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

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Versus EconoParody on Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Many thanks to Versus and Naked Capitalism for this splendid piece. I don't think that it is only a  parody of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but more importantly a satire of the rich screwing over the world and the lesson that in the capitalist jungle one can also be regarded as prey by other capitalist predators.


Friday, May 27, 2011

We've Gone from a Nation of Laws to a Nation of Powerful Men Making Laws in Secret [13:48m video]

Thanks to Washington's Blog for this excert from C-Span of Sen. Ron Wyden's speech to the US Senate regarding the renewal of the Patriot Act. This liberal Republican from Oregon, who has served on the Senate Intelligence Committee for a decade, argued against passage in its present form. (It was passed anyway.) His basic argument is that secret interpretations of intelligence laws are, and have been, used and inevitably they are eventually revealed to the public. This results in the undermining of public confidence in the legal system. He seems to suggest that it is only a problem because the public eventually finds out about it. Although he started off his speech with the correct ominous tone, he went on to praise the work of the well intentioned intelligence community for protecting our nation. Finally, he never revealed what the classified interpretation of the Patriot Act really is.

I believe he either fails to understand what he knows about our secret government, or he is deliberately understating the significance of this practice in order to pacify the public into believing that Congress will change things. He certainly did not set off any alarms bells to alarm mainstream media or much of the alternative media.

If you read The Fish is Red by Hinckle and Turner, The Secret Team by Col. (ret) L. Fletcher Prouty, and The Mighty Wurlitzer by Hugh Wilford you will not be reassured by Wyden's speech. You will conclude that much of US foreign and domestic policy is determined behind official government agencies by mostly unknown, unelected members of the security/defense establishment in spite of many years of Congressional and even Presidential attempts to bring it under the control of law.


The Counter-revolution Club

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online.
Welcome to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), formed in 1981 by top dog Saudi Arabia plus the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. A more appropriate denomination would be Gulf Counter-Revolutionary Council - or club; a Gulf club to end all golf clubs. As far as the GCC is concerned, the great 2011 Arab revolt will triumph over their (wealthy) dead bodies
One area of the world in which US mainstream media covers the most superficially are events in these oppressive medieval kingdoms. This might seem strange because they, organized as the GCC, are a major piece on the chess board of the Great Game, a piece belonging to the Empire and integral to its strategies for dominating the world.

The problem for mainstream media is that the governing of these countries represent the antithesis of democracy and humanitarian concerns which media organs always use to justify the Empire's  foreign policies and actions, the current one being the "humanitarian" mission in Libya that mysteriously morphed into regime change. Escobar does a splendid job of describing how neatly this piece fits with the Empire's preference for mercenary armies and weapons all supplied by private corporations.

If you would like to know more about what life is like in one of these kingdoms, Dubai (a part of the UAE), a good read is from the The Independent from a couple of years ago.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

NOTICE: Because I am having guests visiting me through Saturday, my postings until Sunday will be rather light.

Black 9/11: A Walk on the Dark Side, Part 3: AIG and the Linkage to the Drug Trade

Click here to access article by Mark H. Gaffney from Foreign Policy Journal. 

I have read quite a few excellent books on this general subject. (Most prominently: The Old Boys by B. Hersh, The Secret Team by L. Fletcher Prouty, The Fish is Red by Hinckle & Turner, and Dark Alliance, Gary Webb.) Hence, I found it difficult to read this and the preceding two parts of this series. It is not because his articles are not well written and documented--they are. It is just that I've "overdosed" on such material. Thus, I mostly scanned this article and Part 1. There is some new material on AIG in this segment that I haven't seen before; so I'll look it over at some future date.

This whole history and story of the interweaving of Wall Street, the various organizations of the "security" establishment, criminal gangs, drug cartels, banking, and terrorist organizations is so sordid, often shocking that most people simply refuse to believe it and avoid reading the material whenever they encounter it. The material undermines everything that people in the US have been taught to believe about how their government and corporations function. As a result, there is now a huge canyon separating what most Americans believe about their country and reality. 

But, there are cracks forming in the minds of many and, who knows, how much wider they will become in the future as adverse economic consequences continue to worsen for most people, as resource exhaustion accelerates, as climate change produces even more extreme weather than we are currently witnessing, and as the ruling class increasingly relies on more effective police state measures to control dissent.

U.S. weather extremes show "new normal" climate

Click here to access article from Reuters News Service. 

Yes, the extreme weather we are seeing and will continue to experience is being referred to a the "new normal". This means that the ruling class political operatives know that there is nothing they can do to ameliorate it within the existing capitalist system. And, because they believe that there is no alternative to capitalism, they are telling us to "suck it up" because it is not going to get better. 
"What we're seeing is the new normal is constantly evolving," said Nikhil da Victoria Lobo of Swiss Re's Global Partnerships team. "Globally what we're seeing is more volatility ... there's certainly a lot more integrated risk exposure."
When capitalists talk about "risk exposure", they mean risk to their investments, not humanity.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Remaking Our Conceptual Maps of the World

Click here to access article by Harry Targ from New Clear Vision. 

The author of this piece draws on the insights of past cultural critics to deconstruct the present ideological fog machine that the capitalist ruling class is using to cloud our minds with material like the following:.
The recent rendition begins with 9/11. The world consists of large numbers of persons of color, especially Muslims, who want to kill us. We need to kill them first. Preemptive attack on those who we would expect to hate us is OK. International Law says so. U.S. diplomatic history says so.

Why should we be afraid? Why should we be prepared to kill? We must be vigilant because they hate our freedom. They want to destroy the natural evolution of societies from autocracies to market-based democracies. We must be fearful, vengeful, and ready to act for the benefit of the world.
And he concludes with this important insight:
We need to convince our brothers and sisters that killing and capitalism alike are antithetical to human needs.

The Spanish protests and the need for politics and conflict

Click here to access article by Guy Aitchison from Open Democracy (UK).

This morning I surveyed a number of articles regarding the protests in Spain that have been occurring in that country in about 60 cities for over a week. There has been almost no mainstream coverage of these events in US media. I chose to run this article because I think it offers a general perspective that provides the best understanding of this phenomenon. 

These demonstrations were timed to correspond with national elections held on Sunday, May 22nd. The main parties in Spain appear to be similar to the choices we have here in the US--choice of poisons. The demonstrations mostly attracted people under 30 years of age, were non-political, and focused entirely on protesting the austerity policies, public spending cutbacks, bank bailouts, etc.

The two main political parties consist of the current ruling party called Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Spanish Socialist Workers Party), a social-democratic party, and a center-right party called Partido Popular. The latter won Sunday's election. So you see, people in Spain as here in the US have really only an opportunity to vote against parties. They have no real positive choices. 

(Notice that the words "socialist" and "workers" are included in the name of the first party. Such naming is popular in Europe because of the strong popularity of socialist ideas in European history over the past century. Even the Nazi party translated into English was called National Socialist German Workers’ Party.)
  
The fact that the demonstrations were non-political received some rather cynical reviews by leftists (seeth is). 

Click here for many photos of the demonstrations.

Why the Rich Love High Unemployment

Click here to access article by Mark Provost from Truthout.
America's unemployed have been ignored and forgotten, but they are far from superfluous. Over the last two years, out-of-work Americans have played a critical role in helping the richest one percent recover trillions in financial wealth.
The author fails to mention a major cause of unemployment: the outsourcing of jobs to low wage countries over the past 30 years.

More deadly heat waves coming, climate scientists warn

Click here to access article by Sunanda Creagh from The Conversation.

The author gives us a preview of an upcoming report from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And more heat isn't all that is in store for us. 
The report will also examine other climate change related extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, floods and heavy rains.
If we all sit on our bums and let the growth addicted system that serves one class of people to continue, then expect more such dismal reports.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

If Arab Spring threatens Israel, why does Saban support it?

Click here to access article by Maidhc Ó Cathail from Foreign Policy Journal. 

The first thing that struck me about his article was all the references to the word "democracy". I counted 19 such words in this article of moderate length. Why is that, when the title doesn't really imply that it is about the subject of democracy?

"Democracy" promotion is a covert way that the US-led capitalist Empire uses to gain support for its imperial interest of dominating all politically and economically important areas of the world. "Democracy" promotion conceals the real agenda of spreading its market oriented propaganda machine to deceive and manipulate working people in various countries.

"Democracy" promotion has historically been the theme of choice informing the propaganda efforts of capitalists. Democracy has been the dream of people all over the world since the American and French Revolutions which overthrew the rule of the aristocracies and monarchies which, unfortunately, were only replaced by the new class of capitalists. The latter used democratic propaganda when it suited them to enlist the support of working people in the revolutions. Once accomplished, the capitalist classes quickly consolidated their rule and secured the franchise only for their class, and created all the political and economic institutions to serve their interests of wealth and power accumulation.

Ruling classes have always insured that their points of view are conveyed to the underclasses. In earlier times religious institutions and their authorities have often been used to divert and deflect any criticism of the authorities and to generally support the dominant class. In more recent times the development of "public relations" methods has greatly enhanced the control of elites over the underclass by providing techniques to shape the perceptions and thoughts of the underclass.

It is interesting to note that the rise of public relations technology roughly corresponds with the expansion of voting rights: in the US and UK only about 10% of the adult population could vote in the 1880s, this changed to about 50% in the 1920s. 

Such notable figures as Walter Lippmann, Edward Bernays and Joseph Goebbels pioneered these techniques and applied them to the new mass media of radio. An Australian sociologist and psychologist, Alex Carey, wrote an excellent book on the subject entitled, Taking the Risk Out of Democracy. For a quickie introduction I suggest you listen to at least part 1 and part 2 of 5 videos that provide narrations from his book. Each video is approximately 10 minutes.

During the past five decades this propaganda phenomenon evolved into the widespread use of media and public relations consulting firms and right-wing funded think tanks to shape mainstream media's coverage of world events according to the interests of the capitalist ruling class. 

From this important function these institutions moved outward to engineer uprisings and revolutions in other countries, referred to as the colored revolutions. These were initially used by the CIA for smaller scale projects after WWII, but it appears that well funded NGOs (the Brookings Institution is a very prominent one) and foundations are increasingly operating in such countries more like independent agents of regime change, although likely in collaboration with the CIA. Zionist influence has figured very prominently in these institutions. See also this, this, and this.

They not only influence media in those countries where regime change is desired, but they pay for targeted groups to come to the US for training seminars, and fund benign sounding opposition groups within the countries.

The author of this article raises some important questions regarding the extent to which such operations were behind or shaped the recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.



Monday, May 23, 2011

Battle Over IMF Chief: Proxy War Over Power of Banks?

Click here to access article by Yves Smith from Naked Capitalism.
The open question is at what cost will the advanced economies incur in installing yet another European. The IMF has been tasked to play a bigger role in global surveillance, particularly in prodding countries to rebalance their economies and change other risk-creating practices. If both top and the number two posts at the IMF goes to Westerners, it’s likely to produce simmering resentment and undermine cooperation on crisis prevention initiatives. The efforts to continue to make the world safe for big banks is coming at higher and higher cost, but no one in charge seems terribly concerned about the intermediate term, much the less the long term.
This perceptive and honest blogger has had a long career in the financial services industry. She is not against capitalism as a system, but appears to be more of a FDR era pro-capitalist when corporations and banking were under much tighter controls following the collapse of the economy in 1929. (See this famous semanticist's review of political-economic labels). Her honesty and knowledge of the system often produces insights into how the system actually functions.

Currently we are witnessing the internecine battle that is occurring in the capitalist camp following the purge of Dominique Strauss-Kahn who apparently strayed too far from policies that serve the interests of the financiers.

A careful reading of this piece suggests that the financier-bankers are at the top of the capitalist ruling circles. It is clear that in economies where industrial growth is of primary interest the capitalist classes are vying for power with the reigning banking interests in Western countries for control of the powerful IMF.

Of course, it will be the latter who win the current contest, but for the vast majority of those that actually create wealth, working people, it really doesn't matter. It is we who must take control of our economies if we are to live in peace and harmony within ecological limits of our planet.

Contamination: The totalitarian strategy of the GMO crop industry

Click here to access article by Kurt Cobb from Energy Bulletin. 

[Revised 5 PM Seattle time]
What is missing from this excellent article is a deeper class analysis which would provide a meaningful context within which to understand the "totalitarian" tactics of a major capitalist industry.

Thus, the author seems rather shocked that legal institutions are cooperating with the interests of this corporation (Monsanto) by giving legal sanction to their Frankenstein crops. He appears not to understand that all institutions in a class structured society serve the ruling class; and in our capitalist societies each capitalist class has created the legal sector to serve their interests, not ours. 

Any ruling class is by definition essentially a totalitarian class and employs various methods to maintain its dominance. The fact that this system in the US and other countries hides behind a well-designed and well managed facade of "democracy" has enabled them to fool most people into tolerating the present class arrangements. They are perfectly willing when they need to, to use police state methods to enforce their policies. If people understood that the capitalist version of "democracy" was only a fig leaf hiding the obscenity of class rule, they would launch a vigorous fight to change things.That is precisely the reason they prefer this "democratic" style of domination.

Greece: Urgent call for international solidarity

Click here to access article by Pavlos Stavropolous from Institute for Social Ecology. 

What is happening in Greece is the future for working people throughout capitalist countries: the ruling class is revealing its naked fist of fascism and divisive tactics to defeat the people.
Greece is at a critical turning point, and many critical changes are taking place in a societal as well as a political and economic level. The disintegration and dissolution of the dominant – until recently – model of power and exploitation is more than evident, so it defines what is commonly called ‘crisis.’ What we are experiencing now is the total failure of a system that is unable to secure any longer the social consensus, thereby is engaged in a frontal attack that is unconditional and with no pretext.

Dr. King Spanks Obama: Part 6

Click here to access article by David Kendall from OpEd News. 

[Slightly revised 5 PM Seattle time] 
In this report on Dr. King's last thoughts (which are always entirely missing from mainstream media's hagiography) regarding the economic injustices in the US and his proposed solutions, it is clear why the political operatives of the ruling capitalist class had to "disappear" him. Such thinking was, and still is, very dangerous to the interests of that class. 

The author contrasts this African American's perspective with that of another "Black" American, President Obama, who having been raised mostly by his white banker grandmother and educated in elite schools, has very different concerns:
Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" clearly states his overall mission to "save capitalism from itself". True to his word, Obama's continuing agendas have typically 'bailed out' a wealthy minority to the profound dispossession of everyone else, both domestically and abroad.
Long after the insightful observations of Dr. King, this progressive author, along with many others, is clearly beginning to grasp the necessity of other social-economic arrangements in the US. 
...capitalism is an inherently lop-sided, top-heavy, bare-knuckles system that kicks the living piss out of most of us for the extreme benefit of an exclusively entitled few. There's nothing new about that. To soften the blows and to make the battle a little more humane, Americans have arrived at a number of public safety measures like Social Security, unemployment benefits, Medicare and Medicaid. But as we've seen recently, these are precisely the measures that come under attack whenever the U.S. government decides to 'take off the gloves' and "save capitalism from itself".
It is always interesting to me to see the enduring legacy of racism in the US. This is so evident with the way most people--and not only White Americans--in the country identify Barack Obama, who is of mixed race parentage, as Black or Afro-American. They see only his darker skin and other superficial racial characteristics to the exclusion of everything else.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Disinformation-Fighting Toolkit

Click here to access article from Washington's Blog.

I think of these as techniques used to distract from critical thinking and disrupt attempts at truth seeking. Such techniques are used by disinformation artists everywhere--most damaging are those in government and mainstream media.
In order to combat disinformation, we have to remind people again and again of the basic tricks. While the information in this links might be old-hat to you, many Internet surfers haven't seen this information before.

Indeed, psychologists and sociologists say that people won't even look at something unless they've seen it a number of times ... and even if they look at it, they won't learn it or understand it until they've been exposed to it again and again.