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, August 14, 2010

Crime Pays If You Are a Capitalist

by Ron Horn. 

In contrast to capitalists where crime often does pay, under their system work doesn't pay for many workers. This survey of homes graphically illustrates this point. First, let us visit the homes of the rich. 

Let me introduce Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase. Like all the mega banks, this bank has been a key participant in the gambling of derivatives which has devastated most of the economies of the world. This bank has a long history of criminal and dubious activities, but only a year ago was caught doing the following:
JP Morgan managers in London discovered last month that client and bank money used for trading futures and options - a way of speculating on movements in currencies, share prices and commodities - had apparently been put into a single pool.
They raised the alarm and notified the FSA [Financial Securities Agency]. The scale of case is unprecedented, say City [London]
View slides of his home.

And how about the famous hedge fund manager John Paulson who just bought himself a new mansion in Aspen.

Visit the home of Kenneth Starr who has gained a reputation as a swindler.

Look at many other homes of the rich who accumulated their riches on the backs of working people.

Then look at the homes of working people who can't find work anymore. These are the luckier ones--many simply live in their cars, in alleyways, bushes, under bridges, etc.

Is the Dionysian Party Over for St. Tropez?

by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair. Another installment of life among what are known as the 1 per cent Americans, your fellow Americans who, I'm sure, deal with many of the same life issues as we ordinary Americans do.

Today, they are faced with those pesky environmentalists who insist that their playground on the Mediterranean is an environmental hazard. What a downer! Anyway, read all about it and weep for them.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The unemployment horror show

by Bob Herbert from Socialist Worker.
They’re [government leaders] appropriating more and more money for warfare while schizophrenically babbling about balancing the budget.
At some point we’re going to have to claw our way out of this denial. With 14.6 million people officially jobless, and 5.9 million who have stopped looking but say they want a job, and 8.5 million who are working part time but would like to work full time, you end up with nearly 30 million Americans who cannot find the work they want and desperately need.

Liberals to the Rescue of Capitalism

by Ron Horn.

There has been abundant criticisms from liberals about economic policies that have driven the economy into its present dysfunctional condition, but they still haven't given up hope that it can be reformed into a functioning system.

The blogger on Washington's Blog argues for a reduction in the profits taken by finance capitalists in today's economy. He writes:
When the crisis really hits, both workers and capitalists suffer as bank income goes through the roof—leading to a Depression. The only way out of this is to abolish large slabs of the debt, and coincidentally to drive bankers share of income back down to levels that reflect is supportive role as a provider of working capital for firms—rather than a parasitic role as the financier of Ponzi schemes.
Meanwhile Bill Mitchell of Billy Blog proposes a government commitment to provide guaranteed full employment to handle the devastating effects on workers created by the bust phase in the boom and bust cycle that has been the history of capitalism.

Then there are all the libertarians who just want to turn back the clock on the huge growth of monopoly financial capitalism and return to the days of yesteryear when small businesses could prosper.

These are all pipe dreams of people who, while being trained in schools of higher education for high paying middle class jobs that have served capitalists so well, were also indoctrinated with all the myths about the virtues of this system. They are now increasingly feeling threatened by out-of-control corporate behemoths led by financial capitalists and are desperately searching for solutions--no matter how unrealistic.

I, and many others, would argue that the system itself is flawed, that it never benefited working people who have had to sacrifice jobs, their families well-being, and their very lives in their fight to secure a modicum of gains such as eight hour work days, Workers Compensation, Social Security, etc.  

The system of capitalism took over where feudalism and slavery left off by securing the wealth produced by working people codified by the laws of property that the new class of capitalists instituted. Since then the latter class has driven working people to produce all the technology and advancements that they control, and have profited from, into the kind of economy and world we have today. We are now faced with huge areas of poverty amidst tiny islands of wealth, climate change that appears to be already out of control, and exhaustion of resources.

There is only one catch. The system must have growth to continue. It is very much like a cancer that attacks a body. The cancer starts out small and is little noticed. Soon it starts to destroy surrounding cells by robbing them of nutrients in order to feed itself. It continues to grow until it becomes so large that it threatens the life of the body. It reaches a point that it can't grow anymore without killing the body. That is where we are today. We need a new system!

Reviving Anarchy For The Sake Of Sustainability

by Antonio Roman-Alcalá from Civil Eats.
Once we get past our doubts about ourselves, and the belief that we cannot self-govern, then all that’s left to do is craft and implement a structure for self-governance.

Time out

Drug money [23:44m video]

by Melanie Newman and Chris Woods from Al Jazeera

The investigators look closely at the corruption in the US pharmaceutical industry that is draining of so much of health care spending to feed the profit obsession of the drug selling corporations. Learn how they corrupt doctors to use them as pimps for their products. Learn how they push poorly tested drugs, and knowingly covering up information on drugs that often end up causing more harm than good. None of this, of course, makes it into the carefully managed mainstream news in the US.

Hidden Intelligence Operation Behind the Wikileaks Release of "Secret" Documents?

by F. William Engdahl from Global Research

Has the real story been told about the recent Wiki leaks? Time will probably tell, but the author assembles some interesting information from different sources that may point to another interpretation of this event.

On War, Armies, and the Brilliance of James Madison

by Damon Vrabel from Council on Renewal.
The mass media’s way of communicating war is basically to put fake tough-guy narcissists like Bill O’Reilly, Joe Biden, or Dick Cheney on your TV screen speaking to the equivalent of a pre-oedipal 2 year old: “there are scary people out there…you need to be terrified…heroic saviors will attack and destroy their bad countries for you so you can maintain your mental fantasy that you’re safe. All you need to do is keep shopping, buying your little toys, while daddy keeps you safe.” 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Monopoly Money and the International Banking Cartel

from Council on Renewal. Understanding money creation under private banking institutions is extremely important. After reading this article, to delve deeper into the subject I suggest you do one or all of the following:
There are many other sources, but I've found these to be helpful.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Giant ice block baffles scientists [1:44m video & other links]

from Al Jazeera

I am absolutely amazed at the slight media coverage that this event is receiving in the US. The best I've come across so far is from Bloomberg News which provides this interesting title--"Iceberg Four Times Size of Manhattan May Hamper Atlantic Ships". Apparently they are more worried about the effects on commerce more than anything else.

The NY Times coverage on Monday seemed to emphasize the usual anti-climate change themes of "undecided scientists", "more research needed", "natural variations", etc.

The best report of all comes from UK's Guardian.

Then this piece entitled, Russia's Fires Cause "Brown Cloud," May Hit Arctic, suggests that things can get even worse.

Manifestations of Runaway Climate Change

by Andrew Glikson from Dissident Voice. He provides recent data about climate extremes that is uncovered in mainstream media.

Frustrated White House Slams “Professional Left”

by Yves Smith from Naked Capitalism

This excellent blogger with a long career in the financial services industry knows of what she writes.  In this article she goes into some detail to show how the Obama administration, the current employees of the ruling class residing in the executive branch of the official US government, are disciplining those on the anemic political left in the US.

She introduces her topic with this statement:
...this is an Administration that, ironically, seems to think its Faustian pacts with corporate interests can be sold to a presumed-to-be-clueless public with artful PR. But this supposedly media savvy bunch has persistently violated a fundamental rule of marketing: you don’t misrepresent your product. While politicians all oversell what they can accomplish, the Team Obama campaign has become increasingly desperate as the inconsistency between the Adminstration’s “product positioning” and observable reality become increasingly evident.

Time out

Russia's Agony a "Wake-Up Call" to the World

by Stephen Leahy from IPS

The founder of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute wants the government to get serious about climate change by enacting effective measures instead of promoting ethanol.
"The lesson here is that we must take climate change far more seriously, make major cuts in emissions and fast before climate change is out of control," Brown, one of the world's leading experts on agriculture and food, told IPS.

Average temperatures during the month of July were eight degrees Celsius above normal in Moscow, he said, noting that "such a huge increase in temperature over an entire month is just unheard of."

Sticking Together in Tough Times

by Chuck Collins from Yes! Magazine

Some unemployed workers are organizing to defend themselves against the unrelenting push by corporations and their government to pare back US labor costs in favor of more profits from cheaper labor overseas. 
In unemployed worker groups and common security clubs  across the country, participants are facing two grim realities. The first is that jobs that vanished aren’t coming back. And the second reality is that if unemployed workers don’t stand up for themselves, no one else will.
The only problem I have with this article is that it assumes that only defensive, mild reform actions need be taken to defend the unemployed. Such bias reflects the liberal perspective of this website.

National Security Letter Recipient Can Speak Out For First Time Since FBI Demanded Customer Records From Him

from American Civil Liberties Union
"After six long years of not being able to tell anyone at all what happened to me – not even my family – I'm grateful to finally be able to talk about my experience of being served with a national security letter," said Merrill. "Internet users do not give up their privacy rights when they log on, and the FBI should not have the power to secretly demand that ISPs turn over constitutionally protected information about their users without a court order. I hope my successful challenge to the FBI's NSL gag power will empower others who may have received NSLs to speak out."
View this 3:50m video in which Merrill tells about his experience:

But the Obama administration in order to serve its bosses in the ruling class are fighting back and trying to expand government powers of surveillance over your private life. Read this.

View this 2:07m video to learn more about how business and government can access your private information, and what you can do about it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Google-Verizon Deal: The End of The Internet as We Know It

by Josh Silver from Huffington Post.
So the Google-Verizon deal can be summed up as this: "FCC, you have no authority over us and you're not going to do anything about it. Congress, we own you, and we'll get whatever legislation we want. And American people, you can't stop us.
We must stop them!

Read: Regulators’ Deepwater Drilling Document Is ‘at War With Itself’

by Marion Wang from ProPublica
 A decade-old environmental assessment by offshore drilling regulators called for more research on Corexit dispersant, warned that deepwater spills were difficult to stop, and cautioned that such spills could "permanently cover water bottoms and wetlands."

At the same time, it cited industry speculation that a deepwater blowout could stop itself in a matter of days and concluded that deepwater spills were "a very low-probability event."
All government regulation cannot protect the public interest when the government is owned by the capitalist ruling class.

New Outrages Keep Gushing From BP

by Jim Hightower from Creators. com

Bet you won't read this in mainstream media. Yes, it's more mischief perpetrated by the ruling corporate class.

The Digital Surveillance State: Vast, Secret, and Dangerous

by Glenn Greenwald from Cato Institute. Yes, that is not some kind of mistake--this article is from that right-wing "think" tank! Maybe they are only worried that the sheer volume of citizen data collected is causing real enemies from being detected. Maybe I shouldn't be so cynical. Maybe it is even more worrisome because a right-wing organization is worried about the growing fascism in the US:
In every way that matters, the separation between government and corporations is nonexistent, especially (though not only) when it comes to the Surveillance State.
This is the very definition of fascism: "...the separation between government and corporations is nonexistent...."

The article prompts a lot of reactions from me. 

First, the information clearly indicates that the surveillance agencies are violating laws and are not in conformance with the Constitution. This supports my argument that laws are designed by ruling classes to control their subjects. They in no way deter the ruling classes from violating the same laws. And constitutions are designed to provide legitimacy for the governments of ruling classes. You can look at any constitution across the world and you will be amazed at how wonderful they always appear.

Secondly, both capitalist parties are in collusion with the total surveillance state. Like most other issues, the political party designation doesn't really matter. It is just to fool you into thinking that you have a choice. You will never be given a real choice. The individuals occupying the White House are employees of the ruling capitalist class. Congress and the Supreme Court are owned by corporations.

Thirdly, regarding the realization that so much data misses some real bad actors among us, it is argued that the profit incentives of private enterprise encourages this excessive data collection. While this may be true to a certain extent, I would argue that the ruling class is more worried about its own citizens than it is terrorists. 

The Empire is causing more and more havoc in the world in general and problems for US citizens in particular. Further deterioration of the economy for working people is in the offing as US corporations leave the US and continue to scour the globe for cheap labor and resources. The recent severe recession is not some temporary downturn in the business cycle; it represents a permanent "structural adjustment" of the US economy as corporations become global players.

Thus, the US ruling class worries that at some point US workers will revolt after they wake up and realize that the "American Dream" was only a dream, and they want to be prepared.

Time out

Japan's Economic Stagnation Is Creating a Nation of Lost Youths

by Charles Hugh Smith from Daily Finance

The article looks at the disturbing trend in Japan that is rapidly becoming true in the US. This provides more evidence to support my view that the operation of global capitalism is going to result in tiny islands of rich people living among vast oceans of poor, exploited, and surplus people.
The unraveling of Japan's social fabric as a result of eroding economic conditions for young people offers Americans a troubling glimpse of the high costs of long-term economic stagnation.

Rice yields falling under global warming

by Richard Black from the BBC.
Global warming is cutting rice yields in many parts of Asia, according to research, with more declines to come.
Also, more findings of global warming effects in Russia.

Worker-Owned Cooperatives: The Work We Do is the Solution [audio]

by Rose Aguilar from Truthout

This is a radio interview with representatives from a variety of co-ops in the San Francisco Bay Area. Rose Aguilar is the host of "Your Call," a daily call-in radio show on KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Out of Sight, Out of Mind (Even when it’s not out of sight)

by Dahr Jamail from Dahr Jamail's Dispatches.

This fine journalist is one of a few outstanding, independent US journalists who, unlike most of his peers, remains unembedded with the ruling class.

The author has trained his sharp-eyed journalistic gaze upon the record breaking environmental disaster in the Gulf that our ruling class would prefer that we forget about. His comparison with the US government's handling of this disaster with the Soviet Union's handling of the Chernobyl disaster is precious. If you want to avoid the usual soothing ruling class palaver about the Gulf disaster, then you must follow honest journalists like Jamail.
The lives of Gulf coast fishermen and residents are being destroyed. Scientists, environmentalists, and toxicologists are describing the Gulf of Mexico as a growing dead zone, a kill zone, and an energy sacrifice zone. As you read this, oil is everywhere around southeastern Louisiana, and continually washing ashore in Alabama and Mississippi.

The Lies Of Hiroshima Are The Lies Of Today

by John Pilger from Global Research

Another unembedded (with the Empire's ruling class) journalist from Australia (now living in London) reports on the truth about another man-made, but this time, intentional disaster--one of history's worst war crimes. 
The most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and save lives. "Even without the atomic bombing attacks," concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, "air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that ... Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated."
This particular article does not go on to explain the likely reasons US used this weapon against an already defeated Japan. The arch-nemesis for the US ruling class remained the Soviet Union. WWII was about inter-imperial capitalist rivalries. Having beaten their rivals, the US Empire's ruling class was even more eager to assert dominance over its primary enemy, the Soviet Union even though they were "allies" in this war. 

They remained obsessed by the threat of a system and a power that prevented capitalist penetration. You can see this obsession played out immediately after the end of that war by examining the events related to the US occupation of southern Korea. This history remains mostly hidden, but it can be accessed by reading a difficult-to-find, but brilliant book entitled, The Origins of the Korean War, V1 by Bruce Cumings. 

The use of the atomic bomb in Japan illustrates the criminal, anti-human mindset of the Empire's ruling class whose power and wealth depend upon force and dominance. They have continued to threaten other adversaries with the weapon since then. See this.

US-Vietnam nuclear talks heighten frictions with China

by Peter Symonds from World Socialist Web Site

This is utterly amazing even to my jaded mind. However, it does support my contention mentioned in the above article that the US ruling capitalist class remains obsessed about any rivals to its dominance in the world.
In a move that will further raise regional tensions, the US is conducting negotiations with Vietnam over a deal to allow the purchase of nuclear fuel, as well as American nuclear technology and reactors. The talks, details of which were leaked to the US media last week, are another sign that the Obama administration is engaged in an aggressive strategy of countering Chinese influence throughout the Asian region.

Time out

“Technically Incompetent” NY Fed Examiner of Biggest Banks Pre Crisis Promoted for Blowing Up the Economy

by Yves Smith from Naked Capitalism. Although the whole article may not be worth your time, she starts it off with a great, insightful quote: 
We pointed out that reappointing Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman would be inconceivable in the private sector, since CEOs who preside over disasters are dismissed (captains have the good taste to go down with their ships).

But of course, Bernanke is a failure only if you believe that the Fed’s official mandate – soundness and stability of the banking system, full employment and price stability – is the real one. But if you think his job, like that of Soviet apparatchiks, is to preserve the existing order, no matter how rotten it and its incumbents are, then he has succeeded admirably.

Wikileaks and the Mighty Wurlitzer

by Zahir Ebrahim from The Public Record. Excellent analysis of the Empire's propaganda machine.
...I use the term ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’ as a metaphor to pluralistically refer to the same message-machine, i.e., the intelligence apparatus for manufacturing consent and controlling dissent, and its concomitant conscious manipulation of peoples’ thoughts, feelings, actions and in-actions, in order to serve the primacy interests of the ruling-elite.

Eyes on the skies over Iran's reactor

by Marsh B. Cohen from Asia Times Online

Looks like we are now in a critical period of the standoff between US/Israel and Iran that holds possibilities for peace or a terrible disaster.
The prospect of Bushehr becoming operational coincides with the proliferation of public statements that claim an attack on Iran by Israel or the US is impending and inevitable. Bushehr is strategically located in southwestern Iran on the Gulf coast, directly across from Kuwait.
An aerial assault on Bushehr would have to take place before any nuclear fuel arrives at the site. Beyond that point, an attack on the reactor would release deadly radioactive fallout into the entire Persian Gulf region and beyond.
Also, read this.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I am taking the day off.