Friday, August 31, 2007

Then and Now, Zionist Style

Not a lot to add here, except the U.S. recently committed 30 BILLION ("yes, with a B") more of your tax dollars to support this inhumanity. Not only does it deprive you in the US of decent schools, good affordable medical care, safe roads and other things that make a life livable, it makes EVERY U.S. taxpayer complicit in these crimes. Think about that.

Blue Ibis

Khalid Amayreh
Coastal Post
Wed, 29 Aug 2007 23:21 EDT

In 1940, several months after invading Poland in September 1939, the Nazis forced about 500,000 Jews into the Warsaw Ghetto, surrounding it with a high wall. Tens of thousands died from hunger and disease. Eventually, 300,000 were sent to death camps, mainly Treblinka in eastern Poland.

Similarly, Israel is now incarcerating nearly a million and a half helpless Palestinians in the Gaza Strip into a hell similar in nature to the Warsaw Ghetto. The Gaza concentration camp is not only fitted with a wall, but also with every conceivable tool of repression, such as electric fences and watch towers manned by Gestapo-like trigger-happy Jewish soldiers who shoot first and ask questions later.

Moreover, thousands of Israeli soldiers, are surrounding Gaza in a hermetic manner, shooting and killing any Palestinian trying to escape, e.g. enter Israel to search for work or even food.

Palestinian kids survive on bread and tea

Even Palestinian kids playing soccer near the hateful fences, are routinely riddled with bullets or reduced into pieces of human flesh by the "most moral army in the world."

As a result of these genocidal designs, Gazans in the thousands are dying of malnutrition and illness resulting from anemia. Moreover, Children in great numbers are surviving on a meager and totally inadequate diet consisting mainly of bread and tea.

This week, this writer contacted several Gaza families and asked to speak with the kids. The answers I received were truly horrifying. I did speak with 10 kids and was shocked to find out that seven of the kids told me their diet during the previous week consisted mainly of bread and tea in addition to some tomatoes.

The grown-ups, especially the parents, wouldn't reveal the extent of the unfolding tragedy they are facing. They would only say a terse "al hamdulillah" (thank God). But the tone of their voices tells us that they are in real distress.

The Gaza Strip made into the largest detention camp in the world

The harsh blockade of Gaza didn't start in mid June when Hamas took over the small seaside region after defeating and ousting the American-backed Fatah forces led by Muhammed Dahlan and cohorts who had been planning, with American dollars and arms, to murder the Hamas leadership in order to receive a certificate of good conduct from the Bush Administration and Israel.

In fact, Gaza has been effectively under siege since 2000 when the second Palestinian intifada or uprising broke out. Since, then Gazans have been barred from exporting their products and produces.

Moreover, Israel, which has been telling the world that it had ended its occupation of Gaza, still retains full control of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, thus reducing the Gaza Strip into the largest detention camp in the world.

To make a long story short, Gazans are being pushed into a situation very similar to that which prevailed at the Ghetto Warsaw. They are not allowed to work (unemployment in Gaza stands at more than 70%), they are not allowed to travel abroad, they are not allowed to enter Israel for work, they are not allowed even to go fishing offshore since Israeli gunboats would open fire at any fishing-boat daring to go more than a mile off the shore.

The criminal and draconian measures are meant to further impoverish Gazans to the extent that they won't be able to purchase food.

The declared Israeli goal behind starving and tormenting the people of Gaza is to force them to revolt against the democratically-elected government, led by the Hamas movement, and settle for a quisling-like government that would sell-out Palestinian national rights, including the paramount right of return for Palestinian refugees uprooted from their homes and villages by Jewish gangs in 1948, when Israel was created.

It is believed that up to two thirds of the inhabitants of Gaza are refugees. Hence, the intensive repression and coercion being meted out to these people in order to force them to give up their right to return to their homes and villages in what is now Israel.

It is crystal clear that Israel is steadily but certainly effecting a Nazi-like approach toward the people of the Gaza Strip.

The PR-conscious Israeli government, however, is hoping that the world will not take proactive measures to expose the creeping genocide in Gaza . This is why Israel is allowing limited shipments of food products, such as flour and cooking oil, into Gaza, to avoid a possible international outcry.

However, the supplies are conspicuously meager and don't meet the basic nutritional needs of the vast bulk of Gaza children.

Unfortunately, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) seems to be conniving and colluding with Israel to keep the unfolding Gaza tragedy as silent as possible.

UNRWA officials do make idle statements from time to time, warning of an impending "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza. However, the UN agency often refrains from "saying it as it is," probably for fear of upsetting the Israelis and the Americans, who apparently don't like to hear words like "starvation, and concentration camps" with regard to the situation in Gaza find their way to the international media.

Israel is undoubtedly the central culprit in this man-made tragedy in Gaza, since it is up to her to allow Gazans to obtain food and export their products and especially their produces to the West Bank. Such a step, which would cost Israel nothing, would help Gazans obtain some meager income to feed their children.

However, Israel, as always, has apparently chosen to be faithful to long traditions of callousness and moral depravity, not unlike the way the Nazis treated their victims.

US administration, Abbas as guilty as Israel

But Israel is not the only guilty party in this tragedy. The US is actually as criminal as Israel, since the Bush administration is urging Israel to keep up the pressure on Gaza.

In fact, American officials keep congratulating their Israeli colleagues on the "success" of the blockade against Gaza. I wonder what kind of politicians are those who enjoy watching children starve to death? [Hint: try here] Are they human beings or cannibalistic beasts? This question ought to be directed to Condoleezza Rice whose behavior toward the Palestinian people is probably a thousand times worse than the behavior of the worst American white slave masters toward here forefathers.

Maybe it is naive to appeal to Rice's sense of justice and morality since her manifestly criminal record with regard to the Palestinian cause leaves no doubt as to the woman's unethical and evil character.

But if the Bush administration, which has been carrying a holocaust in Iraq, and Israel, which has been effecting ethnic cleansing in Palestine in the name of Jewish nationalism, can be "excused" on the ground that only evil can be expected from evil governments, the Palestinian regime of Mahmoud Abbas has no excuse whatsoever to collude and connive with Israel against the very people it is claiming to serve. [Psychopaths recognize each other, and band together when it serves their individual interests.]

Such behavior, including the tacit and implicit encouragement of Israel to tighten the blockade of Gaza, and keep hundreds of thousands of encircled Gazans hungry and thoroughly tormented, characterizes quislings and agents of a foreign occupation.

Clearly, Abbas and his aides have much to explain to the Palestinian people. They also have much to atone for. This is if they still possess any sense of shame. [Don't bet on it. They will tell you they are good patriots.]

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Just Say NO to Guli. Here's Why

Ken Silverstein
Harper's Magazine
Tue, 28 Aug 2007 09:45 EDT

"The Republican Party is in desperate straits. How else to explain that Rudy Giuliani - a former mayor with no foreign policy experience - is the Republican front-runner, largely based on his supposed foreign policy expertise?"

So opens an amusing critique penned by conservative writer Doug Bandow about Giuliani's recent essay in Foreign Affairs. In that essay, Giuliani stated that the next U.S. president "will face three key foreign policy challenges. First and foremost will be to set a course for victory in the terrorists' war on global order." It seems that Democrats, and many Republicans besides Giuliani, just don't understand what needs to be done to confront the terrorist threat. The essay is filled with simplistic, idiotic arguments, and Bandow does a good job of demolishing them.

Let's take just one of Giuliani's insights - "For 15 years, the de facto policy of both Republicans and Democrats has been to ask the U.S. military to do increasingly more with increasingly less. The idea of a post-Cold War 'peace dividend' was a serious mistake - the product of wishful thinking and the opposite of true realism."

Bandow's rejoinder:

In an essay filled with silly nonsense, this statement stands out as being uniquely stupid. Between 1980 and 2000 the Soviet Union disintegrated, the Warsaw Pact disbanded, Maoism disappeared from China, the former Soviet republics and Eastern European satellites gravitated towards America and Europe, and Vietnam opened to the West. As a result, the United States found itself allied with every major industrialized state as well as many former communist countries while, as Colin Powell famously put it, America's enemies were down to Cuba and North Korea. In this new world, Giuliani believes that the U.S. shouldn't have reduced military spending even a little?

It's easy to see where Giuliani gets his ideas on foreign policy, given the team of foreign policy advisors he announced last month Norman Podhoretz's name attracted the most attention when the list was announced, and with good reason - take a look at this video (posted by Andrew Sullivan), for example, in which Podhoretz portrays a military attack on Iran as not only the best option but the only option.

[Normie's not got a lot of imagination going there, huh? Maybe we should ask a Fifth Grader. They might suggest some dialog.]

There are a number of other notable hardliners advising Giuliani. Charles Hill of the Hoover Institution, the campaign's chief advisor, joined a number of leading neo-conservatives in signing a September 20, 2001 letter to President Bush that said that even if Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, "any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove [him] from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism."

[I guess Hill missed this shot of Rusmfeld and Saddam making friendly. With "friends" like the US, who needs enemies?]

During a March 2003 debate at Yale, shortly before the Iraq war began, Hill said: "The U.S. has the power to do this operation swiftly, and it will be a war that will not do great damage to Iraq, to its installations, to its infrastructure, or to its people." [ Do I hear a Yeah, right???!!] He downplayed obstacles and suggestions that the financial cost of the war might be huge, saying the long-terms benefits of an invasion would be huge, and would include "the restoration of American credibility and decisiveness. We'll see an Iraq that is freed from oppression. This situation will also do a lot to transform the Israeli-Palestinian situation." (This is the tip of the iceberg. Do a Google search on Hill and Iraq and you'll find a trove of false prophecies.)

There's also Martin Kramer, who spent 25 years at Tel Aviv University and whose Middle East policy can basically be summarized as "What's Good for Israel," and former Senator Robert Kasten of Wisconsin, whose career was best known for his loopy attacks on the United Nations and for being arrested for drunk driving after running a red light and driving down the wrong side of the road.

I asked Augustus Richard Norton of Boston University, an expert adviser to the Iraq Study Group, for his take on Giuliani's crew. He dubbed the group "AIPAC's Dream Team."

"What I find fascinating," he said, "is how skewed this team seems to be in terms of the regional focus. Most of the members are well known as Israel advocates. There is no real expertise on Africa, Asia, Latin America, or much of Europe."

[And there you have it. Just say NO to Guli!]

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Listening for Truth Amid the Drums of War

Scott Horton
Harper's Magazine
Mon, 27 Aug 2007 16:41 EDT

Hardly a week passes in which I don't get a message from someone within the great bureaucratic wasteland on the Potomac about the Bush Administration's latest schemes relating to war against Iran. Now we're going through another one of those periods in which the pace is quickening and the pitch is becoming more intense. I continue to put the prospects for a major military operation targeting Iran down as "likely," and the time frame drawing nearer. When will Bush give the go ahead? I think late this year or early next would be the most congenial time frame from the perspective of the war party. Some of the developments that go into my call:

* Labeling the Revolutionary Guards as 'Terrorists.' Last week the Bush Administration floated the idea that it would schedule Iran's Revolutionary Guards (an official part of the Iranian government) as a terrorist organization. This is related to the Administration's propaganda drive to portray the Revolutionary Guard as deeply engaged in training terrorists in Iraq. (Iran is deeply engaged in outfitting and supporting factions loyal to it in Iraq, as is Saudi Arabia and other states.) Of course, the Revolutionary Guards answer directly to Supreme Leader Khamenei, so in taking this position, the Bush Administration is essentially saying that it has decided to ditch an initiative that focuses on skirting Ahmadinejad by going directly to Khamenei - that is, it is limiting its diplomatic options, yet again. No real surprise there, since it's clear - notwithstanding statements from Condoleezza Rice about the exhaustion of diplomatic approaches - that the White House (read: Dick Cheney) places no store whatsoever in a diplomatic effort for Iran.

* Preparation for a 'Dirty War'? The branding of the Revolutionary Guard as terrorists raises troubling prospects with respect to targeting and military operations in Iran. Based on prior Bush Administration postures (adopted with respect to the Taliban, and units of Saddam Hussein's military), it would mean that they are denied Geneva Convention protections in the coming war and could be treated to "highly coercive interrogation techniques" (i.e., torture) if captured. In sum, it looks like the Bush Administration is busily preparing for another "dirty war."

* Costing for Ground Operations in Iran. In the last two weeks the Department of Defense has begun pushing regular contractors very aggressively for "unit costs" to be used for logistical preparations for reconstruction and ground operations in a certain country of West Asia. In the last week, the requests have gotten increasingly harried. And what, exactly, is the country in question? Iran.

* 'There Will Be an Attack on Iran.' Former senior CIA analyst Bob Baer has a piece in the current Time Magazine called "Prelude to an Attack on Iran." Baer also sees a quickening pace and an increasing likelihood of a sustained military assault on Iran, driven by the Neocons. Baer develops the scenario, showing how the Revolutionary Guards will be portrayed as terrorists, they will be linked to armor-penetrating projectiles used in Iraq, and this will be taken as a pretext to wage a war against Iran. He quotes an Administration official who says these explosive devices "are a casus belli for this Administration. There will be an attack on Iran."

* Bolton Wants Bombs in Six Months. John Bolton appeared on Fox News and was asked a question based on Bob Baer's report. Bolton "absolutely hopes" it is true that bombs will start falling on Iran within six months.

* The Predictable Role of Fox News. Fox News is intimately intertwined with the Administration's propaganda machine, as a study of its coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War shows (and similarly, its decision to all but pull the plug on more recent coverage of the dismal situation in Iraq). Producer Robert Greenwald has done a terrific summary of how Fox News continues a propaganda build-up to support military action against Iran which closely parallels what it did for its masters in the run-up to the Iraq War. Catch the video here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

American Psycho? No, American Entrepreneur!

Smoking Mirrors nails the world condition most eloquently. Readers of Ponerology will not only agree with the accuracy of the assessment, but will find a cogent theory of the cause of such misery. Find the book here.

Blue Ibis
A Generation of Vipers with the Patrick Bateman Shimmy

Les Visible
Smoking Mirrors
Sat, 25 Aug 2007 08:41 EDT

A few years ago, Bret Easton Ellis wrote a book called American Psycho. It was about a psychopath called Patrick Bateman who killed people in horrible ways with no remorse whatsoever. The book was roundly condemned, often reviewed as without merit of any kind. The result was that it flew off of the shelves and made the author a pot of money. It later got made into a film with Christian Bale.

In recent times we've seen some disturbing characters come down the pike. From Charles Manson on we've had an epidemic of serial killers. We've had the celebrated cases of John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dalmer and Ted Bundy. Then there have been the Menendez Brothers and O.J. Simpson. A certain personality type has become commonplace in society and spans the gamut from the very poor to the obscenely rich. This personality type is defined as a Psychopath. They've always been around but never so many as today.

(Yes, I know the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath and we're going to go with psychopath for the purposes of this essay.)

It's a common misperception to believe that these types are exclusively confined to areas of criminal behavior, usually resulting in murder, though often engaging in other crimes against person and society. The fact is that these types often move through life without ever being directly engaged in 'obvious' criminal enterprise. But one thing you can be sure of, they hurt other people. They enjoy it. It makes them feel good; if they actually feel anything at all.

My interpretation of a psychopath is a person whose reptile brain has murdered their conscience. This is their first offense and it is against themselves. Some seem to have been born this way. Some are forged out of their environment at the hands of their parents and other forces. It's my belief that they are predisposed in this direction. Many of us have suffered greatly but we don't turn out like that. Often our suffering makes us into better people than we might have been.

For some reason, at certain times, these psychopaths flower; the earth has the right chemical balance, there's the right amount of sun and rain and so on and so forth. I'd blame materialism but that's my take.

Bush and Cheney, Rumsfield, Wolfowitz, Rice, Libby and their financiers... they are all psychopaths. The radio talk show hosts; celebrities of every stripe, bankers and lawyers, doctors and priests, academics and accountants, scientists and mine owners, stockbrokers and New Age guru's. You can find psychopaths in every field working for the one objective that is the focus of them all... self interest; and woe to those who get in their way.

Often they work alone. Not infrequently they band together; in business, politics and religion. They take language and they give it their own meaning. They smile a lot and they are very engaging. You'll get the same smile when they sell you your house as what you get when they take it away from you. It's all the same to them. In their minds everyone is fair game and everyone is, or should be, working for them.

They see the thousands dying in Iraq; the people suffering in Darfur, Palestine and much of Africa as something akin to animals who do not feel pain as humans do - not that that would matter. They see economic possibility; "Okay people, let's think about how we can get some aid money for these people and then invest it in that sub prime hedge fund and then sell it to the Europeans and Asians." Or, "You know, it looks to me that the Janjaweed could use some better weaponry but first, let's put some pressure on Congress to intervene so we can ratchet up the conflict and increase the need."

On and on it goes, centuries of suffering; tens of thousands impaled on stakes, thousands sealed still alive into walls as if they were some sort of strange mortar, hundreds of thousands starved and tormented behind razor wire. We always look back and think how uncivilized they were. We believe that we are civilized in our cities, in our suits, moving though the corridors of the workplace, making money - gambling on disaster and mathematical fluctuations where no matter what happens you're okay if you bet right.

Wars created for no other motive than profit and stock exchanges filled with expensively dressed men and women buying and selling, based on commodities dependent on death and destruction, with lawyers and accountants to handle their affairs except for the ones they're having in their townhouse on the nights they don't go home to Westchester or Greenwich.

People bopping down the street with the world sealed away by ipods and cellphones, drowning in entertainments designed to focus their attention on their own needs. When the screams become too loud they can just turn up the volume.

People in cafes and diners celebrating the murder of endless scores of people who had no part in the condition created out of lies to justify their good fortune in being innocent bystanders and collateral damage; people who see people as numbers, people detached in a nation of sociopaths who drive by people living in cardboard boxes in the richest country on earth where tens of thousands of children are working the streets as prostitutes, where the easy flow of opiates is guaranteed by the protectionism of the Afghan war whose profits flow into the accounts of the same people in suits who bet right, invested right and "if I don't do it somebody will." Money has no conscience and neither do they.

These are just a few of the thoughts that run through my mind while I trace the dotted line as it weaves from point A to point B and beyond; a tortured highway of connections between a piece of paper signed in one place that, a week later, activates an army of Patrick Batemans because that Patrick Bateman signed the paper on instructions from his banker who is also Patrick Bateman.

Some people think this is funny. Some people think this is business as usual and some people think it's none of their business. Maybe it's none of my business either in this generation of vipers.

Screwing over the competition, driving the competition out of business, forcing new businesses into economic peril with the assistance of complicit bankers and then buying up someone's dreams for a song... this is considered smart business. You get patted on the back. You get oral sex from the children of the people you ruined and everyone laughs and has a martini. Yes, it's that bad.

The corporations don't have to worry. When they overextend and threaten the survival of an entire country, the banks, with the people's money will bail them out. You see it every day. The rule of law, that instrument which guarantees fair play and equitable conditions that punishes evil doers? Justice is a decision in their favor. Justice is blind because they put her eyes out. Then they tore her clothes from her body and used her and then sold her to a McBrothel. When she can't perform any longer they'll juice her into Soylent Green frappe and sell her at Starbucks.

It's got to be the nature of the system. It's got to be that the system got progressively altered over time until it was a willing whore for corporate interests. Once that was established then everything from the education industry to the music you hear was all tailored toward creating a nation of Patrick Batemans who are conditioned not to care about anybody but themselves.

It's a hard road you've chosen and it grows darker by the day. With no one to stop it, it runs straight up to the gates of Hell. (A TV game show buzzer sounds.) "Shut up Cassandra, nobody wants to hear that crap."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Being Outsourced by the Man? Read This.

If you are one of the millions living in quiet terror for your livelihood and by extension, your life, there is is more bad news for you. This is not, despite "Cinderalla Man", just the "way things are". Things in fact, are arranged and most decidedly not for the benefit of the majority. This is common and yet not common knowledge. We all talk about the "Man". Well the Man is a psychopath. Knowledge is the means to protect yourself and your loved ones. Do everything you can to get it.

Blue Ibis

Henry See
Signs of the Times
Thu, 23 Aug 2007 14:04 EDT

We all know stories of qualified and skilled people who can't find work or who are passed over for promotion when someone who specializes in office politics gets the nod. This situation is another example of the insider/outsider dichotomy I discussed in my last article. It not only applies to Washington, it also applies to the facts and events of our daily lives. How many Americans are working for companies that are "offshoring" jobs to India and China? Ordinary people are on tenterhooks with the announcement of each round of layoffs while management have that glassy-eyed glare of bigger stock options and pay-offs when the year's profit margins improve and stock prices soar.

One of the consequences of such policies is that society loses the input and skills of its most gifted members. Positions that could be filled with people capable of bringing creative and thoughtful solutions to problems are instead filled with individuals whose only skill is the ability to play the game. They are often mediocre or incompetent and get others to do their work for them, while they, of course, claim the credit. Society as a whole loses as this great wealth of creativity is wasted.

But the losses are not only seen on the larger scale; they hit home more directly in the lives of those laid off or who live in a permanent state of fear.

Here are some quotes from email I have received recently describing just this. One correspondent wrote:

Some life, being on the treadmill constantly trying to outrun 'redundancy'. I do not like where the 'new world order' has been herding us. A century ago I would have lived my entire life doing what I spent years training for in the first place.

Think about that. Think about what an important shift such a change is in our lives and how it affects all of us, how it puts us in a permanent state of anxiety over the future. We can spend thousands of dollars on an education and have no assurance whatsoever that we will even be able to find employment in our chosen field. Think about your fathers or grandfathers who may have had a job doing the same work throughout their careers and who believed that their children would have the same choice.

If the shift just described isn't enough to leave us anxious and insecure, what about the nefarious policy called by that whitewashed label "outsourcing" and "offshoring" of jobs?

Another correspondent writes:

I mentioned impending layoffs at my software-corp employer recently. I survived, but some good performers were let go. "5% company-wide" translated into more in some areas and less in others, up to 25% in some. People in my office are shaken. Others remind me that layoffs always result in additional staff leaving and that management often actually intends and wants this.

Disturbingly, it was let out in advance, in confidence to some people, some of the names of those to be laid off. I wonder if it was to see if secrets could be kept.

Then, a few weeks later he wrote back to fill me in.

.. ah, but it's not over. The cuts made up the dollar shortfall last quarter, but the execs dropped new bombshells last week. First, they laid off a couple of VPs unexpectedly. Next day, they told to the company they *must* raise profit margin to avoid hostile takeover attempts, so they'll begin "aggressively offshoring" as many positions as possible, and that "some people will lose their jobs."

The company's offices in India and especially China will grow. The CEO said he should have done it long ago. This is risky because it puts a pall over everyone for months to come. Multiple people I know resigned in the wake of this announcement.

You have to wonder whether or not this permanent state of anxiety is one of the goals of these policies and these announcements. Read through this explanation of Transmarginal Inhibition and see if it doesn't describe what is happening to the work force in the United States and elsewhere. Pavlovian shock methods are being used to soften us up and prepare us for the next blow. The regular "terrorist" alerts issued following 911 serve the same purpose.

The correspondent continues:

One woman who identified herself as working in Accounts noted that every department was cutting costs to the bone, but wanted to know why the execs didn't -- she asked them why they constantly put in for approval of "budget exceptions" on their expense accounts that were approved without question, even though she felt they were unnecessary. Their answer was simply that, "we try to stick to budget, but sometimes exceptions are necessary."

Ah, yes, "sometimes exceptions are necessary". And we know where these exceptions are always found: benefiting the insiders. Which reminds me of a story told to me by an Irish friend a few years ago. The day after the same type of "out-sourcing" layoffs were announced at a company in Dublin, the CEO drove up to the office in his brand new BMW 500 series car, expensive enough to pay the salary of several employees. Back then the process was called down-sizing.

So "exceptions are necessary", even in other countries. The infection crosses national boundaries, and the woman who had the courage to speak up very likely will lose her job. But isn't it better to take a stand?

The problem is, these kinds of schemes are inherent in the logic of a system that values economic results over the lives of those doing the work. The faulty premise is that the good of the people is taken care of by the "invisible hand" of the marketplace, which boils down to, somehow, things will just take care of themselves, with the caveat: as long as you are industrious and are willing to work. You all know the great American myth that anyone can be a success, that anyone can be president.(1) This great American myth about individual success puts the burden of failure squarely on the individual. Failure is never the fault of the system or the people who benefit from the system. It is always your fault.

Convenient, isn't it? Do you think it is only a coincidence?

So how does one learn to benefit from the system, or, in other words, to succeed? By mimicking those who have already attained some success. And how does one do that? By becoming ruthless, back-stabbing, and only looking out for one's own interests. In other words, one must become sick to survive. One must encourage the propagation of the virus of pathological thought processes within oneself by killing any manifestation of consideration of others that might prevent you from getting what you want or what you have convinced yourself you deserve. Once the values of the insiders become the values of society as a whole, once their distorted and inhuman way of seeing the world becomes the accepted way of seeing and understanding the world, the only way to succeed is to become like them. You could call it the Stockholm Syndrome on a societal level.

An important element in this pathological way of viewing the world that one must internalize in order to succeed is the acceptance of the various false divisions that the insiders promote in order to hide the fundamental insider/outsider divide. Think of how race, nationality, language, and religion are all used to sow dissension and discord among outsiders. Do you think this process just happens by chance? An example that is prominent now is the question of illegal immigration and what to do with the long border joining the United States and Mexico. We see a vehement discussion on the need to close off America's borders.

But, really, what group is the problem here? Is it the Mexican workers who come to the United States, or is it the insiders who claim the vast majority of the wealth and resources for themselves? And to what extent are the insiders responsible for the large migration of workers into the US through decades of injustice and exploitation of Mexico by US corporations in collaboration with corrupt Mexican politicians and officials? And that holds for other countries in Latin America and the world. Do you think that these people would leave their homes and families if they could make a living where they were? Would you?

Which raises another question: What do you want out of life?

Probably security, as in having a home and enough money to get by, is high on the list. A safe place to raise your kids and a satisfying job that leaves you time to do other things than work and pay the bills would likely also have a place. Those are the needs and desires of normal people everywhere. Someone with a healthy psychological profile doesn't need large sums of money that he or she will never spend. He or she doesn't need multiple houses. He or she wants a job that is rewarding and satisfying and that provides enough income to pay his or her way and provide for his or her family. He or she wants to live in peace and security and not see a son or daughter go off to fight in a war overseas. He or she doesn't want to see a home-grown, para-military police force patrol the streets of their hometown, such as we saw used against the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, much less the thousands of foreign troops.

The Mexicans that come to the US want the same thing. Their goals are the goals of normal Americans. They share the goals of ordinary people everywhere. The ordinary Muslims, who we are told are the source of all of the problems in the Middle East, also want the same thing. So if this world of peace and security is what we want, why are we so far from achieving it?

We are told that it is because we all have a dark side, the animal part of our nature that breaks out every so often and wreaks havoc and destruction. In response to that, I would ask each of you, do you not see a difference between a violent act that comes out of the heat of emotion and a violent act that is coldly planned in advance? Would you be capable of planning the destruction of another country, including the deaths of over 1 million people, in a cold and rational manner, with the same emotional detachment that you would draw up the plans for the construction of a house? If you were running a profitable company, would you be capable of eliminating the jobs of thousands of workers, creating anxiety, suffering, and distress, simply to increase your profit margin by a few percentage points?

The insiders can and do make their plans in this way. They have no qualms about it. Their violence, be it physical or psychological, is not born of stress or overworked emotions. It is emotionless and calculated. They then invent slogans, theories, and excuses to justify their deviant plans, convincing us that it is done in the name of freedom and democracy or because there is a threat to our security.

The real threat to our security comes from those who can calmly make plans for war.

If normal people, ordinary people, were able to get beyond the divisions sown by the insiders and unite to claim what is rightfully ours, power and control over our own lives, the insiders would be where they belong: on the outside. Why should a small percentage of the population control the vast majority of the wealth? Why should they have the control over life and death decisions that concern the majority? Why should they impose their cold and calculated view of the world on those of us who value human contact, experience, and intimacy over money and power?

Whatever justification or rationalization springs to mind as you read these words has been implanted within you by people who do not have your best interests at heart. It is not their sons and daughters who are in Iraq. It is not their future that is put into jeopardy through downsizing, offshoring, and outsourcing. Using the media, these justifications and rationalizations are repeated over and over again until we accept them at face value, until we begin to think like them.

Certainly, groups subjected to injustice have tried to unite in the past. The problem was they were uniting over the wrong rallying point. Class, religion, nationality, none of these strike at the root of the problem, and therefore they can only go so far in achieving a working unity. The one issue that touches the root is that of conscience. How do you treat your neighbor? How do you treat your family? Moreover, without an understanding of psychopathy and other pathologies, it was easy for these types to join such movements and eventually turn them away from their original aims. People who are incapable of putting themselves in another's shoes, of genuinely feeling what it is like to be in another's position, are incapable of forming any lasting unity because they can never place the interests of someone else before their own. They are never capable of true compromise, that is, compromise that doesn't come with the baggage of self-righteous sacrifice or deep-seated and hidden resentment and their subsequent plans for revenge or retribution.

The fact of the matter is that our lives are controlled in almost every aspect by decisions over which we have no say, be it political decisions by the insiders in Washington or other centers of power, economic decisions by our bosses whose goal is to maximize profits at the expense of providing secure working environments for their employees, or decisions over what it is permissible to think and what ideas will be drummed into our heads through the media, to name but a few. Normal people, ordinary people, people of conscience live in an environment that does not express our inner nature, that is not the manifestation of our ability to empathize and care for others, and until we become aware of this fact, we, too, are infected. How will we ever be able to create a different world if we do not root out the insider virus that has taken root in us?

(1) Well, looking at Bush, that second phrase is true in a certain sense. Even someone completely unqualified to lead the US can become president, but you know that is not what I mean.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

FOX ATTACKS: Iran (sound familiar??)

This is part of the fruit of the destruction of the education system in the US. FOX can re-run such crap, confident that the vast majority of citizens won't have a clue they're "being fooled again". Don't be one of them!! Get real news at Signs of the Times.

Blue Ibis

Fox Does Unto Iran As It Did Unto Iraq

Robert Greenwald and Juan Cole
Brave New Films

Rupert Murdoch wants to kill your 18 year-olds in a fruitless war with Iran. Robert Greenwald's video shows how Faux Cable News is running the same scam on Iran that it ran on Iraq, with side by side footage so you can see the Goebbels techniques at work. Liberals don't like anything that smacks of censorship, but I really think our body public won't be safe from this nefarious media conspiracy until we mount an effective campaign of advertiser boycott against the corporations who underwrite this fascist horse manure.

I remember very clearly the daily fearmongering led by FOX as they cheered for war with Iraq. The 24/7 images, sound effects, yelling and threatening were an ever-present drumbeat for war. We had to invade, and we had to invade now.. anyone who didn't see that was a traitor. They viciously attacked those of us who worked to get out the truth.

You'd think that with the complete failure in Iraq, those days would be behind us. Sadly, you'd be wrong.

FOX wants war with Iran.

It's almost too ridiculous to believe, but it's shockingly real. We've already compiled over 4 hours of FOX footage... the same images, sound effects, yelling and threatening that led the U.S. to invade Iraq is happening right now to sell a war with Iran. They are saying the exact same things!!

Here is the video evidence, side-by-side with what they said about Iraq.

This time is different though. We're prepared, and we have the means to alert people to what FOX is doing. Everyone has seen the terrible tragedy and the awful price paid by so many Iraqis and Americans. We know this is coming, and we can stop it.

It was about this time in the lead-up to the Iraq war when the other TV networks started following FOX's lead. As CNN's Christiane Amanpour says in the video, they were intimidated by FOX into cheerleading for the Iraq war.


This is a critical moment, and we must send a message to the major television networks urging them to ask tough questions, be skeptical, and tell us what is really happening. They must not follow FOX down the road to another war.

We've put together an open letter to the networks. Will you sign it?

Please pssst the video and forward it to everyone you know. We must raise our voices now. This is so important, we cannot let history repeat itself.

P.S. Here are some recent articles on the Iran issue:

* "Cheney pushes Bush to act on Iran" (Guardian)
* "Prelude to an attack on Iran" (Bob Baer, Time)
* Bush admin labels Iran's 125k Revolutionary Guard troops "terrorists" (New York Times)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

For the Media Savvy (You know who you are . . . .)

Think you've got a good bead on things newswise? Think again. In a world with the degree of media concentration we have, you can bet we are being spoon-fed the news we are supposed to hear. DO all you can to protect the 'Net! From Signs of the Times.

Blue Ibis


It's no coincidence that the American corporate media is the wealthiest communication systems in the world, yet also one of the worst in terms of educating its citizens. Extraordinary riches require extraordinary efforts to divert public attention from extreme inequality and the democratic deficit under which Americans suffer. Despite the abundance of media sources throughout this country, Americans still endure a staggering ignorance regarding the reality of U.S. foreign policy.

Horrendous media coverage no doubt accounts for much of this ongoing tragedy. While there may be more information available today than at any time in history (in light of the rise of cable news, the Internet, and other technological developments), the quality of that news leaves much to be desired. News reports today do not provide the public with the context needed to evaluate the events happening around them in a critical way. This lack of context is of no surprise to those who understand that media coverage is designed to indoctrinate and divert attention, rather than to educate. The prolific comic George Carlin has this insight to share concerning the American media's commitment to class warfare:

"The real owners [are] the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, the judges. And they own all the big media companies so they control just about all the news and information you get to hear. They spend billions every year lobbying to get what they want. Well we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everyone else. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well informed, well educated people. That's against their interests. They want obedient workers."

There's an easy enough way to create apathetic, obedient consumers: simply take away any meaningful content from the media system upon which they rely. This is perhaps best seen in the mass media's extreme reliance on junk food and fluff "news," at the expense of real stories that might have some direct relevance to our lives. A brief survey of television news coverage puts this reality into better perspective. A poll done by the Pew Research Center showed that, in the sample period studied (the week of February 12th, 2007), "While 6% of coverage on all media sectors (newspapers, network TV, cable TV, radio and the Internet) was devoted to [Anna Nicole] Smith's death, fully 20% of cable news focused on this story. At the height of the media's feeding frenzy (the two day period immediately following Smith's death), 24% of all coverage and 50% of cable news was devoted to the story." The effects of such disproportionate coverage did not go unnoticed by viewers or researchers. When asked who they had heard the most about in the news, the "most memorable people" listed in the study was Anna Nicole (recognized by 38% of viewers), followed by George Bush (28%), Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (both 3%), and Nancy Pelosi (1%).[1] In other words, Anna Nicole Smith had more name recognition than all of the other highest scoring figures combined. This is particularly disturbing for those with even a minimal commitment to democracy, considering that the Anna Nicole story ranked at the very bottom of the list in terms stories viewers felt were "deserving more of my time" (only 3% of viewers felt Anna Nicole deserved more of their time, as opposed to 15% and 12% respectively who felt the Iraq war and the 2008 campaign deserved more time). Viewers can look forward to a deluge of celebrity gossip "news" if they tune into the cable news networks this summer. A brief review of CNN shows that in the 99 days of summer from early May through early August, viewers could find a news feature on one of three celebrities (Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Nicole Richie) on average once every other day. That's a pretty extraordinary frequency considering the stories covered just three people. While cable news may be the worst medium to follow for those who are interested learning something from the news, this hardly excuses print news, which has also performed pitifully in terms of publishing meaningful stories and information. A summary of the following stories gives us a better picture of how much is missing from print media.

1. Hugo Chavez & Iran: A New York Times story from early August repeated complaints from Argentinean Jews about Chavez's close ties with their government, in light of Venezuela's close relationship with Iran.[2] As the story explained, such complaints come at a particularly sensitive time, in light of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's supposed promise to "wipe Israel off the map."[3] Of course, Chavez has also been routinely demonized by American media outlets for his alleged "totalitarian" and "anti-American" disposition, which is thought to justify the Bush administration's aggressive and belligerent rhetoric and actions against his government and people.[4]

What you won't hear: Such stories consistently and conveniently leave out the fact that 1. far from an authoritarian, Chavez has been democratically elected twice by the people of Venezuela in heavily monitored elections. Over 72% of Venezuelans voted in the 2006 election, in which Chavez received nearly 63% of the vote - over 20% more than Bush received in 2004 when he claimed to have earned the "political capital" of the American people. Chavez is quite popular due to his populist disposition and his commitment to redistributive politics, much to the chagrin of America's corporate and political elites. 2. Chavez is not "anti-American," at least if we understand "America" to include the 300 million Americans who inhabit it. Far from being a hate-monger, Chavez has actually expressed deep admiration and sympathy for the American people. It is the Bush administration that originally incited antagonism toward Chavez, not the other way around. It doesn't take a genius, but rather access to decent news coverage, to understand why. It is now known that the Bush administration conspired with Venezuelan military leaders during a failed 2002 coup that briefly overthrew Chavez, and ordered for the dissolution of the country's democratically elected National Assembly, its constitution, and Supreme Court. Chavez was quickly returned to power, however, after a popular uprising against the conspirators. Good luck finding such revelations regularly reported in the American press - hysterical anti-Chavez rhetoric plays much better with American elites who are more concerned with destroying Venezeula's democracy than preserving it. Of course, one can only imagine what American reporters would say about Chavez if he had taken part in a coup aimed at overthrowing the Bush administration. At the very least, a military invasion and overthrow against Venezuela would be considered quite legitimate amongst American media reporters, owners, and editors. The equivalent prescription - that the Bush administration must be overthrown by Venezuela - is considered unthinkable in the minds of America's politico-media elite. Better to leave such double standards unaddressed though, as they fail to flatter American political and economic elites.

2. The Anti-War Movement: An August 7th story in the Chicago Tribune reported on the activities of anti-war protestors throughout America's heartland.[5] The article focused on the activities of two protestors, Ashley Casale and Michael Israel, who are traveling to towns and cities across the country spreading their message against the occupation of Iraq.

What you won't hear: Don't expect to actually hear anything substantive about why Casale and Israel are protesting the war - those reasons are nowhere to be found in the Tribune piece. While the story is full of references to various anti-war banners carried by the protestors reading "Peace," "Bring the Troops Home," and "War is not the Answer," there is not a single coherent argument against the war visible throughout the 1,000-word piece. The lack of a context for understanding anti-war arguments is not isolated to the Tribune's coverage. A content analysis of articles printed in 2007 (from January to July) in the New York Times discussing withdrawal from Iraq reveals a similar pattern. At a time when the majority of Americans are opposed to the occupation and favor withdrawal within a year, there are virtually no criticisms of the war (from quoted sources) reflected in the New York Times coverage. Criticisms of the occupation as driven by imperialism or a desire to control Iraqi oil are not mentioned a single time in the coverage. Neither is the challenge that the U.S. is conducting an illegal occupation. No source is cited arguing for withdrawal on grounds condemning U.S. terrorism and American responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Majority Iraqi public opposition to the occupation is never mentioned by a quoted source in a single story either. Concern with excess American military casualties is also left out of quoted sources entirely. Even pragmatic assessments that the war is unwinnable or too costly are not mentioned at all. In fact, the only criticisms that appear at all amongst quoted sources in 2007 coverage include just one mention of Iraqi nationalism as a motivating force for rebellion (in a story on Iraqi political leader Moqtada al-Sadr), and three references to American public opposition to the war. These four quoted sources arguing for withdrawal throughout 2007 can hardly be characterized as fulfilling the requirements of a robust debate over the reasons for staying in or leaving Iraq. On the other hand, arguments for the war from quoted sources are well represented in the New York Times coverage. Sources who oppose withdrawal are cited regularly arguing that Iraq faces civil war in light of current conditions or withdrawal (a claim that shows up in 23% of stories). In addition, those who oppose withdrawal cite the threat of Iraqi terrorists and Iraqi militias/insurgents in 19% and 8% respectively in the Times articles. Far and away, the largest number of justifications for remaining in Iraq come from those who reference the importance of supporting the troops. References to the troops show up in 51% of all the Times stories. It is perhaps fitting that the "support the troops" rationale is the most commonly appearing defense of the war in stories on withdrawal, at least if the point of media coverage is to deter meaningful public policy debate. The "support the troops" claim is clearly the most vacuous of all the pro-war arguments. In-and-of-itself, the claim doesn't constitute a serious defense of the occupation, considering that both pro and anti-war critics cite the need to "support the troops" when arguing in favor of, and in opposition to, withdrawal. Even President Bush has admitted that both pro-and anti-war advocates support the troops. Such references, then, can hardly serve as the crux of a substantive pro-war argument.

3. Iran, the U.S., & the Nuclear "Threat" Iran's alleged nuclear threat to the United States and its allies has been a mainstay of American media coverage for at least the last four years.[6] This is clearly the case when reviewing major media coverage. A content analysis of the Washington Post's news stories, editorials, and op-ed coverage of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons shows a pattern of deception, one-sidedness, and manipulation. A review of over 230 Post news stories, 31 editorials, and 58 op-eds from 2003 through 2007 shows that assertions suggesting Iran may or is developing nuclear weapons appeared twice as often as claims or assertions that Iran is not or may not be developing such weapons. The paper's op-eds and editorials are even more slanted, as 90% of editorials and 93% of op-eds suggest Iran is developing nuclear weapons, as opposed to o% of editorials and 16% of op-eds suggesting Iran may not be developing such weapons. Belligerent rhetoric is also used far more often in regards to the Iranian "threat" (of which there is no evidence of to date) than to the far larger U.S. and Israeli military threat to Iran (which has been announced vocally and shamelessly over and over throughout the American and Israeli press). Belligerent terms are applied twice as often in regards to Iranian development of nuclear weapons. Such terms, portray Iran as a "threat," and discuss the "fear" invoked by a potentially nuclear armed Iran, as well as the "danger" of such a development - as contrasted with similar references to a U.S. "threat," to the "fear" of a U.S. or Israeli attack, or the "danger" both countries pose to Iran.

What you won't hear: While there is plenty of vilification featured throughout the stories on Iranian WMD, you can forget about reading a level-headed review of the actual intelligence available discussing whether Iran is actually developing such weapons. While the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is referenced in 61% of the Post's editorials and 29% of its op-eds, the IAEA's actual conclusion that there is "no evidence" Iran is developing nuclear weapons is referenced in just 1 editorial (3% of all editorials) and in only 1 op-ed (2% of all op-eds). Similarly, the IAEA is cited in 73% of all the Post's news stories on Iranian weapons, despite the fact that the paper tilts by a ratio of 2:1 in favor of assertions that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. It appears that the IAEA itself, rather than its actual conclusions, has propaganda value for U.S. media and political elites. Don't bother looking for damning evidence implicating the U.S. for double standards and hypocrisy in dealing with Iran either - you won't find them. References to the fact that it was the U.S. itself that originally supported Iranian uranium enrichment show up in just 1% of the Post's news stories, and in just 3% of all op-eds, and none of the paper's editorials. The same goes for admissions that the United States is undertaking a similar project of enriching its own uranium for use in a new generation of American nuclear weapons (the major distinction, however, is that the U.S. openly admits to its project, while Iran has admitted to no such program). The very activity that U.S. leaders are condemning Iran for secretly pursuing is arrogantly advocated and pursued by the United States (the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons on civilians), although one wouldn't know any of this from looking at the coverage. U.S. enrichment of uranium for use in nuclear weapons receives not a single mention in Post editorials and op-eds, and receives only fleeting mention in the paper's news stories.[7] Similarly, while the global nuclear non-proliferation treaty (preventing its signatories from developing nuclear weapons) is mentioned in regards to Iran in 38% of the Post's news stories, 39% of editorials, and 14% of op-eds, the treaty is not brought up in a single news story, and appears in only 3% of editorials and 2% of all op-eds in terms of it its application to the United States. The conclusion couldn't be more obvious to the astute reader - though both the U.S. and Iran have both signed the agreement, it only realistically applies to the U.S. International non-proliferation law is meant only for American enemies: the United States is bound by no such rules, even when it has ratified them.

Any honest reading of the results above can lead to no other conclusion: U.S. media coverage has reached appalling levels. Short of conducting a major research project like one of those undertaken above, it is very difficult for citizens to acquire the critical information needed to arrive at realistic assessments of what is going on in the world. How can citizens make informed decisions regarding public policy when they are subject to systematically skewed, propagandistic news coverage? America's parochial press is not designed to promote debate or to educate, but rather to repeat the official line. Citizens (outside the intellectual, political, and business elite) are expected to conform to the ideal of the apathetic consumers who know little about international affairs, and care even less. Such ignorance is encouraged in a mass media more concerned with selling products than engaging citizens. As Noam Chomsky cogently argues: in a democracy, "You can no longer control people by violence. You can't just throw them into a torture chamber. You have to find other means. One means is propaganda. Another means is rabid consumerism, to try to drive people into massive consumption. In the United States the economy has suffered under the neoliberal policies, as has been the case worldwide, and is maintained to a high extent by consumer spending...From infancy children are deluged by propaganda telling them: buy, buy, buy, and so on...These are devices to try to control the populations and ensure that the private tyrannies endure." The American press is not producing enlightened citizens, but rather alienated consumers. Whether the public will stand up and rebel against such contempt, however, is a question yet to be answered.

Anthony DiMaggio is the author of the book, Mass Media, Mass Propaganda: Examining American News in the "War on Terror" (forthcoming December 2007). He has taught Middle East Politics and American Government at Illinois State University. He can be reached at


[1]Pew Research Center, "Iraq Most Closely Followed and Covered News Story," 23 February 2007,

[2]Alexei Barrionuevo, "Jews in Argentina Wary of Nation's Ties to Chávez," New York Times, 7 August 2007.

[3]Even the claim that Ahmadinejad has threatened to "wipe Israel off the map" appears to be a distortion originating in Western propaganda, rather than in the public record. Numerous scholars and reporters such as Juan Cole and Jonathan Cook have countered the standard claim that Iran is calling for the destruction of Israel, citing Ahmadinejad's actual statement, which quoted the late Ayatollah Khomeini as promising that Israel's illegal occupation of Jerusalem would "vanish from the page of time." To make such a claim in opposition to an occupation is quite different from calling for a state's destruction. All this, not to mention that Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khameini has public supported the Saudi plan calling for a two state settlement between Israel and Palestine, in explicit recognition of the right of Israel to exist.

[4]For a recent sample of anti-Chavez pieces, see the following: Kevin Sullivan, "Chavez Casts Himself as the Anti-Bush," Washington Post, 15 March 2005, 1(A).; Dale Van Atta, "World's Most Dangerous Leaders," Readers Digest, July 2007, <>> and Fox News, "The Iron Fist of Hugo Chavez," 4 February 2005

[5]Colleen Mastony, "Peace March Becomes Somewhat Less Lonely," Chicago Tribune, 7 August 2007.

[6]For a brief sample of recent mainstream media pieces on Iran, see: Robin Wright, "As U.S. Steps up Pressure on Iran, After Effects Worry Allies," Washington Post, 16 August 2007; and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Bush Differs with Karzai on Iran," New York Times, 7 August 2007.

[7]I have only found a single story referencing U.S. enrichment of uranium for use in nuclear weapons from 2003-2007 (within stories talking about Iran), and that story wasn't even primarily about Iran and nuclear weapons, but focused rather on the U.S. enrichment efforts. The 690 word story referenced Iran just once in 12 paragraphs: Walter Pincus, "U.S. Plan for New Nuclear Weapons Advances," Washington Post, 20 October 2006, 11(A).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

V's Story - Our Story

Balberon hits the mark again. It's not fiction anymore.

Blue Ibis

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wanna Buy a Bridge?

The next installment in Allen Branson's series on recognizing a pyschopath's mind games. Find the first part here. Again, the deceptions are so simple we tend to think we are immune to them.. Think again.

Blue Ibis
The Art of the Con
A Branson
Psychopaths, Psyops and COINTELPRO Blog
Sat, 11 Aug 2007 14:38 EDT

©Sekretagent Productions
Spell Game of Confidence

Not one of the people getting on the I-35W Bridge on August 1st had any reason to suspect what was going to happen that night. The day before, and the day before that, the bridge had held just as much traffic as it did on the 1st. The bridge had help up just fine since its opening in 1967. It had a history of holding the weight of vehicles traveling across the Mississippi River without any problems.

If someone with knowledge of the bridge's lack of structural integrity stood at one end of the bridge trying to warn commuters of their imminent demise, he would've been laughed off as a nut case. Political cartoonists would have, if they had the time, probably drawn him as a long-haired, bearded, sandal-wearing lunatic carrying a sign reading "THE END IS NEAR!"

And yet, at 6:05pm on August 1st, the I-35W Bridge did collapse. The collapse was so sudden and catastrophic that some thought explosives had gone off. Cars plummeted into the water, below. A school bus full of children just managed to stop before going over the edge. Panic ensued.

Everyone on the bridge would've sworn it couldn't happen, yet it did. Even the engineers in charge of inspecting the bridge didn't see it coming. According to a report from WISN in Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

"During all of my time on the I-35W Bridge, I did not notice any unusual or unexpected swaying or rumbling," said Steve Weston, a project manager with Progressive Contractors of St. Michael, Minn. "No one in my crew made any such report to me. Right up to the collapse, I had no reason to believe that my crew and I were in danger."

That is, of course, exactly the way we like to see the world. We need stability. Without stability, adrenaline pumps into our blood stream and our heart rates stay dangerously high. The stress of prolonged lack of stability has a detrimental effect on our health. So, if we don't find stability in reality, we make it up in our own heads. Lack of stability is just too much for most of us to handle.

In order to create this make-believe stability in our minds, we call on our recollection of history as justification of our fantasies. The bridge has never collapsed before. The country has always weathered the storm of hard times in the past. The system will correct itself and everything will soon go back to normal. Everything is under control, just as it has always been.

We, in the U.S., live in an empire, though some refuse to acknowledge it for what it really is. Being an empire means having control. Control equals stability, or, at least, it feels that way. Empires provide a special form of history that makes believing in their stability easy for anyone calming themselves with such a fantasy. They can point to the rise of the country from humble, agrarian roots and a bold political experiment in democracy to the economic and military superpower of the world.

How can anyone doubt, with a history like that, that the empire will continue to grow? It has always grown. Anyone who doubts its continued growth and prosperity is a long-haired, bearded, sandal-wearing lunatic carrying a sign that reads, "THE END IS NEAR!" And, no one in their right mind listens to such lunatics, do they?

It is easy to forget just how many empires have come and gone during the known history of humanity. They all end. That is the history we need to keep in our minds. Every empire that has ever existed has come to an end. But this empire has not ended yet, you might argue. The keyword is "yet." Every empire, up to its last day, could say the same thing.

The desire to believe that a history of success and growth means a future of the same is so strong that nearly every peddler of financial investments covers its legal butt with the disclaimer, "Past performance is not guarantee of future results." Without that disclaimer, you leave yourself wide open to being charged with running a confidence game.

We seem to love stories about confidence games, yet seem to learn nothing from them. The Sting won seven Oscars, The Usual Suspects won two and The Grifters was nominated for four. Ocean's Eleven (the original Rat Pack version) spawned an extremely popular remake which then spawned two popular sequels. The TV show Mission: Impossible spawned a movie franchise that was successful despite a growing dislike of its star, Tom Cruise. The list goes on and on. We go to the movies to watch them in droves, then rent the DVD's to watch them again, none the wiser two hours later.

The essence of a confidence game or, as it is usually called, the con, is exactly what the name implies: confidence. A con artist would convince their "mark" that a tremendous profit was to be made for very little effort. The success of the con is dependent on the ability of the con man to convince the mark that the proposition can't possibly lose and the desire of the mark to make the profit. Often, the proposition, or setup, is something illegal. For example, in the movie The Sting, the setup used is one called "the wire."

In the wire con the mark was made to believe that the con artist had someone on the inside at the telegraph office who was working the "gold wire." The gold wire was the telegraph wire that delivered the results of horse races. The alleged inside man would delay delivery of the results of one of the late races by a couple of minutes in order to get the con artist the results in time to place a bet at a local pool hall and make a killing.

Of course, the con man does not have anyone on the inside at the telegraph office. Instead, he sets up a phony pool hall, complete with actors, to simulate the event. In order to really suck the mark into the proposition, he is not allowed to make any large bets for a few days. Instead, he is cautioned to go easy for a few days and just make a few bucks on races that don't carry long odds so that suspicions are not raised. In one version of this con, carried out by the infamous con artist Joseph "The Yellow Kid" Wiel, the mark is actually lead to lose money on his first few bets.

For the first race he bets on, the results are delivered by phone. The "inside man" quickly blurts out twenty one then hangs up. The mark eagerly places his bet on the horse with the number twenty one to win and, lo and behold, horse twenty wins. When the mark later meets the "inside man" he is informed that he is an idiot for not being able to follow simple instructions. He was clearly told that horse twenty won.

A few more similar "miscommunications" and the mark is convinced there is a lot of money to be made and desperate to recoup his loses and make a profit. It is at that point that the sting happens. He places a ridiculously high bet that goes far beyond the house limits - not knowing, of course, that the "house" is phony and has no limits whatsoever. A show is put on for his benefit in which the bookie acts as if he simply cannot accept such a high bet. Finally, the "owner" of the operation steps in and, having seen the man consistently lose, tells the bookie to take the money.

Just as in the movie The Sting, the con might end with a faked raid by the police that sends everyone scrambling, including the mark who is forced to leave his large bet behind in order to escape jail. The con artists are safe from retribution because the mark can't openly admit that he was willingly taking part in illegal activities.

The con does not have to involve illegal activities, of least on the part of the mark. The con artist might claim to be the owner of a sizable chunk of land, even producing convincing documentation to prove it. George C. Parker made a living selling famous New York landmarks to tourists. His favorite was selling the Brooklyn Bridge. These types of cons went so far as to open offices that the mark could visit in order to instill confidence in their legitimacy. In the end, the mark engages in what he considers to be a perfectly legal and upfront business transaction that amounts to nothing but loss of their money.

These cons make for great movies because they seem so unbelievable. The wire is so involved, requiring the setup of a fake pool hall, the hiring of lots of actors and several days of manipulation, we can't believe anyone could actually pull it off. Only in the movies, we tell ourselves. However, the wire was a real con, used many times in the earlier part of the twentieth century. Cons could be incredibly elaborate affairs that spanned weeks or months of setup.

In any type of con, confidence is the key. As every con man knows, confidence is one of the easiest things to instill in another person. They understand that confidence and stability are necessary to the human mind. Rather than look with suspicion on the man who presents a deal that is too good to be true, most people will welcome him with open arms and count their blessings.

So it was with the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis. Everyone had confidence in that bridge right up to the moment it collapsed. And, so it is with our little empire. We have confidence. We need to have confidence. It has built that confidence in us slowly and surely. Anything less and we might see the sting coming and bolt for the door. It has built that confidence through indoctrination in its history - it's rise from a lowly rebel nation to a global superpower.

But, past performance does not guarantee future results.

The stock market of the 1920's was making a lot of people rich. The easy money to be made there drew virtually everyone in. If you had money, you put some of it in stocks. It was just the prudent thing to do. Even if you didn't have money, you could buy into the game. The "beauty" of that market was that you could buy on margin.

You borrow some money to buy the stocks then put the stocks up as collateral for the loan. Since stocks were going up and up, it was a great deal. As a matter of fact, it was such a great deal that by 1929 the total debt on margin buying was six billion dollars. Yeah, that really is billion with a "b".

In early September of that year, the market took a bit of a tumble by dropping, then rising, then dropping again. No need to worry. The market fluctuates. It had dropped like that before, but it had a history - a history of rising up stronger after the dip. Investors had confidence in the stock market.

This time, however, the market didn't rebound as everyone thought it should. On October 24th, Black Thursday, investors began to panic. Selling orders overwhelmed the stock exchange's ability to process the transactions. Financiers attempt to rebuild confidence in the market by buying as much of the stock as they could. It didn't work. On October 29th, Black Tuesday, the floor of the stock exchange went chaotic. Traders on the floor (those guys you think of as staid and sober businessmen handling enormous sums of other people's money) were actually tearing at each other's throats like crazed animals. In the end, thirty billion dollars - more than twice the national debt - had been lost.

It happens just that fast. One day, you have confidence, the next day...nothing. You've been taken for a ride and you have no means of regaining what you have lost. It is simply gone. We don't want to believe that it happens, but it does happen, it has happened and it will happen again. Perhaps it will happen again very soon.

The warning signs are there. We are near the end of a very elaborate con game and we are the mark. But, we don't want to see the signs. We have been promised a payoff at the end and we are too heavily invested in the game to quit now. We've lost some in the past, so we are putting it all behind the game, now. We are going to recoup our losses and then some!

Except, we aren't. The mark never does. The only hope the mark has is to wake up to the fact of the con and end the game before it is too late. Letting the game play to its end is all the con artist wants. After that, you can have your regret for what could have been, what you should have done or what a fool you had been. The con artist has your valuables. That's all that matters.

Still, here we are at the end of the game. We've seen the movies. We should know the game by now, but our confidence holds firm. We tell ourselves this con is too big and elaborate. No one could carry it off. Only in the movies. Instead, we blindly place our bets, mortgage our future and the future of our children, all for the big payoff we've been promised. It will come. It must come, dammit! The stock market will continue to rise, democracy will spread across the face of the planet and we will be welcomed as liberators.

And that bridge...the bridge to our future...we have confidence in it. It got us to where we are today, so it will get us to where we have been promised for tomorrow.

If you believe that, I have another bridge I'd like to sell you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

American Hurt

Another great video from one who can SEE what is happening in this world. Thanks Mikebearcat for your labour of love.

Blue Ibis

Monday, August 13, 2007

Why the Bridges Fall Down and Other Mysteries (Partially) Explained

Ever wonder where all that tax money goes? All those billions of dollars pried out of your wallet each April by the Feds? Why the potholes, the leaky dams and levees, the unsafe bridges. Not to mention schools that are crumbling and hospitals you wouldn't take a dog to. Don't get me started on the underfunded libraries.

So where, oh where, is all that cash going? Beside being poured into the evil lie that is Iraq (for our freedoms you know), did you know that a royally big chunk is going to folks who actively steal classified information from us! Google "Israeli art students" and "Jonathan Pollard" just for starters.

I mean, WTF??

Blue Ibis

Dan Williams
Reuters africa
Sun, 12 Aug 2007 07:36 EDT

JERUSALEM - The United States has yielded to some Israeli demands on how new U.S. military aid will be paid out, ending a brief dispute over the issue, an Israeli official involved in the talks said on Sunday.

[Whoa!! We sure know who's in charge of OUR Budget, huh?}

With an eye on an ascendant Iran, Washington announced a defence package for its allies in the region on July 30 including stepping up aid to Israel -- which now receives $2.4 billion a year -- by 25 percent, for a total of $30 billion over the next decade.

Comment: US taxpayer money instead of being available for education, health, infrastructure, catastrophe due to weather changes, etc, is being "lent" to Israel to wage more wars and murder more Palestinians.

The Bush administration wanted to increase the aid by a set amount each year, the Israeli official said, while Israel asked for the new funds to be "front-loaded", i.e. for a bigger chunk to be paid out in the first years, or spread evenly so the annual sum was $3 billion.

"We reached an agreement that is somewhere in the middle," the Israeli official said, adding that first payout under the new schedule would be $2.55 billion as proposed by Washington.

"After that, the increases will be steeper, meaning we achieve the $3 billion mark more quickly," the official said.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns was expected in Israel last week for the signature of the aid deal but postponed his visit. The State Department said this was a result of scheduling problems.

The Israeli official said Burns was expected to arrive on Wednesday and for the talks to be completed by Thursday.


Under the package announced on July 30 and awaiting approval by Congress, Egypt is expected to receive an additional $13 billion in the next decade while Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states could receive arms upgrades worth $20 billion.

Tom Lantos, a U.S. congressional leader, described ratification of the aid increase to Israel as a certainty.

"(It) will receive congressional support and will guarantee, for the next decade, along with Israel's own determination and military capability, the security of this nation," he told reporters during a visit to Jerusalem.

"One of the most important aspects of this $30 billion package, unprecedented in scope, is that it will guarantee the continuance of Israel's qualitative military edge."

[What could YOU do with $30 BILLION? Bet something more constructive than kill people.]

The United States has in the past provided Arab allies with military equipment on a par with that given to Israel. Analysts say one reason for Israel's perceived advantage in combat is the application of its own technology to the U.S. hardware.

"The argument is that we have the ability to make the most of the equipment, thanks to our add-ons," retired general Giora Eiland, Israel's former national security adviser, told Reuters.

Israel, which suffered surprise setbacks in its war with Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas last year, has been building up its armed forces in case of a flare-up with arch-foe Iran.

(Additional reporting by Adam Entous)

Friday, August 10, 2007

V - Speech for the Real World

Excellent montage of images. V for Vendetta speaks to all of us. Will you listen?

Blue Ibis

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Lonesome Death of the American Dream

Thanks to Smoking Mirrors for this powerful essay. Thanks to the Signs of the Times for posting it.. If you are at all curious has to how we got to this place, which has been visited by so many civilisations before (we're not speshul folks, despite Shrub's reassurances), then you can do no better than to read Ponerology. Educate yourself about psychopaths. It's up to you

Blue Ibis


Les Visible
Smoking Mirrors
Fri, 03 Aug 2007 19:10 EDT

As bad as we know it is; two terms of an unelected psychopathic stooge in the presidency, a murderous assault on home ground by the very government empowered to protect the people against it, the daily erosion of personal freedom, the trashing of the economy, the banal vomit inducing entertainments, the collective efforts of disinfo agents who present themselves as truthseekers, the cowardly opposition party crawling backwards in estrus toward the dark side, the control of American foreign policy by a foreign government and the enormous human suffering it has all brought about... as bad as it all is, it just keeps getting worse.

The worst part of all the evils presently operating under diplomatic immunity and protected by SWAT-bot forces of true believer enforcement agencies is what is happening to The Laws of the Land. America was a nation of laws. You may think it is the police and the army that protects you. You may think God is watching over America. You may have the idea that The Second Amendment provides you with a catastrophe backup and... there... there... is the area I want to visit today; no, not The Second Amendment but that of which it is a part.

The most serious danger you face is not from terrorists, crazed gun nuts, or even your poor discipline about what you eat and your reluctance to exercise. The first two are minor possibilities akin to being struck by lightning. The second is a real concern but more of a long term thing. Your most serious danger is what is happening to your laws; to the basic foundation of your rule of law. And this, this is what is intended by those who are determined to and engaged in the effort to enslave you.

It is your laws that determine how and where and when the military will act; how the police will act. It is your laws that determine whether agents of the law can drag you from your homes in the middle of the night. It is your laws that allow for you to be beaten by agents of the law for flying a flag up side down on your front porch. It is your laws that determine whether you can be shoved around, denied the right of assembly and generally messed with whenever they want to mess with you. Where are the laws that go into force when those who enforce the law are breaking the law? Where is the process that should be automatic that deters the abuse of the law by those empowered to defend it? Where is this thing that isn't working as I type these words?

You don't wake up one morning in a concentration camp and then wonder what happened. You were supposed to see the steps in the process. You were supposed to say something. You were supposed to get together with your neighbors and make a whole helluva lot of noise. You should have been smart enough to see all the manufactured events that led to all of the laws that were being designed to protect you from the imaginary threats being drummed up by those who were empowered to protect you and which wound up stripping you of your basic rights.

You should have wondered at the missing ballots in Ohio. You should have wondered at the yo-yo terror alerts. You should have wondered at the endless string of lies that justified all the horror and bloodshed and... you should have done something. You should have been part of a greater movement of citizens who gathered by the thousands and tens of thousands in parks and community centers and commercial areas and demanded that these ruthless profiteers and traitors be held accountable. You should have all refused to go to work. A nation that refuses to go to work WILL bring down the government. An informed public is a safe public and so... you should have wondered and you should have wondered aloud. You would have found that most everyone else was wondering too. Meanwhile you got fatter and shorter and more stupid until, one day, you couldn't remember when it first was that you dropped down on to all fours and forgot to get back up. You forgot when the last time you spoke a human language was. Now you make these animal sounds and no one can understand what you are saying.

Is this the way it is? Is America a nation of sheep? One poll after another show that you believe by a wide majority that 9/11 was an Inside Job, one poll after another show that you have no confidence in your leaders, one poll after another show that you want the U.S. out of Iraq, one poll after another show that you know, you think, you feel... that a whole lot of things have gone wrong. And one day after another your leaders on both sides of the aisle show that there's only one side of the aisle filled with milling opportunists and professional liars.

All of this comes down to an agenda driven core of merciless psychopaths who are agents of a foreign power. These PNAC/AIPAC vampire overlords in cahoots with the multinational corporations own the media that informs you of what to believe, even though you don't believe it. Unless you band together and shout from the rooftops and refuse to turn the wheels of the machine, you are lost. Don't blame me. Don't blame fate. Don't blame the immigrants. Don't blame the weather. Blame yourselves. Shut it down now.

Look at this people. Use your freaking reason. Use your minds - look at this and listen to what the BBC says about what cannot be explained away, no matter what sort of BS they employ. And yeah, The UK is also in the hands of the same people who are doing the same thing to you.

Look at this people and look at who is behind this presentation. Could it be more clear? Do I have to grab you by the back of the neck and rub your face in it and scream at you to tell me what you smell? Is it the buffet on the table that you smell? Is it your own fear that you smell which convinces you that you had better convince yourself that you don't smell anything at all? Wake the Hell up.

Now you want to run around like Chicken Little because some bridge fell down in Minnesota and a handful of people died? More people are dying in the Egyptian desert right now than went down off of that bridge and they don't have to die. They are being murdered. Yeah, let's all just wring our hands for awhile about a bridge collapse and then we won't notice that much larger numbers of people are dying every single day because your country is in the hands of agents of a foreign power.

History repeats itself. It's doing it right now. Very few Germans were active Nazi's. They only needed a few. It's easy to accomplish once you control the law-making process and thereby those who enforce the law. It's enough to intimidate a village if you imprison or kill a few of the residents. You can always then count of a portion of the rest of the village to enforce further atrocity just so they can avoid it themselves. Human nature isn't a virtue.

You had better start holding your leaders accountable. You had better start taking responsibility for what happens in your name or you soon won't even have a name, you'll have a number. You had better get about it today. Now is the hour. Let me hear the sound of millions of voices raised in protest. Let me hear the sound of silenced machines. Let me see stalled cars and empty trains and buses and airplanes. Let me see empty malls and empty amusement parks.

Then... let us collectively listen to the anguished screams of the corporations as they gasp for breath. It doesn't matter what it may cost in the short term. It doesn't matter if some of us must die if it means that freedom shall continue after. Many before us have paid the price. You 'had' what you had because they did.

Something for you to listen to.