Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Memory Hole - My Speech Tonight

In George Orwell's book, 1984, Winston Smith's job at the Ministry of Truth was to rewrite history. Part of the job was to literally send the old documents down the memory hole to be incinerated. Then he wrote the new history as ordered by the ruling class. No traces of the old history were allowed to be saved.

As it turned out, none of that was necessary. By the time of the actual 1984, Ronald Reagan was President. The United State was supporting "freedom fighters" in Central America and in Afghanistan, sending billions to fund the muhajadeen, and setting up schools in Pakistan, where children were trained with US suppplied textbooks in the ways of jihad. We were officially supporting Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war, sending him arms, intelligence, and biological and chemical weapons. But we also sold arms in secret to Iran, although they were officially our enemy.

All of this is now down the memory hole, but only figuratively. Today the documentation isn't burned, you can still find it, but it doesn't matter. The Ministry of Truth, now called the corporate media, simply presents the new truth in an authoritative manner and the proles accept it without question. We are now told that everyone loved Ronald Reagan, and the 2008 election was about who got to be the new Reagan. The Afghan freedom fighters turned into terrorists, but the Central American ones remained heroes, all without historical comment. The madrasses are now bad. We have always been at war with Iran and Iraq.

In 1988, we were shocked, shocked to find out that the US was teaching torture techniques to the Central American heroes using a manual called "Human Resources Exploitation Manual", which was an update of the Kubark manual, used in the 60s to teach torture to military forces from Guatemala to Columbia to Vietnam, where we were shocked, shocked to find out about the Phoenix Program, in which the US and its Vietnamese proxies tortured and killed tens of thousands of prisoners. It has been claimed that not one prisoner survived interrogation in the Phoenix Program. We were shocked when Office of Public Safety was shown to have taught torture to police forces in Central and South America in the 70s. We have periodically been shocked when it turns out that some graduate of the SOA is responsible for a massacre that catches our attention for some reason. Maybe they rape and kill nuns, or accidentally murder an American - something out of the ordinary run of the mill peasant suppression massacre. These forms of torture should be classified as terrorism. Multilated bodies thrown into ditches and dropped from helicopters terrorize the population into submission. US involvement in these mass torture and murder projects have usually been covert, hence the "shock" when information leaks out.

How is the George Bush/Dick Cheney administration different? Using the destruction of 9-11, along with a massive fear mongering propaganda campaign afterwards that told us that we were all afraid of terrorists, they embarked on a new chapter in American history - open imperialism, with blatant disrepect for international law, including illegal invasions, indefinite detentions and the unashamed use of torture by Americans.

Much to their dismay, Americans who were engaged in torture at Abu Ghraib took pictures, enabling more than the usual suspects to find out about real American foreign policy. International outcry forced some sort of response. Those involved who took pictures were tried and convicted. Although evidence surfaced that similar torture techniques were used at Bagram and Guantanamo, no one involved took pictures, and none of them was tried.

Alfred McCoy, who had researched the history of American torture, realized that the accounts of the "bad apples" at Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo, who we were told all spontaneously came up with similar methods of torture, were actually all using methods which had been developed by the CIA in a massive outsourced research project which lasted for years- 1950-1962- and cost about one billion a year, in 1950's dollars. He wrote "A Question of Torture" to explain US torture history.

The CIA was not trying to find the most painful ways to torture with this research project, although, as I pointed out, horrendous forms of torture were used to terrorize select populations. But the CIA had bigger plans. They wanted to find ways to totally break down and then remake a human. Their goal was mind control. (And, by the way, they researched ways to brainwash an entire society as well as individuals, which seems to be working out pretty well for them.) But I would like to talk about Project Bluebird, which led to Project Artichoke, which became MKULTRA, and had as its goal, "Can we get control of the individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against fundamental laws of nature, such as self preservation?"

In the post WW2 years, when respect for science was at its peak, the CIA turned to universities and hospitals to do the research, passing out grants to psychologists, psychiatrists and professors to find the best ways to break down a human personality. By the end of the project, 3 of the 100 most eminent phycholgists of the 20th century had been involved in torture research, as well as several presidents of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association.

Donald Hebb, chair of McGill University's psychology department, wrote a grant proposing a sensory deprivation experiment, in which "slight changes in attitude might be effected". It suceeded beyond expectation, and the CIA began to focus on this cheap, easy way to effect total personality breakdown.

Today, years later, the process has been refined. To quote Alfred McCoy, "Through relentless probing into the esential nature of the human organism to identify its physicological and psychological vulnerbilities, the CIA's "sensory deprivation" has eveolved into a total assault on all senses and sensibilities- auditory, visual, tactile, temporal, temperature, survival, sexual and cultural. Refined through years of practice, the method relies on simple, even banal procedures-isolation, standing, heat and cold, light and dark, noise and silence - for a systematic attack on all human senses."

This what we saw in the Abu Ghraib photos, hooded victims in stress postitions, kept in bright lights with loud music playing at all times, deprived of sleep and food, naked in freezing conditions, forced into sexual humiliation and terrorized with dogs. Psychologists are still used, especially at Guantanamo, to personalize the torture to each person's private hopes and fears.

How did Americans react to the revelations of torture? The people Lincoln referred as those you can fool all of the time, (who are now Fox News viewers)- were fine with it, steeped in fear of Islamic terrorists and helped along by a pro-torture propaganda TV show called 24, where evil doers dastardly deeds were weekly thwarted by the good guys and their torture tools. Sadly, 31 percent of Americans in a recent poll were OK with torture if it would potentially save lives, and 13% are fine with it generally, for a total of 44% approval, up from 36% two years earlier. They had Rumsfield joking about forced standing as a form of torture, saying that he stood at work. Actually, Cornell University researchers found that standing for days was "devastating torture, the legs swelled, the skin erupted in suppurating lesions, the kidneys shut down, hallucinations began." Funny stuff.

What about those of us who are harder to fool? The people here tonight? The propaganda must be much more subtle. If too jarring, people may recall facts which have been consigned to the memory hole. So we have New Yorker author Jane Mayer, on a nationwide publicity tour for her book against torture, smoothly mixing facts with fiction to rewrite history. This is Jane on Democracy Now, a progressive news show.

"I think, to step back, what you need to know is that the CIA had no experience really in interrogating prisoners. They had never really held prisoners before. And so, they really had no idea how to go about getting information out of people. So they turned to an incredibly strange place, which is a secret program inside the military that had studied torture, and it had studied torture in order to teach our own soldiers how to survive it if they were ever taken captive by some kind of completely immoral regime. Because they understood torture, the CIA turned to them and said, “Well, so how do you do it?” And basically they reverse-engineered this program in the most ironic way, and what became a program that was defensive became instead a—it was like a blueprint for torture. It was, you know, a rulebook."

Slick, isn't it? Fox News worthy disinformation, neatly wrapped in a package of anti-torture rhetoric, to make it very easy to swallow without thinking. And Jane Mayer got a lot of corporate media time, unlike Alfred McCoy.

And the Democrats in Congress, bravely speaking against waterboarding-thereby minimizing the rest of the program. The entire torture debate in Congress ignored the horrors of professional torture, while focusing on the ancient practice of waterboarding.

Here is Senator Kennedy at the confirmation hearings of Michael Mukasey for Attorney General, when the senators postured toughly, extracting promises that Mukasey would, in the future, stop the one practice of waterboarding-
"We are supposed to find comfort in the representation by a nominee to the highest law enforcement office in the country that he will, in fact, enforce the laws that we pass in the future? Can our standards really have sunk so low?

Enforcing the law is the job of the attorney general. It is a prerequisite, not a virtue that enhances the nominee's qualifications. Make no mistake about it: Waterboarding is already illegal under United States law".

Strong words, Sen. Kennedy, but actually, all torture is illegal under US law. From the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Constitution, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to the Geneva Convention Treatment of Prisoners of War, to the UN Convention Against Torture, all the expensively researched torture that the US has commissioned, taught and used is illegal. To stop only waterboarding is like having the local police only enforce jaywalking laws, ignoring speeding, drunk driving and running red lights.

Please keep this history in mind when the propaganda machine tries to distract you with token gestures and empty words. Don't just close Guantanamo, close Bagram and all other black sites, close the School of the Americas, obey US and international law.
Read more!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Whoops! Cutting Propaganda to the Poor

You just know they're sweating bullets now. In flusher times, Congress passed a bill to force all Americans to buy new TVs by Feb. 17, 2009, so that they could switch broadcasting to digital.

And now, although Congress backpedaled furiously and extended the deadline, some stations who already invested in the new technology switched over today, leaving mostly poor, elderly and minorities without TV.

Whoops! The US depends on TV to keep the masses pacified and ignorant. Good looking vacuous talking heads confidently spout the daily talking points that are fed to them in order to inocculate Americans with the absurdities that make them support atrocities. (Thank you, Voltaire, for that soundbite).

What will they do? Think for themselves? Listen to hate radio? Talk to their neighbors?

This is like a hole in fence of a giant corral. Will the cattle notice and escape? Or will they just mill about as usual, never realizing that they have a choice?
Maybe we'll find out, maybe we won't. TV doesn't cover rebellions and insurrections.
Read more!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Big Government

Obama wants to double the amount of US troops in Afghanistan and is pressuring NATO to supply more, also.

He insists that we must "win" in Afghanistan, but doesn't say what "winning" is. When asked, the military commander states that he has no idea.

But, reading between the lines, as I have learned to do in this Orwellian society we live in, they are trying to establish a US friendly strong central government in Afghanistan.

How's it working out for them? Not so well. Afghanistan is a decentralized tribal country, (much more than Iraq, where, although family ties are still strong, a strong central government existed before the US invaded and took it over.) Democracy Now had an interesting interview with an aid worker who told how US contractors built 41 courthouses and then tried to hand them over to the Afghan Justice Dept, who pointed out that they didn't have staff, furniture or utilities to run them. The tribes have their own system of justice.

Every centralized government has gone through a period where they consolidated their power. Most people don't like being run by tribal warlords. The US has its own stories of towns run by corrupt sheriffs in cahoots with the local elite, especially in the South. We have the story of the taming of the Wild West, with the same scenario - big government coming in and restoring justice corrupted by violent local thugs in power.

So Americans tend to think of Big Government as the arbitrator of justice. Federal troops escorting 5-year old African American girls to elementary school past jeering crowds of boorish white people. Starting with Teddy Roosevelt, the protection of some of the most beautiful parts of America, like Yosemite and Yellowstone, from private predation. The Supreme Court as the last chance for a fair trial.

Ironically, those Americans who don't like Big Govmint tend to be the more politically conservative, especially in the South, where many are still angry that their tribes lost to the Feds 144 years ago. But these are the same ones who are especially enthusiastic about killing Afghans who resist having outside agitators coming in to their country and forcing centralized oppression on them.

Americans need to quit worrying about the tribal warlords in Afghanistan. What we have here is worse. We have corporate warlords who have captured our centralized government and are using its powerful structure to loot and oppress us.

The bank bailouts are the most publicized, but the giveaway of public land for private profit is just as outrageous. What about taxpayer subsidies to corporations who shut down American factories and move them to cheaper labor countries? What about the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the last three decades? What about the relaxing of air and water pollution rules?

And the ongoing attack on our personal freedoms. The latest is the proposal to centralize and computerize our medical records, so that everything you tell your doctor, the results of your lab tests and xrays, etc., will be available to whoever has access to those records. In other words, thousands of people, including insurance companies and the FBI and the military.

And now you have to submit fingerprints, bodily fluids and background checks to get many jobs! You now have to show two forms of ID to get a job. You can't travel out of the USA without a passport. You can't buy a plane or train ticket, or check into a hotel, without a government issued ID.

Listen up, America. You can't "export freedom" to other countries when you don't have it here. Do you want to see our future? Look at Iraq. They now have checkpoints, fingerprints, retina scans, more prisons than they had before, and soldiers breaking into their houses without warrants.

The corporate warlords who have seized our government have the same plans for us. Let's concentrate on regaining our own country and quit trying to conquer other people's countries.
Read more!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What About the Stupid, the Lazy, the Moral and the Crazy?

I'm really tired of hearing how if you're smart, educated and work very hard, you can make it in this society. The latest was Obama, in his inauguration speech. He dissed those who prefer leisure to work. He lauded our ancestors who worked until their hands were raw. He left out the part about their dying by the thousands in their twenties, worked literally to death. Maybe he didn't think that that was an applause line. But even raw hands sound unappealing to me. As it happens, that's a consequence of my job, and it's painful.

If you have to be smart, educated and a hard worker to make it in this country, no wonder we're in trouble. Most of us are lazy and not too bright. Some of us are darn right crazy. And ain't we Americans? Don't we deserve to make a decent living?

The dirty little secret that our exhorters always leave out is that to REALLY make it in America, you have to be immoral. You have to be willing to screw your fellow humans, or defraud your fellow humans, and/or trash the environment, to make the big bucks. Or, on a smaller scale, you have to be willing to work for the war machine, manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, or in a prison, keeping your fellow citizens locked in cages.

We're always told that we need more population in order to get the work done. Well, then why are so many people not working while others work more hours than they want?

I have always like Roger Miller's song, Trailer for Sale or Rent, where he sings that "2 hours of pushing broom, buys an 8x12 4-bit room". Now that's what I'm saying! Two hours of work=a place to stay for the night. One more hour to buy food and a six pack and 75% of the people in this country would be satifisfied.

Let's figure out what we need in this country and divvie up the work to produce it. Lazy and crazy people can work less, ambitious people can work more, smart and moral people can have suitable jobs, and we'll all have a decent standard of living.

My friend, who has lived here all his life, tells me that the local mental hospital used to be a working farm. It was home for people and they produced their food and stayed for years. Now, people off their meds are shipped there for long enough to be stabilized and then thrown back onto the streets, or into an apartment house complex in town, where they are expected to entertain themselves. Sometimes their self entertainment gets them thrown back into the hospital.

I don't think that it should be involuntary, but why can't we have working farms for those who are unable to function in a regular job, because the voices distract them? Or their co-workers? There are plenty of people who show up at the ER as soon as they're let go, because they prefer to be in the hospital. Let them stay.
Read more!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Futile Resusitation

My hospital made everyone participate in a Skills Day on Thursday, a day to make sure that everyone knows how to work all the equipment and such.
When my friend and I got to the station on resusitation, our cynicism showed. We were in a group of 2 ER nurses (us), 2 ICU nurses and some OB nurses and others. Only the ER and ICU nurses are used to participating in Code Blues. So when the instructor held up the lidocaine and amiodarone and asked "Which drug leads to more people surviving their hospital stay" and I said "Neither", they were shocked. The instructor just laughed. She admitted that both drugs were usually futile, but said that research showed that amiodarone was better. I wonder who funded the research? I know that amiodarone is much more expensive.
Here's the situation. When Grandpa keels over, Grandma freaks out and calls 911. The paramedics aren't about to tell Grandma that her loved one is gone, so they start CPR and the ALS protocols and bring him to the ER. We certainly aren't going to negate all their efforts by pronouncing him dead on arrival, so we continue the quest. We use shock and drugs and CPR. By the time Grandpa is pronounced dead, he has run up quite a bill!
Sometimes, though, we bring him back. He gets a heartbeat and a blood pressure, although he's on a ventilator and isn't responding to anyone. Then he goes to ICU, probably on multiple drugs, and dies later, with a much bigger bill.
No one wants to be the one to tell the family that it's all futile. They are upset and don't want their loved one to die. They don't want to live without him or her. They want their lives to be the same as always. They want everything done. So we keep the drugs flowing and the ventilator pumping until all systems fail, and Grandpa dies.
You see where I'm going with this?
Here's the USA economy, dead. The whole system of exploiting the Earth and its people in order to provide money for the rich is collapsing. It would have died years ago, but they kept it going with artifical life support - credit, pumping dollars into the invalid to keep it producing.
So now we're in the CPR stage. Interestingly, the rich get the Amiodarone. The bankers are like 300 pound gluttons, with very limited heart function, who have gorged themselves for years, (along with snorting the expensive cocaine), and now are being showered with billions to keep them going.
The automakers get the lidocaine. They are the ones who have been smoking heavily for years, polluting the air for all around them, and getting drunk and trashing the place, sprawling and crashing around with broken lives and barren landscapes to show for their time on Earth.
The rest of us watch. Abused though we are, they're the only family we know, and most Americans are hoping that they can be reususitated, so that our lives can continue without change.
It's time to accept the things we can't change and have the courage to change what we can. (And I'm quoting AA, not Obama, who can't let go either). The drunken abusive system we call "capitalism" has failed us, and we need to move to a sustainable system that provides for the entire human family without destroying the planet we live on.
Let the banking system die. Let the automakers die. Let capitalism die. Quit the resusitative efforts. Move on.
Read more!