Tag Archives: Culture

Carpet-Bombing History

By Nick Alexandrov
June 29, 2015
Counterpunch

 

Fakhreddin's Castle (top), is pictured in the historical city of Palmyra, Syria (Reuters / Nour Fourat)J. E. Curtis, Keeper of the British Museum’s Middle East collections, was on grim business in Iraq. Armed occupiers held an ancient city there—“tantamount to establishing a military camp around the Great Pyramid in Egypt or around Stonehenge in Britain,” he wrote. The site was “irrevocably contaminated,” he added, suffering “permanent damage that will last forever.”

Curtis was describing Babylon in 2004, under U.S. occupation. But commentary on ISIS ignores Washington’s legacy of cultural ruin, assuming the Islamic State has some unique capacity for wrecking artifacts. The group’s “obliterators,” as historian Simon Schama termed them, “all act from the same instinct of cultural panic that the supreme works of the past will lead people astray from blind, absolute obedience.” Toppling Palmyra would reveal “Isis’s littleness,” architecture critic Rowan Moore asserted, asking “how could anyone be so threatened by ancient ruins, unless they lacked belief in their ability to create something themselves?”

“Palmyra,” Moore emphasized, “is an ancient Roman site whose significance and value is exceeded by very few others: those in Rome itself, Pompeii, possibly Petra in Jordan.” So in his view, a “littleness” rivaling Islamic State’s would motivate, say, bombing raids on Pompeii—which the U.S. and British Air Forces carried out in 1943. The first strike happened August 24, “ironically the anniversary of the eruption of Vesuvius,” according to the Getty Museum’s Kenneth Lapatin. “Damage was incurred at various points throughout the archaeological site (over 160 hits were recorded), and some of its most famous monuments were struck,” with dozens “totally destroyed,” he explains.

The Allies bombed the Cathedral of Benevento that same month. “For 1,100 years this medieval church stood as a small but precious religious monument,” LIFE reported, though after the attack only “the bell tower, parts of the façade and one side wall” remained. “Fire that swept the cathedral burned rare Sixth Century Langobardic manuscripts,” though perhaps “the loss of the cathedral’s famous 12th Century bronze doors” was worse.

Six months later, in February 1944, Allied bombers demolished the Abbey of Monte Cassino, where “the only people killed,” David Hapgood and David Richardson clarify, “were among the civilians.” Dating from the 6th century, the Abbey was “the site where St. Benedict himself had founded the world-famed Benedictine Order,” John S. D. Eisenhower noted. He pointed out that Nazi officials ordered Monte Cassino’s Abbot, Gregorio Diamare—who “could not bring himself to believe that the Allies would destroy such a venerated edifice as the Abbey”—to send its art and archives to a safe location.

Allied bombers brutalized German historic sites for the rest of the war. “The center of Trier, for instance, was subjected to twenty raids between 14 August and 24 December 1944, causing severe damage to the fourth-century AD basilica and the Liebfrauenkirche, one of the oldest Gothic churches in Germany,” Nicola Lambourne writes. After the January 1945 raid on Nuremberg, much “of the historic center was destroyed, including the Albrecht Dürer house and the nineteenth-century building housing the German National Museum.” Sönke Neitzel explains that the February 1945 attack on Dresden badly damaged nineteen of the city’s thirty most significant cultural structures, leveling the other eleven.

And the U.S. Army Air Forces, while firebombing Japan, leveled Kobe’s 700-year-old Yakusenji Temple, Nagoya’s 17th-century Castle, and Tokyo’s Taitokuin mausoleum—“a spectacular complex,” historian William H. Coaldrake affirms—built in 1632. Mark Michael Rowe writesthat “Isshinji, an extremely popular Jōdo temple in Osaka, began collecting anonymous remains in 1887. The ashes were ground up, combined with concrete and molded into life-sized, seated Bone Buddha statues.” When U.S. incendiaries razed it, “the remains of nearly one million people, abandoned and otherwise, had been entrusted to the temple.” Washington’s campaign to ignite these cities also “accounted either directly or indirectly for the destruction of 50 percent of the total book resources in Japanese libraries,” Rebecca Knuth writes.

The destruction was equally broad in North Korea, years later. “Pyongyang is usually presented as an ancient city,” Andrei Lankov observes. “The area has been the site of a major settlement for nearly two millennia,” he acknowledges, but adds that “the present Pyongyang was built almost from scratch in the mid-1950s”—mainly because “a major US bombing campaign that reached its height in 1952” wiped out “some 90 percent of the city,” erasing much of its history. Justin Corfield, in his Historical Dictionary of Pyongyang, lists what was lost. The Kwangbop Buddhist Temple dated to 392; Potong Gate “was one of the ancient city gates of the walled city of Pyongyang, built in the mid-sixth century;” Sungryong Hall, a temple, “was built in 1429,” and like the other structures “destroyed during the Korean War,” Corfield concludes.

Or consider Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary. The Global Heritage Fund explains it “is one of Vietnam’s only archaeological sites to be inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and was inhabited from the 4th– through the 15thcenturies AD,” when the Champa Kingdom blossomed. But “a large majority of Mỹ Sơn’s exquisite architecture was destroyed by aerial bombing during a single week of the Vietnam War.” A team of scholars, involved in the “ongoing conservation effort” there, admit their work “cannot change one sad truth: one of the towers that the [B-52] bombing crew saw that day [in August 1969], the temple once described as the ‘most perfect expression of Cham architecture,’ is gone forever.’”

Anthropologist Christina Schwenkel uncovered “another buried history of US aerial bombing in Vietnam: that of the demolished city of Vinh, provincial capital of Nghệ An.” From 1964-1973, “the city was subjected to more than 4,700 air strikes,” during which its “historical and cultural patrimony”—including the 18th-century Diệc Pagoda and 19th-century imperial citadel—was finished off. Mervyn Brown, in his memoir recounting years spent in Laos, describes a similar U.S. bombing. “The destruction of Xieng Khouang, a former royal capital with many beautiful temples and other buildings of historical and artistic interest, was a particular act of cultural vandalism.” The ruin was so complete “that it was not feasible to rebuild the town,” he laments.

There were, in other words, precedents for what the British Museum’s Curtis saw in U.S.-occupied Babylon. And that city’s damage stemmed from Washington’s antiquities policy. “During preparations for the 2003 war on Iraq,” writes journalist Robert Bevan, “US military planners identified 150 important archaeological sites to be avoided. US archaeologists responded with a list of 4,000 vital locations—a degree of ‘duty of protection’ that the Pentagon rejected despite international law demanding it.” Familiar results followed. Vandals torched the National Library and Archives and the Ministry of Religious Endowment’s Koranic Library. Looters hit the Museum of Archaeology. “The US forces did not seek to prevent the destruction here and elsewhere,” Bevan argues, “despite being implored to do so.”

“Why does the nihilistic effort to wipe out an ancient civilization echo so strongly?” Thanassis Cambanis asked in the Boston Globe. He was writing about ISIS, with justifiable outrage. But we should ask another question: Why doesn’t Washington’s global bombing of cultural sites—accompanying mass slaughter—echo at all?

Nick Alexandrov lives in Washington, DC.  He can be reached at: nicholas.alexandrov@gmail.com

Man Dead 20 Years Still Manipulating The Masses: Coercing Citizens To Believe In Phoney Wars & More

By Andrew Martin
June 27, 2015
Collective Evolution

 

EdwardBernays“Citizens of the democratic societies should undertake a course of intellectual self-defence to protect themselves from manipulation and control, and to lay the basis for meaningful democracy.” – Noam Chomsky

Edward Bernays is possibly one of the most influential people of the 20th century, yet so few have heard of a man who has manipulated much of Western society into compliance. His philosophies and understanding of the human psyche still shape public policy, political campaigns, and corporate integration to this day. How corporations deliver their messages, how politicians coerce citizens to believe and enter into phoney wars, how terrorism is promoted and engenders fear into the masses, and how Think Tanks are used to manipulate citizens were all in the realm of Edward Bernays.

Bernays Wrote “Propaganda,” A 159 Page Manuscript On How To Manipulate The Masses

Bernays was born in Vienna to Jewish parents in 1891, and was the nephew of Sigmund Freud, the Austrian neurologist, better known as the “founding father” of psychoanalysis. Bernays and his family moved to the United States in 1892 where they settled in New York City. He graduated from Cornell University in 1912, after which he began a career in journalism. There was a lack of public support when America entered World War I. Bernays worked for Woodrow Wilson during the war on the “Committee on Public Information” and helped influence and gain support for the war effort. Bernays, fascinated by the use and effectiveness of propaganda employed during war, pondered whether or not it could be used during peacetime. In 1928, Bernays produced a 159 page manifesto on how to manipulate the masses. Many historians credit Bernays with establishing and cementing the use of public relations within the American culture. Aptly named, “Propaganda,” the first page of Bernays’ book gives insight into his thoughts:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.”

Instrumental In Corporate Manipulation

Bernays went on to become an instrumental part of the development of corporate advertising campaigns. He established a precedent for industry and governments to follow. He worked for numerous large corporate clients, including The American Tobacco Company. In the 1920s, working for the American Tobacco Company, he sent a group of young female models to march in the New York City parade. He then told the press that a group of women’s rights marchers would light “Torches of Freedom.” On his signal, the models lit Lucky Strike cigarettes in front of the eager photographers. The New York Times (1 April 1929) printed: “Group of Girls Puff at Cigarettes as a Gesture of ‘Freedom.’” This helped to break the negative stigma associated with women smoking in public. With the help of feminists, some of whom understood the “right to smoke” as liberating, Bernays publicised this event, setting in motion a wave of media coverage throughout the U.S. Bernays, however, regretted the decision to promote the smoking industry, as his wife later died of lung cancer.

Propaganda Critical For A Functioning Society!

Bernays, who understood how propaganda could be used for negative effect, nonetheless suggested that the use of propaganda was critical for the functioning of a civilised society. He believed as a society became more complex, the need for an “invisible government” became vital and more readily achievable. With the development of new technical devices of the day such as the printing press, newspapers, the railroad, the telephone, telegraph, radio, and airplanes, Bernays was excited by how widely and quickly ideas could be spread across America. Since Bernays’ death in 1995, the concentration of media ownership has increased significantly, as have the mediums from which to communicate. Bernays would be amazed at how seamless and integrated the public relations and propaganda machines have become.

Due to the interconnected web of corporate ownership which pushes the commodification of society and the military industrial complex, Bernays’ ideology and compliance techniques are more relevant today. The concentration of media ownership enables propaganda to be seamlessly spread and disseminated across a variety of mediums quickly. With such integration it makes it very difficult for the viewer, reader, or  listener to determine if information is biased in any way shape or form. This phenomenon creates the perfect climate for the manipulation and conditioning of the masses. This centralisation of power through mass communication allows these powerful elites to mould the masses into a pliable medium from which to influence tastes, ideas, and consumption habits and behaviours.

Tips For Being Able to Avoid Manipulation

Through awareness and being open-minded can we learn much about what is truly happening in the world around us. Being free from indoctrination allows us to see through the haze of propaganda and see the reality and truth.

Follow the money – ask why and who is behind it, and who is backing certain ideas and agendas.

Beware (and aware) of Think Tanks – these can be fronts and public relations covers for vested interests.

Read widely and get multiple sources of information and make up your own mind.

Question why, how, and by whom things are being done.

Take everything you see in the mainstream press with a grain of salt, especially when it comes to economic, political, and military action.

Ask why is the message being communicated now? Is there some other alternative motive for distracting the public?

Is there another more important story that is not being given the appropriate attention?

Follow alternative news media sites and blogs. But also be aware these can be corrupted and are following some agenda.

Think For Yourself – don’t follow blindly someone else’s opinion.

Excerpts from Rethink…Your world, Your future.

Article compiled by Andrew Martin, editor of onenesspublishing  and author of One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…  and Rethink…Your world, Your future.

RethinkcoverCE2Source: Rethink…Your world, Your future.

 

How a Hollywood Spy Film Brainwashes Us

By Jonathan Cook
Global Research, June 7, 2015
Jonathan Cook’s Blog, June 5, 2015

 

Why are so few of us truly fearful of the impending meltdown of capitalism, stoked by global corporations’ rape and pillage? And why are so many of us passive in the face of impending environmental catastrophe?

The answers, surprisingly, are to be found in a recent spoof spy blockbuster, Kingsman – The Secret Service. American Sniper may have enraged leftists for its overt jingoism and implicit war-cheerleading, but movies like Kingsman, which exercise their spell largely below the radar of political activism, are far more important in shoring up a climate of political submissiveness and naivety.

If Joseph Goebbels were alive today, this is the kind of movie he would be making – lappped up by audiences and winning general critical plaudits. Even critics who have panned it, as several did in the UK’s elite media, faulted it for its crudity; none seemed aware of its insidious faux class politics and faux environmentalism.

No suprise either that the film is made by Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox. Kingsman is the Sun or New York Post on celluloid. Its qualities – stylishness, humour and action – are there to distract us, to prevent us from noticing that we are being “brainwashed under freedom”. The drip-drip of films and TV shows like Kingsman is what keeps us worshipping at the alter of an ideology designed first to imprison us and then to destroy us.

Those critics who dislike the movie have highlighted its ending, which encapsulates the vulgar style of this brash piece of entertainment.

Our young working-class hero, Eggsy, groomed by a group of elite spies masquerading as Savile Row “gentleman” tailors, saves the world from an evil master-mind, Valentine, played by Samuel L Jackson with a lisp. Valentine too believes he is saving the planet: from inexorable climate change. He intends to cull most of the population, especially those from the lower orders.

The film ends with a beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed Swedish princess – imprisoned by Valentine for refusing to help him – promising Eggsy that, if he kills her captor, he can have anal sex with her. The film literally ends with a view of her bare bottom. The “joke”, I guess, if one wants to be lulled into believing this is meant to be clever, is that in this working-class James Bond film sex isn’t just alluded to and isn’t prettified, it’s the real, raw deal.

But the reward of taboo sex actually tells us much more about the movie’s general political message. The whole film is based around outrageous stereotypes of class: a largely ignorant working class operating on violent Darwninian principles; and a sophisticated, self-sacrificing and clever aristocracy that secretly maintains order and security. The middle classes – the politicians, professors, diplomats – are mainly selfish oafs siding with Valentine to save their own skins.

The subtext of its ugly class politics, however, are obscured by a working-class hero myth that serves presumably to enthrall rather than alienate its target audience.

Eggsy is given the chance to break free from his working-class ghetto to join the honorable gentlemen spies. Only one of the group stands in his way. The snobbish leader, Arthur, played by Michael Caine as an Old Etonian, hates Eggsy, supposedly for his vulgarity. In fact, Arthur, we discover, has been concealing his true character. As Eggsy tricks him into killing himself, Arthur’s Alfie-style working class accent returns – his ability to hide his background fades as he dies.

Finally freed from the confines of the working class and able to reinvent himself as a dapper gent, Eggsy saves the world. His reward, in language more fitting to the film, is to “stick it” to a real princess. This across-the-class-divide sex revenge fantasy is ugly enough. But its function is to suggest – like some western version of the supposed Islamic martyr’s reward of 72 virgins – that those who aspire to join the honorable 1% will find their own sexual reward even before they ascend to heaven.

If the film’s class politics are bad, its faux environmental message is even worse.

Bad-guy Valentine is an environmentalist of sorts. He describes the state of climate degradation in fairly accurate and chilling terms, certainly for a Hollywood movie. Humans have become like a virus feeding off the planet, and, if they cannot end their self-destructive urges, then either they or the planet will die.

The problem is the film isn’t interested at all in that “if”. There are no alternatives offered – like restructuring society, or introducing new forms of sustainable energy. It’s either us or the planet. And Valentine decides to side with the planet. In true fascist style, he believes he must cull most of the population, saving those who can finance his dastardly scheme. He will begin life on Earth again with a much smaller population of humans.

Eggsy saves the world by leaving behind the working class, by reinventing himself as the part of the go-getting 1% ( a young Murdoch?) and by killing Valentine and – implicitly – the fanatical ideology of environmentalism that drives him.

As Eggsy finishes off Valentine and heads off for his reward with the princess, the film suggests all is right with the world again. The natural order has been restored. Climate change fades away as if Valentine’s concerns about mankind’s future died with him.

The film’s two messages – that the elites are there for the reason that they are best-placed to manage the world, and that enviromentalists are the real threat to our safety – are so crudely laid out that it is hard to miss them. And yet reading the reviews, miss them is precisely what the reviewers and, it seems, most audiences are doing.

There is a reason for that. What Kingsman shows overtly, the rest of our media implies more gently and artfully every day. We are now so deep in the cult crafted by corporate capitalism that it can show us the bars of our prison, laugh in our face and still know that we will pay to enjoy the ride.

www.rottentomatoes.com/m/kingsman_the_secret_service/

US-Supported Islamic State Terrorists Seize Palmyra

By Stephen Lendman
May 25, 2015
Global Research

 

unescoThe ancient Syrian city is a UNESCO World Heritage site – one of the Middle East’s most treasured ones.

UNESCO calls it one of “outstanding universal value, (an) oasis in the Syria desert” northeast of Damascus.

From the 1st to the 2nd century, the art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, married Greco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences.”

According to UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova, its ancient ruins “already suffered four years of conflict. It suffered from looting and represents an irreplaceable treasure for the Syrian people an for the world.”

She appealed to “all parties” to prevent its destruction. Short of immediate military intervention if Security Council authorized, ancient treasures appear lost.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich expressed grave concern saying

“(w)e’d consider (the) destruction (of Palmyra’s architectural treasures) an unpardonable act of vandalism, encroachment on general human values, and an insult to civilization.”

“The activity of the so-called anti-ISIS coalition led by the United States has failed to produce results…and has not affected the ability of the Islamic State to expand.”

Obama bears full responsibility. Washington recruits, trains, funds, arms and directs IS/ISIS/ISIL Daish terrorists and likeminded ones – using them as proxy foot soldiers against independent governments like Syria it wants toppled.

Last week, the UN said a third of Palmyra’s population of 200,000 fled. US-supported Takfiri terrorists control large parts of Syria’s north and east.

Syrian state TV said government forces withdrew from the city. On Wednesday, its director of antiquities, Maamoun Abdulkarim, said:

Hundreds and hundreds of statues we were worried would be smashed and sold are all now in safe places.”

“The fear is for the museum and the large monuments that cannot be moved. This is the entire world’s battle.”

IS control of Palmyra is “an international catastrophe. It will be a repetition of the barbarism and savagery (seen) in Nimrud, Hatra and Mosul,” Iraq.

UNESCO calls this type wanton destruction a “war crime.” IS terrorism is well-known. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported the following:

“Reliable local sources inside the city…said ISIS terrorists slaughtered and mutilated at least 400 civilians, including children, women and elderly people.”

Individuals targeted were alleged government loyalists or employees as well as others apparently unwilling to accept IS rule.

Palmyra’s National Hospital nursing department head was murdered along with her family members.

Thousands of city residents are trapped. They’re prevented from leaving. IS confiscated their property. According to SANA:

“These and other ISIS atrocities are being perpetrated amid shameful international silence, with the Security Council only expressing ‘concern’ without taking any practical deterrent measures on the ground.”

In mid-May, US special forces entered Syria covertly. White House national security council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said Obama authorized the operation to kill or capture “ISIL senior leader known as Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm.”

She’s in US military custody in Iraq, said Meehan. Abu Sayyaf was killed, she added. SANA reported the raid. Was it a Syrian operation, not a US one?

Why would Washington want one of its IS commanders killed? SANA reported Syrian forces killed IS “oil minister” Abu Taym Saudi on the same day. Was he Abu Sayyaf? Arabic names are often interchangeable.

Meehan claims the operation was conducted “with the full consent of Iraqi authorities…consistent with domestic and international law,” she added.

Syria is Obama’s war – naked aggression by any standard using IS and other takfiri terrorists as US proxy foot soldiers. 

Reports indicate IS terrorists seized the Syrian/Iraqi Al-Tanaf border crossing, the last one Damascus controlled. It’s 150 miles from Palmyra.

Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi blamed Washington, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Israel, and other countries backing its war for atrocities committed in Palmyra.

He called on responsible international leaders and human rights organizations to denounce their support for terrorism. 

Obama’s war is in its fifth year. Syria is being systematically raped – ravaged and destroyed in plain sight.

“War is just a Racket”: Memorial Day Is A Hoax. “Our Soldiers Died for the Profits of the Bankers”

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
May 22, 2015
Global Research

 

War-and-Peace-by-Anthony-Freda__700Memorial Day commemorates soldiers killed in war.  We are told that the war dead died for us and our freedom. US Marine General Smedley Butler challenged this view.  He said that our soldiers died for the profits of the bankers, Wall Street, Standard Oil, and the United Fruit Company.  Here is an excerpt from a speech that he gave in 1933:

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

Most American soldiers died fighting foes who posed no threat to the United States. Our soldiers died for secret agendas of which they knew nothing. Capitalists hid their self-interests behind the flag, and our boys died for the One Percent’s bottom line.

Jade Helm, an exercise that pits the US military against the US public, is scheduled to run July 15 through September 15.  What is the secret agenda behind Jade Helm?

The Soviet Union was a partial check on capitalist looting in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  However, with the Soviet collapse capitalist looting intensified during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama regimes.

Neoliberal Globalization is now looting its own constituent parts and the planet itself. Americans, Greeks, Irish, British, Italians, Ukrainians, Iraqis, Libyans, Argentinians, the Spanish and Portuguese are being looted of their savings, pensions, social services, and job opportunities, and the planet is being turned into a wasteland by capitalists sucking the last penny out of the environment.

As Claudia von Werlhof writes, predatory capitalism is consuming the globe.

We need a memorial day to commemorate the victims of neoliberal globalization.  All of us are its victims, and in the end the capitalists also.

“Deep Events”: The Lincoln Assassination and Cover-Up, Part of an On-Going Story

By Prof Peter Dale Scott
April 21, 2015
Global Research

 

Revive Lincoln's Monetary PolicyOriginally published at WhoWhatWhy

The 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s murder is one more reminder from the past of a distinctive feature of the American system. This is that some American presidents reach office by assassination, not by election. More importantly, when this happens, a lot of facts are usually going to be left at best unexplained, and often covered up.

Few Americans know, for example, that in 1991 the body of President Zachary Taylor, who died in 1850 after a year in office, was exhumed and found to contain suspicious amounts of arsenic. But the New York Times announced that further analysis showed the amounts of arsenic were no more than what is normally found in the body, confirming that Taylor died a natural death.

Same Junk Science used in JFK Assassination

Wikipedia claims that this is proven by Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, citing an article on the Lab website that is forbidden to the public. Wikipedia does not mention that NAA analysis on the same Isotope Reactor was used four decades ago to analyze the bullets killing John F. Kennedy. (The use of NAA analysis of lead in bullets, once used to bolster the “single bullet theory” of Lee Harvey Oswald’s guilt, has since been decisively discredited by other U.S. Government experts at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. In September 2005 the FBI announced that it would no longer rely in criminal cases on the inaccurate evidence produced by comparative bullet lead analysis.)

Even more mysteries surround the assistance provided Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. In a recent article, the Washington Post described Booth as “embittered,” the term used by Psychology Today to “analyze” Lee Harvey Oswald. Other more scholarly studies have argued that Booth was originally plotting not the murder but the abduction of Lincoln, Vice-President Johnson, and Secretary of State Seward. This was part of a coherent strategy to throw the determination of the next president into the hands of the Supreme Court, where Chief Justice Roger Taney had already shown in the Dred Scott case that he was pro-slavery and sympathetic to the South.

2Speculation of a cover-up about Booth has abounded since the time that four of his associates in the crime were swiftly hanged. A benign explanation for the cover-up would be the desire to avoid dealing with the possibility that Booth had been guided or at least assisted in his plotting by the Confederate Secret Service. This was suspected almost immediately when a Vigenère Cipher table (a code used by the South) was discovered among Booth’s effects. At that time a strong need to restore unity to a divided nation would have been an ample motive to present Booth, like Oswald a century later, as an embittered loner.

It is now pretty well established, by historian Thomas Goodrich and others, that Booth had traveled widely to Canada and elsewhere as a spy and courier for the Confederate Secret Service. Other historians have concluded, in the words of David Herbert Donald, that “at least at the lower levels of the Southern secret service, the abduction of the Union President was under consideration.”

Whether Booth was following orders in his activities or was acting on his own is less clear. But it is certain that Booth was able to elude capture for 12 days after the assassination by using safe houses in Virginia along an escape route which the Confederate Secret Service had previously organized.

The cover-up about Booth has long survived any original motive for it. Only in the last half century have we begun to see books like William Tidwell’s Come Retribution: The Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln. Yet from time to time we still continue to hear from authors like Jim Bishop and Bill O’Reilly, who write profitable best-sellers, one arguing that Booth, the other that Oswald, was essentially a loner.

An egregious attempt to present Booth as a loner was that of former CIA Director Allen Dulles, at an early executive session of the Warren Commission on January 16, 1964. Dulles explained that, according to a book he was handing out to members of the Commission, European assassinations were the work of conspiracies—but American assassins acted alone.

Given that two of Booth’s targets, Lincoln and Seward, were attacked almost simultaneously in different parts of the city (Seward was stabbed by Lewis Powell in his bed during the Lincoln assassination), John J. McCloy promptly objected, arguing that “the Lincoln assassination was a plot.” Undeterred, Dulles shot right back: “Yes, but one man was so dominant that it almost wasn’t a plot.” Dulles was using his authority to indicate what he thought the Commission should conclude. Seven months later the Warren Report amply fulfilled his wish and declared that the death of Kennedy was, too, the work of a loner.

Same Old Story—False, Ongoing, and Interconnected

Dulles’s intervention indicates to me that American cover-ups of what I call “deep events”—events about which we are denied the truth—are themselves an on-going and interconnected story. For example: in a special section of the Warren Report, written to discredit “Speculations and Rumors” of a possible conspiracy in JFK’s death, Commission staffer Alfred Goldberg began by noting that:

“Myths have traditionally surrounded the dramatic assassinations of history. The rumors and theories about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln that are still being publicized were for the most part first bruited within months of his death.”

Goldberg is also co-author of Pentagon 9/11 which is, possibly, another example of an ongoing coverup.

Goldberg was quite right in acknowledging the persistence of myths about assassinations. And we will never move beyond myths to a clearer understanding of what took place, who ultimately was responsible, what it meant, and how best to restore democracy to this country, until we fully grasp the role of Allen Dulles and others like  him in sustaining those myths.

Can Evil Be Defeated?

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Global Research, April 3, 2015
Strategic Culture Foundation, April 3, 2015

 

5a57a-obama-the-warmongerJohn W. Whitehead is a constitutional attorney. As head of the Rutherford Institute he is actively involved in defending our civil liberties. Being actively involved in legal cases, he experiences first hand the transformation of law from a shield of the American people into a weapon in the hands of the government.

American civil liberty was seriously eroded prior to 9/11 and the rise of the police / warfare state, a story I tell in How America Was Lost. Lawrence Stratton and I documented the loss of law as a shield of the American people in our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions (2000, 2008). Whitehead in his book, A Government of Wolves (2013) and in his just released Battlefield America (2015) shows how quickly and thoroughly the police state has taken root.

We live in an electronic concentration camp. We are addicted to images on screens that disinform and propagandize us to accept and even welcome the police state activities that have destroyed our autonomy, privacy, and independence.

I write many columns on this subject. The advantage of a book is that it all comes together under one cover, and that is what Whitehead has done in Battlefield America.

«The outlook for civil liberties grows bleaker by the day, from the government’s embrace of indefinite detention for US citizens and armed surveillance drones flying overhead to warrantless surveillance of phone, email and Internet communications, and prosecutions of government whistle-blowers. The homeland is ruled by a police-industrial complex, an extension of the American military empire. Everything that our founding fathers warned against is now the new norm. The government has trained its sights on the American people. We have become the enemy. All the while, the American people remain largely oblivious».

Whitehead gives it to us straight. We are continually abused in the name of protecting us. Just ordinary Americans are subject to far worst abuse from government than they ever could be from criminals and terrorists, both of which are bogymen used to justify the government’s terrorism of the citizenry.

Four-year old children are handcuffed by police. Ninety-five year old citizens with walkers are body-slammed with their neck broken by police. War veterans without legs and wheelchair bound are shot and murdered by police. The police always justify their abuse and criminal acts by claiming they felt threatened. What kind of heavily armed police, usually together in gangs, is threatened by a four-year old, a 95-year old, a double amputee? The fact that police get away with this brutality shows their total lack of humanity and the total transformation of the purpose of police. Today a paranoid police protect not the public but the police state and themselves from the public. We pay them to abuse and murder us.

On September 6, 7, and 8, 2014, the Washington Post reported that state and local police had become bandits, as in Mexico, who stop drivers in order to rob them. In «Stop and Seize,» the Washington Post reported that «aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes». http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2014/09/06/stop-and-seize/

There are now training courses in which police are trained in the art of highway robbery. September 11, 2001, was used to create an industry that trains police in the aggressive techniques of highway interdiction. It is now routine for a traffic stop, whether justified or not, to result in the confiscation of your cash, other possessions, and your car itself. You can be robbed by police on the basis of their assumptions without being ticketed or chargedwith a crime.

Whitehead reports that in fiscal year 2012 the federal government alone seized $4.2 billion in assets despite the fact that in 80 percent of the cases no charge was issued.

Did you know that the school security industry is a $4.9 billion annual business that instills in youth acceptance of tyranny and punishments for infractions that are simply the normal behavior of youth?

Did you know that in 2006 a Halliburton subsidiary, Dick Cheney’s firm, was awarded a $385 million federal contract to build concentration camps in the US?

Did you know that Republicans have privatized the prison system and turned it into a $70 billion per year industry that demands ever more incarceration of citizens in order to drive profits. Consequently, 2.7 million American children now have at least one parent in prison, often on charges that would not constitute crimes in a civilized country.

US prison labor is now the cheapest form of labor available with prisoners paid between 93 cents and $4.73 per day. Prisoners make office furniture, work in call centers, fabricate body armor, take hotel reservations, work in slaughterhouses, manufacture textiles, shoes, and clothing, process agricultural products like milk and beef, package Starbucks coffee, shrink wrap software for Microsoft, sew lingerie for Victoria’s Secret, produce the military’s helmets, shirts, pants, tents, bags, canteens, and a variety of other equipment, make circuit boards for IBM, Texas Instruments and Dell. Sew McDonald’s uniforms, and perform labor services for Boeing, Motorola, Compaq, Revlon and Kmart.

Even the «mainstream» presstitute media has reported the US military drills in South Florida where military teams working with local police practiced rounding up American citizens for detention. The media has also reported the upcoming military occupations in Texas and Utah. There are protests but not on the level that a people conscious of the threat to their liberty would mount.

It seems clear that these are federal troops practicing control of the population which is being stripped of the constitutional right to hold government accountable. The pointless lockdown of Boston and its suburbs and the gratuitous house to house searches, a martial law exercise clearly prepared prior to the Boston Marathon Bombing, used fear created by the bombing, possibly a false flag operation, to teach the population compliance with, and acceptance of, martial law. The insouciant American population went along with it. If someone points out how they were manipulated, the fools scream «conspiracy theorist».

The official explanation of the military exercises practicing population control in South Florida, Texas and Utah is that the military is practicing for overseas actions. Why then are local police involved? More likely we are witnessing drills described in the US Army’s 2010 publication, «Internment and Resettlement Operations».

It is now routine for police to amuse themselves by carrying out strip searches and vaginal searches of women. Police go out of their way to provoke resistance so that they can beat, taser, and murder. If they can’t provoke it, they beat, taser, and murder anyway and claim their victim resisted arrest or threatened them. Have you noticed how the police find everyone threatening?

Whitehead shows that the educational system, entertainment, and television serve to indoctrinate and teach compliance. Television can do more than form public opinion. It is used to alter the worldview of the population. Our cars, household appliances, and smart homes are becoming devices designed to spy on us and report noncompliance. A society is being created in which there can be no autonomy and no freedom.

The technology that permits the electronic concentration camp is produced by thoughtless people who have no concern for liberty. How, Whitehead asks, do we maintain our humanity in the face of technologies designed to dehumanize us?

America now has preemptive prosecution. Whitehead reports that 95 percent of those convicted of terrorism between 2001 and 2010 were prosecuted not for deeds, but for beliefs, ideology, or religious affiliations.

The two most engaging chapters in Battleground America are «The Matrix» and «The Posthuman Era», together a mere 17 pages. The fusion of machines with humans to which trans-humanists are committed will destroy human sensibility, memory, and morality, and probably humans themselves.

Corporate America is in it for the money. Whitehead tells us: «With every smartphone we buy, every GPS device we install, and every Twitter, Facebook, and Google account we open, we’re helping Corporate America build a dossier for its government counterparts on who we know, what we think, how we spend our money, and how we spend our time».

Whitehead quotes Bill Joy, a cofounder of Sun Microsystems: «I think it is no exaggeration to say we are on the cusp of the further perfection of evil».

Jim Edwards says, «we humans are now data bits».

In the penultimate chapter, Whitehead tells us what we can do, a question that I am forever asked by readers. Whitehead says that armed revolt is not an option. He believes that the tens of millions, perhaps 100 million, Americans who have pistols, rifles, and shotguns are not only unorganized, but outgunned. The 21stcentury has been used to militarize state and local police forces and to brutalize their attitude toward the American public. Even police in small towns now have helicopters, armored personnel carriers, tanks, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, drones, night vision, heat sensors, sensors that can see through the walls of houses and into cars.

If this is not enough, in comes the National Guard or federal troops, Army Rangers, Navy Seals. Or simply the release of germs. Washington can deal with its citizens the same way it dealt with the indigenous peoples we call Indians. Washington has retained in its hands live smallpox, a deadly killer, and there now have been several generations of Americans who have not had smallpox vaccination, because the disease was eliminated by vaccination. All the government has to do is to release smallpox on resistant populations, and, of course, the government has numerous other such means.

How did it come to this?

In my opinion, as I so often write, Americans are distracted by sex, entertainment, the difficulty of providing for themselves and for families. They are locked into the disinformation that sustains the American Matrix, blinded by their patriotism and the 4th of July speeches and by their indoctrination that Americans are «exceptional and indispensable». And, of course, by their ignorance and arrogance. Americans simply have no clue.

The purpose of the evil that masquerades as a government in Washington is to prevent those few Americans who do have a clue from informing the rest of the population. Whistleblowers are arrested and falsely prosecuted and imprisoned. Journalists have been intimidated into silence.

Now, to Whitehead’s answer to what can we do. He says that we can mount «militant nonviolent resistance». This worked for Christians in the decomposing Roman Empire.

It worked for Mahatma Gandhi in India against the British colonialists. It was working for Martin Luther King in America before he was assassinated, most likely by the FBI.

Whitehead says that the mass of the citizenry cannot be assassinated. If citizens simply stop cooperating by listening to the lies on TV, by purchasing the devices used to control them, by amusing themselves in front of propaganda screens, by learning again how to think, how to be human, how to be moral, the American police state can be defeated.

It worked in the past, and possibly it can work again. If not, Washington will remain the home of Sauron, a threat to every American citizen and to the entire world.

 

 

Do Away With Elections? The Rituals of “Democracy”

By Arthur D. Robbins
March 27, 2015
Global Research

 

Do away with elections? To even think such a thought is treasonous. An election, or should I say a presidential election, is one of the few occasions, or should I say the only occasion, on which we take a genuine interest in government.  We are spectators at a sporting event, a mix of a bullfight, prizefight and a barroom brawl. We get into heated arguments about which team is “better” about who deserves to win, about which gladiator will be the best for the country. There is an uppercut, a right cross, a roundhouse and he or she (not too often) is down for the count. No, he is not out. He is on his knees, struggling to his feet.  The crowd roars.

Or maybe we should think of it like Super Bowl Sunday. The entire nation is brought together around one event. There is salsa and chips. The beer flows. There are roars of approval as ones team scores, long faces and silence when the other team scores. And for a week or two after the game there are long and intricate discussions of why the victor won and the loser obviously should have lost.

Benjamin Barber — Strong Democracy — has a different take. He contrasts the conversational, communitarian, celebratory elements of the democratic process with the act of voting, which he compares to using a public toilet. “We wait in line with a crowd in order to close ourselves up in a compartment where we can relieve ourselves in solitude and privacy of our burden, pull a lever, and then, yielding to the next in line, go silently home.” Russell Brand — Revolution — is more succinct. Voting is referred to as “the infertile dry hump of gestural democracy.”

And yet the right to vote — to stand out in the cold and rain in the dark of night for hours and then learn that the machine isn’t working — is considered a sacred right. It is enshrined in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).  “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections.” It is a right that was hard won.

A Right That Was Hard Won

In the United States, women were denied the #righttovote until 1920 when the 19th amendment to the Constitution was passed. Women began agitating for equal rights in the 1840s. The right to vote took on a life of its own. Its supporters were actively involved in the anti-slavery movement. In 1872, Susan B. Anthony was arrested for #voting and, after a much publicized trial, was found guilty. In 1917 over 200 supporters of the National Woman’s Party were arrested while picketing the White House. Some went on a hunger strike while in prison and were force-fed.

In Britain the struggle was even fiercer. Under the leadership of the Women’s Social and Political Union women went on hunger strikes, chained themselves to railings to provoke an arrest, poured chemicals into mailboxes, broke windows in prominent buildings and set fire to unoccupied buildings and occasionally detonated bombs. Like their sisters in the United States they were imprisoned under harsh conditions and force-fed while on hunger strikes. In 1928 the Conservative government passed the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act giving the vote to all women over the age of 21.

The 15th amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1870, prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Yet most black voters in the South were effectively disenfranchised. There were new state laws requiring poll taxes. There were discriminatory literacy tests, from which white voters were exempt. A system of whites-only primaries and violent intimidation by white groups also suppressed black participation.

A voters’ registration campaign was launched in Selma, Alabama. Faced with stiff opposition the local blacks called in SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee). Next to arrive was Dr. Martin Luther King and members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Protests ensued. By the end of February 1965, 3,000 had been arrested. Deacon and activist Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot and killed by a state trooper, spurring further outrage.

There were three marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama (the state’s capital), a distance of about fifty miles. The first march of 600 people was nicknamed “Bloody Sunday” after marchers were beaten with billy clubs and tear-gassed by state troopers and a local posse. One woman was beaten unconscious. The second march resulted in a stand off between troopers and marchers. King returned to the church. He was going to seek federal protection for the marchers. That evening a white group beat and murdered civil rights activist James Reeb. The third march proceeded under the protection of 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army and 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under federal command.

On March 25, 25,000 people entered the capital city in support of voting rights for blacks. On August 6, The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed. It provided for federal oversight of elections in discriminatory jurisdictions, banned literacy tests and similar discriminatory devices, and created legal remedies for people affected by voting discrimination.

Voting in the East

Voting took on special importance in the East, as well. India, a country with an area of well over one millions square miles, peppered with hundreds of thousands of small villages, hidden in jungles, mountains and countryside, held its first general election in 1952 (See Guha, chapter 7). Starting from scratch it had to register 176 million Indians aged twenty-one or more, of whom about 85% could not read or write.

Some 224,000 polling booths were constructed and equipped with 2 million steel ballot boxes, using 8,200 tons of steel. 16,500 clerks were employed to type and collate electorate rolls, requiring about 380,000 reams of paper. One booth in the jungle reported more than 70% voting. A 110-year old man in Madurai propped up on either side by a great-grandson came to vote, as did a ninety-five-year-old woman, hunchbacked and deaf. In remote tribal areas people walked for days through wild jungles to reach their voting booth.

Faced with such spirit and courage and persistence how can one possibly bring into question the role of voting in our societies? Without question the struggle for voting rights was a noble struggle and its achievements go beyond simply casting a ballot. Organizing themselves and vigorously fighting for a political goal gave women and blacks a social and political presence that had been denied them for centuries. In India it was the proudest moment of citizenship for a people in shackles for centuries.

The struggle waged to win the vote set examples for those who wish to engage in political struggle, regardless of the cause. But the vote itself, what it literally meant, what it produced, who it benefited, what its value was to society in political and social terms was not submitted to careful study. And so it is conceivable that many of those who risked their lives to gain the right might now question the wisdom of relying upon such a system for selecting those who govern. Says Russell Brand of suffragette Emily Davison, she “would not be urging the disempowered people of today to vote; she’d be urging them to riot.”

To argue against elections is to examine critically the electoral process itself and to consider in broad terms the kind of world our elected representatives have bequeathed to us. For I believe that much that is troubling about the world we live in can be traced directly to those who govern in our name. And it is the electoral process that has given them the right to do so.
Malfeasance and the Betrayal of Public Trust

OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES HAVE VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTION THEY HAVE SWORN TO DEFEND

Without reading the bill, our elected representatives enacted the “Patriot Act of 2001,” thus laying the foundation for a fascist state. Only one senator, Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), voted against it. The bill —342 pages long — was introduced on October 23 and voted on the following day. By a vote of 357-66 it passed the House of Representatives.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The “Patriot Act” undoes that constitutional protection.

On December 31, President Barak Obama signed the “The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)” for fiscal year 2012. Subsections 1021–1022 of Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism” authorize the indefinite military detention of persons the President suspects of involvement in terrorism, including U.S. citizens arrested on American soil. Each year congress re-authorizes the NDAA with the “Counter-Terrorism” provision left intact.

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution contain a due process clause. Due process clause acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the Government outside the sanction of law. The NDAA does away with that constitutional protection.
 
OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES IGNORE THE COMMON GOOD IN FAVOR OF CORPORATE INTERESTS THAT THREATEN OUR ECOSYSTEM, OUR PERSONAL HEALTH AND THE VERY SURVIVAL OF THE SPECIES

Section 735 of the HR 933 continuing resolution, passed in March, 2013, and signed by President Barack Obama, stripped federal courts of the authority to halt the sale and propagation of genetically modified seeds and crops even if safety tests reveal concerns about their harmful effects.

In 2009, $250 billion was spent on drugs in the United States. Over the 10 years ending in 2012, the 11 largest drug companies took $711.4 billion in profits, $85 billion in 2012, alone.

Medicare is the largest purchaser in the world’s largest drug market. Thanks to “The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (also called the Medicare Modernization Act or MMA)”, enacted in 2003, by our elected representatives, Medicare was prohibited by law from seeking better prices for the drugs its subscribers needed to stay healthy and alive. Hence, drug dealers charged Americans — elderly Americans — vastly more for the same drug than they charged in other counties. Why? Because our elected representatives said they could.

Our Planet is in ecological free fall. Where will it stop? When will it stop? Is it too late? There is not an issue that is more critical to our survival. We count on our elected representatives to do everything they can to reverse some very dangerous trends. And what do they do? They undo what little safeguards we have and support policies that are designed to make matters many times worse.

The House of Representatives averaged more than one anti-environmental vote for every day the House was in session in 2011.  More than one in five of the legislative roll call votes taken in 2011 – 22% – were votes to undermine environmental protections.

The anti-environment votes cut across a broad array of issues and included 27 votes to block action to address climate change, 77 votes to undermine “Clean Air Act” protections, 28 votes to undermine “Clean Water Act” protections, and 47 votes to weaken protection of public land and coastal waters.

Here is just a small sample of bills passed by the House of Representatives in 2011:

  • House Continuing Resolution 34: Drastically cuts funding for environmental protection programs at EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), DOE (Department of Energy), DOI (Department of Interior), and other agencies and eliminates incentives for renewable energy.
  • House Resolution 1, Full Year 2011:Blocks agency actions under the “Clean Air Act,” the “Clean Water Act,” and other laws and cuts funding for dozens of environmental protection programs at EPA, DOE, DOI, and other agencies.
  • House Resolution 1, Full Year 2011:  Blocks EPA greenhouse gas regulations for major emitters.
  • House Resolution. 1, Full Year 2011: Blocks the Klamath Dam Removal and Sedimentation Study necessary to protect endangered species
  • House Resolution 1, Full Year 2011: Blocks new EPA water quality standards for Florida waterways
  • House Resolution 1, Full Year 2011:Prevents NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) from establishing a Climate Service.
  • House Resolution 1, Full Year 2011:Blocks the United States from contributing funds to the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”
  • House Resolution 1, Full Year 2011: Blocks EPA from revoking “Clean Water Act” permits based on adverse effects on water, fish,and wildlife

 
IF THIS IS WHAT ELECTIONS ARE GETTING US WE NEED TO DO AWAY WITH ELECTIONS, AND SOON. AS EMMA GOLDMAN POINTED OUT, “IF VOTING CHANGED ANYTHING, THEY’D MAKE IT ILLEGAL.”

Bailouts and sellouts

Certainly one of the most egregious acts of malfeasance by this or any government was what has been euphemistically called the bailout of banks too big to fail. Trillions of dollars were and continue to be transferred to banks to replenish funds that were lost to bad bets.  The “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008” is a law enacted in response to the subprime mortgage crisis. It authorizes the United States Secretary of the Treasury to spend up to $700 billion to purchase distressed assets, especially mortgage-backed securities, and supply cash directly to banks. The real costs could be in the trillions, that is trillions of dollars of taxpayer money handed over to banks by our elected representatives. While banks were knee deep in dollars, residents of California who defaulted on their mortgages were reduced to sleeping in tents.

The scam continues. Now it is called “Quantitative Easing” (read: handout). To carry out QE central banks create money by buying securities, such as government bonds, from banks, with electronic cash that did not exist before. The new money swells the size of bank reserves in the economy by the quantity of assets purchased—hence “quantitative” easing — currently at the rate of $75 billion a quarter.

Taxpayers could be doing plenty of more productive things with their money. The billions could be used to stop layoffs of teachers and firefighters, train laid-off workers for new jobs, or hire people to fix our ailing infrastructure. But taxpayers don’t get to make these decisions. They also don’t get bailed out when the value of their home suddenly plummets, or when they lose their job or retirement funds in an economic maelstrom they did not cause.

The buying and selling of stock by corporate insiders who have access to non-public information that could affect the stock price can be a criminal offense, just ask hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam who recently got 11 years in prison for doing it. But, congressional lawmakers who write the laws the rest of us have to live with, scaled the code to give themselves a pass on insider trading. Unsurprisingly, our elected representatives enjoy a substantially higher return on their stock investments than we do.

Such blatant self-serving exceptionalism could easily induce nausea if not outrage among a citizenry who have to follow the rules as they struggle to make a living. These are our elected representatives, the ones we put in place every time we vote, men and women without a shred of integrity.

This very brief summary of disrespect for the electorate and its vital necessities is but the summit of a mighty mountain of malfeasance and betrayal, most of which is hidden from the public eye. I almost forgot to mention the wars, covert wars around the world, overt wars like the wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, wars that never happen, that are never declared, that never end, wars that divert vital resources from our society, wars that kill millions, displace millions, obliterate infrastructure, decimate economies and cultures, wars that the vast majority of us oppose, wars that are bankrolled by our elected representatives to the tune of trillions of dollars a year.

Have we had enough, yet?

Faulty Electoral System:

Vote Fraud and the Two Party System.

Assuming that there are those stubborn few who want to vote despite all of the above, it is certainly reasonable for voters to believe that when they vote the electoral system itself is reasonably reliable and honest, that there is no tilt, that the system isn’t rigged. This belief is a critical factor in establishing the legitimacy of our government and in gaining our allegiance.

In his book, The Ruling Class (1939), Gaetano Mosca, an Italian political scientist, offers some critical insights into the electoral process, insights that are as relevant today as they were when penned some seventy-five years ago.

The fact that a people participates in electoral assemblies does not mean that it directs the government or that the class that is governed chooses its  governors. It means merely that when the electoral function operates under favorable social conditions it is a tool by which certain political forces are enabled to control and limit the activity of other political forces.

In other words, it seems as if we choose and control, but we don’t. As Mosca points out, the deck is always stacked. “When we say that the voters ‘choose’ their representative, we are using a language that is very inexact. The truth is that the representative has himself elected by the voters … that his friends have him elected” (italics in the original). We end up voting for those who are preselected by virtue of their “moral, intellectual and material means to force their will upon others, take the lead over the others and command them.”

Thus, in practice, in popular elections, freedom of choice, “though complete theoretically, necessarily becomes null, not to say ludicrous.” The voter, for his vote to have meaning, ends up having to choose from among a very small number of contenders, the two or three who have a chance of succeeding, “and the only ones who have any chance of succeeding are those whose candidacies are championed by groups, by committees, by organized minorities”(italics in the original).

The relative handful who are selected to speak for the citizenry are rarely, if ever, a random selection. They are rarely, if ever, demographically representative of the population at large. And they are rarely, if ever, open to the wishes of their constituency. Instead, those selected to speak for the citizenry speak not for their constituency but for the organized minorities who put them in power, minorities with certain values in common, “based on considerations of property and taxation, on common material interests, on ties of family, class, religion, sect or political party.”

Thus, the preselected minority speaks for an even narrower minority who sponsored their candidacy based on a specific set of goals at odds with the needs and wishes of the vast majority. Mosca was writing in the 1930s. What would he say if he knew that it now takes millions of dollars to get elected to the House of Representatives, tens of millions to be elected senator or governor, and close to a billion to be elected president and that the much revered and martyred JFK sent bags full of money to capture the West Virginia primary in 1963 (See Anthony Summers below)? He would probably say, “I told you so.”

And if you are bold enough and fool hardy enough to try and run for higher office on an independent ticket you will be confronted with endless legal hurdles placed there by the two major parties that control the electoral process. You will be denied access to televised debates. You will be sidelined in every way conceivable, as was the case with Ralph Nader, or the powers that be will threaten to kill your children if you don’t drop out, as was the case with Ross Perrot.

It was Joseph Stalin who said that it is not who votes that counts but who counts the votes. “Well,” you say, “that was the Soviet Union. This is the United States of America.” True, but the difference isn’t as great as you think. Recall the 2000 presidential election, where there was obvious vote fraud in the state of Florida and a Supreme Court judge denied the citizens of Florida the right to a recount.

And yet we still believe in elections. Says David Van Reybrouck, in Against Elections, “It seems like we have all become electoral fundamentalists. We look down on those who have been elected, but worship elections themselves.” We are disappointed again and again and yet keep coming back for more. We have equated elections with #democracy. Yet when the many select the few at election time, the outcome is #oligarchy by definition.

Elections are out of date, passé, outmoded like the stagecoach and the spinning wheel. They need to be consigned to the dustbin of history. As Reybrouck observes, “The citizen is neither a customer nor a child….The relationship between the government and its constituency is no longer that between a parent and its children, but of adults working together.” If that is the case then we need to institute a form of government where we are “adults working together.” We adults can certainly do a better job than those who are currently in charge. And not only are elections an obstacle to social justice, they are fraudulent to boot.

Votescam and the Little Black Box

In a little known book entitled, Votescam (1996), two brothers, James and Kenneth Collier, undertake to investigate the voting system at an elemental level. Who manufactures the computers and develops the software that collect and transmit the voting data and how are these technical people connected to the politicians running for office? Where there are physical ballots to be counted, who actually does the counting and what is the oversight process? The story begins with the 1988 Republican Primary in New Hampshire and ends in Florida where the brothers run into a stonewall of denial and indifference by government officials and the media as they uncover evidence of vote fraud on a grand scale.

As the Collier brothers tell it, shortly after the JFK assassination the CIA approached the major news agencies — at that time, AP, UPI, CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN — with a deal. You keep your nose out of the assassination and we will give you control over Election Day results.

In other words, the Election Day results were placed in the hands of the major networks, private enterprises, whose primary purpose is entertainment and misinformation. The final election results as reported to the public are not filtered through some government agency, certified as final and valid, and then passed onto the networks. It is the networks themselves that are doing their own certifying. At the timeVotescam was written, they operated under the aegis “News Election Service (NES)”. They had actual physical control of the counting and dissemination of the vote and refused to let the public in on how it all worked.

The ballots themselves are counted, manually or mechanically. Then the totals are recorded on canvas sheets and signed by precinct workers. These raw data are fed into a computer that stores the information and is the source for the tallies that are passed along to us, via the media. Suppose someone wanted to fix the results, what might that look like?

Pollsters go around knocking on doors asking people how they expect to vote. On Election Day they query voters after they have voted and use that as a basis for predicting outcomes. Gallup and Harris are two of the better-known agencies in the United States. They are respected for their integrity and accuracy. Although polls might serve to discourage voters from voting, they have a positive function to play. They are a check against the results that the media feeds us.

For example, in the 1988 Republican primary for President, George H.W. Bush was pitted again Bob Dole. Going into the balloting, polls had Bush losing by eight points. Instead he won by nine. How could the polls be off by a seventeen-point spread?

Bush had promised his campaign manager, John Sununu, Governor of New Hampshire, a computer genius, that if he could “deliver,” he, Sununu, would become White House Chief Staff. Apparently he delivered. Bush won the primary, became President and Sununu got the reward he had been promised.

The Collier brothers decided to turn their investigation of electoral flaws and fixes into a book and were determined to follow a lead wherever it took them. They decided that brother Ken would enter the fray by running for Congress in Miami-Dade County. They were determined to do a low budget, activist, grass roots campaign, with the primary purpose of getting an inside look at how the system worked.

They were bold, took chances, and came up with some interesting facts. On Election Day they watched the results come in over television. They noticed that the computer went down and that when it came back on their tally came back lower than it had been. They discovered that there was a pattern around the country of computers “going down” and coming back up with different results.

They learned that at 7AM a precinct captain opens the back of the voting machine to determine that all counters are set to zero. At the end of the day when the voting is over, the back of the machine is opened again to read the tallies for each candidate. Representatives from each party call out the numbers to precinct workers who then enter them on canvas sheets and affix their signature. The Collier brothers tracked down the canvas sheets for the election they were in and discovered that there were two, not one set of sheets, and that the second set had 4,000 signatures that were forged.

Predicting the vote

Apparently Channel 7 was able to accurately predict forty races with 250 candidates by examining the results from just one voting machine. And they did it in just twenty-four minutes. Channel 4 achieved the same result in just four minutes. How is that possible?

The Collier brothers decided to study other subsequent elections results in Dade county. In the 1970 race for Governor 141,000 votes were cast. If we are to believe the numbers, the exact same number of votes were cast a month later in a runoff. But, that is not likely, since when the losing candidates drop out the vote count drops as well.

For the 1970 race for the House of Representatives, it was projected that there would be a total of 96,499 votes. And, in fact, the actual total was 96,499. The computer appears to have achieved a perfect result. This level of accuracy was replicated in five different races, one for governor, one for senator, three for the House of Representatives.  Does that ever happen? What are the odds?

The Collier brothers tracked down a warehouse in Opa Locka, Florida, a rural backwater municipality where Dade county’s 1,648 voting machines were stored when not in use. They came with a court order to examine the machines. The fellow in charge was friendly and talkative. How can you rig these machines? “Well,” said Frank, “you can place a decal over the counter that reads ‘000,’ when behind those zeroes is the real number 090. Or you can take a razor blade and shave one of these plastic wheels, which then slips ahead by 100 or 200 votes.” Now the brothers had further evidence that the elections were open to tampering.

The “League of Women Voters” is known as a non-partisan civic organization. It was founded in 1920, shortly after women had won the right to vote. Its mission is to aid in voter registration, and educate citizens as to their voting rights. At the time, the League sponsored Presidential debates. It no longer does.

According to Ken and Jim Collier, the League also engages in vote fraud. An informant told the brothers that members of the League were “using little black pencils issued by the election division to punch out new holes in the vote cards” thus creating a new vote or invalidating an existing vote. The League workers were being paid $15 per hour for their services. Yet state and federal law explicitly prohibit any “handling or piercing of the public’s ballots by anyone except the voter.”

The brothers arrived with their video camera and taped the League in action. Indeed the workers were pushing pencils through ballot cards. The floor was covered with chads. They got it on tape. It turns out that the League of Women Voters is at the center of Election Day counting and reporting. Not only do they handle the ballots, in violation of state and federal election law, they actually do the vote reporting. It is the League that supplies the numbers that are then supplied to the public by TV networks.

The Colliers also taped the automatic card counters — ballot multiplexers — in action. Workers would take cards that had already been scanned and scan them again. One vote was thus counted twice. Ballots arrive at the counting center in metal security boxes with intact red security seals. Except some of the seals were broken. One of the workers had a bag filled with new seals. In other words, the box had been tampered with. Yet it would end up with an intact seal at the end of its travels.

According to Jim and Ken Collier, the Miami election supervisor gave the ballots to precinct captains to take home as much as a week in advance of any election. Apparently a good time was had by all punching out a slate of candidates.

Conspiracy of silence

As the Colliers delved deeper into vote tampering and tried to get the news media to report what they had discovered they were repeatedly turned away. There was a conspiracy of silence. As Tim O’Brien of ABC news said to Ken and Jim, “When you’re dealing with the networks, you’re dealing with a shadow government.”

Various conspiracies seem to feed off of each other. Katherine Graham was owner of the Washington Post, one of the nation’s most prominent newspapers at the time Richard Nixon was President.  She also owned a television station in Miami. Nixon had proof that Graham’s TV station was involved in election rigging. Graham learned that Nixon was on her trail and decided that she would undo him before he got to her, hence, according to the Colliers, the Watergate bugging, a federal offense. The FBI and the telephone company had each done three sweeps and discovered that there were no bugs in the DNC headquarters in the Watergate. The Washington Post, Graham’s paper, printed the story anyway, resulting in Nixon’s impeachment, all of which was ignited by Graham’s election shenanigans in her Miami TV station.

In 1964, Louis Harris developed a method for conducting exit polls that would permit pollsters to predict election results before the vote was counted. The networks — ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN — got together and formed another consortium, this time to conduct their own exit polls. At the time of the 1992 primaries, the Colliers once again did their homework and calculated that it would be impossible for the pollsters to achieve the results they claimed they had and for the networks to be offering numbers that were legitimate.

“Since VRS [Voter Research and Surveys] claims that thousands of people were polled in seven states, our math indicates that it was impossible to garner and call that much information back to Chilton Operators [Chilton Research of Radnor PA] and have the results on air at 7:01PM.” (italics in original)

Elections are open to fraud at every step in the process from the counters in the back of the machines that can be covered with decals, the wheel that can be shaved, the canvas tally sheets that can arrive with forged signatures, the League workers who punch holes in ballots and call in the vote, the computer software whose source code is known only to the private company that owns it, the polls producing a level of speed and accuracy that is not humanly possible, that read out sheets handed to TV announcers. All of this is in private hands, subject to the whim of he or she who has the power necessary to dictate the outcome. We, the voters, naively return to the polls again and again participating in a process that has nothing to do with the will of the people whom it is allegedly designed to serve.

On some level we have known for some time that we were being scammed but had no proof and more importantly felt there was nothing we could do to bring about change. And so we participate in a meaningless ritual whose outcome is predetermined, thus validating a system whose sole purpose is to lull us into acquiescence so we will endure the hardships and harshness of the “American Dream.” We are not happy but pretend to be and get angry if anyone suggests that something about our government is foul and needs to be changed.

Quality of Life: Social Decay

We live with the illusion that what our government does in our name is something separate and apart, does not enter into our private lives, penetrate our very souls. And yet it does. In his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and Its Influence on Morals and Happiness, written at the end of the eighteenth century, English political philosopher William Godwin argues that we need to consider that “politics and modes of government will educate and infect us all.”

According to Godwin, government conduct has intellectual, moral, psychological, and emotional consequences for its citizens—that it, in effect, shapes us and “perhaps it insinuates itself into our personal dispositions, and insensibly communicates its own spirit to our private transactions.” What we consider to be our political education is, in effect, “the modification our ideas received from the form of government under which we live.”

Corrupt governors lead to corruption of the governed. There is a trickle down effect.  As de Tocqueville observes, “they [the governors] in some measure lend the author­ity of the government to the base practices of which they are accused.”

For example, here in New York, we lost St. Vincent’s hospital — one of our finest — to venality and corruption. Ten executives were paid $10 million per year in wages, enjoyed a $278,000 golf outing. In the two years before closing, the hospital paid $17 million for “management consultants,” $3.8 million on “professional fund-raising” and $104 million on unspecified costs. The hospital slid into bankruptcy with an accumulated debt of $1billion, apparently after taking on debt from other hospitals as well. Is this any different from our elected representatives raiding the social security fund and passing along to Lockheed Martin $400 billion for the F 35, a fighter jet that can’t fly? And by the way, like St. Vincent’s hospital, the United States of America is bankrupt. It can’t liquidate its debt.

The story repeats itself. Those in control of some of New York’s most prized cultural institutions, The Art Students League, The Cooper Union, the New York Public Library, corrupted by the lure of millions betray their public trust in the service of real estate interests that threaten to cannibalize our cultural heritage.

One can look to cities around the country and see similar outcomes. Detroit, once the economic center of our country, has been abandoned and sold off. What is left is rubble and a people desperate to have a water supply, health services and food. Had the city been bombed the outcome wouldn’t have been much different. Our elected representatives look the other way. Of what use are they?

Nothing is sacred, absolutely nothing. The philistines are in charge. Our elected representatives who oversee a government where one swindle after another is considered good government. We have created a culture where anything goes and nothing is preserved in the name of the common good.

Morality, such an old fashioned term.

One blushes to introduce the word morality into polite conversation. It is such an old fashioned term, associated, perhaps, with civilizations bygone. How can we possibly be concerned with such niceties when we are under constant threat of terrorism? And shouldn’t we be availing ourselves of torture where necessary to make ourselves safe, and wouldn’t it be irresponsible to act otherwise? Across from Stuyvesant Square, in Manhattan, there is a Friends Meeting House. Over the entrance there is a banner that reads, “Torture Is A Moral Issue.” Apparently Americans need to be reminded.

A generation of Americans marginalized and overpowered by a government that it doesn’t understand and can’t change turns to violence as a source of empowerment. “American Sniper” is a recently released movie that broke all box office records. It is the story of an American solider whose calling in life is killing “towel heads” in Iraq, 160 of them, making him the deadliest sniper in American history.

Chris Kyle, seems to have embraced his career as a serial killer and takes pride in what he is doing for his country. No where in this movie are we made to question that there is anything untoward about killing in general or killing people in their homeland, or that we are an invading army, not a troop of boy scouts removing trash from the side of a highway.

Our elected representatives have created a culture of killing that has been embraced by a large segment of our society, with the President of the United States as one of its principle cheerleaders. He has a kill list that is drawn on by drone operators to cut down victims in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Sometimes there is “collateral damage.” A wedding party, children, the elderly, a pregnant woman are cut down in the name of democracy.

Killing is what it is all about, killing without regret, killing with pride, killing without consequences. The ICC (International Criminal Court) is a court system that began functioning in 2002. Its purpose is to prosecute those who violate international law by committing genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes. 123 countries signed on. The court sits in the Hague, in the Netherlands.  Our elected representatives chose not to join, thus giving a clear signal that they planned to act outside the law.

And further, in 2002, our elected representatives passed the “American Service Members Protection Act,” nicknamed “The Hague Invasion Act.” This piece of legislation authorizes the use of military force to liberate any American or citizen of a U.S.-allied country being held by the court. Of course, “service members” is a euphemism for figures like George Bush and Dick Cheney who might well be tried and convicted for their violations of international law.

“American Service Members Protection Act” is a confession of guilt. It wouldn’t have been passed if there weren’t real fears of legal consequence for unjustifiable acts of war. But what it reveals more than anything is the thugism of our elected representatives, the shameless devotion to violence, the shameless disavowal of any moral code, the complete lack of honor. “We can kill anyone, anywhere. And if you get in our way, we will kill you.” This is the United States of America in the 21st century.

Chickens come home to roost

It should come as no surprise that local police forces are now military outposts. The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security have already shunted $5.1 billion worth of military equipment to local police departments around the country. This equipment includes armored personnel carriers, assault rifles, land-mine detectors, grenade launchers, and 94,000 machine guns.

SWAT teams, in full military regalia, are raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night, often just to search for drugs. People have died. Pets have been shot. Homes have been ravaged. All in the name of keeping us safe. One family in Atlanta was awakened in the middle of the night when officers burst into their home and threw a flashbang grenade into the playpen where a toddler was sleeping. Civilians, — especially black ones — have become target practice.

This is trickle down fascism. What happens at the top happens at the bottom. The top gets to be the top every time we vote in elections and install our elected representatives, the ones who underwrite the fascist state we are living in.

Our electoral system — with a few exceptions — attracts the lowest element in society, raises them to the position of ultimate power, which they then use to enrich themselves and their corporate sweethearts, while simultaneously fleecing us and undermining the very basis for social existence. If national and international law were enforced many of our elected representatives would be led off in handcuffs to spend the last of their days in prison.

Our elected representatives are drawn from amongst those who have no trouble lying and selling out to the highest bidder. Their conduct sets the moral tone for the rest of society. The most degraded use of power is pushed to the front. There is a mass culture that dips ever deeper into a pool of tawdry self-abasement. We owe all of this to the form of government we live under and to its capacity to select the most slavish of men and women to rule over us.

Quiet Despair

What does it mean to live in such a society for those millions of us who care about human life and the fate of the planet? What does it mean to us when we see our neighbors struggling to pay their rent, having lost their pension and their savings to the Wall Street banksters thanks to legislation that our elected representatives put in place? What does it mean to be betrayed again and again by those we put in power, to be lied to again and again? What happens to our identity and self-respect when we know we are allowing the swindle and rapine to continue by acquiescing to the cosa nostra euphemistically referred to as “American Democracy.”

We are made to feel small and powerless. We lack a solid grounding in reality. Reality is something we don’t want to know. It is too frightening, so we kid ourselves into believing that everything is okay. We dare not look into the future. We dread what it might hold. We are cut off from each other. Our fear and insecurity create barriers. Our conversations are trivial and manic. Honest, in depth conversations would take us where we don’t want to go.

We are being crushed by an oppressive government, presided over by the elected representatives we install every time we vote. It would never occur to us that the depression we experience is a consequence of the quiet despair that ensues from a sense of impending disaster and the feeling of powerlessness that accompanies it.

What is it like for our young people starting out in life? How can they have an honest vision of the future that carries some hope with it? They are saddled with student debt from which there is no escape. They are lucky if the degree they worked so hard for will get them a low paying job. What does the future hold for them? Not much, so they drown themselves in a sea of extreme drinking and random sex.

Says, Russell Brand,

“We are living in a zoo, … our collective consciousness, our individual consciousness, has been hijacked by a power structure that needs us to remain atomized and disconnected. We want union, we want connection, we need it the way we need other forms of nutrition, and denied it we delve into the lower impulses for sanctuary.”

The “me” generation is self-centered and blinded to the reality that surrounds them, a reality that is in a state of terminal decay. “Me” is all that is left to hold onto. Here is Russell at his lyrical best.

Is there an emptiness in you as you walk your land, uneasy feet on uneasy streets, uneasy in the bedroom, uneasy even in the mirror, an uneasy creep to uneasy sleep, pulling the bed sheets up close; checking your phone, checking your phone, checking you’re not here all alone to die alone?

These are dark times. We get on with our lives, put on a good face, have a few beers, a few laughs, enjoy some theatre, a good meal, a movie, some music. We do our best to keep ourselves energized, spirited and hopeful about life. But, we spend our days waiting, waiting for a magical savior, waiting for the worst.

By this time I hope you are wondering, “Well, is there no way out? Is there no alternative to the form of government we are enslaved to?”

To which I reply, “Indeed there is. And it is called sortition.”

Sortition

Sortition is another word for lottery, allotment, lot. Drop some names into a hat. Pull one out — without peeking — and that person wins the prize. The appeal of sortition is that it is fair. It establishes a level playing field. Everyone has the same equal opportunity.

In ancient Athens, sortition was used for selecting magistrates — about 1,100 of them — and the Council of 500 or boule, which was responsible for setting the agenda for the Assembly. Magistrates were executive administrators. In Athens they oversaw the grain supply, building projects, trade. The equivalent today might be Parks Commissioner, School Chancellor.

Any Athenian who met citizenship and age requirements could put forward his name a year in advance. If his name was drawn he would serve for one year. Before entering service the candidate was interviewed, just to make sure that there were no glaring deficiencies that might disqualify him from office.

One could argue that those who offered themselves for service might know little or nothing about their particular responsibility. That contingency was addressed by having a committee of several citizens oversee each function, with the assumption that what one person didn’t know another would make up for. Tenure was limited to one year. There were frequent reviews of a magistrate’s performance. If a majority of the review jury felt his performance was inadequate the magistrate was replaced.

The Athenians believed in amateurism. They believed that the average citizen was wise enough and intelligent enough to acquit himself of his duties adequately. Their bigger concern was concentration of power, abuse of power and corruption, which was why they used sortition for selecting magistrates. Only generals and persons responsible for large sums of money were voted into office.

Today, our jury system is based on sortition. It is assumed that a random sampling of the citizenry will result in a jury that will act wisely in forming its judgment. When there are limited places for a certain benefit, for example in a college program, or to run a marathon, names are submitted for sortition. Those whose number is drawn win the prize.

Sortition around the world

Currently there is renewed interest in using sortition, as opposed to elections, as a means of selecting people for government service. There are various proposals afloat. Books and articles are being written. There are movements in several countries to actually put sortition into practice. “Equality by lot” is a blog devoted exclusively to a discussion of sortition, attended mainly by academics. It is a useful resource if one wants to keep up to date about what is happening in the world of sortition.

Recently, in London, a new campaign (see occupydemocracy.net) was launched to demand government by sortition in England. In Mexico, the “National Regeneration Movement (Morena)” will select its candidates for congressional seats by sortition. Louis Laurent, a Belgian MP, is calling for a citizen parliament selected by sortition. Recently there was an article in a Chilean publication advocating sortition. Sortition has been promoted by the Newid Party in Wales (see ordinarypeople.org.uk). David Van Reybrouck, a Belgian historian, has written a book (in Dutch) entitled, Against Elections (see policy-network.net for an excerpt in English) in which he advocates a bi-representative government, half elected, half selected by sortition.

In Australia, the New Democracy Foundation (newdemocracy.com.au) is experimenting with “demarchy,” a form of government based in a network of numerous decision-making groups. Each group deals with a specific function, i.e. transport, land use, parks. Membership of each group is chosen randomly (i.e. by sortition) each year from all those interested in a specific topic.

In Iceland the citizenry, not their representatives, were called upon to write a new constitution. The parliament appointed a constitutional committee of seven to work together with a national assembly comprised of 950 citizens, drawn randomly (sortition) from the national registry, and a constituent assembly where 25 individuals were elected out of a roster of 522 candidates of all backgrounds and political affiliations. Over the course of four months, the committee consulted various experts and ordinary citizens to inform the bill, bringing it to a national referendum in late-2012. Sixty-seven per cent of the electorate voted in favor of the constitutional bill. Yet the political establishment succeeded in defeating its adoption.

What about here in the U. S. of A., the alleged home to democracy, free thought and good government, what can we add to the stew?  Well, just suppose that instead of choosing our candidates for national office by means of primaries and party caucuses we use sortition. What would that be like?

The first thing to understand is that elections in the United States— national as well as local — are under the purview of state governments. Thus there are fifty different election laws with endless variations in definitions and details, the kinds of voting machines, security measures, controls over party organization, financial matters, etc.

The New York State Election Law makes provision for elections in the smallest of localities. In also provides for the election of national office holders.

ARTICLE 12—PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS AND FEDERAL ELECTED OFFICERS

Title Section

I. Presidential and Vice Presidential Electors 12–100
II. United States Senators 12–200
III. Representatives in Congress 12–300

The federal government has almost no say, though every so often the national government takes a principled stance that is supposed to be applied nation wide to all fifty states. For example, the “Voting Rights Act of 1965” prohibits racial discrimination in voting. But such critical issues as the procedures for designating and nominating individuals for elected office are completely in the hands of each state government.

For example in Iowa, “The term “political party” shall mean a party which, at the last preceding general election, cast for its candidate for president of the United States or for governor, as the case may be, at least two percent of the total vote cast for all candidates for that office at that election.” In New York, “The term ‘‘party’’ means any political organization which at the last preceding election for governor polled at least fifty thousand votes for its candidate for governor.” The Texas Election Law makes repeated reference to “party” but offers no definition.

Smoke and mirrors

If it is our goal to reform our government, i.e. modify the structures that determine the power dynamics, then we must get our fingers into the dough. The place to start is Election Law, state by state.

Article I, Section 1:

No member of this state shall be disfranchised, or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof, unless by the law of the land, or the judgment of his or her peers, except that the legislature may provide that there shall be no primary electionheld to nominate candidates for public office or to elect persons to party positions for any political party or parties in any unit of representation of the state from which such candidates or persons are nominated or elected whenever there is no contest or contests for such nominations or election as may be prescribed by general law.

What the Lord giveth, he taketh back. No one “shall be disfranchised” … except if the “law of the land” says he says he is, or his peers decide so. What meaning can such a “right” possibly have? That the election law prescribes that there shall be no primary elections when offices are not contested gives testimony to the corruption of the system. Uncontested elections are the rule. Why? What is wrong with the system that the same person gets returned to office, again and again?

Article I, Section 8:

All laws creating, regulating or affecting boards or officers charged with the duty of qualifying voters, or of distributing ballots to voters, or of  receiving, recording or counting votes at elections, shall secure equal representation of the two political parties which, at the general election next preceding that for which such boards or officers are to serve, cast the highest and the next highest number of votes. All such boards and officers shall be appointed or elected in such manner, and upon the nomination of such representatives of said parties respectively, as the legislature may direct.

Again, that mind-numbing legalese! Nowhere is there any mention of the fact that our system of elections is under the control of two political parties that are run in secrecy by some of the most venal, power hungry and morally bankrupt men in the country and that these two parties have this country and therefore the world in a death grip that is legitimized by the very election law that fails to even mention their existence.  The words “Democrats” or “Republicans” are never once mentioned.

Article 6 is entitled, “Designation and Nomination of candidates.” Section 6-102 declares, “Party nominations of candidates for the office of elector of president and vice president of the United States, one for each congressional district and two at large, shall be made by the state committee.“ This is simple prose that conceals more than it reveals. For herein is contained the key to our whole system of government, i.e. who gets to be in power and by what means. “Shall be made,” passive construction. Who is/are the agent/s? If we go back to the beginning here is what we learn.

In a nutshell

Article I, Section 104 is called, “Definitions.“ Here we get to the crux of the matter, sort of.

I, 1. “The term ‘political unit’ means the state or any political subdivision thereof or therein.” Clear enough.

I, 2. “The term ‘unit of representation’ means any political unit from which members of any committee or delegates to a party convention shall be elected as provided in this chapter.” Not so clear. You have to go to four years of law school to learn how to write this way. When language is obscure, it is because there is something to hide.

So it appears that a “unit of representation” is a committee, a committee at the county level would mean, I assume, voters who reside in a particular county and have organized themselves for purposes of “representation.” They “represent” their county, but in what context and for what purpose? Or else “unit of representation” can mean “delegates to a party convention.” Party convention is nowhere defined or given an official presence. And further “delegates” is in the plural. In what way does it constitute a “unit” of representation?

I, 3. “The term ‘party’ means any political organization which at the last preceding election for governor polled at least fifty thousand votes for its candidate for governor.” So “party” is a “political organization.” How constituted and under whose aegis, by what authority and for what purpose? No answer to these critical questions.

“Party” is defined by the fact that a certain “political organization” got a certain number of votes in a prior election. A more meaningful definition might read, “A political party is an organization formed for the purpose of gaining power for its members as a means to self-enrichment, and winning a position of influence in government as a means of realizing its particular political ideology.” Obviously this is not the kind of straight shooting one can expect to find in a system whose primary goal is to obscure its true purpose.

I, 6. “The term ‘committee’ means any committee chosen, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, to represent the members of a party in any political unit.” It would appear that a “committee” is a group of party members representing their party, represent for what purpose?

The whole megillah

I, 7. “The term ‘designation’ means any method in accordance with the provisions of this chapter by which candidates for party nomination for public office or for election to party position may be named for the purpose of any primary election.” Now this is it friends, the whole megillah, the whole nine yards, keg of beer or whatever you choose. The earth turns on its axis or fails to based on how we determine the “designation” of candidates.

Note the critical difference between “designation” and “nomination.” We, the sheeple of New York State, nominate the candidates by voting in primary elections. We determine who will hold office, don’t we? Not! We vote for candidates that are “designated,” i.e. chosen, by others, party bosses, operating in secrecy, using “any method” they choose. The key phrase is “may be named.” Named by whom, under what circumstances?

Thus it is that power brokers with no accountability to any public constituency have the real power, the only power that matters and they are bought and sold by the corporate interests who are hell bent on destroying our habitat for private gain. This is what we want to change.

Those who designate have the real power. All the rest is poppycock, balderdash, falderal. All those specifications, rules and regulations etc. are what is known as smoke and mirrors. The only thing that matters is how candidates are designated, by whom and under what circumstances and for what purpose.

I, 9. “The terms ‘primary’ or ‘primary election’ mean only the mandated election at which enrolled members of a party may vote for the purpose of nominating party candidates and electing party officers.” That is straight forward enough. It is straight forward because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t hide anything. The hiding has already taken place.

I, 24. “The term ‘major political parties’ means the two parties which polled for their respective candidates for the office of governor the highest and next highest number of votes at the last preceding election for such office.” Another critical definition. Under what circumstance and by whom was it decided that this country should be run by “two” “major political parties?” Why not three, or six?

I, 28. “The term ‘caucus’ shall mean an open meeting held in a political subdivision to nominate the candidates of a political party for public office to be elected in such subdivision at which all the enrolled voters of such party residing in such subdivision are eligible to vote.” Now here I am a bit confused. I thought the primary was the opportunity to nominate candidates. The “caucus” sounds like a means of “designating” rather than “nominating.” Perhaps the key phrase is “political subdivision,” meaning selecting candidates for local office, rather than statewide or national office. I am ready to be corrected.

Article 2 of the New York State Election Law is entitled, “Party Organization.” What is interesting about all of this is that no where in the Election Law that I can find is it ever declared: “State and national government shall be under the control of the two dominant political parties.” It is just assumed. The Election Law describes how the party shall function on the state and local level. It does not allow for the party’s existence, nor does it specifically empower the party to run the country, which it does. All of this is accomplished by slight of hand.

We learn how party committees are to be created, how party positions are to be filled, that parties are to set up rules of governance and procedures for removing a committee member. Section 124 of

Article 2 sets the rules for party names and emblems. We learn that

The name of a party shall be in the English language and shall not include the words ‘‘American’’, ‘‘United States’’, ‘‘National’’, ‘‘New York State’’, ‘‘Empire State’’, or any abbreviation thereof, nor the name or part of the name, or an abbreviation of the name, of an existing party. The emblem chosen may be a star, an animal, an anchor, or any other proper symbol, but may not be the same as or similar to any emblem, insignia, symbol or flag used by any political or governmental body, agency or entity nor any religious emblem, insignia, symbol or flag, nor the portrait of any person, nor the representation of a coin or of the currency of the United States. The name and emblem chosen shall not be similar to or likely to create confusion with the name or emblem of any other existing party or independent body.

Well, there you have it. If you are thinking of setting up a “major political party,” you should be aware that donkey and elephant are already taken and therefor off limits. What about dinosaur, or a viper of some kind?

Change

Change is scary. Not changing is terrifying. The United States, the World, cannot continue on their current trajectory if survival is the goal. Our only hope is government transformation. And it is quite possible. Those who scream the loudest about change being impossible are usually those who have something to lose when change takes place. Change is constant. It is inevitable. The only questions are what change will take place and who will direct it. Russell Brand’s inimitable reply to those who say, “the system is not perfect, but it is the best we can do:” ”It’s fucked,” he says, “and it’s fucking us, and it’s obsolete.”

Politics is about power. Government is people in power. Change who gets into power and how they get there and you have changed government. “The change you speak of is not possible. They are in our way.” It is not they who are in our way. It is we who are in our way. “We are like a swarm of battered spouses,” says Brand, “unable to believe that a better world is out there, because we’re cowering and flinching and reaching out for stinking trinkets.” Once we understand that we are the problem, we are more than half way towards our goal. “Quickly you realize that your job is to negotiate with your own ego.”

As Brand points out, the power elite have complete control.

They own both the teams that are competing, the stadium they play, the grass they play on, and we’re the ball they’re kicking around. They have removed all possibility for reform or redirection within the system; the change must come from us. Our only hope of survival is to overthrow their structures and take our power back.

The good news is that we have found our Archimedean lever that will change who owns what, the lever that will move the earth, and moving the earth is rather easy once you have your lever. Our lever is sortition. Instead of party bosses horse trading away our future, we use sortition. Candidates are designated to run for higher office — President, Vice President, Senate and the House of Representatives — based on random selection, that is to say a system based in political equality, a system free from bullying and corruption. Here is how it would work.

Phase I: Our first intervention will be at the state level. There will be an amendment to the Election Law substituting sortition for party caucus. It can read as follows:

Citizens will be designated to run for higher office — Representative, Senator, Vice President, and President — by means of sortition, overseen by a randomly selected jury of five hundred. Candidates interested in running for these offices will submit their names a year in advance. Juries and submissions will be statewide for Senator and President. Juries and submissions for the House of Representatives will be drawn from their respective, local election districts.

The jury of five hundred will create a standardized application form and vet the submitted applications. Six names will be randomly drawn from the pool of accepted applicants for each office. These selected candidates will be vetted and interviewed by the jury of five hundred. If a majority of the jury deems a candidate unacceptable, his/her name will be withdrawn and there will be a new sortition to determine a replacement. The final six names will constitute the ballot entries for the national election. This sortition process will be repeated at the end of each completed term in office and will be overseen by a new, randomly selected jury.

Well, how does it sound, scary, interesting, challenging, reckless? Randomness might seem a risky way to choose our national leaders. But remember that there will be a jury of five hundred overseeing the process and weeding out those who might be inappropriate. You might argue that this is rank amateurism, which it is. Amateurs, that is to say real people, grounded in social reality, who understand what it means to hold the public trust and honor it, will be a welcome relief from the crooked politicians who have had control over our destiny for the past century or two.

And once the candidates have been designated by sortition, there will be an election. The voters will have a voice. There will be six candidates to choose from. There will be a wider range of choice than our current system provides. Debates and discussions will be more intelligent and substantive. Most of the candidates will be unknown. They will make themselves known by saying something that is of value to the electorate.

Benefits of sortition

There are certain very significant advantages to this way of selecting our candidates. There are no backroom deals, favoring those with allegiance to power and big money. The citizenry at large, in all its diversity, is drawn on as a resource. There would be a dramatic reduction in corruption and corporate influence. Some people would be bought up, most not.

And further, there will be rotation in office. No longer will there be no contest “elections” where the same politicians hold office for decades, build a power base from which to enrich themselves and their buddies at the expense of the common good. There will be a continual turnover of office holders, giving citizens with new ideas and world outlooks a voice in government. Such a selection of representatives will be a lot more likely to take peace and ecology as serious issues in need of rational responses.

Candidates can choose to affiliate themselves with one of the major parties, or they can choose to remain independent. But either way, party influence will be dramatically reduced. And that is a good thing. Political parties as currently constituted are not much different from gangs. And elections are not much difference from gang warfare in suit and tie. There is no tactic that is too low or ruthless. Human life and social welfare are not on the agenda. It is all about power and ascendancy.

Power to the idiots

So why not do away with gang warfare and use sortition to select our candidates for higher office? “Power to the idiots!,” you say. “A capitol full of clowns and cretins,” you say. “We need experts in charge. People who know what they are doing.” “A capitol full of clowns and cretins” is what we now have. The clowns and cretins are leading us into the abyss, destroying resources natural and human, decimating our ecology, killing innocents around the world and are now turning our cities into military playgrounds.

Experts at what? Secrecy, lying, manipulation, self-enrichment, war mongering? Much of the time our elected representatives don’t even read the bills they sign. They have staffers who do that for them. They are expert at getting elected and siphoning public monies to private purpose, not much else.

The primary issue is one of values, not expertise. We need people with values that favor social justice, community living and a vibrant eco-system. We need experts who are experts at being human in the highest sense of that word, who prefer peace to war, who prefer an apple orchard in blossom to a blackened battlefield strewn with corpses. We need people who have nothing to hide, people who speak the truth.

And that is right dear reader, you, I or your next door neighbor might some day become President of the United States. And that is the way it should be. Real people, with real stakes in the game should be in charge, not corporate sponsored celebrity superstars with billion dollar campaign chests. I will not stoop to mention the many embarrassments who have become President. Anyone of us could obviously do better.

We use sortition to run our court system. Jurors are called upon to review complicated matters where life and liberty are on the line. We entrust this important responsibility to a random selection of twelve of our citizenry. Why can’t we use a random selection of 500 of our citizenry to oversee who runs our government? Aristotle believed that each citizen was endowed with civic virtue, the ability to distinguish right from wrong and administer justice. For him the issue was not knowledge, as it was with Socrates, but rather character and judgment.

But our sortition does not change us from an oligarchy into a democracy. Any time we have a few hundred representatives speaking for hundreds of millions, we have oligarchy by definition. However, our new oligarchy will be vastly superior to the one we have. It will be an oligarchy that has a human face to it, an oligarchy that is responsive to its constituency and the common good.
State governments will be willing to come along because the change we speak of is being applied to national elections only, not state and local elections. Sortition will result in a redistribution of power. Power at the center will be weakened, resulting in an increase of power at the local level.

Phase II

After we have become accustomed to selecting our candidates for higher office by sortition, after we have witnessed the benefits of opening the doors to new talent and ideas, after we have witnessed the reduction in corruption and ruthless disregard for the common weal, we might well be in the mood to do away with elections all together. They are a charade, and even under the best of circumstances entail manipulation and deception. Gaining office becomes a goal in itself and one does what one has to get there. Candidates are set up to make promises they can’t keep and voters are set up to believe candidates whom they know are lying.

If we decide to eliminate elections altogether at the national level and rely exclusively on sortition to select our national leaders then we will have to amend the constitution. An amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. Once we have a new set of office holders in the capital, where there is a constant rotation in office, and no vested interest in holding onto power, Congress might be amenable to eliminating elections and using sortition for selecting office holders. In the event that there is resistance, there is always the state route to pursue.

This change to our system of governance will not be achieved by badgering some passersby with petitions or by a blitz of TV ads. It will be achieved by a multitude of face to face small group gatherings where people become engaged in an exchange of ideas, have the opportunity to think out loud on critical matters and become involved in the struggle for political justice. People who truly understand what is wrong with the current system and become aware of what can be done to fix it will take action.

In Chapter 11 of Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained: The True Meaning of Democracy I discuss the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776. The people of Pennsylvania were unhappy with the way their leaders were responding to political crisis. They gathered by the thousands in the State House courtyard and set up a shadow government that eventually replaced the existing government, thus instituting the most democratic government this country has ever known.

The early phase of the French Revolution offers a similar example. On May 5, 1789, king Louis XVI called a meeting of the Estates-General. Traditionally, the three estates — the clergy, the nobility, and the commons — had met separately. This time the commons insisted that all three meet together and invited the clergy and the nobility to join them. The nobility and the clergy declined, and so the commons (the 99%) met on their own and debated.

The commons continued to meet on their own and by June 17 had given themselves the title “National Assembly” and had begun to draft a constitution. Shut out of their regular meeting place by the king, they met at a new location and took an oath not to adjourn until they had completed their constitution. The king ordered them to abandon the project. With relatively few histrionics, they persisted. Soon they were joined by the clergy, then the nobility. On June 27, Louis himself wrote formally requesting the two upper houses to merge with the lower to form a National Assembly.

After July 9, 1789, the Assembly became known as the National Constituent Assembly and continued in its deliberations despite opposition from the king. As of July 14, 1789, it became the effective government of France. On September 3, 1791, after two years of deliberation, the Assembly adopted France’s first written constitution.

There is no reason why we can’t emulate these important examples from history. It will take a lot of us. If three thousand people think sortition is an interesting idea and let it drop, then obviously nothing new happens. If each of the same three thousand passes it on to five people and those five pass it on to another five, the outcome, according to my online permutation calculator is 242,190,944,550,072,000. I think this number reads 242 quadrillion, 190 trillion, 944 billion, 550 million, 72 thousand. That ought to do it.

P.S. With our new government in place there will be an American Renaissance. We will once again be proud to be American and once again we will be an inspiration to countries around the world hungry for new ideas.

Arthur D. Robbins is the author of, ”PARADISE LOST, PARADISE REGAINED: THE TRUE MEANING OF DEMOCRACY” referred to by Ralph Nader as, “An eye- opening, earth-shaking book . . . a fresh, torrential shower of revealing insights and vibrant lessons . . .” and the e-book based on Part II of ”PARADISE LOST” entitled, ”DEMOCRACY DENIED: THE UNTOLD STORY.” To learn more visit acropolis-newyork.com

Sources

Benjamin Barber, Strong Democracy
Russell Brand, Revolution
James and Kenneth Collier, Votescam
Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol. 1
William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and Its Influence on Morals and Happiness
Ramachandra Guha, India After Gandhi
Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class
David Van Reybrouck, Against Elections

Breaking Out of the Invisible Prison: The Ten-Point Global Paradigm Revolution

By Prof. John McMurtry
February 25, 2015
Socialist Project

 

bankster-chessAs we enter 2015, the global corporate system deepens and spreads in its eco-genocidal effects. But the dots are not joined in their common cause across domains. Money-value coordinates like gross domestic product (GDP), commodity productivity and stock market indexes are still adopted as the measures of “economic performance” rather than life capital development which is systemically depredated.

More than any prior stage of history, we know not what we are doing at the macro level of life organization, nor why no uptick of American sales can remotely solve the problem of collapsing social and natural life support systems. Greece – the world’s emblem of the sacrifice of society to bank debt servicing – is now 45 per cent more in debt than it was before the “austerity” programs started. Global social and ecological collapse proceed in lock-step with predatory corporate and bank globalization, but the connection is taboo to examine.

Fatal mind blocks now rule that no economists see from within received models of understanding, and that no cognitive science lays bare. Unconnected spectacles of crisis are alone reported. Obviously, no recovery from the most wasteful and destructive economic disorder in history is possible so long as it is unseen. This is why we continue over the long cliff of catastrophe without an evident clue of what is happening at the macro level. As another new year opens with all degenerate trends deepening, a point-by-point resetting of our economic parameters to life reality is more than ever demanded. The fatally absurd economic box within which we have been conditioned to conform at a preconscious level remains life-blind at every step without knowledge of it.

Every one of the 10 points of re-framing the economy to life coherence is self-evident once seen. But every step is also revolutionary in paradigm shift from money-capital sequence to life-capital sequence as primary system decider. Once our thought is freed from the bars of the eco-genocidal disorder that now misrules, no step can be reasonably denied.

1. The One-Way Eco-Genocidal Trends

The evidence is now overwhelming that life on earth is in systematic decline toward collapse on all levels. But the meaning is nowhere recognized by any economic model. We have come to know that the climates destabilize to ever greater extremes, but do not connect this long denied reality to the deeper macro facts that the air, soil, forests and water sources are all cumulatively despoiled across the planet as the oceans themselves die back. Vertebrate species simultaneously become extinct at a spasm rate across cultures and continents, but no macro policy arrests their one-way collapse from song birds to coral reefs to pollinators to large animals all at once. Pollution cycles and volumes increase to endanger life systems at all levels, but no global system reduction has been made since the Ozone protocol over 25 years ago.

All the while, public sectors, services and regulators are defunded and dismantled to leave ever more tens of millions of people dispossessed, but tax evasion by the rich multiplies at the same time in one-way disastrous trend. The global food system produces more disabling and contaminated junk than it does food with nutritional value, while man-made non-contagious diseases from obesity to cancer escalate into the world’s biggest killer. Corporate state wars for the resources of the majority world never stop under false pretexts, while transnational corporate-rights treaties to the life capital (means of life that can produce more means of life without loss and cumulative gain) of all societies multiply at the same time. At the core of the system, the global financial system ceases to function for productive investment in life goods, while the future of the next generations collapses toward 25-50 per cent real unemployment, and a world where no birds sing. Yet nowhere is the common cause investigated or even conceived in the business press, education or high theory.

2. The Moral DNA of the Cancer Stage of Capitalism

In fact, the underlying value code driving every degenerate trend is never defined. It is, rather, assumed without question or examination and se

t into mathematical disconnect as the sole meaning of economic inquiry. Bertrand Russell’s warning here is apposite. “Mathematics may be defined as the subject where we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we say is true.” The co-author of Principia Mathemtica thus nailed “neo-classical economics” over a century ago. Yet no-one knew what it would come to mean. An academically coded corporate rule in a completely life-blind “Economics” was instituted with its assumption drivers hidden in symbols and closed to disconfirmation by facts. Behind all the self-referential hocus-pocus incapable of predicting its predictable disasters, a ruling value code crystallized to drive the world to ruin with no-one knowing why. This moral DNA of globalization regulates beneath consciousness by four absolute equations assumed in every moment of what is now still masked as “the neoliberal turn.”

Rationality = Self-Maximizing Choice
= Always More Money-Value for Self is Good
= Self-Multiplying Sequences of Ever More Money to the Top Under 1%
= the Ruling Growth System with No Committed Life Functions
= All Else is Disposable Means to this Multiplying Pathogenic Growth

One can test this ruling moral meta program on every degenerate trend. But because it is not seen, the greatest of all fatal confusions comes to be built into societies’ ruling meaning: that money-sequence growth = life value growth. No more malignant mutation of value and meaning has ever occurred. As on the micro level where the surrounding cell community does not recognise the multiplying gross cells eating the life-host alive, so too on the macro social level. Leading the mutant tides of hollowing-out dispossession and ruin of social and ecological life hosts is a private bank system creating tidal notes of bets, credit and debt without legal tender, and partnering with transnational corporations in predation of local economies across the world. It loots life and life bases as ‘necessary reforms’ everywhere it is allowed to move.

This is why there is not inflation while trillions of new dollars are printed for private banking operations with no life productive function. Endless slashing of life goods in wages, benefits, social security and environmental security take corresponding tides of money demand away from people’s lives and life support systems as money-demand powers multiply to the non-producing top. One can track back every step to the ruling value code at work that is taboo to see.

3. Contemporary Economics is a Pseudo-Science

None of this can be seen by ‘Economics’ because it is a pseudo-science. Its ruling categories are disconnected from reality with no life coordinates, and its defining postulates are unfalsifiable by any facts of the world. All organic, social and ecological life requirements are assumed away a-priori. Infinite demand on finite resources is presupposed as sustainable. Reversibility of all processes is taken for granted in a nineteenth-century liquid mechanics model. Consequences follow in the long run that are predictably fatal to human and planetary life organization.

Yet whatever does not fit this a-priori life-blind construction is heretical in graduate schools supplying economic advisers to governments and corporations, and taboo in the corporate press and media to the extent of its contradiction. It is not only a mechanical model, but is absurdly “freedom” and “well-being” at the same time. Whatever deviates from it, conversely, is “irrational” or “despotic.” At the system-wide level of ruling story, the plot is universal for all societies. Purely self-maximizing atomic selves in the market are believed to necessitate the best of possible worlds by an invisible hand of competition ensuring lowest money costs. Life costs do not compute, and “economic growth” is consistent with destroying all life support systems.

We find here, in fact, the underlying form of a fanatic religion. Supra-human laws dictate commands across peoples, and no deadly consequences diminish certitude in its production of the optimal state for all by the perfect design of the system. With the supreme conceit of a just-so story of dyadic market exchange producing the best of possible worlds multiplied to infinity with no possibility of being wrong, we find the inner logic of the global disorder. It rules as a totalitarian creed blind to all but its own growth free of any life value, standard or regulator.

4. Knowledge Wins in the End, but Not Until It is Known

Societies have thus been everywhere ‘restructured’ as subordinate functions to the inexorable transformation of humanity and the world into ever more private commodities and profits. This mutant value system is malignant to the marrow with no consciousness of its derangement or ill consequences. It is taboo to recognize what is everywhere confirmed – deregulated borderless money sequences multiplying themselves by life-blind models, treaties and wars through all that exists on earth whatever their destruction of human and ecological life systems.

Alarm at the growing deadly symptoms increases across thoughtful people, but without decoding connection. Top-down embargo on any other economic view or reality – including by NATO wars – suppresses alternative at every level. Policies of ‘solution’ only extend the pathogenic system further. Even as the reversal of life evolution on earth becomes undeniable under the global rule of private money-sequence multiplication, life-coherent restructuring is anathema and prohibited a-priori by the unexamined value system. It all seems hopeless, but knowledge wins in the end if not suffocated. Behind every step of degeneration lie failures of social knowledge:

(1) failure to diagnose the regulating value mechanism at work;

(2) failure to connect across the domains of life despoliation as predictable from the system’s blind money-demand multiplications;

(3) failure to define or demand any public policies against its despoiling and devouring life support systems with the public increasingly financing the out-of-control feeding cycles;

(4) failure to recognise any life-value principle or ground of the real economy itself.

5. Re-Grounding in Real Capital and Goods, True Supply and Demand

The failure to recognise the life ground and processes of “the economy” is built into the ruling paradigm in principle. As in the prior ruling religion, disconnection of categories and system from empirical reality and life needs rules out disbelief. But disconnect is in the name of “science” and “the invisible hand” rather than “God’s commands” and “divine design.” Adam Smith the founder of modern economics was a Deist, but doctrinal abdication of life ground and reality became totalized in so-called “neo-classical economics” which displaces the class divisions of classical economics and the possibility of any alternative social order.

Thus an absurd metaphysics comes to rule which cannot be decoded because its first principles and axioms are a-priori dictates not subject to critical examination. The first principle of this life-blind economics begins by disconnection from all life requirements, grounds and needs – thus mutating the economy’s provision of otherwise scarce material life goods into an opposite meaning where life goods and life capital do not exist. Capital is assumed as private money-sequences multiplying themselves with life capital blinkered out. Private commodities are assumed to be ‘goods’ although they are in fact increasingly bads for organic, social and ecological life hosts.

The ‘laws of supply and demand’ are simultaneously reduced to self-maximizing private money exchanges indifferent to the real economy of providing life goods otherwise in short supply. Demand is not need or necessity as in any real economy. It is money demand minted by private banks without the legal tender to back over 97 per cent of it: which is ever more unequally held by those serving no productive function, and which nowhere today stands for any life need whatever. The fatal metaphysic built into first principles does not end here. ‘Supply’ is not the life goods people need to survive and flourish, but increasingly the opposite – ever more priced commodities for profit now promoting ever more human and ecological ill-being across the world. Capital is not life wealth that can produce more life wealth without loss, but increasing transnational private money sequences hollowing out life capital on every plane.

6. Knowing Good from Bad as the Baseline of Life-Coherent Economics

At the normative level of this doctrine, a ludicrous and fatal doctrine of freedom rules the war and peace of nations beneath consciousness of it. Freedom = freedom for private money demand only = in proportion to the amount controlled = ever less freedom for those with less of it = no right to life for those without it.

Sane people, in contrast, recognise that life value matters more, the more coherently inclusive in self and world the better. But this ultimately self-evident value ground has been reversed without recognition. People called ‘pro-life’ usurp women’s choice of how they live. Nations assume that ‘standard of living’ is measured by private money spent. ‘Life sciences’ sacrifice billions of animal lives a year for the private money-sequence gains of big corporations. Animal rights theory itself has no criterion to tell the life value of a slug from a person. ‘New and better technology’ is the ruling panacea, but no life-value standard exists to decide better from worse.

What then are we to ground in as life value that the real economy must provide? The objective standard and measure can be stated in three incisive steps:

    1. all value whatever is life value,
    2. good versus bad equals the extent to which life is more coherently enabled versus disabled, by
    3. greater/lesser ranges or capacities of thought, felt being and action through time.

This criterion of life value is no more a matter of opinion than people’s life necessities are. But what are these life needs that no economic paradigm – orthodox or revolutionary – defines? They are in every case that without which life capacities are reduced. Life capital, in turn, is that which produces and reproduces these life goods – from literacy and extending knowledge to the soil we grow in and air we breathe. The ruling value mechanism miscalled ‘the global economy’ is the opposite. It attacks life goods and capital everywhere as ‘externalities’ to its self-multiplying money-sequence and commodity cycles. But because such growth is assumed to be growing life value, the greatest value reversal in history is unseen.

7. Life Capital Base and Growth as the Real Economy Across Cultures

The moving line of the war of liberation begins with what we are able to control, our own lives. Here we can recognise that every value we enjoy, lose or gain has a bottom line – its life capital, that is, the life wealth that produces more life wealth without loss and with cumulative gain. We defend it by life goods to ensure our life capacities are not reduced but grow through time. Most are unpriced – the sun and air, the learning, the home environment, the delight in nature, the play, the love, the raising of children, the fellow arts, and so on. On the social level, the same holds and any well-governed society provides for them in many ways. All may recognise the principle of life capital in their own lives as self-evident, and that all which lasts through time that is worthwhile is life capital. But life capital does not exist as a concept in received economics. It is ruled out a-priori by money capital, the social instrument made the lord without life function.

Addictive internalization is how the system disorder grows on. Knowledge of life goods and bads is how it is rooted out, the unrecognised through-line of human evolution. That is why we find we live far better without corporate-ad television, regular private gas-vehicle use, any junk food or beverage, any throwaway item, any new fashion or commodity not more life enabling than the old, any business with big private banks. The organizing principle is as old as the good life, but is forgotten. The life-capital code is not stated, but becomes ever clearer in our time: minimize market demand that disables life capacities to enable life capital to grow and flourish. This principle is unthinkable within the ruling thought system, but defines transformation to true economy and life emancipation on earth. It liberates life wherever it moves.

The underlying turning point is as old as human evolution itself. Every human advance is by knowing what enables life through time from what does not.Collective life advance is transmitting this life-and-death knowledge across selves and generations. The life capital code holds across cultures. Life goods are always that without which life capacities decline and die. All real needs, all real demand, all real supply, and all real economics are known by this criterion. The lost line between good and evil is found in this principle, and so too human freedom and well-being.

We can define the meaning more concretely as follows Every human life suffers and degenerates toward disease and death without breathable and unpolluted air, clean water and waste cycles, nourishing food and drink, protective living space, supportive love, healthcare when needed, a life-coherent environment, symbolic interaction, and meaningful work to perform. All are measurable in sufficiency across cases. All are now degraded, polluted or perverted by the self-multiplying money-capital system defined above.

8. Collective Life Capital the Missing Link across Divisions

Collective life capital is the long-missing principle of the common interest and collective agency. The life capital code goes deeper than gender, culture or individual differences, and includes past as well as future generations by definition. It is objective, impartial, and universally applicable. It is the ultimate regulator of the economic principles of efficiency, productivity and development. It grounds political legitimacy and supersedes ruinous man-nature, economy-environment splits and individual-social conflicts of interest. By its regulation, freedom is made responsible to its own conditions of possibility. Life capital defines an inner logic of life value which cannot in principle go wrong within or beyond economics.

Collective life capital is the missing common ground and measure across the lines of death itself. It is the this-worldly bridging concept across the impasse of global culture wars, economy-versus – environment thinking, present-versus-future interests, male versus female conflicts, and all other warring dichotomies wrenching us from our shared life ground beneath property lines and the mors immortalis of reality on earth.

The difference from received ultimate principles of value across time and theories is in the objective precision of meaning and direction when value judgement and decision are governed by its laws of:

    1. life value regulator from start to finish,
    2. production of more life value capacity through generational time,
    3. life-value measure to tell greater from lesser in any domain by margins of capacity loss or gain,
    4. cumulative life gain as the organizing goal of the process throughout, and
    5. the meta principle: the more coherently inclusive any decision or action is in enabling life capacities, the better it always is for the world.

9. The Life-and-Death War of the World

In fact, the global corporate commodity and money-sequence system usurps these life capital principles with impunity across continents, while captive corporate states increasingly subsidize, de-regulate, privatize and militarily enforce this life-blind rule over all ecological and human requirements and rights.But who sees the moving lines of the global life-and-death war?

Obviously a real economy would regulate for life capital conservation and advance with money sequences only as means – as is already is the case in a human way of life. Societies and individuals would transform to better lives if the paradigm revolution was enacted in their spheres of choice. Victory or loss in the war of the world lies as always in how we live. Knowledge of bads versus goods is always the inner logic of human evolution at individual and collective levels of action. It is the mark of being human, and begins in what we do not demand – for example, any new fashion or commodity not more life enabling than the old or the used.

The organizing principle of real economy is long anticipated by China’s Tao-te Ching and the West’s autarkia of human self-realization, and many prove it in their own lives. Minimal demand on short resources to enable maximum life capacities is the war of recovery on social as well as individual levels. While every corporate state now presses for ever more energy extraction and use with no limit of public and life costs at every imaginable level, the root of economic rationality – ration to need – is effectively taboo in official culture.

Once the life-capital system decider kicks in, the rules of selection for what compossibly enables rather than disables human and fellow life on earth become evident to reason and learning from mistakes – the ultimate incapacity of the now ruling global system. This is the transformation to true economy and life emancipation, and it can only proceed in accord with the life capital principle that holds across individual, social and environmental life hosts.

10. The Ultimate Choice Space of Humanity

Collective life capital is now fatally endangered on almost every plane across generational and ecological time. The common life interest has no meaning in the ruling global system because its sole law of growth is to multiply the very private commodities and money sequences without life function that mindlessly drive the end-game world disorder.

It follows that humanity’s very provision for the universal human life necessities that have evolved over millennia are blinkered out by the life-blind value measures of what is miscalled ‘the economy.’ Everything that makes a society civilized or liveable is excluded from view – life-protective laws including sufficient minimum wages and environmental regulations, common water and sewage systems for all, free movement pathways and life spaces without cost to use, non-profit healthcare and disease-prevention by public institution, public income security from disemployment, old age and disability, primary to higher education without multiplying debts, family housing, food and life means assistance for children without sufficient parental money, and public libraries and arts facilities with accessible books, films and works of art and art creation. This is more or less a complete index of the collective life capital bases modern society has evolved, but all are dismantled by the global corporate disorder to maximally profit from.

In truth, the organizing principles of common life interest and human agency cross the lines of death itself in the life capital code of value that steers any real economy in any place through generational time. It is the system-deciding choice all societies face without knowing it. History is the record of successes and failures at what still remains unconscious in economic thought. It is nowhere defined beyond slogan even in communism, and ‘the public interest’ has no life coordinates or ground in known modern politics across the spectrum. Yet life goods and life capital denote the only true economic necessity and growth – that without which human life capacities degrade and die. ‘The economy’ is not run by natural or divine laws, as the modern paradigm assumes. It is a social construction of binding rules which directs toward how we live better by what is not otherwise there.

The ruling value code fails more momentously in world waste and destruction than all other systems in history, but beneath recognition. Its built-in contempt for all life requirements and indifference to life ruin multiplies its demands across the planet in a fanaticism beyond ISIL in attacking life capital and goods with no committed life functions. Yet no economics yet allows the recognition of its predictably rising catastrophe through time as a global economic system.

The life capital economy is opposite in its regulating value logic. It grounds in common life capital and produces more of it by life measure as its goal and moral science. Its logic of value is not utopian, but the ultimate through-line of human development since language and cooperative provision of human means of life. It lives in all the civil commons we are made human by in the life security of a free humanity. It is invaded wherever its life capital and goods are turned into more private money demand, resource depletion and waste without limits – the moral cancer of the ruling system. The ultimate choice space of humanity and society lies in this unrecognised life and death meaning. •

John McMurtry is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and his work is published and translated from Latin America to Japan. He is the author and editor of the three-volume Philosophy and World Problems published by UNESCO’s Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), and his latest book is The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: from Crisis to Cure.

Sexual Assault in the U.S. Military

More Rapists Attend the Air Force Academy Than Any Other College In America

By Joachim Hagopian
February 14, 2015
Global Research

 

ALLIED FORCEThe annual sexual assault report from the Pentagon was just released for the service academies during the 2013-14 academic year. Headlines across the nation are currently making a big deal about how the academies’ numbers are so much lower than in previous years and how they can become a template model now for how civilian college campuses can improve their assault numbers. But before we congratulate the military for its discipline in overcoming rape as an out of control disgrace, so vastly improving their gender relations and good manners amongst our nation’s cream of the crop, a closer look beyond the current smoke and mirrors is necessary to accurately assess this highly important issue.

In recent years a parallel process has been alarmingly observed of a sexual crime epidemic on both civilian college campuses as well as at the service academies and armed forces in general. Sexual assault in the military jumped off the daily headline pages for an entire year during 2013 when it was revealed that an unprecedented number totaling over 26,000 incidents of unwanted sexual contact was reported by service men and women in an anonymous survey taken in 2012. Meanwhile, every week another high profile officer often in charge of reducing assaults was being investigated and charged himself. The heavily covered cases of star football players at both the Air Force and Naval Academies proved that rape was an across the board problem up and down the ranks in all the services. Then based on information made available last year during this same period from 2010-2012 in a federal report mandated by law, last July the Washington Post published an official record of reported sexual assaults on all of America’s 1570 college campuses with an enrollment over 1000 students that indicated an equally disturbing spike of unprecedented numbers. The frequency of forcible sexual offenses in 2012 on college campuses jumped 50% in just three years.

Interestingly enough, the list from the Washington Post fails to include the assault statistics at the US Military Academy at West Point, the US Naval Academy at Annapolis and the US Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs. Instead, the Pentagon compiles those numbers and releases them separately. However, if the academy assaults are compared directly with the assault records at civilian schools, America’s best and brightest at our most honored institutions might be housing more rapists than any other colleges in the nation. When those numbers are included as they should be, by far the Air Force Academy has more rapists on campus than any other college in the country. Over the same three year period it accumulated 130 forcible assault cases to the next highest in the nation at 84 at Penn State University, over one and a half times greater. The final year 2012 was upwardly skewed at Penn State because that was the year the assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was indicted for sexually abusing young boys on campus and the entire school was enflamed in a media circus scandal lasting more than a year. Harvard University logged in 83 cases, only one less than Penn State over the three year period.

The next highest civilian college was University of Michigan at 64, then Ohio State at 61, University of California at Davis at 60, followed by Stanford University at 59. Indiana University reported 54, University of North Carolina and Emory University in Atlanta were tied at 52, then the US Naval Academy and the University of New Hampshire at 50. My alma mater West Point between 2010-2012 reported only 35 cases to Air Force Academy’s 130.

Another important consideration is the size of the student enrollment. Penn State and Harvard reported 56 and 31 cases in 2012 with student sizes of near 46,000 and over 28,000 respectively. The Air Force Academy reported 130 with a cadet enrollment of just under 4,000. Thus per 1000 students, at Penn State only 1.22 reported rape and Harvard 1.1 person out of 1000 was assaulted. Meanwhile, at the US rape capital the Air Force Academy, 11.27 rapes were reported for every 1000 cadets. Thus a much larger percentage of the student population at the United States Air Force Academy experienced sexual assault than at any other university in America. Only one civilian school has a near equal per capita rape incidence and that’s Gallaudet University in northeastern Washington DC. However when the per capita over the three year period is considered, near 2 more rapes per 1000 occurred each year at the Air Force Academy than Gallaudet. Other colleges with high incidence of rape per student population were such small private, prestigious liberal arts schools as Grinnell College in Iowa at more than 10 per 1000, Reed College and Amherst College at over 9, Hampshire College at more than 8 and Swarthmore at more than 7. The per capita numbers at Annapolis in 2012 was 3.31 (3.68 for the three years) and West Point 2.18 (2.54 over the three year period). Thus again both other academies have far fewer assaults than the notorious Air Force Academy.

One more factor bears consideration. Upwards of 45% of the 1570 colleges reported zero incidents of rape on their campus. Experts state that this gross under-reporting strongly indicates that many assaults never get reported and that those that are reported never go on record as they simply get dismissed, conveniently swept under the rug as if rape never happened. Because some corrupt school administrations place their reputation and alumni endowments over the well-being of their female students, a gross miscarriage of justice is an all too common result. It is not infrequent that a wealthy father pays to have his perpetrator son go unpunished at exclusive private elitist institutions.

On the other hand, some of the universities reporting higher incidents of sexual assault emphasize the importance of coming forth to the authorities and have support programs in place that would prompt more victims to disclose. The increased numbers in recent years at the service academies have largely been explained away by administrations’ contention that more victims are willing to file claims nowadays, not that actual rates of sexual violence are rising. Yet there is no empirical evidence to refute that higher reporting rates don’t reflect higher incidence.

Turning to the just released record for the academic year 2013-2014, which was not included in the civilian university records released last July that only went up to 2012, the Air Force Academy had 27 reported sexual assaults, the Naval Academy 23 and West Point 11. That total of 61 was down from last year at 70, and the peak year of 2011-2012 at 80. So from assessing these combined numbers decreasing over the last couple years, the Pentagon would have us believe that the academies’ sensitivity training and heightened awareness to policing sexual misconduct within its ranks are proving to be highly effective. But again Annapolis number went up this last year from 15 to 23, a jump of 35% and even West Point went up from 10 to 11. The only reason the total dropped at all was the soaring Air Force rate was lowered from 45 to 27 last year. With two of the three service academies’ total number of incidents still rising, a case can hardly be made that the rape situation is improving at all. It’s just that the worst offender that’s still the worst offender of the three has lowered its reported assaults enough to make it appear that gender relations are becoming more civil at the academies. But again comparing records alongside civilian universities, the Air Force Academy appears to be the most dangerous school for women in the country. Placing the Naval Academy’s 23 assaults in with the last available year amongst civilian colleges, only Penn State, Harvard and Michigan that include far higher enrollments had more rapes.

Additionally, one in ten female cadets at the Air force Academy claim that they have been sexually harassed. Veterans Today managing editor and columnist Jim W. Dean in an interview on Thursday with Press TV stated, “Sexual harassment against US Air Force Academy’s female cadets is indicative of leadership failure in the Air Force.” Even hiring the first female superintendent in academy history more than a year ago seems to be making little difference at the Air Force Academy that has long been most plagued with this glaring blight of entrenched sexual assault and harassment.

As if to gloss over any signs showing lack of progress, the Pentagon claims that the percentage of anonymous survey respondents at the service academies reporting unwanted sexual contact has diminished in the last year from 12.4% of female cadets in 2012-13 to 8% and amongst male cadets from 2% to 1%. Of course the US military is determined to keep status quo with sexual assault cases being kept in the chain of command rather than be taken out of military jurisdiction and placed in civilian courts. Thus, there is both equally enormous amounts of pressure and motivation to ensure that all these latest statistics reflect much needed improvement. Having been a cadet and officer, and observed both the military and government consistently lie and be extremely deceptive over the years, forgive me for not being so won over by the Pentagon’s rather rosy, overly optimistic report.

The military’s good ol’ boys club has always been very long on tradition and the academies are known bastions of the most rigid traditions. Less than a year ago the Senate voted against changing adjudication of sexual assault over to civilian courts, falling short of the needed 60 by just five votes. At the exact same hour the good ol’ boys in the Capitol building were pushing back any chance of change, the Pentagon was forced to announce that the lead prosecuting officer in charge of reducing sexual misconduct in the Army was himself being investigated for sexually groping and trying to kiss a female lawyer who worked under him. The Air Force counterpart a few months earlier was also facing misconduct charges. Historically no real substantive change has occurred in the military.

No more than a couple weeks after that major setback for women in the armed forces came two more shocking announcements on the very same day. General Sinclair accused of sexual assault was given a slap on the hand fine and allowed to retire with an honorable discharge pension despite at two grades lower and the highest profile case in academy history at Annapolis was granted an acquittal. These decisions in March 2014 only reinforced perception that nothing really is changing in the military and that the chauvinistic old-school attitude toward the “weaker sex” still prevails. The culture of rape and disrespect that has been a fixture appears unchanged despite all the hype that the armed forces are actually doing something to eradicate the epidemic.

About a year ago a report leveling heavy criticism particularly toward athletes at the service academies demonstrate blatant disrespect and contempt towards women. Denigrating emails had resulted in the disbanding of the West Point rugby team. The report also stated that this prevailing culture of rape and disrespect had female cadets feeling that reporting misconduct was an exercise in futility and that justice would never be served because academy officials remained largely unresponsive. Additionally, those women cadets who complained are typically singled out by male peers for even further harassment, ridicule and retaliation.

This year’s just released Pentagon report on Wednesday alluded to little to no change in this regard, disclosing that nearly half the victims of unwanted sexual contact at 40% believed they experienced retaliation by either superiors or peers. This dismal finding is reflective of how women in the armed forces across the boards at over 60% regularly experience a backlash of hate and harassment after reporting sexual misconduct. The stigma that has posed the most serious barrier to incidents getting reported in the past is still operating. Because the hierarchical power of differential rank is so fixed in the armed forces, a persistently common problem has been when higher ranking perpetrators sexually assault subordinates. This retaliatory backlash indicates that no actual change is occurring and that the traditional denigration of women that has always been embedded in the services still persists. That’s why taking it out of the hands of the flawed military justice system is the most plausible way of holding the guilty accountable.

Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA) from my old home state, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, stated:

     The continued prevalence of these crimes and the retaliation that takes place evidences a flawed military culture and underscores the fact that much more needs to be done.

Realizing that the good old boys system is still very much alive and well in the US military, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has led a valiant fight to remove prosecutorial duties from commanders. And despite coming up short last year, and now facing a Republican controlled Senate, her quest to bring justice to women in the armed forces may be even more of a challenge in the current session of Congress. But undaunted, she plans to reintroduce a bill that would transfer sexual assault into civilian jurisdiction. Last December just prior to the holiday recess Gillibrand tried to force a vote but powerful conservative member of the Armed Services Committee Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) accused her of grandstanding, “This is no longer about reforming a system. This is a political cause going out of control.” And so it was never even brought to vote. The feisty New York senator’s response was:

     The Department of Defense has failed on this issue for over 20 years now, and the scandals of the last 12 months and the latest data shows that they still don’t get it.

The fact is despite the yearlong debate in Congress, the outcome of events and developments have cast a foreboding dark shadow on women in uniform’s future safety and protection. The subsequent harassment and humiliation that the one in ten rape survivors who do come forth and report sex crimes are subjected to amounts to double punishment, being re-traumatized and re-victimized by a military system that fails to convict and imprison 97% of military rapists. Adding the turn of events from last March madness to the already dismal record and the prospect that women would be any better protected in the future remains somewhat bleak.

Two months ago the Pentagon released the latest findings of sexual assault in the armed forces. The Pentagon’s official release revealed the predictable outcome. 8% more incidents were reported from the year before (6,000 last year compared to just over 5,500 the year before) and that the rate of just one in ten reporting assaults in 2012 is alleged to be one in every four victims reporting incidents in 2013. The numbers were generated from two sources, an annual anonymous survey of unwanted sexual contact and actual assault cases reported. That astounding 2012 number of 26,000 cases from the anonymous survey dropped to near 19,000 this last year (10,500 men and 8,500 women). Note more males in the military report unwanted sexual contact than females in uniform.

On the eve of the Pentagon’s annual report two months ago Senator Gillibrand held a press conference flanked by three Republican senators and two Democratic colleagues vowing to reintroduce the latest bill to reform the system. Timed on that same day in December, the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office announced that its plan to investigate the Air Force Academy’s handling of recent sexual assault cases involving three dismissed football players. The Academy subsequently kicked out a fourth cadet that provided incriminating evidence resulting in the three star players’ separation as retaliation. Despite the female Academy Superintendent General Michelle Johnson’s flat denial that cadet Eric Thomas’ “disenrollment” six weeks prior to his graduation had anything to do with his damaging testimony to the star athletes, Cadet Thomas suddenly ended up with too many demerits as retaliatory punishment for bringing the rapists to justice.

The case against Eric Thomas is much like my own at West Point. His due process was clearly violated in that he was never allowed to challenge the demerits against him while on duty with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). We both were ousted on excessive demerits due to command conspiracy. Back in my day as a cadet in 1972 due process as our constitutional right still meant something in this country. But now this fundamental rule of law is no longer upheld, honored or practiced in this nation of current police state tyranny.

Three months ago ESPN was running an in-depth segment exposing the Air Force Academy’s unfair punishment toward Thomas as the momentum of negative publicity continues piling up against the service academy’s gross injustice. And now the Pentagon’s top investigative office will be closely scrutinizing the Academy’s malicious mishandling of the Thomas case. Instead of supporting and lauding Eric Thomas for proactively stopping rape at the Academy, allowing him to graduate in 2013, it went out of its way to break him down by abruptly ending his education just before graduation and denying him his officer’s commission while sending an all too obvious message to the rest of the Corps of Cadets to not come forth and report rape.

The Department of Defense is merely responding to the increasing political pressure being brought to bear mainly by Eric Thomas’s South Dakota Senator John Thune and again Senator Gillibrand to relook at this over-the-top travesty of justice. Clear-cut evidence exists that the Academy superintendent at the time, General Michael Gould, himself a former AFA football player, attempted to squelch Thomas from ever testifying against his teammates. The general went so far as to refuse to even allow OSI to interview the Air Force football coaching staff during the rape investigation. For damage control purposes, three months after Thomas was unjustifiably terminated from the Air Force Academy, General Gould was retiring. The former superintendent was suddenly being replaced for the first time by a female in General Johnson who earlier this year called for the Air Force Inspector General to investigate the Thomas case and Academy football program. No surprise that it delivered a whitewashed report of the ongoing scandal giving the AFA Athletic Department a clean bill of health for its handling of the assault cases and former cadet Thomas.

Another scandal within the scandal is taking place at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI). For two years Cadet Thomas was used by OSI to act as an informant to uncover not only assault cases but drug offenses at the Academy as well. Thomas was told that he must keep his involvement with OSI totally secret from everyone else at the Academy. Though he had been assured by OSI investigators that should his OSI assignments get him into trouble, the Office of Special Investigations would surely have his back. Yet when he was being harassed and railroaded out of the Academy after the three star football players were terminated, the OSI agents he had been working with were nowhere to be found. That was because they too were not allowed to intervene on Thomas’ behalf. Former OSI Agent Brandon Enosclaims that after the incident he also was unfairly targeted and retaliated against by his OSI commander as well. Having resigned recently from the Air Force, Enos has gone public with damning evidence of how both Cadet Thomas and he were duly punished by Air Force high command.

Had the three rapists been any other Air Force Academy cadets and not top football players, Eric Thomas would never have been kicked out. The payback against Thomas for doing the righteous and honorable thing in stopping rapists from raping again shows the criminal lengths that those in power will abusively go to protect their own self-interests, in this case, the Academy’s reputation and specifically its struggling football program desperate to maintain NCAA Division I football.

This abhorrent attitude and behavior has not changed in the forty years since I was a US Army officer. I observed it alive and well at West Point as a cadet attending hops, the dances the US Military Academy sponsors for its Corps of Cadets and young co-eds in the outlying local area. I distinctly recall what cadets referred to as “pig pool contests” where a group of cadets would agree to participate in a chauvinistic and degrading competition where each cadet would attempt to locate the ugliest girl at the hop and ask her to dance. After the dance all the “good ol’ boys” would gather round to vote on the ugliest girl chosen and reward the cadet who dared to dance with her $10 from each contest loser. I was appalled by this inhumane treatment and utter contempt for women, but based on observable events in the armed forces today, it appears that nothing much is changing. The culture of disrespect toward women as the prevailing attitude and exploitive, aggressive, criminal behavior against women so reprehensible then is still obviously being pathologically acted out today.

What I observed as a young man years ago is merely representative of how males in the military have traditionally treated and viewed women. Higher military rates of sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence and divorce compared to the general civilian population consistent over time all confirm a longstanding significant correlation measured between sexism, sexual violence and America’s culture of violence and war. In a hyper-masculine sub-culture like the military, where physical aggression and fighting the designated enemy is mandatory, a direct link between physical violence and sexual aggression co-exists.

Despite the fact that women have been attending the academies side by side with men since the year 1976, it appears the battle between the sexes is still raging with little progress amongst America’s future leaders of the free world. What does this say about America’s “cream of the crop” – our finest young men as Academy cadets are so often ascribed, if they regularly denigrate women as simply their cultural norm, all soon commanding both male and female soldiers and as of next year together in combat zones no less. If anything, it sadly says the blind are still leading the blind, that disrespecting women amongst the military has such longstanding historical roots that resistance to positive change continues to prevail. If at this nation’s most honored institutions of leadership widespread gender disrespect, criminal sexual activity and sexism remain the entrenched norm that has been condoned for centuries, no wonder incidence of rape and harassment throughout our armed forces today remain rampantly out of control.

Though sex crimes appear far more pervasive in US military than the US civilian population, they reflect an across the board alarm signal nationally as well as globally. The Centers for Disease and Controlreleased findings a couple years ago that one in three women in the world is sexually assaulted by her intimate male partner.

Tradition in the military has always reigned supreme, apparently even when barbaric, brutal rape going relatively unpunished becomes an upheld traditional norm. With recent outcomes this month not favoring women, it appears the armed services are failing to correct their epidemic problem. Rape is not so much sexual as an act of violence, power and control. It is neither surprising nor shocking that men whose occupation is fighting wars have more serious anger and violent tendencies than their male civilian counterpart, be it in the US or elsewhere. Again accountability has been grossly lacking for way too long, allowing so many men in uniform to regularly get away with both disrespecting and violating women. And based on these recent trends and developments, it appears little is changing.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing and has a blog site at http://empireexposed.blogspot.com/.