Saturday, July 20, 2013

More Agitprop Against Critics of Surveillance State

Ruth Marcus's current column, which, btw, The Oregonian gave pride of place today, on the Op-Ed page, is one of the, well, I was going to say worst, but on second thought, let's say most transparently propagandistic pieces of nonsense I've read in many a day.  "Snowden's No Hero"  the headline reads.  Marcus is no doubt aware that Snowden has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Wonderful idea! I'd say.

Speaking from her megaphone at the Washington Post, her article appears an arrow aimed at puncturing any such design.  What I see is the White House sending signals of displeasure at the notion that the same committee that made such a gross blunder when they awarded Obama that very award in 2008, might try to over correct by awarding it to a real hero.

As if to display her liberal creds, she uses Martin Luther King as an example of how a hero ought to proceed.  She quotes MLK extensively.  But she disregards the reality that civil rights concerning the black community was more than forty years ago and worlds away from this issue.  There is no model for how to be heroic in this era of very high-tek.  This world is dominated by the likes of Booz Allen Hamilton --- a giant hi-tech surveillance contractor who is accustomed to getting those no-bid multi-billion dollar contracts from the NSA.

Even here, the way to truth is to follow the money.  And the money leads directly to Booz Allen's door. And to Barack Obama's door.  Obama garnered well over a hundred and forty seven thou from Booz Allen alone. Not to mention very generous donations to Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, and John Kerry campaigns among a host of other very well known politicians too numerous to name here. For an excellent discussion of the intimate, nay, cozy relationship between NSA and Booz Allen Hamilton, as well as both political parties, see the well documented article by David Sirota

"Simply put," Sirota says, "there are huge corporate forces with a vested financial interest in making sure the debate over security is tilted toward the surveillance state and against the critics of that surveillance state."

In describing heroic action, Marcus mentions Socrates, actually Plato's evocation of him in the Crito, where Socrates refutes Crito's plea to escape prison and death.  She mentions this as a way to show Snowden isn't really a hero because he is unwilling to hang around and accept a corrupt government's prosecution against him.

I have referred to the same dialogue, the Crito, to contrast the philosophy and actions of Ayn Rand with those of a real philosopher, namely, Socrates.  Rand railed against the philosophical underpinnings which helped to create Social Security and Medicare.  Then she availed herself of both at the end.  Rand was not a hero, by any stretch, nor even, when you hold her up to Socrates, a decent philosopher.  She was a hypocrite.  A nothing.  Not worthy of mention.

Marcus mentions Socrates, but avoids the name of Thomas Drake.  Drake did his best to alert the NSA and the CIA, and the FBI, and finally Congress about the threat of an attack on the World Trad Center on 9/11.  Thomas Drake was thanked by being fired from his job, his name deliberately smeared, and threatened with imprisonment, for his trouble.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Real Criminal Class

The Psychology department at U of CA at Berkeley has added a big exclamation point to the long held poetic suspicion that the rich are rotten to the core and the poor are inherently more virtuous, more compassionate and more giving.  I must add that I have seen evidence of this sort of behavior and now this data merely confirms what we've all, folk wisdom people and poets and playwrights, always known. Now comes the latest and very conclusive results that the richer they are the more likely they are to steal candy from a baby.


Steal candy from a baby.

Remember this is based on a thorough research study for nearly a decade.  But as far as I can tell, this experiment is far from the first study to show sad and dramatic differences in the ethical and moral differences between rich and poor.

And as far as I am concerned, there is the same difference between Republican and Progressive.  If you have a hard time with my findings you can set up your own experiments.  I have set up and completed my own research.  One cannot help but notice that Republicans are far more likely to lie, to cheat, and to bully, than Progressives.  Not that all Progressives are perfect models of virtue all the time, but the likelihood of a conservative evincing rude behavior among his or her perceived inferiors, whether they were actually inferior or not is huge.  This set of observations runs side by side with Lord Acton's famous dictum that "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." 

Strange.  You would think it was just the reverse.  That those with plenty would be more liberal and more virtuous while the poor would wish to conserve more stringently and not help out their neighbor.  But the American Taliban, the Evangelical Christians many of whom make up significant portion of the Tea Party, are the least virtuous, most hypocritical and un-Christlike, bigoted, slanderous and judgmental of any group in America. In other words --- rich conservatives are human trash.

And that is not to say that all Republicans are appalling snobs.  Mostly it seems to be the richest and the loudest.  The leadership.  The broadcast voices: The Rushes.  The Michael Savages.  The Lars Larsens.

Big Voices, tiny men --- moral midgets, really.

And by wealthy we are speaking of relatively modest income, such as one hundred fifty to two hundred thousand dollars a year.  A pittance compared to Wall Street banksters who pull down 20, 40 60, million a business quarter.

*  *  *  *  *

We cannot forget that we have a list of men of immense wealth, billionaires, who have chosen to act as a force for good at the very least in their community, if not the entire planet.  But  and really, though those who do add their names to the list of great generosity, the studies show they tend to live longer and to be healthier, and get a better night's sleep, and generally report happier lives, than their stingier colleagues, the rich are, nevertheless, rather slow to add their names.