of modern history. It is not about anything as broad as the history of Al Qaeda, much less modern Afghanistan or its confrontation with the Soviet Union. The Triple Agent, rather, is the story of a single suicide attack on the CIA base at Khowst in late 2009 by a supposed American-Jordanian agent arriving for a meeting—an attack which killed, among others, several CIA officers and contractors and a Jordanian intelligence officer and royal family member.
The book’s many virtues begin with its lack of pretense. There is no political agenda here, no broad thesis the events Warrick recounts are made to support. Those looking for shrill denunciations dressed up as investigative intelligence reporting will be disappointed. Warrick is simply telling a story, albeit a tragic one with broad implications.
The outlines of this story are simple enough. The CIA and Jordanian intelligence operatives cultivated what they thought was a mole in Al Qaeda—a doctor whom the Jordanians caught posting vile material to a jihadist web site and thought they had flipped. Their mole sent back tantalizing material suggesting that he had penetrated Al Qaeda’s inner core, thereby dangling before the highest levels of the Obama administration and the CIA the possibility of locating and nailing Ayman Al-Zawahiri. The supposed mole, however, turned out to be not just a double agent but a triple agent; the material he sent back was all bait. And when we fell for it and a meeting was finally arranged at the base at Khowst, he came with a suicide vest, detonated it, and thereby inflicted one of the greatest injuries the CIA has sustained in its modern history. [read]
One popular way of determining the legitimacy of … exercises of violence is to invoke democracy. Democratic governments, as opposed to authoritarian regimes, legitimately use violence because there has been an opportunity for citizens to freely form a social contract with the government. Turkey and Israel are democratic countries, and thus their use of force is legitimate. Ditto with NATO’s attack on Libyan targets. Democratic countries use violence in a self-limited way. As political philosopher John Keane writes in Violence and Democracy, “Ideally conceived, democracies understand themselves as systems of lawful power-sharing, whose actors are attuned to the dangers of violence – and to the mutual benefits of non-violence.” As such, Keane argues, democracies progressively “democratize violence” by subjecting it to rules, procedures, consent. When democracies use violence overseas, they only do so against undemocratic forces such as tyrants or terrorist groups. Democracies, according to one of the few postulates of international relations, don’t go to war with one another.
This is a common argument, and it surely makes democracies feel more comfortable about their use of violence. The problem with the argument is that it doesn’t square well with the historical record. After all, democratic states have committed gross acts of violence, whether against members of society not deemed full citizens (slaves, suspected terrorists) or against non-combatants that have inadvertently found themselves in a battleground (Hiroshima, Gaza, Afghanistan). Keane establishes an escape clause for his argument by suggesting that “mature democracies” do not commit such violations. Certainly when it comes to the death penalty, democracies have matured in their practice (each year since 1990, three countries on average have abolished the death penalty). But what about when it comes to the use of force overseas, say, the U.S. invasion of Iraq? Did the United States simply suffer a fit of immaturity?
[After] months of NATO bombing, the anti-Qaddafi movement seems on the verge of victory. As with Kosovo in 1999, the Libyans seem overwhelmingly opposed to Qaddafi dictatorial rule and solicited the intervention. In these circumstances military intervention can succeed, but at a high price in terms of devastation and civilian collateral damage, especially in a casualty-safe war carried on from the air. Yet the outcome [will] make clear, as the respected foreign policy expert on the UN and the Arab World Phyllis Bennis reminds us, whether it will be the Libyan people or the oil companies and NATO that benefit from the war and the destruction of the Qaddafi regime. We do already know, or at least should realize, that the whole NATO operation sets a bad precedent for the UN. Its authorization of the use of force back in March 2011 in Security Council Resolution 1973 was framed in terms of protecting civilians in imminent danger of massacre, but the NATO operation was carried out in such a manner as to achieve regime change by tipping the balance in what became an all out civil war. In this respect that guidelines in 1973 were so vague and loose as to be worthless or NATO exceeded the authority granted, despite the language of ‘all necessary measures,’ and there was no effort to contain the military operations within the intended scope of 1973. In this latter regard, the five abstaining states (China, Russia, India, Brazil, and Germany) are derelict in their failure to insist on adherence to the guidelines associated with civilian protection, which certainly did not extend to bombing the personal compound of Qaddafi or the state TV facilities. read on
Why a war? Because leaders expect it to be of significant benefit to their state, right? Perhaps it’s not as cut and dried as that. Try this on for size.
Historians and political scientists agree that war is a realistic, rational, utilitarian activity ]and] “that states are rational actors, carefully calculating costs of alternative courses of action and seeking to maximize their expected utility.” Rationality is simply assumed by Realists … Irrational, self-destructive motives are unthinkable. That would be “doing psychology”—a forbidden activity.
Realists therefore tend to accept the statements of war leaders when they claim to start wars for rational economic reasons. … The emotional meaning of these statements is never investigated by Realists [who] simply don’t recognize the pathological portions of the right hemisphere.
The above is extracted from a forthcoming book, The Origins of War in Child Abuse, by Lloyd deMause, the dean of psychohistory. Incorporating elements of psychoanalysis and the social sciences, psychohistory maintains that the course of history is determined by the quality of child-rearing around the world. In fact, deMause continues
… Realists routinely overlook all the suicidal imagery that leaders voice as they actually make their decision to go to war. In the over a hundred wars I have researched in the past four decades, not one began by political or military leaders actually ever sitting down and adding up the economic costs and benefits of the war they are about to begin. More typically they voice suicidal, sacrificial motivations.
DeMause sums up how that works in an article. Here’s the general idea.
A new psychoclass comes of age, and introduces new inventions, new social arrangements and new prosperity, producing a Belle Epoque, with warmer personal relationships and less scapegoating of women and minorities.
The older psychoclasses become depressed by guilt over the prosperity and anxiety from the new social arrangements. The world seems out of control, as childhood traumas press for repetition [key to psychohistory], and the nation regresses, goes on Purity Crusades and fears of women, and creates an economic depression. … When a cooperative Enemy is found … the nation sends its youth to be killed. … Images of restored virility and rebirth of the world predominate, and [the cycle begins all over again].
Well, this certainly is a compelling argument, and one which will, therefore, merit no mainstream discussion whatsoever.
National Nurses United has long had a reputation for militancy and political activism among the U.S.’s labor unions. Long after the battle over President Obama’s health care reform bill ended, the nurses have been taking to the streets, planning actions around the country calling for policies that benefit Main Street, not Wall Street.
Their latest campaign? Calling for a financial transactions tax on Wall Street to raise revenue to help get out of the economic crisis for good—funding essential programs rather than cutting them, putting money into infrastructure and creating jobs, repairing budget holes and paying for health care and support for the people most hurt by the financial meltdown.
On September 1, nurses and their allies and supporters will converge on 61 congressional offices in 21 states, calling on Republicans and Democrats alike to sign on to a pledge that would support a tax on financial transactions to raise revenues to “heal America.
“Exaggerating, manipulating and exploiting the Terrorist threat for profit and power has been the biggest scam of the decade; only Wall Street’s ability to make the Government prop it up and profit from the crisis it created at the expense of everyone else can compete for that title. Nothing has altered the mindset of the American citizenry more than a decade’s worth of fear-mongering. So compelling is fear-based propaganda, so beholden are our government institutions to these private Security State factions, and so unaccountable is the power bestowed by these programs, that even a full decade after the only Terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, its growth continues more or less unabated.”—The decade’s biggest scam | Glenn Greenwald
Libertarians and conservatives, to be sure, can point to many examples of naive liberals in the last century who embarrassed themselves by praising this or that squalid, tyrannical communist regime, from the Soviet Union and communist China to petty police states like North Korea, communist Vietnam and Castro’s Cuba. But the apologists for tyranny on the left were always opposed by anti-communist liberals and anti-communist democratic socialists. Where were the anti-authoritarian libertarians, denouncing libertarian fellow travelers of Pinochet like von Hayek and Milton Friedman?
For that matter, where was the libertarian right during the great struggles for individual liberty in America in the last half-century? The libertarian movement has been conspicuously absent from the campaigns for civil rights for nonwhites, women, gays and lesbians. Most, if not all, libertarians support sexual and reproductive freedom (though Rand Paul has expressed doubts about federal civil rights legislation). But civil libertarian activists are found overwhelmingly on the left. Their right-wing brethren have been concerned with issues more important than civil rights, voting rights, abuses by police and the military, and the subordination of politics to religion — issues like the campaign to expand human freedom by turning highways over to toll-extracting private corporations and the crusade to funnel money from Social Security to Wall Street brokerage firms.
Both in the US and in the EU, politicians such as Barack Obama and Angela Merkel have been struggling to manage an economic problem that is problematic in political terms. The path of least resistance politically has been to temporize and talk. But by following the advice of Rubin and Summers, and avoiding tough decisions about banks and solvency, President Obama has only made the crisis more serious and steadily eroded public confidence. In political terms, Obama is morphing into Herbert Hoover, as I wrote in one of my first posts for Reuters.com, “In a new period of instability, Obama becomes Hoover.”
Whereas two or three years ago, a public-private approach to restructuring insolvent banks could have turned around the economic picture in relatively short order, today the cost to clean up the mess facing Merkel, Obama and other leaders of western European nations is far higher and the degree of unease among the public is growing. You may thank Larry Summers, Robert Rubin and the other members of the “do nothing” chorus around President Obama for this unfortunate outcome.
It is still not too late for our leaders to get ahead of the accumulating fear that eats away daily at public confidence in currencies and markets from Los Angeles to Berlin. But the first step to turning things around is to understand that doing nothing, as has been the strategy in both the US and EU since 2008, is no longer a viable strategy. When the public sees government and private institutions acting with purpose to address the core issue of solvency, then confidence will start to recover.
“I think people outside [the religious right] really underestimate how many different personalities there are in this world, and how their audiences access them through numerous venues: television networks like the Trinity Broadcasting Network, GOD TV, and DayStar; numerous conferences across the country, and other multimedia sources. Just as people discover someone new through these sources, they frequently reject certain personalities for a number of reasons: their profit motive, their authoritarianism, unattainable demands to “get closer to God” through “radical prayer,” or what the consumer comes to see as false teaching. Like you said, theological disagreements among these folks are largely inconsequential from a broad political perspective; the overarching Christian nation ideology, along with opposition to secularism, LGBT rights and abortion rights, and favoring public prayer and Ten Commandments and so forth are unifying. But the idea that the [New Apostolic Reformation] in particular—as opposed to the broader apparatus and movement the religious right has built over four decades—is somehow, in a vacuum, more powerful, or more authoritarian, or more threatening to democracy is a view that is far too narrow, ahistorical, and uninformed.”—Sarah Posner | Beyond Alarmism and Denial in the Dominionism Debate
We have begun the election march of the trolls. They have crawled out of the sewers of public relations firms, polling organizations, the commercial media, the two corporate political parties and elected office to fill the airwaves with inanities and absurdities until the final inanity—the 2012 presidential election. Journalists, whose role has been reduced to purveyors of court gossip, whether on Fox or MSNBC, descend in swarms to report pseudo-events such as the Ames straw poll, where it costs $30 to cast a ballot. And then, almost immediately, they blithely inform us that the Iowa poll is meaningless now that Rick Perry has entered the race. The liberal trolls, as they do in every election cycle, are beating their little chests about the perfidiousness of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama. It is a gesture performed not to effect change but to burnish their credentials as moralists. They know, as do we, that they will trot obediently into the voting booth in 2012 to do as they are told. And everywhere the pulse of the nation is being assiduously monitored through polls and focus groups, not because our opinions matter, but because our troll candidates understand that by parroting back to us our own viewpoints they can continue to spend their days lapping up corporate money with other trolls in the two houses of Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court and television studios where they chat with troll celebrity journalists.
The only commodity the troll state offers is fear. The corporate trolls, such as the Koch brothers, terrify the birthers, creationists, militia lovers, tea party militants, right-to-life advocates, Christian fascists and God-fearing red-white-and-blue patriots by proclaiming that unless they vote for Perry or Mitt Romney or Michele Bachmann or some other product of the lunatic fringe of our political establishment, the American family will be destroyed, our children will be corrupted and the country will turn socialist. Barack Obama, who they whisper is a closet Muslim, will take away their guns, raise their taxes and bring homosexual couples into kindergartens.
For those, usually liberals, still rooted in a reality-based world, one that believes in evolutionary science, the corporate trolls offer a more refined, fear-based message of impending doom: If you abandon the Democrats we will be governed by Bible-thumping idiots who will make us chant the Pledge of Allegiance in mass rallies and teach the account of Genesis as historical and biological fact in our nation’s schools.
And underneath it all runs the mantra chanted in unison by all the trolls—terror, terror, terror. The troll establishment spins us like windup dolls and laughs all the way to the bank. What idiots, they think. And every election cycle we prove them right. [swallow whole]
“This is a warning to America that the converging catastrophes of climate change, energy scarcities, and failures of capital formation add up to more than the sum of their parts in their power to drive a complex society into a ditch - no matter what a moron like Rick Perry might say. But, of course, political ramifications will follow. There will be a lot of pissed-off people in the Northeast USA. Maybe they’ll even start giving the grievance-bloated folk of Dixieland some competition in the politics of the bitter harvest. Oddly, the Siamese twin states of Vermont and New Hampshire are political polar opposites. Vermont, the land of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and other squooshy culture tropes from the attic of Hippiedom, is about as Left-progressive as it gets. New Hampshire’s license plate says, “Live Free or Die,” and that same draconian mood defines the state’s politics: hard Right. It’s like a few counties of Georgia shook loose and drifted north somehow. My guess is that the political rage will be about equal on both fronts, as folks are left stranded, or homeless, or without a going business they thought they had only a day or so ago. And my further guess is that their mood will afford some insight into the extreme impotence, incompetence, and mendacity of both major political parties. As I’ve said before in this space, think of these times as not unlike the convulsive 1850s, preceding the worst crisis of our history.”—James Howard Kunstler (via lilmaj132)
On the New Apostolic Reformation, “The Response”, and Rick Perry milking christians for the cash moh-nee.
Sarah Posner: There’s another crucial point here that I think is frequently overlooked by some people who focus too hard on the [New Apostolic Restoration] rhetoric without contextualizing it: how people actually live and experience these movements.
Anthea Butler: That actually reminds me of our very first conversation about Sarah Palin, and the subsequent interviews I did about her during the 2008 election. Remember the video of Bishop Muthee laying hands on her? I said back then: this isn’t different than what goes on in any Pentecostal church in America or around the world. However, looking back, what I should have said was that there are streams of people crossing each other, and what is happening can have a multiplicity of meanings. That is how to think about the NAR, dominionism, all of these movements that people are involved in. In evangelical and Pentecostal churches, most people have a home church they identify with, but you have a favorite pastor or evangelist that you listen to occasionally. Studying scripture means you don’t just read the Bible, you read devotional books, and books designed to help your spiritual walk or the church broadly construed. That is the problem with focusing in only on NAR and dominionism. If you don’t know the everyday context of how people, churches, and organizations deal with these broad-based movements, it can sound like a vast conspiracy theory. People who are in that web don’t often recognize differences, or they don’t care about them. They care about their spiritual lives, and that’s what keeps these movements going. They can go from one meeting to the next if they have the funds to do so, and the highs are good. Who doesn’t want to go to a meeting that feeds your soul where you meet like-minded people? All of the groups are enmeshed in a symbiotic web. These evangelists’, apostles’, and leaders’ messages are the commodity, and you have to buy the books, conferences, and other materials in order to get the blessings. I know that will seem distasteful and a caricature to some, but these events are well-attended, and at a hundred bucks a person, revenues from book and DVD sales. Conferences and meetings like Lou Engles’ The Call are not just prayer meetings, they are Christian marketplaces, with all sorts of spiritual wares being sold. As to the political interaction, all of these groups know they don’t have the numbers alone to bring folks in, they need to interact for like-minded causes. Electing a “Christian” is a like-minded cause, whether you believe in dominionism or not. A politician like Perry knows that he has to get these groups to coalesce together on his side in order to get votes and support. Whether Perry believes what they preach is up for debate, but it is clear that he is willing to use them to the fullest extent to gain the support he needs for a presidential run.
As you say, not everyone who went to Perry’s The Response is a dominionist. read all, worth it.
“NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, perhaps our nation’s preeminent climate scientist, was arrested with over 140 others at the White House today. Scientists, environmentalists, farmers, students, and other concerned citizens were gathered in the nation’s capitolto protest the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that threatens to ruin many pristine habitats and spell certain disaster for the global climate system. Their stirring acts of civil disobedience made for yet another dramatic day in the series of scheduled protests that continue to put pressure on President Barack Obama to cancel the 1,700 pipeline.”
HELP. I’m talking to an Ayn Rand bot. He’s an intelligent human being for the most part, just one of the many that have been sucked up into her selfish little vacuum of self important motives. What is your opinion of Ayn Rand? What would you say to someone drinking her kool-aid? Much Appreciated.
I’ve said it before. I consider Rand and her philosophy to be the epistemological equivalent of methadone. A controlled dose of objectivism is a hell of a lot better than the dirty street junk most people shoot into their arms, but it’s still no way to live.
No doubt your friend is an intelligent person. Most people who bother to pick up a book these days are above average, and nobody goes hot tubbing with Ayn Rand without first peeling off their Sunday School clothes.
Still, she’s an easy trap. Her philosophy is very simple to grasp, and it’s incredibly satisfying to the ego. It’s candy being sold as health food, so naturally people gobble it up.
At its best, objectivism is a gateway philosophy. It’s epistemology with training wheels, the stuff teenagers read before moving on to the real thing.
At its worst, selfish assholes latch on to her value system of ethical egoism and rational self interest, and they get absolutely giddy with what they perceive to be her rejection of altruism. Their surface interpretation of her moral code gives them every excuse to be narcissistic pricks who pride themselves on taking without giving.
What they fundamentally misunderstand, and to an extent what Rand herself misunderstood, is that an ethical system based on living for the sake of one’s self as opposed to living for the sake of others is completely missing the point. There is no self. There is no other.
Obviously, if you start talking to a selfish asshole about ego-less notions of one love or one universal consciousness, he’s just gonna shake his head and think you’re a new-age fruitcake. It’s a total fucking waste of time. After all, using mind-based arguments to try and rationally convince an ego that it doesn’t exist is impossible. This is why you’re gonna have trouble sobering up someone who’s been drinking kool-aid from the Fountainhead.
Still, the fundamental flaw in Rand’s thinking is that she was never able to separate ego from consciousness. She confused and combined those two inherently different philosophical constructs. I’ll spare you her metaphysical hoop-jumping, but her entire world view is based on the faulty ego-biased premise of our isolated individuality.
Sure, we’re each individuals. We’re born, we live, and we die as discrete units of self, but her philosophy places such primacy on egoism that the whole exercise becomes childish. She presents an “every man for himself” mentality, heroizes the individual, and then narratively extends the positive benefits of her philosophy to its illogical yet idealized conclusion.
I’ll happily concede that on a primal level, operating from a position of rational self-interest is perfectly acceptable. The law of the jungle never really ceases to apply, and there is no doubt a certain kind of virtue in selfishness, but none of it will get you higher than the first couple of rungs on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
They say man cannot live on bread alone. Well, man cannot find happiness, much less enlightenment, on rational self interest alone, regardless of how ethical. This isn’t about proving Rand wrong. It’s about showing your friend that objectivism is an incomplete philosophy.
1:47 PM ET — Wife and Three Children of Qaddafi Enter Algeria, Government Says
Members of Muammar Qaddafi’s family have arrived in Algeria less than a week after rebels gained control of Tripoli and the National Transitional Council moved its headquarters to the capital.
The family members include his wife Sofia, his daughter Aisha, and two sons, Hannibal and Mohammad, with their wives and children, state-run Algérie Presse Service reported today, citing a statement by the country’s foreign ministry. NTC Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon have been informed of their arrival, the statement said.