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So this is Christmas.

27 Dec

This is what we traditionally think of as Christmas here in the US – a lovely video set to Josh Groban’s compelling rendition of “O, Holy Night”:

After two days of self-imposed news exile, I returned to the land of the interwebs to find that the US government officially celebrated Christmas in a distinctly different fashion than I had.

Obama took a break from the heavy lifting of doing Christmas in Hawai’i to sign into law the budget bill and the 2014 NDAA.  Signing the following year’s National Defense Authorization Act during the Christmas holiday is becoming an Obama tradition.  The NDAA is the vehicle in which Obama was given the power to assassinate anyone anywhere upon his whimsy.  (“Happy holidays from the White House – to you, your family and your spouse.  In signing this law it has come to pass that I now have the power to kill your ass.  Season’s Greetings, Barack Obama.”)

We are going to continue spending vast sums of money on the war efforts.  What war? Why, any war, all war, those past, those current and those yet to come wars.

“[…] The [NDAA] bill assures $552.1 billion in military spending, as well as $80.7 billion for overseas contingency operations, namely the war in Afghanistan. […]”

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/26/obama-signs-bipartisan-budget-deal-and-guantanamo-transfer-bills-into-law/

By the way, I really enjoy how the media feels compelled to place the word “bipartisan” in front of the words “budget deal” every goddamned time they mention it.  And note is taken of their reluctance to put “NDAA” or “Defense Authorization Act” in any headline.  It is always called “a defense bill” or, as Rawstory does above, the headline totally obscures the nature of the bill altogether.  The 2014 NDAA does not transfer Guantanamo detainees anywhere.

Pentagon spending, the gift that keeps on giving.

“[…] Because of its persistent inability to tally its accounts, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output last year. […]”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/18/us-usa-pentagon-waste-specialreport-idUSBRE9AH0LQ20131118

To promote festive feelings globally on this special day, the US took action to spread the Christmas message abroad.

For instance, we killed four people via drone-strike in Pakistan.  On Christmas Day.

http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/12/26/while-americans-were-celebrating-christmas-obama-administration-launched-drone-strike-in-pakistan/

We sent troops into South Sudan.  Sudan/South Sudan has oil.  It also has civil strife, partly because we arranged it for them a couple of years ago.  Anywhere in the world where there is the even the potential for civil unrest, the US exploits the situation to the best of its abilities.  If the world were a comic book, the US would be Exacerbation Man, swooping in to make all bad situations worse.

[…] RT: A small contingency of US troops are already in Sudan and marines are on stand-by, is a larger American military involvement possible?

Abayomi Azikiwe: It could very well lead to a larger US and UN presence in the Republic of South Sudan. It’s a very volatile situation, we are right now analyzing reports about the possibility of the discovery of two mass graves, one in the capital Juba and the other in Bor, in the capital of Jonglei state, there also has been fighting in Unity state which are all the producing area. The US has a lot invested politically in the Republic of South Sudan and they were the main forces behind encouraging the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to break away from the Republic of Sudan in the north of the country. Therefore, they have a lot to say about developments that are going on right now in this troubled nation.

RT: Washington was one of the main champions of South Sudan’s secession. Could it have foreseen these problems that it faced just a couple of years around?

AA: I think they were more interested in weakening the Republic of Sudan. Prior to the partition Sudan was the largest geographic nation-state in Africa, it was also an emerging oil-producing state, it was producing over 500,000 oil barrels per day. 80 per cent of the oil concessions with the Republic of Sudan in Khartoum were held by the People’s Republic of China, who state-owned oil farms there. So it was a concerted move on the part of US to weaken the government in Khartoum and also to lessen the influence of the People’s Republic of China in Sudan.

RT: When it was one country Sudan was under American sanctions, so US oil giants couldn’t do business there. Has this changed?

AA: Yes, in the south the US is trying to develop mechanisms for exploring the oil. The problem is the US doesn’t have a lot of resources to invest in the oil industry inside the country. President Salva Kiir of the Republic of South Sudan went to China several months ago to try to get them to assist in a building of a pipeline where they could circumvent the flow of oil from the south into the north. However, the Chinese refused to finance such a project, although they did pledge to provide some aid. It’s a very difficult situation as far as the US is concerned because the country deteriorates into a civil war between the followers of Riek Machar, the ousted Vice President, and President Salva Kiir. This of course will damage US interest in region, and it can also spread to other countries throughout Central and East Africa. […]

http://rt.com/op-edge/foreign-involvement-in-south-sudan-782/

We are back in Iraq, baby.  Once we glom onto a country, we hang around like a fucking germ.

Two years after President Barack Obama declared that his administration had ended the catastrophic US war in Iraq “responsibly… leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant” government, the US has rushed emergency shipments of Hellfire missiles to Baghdad and appears to be preparing for a possible renewal of direct military intervention in the form of drone missile attacks. […]

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/27/iraq-d27.html

And we are going under the sea – no, not to study ocean acidification or to find out why there are peculiar events occurring with the sea life all over the planet, but to weaponize the waters with drones.

http://rt.com/usa/navy’s-ocean-powered-drone-843/

We need to stop this shit.  We need to.  Our government won’t stop it until we, the people, demand an end to the killing.  The montage that accompanies this song is what the US actually does at Christmas instead of quietly celebrating the birth of the pacifist Jesus, depicted in the video with which I opened this post.  Dismally, more than four decades after they wrote this song, we still have yet to realize the hopeful and pointed message Lennon and Ono expressed in the lyrics.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”, 1971:

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” lyrics:

(Happy Xmas Kyoko

Happy Xmas Julian)

So this is Xmas

And what have you done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

And so this is Xmas

I hope you have fun

The near and the dear one

The old and the young

A very Merry Xmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Xmas (war is over)

For weak and for strong (if you want it)

For rich and the poor ones (war is over)

The world is so wrong (if you want it)

And so happy Xmas (war is over)

For black and for white (if you want it)

For yellow and red ones (war is over)

Let’s stop all the fight (now)

A very Merry Xmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Xmas (war is over)

And what have we done (if you want it)

Another year over (war is over)

A new one just begun (if you want it)

And so happy Xmas (war is over)

We hope you have fun (if you want it)

The near and the dear one (war is over)

The old and the young (now)

A very Merry Xmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

War is over, if you want it

War is over now

Happy Xmas

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11 Comments

Posted by on December 27, 2013 in drones, Iraq, Pakistan

 

11 responses to “So this is Christmas.

  1. paxhonu

    December 28, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    “The United States is now involved in a global terror campaign largely against the tribal people of the world, mostly Muslim tribes, and it’s all over. The intention is to go on and on. These are all terrible consequences, but nevertheless they’re not as bad as they would be if there weren’t public opposition.” Noam Chomsky, airdate 27dec2013 NPR.

    Possible follow up questions: Why is there so little public opposition? When does silence equal complicity?

    Amazing voice Josh Groban. You’re a Christian? But seriously now fwiw, neither John nor Yoko say “Xmas” not even once in their whole incredible peace art piece “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”, 1971; so maybe your lyric transcription service took a holiday?

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  2. paxhonu

    December 29, 2013 at 1:02 am

    Or maybe my brain was on holiday too. Very touching post! If we protest and get killed or lives messed up bureaucratically or legally whatever; will it have been worth it? I say no, not if the big problems aren’t changed for the better. But if we don’t protest at all, aren’t we guilty too? Really. Just wanna run away.

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  3. teri

    December 29, 2013 at 5:38 am

    I’m sorry, paxhonu, but I am having a little trouble understanding what you are saying.

    Are you asking if I am a Christian or if Josh Groban is? I haven’t any idea about Groban, but I follow the teachings of Jesus. However, I do not consider myself a Christian in any modern sense, as I remain uncertain as to whether or not Jesus was an historic figure (and think it irrelevant to the teachings) and find present-day Christian communities (or “churches”) to be singularly lacking in any adherence to those teachings. Furthermore, their inability and unwillingness to seek understanding of those teachings through individual meditation and personal enlightenment, and instead insisting on utilizing only the path of dogmatic, rigid interpretations is itself problematic to the actual Jesus teachings.

    I find the suggestions of the Jesus figure to be closely aligned to those of Siddhārtha Gautama (the Buddha), and this puts me clearly in opposition to any of the currently recognized “Christian” denominations.

    As to the Lennon song, I myself questioned the use of “X” rather than “Christ” in the lyric’s repeated use of the word “Christmas”. Bearing in mind that, obviously, English speakers recognize the X as a stand-on and so pronounce it “christmas” when they say it aloud, I nonetheless ended up doing some research on the lyrics. (There is no issue so trivial that I don’t find the need to put myself through contortions doing research. Maybe I am OCD or something?) In any case, it would appear that the X is the way Lennon originally wrote the lyrics; it is certain that the X in the title is his.

    Lennon said about this song, “Happy Xmas Yoko and I wrote together. It says, ‘War is over if you want it.’ It was still that same message – the idea that we’re just as responsible as the man who pushes the button. As long as people imagine that somebody’s doing it to them, and that they have no control, then they have no control.” – John Lennon, “All We Are Saying”, David Sheff, 1980.

    The question of responsibility is a difficult one. I think we have to voice opposition in some way – not just sit in silence – and ultimately, no, this shit is not my fault. But if we do not at least say in some way express our views on the matter of war and peace, aren’t we just ceding the field? On the other hand, it is becoming more and more apparent that the people in charge are not going to tolerate much in the way of dissenting opinion and what good does it do to protest if all the protesters just get killed off or imprisoned as a result?

    Yeah, very tough question. We can talk about it more if you want.

    Best,
    Teri

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  4. paxhonu

    December 29, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Sorry, Teri. My comment was hard to decipher because I was mistaken on what was actually to be a very very minor point: the use of “X” in “Xmas”. I thought “X” was a secular convention that enabled observance of the holiday without actually referencing Christ. I also mistakenly presumed that John and Yoko had used “Christmas” for the written lyrics, just as they did for the vocals, and that the “X” had been substituted incorrectly by some youtube’r sometime later. Which, though I don’t have a horse in that race, was jarring when juxtaposed with the religious message conveyed by Grodan’s beautiful O Holy Night. Turns out I was entirely wrong about the use of “X” in general, and by Lennon in particular, though, and what had been a minor observation became a larger distraction.

    The real topic is what do we do about “our” country? We are participating in a so-called “democracy” that is anything but. The form of government we have here is predatory plutocracy, a particularly terroristic form of capitaliism. Capitalism, you see, is not just an economic model anymore, not when it is the driving force in all matters relating to society, law, governance, and personhood. By its all pervasive influence and its absolute control of all the levers and machinery (of society, law, governance, and personhood), capitalism, US style predatory corporate capitalism, has become a form of government, our form, of government. A government that does not give a shit about anything but money. Every facet of our system, every decision, every policy, is now written and driven by the profit motivations of those who stand to profit. It is not like we can’t see what is happening. Who among us can pretend not to see the lack of democracy in the public sector, in the bipartisan scorn heaped on “entitlements” or fail to grasp the idea that we, every one of us regardless of means, should actually be entitled to the full array of human needs, from health care to food to education to housing, or that such basic human rights are the only legitimate reason for and function of governmental organization in the first place. Who can fail to see the self-serving anti-democratic form of our entire financial system, our labor and ownership and management systems, the insane decisions to neither alter nor even audit the Fed or the Pentagon, the corporate devastation of the planet, or the massive crimes against humanity that the US, its financial and military sectors, its corporate predators, and its proxy wardog Israel, perpetrate against the rest of the world.

    Continued participation in this system without active protest comes with the burden of personal complicity in global terrorism and genocide.

    On another website a few years ago (UT), a commenter, IraqVetforFreedom or some similar handle, said that we all had a share in the blame for the crimes that she/they (the American military, active and veteran) had perpetrated and were continuing to perpetrate on Iraq and much of the rest of the world. At that time, I took exception and pointed out that I and many others had joined in large public protests against the idea of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars back in 2002/2003 (and others had done so long ago back in the time of the American Vietnam war, and that we sure could have used their help back then. Instead, however, they willingly signed up to carry guns (for money) to conduct the empire’s evil and thus helped to deflate and render impotent any public protest against the US machinery of death. Not my fault! But now, I wonder. Did I do enough? Did any of us? It is obvious that we did not. And sorry, but voting Green and avoiding GMO just ain’t gonna cut it. We need at least a “soft” revolution here, one where people opt out of the system and/or stop supporting the nightmare of US global hegemony by pulling their money out of the banks and the stock market, by paying as little tribute to Caesar as possible, and by protesting every wrong decision and odious criminal action.

    But how to get people thinking and working on these things when all they really want is 128 channels of Miley, Justin, and Kim?

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  5. bloodypitchfork

    December 30, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    teri, great post. And paxhonu, fantastic reply. I like that. However, having become a certifiable curmudgeon and pessimist, my compass position has rotated 180 degrees from what it was when I was 40. I no longer believe this country can be “saved”. At least by passive means…ie..protest, voting and posting crap on the internet. Personally, I think we have passed the point to which the citizens can change anything besides the party in power. Which in reality, doesn’t mean a goddamned thing. They both work for the elite and the self perpetuation of power. They don’t give a flying fuck about the population. In that light,..

    This morning, my day started off finishing up some research triggered from a subject posted by a commenter over at emptywheel, in regards to Pearl Harbor(vis a vis 9/11), which led to the subject of nuclear bombing at Japan, which led to the subject of State sponsored “terrorism”, which led to, believe it or not, the French Revolution(hahahahaha)(by virtue of LesTeribles) Amazing shit. But that’s another story. However, one thing led to another until I came to this…
    http://www.salon.com/2013/12/29/chomsky_governments_are_power_systems_trying_to_sustain_power/

    quote..
    “Governments are power systems. They are trying to sustain their power and domination over their populations and they will use what means are available to do this. By now the means are very sophisticated and extensive and we can expect them to increase. So for instance, if you read technology journals you learn that in robotics labs for some years there have been efforts to develop small drones, what they call “fly-sized drones,” which can intrude into a person’s home and be almost invisible and carry out constant surveillance. You can be sure that the military is very much interested in this, and the intelligence systems as well, and will soon be using it.

    We’re developing technologies that will be used by our own governments and by commercial corporations and are already being used to maximize information for themselves for control and domination. That’s the way power systems work. Of course, they’ve always played the security card. But I think one should be very cautious about such claims. Every government pleads security for almost anything it’s doing, so since the plea is predictable it essentially carries no information. If after the event the power system claims security, that doesn’t mean it’s actually a functioning principle. And if you look at the record, you discover that security is generally a pretext and security is not a high priority of governments. If by that I mean the security of the population — security of the power system itself and the domestic interests it represents, yes, that’s a concern. But security of the population is not.”unquote

    Now I understand what Chomsky means…
    It wasn’t 5 minutes after reading that than I came across the Der Speigal revelations of yesterday. And THEN..it led to this. I don’t know if you’ve seen it yet, but now, I’m firmly convinced, the ONLY thing that will stop EMPIRE is full blown insurrection.
    This is why…
    .

    btw, Happy New Fucking Year.

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  6. teri

    December 31, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Guys,

    I frankly waffle around on the issue of personal responsibility. The system we are currently living under is not good for humans. For animals and the ecosystem, it’s pretty much game over. The whole corporate model, the government that supports it, the bought politicians and judges who support it – it’s gotta go. I said in my post that we need to stop it, but the question is how, of course.

    Pulling our money out is a good idea, paxhonu, and might not take too many participants before it has effect. But then, if you talk to people about it, you’ll find that there are some who agree in principle, but who then give twenty reasons why they personally can’t do that. But I think you – we – just keep talking. Although, to relate a personal story, you might well get the same sort of response I did recently when I tried to quietly suggest that a relative who has a child with allergies look into the GMO issue. Since she didn’t know what GMOs are, I suggested a few articles to read and a movie to watch. I didn’t go into much detail, since she didn’t seem very interested, just mentioned it as something to consider and follow up on herself. Then we talked about other things – nothing political or controversial, just family stuff. A couple of days later this same relative told me she thought I needed therapy, that I was spending too much time on investigating non-important “political” trivia and reading “liberal” news. She has not bothered to read anything about GMOs and is still uncertain what they are; I can only surmise that someone else told her that being anti-GMO is the same as indulging in conspiracy theories about reptile aliens taking over the earth. (Tell that to the fucking big-ass brain tumor they had to cut out of my head this summer – every single member of the nursing staff who worked with me as I recovered said, “GMOs, Teri. Stay away from GMOs.” But maybe they all believe in reptile aliens, too. I neglected to ask.)

    So I say we need to stop this, but then I realize there aren’t enough informed people in the US to make a “we”. Unless paxhonu, teri and pitchfork are a “we”. And perhaps one thing I should sort out in my own head is the difference between responsibility and blame. Which, as I recall from that UT discussion you mention, paxhonu, came up. We are not to blame, but we have to accept some responsibility to affect change in whatever way we can. It may be just in talking to others, signing petitions, writing on the internet, or joining protests. It may all be too late and the population too ignorant. But I, for one, don’t want to die knowing I just went along like some sheep.

    I watched the video you linked to, pitch. While I don’t understand some of the technical stuff he was going into, the overall picture is more than alarming. And he was just talking about the NSA – don’t forget the vast private corporate data-mining shit going on. There is exponentially more of it in the private sector – and the recommendations from Congress regarding the NSA revelations are to further privatize data collection. (I.e., CISPA.) See, for instance, this on the private sector: http://pando.com/2013/12/30/rentacops-on-desktops-edward-snowdens-dangerous-dismissal-of-surveillance-valley/
    Yet Snowden seems to think the “discussion is over” and he “won”. Strange statement.

    I fully agree with this, paxhonu, “…such basic human rights are the only legitimate reason for and function of governmental organization in the first place”. Yet we now have a country full of idiots who think that such a basic premise is the dreaded socialism/communism/fascism/whatever word Rush Limbaugh is using this week.

    Too many people seem to have forgotten that the purpose of government is to serve the common good. Our government no longer does that. Sadly, the libertarian propaganda has taken hold; many think now that the government is the enemy and ignore the real issue – the control that big banks and corporations have over us AND our gov’t. Jefferson, I have read, wanted a clause in the constitution outlawing corporations. He was outvoted, and we needn’t look too far past his lifetime to see how well that all turned out: the Indian Wars were fought at the behest of the railroad companies.

    Here’s a Jefferson quote re: corporate and banking power:

    “The country is headed toward a single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institutions and moneyed incorporations and if this tendency continues it will be the end of freedom and democracy, the few will be ruling…I hope we shall…crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to trial and bid defiance to the laws of our country. I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.”

    Whatever comes next, it will be tough.

    -Teri

    PS: a housekeeping note. WordPress keeps reminding me to update. I’ll get around to that this week, but be aware that sometimes when I do so, the system then goes through a spell where commenters have to be “approved” all over again. If that happens, it should only occur once. Once I have approved your user name again, your comments will appear immediately thereafter.

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  7. bloodypitchfork

    December 31, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    quote:” Then we talked about other things – nothing political or controversial, just family stuff. A couple of days later this same relative told me she thought I needed therapy, that I was spending too much time on investigating non-important “political” trivia and reading “liberal” news.” unquote

    therapy? teri,..hahahahaha, tell em spare me. I’ve been politically isolated from my family forever. This is why I’m here. As human beings we strive to connect with that which is of similar journeys. Mostly I think, to survive emotionally, ..but what the shit teri? I dunno anymore. All “I” know is at 69 years old, I think I’ve earned the right to form and express an opinion of what I perceive in the sphere of reality around me. SPEAKING OF WHICH, at this particular moment, which according to Google is 6:32 PM Eastern Standard time on New Years Day, December 31’st, 2013, and Midnight is about 5 hours away, I’m taking this moment to wish you and your family a hearty, Happy New Years. God bless you.

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  8. bloodypitchfork

    December 31, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    correction…it should have said New Years Eve…

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  9. teri

    January 1, 2014 at 6:08 am

    Happy New Year to you, too, pitch. Good health and some peace, wherever you may find it.

    -Teri

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  10. bloodypitchfork

    January 1, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    I have .33 cents in my pocket that says you didn’t think I’d be back. For what it’s worth, at one point in my life I could buy a loaf of bread with it. Like my dad told me…that tells me something. 🙂

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  11. bloodypitchfork

    January 1, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    oh, and btw..if and when an NSA analyst in their daily search for some kind of criminal behavior finally gets around to this message in the year 4621, I have a message for you..fuck you.

    Like

     

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