Un-Brainwashing America

 

Lorenz2

Lorenz’s Goose Eggs

Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989), the Austrian physician and zoologist who shared the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1973, hatched a clutch of greylag goose eggs as a young man and found that the newly-hatched goslings “imprinted” on him and would follow him wherever he went as if he were their mother. He later found that they would imprint on whatever they saw moving during a “critical period” after they emerged from the eggs. In goslings that period is from 13 to 16 hours after hatching. That’s how Lorenz became “mother” to a series of baby geese and ducks in subsequent years. He also found that this surrogate motherhood was indelible. Once the little birds had “learned” that the naturalist was their mother there was no “un-learning” it. That might explain why Lorenz often appears in photographs followed by a gaggle of geese.

Lorenz’s understanding of imprinting was further elaborated on by E.H. Hess in 1973. W Sluckin, in a later University of Leicester study, explains Hess’s findings:

Hess emphasizes that the imprintings are a “genetically-programmed learning process.” It includes the animal’s acquiring certain specific objectives during a critical period in its development. This period of acquisition and the links of the imprinting are governed by the laws of primacy and are characterized by their permanence.

From Homespun “Truths” to Hell in a Handbasket

But what does this touching story of the emotional life of waterbirds have to do with the un-brainwashing of America? It turns out that ducks and geese are not the only animals that pass through critical periods in their young lives when they are genetically susceptible to “learning” whatever is put before them. Human beings are, too, especially when it comes to subjects like religion, patriotism and a country’s mythical values.  Psychologists Marie E. Hefferman and R. Chris Fraley,  maintain in a 2013 paper published in the Journal of Research in Personality that human adults can be imprinted in infancy by parental behaviors. That could explain how American children are instilled from their most susceptible ages with a series of absurd beliefs associated with religion and extravagant claims regarding their country’s history and values. I humbly submit that, if the United States is to regain a healthy perception of its own reality, its citizens must be disembarrassed of all this rosy ideological conditioning. That is to say, they must be un-brainwashed. I’ll go even further. If this litany of mendacity, myths and homespun “truths” are not urgently replaced in the nation’s value set, the consequences could be disastrous.

If you believe in your country right or wrong, whenever your country is wrong you are assenting to crimes against humanity in places like Vietnam, Iraq, Libia and Afghanistan, all invaded by the United States under false pretenses. If you believe that life on this earth is just a vale of tears and that real life begins when you ascend into heaven, you will be inclined to disregard the massive damage being done to your world by unscrupulous industrial interests, e.g. big oil. If you think you are exceptional for having been born in the United States and entitled therefore to exceptional rights and privileges over people from other countries, you are in for some unpleasant surprises. People from other countries are watching you and they don’t like what they see. Similarly, if you think your white skin entitles you to a place at the top of the totem pole, that proves not your racial superiority but your mental and moral inferiority. The truth is this modest brush fire of false beliefs, with a little help from the winds of history, can be whipped into a catastrophic conflagration.

Learning Is Relatively Easy; What’s Hard Is Un-Learning

From the very cradle, most Americans are imprinted with wasteful, damaging ideas such as rugged individualism, American exceptionalism, magical religion, racism and greed. American young people are instilled with a near reverence for egoism, insolidarity, the acceptance of inequality, militarism, patriotism and jingoism. Consumerism and instant gratification are axiomatic in their country. I want it all and I want it now! A visitor from the Bay Area told us recently that his neighbors were brimming with pride because their baby son had pronounced his first words: “credit card.”

Unlearning all that misinformation is not easy. I have come to the conclusion that successful unlearning/unteaching is virtually impossible. Everything that is learned over a period of time as a child is imprinted there forever, no matter how absurd, how damaging to oneself and others, how wasteful nor counter-productive, it’s branded there indelibly on one’s mind and very being.

It’s about the Future

Though it’s almost impossible to change minds, to un-teach and un-learn in retrospect, it might be possible is to work for the future, to start now to teach young people sane and humanitarian thought modes and values. There is no shortage of valid models in the world. Couldn’t the Americans learn from them? Where to start? Holland? Norway? Finland? France? Australia? Japan? Any of those models would do.

The way to save a lot of life-time trying to unlearn negative values is to learn the right things in the first place. How do you do that? Unfortunately, it’s not up to you. It’s up to your parents, your neighbors, your society. In part, at least, it’s a lottery in that respect. Roll the dice: did you come up with a sane, solidary, egalitarian society? Or did you grow up in a warlike, hyper-competitive, misguided, unequal, unsafe, consumerized pressure cooker? Or were you born into a doctrinaire religious sect like the Scientologists, or the Catholic church or the Methodists, or the Baptists? Or the Evangelicals? Or raised in a camper van in a Walmart parking lot? Most Americans think that the winners in this life lottery are the ones who inherit wealth, but that’s not necessarily the case. The rich are damaged, too, because life is not about individual wealth. It’s about shared humanity.

Umair Moved from Business to Something Serious

Umair Haque was a business consultant till he moved on to more serious stuff. Born in California and currently living in England, he is concerned about what he calls “the foundational myths they (the Americans) have been taught to believe.” Here’s an excerpt from an essay he posted recently on his Eudaimonia.com site:

The real question isn’t whether America’s democracy’s dying (it is) — the real question is: why was it so easy to kill? After all, it didn’t take a single bullet. It seems to have fallen all by itself. How curious. How odd. Why, then, would that be?

The answer to that crucial question hides in plain sight. Americans don’t see it, or understand it, yet, though — because it conflicts with the foundational myths they have been taught to believe. The ones they are socialized into — educated about at school, hear repeated in the headlines, and come, all too soon, and without enough critical or reflective thought, examination of history, to proudly believe in — to accept as true. And now they are clinging to just those myths — even while their democracy implodes around them, like ashes pouring from a volcano of rage, fear, greed, and fury.

Which myths do I mean? That America was the land of the free and the home of the brave — that it was the world’s noblest experiment — that it was unique amongst nations in being a haven for the wretched — that people ever lived together in some kind of new Athens on the Atlantic. None of these things were ever true.

Read Umair’s full article here: https://eand.co/why-american-democracy-was-so-easy-to-destroy-735c716efbb5

Teach Your Children Well

Clearly, the answer is education, and the earlier the better. The great woman with the key to human well-being is not Ayn Rand; it’s Maria Montessori. The ideal goal is not übermensch superiority; it’s simple humanity starting with generosity and common decency. Young people must learn patience and creativity–essential elements in any of life’s endeavors–before physics.

How do we measure the results of educational reform? The best follow-up study is the existence of a sane, healthy society (SHS) after half a century or so of quality education. There’s Germany, a fair model of an SHS. They began with ashes in 1945, along with Japan, Finland, Holland and Belgium, among others. Portugal started their educational reforms in the mid-1990s and already they’re climbing up in the educational ranking worldwide. It’s not too late to start to emulate those progressive education systems and the sane, healthy societies they lead to.

Effective education solutions do not come cheap. They’re long-term and require expensive infrastructures and well-trained, well-paid and motivated teachers and staff. Almost all of the countries mentioned above offer free public education straight through university and pay their teachers well. We can also add Scotland to that list, but not England. The British, having discovered how a heavy load of student debt (currently around 100 billion pounds) creates intimidated and docile citizens, have adopted the American system. The US and the UK are not valid role models, the first disqualified by racism and hyper-consumerism, the second by their smothering class system and imperial attitudes.

Dystopia to Utopia, an Uphill Trudge

All of this optimistic theorizing about liberal education is mere hot air if there’s no one prepared to formulate and implement a concrete plan. Any American initiatives in this sense will certainly not come from the top down. The American establishment–the military/industrial/congressional complex–has been fabulously successful advancing its septic agenda with the timeworn sea-to-shining-sea mythology. They have no incentive to change the formula now.

President Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education, Betsy de Vos, is indicative of a retrograde, anti-public-school agenda. At the time of de Vos’s Senate confirmation process Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called DeVos “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee” since the position became a cabinet position. The Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Michigan Democratic Party also opposed DeVos’s nomination.

DeVos, a militant Christian whose $40 million yacht was cut free from its moorings on Lake Erie last summer , is known as a fierce proponent of school vouchers that would allow students to attend private schools with public funding. This, of course, opens the doors to public funding of sectarian religious education. According to The New York Times, it “is hard to find anyone more passionate about the idea of steering public dollars away from traditional public schools than Betsy DeVos.”

Given the United States’s current political climate with its time-hardened educational policies and budget cutbacks, what are the chances of progressive education initiatives being introduced and the United States being reformed?

They’re slim.

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We Were Wondering…

President Trump's Cabinet
These are the hollow men. They are the stuffed men. Leaning together. Headpieces filled with straw.

How Do American Governments Justify Their Questionable Actions?

Although the Americans in charge regularly resort to “American exceptionalism” and other familiar formulas to justify their belligerent solutions both at home and abroad, Europeans and other people from the world outside the United States have a lot of questions for the government and the people of the world’s only superpower regarding those “solutions.” Thanks largely to that exemplary American hero, Superman, we all agree that superpowers should be used for good, and that evil should be left to the likes of super-villain, Lex Luthor, and other characters of his ilk. At least that’s the theory. As usual, the reality is somewhat different… Let’s take a look together.

How Do Americans Live with Their Own Government?

How does one of the world’s greatest countries–historically, economically, technologically and militarily–the home of some of the world’s most prestigious seats of higher learning, manage to elect a government made up of its worst elements semi-literate accountants, speculators and rednecks, ultra Christian zealots, racists, militarists, hypocrites and other assorted sociopaths, headed by an uncouth, unlettered and unprincipled President and backed by packs of extreme right-wing billionaires and industrialists promoting their own sinister agendas?

Virtually none of these eminent American leaders have any consideration for the wellbeing of the people who elected them, preferring to favor with all their government initiatives a cynical, opportunistic and affluent sector of American society–the notorious “one per-cent,” not to be confused with the 1% sector of unruly motor-cycle club members who might actually be considered a better class of people insofar as they only rough up their fellow citizens individually or in small groups. And they have yet
to provoke a mortgage crisis or major bank bailout.

What about Iraq and Afghanistan?

The American invasions of both of these sovereign countries were–and remain–unprovoked, illegal acts of war based on false pretenses. Both President Bush and his secretary of state, Colin Powell, knew, based on information from their own
intelligence services, that Iraq had no “weapons of mass destruction” but opted to mount a disinformation black op on the floor of the United Nations to justify that invasion. It is probable that the attack and subsequent occupation of the country and later blockade that resulted in, among other catastrophes, the deaths of half a million Iraki children constitutes crimes against humanity, in accordance with international law.

Due to setbacks on the ground, the Americans have pulled most of their troops out of Iraq. Was this for humanitarian reasons? They might say it was. But it’s also true that American soldiers are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which holds them accountable for abuses of civilians. Mercenaries (“contractors” is the current euphemism), on the other hand, are not hindered by any such legal restrictions. They’re freebooters. It would be interesting to know after the US government extracted the soldiers, how may mercenaries did they leave in place in Iraq? And how many fresh ones did they introduce? We were wondering…

The case of the Afghan war is equally egregious if more complicated since the Americans seem even less able to defeat the Afghan resistance. Again, out with the United States military and in with the private armies, which are more, shall we say “expedient” than GIs. That being the case, why does the United States even need an army? Meanwhile, missiles and drones are proving that the US doesn’t need an air force, either. What ‘s next, the conversion of the Pentagon into a giant five-sided shopping mall?

American Full-Spectrum Dominance, Reality or Myth?

Does the United States actually have the military might worldwide to back up their arrogant, unilateral foreign policy in a showdown with their most powerful adversaries? Hitler thought he had this preponderance of power, and for a while he did, but in the end he lost it. His “1,000-year Reich” lasted just 12 tragic years, from 1933 until 1945.

The University of Texas’s National Security Review addressed this issue in their June 28, 2018 issue, saying,

“Even a cursory examination of recent U.S. history raises questions about what military superiority should look like, given that the U.S. military’s last victory in conflict was against a third-rate power in a quick fight with extremely limited aims. The 1991 Persian Gulf War is frequently trotted out in the defense community as the example to emulate, yet it may offer less guidance for future state-on-state conflict than one might hope.

Correspondent Jamie Seidel, writing in the Australian newspaper, Adelaide Now, in its December 28, 2017 issue reveals similar cause for concern regarding American military hegemony:

International strategic think-tank the RAND Corporation has made a comprehensive assessment of US military capabilities in the face of an increasingly unstable world.

To do this it has analysed the outcome of extensive war games conducted by itself and other institutions, and assessed published reports on the capabilities and strategies of the key players.

It finds the US woefully unprepared.

As for the superiority of American advanced weaponry, The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is an excellent case in point. A well-versed Swiss military analyst who calls himself “Saker” sums up the US-Russian arms race succinctly: “The Americans build arms to make money; the Russians build arms to win battles.” If this is true it doesn’t bode well for the USA.

 

The Strategic Separation of Children from Their Parents

The Trump administration’s policy of separating the children of illegal immigrants from their parents at the border was not circumstantial, nor was it coincidental, nor by accident. It was a deliberate dissuasive strategy carefully worked out beforehand by what passes in the White House for thinkers, based on irrefutable logic. What do these backward Latinos value most? Their families, of course. If we take their children away from them immediately, at the border, it will be the definitive dissuasive measure to prevent other potential immigrants from trying to cross into the US illegally.

Did they consider the human implications of this policy? The facts indicate either that they didn’t, or that they did and decided not to take humanity into consideration. After
all, it’s the very inhumanity of the measure that makes it devastatingly effective. The United Nations has recently declared that this forceful separation of children–including nursing infants–from their parents is tantamount to torture.

What’s with Their Cruel and Unusual Lack of Gun Laws?

We’re also wondering about the advisability of the United States’s heavily armed
populace. Pistol-packin’ America maintains that their right to “keep and bear arms” is guaranteed by the sacrosanct second amendment to the US Constitution. In fact, these semi-literate constitutional scholars ignore–or choose to ignore–the context of the Constitutional text which clearly states, “”A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Outside the context of that “well-regulated militia,” the right to keep and bear arms, just in order to shoot school children, ex-wives and white-tailed deer, is legally and morally indefensible, as it is in every civilized country in the world. Nor is the NRA a “well-regulated militia.” Any pretense that it is one is a perversion of common sense and constitutional law. So, the whole pro-gun movement is simply a band of unruly boy/men playing at defending their mortiferous bang-bang toys. Now there’s nothing to prevent the FBI from going round to confiscate them. What are they waiting for?

We’re wondering how the gun situation got so absurd in the United States. Could it have to do with far-right politicians pandering to a plump, reliable right-wing voting bloc of gunners in the same way they groom the evangelical vote even though those earnest Christians want to provoke an atomic war in the Mideast in order to precipitate the Apocalypse tomorrow, if not sooner?

Nor can we forget the potentially calamitous role of roving bands of armed mouth breathers on the loose during civil disturbances in the United States, an eventuality that looks more and more probable as the American ship of state begins to slip anchor.

Another interesting question arises here. In the case of a serious uprising against the democratic order of American Nazi, White Supremacist, National Rifle Association, and other associated sociopathic brotherhoods , which side would the US Army be on? While we’re speculating, which side would President Trump be on? This is beginning to look serious. Maybe someone should consult the Rand Corporation so they can run some reassuring war games.

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
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The Children’s Crusade–3/3

Parkland School Shooting
Victims from the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida

Recipe for a Well-Balanced Country

High levels of humanity, characterized by empathy, generosity, neighborliness, cooperation and collective solutions to the problems of their society, are essential to all well-balanced countries. These all-encompassing solutions in first-world countries include controls on political corruption, universal health care, restrictions on predatory capitalism, reasonable judicial procedures, humane prisons, etc. As a result, their indexes of violence are lower than those of the United States and they have fewer serious problems in their societies than the Americans. This wellbeing in countries that look after their citizens isn’t due to coincidence. It’s thanks to longstanding, constant and well-thought-out execution of programs for the common good of all their citizens. That is to say: healthy politics.

Are there remedies for this inhumanity plague in the United States? There may be but, given the well-dug-in opposition there to humane collective solutions, they would be neither quick nor easy to implement. Embedded inhumanity has become a jealously-preserved American tradition. Continue reading “The Children’s Crusade–3/3”

Washington’s Hollow Men Write Their Own Ticket–and Yours 1/2

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The “experts” in President Donald Trump’s first cabinet.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

T.S. Eliot
(Full text here.)

Beware the Lycanthropic Superpower

There’s a prima facie case for believing that President Donald Trump’s dubious curriculum and limited intellectual and moral capacities are sufficient justification for asserting that he exercises very little power in the White House. What, after all, can a man who doesn’t read contribute to decision making at the world’s highest level?  That leaves us to believe he’s just a straw man, a placeholder for the oligarchs that really run the United States in every significant respect. The obligatory next question is: Do the oligarchs themselves embody the necessary intellectual and moral capacities?

Since the only values recognized by the USA’s neo-con ruling class are economic in nature they are the only values the Trump administration proposes and promotes. They give no credit to human, nor historical, nor esthetic nor ethical considerations. The mythical “market” rules: just the bucks and the bling, and the faster the better. They know this scenario is essentially based on lies but they will continue to employ it as long as it works.

In matters of international politics the values of the American strategists of permanent war are equally bleak, just brutal smash-and-grab tactics, applied around the world, their aim to consolidate the United States as the world’s pre-eminent lycanthropic superpower.

What Ever Happened to the Free and Fair Election?

Just over two centuries ago the United States of America was cast in the Constitution as a democracy, albeit limited and imperfect. Women and slaves couldn’t vote, for example, and the election of the President was indirect, via an “electoral college” created by the Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Founding Fathers didn’t trust the unwashed masses; neither has any US American administration since. Even so, it was a step forward over Europe’s absolute monarchies.

Then, as now, the authenticity of a democracy depended upon free and fair elections. Without elections free of fraud and outside influence a “democracy” is a democracy in name only. Flash forward 231 years. How is the United States doing today in matters of preserving democracy? Not terribly well, it seems. Today the great election influencer is money. According to the Wikipedia, in 2009 the Washington Post estimated that there were 13,700 registered lobbyists and described the nation’s Capitol as “teeming with lobbyists.” The ratio of lobbyists employed by the healthcare industry, compared with every elected politician, was six to one, according to one account. (Could this be why the United States doesn’t have proper universal health care, like nearly every other country in the industrialized world?) This is just healthcare lobbyists; the ratio of the total is more like 16 to one. Someone has to pay all these lobbyists. Who pays and what do they get in return?

According to Tom Murse, writing on the ThoughtCo.com website,

Lobbyists are hired and paid by special interest groups, companies, nonprofits and even school districts to exert influence over elected officials at all levels of government. Lobbyists work at the federal level by meeting with members of Congress to introduce legislation and encourage them to vote certain ways that benefit their clients. But they also work at the local and state levels as well.

What does a lobbyist do, then, that makes him so unpopular? It comes down to money. Most Americans don’t have the money to spend on trying to influence their members of Congress, so they view special interests and their lobbyists as having an unfair advantage in creating policy that benefits them rather than the good of the people. 

Lobbyists, however, say they simply want to make sure your elected officials “hear and understand both sides of an issue before making a decision,” as one lobbying firm puts it. Together they spend more than $3 billion trying to influence members of Congress every year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C.

PACs and Super PACs Thicken the Plot

The “political action committee” (PAC) dates from a 1943 CIO union initiative, but it has come a long way since then. Its latest iteration, from, 2010, is the Super PAC, thanks to two judicial decisions that revolutionized campaign financing in the United States. A Super PAC may not make contributions directly to candidate campaigns or parties but may engage in unlimited political spending independently of the campaigns. Unlike traditional PACs, they can raise funds from individuals, corporations, unions, and other groups without any legal limit on donation size. (Emphasis mine.)

That is to say, they can exert massive influence the outcome of elections. The bottom line is that big money, whether individual billionaires, companies, trade associations or unions, can now virtually buy legislators. The process is admittedly indirect but mortally effective. The United States government has become a commodity in their much-vaunted free-market economy. It has passed from democracy to “democracy.” There is only one limit on the power of the Super PAC: how much money are they willing to spend?

Add to the lobbyists and the Super PACs, the legislators’ self-arrogated right to redesign their congressional districts to assure their own re-election (gerrymandering), a grotesque and anti-democratic practice that is also legal.

gerrymandering1

The Spanish philosopher and essayist, José Ortega y Gasset, wrote in his Meditaciones del Quijote, “Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia y si no la salvo a ella no me salvo yo.” (I am myself and my circumstances and if I don’t save them I don’t save myself.) President Donald Trump is himself and his advisors, and he doesn’t seem capable of saving either them nor himself. Without personal resources, without civilized criteria, nor advisors who are more than neophytes, party hacks and generals, the President is a hollow man.

Go to part 2/2
Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
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U.S. Private Prisons Have Failed — 3/3

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Minorities are Cheaper

A 2014 study by a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley shows that minorities make up a greater percentage of inmates in private prisons than in their public counterparts, largely because minorities are cheaper to incarcerate. (It doesn’t say why. Are they more docile?) According to the study, for-profit prison operators accumulate these low-cost inmates “through explicit and implicit exemptions written into contracts between these private prison management companies and state departments of correction.”

An example of private prisons’ inadequate staff training leading to jail violence was reported by two Bloomberg News journalists, Margaret Newkirk and William Selway in Mississippi at the now-closed Walnut Grove Correctional Facility (WGCF). According to the journalists, the ratio of staff to prisoners in this prison was at times as low as 1 to 120. In a bloody riot in this prison, six inmates were rushed to the hospital, including one with permanent brain damage. During the riot, the staff of the prison did not respond but waited until the melee ended, because prisoners outnumbered staff at the time by a ratio of 60-1.

 Why Does the United States Have Millions of Prisoners?

Why do so many Americans deserve prison? Are they genetically determined for crime and mayhem? Is it something in the water? Are they just the worst people on earth? I’m reluctant to believe that. Something is causing them to be the way they are and preventing them from being honest productive citizens instead of misfits and social pariahs.

Could it have to do with being born and raised in a dystopian (as opposed to utopian) society? The United States is, after all, number one in the world in school shootings (and all firearms deaths, for that matter). It worships get-rich-quick entrepreneurs, speculators and deal makers, people who would rather grab than create.  (And what faster way to get rich quick than dope peddling?) Some of its citizens actually feel threatened by collective solutions whether it be environmental protection or universal health care–or even public schools–solutions that have immensely elevated people’s wellbeing all over the rest of the known world.

The United States is the world leader in home repossessions, in homelessness and people who live–and try to raise their families–in their cars. It’s a country run by an unenlightened conservative majority that prefers castigation to education, self-interest to solidarity. It’s every man for himself. It’s no wonder it gets lonely out there. People get desperate and inevitably get into trouble. And, thanks to mandatory sentences and other inhuman judicial and business practices many of them find themselves incarcerated for a long time, if not forever. Especially if they’re black.

The “natural” habitat of young American black men–the majority of the inmates in all U.S. penal institutions–is mean streets, inequality, penury, unfairness, violence and hopelessness. Could it be any other way? If the current President of the United States is a sociopath, how are the impoverished, uncultured black kids in the neighborhoods supposed to be models of sanity and civility?

It’a not clear how many Americans are aware of the extent to which President Obama was disrespected and boycotted by the Washington good ol’ boys for the mere fact of being black, but from this side of the Atlantic the disdain looked blatantly evident. Considering the treatment accorded the President of the United States, one can only imagine that  dispensed to young black drug offenders in the prison system, whether public or private.

Jill Filopivic Writes in The Guardian

I’d like to cite here a couple of paragraphs from Jill Filopivic writing for The Guardian, examples of how the American private-prison situation is seen by many people in the rest of the world.

“The privatization of traditional government functions – and big government payments to private contractors – isn’t limited to international intelligence operations like the National Security Agency. It’s happening with little oversight in dozens of areas once the province of government, from schools to airports to the military. The shifting of government responsibilities to private actors isn’t without consequence, as privatization often comes with a lack of oversight and a series of abuses. One particularly stunning example is the American prison system, the realities of which should be a national disgrace.

Some of those realities are highlighted in a recent lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF). The ACLU contends the facility, which is operated by private contractors, is rife with horrific abuses.

The complaint lists a litany of such horrors: rampant rapes and placing prisoners in solitary confinement for weeks, months or even years at a time, where the only way to get a guard’s attention in an emergency is to set a fire. Rat infestations are so bad that vermin crawl over prisoners; sometimes, the rats are captured, put on leashes and sold as pets to the most severely mentally ill inmates.

There are many suicide attempts, some successful. The untreated mentally ill throw feces, scream, start fires, electrocute themselves and self-mutilate. The prison authorities deny or delay treatment for infections and even cancer. Stabbings, beatings and other acts of violence are common. Juveniles are housed with adults, including one 16-year-old who was sexually assaulted by his adult cell mate. Malnourishment and chronic hunger abound. Officers deal with prisoners by using physical violence…”

So don’t think that nobody’s looking.

Is There a Solution?

If there is a way out, it’s not in plain view. Because in order to solve the prison problem you have to start by solving everything else, as all of the United States’s critical issues are interrelated: health, education, militarization, white supremacy, social programs, corruption in business and government (including legal corruption like gerrymandering and hard-cash lobbying, that legislators have legalized in order to write their own tickets), unregulated killer capitalism, guns uncontrolled, inequality on all fronts… That is to say, virtually all of the sick values that underlie a terminally ill society.

Just imagine yourself sitting on the tip of a massive iceberg with a paddle, paddling like crazy trying to turn it around 180 degrees. Are you optimistic? Neither am I.

Back to Part 1

Read more rants in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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Permanent War Is Bad for You

War1

But It’s So Good for Business; What Can We Do?

I wonder if the American dedication to permanent war over the past quarter-century worries you as much as it does me. And it’s looking more permanent every day as if the country had developed a bellicose addiction. It comes in colors: black ops, pre-emptive strikes, war by false flags, war by proxies, mercenary wars. What to do about it? I’ll do what I normally do, write it up, in the vain hope that someone will at least notice the absurdity and injustice of the situation.

I’ve got some specific concerns regarding this “Permawar” business.  Permanent war means victims every day, victims of all flavors, young and old, saints and sinners, almost every type of person in fact, except politicians and war profiteers. I do want to include soldiers in this list of victims. They are, after all, human beings, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, all with families, dreams and ambitions to lose in a war. And most of them don’t want to be there in the first place. Continue reading “Permanent War Is Bad for You”

What America Learned from the Germans — 2/2

Mind_Bending3

(Continued from Part 1)

More on the Propaganda Techniques Employed by the Nazis

  • Glittering Generalities, which Yourman characterizes as “the use of “virtue words” to appeal to emotions of love, generosity and brotherhood. This phenomenon extends to references to German traditions dating back to the Middle Ages, especially the word “volk,” pronounced “folk.” German farmers were seduced to back the Third Reich with constant associations with “Blut und Boden,” (Blood and Soil) and bound by oaths of “Bauer honor” to tie them to the land and prevent them from changing their occupation or residence. The Nazis needed every sector of their economy dominated and running smoothly if they were going to win the upcoming war.
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Every country has its own benevolent myths regarding their own folks but the Nazis milked them dry. The Americans did something similar after the war. The myths of the “self-made man,” the “hardy frontiersman” and other old saws were elevated to such heights of nincompoopery that they gave rise to a full-blown axiomatic truth called “American Exeptionalism,” a truth just as true as “Manifest Destiny” and The Tooth Fairy. Continue reading “What America Learned from the Germans — 2/2”