February 13, 2013

Is This Fucking Afghanistan?!?!

A note for all the cheery, optimistic, dumbass types, who are always all like, "Oh, we're so much more advanced today than people were in the past. We're refined and fucking civilized, man!" And at some point, they say something like, "It's not like we burn people at the stake anymore!"

Oops. Burning people alive on national teevee. Fuck yeah, AMERICA!!!!

I'm like really stupid, so these really stupid questions occur to me. There was absolutely no way to take this suspect alive eventually? They couldn't wait him out? I guess maybe they had other important stuff to do -- the kid's high school play, a book club meeting, maybe a department barbecue (har dee har har). And since they're not absolutely sure it's Dorner who was burned alive ... well, um, does that mean maybe they burned someone else alive? Did they determine that no one else was in the cabin? Does anyone care?

Guess that's just collateral damage, huh? Like this:
At least 10 civilians, mostly women and children, have been killed in a Nato air strike in Kunar province in Afghanistan, local officials say.
If you got shot or killed, you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was totally your fault, motherfucker!

For example, what the hell did these women think they were doing?
The two women who were mistakenly shot by LAPD officers searching for triple murder suspect Christopher Dorner Thursday said they had no warning beforehand, the victims' lawyer told CBS Los Angeles.

Attorney Glen Jonas said Maggie Carranza, 47, and her mother, 71-year-old Emma Hernandez, were delivering Los Angeles Times newspapers around 5:15 a.m. in Torrance when the officers opened fire on their vehicle.

Jonas said, "There was no warning. There were no orders. No commands. Just gunshots."

"Tragically, we believe this was a case of mistaken identity by the officers," said Beck.

Jonas finds that hard to believe.

"The vehicle is a different color. The license plate doesn't match. There's nothing there for you to start shooting people. And even if they had the person in question... Mr. Dorner...you still have to give them an opportunity to get out. You can't just start administering street justice," said Jonas.
Hey, Mr. Jonas, psst! They burn people alive! Street justice would be a step up.

And this dude -- going surfing?? How fucking irresponsible is that?
David Perdue was on his way to sneak in some surfing before work Thursday morning when police flagged him down. They asked who he was and where he was headed, then sent him on his way.

Seconds later, Perdue's attorney said, a Torrance police cruiser slammed into his pickup and officers opened fire; none of the bullets struck Perdue.

His pickup, police later explained, matched the description of the one belonging to Christopher Jordan Dorner — the ex-cop who has evaded authorities after allegedly killing three and wounding two more. But the pickups were different makes and colors. And Perdue looks nothing like Dorner: He's several inches shorter and about a hundred pounds lighter. And Perdue is white; Dorner is black.

"I don't want to use the word buffoonery but it really is unbridled police lawlessness," said Robert Sheahen, Perdue's attorney. "These people need training and they need restraint."
This reminds me of similar glorious episodes from America's recent past:
In September 2007, an Iraqi in a car ventured too close to a US patrol in Baghdad. The soldiers honked their horns; when that didn't cause the car to turn away, one of the gunners fired a warning shot. The bullet - intended to harmlessly hit the pavement - instead hit a bystander.

Andrew Bacevich, a military historian and retired US army colonel, wrote in 2006 that "such mistakes have occurred routinely, with moral and political consequences that have been too long ignored." That assessment is borne out by the leaked reports, which describe almost 14,000 "escalation of force" incidents – the army's euphemism for often-violent altercations that occurred at checkpoints and near patrols.

About 680 civilians were killed in these incidents between 2004 and 2010, with more than 2,000 wounded. ...

In several incidents – none of them fatal – soldiers fired warning shots at deaf and nearly-blind men who could not see or hear their verbal warnings. Several mentally ill men were killed: In February 2005, for example, US soldiers shot a man in Mahmoudiya when he ran too close to an approaching convoy. They only later learned that he was mentally ill and often begged for food in the area near the convoy's route. ...

At least a half-dozen incidents involved Iraqi men transporting their pregnant wives or family members to hospitals.
But hell, man, all that was like totally the Iraqis' fault. The wunnerful US of A was over here, minding its own goddamn business, and Iraq made us go to war with it! Iraq was there, dude! THIS WILL NOT STAND. Just like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Libya blahblahblah are THERE.

They gotta stop that. Stop being there! Don't make America bring the genocide again!

Like I said, I'm totally stupid, but I think the lesson goes something like this: If you threaten the State itself or interfere with its plans, and especially if you threaten one of the State's armed, militarized branches, the State will go to war, including here at home. I don't mean "go to war" metaphorically. I mean the State will go to war. So I think we know what the response will be if/when there is widespread domestic unrest, when the economy further falls apart, for example. Entire neighborhoods cordoned off, whole blocks incinerated, checkpoints everywhere, people shot for any reason, or for no reason. Oh, yeah: no more fourth amendment for you, either (via). Well, it's not like you were doing anything with it. If you haven't done anything wrong, you don't have anything to hide, etc., etc., etc. And just to be safe, you don't want to be there. Yeah, where you are right now. Don't be there. And don't move. Haha. Gotcha!

Just as the fish rots from the head, the horrors start with the president. Why should Obama be the only one to have a Murder Program? It's only right that every police department should have its own Murder Program. Especially in war time.

What we're now seeing is further proof of an argument I've made for the last several years. It can be stated very briefly:
In addition to pursuing its goal of global hegemony, the United States government uses foreign countries as a lethal laboratory in which to practice the techniques it intends to use domestically, at home within U.S. borders.
Welcome to Afghanistan.

This is just the beginning.

February 11, 2013

Believe Nothing

To this day there is no applause at the end of a Parsifal performance in Bayreuth.
You will find that statement in a NYT article about the Met's new production of Parsifal, which premieres this coming Friday night. It's new to the Met, that is; the production was first performed at Lyon in March of last year.

The Times includes the fact that "there is no applause at the end of a Parsifal performance" to underscore the article's point that Wagner intended the work to be "a festival for the consecration of the stage," and that Wagner wanted, in effect demanded, that the atmosphere during Parsifal performances be profoundly "worshipful."

There's just one problem with the contention that there isn't any applause. It is flatly untrue, including at Bayreuth. See the video of the conclusion of a recent Bayreuth performance included here; very loud applause begins immediately at the end of the opera. (There is a tradition of not applauding at the conclusion of Act I of Parsifal, a tradition which is often, but not always, observed. No such practice applies to the conclusions of Acts II and III.)

I think you will agree that this is a very simple, straightforward issue, one easily checked for accuracy. The Times story was published on February 7; it still does not have any correction notice. Many people in the opera world, including many people at the Met and the Times, read Parterre Box. Surely the NYT has been informed of the error. It appears we're to conclude that the Times simply doesn't give a damn.

Most of us know the argument that, when we see or hear a news story about a subject with which we are very familiar, we will be astonished at how much the "news" story gets wrong. This is especially true whenever we speak of a story in which we ourselves are involved. Just a month or two ago, I read a story in the NYT which had a correction notice at the end. I wish I'd saved the link, but I didn't. I remember it because the notice corrected two or three points in the article -- and those two or three points happened to be the most critical points of fact in the entirety of the piece. It was truly hilarious. ("On Friday, the Ritz Theater collapsed, killing three people." Oops: it wasn't Friday, the theater didn't collapse, and no one was even injured. It was kind of like that.)

I mention this (and not for the first time here) to emphasize yet another ludicrous aspect of our heated discussions about particular "news" stories, especially those involving the government -- and within that general category, especially those involving matters of "national security." A huge percentage of what we read and hear in all such stories is complete bullshit. A recent example I've discussed in detail is Petraeus's resignation, allegedly because of an affair (and follow the links to read my reasoning). Any story which relies almost entirely on statements from interested (and self-interested) government officials (including any governmental agency you care to name) is bound to contain lies and distortions from beginning to end. Add to that the inability and/or refusal of our leading news sources to check even the most basic of non-controversial "facts" for accuracy, and you have a recipe for an unceasing diet of illusory, fictitious, distorted, misleading, and distinctly unhealthy garbage.

Yet we continue to talk about these stories as if they represent the "truth" to some significant degree. In one sense, that's understandable; what else are we to go on? We can hardly investigate stories, especially those of the gravest significance, on our own. So we make do with what we're given.

But we need always to remember the nature of what it is we're provided. Particularly when the story deals with "sensitive" political matters -- the Obama administration's Murder Program, for example -- virtually nothing we're told is likely to be accurate. I hasten to add that what we are told is more than bad enough, and it's not simply bad: what we have been told about the Murder Program (as only one example) is horrifying, abominable, loathsome, and unforgivable. We can only imagine what the full truth might be. Since what we already "know" is awful enough, I wouldn't blame someone if he chose not to imagine what a fuller version of the actual truth might be (assuming he offers a strongly negative, condemnatory judgment about what we appear to "know").

I view every news story I read or hear as, at best, providing clues. (My reaction to The New Yorker story press release about the killing of Bin Laden captures my perspective with regard to what I regard as a particularly outrageous example. I summarized my view of the events in question this way: "I'm prepared to accept that something happened that night in Pakistan. Probably. Maybe. And absolutely nothing else at all.") To weigh and evaluate those clues, and in our effort to determine what they may indicate, we must bring to bear our knowledge and understanding of political theory and practice, culture, history, psychology, and still other elements, depending on the specifics. Our own intellectual honesty will be a major factor in determining how fruitful our analysis will be.

With regard to that last point: to the factors identified above concerning the extremely dubious quality of what passes for "news," we must add one more. And that is this, to state it plainly: the majority of people don't care if the "facts" they rely on are correct. They simply do not care. We encounter this all the time in discussions with acquaintances about every subject in the world; we see it every day in statements offered by those engaged in politics (either as politicians or as commentators). And if the Times doesn't give a damn about getting a numbingly simple matter such as Parsifal performance practice correct, how likely do you think it is that the Times or any of the "leading figures" they constantly rely on (in politics, or the arts, or science, or, or, or...) will acknowledge that the "facts" they use to justify their stance on unlimited assassination, or the next war, are not facts at all?

No, they're not going to tell you; in many cases, they won't admit the truth even to themselves. Even if they are aware of the errors that underlie their conclusions, they will never acknowledge them. So we're on our own, and we have to do the best we can with the material we have.

And much, probably most, of that material is pure, 100% bullshit.

So start here: Believe nothing. Carefully assemble those clues you can, and then proceed with the greatest caution of which you are capable. And do your best not to kill anyone while you're at it. How much better the world would be, if only everyone would adopt that approach. You would think that not killing people wouldn't be so difficult. But as we must forlornly acknowledge, you would be wrong to think that. Alas.

Killer at Large, Panic Ensues

Everyone on talk radio in Los Angeles goes on and on about just a single topic these days. I'm sure the same is true in much of the rest of the country. It's a huge national story.

A man has murdered several people, and he's threatened to murder many more. He says he has his reasons, and he thinks they're good reasons. He thoughtfully published his reasons so all of us can consider them. But when you read what he's said about why he's killing people, you realize it doesn't make any sense. He uses words that are familiar to us, but he uses them to mean whatever he wants them to mean. In the end, his reasons are just a lot of nonsense.

And he's killing people who have nothing at all to do with what he claims are the justifications for his murders. Even if you grant the legitimacy of what he says are his reasons, the particular murders still make no sense. He appears to be killing whoever happens to cross his path when the urge to murder overcomes him.

I'm confident they'll catch him soon. After all, we've seen him on television a lot. Someone is sure to get a glimpse of him any day now. He can't hide forever, can he?

So I'm sure he'll be safely behind bars in short order, and then everyone can relax.

It will be fine. I think we should all calm down. Obama will be locked up very soon.


I'm reminded of a post from December 2011: "The Face of the Killer Who Is Your President."

I will add that rereading the passage at the conclusion of that article, especially after the hideous spectacle of the Brennan hearing last week, was chilling to me in a manner I hadn't expected. I find it extraordinarily difficult to make fully real to myself how deeply damaged and sick this country is. To understate the matter in lamentably inadequate fashion: this will not end well.

In that connection, the manhunt still going on is frighteningly instructive in certain respects, and I will have some comments about that in the next day or two.

February 09, 2013

Please Stop

I just read this in a frigging news story:
The “Blizzicane” of 2013 has left it’s mark on New England.
People need to stop this. I realize this represents a Feast of Triviality when almost no one gives a crap that the U.S. government claims it can murder anyone it likes -- including you, you numbskull -- but it annoys the hell out of me. If I'm going to be killed by the government, I don't want my murder preceded by a statement that begins: "Dear Arthur: The State in it's wisdom has decided to off you because..." Actually, they prolly wouldn't say that, since they don't even have to give a reason. Still.


Read The Oatmeal, which includes a discussion of this mistake. And if you're making this mistake, you're probably making at least one of the nine others they talk about their. (See what I did they're? Another one of the mistakes they talk about. Hahaha.)

I've been seeing the it's/its mistake for years on blogs and in tweets. I didn't say anything about it because I'm a shy and humble guy. Yes, I am. (Oh, be quiet.) But since I'm now seeing it regularly in news stories ... well, THIS CANNOT STAND.

While I'm at it: please stop using "literally" when you don't mean "literally." Biden isn't the only one who does this, ya know. A fairly well-known columnist does it with distressing regularity. My favorite usage is: "It is literally inconceivable...," or "It is literally unimaginable..." That's funny stuff. How do you know what everyone in the world is conceiving or imagining? And guess what: I'm conceiving and imagining what you say I can't conceive or imagine right now. Most of the time, people use "literally" as a lazy way to emphasize a point. It's almost always wrong. Now, you don't want to be lazy and wrong, do you? Of course you don't. People frequently use "really" in the same lazy way: "In a really odious display of dishonesty..." If you want to be more precise, and more colorful as well, you might say: "In a brazenly odious display..." or "In a pompously odious display..." or "In a tediously odious display..." And there are many more possibilities. Each of them conveys a different meaning. Writing that is more precise is also more evocative. It's better writing, and it's much more rewarding for the attentive reader. "Really" is what I term a garbage word; in my view, it should almost never be used. I use it very sparingly, and only with specific intent.

Next time, we'll talk about "lie" and "lay." Almost no one gets that right. Impatient? Here you go. You're not laying on your bed because you're tired. Unless you're fucking, in which case you're probably not that tired. (See? Grammar can be fun!)

This has made me really sad, so I'm going to bang my head against the wall until this entire building collapses and then cry myself to sleep in the rubble. Literally. So their. But I suppose its all in a days work.

February 08, 2013

The Idiocies of "Oversight" and "Accountability"

This is a preview of issues I plan to discuss in the conclusion of this article about Brennan and his Senate confirmation hearing. Since one particular question can be treated separately and comparatively briefly on its own, I decided to address it now.

In a NYT article about the Senate hearing on Brennan's nomination to be C.I.A. Director, we are told:
Adding a new element to the roiling debate [about targeted killing by drone strikes -- but good lord, what "roiling debate"??], the committee’s chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said she would review proposals to create a court to oversee targeted killings. She gave no details but said such a court would be analogous to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees eavesdropping on American soil.

Mr. Brennan was noncommittal, noting that lethal operations are generally the sole responsibility of the executive branch. But he said the administration had “wrestled with” the concept of such a court and called the idea “certainly worthy of discussion."
It is only due to the fact that U.S. government officials are extraordinarily obtuse and ignorant, and/or inveterate liars (with no exceptions at all on the national level at this point), and because virtually every voice in the media is similarly mentally and morally challenged to a degree that reduces them to a permanent vegetative state, that such an idea is not greeted by raucous, side-splitting laughter from coast to coast.

The FISA court is regarded by almost everyone as an admirable model for oversight of especially sensitive issues. This is because almost everyone is irredeemably stupid. You may sense a theme here, just as you may conclude that I have run out of patience on these points. You have no idea. Does anyone appreciate what the FISA court represents and what it actually does?

The following short paragraph is from an article I published almost five years ago:
I must immediately interject that to discuss these issues [pertaining to liberty and privacy] with regard to FISA is ludicrous in a much deeper sense. As Jonathan Turley explains here, FISA itself is a secret court whose very purpose is to circumvent the requirements of the Fourth Amendment. The FISA court is no protection against illegitimate government intrusion at all. But as Turley notes, that we are fighting over whether to grant the executive branch and FISA still more untrammeled authority to disregard constitutional rights is a measure of how far we have already marched toward tyranny. And look at this chart to see just how compliant the FISA court is.
Take a careful look at that chart, which now includes data up to and including 2011. Here's the link again. In 2010, 1,579 FISA applications were presented; 1, 579 were approved. In 2011, 1,745 FISA applications were presented; 1,745 were approved.

The chart begins with 1979. In all the years from 1979 through 2011, applications were not immediately approved in only five years. Out of the many thousands of applications presented, a total of 11 were not approved. If you read the footnotes, you discover that even the "rejections" were usually not ultimate "denials of the requested authority"; the government would make minor modifications to the application in question, and it was then approved. In other words, the FISA court is a governmental rubber stamp of the first order. It represents no meaningful oversight in any manner whatsoever.

And this is regarded as a model of "oversight" -- and this is the model touted as one to be utilized for applications to murder people on the basis of inconclusive, erroneous, or entirely non-existent information (non-existent with regard to particular individuals in the case of "signature strikes" -- see this post for further discussion of these points). All of which is to say that, even if there were some court to "oversee" the administration's Murder Program, it would represent only the most superficial procedural camouflage for what would remain a monstrous evil.

I highlight this issue to underscore the atmosphere of our "national discussion" about these issues in general, as well as the atmosphere of the Brennan hearing. I tried to capture some of the sense of the hearing in my mostly humorous earlier comments. Even though I view the administration's Murder Program as a subject demanding the most grave and serious concern (as demonstrated in many essays about it, for example, here and here), one of my primary thoughts as I watched the senators indulge in their nauseating preening, grandiosity, narcissism and bland, unbearably dull, often barely literate remarks and questions, was simply: These people are clowns. Idiotic, stupid, ignorant clowns.

I obviously am very well aware of how dangerous and murderous the members of the national government can be, as revealed in many of my articles. But I think it is important, especially for those of us who oppose the vile, barbaric practices of this abominable State, always to keep in mind just how pathetically dumb and inept these people are when considered individually. As I watch these ludicrous buffoons go through their paces -- and the Brennan hearing is entirely typical of all such hearings, commissions, etc. -- I often think that a strong, persistent gust of wind would simply sweep all of them away, and onto the stomach-churning dung heap where they fully deserve to spend the rest of their days. It's something to keep in mind for those who would resist.

But about the question of oversight, and the related pleas for "accountability" and "transparency": keep in mind what the Murder Program is. The executive branch claims that it can murder anyone it chooses anywhere in the world, for any reason it wishes. Someone needs to explain to me how oversight, accountability and transparency will make such a program better. But they can't explain that -- because it cannot be done. A program that is evil in the manner the Murder Program is evil cannot be "improved," or "managed" so as to make it decent and humane. The Murder Program is an abomination. You don't "fix" abominations of this kind. You end them. You end them this very moment. As I said about this issue last November:
Evil does not become less evil because people are "open" about it. It is not miraculously transformed into good through some mysterious process of alchemy. Evil becomes only worse, infinitely worse. ...

So if certain "critics" of the Murder Program get what they want, the State will be blessedly open about its programs devoted to evil. It will torture and murder regularly, perhaps every day, but in broad daylight, with all of us watching.

And a lot of people will be very pleased indeed. Pleased, hell. They'll be goddamned thrilled.
There is considerably more to be said on this subject, and I will turn to that when I conclude the earlier article.

February 07, 2013

Fabulous Shit

I'm watching the Senate hearing on Brennan's nomination.

So this is the hearing that all the news reports said would include TOUGH QUESTIONING? Tough questioning on, you know, TORTURE. And about the fact that the Obama administration's Murder Program -- for which Brennan has more responsibility than any other person on the planet -- is based on the administration's claim to ABSOLUTE POWER and that they can KILL ANYONE THEY WANT FOR ANY REASON THEY SAY.

Yeah, those would be good subjects for some TOUGH QUESTIONING.

So I've been listening for about two hours.

"God, the CIA is like the GREATEST THING EVER! Everyone in the CIA is A SAINT! Like, SERIOUSLY!!"

"Bless you for all your great service! And for your willingness to serve STILL MORE!!!"

"So in this one comment of yours from 1971, didn't you mean 'AND/or' and not just 'OR'? You'd agree with that, right? Oh, THANK YOU! I thought the record should be clear on that vital point!"


And now Feinstein (Christ, what a horror) is saying: "Hey, Awlaki may have been an American citizen, BUT HE WAS A MEAN, ROTTEN, REALLY BAD SON OF A BITCH WHO DESERVED TO BE KILLED!!!!"


And Burr just made a joke. About WATERBOARDING. Sweet.

Tough questioning.


Best laugh I've had for YEARS.

I think this hearing is beyond fabulous. I also think every American should be FORCED to watch Congressional hearings for a week or two nonstop. One Congressional hearing after another, with a very short snack and bathroom break every eight hours.

After two or three days of shit like this, EVERYONE WOULD BE AN ANARCHIST.

And then I could die happy.

February 06, 2013

Help Requested

I sincerely regret the lack of posting here over the last month. At the moment, I'm in very bad shape physically. I've spent most of the last two weeks in bed. When I get up, I sometimes have a tendency to fall over. Obviously, I should be under a doctor's care, and I should probably be in the hospital. And I've often considered calling 911, but since the last experience was so awful ... so I try to survive. A 911 call may still lie in the near future.

There is a lot of writing I have planned. I managed to get one post up a little while ago; that was driven by this week's news about Brennan, the "white paper," and so on. I hope to finish the final part of that article in the next day or two. But it's been close to impossible for me to write recently given the health problems. (All explained here, if you came in late.)

There didn't seem to be a problem with my January rent payment, as I had feared. That was a relief, but there are odd and upsetting things happening with the new owners of my apartment building. Too depressed and distracted by it to describe it all in detail at the moment. But my anxiety about the future is steadily increasing, which is not exactly helpful.

And as you undoubtedly already realized, since I did manage to pay the February rent with the help of some wonderfully kind readers, I'm now almost completely broke. I have a little over a hundred dollars, which means that if anything at all happens, I'm completely sunk.

You may be aware that Andrew Sullivan just raised some ungodly sum of money through donations (what is it, close to a million dollars by now? fucking Christ). If he can raise that amount basically by being a horrible, stupid human being, perhaps I can still raise a little bit through donations by not being horrible and stupid (at least, not as much of the time, but Sullivan is far more experienced at such matters than I am).

As always, I'm deeply grateful for your consideration and generosity. After finishing the first part of that new article, I'm going to retire to bed once again, surrounded by two wonderfully furry and loving companions. Hope to be back tomorrow.

Many thanks.

Toward the World of Nightmare (I)

On the day the story of David Petraeus' resignation broke last November, I wrote: "[W]e can state with absolute certainty that he is not resigning because of an affair. For reasons we will probably never know, he had become an inconvenience or a hindrance in some manner to the administration's plans. As a result, certain parties decided to get rid of him." I've thought through the relevant issues a number of times since then, but I have never wavered in my certain conviction that the affair was merely the pretext offered to a shockingly gullible public. Every "dissident" writer that I read also viewed the affair as the actual reason Petraeus left office. The ruling class must be feeling extravagantly corpulent and complacent at the moment; there are many indications that is precisely their state of being. After more than a decade of spectacular lies on every subject of vital national import (so labeled for us by a marvelously considerate media which instructs us in such matters), the U.S. government can continue to trot out fables that would cause a bright ten-year-old to roll his eyes in amazed disbelief at the idiotic tales adults offer to him as the truth -- and adult Americans, including all our leading "dissenters," fall for it all over again. Offer the lies in an unexpected context, vary the specifics to make the lies seem new, and all the skepticism supposedly won at such great cost over recent years vanishes like the mist of morning. Forget a possible war with Iran (actually, don't); at the ever-accelerating rate of national mental disintegration, all of the United States, including every single citizen, will be enthusiastically mobilized to fight the evil forces of Iran, China, Russia, much of Africa and the incomprehensibly malevolent advance starships from the Shittheymadeup galaxy by August at the latest.

You can peruse the reasons for my complete rejection of the Petraeus cover story here, with some additional aspects discussed here. In the first of those posts, I offered two possible reasons for Petraeus' ouster. I considered the second of those reasons, that John Brennan was likely to be Petraeus' successor, to be unquestionably the more significant, as well as alarming in the extreme. About this second reason, which was only a possibility when I first raised it but is now about to become reality, I wrote (and I repeat this passage because of its importance to what follows):
If Brennan were to succeed Petraeus at the C.I.A., the White House would not only install Obama's first choice in that office, no small matter in itself. Of far greater importance is the fact that, aside from Obama himself -- and in certain respects, probably more than Obama -- Brennan is the single most critical person in the design and implementation of the government's Murder Program, as I recently discussed. If Brennan does finally head the C.I.A., do you think that would be a coincidence? I do not for a moment believe in coincidences of that kind, especially not with an administration as determined in its lethality as this one.

Think of it: John Brennan, who now is Obama's chief adviser on domestic security and counterterrorism goes to head the C.I.A. I'll tell you what that means to me: Obama and his fellow murderers are absolutely determined to bring the Murder Program home to America, and probably even more quickly than I had previously thought. I described the steps by which that might happen in the second half of the preceding post. The unfolding nightmare that I described might very well lie in your future, America -- and in the not too distant future at that. Do you care?

To be sure, the administration could achieve the same end with another candidate if it wished, Vickers for example. But to be able to unleash the Murder Program on an even greater scale with the man who knows everything about it, and from his lofty perch at the C.I.A. ... it's a dream come true for these bastards. And that may well be the reason they decided to get rid of Petraeus.
That was from early November of last year. Events this week provide an awful lesson in the logic and machinations of power politics -- and we can now see the administration's purposes more clearly. Brennan's confirmation hearing begins tomorrow; we are informed that he will face "tough questions" about two areas in particular: his involvement with torture during the Bush administration, and the Obama administration's Murder Program. But as the LA Times story and other reports make clear, any concern about Brennan with regard to torture is but a minor routine matter at this point: he was merely "an administrator," with no responsibility for originating policy. (Some of those convicted of war crimes in the past may be heard to register posthumous complaints about such mitigating ploys. Ignore them, for they lack our sophisticated understanding of the world.) So the tough-minded Senators will have a few questions about "mismanagement," the torturers' lack of good communication skills, and similar inquiries of monumental metaphysical weight.

As for the Murder Program: coincidentally -- just as coincidental as Brennan heading up the C.I.A. (the Obama administration is truly blessed by the gods, is it not?) -- someone just happened to provide a lengthy, confidential Justice Department memo setting out the administration's justifications for its assassination program to NBC News. Michael Isikoff dutifully wrote up the EXCLUSIVE story, and the yammering class exploded in an orgiastic frenzy of self-pleasuring. The memo refers to another, classified document "that actually provided the legal justification for ordering the killing of American citizens" -- but that is a distraction of little significance, as I discuss below. The crucial point is that the administration has provided the essentials of its argument in support of the Murder Program, and it has done so in advance of Brennan's confirmation hearing.

When the august Senators question Brennan about the Murder Program, they will have more than enough information to frame their inquiry in a meaningful manner -- and they will have sufficient information to pass judgment on whether they consider the Murder Program legitimate, rational and legal. (In fact, all that was true long before this latest "white paper" was leaked, as I also discuss in what follows.) But the appearance of this latest document "justifying" the assassination program makes the point inescapable: whenever anyone objects to the Murder Program on the grounds that the executive branch implemented a campaign of limitless assassination entirely on its own, without input or approval from any other branch of government, Obama and his fellow criminals can truthfully say: "But Congress had all the information it needed to judge the soundness of our policy. They had the opportunity to question John Brennan about it -- and Brennan is, after all, the chief architect of the program. And they confirmed his nomination as C.I.A. Director!"

Barring entirely unexpected developments, Brennan will certainly be confirmed. And that is precisely how Brennan's confirmation will be viewed in the future: as Congressional approval of the Murder Program. That, I submit, is the prize the Obama administration was after. Appreciate how easily the administration will have achieved its goal: move Petraeus out, move Brennan in -- Brennan, who withdrew his name from consideration as C.I.A. Director four years ago because of "concerns" about his involvement in torture, and who today represents a program of unrestricted, worldwide murder. And the Senate will now confirm his appointment. Once Brennan is confirmed, the Obama administration is home free: it can expand the program as it wishes and employ it on a constantly increasing scale, eventually including assassinations within the United States. (Again, see the second half of this post for a description of how that is likely to happen.) Whenever people object, the administration can trumpet: "But Congress has approved all of this!" And they will be telling the truth.

At this point, I have no hesitation in saying that anyone who still believes that an affair was the actual reason for Petraeus' resignation is a fool, with very little understanding of politics, the operations of power, and psychology. I offer a caution in this regard, as I occasionally have in the past in similar contexts. I am not suggesting that the administration's plans with regard to Brennan and the Murder Program are some sort of "conspiracy" cooked up in a back room four years ago. That's not how such things happen. Those who are intent on power are always concerned with consolidating their power and expanding it whenever possible. Much of what they do will be in response to events, including the actions of other individuals and institutions. I'm reminded of the observations I offered in a post warning of the great danger Obama represented -- a warning which I wrote in May of 2008, mind you. I talked of "the inexorable development of the political system in the United States over more than a century: toward a corporatist-authoritarian state domestically, coupled with a militantly, violently interventionist foreign policy." I wrote:
This system as it exists today consists of innumerable interrelated, constantly moving parts. Countless agencies, commissions and bureaucrats act in concert and on their own to expand their power, and that of government generally. The system has a life of its own; it is its own reason for being. It sustains itself, and it seeks more and more territory for its dominance. The exercise of power and the acquisition of still more power are not directed at the improvement of the lives of "ordinary" Americans, whoever they may be; ordinary Americans are of no interest or concern to the ruling elites, except insofar as their labor and often their lives are necessary for the maintenance of the lives of immense comfort and privilege enjoyed by the powerful. Power is not the means to some other end, although that claim is a crucial element of the extraordinarily successful propaganda so willingly swallowed by the public. Power -- its exercise and maintenance, and the acquisition of still more power -- is the end.
Because of the number of players and institutions involved, there are constraints on everyone, including the president. In the drive to acquire more power, each person and organization is constantly testing the boundaries of what is possible; they are always determining what they can "get away with," which is sometimes limited in part by the actions of others. I consider it entirely possible that Obama was perfectly happy to have Brennan as his chief adviser on domestic security and terrorism four years ago, and wasn't particularly concerned with Brennan's future role. Then they were busy for several years with developing and implementing the Murder Program.

As the Murder Program became more significant in the Obama administration's plans, the administration arranged for stories to be published in major newspapers describing the Program -- primarily to find out what the public reaction would be. In this way, the administration could more accurately judge what else they could get away with. (I described this process here.) As we now know, there was almost no reaction at all. Almost no one cared. Nonetheless, there were still a few complaints about the Murder Program, about "unaccountable," "secret" executive actions and the like. That wasn't a major problem, but it would be helpful to be rid of the annoyance. The Obama administration wanted a clear field in which to make its future plays. So perhaps at that point, maybe about a year ago, Obama or some valued adviser (perhaps Brennan himself) thought: "Well, you had originally wanted Brennan at the C.I.A. They'd confirm him now, especially since his reputation has been rehabilitated in such sterling fashion. And Brennan is the person most closely identified with the Murder Program. So nominate him for C.I.A. now -- and when he's approved, that means they approve the Murder Program, too."

That is more likely to be the pattern of how this developed. But make no mistake: when Brennan's nomination is confirmed, the Obama administration will have won a victory of immense significance. As to how and on what schedule the Murder Program will be expanded, that, too, will depend on events to a significant extent. Since the administration is already expanding the number of strikes, there can be no question that they plan to rely on assassination more and more frequently. And if at some point there should be serious domestic unrest ... well, we might prefer not to think in great detail about what the administration's response is likely to be.

There are several other important issues I want to discuss about this latest "white paper," including why this "news" story is not news at all. I also want to explore some of the reasons for what I view as an extraordinarily bizarre aspect of the reaction to this story. But this is long enough for the moment, so I will address those questions next time.