Post Tagged with: "parapolitics"

How the British Elite Are Trained to Think

How the British Elite Are Trained to Think

Here’s an essay question from a scholarship application to Eton, an elite boarding school in the UK:

Eton College exam question

Laurie Pennie weighs in:

questions like this – topics for debate designed to reward pupils for defending the morally indefensible in the name of maintaining “order” – crop up throughout the British elite education system, from prep schools to public schools like Eton to public speaking competitions right up to debating societies like the Oxford and Cambridge Unions, which are modelled on parliament for a reason.

This is how you’re meant to argue when you’re eventually in charge. You’re trained for it, and part of that training is regularly being presented with morally indefensible positions to defend anyway or risk losing whatever competition you’re engaged with. I have seen perfectly decent young men get carried away defending genocide and torture because that’s the only way to win. Those who are unable to do so are taught that they have no business having political opinions. The people assumed to be the future elite are not rewarded for getting the answer which is most correct, most compassionate or humane or even sensible – they’re rewarded for smashing the opposition. And that’s how you get politicians who will argue anything they’re told to, enact any policy they’re told to no matter how many how many people will get hurt, just so that their team can win.

Moreover, this isn’t just a standard homework question. It appears on a scholarship entrance exam, a test designed to be sat by young men seeking to join the ranks of the rich and powerful by virtue of merit and smarts rather than family money.

Full Story: New Statesmen: The Eton Scholarship Question: this is how the British elite are trained to think

Meanwhile, Tim Maly poses some alternate questions.

May 26, 2013 2 comments
Did MK-ULTRA Kill “The James Bond Of Money”?

Did MK-ULTRA Kill “The James Bond Of Money”?

Deeply weird piece by Mark Ames and Alexander Zaitchik on the murder of CIA operative/godfather of the goldbug movement Nicholas Deak, which uncovers some possible connections between the homeless woman who killed him, Lois Lang, and the CIA’s MK-ULTRA program:

Police responding to the motel room took Lang to nearby Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. For the next month, she was put under the care of Dr. Frederick Melges, a psychiatrist associated with the Stanford Research Institute. One of Dr. Melges’ main areas of research: drug-aided hypnosis. A few years after Lang was put in Melges’ care, the New York Times exposed the Stanford Research Institute as a center for CIA research into “brain-washing” and “mind-control” experiments in which unwitting subjects were dosed with hallucinogenic drugs and subjected to hypnosis. Melges, who died in 1988, is today remembered in the field for his research on the relationship between perceptions of time and mental illness.

Full Story: Salon: James Bond and the killer bag lady

It goes deeper than that, with Ames and Zaitchik speculating that it may have been Argentine gangersters with knowledge of MK-ULTRA who ordered the hit:

If Lang was tapped to whack Nicholas Deak, she was part of a long tradition. In mobster literature, insane assassins are regular characters. “Nuts were used from time to time by certain people for certain matters,” explains Jimmy Hoffa’s former right-hand man, Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, in his memoir, “I Heard You Paint Houses.” Chuck Giancana, brother of Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana, writes that he once heard his brother say that “picking a nutcase who was also a sharpshooter” to carry out an assassination was “as old as the Sicilian hills.”

I found this bit interesting as well, though it’s more of a side note:

Meanwhile, the sunny side of Deak’s business thrived. Its retail foreign currency operation, now reconstituted under new ownership and known to the world as Thomas Cooke, became a staple at airports, its multi-packs of francs and marks symbols of every American family’s European vacation. Deak’s retail precious metals business dominated the market after the legalization of gold sales. After a series of sales and reconstitutions, it is today known as Goldline, a major sponsor of Glenn Beck and subject of a recent fraud settlement.

(via Abe Burmeister)

December 2, 2012 2 comments
“Partisan Bickering” Is Not the Problem

“Partisan Bickering” Is Not the Problem

This article by former GOP staffer Mike Lofgren has been going around lately, and if you haven’t read it yet, it’s worth reading no matter your political inclination. Not so much for any new insights but as a coherent “where things stand” piece. It’s long and covers a lot of ground, but here are two particularly important bits:

The media are also complicit in this phenomenon. Ever since the bifurcation of electronic media into a more or less respectable “hard news” segment and a rabidly ideological talk radio and cable TV political propaganda arm, the “respectable” media have been terrified of any criticism for perceived bias. Hence, they hew to the practice of false evenhandedness. Paul Krugman has skewered this tactic as being the “centrist cop-out.” “I joked long ago,” he says, “that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read ‘Views Differ on Shape of Planet.’”

The problem with the debt ceiling debate was not one of “partisan bickering.” It was one of Republican obstructionism. Framing it as partisan bickering, which establishment media has a tendency to do, was negligent reporting. Every single issue ends up being described this way.

The party has built a whole catechism on the protection and further enrichment of America’s plutocracy. Their caterwauling about deficit and debt is so much eyewash to con the public. Whatever else President Obama has accomplished (and many of his purported accomplishments are highly suspect), his $4-trillion deficit reduction package did perform the useful service of smoking out Republican hypocrisy. The GOP refused, because it could not abide so much as a one-tenth of one percent increase on the tax rates of the Walton family or the Koch brothers, much less a repeal of the carried interest rule that permits billionaire hedge fund managers to pay income tax at a lower effective rate than cops or nurses. Republicans finally settled on a deal that had far less deficit reduction – and even less spending reduction! – than Obama’s offer, because of their iron resolution to protect at all costs our society’s overclass.

This was also demonstrated by the party’s eagerness to engage in deficit spending when the spending was going to enrich defense contractors in the form of war spending during the Bush administration.

(As a side note, my hopes for a left/libertarian alliance were dashed again during the deficit ceiling debate, with libertarians typically siding with the GOP on the issue even though the Dems were only pushing to close tax loopholes. I should have expected that, because even when Republicans suggest that tax loops for the rich should be closed, the general response is usually “shut up commie.”)

Truth Out: Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult

My biggest point of disagreement with Lofgren is probably his take on the Democrats. I don’t think Democrats are merely spineless any more. They serve the same corporate donors that the GOP does. It’s not in their best interest to actually pass the measures they propose. You can see the same sort of behavior, occasionally, from the GOP – the bailout for example.

The bailout was and is unpopular among the conservative base, and with good reason. But except for a few token objections the GOP, for the most part, fell in line and bailed out their masters. The way the stimulus package worked out (mostly it was tax cuts) and the health care bill (Dems happily threw-out the public option without a fight) was not a fear of the GOP, it was loyalty to their donors. They made a show of trying to enact progressive legislation for their base, but their actions show who they really serve (I’ve made this case before). As Matt Taibbi wrote last month:

The Democrats aren’t failing to stand up to Republicans and failing to enact sensible reforms that benefit the middle class because they genuinely believe there’s political hay to be made moving to the right. They’re doing it because they do not represent any actual voters. I know I’ve said this before, but they are not a progressive political party, not even secretly, deep inside. They just play one on television. [...]

The Democrats, despite sitting in the White House, the most awesome repository of political power on the planet, didn’t fight at all. They made a show of a tussle for a good long time — as fixed fights go, you don’t see many that last into the 11th and 12th rounds, like this one did — but at the final hour, they let out a whimper and took a dive.

We probably need to start wondering why this keeps happening. Also, this: if the Democrats suck so bad at political combat, then how come they continue to be rewarded with such massive quantities of campaign contributions? When the final tally comes in for the 2012 presidential race, who among us wouldn’t bet that Barack Obama is going to beat his Republican opponent in the fundraising column very handily? At the very least, he won’t be out-funded, I can almost guarantee that.

That is what leads to so many of us on the left and dare I say the center feel powerless, and see the two parties as essentially being the same – not because of “partisan bickering.”

I should also note that I don’t think this is a “real” conspiracy. I very much doubt the Democrats are having meetings deciding to throw fights or even elections. I don’t think there are lobbyists calling up Obama telling him what to do. They don’t need to tell him, and congress doesn’t need to be told how to play the game.

September 4, 2011 4 comments
Brainsturbator’s Best Books of 2010

Brainsturbator’s Best Books of 2010

After the New Economy

Justin Boland lists his favorite reading of 2010. Here are some highlights I particularly want to read:

After the New Economy, by Doug Henwood.

The majority of my reading in the past year has been in Economics, shaped by a couple new jobs that required me to become a fake expert in the field. Perhaps in the near future I’ll do a separate Reading List focused on that, but for now, let me recommend one single volume as the best written, most thoroughly documented book on the subject: Doug Henwood’s After the New Economy. Henwood does something really remarkable here. There are dozens of sources per page, but he juggles an academic level of density with J.K. Rowling readability. He keeps all his math & policy discourse grounded in real world effects on actual working human beings. All in all, this book is fucking devastating because it uses nothing but the US economic system’s own numbers and words—there is no moralizing here. Along the way, Henwood also provides an education in deciphering market metrics and business news. He is a concise and scrupulous teacher. Henwood is often framed as a rabid Socialist, but I get the impression his political agenda is that of a disgruntled accountant…he’s just angry that the numbers don’t really add up on the American Dream.

Equally Worthy: his earlier book Wall Street: How It Works and for Whom is just as good and thorough. Most fans of Henwood suggest starting there, and it is powerful stuff. If you’re interested in a guide to Wall Street, though, the unfortunately named Eric J. Weiner has cornered the market with What Goes Up: The Uncensored History of Modern Wall Street as Told by the Bankers, Brokers, CEOs, and Scoundrels Who Made It Happen, an “oral history” where three generations of Hidden Rulers talk candidly about criminal conspiracies they got away with. It is awesome and very inspirational.

C Street, by Jeff Sharlet.

Sharlet has been doing important work for a long time now covering Christian Dominionist movements, especially in military and political circles. His previous book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, is essential reading if you’re not already familiar. (Start with “Jesus Plus Nothing.”)

Theocrats are scary people, and Sharlet tracks the most powerful among them carefully here. This is the grey zone where The Family morphs into The Fellowship, which has also been referred to as ”The Christian Mafia” and a ”Frat House for Jesus.” This is serious material,of course: the ghost network he outlines in C Street shaping foreign policy, domestic initiatives, and partisan talking points. The amount of media collusion and access to corporate money here is nothing short of spooky.

Brainsturbator: The 2010 Brainsturbator Reading List

February 28, 2011 0 comments
Art is the Weapon: CIA Funded Abstract Expressionism in the Cold War

Art is the Weapon: CIA Funded Abstract Expressionism in the Cold War

Jackson Pollock painting

The Independent reports:

The existence of this policy, rumoured and disputed for many years, has now been confirmed for the first time by former CIA officials. Unknown to the artists, the new American art was secretly promoted under a policy known as the “long leash” – arrangements similar in some ways to the indirect CIA backing of the journal Encounter, edited by Stephen Spender. [...]

The connection is not quite as odd as it might appear. At this time the new agency, staffed mainly by Yale and Harvard graduates, many of whom collected art and wrote novels in their spare time, was a haven of liberalism when compared with a political world dominated by McCarthy or with J Edgar Hoover’s FBI. If any official institution was in a position to celebrate the collection of Leninists, Trotskyites and heavy drinkers that made up the New York School, it was the CIA.

Until now there has been no first-hand evidence to prove that this connection was made, but for the first time a former case officer, Donald Jameson, has broken the silence. Yes, he says, the agency saw Abstract Expressionism as an opportunity, and yes, it ran with it.

Full Story: Independent: Modern art was CIA ‘weapon’

See also: coverage of the old rumors from Disinfo and The New Yorker

Image: Jackson Pollock, Lavender Mist, 1950. Photo by Detlef Schobert

November 9, 2010 1 comment
Some Oil Spill Related Articles Worth Your Attention

Some Oil Spill Related Articles Worth Your Attention

Burning pipeline Lagos

I know oil spill coverage is everywhere, but here are a few articles that are worthy of your attention:

Greg Palast: BP’s OTHER Spill:

With the Gulf Coast dying of oil poisoning, there’s no space in the press for British Petroleum’s latest spill, just this week: over 100,000 gallons, at its Alaska pipeline operation. A hundred thousand used to be a lot. Still is.

On Tuesday, Pump Station 9, at Delta Junction on the 800-mile pipeline, busted. Thousands of barrels began spewing an explosive cocktail of hydrocarbons after “procedures weren’t properly implemented” by BP operators, say state inspectors. “Procedures weren’t properly implemented” is, it seems, BP’s company motto.

Few Americans know that BP owns the controlling stake in the trans-Alaska pipeline; but, unlike with the Deepwater Horizon, BP keeps its Limey name off the Big Pipe.

There’s another reason to keep their name off the Pipe: their management of the pipe stinks. It’s corroded, it’s undermanned and “basic maintenance” is a term BP never heard of.

How does BP get away with it? The same way the Godfather got away with it: bad things happen to folks who blow the whistle. BP has a habit of hunting down and destroying the careers of those who warn of pipeline problems.

(Thanks Bill!)

Think that’s bad?

More oil is spilled in the Niger every year than has been spilled so far in the Gulf:

Forest and farmland were now covered in a sheen of greasy oil. Drinking wells were polluted and people were distraught. No one knew how much oil had leaked. “We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots,” said Chief Promise, village leader of Otuegwe and our guide. “This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest. We told Shell of the spill within days, but they did nothing for six months.”

That was the Niger delta a few years ago, where, according to Nigerian academics, writers and environment groups, oil companies have acted with such impunity and recklessness that much of the region has been devastated by leaks.

In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta’s network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico, the site of a major ecological catastrophe caused by oil that has poured from a leak triggered by the explosion that wrecked BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig last month.

That disaster, which claimed the lives of 11 rig workers, has made headlines round the world. By contrast, little information has emerged about the damage inflicted on the Niger delta. Yet the destruction there provides us with a far more accurate picture of the price we have to pay for drilling oil today.

(Thanks Marshall!)

And I haven’t even read this yet, but ProPublica has a long and damning investigation on BP.

And just in case you’re not furious enough yet, BP is spending $10,000 a day on Google ads to spin the disaster.

June 8, 2010 0 comments
Rejected Psy Ops plots revealed: Saddam gay sex tape, Osama booze tape

Rejected Psy Ops plots revealed: Saddam gay sex tape, Osama booze tape

Portrait-of-Saddam-Hussein

The Guardian lists some of the CIA’s Psy Ops plots:

According to the Washington Post’s security blog, some of America’s spooks believed that shooting a fake video of Saddam cavorting with a teenage boy might destabilise his regime in the runup to the US-led invasion in 2003. “It would look like it was taken by a hidden camera. Very grainy, like it was a secret videotaping of a sex session,” the Washington Post quoted one former CIA official as saying. [...]

But that did not stop a CIA video being shot of a fake Osama bin Laden sitting around a camp fire, drinking booze and boasting of his own gay conquests.

The video apparently used some of the CIA’s “darker skinned” employees as extras playing the terror chief’s henchmen. It does not seem to have been released.

Guardian: CIA’s secret Iraq weapon revealed: a Saddam gay sex tape

(Thanks to Bill and Bryce!)

May 29, 2010 1 comment
Fact checking The Men Who Stare at Goats

Fact checking The Men Who Stare at Goats

first earth battalion manual

Danger Room has an article posted fact checking the claims made in the new The Men Who Stare at Goats movie:

Hippie Army? True. Lt. Col. Jim Channon dove deep into the New Age movement, and came back to the military with a most alternative view of warfare — one in which troops would carry flowers and symbolic animals into battle. In the movie, Channon is played by Jeff Bridges. His First Earth Battalion is renamed the “New Earth Army.” But the ideas are the same. Much of the artwork from the New Earth manual is lifted straight from the Channon original.

Channon has been taking advantage of the publicity for his cause; this week he has a column in the Guardian newspaper, suggesting (among other things) that armies should be used for reforestation and navies to control over-fishing.

The military’s interest in Eastern and alternative practices is once again on the rise. “Warrior mind training“, apparently based on ancient Samurai techniques, is being taught at Camp Lejeune as a possible treatment for PTSD. Elsewhere the Army has a $4 million initiative exploring other approaches including Reiki, transcendental meditation and “bioenergy.” The Air Force is looking into acupuncture for battlefield pain relief.

Danger Room: Psychic Spies, Acid Guinea Pigs, New Age Soldiers: the True Men Who Stare at Goats

As pointed out at Danger Room, you can download the original First Earth Battalion Manual from Jim Channon’s web site

Previously:

Psychic Warfare from 1981-2008

Real life DHARMA Initiative # 1: SRI (Stanford Research Institute)

November 10, 2009 2 comments
Why the government wants you to believe in crashed UFOs

Why the government wants you to believe in crashed UFOs

It’s worth noting (mainly because few have bothered to note it, or to understand and appreciate the significance of the matter) that one of the “Recommendations” of a lengthy Technical Report prepared by the Air Force’s flying saucer study, Project Grudge, way back in August 1949, states: “That Psychological Warfare Division and other governmental agencies interested in psychological warfare be informed of the results of this study.”

The Department of Defense’s official definition of psychological warfare is: “The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives.”

As the above Grudge revelations show, way back when in the formative years of Ufology, certain players were looking to understand how the subject could be used psychologically.

UFO Mystic: Crashed UFOs? Probably Not…

(via Mac)

June 3, 2009 5 comments
AIG bonus fiasco a smokescreen for where the money is really going?

AIG bonus fiasco a smokescreen for where the money is really going?

I’d bet that the choreographers of this scam assume that the average person doesn’t know the difference between million and billion. That’s the first bet.

The second bet I’d make is that this entire spectacle has been concocted to shift the focus away from where the really big money is going. (Hint: Goldman Sachs.)

So, while the drama is happening over $165 million in bonuses, another roughly $30 billion goes down the gugrler.

Full Story: Cryptogon

March 17, 2009 1 comment