Thursday, July 3, 2014

Take a Page out of the NRA's Book -- Why Can’t Everybody Have Nukes?

If the NRA had its way, everyone would be carrying a gun. "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Where does that mantra stop?

Lost in all the uproar about the potential proliferation of nuclear technology, and the inevitable acquisition by North Korea and Iran, is the murky argument against their possession. Why doesn't the nuclear club hold that, "The only way to stop a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke?"

The club’s original five members, US, Russia, China, Great Britain, and France, is  now nine or ten, depending on who’s counting, and who isn't bragging. Pakistan, India, and Israel are non-signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). North Korea withdrew its membership in 2002.

The worldwide total number of 20,000 warheads are aimed at various military targets and population centers around the globe. Why so many--given that number could destroy our planet several times over? One can only guess at the brilliance behind such planning, and it conjures up images of such masterful adventures such as Vietnam and Agent Orange, and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, given that these weapons have a limited shelf (or silo) life, and disregarding the huge cost of building them in the first place, why is there no discussion of the cost of maintenance and replacement? In 2004 Congress mandated (but never discussed), the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program--“to improve the reliability, longevity, and certifiability of existing [nuclear] weapons and their components.” Lots of money for defense contractors involved here.

The two main arguments for the nuke club's stance are that 1) Our arsenal is a "deterrent" that assures mutually assure destruction (MAD). No one would dare attack us for fear of retaliation—read annihilation (or “obliteration” as Hillary Clinton once warned Iran that it faced). This rationale obviously does not apply to nuclear wannabes Iran and North Korea.  2) These governments who are trying to join the club are unstable “rogue” states and their weaponry could easily fall into terrorist hands. This argument has been effective with the American public because it plays the fear card. A frightened populace has been proven time and again to be a controllable populace--one that is quite willing to give up basic freedoms while entrusting their safety to a few “brilliant” bureaucrats.

If nukes are a defensive weapon for us (even though the previous administration threatened to violate that premise) why wouldn’t they be the same for every nation? Why would North Korea, or Iran, want to launch what would amount to a Kamikaze attack on anyone? Surely they know that their country would be in ashes shortly after such a blunder.

Finally, if our deterrence strategy is indeed sound, then we have nothing to worry about. In fact it’s so good it should be expanded to include everyone. Just think, if every country had nuclear weapons then no one would be attacking anyone else for fear of retaliation, and there would be no wars--because everyone would be…deterred!

The NRA strategy sounds good to me.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


When reviewing NO PLACE TO HIDE, Glenn Greenwald's expose of NSA skullduggery, some critics have asked, "What does this book tell us that we didn't already know?" The answer is, A LOT. In fact, one of the lessons one will learn is why such questions are posed--to discourage others from reading this expose.

The reaction to the release of Edward Snowden's NSA documents, and Glenn Greenwald's subsequent publication of them, exemplifies the number one tactic used by our lackey media when the government is caught red-handed: change the subject. The effort to convince us the book is old hat is intended to prevent our finding out the depth of pervasiveness the surveillance state commands.

When the story broke, Snowden was quickly characterized as unstable and narcissistic, demeaned as a high-school dropout, a low level functionary, a lad with identity problems, a traitor and a criminal. Why would he do such a thing, became more important than the spying he exposed. The bombshell Snowden felt compelled by conscience to release became a relatively inconsequential under story—exactly what the government desired. Greenwald, in virtually every US interview he granted, was treated in a hostile fashion, made to justify whether he was truly a "journalist" (an attempt to remove the First Amendment protections afforded the press). And incredibly, investigative journalism aside, he was asked if he didn't think he also should be prosecuted for his role in the revelations. Other "unbiased" pundits and politicians stated outright that he should go to jail.

Another reason to read this book is to understand and reinforce in one's mind how deeply our devolution into a total security state has progressed. It is now nearly impossible for any governmental excess, made in the name of fighting terrorism, to be opposed. Those with the power of warrantless spying on our everyday lives, even absent suspicion of wrongdoing, have become arrogant, disdainful, and even flippant about trampling our civil rights. They are like players in a giant video game, continually vying to open portals and advance to the next level of snooping.

Reading through the released NSA documents one gets the sense that people put in these hi-tech surveillance positions have assumed that their membership in this "chosen" elite empowers them to unilaterally decide that all information we generate can be collected and stored. NSA has decided their goal is, in the parlance of spydom, to "sweep it all up." Not as well known is that these hackers also engage in dirty tricks such as jamming personal computers, denial of service, and the implanting viruses and stealth programs in the personal, corporate, or governmental devices of whomever they choose. They can then use the information to create psychological profiles of whom they choose, with the primary candidates being those who have known disagreements with official governmental policy. The exercise of free speech in legitimate protest marks a person as one to be spied upon--with complete anonymity and impunity.

Greenwald presents many examples that show how the media has become complicit in taming the masses by focusing their coverage on the consequences of participating in protests, rather than the reasons for such demonstrations. And they implicitly justify the heavy-handed response by militarized police against protest—reinforcing for viewers the frightening repercussions for anyone who dares think outside of approved governmental norms.

By not criticizing the misuse of laws that have been enacted to allow our government to fight "terrorism," the very people who are supposed to be the guardians of the public trust are helping the administration change the focus, dilute the real story, and mute protest.

Greenwald also gives examples of how dissenters can easily be targeted, detained or harassed, without probable cause and placed in the position of having to prove their innocence (quite the opposite of our Constitutional guarantees). He maintains that whistle blowing has been greatly deterred by the administration's threats of punishment, also loudly broadcast by the media. Ironically, the penalties are not for the wrongdoers who have clearly broken the law but for those, such as Snowden, who dare expose the wrongdoing. The incessant focusing on the act of revealing inside information, rather than the content of such revelations, aids and abets the real villains of the piece. Thus the demonizing of Snowden and Greenwald, whether willful or not, produces exactly the effect the government desires—focusing the discussion on the whistle blowers rather than their own misfeasance.

NO PLACE TO HIDE is a must read for those who are not content to swallow whole the government's rationale for its imposition of the security state. "You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide," parroted by politicians and pundits alike, is but a diversionary tactic meant to put everyone on the defensive. We are being persuaded to examine our actions rather than those of our elected representatives. The state is thus able to escape transparency and violate civil liberties at will. As Greenwald points out, study after study demonstrates that when people know they are being watched they behave differently and become more compliant. In other words, Big Brother is watching and you should act accordingly. And the number of media people who've repeated this fallacious mantra is astounding, revealing just how much trouble we really are in.

Greenwald's writing is clear, concise, fluid and engaging. If alarm bells don't go off after reading this expose, then we don't have a chance to survive as a freedom loving nation. The barbarians are not at the gate, they are already wreaking havoc on our democracy from the inside.