Posts Tagged ‘conservatives’

Our country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty…

Or so the song goes.  But what really is coming to light in the midst of the people’s revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt is that America is not actively promoting liberty if it might interfere with its foreign policy.

The United States provides millions of dollars in military aid to Tunisia. In a WikiLeaks diplomatic cable that was recently released, America’s very own Ambassador called Tunisia,

a police state, with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems.

In Egypt, the United States provides $1.3 billion annually for mostly military aid to a known pro-torture government.  WikiLeaks provided another cable confirming that,

“torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread” and “there are literally hundreds of torture incidents every day in Cairo police stations alone.”

Back in 2005, The Times broke a story about how Egypt carries out torture for the United States.

The United States is not the champion of liberty we are told we are. We have been reduced to being a shameful state that supports anti-democratic tyrants because the devil you know…

This in and of itself should not be news if you pay attention at all to any number of news outlets or if you paid any attention in history class.  What is interesting, and unfortunately expected, is the lengths to which American news outlets will go to make sure they provoke fear in the people’s revolution taking place in the Middle East.

Resident Washington Post douchebag Richard Cohen said yesterday that,

“My take on all this is relentlessly gloomy. I care about Israel. I care about Egypt, too, but its survival is hardly at stake. I care about democratic values, but they are worse than useless in societies that have no tradition of tolerance or respect for minority rights. What we want for Egypt is what we have ourselves. This, though, is an identity crisis. We are not them.”

Tolerance and respect for minority rights, eh?  Not much of that going around right here in the United States (unless that minority is the richest of the rich). It’s about what our foreign policy interests are.

Even the ever entertaining Christian Broadcasting Network broke a story about how Egypt’s minority Copti Christians are bonding with,

“their Muslim neighbors”

while demonstrating a line of an inclusive, nationalist message.

Talking heads are concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood (fear, fear, fear) will take control of Egypt (fear, fear, fear) and then attack Israel (fear, fear, fear).  They will go on and on about how they hate our freedoms and never mention that they really just dislike how we propped up their dictator who brutally repressed them.

The always briliant Salon.com published an article yesterday with Nathan Brown, who is a political science professor at George Washington Univeristy and the director of its Institute for Middle East Studies.  He gives a brief once-over of the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, where they came from, what role they play, their “radicalism”, their size, how they specifically and repeatedly repudiate political violence, and whether or not we really should be concerned with the people’s revolution in Egypt.  That link is here.

Another point that led the BrothersFiasco to internally discuss this situation was the soldiers and police officers discarding their uniforms and state-appointed duties and joining with the protesters. How many times have you just choked down something your boss told you to do that you were opposed to doing? How many times have you said, “oh well, my boss/representative/senator/president will never listen to me. Someone else can take care of it”? The BrothersFiasco, are apparently suckers for the honest conviction and poetic imagery of this scene.

“‘I can’t believe our own police, our own government would keep beating up on us like this,” said Cairo protester Ahmad Salah, 26. ‘I’ve been here for hours and gassed and keep going forward, and they keep gassing us, and I will keep going forward. This is a cowardly government and it has to fall. We’re going to make sure of it.”

Sound familiar? I digress.

On a final note, an interesting situation is happening during the revolution.  As the revolution continues, there are municiple duties that have been abandoned and ignored because of the turmoil the Egyptian government is going through.  This birthed the PCPPOT, or Popular Committee for the Protection of Properties and Organization of Traffic.

“The organization now counts dozens of members amongst its ranks, everyone from students to 40-year-old dentists. Divided into four branches—traffic, cleanup, protection, and emergency response—the PCPPOT often provides lightly armed guards (think pipes and knives) to walk women and children home at night and protect important utilities like water and power. If they catch a criminal, the team will hold him until the proper authorities can come pick him up.

“We want to show the world that we can take care of our country, and we are doing it without the government or police,” Khalid Toufik, a PCPPOT volunteer told The New York Times. “It doesn’t matter if one is a Muslim or a Christian, we all have the same goal.”

A people taking their own lives, present and future, into their own hands. Leading themselves and helping each other regain control of their fate. This is definitely going in the “things that give us hope” category BennettFiasco talked about recently.

What do you think about what’s happening in Egypt? Let us know in the comments.

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No time for intros into today’s post because there is so much to discuss.  Enjoy. Converse. Share your thoughts in the comments below. Rinse. Repeat.

Where we would be today if the FCC had regulated the Internet from the get-go?

Pokemans Black/White to be released in the US March 6th.  For all of you pokemanz hoarders out there.

What’s this?  The Catholic Church is out of touch?  Tell that to the kids…

Class Warfare Begins: Conservatives Want To Tax The Poor

“From Time for Change at Democratic Underground, part of a very long piece about the division among Democrats. I thought this nailed it: Yes, the administration and Congress have accomplished a lot — but where are the programs and legislation that will help the people who are drowning out here?” – Class War: Guess what side Obama’s on

Is Jon Stewart today’s equivalent of Edward R. Murrow?

Should we replace GDP statistics with gross national happiness statistics?

The day wouldn’t be complete without your Assorted Links of Curiosity you say?  Here you be…

PROGRESS was created to help people better understand the real effects of the steps President Obama and Democrats have taken to rebuild our economy. In addition to numbers and statistics, it offers real stories about real people who’s real lives and real communities who have been positively affected by the change progressive Democrats have made. It is a great site and worth the time to investigate.

The myth of the maverick Republican… could one really exist?

Ricky Gervais provides a Holiday message via the Wall Street Journal: Why I’m An Atheist

People who believe in God don’t need proof of his existence, and they certainly don’t want evidence to the contrary. They are happy with their belief. They even say things like “it’s true to me” and “it’s faith.” I still give my logical answer because I feel that not being honest would be patronizing and impolite. It is ironic therefore that “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe,” comes across as both patronizing and impolite.

A recent Gallop poll shows that More Americans Now Believe Humans Evolved Without God

Nova thinks that super-villians need to stop being mad scientists.

The Spider-Man super-villain scientist may be fantasy, but it is rooted in a distrust of science that pervades our society. To be sure, some wariness is justified; there’s certainly ample evidence throughout history that science can be used for evil as well as good. But science and engineering have brought us longer and healthier lives, enabled us to learn about worlds beyond our own, and given us all the electronic gadgets we love so much, including the one I’m typing on right now. And if we want this progress to continue to improve our lives and to bolster our economy, let’s stop picking on scientists and find another villain. There are certainly plenty of real ones out there.

(Fiasco note: Here, here, here, here, here and here are some suggested real villians to go after.)

Data regarding health care reform reducing medical bankruptcies.

Batteries that breathe, holographic phone calls, traffic jam prediction, and cities powered by computer server heat by 2015? IBM thinks maybe.

Assorted Links of Curiosity 12.20.10

Posted: December 20, 2010 by jeredfiasco in Links
Tags: , , , , ,

As always, we present you with Assorted Links of Curiosity for your viewing pleasure.  Don’t say we never get you anything for the holidays.

Caps Lock? Who needs them? The long-overdue movement to abandon Caps Lock.

Dear Tea Baggers: Our Founding Fathers were Liberal, NOT Conservative.

What’s that you say?  The economy is picking back up:  Early signs that America’s gloom is lifting

Large Hadron Collider finds no signatures of microscopic black holes

No experimental evidence for microscopic black holes has been found. This non-observation rules out the existence of microscopic up to a mass of 3.5–4.5 TeV for a range of that postulate extra dimensions.

Perhaps we could just give the South to Mexico?

The radical right believes, apparently in growing numbers, that the Constitution does not prohibit secession and that states can leave the federal union whenever they want. Worse, a Middlebury Institute/Zogby Poll taken in 2008 found that 22 percent of Americans believe that “any state or region has the right to peaceably secede and become an independent republic.” That’s an astounding statistic, one that means that nearly a quarter of Americans don’t know about the Civil War and its outcome. Sadly, it also means that for 1 out of every 4 Americans, the 620,000 of their countrymen who died during the Civil War gave their lives in vain.

‘The new ‘net neutrality’ rules sound decent enough on the surface, but why fix it if it’s not broken?  The new rules will inhibit investment, deter innovation and create a billable-hours bonanza for lawyers.

Superman’s greatest power wasn’t the X-ray vision. It was the copyright trolling.

[EDIT: Thanks to bennettfiasco for the link]

The lawless Wild West attacks WikiLeaks

Monday, Dec 6, 2010 12:07 ET

The lawless Wild West attacks WikiLeaks 

AP

(updated below – Update II – Update III)

WikiLeaks has never been charged with a crime, let alone indicted for one or convicted of one.  A consensus of legal experts agree that prosecuting the organization or Julian Assange for any of its leaks would be difficult in the extreme.  Despite those facts, look at just some of the punishment that has been doled out to them and what has been threatened:

The Guardian, December 3:

Wired, December 4:

News 24, December 4:

Raw Story, today:

CNET, December 2:

New York Times, December 2:

The Telegraph, December 1:

New York Daily News, November 28:

Just look at what the U.S. Government and its friends are willing to do and capable of doing to someone who challenges or defies them — all without any charges being filed or a shred of legal authority.  They’ve blocked access to their assets, tried to remove them from the Internet, bullied most everyone out of doing any business with them, froze the funds marked for Assange’s legal defense at exactly the time that they prepare a strange international arrest warrant to be executed, repeatedly threatened him with murder, had their Australian vassals openly threaten to revoke his passport, and declared them “Terrorists” even though — unlike the authorities who are doing all of these things — neither Assange nor WikiLeaks ever engaged in violence, advocated violence, or caused the slaughter of civilians.

This is all grounded in the toxic mindset expressed yesterday on Meet the Press (without challenge, naturally) by GOP Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said of Assange:  “I think the man is a high-tech terrorist. He’s done an enormous damage to our country, and I think he needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And if that becomes a problem, we need to change the law.”  As usual, when wielded by American authorities, the term “terrorist” means nothing more than: “those who impede or defy the will of the U.S. Government with any degree of efficacy.”  Anyone who does that is, by definition, a Terrorist.  And note McConnell’s typical, highly representative view that if someone he wants to punish isn’t a criminal under the law, then you just “change the law” to make him one.

But that sort of legal scheming isn’t even necessary.  The U.S. and its “friends” in the Western and business worlds are more than able and happy to severely punish anyone they want without the slightest basis in “law.”  That’s what the lawless, Wild Western World is:  political leaders punishing whomever they want without any limits, certainly without regard to bothersome concepts of “law.”  Anyone who doubts that should just look at what has been done to Wikileaks and Assange over the last week.  In this series of events, there are indeed genuine and pernicious threats to basic freedom and security; they most assuredly aren’t coming from WikiLeaks or Julian Assange.

People often have a hard time believing that the terms “authoritarian” and “tyranny” apply to their own government, but that’s because those who meekly stay in line and remain unthreatening are never targeted by such forces.  The face of authoritarianism and tyranny reveals itself with how it responds to those who meaningfully dissent from and effectively challenge its authority:  do they act within the law or solely through the use of unconstrained force?

* * * * *

Yahoo News!‘ Michael Calderone has a very good article documenting how major American media outlets — as always — snapped into line with the authorities they serve by ceasing to use the term “whistle-blower” to describe WikiLeaks.

One encouraging development is the emergence of hundreds of “mirror-WikiLeaks” sites around the world which make abolishing WikiLeaks pointless; that’s a good model for how to subvert Internet censorship efforts.  Those interested in doing that can find instructions here.

And here is a well-done site which asks:  “Why is WikiLeaks a Good Thing?”

UPDATE:  Just to underscore the climate of lawless initmidation that has been created:  before WikiLeaks was on many people’s radars (i.e., before the Apache video release), I wrote about the war being waged on them by the Pentagon, interviewed Assange, and urged people to donate money to them.  In response, numerous people asked — both in comments and via email — whether they would be in danger, could incur legal liability for providing material support to Terrorism or some other crime, if they donated to WikiLeaks.  Those were American citizens expressing that fear over an organization which had never been remotely charged with any wrongdoing.

Similarly, I met several weeks ago with an individual who once worked closely with WikiLeaks, but since stopped because he feared that his country — which has a very broad extradition treaty with the U.S. — would arrest him and turn him over to the Americans upon request.  He knew he had violated no laws, but given that he’s a foreigner, he feared — justifiably — that he could easily be held by the United States without charges, denied all sorts of basic rights under the Patriot Act, and otherwise be subject to a system of “justice” which recognizes few limits or liberties, especially when dealing with foreigners accused of aiding Terrorists.

All the oppressive, lawless policies of the last decade — lawless detention, Guantanamo, disappearing people to CIA black sites, rendition, the torture regime, denial of habeas corpus, drones, assassinations, private mercenary forces, etc. — were designed, first and foremost, to instill exactly this fear, to deter any challenge.   Many of these policies continue, and that climate of fear thus endures (see this comment from today as but one of many examples).  As the treatment just thus far of WikiLeaks and Assange demonstrates, that reaction — though paralyzing and counter-productive — is not irrational.  And one thing is for sure:  there is nothing the U.S. Government could do — no matter how lawless or heinous — which (with rare exception) would provoke the objections of the American establishment media.

UPDATE II:  Those wishing to donate to WikiLeaks can still do so here, via Options 2 (online credit card) or 3 (wire to bank in Iceland).

UPDATE III:  One more, from CNET, roughly 30 minutes ago:

As the article says, this is “a move that will dry up another source of funds for the embattled document-sharing Web site.”  Remember:  this is all being done not only without any charges or convictions, but also any real prospect of charging them with a crime, because they did nothing illegal.

On 02 December 2010, The Washington Times published an editorial entitled Wave Good to Internet Freedom where they discuss the FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski‘s plan to add the internet to industries that the FCC regulates.  In the draft circulated Genachowski says he will “preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet.”

Gulp.

With a straight face, Mr. Genachowski suggested that government red tape will increase the “freedom” of online services that have flourished because bureaucratic busybodies have been blocked from tinkering with the Web. Ordinarily, it would be appropriate at this point to supply an example from the proposed regulations illustrating the problem. Mr. Genachowski‘s draft document has over 550 footnotes and is stamped “non-public, for internal use only” to ensure nobody outside the agency sees it until the rules are approved in a scheduled Dec. 21 vote. So much for “openness.”

The Washington Times seems to laugh wholeheartedly at this notion.

With a straight face, Mr. Genachowski suggested that government red tape will increase the “freedom” of online services that have flourished because bureaucratic busybodies have been blocked from tinkering with the Web. Ordinarily, it would be appropriate at this point to supply an example from the proposed regulations illustrating the problem. Mr. Genachowski‘s draft document has over 550 footnotes and is stamped “non-public, for internal use only” to ensure nobody outside the agency sees it until the rules are approved in a scheduled Dec. 21 vote. So much for “openness.”

Luckily a bi-partisan majority has shot down previous FCC attempts at any bill that would change a hands-off policy of the internet.

The next day, completely unrelated, Senators Scott Brown (R-Mass), John Ensign (R-Nev.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced a bill Thursday trying to stop limit accountability and transparency by making it illegal to publish the names of military or intelligence community informants.  The three war hawks are accusing Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks brilliance of impeding the “war” effort by leaking documents detailing the troubling secrecy that is American diplomacy.

“Our sources are bravely risking their lives when they stand up against the tyranny of al Qaeda, the Taliban and murderous regimes, and I simply will not stand idly by as they become death targets because of Julian Assange,”

As of today, nobody has become a death target, except Julian Assange.

Attorney General Eric Holder recently pledged to close gaps in the law that allow sites like WikiLeaks to continue to operate.
The Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination Act (SHIELD) would give the government the flexibility to pursue Assange for allegedly outing confidential U.S. informants. Brown said the law would prevent anyone from compromising national security in a similar manner, while Lieberman said its passage was essential to restore the international diplomatic community’s faith in the U.S.

Apparently restoring the international diplomatic community’s faith in the U.S. means to cover up the daily shenanigans of what really is taking place.  It is one thing for Hillary Clinton to ask about the President of Argentina and it is another to cover up Arab nations urging the U.S. to launch a first strike on Iran and the Chinese government’s  involvement  in computer hacking.

“Our foreign representatives, allies and intelligence sources must have the clear assurance that their lives will not be endangered by those with opposing agendas, whether they are Americans or not, and our government must make it clear that revealing the identities of these individuals will not be tolerated,” Lieberman said.

Liberman says that lives will not be endangered by those with opposing agendas.  What about our freedoms, Joe?