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Flying Monkeys

11 Dec

“It’s all fun and games until the flying monkeys show up.”

This is written on a t-shirt I gave one of my kids a few years ago.  Funny, eh?  Every year when I was a kid, we would watch “The Wizard of Oz” together.  It was one of those family tradition things that I continued with my own children later.  One part of the movie that bothered me – even when I was very young – was the scene where Dorothy kills the Wicked Witch.  After Dorothy melts her with water, one of the winged monkeys claps happily over the remains of the witch and the Captain of the Guard exclaims, “Hail Dorothy!  The Wicked Witch is dead!”  Now, wait a minute, I’d say.  If they all really hated the witch, why did they obey her?  Why did they pick on the kid and the nice guys the whole movie?  Why didn’t they figure out how to kill her?  Now I know.  They were mindlessly following orders to earn their pay.  They were mercenaries.

You have to wonder if Dorothy should have trusted them afterward.  How many amongst the monkey troops and armed guards were True Believers?  How many would simply look for another Wicked Witch to obey?  Well, it’s just a childrens’ story and I won’t carry on about the symbolism further, but bear it in mind.

Here in the US, as al Qaeda dwindles as a threat overseas (there are now supposedly two al Qaeda leaders left in Afghanistan), we are being warned about the threat of homegrown terrorists more often.  Congress thinks about it a lot.  They don’t worry so much about jobs or the economy, but they spend quite a large percentage of their time fretting over threats to the Homeland, looking for threats, making laws about threats and laws about potential threats.  They positively stew over it.  The CIA and FBI help Congress by stirring up fanatics in various places and enabling or creating terrorist threats all on their own; then “foiling” the plots and saving the day.  There is even some credible evidence that al Qaeda was an invention of the CIA.

We civilians, in the meantime, are being coached in how to watch each other.  We are taught by our leaders to blame each other for our problems.  Instead of allowing the banks that caused our economic downturn to fail, our “leaders” want us to blame each other.  It was poor people trying to buy houses, poor people wanting too much in the way of assistance, women seeking abortions, drug-users; it is all the fault of someone – not you – someone a little different than you.  Poorer, blacker, of a different religion, wearing a different sort of clothing, a dirty protester stirring up trouble, those lazy unemployed people.  Certainly not the banks or the people “in charge”.

At the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008, the derivatives market (toxic assets, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations) was roughly 200 trillion dollars.  Now, this is an impossible number, being that this value was based on less than 20 tt worth of real estate in the US.  Clearly, this is funny money – value based on nothing but bags of hot air.  Clearly, when the banks wanted Congress to bail them out (i.e., replace their bags of hot air with actual money), the answer should have been: hell, no.  Write your toxic assets down to their real value and if that means you go bankrupt, that is your problem.  You made all this shit up out of nothing, you bankers.  Instead the banks were given bailouts.  It turns out the Fed has given them over 16 tt bucks of our money.  The results of the Alan Grayson and Bernie Sanders audit of the Fed shows that “more than $16 trillion [was given to banks]. The four largest recipients, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, received more than a trillion dollars each.”

That is what we did instead of allowing those banks to fail.  Now these banks want more – and are spreading out over the globe to collect all the assets and cash in the world.  Austerity for everyone.  Land, property, money for the banks.  Goldman, Sachs has its men now running Italy and Greece, placed into office without benefit of election, and imposing harsher austerity measures by the day.  With the help of NATO, Libya was turned over to an oilman.  In the US, governors and state legislators are cutting off funding for vital programs, slashing jobs, and selling infrastructure to private corporations while refusing to tax the wealthy or stop the fraudulent foreclosure of homes.  The derivatives market today is notionally valued at over 700 tt.  Now, just four banks hold 95.9% of U.S. derivatives, according to a recent report from the Office of the Currency Comptroller.  The four banks in question are JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs.  (As a comparison, the world’s gross domestic product [GDP] is only about $65 trillion.)

The banks want this hot air replaced with taxpayer cash and assets.  They are getting their way in every country.  They are getting away with the greatest heist in human history.  And we are being told that the problem is…us.

Monsanto is grabbing the rights to food production in every country.  Halliburton, Exxon, and other big oil/natural gas companies are strip-mining the entire world, poisoning our fresh water and our air, tearing up our land and rendering it useless and bereft of life.  They are spilling toxins in the oceans; amazingly, they are given even more drilling rights as a reward.  The Big Oil companies earned over $1 trillion in profits over the last decade.  Last quarter, ExxonMobil was the most profitable company in the history of money.  Bechtel and assorted corporations are buying up water rights all around the globe so that eventually most humans will have to buy their water from private concerns.  But we are being told the problem is…us.

Here is how we (the “us” we are supposed to blame and be alert for) are doing in America right now.  The median income for American workers in 2010 was $26,364.

“A new measurement of poverty by the Census Bureau, which takes regional cost of living, medical payments and other expenses that do not intrude on the official poverty count, found a third of Americans are either in poverty or desperately close to it.”  – Gary Younge [http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/09-2]

Headstart has to compete with private schools for funds. [http://wsws.org/articles/2011/nov2011/head-n11.shtml]

Public school teachers are being laid off.  Class sizes are increasing.  One city after another is bringing in “city managers” who end public education, replacing it with charter or voucher systems.

WIC and heating assistance programs are being starved of funds.  Congress may let the unemployment insurance benefits lapse at the end of this month.  45 million Americans need food stamps to feed themselves – and the food stamp program keeps having its benefits reduced by Congress.  Almost 50 million people have no health insurance.  The unemployment rate is officially 8.9 – this will vary depending on the day of the week and the methods used to count the unemployed – but the actual rate of under- and unemployed is hovering at 20%.  There are 5 applicants for every job.

Both parties have plans in the works to end Social Security and Medicare.

What is Congress doing about all this?  They know this will end badly, that austerity measures will hit in ever harder punches in the coming year as they prop up the banks (their never-ending source of bribe revenue) and continue refusing to re-regulate them.  They know this will lead to more and more civil unrest.  So they are focusing like lasers on “terrorism in the Homeland and abroad” and getting us to despise each other.  They spend time calling Iran a “money-laundering scheme” and writing up sanctions.  (This serves multiple purposes: it gives us someone to focus our hatred on aside from the real criminals, creates a threat, makes legislation about the threat, and guarantees a continuing threat.  Awesome stuff.)  They write legislation to detain indefinitely “suspect” Americans.   If you think Obama will veto the latest legislation on the National Defense Authorization Act, you would be wrong.  Short clip from CSPAN explaining this (h/t Terry5135):

They allow the Pentagon to arm our local police forces with surplus military machinery, doing an end run around the Posse Comitatus Act. The 2011 Dept. of Defense (Pentagon) gave over 500 mm worth of surplus military machinery to local police departments.  Joint Terrorism Task Forces have been set up to mingle the FBI, the CIA, the military, and local police departments.  Local police officers have been sent to Israel to train in anti-terrorism tactics.  Here is Max Blumenthal of the Nation Institute laying it out in an 8 minute RT interview:

They spend time trying to figure out how to take more property from us and give it to the military or to private companies.  See my earlier post, http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/12/eminent-domain-2/

And the Obama White House is very worried about all the potential threats out there, too.  The administration just released its Strategic Implementation Plan.

WASHINGTON — The White House on Thursday laid out a plan to implement a government strategy to combat homegrown domestic terrorism and any attempts by Al-Qaeda to seek to radicalize American Muslims…
“Protecting our nation’s communities from violent extremist recruitment and radicalization is a top national security priority,” said the document, known as the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP)…
The strategy was released a day after US officials warned that the US military was under threat as homegrown Islamic extremists, including “radicalized troops,” pose a risk to military installations…
The plan is a spin-off of a new National Counterterrorism Strategy released in June which warned the government must be vigilant for new efforts by Al-Qaeda to infiltrate US communities and inspire homegrown terrorism…
The document also calls for new efforts to analyze the impact of the Internet and social networks on radicalizing Americans from outside the country…
“Because of the importance of the digital environment, we will develop a separate, more comprehensive strategy for countering and preventing violent extremist online radicalization.”
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/08/white-house-targets-domestic-extremism/

 

…Initial reaction came from the co-chairs of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Independent Democrat Joseph Lieberman and Republican Susan Collins.
In a statement, they said the plan takes positive steps, but that “much more needs to be done and at a far faster pace, given the threat.”
http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/White-House-Outlines-Plan-Against-Homegrown-Extremist-Threats-135294113.html

The Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) is available here in html form:
http://tinyurl.com/7pwrbhp

I read the full 20-page report.  (You are welcome.)  One of the opening lines reads, “The Obama Administration continues to prioritize and stress the critical importance of CVE [CVE = Countering Violent Extremism] in the Homeland.”  May I once again say how creepy I find the use of the word “Homeland”?

Does the Obama Administration really think we are likely to see a return to economic good times?  Well, no.  The SIP mentions that “While preventing violent extremism is an issue of national importance, it is one of many safety and security challenges facing our Nation. As we enter an era of increased fiscal constraints, we must ensure our approach is tailored to take advantage of current programs and leverages existing resources.”

The SIP reveals an inordinate, in my opinion, fear of the internet and repeatedly includes reminders to itself to work within the framework of the right to free speech amendments.  A secondary report specifically detailing what to do about the dreaded internet will be forthcoming at some future date.  By that time, Congress will no doubt have done away with the pesky free speech issues.  It also shows an extreme level of concentration on potential terrorists in the prison system.  That’s not surprising, given the likely increase in prison populations once any American citizen can be detained indefinitely without charges.

From the SIP, departments within the government involved in the Plan:

“The following departments and agencies were involved in the deliberations and approval process: the Departments of State (State), the Treasury, Defense (DOD), Justice (DOJ), Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education (EDU), Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security (DHS), as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).”

Now that is a lot of agencies.  I wonder what the Treasury, Health and Human Services, Labor, Education, and Commerce departments have to do with terrorism.

Page 4 outlines a “whole government” approach (bolding mine):

1. Whole-of-Government Coordination
Leveraging the wide range of tools, capabilities, and resources of the United States Government in a coordinated manner is essential for success. Traditional national security or law enforcement agencies such as DHS, DOJ, and the FBI will execute many of the programs and activities outlined in the SIP. However, as the National Strategy for Empowering Local Partners states, we must also use a broader set of good governance programs, “including those that promote immigrant integration and civic engagement, protect civil rights, and provide social services, which may also help prevent radicalization that leads to violence.”To this end, agencies such as EDU and HHS, which have substantial expertise in engaging communities and delivering services, also play a role. This does not mean the missions and priorities of these partners will change or that their efforts will become narrowly focused on national security. Their inclusion stems from our recognition that radicalization to violence depends on a variety of factors, which in some instances may be most effectively addressed by departments and agencies that historically have not been responsible for national security or law enforcement. These non-security partners, including specific components within DOJ and DHS, have an array of tools that can contribute to this effort by providing indirect but meaningful impact on CVE, including after school programs, networks of community-based organizations that provide assistance to new immigrants, and violence prevention programs. We will coordinate activities, where appropriate, to support the CVE effort while ensuring we do not change the core missions and functions of these departments and agencies.

So our department of education, responsible for the teaching of our children, and the department of human services, which works on welfare, housing and social needs, will now spend some of their time and resources looking for terrorists and teaching our communities how to spot and report on the same.  Get the kiddies scared shitless while they are young.  And watch out for those food stamp people.

While we are all busy looking for terrorists amongst our numbers, we are ignoring the flying monkeys swooping down and carrying some of us off.  The problem is not us.  The problem is the wicked witch and the armies of mindless flying monkeys who service her.  Focus, people – look up.  It’s all fun and games until the flying monkeys show up.  And they are here now.

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