Tag Archives | USA

Inverted Totalitarianism: A New Way of Understanding How the U.S. Is Controlled

51Nq0NjuepLChalmers Johnson via Alternet:

Reviewed: Democracy Incorporated by Sheldon S. Wolin (Princeton University Press, 2008)

It is not news that the United States is in great trouble. The pre-emptive war it launched against Iraq more than five years ago was and is a mistake of monumental proportions — one that most Americans still fail to acknowledge. Instead they are arguing about whether we should push on to “victory” when even our own generals tell us that a military victory is today inconceivable. Our economy has been hollowed out by excessive military spending over many decades while our competitors have devoted themselves to investments in lucrative new industries that serve civilian needs. Our political system of checks and balances has been virtually destroyed by rampant cronyism and corruption in Washington, D.C., and by a two-term president who goes around crowing “I am the decider,” a concept fundamentally hostile to our constitutional system.

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All the Creepy Ways Big Brother Is Watching You

1984

John W. Whitehead Via Activist Post:

“You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
—George Orwell, 1984

None of us are perfect. All of us bend the rules occasionally. Even before the age of overcriminalization, when the most upstanding citizen could be counted on to break at least three laws a day without knowing it, most of us have knowingly flouted the law from time to time.

Indeed, there was a time when most Americans thought nothing of driving a few miles over the speed limit, pausing (rather than coming to a full stop) at a red light when making a right-hand turn if no one was around, jaywalking across the street, and letting their kid play hookie from school once in a while. Of course, that was before the era of speed cameras that ticket you for going even a mile over the posted limit, red light cameras that fine you for making safe “rolling stop” right-hand turns on red, surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition software mounted on street corners, and school truancy laws that fine parents for “unexcused” absences.

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Worse Than Fascism?

pratanti (CC BY 2.0)

pratanti (CC BY 2.0)

Via Paul Street at telesur:

The contemporary U.S. model is some ways worse than classic or real historical fascism in advancing tyrannical imperial and state-capitalist goals.

I’ve never been much for calling the United States (U.S.) “fascist,” something that a significant number of my fellow leftists and progressives like to do in a half-serious way. What do such progressives mean when they use that loaded and ugly term to describe the contemporary U.S.? In their more serious moments, the factors mentioned include a merging of corporate and state power; suppression of unions; a culture and vast apparatus of imperial militarism; celebration of violence and cruelty; nationalism; hostility to equality and democracy; demagogic appeals to a frustrated middle class; hatred of the weak and poor; attachment to tradition and hierarchy; the systematic subordination of racial and ethnic minorities; militarized policing; mass incarceration; the devaluation or erosion of basic civil liberties; and hostility to intellectuals, modern science, liberalism, and socialism.

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Johann Hari: Everything We Know About the Drug War & Addiction is Wrong

via Democracy Now:

As President Obama seeks $27.6 billion for federal drug control programs in his new budget, we talk to British journalist Johann Hari about the century-old failed drug war and how much of what we know about addiction is wrong. Over the past four years Hari has traveled to the United States, Mexico, Canada, Uruguay and Portugal to research his new book, “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War of Drugs.” His findings may surprise you — from the U.S. government’s persecution of Billie Holiday, to Vancouver’s success in addressing its heroin epidemic, to Portugal’s experiment with full decriminalization of all drugs.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: One part of President Obama’s new budget that has received little attention is the war on drugs. The White House is seeking $27.6 billion for federal drug control programs, nearly $1 billion more than last year.

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“War on Whistleblowers”: Another Whistleblower Sentenced

In 2013, just weeks before revelations by Edward Snowden and PFC Chelsea Manning, we released War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State.

Two years later, the aggressive war on whistleblowers is still being waged. This Monday, Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer, was found guilty of 9 criminal counts and is likely on his way to a lengthy prison sentence for telling the truth.

Now, War on Whistleblowers is more relevant than ever. Watch the trailer below and go here for more information.

Four renowned cases of whistle-blowing serve as the backdrop to a much larger story of what happens to people who resort to the media to expose fraud and abuse:

  • Franz Gayl (Deputy Branch Head for the Space and Information Operations Integration Branch) — a lifelong Marine Gayl blew the whistle to stop unnecessary death and dismemberment of soldiers by replacing Humvees with MRAP’s (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles) in Iraq.
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Promoting the Apocalypse

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Eisenhower warned of the dangerous marriage between government and war profiteers, but did he envision how subtle and insidious it would become today?

via The UNZ Review:

If you read a major newspaper on a regular basis you will no doubt have seen the full page ads placed by defense contractors. The ads generally are anodyne, featuring ubiquitous flags and eagles while praising America’s soldiers and war fighting capabilities, sometimes to include a description of a new weapon or weapons system. That a company whose very existence depends on government contracts would feel sufficiently emboldened to turn around and spend substantial sums that themselves derive from the American taxpayer to promote its wares in an attempt to obtain still more of a hopefully increasing defense pie smacks of insensitivity to say the least. I for one find the ads highly offensive, an insult to the taxpayer.

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Michael Brown, Bill Cosby, and Our Disturbing Relationship with Power

Photo: Protesters demonstrate against the shooting of Michael Brown, by Flikr user LightBrigading (via I’mNotTheNanny, licensed under creative commons).

Photo: Protesters demonstrate against the shooting of Michael Brown, by Flickr user LightBrigading (via I’mNotTheNanny, licensed under creative commons).

[Warning: this essay ended up being really long. What can I say? These are deep-seated issues, and much as I wish I could address them adequately with a few GIFs and a listicle, that’s just not going to happen. If you are opposed to reading long articles, turn back now. And if you’re one of those people who likes to open long articles just to leave complaints about how long they are, like some commenters on the last long piece I wrote here, this is your cue to skip straight to the comments section and complain away. You’re welcome.]

It’s rare for breaking news events to line up in any way that is truly meaningful. Though we are increasingly bombarded with updates from TV screens, smartphones and social media, and the occasional printed word, none of it seems to add up to anything.… Read the rest

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Feds Indict Another Person For Teaching People How To Beat Polygraph Tests

walknboston (CC BY 2.0)

walknboston (CC BY 2.0)

via Tech Dirt:

Polygraph technology is far from infallible and has been for so long that it’s practically common knowledge. And yet, the federal government still wants everyone to believe polygraphs tests separate the honest from the liars with incredibly high accuracy. So, it cracks down on those who claim to be able to help others beat the tests.

In 2012, federal agents began investigating Chad Dixon and Doug Williams, two men who sold books, videos and personal instruction sessions on beating polygraph tests. Late last year, Dixon was sentenced to eight months in prison for obstruction and wire fraud charges. The government claimed his actions jeopardized national security, pointing to a client list that included intelligence employees, law enforcement agents and sex offenders.

The government has just handed down an indictment [pdf link] of its second target — former Oklahoma City police polygraph administrator Doug Williams.

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Americans’ Trust in Doctors Is Falling

By Murray Barnes via Flickr (cc by 2.0)

By Murray Barnes via Flickr (cc by 2.0)

via Live Science:

Americans’ trust in the medical profession has plummeted in recent years, and lags well behind public attitudes toward doctors in many other countries, according to a new report.

That lack of trust comes from how Americans’ perceive doctors’ motivations, said Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and co-author of the new report. While physician leaders elsewhere in the world often take public stands on key health and medical issues, Americans perceive the medical profession as looking out for itself, not advocating for public health, he said.

Just 34 percent of U.S. adults polled in 2012 said they had “great confidence in the leaders of the medical profession,” down from 76 percent in 1966, according to the report.

And a survey of people in 29 countries found the United States ranked 24th in public trust of doctors.

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As ISIS Slaughters Kurds in Kobani, the U.S. Bombs Syrian Grain Silos

By fw_gadget via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By fw_gadget via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Ajamu Baraka writes at CounterPunch:

The U.S. is conducting a curious humanitarian war against ISIS in Syria. While Kobani, the largely Kurdish district that straddles the border with Turkey is being attacked by ISIS forces and facing the very real possibility of mass civilian killings if it falls, U.S. military spokespersons claimed that they are watching the situation in Kobani and have conducted occasional bombing missions but that they are concentrating their anti-ISIS efforts in other parts of Syria. Those other efforts appear to consist of bombing empty buildings, schools, small oil pumping facilities, an occasional vehicle and grain silos where food is stored to feed the Syrian people. Turkey also seems to be watching as the Kurds of Kobani fight to the death against ISIS.

The humanitarian concerns of officials in the U.S. with the plight of Kurds in Kobani could not be more different than what occurred in Iraq when ISIS forces made a push into Kurdish territory.

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