Saturday, May 22, 2010

Drill! Drill! Drill!

Ah, the things we learn from a disaster. Estimates vary as to exactly how much oil BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig is pumping into the Gulf of Mexico. Initially, BP said none, then a thousand barrels a day, which the federal government then bumped up to 5,000 a day.

BP won’t allow any scientists to actually inspect the site, the Gulf having become BP’s proprietary body of water. However, scientists did get hold of a film clip of the spewing oil and estimated that at one time upwards of 70,000 barrels of oil a day was pouring into the Gulf.

Michael Klare has written extensively on oil, and he brings up a little noticed point about the Gulf disaster. The assumption has been that BP was sending its drill 13,500 feet beneath the surface of the Gulf in a frantic effort to decrease our dependence on foreign oil. After all, why be dependent on all those Mideast countries when we’ve got good old American crude just waiting for us below the Gulf. “Drill, drill, drill,” as Sarah is fond of saying and get that oil to the nearest gas station so America can keep driving as she always has.

This was not the case, according to Klare. He tells us, “There, is, however, some indication that the company was in an unseemly rush to complete the cementing of the Mississippi Canyon 252 well—a procedure that would cap it until the company was ready to undertake commercial extraction of the oil stored below. It could then have moved the rig rented from Transocean Ltd., at $500,000 per day, to another prospective drill site in search of yet more oil.” (Emphasis mine.)

As always, it gets down to the bottom line. Klare goes on to explain:

The major energy firms have their own compelling reasons for a growing involvement in the exploitation of extreme energy options. Each year, to prevent the value of their share from falling, these companies must replace the oil extracted from their existing reservoirs with new reserves.

The easy stuff is pretty much tied up by state-owned oil, which means that domestic companies like BP must go into for some high-risk drilling if they are to keep their balance sheet intact.

Though, speaking of a “domestic” oil company is a bit of a misnomer. The oil market is an international market, and any oil company, domestic or foreign, will sell oil to whoever offers the best price. So that oil pouring into the Gulf could have very well been used to power industrial plants in China or automobiles in India.

As it stands now, that oil’s not going anyplace except the Gulf Coast.

Friday, May 21, 2010

When is a lie a lie?

One of my readers who tries to keep me on the straight and narrow, though not always with success, is Robert Becker, an excellent writer himself. Robert called me on yesterday’s post when I argued that four moral absolutes are necessary for a decent society: do not kill; do not steal; do not lie; do not exploit.

Robert jumped on lying when he wrote:

By the way, “lying,” in its nearly infinite dimensions is quite different from killing, stealing, and exploiting (thought that’s not a simple one either). Art, for example is a kind of lying, and something one must deceive to get to a higher truth. Now, giving false testimony, in a court where facts and life matter, that’s rather different than sweeping away all “lying.” We satirists lie all the time, and sometimes, to play the devil’s advocate, we must take on some of his attributes.

He makes a good point. Lying is a tough nut to crack. Not only are there times when it is necessary, but on the flip side brutal honesty can often be wielded as a weapon that is used to hurt and demean.

One possible solution would be to condemn lying when it is a vehicle for exploitation. This can be done on a personal level as in, “Of course I’ll still respect you if you sleep with me, baby,” to “Sadddam Hussein has stockpiled weapons of mass destruction.”

Such lies are born of a desire to wield power over another, and this is the source of the lie’s indecency. Otherwise, if there’s a boring party you’d rather duck, a slight touch of diplomatic flu is not a ticket to Hell.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What if we tried this?

“Freedom” is one of those words that get tossed about like a pod full of dried peas, and often the only sound that emanates from it is a death rattle. The whole political spectrum wants to claim the word as its very own, and it is used as a rationale for everything from dropping Hellfire missiles on innocent civilians in the AfPak Theater to raucous West Coast orgies.

Frances Moore Lappe believes Progressives should make freedom their number one issue. She defines freedom as, “[O]ur power to make real choices, about not only our personal lives but about the forces determining the quality of life in our communities.” She then points out that, “In very real ways, basic economic security established through social rules we create together isn’t a threat to freedom; it’s essential to freedom.”

Then she skins her shins on the one rock Progressives seem to stumble into, no matter how high or bright the sun, when she says, “Progressives should challenge all Americans to a useful debate about what really restricts our choices and what actually does make us free.”

You can’t debate a sound bite. The problem is not to educate, it is to inspire. I once heard Drew Weston, author of The Political Brain speak, and he opened his talk by asking how many people in the audience remembered Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Plan” speech. King didn’t have a plan, he had a dream and he took the country with him.

One problem with those who talk about freedom is that they fail to take a good hard look at the type of soil freedom needs to sprout. Like Lappe, many writers put a great deal of emphasis on economic security. Yet, many of the marchers in the Civil Rights movement were dirt poor and hadn’t known economic security for generations.

What is freedom if not a demand for a decent society? As I have pointed out in previous posts, four moral imperatives are the foundation upon which such a society is built; do not kill; do not steal; do not lie; do not exploit. These, in turn, require courage. This explains why history has seen so few decent civilizations. Decency embraces and affirms all of God’s creation. When confronted with evil its response is measured and adequate to deal with the problem rather than one of fearful overreaction.

From the above, it is patently obvious that we will never achieve a decent society. And the results would be rather deadly if we tried to. Because to achieve a fully decent society, we would have to turn decency into an ideology, and ideologies have a nasty habit of turning to social engineering to achieve their goals. This raises a problem of what to do with those individuals who don’t want to buy into it. The traditional response has been prison camps and death squads. In the end decent people end up saying to the indecent, “You will either live a life of empathy and compassion or we will kill you.”

Rather, the push for a decent society should act as a counterweight to the unholy copulation between feral capitalism and a toxic beltway that are the twin albatrosses around Liberty’s neck.

The desire for decency is one that cuts across class and ethnic lines. Without this foundation of decency, freedom spins off and fragments into an atomized void of self centeredness and self interest. This is why so many individuals equate freedom with the freedom to buy. This is why the hedge fund manager defines freedom as the right to make obscene profits even if doing so threatens to bring the economy down.

Decency resonates with a public that is strung out, uncertain and frightened. The courage that the drive for decency would demand, along with its attendant empathy and compassion, would be an effective antidote to the fear-mongering that spews forth from the demagogues who dominate our airwaves.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What do you do with a low-life, mother-fucking son of a bitch?

Most of us have had the experience, at one time or another in our lives, of hating someone with a passion that borders on the homicidal. This passion runs especially deep if the object or our hatred had hurt us or a person dear to us. The hatred comes in waves every time he or she is mentioned. Sometimes it washes over us in the wee hours of the morning and we find ourselves wide awake playing and replaying old grievances.

The problem is that while this passion consumes us and borders on the self-destructive, it doesn’t touch the object of our loathing. He or she continues along their merry way untouched by our hatred.

Here is a rather bizarre suggestion that might help neutralize this passion and allow us to move from day to day with a little more serenity.

When you wake up in the morning, conjure up the object of your hatred. Review in your mind every undesirable characteristic, every wrong he or she committed. Meditate on every mannerism you despise and every physical characteristic you find loathsome. And when your rage is all consuming drop to your knees, clasp your hands and pray the following prayer.

“God, please bless this low-life, mother-fucking son of a bitch!” Hell, don’t pray it scream it at the top of your lungs. Add a few more adjectives if it suits you.

The next morning, do the same thing. And keep doing it morning after morning.

In time, you will drop the “low-life” and the prayer will become, “God, please bless this mother-fucking son of a bitch!”

As more time passes, and if you are faithful, you will drop the “mother-fucking.”

Then, one day, you will drop the “son of a bitch.”

And on that day, you will be free.

It’s bizarre, but it works.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Work in Progress

In a recent article, Chris Hedges excruciated organized religion for its impotence in the face of a rising tide of anger and amorality. He opened his article by saying:

It is hard to muster much sympathy over the implosion of the Catholic Church, traditional Protestant denominations, and Jewish synagogues. These institutions were passive as the Christian right, which peddles magical thinking and a Jesus-as-warrior philosophy, hijacked the language and iconography of traditional Christianity…The obsession with personal piety and “How-is-it-with-me?” spirituality that permeates most congregations is undiluted narcissism.

With few exceptions, Christianity and organized religion are as oil is to water. Historically, organized religion has so much blood on its hands it is impossible to tell where the fingers end and the nails begin. All of this violence surfaces as soon as the church gains political power. When Church and State wed Hell pays for the reception for the child of the union is Death.

The message of early church missionaries to indigenous people was, “Jesus died for your sins, and so can you!”

The truth is that organized religion chokes on the teachings of Jesus. Early Christians referred to their faith as The Way. For them, the essence of this faith was internalizing Jesus’ teachings and actually living them. The Way included little annoyances like loving your enemies and turning the other cheek. (The Religious Right would have us believe that what Jesus actually said was turn the other’s cheek with a fistful of knuckles.) Living the Beatitudes is a pain in the ass, so it is easier for organized religion to get its knickers in a knot over evolution and same-sex marriage.

The separation of church and state was not the creation of eighteenth century secular humanists, but of a clergy man, Roger Smith. The Puritans booted Smith out of Massachusetts because of his heretical beliefs, so Smith founded Rhode Island. Based on his experience in the Bay State and England, Smith realized that nothing corrupted a religion faster than being made a state’s sanctioned religion. So in Smith’s view the separation of the two was necessary to keep religion healthy and uncorrupted by the quest for political power. (The corrupted faith of the Religious Right becomes understandable when we remember that from the 1820s to the 1960s a White, male-dominated Protestantism was the de facto state religion of America. The poor boys want their power back.)

The Way, once it frees itself from the corrupting influences of the state is grounded in one of the world’s most misunderstood concepts: Christian love. At the mention of Christian love many people envision a white-robed maiden skipping through La-La Land with a beatific smile on her face.

It is anything but!

Christian love demands a descent into the deepest pit of Hell and a willingness to love every low-life son of a bitch one finds there even though one’s knee-jerk reaction is to tear their freaking throats out. In Greek, Christian love is called agape and is defined as an attitude and not an emotion.

I am always amused by the Christian right’s efforts to place the Ten Commandments in public buildings. Progressives missed a golden opportunity when Judge Roy Moore wanted to place blocks of granite, engraved with the Commandments, in the country’s courthouses.

What Progressives should have done was help him move the goddamn blocks. And when they were in place, a good Progressive would have mopped his brow, stepped back and said, “Damn Judge! Have you read these things? They’re little more than anti-capitalists tripe. Look at what they’re telling us: don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie and don’t exploit. How in the hell can you run a multinational with an albatross like this around your neck.

As for myself, I am a renegade Christian. Being one means living the Tao of Christ. For the renegade, dogma is an irritant that is either shaken off or ignored. It means understanding the Bible as a repository of spiritual, not literal, truth. As one contemporary theologian has put it, “Everything in the Bible is true. Some of it actually happened.”

Such an approach is difficult for Americans because most of us were raised to be technicians. (I define “technician” to include everything from neurosurgeons to the front-end specialist and your local Ford dealer.) The mantras we were brought up with were: say what you mean; get to the point; don’t beat around the bush. It was a world in which every word had but one meaning with little room for metaphor. Consequently, we bark our shins every time we stumble into one. So when confronted with the Bible, we treat it as an either/or proposition. Either it is all literally true or it is all hokum. For technicians who believe, the Bible is a technical manual that must be followed to the letter. But, as Hedges puts it, “The Bible works only as metaphor,” which is why most Americans don’t get it.

To the renegade Christian, God is the Ground of Being whose qualities we will never know. Metaphorically, we might speak of Her as a person, but we run into trouble when we literalize this metaphor.

And, no! I am not one of those Christians who believe God is going to bail us out of the mess we’ve created simply because She gave us dominion over nature. According to the Bible, humanity’s dominion was brief. It lasted until Eve went apple picking. If you read God’s curse on Adam and Eve (Genesis, 3:14-19) it is obvious that humanity is stripped of its dominion and becomes just another derivative species.

God promised Noah no more floods because the flood punished the Earth and the Earth was innocent (Genesis, 8:21). She said nothing as protecting us from self annihilation. Hell, the next Messiah could well be a cockroach. Nor was dominion restored to humanity after the flood. All God said was, “The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal on the earth…” (Genesis, 9:2)

Hedges is correct when he says:

We are not going to be saved by faith in reason, science and technology, which the dead zone of oil forming in the Gulf of Mexico and our production of costly and redundant weapons systems illustrate….The essential teachings of the monotheistic traditions are now lost in the muck of church dogma, hollow creeds and the banal bureaucracy of institutional religion.

The sad truth is we are probably screwed.

Granted, God has entered into numerous covenants with humanity. But the covenants were in force only as long as humanity loved God and didn’t kill, steal, lie or exploit. The average lifespan of a covenant was measured in nanoseconds.

So here we are, knee deep in a sea of bile, which the Religious Right equates with Christianity. There is anger, uncertainty and hard times. Our leaders, aided and abetted by a subservient media, would have us project our anger on those with skins darker than ours, be they immigrants of Muslims.

For the past sixty-plus years, fear and paranoia have driven America’s politics, both here and abroad. According to our leaders, danger lurks everywhere: in the food we eat, the air we breathe and the second-hand smoke we inhale, not to mention a multitude of germs, bacteria and exotic diseases. America, they tell us, is constantly under siege, first by Commies and now by Islamofascist terrorist.

The first order of business for the still sane is to challenge this atmosphere of fear and trembling. Some of us who dissent from our national paranoia will find the spiritual strength to stand up and proclaim that there is nothing to fear. For myself, I draw this strength from the Tao of Christ and from the Liberation Theology of Latin America. This is not for everybody, nor should it be. But, it could well be that at some future date it may be missionaries from Latin America who will teach us how to live life in harmony with creation.

Tragically, there is no guarantee we will listen.

But as Hedges reminds us, “Those who championed this radical individualism, from Confucius to Socrates to Jesus, fostered not obedience and conformity, but dissent and self-criticism…Freedom and indeed the religious and moral life required us to oppose and challenge those in authority.”

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A state does not a nation make.

Any given country is made up of two components: the nation and the state, state meaning the center of governance and power.

“Nation” is an umbrella term that refers to the groups and subgroups that make up a country’s culture. The diverse values of its citizens are embedded in the nation. The nation is chaotic, disorderly and lacks efficiency, for it requires constant bickering to achieve the compromise and conciliation that are needed for effective action. All too often, the outcome of this bickering is an obsession with the common welfare.

The “state,” on the other hand, seeks power and authority so it may bring order and stability to the nation and impose upon it its own values of conquest and exploitation. Its power tends to puddle in one or more centers. In the case of America, it has puddled in the Beltway, Wall Street and the Pentagon, America’s own feral trifecta.

Traditionally, constitutions and common law are in place to protect the nation from the state.

The state achieves power by co-opting the nation’s values, corrupting them, and using them not as instruments of welfare and peace but as justifications for repression and home and conquest abroad. It recasts these values as absolutes that are propagandized to produce compliance and obedience.

The nation thrives on diversity; the state thrives on conformity.

If the nation represents the chaos of a life force that maintains itself in a constant state of tense equilibrium, then the state ultimately expresses itself as death, through incarceration, execution, and the sacrificing of the flower of its youth to advance its interests. The end is always the same: the enhancement of the state’s power. There is no other rational for its existence.

To thrive, the state must twist Christianity, with its message of love and universal brotherhood, into a message of God’s wrath and retribution, making of the state a wagon train drawn into a circle and surrounded by a dark, alien force. Church and state work hand in hand to undercut freedom so they might protect “people of faith” from the “evil” forces that would destroy its civilization by strapping a nuke to a camel and sending it for a stroll down Wall Street.

The state achieves its ends with a rhetorical arsenal that includes “inversion of language, verbal inflation, libel, rumor, euphemism and coded phrases, rhetorical wantonness, redundancy, hyperbole, such profusion in speech and sound that comprehension is impaired, nonsense, sophistry, jargon, noise, incoherence, a chaos of voices and tongues, falsehood, blasphemy.”[1]

To succeed, there must be a disconnect between the state and its citizens. These citizens must be reduced to a passive horde so wrapped up in themselves that they could care less about the antics of the state.

A good citizen is one who mistakes the fiery sword of conquest for the shepherds crook.

[1] William Stringfellow

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Manufactured Identity

Look at all we have accomplished the last sixty years. Our finest achievement has been the fragmentation of the community though a succession of electronic gadgets that encourage isolation. Technology is the jack hammer that has turned the foundation of rock upon which democracy once rested into a bed of sand. This same gadgetry has fragmented the family as well. With computers and televisions in every room, a home becomes an empty house with atomized individuals drifting from room to room.

Where people once identified politically through community and family, they now find themselves without any sort of grounded identity. So they pursue an identity through brand association, defining themselves to the world with the logos sewn on shirts, jackets and pants. They search for a manufactured identity grounded in a manufactured reality, which they try to pass off as authenticity.

A Japanese philosopher has pointed out that if a society deconstructs everything except the ego it is left with a crypto nihilism that can only be filled with noise and toys. It is this crypto nihilism that sucks the life out of a democracy and spurs our economic growth.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Destiny's Song

Destiny is an old crone whose cackle sings a descant over and above the screams of those slaughtered in her name. She howls hysterically as we beat our Scriptures into the shrapnel with which we shred flesh in the name of an unseen deity. She fills her barren womb with the Blood of the Lamb and gives birth to lunatics who cut bloody swaths through the living in pursuit of her love. To her lovers, she is youth, beauty and eternal life; to her victims, she wears death’s black cloak, and swing her scythe with abandon as her lovers nurse at her shriveled teats.

Monday, May 10, 2010


If the attempted car bombing in Times Square is any indication of al Qaeda’s competence and expertise, then we can cancel the War on Terror, dissolve the Department of Homeland Defense and issue visas to every member of al Qaeda we can lay our hands on. Between shoe bombs , exploding underwear and plastic bottle of exploding shampoo, it looks like your garden variety terrorist couldn’t even put a Chinese firecracker in a mail box without screwing up the operation.


It could be that what we are witnessing is planned incompetence. Think about it: al Qaeda knows full well that were it to kill scores of people in Times Square the full wrath of the United States military establishment would come crashing down on the Middle East. If, however, they staged a series of botched attempt with the sole goal of getting the Pentagon’s knickers in a knot, then they would get what they wanted, an increase in military activity that would lead to more civilian deaths that would give al Qaeda and the Taliban a increased pool of potential recruits.

Already we can hear the sound of knotting knickers emanating from the Beltway. The New York Times tells us there is a move within the administration to use the Times Square bombing as an excuse to ramp up our military activity in Pakistan. This means more contracts to be let and an additional justification for the Pentagon’s existence.

As Iraq winds down the Pentagon is badly in need of another war to replace it. According to Jack A. Smith, “Evidently the Pentagon is planning to engage in numerous future wars interrupted by brief period of peace while preparing for the next war.”

And Pakistan appears to be Act III in our Eternal War of the Empty Policy.

The article quotes an official whospeaks of the need for “boots on the ground.” That phrase is an example of what I call Geekspeak. Geekspeak is a word or phrase that inflates itself into a linguistic bubble that breaks free of reality and floats into space like a sterile dust mote. Geekspeak’s forte is covering the stench and gore of war with soothing euphemisms that give a false impression of linear sanity and intellectual rigor. Geekspeak is the bastard child of the value-free language so worshiped by the social sciences.

Other examples of Geekspeak are “full-spectrum dominance,” which is the doctrine of the playground bully. Then there’s “power projection capabilities” that include digging bullets out of civilian corpses so their murder can be blamed on the “enemy.” “Dominant global hegemon” is another way of saying, “Mine is bigger than yours!” Then there’s the ever popular “metrics,” which is a polite way of saying we can now quantify why we’re getting our asses kicked.

However, my favorite is “robust.” Robust is bureaucratese for machismo. It’s used by men who want to touch their feminine side, but not too much. People are ambivalent about aggression, but everyone loves robustness. It reeks of glowing health and evokes images of Tom Terrific manning the battlements against hordes of attacking brownskins intent on raping our daughters and marrying our sisters. It’s patriotic to be robust. Aggressiveness is what our enemies are.

This is only a partial list. Readers are invited to submit their own entries. Geekspeak rolls out of the Beltway like a fetor wafting across the Potomac River. But then what can we expect from a Beltway that is world’s largest sheltered workshop for arrested adolescents.

Friday, May 7, 2010

When is a conspiracy not?

Where does a policy end and a conspiracy begin? Mike Whitney raises this question in a perceptive analysis of the run up to the 2008 financial meltdown. His thesis is that there was no conspiracy, per se, but a consistent policy of maximizing profits in the financial sector of the economy through the deliberate creation of asset bubbles, be they or housing.

Whitney sees this as a sign of decay in a mature capitalist system. He argues that “it’s far more damaging than any conspiracy, because it insures that the economy will continue to stagnate, that inequality will continue to grow, and that the gigantic upward transfer of wealth will continue without a pause.”

Now, if a policy produces negative consequences for the many while benefiting a few, is it still a policy or does it fall into the sphere of the illegal? A conspiracy is defined as “a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.” By that criterion, both the Iraq and Afghanistan enterprises could be considered conspiracies because both are eminently harmful and both, under international law, are illegal.

Of course, when dealing with the American empire we must remember that the benchmark for action is not legality but “reality creation.” As Karl Rove is reputed to have said, “We’re an empire, now, and when we act we create our own reality.” The problem is that an empire doesn’t create reality, it creates a fantasy world that it mistakes for reality because, being powerful, an empire believes its fantasies to be real when they rarely are.

The bigger question is when you move beyond the execution of a bank robbery or any other specific crime, is a conspiracy possible? When it comes to grand conspiracies, I confess to being a skeptic. I simply don’t believe Homo sapiens has the intellectual capacity to carry one out on a large scale. Human nature doesn’t lend itself to mega plots. Somewhere, someone would have one drink too many or would want to impress his mistress and the cat would be out of the bag.

Rather than conspiracies I see passing convergences of interest grounded in life’s contingencies, contingencies that are constantly in motion. These convergences are reactions to events and not their creators. This is why terrorist activity tends to be made up of isolated incidents rather than parts of some sort of overall strategy. Experts tell us that al-Qaeda isn’t so much a formal organization as an ideology.

A good analogy for these convergences can be found in chaos theory. If you sit by a fountain for a period of time, a pattern emerges. Most of the time the droplets of water fall in a random and chaotic pattern, but occasionally the drops fall in unison, a unity that is quickly dispersed as the droplets resume their random pattern. It’s the same with convergences. A disparate group of individuals come together to take advantage of a specific situation and then disperse.

Was 9/11 an inside job plotted and executed by the Bush administration? Absolutely not! Was the administration aware that such a plot was in the works and choose to let it happen? Possibly. Did every neocon and wingnut rejoice when the planes slammed into the twin towers because this breathed new life into our militarized security state? Absolutely! It was a passing convergence of interests.

Grand conspiracies have their appeal because of our need to impose some sort of order event that are, by nature, chaotic and unpredictable. We want to believe a single mastermind is behind them and that once this mastermind is neutralized the threat will vanish. Such a belief is the mindset of a technician who believes that there isn’t a problem that can’t be solved by changing a battery or tightening a bolt. The trouble is that life isn’t a machine and it rarely behaves like one.

The real problem arises when a criminal activity morphs into a hardened policy because of an ongoing convergence of interests between government and the private sector that takes on a life of its own. Then the problem is not one of conspiracy but one of a nocent policy supported by a de jure government, and the only solution to that is revolution.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bush-League Sins

Since being diagnosed with lung cancer I’ve stumbled across an interesting anomaly. Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer in America, yet we rarely hear about it and certainly not to the extent we are made aware of breast cancer. (This is not to disparage the publicity breast cancer receives. Research on one type of cancer benefits all types.)

I suspect that the reason for this anomaly is that in the public’s mind lung cancer is associated with a “sin:” smoking. There is still a corner of our psyche that associates smoking with “loose” women and men who hang around pool halls and saloons. Therefore, there is a subconscious tendency to see lung cancer as God’s punishment for a sinful life. (Up until seventeen years ago I burned between two and three packs of cigarettes a day. However, we just had a member of our church die from lung cancer and he’d never smoked a single cigarette. The simple fact is that if you live long enough the chances are that you are going to come down with some form of cancer.)

Along the same lines, there was an article in today’s Times about a new “problem” of women who are addicted to porn. The religious right has been carrying on about men addicted to porn for some time. (“Have you lost your husband to porn?” reads one banner on a religious website.) Of course, no mention is ever made of men who are addicted to televised sports, especially profession football whose violence produces injuries that could well last a lifetime. But then, our prudish psyches still look askance at “s-e-x” as if it’s still as sinful as it was during the Victorian Era.

The point is that by focusing the public’s attention on bush-league sins that probably aren’t even sins, attention is diverted from the big sins such as wars of aggression, torture, the felons running Wall Street, a totally corrupted Congress, poverty and unemployment, the healthcare reform scam and the three running sores on liberty’s face: the Beltway, Wall Street and the Pentagon.

There are four moral absolutes that are necessary for a decent society: do not kill; do not steal; do not lie; do not exploit.

By those criteria, we are indeed an indecent society, and it’s not because some chick flashes her pussy.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Making Things Up

I confess, I am repeating myself because what I am repeating bears repeating. A major factor in our two wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq, in our war on terror, in our peppering the world with military bases, in our actions towards Iran and our droning of Pakistan has nothing to do with oil or the spreading of democracy or the advancing of our global corporate interests.

True, all of these do play a part in our actions, but the overriding factor is the attempt to create an ongoing justification for a bloated and unnecessary military establishment that lost its raison d’ĂȘtre with the fall of the Soviet Union.

As Tom Hayden explains, “It is no accident that the Pentagon is shaping the ‘information battlespace’ by welcoming friendly reporters and think tank hacks to beam back commentaries…to the American people.” It is doing so through the use of “message force multipliers,” which often involves the floating of false or inflated information.

It all boils down to this: because the Military-Industrial Complex no longer has any justification for its existence it must create one by manipulating the public’s “perception.” If no real threat exists, then it creates one. Terrorism is a crime best handled by police and intelligence agencies, unless you are a military complex looking for a reason to live by elevating terrorism into a war, which has the advantage of creating even more terrorists thus increasing the need not only for the existence of the military but for its expansion.

Part of the perception management is the Pentagon belief that “America’s wars best be fought ‘off camera, so to speak.’” Democracy depends upon transparence for its survival. In such a democracy, wars cannot be fought “off camera.” The only rationale for doing so is that our military leaders know damn well that if they were fought on camera, if the public saw real people being murdered and maimed, its support for the wars would dry up.

It is normal for big countries to want to dominate and control smaller countries. The stupid ones try to do it militarily. The smart ones, like China, do so by inking contracts, something China is doing in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and Latin America. Countries that attempt military domination end up bankrupting themselves. Countries that don’t, prosper.

According to Shamus Cooke, China is building up its military to protect its economic expansion. However, the Chinese have one advantage our oligarchs don’t have. They are starting from scratch so they will expand only as much as they need to. They are fortunate that they are not burdened with a gargantuan military establishment.

But thank God, China’s buildup presents another potential threat that will be used to justify our military’s existence. Cook quotes a New York Times article that admits, “…there are few indications that China has aggressive intentions towards the United States or other countries.”

That simply won’t do. So the article goes on to quote a Navy admiral who says, “Of particular concern is that elements of China’s military modernization appear designed to challenge our [U.S. Navy’s] freedom of action in the region.”

Cue Congress to increase the Pentagon’s budget to meet this new “threat.”

Isn’t it wonderful how, when you are packing a gun how threats just keep on multiplying and multiplying? Gotta keep that baby loaded and ready. It’s only a matter of time before our leaders manufacture another one.