chelsea manning on hunger strike

Chelsea Manning has gone on hunger strike as protest against the dehumanising treatment she has received from the US government.

Those who have kept up with journey from whistleblower to indefinitely detained prisoner to actual prisoner are not surprised by this. Since being detained, she has faced inhuman conditions on numerous occasions, including excessive solitary confinement, where she was often left naked as well.

Our government recently pushed her to attempting suicide, which may result in solitary confinement and extending her sentence.

Why is she facing such terrible treatment?

For the crime of transitioning. She was born Bradley Manning and lived as a male until she was tried and found guilty of being a whistleblower by the US government. Since then she has attempted to transition, which was first blocked and refused by the US.

I won’t recap everything here. If you’ve been coming to this blog, you’ve probably seen me talking about her. I’ve been following her since 2011, when I discovered who she was and what was being done to her by the US government.

She awakened me politically. She made me take an active and critical look at my country and what we do around the world.

It should maybe be noted that I’ve donated hundreds of dollars to her defense fund. It’s not enough, but it’s all I can do.

She’s a hero. Her actions saved countless lives, while endangering no one, despite how she’s been smeared. She is a hero and she is facing extremely punitive treatment for showing that the US government was engaging in war crimes in the middle east.

I am not alone in my support of her. Countless organisations have pressured and criticised the US in their treatment of her and handling of her case.

She released this statement, which outlines why she is going on hunger strike, and what she hopes to achieve.

Quote from the statement:

I need help. I needed help earlier this year. I was driven to suicide by the lack of care for my gender dysphoria that I have been desperate for. I didn’t get any. I still haven’t gotten any.

She continues:

Today, I have decided that I am no longer going to be bullied by this prison—or by anyone within the U.S. government. I have asked for nothing but the dignity and respect—that I once actually believed would be provided for—afforded to any living human being.

I do not believe that this should be dependent on any arbitrary factors—whether you are cisgender or transgender; service member or civilian, citizen or non-citizen. In response to virtually every request, I have been granted limited, if any, dignity and respect—just more pain and anguish.

I am no longer asking. Now, I am demanding. As of 12:01 am Central Daylight Time on September 9, 2016, and until I am given minimum standards of dignity, respect, and humanity, I shall—refuse to voluntarily cut or shorten my hair in any way; consume any food or drink voluntarily, except for water and currently prescribed medications; and comply with all rules, regulations, laws, and orders that are not related to the two things I have mentioned.

This is a peaceful act. I intend to keep it as peaceful and non-violent, on my end, as possible. Any physical harm that should come to me at the hands of military or civilian staff will be unnecessary and vindictive. I will not physically resist or in any way harm another person. I have also submitted a “do not resuscitate” letter that is effective immediately. This shall include any attempts to forcibly cut or shorten my hair or to forcibly feed me by any medical or pseudo-medical means.

And this from the ACLU:

I learned late last night that Chelsea has begun a hunger strike today in protest of the ongoing denial of her medically necessary health care and the relentless scrutiny and abuses she has experienced in the years since her arrest. I am deeply saddened and very concerned for Chelsea’s well-being. The government has long been aware of her medical needs and continues to ignore them. When we filed our initial case against the Department of Defense in September of 2014 over Chelsea’s treatment related to her gender dysphoria, we made very clear that the lack of treatment put her at very serious risk of harm. They have known this for years. We are still in litigation over her treatment and are optimistic that justice will ultimately prevail but the government need not wait to be ordered to do the right thing and we hope they act promptly to treat Chelsea consistent with their constitutional obligations.
Whether you think she deserves to be in prison or not is not the issue. It happens to be much simpler.
If you believe Chelsea Manning should be allowed to peacefully transition and express her true self, please consider donating to the Chelsea Manning Defense Fund.
She needs our help. Not just monetarily, but emotionally. So if money seems out of the question, consider writing her.

on blaming the idiots

Subtitle: The Inevitable Collapse of the US and Americanism

Alternative subtitle: The Inevitable Conclusion of the Imperial United States

Preamble

Trigger Warning: I’ll be talking about Donald Trump and probably other such unpleasant things.

Length Warning: Yeah. Over 6,000 words.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for weeks and especially while I was driving all over Michigan. And then I read this great essay by Chris Hedges, who’s always worth reading. I don’t agree with everything he says there and I think he’s overstating certain elements, but it’s still worth reading and considering. But I want to talk about something related, though different.

There’s also this tremendously funny and informative article by Matt Taibbi about Donald Trump. Also this one.

There’s also an interesting essay at The Nation about why Trump has become so popular with so many people and how the Democratic Party is refusing to engage with voters.

But these essays have more to do with the current brand of american fascism sweeping the nation under the Luminous Grand Vizier Trump.

In some ways, Taibbi’s humorous disgust with the idiotic public is part of the problem I’ll be discussing here. Be that as it may, they’re still worth reading.

Before I really get into the point of all this, I want to reiterate that the US is a very conservative country. This isn’t new. We’ve always been very conservative. Now, even our progressives would be considered conservative in most other developed nations.

To put it another way, if Clinton and Sanders are the most progressive candidates we have to offer, then we’re proving just how conservative our country is. Clinton would be a conservative in most Western nations and Sanders would be a centrist leaning towards conservative values. I think this is important to understand as you read this very long post.

Anyrate, the matter at hand.

Introduction

This is an old argument that seems to be sprouting up all over again. I mean, it’s an argument that happens everywhere in every era, but I see it all over social media, especially with regard to the rise of Donald Trump.

The Argument:

Idiots are ruining the US.

It really is that simple. That’s the whole of the argument.

Some people even point to a movie called Idiocracy and talk about it as being prophetic or at least meaningful satire/critique.

So let’s unpack this and talk about why it’s recklessly and absolutely false.

What We Mean When We Say Idiot

Oddly, I think this is one of the more complex elements of this whole thing, because people mean various things to varying degrees when they talk about dumb/stupid/idiotic americans (from now on I’ll just use dumb/idiot/stupid interchangeably, so pretend they mean the same thing, even as I pick apart how their umbrella meaning is inconsistent). Language is fluid and everchanging and we’re in a time of incomprehensible imprecision, when it comes to language, which is a problem of the press–something at the heart of this whole essay.

But, for the most part, what people mean when they call someone or a group of people idiots is that those people hold opposing ideals.

This is not unique to liberals or conservatives, to Republicans or Democrats.

We call George W Bush an idiot because it’s easier to handle.

We call Barack Obama an idiot for the same reason.

It’s much more difficult for us as a nation and as individuals if we believe that these men have intentionally done what they’ve done.

But, to quote Marco Rubio–something I’m loathe to do–They know exactly what they’re doing.

But I’ll return to that point later.

Calling people we disagree with idiots is the simplest and most basic use of the term. Those Duck Dynasty guys? Idiots. Those Black Lives Matter activists? Idiots. North Koreans? Idiots. The Dalai Lama? Idiot.

It rolls effortlessly off our tongues and it’s a mix of “I disagree with you” and “Only an idiot could believe that what you’re saying is true.”

Again, this is not an issue of conservative or progressive. It’s just how humans are and what we’ve done to our language.

(Which, since we’re on the topic–people blame the imprecision of the way language is used on idiots as well, and this may as well be a metaphor for the entire essay. We blame idiots for dumbing down the language because it’s easy to blame this amorphous and abstract Other that is too stupid to understand why they’re evil–or whatever. Really, the blame should be placed on media and the press. They’ve dramatically changed the language more than anyone or anything else. And it would be easy to say the media is full of idiots and that’s why this has happened, but that would be–well–an idiotic stance to take. Very smart people can choose to do very bad things on purpose, even knowing how bad those actions are, and it does not make them an idiot. So, if we want to decry the imprecision and reduction of our language, put blame on those who frame public thought. Because those people are smart and they’ve done what they’ve done on purpose. [Quick aside: the changing of language isn’t bad and you all need to get over yourselves and your dictionaries. The world changes. Language changes. People change. The way we talk about the world is different because the world has not remained fixed since the first dictionary was printed. So get over yourself.])

We also call people idiots for making poor choices.

This is an acceptable use of the term. I don’t have a lot to add here.

The most troubling usage has to do with education level.

A poll went all over social media relatively recently that showed a high percentage of Trump supporters were not college educated. The implication you were meant to make is that idiots are voting for Donald Trump.

Ignoring the scam that is the price of college and the crushing nature of student loans, let’s just look at what people are really saying.

It’s worth remembering that university in the US costs money. Often times it costs a lot of money. Sometimes it costs so much money that people remain in debt for decades or never even manage to get out of debt.

So the price of admission isn’t necessarily even tied to intelligence. It’s tied to your bank account.

What we say when we internalise the idea that not going to college makes you an idiot is that poor people are dumb. They’re idiots.

And these idiots are ruining the country.

So the blame for the US goes to the poor. They ruined it all!

We’re also saying that People of Color are ruining the nation, since they generally go to university in lower numbers than white people. They’re also less likely to graduate.

So your blame for the country goes onto the least privileged: the poor, the dispossessed, who are often people of color.

Let’s look at how we judge intelligence as well.

The IQ Test that people think of when you say IQ Test is an archaic test rooted in racism, classism, and eugenics. So the next time you use that as an indicator of a person’s worth, be aware of what you’re really saying.

You’re buying into the idea that people of non-European descent are inferior. That the cobbler’s son deserves to work in the mine because he doesn’t have the intelligence to find his way out of it.

This is not what we want to say when we call people idiots.

At least I hope not.

See, words change and they become politicized. This is just part of life, unfortunately. And when you blame the idiots, you are, in general, telling people of color and poor people of all ethnic groups that they are inferior to the aristocratic and merchant class.

This is an ancient idea and it’s shocking and repulsive to see how accepted it still is.

And, okay, let’s just accept that all these people actually are inferior and pretend like that makes sense and isn’t the most heinous kind of classic, racist nonsense.

If they are inferior, too stupid to even know what’s good for them, how are they to blame for their misfortune?

If this is genetic or predetermined by culture/context/class/whathaveyou, how can we reasonably say that it’s their fault?

If Not the Idiots, then Who?

I touched on this briefly, but I’ll unpack it.

Media consensus is that George W Bush is an idiot. He bumbled his way through 8 years in office, while changing the entire shape of political discourse and US foreign policy by beginning our first endless war, putting us in a constant state of militarism.

Does that sound accidental?

Well, of course not. At least not the way I phrased it.

But I find it incredibly unlikely that George W Bush was an idiot who just happened to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time.

And, fine, let’s say that Cheney was the real mastermind here. I mean, even that shows a level of intelligence.

The people you surround yourself with says a lot about you. If you put a strong, capable, and intelligent person in a position of power, you’re probably not doing it on accident. To put this clearer: George W Bush may have been unfit to lead the country and incapable of making all the changes he wanted to make by himself, so he placed people he knew were capable and fit to enact change into positions where they would be most effective.

That’s not something an idiot does.

But I don’t buy the idiot Bush narrative. I think it excuses him of his war crimes and crimes against humanity and disastrous economic policies.

No, more likely, George W Bush is a highly intelligent man who knew what he was doing.

Sure, he may not be intelligent in the ways we tend to value them (as dictated by racist, classist IQ Tests), but there are many other forms of intelligence. And social intelligence (something we don’t measure or explicitly value) is probably the one most relevant to being a politician.

George W Bush knew what he was doing and he did it on purpose.

Ruper Murdoch and the Koch brothers know what they’re doing and are doing it on purpose. They’re effective because they’re brilliant dudes with essentially unlimited resources.

And, okay, I’m showing my own political bias here, which I was hoping to avoid, but whatever–if you read this blog at all you know where I stand.

See, these people who are, in my opinion, actively making the world and our country a worse place–the worst place–are highly intelligent.

They’re only idiots when you use it to mean “I disagree with you.” Which you might, but it’s not a precise way to speak, and so it muddles how we think about these things.

The Koch brothers have pushed through a conservative attack plan that has given them control of most of the country’s state legislatures, which effectively grants them control over a large portion of the country.

This was not accidental and the damage they’re doing is enormous. I don’t even mean simply that I disagree with conservative policies. I mean they’re undermining what our democracy is and can be (limited as it already was).

So the country is not in peril because idiots have ruined everything.

No, we’re where we are because very intelligent people have pushed the country in a very specific direction and undermined what it means to have a democracy.

And alleged progressives aren’t off the hook either. Barack Obama has done a great deal of damage as well. So have the Clintons. I mean, you can throw out a well known politician’s name and they’re probably partly to blame, regardless of their party or ideological leanings.

Even Bernie Sanders, current Patron Saint of US Progressives, is not clean of such things, though he looks pristine when compared to the gaggle of monsters he rubs shoulders with.

But we’re only talking about politicals right now. And that’s not where the blame ends.

The Failure of Expertise

Progressive discourse has alienated huge portions of the country. Not simply because those people are idiots, but because progressive intellectuals have failed to engage people, failed to communicate what their ideas really mean. But most of all, they’ve failed the people who needed them the most.

They’ve also simply failed to not be imperialists, as I discussed a few days ago.

I’m going to use an example that will have to include a lot of caveats, so bear with me.

Among progressive circles, it’s generally agreed that straight white cis men have done a lot of damage to just about every possible group of people you can think of, including straight white cis women.

It’s not uncommon to see this group of people treated as a cohesive whole, especially in discussion of privilege.

There are very valid reasons for this. I don’t want to dispute this. I think that this is absolutely true. People who look like me have done tremendous damage to the earth throughout history and we are, currently, the dominant culture and hold status above all else. That’s just true.

But ideology is one thing and people are quite another.

Imagine you live in Appalachia, one of–if not the–poorest areas in the US. This probably means you’re white. This probably also means that you’re undereducated and underemployed.

Imagine going on twitter or tumblr or facebook and seeing thinkpiece after thinkpiece about the privilege of white men. Imagine you post a comment disagreeing with this assumption in a public forum and then you get berated by other people.

Someone will probably say that this is an extreme example, but it is worth remembering that the internet is where the monsters come out to feed on pain and misery and groupthink. While thousands upon thousands of these people responding to the white kid from Appalachia may be civil and kind and even informative, there will be a handful who will act like people on the internet act: monstrously.

Unfortunately, this Appalachian kid isn’t going to remember all the kind and thoughtful responses, because those didn’t get a visceral reaction out of her. She’ll remember the bile spewing anonymous person who filled them with rage and hate and pain.

So we have a white girl from the poorest part of the country who is told that she has insane amounts of privilege, but when she looks around she sees nothing. No jobs. No infrastructure. No universities. No schools. No opportunities.

This builds resentment. This is when people dig trenches.

They probably won’t consider themselves especially privileged, largely because they’re not.

I mean, yes–if a person of color were in that same position, it would be even worse. That’s true.

But that’s not what she’s thinking when she reads these thinkpieces and the arguments in the comment section. She doesn’t take a step back from her own hopelessness, her own impoverished, small world. She sees people telling her she has every opportunity because she’s white, and she laughs with rage, because she sees how this is absurd. She lives without opportunity every day.

End of example.

I know I used an extreme case, but it was to make an extreme point.

Which is: How do we reach these people?

How has progressive ideology so failed these people?

And it’s not just poor white people. That’s incorrect to believe. It’s just an easy example to pick up.

On reddit there’s a discussion of why Bernie Sanders is failing to get the black vote (I find it troubling that we treat any ethnic group as a bulk whole, but I guess that’s what we do in america). Many progressives believe that black voters are voting against their interests.

The top comment is instructive on why black voters aren’t convinced by Sanders.

What this shows is that progressives are failing to communicate and educate the public that we so readily describe as stupid.

One thing that’s happened is that the progressives have cloistered themselves, I think. They tend to paint poor white people who rage against affirmative action or rally round Trump as racists, for example.

This is the simple and ill-fitting response to a complex question.

Why are people voting for Trump?

Racism may certainly be an aspect of this. For some it may even be the primary one, but that’s not true for everyone. It’s not true for all conservatives either. Being conservative does not make you a bible thumping racist. It simply doesn’t. The same goes for independents.

It’s easy to just say they’re racist idiots and move on, but this causes them to dig trenches and alienates people even further.

Because what does racism come from?

It’s not a natural state.

We learn it. We learn it from other people or from our own experiences.

This is a simplification:

There are people who are afraid of dogs because they were attacked by one when they were a child.

This same logic can apply to racism, especially if a person almost never encounters people outside of their own ethnicity.

Like I said: a simplification.

But so what’s the answer?

If racism is learned, it can be unlearned. You can teach and show people that this is a harmful and simply incorrect way to think about other humans.

It’s not to attack them for being stupid. That’s the worst thing you can do.

You need to engage them, educate them. And education isn’t only academic.

That’s actually one of the least effective ways to teach someone.

It takes kindness and trust for education to occur.

This is, I think, partly why people of color from poor neighborhoods are often undereducated: they don’t trust their authority figures. And why should they? They’re more harshly disciplined than their white counterparts. They’re more likely to be harassed by authority figures.

How can you teach someone meaningfully when you also abuse them as a person and as an ethnic group and as an inheritor of a specific culture?

This is, I think, one of the biggest failures of progressives.

They don’t try to teach the idiots. They try to blame them.

You know why facts and figures don’t convince people?

Because they don’t trust you. They may not even like you.

Part of that is because you represent a class of people who treat them as inferiors.

This is the problem I see most often online. There’s no attempt to engage or find a middle ground or even find a common place to begin discussion.

The Strange Case of Failed Expertise

Let’s talk briefly about Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

Probably the two most recognized–or at least loudest–atheists you’ll find still living. They’re the perfect example for how expertise fails most people and why so many people don’t trust it.

Dawkins and Harris are both scientists, and they’re good ones. They have serious expertise there. Of course, their current careers have very little to do with science or even their own fields.

Largely, they’re in the business of atheism, which absolutely is an industry. An industry with a small but devoted following.

They’re also part of the anti-muslim industry, which absolutely is a thing in the west. If you write about Islam, especially critically, you’re sure to reach millions of readers and be invited on television to talk about why Islam is dangerous and Muslims should be fundamentally treated different.

This is something both Harris and Dawkins advocate. Harris goes as far as defending torture.

These guys have huge followings and their followers are loud and obnoxious and begging for fights, especially online. There are, of course, more civil ones who take on these views.

I even know a number of them.

I’m really not interested in the defense of these men and their racist ideology of Manifest Destiny, so you can save it. I’ve heard it all and I’ve listened to enough by both men to be thoroughly unconvinced by the various defenses for them.

Oddly, these guys are advocating for the same thing as Trump.

While most atheists would fall on the progressive side of things, Islam becomes a sticking point. Both Dawkins and Harris are for the annihilation of the Middle East. They’d use different vocabulary than that, of course, but they really really really hate Muslims.

They hate christians too, but there’s more money and attention in hating Muslims. And maybe they really just do hate Muslims this much. That’s all very possible. I mean, I don’t think they’re faking racism–I think they’re just racists.

These scientists have leveraged one expertise into another field where they’re kind of hopelessly helpless, but they’ve probably never been more popular.

But even setting aside their hatred of Muslims around the world, they would define themselves, at times, as anti-theists, which is about the most uselessly silly thing to be.

You don’t believe in god? Fine, good for you. Carry on and live well.

But that’s not what these guys do.

Dawkins advocates militant atheism, which sounds a lot like fundamentalism, except good progressive thinkers are more often atheists than they are religious zealots.

But they use the same tactics and the same language.

All those arguments and tactics that drove them away from the religions of their youth, all that language has been repackaged to form this secular extremism, which is generally racist, and always aggressive.

You know how you hate having religion shoved in your face?

Turns out most people hate that.

They hate it, not because it’s religion, but because it’s obnoxious.

You know who hates having atheism shoved in their face?

Everyone, but especially theists of various denominations.

When you go on the attack and tell people that they’re wrong and/or evil for believing something, people don’t like it. And they don’t react positively to it.

When you go on the attack, people go on the defensive and stop listening to you.

No matter how brilliant your argument might be, when you scream it at someone, they don’t hear the words. They feel the attack, and they dig a trench to keep you at bay. When you threaten someone, they’re disinclined to roll over and let you have your way.

Or, many will let you have your way, but only to avoid confrontation. You haven’t changed their mind, you’ve just made them stop talking. But while you’re shouting your ideology and blaming them for the world’s problems, they’re building a wall inside. They’re thinking of ways to stop you from spreading this diseased message.

When you go into an argument to prove that you’re correct, you’ve already failed.

Really. If that’s your goal, just stop.

It’s better if you say nothing.

Dawkins and Harris are the worst examples of the failure of expertise. Mostly because they’re third rate political thinkers. But also because they are convinced that anyone who disagrees with them is an idiot and they needn’t waste time sharing air with a bunch of intellectual peasants.

They’re extreme examples, sure, but this is why many people don’t trust scientists.

Propaganda is a huge issue, of course. And we can blame the aristocratic class for that. They push an anti-science agenda and disseminate it through the million tentacles of the media.

But then the scientific community is failing to read people, because, for better or worse, people like Harris and Dawkins are the ones on the frontlines, giving atheists and scientists a bad name.

The reason Neil DeGrasse Tyson is so effective is because he’s a compassionate speaker. He strives to inspire you. It’s the same thing Carl Sagan did. When he remains inspirational and compassionate, he thrives.

This is effective because science really defends itself. If you introduce an inquisitive person to scientific inquiry, their whole life is transformed.

But if you take that same inquisitive person and tell her that first she needs to stop believing in her god–you may have just stopped a potential scientist from ever picking up her chemistry textbook.

When Tyson fails, it’s when he goes on the attack.

No one needs their religion attacked.

I mean, you may think that’s necessary. You may even think that it’s the most important thing in the world to do. But when you do that, you alienate people. Even other atheists and agnostics.

They look at your anger and think to themselves, I don’t want to be part of that.

But this is something that’s happening. We have geniuses get in shouting matches with creationists, which is the least effective thing in the world to do.

A debate like that doesn’t change anyone’s mind, because the audience is already split.

No one watches Dawkins debate a MegaChurch Preacher without their decision already made.

If you are on the fence at this moment, I encourage you to avoid watching or reading such debates.

They’re incredibly fruitless.

Rather, investigate both sides. Look at what science has to offer and what religion has to offer. And know that this does not have to be a choice.

It’s not religion on one side and science on the other.

You can believe in god and be a physicist. You can be a priest and an evolutionary biologists.

Such things are rare but not impossible or even incompatible.

Here’s even a link to an essay I wrote years ago about this very topic.

So we have the intellectual class failing people. Failing to build trust. Failing to engage with them in meaningful ways. Let’s look at another way the progressives have failed the so called idiots ruining the nation.

To bring this back to politics, there are a lot of good reasons people don’t trust the government. This goes across ethnic lines and even economic classes.

Let’s look at labor.

The Abuse of Labor by the Democratic Party

Labor was a 200 year fight in the US. Progressives and conservatives in government were against it. This goes all the way back to the founding fathers. They squashed labor riots quite violently, in fact.

The moment labor passed, we had a party trying to dismantle it. This was unfortunately effective, but the reason labor is essentially nonexistent is because of the failure of the progressives, who were meant to be advocates for labor.

The Democratic Party, which is the labor party, has undermined and sold out unions over and over and over again.

But, because we have a two party system, they’re the only pony to bet on in the race, so unions keep funding candidates who chop off their legs while smiling and telling them that this will make everything better.

Even labor stopped trusting progressives. Sure, the unions will still vote blue this election, but a surprising number of individual union workers won’t.

And that has more to do with trust than anything else.

NAFTA and the TPP are serious threats to unioned and non-unioned workers, and this can help explain why Trump is so appealing to so many voters.

Yes, it’s easy to say they’re all dumb racists, but that’s not what brings these people together most. It’s labor. And that’s worth thinking about.

I mean, yeah, Trump is rallying up racists, of which there are a lot, and, as Hedges says in his essay, he’s cruising on a course every fascist has rode to power.

So why is Trump so successful?

Because, like Taibbi says in his article, Trump knows how to con this game. He’s a genius at it.

He basically spent his whole life preparing for this campaign and didn’t even know it.

So while it’s easy to just wave your hands and waive all of this away by calling them idiots, by calling them racists, but when you do that, you make it worse. And Trump picks them up, tells them they’re beautiful, that they’re the true americans, and they find value in themselves and in this man who tells them the truth they want to hear.

You fail to educate and engage.

You make them dig their trenches deeper.

Every time you get into an argument with them, they dig a little deeper and resist you even more.

Because you’re part of the lying class. The class of people who promise but don’t really care. The intellectual aristocracy.

You can use phrases like cognitive dissonance and call them hypocrites, but those things are only convincing if the person hearing them cares what you have to say, and because they have no reason to trust you and because you’re not trying to understand their position, they simply won’t listen.

Would you listen if someone started shouting at you about why whites are the superior race?

I certainly hope not.

And I’m not really trying to be prescriptive here.

But this is the problem I see.

Progressives are not engaging conservative people. They’re not even trying to. Instead, they’re cloistering themselves within groups of agreement and labelling the Other in disparaging ways so they don’t have to take responsibility.

You know what’s brave?

Being a Mormon.

They have to go out into the world knowing that most people don’t agree with them and they have to try to convince you of two things:

  1. They’re not crazy
  2. That being Mormon is better than what you’re doing now

You know how they do that?

Kindness. Graciousness. Openness.

They literally knock on your door and politely ask you if they can discuss their faith with you.

You know how uncomfortable that must be?

Can you imagine how many people say no?

Can you imagine how many people are really rude when they say no?

To give a quick example, my dad saw some Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses walking to our house while he was pulling out of our garage, and he shouted out his window at them, demanding they leave.

Those kids didn’t get upset. They didn’t fight back.

They just moved on.

Some battles aren’t worth fighting.

Which like, yeah, if you see a dude with a swastika tattoo, that’s probably someone you don’t need to try to engage. I mean, you could certainly try.

But their decision is already seven layers deep on their skin and they may not be receptive to some stranger telling them they’re wrong.

Blame is not Useful

What this really comes down to is that we’re all to blame.

All of us.

Every US citizen.

We made Donald Trump happen.

We’ve fractured out nation so deeply that it may never heal.

I was talking to my wife the other day about how I’ve been convinced since I was fourteen that I would see the end of the US Empire in my lifetime. And while I did believe that then (I even said it would be within fifty years, which was maybe a conservative estimation, rather than the aggressive one I meant it to be) I never thought it would turn out like this.

I believe we’re at the brink of a potential civil war. We are a nation divided, with such little faith or trust in our own government. And this divide is much more even then people think.

It’s worth remembering what happened in the 2012 election.

Sure, Barack Obama decimated Mitt Romney electorally. But he only lost the popular vote by 5 million votes.

Sadly, less than half the nation voted (which is perhaps a deeper sign of how significant this divide is) but Romney only lost by 4%.

At the time, that was the most divided our nation had felt in decades upon decades. But things are even worse now.

We’re seeing the results of ideology spilling everywhere and it makes it easy to understand why people don’t trust the government.

Our government spies on us.

Our government wages illegal wars across the globe.

Our government tortures and indefinitely detains humans.

Our government commits war crimes at an alarming rate.

Our government attacks whistleblowers.

Our government is run by lobbyists and corporations.

Our government actively murders civilians, especially when they’re people of color.

Our government is doing nothing meaningful about climate change, a truly existential threat to the species.

Our government is failing us.

Many people, across the political spectrum, believe our government has failed us.

They believe we need a revolution.

Unfortunately, to most people, revolution seems to mean loudly voicing your opinion about you’re going to peacefully vote for.

But for other people this means armed occupation, murdering other civilians, and setting off bombs.

I think we’re on the brink of a civil war. It may be a violent one but it may just be a silent and gradual dissolution of our nation.

I think the dissolution of the United States would be positive in the long term, not only for us as a people, but for the world.

Unfortunately, if this does occur, it will make for a long arduous road.

It’s a scary time to be alive in this nation. I keep thinking of The Unbearable Lightness of Being and other Eastern Block works of art. We live in the most sophisticated surveillance state to ever exist. Our nation is a fascist nation and has been for decades.

But now we have a man who may launch us into something like the Third Reich.

Donald Trump may win this election and it won’t be because idiots have ruined the country.

It’ll be because very intelligent people have worked very hard to make the nation a certain way, and Trump has managed to exploit it in order to take control.

At the same time, very intelligent people who oppose these changes have failed to connect with the bulk of the population. They’ve watched as the undereducated, the poor, and the dispossessed have been manipulated by those other intelligent folks.

Which brings me to the media.

The Death of US Journalism

I wasn’t alive when it began but I’m here at its conclusion.

Because of the aggressive stance the government has towards journalists, real journalism has become increasingly dangerous, and, therefore, rare.

Whistleblowers are imprisoned or harassed and silenced. The government harasses journalists to discover the names of their sources. Legislation has been put forward that could seriously threaten a journalist’s ability to do her work in the US.

At the same time, we have people like Wolf Blitzer on television.

That’s who people associate journalism with now.

The pundit class.

I wish I had the patience and stamina to talk about the ways they’ve failed and betrayed the public, but I simply don’t.

But journalism has become so devalued, so meaningless, that most people don’t even bother watching.

See, we traded journalism for views.

When news on television became about ratings, we began to lose meaningful journalism

When the internet became about clicks and page views, we lost what it meant for the internet to have meaningful journalism.

You know how depressing it’s been following Mother Jones for the last six years?

They used to do real journalism, but now everything is opinion, and most of it’s simply clickbait.

This is what our national discussion has come to: clickbait and ratings.

Which is to say, US journalism is dying and we’re watching its collapse. And with it goes the whole of the empire.

In Conclusion

This is a long post, yeah? My stamina’s running out.

There was more I wanted to say but I just feel depressed.

But what I meant to say here, with all of this, is that we are all failing. We have all been failing for decades.

Whether you’re a conservative or progressive, you’ve failed to meaningfully engage with the other side.

Instead you’ve labelled the other side an enemy and ended all contact, built an ideological wall, and are back there, sharpening your spears and your knives, waiting for the real war to begin.

We’re in a sort of ideological Cold War, which is leaning into a civil war.

We’ve failed the world, our nation, and each other.

We’ve given into hate and propaganda and separation and alienation and indifference.

Half the country doesn’t vote. The half that does is divided so equally and so powerfully that nothing even happens. Neither side is getting what they say they want.

But the war drum keeps beating and people abroad keep dying. Our own young men and women are dying or coming back so physically and emotionally crippled that they soon take their own lives.

This all used to be just disagreement. Conservatives and progressives found things to work together on, but now there’s only hate and separation.

Real hate. The kind that burns and erupts and incites violence.

Interestingly, the only thing our government officials unanimously agree on is war and the disintegration of the Bill of Rights.

I’ve talked a lot about my disdain for war in the past so I won’t repeat myself here, but I find the whole thing so heavy.

But I want to try to leave you with some hope, such as it is.

What Should We Do?

The only thing to do is vote locally. Vote for your state representatives and senators. Give up on the 24 hour news cycle. Stop watching the presidential debacle and find out who’s running in your state, in your district, in your town. Find out what they believe in and understand what those things mean for you as a person and for us as a nation.

Because all politics is local.

And the only way to fix this mess we’ve made is to educate yourself. The media won’t do it. The government doesn’t seem to care if you know what’s going on, which is why you can see politicians lie wildly on television without consequence.

So please, just vote. Vote for who you believe in locally, because those people will change the shape of your town, your county, your city, and your state. In doing so, they’ll change the nation.

internet rage machine

There’s a great deal of things going on right now that induce rage. Or should. NSA spying without consequence, the two year civil war in Syria, the blossoming civil war in Egypt, the imprisonment of Chelsea Manning, the essential imprisonment of Julian Assange who’s being denied entry to Ecuador, the country he has legal  political asylum in by England due to american pressure, and then there’s the abuses against Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and his partner, and so many other things.

But where does the internet rage blow up against? Celebrities.

I believe there’s actually a somewhat logical, or at least understandable, reason behind all this. Most people are terrified of making waves or saying controversial things. Along with that, most people are tremendously uninformed or misinformed. Then there are those who just think it’s not their place to state opinions because they don’t believe they know enough about the situations. This is all very reasonable and pretty typical, and while we can discuss why they should know more, that’s not really an argument worth having, because it does nothing but spread rage.

So Syria: people are finally talking about Syria now that our Nobel Peace Prize winning president is planning on bombing them. Okay, so, despite having no popular support, he also has no international support, and will likely blow past the UN the way George Bush did. But let’s get to the root of this. What does bombing a nation solve? Will this end Assad’s regime? Maybe, but at what cost? If we’re set to oust Assad, then who are we standing behind? The rebels. And who are the rebels? Well, that’s a pretty wide and varied mix of people, but the students who were a part of the initial protests and so on are likely no longer there, due to dying or fleeing. What you have is a very splintered coalition of organisations who are not friends or even friendly with one another, but who have a common enemy. Many of these people are the very same Islamic extremists we’re fighting our alleged War on Terror against. They’ve committed various war crimes and atrocities against the pro-Assad faction, which is the majority of the Syrian fighters. So when we get Assad out of there, what do we expect to happen?

Now, I’m not trying to defend Assad. That would be a nonsensical thing to do. But this is a true civil war. There is a pretty substantial faction of Syrians who stand alongside him. It’s not a war of Assad against the people. It’s a war where the people are fighting various groups of other people, none of whom agree on a direction for the country beyond the Death and ouster of Assad. And Assad has no moral ground to stand on in this war either. Though the rebels have committed crimes against humanity, so have the pro-Assad army.

But we need to ask ourselves, Why are we going there? Or, to put it better, since we’ve been aiding the rebels for some time: Why are we finally declaring outright war?

There’s a reason why all sides of the tragedy going on in Egypt blame the US for what has happened to their country and what is happening to their country. They see us as the enemy. We fight on both sides, handing guns and money to whichever side will renew unrest and distress. We supported the coup. And while it was a popularly backed coup, it was a coup nonetheless, which means, according to our constitution, we should have immediately stopped sending aid to Egypt. But, alas, this is the world we live in, and the country I live in.

The entire middle east, barring Israel, views the US as the most dangerous and threatening enemy to their existence and stability. There are very good reasons for this that go far beyond and deeper than simple propaganda. We put in dictators and then take them out, we fund terrorists sects, commit terrorists strikes against civilians, barrage them with drones and bombs and dirty weapons. We are the greatest terrorist organisation to maybe ever exist and we’re destroying an entire region of the world, keeping them in a constant state of unrest or despotism. Look at where Gaddafi and Saddam and bin Laden came from and you’ll find an easy and bold line to US foreign policy.

Our interest in the middle east is in keeping it unstable and firmly under our control, whether that be by proxy through a despot we install, or through a sort of military demolition team, like we used in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will use in Syria and Iran, possibly Egypt.

We are not their friends, and it’s not because the Arab world wants to destroy us. It’s because we’re trying to destroy them, and we’re doing a pretty good job. Have been for almost a hundred years.

What a better distraction to the government abuses than another war? And what a better way to legitimise these abuses of power. Barack Obama’s already codified crimes against humanity, so why not codify and legalise government spying? It’s all in the name of our safety! Though this has been proven remarkably false by Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning, very few americans seem willing to stand behind them or even defend them in polite company.

We wrap the noose around their necks when we remain silent. And if we remain silent as we march into Syria and destroy and already ruined nation, it will be our hands bloodied by this ongoing genocide against the Arab world.

Enter Miley Cyrus.

I don’t feel a need or reason to defend her or her actions, but I find the level of vitriol levelled at her the height of absurdity. The only thing I will say is that if you think Miley Cyrus decides what she does in her career, you’re probably deluding yourself just so you can continue to rage.

But I find this level of anger at a popstar pretty curious. And I think it has to do with all this collected anger we have, as a nation. We have nowhere we know how to direct it, without ostracising friends, family, coworkers. We’re afraid of seeming radical or controversial. What if the company you work for looks at your facebook/twitter account and sees that you think Israel’s military occupation of Palestine is even remotely negative? They may even gasp in alarm! It could be you let go in downsizing next month!

But maybe that’s unfair to paint people that way. No, it is. I apologise for that. I don’t think you’re all so petty and unthinking. But I do think that this collected anger is much easier to direct at a target that everyone agrees upon. Most people don’t pay attention to international news, let alone national news, so we don’t know whose side we should be on. What should we do about Syria or Egypt? What should we do about the international illegal spying network we and other countries have? What should we do about whistleblowers or the drone war? What should we do about national debt and joblessness? What should we do about the global and national economy?

These are tough questions, and while I have answers for all of them, I understand that I stand in a very small group of very radical thinkers. I don’t expect even 30% of people to agree with the details I lay forth for these kind of issues, and so I don’t blame anyone for truly just not knowing what to do.

This is normal when powers far superior to you are gambling with dice you don’t understand.

And I think it’s all this rage that we don’t know how to direct. We see an easy target: former Disney teen idol making a fool of herself on stage.

Boom. Lock on and destroy. Level all that rage and hatred at the dummy on stage. Make her regret becoming famous. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s how fun and satisfying it is to destroy the gods we create.

bradley manning sentenced to 35 years

Which is tragic. I don’t even really know what to say about it except that it’s actually less than I expected. He’s been accused of espionage, which assumes that there’s someone he’s selling these to, when, in reality, he disclosed them to everyone. Because of this ruling, journalism is a crime. Whistelblowing is treason. Exposing warcrimes is a worse offense than committing warcrimes.

If you’ve been following my facebook, twitter, or even blog posts here, you know that I stand with Bradley Manning. You may have even seen my name in the New York Times alongside Noam Chomsky and others. This is a dark day for america.

The fight begins again today. It extends endlessly.

Livestreaming post-sentencing press conference with David Coombs, Manning’s attorney.

Perhaps he’ll win the Nobel Peace Prize, which he deserves.

I don’t know. This is all quite depressing.

I’m thinking of you, Bradley Manning. Almost always. Hopefully we can get this mess straightened out.

But what’s to be expected when war criminals try the innocent?

Bradley Manning Support Network.

Links to coverage:

Democracy Now! They’ve been covering Bradley Manning for years and it’s probably the best place for information.

Reports here and here.

Outcry here and here and here.

Twitter.

And everything Glenn Greenwald.

And a petition here.

There’s so much more to say. And so many other reports to be read about this. Just google Bradley Manning and you’ll get millions upon millions of hits. Just start reading, if you don’t know already.

–Update 15:08–

David Coombs read Bradley Manning’s statement after being sentenced to 35 years. Here’s the transcript:

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Copied from Democracy Now!

Great article about all the things Bradley Manning has done for us.

a week in review

It’s not been a good week. Bombings, shootouts, manhunts, gun bills, internet privacy, insider trading: everyone lost this week.

Let’s begin with the bombing: two Chechen brothers set off two bombs during the Boston marathon. Terrorism is being offered, and it is, surely, an act of terrorism, but that word has taken on such a particular meaning here in america that I think it should be looked at a bit closer. The news was immediately declaring this an act of darkskinned islamic fundamentalists, even falsely reporting several times that the criminal was a Saudi national. Terrorism, in america, has taken on a very racist connotation, and you can disagree with that, but if you look at most of the domestic acts of terror in recent years, they’re by white fundamentalist christian men, but these people are rarely, if ever, referred to or remembered as terrorists. No, one must be brown and muslim to count! And so now the news is desperately seeking a way to connect these boys to fundamentalist islamic sects around the world.This, I would say, is unlikely. The older one–now dead–may very well have been a fundamental, as it looks like, but I’m pretty confident these two men were working alone, under no direction from foreign powers. This, of course, may end up not being true, but I think there’s a true and nefarious desire amongst americans to make this act of violence more understandable by labelling it under the enemy we already know. It doesn’t help that these kids are white, however.

The Boston marathon, as has been stressed, is really not just an american event. Yeah, it happens here, but there are participants from almost 100 nations. Yes, this happened domestically, but I wouldn’t consider it so much an act of domestic terrorism, in that the focus of the attack was on an international event. What their motivation or purpose was isn’t for me to say, and probably there’s no good reason, but is there ever? The surviving Tsarnaev brother will probably die before he can say or he’ll be tortured into telling pure untruths, connecting himself to a rebel faction in Chechnya that now needs american bombs to stop the terror from spreading. There are talks of him being a tool or some part of a conspiratorial plot, but I find this sort of absurd, for many reasons. My dad fits in this camp, believing that it now sets a precedent for the militarization and shutting down of an entire city, which, truly, was a pretty shocking and frightening thing to see. Whether it was right or wrong, correct or incorrect, isn’t for me to say, but it was alarming to know that people’s houses were being searched warrantlessly across a metro area. But I don’t see the conspiracy angle because they don’t need it. The government does this and can do this and that’s why it was so easy for it to happen. If homeland security suspects you of anything, your rights and privacy disappear. This has been in effect for years, though this is the first widescale demonstration of it. And so, no, I don’t think our government had anything to do with these two men because they didn’t need these two men to make this normal.

There’s the troubling fact, too, about the suspension of the Miranda Rights for the young Tsarnaev. Glenn Greenwald talks about that here and says it much better than I can. But it’s alarming and wholly odious. If we believe in justice, in equality, than we believe in it for everyone, not only those we agree with. Part of what defines our First Amendment rights is a case of neonazis marching through a city. The courts decided this fell within their rights, as citizens, to stage a peaceful demonstration, no matter how reprehensible. If you believe that you have the right to say whatever you want and that should be protected, then even those you find to be the worst humans imaginable have that same right. Believing in justice doesn’t only apply when it’s easy: it applies to everyone, in all circumstances, regardless of your feelings about the individual. If murder is wrong, state sanctioned murder is just as wrong, even if applied to a murderer. If you believe torture is a violation of human rights, then it is always a violation, not only when it happens to people you like/agree with. The suspension of the Miranda rights has already been in practice for a few years, but that doesn’t mean it should continue to be that way. If the young Tsarnaev has no rights, then no one deserves rights. He is a human. This isn’t about him being Chechen, american, islamic, or any other thing: he is a human, no matter how violent and reprehensible his actions and beliefs. If one human deserves rights, all humans deserve rights. You don’t pick and choose with justice.

The Boston bombing wasn’t the only bombing this week. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia all faced such disasters, not to mention Syria, which has been in a state of domestic warfare for almost a year now, yes? These are all horrible and, actually, with much higher death tolls and costs to safety. I mention this not to diminish what’s happened here, but to show that this happens in many places, and often because of things we have done or continue to do. I don’t want to link these events too closely to american involvement because I simply don’t know all the facts, but things we have done historically in these places continue to have great costs on humans who live there. There is a link to us and our government and it’s important not to forget that.

Now, I saw a lot of posts this week that seemed intended to trivialise the Boston bombing, which I find pretty absurd. Yes, this happens everywhere, and I understand that people doing this are trying to point out a hypocrisy, but I find the tactic sort of stupid in this case. Like justice, empathy applies to all cases. If one bombing of civilians is bad, all bombings of civilians are bad. You don’t get to pick and choose which humans are worthy of your empathy. Yes, this is our country so it’s easier to feel it for people here, and that’s appropriate. When a great act of violence happens thousands of miles away it will always be less real than the one that happens to someone who could be you. That’s humanity. No one should apologise or be made to feel bad because they post more about the Boston bombing than they did about the Baghdad bombing that happened, if I’m not mistaken, the same day. So feel high and mighty and righteous, but it doesn’t give you moral superiority because you’re aware of something other people are not. And trust me, I understand the frustration of a country so insular that it’s blissfully and wilfully unaware of our own acts of terrorist literally spread across the globe, but maybe this isn’t the best time to tell people that you care more than them, yes?

But let’s talk about something else that’s happening here, or, not here, but by us, here: Guantanamo. Almost every inmate there is on a hunger strike, subject to forced feeding, which is tantamount to torture. Many of these people have been there for a decade or more without any charges, and many of them are cleared for release or transfer, yet they remain. They have been subjected to the worst humiliations, the worst tortures, incredible indecencies and inhumane situations, and now, with the only thing that they have control over, their ingestion of food, they stage a strike, a protest to try and make the world aware of them, or maybe just to die with the last shreds of dignity possible. And we are torturing them by force feeding. If you don’t know what force feeding is, let me explain. A person is strapped down until they are unable to move their body. A hose is then inserted in through their nose and pushed into their stomach. This is a very painful process as the inmate struggles with the only muscles available to him/her, which are in the throat. The food is forced down in this most painful and humiliating way, and then, after the food is in, they are not released from their bindings, but strapped there for an additional two hours–sometimes more–until they are let go. These inmates are not allowed to see their lawyers, their families: anyone. The Obama administration with impunity continues to keep these inmates concealed and in the dark, buried alive, without crime, without justice.

In addition to this, a bipartisan research task force has unequivocally denounced the Bush administration on crimes against humanity. This investigation was led by Asa Hutchinson, NRA consultant and undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. The report concludes that never before in U.S. history had there been “the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.” While the report focused largely on the Bush administration after 9/11, it also criticizes a lack of transparency under Obama. This is a task force that President Obama did not want and did not call for, that he in fact decided not to make. Barack Obama continues the Bush administrations calls for secrecy and disruption of justice by making no attempts to investigate these violations of human rights, these crimes against humanity, but simply brushing over them. And still, these men, George Bush included, will never face their crimes in court, while whistleblowers, those who simply tell the world about these abuses, are being prosecuted by the Obama administration to the full extent of the law. Bradley Manning has been in custody for over 1,000 days not without trial–the maximum limit is 120 days before a person is required to be released–for releasing information about crimes against humanity in the Iraq and Afghan wars. This attack on whistleblowers is really an attack on investigative journalism, making them afraid to do their jobs in case they be prosecuted as spies, which leads them to expensive court cases in which they may be tried for their life. Michael DeKort, Thomas Drake, Franz Gayl, and Thomas Tamm are, along with Bradley Manning, the whistelblowers attacked by this administration. I don’t have time to explain who they are because each one probably deserves a book that I’m unable to write. But google them and learn what led them to be tried as spies and have their lives taken apart and ruined by their government, that they served.

The gun bills did not pass through the Senate. Not a single measure has been taken to make guns more strictly regulated, which is something that desperately needs to happen. There is no logic behind fearing the taking away of arms. There are more arms held by private citizens currently in america than could possibly ever be seized by our government. I actually don’t have much to say about gun safety. I think guns are stupid and no one should have them, but that’s me–a cityboy. I understand that many people in the country have a much different relationship to guns, and so while I think no one should own any guns, I don’t think legislation to remove them is necessary. What is necessary, however, is that they be harder to obtain. This should be obvious.

CISPA also passed as did a bill that essentially allows senators and representatives to legally practice insider trading. These are things I also have little to say about because of how obviously horrible they are. CISPA privatises the internet which takes away any shred of privacy you thought or believe you have. Anything that you’ve ever done on the internet, on your phone, or via email is now theirs, and this can and often is traded to the government. The age of downloading and freesharing is going to disappear unless we do something about it. If nothing else, be sure to know how your senators voted, and then make sure they’re moved out of congress. The insider trading bill is also obviously so horrible that it’s barely worth discussing. Essentially what it means is that members of the senate and house can vote on regulations for companies that they own stock in and similar such activities. This allows them to know market value before the market does. By voting on what technologies are to be subsidised or regulated, they can hedge their bets, if you will, and make an enormous profit.

What else happened this week? Maybe I’ll remember later.

But there’s also a line of thinking that will connect all of these things together. While some of them are clearly more linked such as CISPA, insider trading, gun bill because they ensure that those who have power retain their power while gaining more, there are most certainly not related to Boston, for example–though I’d argue that CISPA is pretty related to Guantanamo and whistleblowers. While the mayhem in Boston and Texas–which I forgot to mention–they are most likely unrelated for at least one huge reason: they didn’t need to be. The senate didn’t need you to be distracted to enact these laws or make sure the gun laws never happened. They did this all fair and legal, easy peasy lemon squeezey. They did it right in front of us, against their constituents feelings and desires, but what do they care? They got what they wanted, what the lobbyists wanted for their parent companies. There’s a reason why our government has such a shockingly low approval rating, and it’s not a conspiracy. It’s open knowledge: these people are not in it for you.

And so the links between the Tsarnaevs and the senate or Obama administration are pure fabrication and conspiracy mongering. If they needed a distraction to pass these, they could have distracted you with an abortion or gay marriage debate. There was no sum gain on Boston or Texas for the US government, unless you think that the militarisation of Boston was part of their plan, though, as I said above, I find this unnecessary for a few big reasons.

But, yes: this is the week as I saw it.

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