Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pay No Attention to The Man Behind the Curtain

The media is in full damage control mode. Who are these people in the Occupy movement who insist on pointing at the 1% as the source of our economic problems? How dare they talk about economic inequality!

This is not the way the ruling class prefers to run the show.

We are meant to be distracted by the puppets, and pay no attention to the puppeteers.

And the latest puppet show is in full swing, with weekly debates, fully televised and commented on, by the Republican wing of the corporate party.

While many people fell into their assigned roles of arguing about relative stupidity of the participants in the race, or laughing at the gaffes made in the debates, others refused to play, and turned their attention to the worsening circumstances of the majority of people in this country.

This must scare the ruling class. Sure, the Occupy movement is made up of peaceful people, but what about the Tea Party?

Observers have commented on the lack of concern showed by the police about armed Tea Party protesters, while Occupy people have been attacked, beaten and arrested.

What if the Tea Party people turn their anger from individual politicians and toward those who buy them?

The fear of that is driving the media push to deflect the attention of Americans back toward the politicians. Listen to the talking heads and it becomes very clear.

The military detention law just passed by Congress serves to turn the anger back to the politicians, and also to setup a framework for destroying any organized movement that may develop as Americans become more and more impoverished. They've got it covered!
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Military Detentions

From: "They Thought They Were Free", a book written in 1955 by an American who interviewed Germans after the war-

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.


Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the ‘national enemies,’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants to think?"

The manipulation of the people has progressed so much since then, and yet, the process remains the same.

We, too, receive news of deliberations made in secret, that we cannot know the details of, because of "national security". We are watching as groups are targeted and demonized by mass propaganda, which is swallowed by the unthinking and the fearful.

And this technique of keeping people busily arguing about trivia while the main problem goes unchallenged is used with great effect.

I first really noticed it after the announced death of Osama Binladen, earlier this year.

The first announcement was so unbelievable that even the most gullible found it hard to swallow. They finally found the man for whom they have been searching for 10 years! But then they killed him and then they threw his body in the ocean. What?!!

I was amazed at how few people believed this the first day, including people I would have thought would believe anything they were told.

But then the flak started. He fought back, he didn't fight back, he hid behind his wife, he didn't, he was asleep, he was awake, he was a coward, he was brave, Obama watched the murder on TV, no he didn't, Pakistan knew he was there, no they were embarrassed because they didn't.

Soon, the media and the people were busily arguing about the details of the supposed mission, and forgot to question the main points. Was it really Osama? If it was, why wasn't he brought back for questioning and a trial? Should the SEALS involved be prosecuted for war crimes, for summary execution?

The new law to codify the illegal practices of the past decade, the indefinite detention of accused people, without evidence, charges or trial, aroused great opposition from Americans.

I had right wingers who usually don't speak to me come up and tell me how outraged they are by this law.

So, Obama threatened to veto the bill, and liberals calmed down. That is, until youtube video started circulating of Carl Levin explaining that the White House had been the ones to insist that Americans be included in the act.

Then they voted on whether to take out the part targeting Americans. It failed. Then they voted to put in language saying that the President didn't have to obey that part of the law if he didn't want to. That passed.

Then Obama delayed signing the Act.

By this time, most people are so confused that no one can organize against the bill, because so many people think that it's no longer a problem.

Mission Accomplished.

As a very interesting part of the theater, Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, and General Petraeus and others spoke against the bill. Why?

During the Egyptian uprising earlier this year, I emailed my Egyptian friend (who lives in the US) and asked him what was going on. He replied that he didn't know what was going on in Egypt, but he did know that top Egyptian generals were meeting at the Pentagon.

And then the military refused to shoot the protesters, and gave them rides on the tanks, and the protesters hugged the soldiers, and gave them flowers and proclaimed that they were part of the uprising. How beautiful was that?

And then Mubarek stepped down and the military took over, and victory for the protesters was announced, and they basked in the adulation of the world for their peaceful victory, and the protesters left the plaza, and went home to start living in their new military dictatorship.

Whoops! Now they are being shot down in the plaza by the military instead of the police.

The propaganda continues, however, bizarrely enough. They get Time Person of the Year, and they give advice to the Occupy Wall Street protesters, just as if they actually had won, and were not being shot down. Amazing.

So what was the point of our national "security" apparatchiks testifying against the detention bill?

Was it to make us feel all warm and gooey inside about our principled top members of our repressive apparatus? Gosh, the evil Congress may pass this law, but we can be assured that our military will never enforce it. Our soldiers are the good guys, even when they're kicking down doors of civilians in other countries. So they would never kick down doors in this country. That's up to the civilian SWAT teams. That's how free we are.

More from "They Thought They Were Free" -

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have.

"But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off in little organizations, and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent to—to what? It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.

"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.
"
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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ptokemin Party

Last night was my 19th year of attending the Holiday Party. When I moved here, I was shocked at my new job, the low pay, the lack of holiday and sick time, the expensive health insurance and the attitude that management had towards the employees.

But the party made up for some of that. What a blast! $5 a ticket, with great food, an open bar and a disc jockey for dancing the night away.

New management (with a WAY worse attitude toward labor) came a few years ago. First, the party stopped serving any alcohol except beer and wine. They changed the disc jockey.

But this year, they announced that the entire system would combine their parties. And instead of being held in the college ballrooms, it was held in an aluminum pole barn (the "convention center") in a town 12 miles away.

No alcohol for the first two hours, and then one free drink, followed by a cash bar.

We got there a 6pm. I walked in, and it took me a minute to realize that the droning voice over the microphone was praying, which explained all the bowed heads. We never had a prayer at the old party. I was looking for the food. After the prayer, the food line formed and it was incredibly long. But gone were the platters of shrimp, fresh vegetables and dip, chicken wings and other tasty finger foods, lavish desserts, and white coated men carving roast and ham. There were two casseroles, one with chicken and one without. There were green beans, carrots and potatoes au gratin. The food was served on plastic plates which quickly burned your fingers, so you had to leave a space to hold it, instead of piling it with food. There were no desserts, just another long line for the candy bar, where you took a little box, and they filled it with leftover Halloween candy bars.

The first two hours were supposed to have a video on Hospital Heroes, followed by dancing at 8pm.

My husband and I left out of boredom, planning to return after the corporate propaganda. But when we came back at 8, it was still(?) going on. Or maybe it started then. I was afraid to ask, because there was no one there that I knew, and I didn't want to get fired for asking. One of the announcers of the Hospital Heroes asked who was sexier, the CEO or the Human Relations head, and someone yelled out "Neither". The announcer said "You just lost your job". How funny was that? At least, I assume it was a joke.

My husband pointed out that this was a lot like the US economy. You still had a party, but the food was worse, you had to pay for things that used to be free, and you had to listen to religion and propaganda that you never heard before. It was austerity in action. Sadly, the new employees didn't know the difference. I've never had the experience of seeing passenger pigeons fill the sky, and they have never been to a fun holiday party.

I said, it's worse than that. You see all these people? We are all paid to keep people alive who the ruling class doesn't really see any value in. When Obamacare kicks in, and Medicare and Medicaid are cut, so are these people's jobs. Liberals made fun of the guy holding the sign that said, "Keep your hands off my Medicare", but he was inadvertently right. They are taking funds that went to Medicare and giving it to private insurance companies.

The money that went to Medicare actually goes to me and my co-workers, not to the elderly or poor themselves. They are the cardholders that enable us to bill the government.

So, although I deplored the austerity of this party, I know that there probably won't be any more parties in future years. Or, if there are, there won't be as many people attending.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

America Under Attack

200 year old towns in New England washed away, Joplin blown away, New Orleans drowned. East St Louis, Detroit and many more looking like Dresden after the firebombing of WW2.

Entire mountains blown to bits. Toxic lakes that kill any birds landing on them. A massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, even before the BP/Halliburton oil spill. Ranchers who live near fracking operations with water that catches fire, and a plan to do the same for the millions of people who live on the East Coast. Massive amounts of farmland depleted of topsoil and poisoned with herbicides and pesticides. Plans to drill for oil in the last great remaining wilderness of Alaska.

The Bill of Rights gone. Police breaking down doors, killing dogs, arresting citizens and confiscating four billion dollars worth of personal property a year. Police tasing, pepper spraying, and beating protesters. People being sentenced to decades-long sentences for small crimes, while rich criminals roam free. Americans subjected to ID checks, porno scanners and gropings. Every American treated as a potential criminal and terrorist.

One out of five American children living in poverty. Millions of homes empty, while millions of people are thrown out of their homes. People living on the streets, in their cars, in the woods. Food stamps cut.

TV talking heads whipping up hysteria at potential enemies overseas while our country is destroyed by those who profit.

What enemy can destroy land, water, air, the atmosphere, communities, civil rights, and living conditions and go unopposed by the majority of Americans?

Parts of America look as if they've been bombed. Thousands of Americans are internal refugees.

Yet the class war continues. And most Americans don't even notice.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The End of Consumerism

I know that I just wrote about Americans and their stuff, and my Facebook friends are divided between those decrying consumerism and pushing for Buy Nothing Day, and those ready to spend Thanksgiving night in the parking lot at Best Buy, but, actually, the decision to decrease American consumerism has been taken out of our hands. Or our consciences.

I read an interesting Citibank prospectus, from a few years ago, telling investors that there was no money to be made in selling to so-called "middle class" (actually workers with higher wages or salaries) anymore. They're calling it the hourglass theory, with the very rich able to afford goods and services, and the very poor able to afford only a little, and no one really left in the middle.

It's like the old joke where the kid is selling lemonade for $100 a glass, and someone tells him "You're not going to sell much lemonade that way, son". And the kid says "I only have to sell one!"

Luxury items are selling well. Cruise lines are advertising to the rich now, and not so much catering to the buffet-eating masses. On the bottom part of the hourglass, Dollar General is doing well. One woman was quoted as saying how much she preferred Dollar General to WalMart, because she didn't have to dress up to go there.

And now Time magazine has made it official. I quote from the Oct. 31, 2011 edition, which lays it out in Time's usual cheery fashion - "If successful, the shift to consumer spending will take a good chunk of the weight of the global economy off the shoulders of American consumers and make China a gotta-be-there market for everything from video games to surgical tools to potato chips".

Let me translate that. Americans no longer make enough money to interest capitalists looking to sell consumer goods. Or health care items. As if the insurance companies we're going to be forced to pay tribute to are actually going to pay for surgery! No, out of 7 billion people on this planet, there are enough elsewhere to keep profits flowing without the participation of US consumers. So, bye buy!

And if we all switched to a simpler lifestyle, the way my family has been doing for years, (Live simply, so others may simply live), it wouldn't be so bad.

I mean, shoes that light up when you walk? Cards that sing when you open them? Four-wheelers? Disposable everything? All ending up in the landfills, polluting the water supplies?

But, as usual, the cutbacks are spread unequally. More and more people are living in tent cities, students are preyed upon to put them into eternal debt, and 21% of American children live in poverty. (Because we're a child loving nation!)

I'm hoping that the OWSers don't start petitioning the 1% for a return of a wider section of the US population to the resource wasting consumption of the past.

We live on a finite planet, with finite resources, much of which we've already wasted. We need to move forward, not back to the US version of the late 20th century.

Forward to a sustainable population living in harmony with each other, and the ecosystem on which we depend.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Private Property

Americans love their stuff. We think of ourselves as a consumption based society. McMansions, fancy cars, tricked-out phones, shoes that light up, trinkets and baubles galore. We have shopping channels, and malls, and credit cards, to make sure that we can always get more stuff.

Without mention or notice, however, this is changing. Many Americans have lost their big stuff, like houses, and are reduced to hoarding the little they have left in shopping carts, or stashed under a tarp in a corner of a vacant lot. Still, the things they have left mean a lot to them, and it devastates them when cops come in and destroy or discard their possessions.

The protesters in Zucotti Park were outraged when cops came in and destroyed their encampment, trashing tents, sleeping bags, books, and whatever else they could get their hands on.

US cops confiscate four BILLION dollars a year in US citizens' cars, real estate and cash.

Americans lose their land to road widenings, and the Supreme Court has upheld the taking of private personal land for private corporate profits.

But when I bring up the idea of the corporate death penalty, people are appalled! Take away property from the rich, even if they've killed people? This is considered unthinkable by the average American.

Before the Civil War, people who advocated abolishing slavery were considered radical. The economic worth of four million slaves was a lot. To just take all that money away from slaveholders seemed outrageous to some.

But abolitionists kept on. Interestingly, there were a lot of people who were also fighting corporate power before the Civil War.

But now, most people consider slavery to be outrageous, and corporate power untouchable.

Sure, corporations are laying millions of people off, control our governments, and most other countries' governments, kill people with their processes and their products, and are destroying the planets' ecosystem.

But even aware people who realize all of this are afraid to advocate the abolition of corporations. They want to end corporate personhood, or use taxpayer moneys to fund elections (i.e., use public money to pay corporate media for attack ads), or some other wimpy solution that falls short of the needed transformation of our society.

If a corporation commits a criminal act, it should get the death penalty and its assets turned over to its workers, to be owned and controlled by the workers, with responsibility for its actions.

A country that throws citizens, (real human beings) into prison for stealing bicycles or pizza slices should not flinch at rescinding corporate charters for poisoning of water supplies or murder.

Mass hysteria is whipped up at "terrorists" who ponder the feasibility of putting arsenic in a town's water supply, but a corporation that poisons the water supply of millions is allowed to continue.
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Friday, November 18, 2011

USS Titanic

The greed of the 1% baffles most people. The 400 richest Americans own more than the bottom 150 million combined, yet most of the bottom 150 million Americans would be happy with economic security. While they may dream of winning the lottery, a good-paying job with a house and a car are all they really aspire to.

But multiple mansions and cars and private jets and private islands don't seem to be enough for the insatiable rich. What character defect drives them? How can they justify taking from people who have almost nothing, in order to add to their inventory of expensive belongings?

The USA is sinking,like the Titanic, but in very slow motion. We have been sinking for 30 years, but even the people in steerage have managed to stay alive. Sure, they had to tread water, but the leavings from those above them have kept them alive.

But now those in the cabins above steerage are starting to sink. They are outraged! Why are they being treated like steerage? This is wrong! They always thought that they were right up there with the first class people, just not paid quite as much.

But the first class people are cutting off the crumbs for all, causing so much turmoil that even the corporate media remarks on the surges.

What keeps the Titanic afloat? The inflated bubble, they tell us.

So the rich are using the last bits of wealth that the steerage has to keep their parts inflated. They must keep taking from those below them, or they will sink with us. It's as if our drowning screams are the air they need.

They position the police and the military between us and them, enforcing their power to take.

Even some of the police and military are starting to realize that they will be cut loose when their usefulness is through, but, like everyone else, they're hanging on to the sides of the lifeboats as long as they can.

But, as George Bush said, this sucker is going down.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Cradle of Democracy

Greece's Parliament has voted in more austerity measures, so that the workers may pay off the loans the ruling class took out. Greeks are striking and rioting, while their police attack them.

The US has multiple cities with Wall St. protesters occupying public spaces. Some are allowed to stay, while police attack others. With no trace of embarrassment, Hilary Clinton lectures Syria on the importance of allowing free speech and public assembly.

Meanwhile, the corporate media desperately tries to interest people in next year's election, giving endless airtime to the Republican candidates for the Presidential race in 2012. Just who will get the Chief Puppet position nomination? How exciting!

And Hilary Clinton gives a press conference sternly lecturing the Libyan people on how to have a democracy, while warning that some voices will not be tolerated.

The majority of Americans want out of Iraq and Afghanistan, want to raise taxes on the rich, want to keep Social Security and Medicare, want to more on education and less on war, want a single payer health care system, and more.

What do we get, in this shining example of democracy?

War, homeland repression, unemployment, evictions and bank bailouts.

It is now obvious that millions of Americans don't believe that pushing a button every 2 years has anything to do with democracy, defined as self-rule.

Apparently, neither do the Greeks, the British, the Portuguese, or many others.

Poor Libyans. After going from the poorest country in Africa to the richest, raising their life expectancy, having food, housing and education readily available, they now get "democracy". No, not the people's councils that Qaddafi pushed, the purple-fingered variety that they get until they are all properly processed, fingerprints and DNA collected for their IDs. Then they can show their papers before they vote for NATO approved candidates, and their democracy will be complete.

On to Iran!
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We, the people of the US, have just been through the most over-the-top exercise in self pity imaginable. Perhaps we could be excused for the days after September 11, 2001, for indulging in grief and righteous indignation. The horror of watching people die in New York City upset even Americans who usually pour abuse onto New York. The blowing up of the buildings was a spectacular show, and very few people questioned just how that show was produced, at the time.

But now, after 10 years of the US bombing, maiming, ethnically cleansing, murdering, terrorizing, blowing up buildings, driving into exile, deforming the babies and killing the livestock of the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and others we don't yet know about (as Rumsfield would say, the known unknowns), now we have the nerve to indulge in an mass orgy ofbathos, complete with light shows and solemn speeches and monuments. To remember one day? Ten years of murder and destruction versus one day? 3 buildings versus thousands? 3,000 people versus over 1,000,000?

Jeez, can any people be more clueless or lacking in perspective or empathy?

And, to explain how the original show was produced, watch this video from Architects and Engineers for 9-11 Truth.
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

London Burning

We hear a lot about our Anglo Saxon heritage and culture. It's usually to point out the superiority of our legal system to one, say, of stoning adulterers to death.

As we watch England burn, though, it's wise to recall that part of our culture is a propensity to violence.

It's been England who has stood by the US as we bombed, killed, kidnapped and tortured our way through Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa in the last decade alone. Sure, England is a junior partner, not given to the excesses of the US, but-still.

A young woman, hiding in her apartment in London, has this to say about the cluelessness of her ruling class-

No one expected this. The so-called leaders who have taken three solid days to return from their foreign holidays to a country in flames did not anticipate this. The people running Britain had absolutely no clue how desperate things had become. They thought that after thirty years of soaring inequality, in the middle of a recession, they could take away the last little things that gave people hope, the benefits, the jobs, the possibility of higher education, the support structures, and nothing would happen. They were wrong. And now my city is burning, and it will continue to burn until we stop the blanket condemnations and blind conjecture and try to understand just what has brought viral civil unrest to Britain. Let me give you a hint: it ain’t Twitter.

Parts of our population have 40%-50% unemployment and have been living in poverty for years, recently joined by more and more of the formerly employed. Now our ruling class has decided that the paltry benefits that the American working class (including the unemployed) have must stop.

What do they expect to happen?

Well, because the US now has a military command assigned to it, and because the police have been militarized, and the nastiest in each police force taken for special training, (as one of our local police said "I get to wear black pajamas and kick down doors"), because Homeland Security has dossiers on millions of Americans, and enormous prisons are being built, and new "non-lethal" weapons developed....I'm guessing that our ruling class is not clueless about what will happen.

They're ready.
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No Joking Matter

Saturday night I was at a party with a bunch of intelligent, good-hearted liberals.

One of them told a joke about Bush. He dies and goes to heaven, but is stopped at the pearly gates and told that he must preview heaven and hell, and then choose which one he wants. He says that of course he wants heaven, but St Peter insists on him following the rules.

So he goes down to hell and there are Cheney and Rumsfield, driving around a golf course, drinking and carousing with women. Bush refuses a drink, but they tell him "You're dead now, George. You can drink again".

Then Bush goes to preview heaven. The pearly gates open, and there are a bunch of nice people sitting around listening to classical music on NPR.

"Well", says Bush. "I never thought I'd say this, but I want to go to hell".

So they send him back, and there is fire and brimstone and people screaming in agony.

"Hey!" says Bush. "Where's the golf course and the booze and the women?"

"Oh", says Satan. "That was just the campaign!"

We all laughed heartily. Then I said, "That joke would work even better with Obama!"

Instant hostile silence. Then the hostess asked me what I could possibly mean by that.

Gosh, just that Bush never promised much, but Obama did. You know, Obama promised peace, rule of law, openness, the end of torture, prosperity, and the end of a government for the rich. Instead, the torture continues, the wars have widened, secrecy prevails and whistle-blowers are prosecuted, war crimes go unpunished, and Obama prescribes austerity for the working class and subsidies to the rich. Really? I have to explain this?

That's when I noticed the framed Obama poster on the wall.

Oops!
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

End of the Republic

Congress voted yesterday to give up its budgeting power to a Super Committee, 12 members who will be picked for their belief in small government.

Ha, ha, just kidding. They will believe in a massive military, increased Homeland Repression, and more prisons added to the gulag that already imprisons more people than any other country in the world.

They just don't believe in a strong sovereign government which represents US citizens, instead of multi-national corporations, and which provides for the common welfare. Chris Floyd sums it up very well, in his post "If the republic had not died a long time ago, this would indeed be the death of the republic".

If you actually read the Constitution, that short document which is easily contained in the booklets that Congresspeople wave in the air while legislating against US citizen's interest, Congress has almost all of the power in government. The only duties that the President really has are to enforce the laws that Congress passes, and to give a speech to Congress yearly. And to command the armies if Congress declares war.

Congress has already given up the power to declare war. That power has been taken over by the President, wielding the incredible death dealing apparatus of a massive standing military. The power to raise an Army, and pay for it (but for no more than two years) was also given up by Congress.

The power to coin money and regulate the value of it was given up long, long ago.

Here's a duty of Congress - "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time."

Where's the amendment that says, "except for the black budget"?

So this appointment of 12 people to be more equal than the others is just one more step down the slippery road of oligarchy.

But it's an amazingly big step. They are giving up the power to raise revenue, and to decide how the revenue should be spent. The more equal 12 people will decide those questions, and the only thing the rest of the 435 representatives can do is to approve it or not.

I've quoted Lily Tomlin before "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up".

I have agreed with Michael Hudson and Glenn Greenwald, that this entire artificially suspenseful debt ceiling theater was a way to attack social spending for US citizens.

Obama even threatened to withhold Social Security checks for the elderly, the disabled, and orphans, even though Social Security is funded separately from the federal budget. Not even Bush or Cheney ever sunk that low!

But I wasn't cynical enough to realize that this power play would go far enough to further strip Congress of its powers.

I just can't keep up!
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Terrorist Attack in Norway

Breaking news is that Norway is undergoing multiple terrorist attacks, of unknown origin.

The US announces that Norway doesn't have strong enough "security", and that is why they were attacked.

On September 11, 2001, I turned on ABC News to watch the coverage of the terrorist attacks.

I watched for one hour, and then a talking head (whom I did not recognize, and I don't remember his name) announced that the reason that the US was attacked was that we were "too free" and that that was going to change.

I turned off the TV in disgust. The US too free? What a crock!

The loonies were coming out.

But now I see that the man was prescient. Of course he was. That was the plan all along.

Now I know that the 9-11 attacks were carried out by US operatives, with the intention of scaring the American people into accepting homeland repression and military aggression.

I am willing to bet that the Norway attacks are being carried out by US operatives, with the intention of scaring the Norwegians into accepting homeland repression and buying US tools of oppression, such as the Michael Chertoff pornoscanners, and police weapons.

Update : Glenn Greenwald points out that Norway resisted and refused to go along with calls (including from the New York Times) for greater repression in Norway.
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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Two Americas

Observers have pointed out that there are two Americas. One - an educated, latte-drinking, Prius-driving, NPR listening kind and gentle people. The other - an ignorant, Bud-light drinking, pick-up truck driving, Rush Limbaugh-listening rough and violent people.

My new neighbors moved in a few months ago. My husband was at the fence introducing himself to the male, and I came up to be friendly.

My husband kept asking the man if he was attending the local college, and the man kept ignoring the question, while salivating over our billy goat's well-hung testicles and powerful build, asking unseemly questions about his potency and violent behavior. I felt like interrupting my husband by saying "Of course he doesn't go to college, you unobservant, NPR-listening man! Quit asking!"

Today, my neighbor has been blowing up fireworks for a solid two hours, freaking out my animals, and getting on my last nerve. Where the hell does an unemployed person get the money to buy so many fireworks?

Oh. Wait. I'm an American. My country is broke, but still manages to terrorize people all over the world by dropping explosives onto them. No expense spared, even if we have no money. My neighbor is simply aping his rulers.

When the US first invaded Iraq, they dropped bombs on Baghdad day and night, 24 hours/7days/week. The expressed plan was to break the Iraqis will by psychologically terrorizing them.

It had the desired affect on one family with two teenaged girls. The mother told of the girls shaking, covering their ears and screaming, unable to take the stress anymore.

So the father, mother and the two girls got into their car and headed out of Baghdad, looking for a quieter safer place.

They came up to a checkpoint. The father was an engineer, and had gone to college in America, so he knew English. He got out of the car to explain to the soldier about his terrified teenagers.

The soldier blew him away, and then turned and shot up the car, killing both girls and wounding the mother.

When I heard this story, I realized that the Iraqi had only met nice Americans in his college years. He thought that he could reasonably explain his situation, and the American would listen and respond in a rational manner.

Unfortunately, he met one of the other Americans. Some low-life rough kid, who decided that joining the Army was a morally acceptable way to make money, since his morals were lacking.

I heard the story from the mother's viewpoint.

I wonder about the soldier's. Did he take pictures of his kill and post them online? Or did he realize the horror of what he had done and kill himself when he got home, as so many soldiers have done?

We live in an insane society, where murder is glorified and kindness is ridiculed. It's a tribute to stubborn human values that a small portion of the country resists the constant mantra of death worship we are subjected to, and holds onto decency.

I salute Decent America.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Too Late

I quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. in a previous post, in which I talked about the American police state and its perpetual wars.

"We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late"."

Liberals are fond of predicting the future "end of our democracy". This seems absurd to me. Our ruling overlords clearly have no interest in what we think, or the way we want them to vote. Elections have been a farce for years, with two corporate selected candidates duking it out on TV, with the outcome of no more significance to our real lives than the outcome of the Super Bowl. Now that votes are "counted" by computerized machines, the announced vote totals need have no relation at all to what buttons the voters actually pushed.

But we are exhorted to get out there and push so many buttons that they can't steal the election! Seriously? Do these people not know how computers work?

But the structure of our society is a subset of our environment. The only thing that truly matters to our lives is that we have enough food and water to stay alive. All the rest is superfluous.

Scientists tell us that if we don't stop dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere "soon" we will be past the point of no return.

Soon? 3 weeks ago, we had almost 2 feet of rain in 10 days, leading to widespread flooding. Last week, we had tornadoes. Today it is 90 degrees outside. Meanwhile, the South is suffering through a drought.

Last year, Australia flooded and Russia burned. Polar bears have been drowning for years.

What do they mean- soon it will be too late?

The reason we are here is because Cyanobacteria changed our atmosphere. Before them, there was only 1% oxygen in our atmosphere. They took the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and turned it into 21% oxygen, through photosynthesis. The effect of trillions of bacteria upon our planet was immense, leading to life as we know it.

Of course, it killed off most of the anaerobic bacteria. We still have some around, but they have it rough, needing to stay away from oxygen. Tetanus, botulism and gangrene are all caused by anaerobic bacteria, which flourish when provided with an oxygen deprived environment.

So when people tell you that we puny humans can't possibly affect our vast planet, they are very wrong.

And I think that it might be too late.
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Saturday, May 7, 2011

That Is Not Who We Are

Obama refuses to release evidence that Osama is dead, saying "That's not who we are".

Damn straight!

When Bush announced that a man in a cave in Afghanistan orchestrated an attack on the United States of America, the most powerful country in the world, shutting down any military response, exploding 3 skyscrapers into concrete dust and literally striking the heart of the military-industrial complex, the Pentagon, the head of Afghanistan offered to turn the man over for justice.

He meant a trial. Bush, the arrogant swaggering cowboy, refused. We don't need no stinking evidence for no stinking trial!

Our trillion dollar military may not be capable of defending the United States, but, by God, we can blow up goat-herders, brides and children gathering firewood! We can make the abode bounce when we destroy families' houses in tribal societies. And, just for good measure, we can invade an industrialized society, pulverize not just three, but hundreds of buildings, destroy water, sewer and hospital facilities, and kill a million people, and drive millions more from their homes.

Americans were so disgusted by Bush that we elected a professor of Constitutional law as President.

Surely a law professor would know that bringing an accused man to justice would mean arrest, an open trial with evidence presented and scrutinized, deliberation by a jury and a verdict. Surely a law professor would know that in America, a man is innocent until proven guilty.

Nope. The smooth-talking lawyer, like his stammering predecessor, prefers murder to trials. "Justice" means assassination.

We've come full circle, as the media tells us. The unbelievable story of a man in a cave shutting down the biggest military on the planet and imploding skyscrapers, ends with the unbelievable story that, after searching for ten years, the US found him and chose to go shoot him in the face and dump his body in the ocean.

And when skeptics ask for proof, the President, after doing a victory lap (but not a football spike), at Ground Zero, tells us that we don't need no stinking proof.

That's not who we are.
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Big Daddy Fails Us

Although the President takes an oath to support the Constitution, after 9-11, "everything changed".

The Constitution, a goddamned piece of paper, was overthrown by the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and countless Presidential decrees.

But, as Americans were wiretapped, strip-searched, finger-printed and treated generally as potential "terrorists", we were assured that it was all done to "keep us safe".

George W. Bush presented himself as our protector, as some sort of Father figure, bizarre as that may seem to anyone who actually had a decent father. He continually announced that his role as President was to keep Americans safe.

And Obama came in, took his oath of office, and also promptly disregarded it, the new boss being much like the old boss.

But now, the media is warning us that the hit on Osama has made us less safe, that we must increase our internal repression, accept torture without reservation, and kill even more people in other countries, because the "terrorists" will strike us again, in reprisal.

So what happened to keeping us safe? What happened to the "I spend every minute thinking about ways to protect Americans?"

If they knew that announcing an assassination would put us at risk, then why do it?

I question their sincerity.
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mafia State

Major General Smedly Butler pointed out years ago that the role of the US military was that of a hitman for capitalism.

But surely we have now reached new heights, with the President bragging about successful hits, mass media discussing them without a hint that they may be illegal, and the actual throwing of a body into the ocean! What is this, an episode of the Sopranos?

Even the Mafia didn't brag about their murders. They had the decency to pretend that they were not involved.

Obama "takes out" (more Mafia language) Ghadaffi's son and three grandchildren on Saturday, and then claims to "take out" Osama Bin Laden on Sunday. Quite a weekend for Murder, Inc.

The media plays their role of swallowing the story whole, and then regurgitating their appropriate talking points. Democracy Now focused on the "blowback" theory, in which "terrorist" attacks are payback for US imperialist deaths abroad.

Fox News openly cheers. Vengeance is ours, saith the bimboes.

But. My right-wing Christian co-worker made a point of telling me yesterday that she didn't believe the story Obama and the media were spinning. My liberal Obama-supporting friend didn't believe it either. And a African-American family that were in the ER told me that they didn't believe it either.

Well. That's a pretty wide-spread sampling of opinion, albeit in one small town.

Is it possible that the Obama puppet and his handlers have jumped the shark? Gone too far?

Unfortunately, Harper's Index points out that there were 164 episodes of Happy Days after the one in which their credibility legendarily was blown.

US imperialism has a few episodes left in it, I'm guessing.

What is the point of this announcement, at this time? It certainly can't be an election stunt. That would be an October 2012 assassination.

No. This is something else. I no longer feel qualified to predict with any certainty what the ruling class has in store for us, since I've guessed wrong in the past.

But, since all media is spouting variations on the line of "al queda is going to get us" in revenge, I'm going to guess another "terrorist" attack on US soil. That part isn't too wildly speculative, since you can tell what they want you to believe when all media spouts the same line.

But then what? Here's my wild speculation. The US has used war to get out of economic depression in the past.

The US is in deep economic trouble, and its creditors are starting to bail. There is a due date coming up in June.

The conclusion I draw is that the US will start a massive war rather than default. But I could be wrong.












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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Things Up With Which We Will Not Put

Let's get this straight. Wall Street speculators gambled with home mortgages, running up trillions of dollars of collateralized debt obligations. Millions of people lost their houses.

Americans were unmoved. They shouldn't have bought houses that they couldn't afford when the mortgages went up.

Wall Street speculators gambled with wheat and rice commodities, leading to widespread hunger and food riots in 2008. Americans paid no attention, even to reports that Haitians were eating mud. Serves them right for living in poor countries.

But Wall Street speculates on oil and the price of gas goes up? Outrage! Even President Obama is moved to make stern noises!

Never mind global warming. Never mind peak oil. Never mind the 50,000+ dead in car crashes a year, the dead bodies along all our roads, the air pollution, the urban sprawl.

Americans have a right to cheap oil!

It's blood for oil, right? That's the bargain? And we've spilled plenty of blood, so where's the cheap oil?


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Monday, April 18, 2011

My Planet

I know that I called this planet a lovely jewel floating in an immense universe, but, after the storms last Friday, I have to readjust.

A mind-opening author introduced me to a different way of looking at the "5 billion year history of Earth in one day". I'm sure we're all familiar with the basic plot. The Earth is formed and the day starts. Nothing interesting happens until the last minute, when humans arrive.

That's a little egocentric! Let's look at the rest. A boiling ball of hot lava, eventually cooling, and forming land, involving earthquakes so massive they break apart continents and land smashes into other land so violently that massive mountains are formed. And then, occasionally the planet is slammed by meteors from outer space, throwing massive amounts of debris into the atmosphere.

And then there's the weather. Watching satellite pictures of hurricanes is pretty impressive. Massive movement of air and water, slamming into the ground and blowing everything in its path. And the tornadoes! Swirling winds over 100 mph, moving over the land and picking up and tossing anything that gets into its way.

But, lived experience as a human on this planet, in my alloted nanosecond of time and nano piece of space, is that Earth is a beautiful green place, with blue skies and oceans, and bountiful life. I expect the ground to remain solid under my feet, even though I have lived through 2 massive earthquakes. I expect rainstorms to stay outside of my house, although I can see on TV that that doesn't always happen. I expect things in outer space to stay in outer space. And when I look outside and see the immense power of a storm, I am shocked and afraid, but convinced that it is only temporary.

Otherwise, I'd be a quivering mass of protoplasm, hiding in a hole in the ground, awaiting disaster.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Troubles in the Middle Kingdoms

The uprising in Egypt is followed by the uprising of besieged labor unions in Wisconsin. People are eager to make connections and equate the two, but they have different causes.

The Egyptian uprising in Tahir Square was a classic "People's Power" celebration of the replacement of one ruling class puppet for another. You can tell that the US was ready to back a new puppet by the corporate media coverage of the events. They made it look like a spontaneous uprising, not in any way influenced by the typical CIA Color Revolution program. It's always inspiring to see millions of people coming together in collective joy to celebrate the end of a murderous dictatorship. Unfortunately, they often don't notice that the new boss is the same as the old boss, and the powers that select the figureheads remain in place,

Our version of that was the exciting Election Day, 2008, and the joyous Inauguration Day of 2009, when the Washington Mall was packed with ecstatic people cheering the end of the Bush-Cheney era.

Heck, most of the world was celebrating. Even the Nobel committee was inspired enough to give the new President a Peace Prize, which he accepted, and then gave a speech in which he gave a Just War defense of American militarism.

When the Egyptian uprising began, I asked my Egyptian Facebook friend what was going on. He replied that he didn't know, but that Egyptian Army generals were at the Pentagon, at that very minute. Hmmm.
Then we got stirring pictures of the Egyptian Army soldiers refusing to fire on the protesters, and protesters riding on tanks. How inspiring! But odd, unless you want to make a guess what the Generals were told at the Pentagon.

Then we are told that Mubarak was going to make a speech in which he would step down. Hallelujah! But just how did corporate media "know" what he was going to say?

But he didn't go along with the announced script. He said that he was planning on staying until the elections in September and that no foreign power could change his mind. Hmmmm.

And then he disappeared. The next day his vice-president appeared and announced that Mubarak had changed his mind. But where was he? They told us that he flew to a resort. Or that he was in a coma.

Whatever. The TV switched to the dancing crowds in the streets, busily celebrating the military takeover of the government. (Although, as Chomsky pointed out, the military has been in control for decades).

And then the military announced that the Emergency Laws would be lifted as soon as possible. But not now. And that strikes were prohibited, and that people needed to leave the Square, because the revolution was over, and everything was OK now.

And most of the people did. Just like in the US, while Obama continues Bush policies of war, torture, (hey, how's that Guantanamo closing coming along?), government secrecy, hand-outs for the rich and cut-backs for the poor, and even re-opens Bush policies that failed - the most obvious being attacks on Social Security-there are still millions of Democrats who blindly accept these policies as tolerable, as long as the President claims to be a "Democrat", instead of a "Republican".

The same thing happened in the Eastern European countries, the first to have People's Power revolutions. Once the party was over, a whole lot of people missed their guaranteed jobs, houses and food. Now some of them have had their own IMF riots. It turns out that punching a ballot every four years doesn't actually give you a lot of say over your life. How about that? About half of voters in our country remain stubbornly sure of the same thing, refusing to vote no matter how much pro-voting propaganda is aimed at them.

So what, then, is the uprising in Wisconsin, if not a People's Power revolution?

Well, it's the American version of the IMF riot, the expected revolt of the people when faced with cutbacks, privatization of public property, layoffs, and more, to pay for the debts run up by the wealthy.

Here's a quote from "The Sorrows of Empire", by Chalmers Johnson, about Argentina, and its IMF riot.

"By 2002, Argentina held the unenviable record of having accumulated the largest amount of public debt by any single country in history-some $160 billion. Its national income shrank by nearly two-thirds in the space of a year; more than half of its largely middle-class population found itself living below the poverty line; and no politician of any orientation dared appear on the streets for fear of public lynching.

The IMF agreed to help the Argentine government meet its debt service payments and then made exactly the same mistake it had in 1997 in East Asia. As a condition for its loans, it demanded an austerity budget that involved firing large numbers of government workers, cutting pensions, reducing wages, and eliminating fringe benefits. Rioting and a fierce police reaction brought the country to a standstill. In December 2000, the IMF provided nearly $40 billion to Argentina on the condition that the government continue to pay foreign debts by intensifying its squeeze on the poorest elements of the society. No government could meet these terms and avoid revolution. Argentina went through five governments and six economic ministers in
fourteen months, but the IMF decided that the country was still not being tough enough and was, in any case, of little strategic importance to the United States. It therefore pulled the plug, and refused to supply any more loans. Double-digit monthly inflation resulted, the peso fell ion value by 220 percent, and social order collapsed. Argentina, once the most prosperous country in latin american, became a basket case-thanks to neoliberalism, globalization, and the IMF."

This being the American version, there is craven acceptance by the workers of the "need" for cutbacks, and the focus turns to peripheral concerns. In this case, the right of collective bargaining. Of course, it's important, but one of the things it's needed for is to protect workers from wage cuts and give-backs! What good is it to have a union if you all agree to the corporate agenda?

The public workers meager demands remind me of the Republic Windows workers, who occupied their factory. Unlike their Argentinian counterparts, they did not operate it as a cooperative. No, they simply demanded what was DUE to them under the LAW, and it was hailed as a great victory when the owners paid them what they were owed! Pitiful!

We'll see if Mr. Johnson was right and "no government" could withstand revolution when cutting out social spending and attacking workers.

This is America! We are brainwashed to hate on command, and it works on our fellow citizens as well.
Welfare mothers, prisoners, homeless people and minorities have been hated for years. The campaign against teachers, prison guards (ironically) and other public workers has just started, but is coming along swimmingly. (The prison guards, of course, are not being attacked for their brutality to the caged, but for their sick time and pensions).

We'll see what develops, as more and more people lose everything.












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