Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tea Party Congressional Madness Runs Amuck Conspiracy Theory Deluxe - 9/11: Who Really Benefited? Fact and Not Fiction (Tea Party Norwegians STRIKE!)

(Starbucks: Where Young, Smart Americans Find Jobs Today!)
One final comment on from whence this Congressional madness emanates:

A lot of people were alarmed Monday - with good reason - to learn that the House Republicans were relying on radio entertainer Rush Limbaugh and vile blogger Erick Erickson to tell them what to do about this whole debt ceiling thing. As everyone in Washington went into separate rooms to write their own horrible debt ceiling plans (my one-step approach: NO new revenue, ten zillion dollars in cuts to non-defense spending, Social Security replaced by personalized/market-based packs of roving hyenas), Erickson reported that he's been taking "call after call" from unnamed "members of the United States Congress," all of whom were seeking his approval, because this dumb, disingenuous hack is who the Republican Party is actually accountable to.

Meanwhile, John Boehner, the speaker of the House, gave his five-step "two-step" plan to famous shouty radio guy Rush Limbaugh, before he showed it to his own conference. (Of course, his conference is full of morons and extremists, many of whom wouldn't have known what to think about Boehner's plan until Uncle Rush explained it, so this was more shrewd than disrespectful.)

This is, obviously, a Bad Sign For America. Erick Erickson and Rush Limbaugh are, at best, entertainers - they're certainly not policy experts - and at worst (and they are very often at their worst) they are extreme demagogues, stirring up shit for fun and attention, always more interested in tribal victory against their enemies on "the Left" than they are in governing, or doing anything at all to improve America beyond constantly crowing about how much better it used to be.

People like Erick and Rush were supposed to exist to keep the rubes occupied while the grown-ups sat down with various monied interests to design policy around what was best for oil companies and defense contractors. They are not supposed to be where the GOP base and congressional leadership get their political information and strategy.

But! But but but. Do you know what actually made me get a bit sputtery with rage yesterday? It was not this "Republicans cannot figure out how to tie their shoes without an asinine TV pundit and Clinton talk radio relic telling them it's OK" business. I expect as much from the modern GOP. It was this Tweet, from Dave Weigel, that set my teeth on edge:

Ominous elevator chatter in Capitol today: "Did you read what Friedman wrote about whether we need a third party?"

Because yes, of course, Thomas Friedman is who the "sensible" ones are listening to.

Thomas Friedman, riding in, with Michael Bloomberg in tow, from Aspen, on the winged stallion of radical centrism, inventing a plan to fix ALL OUR PROBLEMS by misidentifying them and making the actual problems worse. Thomas Friedman's Sunday column was dumber, somehow, than the last 1,500 identical columns he's written on the same subject. Faced with a legislative system with too many veto points and a polarized national electorate regularly splitting their votes between the right-wing party and the incoherent party of "everyone else," Friedman suggests that we elect a third-party president via Web poll. Yes!!! THAT WILL SOLVE EVERYTHING. Someone with no power base in either party, selected by Reddit users. Can't you just imagine how President Maru the Box Cat would be able to cut through this "partisanship" and get things done with "leadership" from the "radical center"? This Web poll third party will be the Amazon.com of politics, in that it will kill the Borders of politics. (I think the Borders of politics, in this example, is the labor movement. Sorry!)

Right now you have a situation where the rank-and-file Republicans are listening to irresponsible extremists and the "serious" "grown-ups" hammering out "responsible" plans are listening to simple-minded dolts, like Thomas Friedman, with absolutely no understanding of how politics work.

I honestly do not know which one is worse. Friedman, probably, because at least Rush Limbaugh understands how to work to get his intended policy result enacted. His taxes have certainly gone down, as he's gotten richer, since he started his talk radio racket. Friedman seems to think the problem with his "moderate politics of a center-left rich guy" platform is that there isn't a party for it. Mr. Friedman, meet President Obama, of the Democratic Party! I know you hate partisanship, but that is the method by which President Obama is trying to create your flat global technocratic playground dream world!

Though if everyone who takes Thomas Friedman seriously did start their own third party, we at least would no longer have to worry about anyone who takes Thomas Friedman seriously getting elected to public office.

(Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon. Email him at apareene@salon.com.)
So, friends, Have you been hankering for a little bit of knowledge about how we got so far down (under these morons) after being so far up when Bill Clinton left office and "not-so-Dumbya" wankered his way into the Presidential slot? Want to read about the conspiracy theory behind all conspiracy theories? (Cause it's a doozy!) The folks at Global Research are proving themselves equal to the task. Will you? And then what will you do about it?

9/11: Who Really Benefited? Fact and Not Fiction . . . [Global Research Editor's Note We bring to the attention of our readers this provocative review of the strategic and corporate interests behind 9/11 including Wall Street, the Texas oil companies and the defense contractors. The statements in this article are corroborated by numerous studies, books, news articles and research reports published since September 2001. In the course of almost ten years, Global Research has conducted a detailed review and analysis of the 9/11 attacks, focusing on their broad implications as well as their historical significance. See our 9/11 and the War on Terrorism Dossier] Michel Chossudovsky, July 24, 2011 Forget so-called conspiracy theories. Instead look at reality. Dare ask yourself who actually seems to have benefited from the 9-11 calamity. In light of the debt ceiling debates and the continuous corrupt politics as usual of Washington D.C., it is time for the American people, and individual states of this federation, to look at a troubling set of facts. It seems there were “several” beneficiaries of 9-11 that don’t exactly fit the story line we were constantly fed by the propaganda machine and mainstream media as to how to connect the dots (which we were rhetorically asked to do). Here is a list of peoples that benefited. Most of this list is factual. Some are more opinion but with strong support in reality-based argument: 1) The New York Port Authority was having difficulty renting out space in the Twin Towers. More importantly there was a huge asbestos liability. Surprisingly these Towers were sold to a new owner Larry Silverstein just three months prior — who managed to get an insurance contract for a big payout if any of the Tower buildings got hit by an airplane. This is a fact. 2) Our first international move was to bomb Afghanistan under the assumption that people there were involved. So the heroin industry of Afghanistan came back to life in a big way — that is international and local drug cartels rediscovered a gold mine of money supply. Bin Laden and the Taliban, because of their religious fanaticism, pretty much closed down the trade to a trickle. But after the bombing shake-up, people connected with the heroin trade in Central Asia reaped billion dollars rewards—including money-laundering groups of financiers — such as banksters, etc. (And this is pretty much all the U.S. military/ intelligence has really accomplished—despite all the rhetoric and high-sounding goals about exporting democracy.) This is fact and not fiction. 3) Investors of profitable corporations connected to the military industrial complex made a killing (pun intended). Obviously war has been profitable for some industries for eons as we are told by most war historians profits are an inevitable consequence of war for merchants of death yet they say profit is “not” the driving force behind war. Think again. For our American culture, since at least the Vietnam War, it seems to have become the driving force. (What else does America still manufacture?) Prior to 9/11 there was little in the way of war material inventories being depleted. But soon after 9/11 this all changed. In fact some corporate stocks immediately went up in value—as did some military contracts. Note as well that after the cold war both the Pentagon and the Intelligence apparatus should have cut their budgets in half. (But then no one would have been promoted and the Pentagon would have lost some of its clout.) That did not happen. Rather the budgets doubled in size. How is that for financial austerity? This is fact and not fiction. 4) Some powerful industry leaders and think tank politicos believed it was necessary for certain “companies” to “control” various strategic resources such as oil and gas. And not surprisingly the very countries in which we declared a war against terrorists are surprisingly the same countries that contain such resources — especially in the Middle East. Gas and oil reserves are coveted by every industrial civilization and every military as a necessity. For example, there was a plan to build an oil pipeline through Afghanistan and Pakistan to ship out from the Indian ocean — requiring stable societies that don’t sabotage pipelines. Nevertheless despite things not going as planned oil companies for whatever reason reaped huge profits. Fact and not fiction. 5) Advocates, such as Paul Bremer, for extreme laissez faire economic policies, attempted to rewrite an Iraqi constitution to promote a free market system of neo-liberal economic principles to make it especially easy for foreign nations to own Iraq’s resources. And if you do your research you will come to learn that the U.S. did not have any gripes with Saddam Hussein until he kicked oil companies out of Iraq because they wanted to take the lion’s share of the profits. He nationalized oil. This is fact and not fiction. 6) Israel benefited by having one of their neighboring enemies, namely Saddam Hussein and his standing army, weakened and preoccupied. It is not a coincidence that advocates and newspaper pundits most defensive about our invasion happen to be strong advocates of Israel’s right-wing will. Evidence clearly shows that some Israeli supporters were part of the culture of deception to take us to war with Iraq — as they are now working to take us to war with Iran with a similar pattern of phony intelligence. Equally it is a fact that whatever Middle East group harbors hostility toward Israel is now considered terrorist in nature to Americans. It is a fact that the Israeli lobby pushed hard for war with Iraq. 7) Right-wing politicos, especially Christian and Judaic, who like to promote prejudice against anything Muslim and Arab benefited. Since 9-11 there has been a constant propaganda war against Muslims throughout Western countries. (This is not to argue that Americans should not be wary of foreign motives.) But the fact is that those who do not wish Muslims to have influence in this culture have clearly waged a major propaganda campaign for Westerners to fear and distrust a huge segment of the world’s population — as a “cultural clash” or clash of civilizations like the medieval era of The Crusades. This is to say that Israel’s enemies have become our enemies as “neocon” propaganda campaign harps on “Islamo-fascism,” “Islamo-extremism,” and “Islamo-fanaticism”. Meanwhile this event is used to further persuade Americans Israel is America’s “natural” ally and partner against the forces of evil. (Yet rightwing Israelis too are not willing to separate Church and State and so they discriminate against those not Jewish. Therefore they too do not share our democratic values of equality for “all” people — like many of the theocratic countries in the Middle East.) This is opinion but it still reflects reality. 8) Politically motivated people with the desire to use “fear,” namely terrorism, as an excuse to curtail and destroy civil liberties and freedoms normally honored in democratic countries. We have become more a fascist state with Homeland Security surveillance. This curtailment is similar to those who continue to try to censor free speech — and make it more difficult to have the right to “associate” via technologies such as the Internet. Such mentality has allowed spying on citizens by “privatized” corporations not accountable to the tax paying public who pay organizations to secretly spy and keep records on its own citizenry. Obama and his team have done nothing to make real, substantive changes, and in fact have reinforced this tyranny. The curtailment of our freedoms is fact and not fiction. 9) Some international political operatives willing to take American bribe money in exchange to playing and saying our tune have benefited, such as some political factions in the Middle East who equally play they game with our tax dollars — including journalists who will write and say whatever Uncle Sam wants as long as there is a brick of one hundred dollar bills as “disappeared” just like military contracts that did not get performed—but were still played. This could also include those creating phony websites to spew messages or take credit for events done by others. 10) People with a desire to destroy the political strength and good will of the American people and government. Our country is no longer looked upon as a “positive” force for democracy. Further our economy has been severely damaged by corrupt forces willing to sacrifice real national security to greedy and self-interested ends. We are seen as the rogue state by too many. It doesn’t seem to bother some profiting that America goes broke invading foreign countries — irrespective of what the rest of the world thinks — and what could be a long term disaster — if not a World War 3. (It almost seems like a deliberate foil to destroy military preparedness and to weaken our security.) Furthermore, those who believe in a two class system benefited because the wealth investor class, including most of the Congress and Senate, are “not” sending their kids to die — rather they rely on a volunteer military of lower and middle class kids that can’t find jobs or have few prospects to go to school. 11) Along with this financial bust is a drive to destroy liberal notions of any kind of welfare for the less fortunate—save welfare for corrupt corporations. While it is true that there is no free lunch (unless you live in the beltway) there is also way too much scorn for people who are not super-rich as deserving some kind of humanity. Perhaps Obama should let the country default. Perhaps individual states “should” give serious consideration to secede from the Union. It has become one massive failure anyway. This litany is as contentious as the list of grievances in the Declaration of Independence written over two hundred years ago. And there is good reason to modify our current banking system and the Federal Reserve.

The U.S. Congress, like most pseudo-liberal chicken lefties, who have not had the guts to look seriously at what likely happened on 9/11, or why, have succumbed to the cowardliness of voting to not close the U.S. gulag. They are more afraid of their own lost of stature than they are of honoring the rights of law and justice. Meanwhile the legal system — that is, lawyers — have been far too compliant. This is to say that the U.S. is being strangulated by corporate America and its finance sector. This is a form of slavery to be manipulated into doing things under false assumptions. Why the ultra rich became even more so, they “own” Congress with their bribery of lobby money and especially the Republican party — despite all the Tea Party advocates. You may not like these realities. Few do. So go ahead and continue to shun all “theories” about 9-11 as mere skewed imagination. Because while it is true that 99.99% of the Government is innocent that doesn’t mean a relatively small, but high-ranking cabal, could not have been involved—especially given all the security transgressed and Air Force stand down that ensued. Still it is easy to point fingers at identifiable groups of people as over-generalizations. Nevertheless many people looked the other way to not notice the dots the machine was drawing was itself tainted—which had its own wisdom of reticence. But where are we to go as a culture if we continue to play blind? You can believe in fantasy as most people choose—because in the short term it feels easier. But it may turn out to be worse in the longer term with both parties being irremediably corrupt. More importantly to the sell out of our human rights to corporations with laws like Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission. Good Luck to all people who think they know something because they have been conditioned to believe what they currently do. Yet ask yourself how many Muslims actually benefited? Then ask that irrespective of who did it, does it not seem that our culture has some issues to contend with and some bureaucracy to address besides the liberal agenda? If lawyers don’t start making more noise we could have some serious problems.
And on the Tea Party's Norwegian Terror Front:
Much as folks on the Right seem eager to dismiss the murderous rampage of Norwegian domestic terrorist Anders Breivik as yet another "isolated incident" involving someone who was mentally unstable, a lone wolf whose views had nothing to do with his violent act - after all, it worked so well in the Gabrielle Giffords shooting - the story is not going to go away so readily. First, there's the news that Breivik says there are still "two cells" in his organization out there. So the terrorism may not be over and done with just yet.

Moreover, as we sift through the discernible facts about Breivik and his motives for embarking on a murderous rampage, it's becoming increasingly evident that he was an ardent right-winger - but decidedly not a neo-Nazi or any other kind of fascist. Breivik did not belong to any overtly racist, white supremacist or anti-Semitic organizations.

Breivik's only known political affiliation is with the Progress Party, which is functionally Norway's version of the Tea Party. Indeed, Tea Party heavyweight Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity spoke at the Progress Party's national convention in Oslo last fall. (It would be interesting to determine if Breivik was in attendance; hopefully, some enterprising Norwegian journalist will look into it.)

This has produced some interesting commentary from the sane world, and a frantic scramble among right-wingers eager to distance themselves from this madman. In the New York Times, Scott Shane reported on the significance of Breivik's right-wing politics in inspiring his rampage - and how the sources of that inspiration included supposedly mainstream conservatives:

His manifesto, which denounced Norwegian politicians as failing to defend the country from Islamic influence, quoted Robert Spencer, who operates the Jihad Watch Web site, 64 times, and cited other Western writers who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture.

More broadly, the mass killings in Norway, with their echo of the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City by an antigovernment militant, have focused new attention around the world on the subculture of anti-Muslim bloggers and right-wing activists and renewed a debate over the focus of counterterrorism efforts.

... Mr. Breivik frequently cited another blog, Atlas Shrugs, and recommended the Gates of Vienna among Web sites. Pamela Geller, an outspoken critic of Islam who runs Atlas Shrugs, wrote on her blog Sunday that any assertion that she or other antijihad writers bore any responsibility for Mr. Breivik’s actions was “ridiculous.”

“If anyone incited him to violence, it was Islamic supremacists,” she wrote.

At the Atlantic, Joshua Foust tried his hand at a bit of sophistry to see if the culpability for Breivik could be scrubbed away from his political cohorts and the like-minded:

Behavior, ultimately, is a product of one's environment: ideas, yes, but also social pressure, family pressure, norms, constraints, inspirations, barriers, and expectations. Sometimes, these constraints push a man to do any number of heinous things. It doesn't excuse the man himself (at the end of the day, you always have the choice and the responsibility not to react to your circumstances violently), but it makes the question of "why" terribly difficult to understand. It is deeply complex.

Focusing only on Breivik's words, as the commentariat has done this weekend, is not just hypocrisy, it misses the point. Breivik wanted us to focus on his words - in a way, his disgusting butchery was meant to advertise his writing. We owe his victims better than that, better than playing his game. Breivik the man was more than a book-length rant on race politics. He was the product of his own environment, one we have not even begun to understand. Moving from rhetoric into action is really difficult, and it happens for reasons we just don't understand. To really answer the question of why Breivik committed such atrocity, we have to move beyond his politics and his carefully placed manifesto. Anything less would be a disservice to the children he so ruthlessly murdered.

We commend Foust for his high principle, but we have a feeling that such complexity would not be admitted if the perpetrators had turned out to be Muslim. Certainly it is rare to see such considerations be applied to Islamic radicals. Rather, what happens uniformly among the "anti-jihadist" crowd (particularly Geller, Spencer, et. al.) is that they readily leap to condemn all of Islam for the acts of a few radicals whose motivations, indeed, are never considered "beyond their politics".

Indeed, the scramble among right-wing pundits to come up with some kind of decent rationale that will let them talk about Breivik - or better yet, blame liberals or Muslims for him - is on, as Media Matters reports. Over at Red State, a regular contributor tied Breivik's attack to the pro-choice movement and end-of-life issues. Then there's the post over at Breitbart's "Big Peace" site titled "Anders Behring Breivik: Jihadist":

This Norwegian terrorist was not a Christian or a conservative. He acted contrary to the teachings of the Bible and conservatives from Burke to Madison. He was instead a jihadist, blinded by an ideology who resorted to violence rather than engaging in a public debate of ideas. He was a coward who planted bombs and killed innocent people. For him, violence was the only answer. He claimed to be fighting jihadists...but he actually became one. He didn't kill one islamist [sic] terrorist with his actions-only innocent Norwegians. Change the location, and he acted like so many jihadists in the Middle East. He became one of them.

In a way, he's actually onto something, a reality that right-wingers themselves don't ever admit: Islamic radicals are themselves fundamentally right-wing ultra-conservatives in their orientation. They are devout anti-modernists who despise all things liberal. They have far more in common, in terms of their personal psychological orientations, with the anti-immigration radicals who dominate the modern Right, both in Europe and in the USA.

This is why you can put together a map of violent incidents over the past three years involving right-wing extremists in the USA and come up with 24 of them and counting, but you can't even begin to do the same with left-wing extremists because the map would be blank.

Let's be clear: Initially at least - until it becomes condoned - it is only a tiny subset of these movements that is ultimately inspired to violent action like this. The real question to ponder is: Why are right-wing movements so attractive to people who eventually act out violently?

This is an issue that is brilliantly illuminated by the case of Shawna Forde, the erstwhile Minuteman group leader who wound up overseeing the murders of a 9-year-old-girl and her father in Arizona:

The people who broke into her home late at night while she was sleeping with her new puppy on the living-room couch and cold-bloodedly shot her in the face while she pleaded for her life were people who did not see her, or her father or mother, as human beings. They were people who had become so accustomed to dehumanizing Latinos that they didn't care about the devastation they brought to Arivaca and the lives of this family. They were so consumed by hate that they had no humanity left themselves.

The dehumanizing language of scapegoating and eliminationism - the naming and targeting of other humans for the supposed social ills they incur, followed as always by words urging their excision from society, if not the world - is endemic on the American Right. And among right-wing extremists, it intensifies, grows and metastasizes into something lethal and monstrous.

One of the early and most sustainable critiques of the Minutemen was that they were doomed to descend into violence because - while adamantly and angrily denying that they were themselves racist, and "screened" out any such influences - their scapegoating rhetoric attracted serious numbers of people who were functionally sociopathic and violent. Shawna Forde - a woman with an abusive upbringing, a former petty criminal and hooker who liked to tout herself as a music promoter - was attracted to the Minutemen, and rose high within their ranks, precisely because she was attracted to dehumanizing rhetoric that scapegoated specific targets to blame for their own lousy lives. And she became the manifestation of that.

Right-wing movements attract people who are likely to act out violently because they indulge so overtly and, in recent years, remorselessly in the politics of fear and loathing: indulging in eliminationist rhetoric, depicting their opposition as less than human, and aggressively attacking efforts to blunt the toxic effects of their politics as "political correctness" - or, in the case of both Anders Breivik and Andrew Breitbart, "Cultural Marxism".

Scapegoating is, as Chip Berlet explains "the social process whereby hostility and aggression of an angry and frustrated group are directed away from a rational explanation of a conflict and projected onto targets demonized by irrational claims of wrongdoing, so that the scapegoat bears the blame for causing the conflict, while the scapegoaters feel a sense of innocence and increased unity." Moreover, he explains, it is a constant feature of both mainstream and extreme right-wing politics, and has been so historically:

Scapegoating of immigrants and welfare recipients is used regularly by mainstream politicians to attract votes. This dynamic has a long history in the US, with the scapegoated targets being selected opportunistically - Reds, Anarchists, Jews, Catholics, Freemasons, all the way back to witches in Salem. Periodic waves of state repression are justified through conspiracist scapegoating that claims networks of subversives are poised to undermine the government. Right wing populist movements mobilize the middle class by claiming a conspiracy from above by secret elites and from below by a parasitic underclass. On the far right are the scapegoating themes of collectivist New World Order plots and Jewish banking conspiracies.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the US has been exporting its media-intensive election model, which favors style over substance, argument over debate, slogans over issues. This election model facilitates the success of not only those politicians that can raise the most funds, but also demagogues willing to use scapegoating as an ideological weapon.

A similar case involving a mentally unstable killer is one I've frequently cited as illustrative of the power of right-wing politics to attract unstable and violent people - namely, the 1986 case of David Lewis Rice, who killed a Seattle family under the delusion - given to him by a group of right-wing McCarthyite conspiracy-mongers - that he was ridding the world of Communist conspirators and their offspring.

Likewise, Richard Poplawski's lethal attacks on Pittsburgh police officers back in 2009 was inspired by supposedly mainstream talkers spreading paranoid conspiracy theories:

Because we believe in freedom of speech and freedom of thought, there will probably always be haters like Richard Poplawski among us. Inevitably they will be driven by fear: the fear of difference. Because to them, difference of any kind is a threat.

And what we know from experience about volatile, unstable actors like them is that they can be readily induced into violent action by hateful rhetoric that demonizes and dehumanizes other people. And thanks to human nature and those same freedoms, we will certainly always have fearmongering demagogues among us. But the purveyors of such profoundly irresponsible rhetoric need to be called on it - especially when they hold the nation's media megaphones.

Calling out those culpable is not the same as assigning criminal blame, but it is a socially significant act similar to shaming and shunning. And because failure to do so only invites more of the same - if right-wing pundits aren't held accountable for encouraging extremist beliefs, they not only will keep doing it, they'll become increasingly radical and exponentially irresponsible - it is also a necessary one.

Unfortunately, it is all too clear that accountability is not going to be the order of the day among our right-wing friends and their many apologists.



Phil said...

"Thomas Friedman's Sunday column was dumber, somehow, than the last 1,500 identical columns he's written on the same subject."

Practice makes perfect, eh?

Suzan said...

Hi Phil!

This made me remember how when I was about 9 I studied all the newspaper journalists I read to figure out the formula for writing a column several times a week, and although I was reading William F. Buckley, James J. Kilpatrick, I.F. (Izzy) Stone, Edward R. Murrow (you get the picture - yes, I had hifalutin' tastes then, but it's what your initial influences give you, you know), I knew when George Will and then Tom Friedman hit the scene that they were in no way the equal of my first loves and that they only knew the formula that I had figured out so long before but hadn't the intelligence to really add something to it that made it worth reading.

The one thing I enjoyed as I grew as a writer/editor was trying to find the right mix of interesting formula and intelligent perspective to add to the information available to a critical reading public.

I still enjoy the effort.

Obviously Tom and George don't.

Love you!