Mediocracy is a situation which can occur in a democracy in which mediocre people prevail. The society is then subordinated to a quasi-egalitarian ideology in which words and ideas are redefined by mediocre people, to be convenient for mediocre people.
Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a frequent critic of mediocracy in contemporary Western countries. || This where the tag cloud goes if the tag cloud loads:
Pat Tillman, who died exactly nine years ago on Monday, appears on the cover of the May 3, 2004 issue of SI. Tillman famously left the NFL to serve overseas, where he was tragically killed. (Gene Lower/SI)
A Pro-Bowl safety who was in the NFL for less than four years, turned down a contract from the Arizona Cardinals for $3.6 million over 3 years to serve in the US Army after September 11, seven months after the start of the current Afghan War. He completed basic training with his brother, Kevin Tillman, who had also given up a career in sports, though a comparatively less successful one, as a second baseman drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 31st round. They were both deployed in the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, despite both of them considering the invasion illegal which was revealed after his death. After graduating Ranger School in November 2003, Pat Tillman was redeployed to Afghanistan.
Though his death was reported by the Army and the media as the result of an ambush in a village near the Pakistani border, subsequent investigations after his burial revealed that Tillman was killed by friendly fire, shot three times in the head by American bullets. Though commanding officers knew immediately the true cause of Tillman’s death, they fabricated the heroic martyr depicted in military reports and awards which was then relayed to sports reporters desperate to deify the NFL All-Star and 1997 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the year, an award that is now named after Tillman. This contrasted with the unglamorous reality of the nonreligious soldier with deep reservations regarding his government’s foreign policy, gunned down by his own brothers in arms.
The exact cause of his death remains ambiguous to this day. The United States Department of Defense maintains that Tillman was shot by an M249, some 40 yards away from the back of a moving vehicle, despite other autopsy reports suggesting that Tillman was shot by an M16 from as few as 10 yards away. Evidence related to Tillman’s death, most notably his journals were confiscated and destroyed, causing his mother, Mary Tillman, to postulate that Pat’s death was in fact a homicide.
Mary and Kevin Tillman remain vocal critics of the United States Armed Forces, recently condemning President Obama’s decision to appoint General Stanley A. McChrystal as commander of all forces in Afghanistan from June 2009 to June 2010. McChrystal resigned from this post after a Rolling Stones article published quotes mocking civilian government officials, most notably Vice President Biden. In 2011, McChrystal was appointed to the head of an advisory board to support military families, despite writing the initial 2004 report awarding Tillman the Silver Star for bravery “in the line of devastating enemy fire”.
Not even a full day had passed before newly reelected President Obama ordered another drone strike in Yemen. Huffington Post:
On Wednesday morning, as many Americans sifted through the voter data and exit poll numbers of President Barack Obama’s reelection the night before, the Twitter feeds of close watchers of Yemen lit up with reports of another sort of presidential event: an apparent U.S. drone strike had killed several individuals in that country.
There was no way of being certain if the strike was indeed American, or for that matter if it was a drone strike at all, although it had all the markings of one.
“All signs (after dark, suspicions of locals, target) point to Sanhan strike being a US drone,” Yemen-based freelance journalist Adam Baron wrote on Twitter.
The drone war violates both domestic and international law, and the Obama administration’s vehement disdain for transparency in government is the only thing keeping it from public and legal scrutiny. Beyond the law, it’s terrorism.
Yesterday, in our news section, we provided a link to Glenn Greenwald’s article on CNN International’s refusal to air a documentary it commissioned uncovering the brutal crackdown by the US-backed dictatorship in Bahrain. Greenwald linked to the documentary, now available on YouTube, but many people still have not seen it. It does a brilliant job of illustrating the abuses the people have suffered at the hands of the regime.
It’s useful to remind yourself while watching this that Washington wholeheartedly supports this kind of repression. The US has sent more than $60 million in direct aid to Bahrain since 2008, and has another $11 million scheduled for 2013. In recent years, the US has sent Bahrain riot gear, tanks, helicopter gunships, and over a million pounds of ammunition – all of which have been integral to the ruthless crackdown imposed on reform-minded Bahrainis. After international condemnation, the Obama administration was forced to suspend a new $53 million package of military equipment, making it conditional on reform. And when Bahraini opposition groups and a U.N. statement acknowledged that no substantive move towards reform had been made, Obama began secretly pushing through the arms package, circumventing congressional rules and failing to inform the public.
The protests in Bahrain are not just protests against that particular regime; they are de facto protests against this reprehensibly US foreign policy, which bribes dictatorships in order to maintain control of the Middle East. As a 2004 Defense Department report put it, when referring to the Gulf Arab states, “Without the US these regimes could not survive.”
"Herein lies the real function of the American justice system, clearly revealed time and again. It is to protect high-level actors from accountability even for the most egregious of crimes, while severely punishing those who reveal or take a stand against those crimes, thus deterring and intimidating any future opposition."
It is this same mentality that has led the US federal judiciary to produce the most disgraceful political fact of the last decade. Not a single victim of America’s “war on terror” abuses – even those now acknowledged by the US government to have been completely innocent – have been allowed even to have their cases heard in an American court on the merits. They’ve all had the courthouse doors slammed shut in their faces by courts that have accepted the US government’s claims that its own secrecy powers and immunity rights bar any such justice. Crimes committed by the state or in advancement of its agenda are simply immune from the rule of law in the US.
The same exploitation of the justice system is glaringly evident in the Rachel Corrie travesty. As the Guardian’s former Israel (and now Washington) correspondent Chris McGreal writes, the dismissal of this suit is simply a by-product of the “virtual impunity for Israeli troops no matter who they killed or in what circumstances”. That’s because Israeli courts, like American courts, have submissively accepted the supreme fiction of both governments: anyone impeding government actions is a terrorist or terrorist-enabler who gets what they deserve, while the actions of the state, no matter how savage, can never be anything other than legitimate.
"We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites."
You are a historic figure, Mr. President. You are not only the first African-American president; you are the first who has made use of your power to target and kill individuals identified as a threat to the United States throughout your entire term. You are the first president to make the killing of targeted individuals the focus of our military operations, of our intelligence, of our national-security strategy, and, some argue, of our foreign policy. You have authorized kill teams comprised of both soldiers from Special Forces and civilians from the CIA, and you have coordinated their efforts through the Departments of Justice and State. You have gradually withdrawn from the nation building required by “counterinsurgency” and poured resources into the covert operations that form the basis of “counter-terrorism.”
More than any other president you have made the killing rather than the capture of individuals the option of first resort, and have killed them both from the sky, with drones, and on the ground, with “nighttime” raids not dissimilar to the one that killed Osama bin Laden. You have killed individuals in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and are making provisions to expand the presence of American Special Forces in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In Pakistan and other places where the United States has not committed troops, you are estimated to have killed at least two thousand by drone. You have formalized what is known as “the program,” and at the height of its activity it was reported to be launching drone strikes in Pakistan every three days. Your lethality is expansive in both practice and principle; you are fighting terrorism with a policy of preemptive execution, and claiming not just the legal right to do so but the legal right to do so in secret. The American people, for the most part, have no idea who has been killed, and why; the American people — and for that matter, most of their representatives in Congress — have no idea what crimes those killed in their name are supposed to have committed, and have been told that they are not entitled to know.
"We march collectively toward self-annihilation. Corporate capitalism, if left unchecked, will kill us. Yet we refuse, because we cannot think and no longer listen to those who do think, to see what is about to happen to us. We have created entertaining mechanisms to obscure and silence the harsh truths, from climate change to the collapse of globalization to our enslavement to corporate power, that will mean our self-destruction. If we can do nothing else we must, even as individuals, nurture the private dialogue and the solitude that make thought possible. It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind."
Gayane Chichakyan of RT interviews Thomas Andrews Drake. Drake was a senior executive of one of America’s biggest intelligence agencies at the beginning of the 2000’s.
He was an expert on electronic eavesdropping and had top secret security clearance. He was also a decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran, computer software expert, linguist, management and leadership specialist. Then Mr Drake essentially sacrificed his career to blow the whistle on his agency’s wrongdoings, as he saw them.
He was then charged under the Espionage Act, and only last year the charges were dropped.
In 2010, the U.S. government alleged that he ‘mishandled’ documents, one of the few such Espionage Act cases in U.S. history. His defenders claim that he was instead being persecuted for challenging the Trailblazer Project. He is the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling and co-recipient of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award.
On June 9, 2011, all 10 original charges against him were dropped. He rejected several deals because he refused to “plea bargain with the truth”. He eventually pleaded to one misdemeanor count for exceeding authorized use of a computer; Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, who helped represent him, called it an act of “Civil Disobedience.” The interview makes for very interesting listening, as they discuss the fact that the NSA (National Security Agency had a secret deal with the White House after 9/11, that made the NSA responsible for a secret surveillance program. They also discuss the current situation with whistleblowers and also with the Flame and Stuxnet viruses, created by the U.S. government.
“You go after the messenger because the last thing you want to do is deal with the message. You’re talking about all the activities, the secret surveillance, the warrantless wiretapping, torture, rendition, drone strikes, and a whole host of other measures that I would assert are extra-constitutional. Not only do they violate our own law, but they also violate a number of international laws.
Go after the messenger and not the message because to actually discuss or address the message becomes very uncomfortable. Essentially, what’s happened is that law—and we’re a nation of law—if we start to part (which we have in a very significant way), moving away from being a nation of laws and simply leaving it up to policy as a substitute, we’re going down a very slippery slope in the United States of America.”