Sunday, February 22, 2015

War Drums Booming Among the Connected  (Sex, Drugs But Very Little Rock and Roll (Or Empathy))

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.”
― Seneca

Apache Sacred Land Handed to Mining Conglomerate in Arizona

On the nearby San Carlos Apache reservation, many consider Oak Flat to be sacred, ancestral land – the home of one of their gods and the site of traditional Apache ceremonies.

But Oak Flat also sits on top of one of the world’s largest deposits of copper ore. Resolution Copper Mining, a subsidiary of British-Australian mining conglomerate Rio Tinto, has sought ownership of the land for a decade, lobbying Congress to enact special legislation on its behalf more than a dozen times since 2005.
Year after year the bills failed to pass. But in December, the legislation was was quietly passed into law as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has long championed the deal, said the land exchange would “maintain the strength of the most technologically advanced military in the world” since copper is the second-most-utilized mineral by the Department of Defense.
As part of the deal, Resolution Copper will swap roughly 7.8 square miles of land scattered across Arizona for roughly 3.8 square miles of Tonto National Forest, which includes Oak Flat. The new legislation will open up Oak Flat for copper mining.
But critics say the move allows the company to privatize the land and make an end run around critical environmental and cultural protections. What’s more Resolution Copper can’t promise that any of the copper produced by the mine will remain in the United States – which raises the question:  How does this help national defense?

As if.

This has definitely been (as Charles Pierce states below) one of the most depressing weeks ever.

Not since 2003 and the preparation for the invasion of Iraq has the U.S. population been faced with the foreknowledge of what the "foreign policy" experts have planned for our continuing viewing (and paying for by credit card) enjoyment.

Feeling scared yet (remember that the media is working full time to ensure that)? Imagine how the citizens of the countries preparing to be attacked (under the veil of rooting out ISIS shadows) are reacting. And that's to incredibly minimize if not overlook entirely what has been done to them previously by the ever-helpful Democracy bringers.

And what a surprise to feel again that all of us are being played by money parties who see profit in more Drums Along the Potomac and American civilization demise (although they hardly ever admit this as fact, or at least not until many years of destruction have passed, and even then they employ facile spokesmen/women to confound (sweet talk?) the citizenry about the history of it as they present a totally fantastic view of what actually happened . . . which is usually a confabulation of events that strangely enough enriches their benefactors).

uite frankly, this has been one of the more depressing weeks we have seen in a very long time. The country seems to be sliding down some very familiar tracks into a military engagement in the Middle East - an engagement that, at the moment, seems to be cloudy in its objectives, vague in its outlines, and obscure on the simple fact of what we are supposedly fighting for, and who we will be fighting with.

Can we fight the Islamic State generally without help from (gasp!) Iran? Can we fight the Islamic State in Syria without a de facto alliance with Hafez al-Assad, who was Hitler only a year or so ago? And the most recent polling seems to indicate that all the institutions that are supposed to act as a brake on war powers within a self-governing republic are working in reverse again.

The Congress is going to debate how much leeway it should give the president to make war, not whether he should be allowed to do it at all. The elite media, having scared Americans to death by giving the barbarians and their slaughter porn the international platform the barbarians so desired, is jumping on board with both feet. (To cite only one example, Chris Matthews is suiting up again.)

The country has been prepared to give its children up again. At the very least, public opinion on what we should do is a muddle, which means that any plan that looks "bold" likely will carry the country with it, unintended consequences be damned.With the intelligence all pointing toward bin Laden, Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working on strike plans.

Amid more executions by the militant group ISIS, Americans increasingly see the group as a threat to the U.S. Now, 65 percent of Americans view ISIS as a major threat - up from 58 percent in October - while another 18 percent view it as a minor threat. Majorities of Republicans (86 percent), Democrats (61 percent) and independents (57 percent) view ISIS as a major threat. Support for sending U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS has risen among all partisans, but particularly among Democrats and independents. Back in October, 56 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of independents disapproved of using ground troops - now 50 percent of Democrats approve and 53 percent of independents favor using ground troops.
You can see the logical canyon, can you not? The Islamic State is no more an actual threat to the United States than it was in October. But there have been more garish executions and more events elsewhere, so the perceived threat - real or not - has begun to work its dark magic on the national imagination, the way that aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds once did. The more bellicose of our leaders are openly shilling for a general engagement on the ground; the inevitable John McCain inevitably has called for a "mere" 10,000 ground troops, and he wants those troops to help fight against both the Islamic State and Assad. Because . . . do something!

You develop a strategy and elements of the strategy are American boots on the ground and not the 82nd Airborne, the president keeps setting up these straw man saying we want to send in masses of American troops, we don't, but we need to have American . . . air controllers, special forces, many others.

I'm talking about about ten thousand in Iraq. Then we need to say our objective is to eliminate Bashar Assad as well as ISIS in Syria and we recruit other Arab nations with Americans but not too many to fight against ISIS and Bashar Assad in Syria and coordinate those movements with air power guided by air controllers.
So the mission already is creeping; hell, Congressman Ed Royce, who only chairs the House Foreign Relations Committee, wants the proposed authorization for the use of military force to include Iran. And god only knows what happens if the Islamic State grabs a couple of those 10,000 American ground troops and uses them for another snuff film.

The mission already is creeping. I wonder if anyone else notices how similar Royce's request is in spirit to that contained in the famous notes taken by Donald Rumsfeld in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks:  "And at 2:40 p.m., the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H." - meaning Saddam Hussein - "at same time. Not only UBL" - the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden. Now, nearly one year later, there is still very little evidence Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. But if these notes are accurate, that didn't matter to Rumsfeld. "Go massive," the notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not." The mission already is creeping.
The more bellicose - and the more desperate - of our presidential aspirants also are openly shilling for a general engagement; Marco Rubio says that, if we'd only listened to Marco Rubio, we wouldn't be in this mess today, and how we simply cannot have a rookie like Jeb (!) Bush learning foreign policy on the job.

The Florida Republican senator, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, is beginning an aggressive effort to sell voters on his judgment and foresight on matters like Syria, Iran, Libya, Russia and Ukraine, making the case there should be no doubt he has the wherewithal to lead the country at a time of war. It's a necessary push for a first-term senator and potential presidential hopeful who is trying to convince GOP voters that he isn't a policy lightweight lacking executive experience, but rather a deep thinker who is fully engaged in complex foreign affairs and can manage the country's sprawling national security apparatus. . . . As you look around the world," Rubio said at the time, "you start to see the need for American leadership."
Leadership! Deep thinking.
The mission already is creeping. I wonder if anyone else notices how similar Rubio's vainglory is in spirit to all those members of Congress, young and old and of both parties, who voted as though they believed all those neocon fairy tales about how the wildfire of democracy would spread throughout the region if only the United States would "lead" by overthrowing Saddam Hussein, thereby sweeping it all up.

And I wonder if anyone else notices how similar it is in spirit to the position taken by presidentially ambitious Democratic politicians, like the last two Secretaries of State, one of whom was the party's nominee in 2004 and the other of whom is the odds-on favorite to be the party's nominee next year, who didn't want to be left behind by the glory train when it rolled through Baghdad. The mission already is creeping.
There is only one difference that I can see, and that is the guy in the White House. The president wants his AUMF to face the regional threat, it is true. But he wants a limitred one, and he has been consistently against a general engagement. He has been resolute against the rising and distasteful call for an authentic "clash of civilizations" motive for American action. (So, to be fair, was the last guy. It perhaps was the only thing he did right.)

The pressure for him to do so is growing overwhelming; Rudy Giuliani is only the most garish member of the rising chorus. He has stood firm on the nonsensical "controversy" about what he should call the activities of the Islamic State.
But it may not be enough. The next presidential election is gearing up, and what is going on in the Middle East has changed the dynamic of that race utterly. People may be running for president with American troops in harm's way, whether the engagement there is general or not.

The opinion of the country has been manufactured again to demand a war with no clear goals and no clear endpoint. Voices of reason and moderation - Hi, Marie Harf! - are being shouted down by conservatives and only tepidly supported by liberals. Nearly 100 years ago, rising in the Senate to oppose the entry of the United States into World War I, Senator Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin called the bluff of every hawk who ever called for a blind punch at a designated enemy.

We should not seek to hide our blunder behind the smoke of battle to inflame the mind of our people by half truths into the frenzy of war in order that they may never appreciate the real cause of it until it is too late. I do not believe that our national honor is served by such a course. The right way is the honorable way.
The ground already is prepared, the soil tilled. The mission already is creeping.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this:  If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World:  Science as a Candle in the Dark

“Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land, they own and control the corporations that've long since bought and paid for, the senate, the congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pocket, and they own all the big media companies so they control just about all of the news and the information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them.”
― George Carlin

I've always thought that knowledge about personal, and sometimes sexual, details about politicians are what keeps them under the thumb (so to speak) of the monied interests (who've paid for these details) and who, therefore, get to demand their fealty to tax-cutting and deregulation policies, thus enriching these very knowledgeable interests.

It would be just sad to find out that it's much worse - as I thought the former reason was bad enough.

I've always tried to ignore evidence-less gossip and screaming right wingers who would say or do anything to bring down "Socialists" not to mention "Communists!"

It seems that Lord Acton's judgment "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." is still true.

There’s all this judgment in the media about the lifestyle being all about casual sex — that if someone did go to a party every weekend that would mean they were highly promiscuous. But there’s so much more than sex going on and your partners might be the same couple, you might only sleep with one couple for a year. Whenever it comes out in terms of a scandal, the focus stays on the scandalous and it’s hard then to talk about all these other things that get wrapped up into the sex partying.
The one thing that was striking to me was that DSK kept defending himself as a swinger. In lifestyle or swingers parties, prostitution happens, but it’s going to be pretty rare; people really look down on it. In terms of the wealthy or famous guys, there are so many groupies that are willing to sleep with them for free, too. You could very easily be at a party where none of the women were being paid. On the other hand, I have heard stories of men arranging — just like the guys said they did for DSK — a bunch of escorts to have sex or go on a trip for the weekend. Anywhere I’ve been with wealthy, powerful men, there are women who want to sleep with them.
. . . We hear about rich, powerful men and group sex a lot — is that a mere function of the access that they have or is there something about being rich and powerful that draws them to such things?
. . . One of the things I would say is for men who pursue the lifestyle or swinging in the U.S., that’s sort of the way to have the life of someone who is rich and famous without having to be rich or famous. Some of the parties are really designed to be the rock-star experience. They’ll have a red carpet, they’ll have the VIP line. The themes of the parties will have people dress like movie stars or really elaborate outfits, things you could never wear in your regular life. By having these weekends, not only can they go away and have a little bit of luxury and sleep with four or five women, but they can also have this rock-star experience that other people only hear about through these scandals.
The recent Jeffrey Epstein case allegedly involved “sex parties” — scare quotes, because according to the allegations they sound more like “rape parties” — with underage girls. Have you heard about underage “sex parties” like this?
In terms of underage, no.
How do the sex parties of the rich and famous differ from those of us, you know, commoners?
A lot of people who are into sex parties are concerned about their privacy. You can’t even say that the famous guys are more concerned about their privacy and have more to lose, because a lot of people have something to lose, because it’s a pretty stigmatized thing to do still. That said, if you go to a lifestyle party or smaller town maybe somebody will be taking pictures and trying to expose you but probably not. Whereas Prince Harry, when he was partying in Vegas, people snapped pictures and spread them around. I wrote a little bit in the book about Sir Ivan’s castle, where I’ve been a number of times. He has a castle in the Hamptons where there are erotic parties and he has a no-cellphone rule that is really strictly enforced.
Are there differences in the sex parties of, say, rock stars compared to politicians? Or, when it comes to group sex, is everyone sort of in it for the same thing?
The texture of parties are going to differ whether it’s a group of ravers after a whole night of doing drugs and dancing, or a group of parents in Ohio who want to get home by midnight. No sex party is ever all about sex. It’s also about how you like to socialize and the music you like and are you a drinker or are you doing E? Probably there are some rich and famous sex parties that are like the swingers in Ohio getting home early and some that are more crazy and they’re up all night like Mötley Crüe trashing the room and doing cocaine.
If you’re high-profile, you may have less of a choice. You can’t go to Vegas and say, “I want to go to the lifestyle convention this weekend and wear silver booty shorts and run around the pool at the Hard Rock.” Lifestylers meet each other on websites or at parties. There’s a party almost every weekend in a big city. People who are higher profile don’t have that luxury. You can’t just go to a party and try to meet sex partners there.
I remember being at parties before where people were talking and saying, “Maybe our life is better than the rich and famous, just because of the freedom.” No one knows who you are. There are a lot of people in military and government, jobs that are pretty powerful but where they’re not necessarily recognized by everyone and they can move around those worlds easier than someone whose picture has been all over.

On a much more enlightening note, U.S. voices for peace are still strong although they are drowned out almost completely now by the media-maven warmongers.

Representative Alan Grayson writes to us.

I love these guys.

Dear Friends:

If you have been reading these notes for a while, you know that from time to time, I turn this platform over to someone else who has something important to say.  Today, I will yield my time to the brilliant singer and songwriter Jackson Browne.  I saw him perform in Central Florida on Wednesday night, and he electrified the audience - and me - with his brilliant protest song called "Which Side?"  It's the best political song that I've heard since I-don't-know-when.  In it, Jackson asks the paramount and pivotal question in politics, videlicet , "which side are you on?"  Jackson composed it, and performed it for the first time, at the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York.  If today's movement for justice, equality and peace has an anthem, it's this.  Here are the lyrics, as Jackson recorded them in his new album last year, Standing in the Breach:


You might be a young man, with the mountain in his step,
In search of El Dorado, but you haven't found it yet.
Or you might be an old man, with his whole life at his back,
And you can hear eternity whispering down the track.
Or maybe you're a woman, or just about to be.
And you can feel the generations, swimming in your sea.
But you know that it's coming, as surely as the dawn:
The battle for the future, baby.  Which side are you on?

Come on, come on, come on -- if you're coming.
Come on, come on, come on.
Come on, come on, come on -- if you're coming.
Which side are you on?
Come on, come on, come on -- if you're coming.
The battle lines are drawn.
Come on, come on, come on -- if you're coming.
Which side?  Which side are you on?
     Which side?

The corporations attacking
The natural world:  drilling and fracking.
All done with the backing
     Of the craven and corrupt.
Or the ones who fight
For the Earth, with all their might,
And in the name of all that's right,
Confront and disrupt.
     There's a restlessness out in the street.
     There's a question in the air:
How long, if this theft goes on, will our country still be here?
People know the game is rigged, even as they play.
They see their expectations slowly slip away.
They've got subsidies for billionaires, there's a bailout for the banks,
A monopoly on medicine, and a sale on armored tanks.
The whole damned country's being sold, out that revolving door
Between Washington and Wall Street, like it's one big Dollar Store.

Come on, come on, come on -- if you're coming.
Come on, come on, come on.
Come on, come on, come on -- if you're coming.
Which side are you on?
Come on, come on, come on -- if you're coming.
The battle lines are drawn.
Come on, come on, come on -- if you're coming.
Which side?  Which side are you on?
     Which side?

The bankers and their special friends,
Who rob you time and again,
Who like to pretend they're the only game in town?
Or The People, who
Hope, with everything they do,
They can build something new,
And turn this world around?
Who owns the elections? Who profits either way?
Who ends up with all that money [the] politicians pay?
To be the fearless leader, to put themselves across,
To be the one entrusted with the profit and the loss.
You try hard to believe that when you cast your vote it counts.
But elections are won with money, in ever larger amounts.
Take the money out of politics, and maybe we might see
This country turn back into something more like democracy.

Come on, come on, come on -- if you're coming.
Come on, come on, come on.
Come on, come on, come on -- if you're coming.
Which side are you on?
Come on, come on, come on -- if you're coming.
The battle lines are drawn.
Come on, come on, come on -- if you're coming.
Which side?  Which side are you on?

-  Jackson Browne, "Which Side Are You On" (2011).

Remarkably, 21st century technology somehow does not allow me to send you, via e-mail, the video of Jackson Browne performing this moving hymn to reform.   I can, however, embed the video of Jackson performing this song, for the first time, in New York's Liberty Plaza Park in 2011, on our ActBlue page - which also . . . wait for it . . . doubles as a contribution page. (Shocker!)  So to see the video, or to make a contribution, or both (but not neither!), click right here.

Rep. Alan Grayson
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“The mistake you make, don't you see, is in thinking one can live in a corrupt society without being corrupt oneself. After all, what do you achieve by refusing to make money? You're trying to behave as though one could stand right outside our economic system. But one can't. One's got to change the system, or one changes nothing. One can't put things right in a hole-and-corner way, if you take my meaning.”
― George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying

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