Thursday, May 31, 2012

Glenn Greenwald writes today of the impending extradition of Julian Assange to Sweden and the likely rendition to the United States, where he will be persecuted by the Obama organized crime syndicate. I have some thoughts on the motivation of politicians and journalists who evidently feel deeply threatened, and certainly deeply angered, by Assange.

There are two issues, tangential to Glenn Greenwald's points, that deserve attention. Both revolve about the problem of perception and reality.

Greenwald notes that the New York Times's Bill Keller is the son of former Chevron CEO George Keller. So Keller is very unlikely to identify at all with poorer or middle class Americans. Increasingly, this is true of elite American journalists generally. They come out of elite universities, often having entered those schools out of elite backgrounds. They identify with the elite. This identification is bolstered by careful management by politicians and business titans. Andrew Ross Sorkin's close ties to Wall Street executives is a perfect example of this. Cokie Roberts, John Burns, Anderson Cooper, and many others, are excellent examples of this. They are very nearly diametrically opposed to a past generation of journalists who came up from nothing — people like Walter Cronkite or Bill Moyers. We see similar patterns in the Supreme Court, now proudly Harvard Law grads (but for one or two members, I think). Congress isn't quite so homogeneous, but it's going that way.

When the revelations of Wikileaks or others challenge the lies of government or industry, these elite journalists themselves feel challenged. What is Keller's whining about an unkempt Julian Assange if not a tacit assertion that Assange is 'beneath' Keller and those with whom Keller associates.

Comments like Glenn Greenwald's or revelations like those of Wikileaks threaten to make bare the reality of a media system that sees itself as part of the power structure, not investigating it. Nevertheless, Keller or Roberts or Burns want to believe their own lies, so they confront cognitive dissonance as they try to find reason to condemn Wikileaks.

There is a comparable, more specific, problem of perception and reality for Obama. He is a servile wannabe, but he wants to see himself as an outsider, a challenger — the challenger that many thought they were voting for in 2008. Why is Obama so determined to destroy whistleblowers? Because, more than most politicians in recent times, his public identity, and possible his personal one, rests on deception. He is not what he represents himself to be. He sees those who challenge that representation as threatening him personally. So he lashes out. Obama takes the Wikileaks revelations and other whistleblowing personally.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Romney, Obama and the Cult of Divine Right of Wealth

Paul Krugman today writes that Romney's defense of Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan Chase suggests cluelessness.

Romney isn't clueless — he's malicious. Huge difference. Like all of the advocates of Wall Street, including Timothy Geithner and Barack Obama most of the time, there is a deep, profound, dangerous streak of maliciousness at work. These are people who want to transfer wealth from the average to the rich, from labor to capital. These are people who firmly, devoutly believe in the divine right, the divine of superiority of wealth.

As conservative economist and Romney adviser Gregory Mankiw made clear in his blog a few years ago, conservatives (including most Democrats, like Obama) believe that the wealthy are genetically superior. These statements are made explicitly so there is no point pretending that this is a misinterpretation.

It is commonplace now to hear assertions of the genetic coding of morality, or every aspect of human behavior. The cult of reductionism to genetic, pseudo-Darwinian explanations is fully embedded in the popular discourse. Obama, Geithner, Romney, Mankiw, Dimon, Blankfein, Bloomberg all hold the absolute conviction that the wealthy are genetically superior. This is a profoundly dangerous state of mind. We have seen i it before. We know where it leads.


Krugman also has a blog post commenting on the blind, mindless ignorance of economist Edward Lazear (at Stanford and that right-wing haven of war criminals, the Hoover Institution).

As in his op-ed essay today (May 21), Paul Krugman is very generous to conservatives (and the many Democrats who follow their lead, as Obama does). Mitt Romney, Edward Lazear, Gregory Mankiw, David Brooks, Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, and others like them are malicious, mean-spirited advocates of the transfer of wealth from labor to capital, from average and poor to rich. Worse, they are convinced of the genetic superiority of the wealth, convinced that the poor are genetically pre-disposed to stay poor.

It cannot be overstated how dangerous their thinking is.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

More Lies from Mike Bloomberg and the NYPD

Recent news on racist policy in Mike Bloomberg's NYPD reveals an under-addressed issue of the New American State of Permanent War. Americans, especially academics, pundits, journalists, and politicians, obediently, mindlessly nod in assent to drone attacks abroad, the violation of every kind of right a person might have (as long as that person is Arab or Muslim). What are police here in the US to make of their international brethren? Do American cops itch to do what the US military does in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iran . . . ? American abuses abroad incentivize abuses domestically. Bloomberg's NYPD is a case in point.

The New York Civil Liberties Union has caught the NYPD in one of its more glaring lies. And the NYPD has many many lies to its credit — about the 2004 GOP National Convention, Occupy Wall Street, spying on Muslims, spying on all of us. The newly-released NYCLU report betrays the racism behind Ray Kelly and Mike Bloomberg's stop and frisk policy. The cop claim is that stop and frisks deter crime.

The NYCLU shows convincingly that crime rates have been declining (if you believe the NYPD) while police stops have gone up. That much might — on the face of things — seem perfectly plausible. What is really striking is the sheer racial skewing of the search policy. In Bloomberg's first year in office (which came after many years of Giuliani touting his great successes in reducing crime), the NYPD stopped 97,296 people. In 2011, that number was up to 685,724. Did crime decline by that much? Was there a marked increase from Giuliani years when — if you believe the Giulianistas — crime was declining?

Here's the kicker: 87 percent — almost 9 in 10 — of those stopped were black or Latino men. And 90 percent of those stopped were guilty of nothing; they weren't even ticketed. Those stopped most often account for 4.7 percent of the city's population, but account 41.6 percent of stops. "The number of stops of young black men exceeded the entire city population of young black men (168,126 as compared to 158,406)." So some are being stopped repeatedly.

But Bloomberg has more lies to cover up the first round of lies.

First, they claim that the policy is justified because it works to reduce crime. Crime rates are down! But we know they were declining before the policy was begun.

Second, and even better, NYPD mouthpiece Paul Browne claims that the reason the cops are finding so little on their searches is that the baddies are leaving their guns at home! What evidence the NYPD has to support this is anybody's guess. Perhaps their spying extends even further than we've yet found reason to suspect.

So here is Mike Bloomberg's NYPD causal chain:
  • Bad guy uses gun against victim.
  • Victim describes crime to cops.
  • Cops go in search of black or Latino guy with gun (because that's what the victim described).
  • Bad guy has gone home to leave gun just in case he gets stopped and frisked. Did he ask momma to hide it in the cookie jar?
  • Cops stop and frisk every young black man in the city and find . . .  pretty much nothing.
Does anybody see the glaring inconsistency? But in the National Surveillance State of Barack Obama and Mike Bloomberg, what police say must be true.