Sunday, May 6, 2012

More Political Absurdity in Review

Around the same time 60 Minutes aired an interview with a proud U.S. "ex"-torturer on national T.V., a blind Chinese dissident (Cheng Guangcheng) critical of China's forced sterilizations and abortions took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. There should be no trouble guessing which human rights abuses captured center stage among Washington's media lapdogs.

"Despite a perception that it is headed toward decline," the U.S. still represents "a beacon of freedom and human rights in China," said Activists like Chen are not drawn to U.S. support and protection because of Washington's economic and military strength, but because of "the moral attraction of America's ideals."

As with most mass media commentary, this makes little sense. Why would a dissident seek the protection of any country, no matter how nobly idealistic, if its wealth and power were insufficient to afford real security? More importantly, how can a supposedly independent media miss the glaring hypocrisy in Washington condemning Chinese human rights abuses when the U.S. routinely practices torture? Beijing should feign contrition and ask President Obama for Washington's water-boarding schedule.

The New York Times was typically self-righteous in rushing to the support of hypocritical U.S. idealism. Although the U.S. needs China's help on North Korea, Iran, and global trade, said the Newspaper of Record, Washington should remind China's leaders that the Chen embarrassment would never have occurred if they "didn't deny their people the most basic human rights." Don't hold your breath waiting for the Times' editors to lecture U.S. leaders that 911 never would have happened if USrael "hadn't denied Arabs and Muslims their most basic rights," though this is obviously the case.

The British press also sermonized on the evils of China. Peter Foster in The Telegraph said that the "battered but indomitable" Chen alerted the world to the cruelty of Chinese one-party rule, presumably vastly different from Western multi-party cruelty. The fact that "a single, solitary human voice can bear witness to the plain truths that powerful nation states too often choose to ignore," said Foster, ought to give common people the world over "cause for hope and quiet rejoicing." Of course, such sentiments apply even more aptly in the case of Bradley Manning, held long-term in solitary confinement for leaking government documents proving that the U.S. indiscriminately killed civilians and collaborated in torture, among other crimes, but such criticism is not likely to enhance a journalist's career prospects in the West, where silence is golden.

Meanwhile, the federal student loan program became the latest focus of the public relations extravaganza known as U.S. presidential elections. Under pressure, the GOP caved in to extending a 3.4% student loan interest rate, rather than allowing it to double. The existing $6 billion subsidy to federal student loans was due to expire in July, pushing the interest rate to 6.8% and heaping an average of $2800 more in interest payments on 7 million undergraduates. Federick M. Hess in was indignant about this "middle-class entitlement" being continued, claiming that the higher interest rate would only cost students about an extra 25 dollars a month at most. He has a point, though not his intended one. What's another 25 dollars a month in unpayable debt when students are already saddled with hundreds of dollars a month in student loan payments, while career job prospects for young people are virtually nil? Regardless of the interest rate, can a nation of waitresses and bartenders really be expected to foot the by now trillion dollar student loan bill?

Turning back to more important matters, it's hard to beat President Obama's targeted assassination program for total moral degeneracy. The program recently underwent a vast expansion when the president authorized drone strikes on suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen, even when the exact identities of the targets are unknown. In other words, we employ push-button mass murder at a distance to kill people we can't even identify in pursuit of some few dozen al Qaeda militants world-wide, who perversely object to Arab and Muslim countries being subjected to U.S. and Israeli hegemony. Why, indeed, do they hate us?

For those still intrigued by the official U.S. ethical value system, Legalienate offers the following guide. It is forgivable to blow-up wedding parties, but entirely wrong to burn a Koran. It's O.K. to kill civilians when their deaths are 100% predictable, but wrong to deliberately target them. It's O.K. to shoot, stab, poison, burn, crush, blow-up, or carve into pieces any designated enemy, but wrong to urinate on the corpse afterward. It's O.K. to train and fund Colombian counterinsurgency forces to kill thousands of Colombian civilians, but it's wrong for Secret Service agents to hire Colombian prostitutes when the U.S. president is visiting the country.


The Week, May 11. 2012

Kevin Zeese, "Bradley Manning and the Rule of Law," Z Magazine, March 2011

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