Terrorism

An Alert Update Plus Some Thoughts on Fear

UPDATE

Another friend, not the one who sent me the original ALERTS TO THREATS IN EUROPE I posted yesterday, decided to update the list to include America.

The Americans are on “Be Alert for Unspecified Awful Things”  a status they have maintained since, well, forever. This is frequently raised to “The Sky Is Falling” just to justify their insane arms expenditures. When concern over dwindling oil supplies threatens the alert level becomes “Lets Attack”  eventually followed by the highest level which is “We Need To Rebuild The Country We Just Destroyed.”  Rumor has it that there is a level called “Let’s Try Peace “but it has never been considered.

I think you will agree it is at least as clever as the Cleese original. But, after chuckling over it  for a few minutes, I started to think about the deeper truth. It really does describe the political process that has dominated America at least since 9/11. American politics is dominated by a “Culture of Fear”. We are asked to be on constant alert for any number of awful things. The media, of course, is implicated in the whole process.

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It is a mistake to think the manipulation of fear for political purposes is new in American politics, however. It is probably more accurate to say it has been the norm for most of our history. Noam Chomsky has explored what he calls the, “…resort to fear by systems of power to discipline the domestic population” and traces the American version back, at least, to John Quincy Adams. Chomsky uses historian William Earl Weeks to make his point.

Weeks describes in lurid detail what Jackson was doing in the “exhibition of murder and plunder known as the First Seminole War,” which was just another phase in his project of “removing or eliminating native Americans from the southeast,” underway long before 1814. Florida was a problem both because it had not yet been incorporated in the expanding American empire and because it was a “haven for Indians and runaway slaves… fleeing the wrath of Jackson or slavery”.

There was in fact an Indian attack, which Jackson and Adams used as a pretext: US forces drove a band of Seminoles off their lands, killing several of them and burning their village to the ground. The Seminoles retaliated by attacking a supply boat under military command. Seizing the opportunity, Jackson “embarked on a campaign of terror, devastation, and intimidation,” destroying villages and “sources of food in a calculated effort to inflict starvation on the tribes, who sought refuge from his wrath in the swamps”. So matters continued, leading to Adams’ highly regarded State paper, which endorsed Jackson’s unprovoked aggression to establish in Florida “the dominion of this republic upon the odious basis of violence and bloodshed”.

These are the words of the Spanish ambassador, a “painfully precise description,” Weeks writes. Adams “had consciously distorted, dissembled, and lied about the goals and conduct of American foreign policy to both Congress and the public,” Weeks continues, grossly violating his proclaimed moral principles, “implicitly defending Indian removal, and slavery”. The crimes of Jackson and Adams “proved but a prelude to a second war of extermination against (the Seminoles),” in which the remnants either fled to the West, to enjoy the same fate later, “or were killed or forced to take refuge in the dense swamps of Florida”. Today, Weeks concludes, “the Seminoles survive in the national consciousness as the mascot of Florida State University” — a typical and instructive case…

…The rhetorical framework rests on three pillars (Weeks): “the assumption of the unique moral virtue of the United States, the assertion of its mission to redeem the world” by spreading its professed ideals and the ‘American way of life,’ and the faith in the nation’s “divinely ordained destiny”. The theological framework undercuts reasoned debate, and reduces policy issues to a choice between Good and Evil, thus reducing the threat of democracy. Critics can be dismissed as “anti-American,” an interesting concept borrowed from the lexicon of totalitarianism. And the population must huddle under the umbrella of power, in fear that its way of life and destiny are under imminent threat…

The main difference between then and now is that the powers that be are more sophisticated in manipulation. Below is the trailer to a documentary, “Culture of Fear” that features interviews with Chomsky and other experts.

Here is the link to the full documentary  http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/culture-of-fear

As we mark the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq,  it is critical that we remember exactly how Bush, Cheney and the rest of the neoconservative cabal played the politics of fear to get the war they wanted.  Over the last week or so we have been subjected to a series of mea culpa apologies from media pundits and so-called journalists rationalizing away their role in cheerleading the invasion. Everyone from David Frum, author of the “axis of evil” phrase, and Andrew Suulivan on the right, to Jonathan Chait and Ezra Klein on the left have offered “yes, but” apologies. Quite honestly, I am not interested. I agree with Charlie Pierce, they should all just go away. They really have lost all credibility for me.

As long as I am talking about documentaries, I have to include the BBC series, The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear. It explores the history and background of both radical Islam and the Neo-Conservatives. Originally produced in 2004, it was never broadcast in the United States. Fortunately, it is now available on You Tube. Here is part one with links to parts two and three below.

The Power of Nightmares Part Two

The Power of Nightmares Part Three

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The Madness Of Wayne LaPierre

WayneLatoon The madness of Wayne LaPierre. I stole that from Forbes Magazine. That’s right. Forbes Magazine thinks Wayne LaPierre has gone mad. Note to Wayne- when a conservative business magazine like Forbes thinks you are crazy, you have a problem.

LaPierre’s bazaar response to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut was enough to convince me he was crazy, but it turns out that was only the first chapter in a month of looniness. Today, in his “response” to Obama’s state of the union speech, LaPierre accused the President with “fraud” and claimed,

They only care about their decades-long, decades-old gun control agenda: Ban every gun they can, tax every gun sold and register every American gun owner.

Wayne LaPierre repeats the crazy paranoia every chance he has, even though he knows that no matter how many times he says it, there is not a shred of evidence that President Obama, or anyone else in the federal government who has anything to say about it, has any interest in ‘taking away the guns’.

Who exactly does LaPierre represent when he lashed out with this inflammatory rhetoric? It is certainly not the American people, not even the membership of the NRA. In fact, polls show that Americans favor the measures proposed by the President with large majorities.

A recent Quinnipiac Poll found that 92 percent of Americans support background checks for all gun buyers, including 91 percent of those living in homes with a gun.  The January, 2013 Pew survey reports 85 percent of Americans—and 85 percent of gun owners—want all private gun sales and sales at gun shows to be subject to background checks. The CBS/New York Times poll conducted in January, 2013 had similar results, showing that 92 percent of Americans, including 85 percent of those living in a household with an NRA member, are in favor of universal background checks.

Below is a sample of insane LaPierre quotes from an Op-Ed piece he wrote last week. They show a man living in a “Hellish” world filled with Hurricanes, Kidnappers, drug gangs and other mortal threats that can only be combatted by more guns.

Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant size in the United States. Phoenix is already one of the kidnapping capitals of the world, and though the states on the U.S./Mexico border may be the first places in the nation to suffer from cartel violence, by no means are they the last.

The president flagrantly defies the 2006 federal law ordering the construction of a secure border fence along the entire Mexican border. So the border today remains porous not only to people seeking jobs in the U.S., but to criminals whose jobs are murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping.

Ominously, the border also remains open to agents of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Numerous intelligence sources have confirmed that foreign terrorists have identified the southern U.S. border as their path of entry into the country.

A heinous act of mass murder—either by terrorists or by some psychotic who should have been locked up long ago—will be the pretext to unleash a tsunami of gun control.

After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.

Meanwhile, President Obama is leading this country to financial ruin, borrowing over a trillion dollars a year for phony “stimulus” spending and other payoffs for his political cronies. Nobody knows if or when the fiscal collapse will come, but if the country is broke, there likely won’t be enough money to pay for police protection. And the American people know it.

Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.

We, the American people, clearly see the daunting forces we will undoubtedly face: terrorists, crime, drug gangs, the possibility of Euro-style debt riots, civil unrest or natural disaster.

And finally, in an outrageous example of Orwellian double speak,

We [the NRA] are the largest civil rights organization in the world.

 

Brennan Objects to the Use of Waterboarding in CIA Confirmation Hearing

NPR O.K. Don’t explain to me what the NPR headline writer “really” meant just yet. Let me spend a few more minutes with that lovely image. Yes, I see it! Idaho Senator Jim Risch laid out while water is poured over a cloth covering his face until he confesses that he has no business being on the Senate Intelligence Committee. From the sidelines, John Brennan objects, claiming that, based upon his experience, water boarding is not an effective interrogation technique.

Back to reality. Here, according to Charlie Pierce, is what really happened.

They never laid a glove on him — not, I suspect, that many of them wanted to do so — and John Brennan looked very comfortable in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee during his extended job interview to become the head of the CIA. After all, they were all members of the national-security priesthood, one way or the other, and if they had to discuss their deadly private liturgies (in however cursory a fashion) in public (however briefly), well, that’s just the price of doing business. And if Senator Jim Risch felt the need to bluster about a leak, Brennan got to bluster back, so the call-and-response ritual of the liturgies was adhered to in public as it would have been in private. But there was about the hearing a feeling of pure show, because both sides were operating under a tacit agreement that there are things that the American people must not, and should not, know about what it being done in their name. Once that agreement is struck, once that private communion is joined, the fundamentals of self-government are left behind.

Idaho Friends of Liberty…Patriot Movement?

I admit I have a hard time taking the Tea Party movement seriously. Wacko-fringe is the term that comes to mind. But, after reading Frank Rich’s column, The Axis of the Obsessed and Deranged, I suffered a short, involuntary shudder of recognition.  Actually, it was not Rich’s column that evoked the shudder, it was an earlier article he linked to and that I had somehow missed reading. The article, by David Barstow, was an in-depth investigation of the tea party movement that brought back memories of Ruby Ridge, the Patriot Movement and the Aryan Nation.

SANDPOINT, Idaho — Pam Stout has not always lived in fear of her government. She remembers her years working in federal housing programs, watching government lift struggling families with job training and education. She beams at the memory of helping a Vietnamese woman get into junior college.

But all that was before the Great Recession and the bank bailouts, before Barack Obama took the White House by promising sweeping change on multiple fronts, before her son lost his job and his house. Mrs. Stout said she awoke to see Washington as a threat, a place where crisis is manipulated — even manufactured — by both parties to grab power.
She was happily retired, and had never been active politically. But last April, she went to her first Tea Party rally, then to a meeting of the Sandpoint Tea Party Patriots. She did not know a soul, yet when they began electing board members, she stood up, swallowed hard, and nominated herself for president. “I was like, ‘Did I really just do that?’ ” she recalled.

Worried about hyperinflation, social unrest or even martial law, she and her Tea Party members joined a coalition, Friends for Liberty, that includes representatives from Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project, the John Birch Society, and Oath Keepers, a new player in a resurgent militia movement.

Barstow connects the dots between the Tea Party movement and the Patriot and Militia movements of the late 1990s.

The Tea Party movement has become a platform for conservative populist discontent, a force in Republican politics for revival, as it was in the Massachusetts Senate election, or for division. But it is also about the profound private transformation of people like Mrs. Stout, people who not long ago were not especially interested in politics, yet now say they are bracing for tyranny.

These people are part of a significant undercurrent within the Tea Party movement that has less in common with the Republican Party than with the Patriot movement, a brand of politics historically associated with libertarians, militia groups, anti-immigration advocates and those who argue for the abolition of the Federal Reserve.

Urged on by conservative commentators, waves of newly minted activists are turning to once-obscure books and Web sites and discovering a set of ideas long dismissed as the preserve of conspiracy theorists, interviews conducted across the country over several months show. In this view, Mr. Obama and many of his predecessors (including George W. Bush) have deliberately undermined the Constitution and free enterprise for the benefit of a shadowy international network of wealthy elites.

Loose alliances like Friends for Liberty are popping up in many cities, forming hybrid entities of Tea Parties and groups rooted in the Patriot ethos. These coalitions are not content with simply making the Republican Party more conservative. They have a larger goal — a political reordering that would drastically shrink the federal government and sweep away not just Mr. Obama, but much of the Republican establishment, starting with Senator John McCain.

A look at the Friends for Liberty web site show that Barstow is not exaggerating.  If you visit the site, note the “liberty organization” links. And, if you have the stomach for it, watch some of the videos of “Freedom Festival” speakers.

Who are the Tea Party leaders?

They are frequently led by political neophytes who prize independence and tell strikingly similar stories of having been awakened by the recession. Their families upended by lost jobs, foreclosed homes and depleted retirement funds, they said they wanted to know why it happened and whom to blame.

That is often the point when Tea Party supporters say they began listening to Glenn Beck. With his guidance, they explored the Federalist Papers, exposés on the Federal Reserve, the work of Ayn Rand and George Orwell. Some went to constitutional seminars. Online, they discovered radical critiques of Washington on Web sites like ResistNet.com (“Home of the Patriotic Resistance”) and Infowars.com (“Because there is a war on for your mind.”).

Glenn Beck is serving the role of demagogue, steering the tea party folk ever closer to violence and armed rebellion.  Idaho’s own David Neiwert knows more than anyone about the history of the Patriot Movement in the Pacific Northwest. He has been watching Beck and has created a composite video of his hate rhetoric calling for the elimination of “Progressivism.”

Beck is one in a long line of media demagogues. As Joe Klien pointed out on the Bill O’Reilly show, Beck is the latest version of Father Charles Coughlin, The Father of Hate Radio.

“I think that your pal Glenn Beck is peddling a lot of hateful crap,” he said.

O’Reilly didn’t disagree — but tried to laugh off Beck’s antics. “But he is funny,” O’Reilly countered. “He is doing it in a funny way.”

“I thought the part where he described the president as intentionally steering the airplane into the ground was hilarious,” Klein said sarcastically. “And the stuff about Obama not being an American?”

O’Reilly cut him off. “He has a blackboard and phone to the White House. He is every man sitting on a bar stool. Why shouldn’t every man have a show?” he asked.

“No. No. No. No. No,” replied Klein. “He is Father Coughlin trying to delude and entertain the American public.” Klein was referring to Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest who attacked the New Deal, broadcast antisemitic theories, and expressed sympathy for Hitler and Mussolini in the 1930s. Coughlin is now considered the father of hate radio.

Father Coughlin was forced off the airwaves in 1942. Beck is unlikely to meet the same fate.

The Terrorists know they are winning when…

From Associated Press Writer, Joan Lowy:

Some airlines were telling passengers on Saturday that new government security regulations prohibit them from leaving their seats beginning an hour before landing

The regulations are a response to a suspected terrorism incident on Christmas Day.

Air Canada said in a statement that new rules imposed by the Transportation Security Administration limit on-board activities by passengers and crew in U.S. airspace. The airline said that during the final hour of flight passengers must remain seated. They won’t be allowed access to carryon baggage or to have any items on their laps.

Flight attendants on some domestic flights are informing passengers of similar rules. Passengers on a flight from New York to Tampa Saturday morning were also told they must remain in their seats and couldn’t have items in their laps, including laptops and pillows.

These new FCC rules will certainly fool the terrorists! they will never think to light their bombs before the last hour of a flight.