Thursday, November 20, 2008

Living in Fantasyland

When we were kids, my sister and I used to wish we could hide on Tom Sawyer's Island and live in Disneyland. That never happened, but now I feel like I'm living in Disneyland. Not in Adventureland, but in Fantasyland. I am being urged to believe six impossible things before breakfast, just like the Red Queen.

The two year election is over, and there is great joy around the country - for we have elected Tweedle-Dum, who will bring peace, prosperity and joy, unlike that rotten Tweedle-Dee, who so clearly was a worse evil.

But now the media steps up to the task of tamping expectations, for the true rulers of Fantasyland see no profit in peace and generalized prosperity. Luckily, they have honed the art of manipulating public opinion, and are up to the task. We are told that war brings peace, that ignorance is the wisdom of the common person, and that black and white combined make black. We are told that we are the greatest country in the world and that the whole world looks up to us as a shining city, and that it's our role to bring democracy to all, or at least to the survivors of our attacks. Other countries have national health care, but not us, because we are free. Other countries have maternity leave, and vacation time, but that's for wimps.

In fairy tales, magic spells are placed and they can't be broken, except by special deeds or people. Now we are being told, with great solemnity, that Bush can make royal decrees that can't be undone by Obama. What? I don't believe it. But I'm apparently the only one who doesn't. Left wing media, right wing media - they all accept that this is true. Think about this. What kind of magic does Bush have that can't be undone by Obama? Why can Obama reverse the stem cell spell, but not the environmental protection spell? He can close Guantanamo, but not save polar bears? What kind of law is this?

The law has always been used by the rich against the poor. There are laws that seem universal, but really only will be broken by the poor. "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread". –Anatole France, Le Lys rouge ch. vii (1894).

There are laws which cover small crimes and ignore big crimes. At the same time that Congress was giving $700 billion to Wall Street bankers, two guys robbed a local bank in my town. Guess which got more news coverage?
Biased laws have been around for a while. Remember the poem protesting the enclosure laws in England, when peasants lost the right to use the commons.
"The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from off the goose."

But to me it seems even worse now. The FISA law, which said that people who broke the law were retroactively not guilty. What? The prisoner in Guantanamo, convicted of breaking a law which wasn't written until he'd been in prison for two years. What? Not only are we being told that Bush can make royal decrees that can't be undone, we are being told that he can premptively pardon his co-conspirators for crimes for which they have not yet been indicted. What? The media is saying with great assurance that the rich and powerful are not subject to the law. Not because the law is written to protect them, but because they have the power to alter the laws, to retroactively and to premptively create innocence where there is clearly guilt.

No. I protest.
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A Certain Kind of Man

Yesterday, my ER treated a man who was cutting a tree down when a limb fell on him. He was a typical good 'ol boy, big and beefy and dressed in hunting camoflauge. His family was gathered around his bed.

His face was swollen and he had two black eyes. Jokingly, I said, "Looks like you fought a tree, and the tree won", which is a reference to a song that most of us know.

Apparently I insulted his redneck manhood, because he fired back, "I won. That tree is dead and I'm still alive!"

His male family members chipped in to defend him. "Yeah, that tree is dead. And it's in little pieces. It's not going to do anything to him anymore".

I could not believe these people. We were talking about a tree! And they were boasting about besting it!

Good thing I didn't bring up the occupations.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Freedom isn't Free?

I decided to reprint my last year's Armistice Day offering, because we are still living in a militaristic society. Obama genuflects to the military like every other corporate candidate. I am updating the end because we have a new example of the hypocrisy toward the heroes this year - the Iraq vets arrested and trampled under horse hooves at the last debate.

It's time again for the ritual genuflection to the veterans that we go through more than annually in this country. So, Armistice Day is now Veteran's Day, Memorial Day is now Veteran's Day and Fourth of July is now Veteran's Day. Not to mention Flag Day. It is a thought crime to refer to anyone in the military, or who has ever been in the military, as less than a "hero". Oh, wait, unless they're now against war. Then they're no longer heroes. How can this be? What kind of alchemy turns someone who "served their country" into a traitor retroactively?

So we see recent "heroes" from Iraq, not just demoted from being heroes, but actually arrested in Boston for wanting to participate in the veteran's parade. It turns out that to be a real veteran you have to support any war that the commander-in-chief feels like starting -- even though our Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the exclusive power to declare war. (Anyone else remember that? That was actually debated in 1964; now it's not even brought up.)

Just having been in the military, or even being in combat apparently isn't enough to make you a "veteran." So doesn't that negate the other propaganda? The propaganda about the military supporting freedom and democracy by killing people in other countries, about freedom not being free, about thanking a veteran for your freedom, yada, yada, yada.

Actually, of course, freedom is free. It is the natural condition of humans, and people lived without oppression for most of human history. Even today, there are tribes left who live without government, taxes, prisons or the military.

It's oppression that is expensive. Having troops in 130 countries, producing and storing weapons of mass destruction, researching endless new ways to kill people, invading other countries, paying for soldiers and their dependents and their health care (uh, sort of) and their retirement -- it's all very expensive.

This whole manufactured idolatry of the military is fabricated by, and functions for, the ruling class. It's amazing that right wing crazies who despise big government and hate taxes, fall right into line when it comes to worshipping the oppressive arm of that government. And left wing peaceniks have been cowed into professing a love for the troops, but not their mission. As a Star Wars fan, I can't imagine scorning the Empire, but supporting the Death Star and the storm troopers.

Come on, people, the ruling class can't rule without oppressive enforcement. Those in the military must resist and refuse. Those against war should only support those who resist. Let the flag wavers idolize the true believers, those willing to kill without thinking.

Better still, let's try to get them, and the reflexive flag wavers, thinking. For a change.

Remember that most people love peace, not war. Armistice Day was originally about the desire for peace. It was proclaimed in 1938 as a day "dedicated to the cause of world peace". What happened? After World War ll, when the USA turned to the permanent war economy, and the Department of War became the Department of Defense, Armistice Day became Veteran's Day, officially in 1954. Around the same time, they added "In God we Trust" to the money and "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. In other words, the more war-like the US became, the more the elite hid behind God and eupehmisms -- which is appropriate, considering that both militarism and institutionalized religion ultimately rest on regimented, authoritarian modes of thought, and are diametrically opposed to Enlightenment and critical thinking.

Here's to a politics driven critical thinking, knowledge and reflection, not knee-jerk obedience and authoritarianism.
Posted by Greener Than Thou at 4:44pm

Here's a link to Democracy Now reporting on the trials of the victims of police brutality at the debate.
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Looking on the Bright Side

In honor of Nader Enthusiast I will try to look on the bright side. Here goes.

Those of us who pay attention have been a little freaked out about the KBR contract to build concentration camps. We have been so sure that we are a threat to the Man that we will be rounded up and shipped off in the very near future.

Ha! This election sure fooled us! Turns out we are absolutely no threat to the powers that be. Millions of people who long for peace and believe in preserving the environment and want all the little children of the world to be fed were easily persuaded to vote for a man who promises to enlarge the military, and invade more countries and talks about clean coal and nuclear power and votes for subsidies to the grain producers who dump grain onto third world countries in order to wipe out their small farmers and push GMO seeds onto the rest. They paid absolutely no attention to those of us who pointed out reality.

In the book "They Thought They Were Free", Milton Mayer talks about a preacher in a small town in Germany who gave a rip-roaring sermon against Hitler every Sunday all through the entire Third Reich. Nothing ever happened to him. His sermons were ineffectual and he was allowed to continue.

So, we don't have to worry about the concentration camps! Oh, happy day.
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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wall Street Kicks Main Street's Ass, Courtesy of Madison Avenue

Last month, Americans were furious that Congress was handing Wall Street $700 billion of future American earnings.

Yesterday, a record turnout of Americans voted for one of the two candidates that had voted for the bailout. 99% of all votes went to Barack Obama or John McCain.

Unbelievable. How did this happen? Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney combined didn't add up to a million voters. How can so many people be so deluded? More people voted for an American theocracy than voted for the Green Party's key values of peace, justice, grassroots democracy and enviromental wisdom.

I canvassed for the Green Party, but not as much as I should have. Although, what's the point? Every Obama voter I talked to seemed to believe that he was for peace and the common man. And I live in Illinois! Clearly, people are not paying attention! Don't confuse Americans with the facts, man, they prefer to believe that Barack Obama will bring peace, prosperity, lollipops and roses.

Naomi Klein talks about advanced capitalism and its promotion of brands. No need for facts or logic or persuasion . Just flash the brand and people bond with it. A slogan "Change you can believe in" that 52% of the country placed their hopes and dreams in and 48% their fears. Less than 1% of us were skeptical enough to point out that the phrase was meaningless, a blank slate that consumers, er, voters, could fill out as these pleased. And then there is "Yes, we can". Am I the only one who remembers those Mobil advertisements - "Do people care? Yes, people do!" (The things that people "cared about" rotated, but they were always worthwhile, much like the things inspiring the "Yes, we can" chanting).

The packaging of this candidate was flawless. We are so far along the road of mindless stimulus/response to empty phrases that 99% of our voting population falls for it. And there were fewer abstainers this election than usual.

So we have people swooning in Grant Park, certain that we have opened the door to a better life. I'm listening to community radio, and the DJs are celebrating the victory as if peace is just around the corner. This for the candidate that promises to send more troops to Afghanistan, where the troops already there just attacked yet another wedding party, killing 90 people. The candidate whose running mate openly called for ethnic cleansing in Iraq, to divide it into three parts. Both candidates threaten Russia.

I'm depressed.
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Monday, November 3, 2008

Never Mind

The other day, I predicted that if the Republicans stole the election this time, we would have "investigative journalism" rectifying the matter.

Today, on Democracy Now, Mark Crispin Miller reported that Mike Connell is testifying today in Ohio about the stolen election of 2004.

Bob Fritrakis reported on Mike Connell earlier this year. He is a longtime Republican operative, with connections to the Bush family and many other right-wingers. The election returns from Ohio were routed through Tennessee, where Mike Connell had servers.

So if Mike Connell is tied up in court, will the computers record the votes as cast? We won't need investigative journalists if the election isn't stolen. Can one man determine the outcome of a Presidential election? I guess so, if it's Antonio Scalia, or Mike Connell.

Check out the Fritrakis link for the info on the House firewalls that Connell set up. The Judicial, Intelligence, Ways and Means, Financial services and Administration committees had their websites set up by Connell. Does this explain why impeachment is off the table? Why no investigation of executive branch crimes are being done? If Connell has access to House members emails, I guess he knows things that they don't want made public. Information is power.

And, we, the American people, are kept in the dark and fed bullshit. It will be much easier to stop the election theft than work to expose it. Keeping the puppetmaster otherwise occupied will apparently suffice.
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Just a Thought

I read a great book called "They Thought They Were Free". Part of it has been quoted widely in the last few years. (With good reason).

But there was a sentiment expressed by one man that made me think. Of course, I was brought up, like every other American, with great scorn for the "good German", the German who didn't protest, the one who said that they didn't know what was going on. Milton Mayer asked one man why he didn't notice that the jews were disappearing, and he said that he thought they moved.

That made me think. I live in a town which has a substantial percentage of African Americans. I think it's about 1/3. They live all over, but there is one part of town that is almost completely black. Like the jews in Germany, they have their own churches, although we all use the same stores. (Except I won't go to WalMart). If they started disappearing, would I notice? Would I think that something diabolical was going on? Or would I think, if I noticed, that they had just moved?

After Katrina, I really wondered. A whole stadium of poor people, starved for three days, willing and eager to get on those buses out of town. And then the Astrodome, emptied in days. How would we know if they really all went to trailer parks? Just asking this question sets you up for ridicule, believe me. I have no reason to suspect foul play, other than a deep suspicion of the Bush administration, but just asking people the question upsets them. Now I can totally believe that any German who had suspicions would keep it to themselves.

There was a great Far Side cartoon, where a shocked looking cow says "I just found out how they make hamburger!" and the other cows say "Conspiracy theorist!"

Yesterday, I went canvassing in the projects near where my children's old junior high school was. The school has been torn down now, and rebuilt outside of town. They have plans to build a giant police station on the vacant lot. (This for a town of 26,000 people).

Anyway, the projects used to be full of people. I haven't been over there since my kids left junior high. They were almost empty! Where did everyone go? It wasn't obvious until we went up to each door which were empty and which still had people in them. If you just drove by, you'd still see black folks outside, but not nearly as many as before.

Just wondering.
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