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    Some historical context By Tom Englehardt showing the lead up to the bright and cheery future we now inhabit.

 

“In the end, those seeds, first planted in Afghan and Pakistani soil in 1979, led to the attacks of September 11, 2001.  That day was the very definition of chaos brought to the imperial heartland, and spurred the emergence of a new, post-Constitutional governing structure, through the expansion of the national security state to monumental proportions and a staggering version of imperial overreach.  On the basis of the supposed need to keep Americans safe from terrorism (and essentially nothing else), the national security state would balloon into a dominant — and dominantly funded — set of institutions at the heart of American political life (without which, rest assured, FBI Director James Comey’s public interventions in an American election would have been inconceivable).  In these years, that state-within-a-state became the unofficial fourth branch of government, at a moment when two of the others — Congress and the courts, or at least the Supreme Court — were faltering.

The 9/11 attacks also unleashed the Bush administration’s stunningly ambitious, ultimately disastrous Global War on Terror, and over-the-top fantasies about establishing a military-enforced Pax Americana, first in the Middle East and then perhaps globally.  They also unleashed its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. drone assassination program across significant parts of the planet, the building of an unprecedented global surveillance state, the spread of a kind of secrecy so all-encompassing that much of government activity became unknowable to “the People,” and a kind of imperial overreach that sent literally trillions of dollars (often via warrior corporations) tumbling into the abyss.  All of these were chaos-creating factors.

At the same time, the basic needs of many Americans went increasingly unattended, of those at least who weren’t part of a Gilded Age 1% sucking up American wealth in an extraordinary fashion.  The one-percenters then repurposed some of those trickle-up funds for the buying and selling of politicians, again in an atmosphere of remarkable secrecy.  (It was often impossible to know who had given money to whom for what.)  In turn, that stream of Supreme Court-approved funds changed the nature of, and perhaps the very idea of, what an election was.

Meanwhile, parts of the heartland were being hollowed out, while — even as the military continued to produce trillion-dollar boondoggle weapons systems — the country’s inadequately funded infrastructure began to crumble in a way that once would have been inconceivable.  Similarly, the non-security-state part of the government — Congress in particular — began to falter and wither.  Meanwhile, one of the country’s two great political parties launched a scorched-earth campaign against governing representatives of the other and against the very idea of governing in a reasonably democratic fashion or getting much of anything done at all.  At the same time, that party shattered into disorderly, competing factions that grew ever more extreme and produced what is likely to become a unique celebrity presidency of chaos.  

The United States with all its wealth and power is, of course, hardly an Afghanistan or a Libya or a Yemen or a Somalia.  It still remains a genuinely great power, and one with remarkable resources to wield and fall back on.  Nonetheless, the recent election offered striking evidence that the empire of chaos had indeed made the trip homeward.  It’s now with us big time, all the time.  Get used to it.”

Something something reaping…and sowing et cetera.  :/

The conclusion of an essay written by William Astore featured on Tom’s Dispatch.  As a member of the minority left, one of the questions frequently asked of us is well then what is your solution to the problems – criticizing is one thing actually putting forward a plan is quite another.  What now you pinko-commie-leftard?   Well, Mr.Astore has the blueprints right here, let’s get to work.

 

What Is to Be Done?

Slowly, seemingly inexorably, the U.S. is becoming more like the former Soviet Union.  Just to begin the list of similarities: too many resources are being devoted to the military and the national security state; too many over-decorated generals are being given too much authority in government; bleeding-ulcer wars continue unstanched in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere; infrastructure (roads, bridges, pipelines, dams, and so on) continues to crumble; restless “republics” grumble about separating from the union (Calexit!); rampant drug abuse and declining life expectancy are now American facts of life. Meanwhile, the latest U.S. president is, in temperament, authoritarian, even as government “services” take on an increasingly nepotistic flavor at the top.

I’m worried, comrade!  Echoing the cry of the great Lenin, what is to be done?  Given the list of symptoms, here’s one obvious 10-step approach to the de-sovietization of America:

1. Decrease “defense” spending by 10% annually for the next five years.  In the Soviet spirit, think of it as a five-year plan to restore our revolution (as in the American Revolution), which was, after all, directed against imperial policies exercised by a “bigly” king.

2. Cut the number of generals and admirals in the military by half, and get rid of all the meaningless ribbons, badges, and medals they wear.  In other words, don’t just cut down on the high command but on their tendency to look (and increasingly to act) like Soviet generals of old.  And don’t allow them to serve in high governmental positions until they’ve been retired for at least 10 years.

3. Get our military out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and other war-torn countries in the Greater Middle East and Africa.  Reduce that imperial footprint overseas by closing costly military bases. 

4. Work to eliminate nuclear weapons globally by, as a first step, cutting the vast U.S. arsenal in half and forgetting about that trillion-dollar “modernization” program.  Eliminate land-based ICBMs first; they are no longer needed for any meaningful deterrent purposes.

5. Take the money saved on “modernizing” nukes and invest it in updating America’s infrastructure.

6. Curtail state surveillance.  Freedom needs privacy to flourish.  As a nation, we need to remember that security is not the bedrock of democracy — the U.S. Constitution is.    

7. Work to curb drug abuse by cutting back on criminalization.  Leave the war mentality behind, including the “war on drugs,” and focus instead on providing better treatment programs for addicts.  Set a goal of cutting America’s prison population in half over the next decade. 

8. Life expectancy will increase with better health care.  Provide health care coverage for all using a single-payer system.  Every American should have the same coverage as a member of Congress.  People shouldn’t be suffering and dying because they can’t afford to see a doctor or pay for their prescriptions.

9. Nothing is more fundamental to “national security” than clean air and water.  It’s folly to risk poisoning the environment in the name of either economic productivity or building up the military.  If you doubt this, ask citizens of Russia and the former Soviet Republics, who still struggle with the fallout from the poisonous environmental policies of Soviet days.

10. Congress needs to assert its constitutional authority over war and the budget, and begin to act like the “check and balance” it’s supposed to be when it comes to executive power.

There you have it.  These 10 steps should go some way toward solving America’s real Russian problem — the Soviet one.  Won’t you join me, comrade?

Well we can’t be posting sunshine everyday here at DWR.  A small reminder of what the people of our nations are up against.  From the essay titled Revolution and American Empire by Rob Urie.

 

“Liberal economists have ‘fought the good fight’ for nominally populist economic programs for the last decade with little but growing frustration to show for it. In sequence, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama enacted economic policies— deregulation of banks, tax cuts for the very wealthy, the largest bank bailouts in human history and ‘trade’ deals that formalize corporate control over civil governance. There exist economic theories to support each and every one of these policies. Many prominent economists base which economic policies they support or oppose on which political Party is in office at the time they are proposed. The policies enacted are retroactively deemed ‘politically feasible’ in tacit admission that economic outcomes are politically determined. ‘Markets’ are used to explain these outcomes with the politics removed.

From the time of the American Revolution to today, with a brief compromise between 1948 and about 1973, the U.S. has been run by and for a self-serving plutocracy. Slavery and genocide weren’t ‘accidents’ nor were they the product of primitive thinking. U.S. wars in Central America, Southeast Asia and Iraq were / are as primitive, in the sense of being for-profit and brutal, as any in human history. And it is hardly an accident that elite impunity and immunity from prosecution for crimes, including War Crimes, is matched by brutal repression of the economic underclasses. Banks and corporations are the social forms of economic imperialism, necessary to the imperial project that places the rest of us as imperial subjects. Back to the start: the American Revolution was fought for the freedom to repress while the revolutions of liberation it has opposed were / are by-and-large fought against it.

The obligatory liberal chides against Russian and Cuban totalitarianism, in their contemporary incarnations against ‘strongman’ Vladimir Putin and the aging Fidel Castro, never admit to two centuries of American crimes or to never ending U.S. attempts to undermine democratic revolutions around the globe. This isn’t to gloss over crimes— the U.S. is the only nation in history to drop atom bombs on largely civilian populations, U.S. General Curtis LeMay joked that had the U.S. lost WWII he would have hung for the bombing of Tokyo, three million killed in the Korean War, three million killed in Vietnam, one million killed in Iraq and substantial portions of Central America turned into right-wing gangster states. Cuba is poor today because the U.S. has enforced an economic blockade of it for half a century. And the only guarantee from ‘liberalized’ relations between the U.S. and Cuba is that Cuba will get the worst of it.”

plutocracy
 

[Source:Counterpunch]

 

“When we see the expansion of the dependency class in America and you add this to the 79 other means tested programs that we have in the United States, each time you add another brick to that wall, it’s a barrier to people that might go out and succeed. ” – Steve King Idaho (R).

The idea that is represented above is exactly what is wrong with the political climate in United States.  This bullcookery is debunked handily at 3:15 of the video by Greg Kaufmann who uses empirical fact as opposed to ideological mantras to describe the poverty situation in the US.

If you give people the basics of survival, they will prosper and return more to the society and the economy then simply letting them become destitute.

Anti-Intellectualism   Browsing my news feed I found this piece and decided it was scary enough to share with everyone.  I think I’d like to read Papantonio’s book and see what she has to say.  Here is a radio dealing with her premise and some related information from Raw Story.

In her book, Papantonio explained, Jacobs found that more than 40 percent of Americans under the age of 44 did not read a single book over the course of the previous year. And their concentration had deteriorated to the point that politicians needed to condense their messages into 8-second soundbytes to grab their attention, leading her to conclude that the country was now “ill with a powerful mutant strain of intertwined ignorance, anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism,” compounded by schools’ increased emphasis on passing standardized tests instead of comprehensive education on subjects like civics and humanities.

 

“Chances are, if you are one of those corporate media-following bone heads who still believe that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, or Saddam Hussein blew up the Twin Towers, or Obama is a secret Muslim, or Obama wants to take your guns, or Obama has FEMA prison camps set up for Teabag Republicans, then search no further,” said Papantonio, who is also president of the National Trial Lawyer Association. “You truly are the undereducated, child-like, impressionable, irrational, dangerous cog in America’s political system that puts Democracy most at risk.”

Potentially scary stuff.  This is the first I’ve heard of “ring of fire” radio broadcasting, so do take it with a grain of salt.

This just popped into my reader.  It deserves to be shared and discussed.

Al Jazeera: “Hundreds of prisoners are believed to have escaped from a jail in northwest Pakistan after it was attacked by anti-government fighters armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Some of those who escaped from the facility in the town of Bannu, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, early on Sunday morning were “militants”, an intelligence official told the Reuters news agency.

“Dozens of militants attacked Bannu’s Central Jail in the early hours of the morning, and more 300 prisoners have escaped,” Mir Sahib Jan, the official, said.

    Not our problem?  Or is it?  The hawks on security and protecting America abroad should be concerned about this recent development.  The Taliban, or groups loosely affiliated with them are busting their buddies out of jail using rocket propelled grenades as their calling card. 

“There was intense gunfire, and rocket-propelled grenades were also used.”

Many of those who escaped following the raid were convicted Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters, Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder reported from Lahore.

A prison official in Bannu confirmed that “384 prisoners have escaped”.

A police official identified one of the inmates who escaped as a “dangerous prisoner”, who took part in one of the attempts to kill the former president, Pervez Musharraf.

The TTP, an umbrella organisation for anti-government groups that are loosely allied with the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda, took responsibility for the attack.

I predict that incidents such of these will become more common as the US army withdraws from the area.  This prison break shows the capacities of the forces facing the American’s and their allies in the region.  This is the sort of scenario where projecting power via drone raids/artillery strikes is ineffective.  Preventing prison raids and other such low-level activities would require human intelligence assets that are simply too costly/inefficient to deploy in the region.

The planning of the raid was extremely KISS, blow up door, suppress prison guards, let bad guys out.  More importantly though, it shows that this fringe group knows the lay of the land, knows its enemy well enough and of course knows how to use the element of surprise to its fullest.  Tactically speaking, they could have been watching the the prison for weeks biding their time waiting for the best opportunity.  It is extremely difficult to counter an enemy that exists safely within the population and has better intelligence then what you possess.

“Another Taliban spokesman told Reuters: “We have freed hundreds of our comrades in Bannu in this attack. Several of our people have reached their destinations, others are on their way.”.

 

Our correspondent said the attack took place in the early morning and had resulted in an exchange of fire that had left several people wounded.

“After the attack the paramilitary and regular military forces came to that location and tried to surround the area,” he said.

“They have arrested up to a dozen men, but most of the people have indeed escaped.”

The injured were rushed to a local hospital in Bannu.

Sources told Al Jazeera that as many as 150 fighters were involved in the attack.

After blowing up the gates of the main prison at around 1:30am local time (20:30 GMT on Saturday), they entered the compound and freed the inmates, the sources said.

The attackers had arranged for the transportation of the inmates from the facility.

Well planned, well organized, well executed; an example Guerrilla warfare that the West simply does not have the capacity to deal with.

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