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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bucking the system

Spy blimps. The animated Batman TV series depicted a Gotham City under the watchful eyes of police blimps. And it was cool.

Now we have the real thing, right here in Baltimore. Not so cool.
The project is called JLENS – or “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System.” And you couldn’t come up with a better metaphor for wildly inflated defense contracts, a ponderous Pentagon bureaucracy, and the U.S. surveillance leviathan all in one.

Built by the Raytheon Company, the JLENS blimps operate as a pair. One provides omnipresent high-resolution 360-degree radar coverage up to 340 miles in any direction; the other can focus on specific threats and provide targeting information.

Technically considered aerostats, since they are tethered to mooring stations, these lighter-than-air vehicles will hover at a height of 10,000 feet just off Interstate 95, about 45 miles northeast of Washington, D.C., and about 20 miles from Baltimore. That means they can watch what’s happening from North Carolina to Boston, or an area the size of Texas.
Cost: $2.8 billion.

The right's big lie about the police. Even I am astonished by the outrageous lies we've heard from the right-wing propagandists. In a direct replay of a tactic familiar to anyone who can recall the civil rights era, the rightists are claiming that outside agitators have whipped up "hysteria" about police abuses.

Conservatives want you to think that the problem has nothing to do with anything that the cops have actually done. Nope. Conservatives blame agitators like Al Sharpton -- as though Sharpton (who is well-known to have functioned as an FBI stool pigeon) possesses that kind of sway. Conservatives also blame Obama, as is their wont. Obama once did have substantial sway over much of the left, but 2014 sure as hell ain't 2008, and Obama-mania is over. Besides, "no-drama Obama" hardly qualifies as any kind of agitator; he's not even a critic.

You will notice that conservatives keep the focus on controversies involving race. They never address the fact that seizure-happy modern cops have conjured up all kinds of resentment because they now use the citizenry as a revenue-generating machine.

Rudolph Giuliani took this conservative meme to absurd lengths when he claimed that Barack Obama instructed black people to hate the police. Of course, the president never said any such thing.

(Right-wingers also keep repeating the claim that Obama has gone around the world "apologizing" for America. Does anyone really believe this nonsensical accusation?)

And then we have this idiot...
The poisonous effect of those lies has now manifested itself in the cold-blooded assassination of two NYPD officers.

The highest reaches of American society promulgated these untruths and participated in the mass hysteria.
President Barack Obama announced that blacks were right to believe that the criminal-justice system was often stacked against them. Obama has travelled around the country since then buttressing that message. Eric Holder escalated a long running theme of his tenure as U.S. Attorney General—that the police routinely engaged in racial profiling and needed federal intervention to police properly.

University presidents rushed to show their fealty to the lie.
The article goes on and on like that. The bottom line: Don't blame the cops. Blame the cop-haters. Black people and lefties just have a totally irrational hated of anyone who wears a badge.

What an inane proposition!

Nobody wants to hate the cops -- far from it. Women and men of good will have been forced to become "cop critics" because police behavior keeps getting worse. That's the sitch, plain and simple.

That said, I must confess that I've never had any personal reason to bear any animosity toward the police. Frankly, I have always gotten along well with most of the law enforcement personnel I've met, and I certainly respect the hazards of their duties. Of course, the treatment I receive from cops probably has something to do with the fact that I'm white, male, no longer young, and usually dressed like a respectable member of the bourgeoisie (even though I'm actually far too poor to be part of that class).

But my own (mostly) benign experiences with the police can't change the fact that, in many places around this nation, their behavior has gotten out of hand.

One of the best articles on this topic you will ever read comes to us from Dakinkat at Skydancing. Although I've always considered her a phenomenal writer, I don't think that she has ever before written with this kind of passion. She recounts a personal experience which is nothing less than infuriating.

(As many of you know, Kat lives in New Orleans, where police corruption is as traditional as Mardis Gras, gumbo and fast talk. Wasn't there a murder-for-hire operation within the NOPD in the 1990s?)
Again, Rudy Giuliani and others need to know that my feelings towards the police have nothing to do with the President or any politician and my guess it that any one that’s seen what I’ve seen, knows what I know, and been through what I’ve been through thinks similarly . You cannot possibly live within the borders of a large city that is populated with diverse peoples and not really feel this way unless you’re gated up with a lot of privileged white people. Not all police officers are rotten but the system and good cops protect the rotten ones. This makes them accessories and under most criminal laws, it makes you guilty of something. If you think all cops are wonderful, you must live in a suburban enclave with mostly white people where police never ever go or where they only show up when the odd little inconvenience happens. You could not possibly live in place where whites are the minority. You could not possibly live in parts of town where they feel they can get away with anything. You’ve probably never ever lived in a place and time where you’ve been dive bombed by black helicopters and drones and felt like you’ve lived in the middle of a war zone for extended periods of time because of the presence of highly militarized police. I’ve lived in both circumstances. If you don’t think being white gives you a big ol’ pass in the world of policing, then you’ve really lived a very sheltered life.
You really should read the rest. It's a rant, but it's a truly great rant. 

Why do so many people rationalize evil deeds done by their leaders? Washington's Blog offers some remarkable insights into a phenomenon that has long puzzled me. Why do so many talking head "experts" on teevee accept without qualm or question the government's claim that North Korea was behind the Sony hack? (Right now, I'm talking about political "experts," not computer experts. The tech guys tend to be much more open to the idea that the hacker was a non-state actor.) Why did all respectable pundits immediately accept the claim that Bashar Assad ordered those infamous sarin attacks, even though it always seemed likelier that the rebels were the ones who used chemical weapons? Why did so many people accept the lie that Saddam was behind 9/11? Why, for that matter, do the makers of elite opinion maintain their quaint faith in the ludicrous findings of the Warren Report?
Why do we stick up for a system or institution we live in—a government, company, or marriage—even when anyone else can see it is failing miserably? Why do we resist change even when the system is corrupt or unjust? A new article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, reveals the conditions under which we’re motivated to defend the status quo—a psychological process called “system justification.”
In system justification theory, people are motivated to defend the status quo. There is a need to see it as being good, just and/or legitimate. People not only want to hold a favorable view of themselves and the groups they associate with, but they also hold favorable views of an entire, overarching social system. There is a lot at stake here on an individual psychological level that may not have anything to do with the particular candidate, or government or social issue.

There are consequences for trying to buck the system. What will happen if you try to introduce a different type of political or economic system? You tend to be mocked, marginalized or completely ignored. People need to believe that the systems they believe in are legitimate. But this can cause bias and very dangerous blind spots when it comes to the issue of corruption in these systems.
According to the research, four particular situations significantly increased the likelihood that system justification would occur:

1. When a threat to the system occurred.

2. When one is dependent on the system.

3. When there is no potential escape from the system.

4. When one has low personal control of their lives.
I'll add this. Many of us accept the fabrications told by "the system" because doing so makes our lives much less stressful. Institutional corruption necessitates rebellion, and rebellion involves risk. Rebellion can take many forms -- but all of those forms require labor and sacrifice, and most people would rather not make the effort. We all have troubles of our own: Families to raise, mortgage payments to make, exams to pass, businesses to run. It's easier to rationalize away the evidence of a corrupt social system.
The problems are more complex than your article intimates. People tend to be cooler the more stuff they have that they can lose, people tend to be more confrontational the less they have to lose.

To try and say it is all about race, or that race supercedes the above premise, is racist in my opinion.
Many people who protest would rather protest than help those in similar condition to themselves. It's wasted energy. Many protestors would be better off adopting those around them who are frail and being taken advantage of and learn to fight for them.
New York Times Editorial board seems to be bucking tradition in calling for the heads of Cock Cheney and others:

Maybe next they will call for the investigation and prosecution of the New York Times editors for covering up all of that shit when they knew it to be going on many years ago. Cock Cheney has been bragging for years about how he loves to torture. So what took the NYT so long?

In the US and UK, it looks there is some pressure being put on the elite ruling classes and their protectors. Sony just got pounded. And in the UK, media is currently hammering away on all sides at UK elites, politicians and military intel for child abuse and possibly even murder.

Usually under this much media scrutiny the PTB usually start creating Distractions of Mass Destruction to take the public gaze off them.
imo, you are wrong and ill-informed on both counts, Alessandro, but thanks for trying to fix the thoughts and actions of others and explain how everyone should think and act....without any apparent experience in how actual activists live and act, let alone any belief in the real life experiences of people of color, or the plain old statistics that back them up.

Joseph, I was just going to comment on the blimps but the Machisplaining threw me off. I'd forgotten the police blimps of Gotham City. The thing they first reminded me of was the big floating ball in the TV series The Prisoner.

Also, there are a ton of conservatives who detest the police and call for people to start shooting police. They go on and on daily at each fresh police abuse and say how if any cop shot their dog he wouldn't breathing, etc etc.
I'll add reason #6.

When has a "successful" rebellion ever done anything more than replace the previous gang of glorified criminals with a new gang of glorified criminals, justified by a different ideology?

See every Communist revolution ever for the dreary details.

Why take the risk and make the effort involved in even non-violent rebellion, when even if you succeed, you will merely have replaced one gang of bandits with another gang of bandits?

"Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss"--the Who
zee, I don't want to see insults directed at Alessandro, a fine gentleman who has been a good friend to this blog, just as you have been.

Monster: I've made the same point myself. But a non-violent revolution is possible, and often beneficial. Damned tricky thing to pull off, though.
Whoever thinks they've got the answer to the big question, How do we get rid of this shit?, is a fool.

Nonetheless, get rid of it we must, or the present state of affairs will come to look like a proverbial vicar's tea party. And it must be eradicable, if we think there's a worthwhile category of 'human' in the first place. Trying not to let the enemy and its minions get at those "few cubic inches" (Orwell) inside your head - and knowing you're trying - is a sine qua non.

Merry Christmas everybody!
"if we think there's a worthwhile category of 'human' in the first place"

I just realised that my phrasing here is open to a truly vile reading. I did not mean to talk of different categories of human beings. What I meant to say is "if we think the category of 'humanity' has something good about it in the first place"
Just came over here from a football thread. Thanks for the sanity.
Pope goes after power hungry Curia:

2015 shaping up to be the year the people stand up, take their rights back and put authoritarians, war criminals and out of control killer cops back in their place?

I'm usually not very hopeful about the future... But seems like the sleeping giant is waking?

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Hey Anonymous, I've protested for days on end on more than one occasion. The difference is I protested to raise awareness, not to hang out with others to socially connect or maybe find someone to have sex with or to do drugs with. Nowadays people seem protest to be socially seen. There is so much accounting BS going on that is destroying people's lives bit by bit yet all people care about is socially protesting and connecting with people of their own age range rather than being benevolent to their fellow oppressed citizen.
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