1. So, US war crimes have now moved into yet another country:
“School bombing exposes Obama’s secret war inside Pakistan”
2. No, the US military is the top threat to the world:
“Iran nuclear issue the ‘top global security threat’
3. “The FBI is pressing Internet service providers to record which Web sites customers visit and retain those logs for two years”
4. “How Secret Becomes Special
One of the advantages of offical secrecy is its contribution to this mystique – writ large for secretive units, but this mystique-maintenance is also useful throughout the military. Hollywood, pulp fiction, television drama, infotainment “news,” and military-veteran boosterism all contribute to the vast ignorance of military matters, by overdramatizing military life and military operations, and by idealizing it.
Film and popular literature are packed with protagonists whose past or present CV includes membership in some elite and highly secret combat unit, where individuals are seven-language linguists, flawless marksmen with every firearm ever manufactured, field surgeons, helicopter pilots, chess masters, and gymnasts.
The arms race among entertainment moguls to one-up each other’s fantasies has only accelerated this stupidity; and the thirst among (primarily male) consumers for this drivel has corresponding and escalating ratio of profit to humbug.
Hannah Arendt once noted:
The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.
Obviously, I insert this quote with the subject of evil in mind, and in the context of a discussion of this mystique-laden military institution, JSOC. Because that is what they actually do, evil, and not some salvific secret missions that keep us unkowingly safe abed at night. Moreover, they are not the idealized archetypes, but simply a bunch of men who are conjoined primarily by their overarching commitment to US nationalism, their belief that ends justify means, and their personal pursuit of probative masculinity.
Few are multi-lingual, most are only marginally in better physical condition than the average civilian gym rat, many are stupid – moreso than you want to know – and all are committed, when under orders, to bully and kill helpless people. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
They are far more banal than anyone would like to believe; and the culture is closer than anything else to a boys locker room. They like sports, pornography, gun culture, video games, alcohol, and misogynist humor. Gunslinging is dick-swinging – the dare-ya atmosphere we males know well, what I call probative masculinity. That’s as stupid and banal as it gets. Our entire culture has become stupid, banal, macho, and adolescent – decadent beyond reckoning. The grotesque reality of the militarized imperial core of 21st Century rentier capitalism.
Elected officials are forced to factor the mystique into anything and everything they say about anyone and everyone military. A sizeable fraction of the voting public believes that cops are like the interesting, intelligent people they see on endless Law and Order reruns, and they believe that military people are like the equally complex and ethical characters played by their favorite actors in idealized representations by the media. Or they are related to military members, an equally biasing condition.
Meanwhile, JSOC flourishes, cloaked in secrecy with just the mystique peeking out. But there was no leaping over tall buildings in a single bound, no warrior-poets protecting us from the manifold dangers lurking outside our borders. There’s just garden variety machismo, men who beat, torture, and kill unarmed detainees… men who have learned to relish violence, because it raises their esteem in the eyes of other men the terrrible escalations of probative masculinity that continue to underwrite the wars of capital and nationalism like no other phenomenon.
Masked by mystique, cloaked in official secrecy, and in our name.
What Simone Weil said remains unfortunately true:
As soon as men know that they can kill without fear of punishment or blame, they kill; or at least they encourage killers with approving smiles.”
5. I wonder why:
6. “Pentagon draws plans for immortal ’synthetic organisms’
7. “Saying ‘Constitution’ while meaning ‘Lawlessness’: Palin attacks Obama
Sarah Palin’s turn before the teabaggers was an exercise in emptying the US Constitution of meaning while seeming to exalt it.
So at every turn she invoked the constitution to undermine the constitution.
She is not about law, but is about power. We’ve had enough narcissistic sociopaths in politics.”
8. “Media Disinformation regarding Emergency Relief in Haiti
We have gone from hearing reports of massive casualties and social needs to a focus on 10 Americans being indicted for child snatching. Once again we have become the story just as the misnamed “We are the World” is revived. It may be another example of what Ishmael Reed calls “fading to white,” a play on the Fade to Black phrase that TV insiders use to end every recorded show.
Contrast this with an offer by the President of Senegal who is suggesting that African states set aside land and resources to encourage Haitians, many of whom were taken as slaves centuries ago, to repatriate to Africa. Poor African countries are sending money and help as well. Continuing assistance from Cuba and Venezuela remains underreported.
And what of the principal relief effort that we have seen on TV where millions of dollars have also been raised to help?
“You can walk down many of the streets of Port au Prince and see absolutely no evidence that the world community has helped Haiti,” writes Bill Quigley on Common Dreams.
All of this underscores both (a) the total incoherence of the ”tea party movement” and (b) how it is, at bottom, nothing more than a cynical marketing attempt to re-brand the right wing of the Republican Party under the exact same policies and principles which defined it for the last couple of decades. As I’ve noted before, there are many individual participants in this “tea party movement” with valid populist grievances against the sleaze and corruption of both parties in Washington, but it’s all being directed towards a pedestrian goal that has nothing to do with any of those sentiments: namely, the re-empowerment of the Republican Party in completely unchanged form. Palin last night righteously condemned the Wall Street bailout even though she (like Glenn Beck) supported that bailout. She wears the banner of “freedom” and “individual liberty” even as she mocks the notion that our laws and Constitution — the instruments by which we restrain government power — ought to limit what the President can do in the name of national security; cheers for the omnipotent Surveillance State; and demands that her religious beliefs form the basis of government intervention in people’s lives. She rails against government debt while supporting the policies largely responsible for its explosion: namely, limitless increases in military spending and endlessly expanded wars and imperial policies (primarily in the Middle East and oh-so-coincidentally aimed at Muslims).
In sum, Sarah Palin loyally supports virtually every policy that defined the uniquely disastrous Bush/Cheney first term. The ”tea party movement” depicts itself as some sort of novel and independent force in American politics, and the establishment media — which patronizingly equates far right extremists with “real Americans” and is petrified of accusations of “liberal bias” — plays along. But exactly the opposite is true. It’s just an appendage of the Republican Party: more dogmatic and boisterous than party leaders would like, but nonetheless devoted to the purest of partisan goals of restoring the same GOP to power that ran the country into the ground over the last decade. All of the GOP leaders whom this movement seeks to empower are the same ones who subserviently supported almost every Bush/Cheney policy for eight straight years. As is true for Palin, Fox News is this movement’s primary sponsor because Fox, which craves a return of the Bush years, knows that the “tea party movement” will promote that goal by re-imaging the destroyed GOP brand into something fresh, pretty and new. Hardened GOP loyalists like Rush Limbaugh, Bill Kristol, National Review and Sean Hannity are perfectly at home in the “tea party movement” because its principal effect is to empower the standard right-wing GOP politicians and policies they’ve long craved.
George Bush and Dick Cheney are too widely discredited for anyone trying to appeal to the unconverted to praise their rule directly. The GOP needed new packaging, a new face. The ”tea party” movement is just a respectable way for love of GOP dogma to once again be safely expressed
Though it’s not true for all of its supporters, the “tea party movement” itself is just a Republican movement — the standard-issue type that blindly cheered Bush and Cheney. It’s all the same nationalistic militarism and warmongering, Wall Street-subservient economics, and religion-based policy-making that has defined the GOP forever. There’s nothing new here. If anything, it represents a demand for even greater allegiance to the Bush/Cheney mindset, for a more purist and even less restrained version of the national security insanity, civil liberties assaults, massive increases in the rich-poor gap, control of Americans’ lives through “social issues,” and endless wars which the Republican Party has long rhetorically claimed to embody. Other than a Medicare prescription plan here and an immigration reform plan there, from what Bush/Cheney orthodoxies do they dissent? None.
This movement is nothing more than the Republican Party masquerading as a grass-roots phenomenon. In 2000, the GOP found a cowboy-hat-wearing, swaggering, “likable” Regular Guy spouting “compassion” in domestic policy and ”humility” in foreign policy to re-brand itself in the wake of the Gingrich-led branding disaster. Sarah Palin and the ”tea party movement” are just the updated versions of that, the re-branding in the wake of the Bush/Cheney-led image disaster. They’re every bit as extremist, radical and dangerous as the last decade revealed standard right-wing Republicans to be, but the one thing they’re not is new or innovative.”