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 LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Has Washington Lost the Middle East After Qatar? [a must read]

Click here to access article by F. William Engdahl from New Eastern Outlook

Engdahl scores again with this revealing analysis at the recent developments in the Middle East and, further back, to the Empire's war by proxy in Syria, and still further back by the US ruling class's reliance on Saudi Arabia to control its neighbors to insure the oil-backing of the US dollar. It's all about imperialism US style which has relied heavily on economic means to dominate much of the world; but where that doesn't work, they have used a variety of other means to insure their dominance (most recently proxy terrorist armies). But this regimen of dominance, named back in 1941 by US capitalist ruling class propagandists as the "American Century", is showing marked signs of rapid disintegration which Engdahl explains so well to reach this conclusion:
It ain’t easy to be the world’s Sole Superpower today, not at all as it was, say, in the 1990’s. Not even psychopathic generals with nicknames like Mad Dog can scare others into falling back in line when Washington barks her orders. Back as recent as the 1990s it was, so to say, a piece of cake. Run a war in Yugoslavia, destabilize the Soviet Union after a long war in Afghanistan, loot the former Communist economies of all Eastern Europe. Worse still, the world seems not to appreciate Washington’s wars of destruction anymore. Now that’s real ingratitude after all that Washington has done for them in recent years…

Could it be that the American Century, viewed by future historians, will have its obituary written around the time in 2017 when Washington lost control of the “strategic prize” as Dick Cheney called the energy-rich Middle East?

Friday, July 28, 2017

PBS’ Anti-Russia Propaganda Series

Click here to access article by Rick Sterling from ConsortiumNews
The U.S.-government-supported Public Broadcasting System (PBS) recently ran a five-part series dubbed “Inside Putin’s Russia”. With a different theme each night, it purports to give a realistic look at Russia today. The image conveyed is of a Russia that is undemocratic with widespread state repression, violence and propaganda. Following are significant distortions and falsehoods in the five-part documentary.
The Empire's ruling class is using all of its organs of misinformation to smear Russia and Putin in a desperate attempt to portray Russia as the new devil incarnate (to prepare us for an attack on Russia?) and to cover for its recent failed imperialist policies in Iraq, Libya, and Ukraine. Such policies have created vast armies of immigrants currently overwhelming Europe, killed and maimed untold millions of people, and have nothing positive to show for it--not even fossil fuel pipelines under the Empire's control.

Sterling reports on all the propaganda themes that pervades the PBS TV series of programs, while, in addition, providing valuable links to documentation that put the lie to such propaganda. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Is This The Way Capitalism Works or a Sign of Cultural Degeneration?

Click here to access article by Paul Craig Roberts from his blog. 

Roberts has a large following among liberals who, like old-fashioned conservatives such as Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, and Roberts do not like today's government and its policies. However, they will go to the ends of the earth to deny that the latter has anything to do with capitalism. No, they always blame bureaucrats, neoliberalism, or as Roberts does in this article by suggesting that it might be due to "cultural degeneration". 

They loved the capitalism as was practiced before and during their youth while ignoring such facts as the imperialist history of the US from 1898 onwards, the numerous massacres by private armies and public militias of union organizers, the seizure of the control of our money by private banking interests, the constant cycle of recessions or depressions since the second half of the 19th century, etc. 

They loved capitalism throughout their careers and, through their services to the government, aided and abetted it by promoting low taxes on the rich and deregulation of corporate operations while being generously rewarded for their services. So, it may be understandable now that they will never criticize the system. Guilt? (Well, to be fair, Roberts with this headline may be starting to question the system.)

When you create a class system and endow a ruling class with special privileges, laws and practices that insure their prerogatives and protections--in the case of capitalism, those who already possess wealth--then you must accept the inevitable abuses of the system.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Washington Behind the Mirror

Click here to access article by Gordon Duff from New Eastern Outlook.

Duff attempts, and I believe largely succeeds, to bring us his assessment of the disturbing realities behind the mirror of fake corporate media reports. It seems that the crazies, the militarists, Christian fundamentalists (the Taliban and ISIS of America), Ziocons, and literally old Cold warriors are now at the helm of the nuclear weapons loaded, US-led Empire's ship of state. It might be a good time to re-view the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove.

Trump's political philosophy seems only guided by racism as revealed in his many vigorous attempts to roll-back any actions associated with the previous Obama administration (Affordable Care Act, Iran, Cuba). Otherwise he appears to be leaving policies regarding foreign affairs mostly to Pentagon generals except where his financial deals might be affected. It's no wonder that the atomic clock has been moved closer to midnight--the closest it has been since 1953 when...
Over the opposition of many nuclear scientists, the United States [the ruling class] decides to pursue the hydrogen bomb, a weapon far more powerful than any atomic bomb. In October 1952, the United States tests its first thermonuclear device, obliterating a Pacific Ocean islet in the process. Nine months later, the Soviets test an H-bomb of their own.
Except for his apparent racism, Trump's policies are understandable for someone of his limited experience: only as a real estate tycoon who has never held any elected public office and is ignorant of foreign affairs. But then, what choice did Americans really have in the last "democratic" election? Hillary, the mad-dog war monger, Clinton?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Myth of the Kurdish YPG’s Moral Excellence

Click here to access article by Stephen Gowans from What's Left. (Some editing for clarity at 5:30 PM Seattle time on 7/26/2017)

The issue of the political idealism of the Syrian Kurds has been so confusing because a number of writers, who identify with the "left", have been inspired by the apparent political beliefs of this group. You only have to enter "Syrian Kurds" and/or "Rojava" in one of my search boxes to find many articles that extol the political virtues of this group as well as more recent articles that cast doubts on these Kurds. 

The Syrian conflict is a giant stew where many powers are involved and with very different objectives. I think that many left supporters are also confused. Even the Syrian Kurds appear to be divided on some issues. The General in command of US forces in Syria also seems confused, or at least worried, about their orientation: see this video from 54:15-55:54 in which Gen. Raymond Thomas is leery about their left-wing political orientation (the PKK are the Kurdish Workers Party with which the Syrian Kurds are affiliated).  (By the way, in this presentation he also admits that the US involvement in Syria is in conflict with international law: 53:35-54:13.)

In this rather lengthy article Gowans impresses me as being very knowledgeable about the Syrian Kurds whereas others such as David Graeber and Marcel Cartier seemed to believe the people they talked to on their visits, and Pepe Escobar apparently believed what he read in left-wing media. I notice that Graeber is still promoting the Syrian Kurds on what appears to be based purely on ideology that impressed him while on a 10 day visit reportedly in April of 2015.

A number of other writers like Tony Cartalucci, Alison Banville, and Sarah Abed are at least critical of the Syrian Kurds mainly because they are serving the interests of the US to balkanize Syria. I personally place great emphasis on deeds not words, and the fact that they have allowed the US to establish eight military bases on territory under their control is very disturbing. As we have seen, the US will use any forces to support their objective to destabilize the government of Syria or, failing that, at least to dismember it. 

Today's post entitled "Vying with Kurds: Turkey Opens a New Front in Syria" confirms what others have argued that the Turks will not tolerate a separate Kurdish state adjacent to their country. The project to destabilize Syria was undertaken by US coalition of forces, Saudi Arabia and its satellites, originally Turkey (but they are changing), and Israel, and this project is now doomed. The Syrian Kurds need to realize that and act accordingly by seeking compatible relations with the Syrian government with a hope for some kind of confederation status. Hopefully it's not already too late.

Social Security: The 14th Amendment and “Odious Debt”

Click here to access article by Dr. Nayvin Gordon from Dissident Voice.
Section 4 [of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution]
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
I take it that Gordon questions the legality under the Constitution for permitting this "borrowing" because it wasn't "authorized by law".

A frequent theme among Congressional people and corporate media pundits is that Social Security is running out of money and is in crisis. Well--no wonder--with the use of these funds to offset taxes to the rich and fund our never-ending wars!  
For decades the politicians have not only borrowed from Social Security to run the government, but 70% of the national debt has been borrowed from banks, financial institutions, corporations and rich individuals.  The politicians borrowed because instead of taxing the rich banks and corporations, they cut their taxes.  As a result, workers’ taxes and Social Security payments provide almost 90% of the federal government’s revenues.
I particularly want to direct your attention to his reference to the Princeton University study which you can find here. The study reveals that democracy is fake like much else in our capitalist-run nation.
A 2014 study by Princeton University came to the conclusion that the majority of the American public actually has little influence over the policies the government adopts. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Monopoly was invented to demonstrate the evils of capitalism

Click here to access article by Kate Raworth from Aeon.

The game of Monopoly has long been a source of wonder for me even though I played it a lot in my high school years without any concerns. To me at that time, it was only a game that had no relevance to contemporary society. Having since become aware of social justice issues and having to deal with adult reality, I have often wondered why such a game became so popular.  

After all, it is the ultimate expression in game form of sociopathy. To the extent that the game reflects any kind of reality, it celebrates sociopathy by making the best sociopath the winner. Of course, this is no accident. The game is an integral part of the indoctrination of capitalist values along with all the other pro-capitalist propaganda that all people are subject to growing up in a capitalist-ruled society.

I previously looked cursorily into the history of the game, but (as I remember) it lightly passed over the original game as invented by Elizabeth Magie and its original design and intent before Parker Brothers company got control of it. The company purchased the patent (nearly everything is a commodity under capitalism) and changed the original design of the game to what it essentially is today. Raworth gives us this original history and explains Magie's intended educational purpose of the game as an exercise in understanding the socially immoral aspects of capitalism.

Incidentally, in the 1980s while I was living in San Francisco, I tried to provide an alternative to Monopoly for my family by shopping at a store that advertised as having 10,000 games. I explained to the salesperson that I wanted a game that promoted cooperation, and I was told that they didn't have any such game! Magie's intent had been completely eliminated from any kind of board games.