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Call It Democracy

BRUCE COCKBURN

“Call It Democracy”

Padded with power here they come
International loan sharks backed by the guns
Of market hungry military profiteers
Whose word is a swamp and whose brow is smeared
With the blood of the poor

Who rob life of its quality
Who render rage a necessity
By turning countries into labour camps
Modern slavers in drag as champions of freedom

Sinister cynical instrument
Who makes the gun into a sacrament –
The only response to the deification
Of tyranny by so-called “developed” nations’
Idolatry of ideology

North South East West
Kill the best and buy the rest
It’s just spend a buck to make a buck
You don’t really give a flying fuck
About the people in misery

IMF dirty MF
Takes away everything it can get
Always making certain that there’s one thing left
Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

See the paid-off local bottom feeders
Passing themselves off as leaders
Kiss the ladies shake hands with the fellows
Open for business like a cheap bordello

And they call it democracy

See the loaded eyes of the children too
Trying to make the best of it the way kids do
One day you’re going to rise from your habitual feast
To find yourself staring down the throat of the beast
They call the revolution

IMF dirty MF
Takes away everything it can get
Always making certain that there’s one thing left
Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

February 25, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hamzawy: liberals displayed an incredible lack of commitment to democratic principles

Amr Hamzawy | MEMO | October 22, 2013

In an unprecedented article published in Al Shorouk newspaper on 19 October, the prominent Egyptian-American academic, Amr Hamzawy, berated Egypt’s left-wingers and liberals for their support of the 3 July coup. He said that ever since the coup at the beginning of July, democrats in Egypt have had time to sort the wheat from the chaff.

The article pointed out that the liberals and left-wingers who backed the military intervention, “isolated” the elected president and suspended the Constitution, which displayed an incredible lack of commitment to democratic principles. Communists, socialists, Nasserists and Arab nationalists have all shown us that they are unwilling to make political compromises. By agreeing to take part in the de facto government imposed by the military with total indifference to democratic legitimacy, such political groups pushed their ideologies into a long, dark tunnel. The fact that they not only keep quiet about the repression and state killings but also take part tells us all we need to know about such people; they have stripped themselves of all moral and political credibility.

On the media campaigns, the author said they had succeeded in influencing people and this probably contributed to how the Muslim Brotherhood and their religious allies were portrayed; as being irrational politically whilst being caught up in acts of violence and incitement. In turn, this pushed liberal and left-wing principles towards neo-fascism under which the return of repressive practices reminiscent of the security state became acceptable to the general public. It also prompted the use of phrases such as “war on terror,” “the security solution is the only solution,” “the need to exclude the religious right-wing,” and “human rights, civil peace, and transitional justice are luxuries Egypt cannot afford while facing terrorism,” and so on.

Such involvement in the repressive state apparatus has made it clear that democratic movements in Egypt cannot count on the left-wing and liberal politicians to help them regain the rights and freedoms that people fought and died for in the January 25 Revolution. If anyone was in any doubt about this, the rush by these politicians to back the coup leader, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, as president should have confirmed it. They are indifferent to the deception being practiced on the people of Egypt; the concepts of justice and accountability are being replaced by their demands that the state should act “decisively,” as if promoting bloodshed and killing is the way to end bloodshed and killing in society and restore democracy.

They also act as if stability is achieved when the state uses force and violence rather than justice and the law. These dark voices control the public arena and insist on silence or vocal support; no dissent is allowed as Egyptian politics joins the ranks of the fascist elites of the past. Contemporary norms around the world, ironically in the Western countries which have condoned the coup, promote negotiation, tolerance and respect in order to build civil society and democracy. Egypt today indulges in violence and “security solutions” while promoting hatred and exclusion.

Hamzawy noted that new initiatives have already borne fruit, such as the “No to Military Trials for Civilians” group. Self-criticism is leading to the rebuilding of links between rights and freedoms, elections and referendums, legislative and executive institutions subject to responsibility and accountability, as well as between those in the security forces who are neutral and stick to the rule of the law and citizens whose dignity is preserved and who can participate in the management of public affairs.

Since 3 July, the pro-democracy movement’s acknowledgment of the need to distance itself from the parties and movements that failed the 2013 exam has been matched by the economic, financial and media elites’ lack of commitment to the principles and values of democracy. Out of pure self-interest, the latter have restored a repressive regime against the interests of the people of Egypt.

The way forward for the pro-democracy movement, according to the author, is to learn from the lessons of the past couple of years. The future will be difficult, but their success will depend on how well they can re-boot themselves based on this invaluable, if painful, experience.

October 22, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Secret Court Making Secret Laws? That’s No Democracy

By Mike Masnick | TechDirt | July 8th 2013

Last December, well before the Ed Snowden leaks revealed some information about the FISA court (FISC) and its rulings, we had already noted that the court itself was almost certainly unconstitutional. More recently, we talked about how the fact that all the court’s judges are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court means that the court has turned into a rubber stamp made in the image of some of the most “law and order”-minded Chief Justices from the past few decades. Ezra Klein has since expanded on that to discuss the oddity of how current Chief Justice John Roberts is basically the Chief Justice of the Surveillance State, answerable to absolutely no one: “You have exclusive, unaccountable, lifetime power to shape the surveillance state.”

Over the weekend, the NY Times put out a powerful piece discussing how FISC has basically become a shadow Supreme Court, doling out all sorts of important rulings in total secrecy. It rules on cases where it only hears one side, and where there are no appeals, no guarantee that the full story is presented, and involves a bunch of judges who tend to have law enforcement backgrounds before being appointed to the court. In the end, you have a secret court issuing secret rulings by ex-law enforcement officials, allowing their former colleagues ever greater power to spy on everyone.

The 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, was once mostly focused on approving case-by-case wiretapping orders. But since major changes in legislation and greater judicial oversight of intelligence operations were instituted six years ago, it has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court, serving as the ultimate arbiter on surveillance issues and delivering opinions that will most likely shape intelligence practices for years to come, the officials said.

[….] Unlike the Supreme Court, the FISA court hears from only one side in the case — the government — and its findings are almost never made public. A Court of Review is empaneled to hear appeals, but that is known to have happened only a handful of times in the court’s history, and no case has ever been taken to the Supreme Court. In fact, it is not clear in all circumstances whether Internet and phone companies that are turning over the reams of data even have the right to appear before the FISA court.

As an example of how FISC has basically completely overturned the rules of surveillance in secret, the NY Times reveals the details of some of its thinking, taking a extremely narrow ruling meant to apply in special cases, and turning it into a general rule that has allowed the vast capture of information:

In one of the court’s most important decisions, the judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the “special needs” doctrine and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures, the officials said.

The special needs doctrine was originally established in 1989 by the Supreme Court in a ruling allowing the drug testing of railway workers, finding that a minimal intrusion on privacy was justified by the government’s need to combat an overriding public danger. Applying that concept more broadly, the FISA judges have ruled that the N.S.A.’s collection and examination of Americans’ communications data to track possible terrorists does not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment, the officials said.

That legal interpretation is significant, several outside legal experts said, because it uses a relatively narrow area of the law — used to justify airport screenings, for instance, or drunken-driving checkpoints — and applies it much more broadly, in secret, to the wholesale collection of communications in pursuit of terrorism suspects. “It seems like a legal stretch,” William C. Banks, a national security law expert at Syracuse University, said in response to a description of the decision. “It’s another way of tilting the scales toward the government in its access to all this data.”

I don’t care where you come down on the importance of widespread surveillance — I just don’t see how you can possibly square the above interpretation of the law with the 4th Amendment. If “special needs” can be used to justify mass collection of data on just about everyone “just in case” it might stop some sort of terrorist attack, then you no longer have a 4th Amendment. At all.

But, the bigger issue here is just the fact that we have a secret court issuing secret interpretations of the law that have a massive impact on our privacy. This is supposed to be an open democracy. An open democracy doesn’t involve secret courts and secret laws. We have laws that everyone knows, and which the public can discuss and weigh in on through their elected officials. When you set up a secret court, making secret rules with no oversight, and with all of the judges appointed by a single Supreme Court Justice with a particular bias, you no longer have a functioning democracy at all. And that’s downright scary.

This is a point that some Senators have been making for years now, but the leaks from Ed Snowden have really made it that much clearer just how insane the situation is. Earlier, it had seemed like perhaps there was one or two rulings from FISC that had some oddities in the interpretation, and which should probably be revealed to the public. However, the various revelations so far suggest that the issue is much, much bigger, and we have a secret “shadow court” system that is systematically obliterating the 4th Amendment and helping to create and then “legitimize” the vast surveillance state.

The Snowden leaks have shone a number of lights on various bad things within our government, but one thing that they have made abundantly clear is that the FISC needs to go. Whether that means it needs to be opened up, or to have greater oversight, or just be done away with completely, could be up for discussion. But if it remains the way it is, it’s clear that we’ve thrown away our basic democratic principles, and moved towards the same sorts of autocratic regimes with secret courts that the US has always presented itself as being against.

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FreedumbAndDemocrazy

By Sharmine Narwani | Al-Akhbar | 2013-07-06

Freedom and democracy. How I have come to loathe this phrase. Two-lofty-words-and-a-conjunction bandied around by handmaidens of Empire: verbal grenades that can gut entire nations. When I hear “freedom and democracy” I instinctively look for cover – just as “Allahu Akbar” yelled loudly enough can now make Arabs and Muslims hit the ground fast.

“Freedom and democracy” is the battle cry for every single western regime-change operation I can remember. Operations that leave innocent civilians dead, cities destroyed – anarchy, corruption and criminality in their wake.

In the Middle East, these are dangerous words that have filtered into our vocabulary. People here, intoxicated with their faux revolutions, now spout this silly foreign phrase with the same shrill, mad-eyed, self-righteous conviction as do Americans before they bomb us into ‘freedom.’

But Arabs and Muslims should dig deep into their recent memory:

The first words uttered by you as you rose up against your US-backed dictators were “honor and dignity” – not “freedom and democracy.”  How did that fact get lost in the mayhem to follow?

And why on earth would this distinction make any difference?

For one, ‘freedom and democracy’ has always suggested western-style standards for governance and social liberties alien to the Mideast. We’re just not there yet – not on those terms anyway – and we’re not likely to be. Many regional states are just entering the nascent phase of what will undoubtedly be a rocky political evolutionary process – with each nation creating wholly indigenous models of governance, as unique as their individual cultures and histories. What if some towns would like their political process determined by an old-fashioned cockfight? What if a strongman is the only way to prevent the disintegration of a nation-state or the outbreak of ethnic and sectarian carnage? What if people genuinely don’t give a toss about gay and lesbian rights, preferring – imagine that – to find employment and feed their kids first? Women’s suffrage? Gender-integrated football stadiums? Childcare in the workplace? Worker’s rights? Important stuff, but… Feed. Child. First.

And then there’s that other unfortunate association: freedom and democracy brings with it a cornucopia of weapons, military bases, bombs hailing from skies heaving with US-made drones, financial assistance tied to all shades of silliness.

Freedom and democracy is extremely discerning. It seems to altogether bypass friendly dictatorships, only landing with uncanny accuracy on the heads of those opposed to Empire – civilians included.

And it is a foreign-imposed concept, presupposing, for instance, that elections are all-important. Except, even Empire doesn’t believe that. Why else dismiss Palestinian elections with a Hamas victor, or Iranian elections when the candidate doesn’t suit, or Russian parliamentary ones that ‘smack’ of fraud?

Yet Empire’s silence is deafening when a friendly monarch passes the mantle to his son, when a client state doesn’t care about popular legitimacy, when a military ally with big budgets for US-made weapons rejects elections outright.

Honor and dignity is none of those things. It doesn’t mean elections, it doesn’t mean individual rights. It is unselfish and broad – it understands what is right, what is important, what is a priority. It will wait a bit longer for jobs, stability, electricity, but it demands one immediate correction: the state must recognize and act upon popular will.

What’s the difference you still say?

Freedom-and-democracy embraces US-Israeli hegemony and GCC petrodollars. Honor-and-dignity does not.

Freedom-and-democracy thinks there are “processes” to remedy the colonization of Palestinian land. Honor-and-dignity knows there is only one: decolonization.

Freedom-and-democracy seeks to vilify, marginalize and criminalize groups, sects and nations in the Middle East. Honor-and-dignity seeks collaboration and harmonious relations, even among those marked by differences.

Freedom-and-democracy is governed by militarization – it seeks military bases, weaponizes its allies, draws red lines, makes threats, retaliates disproportionally, punishes with ease, targets the vulnerable. Honor-and-dignity believes in soft power, engagement and mediation with brothers.

Freedom-and-democracy has always supported dictatorship and brutality. Honor-and-dignity wants that to stop.

Freedom-and-democracy gives you a truckload of money in exchange for implementing a political, social and economic blueprint with the assistance of foreign advisors and NGOs. Honor-and-dignity is determined to learn from its own mistakes.

Freedom-and-democracy knows what’s best for you. Honor-and-dignity wants to decide for itself.

Freedom-and-democracy fears your independence – thinks you are “not ready” for it. Honor-and-dignity can’t stand still from wanting to taste it, lick it, embrace it, implement it.

Freedom-and-democracy violates your border, guns cocked. Honor-and-dignity knows it must shoot you dead or you will never learn.

Freedom-and-democracy thinks it is free and democratic. Honor-and-dignity notices an interesting trend: the more freedom-and-democracy talks about “freedom and democracy,” the more it legislates against freedoms and undermines democracy back home.

Real ‘freedom’ in the Middle East means honor and dignity. Real ‘democracy’ in the Middle East starts with honor and dignity. Arabs nailed it the first time around.

Honor-and-dignity doesn’t mean elections and governments that operate within the exact same geopolitical and economic parameters of yesterday. Honor-and-dignity means good governance in a just society under the rule of law based on consensus – homegrown, indigenous solutions that are unique to each country.

The new governments of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen don’t stand a chance – they operate within the old parameters that acknowledge western hegemony, GCC dominance in regional affairs, and the economics of disparity. They play with Israel and pretend Palestine does not exist. They vacillate between paralysis and aggression against the only Resistance this region has ever had. They thrive on yesterday’s divide-and-rule and have warped ideas about brotherhood. And they rig systems today to ensure their continued dominance tomorrow.

You cannot have honor and dignity with a dependent economy – it will hamper your independence. You cannot have honor and dignity with foreign military bases in your country – it will cripple your independence. You cannot have honor and dignity with a colonial state in your midst subverting all efforts at regional reconciliation, killing Arabs with impunity, wagging its tongue at your impotence – it will destroy your independence.

Please leave us be, FreedumbAndDemocrazy. If you don’t, Honor and Dignity will be forced to teach you the meaning of Consequence in a way it would rather not. Leave the Mideast to chart its own course, discover its own strengths and make its own mistakes. Do it now.

And take your conditional aid and military bases with you too.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentary writer and political analyst covering the Middle East. You can follow Sharmine on twitter @snarwani.

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment