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, October 26, 2013

The Coming Grand Bargain: “We’re All Neoliberals Now”

Click here to access article by Shamus Cooke from Workers Action

The author provides an historical understanding of the class war which brought many benefits to working people who fought capitalists in factories and on the streets all across the US. 
How was the U.S. social compact formed? Like all social policy, it was a reflection of power, specifically the balance of forces between the corporate and working classes in the U.S. In the 1930s and 1940s, massive strike waves led to an ever-larger unionized workforce that repeatedly flexed its muscles by demanding living wages, health care, and other social programs.
But, as so frankly admitted by one of America's outspoken billionaires, Warren Buffet, “there’s class warfare, all right. But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” So, now that we have lost so many battles in this war, we are now going to "suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune". But, is the war over? Stay tuned, or better yet, stay active and informed.

The Coercive Power of Capitalism

Click here to access article by Yves Smith from her blog Naked Capitalism. (Note: There are numerous minor errors sprinkled throughout, but one must make allowances for bloggers (like myself) who write in haste on a daily basis. For example, "concommitent" must be a French word for concomitant.)

She describes what several other political observers have expressed: there is currently a buildup of social pressures that could result in some explosive social consequences. I think she's right, although she doesn't articulate it: we are headed either for a revolution or a full-fledged police state.
...you can see the obvious tension: the capitalist classes in America, to increase their riches further, have been squeezing workers harder by not hiring as they did in the past. We’ve never had a “recovery” in the post-WWII era with so little of GDP growth going to labor (meaning both hiring and wage increases). In the past, the average was over 60% and the lowest was 55%. I haven’t seen a recent update, but the last figures I saw was that the level for this “recovery” was under 30%. Yet simultaneously, theres’s a full-bore effort on to gut the remaining safety nets. If this isn’t a prescription for social and political instability, I don’t know what is.
She provides a very stimulating essay about the more hidden coercive powers of capitalists. There is much food for thought here, and she leaves us with a "conundrum".

Differing lifestyles: "20 exclusive property hot spots of the super rich"; "US food stamp assistance to be slashed next week"

1) Click here to access article entitled "20 exclusive property hot spots of the super rich" from rediff.
2) Click here to access article entitled "US food stamp assistance to be slashed next week" by Andre Damon from World Socialist Web Site.  

Hear are two recent articles that gives you some indication of the extreme lifestyles of people today living in capitalist societies depending on whether their income is derived from "ownership" of economic property or if it is derived from their labor. I put "ownership" in quotes to emphasize that it is an artifact of the capitalist "game" which was invented by some people several hundred years ago, and not simply a natural fact of life as your indoctrination has led you to believe. 

So what has developed over time are two basic classes of people: 1) those who live from the "ownership" of economic property (titles, stocks, bonds, etc.), and 2) those who live from their labor which they rent to the latter group when needed. Indoctrination was always used by the former group to impress upon the latter that this arrangement was the way some god wanted, or was fair and those who excelled in this arrangement were virtuous, or there was simply "no alternative", or all of the above.

Compare the coverage provided in article 2 from a radical source with that from a liberal source which frames the cuts as Republican vs Democrats, with the former playing the role of "evil-doers". Such coverage is provided to instill in you the idea that there are good guys in Congress and you just have to work harder to get them elected, and it's your fault if there aren't sufficient numbers of good guys. After all, we live in a democracy, don't we? Well, you can't deny that we have elections, so therefore we have democracy. (sarcasm)

Climate report shows security threat

Click here to access article by Muniruzzaman Khan from Bangkok Post.

This author is identified as a chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change. He is a military general (retired?) from Bangladesh, a country very much threatened by rising sea levels. Therefore, he writes much more candidly about the threats of global warming that I have ever seen from any official representing a national or international agency.
When I meet with my colleagues at the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change--generals and admirals from around the world, all with career-long experience in military planning and operations--I am struck by the similarity of our concerns. All countries of the world are experiencing changes that are destabilising communities and increasing security concerns. Diseases are spreading, wells are drying up, storms are smashing cities and destroying crops, and rain is either a distant memory or an acute danger.

Friday, October 25, 2013

We are all complicit; A timely play for Egypt today [Two reviews of Ibsen's classic stage play performed in Egypt]

1) Click here to access review entitled "We Are All Complicit" by Naira Antoun from Mada Masr.
2) Click here to access review entitled "A Timely Play for Egypt Today" by Nehad Selaiha  from Al-Ahram Weekly.

After reading the first review, memories of many such vital plays came flooding back into my mind from late 1960s and early 70s when young people were questioning everything. I especially recall the ones performed in Milwaukee (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Chicago (Second City), UC Berkeley, and San Francisco (especially the SF Mime Troupe). Since then I've seen nothing of such gripping quality. After reading these reviews, I wanted to "hop a plane" to Egypt to see experience the play myself. 

Both of the above reviews were about Ibsen's play "An Enemy of the People", adapted and performed for the Egyptian audience of today. The first review, currently published, provides a much more subjective reaction to the play, while the second, reviewed earlier this year, is more comprehensive and objective, and provides many more details about the production. Together they complement each other very well.

The play, very creatively adapted and directed by Nora Amin, deals with some of the most profound questions not only facing progressive/revolutionary people in Egypt, but across much of the world today: can a revolution by ordinary people raised and indoctrinated in authoritarian, class structured, competitive, and materialistic societies create a socially just and inclusive society capable of living in harmony with nature? How can ordinary people, many with characteristics and personalities as depicted in the play, and which we all recognize in others and even in ourselves, create such a society? Consider such characteristics as described by reviewer Selaiha:
Ahmed El-Salakawi played Hovstad with the debonair charm of a man of the world, hiding his opportunism, moral cowardice and lack of principles under a mask of urbane geniality and candour. By contrast, Imad Hassan’s Billing, a character as hypocritical and unprincipled as Hovstad, was rendered as vulgar, gauche, ridiculously pretentious, slightly stupid and very easy to see through. Imad El-Raheb’s Aslaksen was dangerously smooth and slippery. Assuming the appearance of virtue and humbleness and a sanctimonious, obsequious, submissive manner, El-Raheb managed to betray by the look in his eyes, his tone of voice and body language the real baseness and moral unscrupulousness of the character. Ibrahim Gharib...[was cast] as the Mayor, Dr. Stockmann’s brother, and he performed the part with fitting stolidness, stodginess and pompous self-importance, showing no emotion and hiding behind his stern appearance the pettiness of his soul. Gharib’s Mayor was a typical specimen of Eliot’s hollow men, with a headpiece filled with Straw. 

The World’s Least Wanted War Criminal

Click here to access article by Don Quijones from Raging Bull-Shit

The author borrows material from Hitchens’ exposé, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, to argue his thesis. 

Of course, there are many war criminals among our ruling class and most, unlike Kissinger or Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld or George H. W. Bush, are hidden from view. They function behind the scenes like a puppeteers who manipulate willing puppets like George Bush Jr, Tony Blair, and Obama, etc. to commit such war crimes.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Saudi-US Row: Prince Bandar bin ‘Sulking’ Tries Old Bribe and Threat Trick Again

Click here to access article by Finian Cunningham from Strategic Culture Foundation

I regard Cunningham as a very knowledgeable and reliable source of information related to the Middle East.

In this piece he provides his interpretation of the growing conflict between Saudi Arabia and the US Empire which could have major consequences in the world scene. Read his analysis to see how he comes to the following conclusions:
The explosive danger for the Middle East region from a turbo-charged Saudi sulk with Washington over Syria, including more false flag terror attacks, could result in the kind of all-out war that the US so recklessly dallied with but pulled back from last month.

Perhaps even more worrying for Washington would be if the Saudis started tampering with the petrodollar life-support system. Never mind that that would also probably spell the downfall of the House of Saud. When a kingdom is ruled by temper-tantrum despots the danger of irrationality is always a contingency.

Empire Under Obama, Part 3: America's "Secret Wars" in Over 100 Countries Around the World

Click here to access article by Andrew Gavin Marshall from The Hampton Institute.

If you need more education on the Empire's current military operations throughout the world, this is it. However, once again, I must object to focusing on Obama and any other figures. Such an analysis misses the forest by focusing on individual trees. Such a focus only makes implicit the reality of a hidden government whose continuity is unchanged by the personalities occupying particular offices over time. Take, for example the following two paragraphs which function as a conclusion to the essay:
Yet, under Obama, the president who had won public relations industry awards for his well-managed presidential advertising campaign promising "hope" and "change," the empire has found itself waging war in roughly one hundred nations, conducting an unprecedented global terror campaign, increasing its abuses of human rights, war crimes and crimes against humanity, all under the aegis of the Nobel Peace Prize-winner Barack Obama.

Whether the president is Clinton, Bush, or Obama, the Empire of Terror wages on its global campaign of domination and subjugation, to the detriment of all humanity, save those interests that sit atop the constructed global hierarchy. It is in the interests of the ruling elite that America protects and projects its global imperial designs. It is in the interests of all humanity, then, that the Empire be opposed - and ultimately, deconstructed - no matter who sits in office, no matter who holds the title of the 'high priest of hypocrisy' (aka: President of the United States). It is the Empire that rules, and the Empire that destroys, and the Empire that must, in turn, be demolished.
[My emphasis]
In the first paragraph notice that Obama is given an award by the public relations industry for fooling the public. Public relations is a polite name given to slick advertising methods used to sell ideas or "images" instead of products. This gives some credence to my point of view that Obama, like most presidents since the assassination of Kennedy (50 years ago yesterday), function as public relations officers for a shadow government. 

The second paragraph does likewise by showing that individual personalities really don't matter. It then makes a vague allusion to a ruling elite and "the Empire"--but, who are they? The personalities mentioned previously? He makes a final brief reference to "those interests that sit atop the constructed global hierarchy". What collective interests do they have? What organizes and supports these decision makers who function in the same pattern over many decades? These are questions that need to be answered so that we can move beyond personalities and see the underlying forces responsible for these crimes against humanity.  

Then we can proceed to build a revolutionary movement that can both defeat this global hierarchy and construct a different social system in which such cancers can never again infect societies across the world.

Illegal in Canada, but tax-supported in Israel?

Click here to access article by Yves Engler from New Commune-ist Manifesto (Canada). 
In Canada it is illegal [as in the USA] to restrict the sale of property to certain ethnic or religious groups but many of our business people and politicians promote an organization that does exactly that in Israel.

Canadian natives resist: ‘What the frack?’

Click here to access article by Eric Walberg from Intrepid Report

The indigenous people of North America were living in harmony with the environment when Europeans invaded and took possession of their lands. These people viewed themselves as being a part of the vast web of life. The Europeans lead by the new capitalist class viewed nature as merely a thing that we humans should dominate and exploit. 

Since then corporations and their financial backers have continued to rape and pillage these lands to satisfy their addictions to wealth and power. Oil shale fracking operations are now poisoning the ground waters on which all people depend for their survival. The indigenous, or First Nations people as they are referred to in Canada, are now leading the fight to save this vital gift of nature for all of us. In recent weeks...
...demonstrations broke out in cities across Canada, including Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa and Thunder Bay, as well as in New York and at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC.

This principled action by New Brunswick natives is being echoed in dozens of other campaigns by native communities across Canada, where natives are stubbornly refusing to be swallowed up by corporate Canada.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Let’s Get This Class War Started

Click here to access article by Chris Hedges from TruthDig.

This piece is a very eloquent call to class war.  There are many acute observations that provide needed corrections to the ruling class's version of history, about social relations within the class structure, and that cite the ruling class's seizure off all institutions including the indoctrination agencies of academia and media to keep us submissive. For example:
The corporate oligarchs have now seized all institutional systems of power in the United States. Electoral politics, internal security, the judiciary, our universities, the arts and finance, along with nearly all forms of communication, are in corporate hands. Our democracy, with faux debates between two corporate parties, is meaningless political theater. There is no way within the system to defy the demands of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry or war profiteers. The only route left to us, as Aristotle knew, is revolt.
Still, there is little material about the system itself. When he references "free market capitalism and globalization", is he, like so many other liberals, arguing for a return to an earlier stage of capitalism? Or, some reforms to the system? Are we only urged to rebel against an "oligarchy"?  Or, against a system which produces an oligarchy?

From Obamacare to Single-Payer: An interview with Benjamin Day of Healthcare-NOW!

Click here to access interview posted by Mickey Z. on World News Trust.

Day provides an extremely helpful antidote to the daily poison provided by ruling class media on the subject of  health care in general, and "Obama Care" in particular. I do not share Day's hopeful comments about any progressive change. Health care is a major part of the ongoing class war, a war which is daily being won by the capitalist ruling class. 

Facing ecological and resource limits to capitalist growth, their directors are increasingly forced to extract their wealth from society itself. Or, to put it another way, capitalist ruling classes all over the world are being confronted by planetary limits to exploitation, and now see the necessity of stealing from the poor, and even the middle class. Running out of opportunities to exploit nature’s gifts, the parasite of capitalism is now feeding more aggressively on its host — society. Therefore, adequate health care can only be achieved through the overthrow of the capitalist system and the construction of an ecologically sustainable and socially just system.

The Struggle Continues: Social Justice in Post-Morsi Egypt

Click here to access article by Andrew Leber from Muftah.

The author provides an excellent review of efforts by ordinary Egyptians to achieve some form of social justice within the past few years. What is clear is that such efforts are being thwarted by major players from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Empire who have their own interests, interests which don't appear to coincide. The author argues that movements for social justice will not go away, and this fact...
...implies a change from the status quo of social injustice, which has brought millions of labor reformers, Coptic rights activists, Islamists, journalists, intellectuals, farmers, and ordinary people from all walks of life onto the streets over the past few years.
Some revolutionary plan for social reform must be put forward if the Egyptian people are to accept the government as the guarantor of their rights and well-being, rather than a stern overseer or a political prize to be fought over.
The current government and whoever takes its place in the coming year are fooling themselves if they believe a narrow focus on security and economic growth will halt demands for greater justice. 

Fact Sheet: Recognizing Israel as a “Jewish State”

Click here to access article by Siham Nuseibeh from Muftah.

Zionists in collusion with the growing Anglo-American Empire created this fortress state in the Middle East ruled over by European Jews whose loyalty is to the Empire that created it. Now they want the indigenous people of the region to formally recognize their rule so that they can legitimize their discrimination against non-Jewish residents of the state.
There are more than 50 Israeli laws that privilege Jews or discriminate against non-Jews. These laws affect everything from immigration and family reunification to land ownership rights.

US Borders: Secret Paths for Interrogation, Seizure, Detention of Whistleblowers' Associates

Click here to access article by Sarah Lazare from Common Dreams
Internal government documents released Monday by the ACLU show that U.S. government agencies collude with local authorities to use border crossings to bypass civil liberties protections and seize and search electronic devices that belong to people who associate with whistleblowers and other political targets.

Introducing.. A Gloriously Irreverent Master Class in Modern Economics

Click here to access videos produced by Australian comics Clarke and Dawe, posted on Raging Bull-Shit.

A little humor that satirizes the sovereign debt crisis in Europe to lighten the burdens of your busy day.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Prince Bandar: Riyadh to "shift away" from US over Syria, Iran

Click here to access article by Amena Bakr from Reuters.

This caught my attention for two reasons: 1) the recent decision by Saudi Arabia to refuse a Security Council seat at the UN; 2) F. William Engdahl's claim that the Saudi rulers were extremely at odds with US policies in Egypt where Saudi Arabia was instrumental in removing the Muslim Brotherhood administration which the US supported. Engdahl wrote back in August about the rift:
...the Egyptian military’s forced removal of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and his entire government was undertaken with the firm secret backing of Saudi Arabia and several Gulf oil states, directly in defiance of Washington’s agenda.
This posted report fits very well with Engdahl's argument and provides some explanation for the current Saudi's decision. As the NY Times reports:
Saudi Arabia stunned the United Nations and even some of its own diplomats on Friday by rejecting a highly coveted seat on the Security Council, a decision that underscored the depth of Saudi anger over what the monarchy sees as weak and conciliatory Western stances toward Syria and Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.
If it is true as reported here that "the kingdom will make a 'major shift' in relations with the United States in protest..." to recent actions toward Syria and Iran, then this could really shake up the Empire directorate. Saudi Arabia's collusion with US foreign policy is of fundamental importance given not only their fossil fuel resources, but their commitment to only sell oil in US dollars. The latter fact is a major bulwark for the US dollar as the global currency and enables the Empire to "print" dollars at will.

I can see Empire directors huddling together now working out plans for regime change in Saudi Arabia.

Democracy Now Tags Indicted Multi-Millionaire Crook as a Whistleblower and Goes after Russia!

Click here to access article by Sibel Edmonds from Boiling Frogs.

I've chosen the subtitle to head up this exposé because I think that is the more important story. Her headline seems to me to be a sub-story. This outing of "Democracy Now!" has been done before, but it is important to keep doing it because the program has served as a major gatekeeper targeting the left in the US. An article by Dr. Stuart Bramhall was the first to confirm my long held suspicions about this popular program on the left.  

That media directors of the ruling class often like to provide misinformation about any opponents to their Empire operations, and do it through left-liberal media, is simply "business as usual". On the other hand, I can understand her concern about the truth behind this story: she has her roots in this region and she, as a former FBI translator, has considerable information about US actors involved in it.
The story and the way it was presented [on Democracy Now TV program] may be extremely confusing, vague and convoluted. However, one thing was made sure of: repeatedly use Russia as the culprit behind the bribery and corruption and intelligence sabotage involved in the case. Just pay attention to how Armstrong repeats the phrase Russian oligarchy. Take notes on how the official operations via government entities and banks are limited to Russia.
Interestingly, the reality and the facts point toward Western entities as culprits. 

The witch-hunt of Britain’s Guardian newspaper

Click here to access article by Julie Hyland from World Socialist Web Site.
The campaign of vilification and intimidation against the Guardian newspaper for publishing the disclosures of former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden is without precedent in a supposedly democratic country.

Raids on newspaper offices, the forced destruction of computer drives and threats to arrest journalists are actions more commonly associated with military dictatorships.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Pseudo-War on Terror: How the US Has Protected Some of Its Enemies

Click here to access article by Peter Dale Scott from The Asia-Pacific Journal

This former Canadian diplomat and college professor has gathered enormous amounts of updated documented information regarding a number of issues related to the title of this article, the major one, being that of a "deep state" functioning and directing all matters of major importance to a hidden ruling directorate serving the interests of the core of the ruling capitalist class. Once again, he provides considerable evidence that the locus of this deep state, or what I prefer to call a "shadow government", lies in the banking and financial circles in alliance with major fossil fuel players. This multinational network constitutes:
...a deep state behind the public one. And this parallel government is guided in surveillance matters by its own Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, which according to the New York Times “has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court.” ....

Most Americans have by and large not questioned this parallel government, accepting that sacrifices of traditional rights and traditional transparency are necessary to keep us safe from al-Qaeda attacks.

...at the apex of this pyramid
[of power] are probably the banks and the colossi of the military-industrial-petroleum complex. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Seize the moment, stand with Elsipogtog

Click here to access article by Derrick O’Keefe from straight.com (Georgia Straight weekly newspaper, Vancouver BC)

The Idle No More movement gets almost no coverage in US media. This posting is an effort to fill that gap in a little. The movement has been initiated by indigenous people in Canada and the US to fight back against shale fracking which is contaminating ground water, but it appears that the most active efforts have been all across Canada. Currently, actions in New Brunswick and Ontario are being met with overwhelming violence from the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). 

See also this, this, this, and this