Thick as Thieves: the Drug Gangs, the Banks and the Major Parties

If you recall, back in 2002 the US government launched an expensive propaganda campaign in its failed “war on drugs” aimed at tying the recreational use of drugs such as marijuana and cocaine to terrorism.  The ads, one of which aired during the Super Bowl, equated the use of illegal drugs with the killing of civilians, police and judges on the basis of the claim that money earned through the illicit drug trade is used by terrorists to finance their organizations and operations.  The ad campaign was widely mocked at the time.  The Libertarian Party stepped up to fund an ad which pointed out that it is the “war on drugs,” beloved by the Republican and Democratic parties, that sustains the international drug cartels, and drew the implicit conclusion that, if you support Democrats and Republicans, you support terrorism.

Nearly ten years later, the banking and financial scandals that have rocked the global economy suggest a plethora of new possibilities for the government’s anti-drug propagandists.  For example: if you use illegal drugs, you support the multi-national banking cartels and the ruling financial oligarchy.  A lengthy article in the UK Guardian from this past Sunday provides a detailed look at “how a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico’s murderous drug gangs.”  The piece demonstrates the interdependency of the international drug cartels and the international banking cartels, both of which are dutifully supported by their representatives in the Republican and Democratic parties.  Some excerpts:

“Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,” said Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor. Yet the total fine was less than 2% of the bank’s $12.3bn profit for 2009. On 24 March 2010, Wells Fargo stock traded at $30.86 – up 1% on the week of the court settlement.

The conclusion to the case [against Wachovia] was only the tip of an iceberg, demonstrating the role of the “legal” banking sector in swilling hundreds of billions of dollars – the blood money from the murderous drug trade in Mexico and other places in the world – around their global operations, now bailed out by the taxpayer.

At the height of the 2008 banking crisis, Antonio Maria Costa, then head of the United Nations office on drugs and crime, said he had evidence to suggest the proceeds from drugs and crime were “the only liquid investment capital” available to banks on the brink of collapse. “Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade,” he said. “There were signs that some banks were rescued that way.”  Wachovia was acquired by Wells Fargo during the 2008 crash, just as Wells Fargo became a beneficiary of $25bn in taxpayers’ money . . .

Mazur, whose firm Chase and Associates works closely with law enforcement agencies and trains officers for bank anti-money laundering, cast a keen eye over the case against Wachovia, and he says now that “the only thing that will make the banks properly vigilant to what is happening is when they hear the rattle of handcuffs in the boardroom”.  Mazur said that “a lot of the law enforcement people were disappointed to see a settlement” between the administration and Wachovia . . .

“We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. This is the biggest money-laundering scandal of our time,” [said investigator Martin Woods].  “These are the proceeds of murder and misery in Mexico, and of drugs sold around the world,” he says. “All the law enforcement people wanted to see this come to trial. But no one goes to jail. “What does the settlement do to fight the cartels? Nothing – it doesn’t make the job of law enforcement easier and it encourages the cartels and anyone who wants to make money by laundering their blood dollars. Where’s the risk? There is none.”

[Woods asks, rhetorically:] “Is it in the interest of the American people to encourage both the drug cartels and the banks in this way? Is it in the interest of the Mexican people? It’s simple: if you don’t see the correlation between the money laundering by banks and the 30,000 people killed in Mexico, you’re missing the point.”  [Emphases added.]

Read the whole article for all the gory details.  Let’s sum up the situation here.  The war on drugs supported by the Democratic and Republican parties sustains the international drug cartels.  These international drug gangs sustain the global banking system.  The global banking cartels, in turn, support the Democratic and Republican parties with massive amounts of campaign contributions.  It’s a pretty tidy system the Republicans and Democrats have created for themselves.

Cross-posted from Poli-Tea.

Wikileaks and information warfare

The political establishment in the United States was quick to frame the Wikileaks Cablegate release as an act of war.  In response, many advocates of transparency in government and internet freedom have begun to argue that employing even the metaphorical language of war and warfare to describe the ongoing fallout from and response to the most recent Wikileaks mega-leak, represents a serious strategic blunder, as it allows opponents of transparency in government and internet freedom to control the terms of the debate.  Here at Polizeros, Josh Mull is not alone when he argues that “journalism is not an attack and Wikileaks is not warfare.”  He writes in response to a post by Bob Morris:

The act of publishing information is not warfare. Wikileaks is not warfare. Just because Julian Assange thinks of himself as a freedom fighter, and just because Wikileaks’ supporters like to imagine themselves fighting an “Infowar”, doesn’t make it true.  If we allow our definitions of war and conflict to blur, then we bring the government’s aggressive response on ourselves . . . As someone who engages in journalism, as someone who engages in activism and dissent, I don’t want these things re-defined as an attack on the state.

The problem, however, is that the state has already prepared the conceptual groundwork to promulgate a redefinition of such acts and actions as part and parcel of an ongoing information war.  Bob writes in response: “It’s not asymmetrical armed warfare, to be sure, but the tactics are the same, so perhaps we should call it asymmetrical info warfare.”  In fact, Cablegate – understanding that term in the widest sense, to include the actions of Wikileaks as well as the response by agents of the state, individual citizens and other non-state actors – has virtually all the markings of an information war as that term has been re-defined and re-conceptualized by the state.

Over the last ten years, the Department of Defense has quietly been developing the conceptual and operational framework for what it calls “information operations,” or “info-ops” for short.  An Information Operations Primer published by the Army War College in 2006 (see the relevant document at IWS) delineates five core capabilities that constitute information operations: 1) psychological operations, 2) military deception, 3) operations security, 4) electronic warfare, and 5) computer network operations.  All of these are in play in the Cablegate affair:

”¢ The concept behind Wikileaks is almost indistinguishable from that of psychological operations (PSYOPS), here defined as “planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.”

”¢ The immediate response to the latest megaleak on the party of the Department of Defense was aimed at ensuring operations security (OPSEC) by taking actions to defend against any future such leaks from protected information networks.  As noted at Wikipedia, OPSEC is “a process that identifies critical information to determine if friendly actions can be observed by adversary intelligence systems, determines if information obtained by adversaries could be interpreted to be useful to them, and then executes selected measures that eliminate or reduce adversary exploitation of friendly critical information.”

”¢ The distributed denial of service attacks against Wikileaks and those against the websites of corporations such as PayPal and Mastercard might easily be construed as a form of electronic warfare (EW) or as computer network attacks, in which latter case they would fall under the rubric of computer network operations (CNO).  A computer network attack “includes actions taken through the use of computer networks to disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy the information resident in in computers and computer networks and/or the computers/networks themselves.”  In response, all parties involved here have all very likely engaged in computer network defense, understood as “actions taken through the use of computer networks to protect, monitor, analyze, detect and respond to unauthorized activity within information systems and computer networks.”

”¢ Finally, some conspiratorially minded observers and commentators have begun to wonder whether the Cablegate mega-leak is itself an act of military deception, and have asserted that Wikileaks was always or has become a front for state-actors engaging in “false flag operations.”

Among those speculating whether Wikileaks has effectively ignited an information war, the question has been raised as to what or where precisely the battlefield of this conflict is.  If one assumes that we are indeed in the midst of an information war, then the answer to this question is disturbingly simple: there is no space, whether physical, virtual or even mental, that is not a part of the battlefield.  Consider the following graphic conceptualization of information operations from the document mentioned above:

The “information environment” – the abstract space in which information warfare and information operations are carried out – has physical, informational, perceptual, cognitive and social dimensions.  Thus the potential informational battlefield stretches from the tangible real world, to cyberspace, to the individual human mind, to society as a whole.  As such, information warfare allows for a form of total war the likes of which were literally impossible before the dawn of the information age.

One of the primary characteristics of total war is the erosion of the distinction between civilians and combatants.  The complete collapse of this distinction is axiomatic for radical terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda.  The maintenance of this distinction represents a primary difference between civilization and barbarism.  For this reason, if for no other, it is imperative to defend the freedom of speech and of the press against any and all who would seek to argue that any such act of speech or press constitutes an act of war.

Cross-posted and adapted from Poli-Tea.

The 2010 Elections and Democratic-Republican Bipolar Disorder

The 112th Congress will begin with a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Republican majority in the House.  This will be the second time the corporate parties have exchanged majority control of the House in the last five years.  While many Democrats were naive enough to believe, or cynical enough to pretend, that their victories in 2006 and 2008 were the result of something other than a simple rejection of undivided Republican Party government, this year the GOP is all-too-aware that their victory was ensured by voters’ rejection of undivided Democratic Party government.  The Hill quoted John McCain admitting as much earlier this week:

The 2010 election results should not be interpreted as an “affirmation” of Republicans, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday. . . . “The moral of this story is that this election is a repudiation of Obama and the Democrats,” McCain said on Fox News. “It is not an affirmation of Republicans. So Republicans have got to come through and satisfy this outcry — this anger and frustration — that’s been expressed.”

Republican-friendly pollster Scott Rasmussen made much the same point in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on Monday, in which he argues that these quickly shifting majorities express a fundamental rejection of both ruling parties:

tomorrow Republicans will send more Republicans to Congress than at any time in the past 80 years . . . This isn’t a wave, it’s a tidal shift—and we’ve seen it coming for a long time. . . . But none of this means that Republicans are winning. The reality is that voters in 2010 are doing the same thing they did in 2006 and 2008: They are voting against the party in power. . . . This reflects a fundamental rejection of both political parties.

A new poll from Rasmussen indicates that the American public does not expect to be adequately represented by the new governing majority:

Most voters expected Republicans to win control of the House of Representatives on Election Day, but nearly as many expect to be disappointed with how they perform by the time the 2012 elections roll around.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds, in fact, that 59% of Likely U.S. Voters think it is at least somewhat likely that most voters will be disappointed with Republicans in Congress before the next national elections. That includes 38% who say it is Very Likely.

These quickly shifting majorities indicate the fundamental inability of the Democratic and Republican parties to adequately represent the interests of the people of the United States.  Trapped by the bipolar logic of the two-party state, the only way for voters to express their discontent with the current Democratic majority was to cast their ballots for a party they favor even less.  As CNN reported yesterday:

Democrats have a 10-point favorability gap: 43 percent of voters have a positive opinion of the party, while 53 percent aren’t thrilled. The Republican Party also gets a thumbs-down from 53 percent of the nation’s voters, with just 41 percent saying they’re happy with the party.

Compare that with 1994 and 2006, when voters had a net positive view of the incoming party. The numbers suggest Tuesday night may signal a rejection of the Democratic Party — but something less than an embrace of the GOP.

The American electorate clearly suffers from a form of political bipolar disorder, in which incidents of manic political enthusiasm alternate with lengthy depressive episodes.  The seriousness of the illness is all-too-clear from the fact that we have entered a lengthy stage of so-called rapid cycling, in which manic periods alternate ever more quickly with depressive episodes.  Following this week’s elections, Democrats are likely to enter a depressive state:

Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder include persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, isolation, or hopelessness; disturbances in sleep and appetite; fatigue and loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities; problems concentrating; loneliness, self-loathing, apathy or indifference; depersonalization; loss of interest in sexual activity; shyness or social anxiety; irritability, chronic pain (with or without a known cause); lack of motivation; and morbid suicidal ideation.

Republicans, on the other hand, will likely be found exhibiting signs and symptoms of mania:

Mania is generally characterized by a distinct period of an elevated, expansive, or irritable mood state. People commonly experience an increase in energy and a decreased need for sleep. A person’s speech may be pressured, with thoughts experienced as racing. Attention span is low, and a person in a manic state may be easily distracted. Judgment may become impaired, and sufferers may go on spending sprees or engage in behavior that is quite abnormal for them. They may indulge in substance abuse, particularly alcohol or other depressants, cocaine or other stimulants, or sleeping pills. Their behavior may become aggressive, intolerant, or intrusive. People may feel out of control or unstoppable. People may feel they have been “chosen” and are “on a special mission” or have other grandiose or delusional ideas. Sexual drive may increase.

If you are someone you know exhibits any of the above symptoms, contact a political professional immediately for appropriate doses of partisan spin and propaganda.  Of course, this does nothing but mask the symptoms of the illness.  Political independence may be the only viable, long-term treatment for Democrat-Republican bipolar disorder.

Cross-posted from Poli-Tea.

Follow Obama and Biden’s advice: Consider the alternatives!

Clearly concerned about the so-called “enthusiasm gap” between likely Republican and likely Democratic voters, the White House recently began what is effectively a new campaign to shore up support for Democratic candidates among the party’s most vocal activists, and, by extension, its base.  However, the explicit message of this campaign is highly counter-intuitive, at least at first glance.  Its slogan: “Consider the Alternatives!”  The message is difficult to ignore: in the White House echo chamber, the Vice President echoes the President echoing the Vice President.  As ABC News reports:

At a fundraiser in Manchester, NH, today, Vice President Biden urged Democrats to “remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives. This President has done an incredible job. He’s kept his promises.”

The remarks, made to roughly 200 top Democratic activists and donors, recall comments President Obama made last week to “griping and groaning Democrats”¦Folks: wake up. This is not some academic exercise. As Joe Biden put it, Don’t compare us to the Almighty, compare us to the alternative.”Â  [Emphases added.]

Take a moment to consider the implications of the fact that the most prominent officials of the majority party are literally imploring Americans to “Consider the Alternatives.” Of course, in the Orwellian language that is appropriate to the bizarro world of Democratic-Republican party politics and government, the statement “Consider the Alternatives” means exactly the opposite of what it says.  The implied message is immediately apparent: there are no alternatives, or rather, there is only one presumed alternative, voting Republican, but the presupposition is that this is simply not an option and therefore not an alternative.  But how does a partisan of the two-party state understand the message?  At The Reaction, Michael Stickings writes in a letter to the Vice President:

What’s with telling the Democratic base, your base, to “stop whining“?  Sure, I get your point — as inartful as it was. If you put Democrats up against Republicans, and if Democrats are compared to “the alternative,” the choice should be clear, and Democrats, suffering from a lack of enthusiasm, should step up and do what needs to be done to prevent the Republicans from winning big this November.

In a two-party system, you’ve only got two choices, and often that choice is simply the least bad of the two. Is that what you meant? If so, and it would seem so, that’s hardly a ringing endorsement of Democrats, hardly an encouraging message to be sending.  [Emphases added.]

In other words, the supporter of the two-party state thinks he has a choice when in fact there are no alternatives.  Indeed, partisans of the two-party state are so blinded by the ideology that maintains it, they see two choices where in fact there are no alternatives.

The good news is that there are numerous alternatives to the false choice between the Democratic and Republican parties that has been forced upon us by the ruling corporate-political class.  From a principled liberal or progressive perspective, left-leaning Independents, the Green party, the Socialist parties, even the Libertarian party, represent a superior alternative to the reproduction of the reigning corporatist two-party state.  If you call yourself a liberal or a progressive, but you support Democrats, in what sense are you a liberal or progressive?  By your actions you do nothing but provide popular political cover for a primary faction of the global warfare and corporate welfare state.

Adapted from a post at Poli-Tea.

The year’s best political ads for third party and independent candidates

From Poli-Tea:

What are the year’s best political ads for third party and independent candidates (so far)?  Over the last week, I’ve viewed dozens of political ads and short videos produced by and for Libertarian, Green, Constitution Party and Independent candidates for office from Maine to California and Florida to Washington . . . From this unscientific sampling of videos, it is safe to conclude that there are some very savvy and extremely creative ads out there, and probably many many more which I still have not seen. . . .

Because of the prejudices and biases against third party and independent candidates, not to mention the ideological and structural constraints imposed on the American people by the two-party state, third party and independent candidates must be extremely creative in their ads to raise their political profiles and garner notice from the public and attention from the media.  It is those ads which diverge from the generic model that I have highlighted below.

See the original post for all eleven videos plus four special mentions. Poli-Tea’s results include:

Best Ad: Glenn Wilson vs. The Dons. Glenn Wilson is an Independent candidate for Congress in Michigan’s 1st district.  In this ad, Republican and Democratic mafia bosses hold a meeting to determine what to do about Independent candidate Glenn Wilson, whose candidacy threatens their political monopoly.  They decide not to “whack the voters” just yet, but instead call for a media blackout of coverage on the Independent candidate.

Best Series of Ads:  Travis Irvine
Best Unofficial Ad for a Candidate:  p4prez for Rich Whitney
Darkest Message in a Generic Ad: Gail Giaramita

Read the whole thing.