All propaganda is a lie, even when it is telling the truth. (George Orwell)

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Battle Hymns To American ‘Heroes’

January 24th, 2015 by Andy in What Is Patriotism?

What with all the discourse and debate raging of late regarding the film “American Sniper,” what heroism means, the political divides between how we perceive the bloodshed and sacrifice of the Iraq War, etc, it made me recall this true cultural artificat. One which poses some of these pretty deep seated questions as to what comprises “patriotism,” and what are the values being truly expressed through the proclamation of patriotic allegiance?

Hat tip to Chase Madar for the heads up on this, but wow. I had no idea that this piece of cultural/political history existed. As Madar commented, the American people don’t seem to care too much for Bradley Manning, but just listen to this little ditty about My Lai massacre commander Lt. Calley! It sold over 1 million copies in only four days back in 1971.

Released appropriately on Plantation Records. What’s the B-Side? “Linebacker II - Laying the Carpet of Freedom”?

It is, as John Halle commented, a Dolchstosslegende masterpiece. Horst Wessel lives.

No, North Korea Didn’t Hack Sony: Another American Propaganda Success Story

January 21st, 2015 by Andy in Propaganda & Faux News, Video

How many times will Americans keep falling for uncorroborated government claims? Propaganda and jingoistic fear mongering is like feeding candy to babies. As I was noting as soon as this meme started spreading, none of this was adding up.

And yet, as if on cue, so many people started using social media to pile on with vituperative rhetoric about “striking back” at Korea, or some such knee jerk reactionary responses. Really, what does it take for people to begin to stop buying face value the claims of the government, particularly after a long, sordid and bloody history of disasters that have resulted from such mindless incredulity? You’d think people would eventually learn. But then, Hitler, Hearst, Lenin, Bernays, Atwater, Rove, Goebbels, Ailes, and all the successful propagandists of their place and time continue to be proven right again and again. Sad. No, not just sad. Pathetic.

Marc Rogers at The Daily Beast was one of the early ones to write critically about the claims being made.

Here, Tim Shorrock, investigative journalist and author whose been following Korean issues for over 30 years, lays on some insightful critiques on a recent edition of Democracy Now!

Well, first of all, the person she just mentioned, Bruce Bennett, who was a consultant on this film, works for the RAND Corporation, which is a think tank for the U.S. military and has been for decades. And it so happens that the Sony CEO happens to sit on the board of directors of the RAND Corporation. It has—Sony has extensive ties with the U.S. national security system. Its CIO used to work for the secretary of defense, in terms of their—guarding their internal security. That’s one point.

But, you know, second, I think that—you know, that this attack began in late November, early December. At that time, this cyber-attack was run by this group that you mentioned, this GOP, Guardians of Peace. They made no mention whatsoever of the film. It was all about Sony and its internal racism and that kind of thing. I have seen no indication whatsoever that there was any similarity—some real similarity of this attack to anything that North Korea has been accused of before. And, you know, many cyber experts, from Kim Zetter of Wired to Marc Rogers and others, have raised real questions about the FBI evidence.

And so, I think it’s appalling that President Obama goes on a national stage, a global stage, on Friday and basically declares cyberwar, and then, a couple days later, ratchets it back to some kind of like cybernuisance, you know, cybervandalism. And of course North Korea is going to respond to basically a declaration of war by the president of the United States.

And, you know, we have a massive build-up going on in Asia, military build-up. And I think, you know, we need to keep North Korea as the enemy, as the armed enemy that’s going to attack us at any moment, so we can defend these bases in Japan, particularly in Okinawa, which are the focus of a massive public protest. You may have noticed—Americans didn’t notice, but Okinawans and Japanese voted to pull these bases out in recent elections. They want the U.S. forward bases removed.

So, I think there’s a lot of political, you know, situation going on here, a lot of politics going on that’s completely unnoticed. And I think it’s shameful of The New York Times, once again, to be in the leadership of spinning out these claims, dubious claims, and, you know, possibly instigating another war, another confrontation.

There have been a number of other informative pieces on this issue, as well. These include Dan Sanchez at Antiwar.com who chronicles how Emails Reveal US State Department Influenced Sony’s “The Interview” so as to Encourage Assassination and Regime Change in North Korea

William Boot Here at The Daily Beast reveals some of the State Department’s involvement with this cinematic project.

The Daily Beast has unearthed several emails that reveal at least two U.S. government officials screened a rough cut of the Kim Jong-Un assassination comedy The Interview in late June and gave the film—including a final scene that sees the dictator’s head explode—their blessing.

The claim that the State Department played an active role in the decision to include the film’s gruesome death scene is likely to cause fury in Pyongyang. Emails between the Sony Entertainment CEO and a security consultant even appear to suggest the U.S. government may support the notion that The Interview would be useful propaganda against the North Korean regime.

Gregory Elich provides some diagnosis Here as to who was behind the Sony hack at Counterpunch

The cyberattack on Sony Pictures unleashed a torrent of alarmist media reports, evoking the image of North Korean perfidy. Within a month, the FBI issued a statement declaring the North Korean government “responsible for these actions.”

Amid the media frenzy, several senators and congresspersons called for tough action. Arizona Senator John McCain blustered, “It’s a new form of warfare that we’re involved in, and we need to react and react vigorously.” President Barack Obama announced his administration planned to review the possibility of placing North Korea on the list of states sponsoring terrorism, a move that would further tighten the already harsh sanctions on North Korea. “They caused a lot of damage, and we will respond,” Obama warned darkly. “We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”

In the rush to judgment, few were asking for evidence, and none was provided. Computer security analysts, however, were vocal in their skepticism.

And the regurgitation of uncorroborated government claims by the nation’s elite press is something Glenn Greenwald has amply dismantled and deconstructed over the years, and again does his usual acidlcally thorough job in detailing this whole affair, as well. Worth the read Here

Notice how the issue over the past couple of weeks has been dropped by much of the media, as the government, when confronted with all of this countervailing evidence, has seemed to have become less vocal about its accusations. Whether we’ll really get to the bottom of this nor not remains to be seen. I wouldn’t hold my breath, however, considering the volume of historical events, including wars and assassinations that have gone unaccounted for over this nation’s history.

CISPA - Time To Again Stop This Terrible Legislation

January 20th, 2015 by Andy in Media and Democracy

Like a zombie from the crypt, this terrible rights-killing legislation comes crawling back to consume our internet. Please read about this important issue and sign on to stop it - again. And pass it on…

Congress has officially re-introduced CISPA

CISPA is a law that would give the NSA even more access to our data and let big corporations off the hook when they violate our privacy. And Congress is trying to pass it again.

CISPA is officially back for the third time. And Congress wants to pass it badly.

Just last week, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger re-introduced CISPA to Congress. You can read the 2015 CISPA bill text here.

This marks the third time Congress is trying to pass the bill to allow corporations to share our personal data with governments loosely. In addition, the 2015 version of CISPA would create a data sharing program between the Department of Homeland Security, Director of National Intelligence, and Secretary of Defense, with no accountability measures outside of their own agencies. Not only that, but any data shared would be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

The NSA and members of Congress want to pass CISPA so badly, they’re scapegoating the SONY hacks over the Interview as the reason this law is back. The truth is that CISPA could not have prevented those hacks, and even Representative Ruppersberger couldn’t explain how it could have. Congress and the NSA are using the same hysteria over cyber security time and time again to try to ram CISPA into law.

CISPA won’t prevent hacking. It will be used and abused to conduct even deeper surveillance into the lives of Internet users worldwide. You can stop them by taking action again. We’ve stopped CISPA before, let’s do it again. Please sign the petition and share it with your friends.

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What’s Wrong with CISPA? (in as few words as possible)

As it’s written in the version that passed the House, CISPA won’t protect us from cyber threats, but it will violate our 4th Amendment right to privacy.

The NSA wants it badly, because it will give them more access to your data, and give companies immunity for legally shaky programs like PRISM:

It lets the government spy on you without a warrant.

It makes it so you can’t even find out about it after the fact.

It makes it so companies can’t be sued when they do illegal things with your data.

It allows corporations to cyber-attack each other and individuals outside of the law.

It makes every privacy policy on the web a moot point, and violates the 4th amendment.

Read The Full Report and Sign The Petition

Commemorating In Order To Forget

January 19th, 2015 by Andy in What Is Patriotism?

This is quite provocatively insightful, especially for Time Magazine. Some real wisdom from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for this Martin Luther King Day.

History has a tendency to commemorate the very thing it wishes to obfuscate. When you convince people that they’ve won, they lose some of their fire over injustice, their passion to challenge the status quo. In Alan Bennett’s brilliant play, The History Boys , one of the teachers explains to his students why a World War I monument to the dead soldiers isn’t really honoring them, but rather keeping people from demanding answers as to how Britain unnecessarily contributed to the cause of the war and is therefore responsible for their deaths. By appealing to our emotional sense of loss, the government’s monument distracts the people from holding the hidden villains responsible. The teacher says, “And all the mourning has veiled the truth. It’s not lest we forget, but lest we remember. That’s what this [war memorial] is about … Because there’s no better way of forgetting something than by commemorating it.”

Read The Full Essay

Hello, NSA

May 29th, 2014 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State, Video

Hello NSA,

Thank you for being there and for really listening.

Kissing Kissinger - Honoring ‘Heroes’ In America

April 24th, 2014 by Andy in Bush League, Video

How fitting. General David Petraeus giving a “Freedom Award” to his “hero,” the “honorable” Henry A. Kissinger (in a ceremony as tacky as it is absurd). He even kisses ol’ Henry, just to reiterate the depth of his subservient affection for one of history’s most amoral manipulators of power. Kissinger then blows off a man who personally confronts him with questions, calling the questioner a “self-serving coward.” In the standard parlance of psychology, this is called “projection.”

I hope the words “you know this is a lie” ring over and over in his ears on his deathbed. Perhaps there will be a moment of existential dread as he takes his final breath, in realization of what a monster he has been in this world, and the literally millions of people who have suffered due to him and his actions.

And watch this for some background on just how free the ‘Freedom Awards’ are. This gives you a pretty good idea of the type of hermetic, insular, and extensively protected bubble that power exists within.

And as for David Petraeus? That Golden Boy of American war and clandestine services (both the ones he managed, as well as those personally rendered), has, as Tom Engelhardt reported, taken the next spin through the revolving door of “rehabilitation.” The general “who never had a victory and yet never stopped rising” has now reemerged on, yep, you guessed it…Wall Street.

According to Gawker, “David Petraeus’ road to redemption has reached its gilded destination. As we first reported in April, the disgraced former CIA director will join Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the private equity giant best known for ‘large debt-fueled corporate takeovers’.”

And for more insight on the depth of the criminogenic duplicity of one Henry A. Kissinger, there are few places better to start than Christopher Hitchen’s detailed expose’, The Case Against Henry Kissinger. For those of you who may not have time for the literary edition, you can watch the movie version, as well.

How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations

April 17th, 2014 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State

Here’s a good way to destroy our capacity for discerning truth.

It’s the COINTELPRO of the internet.

All for your “security” and protection, of course.

Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document , in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

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The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes:

No matter your views on Anonymous, “hacktivists” or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption…

The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats.

Your tax money at work. Investing in lies. So much for the “truth” part of the “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” Clearly, those have devolved into three very distinct, disparate concepts.

Read The Full Report (with documents)

FDR and the Fight for the Four Freedoms

April 14th, 2014 by Andy in Politics In America, Video

A friend of mine, historian Harvey J. Kaye, has a new book out on FDR and the Fight For The Four Freedoms, and the need for reinvigorating the fight for them today. This is a project he’s been working on for many years, and it strikes me as more relevant and needed today than ever.

Our society loves to celebrate the “greatest generation” and the heroes of World War II and all. Harvey sheds some essential light upon what exactly they were fighting for, and the type of society that most Americans were setting out to protect and advance through the sacrifices made in that war (principles that have been sold out from under us by our recent generation of neo-liberal market fundamentalists).

Here, Harvey talks to Bill Moyers in an enlightening and inspiring discussion, worth the few minutes of viewing time.

You can also watch Harvey talk about FDR, as well as the legacy of Thomas Paine, in an hour-long interview with Thom Hartmann. Kaye also makes this short appearance on another of Hartmann’s programs in to talk about the fight for the Four Freedoms.

Inventor of The Web Calls For ‘Internet Bill of Rights’

April 13th, 2014 by Andy in Media and Democracy

I couldn’t agree more with Sir Tim Berners-Lee in his declaration here. In fact, I created a graduate program a number of years ago, the premise of which was basically the underlying principles that Lee is referencing here. Communication is fundamental to our humanity.And in a modern, mass mediated, digitally networked technological society, our right and ability to communicate becomes dependent upon our capability to access and impart information over these networks. Who controls these networks, who and how access to them is managed, becomes an issue of preeminent importance.

The inventor of the world wide web believes an online “Magna Carta” is needed to protect and enshrine the independence of the medium he created and the rights of its users worldwide.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee told the Guardian the web had come under increasing attack from governments and corporate influence and that new rules were needed to protect the “open, neutral” system.

Speaking exactly 25 years after he wrote the first draft of the first proposal for what would become the world wide web, the computer scientist said: “We need a global constitution – a bill of rights.”

Berners-Lee’s Magna Carta plan is to be taken up as part of an initiative called “the web we want”, which calls on people to generate a digital bill of rights in each country – a statement of principles he hopes will be supported by public institutions, government officials and corporations.

“Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.”

Read The Full Article

‘Legalize Democracy’ - Time To Move To Amend

April 12th, 2014 by Andy in Corporations, 'Democracy' & USA Inc., Video

Formed in September 2009, Move To Amend is a coalition of hundreds of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests.

We are calling for an amendment to the US Constitution to unequivocally state that inalienable rights belong to human beings only, and that money is not a form of protected free speech under the First Amendment and can be regulated in political campaigns.

Legalize Democracy is a documentary film by Dennis Trainor, Jr. about the movement to amend — why it is needed, and how you can get involved.

Help spread the word by hosting a house party to support Move To Amend and show the film. Details about hosting a party are Here

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