The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Reverse Robin Hood


Alan “The Con” Greenspan Watch

You may remember when I discussed Alan Greenspan, and how he had raised payroll taxes on working class people in the 80's to save Social Security, and then came back a few years ago to try to scaremonger us all into giving up our Social Security and stampede trillions of dollars into Wall Streets funds. It seems that Tom Tomorrow, in the attachment, also remembers that. It should be remembered, but rarely is mentioned in polite discussion between corporate members of the television chatterati, that Greenspan is a Randroid, a disciple who sat at the feet of that wellspring of charisma and human kindness, Ayn Rand. (You can bask in Ms. Rand’s creepy brand of charisma here, if you choose. See what everyone is talking about!) Having read several of Rand’s books in the last twenty years, it is still hard to understand what is so seemingly attractive her philosophy for so many people. It seems to break down into 1) if you’ve ever needed help with anything in your life, you are a piece of crap and deserve to die, and 2) what is good for me is Good. It’s hard to think of a more stunted, inhumane “philosophy”, and the fact that someone who was so taken by her writing that he actually modified his life to learn more from her was given an extremely powerful post in which to effect the nation’s monetary policies is horrifying beyond words. The fact that the media never seemed to pick up on the fact that this might be a bad thing is stunning. More about Andrea Mitchell’s husband below.

Outrage Machine Watch

The media consists primarily of an “outrage machine”, which responds to right-wing hyperventilation, and a titillation machine, which feeds America’s celebrity jones until the next right-wing outrage comes along. Things which are, in the context of the big picture, not really that big a deal are fed into the outrage machine, and they become generally regarded as true and outrageous. And often, things which are truly dangerous and horrible are not fed into the outrage machine, and therefore, vanish without a ripple into the world of things-which-are-true-but-which-no-one-knows-about-because-they-were-never-discussed-on-the-TeeVee.

Several pairs of events illustrate this effect. Clinton carrying on and lying about a rather mild and sad affair? Outrage Galore! Outrageous Maximus! The End of America! Chimpy knowingly lying about requiring warrants but actually illegally listening in to the phone calls and emails of his political opponents? Crickets. Gore (falsely) accused of taking too much credit for uncovering Love Canal? His Sanity is called into Question! Dozens of members of the Bush administration flouting congressional subpoenas investigating their criminal activities? Yawn . . . slow news day. Wealthy Democratic contributors sleeping over in the WhiteHouse? Outrage is an understatement. America establishing a gulag system and routinely torturing even our own citizens? Nothing to see here, move along.

That’s how the game is played, and in a way it is easy to see how our top Democratic officeholders have just about given up the game. They can’t generate any outrage of their own – none that makes it to the general public, anyway, and if they try the GOP will just drum up false outrage based on lies if they have to. And being outraged is so tiring . . . Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have now stated so many times and so firmly that they will not, now or in the future, consider impeaching Cheneyco and Bushco, that it’s clear that this misadministration has their complete consent to do whatever they freaking feel like. And that is a true outrage.

BlackWater: Hearts and Minds Watch

One rather surprising development in this war is the extensive use of mercenaries. Like torture, this just seems a priori like a bad idea all around. Their loyalty, training, and behavior are not nearly as reliable as US servicemen, and with questionable accountability and rampant corruption, they are as bad a set of representatives for America to the country we have conquered and are pillaging as any I can think of. Recently, several developments concerning the firm BlackWater (though there are many others) have brought this problem to light. It was reported in one particular incident that BlackWater mercenaries drew guns on US servicemen, disarmed them and forced them to lie down. Jeremy Scahill has done extensive research on BlackWater and their CEO Erik Prince. And another report details why BlackWater mercenaries are such an evil presence in Iraq. But don’t worry! Our Commander-in-Chief is fully aware of the issues and knows just how mercenaries fit into our plan! Asked an intelligent question about whether Iraqi or American or indeed any law at all governed the actions of mercenaries in Iraq, His Dimness replied, “Huh? Garsh, I don’t know anything about that. Next question?”. So, clearly, there is nothing to worry about here.

While we are on the subject of hearts and minds, here is a cheerful report about “baiting” Iraqis with equipment, and then shooting them when they pick the equipment up. That kind of quick, judge-jury-executioner-type justice is sure to make the Iraqi people love us for centuries to come!

More Shock Watch

Another thesis in Naomi Klein’s book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”, is that there are parallels between dismantling a person’s mind, which the CIA discovered how to do by funding a Montreal psychologist’s research into electroshock, sensory deprivation, and psychoactive drugs in the 60’s and which was used with CIA supervision throughout Latin America for decades, and the dismantling of a society’s self-protection. In both cases, the dignity and self-preservation of the subject are attacked and removed, followed by leaving them open to abuse by their captors. And this kind of torture is used hand in hand with authoritarian suppression in societies that are being laid waste to by rapacious capitalism. The goal is to remove or terrorize union organizers, social progressives, and activists, so that the exploitation is not hampered by the completely irrelevant will of the nation’s population.

America was given, and miserably failed, a test of its own strength of self-protection in the case of Jose Padilla. He was accused in the press of crimes he never ended up being charged with, held for years without access to his family or to a lawyer, and subjected to having his mind destroyed by the techniques of the CIA. After reading the first chapter of the Shock Doctrine, and then seeing pictures of Padilla in sensory-deprivation gear as he was moved around and reading descriptions of his torture, it was clear that his treatment was meant to test the waters of our tolerance for having these procedures used on our fellow citizens. But the torture of Jose Padilla was never fed into the corporate Outrage Machine, and so has passed into our history largely unnoted.

You can watch Naomi Klein debate Mr. Greenspan and also see her discussion of the Shock Doctrine on BookTV.

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