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, January 15, 2011

The Koch Brothers’ Climatologist

by Russ Baker from Who What Why

This excellent investigative journalist illustrates how US mainstream media, in this case USA Today, covers climate change issues by using a climate change denier posing as a "climatologist" who is supported by a well-funded, conservative think tank in their report. 
The other day, USA Today ran an article reporting that 2010 had tied 2005 as the warmest year  since record-keeping began in 1880. That’s disturbing data, or course. But what really caught my eye was who they chose to question the significance of the news: a climatologist with….the Cato Institute. That’s a policy outfit heavily funded by the very companies whose emissions heat up the earth’s atmosphere.

Homeland Security's laptop seizures: Interview with Rep. Sanchez

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon

More thoughts by this excellent blogger and constitutional lawyer regarding the continuing erosion of civil rights in the US.
For those who regularly write and read about civil liberties abuses, it's sometimes easy to lose perspective about just how extreme and outrageous certain erosions are.  One becomes inured to them, and even severe incursions start to seem ordinary.  Such was the case, at least for me, with Homeland Security's practice of detaining American citizens upon their re-entry into the country, and as part of that detention, literally seizing their electronic products -- laptops, cellphones, Blackberries and the like -- copying and storing the data, and keeping that property for months on end, sometimes never returning it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Earth’s hot past could be prologue to future climate

by Jeffrey Kiehl from University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
The magnitude of climate change during Earth’s deep past suggests that future temperatures may eventually rise far more than projected if society continues its pace of emitting greenhouse gases, a new analysis concludes.
If you don't have time to read this scientist's full report, please view this 3:45m video:

2010 Tied For Warmest Year on Record

from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 
According to NOAA scientists, 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year of the global surface temperature record, beginning in 1880. This was the 34th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th century average.

Alleged leaks from carbon storage project questioned

by Nathan Vanderklippe from Globe and Mail (Canada).

One of the solutions to capitalism's dilemma with the widespread use of fossil fuels, widely advertised in mainstream media, has been "carbon capture and storage". Here is early evidence that this solution may be hazardous to your health. Of course, only "dumb farmers" are claiming problems--what do they know?
Jane and Cameron Kerr, who own a farm near Weyburn, Sask., have cast doubt on the safety of a much-celebrated Canadian project to bury greenhouse gases after a series of bizarre incidents on their property that, they say, show those gases are escaping. After seeing accumulations of algae, unsightly sheens, strange bubbling and dead animals in and around a dug-out pond near their house, the Kerrs abandoned their property several years ago. Last summer, a consultant they hired confirmed that carbon dioxide from the Weyburn project was indeed bubbling up onto their land.
But, you should forget the "doubts". This major Canadian news agency managed to find some scientists who said:
...there may be natural explanations for many of the couple’s experiences. They also say the “smoking gun” in their consultant’s report may in fact signify nothing.

Extreme Weather Site

from The Huffington Post

Unlike any other post so far on my blog, this is a page, not an article on the Huffington website. However, as the incidents of extreme weather have increased in recent years, I felt that their postings on this page really capture the extreme weather occurring today. Although now we are witnessing mostly devastating floods, it was only last summer we saw severe droughts most notably in Russia and Australia. Mainstream media usually covers the events, but also usually omits any connection with climate change.

I found one exception yesterday at ABC News. Although as you can see, they still ask the question, "Is Wild Weather Evidence of Climate Change?", I find this rather encouraging.

A world in breakdown

by Paul Rogers from Open Democracy (UK).

I really don't like to post alarmist articles, but there are times when it is necessary to offset the complacency, the diversions, and reassurance of mainstream media in the face of alarming global trends. Many people here in the US need to wake up from their media-entertainment-induced stupor. 
The most harmful consequences of the world’s economic and environmental crises are likely to be felt in 2011, and to fall most harshly on millions of marginalised people. ...Some of the responses may coalesce into radical movements that will yet eclipse anything seen in the world’s financial hubs.

If and when that happens, perhaps it will be the beginning of the end of the stunning complacency that still grips banks, ministries, the financial establishments and their media. Even after the implosions of 2007-10, the elite belief persists that nothing has changed and nothing needs to change. The realities of the world’s combined environmental, economic and security problems say otherwise.

The War On Wikileaks

by John Pilger from ZCommunications.

This eminent truth-seeking journalist looks at the war being waged against WikiLeaks.
The attacks on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are a response to an information revolution that threatens old power orders, in politics and journalism. The incitement to murder trumpeted by public figures in the United States, together with attempts by the Obama administration to corrupt the law and send Assange to a hell hole prison for the rest of his life, are the reactions of a rapacious system exposed as never before. 

The 10 Things That Would Be Different If The Federal Reserve Had Never Been Created

by Tyler Durden from The Economic Collapse

About all I know about this author is that, although not in the mainstream, he is a widely respected and read financial-investment analyst. His main website is Zero Hedge. From my study of money creation and the Fed, I believe his arguments are "right on the mark".
The vast majority of Americans, including many of those who believe that they are "educated" about the Federal Reserve, do not really understand how the Federal Reserve really makes money for the international banking elite.

There's a very good reason Sarah Palin can be elected President

by Ed Martin from OpEd News.

This offers a good rebuttal to the comments I made on yesterday's post on the same subject.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Masters of hate locked and loaded

by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online

After Palin's video release yesterday in which she continues her stupid portrayal of herself as a victim, it appears that the right-wing of the ruling class is preparing to dump her. I believe it is only because she is seen as a rather bumbling "useful idiot" by the right-wing in the US. See this. Clearly her political handlers are not very competent.
For future historians who want to find the moment when Sarah Palin chose life as a culture warrior over life as a legitimate contender for White House, this moment is likely to be it. [from CNN]
It is revealing to note that, although it appears that Palin has lost favor with the ruling class, very little is reported in mainstream media about the rest of the hateful, violence filled rhetoric of the other right-wing pundits supported by the right-wing in the ruling class. 
There's no evidence US hatemongers festering in the politics/talk show crossover swamp are about to be chastised. There's no evidence Republican party leaders will publicly take a stand against the "take out" rhetoric. The Arizona massacre that killed six people and wounded 14 others is already being dismissed en masse in right-wing circles as the usual isolated act of the usual deranged loner.
See also this article from the World Socialist Web Site entitled, "More evidence of right-wing links to Tucson attack".

As for all those "balanced" commentaries in mainstream media that claim both sides are guilty of inflammatory rhetoric, read this.

Tax the Rich to Repay Looted Social Security Money

by Allen W. Smith from Dissident Voice

Of course, the rich must be taxed to pay back what they've stolen from the Social Security Trust Fund. But, don't bet on it happening. The American people have been so conditioned to the evil of taxes that they will put up little fight to save themselves in their old age. See this where I developed this argument in more detail. 

Only last month the Obama administration used a tax bill to further weaken the Fund in order to extend Bush's tax cuts to the rich. (See this)

One Year After Haiti Earthquake, Corporations Profit While People Suffer

by Jordan Flaherty from Dissident Voice

Now that mainstream media's spotlight is off Haiti and all the grand efforts of Western philanthropy to help in their recovery from last year's earthquake disaster, we now learn what is really happening with these efforts.
...it’s not just corporations who have been guilty of profiting from Haitian suffering. A recent report from the Disaster Accountability Project (DAP) describes a “significant lack of transparency in the disaster-relief/aid community,” and finds that many relief organizations have left donations for Haiti in their bank accounts, earning interest rather than helping the people of Haiti. DAP director, Ben Smilowitz, notes that “the fact that nearly half of the donated dollars still sit in the bank accounts of relief and aid groups does not match the urgency of their own fundraising and marketing efforts and donors’ intentions, nor does it covey the urgency of the situation on the ground.”
See also this from Mother Jones.

Time out

 This illustrates that "the more things change, the more they stay the same", especially in US politics. These ploys that the ruling class uses to manage their population seem to always work. I imagine the next ploy will be to select a woman candidate to promise all kinds of changes. 

Mainstream media will help create all the hoopla over her, and soon all America will "go bananas" over this candidate. 

Palin looked promising for a while to the ruling class, but it appears that she bumbled the opportunity with her release of yesterday's video that portrayed herself as a victim of the Arizona shooting.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

120 Seconds Of Gerald Celente Kicking Wall Street's Ass [2:13m video]

from The Daily Bail
Text from YouTube page: While millions of Americans are unemployed and the national debt is soaring, it seems top financial executives are far from feeling the pinch.  A recent Wall Street Journal survey estimates they'll receive a staggering $144 billion dollars in compensation and benefits this year.
I don't usually go for rants in which more heat than light is shed. but this one makes a good point about people being distracted by mainstream media.

I think that underlying the success of mainstream media in managing the minds of ordinary people is a comprehensive indoctrination apparatus provided mainly by educational institutions whose aims for its subjects are to instill obedience to authorities and to avoid instruction in independent, critical thinking. Supporting the educational institutions are the many top-down authority structures, governed and monitored by the capitalist class that pervades all other societal institutions, in order to reinforce authoritarian thinking and to punish those who stray from it.

As a result of this pervasive authoritarian influence, ordinary people regard the talking heads on TV as authorities who, like parents, have their best interests at heart and mostly tell the truth. It is hard for them to believe that these authorities mostly lie in the service of their authorities, and this process extends all the way up the chains of authorities to the ruling capitalist class.

Hence, it follows from this system point of view that we must change the engine that drives nearly all of society--the capitalist system, a system which is designed to serve a few at the expense of the many. And it is no longer only a matter of social justice, it is now a matter of human survival. This system, so addicted to the consumption of energy and materials, is fundamentally in conflict with an ecological system that can support human life and many other current life forms.

A broader question might be posed: Is the human creature, that is uniquely endowed with an advanced brain, capable of creating a system that is in harmony with the Earth's ecology, or will it just be another failed evolutionary experiment that was able to survive only for a brief moment in geological time? It is up to us to answer that question, and we must answer it soon because time is running out.

Ecological civilization

by Fred Magdoff, excerpts from article in Monthly Review.

A few days ago I read the full article in Monthly Review, but found it a bit too lengthy for my postings. So I am grateful that "BA" provided these excerpts from the article. I like positive articles like this that illustrate how society could be, and must be, organized to serve the needs of everyone, unlike under capitalism which serves only the selfish, neurotic needs of a few.
...nearly the entire world is now part of a global capitalist system, which is, at its heart, an anti-environmental economic/social system. Having accumulation of capital without end as its motivating force and only goal, capitalism creates environmental havoc locally, regionally, and globally.

... The accumulation of capital, the driving and motivating force of capitalism, leads naturally to many consequences that harm the environment. The system proceeds assuming—contrary to all evidence—unlimited resources (including cheap energy) and unlimited natural “sinks” for wastes generated.
Hence, in contrast to the assertions of neoliberal capitalists, the author clearly shows that there are alternatives.
An ecological society is one that will need to be the opposite of capitalism in essentially all aspects. It would:

   1. stop growing when basic human needs are satisfied;
   2. not entice people to consume more and more;
   3. protect natural life support systems and respect the limits to natural resources, taking into account needs of future generations;
   4. make decisions based on long-term societal/ecological needs, while not neglecting short-term needs of people;
   5. run as much as possible on current (including recent past) energy instead of fossil fuels;
   6. foster the human characteristics and a culture of cooperation, sharing, reciprocity, and responsibility to neighbors and community;
   7. make possible the full development of human potential; and
   8. promote truly democratic political and economic decision making for local, regional, and multi-regional needs.
Decisions are made—to as great an extent as possible—at the level where the effects will be most felt. Self-regulation in this sense is democratic self-governing and needs to occur at the workplace, community, multi-community, regional, and multi-regional levels, so that major political and economic decisions are in the hands of an empowered populace. A system of economic and political democracy provides better identification of, and solutions to, problems. ... 

Prophets of War: How Defense Contractor Lockheed Martin Dominates the Military Establishment

from AlterNet

The article contains excerpts from a new book by William D. Hartung with this title.

Lockheed-Martin is a huge defense contractor that is involved in so many nefarious activities. This corporation is one of the most, if not THE most, powerful corporations in the military-industrial complex, which in turn, is the most powerful section of the US capitalist ruling class. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, this section of the ruling class has found the "war on terrorism" to be a very lucrative substitute for the Cold War as a justification for the huge US expenditures of war-making machines and security services.
While contracts for supplying weapons for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a significant part of Lockheed Martin’s business, the new company that has taken form since the merger boom of the 1990s has a far wider reach. These activities include everything from involvement in interrogation and police training to profiting from the new post-9/11 wave of domestic surveillance activities. 

False Paradox: Reflections on the American Profits-Jobs Disconnect

by Paul Street from ZNet

The author does a good job of explaining all the lies about governmental and business concerns related to creating more jobs.
There’s little mysterious about the disconnect between profits and jobs for those willing and able to look beyond the trickle-down theory’s naïve assumption of an identity of interests between the rich and the rest of us.

As Austerity Bites, Police Get More Brutal

by Apostolis Fotiadis from IPS

This report illustrates how the capitalist ruling class reveals it hidden mailed fist when it can no longer manage its population with the institutions of fake democracy. The Greek people are beginning to understand this.
"This is what happens in countries ruled by authoritarian regimes, not in a European democracy."

See, I Told You So Comes Back Around to Bite Rush Limbaugh

by Ed Martin from OpEd News

I've noticed that mainstream media has been going out of its way to defend the inflammatory rhetoric of its right-wing pundits. 

See also, "Republicans and Their Guns", and "Sarah Palin’s Cross Hairs – and Obama’s".

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Government-created climate of fear

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon

This popular blogger among progressives is also a constitutional lawyer and author. Thus, his remarks in this article about the function of "the rule of law" in the US is particularly interesting: it clearly shows that he as changed his views. It very much appears that he, too, is beginning to see the fact of the growing fascism in the US. 

(I try not to use political words carelessly. So often the word fascism is used merely as a buzz word to denote something very bad, or a slur. What I mean by it is a highly centralized rule representing the interests of corporations and political authorities that uses brute force, or the threat of force, to intimidate people into submitting to government authorities.)

Downturn's Ugly Trademark: Steep, Lasting Drop in Wages

by Sudeep Reddy from The Wall Street Journal.

The author provides a lot concrete examples of how the (bankster engineered) economic collapse is affecting American workers--only he doesn't mention all the psychological and social devastation that is occurring and will increasingly occur in the days ahead: depression, marital problems, divorces, behavior problems in children, suicides, increasing crime, homelessness, loss of job skills, etc. These effects will happen unless, of course, we organize some kind of resistance and make changes in the existing economic arrangements.

Obits for "Fabled Hero" of Vietnam War, Vang Pao, Omit CIA Drug Connection

by Conn Hallinan from Foreign Policy in Focus. (About the author.) 

The author reveals what is hidden in mainstream media's innocuous reports on the demise of a former Vietnamese who in actuality was a CIA collaborator in the drug business during the tragic Vietnam War. It is reports like this that can recover real information that was suppressed when the events were happening. It is often hazardous for the health of journalists to report such things.

A fine journalist, Gary Webb, employed by the San Jose Mercury, who in 1996 wrote a series of fine reports regarding CIA involvement in illicit drug operations, found himself blacklisted, his career destroyed, and died mysteriously in 2004.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Deepening crisis traps America's have-nots

by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard from The Telegraph.
Raghuram Rajan, the IMF’s former chief economist, argues that the subprime debt build-up was an attempt – “whether carefully planned or the path of least resistance” – to disguise stagnating incomes and to buy off the poor.

“The inevitable bill could be postponed into the future. Cynical as it might seem, easy credit has been used throughout history as a palliative by governments that are unable to address the deeper anxieties of the middle class directly,” he said. 
I have observed that mainstream media has managed to condition the American people to view any taxes as evil incarnate.  I came to this realization quite recently with the results of a ballot initiative in Washington State that called for an income tax on people earning over $200,000 a year. It was defeated! As a result, this state, as many others, is drastically cutting back on social, medical, educational, and other government services that mostly impact poor people.

In contrast, people have been led to believe that credit is just fine, that funding local infrastructure and services through the purchase of bonds is just fine, while signing up for onerous mortgage loans on homes was greatly encouraged and celebrated ("the ownership society'). Meanwhile the 30 year destruction of well paying jobs and the suppression of wages has continued. Do you see a pattern here? 

Well, by design or not, the end result is what we have today--Americans and a large part of the world indebted to a tiny group of capitalists. Welcome to neo-feudalism!

Arizona's Long Dark Night Continues

by Randall Amster from Huffington Post
The open persecution of people of color at the level of both bodies and minds; the outright hijacking of the state's politics by far-right figures with white supremacist ties; the bankrupting of the economy while private interests gain tax breaks and write favorable laws for themselves; the decimation of the public infrastructure including the education and health care systems -- all of this and more has been front and center for beleaguered Arizonans in recent years.
I've often had my suspicions about all the violent metaphors and imagery used by the rabid right wing in the US. I can't believe that they use such language without being aware of how it inflames unstable people to commit literal violent acts as we witnessed this past weekend in Arizona. My suspicion is that they aim to encourage such incidents to justify an ever increasing and oppressive police state in the US. The Empire's fascists evidently feel that they need to secure their American center as they increasingly feel their domination of the world slipping away.

Wikileaks: Bradley Manning and the Rule of Law

by Kevin Zeese from Global Research

I think that there is a pronounced element of naiveté running through this article. But it is very common among progressives and liberals. I am referring to the "rule of law" that is often invoked to criticize the actions of the capitalist Empire. 

Once again, I insist that progressives grow up. The "rule of law" is used by the ruling classes to obscure the fact that they, the ruling capitalist classes, rule, and rule according to their interests, that is, to secure total domination of working people and accumulation of wealth. 

Think of the "rule of law" as an adult fairy tale designed to have working people believe that life under their regimes is fair and just. As is often cynically expressed, the "rule of law" is more like a "golden rule of law"--those that have the gold rule.

Look how they are treating Bradley Manning. The authorities in this case don't even bother with legal procedures. He hasn't been charged with any crime and yet they have been holding him in dehumanizing solitary confinement for six months.

There are lots of adult fairy tales used to hide the realities of class rule such as capitalist governments are democracies, the elections they stage are legitimate means of securing democracy, we have freedom of the press, the virtuous "founding fathers" designed the perfect political system, all citizens enjoy equal political rights, etc.

Laws are a reality, but a reality only for working people, not for those that rule. They make the rules, but those rules don't apply to them, only to us. How many banksters have you seen arrested for the crimes they committed while creating the current economic collapse? Only one--Bernie Madoff! He made the mistake of stealing from fellow members of the ruling class. 

How many war criminals have stood trial for their crimes? Only leaders of defeated nations or leaders of small countries are tried for war crimes. The ruling capitalist classes have a code of conduct that is very similar to the Mafia--you don't snitch on, or steal from, or harm each other unless members break these rules or are very minor players. 

The ruling class has established the institutions of law to present a thin veneer of legitimacy to their rule while enforcing their will upon us. To sum up, they make the rules of law. They enforce them only on us. And finally, they fool us into thinking that the system is legitimate so that we obey them without question.

The Pentagon's Planet of Bases

by Nick Turse from TomDispatch. (You may want to skip Engelhardt's introduction by scrolling down to the article.)
In a world of statistics and precision, a world in which “accountability” is now a Washington buzzword, a world where all information is available at the click of a mouse, there’s one number no American knows.  Not the president.  Not the Pentagon.  Not the experts.  No one. 
This has puzzled me also. There have been so many widely varying numbers thrown out about the number of bases that it has been hard to know what to believe. I once tried to access data and ended up with total confusion. However, this is the best coverage on this question that I have seen.

Spinning Unemployment in a Collapsing Empire

by Paul Craig Roberts from OpEd News
...what fell was not the number of unemployed people but the number of unemployed people who are actively looking for work. Those who have become discouraged and have ceased looking for work are not considered to be in the work force and are not counted as unemployed in the U.3 measure. The unemployment rate fell because discouraged workers increased, not because employment rose.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

If the Fraud Stops, the Financial System Collapses

by Charles Hugh Smith from his blog

Unfortunately, this is the only entry I could find for today--and I found this at the last minute before my deadline of noon, Seattle time. Briefly, I think he makes many good points, but where I differ is that I believe that the capitalist system is INHERENTLY corrupt--the system IS organized crime. And it has always been that way, only now it is much worse.
Fraud, collusion, embezzlement, manipulation and misrepresentation of risk are not isolated incidents, they are now the essential fabric of our entire financial system.

Though fraud and complicity are presented in the mainstream media as isolated conspiracies outside the status quo, the truth is that the status quo is now entirely dependent on fraud and complicity for its very survival. Every level of the status quo would immediately implode were fraud and complicity suddenly withdrawn from the system.