follow us in feedly
American democracy dies, murderers caught on video (or The Republicans pull a REALLY creepy move)

If you haven’t seen the video yet of Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on the floor of the House asking for a clarification on the rules of the shutdown, believe me, it’s well worth watching.

There’s a compelling reason it’s been garnering hundreds of thousands of YouTube plays the past few days: Very simply it shows—beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt—that the Republicans not only planned the government shutdown in advance, but that they made damned good and sure that when their neanderthal putsch started, there would be new rules in place to prevent it from being voted on.

It’s astonishing. It’s not like I expect that this clip will be discussed on Fox News anytime soon, but a Republican with even a modicum of intelligence, honesty and decency would be obliged to see exactly same thing that the rest of us see when we watch this clip.

If you’re unclear of exactly what’s happening, under normal circumstances any Congressperson can call for a vote on any bill at any time.

Not anymore! Prior to the shutdown, the Republicans very quietly passed H.R. 368, a measure that only House Majority Leader Eric Cantor can call for an end to the shutdown.

That’s right Eric Cantor and ONLY Eric Cantor—not even Speaker of the House John Boehner or any other ranking Republican—unless Cantor gives his express permission for a designee to do it. Via Talking Points Memo:

So unless House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wanted the Senate spending bill to come to the floor, it wasn’t going to happen. And it didn’t.

“I’ve never seen this rule used. I’m not even sure they were certain we would have found it,” a House Democratic aide told TPM. “This was an overabundance of caution on their part. ‘We’ve got to find every single crack in the dam that water can get through and plug it.’”

Congressional historians agreed that it was highly unusual for the House to reserve such power solely for the leadership.

“I’ve never heard of anything like that before,” Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told TPM.

“It is absolutely true that House rules tend to not have any explicit parliamentary rights guaranteed and narrowed to explicit party leaders,” Sarah Binder, a congressional expert at the Brookings Institution, told TPM. “That’s not typically how the rules are written.”

The rule change was made to prevent a majority vote from becoming even a possibility without the expressed consent of ONE MAN! Fewer than 25% of Americans support the GOP’s shutdown and yet here we are

This is democracy? It’s thisclose to being fascism. The dummies are in charge. Minority moron rule. Joseph Stalin or Il Duce would laugh at what America has become. The whole thing is worth watching—and infuriating—but by around the 5:00 mark, the cat’s out of the bag thanks to Congressman Van Hollen.

Judging from the rapidly escalating number of YouTube views, I think it’s safe to say that it’s not going back in again. Please share with everyone, even, make that especially, your Uncle Ronnie the Teabagger. He’s never going to hear about this from Rush or see it on the Fox News, but Uncle Ronnie really needs to know about this…

And then there is this, an earlier, less dramatic, but in no way less revelatory confrontation that took place two weeks ago when Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) noticed something seemed fishy and asked some uncomfortable questions of the Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), who flat out admits that she’s right!

“That’s what I’m saying. We took that away.”

Sessions tells her of GOP “resolve” in the debt ceiling battle. Here’s her response:

“Oh, Mercy. It just gets deeper and deeper. I want to tell you the resolve that I think you’ve got. And despite the fact that every one of you said, over and over ad nauseam, that you didn’t want to shut the government down, we spent some time down in my office watching so many of your members — right after they were elected in 2010 — saying how much they would like to shut down the House to great applause.”

“I think it is really shortsighted, I think it is an atrocity to the Rules of the House. And I think you’re putting the whole country through this angst and this aggravation that we did not need to go. This one we could have done without.”

“And I must tell you that I’m more and more angry now that I understand what you have done is take away our ability is to really make a motion for that Senate vote.”

Guess what? The Tea party-led government shutdown came THE VERY NEXT DAY!

Go right to 1:20 and start from there. If this isn’t an admission of guilt, I don’t know what would be…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
(Real) Terrorism trading cards (for kids)

trading card
Is he smiling? Did they depict him smiling? Are they trying to teach children or haunt their dreams?
Millions of children all over the world are forced to learn about terrorism through first-hand experience, often before they’re old enough to grasp the geopolitical context of the violence. But what about those poor kids who grow up without that kind of hands-on education? What’s the best way to fill young minds with the horrors of war, colonialism, and oppression? Why, trading cards, of course! And that’s exactly what the Piedmont Candy Company did in 1987, with… somewhat problematic results.
trading card
Mussolini was a fascist dictator, and while he used terror tactics during his reign, “fascist dictator” is a higher, more historically relevant ranking. Plus, by 1987, he had been dead for over 40 years. He looks good on a card, but this is clearly phoned it. Try harder, Piedmont Candy Company.
trading card
“The Irish have been waging war against England for hundreds of years.” Really, Piedmont Candy Company? Really?!? That’s your read on anti-English sentiment among the Irish?
trading card
I feel like the fact that they mention the “safety” of bombs twice before telling kids how dangerous they are is a bit counterintuitive. (Really kids! Don’t make bombs yourself, but they’re super-safe, so if you happen to come across one, go to town!)
trading card
To answer your speculative question, no. No, they were not going to bomb the Statue of Liberty. You’re welcome.
trading card
Call me a snob, but I find it difficult to take your assessment of Iranian politics seriously when you can’t spell “Shiite” correctly.
trading cards
Jesus fucking Christ!
Lacing children’s candy with ahistoric, fear-mongering propaganda isn’t enough? You have to make them bloodthirsty, too? If you’re trying to turn them into little killing machines, why not just put angel dust, steroids, and bath salts in the chewing gum?
trading card
Wait, weren’t you just advocating for the liberal use of nuclear weapons?!? “No one is overly anxious to use them!” First of all, I’m quite sure you mean “overly eager,” not “overly anxious.” Second of all, you are overly eager to use them, Piedmont Candy Company! You are the terrifying example of nuke-happy psychos!

The insidious nature of sneaking ignorant, paranoid, violent nationalism into trading cards is baffling, and yet somehow simultaneously totally unsurprising. I wonder if the economic realities of 1987 Detroit didn’t add fuel to the panicked, reactionary fire—international politics have always been a convenient distraction from extreme poverty and wealth inequality. Regardless, I’m somewhat comforted that we’re not seeing anything quite this indoctrinating being lobbed at kids nowadays.

And if there is, please don’t tell me! Let me live in a world where candy is still sweet! 

Via Organic Mechanic

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
On the first anniversary of the Pussy Riot conviction, August 17

This is a guest editorial by Hunter Heaney, executive director of The Voice Project, a US-based NGO that has raised over $100,000 for support and safety monitoring efforts for the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot.

They were tired of their rights being stripped away. Tired of their government not representing them any more. Tired of ultra right-wing policies that seemed to be driven by oligarchs and secret concentrations of wealth divorced from the needs of everyday citizens and oppressive to those with less political power in the current plutocracy that seems and acts more and more intimidatingly, more authoritarian every day.

So they sing. In public. They raise their voices as a way to express the basic human right to be heard by those would purport to govern them. And for that they are arrested. Sounds familiar.

It’s not Pussy Riot.

It’s not Russia.

It’s America.

The Solidarity Singers and the Raging Grannies gather every weekday at the Wisconsin state house to sing. They are trying to express their feelings about Governor Scott Walker and the run amok right-wing policies their state seems to be implementing at ALEC’s behest. And the powers that be are having none of it. Not only are the singers being arrested, but so are the spectators, just for attending, just for watching, just for reporting on it. And remember this is all happening in the public space of the state capitol building, the people’s building, the people’s property.

Free speech? Free press? The right to peaceably assemble? Not so much in Russia, not so much in Wisconsin, not so much in a lot of places these days.

Welcome to the modern world, welcome to modern America. Bit by bit we’ve lost the things we held dear. We’ve slowly let the freedoms we were so proud of, that were associated with our dream of this country, be disappeared like an extraordinary rendition to Guantanamo.  No trial, no explanation, just a black bag over the head. Habeas corpus is just a thing we once had, or we thought we had. An effective free press, well, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert remind us every weeknight where that’s gone (and they help us laugh to keep us from sinking into a national depression).

We’re surveilled like something out of the pages of Orwell, propagandized like scenes from V for Vendetta with fear campaigns like The War on Terror, beaten and pepper sprayed for peaceful protests, resigned to our running jokes about how Congress seems to have now abandoned even the facade of representing the people in favor of the supranational corporations and the 1% who finance their campaigns and their lives.

And the poor, well, forget about them. At least that seems to be the hope anyway. How much have you personally heard about one in four kids in this country being on food stamps now? Pensions being stripped away from those who worked and saved for them, just like George Carlin predicted they would be? It happens now through “strategic municipal bankruptcies” and other financial and legal maneuvers. It starts with carefully planned campaigns hatched by conservative think-tanks that talk endlessly about “entitlements.” Isn’t that clever?

We are now a shadow of our former selves. The “Greatest Generation” are dying. My dad was one. There are a few left, but they must not be impressed by what they see, what we are doing with what they fought for. Some of them certainly know that in no universe of realistic thought does Scott Walker’s Wisconsin or our modern America respect the sentiments they held dear enough to defend. They’re codified in Wisconsin’s State Constitution as:

“Every person may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right, and no laws shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press.”


“The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

No wonder the dystopian-future fantasies are so popular at the box office, they must ring true, or maybe they let us think it’s not quite so bad right now in comparison. But make no mistake, we’re there, welcome to Dystopia. You’re soaking in it. Sometimes I think we’ll wake up from it all—take the red pill.  It does seem to be happening in other places around the world, like Gezi Park and the streets of São Paulo, even if the dissent suppression machines seem stronger than ever.

Here in America though, I often think we’re just like slow boiling frogs, nodding off to sleep while the heat is steadily turned up, too late realizing what happened as things fade to black. Hopeless and specious tropes about how protest songs don’t matter anymore appear to have even some musicians convinced, and seem to signal our giving up. And that’s when I give thanks for Pussy Riot, for the Solidarity Singers, for the Raging Grannies. Let the armchair quarterbacks debate their musical quality or performance characteristics or predict the demise of protest singing. While they’re at it perhaps spoken and written words, literature, ideas and the rest of the humanities should be thrown in there too.

Of course there are ideas and words and performances that matter, like “I Have a Dream” or “We Shall Overcome” or “Redemption Song” or yes, “Punk Prayer” that will speak truth to power, that will inspire, that provide aid and succor to those who will resist. The Solidarity Sing-Alongs are to me without a doubt among the most important performances taking place today. Same with the 40-second performance that landed Pussy Riot in labor camps for two years.

Content matters. Ideas matter. So Pussy Riot is my band. The Raging Grannies are my band and the Solidarity Singers, too. They’ve inspired me to write this, and I’m going to go check and see if some friends want to join me in supporting these singers and what’s going on in Wisconsin.

When members of Pussy Riot were here in New York this past spring, they stayed over and we had some long talks. “Shaiba” said, “It feels like we’re building this great mafia around the world, friends everywhere.” I hope so. I think this is the way it’s going to need to work if we’re ever going to stage a comeback here. We’re going to need to look out for each other, work with each other in the face of great concentrations of power. Some say the key will be localism, a renewed reliance on our geographically proximate communities, but I sometimes worry an overzealous application of these ideas as a solution may lead to isolationism. I believe we’ll need to help each other, even across great distances and divides.

Helotism” is a word I learned from Pussy Riot. Worth checking out the etymology on that one. One of the many things I learned from the girls. These are the kinds of things I’m remembering today, that I’m thinking about on this anniversary. That we can learn from each other, help each other, that we can stick together, we can make songs matter and turn ideas into action, that we can inspire each other, and we can decide to lay down and take it… or not.

Hunter Heaney is executive director of The Voice Project, a US based NGO that has raised over $100,000 for support and safety monitoring efforts for the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot.



Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
What Marx got right

This is a guest post from Charles Hugh Smith. His newest book is Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It

The crisis of capitalism has not been resolved; it’s simply been papered over.

First, a disclaimer: this is an interpretive discussion of some aspects of Marx’s analysis (which was based on the capitalism he observed in the late 19th century) applied to present-day cartel-state capitalism. It is not a scholarly or academic presentation.

The discussion covers a lot of ground, though, so please refill your beverage container and strap in….

That Marx’s prescription for a socialist/Communist alternative to capitalism failed does not necessarily negate his critique of capitalism. Marx spent hundreds of pages analyzing capital and capitalism and relatively few sketching out a pie-in-the-sky alternative that was not grounded in historical examples or working models.

So it is no surprise that his prescriptive work is an occasionally risible historical curiosity while his critique stands as a systemic analysis.

Marx got a number of things right, one of which appears to be playing out on a global scale. You probably know that Marx expected capitalism to experience a series of ever-larger boom-bust cycles that would eventually precipitate revolution and overthrow of the existing financial-political order.

One driver of these cycles was the interplay of increasing production and declining labor costs. In broad-brush, Marx recognized that industrial capital (as opposed to finance capital) could only increase profits and accumulate more capital by raising production and/or establishing a price-fixing cartel or monopoly.

Mechanization characterized industrial capitalism in the late 19th century, and Marx observed that as mechanization increased productivity, the marginal value of labor decreased on a per unit basis.

Here is a real-world example: When I first visited China in 2000, there was a massive glut of television production: the capacity to manufacture TVs had expanded far beyond China’s domestic demand for TVs. To wring out a profit in a highly competitive industry, manufacturers had to ramp up production while lowering the unit cost of labor and the unit cost of each TV to undercut the competition.

If an assembly line of 100 workers could produce 1,000 TVs a day, the only way to lower the price of the TV is to either lower the wages paid to the workers or invest capital in machinery that enables the same 100 workers to produce 2,000 TVs a day.

At 2,000 TVs a day, the per unit labor cost falls in half. For example, at 1,000 TVs a day, the labor cost per TV might be $40. At 2,000 TVs per day assembled by the same 100 workers, the labor cost per unit drops to $20.

The key point here is that labor’s share of the total production cost declines. If workers had taken home $1 million in pay to make 100,000 TVs at the old production rate of 1,000 TVs/day, they now take home $500,000 to make 100,000 TVs at the new production rate.

In other words, labor’s share of value creation constantly declines as mechanization boosts productivity. Marx described the impact of another factor: oversupply of labor. As rural agricultural workers flooded into cities for jobs that paid cash, there was an abundance of factory labor. Competition for jobs pushes wages lower, so workers faced a double-whammy: their share of production relentlessly declined as productivity rose, and the pressure on wages constantly rose as per unit labor costs declined.

The competition to outproduce industrial rivals with cheaper per-unit production costs and labor’s competition for jobs both generate a structural crisis in capitalism: as production of goods rises, both the cost per unit and the number of workers earning enough to buy the goods declines.

Keep reading ‘What Marx Got Right’ from Charles Hugh Smith after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Loathsome conservative billionaire wants to eliminate minimum wage to ‘help the poor’

Charles Koch, the ultra conservative billionaire has discovered the Orwellian Bizarro World secret to getting poor people back on their feet again: Do away with the minimum wage!

I mean, why do we need it, right, isn’t the minimum wage one of the major roadblocks holding back the US economy from competing in a global marketplace? At least this is what this obscenely wealthy son-of-a-bitch (net worth $25 billion) wants people—gullible people, the kind of people who tend to believe anything if they hear it enough times—to think.

Yesterday, Koch told the Wichita Eagle why he’s against the minimum wage:

We want to do a better job of raising up the disadvantaged and the poorest in this country, rather than saying ‘Oh, we’re just fine now.’ We’re not saying that at all. What we’re saying is, we need to analyze all these additional policies, these subsidies, this cronyism, this avalanche of regulations, all these things that are creating a culture of dependency. And like permitting, to start a business, in many cities, to drive a taxicab, to become a hairdresser. Anything that people with limited capital can do to raise themselves up, they keep throwing obstacles in their way. And so we’ve got to clear those out. Or the minimum wage. Or anything that reduces the mobility of labor.

Reduces the mobility of labor? And here I always thought it was shit like like lack of affordable healthcare that reduced all that fucking mobility Koch seems to want to grease up for us with these, er, penetrating insights…

But it gets even better! As Rebecca Leber writes on Think Progress, Koch’s political foundation is starting to run an ad in Kansas that aims to “start a conversation” about America’s future:

The Kansas ad does not specifically mention the minimum wage, but it does claim that Americans earning $34,000 a year should count themselves as lucky, because that puts them in the top 1 percent of the world. “That is the power of economic freedom,” the ad concluded. Meanwhile, Charles and David Koch are the ones comfortably in the 1 percent, with a net worth of about 1 million times that figure.

Here’s the ad the Koch brothers hope will convince people who ride public transportation to fast food jobs to let folks like them kick the last slats of social support out from underneath them… for their own good and the good of the nation! The Charles Koch Foundation’s YouTube channel describes the one-minute spot like so:

How do we measure human happiness, well-being, and progress? There may be no more important question than how we strive for human progress and how we measure our path along the way. This video sparks a conversation about the conditions that can best create opportunities for earned success as well as compassion for the vulnerable. We hope you join the dialogue.

Many folks, as you might imagine, have joined the dialogue on YouTube, nearly all of it falling into the “fuck you and the vile propaganda your billions pay for, you loathsome piece of shit. When the revolution comes you’re gonna get yours,” etcetera, etcetera…

Won’t you join the dialogue, yourself and let Chuck know what you think?

Thank you, Steven Otero!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
MASKED, heavily-armed paramilitary rent-a-cops are freaking out Wisconsin

It cannot be said that the citizens of Wisconsin didn’t truly get what they asked for when they had a chance to shitcan Republican Governor Scott Walker, but for some inexplicable reason, opted not to oust the lickspittle Koch whore. Nope, Wisconsin voted this toady to the rich and powerful in twice and well, that clearly wasn’t an accident, now was it? By any metric, Gov. Walker’s tenure in the statehouse has been a disastrous and divisive few years for Wisconsin, near the bottom in job creation and with a host of other problems the Charlie Brown-ish Walker has done little to solve and much to exacerbate.

But now Wisconsinites are getting a bite from a brand new flavor of shit sandwich that results from having a Republican-controlled legislature: Masked mercenaries with semi-automatic weapons are guarding the site of a controversial mining project that is being established near Lake Superior and understandably, people are freaking out about it.

Although there were serious environmental concerns about the mine, in March the GOP legislature pushed it through anyway. Since then there have been steady events protesting the mine, which will be owned and operated by a company called Gogebic Taconite. Over the July 4th weekend, however, masked security guards wearing camouflaged uniforms and carrying multiple semi-automatic weapons started patrolling the future mine’s site. Forget about the firepower for a moment, why do these dudes require masks to do their jobs???

Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall did a little digging into the background of Bulletproof Securities the rent-a-cop on steroids firm—or as they put it, the “No Compromise Security Force”—that is minding the mine:

Here’s the Bulletproof website which lists all sorts of security/paramilitary type services. They even have their own ‘border security force’, which is something I thought the federal government took care of. But apparently not without occasional help from Bulletproof.

Indeed, as the site notes, “BPS has at its disposal the latest cache of specialized equipment for border security operations, not typically found in the private sector. As example, BPS owns heavily armored Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV’s), Tactical All Terrain Vehicles (T-ATV’s), FLIR (mobile thermal systems), mast equipment (eye in the sky), and many other state-of-the-art assets … The presence of BPS will prevent criminal organizations from posing a threat to your personnel or your mission.”

If your needs are different, Bulletproof can also provide “a QRF (quick reaction force) tactical unit to secure a manufacturing plant during a heated worker strike.”

And they’ll do it all while wearing fucking masks!

Welcome to late period capitalism, baby! Which side of the fork do you reckon you’ll be on?

Worth mentioning that the Republicans who voted to push through the mine over community objections promised that Gogebic Taconite would be creating local jobs. So of course, the first thing, the very first thing that G-Tac did was import their paramilitary mercenaries from Scottsdale, AZ…

Something else worth mentioning? The land is actually open to the public and Bulletproof’s militarized rental cops do not even have the legal right in Wisconsin to actually use the weaponry that they are openly carrying around for the purpose of protecting property. And again, this is property that they do not own!.

Here’s a news report on this highly disturbing development from WISC-TV:


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The (In)Dignity of Labor: Top Senate Republican wants to abolish minimum wage!

“Goldman Sachs 2020 Slave Labor Camp International” by Lee Harvey

Considering the appalling number of Americans these days who are paid as little as their bosses can possibly get away with paying them, you would think that citing opposition to the notion that hard work should, you know, pay a living wage and provide for some level of human dignity in the world’s richest country, would be perceived as a toxic issue by the elders of the Republican Party. Something you wouldn’t want to touch with a ten foot pole…

But you would be wrong.

During a hearing on raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, Sen. Bernie Sanders got Lamar Alexander, the ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to admit that he wants to abolish the minimum wage.

It was remarkably easy—he wasn’t even trying—for Sanders to provoke a remarkable reaction to this statement:

“There are certain conservatives who do not believe in the concept of the minimum wage. The concept of the minimum wage. In other words, if the economy as such, and I offer you three dollars an hour.”

Alexander took the bait, interrupting Sanders (“Let me jump in. I do not believe in it” he says) and offering his two unsolicited cents:

Sanders: So you do not believe in the concept of the minimum wage?

Alexander: That’s correct.

Sanders: You would abolish the minimum wage?

Alexander: Correct.

Sanders: If someone had to work for two bucks an hour, they would work for two bucks an hour?

Senator Alexander is not a stupid man. He’s a graduate of Vanderbilt University and NYU’s law school. He’s been in government since the Nixon administration, he was the 45th Governor of Tennessee from 1979 to 1987 and he served as George H. W. Bush’s Secretary of Education. He’s run for president twice.

Alexander was not caught off guard and this was not exactly a trick question that Senator Sanders posed to him, either. He volunteered this information: Alexander really means this shit.

Oy vey. When will these Republicans ever learn?

The exchange between Sanders and Alexander starts (after Sanders lays the groundwork discussing the situation that fast food workers find themselves in making $7 bucks an hour) at the 5:48 mark. At the end of it, the asshole from the conservative Heritage Foundation asserts that the minimum wage hurts “the beneficiaries”!

Via Politics USA

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Party Hats for Big Brother on George Orwell’s 110th birthday
03:01 pm

They hate us for our freedom


Festively decorated surveillance camera in Utrecht, Netherlands on Tuesday in honor of George Orwell’s birthday

Yesterday the Dutch city of Utrecht celebrated George Orwell’s 110th birthday by placing colorful party hats on surveillance cameras in the city center. Orwell’s novel 1984, published in 1949, describes a futuristic world in which the all-powerful government, Big Brother, keeps its citizens under close surveillance in public and in their homes.

Via Front 404

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
None Dare Call it FASCISM: How the NSA has (already) privatized tyranny

Though most people seem to be dimly aware of the fact that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was not technically an employee of NSA or the US Federal Government, I don’t see anyone raising the kind of stink that this pertinent little fact truly merits. And combine that with the “anything goes” environment that was clearly in operation while Snowden was peering into pretty much whatever he wanted, and the implications are pretty fucking serious indeed.

Let’s start with one of Snowden’s comments to Glenn Greenwald and the UK’s Guardian newspaper:

But I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a Federal judge to even the President if I had a personal e-mail.”

Say what? So I’m not allowed to even know this program exists, but a high school dropout working in a lowly cubical in Booz Allen Hamilton can listen in to everything I say on the telephone or write in an email or post on the Internet? What the fuck? Doesn’t anyone see how screwy that is?

Maybe we’ve just stopped giving a shit and are hoping to ride out the last years of Empire in blissful ignorance, chatting about cute cats on Facebook and watching our favorite shows on TV (The Mad Men season finale was just superb, wasn’t it?) OK, I get that. But let’s at least think about what it is we’re tuning out because, who knows? It could cause the US death-spiral to come around far sooner than anticipated, and that would be a serious buzz kill.

So let’s break it down, shall we? What’s the biggest secret exposed by Snowden so far? That the NSA engages in ubiquitous surveillance on pretty much all forms of communication in the US, of both domestic as well as internationally-bound traffic? Well, we kinda knew that already. Back in 2005 AT&T Telecom engineer Mark Klein blew the whistle on the NSA’s “secret room” in the Folsom Street CO (Central Office). Any kind of analysis of that setup (and Klein even included the connection diagrams) would give you a decent idea of what was going on. So no, ubiquitous surveillance wasn’t much of a surprise, not if you were paying careful attention.

What IS a surprise was just how fucked up and sloppy the whole NSA operation is. In fact, during his live chat via The Guardian’s website on June 17th, Snowden said this:

Additionally, audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake justifications.

In other words, the National Security Agency just let a bunch of freelance contractors more or less run wild with unlimited access to the most sensitive conceivable data of any and every US citizen along with a goodly portion of communications of non-US residents as well.

Monitoring? Controls? Audits? Are you shittin’ me? But how can we be absolutely sure, you might ask, that Snowden was telling the truth? Precisely because even a low-level contractor was able to access and download highly classified PowerPoint presentations and a whole smorgasbord of super secret spy stuff and then leak it to the world! (In modern computer networks this is trivial to control.)

At first blush it would appear that the main thing NSA has been doing with their impenetrable cloak of secrecy is to completely goof off and unaccountably run wild with their very special powers with the only “control” in place being the fear that any leakers would experience the Bradley Manning treatment. If it weren’t for the NSA cone of silence, this would be heralded universally as laughably and unbelievably incompetent. On the other hand, perhaps this isn’t simply complete negligence. Perhaps it’s the symptom of something far darker…

Consider what YOU would do with that level of access. After you got into work, grabbed coffee, and read TMZ, you might spend half an hour or so checking out red-tagged conversations of, say, members of Mosques in Brooklyn, or say, groups of Muslim girls gathering to watch Jon Stewart (yeah, that’s a real thing), or maybe even listen in on the methed-out ravings of some hillbilly militia scaring each other into buying yet more guns in preparation of the UN’s inevitable communist takeover of bumfuck Idaho. But all of that “real work” would get boring fast. So maybe you daydream a bit and then, all of a sudden, it hits you: What if you could, say, listen in on the CEOs, CFOs and whatever other Os there are of some mega-corporation. Hell, you could probably use a special software “agent” to automatically scan huge wads of traffic and send you anything with the phrases, “Bankruptcy announcement to the press tomorrow”, or “Earnings shortfall” or “Hostile takeover.” Knowing as you do that no one’s monitoring what you access on those super-secret NSA pipes, you realize it would be both trivially easy and unbelievably lucrative to act on an early tip before it was announced to Wall Street. In fact, you could possibly make millions.

But then another thought hits you. Maybe, just maybe, you aren’t the first person to think of this. In fact, Booz Allen Hamilton has been growing their government consulting business to National Security agencies by leaps and bounds, and their financial consulting arm has been doing pretty good too:

Booz Allen provides support to all federal finance and treasury organizations charged with the collection, management, and protection of the nation’s financial system. Such agencies include the US Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Reserve Board and Banks, Securities Exchange Commission, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

So doesn’t this strike you as somewhat “funny”? Isn’t this some major league conflict of interest? On the one hand, BAH has been clearly given carte blanche to listen in on anything and everything, and they also happen to be in the financial “consulting” business. Would BAH ever take a significant financial position based on, oh let’s say, very privileged information? Though they may or may not do this under their own name, they clearly have the financial chops to create a vast maze of shell companies. Or maybe BAH as an organization doesn’t do this, but bigshots within it do.

Perhaps this sounds paranoid or like completely baseless speculation, but after the LIBOR and REIT scandals, it’s obvious that there are no government checks in place to detect such activities. Moreover, even if this hasn’t actually happened yet, given the sloppiness of the controls and unlimited access to surveillance data, it’s absolutely obvious that this is going to happen sooner or later. Indeed, perhaps that sloppiness in protecting confidential data is precisely because someone’s dipping into this data goldmine and is making out like a bandit.

From here it’s easy to imagine all sorts of ugly scenarios: A giant, über-secret private company that is ultimately answerable to no one but that has access to anything you might say or post on the Internet (ie, including what you might do to try to stop it), while also being able to capitalize on their access to literally priceless financial secrets via their consulting and access to the markets. Once such a monstrosity sunk its claws in deep enough it would be very difficult to pull that thing off…ever. Then again, isn’t this what the Koch Brothers and their stooges the Tea Party wanted all along? They want to kill the state and Federal agencies so that a small keiretsu of giant companies can step in and take over. This “state corporatism” had a name which was called, hold on a minute while I remember…oh yeah, that’s right, Fascism.

Am I saying there’s some gigantic fascist conspiracy out there ready to take over the world? Nah. Well, probably not. But the point is that there doesn’t need to be an actual conspiracy in order for our true liberties to be under attack by the large corporations: Remember, Nestlé‘s CEO wants to privatize your water supply and sell your water back to you; Bush, Cheney and the cartoonishly malevolent Dr Strangelove Donald Rumsfeld privatized war and Mike McConnell of Booz Allen Hamilton has long been a (successful) advocate of privatizing US national security (and he was previously director of National Security under Bush).

Where’s all this headed? I don’t know, but I DO know it ain’t headed for more security, more freedom and better access to water in the world! These fuckers have a vested interest in keeping things nice and turbulent while making you think that there are legions of Muslims, communists and homosexuals out there just waiting to steal your freedoms, give away all your hard-earned stuff and sodomize your children. Meanwhile, of course, they and the Congress they have bought and paid for keep defunding essential Federal programs to the point where they can no longer function properly, so the public concludes, “Well, these government agencies can’t do anything so we might as well just get rid of them. And let’s privatize prisons and schools while we’re at it.”

Who knows? Will we soon enter the time where private contractors raised on “Call of Duty” operate domestic drones and have kill quotas that earn them cash incentives? Fuck, I read the kill list wrong, one might say, Can you ask your buddy to change the name on my list to whoever it was I just nailed? Thanks, pal. Beers are on me tonight.

What’s the solution? I don’t know, but let’s apply a nice, hot blowtorch to Booz Allen Hamilton’s filthy snout and push them the hell out of that giant government feeding trough filled to the brim with our tax dollars: They’re clearly incompetent, negligent, and have allowed documents of National Security to be accessed, downloaded and then leaked. (And don’t misunderstand: Snowden is a hero for exposing all of what’s been going on, but that still doesn’t mean BAH wasn’t negligent.) We also need to take baseball bat to the giant, heavy-lidded porcine head of the NSA as it gobbles down the information you and I own.

Let’s just not miss what is arguably an even greater danger, the privatization and outsourcing of tyranny itself to the big mega-corporates.


Pimpin’ ain’t easy: Creepiest pornstar interview of ALL TIME?
04:22 pm

They hate us for our freedom


I think you’ll agree, dear discerning Dangerous Minds readers, that this would be difficult to top… either in the near term, or decades from now.

Wow, where to start with this one? Or should I even try? Just hit play, but be SURE to watch it all the way to the end, because it just keeps ramping up and up in the insanity department until the genius ending. It’s laugh out loud funny, but when it’s over your jaw will be on the ground, and trust me, it will stay there.

This is every flavor of wrong and then some.

It will probably not come as a surprise that this well-adjusted young lady also happens to be employed at Dennis Hof’s World Famous Bunny Ranch in Nevada. I wonder if he still gets a cut of that as her “manager”?

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Page 2 of 42  < 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›