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.

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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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