Archive for April, 2017

Reflections for April 29

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

All indications are that Trump is frightened, and with good reason. His potential assassins, if there are any, have a moral (and possibly even legal) route to vindication, provided any survive to stand trial. As with the lives lost in the recent bombing of Syria by forces under Trump’s command, the current president’s life could readily be sacrificed as a matter of national security. I imagine he’s been warned of this.

Consider the laws that regulate the taking of human life. Homicide is legally justifiable if a life is taken in defense of self or of another person. We have a right to kill a person who presents an imminent, lethal threat to another person. This is the law in every US state, with each state giving the killer more or less discretion in the decision to use deadly force.

The idea of justifiable homicide in the interest of national security is simply an application of the defense-of-person doctrine to the nation and all the people in it. It’s the very rationale–”self-defense”– that the USA invokes when it uses armed force against people in Yemen or Somalia or Syria or Afghanistan or any of the other defenseless countries we attack from time to time. There’s no reason in law or logic that this rationale can’t be used against our president himself or any of his highest-ranking minions.

The current secretary of state is a good example. He’s on record as saying “there are no red lines”–in essence, that everything’s “on the table”– when it comes to North Korea. His interviewers in the embedded mass media can’t ask him explicitly whether our nation is prepared to drop bombs on Pyongyang, but that’s because they know we are. “Everything’s on the table,” is not an invitation to sit down for dinner but a threat of lethal violence. What might be the result if our government made good on this official’s threat? Could there be an exchange of atomic bombs, with one or more blowing up alongside your grandchildren?

It would be nice if you could hold this official and his bosses to account in a court of law–threats of the kind he’s made against North Korea are forbidden by the laws of nations–but you can’t. Thugs have so thoroughly infiltrated our government that there is no prospect of justice for any of them. We have a law that is supposed to empower victims of organized crime–and the corruption of federal authority is organized crime of the highest order–but it’s a sham. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (expressed as an acronym, RICO, which doubles as an ethnic slur) purports to enable those damaged by racketeering to sue the racketeers in federal court. Because of the corruption of the federal bench by a string of corrupt presidents, the courthouse doors are closed, as racketeering cases filed by victims are routinely thrown out by federal judges. That’s what happens when criminals run things.

Before Trump, a notorious predator with a long record of malfeasance in the private sector, we could pretend that we were governed by people whose main interest was the nation. That pretense can’t be maintained any longer.

If your grandchildren are imminently, mortally endangered by threats of violence on the part of these people, and there is no legal means to restrain them, might you not consider using lethal force against them? In the case of the secretary of state, might you have an obligation, for the protection of human life and the good of your nation, to “take him out,” in the terminology thugs like Tillerson and Trump like to use? Is it not conceivable that there is, in every city, some loyal American who imagines himself part of a historic act of violence against corrupt leaders?

Of course, it’s not just the President and his cabinet who should be frightened. In the tradition of organized crime, Trump has brought his whole family into the racket. When you’re depending on people to carry out criminal assignments, family members are indispensable. This makes Trump’s wife and children singularly vulnerable, acting, as they do, in a quasi-official capacity as accessories to his racketeering activities. Ironically, the government employees who are assigned to protect Trump’s relatives have all pledged to uphold the Constitution against all enemies, “foreign and domestic.” This must create a bit of cognitive dissonance in some of them, possibly interfering at times with the task at hand. The Trump family must be aware of this. Likewise, potential attackers.

The case of Adolf Hitler is instructive. On a day in July 1944, when Germany, then governed by a gang of thugs, was in danger of utter disintegration, a group of military officers, for the good of their country, detonated a bomb at a meeting in which the Fuhrer was taking part. Hitler got out safely, but the lesson for national leaders is still fresh: racketeering can be risky. On this day in 1945, April 29, the dead body of Hitler’s contemporary, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, another thug, hung upside-down over a Milan street, a target of stone-throwers for many hours. Historians have mused over how things would have gone if these two had been slain earlier by responsible countrymen. Their fate must also be on the minds of our leaders.

Journalistic Malpractice

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Only one business–the press–enjoys protection under the U.S. constitution, very special protection that our nation’s news-mongers routinely abuse. The damage they do is all but incalculable, but it’s safe to say the awards would be astronomical if our courts recognized legal liability for journalistic malpractice. 

The latest atrocity from our embedded mass  media is their coverage of the US missile attack on a Syrian military airfield. As is their custom, US news reporters rushed past the facts surrounding the events, hurtling headlong into accusations, political pronouncements, declarations of pride and glory and applause for the brave civilian warriors in Washington who launched the missiles. Reporters had to abandon professional responsibililty to sell the story, which is not just false, but preposterous.

The story they’re telling is that the Syrian leader (who, in unreportable news, is supported by the overwhelming majority of Syrians and has waged a six-year struggle with a rebellion armed by governments in the US and Europe) this leader dropped poison gas on a village currently controlled by rebels. The only evidence presented by the media is a video of people who look as if they might have been poisoned. The video was provided by the rebels, who enjoy widespread support in Washington, London and Tel Aviv. This evidence is considered sufficient, in the nearly unanimous opinion of US news-mongers, to launch guided missiles against Syrian soldiers without legal authority of any kind. Although the missile attack was clearly meant as revenge, our media characterize it as an act of humanitarian intervention. Lately, they have been offering the attack as a seminal indication that Trump might just be a real president after all.

Whether news-consumers are buying this story can’t be known, since the media never assess their own credibility. Polls asking whether people believe what they hear in the news are few and far between. The media tell us we believe three skyscrapers fell down in Manhattan because airplanes crashed into two of them. They tell us we believe our government had nothing to do with the deaths of the people who were inside those buildings when they came down. Millions have expressed disbelief at the media account, skepticism that the media, speaking  with one voice, treat as madness.

From the point of view of media critics, madness is believing anything the media tell us. A wise man said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time. We’ve had experience with presidents who waged war to escape adverse public opinion. Typically, the media allow them to lie about events and conditions, and we shed an ocean of blood in consequence on one or another pretext sold as a rationale for war. We’ve let this happen over and over again. If we’re not insane, we’ll eventually put a stop to this madness and hold our media to account.

If they were honest, the reporters would acknowledge that they probably invited the poison gas attack. The rebels know that our media will accept as truth any propaganda they care to produce. Poison a few civilians, put the sick and the dead on CD, send the CD off to CNN, and within days US missiles will rain down on your enemies in the Syrian army. It’s plausible, and it actually happened a few years ago, minus the missiles, which the president at the time decided not to launch. Now,  with a new, dumber US president, we’re expected to believe that the Syrian leader just felt like poisoning some civilians, and that’s the only reason this happened.  Yeah, right.

Reporters could have demanded additional evidence of the gas attack–debris from a bomb or missile, contaminated material or living tissue, photos of the site attacked, for instance–but they didn’t do that. They could have asked whether there was legal authority to attack Syria, but they didn’t. They could have invited a discussion of possible alternatives to armed force in response to the video, but they didn’t. They didn’t do anything to find out what really happened or to help us decide on the best course of action, as journalists are supposed to do. They are liars. They are whores. They are enemies. In a just world they would be sued till naked.