Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pay No Attention to The Man Behind the Curtain

The media is in full damage control mode. Who are these people in the Occupy movement who insist on pointing at the 1% as the source of our economic problems? How dare they talk about economic inequality!

This is not the way the ruling class prefers to run the show.

We are meant to be distracted by the puppets, and pay no attention to the puppeteers.

And the latest puppet show is in full swing, with weekly debates, fully televised and commented on, by the Republican wing of the corporate party.

While many people fell into their assigned roles of arguing about relative stupidity of the participants in the race, or laughing at the gaffes made in the debates, others refused to play, and turned their attention to the worsening circumstances of the majority of people in this country.

This must scare the ruling class. Sure, the Occupy movement is made up of peaceful people, but what about the Tea Party?

Observers have commented on the lack of concern showed by the police about armed Tea Party protesters, while Occupy people have been attacked, beaten and arrested.

What if the Tea Party people turn their anger from individual politicians and toward those who buy them?

The fear of that is driving the media push to deflect the attention of Americans back toward the politicians. Listen to the talking heads and it becomes very clear.

The military detention law just passed by Congress serves to turn the anger back to the politicians, and also to setup a framework for destroying any organized movement that may develop as Americans become more and more impoverished. They've got it covered!
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Military Detentions

From: "They Thought They Were Free", a book written in 1955 by an American who interviewed Germans after the war-

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the ‘national enemies,’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants to think?"

The manipulation of the people has progressed so much since then, and yet, the process remains the same.

We, too, receive news of deliberations made in secret, that we cannot know the details of, because of "national security". We are watching as groups are targeted and demonized by mass propaganda, which is swallowed by the unthinking and the fearful.

And this technique of keeping people busily arguing about trivia while the main problem goes unchallenged is used with great effect.

I first really noticed it after the announced death of Osama Binladen, earlier this year.

The first announcement was so unbelievable that even the most gullible found it hard to swallow. They finally found the man for whom they have been searching for 10 years! But then they killed him and then they threw his body in the ocean. What?!!

I was amazed at how few people believed this the first day, including people I would have thought would believe anything they were told.

But then the flak started. He fought back, he didn't fight back, he hid behind his wife, he didn't, he was asleep, he was awake, he was a coward, he was brave, Obama watched the murder on TV, no he didn't, Pakistan knew he was there, no they were embarrassed because they didn't.

Soon, the media and the people were busily arguing about the details of the supposed mission, and forgot to question the main points. Was it really Osama? If it was, why wasn't he brought back for questioning and a trial? Should the SEALS involved be prosecuted for war crimes, for summary execution?

The new law to codify the illegal practices of the past decade, the indefinite detention of accused people, without evidence, charges or trial, aroused great opposition from Americans.

I had right wingers who usually don't speak to me come up and tell me how outraged they are by this law.

So, Obama threatened to veto the bill, and liberals calmed down. That is, until youtube video started circulating of Carl Levin explaining that the White House had been the ones to insist that Americans be included in the act.

Then they voted on whether to take out the part targeting Americans. It failed. Then they voted to put in language saying that the President didn't have to obey that part of the law if he didn't want to. That passed.

Then Obama delayed signing the Act.

By this time, most people are so confused that no one can organize against the bill, because so many people think that it's no longer a problem.

Mission Accomplished.

As a very interesting part of the theater, Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, and General Petraeus and others spoke against the bill. Why?

During the Egyptian uprising earlier this year, I emailed my Egyptian friend (who lives in the US) and asked him what was going on. He replied that he didn't know what was going on in Egypt, but he did know that top Egyptian generals were meeting at the Pentagon.

And then the military refused to shoot the protesters, and gave them rides on the tanks, and the protesters hugged the soldiers, and gave them flowers and proclaimed that they were part of the uprising. How beautiful was that?

And then Mubarek stepped down and the military took over, and victory for the protesters was announced, and they basked in the adulation of the world for their peaceful victory, and the protesters left the plaza, and went home to start living in their new military dictatorship.

Whoops! Now they are being shot down in the plaza by the military instead of the police.

The propaganda continues, however, bizarrely enough. They get Time Person of the Year, and they give advice to the Occupy Wall Street protesters, just as if they actually had won, and were not being shot down. Amazing.

So what was the point of our national "security" apparatchiks testifying against the detention bill?

Was it to make us feel all warm and gooey inside about our principled top members of our repressive apparatus? Gosh, the evil Congress may pass this law, but we can be assured that our military will never enforce it. Our soldiers are the good guys, even when they're kicking down doors of civilians in other countries. So they would never kick down doors in this country. That's up to the civilian SWAT teams. That's how free we are.

More from "They Thought They Were Free" -

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have.

"But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off in little organizations, and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent to—to what? It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.

"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.
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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ptokemin Party

Last night was my 19th year of attending the Holiday Party. When I moved here, I was shocked at my new job, the low pay, the lack of holiday and sick time, the expensive health insurance and the attitude that management had towards the employees.

But the party made up for some of that. What a blast! $5 a ticket, with great food, an open bar and a disc jockey for dancing the night away.

New management (with a WAY worse attitude toward labor) came a few years ago. First, the party stopped serving any alcohol except beer and wine. They changed the disc jockey.

But this year, they announced that the entire system would combine their parties. And instead of being held in the college ballrooms, it was held in an aluminum pole barn (the "convention center") in a town 12 miles away.

No alcohol for the first two hours, and then one free drink, followed by a cash bar.

We got there a 6pm. I walked in, and it took me a minute to realize that the droning voice over the microphone was praying, which explained all the bowed heads. We never had a prayer at the old party. I was looking for the food. After the prayer, the food line formed and it was incredibly long. But gone were the platters of shrimp, fresh vegetables and dip, chicken wings and other tasty finger foods, lavish desserts, and white coated men carving roast and ham. There were two casseroles, one with chicken and one without. There were green beans, carrots and potatoes au gratin. The food was served on plastic plates which quickly burned your fingers, so you had to leave a space to hold it, instead of piling it with food. There were no desserts, just another long line for the candy bar, where you took a little box, and they filled it with leftover Halloween candy bars.

The first two hours were supposed to have a video on Hospital Heroes, followed by dancing at 8pm.

My husband and I left out of boredom, planning to return after the corporate propaganda. But when we came back at 8, it was still(?) going on. Or maybe it started then. I was afraid to ask, because there was no one there that I knew, and I didn't want to get fired for asking. One of the announcers of the Hospital Heroes asked who was sexier, the CEO or the Human Relations head, and someone yelled out "Neither". The announcer said "You just lost your job". How funny was that? At least, I assume it was a joke.

My husband pointed out that this was a lot like the US economy. You still had a party, but the food was worse, you had to pay for things that used to be free, and you had to listen to religion and propaganda that you never heard before. It was austerity in action. Sadly, the new employees didn't know the difference. I've never had the experience of seeing passenger pigeons fill the sky, and they have never been to a fun holiday party.

I said, it's worse than that. You see all these people? We are all paid to keep people alive who the ruling class doesn't really see any value in. When Obamacare kicks in, and Medicare and Medicaid are cut, so are these people's jobs. Liberals made fun of the guy holding the sign that said, "Keep your hands off my Medicare", but he was inadvertently right. They are taking funds that went to Medicare and giving it to private insurance companies.

The money that went to Medicare actually goes to me and my co-workers, not to the elderly or poor themselves. They are the cardholders that enable us to bill the government.

So, although I deplored the austerity of this party, I know that there probably won't be any more parties in future years. Or, if there are, there won't be as many people attending.
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