We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Friday, December 31, 2010

Spain: Beyond the general strike

by the Editorial Team of the Catalan ID Group from The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy.(Fall 2010)

In contrast to Americans, our European brothers and sisters have been actively fighting on the streets of Europe against the cuts in public services and social supports. This Inclusive Democracy chapter in Spain recognizes the limited aims of this activism and their inherent weaknesses. In this article they review a necessary strategy to overcome these limitations in order to build a genuine democratic movement that, in contrast to revolutions from above, is the only kind that can lead us out of the growing oppression of the capitalist nightmare. Such discussions are an absolutely necessary starting point in order to develop tactics in support of a strategy to win the battle of survival. Out of these discussions arose the Barcelona Assembly to implement this strategy.
This initiative to launch an autonomous and truly combative movement, organized outside the trade unions, that goes beyond a single day of striking and to become an outcry against the ruling elites and their socioeconomic cutbacks, was a very important step in bringing power back to the people from the various bureaucracies controlling it.

2011: A Brave New Dystopia

by Chris Hedges from TruthDig.

The author uses the themes from both Huxley and Orwell to show how both function to lead us down to a "Brave New Dystopia".
The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression?
Either Hedges has a morbid fascination with the totalitarian nightmare that he sees ahead of us, or else he is compulsively trying to awaken most of us who are sleeping to the reality that this is no mere nightmare. It seems to me that this endless focusing on the horrific trends he so often, and correctly, points out serves mostly to immobilize people. I would rather see him and others spend more time in constructive efforts such as offering ideas as to how we can prevent these dystopias from happening, how we can move from here to something resembling a utopia, how we can begin to replace the systems of oppression with systems of liberation.

The Shadow Banking System: A Third Of All The Wealth In The World Is Held In Offshore Banks

from The Economic Collapse
The super wealthy and the international banking elite think that it is really funny that our paychecks are constantly being drained by federal taxes, state taxes and Social Security taxes while they literally pay nothing at all.  These incredibly rich elitists make a ton of money doing business in wealthy western nations and then they transfer virtually all of their profits offshore where they don't have to contribute any of it in taxes.  It works out really great for them, but it sucks for the rest of us.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Impact of the Crisis on Women in Eastern Europe

by Ewa Charkiewcz from CADTM.

This rather formalistic, academic, and lengthy piece (you can skip many of the details) focuses on the impacts of neo-liberal policies in Eastern Europe with particular emphasis on the consequences for the lives of women. Women always bear the primary responsibilities of "social reproduction" by which is meant all the tasks related to the maintenance of families. the rearing of children, etc. The impacts have been felt most dramatically in these countries due to the fact that under previous "socialist" regimes there existed considerable governmental supports for families. Thus, under neo-liberal policies everything that incurs costs for the capitalist sector is being removed and the effects are often devastating for the lives of ordinary people, often literally killing them.

Although the author focuses on Eastern Europe and on women, the political strategies of neo-liberalism used there can be seen here in the US as well; and her delineation of these strategies are useful for an understanding of what is happening here. She argues that the economic situation can no longer be described as a financial crisis because...
bailed out banks and subsidized investors are doing well. All countries in the region used anti-crisis measures to strengthen investors and businesses at the expense of protecting households. Now the increased budget deficits and growth in public debt are treated as an excuse to continue neoliberal public sector reforms.
And what she refers to as "public sector reforms" means drastic cuts to all social programs like health, education, welfare, childcare services, etc.

But now the solution to solve this former financial crisis is being "shifted to people, who are reconstituted as major cause of the crisis. How it is done?"
  • Step one has been to put the the spotlight on budget deficits, while the causes of the budgetary deficits (bailing out falling banks) are removed from the agenda.
  • Step two has been to reconstitute budget deficit and public debt as major causes of crises that need to be addressed with a variety of social austerity measures. In this way spending on people (or in other words on social reproduction) is constituted as the cause of the crises that is being addressed.
  • Step three: with crises reinvented, what actually caused it: neoliberal governance with its mantra of deregulating social rights in the name of facilitating business growth, cutting public spending and privatizing social sectors is brought back as the solution to the problems that contributed to the crisis in the first place. 
Does this sound familiar?

Dollars for Docs Payments Approach $300 Million

by Charles Ornstein , Tracy Weber and Dan Nguyen from Pro Pulblica.

Corporate capitalism corrupts everything it touches; and nowadays it touches nearly all aspects of our lives, even into such critical areas as our health-care. 
ProPublica launched Dollars for Docs in October, creating the most accessible accounting yet of pharmaceutical payments to doctors for speaking, consulting and other duties.

Smell Something Rotten?

from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

FAIR's once-a-year's release of the worst examples of journalism in the US. Another way to put it--US corporate media's best efforts to dis-inform, obscure, distort, and manage information and analysis in support of the Empire's ruling class.

WikiLeaks is not shielding Israel

by Linda S. Heard from Online Journal

This provides a good update on the WikiLeaks' controversies.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

World Tired of Paying Bill for US Military [10:09m video]

Interview with Michael Hudson from The Real News

Hudson offers his explanation of why the working and middle classes in the US are being sacrificed to fund the Empire's military and wars.

As the core of the Empire, that is, the NATO countries, experience increasing competition from the BRIC countries, the latter are seeking more independence. This, however, does not in any way comfort me. This is just more inter-capitalist rivalry--like we saw in the 20th century--which can be very dangerous for working people and for world peace.

Where are the jobs? For many companies, overseas

from Associated Press

Welcome to the globalization phase of capitalism. The article illustrates how economies directed by capitalist ruling classes (what economies aren't nowadays?) dictate that investments should only be directed toward areas of the globe where short term profits can be realized. If you like capitalism, then you must love what is happening in today's world. If you own stocks in any of 96% of the top 500 US corporations, you must love corporations and the system that created them. 

Jobs (in the US)? Who among those who rule the world like jobs. They are a cost of doing business and therefore cut into profits. Hence, if you are a capitalist, you go where people will work for the lowest wages. What could be easier to understand than that? What is so difficult to understand is why working people put up with this arrangement and believe all the lies they are told by capitalist media. See this

Two, Three, Many Colombias

by Kevin Young from Foreign Policy in Focus.

For those of you who know that the purpose of capitalist media organs is to manipulate American public opinion to support the Empire's goals of total planetary control and exploitation, this article will be of little interest. It will only confirm what you already know--we have, once again, been lied to. However, it does serve to illustrate where the thinking of American liberals and many progressives are situated. They are increasingly aware that there is a ruling class who have interests separate from most Americans. This writer hints at what is a glaring fact to us:
Given the current constellations of power in the United States and Latin America, a substantial demilitarization of policy would simply incur too much elite resistance and deliver few political rewards.
Well, that is progress! But, whether it is enough progress to keep this class of people from destroying the planet for human habitation remains to be seen. Unfortunately, he seems to think that there is nothing we can do about changing such policies because the "elites" wouldn't like it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

De-growth – is not enough [a must-study article]

by Ted Trainer from The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy Vol. 6, No. 4 (Fall 2010). 

This article is fairly lengthy, but because it deals with the most serious issues in this age of multiple crises, it certainly deserves the additional time it takes to understand it fully. In my opinion, this article along with the other articles from the ID Journal represent the leading edge of progressive thought in the world today. (There appears to be a few obvious errors in the article which could have benefited from more proofreading before publication.)

At least at the present time I favor Ted Trainer's writings which I feel are much more accessible than those of Fotopoulos who is the founder of ID thought. I find that the latter's writing style is a bit off-putting due to his frequent use of rather convoluted, complex sentences and obscure terms. The latter may be due to the fact that English is a secondary language for him, and more of a European English than American. Also, I find that Fotopoulos tends to be too argumentative for my taste. I really don't think that there are any really significant differences between these two writers. But that is only my opinion, and I encourage you to explore the other articles in this issue of the Journal Vol. 6, No. 4 (Fall 2010).

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Dream Of Democracy

by Ralph J Dolan from Global Research

This Vietnam veteran sees the existing problems as due to a "global ruling class", but, so far, does not see this class in relation to a system. Hence, in his view, only the class needs to be changed. This is about as far left as progressives in this country have gone. Most do not yet see the underlying system upon which the ruling class is constructed. Still, after so many years of believing in democratic fairy tales, this represents progress among progressives in the US.
Asserting that a totalitarian political and economic ideology still dominates our world suggests that there exists a ruling class.  How can it be denied?  From country to country one sees ruling families, juntas, crony capitalism, brutal regimes, fat oligarchs amidst vast squalor, domination of the political and economic mechanisms by small, wealthy, entrenched, ruthless, privileged groups.

This is the global ruling class.  They are an elite club.  They look out for each others' political and economic interests.  They lead double lives.  They are all double agents.  They pretend to serve one master but actually serve an entirely different master.  They wear masks.  In public they sing of the glories of the idea of democratic governance, of the march toward the liberation of the human race from tyranny and oppression.  In private they ridicule such notions, despise the people and seek to manipulate the dumb masses to augment their own power, wealth and prestige.
Likewise, looking at only the prospect of removing the ruling class leaves us only with the prospect of a new ruling class.
It is true that in this vulnerable time some new tyrant may come and take the place of the old tyrant.
This concerns me. I fear the possibilities that exist if progressives in the US fail to move beyond this type of thinking. When people become desperate for change, they may go in any direction to achieve it--much like what happened during the Wiemar Republic in Germany in the 1930s.

I Will Not Participate In the Journalism of Appeasement

by David DeGraw from Amped Status

The author is getting exasperated with some of his fellow journalists, and is about to start packing. I am not sure this is a great option. Where can one go in the world that is beyond the reach of the Empire? I think it is far better to stay here and collaborate in figuring out how to create a system free of privileged private interests. 
If you are not calling for revolution or organizing, you are either unaware of what’s happening around you, horribly naïve or a fascist sympathizer. If we continue to let our politicians and wealthy members of society live in comfort, free from the consequences of their actions, we are complicit in our own demise.

So are we going to start fighting back, or should I just move my family to another country? Most everyone who understands our economic and political situation are having this debate now and contemplating moving outside the country. Is that what we should do? Should we just leave the country and let it collapse?
Still, I think that the author has a ways to go to understand that it is the capitalist system itself that needs to be dismantled, and then needs to come up with ideas about a new system that insures social justice, peace, and living in harmony with nature.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Four articles regarding the false hopes in minority leaders

I've come across four articles that relate to disappointment in leaders identified with minorities. Most of these leaders are in Latin America, but the same phenomenon exists here in the US regarding Obama.  Here they are:

Rethinking Imperialist Theory by James Petras. In his review of global political trends during the past decade, he makes this observation:
...between 2000-2005 major popular upheavals and mass mobilizations took place, overthrowing incumbent neo-liberal client regimes, calling for the renationalization of privatized firms, the renunciation of the foreign debt, radical agrarian reforms and income redistribution. Neo-liberal ideology was totally discredited and US foreign policy was subject to a thorough discredit.  Anti-imperialist — if not anti-capitalist — ideology held sway among broad sectors of the working, middle and even elements of the political class.

This radical moment, however, did not lead to a break with the capitalist system.  Instead a series of ‘center-left’ regimes took power and favored by extraordinarily high commodity prices, proceeded to stimulate an economic recovery, and a marked improvement in social conditions.  These policies led to the de-radicalization of the social movements and a modicum of normalization of relations with Washington, albeit with greater autonomy.
Venezuela: Capitalist Revolution versus Human Emancipation by by Franz J.T. Lee. He expresses his disappointment with the Bolivarian Revolution this way:
One thing's for sure, something is going wrong and has to be corrected urgently. To begin with, the glaring difference between the political program of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and the reality on the ground, the ideological wedge of what politicians say or write and what they actually do, has to be eliminated. Only when this is done, only when the dialectics between praxis and theory has been established, can we hope to once again grasp the imagination, fantasy and unconditional enthusiasm of the Venezuelan workers, just like in the years 2002/2003 when for a brief time-span our emancipatory ideas transformed themselves into a material, liberatory force. The absence of theory and praxis and the nefarious presence of ideology and practice, where one thing is said and another thing is done, is the major reason why the Bolivarian ship of state is getting stuck in the Caribbean doldrums.
The Techno-Fantasies of Evo Morales: The Consequences of Modernization  by Chellis Glendinning. She writes this:
...President Morales has made zero use of the perspectives drawn by such voices -- who curiously share with him a fundamental critique of capitalism and the dominant civilization, as well as respect for the traditional wisdoms of indigenous cultures. Not to mention the myriad intellectuals, social-movement comrades, and indígena thinkers within Bolivia, many of whom have become cynical about that glorious hope surging through the Plaza de los Héroes in 2006. ...his sister, water activist Marcela Olivera, claims she is witness to two different Evo Morales’: the one who makes international eco-proclamations and the one, at home, who is pushing dams, uranium excavation, cell towers, and mega-highways.
Who is the real Barack Obama? by Lawrence Davidson.
This president has lost his way. And we have, at least for the foreseeable future, lost important aspects of our constitutional rights. What does this tell us? Those who seek success in politics are rarely fundamentally principled people. They are folks whose principles are associational and that lets them move freely in a world where opportunism is thought to be survival trait. And, it would seem, it is in the modern democratic milieu that this way of politics has been brought to a fine art. 
As you can see, the leaders all have been identified with exploited minorities. However, this doesn't really apply to Obama. The fact that it has been, demonstrates the extreme naiveté of progressives in the US. Obama was mostly raised by his white banker grandmother. His mother worked for USAID and the Ford Foundation in Indonesia, both organizations are often used as fronts for the CIA. His schooling in Hawaii was in elite private schools. Then he went to Harvard. The fact that he has black skin has meant very little in the shaping of his values and perspectives.

The other articles refer to the lack of people empowerment in Latin America and the continuing development of capitalist enterprises, especially in Venezuela and Bolivia, but to some extent in Brazil and Argentina. Both Chavez and Morales had humble, minority origins and were brought to power by widespread popular support. Both use the rhetoric of popular power, but both have done very little to implement it. 

It seems to me that the lack of progress in Latin America is due to the fact that the leaders were not brought to power through organized revolutionary movements, but through the normal political structures of capitalist societies. Leadership means nothing without being incubated, nourished, and brought to maturity through a fundamentally radical organization, one that has built into it real people power from the grass roots upward.  Otherwise all the tools of the corrupting influence of the capitalist class come into play--co-optation, group-think, temptations of power and affluence, etc.--to transform these leaders into servants of the system.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Grooming Children for Profit

from New Left Project (an interview with Agnes Nairn is co-author of Consumer Kids: How big business is grooming our children for profit.)
She spoke to Samia Aziz about how children are targeted and manipulated by today’s corporate marketing strategies, and the social and psychological impacts of this rapidly intensifying phenomenon. 

ROK President Lee heats up cold war on Korean peninsula

by Stephen Gowans from Voltaire.

This piece is an excellent antidote to the propaganda in US media.
There are three key facts that place the brinkmanship being played out on the Korean peninsula into perspective.

Zimbabwe and the Steep Road to Vindication: Myths and Realities

by Netfa Freeman from Voltaire

This is another antidote for the poison of Empire propaganda.
...the major study of 10 years of land reform in Zimbabwe actually exists and was released in mid November. As we said, if one assumed it would get big media coverage they would assume wrongly since such a study doesn’t conform with the acceptable and imposed imperial narrative.

Making the Rich Happy

by Alexander Cockburn from CounterPunch. (Focusing on material only down to "The Day of the Beast" in this essay.)

The author explains how the rich ruling class uses the Democratic Presidents to do the real dirty work involved in dismantling social safety nets for working people while heaping gifts onto the rich. All of this bitter medicine is swallowed with a few sweeteners for the compliant "liberal" crowd to cheer about. It's amazing to see how the ruling class manages public opinion much like a conductor directs an orchestra.
The Commentariat now gravely applauds his recent victories in the US Congress:  repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell inhibitions on gays in the military;  Senate ratification of the new START treaty on nuclear weapons with the Russians;  passage of a $4.3bn bill – previously blocked by Republicans - providing health benefits for emergency rescue workers in the 9/11 attacks of 2001.

Something missing from my list?  You noticed? Yes indeed: first and absolutely foremost, the successful deal with Republicans on taxes, better described as a $4 trillion gift to America’s rich people, by extending the Bush tax cuts. With the all-important tax surrender under their belts the Republicans don’t seem too upset in having allowing Obama’s his mini-swath of victories.
It [the tax bill] was a deal of refined cynicism, containing the poison pill of what has been billed as a generous gesture to working people - a $120 billion reduction in Social Security contributions by labor – reducing the rate of contributions to the Social Security pension fund from 6.2 per cent of wages to 4.2 per cent. But in fact this is a tripwire, setting up an onslaught on Social Security a year down the road as underfunded and going swiftly bankrupt and ready to be auctioned off to Wall Street.

Bradley Manning Speaks About His Conditions

by David House from FireDogLake

 Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old Army private accused of leaking classified information to Wikileaks, has been held in the brig at Quantico Marine Corp Base for five months in inhumane conditions, with severe restrictions on his ability to exercise, communicate, or even sleep. Manning has not been convicted of any crime. Nor is there a date certain for any court hearing.

See also Glenn Greenwald's latest report on Manning's imprisonment, entitled "U.N. to investigate treatment of Bradley Manning", which contains some very interesting videos.

New FDA Numbers Reveal Food Animals Consume Lion’s Share of Antibiotics

by Ralph Loglisci from Civil Eats
Antibiotics, one of the world’s greatest medical discoveries, are slowly losing their effectiveness in fighting bacterial infections and the massive use of the drugs in food animals may be the biggest culprit. The growing threat of antibiotic resistance is largely due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in both people and animals, which leads to an increase in “super-bacteria.” But people use a much smaller portion of antibiotics sold in this country compared to the amount set aside for food animals. 

Uninspired Gifts of the Rich and Disinterested

by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair

On this Christmas day let us pay a visit to the One Percent who shape so much of our experience in capitalist America. Let us see how they, who have so much and can get anything they want, give each other gifts. It would seem to be quite a challenge. Jamie Johnson, heir of the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune, will guide us. (Be sure to see his wonderful film entitled, "The One Percent".)
For all of its familiar drawbacks, Christmas, remains an exceptionally satisfying holiday. For one thing, it’s one of the very best times of year for embedded voyeurs like me to watch immensely rich patrician families display their signature idiosyncratic behavior and commitment to awkward traditions. Never are these peculiar habits presented better than during formal Christmas gift exchanges.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hailing 111th Congress, Obama prepares further shift to the right

by Joseph Kishore from World Socialist Web Site

This is a very sensible performance review of the 111th Congress and Obama administration. Also, an excellent antidote to all the media hoopla about all their accomplishments. 

I think Obama's main focus is on ingratiating himself with the ruling class so that he can be elected for a second term. If you use that criteria, he has performed very well. Of course, that is why they hired him to be President.
As the 111th congressional session came to a close, the Obama administration and the US media have stepped up the propaganda offensive over the past two days to justify an even further shift to the right by the political establishment next year.
Find out here what Obama is reading over the holidays.

The Social Security Fraud Has Finally Been Exposed

by Allen W. Smith from Dissident Voice

This is the best article that I have ever seen on this issue. 

The only problem I have with it is that the author seems to be saying that he and a few others warned us about the problem in the past because they were able to run a few articles in the media and make a few speeches in Congress. And now he thinks that by running his article on Dissident Voice that the system is exposed. Again we see the naivete of progressives about the realities of the class based system whose media and educational institutions make sure that we don't understand anything about the realities of the system.

The reality, of course, is, as he points out, that the ruling capitalist class stole our "piggy bank" that we were saving for our old age. They used, and are still using, the money to finance all their wars in which we working people are ordered to invade all sorts of strange places to kill their people and steal their resources.

Obama’s Liberty Problem

by Bill Quigley and Vince Warren from Dissident Voice.

I see the importance of this liberal perspective only for what it illustrates: many American progressives are much too naive to bring about any significant change. They keep harping on the same themes of civil rights while ignoring the system that is the root of civil rights issues and all other significant issues like social-economic justice, peace, living on a planet that can sustain human and other life forms, etc. As Francis Moore Lappé wrote, "[it is] time for progressives to grow up!" 

The facade of the rule of law is part of the theatrical production erected by a class of people who want to protect their system because it serves them so well. The US Constitution was mainly about the protection of private property regardless of who actually created the wealth associated with that property. At the time of the passing of the Constitution, much of the wealth was created by slave labor and the near slave labor of indentured servants. The founders of the Constitution only threw in some civil rights to sweeten the deal with the vast majority of the population. As it is clear today, even the civil rights articles have been twisted into the support of mostly corporate rights by making corporations into persons.

Laws are for us working people, they don't apply to the capitalist ruling class unless one of them screws their fellow capitalists as Bernie Madoff did. That was the big mistake he made. If like all others of his ilk, he had confined his nefarious schemes to bilking working people, he would be a celebrated capitalist hero.

The huge question in my mind is: can the human race throw off the scourge of ruling classes and create truly egalitarian societies whose people can live in harmony with each other and nature?

The Media is the Message

by William Bowles from Creative-i

The author takes a hard look at the WikiLeaks controversy and uncovers some details that don't fit together very well. 
Even if my jury is still out on the real nature of Wikileaks, what is revealed is the fact that all ‘news’ is now entirely mediated by a state/corporate cartel, working closely together. Between them they have re-defined what Wikileaks is all about.

It’s entirely possible that the cables release was engineered in order to justify even more repressive laws under the guise of protecting the agents of the Empire or fighting the ‘war on terror’. Whatever the truth, no longer is it about the cables, it’s all about Julian Assange. Mission accomplished.

Wikileaks News Archive 28 November – 21 December, 2010

from Creative-i

This site appears to be a good one-stop shopping center for the leaks and related news up to Dec. 21.
This is a continuously updated list of stories connected to the Wikileaks release of US diplomatic cables covering the period 28 November – 21 December, 2010.

Economics Is Simple ... The Fat Cats Just Want You to Think It's Complicated So That You Won't Demand Change

from Washington's Blog.

His analogy with water supplies works very well to understand the banking industries' venture into gambling and the resulting economic chaos. 

However, capitalism's periodic busts are caused by other factors also: over production of profitable items whether useful or not, reducing the pay of working people as much as possible, after each economic bust we have more concentration of industries (monopolies) that accelerates the harm the system can cause, and extracting profits from the environment while destroying it. 

In the future we will see the exhaustion of resources, extreme weather patterns, and more economic crises. If we allow the system to continue, at some point in time the capitalist system will cause so much ecological instability that it will threaten the very survival of the human race and other life forms.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Inside Job’s Charles Ferguson on the Corruption of Academic Economics

from Naked Capitalism

Here are two excellent videos. The first one is a short 1:54m excerpt from the film "Inside Job" about the economic collapse and related topics. In this clip the film's director, Charles Ferguson, grills former Federal Reserve vice chairman Frederic Mishkin on some "dubious work he did touting Iceland as a well run banking center not long before its implosion." Quite entertaining.

But the 2nd video, approximately 20 minutes long, is a must-see interview with Charles Ferguson where he expands more on his views. Of particular interest, is the opening segment where he discusses the corruption of academia that results in the control of ideas favoring the capitalist ruling class. To learn much more about this and how it affects students, I highly recommend that you read the book entitled, Disciplined Minds, by Jeff Schmidt.

The only criticism I have of Ferguson's views is when he suggests that Obama could have done something about it. As I see it, Obama, like most other recent Presidents, is only an employee, a PR person used as a front person to sell the policies of the ruling class. Like the others, he was carefully vetted for this role and he has performed very well. That is precisely why you don't see any real change happening. The transition from Bush to Obama was seamless. If he were to decide not to serve this function, you can be sure he would be removed from office one way or another. 

A book that I am currently reading by L. Fletcher Prouty entitled, The Secret Team, clearly explains how, once a President assumes office, this arrangement has shaped some major events after WWII. The Secret Team is essentially the political operatives of the ruling class. He writes:
The power of the team [key decision makers] derives from its vast intragovernmental undercover infrastructure and its direct relationship with great private industries, mutual funds and investment houses, universities, and the news media, including foreign and domestic publishing houses.
I have not yet had the opportunity to see the film. Apparently it is not being very widely shown and people are having difficulty buying the video. It is being shown in some large metropolitan areas. To see if it is being shown in your area, I suggest you use this NY Times link.

Climate Change and ‘Balanced’ Coverage

by Justin Gillis from the NY Times (free registration required).

The author contrasts the findings of scientists about the slim prospects for the prevention of dramatic climate change with the reassuring reports in mainstream media. I do not read the NY Times often enough to know how they contribute to this disparity, but I have my suspicions.
In an article this week on the relentless rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, I outlined one of the canonical projections of climate science: if the amount of carbon dioxide doubles, the average surface temperature of the earth is likely to increase by 5 or 6 degrees Fahrenheit, a whopping change. I contrasted that with a prediction from skeptics of climate change who contend that the increase is likely to be less than 2 degrees.

A Shadow Government of Kindness

by Rebecca Solnit from Tom Dispatch. (You may want to skip the introduction by scrolling down to the article.)

This inspiration piece may be what you need to counter all the capitalist themes that portray human nature as governed by the lowest impulses of laziness, irresponsibility, and selfishness. Perhaps the propagandists of the ruling classes are merely projecting their own sociopathic qualities on to us.

However, this may not be enough to put you in a good mood. Perhaps you are dealing with frustrations and anger in your life. This 4:02m video might help you vicariously to rid yourself of these demons.

Britain's Police State: London arrests based on CCTV identification.

by Nathan Allonby from Global Research

Despite no evidence that CCTV technology reduces crime, its use is strongly supported by policing authorities in the UK, US, China, and elsewhere. Why do you think this is?

In my opinion I think it is seen by ruling classes as an effective weapon to stifle dissent, to intimidate their populations into passivity and compliance to increasingly onerous social cutbacks and more wars. Frightening people with the "terrorist" boogieman may not be enough. The biggest threat to ruling capitalist classes are their own populations, not "terrorists".

Private debt, public pain: lessons for Ireland

by Nick Dearden from CADTM.
The banks have not always won over the last 30 years, and in 2001 Argentina did exactly what many economists are now urging Ireland and Greece to do. On Christmas Eve 2001, Argentina defaulted on its debt originating from an overvalued currency which had been pushed by the IMF. Along with devaluation and introduction of capital controls to prevent money leaving the country, the economy soon began to grow rapidly. Welfare payments were increased to help the poorest cope, while non-IMF approved taxes on exports and financial transactions were introduced to increase government revenue. In 2005, Argentina reached a deal with its creditors where it paid just 35p for every pound that was owed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Naked Face of Capitalism: Goldman Prizewinner Shoots Up Foreign Mining Firms in Mongolia

by Keith Harmon Snow from Conscious Being

Your ruling class media won't report the capitalist crimes of mining companies supported by Western government agencies and corrupted NGOs. The article is comprehensive and lengthy, but it tells the complete, tragic story of how neoliberalism functions all over the world on behalf of private interests while causing so much devastation to local societies, culture, and the environment. All the weapons of neoliberal mass destruction are illustrated in this article.

In my opinion the author is one of the finest independent investigative reporters in the world.
Keith Harmon snow is a war correspondent, photographer and independent investigator, and a four time (2003, 2006, 2007, 2010) Project Censored award winner. He is also the 2009 Regent's Lecturer in Law & Society at the University of California Santa Barbara, recognized for over a decade of work, outside of academia, contesting official narratives on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide while also working as a genocide investigator for the United Nations and other bodies.
Keith Harmon snow traveled by mountain bicycle across central and northern Mongolia,east to west, and then back across southern Mongolia, west to east, September to October 2008. He stayed with nomads in traditional gers, or slept in a tent in remote areas, all along the way.

Washington’s incendiary role in Asia

from World Socialist Web Site
What is the US ruling elite after in its pursuit of an increasingly bellicose policy on the Korean Peninsula, where nearly 34,000 US troops, at least 114,000 Chinese soldiers and as many as four million Koreans died in a brutal war half a century ago?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Are We Too Dumb for Democracy? The Logic Behind Self-Delusion

by Stephen Dufrechou from AlterNet.

Although the article contains some important psychological insights, they are hardly new. It is clear that in the US, educational institutions are used to create a firm ideological foundation in its citizens to prepare them to accept uncritically any information that promotes the interests of the ruling capitalist class, and likewise to reject other information. But when this isn't sufficient to support war policies, more dramatic measures are used. Read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.

President Franklin Roosevelt was well aware that US citizens were intent on staying out of another European war (WWII). He very much wanted to enter the war, and I won't speculate here as to why, or argue about the merits of US involvement. But he knew that it would take an attack on the US to bring us into the war. Thus, while doing everything he could to support England, and constantly saying to the American public that he didn't want war, he set about luring the Japanese into attacking the US. See this. Read Day Of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor by Robert Stinnett.

Shortly after WWII, the China Lobby wanted a war against Red China and other hawks wanted a rollback of Communist influence on the Korean peninsula. After unilaterally establishing South Korea, they pursued very aggressive policies against North Korea until the latter was provoked into a war. Read at least volume I of The Origins of the Korean War by Bruce Cumings.

Then the Empire builders were intent on escalating the war in Vietnam. Conveniently, the Gulf of Tonkin incident was arranged to get the American people behind the effort. See this, this, and this.

In the 1990s the neocons in the US were intent on expanding the Empire into the Middle East, but they were well aware that...
A transformation strategy that solely pursued capabilities for projecting force from the United States, for example, and sacrificed forward basing and presence, would be at odds with larger American policy goals and would trouble American allies.

Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is
likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor. 
["Rebuilding America's Defenses" from Project for the New American Century]
On Sept. 11, 2001 the twin towers were attacked and the stage was set for the US adventures into Iraq and Afghanistan. See this, this, and this.

That snow outside is what global warming looks like

by George Monbiot from the Guardian

The UK is currently experiencing a horrendous snow storm.
There were two silent calls, followed by a message left on my voicemail. She had a soft, gentle voice and a mid-Wales accent. "You are a liar, Mr Monbiot. You and James Hansen and all your lying colleagues. I'm going to make you pay back the money my son gave to your causes. It's minus 18C and my pipes have frozen. You liar. Is this your global warming?" She's not going to like the answer, and nor are you. It may be yes.
Meanwhile, in southern California they are seeing record rainfall and floods.

UE and Taunton, Mass. Set Own Course in Fight Against Job Outsourcing

by Roger Bybee from Solidarity Economy

Some workers in the US refuse to let corporations ship their jobs elsewhere. Read how they are fighting back in Massachusetts. 
...regardless of the cynical deals and manipulation of public opinion being directed by the White House, workers in places like Taunton, Mass. are continuing their struggles at the grass-roots level against the destruction of America's productive base and its dwindling supply of good jobs. 

FCC Net Neutrality Order a ‘Squandered Opportunity’

from Free Press.
By a 3-2 vote Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission approved new rules intended to prevent Internet providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from acting as gatekeepers on the Web. The rules, however, heavily favor the industry they are intended to regulate, and leave consumers with minimal protections. 
Today's FCC decision is explained in more detail at Democracy Now.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cover-ups, Coups, and Drones – A Holiday Sampler of What Wikileaks Reveals about the US

by Bill Quigley from Information Clearing House

This coverage of the leaks is one of the best I've come across. While the US government insists on knowing everything about us, it demands secrecy for itself. But, more importantly, the author contrasts the revealed illegal acts and war crimes that the US government commits with impunity with the treatment of those who reveal these acts. 
The US claims broad authority to secretly snoop on the lives of individuals inside and outside of the US. It also works tirelessly to prevent citizens from knowing what is going on by expansively naming basic government information "state secrets." The government says it has to have the right to keep things secret in order to prevent crime.

But when it comes to revealing evidence of illegal acts and war crimes by the US government, it seeks the most severe sanctions against any transparency.

Inside the Mortgage Monster

by Michael Hudson from Global Research.

This is an excerpt from Hudson's new book entitled, The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America--and Spawned a Global Crisis. In this excerpt he illustrates how the capitalist system recruits people, such as Travis Paules, who have sociopathic tendencies:
It was a case, he said, of an unprincipled personality finding a place that encouraged his self-serving instincts. “It’s hard to have a guilty conscience if you don’t have a conscience,” he said.
Then this company used him to use others, turning all into monsters to exploit somewhat naive or unknowledgeable people who applied for mortgages. An entire pseudo-industry was built around this scam by the large banking and Wall Street firms.

Big Win for America's Super Rich [5:16m video]

from Real News Network. 

Paul Jay interviews Thomas Ferguson who is Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and a Senior Fellow of the Roosevelt Institute. 

I think this is a very good assessment of Obama's tax bill.


Money Is Still the Name of the Game

from Michael Parenti's blog

Of course, it is not only "still the name of the game", it is even more so than ever before. However, Parenti supplies the arguments that counters the pseudo arguments of those who deny this or try to hide the role of money to corrupt elections. If one agreed with the pseudo arguments, one would have to assume that the rich are stupid by giving their money away to candidates. The rich, for the most part, invest their money only where they can expect a return.

Financial Interests Dictate Sovereign Policy

by Michael Hudson from his blog
Real experts would follow the advice that John Maynard Keynes gave in the 1920s regarding German reparations and Inter-Ally debts. It is better to wipe out bad debts than to try to pay creditors at the cost of reducing capital formation, living standards and public spending on education, health care and other basic infrastructure. A wise government would subordinate the financial sector to promote economic growth, capital formation and rising living standards.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

WikiLeaks: Networked Action for a Networked Age

by Tomas from P2P Foundation
[Julian Assange] begins by positing that conspiracy and authoritarianism go hand in hand, arguing that since authoritarianism produces resistance to itself — to the extent that its authoritarianism becomes generally known — it can only continue to exist and function by preventing its intentions (the authorship of its authority?) from being generally known. It inevitably becomes, he argues, a conspiracy....
It would be much more accurate and clear if something like the term "class rule" were substituted for the more abstract term of "authoritarianism".

From an earlier, lengthy article on Assange's strategy, this quote stands out as his core principle:
[Assange] decides...that the most effective way to attack this kind of organization would be to make “leaks” a fundamental part of the conspiracy’s  information environment. Which is why the point is not that particular leaks are specifically effective. Wikileaks does not leak something like the “Collateral Murder” video as a way of putting an end to that particular military tactic; that would be to target a specific leg of the hydra even as it grows two more. Instead, the idea is that increasing the porousness of the conspiracy’s information system will impede its functioning, that the conspiracy will turn against itself in self-defense, clamping down on its own information flows in ways that will then impede its own cognitive function. You destroy the conspiracy, in other words, by making it so paranoid of itself that it can no longer conspire....
It is an interesting idea, but I wonder how effective it can be when only those levels of secret information below "top secret" can be accessed and revealed. See this, and this.

What We Learn From WikiLeaks

from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

The article illustrates how ruling class media in the US tries to frame the leaks in as positive a light as possible.

Zionist lobby’s new orders for Obama

by Alan Hart from Redress
Alan Hart argues that new instructions issued to President Obama by Israel through its stooges in Congress, in the form of House Resolution 1734, might be a sign of panic that the White House is about to end its veto of UN Security Council resolutions which are critical of Israel and/or call for the recognition of a Palestinian state inside 1967 borders.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Obama's Sellout on Taxes

by Michael Hudson from Counterpunch

He writes:
Yet Obama has only done what politicians do: He has delivered up his constituency to his campaign backers – the same Wall Street donors who back the Republicans. What’s the point of having a constituency, after all, if you can’t sell it?
What Hudson doesn't seem to understand is that the Democratic Party's function in capitalist America is to create the illusion of serving main street, the "little guy", working people, etc. and to create the impression among these people that they have a representative government, that is, they can choose their government leaders and policies through elections. Meanwhile, behind the scenes their Democratic leaders serve their masters in the ruling class. This is precisely what Obama has done. The same ruling class used Democratic Clinton to sell ordinary Americans on "free trade" policies that resulted in their jobs being shifted overseas.

The ruling class will reward Obama one way or another. Although they can't be too upfront about it, they love Obama as revealed in this publication. Also see this.

And the cuts in Social Security payroll tax deductions represent a stealth attack on Social Security which the ruling class also wants to destroy. See this.

Carbon Trading: How it Works and Why it Fails

by Oscar Reyes and Tamra Gilbertson from New Left Project
Emissions trading is the EU’s flagship measure for tackling climate change, and it is failing badly. While in theory it provides a cheap and efficient means to limit greenhouse gas reductions within an ever-tightening cap, in practice it has rewarded major polluters with windfall profits, whilst undermining efforts to reduce pollution and achieve a more equitable and sustainable economy.

‘Climate capitalism’ won at Cancun – everyone else loses

by Patrick Bond from International Journal of Socialist Renewal
Bribing those Third World governments which in 2009 were the most vocal critics of Northern climate posturing at Copenhagen became common knowledge thanks to Wikileaks disclosures of US State Department cables from February 2010. On February 11, for example, European Union climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard told Washington that the Alliance of Small Island States “‘could be our best allies’, given their need for financing”.

WikiLeaks—Where’s the Oil?

by Charlotte Dennett from Who What Why.

After looking for information regarding oil in WikiLeaks, the author writes:
But in the absence thus far (and correct me if I’m wrong) of any significant oil-related diplomatic and/or military analyses among the leaks, allow me to provide some declassified — but rarely seen — documents of my own, which were released to me by the CIA once I sued for my father’s papers under the Freedom of Information Act. They relate to his activities as one of America’s first master spies in the Middle East during World War II., but they are rich in insights for the modern era.

Your Money or Your Life: Is There Really a Choice?

by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair

My favorite rich person (heir of the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune) observes that the rich often commit crimes to obtain their riches which in a capitalist society bestows status as well as comforts. But like taking heroin away from an addict, once they lose their wealth, they can't seem to find any other reason to live.

Be sure to view Johnson's outstanding film, "The One Percent" to gain more insights on this class of people who rule over our lives.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sen. Sanders Held a Tax Cut Filibuster [8+ hrs video]

from C-Span

C-Span has the links to his filibuster speech on December 10th in opposition to the tax bill that was recently passed by both houses of Congress and signed today by Obama. I think that this speech is destined to become one of the greatest speeches in the history of the US Congress.

Although the fact of the speech was widely reported, very few people actually heard it. Few people in the Senate stayed to hear it, mainstream TV media did not carry any significant segments from it, little of its content was reported in print media (I only found that the NY Times carried a link, now obsolete, to the speech), and I have seen no links to the speech on the internet although I'm sure there were some somewhere.

Bernie Sanders is no radical. He has labeled himself as a "socialist", but in the US that usually means a social democrat--one who supports a kinder, gentler capitalism which, of course, is an oxymoron. But Senator Sanders is a decent, honest man who knows of what he speaks. The only criticism I have is that he makes too many references to party labels with the Republicans being the bad guys. This is nonsense. Democrats are currently in the majority in both houses of Congress.

Because I am retired, I was able to listen to much of the speech on Dec. 10th.  Also, I have had the time to follow the many sordid activities of the ruling class before and during this economic collapse by following reports in alternative internet sources, but I still learned a lot more listening to this speech. He goes into the details about the bankster activities that enriched them and caused devastating consequences for many ordinary Americans and other workers in the world. He also sees so many things that could be done to put Americans to work on projects that would greatly contribute to everyone's lives for years to come. He provides many of the current details about the class war. Although few people heard it, those who did were greatly impressed. I highly recommend it. Over the holidays you may have time to play this while doing other routine things around your home.

The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning's detention

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon.

The biggest hero for uncovering some of the secrets of the Empire has been essentially "disappeared" by the US Marine Corps. You see, when you become an enforcer (enter their police or military forces) for the Empire, you give up almost all civil rights. This author does what he can to find out how Manning has been treated during the past seven months of his incarceration.
From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement.  For 23 out of 24 hours every day -- for seven straight months and counting -- he sits completely alone in his cell.  Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he's barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions.  For reasons that appear completely punitive, he's being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch).

Double-speak and waging psychological war against the people

by Larry Pinkney from Online Journal
From the genocide of the indigenous peoples, to the enslavement of Africans, to the serfdom of European so-called indentured servants, etc., the essence of this nation has historically been -- and continues to be -- steeped in wars and profiteering -- but wars that have always been rationalized by the established elite and for their profit -- to the ultimate detriment of everyday people of all colors. However, the most insidious war that has been carried on for generation after bloody generation is the psychological war against the people of this nation themselves. It is this war that has relegated everyday people to economic, political, and military cannon fodder -- putty in the hands of the corporate / military elite. This keeps everyday people in a constant state of manipulated and perpetual war -- war first and foremost with themselves.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

WikiRebels - The Documentary [4 videos, about 15m each]

If you are at all curious about the WikiLeaks controversy, you simply must view this documentary. The material reported in these videos (videos 2-4) usually do not make it in such a comprehensive form when mediated by mainstream media. The latter publish a lot of material, but they are under pressure from the Empire's authorities; and as a result they cooperate with these authorities by containing the damage as much as possible. Also, in segment four there are some issues within WikiLeaks that are very interesting.

Here are links to this excellent documentary on WikiLeaks:

Segment One

Segment Two

Segment Three

Segment Four

After viewing the videos, you might be interested in checking out OpenSecrets.org. 

What the Establishment Media Won’t Tell You About Richard Holbrooke

by Max Kantar from Global Research

Here in the US we have been subject to more disinformation about a ruling class servant who was eulogized following his recent death. This article corrects the disinformation and reveals that he was actually a war criminal.
Falsifying history is one of the most important functions of the establishment media. Whenever a statesman or lap-dog intellectual dies, it is important that the documentary record is suppressed in favor of telling comforting narratives that perpetuate the harmful myths of the dominant political culture.

MasterCard and Visa cut off Wikileaks, but the KKK is still OK!

by Henry Porter from Op Ed News

As you can see, the ruling class financial institutions have no problem with racist organizations that have a long history of violence toward minorities such as the Ku Klux Klan.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Former Greek minister attacked by mob as riots break out in Greece

by Nick Squires from The Telegraph

Class war is raging in Greece in the forms of violent clashes between protesters and police, attacks on government figures, and a general strike. See 1:46 video and read report which has more links to other reports.
The violence in Greece erupted during a general strike called by unions to protest against new labour laws which unions say will give employers too much power and take workers' rights "back to the Middle Ages." 
You will never see capitalists attacking protesters--they always hire unemployed, desperate working people to do their dirty work for them.

Also, see Al Jazeera's coverage

A sad day for the US if the Espionage Act is used against WikiLeaks

by Stephen M Kohn from the Guardian
Numerous US officials are calling for a resurrection of the US Espionage Act as a tool for prosecuting WikiLeaks. The dusting-off of the old law is all but certain. But the outcome of the constitutional dust-up that is sure to follow will result in triumph or tragedy for the US bill of rights.
Using the recent WikiLeaks incident as an excuse, the ruling class is coming up with more attacks against our civil rights.

It was actually the Sedition Act of 1918 which were amendments to the Espionage Act that resulted in such horrific attacks on the civil rights of the popular left wing movements. It was used after WWI was ending to insure that the great progress made by leftists before the war, which was interrupted by the war, would be dramatically rolled back. Such history is rarely treated with any depth in US schools.

The same thing happened after WWII using mainly the Smith Act, the Taft-Harley Act, and all the attacks on leftists during the McCarthy Congressional hearings in order to rollback all the labor gains made during the FDR administration and to stifle pent-up labor demands due to all the restrictions on strikes during WWII.

A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives

by Louise Story from the NY Times (free registration required.)

This is a fairly lengthy article about the derivative financial bets placed by an elite few. The bets are obscure, secretive, lucrative, and only the very rich can place bets at this casino. As the article makes clear, it is difficult to know how their bets effect the prices of commodities.
Perhaps no business in finance is as profitable today as derivatives. Not making loans. Not offering credit cards. Not advising on mergers and acquisitions. Not managing money for the wealthy.
The privileged elite guard their little domain fiercely using all their wealth and influence to protect it from any kind of regulation and competition. You see, the very wealthy do not like competition. Competition is for you and I to fight over the crumbs of capitalism.
“The revenue these dealers make on derivatives is very large and so the incentive they have to protect those revenues is extremely large,”.... “It will be hard for the dealers to keep their market share if everybody who can prove their creditworthiness is allowed into the clearinghouses. So they are making arguments that others shouldn’t be allowed in.” 
As a ruling class they influence so much of what our culture consists of. And competition is a major component of it. That is why we "little people" are taught to compete over everything--grades in schools, getting into the best schools, obtaining employment, and even in fun activities like athletics that were formerly associated with recreation. You see, fierce competition provides exceptional athletes to play on teams "owned" by the rich to enhance their profits.

Back in the 1980s I went into a large store in San Francisco that specialized in board games. They had something like 10,000 board games. I was looking for a game that was designed around cooperation where people played to win together. Guess what? They didn't have a single one!


Internet Worries

by Michael Albert from Z Space

He makes some very cogent observations about the effects of internet activities on the way we think about information. I share many of his concerns.

He raises two key issues:
  • Our online information practices are overwhelmingly defined by the choices and agendas of a relative few massive information corporations. Thus what are the implications of this dominance for our information activities.
  • What are the implications for our thought processes by accessing online information that "largely entail quickly perusing small nuggets or snippets of information, with constant flitting between options and almost no in depth, immersive attention to anything."

Better Than a Food Bank

by Colleen Kimmett from The Tyee (Canada). 

The article offers some good ideas about supporting small farms while providing nutritious food for low income people.
The organization's ability to harness a growing interest in local food has allowed them to not only boost their own programming, but also build local food infrastructure.

Veterans For Peace: The Permanent War Is Killing Us, Time for Solidarity

by Margaret Flowers from Global Research

This pediatrician reports on the health effects of permanent war on the citizens of the US.
There are the consequences of sending our people out to kill and the psychological harm which may lead to violence at home. There are the injuries from which many of our military members will never fully recover and the resulting costs to them and to their families, including bankruptcy and foreclosure from medical bills.

There is the squandering of our youth who, unable to afford college or to find a job, are lured by the promises of recruiters and see no other option but to join the military. Imagine if instead of spending one million dollars a year to send one soldier to Afghanistan we spent the money to provide twenty people with an education or jobs at home. Imagine if that person were employed not to kill but to create, to improve conditions at home.

Dying Beneath the Calm Waters

by Julio Godoy from IPS
At first glance, Lake Constance, trapped between Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, looks as peaceful as ever. But under the lake's apparently placid waters, a dramatic change is taking place - one that threatens to obliterate much of local biodiversity.
 This is only one example of many instances where climate change is directly responsible for environmental destruction: the rising lake temperatures have consequences that are not yet fully known. What is known, though, is that biodiversity suffers as natural processes are disrupted by these environmental changes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why are wars not being reported honestly?

by John Pilger from the Guardian.
Never has so much official energy been expended in ensuring journalists collude with the makers of rapacious wars which, say the media-friendly generals, are now "perpetual." In echoing the west's more verbose warlords, such as the waterboarding former US vice-president Dick Cheney, who predicated "50 years of war," they plan a state of permanent conflict wholly dependent on keeping at bay an enemy whose name they dare not speak: the public.
His explanation for this question clearly supports my argument that no substantial change is possible without the control of media being taken away from ruling class corporations and establishing media under the control of ordinary people.

Lowering Workers' Wages is the Objective [13:21m video]

from The Real News

Paul Jay interviews Leo Panitch, professor of political science at Toronto U. and author of Global Capitalism and American Empire

The professor has an excellent grasp of the contradictions and logic of capitalism that promote unemployment and result in the devastation of large parts of society. 

I think it is interesting that in an earlier segment Panitch describes capitalist behavior as "irrational"; but after being challenged by Jay, he clearly explains that their behavior is rational--from a capitalist point of view or logic.
...pressures have always existed on social programs not to interrupt the capitalist labor market, not to get in the way of people's fears that they may not be able to get employment. ...this is going to get much worse, unless we make very, very radical changes, unless labor movements and intellectuals start making far more radical and forward-looking demands than the defensive ones they're making at the moment, because there's an inherent logic of capitalist globalization.

EPA Document Shows It Knowingly Allowed Pesticide That Kills Honey Bees

by Ariel Schwartz from Solidarity Economy
The world honey bee population has plunged in recent years, worrying beekeepers and farmers who know how critical bee pollination is for many crops. ...Now a leaked EPA document reveals that the agency allowed the widespread use of a bee-toxic pesticide, despite warnings from EPA scientists.
Unfortunately, the article does not sufficiently link this finding with the profit interests of corporations and their influence over government agencies.

Quietly Ticking Time Bomb in Fed Data

from Center for Media and Democracy

The article provides some excellent graphs and clear explanations as to the reality about TARP and the other huge bailouts of mortgage-backed securities by The Fed. There has been a lot of congratulatory statements made in mainstream and financial media about TARP money being paid back. This article puts things in their proper perspective.
The Fed data supports our long-held contention that the Congressionally-approved and much despised $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was only a small fraction of the total bailout.

Failing to Prosecute Wall Street Fraud Is Extending Our Economic Problems

from Washington's Blog

More empty rhetoric from financial experts designed to divert attention away from their participation in, and support of, a system which has inevitably evolved into the sociopathic monster that it is. Most of these people are all talk and no action simply because they are a creature of the system and they have done very well by it. The most sincere among them would like to reform the system which, of course, is like trying to train a wolf to become a vegetarian.
Bill Gross, Nouriel Roubini, Laurence Kotlikoff, Steve Keen, Michel Chossudovsky and the Wall Street Journal all say that the U.S. economy is a giant Ponzi scheme.

Virtually all independent economists and financial experts say that rampant fraud was largely responsible for the financial crisis.

Cancun climate change talks disappoint global expectations

from the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM). 

The title of the article would probably be more accurate if "hopes" were substituted for "expectations".  As the concluding paragraph states:
In Cancun the world´s governments were under an obligation to find solutions to the climate crisis and offer answers that could guarantee the survival of humanity - but they were not up to the task. The results from these climate change talks show that the profit motive still trumps life itself and threatens the very survival of the planet.
The tragic fact remains that as long as the "profit motive" (capitalism) rules, there can be no progress in efforts to maintain a climate that can sustain human and other life forms. Therefore, we have no other choice than to replace this system with one that can permit sustainability.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bernie's Rant & the Tax Bill War [13:04 video]

by Robert Oak from the Economic Populist.

(This is a speech he gave a week ago, not the more recent "filibuster" speech.)

Sanders who has identified himself as a "socialist" is really a social democrat. The political spectrum is so far right in the US that to be a social democrat is regarded as a socialist. However, his observations on the class war are right on the mark.

The Economy Cannot Recover Until the Big Banks Are Broken Up

from Washington's Blog.
 A lot of people still haven't heard that the economy cannot recover until the big banks are broken up.

But virtually all independent economists and financial experts say that it is vital to break up the giant banks....
I was quite impressed by the people he placed on this list: people who favor breaking up the big banks and letting them fail when they lose their bets. I inspected some of the links at random to check to see if they really took these positions, and they did. But a reading of their arguments leads me to the following interpretation: 

There is definitely a split within the US capitalist ruling class as to the policies pursued by authorities to bailout the banks during this recent crisis. On one side there are these people who fear that the reckless actions of hedge fund gamblers, banks, mortgage industry, etc. went too far this time.  If not reined in, they see that the latter could in the future actually kill the goose, capitalism, that lays their golden eggs. 

But, of course, hindsight is cheap. I wonder where these critics were when the economic crisis started to unfold and before the key decisions were made. And as for their views about breaking up the big banks--it's all hooey, it ain't gonna happen. They know it should happen. It is obvious that it should happen. But they really can't get up enough gumption to really spoil the party.

On the other side, of course, are all the people who benefited: those connected with the big financial institutions, those who continue to grow fabulously rich. The latter are like drunken sailors who won the lottery and regard the former as "party poopers".

Financial arms race underway in Washington

by Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold from Los Angeles Times

Learn, if you have been asleep forever, how American "democracy" functions by reading this piece. Learn how the US Congress is auctioned off to the highest bidder. But hey, it's only the guiding hand of the market place at work. Ain't capitalism wonderful?

The only real news is...it's getting worse!

Labor's Last Stand in 2011?

by Shamus Cooke from Workers Action.

So many attacks on working people by the government of the ruling class are performed by stealth--indirect methods that can easily slip underneath the radar of mainstream media. The author explains the latest strategy against public sector workers. As is evident in the article, both ruling class parties use these strategies.
...pensions for state workers are on the cutting board, to be replaced by the 401(k) scam, while state bankruptcy will "abrogate" [abolish] union contracts. But as it stands now, states cannot legally declare bankruptcy. This minor obstacle is being handled quickly for showtime....

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Environmental Protection Agency?

by Dahr Jamail from Al Jazeera.

This report illustrates how a government agency of the US ruling class functions--to serve their interests while pretending to serve ours. Officially it is an agency whose purpose is as follows: 
The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.

EPA's purpose is to ensure that:

  • all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
  • national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information; 
  • federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively; 
  • environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy; 
  • all parts of society -- communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments -- have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks; 
  • environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and 
  • the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.
So far the history of their performance reveals that the main interest of this government agency is far more directed to serving the needs of British Petroleum Oil Corporation.  See this, this, and this.
The sharp contrast between official purposes of federal agencies and their actual performance is hidden as much as possible by the propaganda organs of the ruling class, mass media corporations. These organs are a major weapon against any form of popular power. 

If the localization movement accomplishes anything else, it must establish independent grassroots media to counteract this brainwashing. The freedom and democratic nature of the internet is precisely why actions are now being undertaken to exert greater control over it by government and corporations.

Yet, I have not seen any evidence that localization organizations such as Transition Towns regard the development of an independent media as of any importance. Hence, it is easy to conclude that such localization efforts will largely serve to aid the capitalist ruling class by helping ordinary people to survive on less while the rich wage wars, consume ever greater amounts of fossil fuels, and destroy the Earth's habitat. If these trends continue, it seems to me that in the next 30 years the world will increasingly look like this: small islands of the rich living behind powerfully guarded gated communities that are surrounded by huge oceans of the poor everywhere in the world.

Cancún climate change deal falls flat, Kyoto Protocol on life support

by Betwa Sharma from The Christian Science Monitor.

This source provides the latest scoop from the UN Climate Conference concluded yesterday.
Two weeks of Cancún climate change talks ended Saturday, with a vague deal to help poor countries deal with climate change and the original Kyoto Protocol all but dead.
For another report and commentary, you might check this out.
The United Nation's climate change conference here in Cancun came to an end at around 4 a.m. this morning. It would be cynical to call it a bribe, but the Cancun agreements were largely reached because the rich countries continued their vague promises to hand over $100 billion in climate aid annually to poor countries beginning in 2020.
 This from Foreign Policy in Focus is a more comprehensive analysis as of 12-9-2010

You think WikiLeaks is the target?

by Djelloul Marbrook from his blog

Regardless of whether the recent WikiLeaks incident was created or aided and abetted by government authorities (see this), it seems likely they will use it to attempt to gain more control over internet access and content.
What is really going on? Could it be that Washington doesn’t give a fig about Assange or WikiLeaks or even the embarrassments? Could it be that this just happens to be tailor-made to build a national security case for controlling the Internet and limiting access to it?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The "Great Game" and the Conquest of Eurasia: Towards a World War III Scenario? - Part 1

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya from Voltaire

The author looks at current trends in The Great Game which, as in the past, pose great capitalist confrontations that do not bode well for world peace. 

Inter-capitalist rivalries have always existed. England dominated for a long time, followed by challenges from Germany that resulted in two world wars. The US emerged from WWII as the dominant power that absorbed the old English ruling class and its empire. They immediately went after the Soviet Union that had an economic system which did not allow for capitalist penetration. With the collapse of that country, we now see new powers and alliances emerging to confront the US Empire.

For some strange reason there is a lingering Cold War attitude that seems to inform ruling circles in the US Empire. The end result is that they continue with aggressive policies and actions against Russia and China especially, and also Iran. Thus these policies may force these countries to forge alliances for their own protection.

Washington’s Geopolitical Nightmare: China and Russia boost economic cooperation

by William Engdahl from Voltaire

Engdahl, in my opinion, is one of the most astute political observers in the world. Not that I always think he is right, but his observations and analyzes should never be ignored. 
...there are clear signs of late that both Beijing and Moscow are moving decisively after long hesitation to strengthen strategic economic cooperation in the face of the obvious disintegration of America as the sole Superpower. If the recent trend is deepened it will create Washington’s worst geopolitical nightmare: a unified Eurasia landmass capable of challenging America’s global economic hegemony.

Iceland offers risky temptation for Ireland as recession ends

by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard from The Telegraph

This noted financial editor looks at countries who refused to bail out their banks.
Iceland has finally emerged from deep recession after allowing its currency to plunge and washing its hands of private bank debt, prompting an intense the debate over whether Ireland might suffer less damage if adopted the same strategy.

Cancún Summit Gives Fossil Fuels a Free Pass

by Stephen Leahy from IPS
 The main cause of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels, so why are billions of dollars being invested to find and produce more oil, coal and natural gas?

Like All Rich People, Louis C.K. Hates Spoiled Rich Kids

by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair.
Access to unlimited resources consistently undermines any sense of normalcy in the household, and parents fail to restore balance by neglecting to teach their offspring that basic human values are far more important than an attachment to material wealth.
This author is my favorite from the 1% class that holds sway over the Earth's billions of people through their control of the Empire. In this piece he discusses the perils of growing up in a rich family, and for parents it poses...
a difficult dilemma: parents raising children born to privilege run the risk of creating self-satisfied little cretins.
Maybe that explains George Bush, Jr.

Johnson knows his subject well by growing up in a family who are heirs to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune. He is also the creator of the film, "The One Percent", a film that I highly recommend if you are going to have much understanding of the class of people who largely rule the world.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wikileaks: A Big Dangerous US Government Con Job

by William Engdahl from Global Research.

The author presents a very good argument that the WikiLeaks event may be essentially a COINTELPRO type of operation. I, for one, have been expecting an attack on the open, equal access internet for some time. It is one of the last bastions of free, open media that anyone like myself can access and have our voices heard, and, as such, it is a major challenge to the power of capitalist ruling classes. The latter can never tolerate threats to their power, and it is probably the last remaining threat to the control of their respective populations that are becoming increasingly antagonistic to their rule. 

Because the internet is so extremely popular among ordinary people, I have been wondering how they would attack it and bring it under their complete control. There have been moves by corporations to be able to limit access. See this and this. Just as the 9/11 disaster (read this) prepared the American population to launch aggressive wars in Eurasia, so may the WikiLeaks affair provide a perfect excuse to accomplish the takeover of the internet to serve only private interests. 

Of course, it is too early to tell if this thesis is correct. But we, the people, must be ever vigilant in this class war that we keep losing. Remember, it is no longer only a matter of social justice, our survivability as a human race is also now at stake.

Others in addition to Engdahl are skeptical. Read this from a former FBI translator and whistle-blower who was stationed in Turkey.

Companies Cling to Cash

by Justin Lahart from The Wall Street Journal.

Money, money: (Sung to the tune of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?") where has all the money gone, gone to bankers and corporations everyone. Oh, when will we ever learn, oh, when will we ever learn.

Remember when Adam Smith was explaining his theory of value, he wrote: 
...in a more advanced society the market price is no longer proportional to labor cost since the value of the good now includes compensation for the owner of the means of production....
Maybe he forgot to mention that the compensation that the "owner" receives is solely decided by him, and what we get is decided by him, as well as what work is done, who decides how the work is done, and if work is done at all. Nowadays they have decided that little work should be done because they expect little profit from it. In other words, the economy exists only for the benefit of "owners" that their ancestors established in law by their lawyers, enforced by police and military forces under their control.
The cash buildup shows the deep caution many companies feel about investing in expansion while the economic recovery remains painfully slow and high unemployment and battered household finances continue to limit consumers' ability to spend.
With few prospects of making profits in the short term, they've decided to give the money to their investors many of whom are the people who drove the economy into collapse with all their hedge fund gambling with packaged mortgages.