Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Terrorism" and other manipulations

From The Next Big Future, which I believe is Brian Wang's website/blog (I'm new at this stuff) , I find a piece entitled Terrorism is a subset of Murder

(asserting, if I get it right, that Terrorism is illegitimate by virtue of being criminal).

One commenter, Gigi, responded:

As I have already tried to say before, I consider any use of the word “terrorism” more or less pointless.
In fact, reading much of the western media about “terrorism” there is almost nowhere any clear definition of the word “terrorism”, for the simple reason that for any kind of such definition many of the military actions taken by the West against unarmed civilians in, say, Iraq or Vietnam may well fall in this definition.
Is this an action of terrorism?
Simply put it, if Hamas kills one Israeli civilian it is terrorism, if the US or Israel directly kill 10 or more Palestinian it is counter-terrorism.
Much biased, in my opinion.
I have already had a discussion abut this topic few weeks ago with NBF, and this discussion almost lead nowhere.
I admit my position may not be so popular in the US, but this is it and we should value each human life as one without giving different value to human people according to their citizenship.


I more than agree with Gigi and my response is found below. Meanwhile I recommend the magnificent parable of political psychology: The Emperor's New Clothes(

Dear Gigi,

Thank you for your remarks. I too, see the use of "terrorism/terrorist" as utterly illegitimate. It is what the govts of nations under attack by "asymmetric opponents" use in an attempt -- quite effective, actually -- to rhetorically delegitimize their opponents.

Here's how it works: Terrorism is equated -- defined uncritically -- as evil, and terrorists, as evil persons (or, to use George Bush's term, "evildoers"). This bypasses any considerations of "why?", of any prior events which might have provoked the "blowback". By labeling events/people as "terrorism/terrorists" those in power presumptively bypass further investigation into the underlying reasons for the acts. "Move right along. Nothing to see here."

This works instantly for a large proportion of the population -- those who haven't the skills, interest, or time to look into the matter further -- so that after an attack, with few people caring "why?", and the established powers, blaring out "Terrorism!!", a majority of the populace get revved up into a ravening nationalistic mob, and the rest -- this too is crucial -- get cowed into acquiescence lest they be labeled "traitors" or "terrorist sympathizers" or "appeasers".

And the "why?" of the matter disappears into the mist.

So the "terror" label serves both to mobilize domestic political support -- those in power ***LOVE*** that aspect of the "terror" business -- while diverting/suppressing inquiry into the "why?" That inquiry would of course bring to light the underlying causes of the attack, which would also of course point back to those in power -- a definite negative,... for them.

But a thoughtful minority will persist in asking "why?" And eventually -- but too late to thwart the ambitions of those in power -- the truth will come out

No one gets up in the morning and says "I hate Americans (or whoever) and I'm going to attack them." They have a reason, a grievance that has not been addressed. Thus terrorism is not an initiation of aggression but a response, a reaction to it, and consequently LEGITIMATE. You can well imagine this to be the last thing those in powers want widely considered in any public forum(which is where a controlled and compliant media is helpful, and earns "insider" privileges) .

As to the legitimacy of attacks on "civilians" -- it's more of the same manipulative rhetoric, the pandering to emotionalism and jingoism. There are no "civilians", "innocent" (another semantic trick to amplify the presumption of illegitimacy) or otherwise. Consider: would it be okay to attack "guilty" civilians. Would it be legitimate to attack military personnel? Do military personnel come in two varieties,: innocent and guilty? You get the point. It's all rhetoric, all semantics, all propaganda, all bullshit, and most everyone knows it (cf Goat Guy's "ambivalence").

Let me offer an alternative definitional foundation: right and wrong. Those who start wars are in the wrong, those who fight back, in the right. The nature of war: war is the ultimate condition of non-cooperation, which means there are no rules. Violence against violence, unrelenting until the limit of pain, exhaustion, or bankruptcy is reached. The "ultimate condition of non-cooperation" means the "other" side makes war any way they want and any way they can, and whoever is on the receiving end just has to suck it up. Ambition and profit for the powerful, pain and suffering for the lesser folk (military and civilian alike). And of course, those in power will seek to maintain the support of their populace by claiming the other side is pure evil.

Truth: the first victim.

Anyway Gigi, I just wanted let you know that you and I and the others who feel as we do, are many, but our voices are suppressed by the money lust of the profiteers and the blood lust of the mob.

Take care.

Jeff Davis

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fukushima perspective

Update: correction and contrition.  Friday August 14, 2015. 

I screwed the pooch on this one.

Japanese deference to corporate authority apparently caused the technicians in charge of the Fukushima power plants to withhold the truth of the dire circumstances of the Fukushima reactors from their corporate superiors, and to delay the emergency measures they knew were instantly required to save the reactors from total meltdown. They sat on their hands rather than “offend” their bosses, who in their culture are apparently seen as their god-like betters. No one wanted to be the messenger bringing the bad news. So all of the engineering work that went into making the reactors safe was thrown in the dumper because of a cultural twitch. As always the greatest danger lies in those human factors that lead to operator error.

I did not take that into consideration, and so: my bad.

Nippon's Nuclear Curse

Justin Raimondo -- mucho kudos for the man,... but not this time -- writes the following on the blog

And I respond:

Just to keep it sane, here. Those reactors are just fine. Their operation to produce electricity has already saved the planet from thousands of tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants (coal for example emits substantial quantities of radioactive thorium and uranium when burned in power plants; there's your radioactive plume, folks; the nukes on the other hand are clean as a whistle).

Yes, Japan has earthquakes. They just had the biggest one in recorded history. And their nuke plants? Damaged? Yes. But what all you technically clueless people fail to realize is that real engineers take their jobs seriously, and design all sorts of multiply redundant safety features into these facilities, so that even in the event of damage, ***CATASTROPHIC FAILURE*** is prevented.

But the anti-nuclear hysterics, the Henny-Penny shriekers are only interested in political/emotional masturbation. In their ignorance and looming feeling of irrelevance, in their need to feel important, their desire to don the tiara of heroism, to be lauded for their crusader passion to save the world, they shriek against technology.  Grow up. The scientific types -- the geeks and nerds you so disdained in school because of their social incompetence, and to whom you felt oh so superior, well, they now own the world and your silly tra-la-la asses right along with it.

In ten or fifteen years when the Chinese have finished off your lunch, and the US economy craters totally, those geeks will be the new middle class, and you anti-nuke flakes with your degrees in French literature and sociology will be commuting to geek homes to clean the pool, mow the lawn, and scrub the floors.


Okay, a bit snarky, which is my way, but another commenter replied, and I "dialed it down":

"Jeff if the plants were really engineered to handle catastrophes that actually empirically happen in Japan as in the current moment they wouldn't be desperately pumping sea water and boron onto the likely already melted cores of these power plants."

I appreciate the civil and sensible nature of your remarks, and agree with everything except the implication that the plants aren't "really" engineered to handle catastrophes that actually happen.

If one assumes that a plant must survive intact and without significant damage, and thus be able to resume function with only minimal repair, then yes, these plants aren't designed to do that. What they are designed to do is absorb every level of assault except the very worst that nature can dish out, and then, smashed, blasted, and flooded, still not crack open and poison everyone with massive amounts of lethal radiation. I believe that when the dust has settled, we will see that the skilled and responsible engineers have succeeded in achieving that. This is what engineers at their best seek to do.

In the face of a giant earthquake AND a giant tsunami the plant has been reduced to garbage, yes, but the people are safe. That's success. Power plants can be replaced, lives cannot.

The path to economic equilibrium

War is about money and power at the highest level of society, the level of the ruling elites. (Ruling "mafias", if you will.) When the elite of one nation is predominant in wealth -- and consequently power -- it dominates the rest: the archetype being the Roman Empire. When several states are equal in wealth, they become rivals, for example, England, France, Spain from the 1300's to the 1800's, with the Germans joining the group after the fall of Napoleon. Wars between rivals cost all participants, but when it's over, the winners have the power, by which they enrich themselves, and the losers are generally subjugated and taxed, and kept in a subordinate (ie, weakened) state.

WW2 was part two of the first full-scale, total war of the industrial age. At its end, European and Japanese wealth, social infrastructure and industrial capacity had been destroyed. Among the "winners", only the US remained virtually undamaged. This fully explains what followed: global US military and industrial dominance. And because the war pulled Americans from the darkness of the Great Depression, Americans in their euphoria came to associate the military with glory, salvation, prosperity, and all things noble. Militarism became the new secular religion. (Which explains why "The Greatest Generation" went ballistic at the heresy of the 60's youth culture's -- these days known as the "baby boomers" or just the "boomers" -- opposition to the Vietnam war.)

But now the rest of the world has rebuilt, China and India -- with a combined population seven times that of the US -- have achieved industrial modernity, and through labor arbitrage and the efficiency of modern global transport, captured world manufacturing markets. The US has little left beyond corrupt finance capitalism and for-profit military production. Whatever US wealth remains will be exhausted by military spending and continued but ever-diminishing consumer spending. The US is essentially on a downward track which reaches equilibrium when US labor's decline meets China and India's rise, unless...

I see two possibilities (you may see others) for an alteration in this downward course. (1) The less likely and record-breaking-ugly method -- but consistent with an "exceptionalist" fascist militarist pathology: a global nuclear war that destroys foreign industrial capacity, and puts the US -- as the only intact survivor -- back in the manufacturing catbird seat. For this to work, the US would have to win it big and win it fast -- seems unlikely -- because all modern powers save Germany have substantial nuclear deterrent capability. (2) Technological innovation by which the US achieves a substantial competitive advantage in industrial productivity. Failing that the US is destined to become a starkly two-tiered society of the rich and the trash.

Cryonic suspension facts

Will cryonic suspension "work"? Will the frozen "corpsicles" ever be restored to the realm of the living?

The various objections -- knee jerk mostly -- boil down to "It's too strange, it's wrong, it'll never work." A manifestation of the human instinct to view the "strange" with suspicion, and reflexively reject it.  And to view as impossible anything not verified by one's own belief system. For example evolution, to Christian fundamentalists.  The good news is the "rejecters" will eventually die out, leaving more and more "accepters". Then, after a time cryonics and extended life will become the norm, and adherents of "the natural way" will become a cultural oddity like the Amish.

More bad thinking on this topic, there is this default notion, accepted uncritically, even among cryonicists!, that cryonic suspension is a "long shot" ie has a very low probability of success. This is nothing more than presumptive, prejudicial nay-saying, derived as it is from the "It's never been done so it must be impossible" school(sic) of logic(sic), and should be deleted in favor of a more fact-based approach.


So long as you have a certain minimum degree of cellular integrity, biological function will proceed, ie you will live.

Current suspension techniques (and rewarming techniques) cause a lethal degree of cellular damage.

This defines the problem: to be alive again you need to either ex post facto fix the damage or avoid the damage in the first place.

Now, the good news:cryonic suspension perfectly preserves the "client" effectively with no time limit -- five hundred, five thousand, five million years. "No time limit" is a notion outside normal human experience, and needs pondering to get one's mind around. Let me help. All the technology that will come on stream in the next hundred, thousand, ten thousand, etc years is at your beck and call. Presumably, that's some fancy-ass technology.

Cellular biology provides a proof of principle for the manipulation of biological structures at the molecular level. So the laws of physics clearly green light the repair of once-damaged cellular structures. The road ahead is unobstructed.

From there it's little more than a numbers game. How many scientists, how many engineers, how many iterations of Moore's law, before we have sufficiently mature nanotech and the computational power to apply it to the task?

Physics says "You have a go." Time says "Take as long as you need." And the trajectory of human technology is accelerating ever more rapidly in the right direction.

So now, with this (putative) logic- and fact-based approach (by all means, critique this as severely as you need), what probability would you assign to the likelihood of a successful cryonics outcome?

My view: it's a near certainty. Technically. Which is to say, if human screw-ups aren't factored in.

Yeah, I know, huge flippin "if".

Bradley Manning and the Nuremberg Principles

Nuremberg Principle I

Principle I states, "Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment."

Principle II

Principle II states, "The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law."

Principle III

Principle III states, "The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law."

Principle IV

Principle IV states: "The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him".

This principle could be paraphrased as follows: "It is not an acceptable excuse to say 'I was just following my superior's orders'".

Classifying the evidence of criminal actions does not make the actions untouchable

Reporting criminal actions done by others and providing evidence of those criminal actions, especially when the evidence of criminal actions have been covered up by "classifying" the evidence, is not illegal, but in fact, is a very brave response.

To End War

Seymour Hersch at the New Yorker's News Desk Blog, submits this post:

Why is the face of the dead Afghan obscured? Sensitivity? I don't think so.

Why are the other 3996 photos being withheld? Sensitivity? I don't think so.

Why did the flag-draped coffins arrive at Dover Air Force Base in the middle of the night, with photographs disallowed? Sensitivity? I don't think so.

I think the answer is blatantly clear to absolutely everyone, both war supporters and war opponents. And it's not sensitivity.

It's consequences.

The war makers (political profiteers), war supporters (emotional profiteers), war reporters (media profiteers), and the war-equipment suppliers (commercial profiteers) require the up-close-and-personal horror of war be concealed from the view of regular folk. Because... well, I hardly have to state the obvious, do I?

Personally, I want every gout of blood, every bit of ripped flesh, every bit of burned flesh, every grotesquely shattered body, the face of every corpse, frozen in a rictus of horror and pain, every scream, moan, wail, and gukking, gurgling, choking last gasp recorded, and presented for viewing in full motion video to every person on the planet.

Sensitivity notwithstanding.

For the leadership of war, I want their presence at the public viewing of these records to be compulsory. Likewise for the publishers and corporate owners of media (presumably the reporters and editors will have already seen these materials). Likewise for the war-for-profit "businessmen".

Then, I'd like to see some accountability.

You have heard of the Accountabilty Party, haven't you?

The Accountability Party

"The Accountability Party? What's that?" you ask, puzzled, thinking you've missed some newsworthy "announcement". You haven't.

The Accountability Party is my little fantasy, created at this most opportune moment, when the Dems and Repubs are both out of favor. The Accountability Party is intended to be broad-based, having only two planks, so as to be robustly resistant to destruction -- or irrelevance -- by fragmentation.

The AP's two planks are Accountability and Jobs. Every other issue is relevant ONLY as seen through the lens of these two concerns. Otherwise the AP takes no position. "No position" means NO POSITION. No position means being "agnostic" on EVERYTHING else. Individual AP members have their own views of course, but as a unified organization, the AP takes no position on: abortion, taxes, gay marriage, gun rights, defense policy, campaign finance, racial discrimination, immigration, terrorism, hate-speech, Israel, education policy, environmentalism, global warming, etc.

The two issues to which the AP devotes its exclusive focus are: accountability and jobs.


No one is above the law. Everyone, but in particular persons in high position who have traditionally 'enjoyed' immunity from prosecution, will now have their get out of jail free cards voided.

And JOBS: everyone who wants a paycheck gets a paycheck. EV-REE-ONE.

Now you might well ask -- certainly others will -- "How you gonna implement the jobs program, and more to the point, how you gonna pay for it?" To which I reply, "You must always remember that the AP subordinates ALL OTHER ISSUES to paychecks/jobs and accountability, so the details of the fiscal policy behind the "JOBS" commitment is for the most part irrelevant. That said, the Treasury has a machine that prints checks, so the policy is secured, "Move right along. Nothing to see here." Whatever may be the details required to reconcile the jobs program with fiscal reality, the program itself is in stone, and non-negotiable. For the curious though, I would state the obvious: print the money, borrow the money, or tax someone. In terms of practical economics, it would be quite simple: The more robust the private sector economy, the greater the proportion of jobs it provides. The rest to be provided by govt, and financed,... however. (Personally, I like a progressive income tax, or a flat tax based on net worth, or a financial transaction tax, but I'll go along with whatever the AP figures out AFTER THE ELECTIONS HAVE BEEN WON.)

A major innovation: the AP does not conduct its campaigns by traditional methods. No TV, no radio, no interviews with mainstream journalists. TV, radio, and other conventional media are corporate. They are part of the illegitimate mainstream corporate and political power. They are part of the political opposition, they are gatekeepers of the process, and if you pay them for TV and radio ads, then you are feeding your political adversaries. The AP therefore, chooses to conduct its campaigns DIRECTLY with the voters, over the internet, no gatekeeper, no middleman -- no corporate mediation-for-profit of the political process. A not-for-profit political process is crucial to eliminating corporate/govt corruption and restoring a healthy society. In this way, the AP takes money out of the political process.

There's more, but this is a start.

Jeff Davis:

Tweet this message. Let's get things moving.