News And Views Of The Day: Thoughts, Articles, Widgets And Video: Concerns At Every Turn!
The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression? It turns out Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second.
We have been gradually disempowered by a corporate state that, as Huxley foresaw, seduced and manipulated us through sensual gratification, cheap mass-produced goods, boundless credit, political theater and amusement. While we were entertained, the regulations that once kept predatory corporate power in check were dismantled, the laws that once protected us were rewritten and we were impoverished. Now that credit is drying up, good jobs for the working class are gone forever and mass-produced goods are unaffordable, we find ourselves transported from “Brave New World” to “1984.” The state, crippled by massive deficits, endless war and corporate malfeasance, is sliding toward bankruptcy. It is time for Big Brother to take over from Huxley’s feelies, the orgy-porgy and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. We are moving from a society where we are skillfully manipulated by lies and illusions to one where we are overtly controlled.
Orwell warned of a world where books were banned. Huxley warned of a world where no one wanted to read books. Orwell warned of a state of permanent war and fear. Huxley warned of a culture diverted by mindless pleasure. Orwell warned of a state where every conversation and thought was monitored and dissent was brutally punished. Huxley warned of a state where a population, preoccupied by trivia and gossip, no longer cared about truth or information. Orwell saw us frightened into submission. Huxley saw us seduced into submission. But Huxley, we are discovering, was merely the prelude to Orwell. Huxley understood the process by which we would be complicit in our own enslavement. Orwell understood the enslavement. Now that the corporate coup is over, we stand naked and defenseless. We are beginning to understand, as Karl Marx knew, that unfettered and unregulated capitalism is a brutal and revolutionary force that exploits human beings and the natural world until exhaustion or collapse.
“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake,” Orwell wrote in “1984.” “We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”
The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin uses the term “inverted totalitarianism” in his book “Democracy Incorporated” to describe our political system. It is a term that would make sense to Huxley. In inverted totalitarianism, the sophisticated technologies of corporate control, intimidation and mass manipulation, which far surpass those employed by previous totalitarian states, are effectively masked by the glitter, noise and abundance of a consumer society. Political participation and civil liberties are gradually surrendered. The corporation state, hiding behind the smokescreen of the public relations industry, the entertainment industry and the tawdry materialism of a consumer society, devours us from the inside out. It owes no allegiance to us or the nation. It feasts upon our carcass.
The corporate state does not find its expression in a demagogue or charismatic leader. It is defined by the anonymity and facelessness of the corporation. Corporations, who hire attractive spokespeople like Barack Obama, control the uses of science, technology, education and mass communication. They control the messages in movies and television. And, as in “Brave New World,” they use these tools of communication to bolster tyranny. Our systems of mass communication, as Wolin writes, “block out, eliminate whatever might introduce qualification, ambiguity, or dialogue, anything that might weaken or complicate the holistic force of their creation, to its total impression.”
The result is a monochromatic system of information. Celebrity courtiers, masquerading as journalists, experts and specialists, identify our problems and patiently explain the parameters.
All those who argue outside the imposed parameters are dismissed as irrelevant cranks, extremists or members of a radical left. Prescient social critics, from Ralph Nader to Noam Chomsky, are banished.
Acceptable opinions have a range of A to B. The culture, under the tutelage of these corporate courtiers, becomes, as Huxley noted, a world of cheerful conformity, as well as an endless and finally fatal optimism. We busy ourselves buying products that promise to change our lives, make us more beautiful, confident or successful as we are steadily stripped of rights, money and influence.
All messages we receive through these systems of communication, whether on the nightly news or talk shows like “Oprah,” promise a brighter, happier tomorrow. And this, as Wolin points out, is “the same ideology that invites corporate executives to exaggerate profits and conceal losses, but always with a sunny face.” We have been entranced, as Wolin writes, by “continuous technological advances” that “encourage elaborate fantasies of individual prowess, eternal youthfulness, beauty through surgery, actions measured in nanoseconds: a dream-laden culture of ever-expanding control and possibility, whose denizens are prone to fantasies because the vast majority have imagination but little scientific knowledge.”
Our manufacturing base has been dismantled. Speculators and swindlers have looted the U.S. Treasury and stolen billions from small shareholders who had set aside money for retirement or college. Civil liberties, including habeas corpus and protection from warrantless wiretapping, have been taken away. Basic services, including public education and health care, have been handed over to the corporations to exploit for profit. The few who raise voices of dissent, who refuse to engage in the corporate happy talk, are derided by the corporate establishment as freaks.
Attitudes and temperament have been cleverly engineered by the corporate state, as with Huxley’s pliant characters in “Brave New World.” The book’s protagonist, Bernard Marx, turns in frustration to his girlfriend Lenina:
“Don’t you wish you were free, Lenina?” he asks.
“I don’t know that you mean. I am free, free to have the most wonderful time. Everybody’s happy nowadays.”
He laughed, “Yes, ‘Everybody’s happy nowadays.’ We have been giving the children that at five. But wouldn’t you like to be free to be happy in some other way, Lenina? In your own way, for example; not in everybody else’s way.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” she repeated.
The façade is crumbling. And as more and more people realize that they have been used and robbed, we will move swiftly from Huxley’s “Brave New World” to Orwell’s “1984.” The public, at some point, will have to face some very unpleasant truths.
The good-paying jobs are not coming back. The largest deficits in human history mean that we are trapped in a debt peonage system that will be used by the corporate state to eradicate the last vestiges of social protection for citizens, including Social Security.
The state has devolved from a capitalist democracy to neo-feudalism. And when these truths become apparent, anger will replace the corporate-imposed cheerful conformity.
The bleakness of our post-industrial pockets, where some 40 million Americans live in a state of poverty and tens of millions in a category called “near poverty,” coupled with the lack of credit to save families from foreclosures, bank repossessions and bankruptcy from medical bills, means that inverted totalitarianism will no longer work.
We increasingly live in Orwell’s Oceania, not Huxley’s The World State. Osama bin Laden plays the role assumed by Emmanuel Goldstein in “1984.” Goldstein, in the novel, is the public face of terror. His evil machinations and clandestine acts of violence dominate the nightly news.
Goldstein’s image appears each day on Oceania’s television screens as part of the nation’s “Two Minutes of Hate” daily ritual. And without the intervention of the state, Goldstein, like bin Laden, will kill you. All excesses are justified in the titanic fight against evil personified.
The psychological torture of Pvt. Bradley Manning—who has now been imprisoned for seven months without being convicted of any crime—mirrors the breaking of the dissident Winston Smith at the end of “1984.”
Manning is being held as a “maximum custody detainee” in the brig at Marine Corps Base Quantico, in Virginia. He spends 23 of every 24 hours alone. He is denied exercise. He cannot have a pillow or sheets for his bed. Army doctors have been plying him with antidepressants. The cruder forms of torture of the Gestapo have been replaced with refined Orwellian techniques, largely developed by government psychologists, to turn dissidents like Manning into vegetables.
We break souls as well as bodies. It is more effective. Now we can all be taken to Orwell’s dreaded Room 101 to become compliant and harmless.
These “special administrative measures” are regularly imposed on our dissidents, including Syed Fahad Hashmi, who was imprisoned under similar conditions for three years before going to trial.
The techniques have psychologically maimed thousands of detainees in our black sites around the globe. They are the staple form of control in our maximum security prisons where the corporate state makes war on our most politically astute underclass—African-Americans. It all presages the shift from Huxley to Orwell.
“Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling,” Winston Smith’s torturer tells him in “1984.” “Everything will be dead inside you.
Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves.”
The noose is tightening. The era of amusement is being replaced by the era of repression. Tens of millions of citizens have had their e-mails and phone records turned over to the government. We are the most monitored and spied-on citizenry in human history.
Many of us have our daily routine caught on dozens of security cameras. Our proclivities and habits are recorded on the Internet. Our profiles are electronically generated. Our bodies are patted down at airports and filmed by scanners. And public service announcements, car inspection stickers, and public transportation posters constantly urge us to report suspicious activity. The enemy is everywhere.
Those who do not comply with the dictates of the war on terror, a war which, as Orwell noted, is endless, are brutally silenced.
The draconian security measures used to cripple protests at the G-20 gatherings in Pittsburgh and Toronto were wildly disproportionate for the level of street activity. But they sent a clear message—DO NOT TRY THIS. The FBI’s targeting of antiwar and Palestinian activists, which in late September saw agents raid homes in Minneapolis and Chicago, is a harbinger of what is to come for all who dare defy the state’s official Newspeak.
The agents—our Thought Police—seized phones, computers, documents and other personal belongings. Subpoenas to appear before a grand jury have since been served on 26 people. The subpoenas cite federal law prohibiting “providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.” Terror, even for those who have nothing to do with terror, becomes the blunt instrument used by Big Brother to protect us from ourselves.
“Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating?” Orwell wrote. “It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself.”
Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.”
Because People Have Been Led To Believe That: Thinking Is Dangerous, Disagreement Insanity, The Truth Irrelevant And Resistance Treason; A Necessary Reminder Is In Order; When It All Goes To Hell The Word Will Be” Revolution”.
By Simon Shuster in Moscow : Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Mikhail Kkhodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, has been found guilty of stealing billions of dollars worth of oil from his own companies and laundering much of the proceeds, a verdict that could keep him behind bars for another seven years.
The presiding judge, Viktor Danilkin, began reading out the lengthy verdict yesterday, saying that Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev had led "an organised group created especially for the theft of oil" and "created fictitious companies to transfer the embezzled assets abroad".
Mr Danilkin's monotone was often drowned out by about 300 Khodorkovsky supporters who gathered outside the courthouse, chanting "freedom" and "shame" in the street. About a dozen of them were arrested by riot police for blocking traffic, with some dragged screaming on to waiting buses.
For years, Western officials have been warning Russia that the Khodorkovsky case could discourage investment and deepen Russia's reputation as a country where the law is applied selectively. Yesterday's verdict met with a chorus of international condemnation.
"Today's conviction ... raises serious questions about selective prosecution – and about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations," said the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "This and similar cases have a negative impact on Russia's reputation for fulfilling its international human rights obligations."
Chris Bryant, chair of the British parliamentary all-party Russia group, denounced the verdict as "entirely predictable". He said that the Russian authorities had "failed a key test". And Lyudmila Alexeyeva, one of Russia's best known rights defenders, told Interfax: "I expected this judgement. But all the same I am upset. The judge would have had to have been a hero to have given an acquittal verdict."
Khodorkovsky's lawyer, Vadim Klyuvgant, said during a recess that the judge's verdict appeared simply to be paraphrasing, and at times quoting, the claims of the prosecution. "I haven't heard a single word in favour of the defence," Mr Klyuvgant said. "He's going strictly by the accusing side's version."
Khodorkovsky has served seven years of a separate eight-year sentence he received for fraud and tax evasion in 2005, part of the legal assault that began against him after he challenged the then-President Vladimir Putin in the arena of politics.
As his release date drew near, prosecutors brought new charges against him last year, including the theft of 350 million tonnes of oil, and asked for an additional sentence that would keep Khodorkovsky locked up at least until 2017. The defence estimates it will take most of this week for the judge to finish reading the verdict and pronounce a sentence. The initial date for the verdict, 15 December, was pushed back, in an apparent attempt to minimise the impact of media coverage, which reaches a fraction of its usual audience during the winter holidays.
Mr Putin, who is now Prime Minister, redoubled his attacks against Khodorkovsky in the weeks leading up to the trial. "Thieves should sit in prison," he said in reference to Khodorkovsky on 4 December. President Dmitry Medvedev later made a veiled criticism of that statement.
Lawyers and human rights activists said the remarks were a blatant attempt to influence the court, which they see as carrying out Mr Putin's revenge against Khodorkovsky. US diplomatic cables released yesterday by WikiLeaks described the trial as the application of "a superficial rule-of-law gloss to a cynical system where political enemies are eliminated with impunity".
But Khodorkovsky appeared to take the verdict in his stride. Sitting in the glassed-in dock, he frequently broke out in laughter and smiled at supporters in the courtroom. "We've been preparing for the worst," said Konstantin Rivkin, another lawyer for the defense.
Khodorkovsky's oil company, Yukos, once the largest in Russia, was pronounced bankrupt in 2007 after most of its assets were seized by tax authorities and sold off to companies controlled by the state. Most of Yukos's top executives have either fled the country or been jailed.
To keep conservatives from enacting policies that will kill a nascent economic recovery, progressives will have to organize against these top 10 economy killers.
Wired Magazine Slammed for Withholding Chat Logs That Could Prove Assange and Bradley Manning Did Not Conspire
In his Monday column, Salon's Glenn Greenwald called Wired's actions "one of the worst journalistic disgraces of the year."
Democrats Ramshield / AlterNet
A Look At Our Empire In Decline Through The Eyes Of The European Media.
As an American expat living in the European Union, I’ve started to see America from a different perspective.
The European Union has a larger economy and more people than America does. Though it spends less -- right around 9 percent of GNP on medical, whereas we in the U.S. spend close to between 15 to 16 percent of GNP on medical -- the EU pretty much insures 100 percent of its population.
The U.S. has 59 million people medically uninsured; 132 million without dental insurance; 60 million without paid sick leave; 40 million on food stamps. Everybody in the European Union has cradle-to-grave access to universal medical and a dental plan by law. The law also requires paid sick leave; paid annual leave; paid maternity leave. When you realize all of that, it becomes easy to understand why many Europeans think America has gone insane.
Der Spiegel has run an interesting feature called "A Superpower in Decline," which attempts to explain to a German audience such odd phenomena as the rise of the Tea Party, without the hedging or attempts at "balance" found in mainstream U.S. media. On the Tea Parties:
Full of Hatred: "The Tea Party, that group of white, older voters who claim that they want their country back, is angry. Fox News host Glenn Beck, a recovering alcoholic who likens Obama to Adolf Hitler, is angry. Beck doesn't quite know what he wants to be -- maybe a politician, maybe president, maybe a preacher -- and he doesn't know what he wants to do, either, or least he hasn't come up with any specific ideas or plans. But he is full of hatred."
The piece continues with the sobering assessment that America’s actual unemployment rate isn’t really 10 percent, but close to 20 percent when we factor in the number of people who have stopped looking for work.
Some social scientists think that making sure large-scale crime or fascism never takes root in Europe again requires a taxpayer investment in a strong social safety net. Can we learn from Europe? Isn't it better to invest in a social safety net than in a large criminal justice system? (In America over 2 million people are incarcerated.)
Jobless Benefits That Never Run Out
Unlike here, in Germany jobless benefits never run out. Not only that -- as part of their social safety net, all job seekers continue to be medically insured, as are their families.
In the German jobless benefit system, when "jobless benefit 1" runs out, "jobless benefit 2," also known as HartzIV, kicks in. That one never gets cut off. The jobless also have contributions made for their pensions. They receive other types of insurance coverage from the state. As you can imagine, the estimated 2 million unemployed Americans who almost had no benefits this Christmas seems a particular horror show to Europeans, made worse by the fact that the U.S. government does not provide any medical insurance to American unemployment recipients. Europeans routinely recoil at that in disbelief and disgust.
In another piece the Spiegel magazine steps away from statistics and tells the story of Pam Brown, who personifies what is coming to be known as the Nouveau American poor. Pam Brown was a former executive assistant on Wall Street, and her shocking decline has become part of the American story:
American society is breaking apart. Millions of people have lost their jobs and fallen into poverty. Among them, for the first time, are many middle-class families. Meet Pam Brown from New York, whose life changed overnight. The crisis caught her unprepared. "It was horrible," Pam Brown remembers.
"Overnight I found myself on the wrong side of the fence. It never occurred to me that something like this could happen to me. I got very depressed." Brown sits in a cheap diner on West 14th Street in Manhattan, stirring her $1.35 coffee. That's all she orders -- it's too late for breakfast and too early for lunch. She also needs to save money. Until early 2009, Brown worked as an executive assistant on Wall Street, earning more than $80,000 a year, living in a six-bedroom house with her three sons. Today, she's long-term unemployed and has to make do with a tiny one-bedroom in the Bronx.
It's important to note that no country in the European Union uses food stamps in order to humiliate its disadvantaged citizens in the grocery checkout line. Even worse is the fact that even the humbling food stamp allotment may not provide enough food for America’s jobless families. So it is on a reoccurring basis that some of these families report eating out of garbage cans to the European media.
For Pam Brown, last winter was the worst. One day she ran out of food completely and had to go through trash cans. She fell into a deep depression ... For many, like Brown, the downfall is a Kafkaesque odyssey, a humiliation hard to comprehend. Help is not in sight: their government and their society have abandoned them.
Pam Brown and her children were disturbingly, indeed incomprehensibly, allowed to fall straight to the bottom. The richest country in the world becomes morally bankrupt when someone like Pam Brown and her children have to pick through trash to eat, abandoned with a callous disregard by the American government. People like Brown have found themselves dispossessed due to the robber baron actions of the Wall Street elite.
Hunger in the Land of the Big Mac
A shocking headline from a Swiss newspaper reads (Berner Zeitung) “Hunger in the Land of the Big Mac.” Though the article is in German, the pictures are worth 1,000 words and need no translation. Given the fact that the Swiss virtually eliminated hunger, how do we as Americans think they will view these pictures, to which the American population has apparently been desensitized.
Perhaps the only way for us to remember what we really look like in America is to see ourselves through the eyes of others. While it is true that we can all be proud Americans, surely we don't have to be proud of the broken American social safety net. Surely we can do better than that. Can a European-style social safety net rescue the American working and middle classes from GOP and Tea Party warfare?
During the “lost decade," Japan had universal healthcare, less inequality, the highest life expectancy, and low rates of infant mortality, crime, and incarceration.
The New York Times recently did a series on Japan that it describes as an examination of “the effects on Japanese society of two decades of economic stagnation and declining prices.” Reading the series is about as cheery a task as rubbernecking at a car wreck on I-95. But unfortunately the Times series simply repeats the “conventional wisdom” about Japan put out by the same economic experts who missed an $8 trillion housing bubble in the United States, and in fact have been wrong on most of the big economic issues over the past two decades.
In the midst of the Great Recession, the United States is suffering through nearly 10 percent unemployment and 50 million people without health insurance. A new report has found over 14 percent of Americans living below the poverty line, including 20 percent of children and 23 percent of seniors, the highest since President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. That is in addition to declining prospects for the middle class, and a general increase in economic insecurity.
How, then, should we regard a country that has 5 percent unemployment, health care for all its people, the lowest income inequality and is one of the world’s leading exporters? This country also scores high on life expectancy, low on infant mortality, is at the top in literacy, and is low on crime, incarceration, homicides, mental illness and drug abuse. It also has a low rate of carbon emissions, doing its part to reduce global warming. In all these categories, this particular country beats both the United States and China by a country mile.
Does that not sound like a country from which Americans might learn a thing or two about how to get out of the mud hole in which we are stuck?
Not if that place is Japan. During and before the current economic crisis, few countries have been vilified as an economic basket case as much as the Land of the Rising Sun. Google “Japan and its economy” and you will get numerous hits about Japan’s allegedly sclerotic economy, its zombie banks, its deflation and slow economic growth. This malaise has even been called “Japan syndrome,” sounding like a disease to warn policymakers, as in “you don’t want to end up like Japan.”
No one has been more influential in defining this narrative than New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. Throughout the 1990s, and still occasionally today, Krugman has skewered Japan’s economy and leaders.
In the late 1990s, Krugman wrote a series of gloom-and-doom articles, complete with equations, theories and titles like “Japan’s Trap” and “Setting Sun,” bluntly stating: “The state of Japan is a scandal, an outrage, a reproach. It is operating far below its productive capacity, simply because its consumers and investors do not spend enough.”
Krugman was commenting on Japan’s so-called “lost decade” of the 1990s, when the Japanese economy was considered sluggish and underperforming. But let’s look at some of the Japanese metrics during that time. Throughout the 1990s the Japanese unemployment rate was—ready for this?—about 3 percent. Not 30, that is 3.
About half the U.S. unemployment rate at the time. During that allegedly “lost decade,” the Japanese also had universal healthcare, less inequality, the highest life expectancy, and low rates of infant mortality, crime, and incarceration. Americans should be so lucky as to experience a Japanese-style lost decade.
Reopening the case of Japan raises some important questions. How do economists such as Krugman decide what to value and prioritize, or what to measure? What is an economy for? To produce the prosperity, security, and services that people need? Or to satisfy economists and their equations, theories, and models?
For too many economic Cassandras, if their spreadsheet columns do not add up, if the surplus nations do not balance the deficit nations and the supply does not meet the demand, then disaster surely awaits… 1 2 3 Next page » View as a single page
I confess that I’m torn. I had the same cranky reaction to Time’s Person of the Year choice as pretty much the entire Internet: It’s hard to see the calculation that makes Mark Zuckerberg more influential than Julian Assange in 2010. Still, there’s something about this conventional wisdom that’s annoying in its own right.
When people riff about the impact of Wikileaks, you typically hear how it’s forever changed diplomacy or intelligence-gathering. The more ambitious accounts will mention the implications for journalism, too. All of that’s true and vaguely relevant. But it also misses the deeper point. The Wikileaks revolution isn’t only about airing secrets and transacting information. It’s about dismantling large organizations—from corporations to government bureaucracies. It may well lead to their extinction.
At the most basic level, organizations have two functions: They make stuff (loosely defined) and they coordinate the activities of makers of stuff. The efficiency with which they do these things helps determine the organization’s size. So, for example, IBM can produce its own keyboards, or it can outsource its keyboard-making. Which option it chooses depends on whether IBM can produce keyboards more cheaply than a supplier can; and on whether it’s harder for IBM to coordinate with the supplier—getting the keyboards built correctly and on time than to sort out those details internally. Even if the supplier can build keyboards more cheaply, IBM might decide against outsourcing because dealing with its in-house keyboard-maker is easier than dealing with outsiders.
A government agency faces a roughly analogous choice. The State Department, say, can focus entirely on managing relationships with foreign governments. Or it can perform other tasks on top of that, like providing development aid. Because it’s generally easier to work with people who operate from similar assumptions, rely on the same data, and share a common set of goals and values—which is to say, it’s easier to coordinate with co-workers than with outsiders—organizations often perform these functions in-house. Indeed, that’s one reason they’ve historically grown so large. This has even been true over the last generation, when many business gurus predicted that information technology would make outsourcing nearly frictionless.
Now consider what happens when you plug Wikileaks into this equation. All of a sudden, the very same things that made it more efficient to work with your colleagues—the fact that everyone had a detailed understanding of the mission and methodology—become enormous liabilities. In a Wikileaks world, the greater the number of people who intimately understand your organization,* the more candidates there are for revealing that information to millions of voyeurs.
Wikileaks is, in effect, a huge tax on internal coordination. And, as any economist will tell you, the way to get less of something is to tax it. As a practical matter, that means the days of bureaucracies in the tens of thousands of employees are probably numbered. In a decade or two, we may not only see USAID spun off from the State Department. We may see dozens of mini-State Departments servicing separate regions of the world. Or hundreds of micro-State Departments—one for every country on the planet. Don’t like the stranglehold that a handful of megabanks have on the financial sector? Don’t worry! Twenty years from now there won’t be such a thing as megabanks, because the cost of employing 100,000 potential leakers will be prohibitive.
Granted, there are a few key assumptions built into this prediction. The first is that Wikileaks is here to stay. Alas, this one’s a no-brainer. Daniel Ellsberg spent the better part of a year photocopying the 7,000 pages that became the Pentagon papers. Thanks to the IT revolution, copying and transferring data on that scale takes all of 15 seconds today.
Perhaps more importantly, Wikileaks is a self-perpetuating phenomenon. Pre-Wikileaks, a would-be leaker’s only shot at wide-scale circulation was a newspaper or magazine. The problem with such outlets is that they tend to have their own views on how a story should be told. They interview corporate spokespeople and government officials to get their side of the story. They may bow to a censor’s request to suppress information. Wikileaks, on the other hand, promises mass distribution without the filter. And the more the organization proves it can get leaked information in front of tens of millions of readers, the more leakers will flock to it.
More Articles On: IBM, Daniel Ellsberg, Department of State, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, Pentagon,
« Bank Of America, Wikileaks And Eric Holder - What The U.S. Attorney General Doesn't Want You To Know »
It is hard to imagine a more convoluted clusterf*** of corruption. Consider it the latest chapter in the story of upside-down, post-bailout, Bizarro-World America. The US attorney general, Eric Holder, has been going hammer and tongs at the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights in order to silence a news organization, Wikileaks, which is about to publish bombshell evidence of corruption -- and possible criminal activity -- at one of America’s largest banks. Meanwhile, Bank of America, the likely target of Wikileaks’ next big story, refuses to process payments for Wikileaks, presses on with its dirty foreclosure and and debt collection practices, and continues to lie about the value of assets on its books. At the same time, Holder has gone almost two years without mustering the courage to investigate or indict a single executive at even one of America’s largest banks. And although Wikileaks promises to lay in his lap several gigabytes of evidence that might lead to such an indictment, Holder has instead initiated “an active, ongoing criminal investigation” of Wikileaks!
But here's the question no one seems to be asking:
- Why hasn't Eric Holder asked to see the evidence, which Wikileaks claims to have, that executives at one of our largest banks may have committed serious crimes?
Let's be honest, Holder doesn't really give a rip about financial crimes, but the media should at least be asking him why he doesn't want to see the evidence. We know he'd love to get his hands on Julian Assange's hard drive -- why doesn't he want to see Brian Moynihan's (or Ken Lewis's)?
For some reason, Holder and the rest of the Obama administration would rather endanger our Constitutional rights to due process and a free press by persecuting journalists on specious charges, than to actually do their job and enforce the law.
Once again, the banks and bankers are protected at all costs, while the little people (and our Constitutional rights!) must pay the price. Why is Holder going after Wikileaks and why isn’t he already investigating or indicting people at Bank of America? Who does Holder think he works for – us or the big banks?
It’s hard not to conclude that the answer to these questions was revealed recently in the unfortunately chosen words of Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL): “Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.” But this only confirms something Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said a couple of years ago.
We would love to be able to find some heroes among the political class working to thwart all this villany, but there aren’t any.
Ironically, Republicans and their apparatchiks (as well as Joe Lieberman) have been criticizing Holder and Obama for not doing more to side-step the Constitution and indict, or indeed assassinate, Julian Assange and anyone else associated with Wikileaks.
This is so typical of Washington.
Basic issues of freedom and the rule of law are twisted and distorted so as to result in another skirmish in the culture war, which can then be used as fodder for political fundraising and campaign attack ads.
The Democrats trample on the Constitution like it’s the grapes of wrath and the Republicans still find a way to charge them with being “soft on terror."
The upshot, as usual, is that bankers are thereby able to ride off into the sunset with their taxpayer subsidies and million-dollar bonuses. As usual, everyone gets what they want except the American people. Happy Holidays, America.
From the award-winning director of The War on Democracy comes John Pilger's latest work, The War You Don't See. This hard-hitting exposé and scrutinizes the effects of the media during wartime, asking what is the role of the media in rapacious wars.
When symbols are separated from facts and the facts don't matter, could the media be accused of conspiring to play down the carnage and of using 'embedded journalism' to amplify the lies? This documentary unveils the war you don't see and allows you to make up your own mind.
By JPOST.COM STAFF
WikiLeaks: Former French FM told Mitchell of idea to recognize Palestinian state "regardless of the outcome of negotiations" with Israel in Jan 2010.
Former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner in January 2010 had already discussed with the US the idea of recognizing a Palestinian state regardless of the outcome of negotiations with Israel, a US cable released by WikiLeaks revealed.
The cable was written by US ambassador to France Charles Rivkin to prepare US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her first bilateral trip to France since entering into her position.
The cable was written by US ambassador to France Charles Rivkin to prepare US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her first bilateral trip to France since entering into her position.