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, January 19, 2013

Manufacturing Terrorists

Click here to access article which is a review by Michael German from Reason.com of a book entitled The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism, by Trevor Aaronson. (Michael German is a former FBI agent who currently works for the American Civil Liberties Union.)
Imagine a country in which the government pays convicted con artists and criminals to scour minority religious communities for disgruntled, financially desperate, or mentally ill patsies who can be talked into joining fake terror plots, even if only for money. Imagine that the country's government then busts its patsies with great fanfare to justify ever-increasing authority and ever-increasing funding. According to journalist Trevor Aaronson's The Terror Factory, this isn't the premise for a Kafka novel; it's reality in the post-9/11 United States.

The Trillion Dollar Coin: Joke or Game-changer?

Click here to access article by Ellen Brown from her blog Web of Debt. (My commentary modified at 7:00pm PST.)

Brown frequently shows real insight on money issues, as she does in this excellent article: but she functions within a capitalist world where critics of the system can be impaled on the sword of unemployment if they stray too far. This piece sheds a lot of light on the issuance of money and the interests that control the issuance, but it doesn't stray too far in that it accepts the prevailing ideology that we live in some sort of valid representative government. She demonstrates this by her timid or naive concluding comment regarding the Fed's rejection of the trillion dollar coin proposal. What I have a problem with is her implication that we can work through our "elected representatives" to bring about change.
In flatly rejecting the Treasury’s legal tender, the Fed as representative of the banks is asserting itself as outranking the elected representatives of the people.  If the Fed won’t acknowledge the coins created by the government, perhaps the government needs to charter a publicly-owned bank that will.

We have a chance today to end the charade of big money gridlock politics, as well as the reign of the big banks. We have the power to choose prosperity over austerity. But to do it, we must first restore the power to create money to the people.
Within the article she quotes from an excellent source, Triumphant Plutocracy, whose author, Richard F. Pettigrew, served in various public offices including in Congress as a Senator and Representative for 50 years from about 1870 to 1920. He tried, along with many others who one never encounters in public education, to tell the truth about government. (Our masters in the One Percent have carefully purged certain parts of our history.) Therefore, given the above naive statements of Brown, I wonder if she read the rest of the book. Here are excerpts from Pettigrew's introduction written in 1921:
The American people should know the truth about American public life. They have been lied to so much and hoodwinked so often that it would seem only fair for them to have at least one straight-from-the-shoulder statement concerning this government "of the people, by the people and for the people," about whose inner working the people know almost nothing.


I witnessed the momentous changes and participated in them. While they were occurring I saw something else that filled me with dread. I saw the government of the United States enter into a struggle with the trusts, the railroads and the banks, and I watched while the business forces won the contest. I saw the forms of republican government decay through disuse, and I saw them betrayed by the very men who were sworn to preserve and uphold them. I saw the empire of business, with its innumerable ramifications, grow up around and above the structure of government. I watched the power over public affairs shift from the weakened structure of republican political machinery to the vigorous new business empire. .... After the authority over public affairs had been transferred to the men of business, I saw the machinery of business pass from the hands of individuals into the hands of corporations--artificial persons--created in the imagination of lawyers, and given efficacy by the sanction of the courts and of the law. When I turned to the reading of American history, I discovered that these things had been going on from the beginnings of our government, that they had grown up with it, and were an essential part of its structure
. [my emphasis]
What a few people, who understand the grand money scheme hidden behind the banking consortium that named itself the Federal Reserve, do not understand is that this privatization of money issuance is an integral part of a broader privatization scheme to own all the fruits of working people and to transform all of nature into commodities. It's called capitalism, and nothing short of a revolution will change things. This is a simple fact that too few progressives are willing to face. We must stop pretending that street protests, candlelight marches, voting, and petition signing will change anything.
There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all! -- Mario Savio 1964

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Great Austerity Swindle!

Click here to access article by Joe Firestone from New Economic Perspectives. [My commentary modified at 7pm PST.]

If I understand this "coin seigniorage" proposal, and I think I do, this is a perfectly valid and legal way to eliminate government debt owed to the private banking consortium known as "the Fed", which was authorized by a 1913 law to issue US money as debt (with interest charged). What I am unsure of is the use of this method to restore the Social Security and Medicare funds, which have been used to cover lowered taxes on the rich and government expenses including military invasions, without causing other problems.

There are other methods of eliminating the debt to the Fed, chief among them recognizes that our government is the supreme law of the land and can simply abolish the debt, and justifying this action because the debt is obviously illegitimate, having been created via money that was created "out of thin air". And, of course, we must abolish the Fed, and have the US Treasury issue interest-free money. It should be a government function to authorize sufficient quantities of money as a medium of value required for the exchange of goods and services that are produced or created by working people. Real goods and services that contribute to the well-being of a people constitute real wealth, not gold, silver, or any other metal that has been made into a fetish by those who can own and/or control it. 

The unfortunate reality is that the government is overwhelmingly controlled by banking interests, and they are not about to pass any laws against their interests. They now have the nation in debt to them forever, and this is exactly where they want to be. Only an organized, informed citizenry can make real changes.

Still, it's good to propose and argue for such schemes, except that they are needlessly complicated and written in a style that only a relatively few people can understand. The concept of money has been so mystified--deliberately so--by the banking interests. As a result ordinary people find it difficult to understand issues related to money and debts, and they are easily deceived.

The best online source I've found to gain a better understanding is this one, organized as a series of lessons designed by someone by the pseudonym of "Smithy". Smithy has degrees in mathematics and economics, and she works as a consultant calculating investment risk for financial institutions. For this reason, she can't reveal her real name. One needs to be aware that accurate knowledge about the money scam is difficult to obtain simply because it is so profitable for bankers who control it. They have ways of punishing people who reveal too many of their secrets.

Stewart vs Krugman and the Religion of Austerity

Click here if you wish to access original source from The Real News and the transcript of this interview with Prof. Bill Black.

Black proposes two alternative explanations for Pres. Obama's interactions with Tea Party Republicans who advocate harsh cutbacks to social spending. Forget the first one about damaging the Republican party by holding out. That is pure nonsense in the guise of common sense which conforms to the conventional view of two-party adversaries propagated over mainstream media. Both parties represent, and are funded by, the same interests. Obviously, they sometimes have different strategies to serve those interests. But, it is clearly the second explanation that Black offers: "he [Obama] wants the excuse to give in." 

He begins by pointing out that Obama has been preparing the groundwork by already offering concessions. Then Black explores the sources of proposed austerity policies in the Peterson Institute, and in turn, their earlier origins in the Washington Consensus of the late 1980s. However, for some reason he never mentions that Obama appointed billionaire Pete Peterson in 2010 to head the Deficit Commission to come up with policies to solve the problem of government deficits. This, of course, laid the groundwork for all the subsequent fake arguments about cutting social spending  between his administration and the Tea Party Republicans, actions that were designed to lead into some "grand bargain" involving controversial cuts to social programs that he would be supposedly forced into. The "grand bargain" would provide him with the "excuse to give in".

Anyway, what is clear is that the Washington Consensus that originally forced devastating austerity and privatization policies onto many countries in Latin America has, under globalized capitalism, come home to roost on American soil.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Genetic Argument: Understanding That Social Advancement is our Collective Responsibility

Click here to access article by Chris Renzo posted on News Beacon Ireland.
American neuroscientist, Dr. Robert Sapolsky, states that there is a widespread and dangerous notion that has taken root in our dominant scientific understanding of human behavior. The notion is that we believe human behavior is genetically determined. This deterministic view of life suggests life is rooted in biology and genetics, that we are our genes, and that genes cannot be changed. This notion is used to support the view that human nature is governed by an innate self-interest, a trait we developed through evolution.
You may be wondering what this has to do with the scourge of capitalism that is the focus of my blog. Some of you may have looked at the last sentence as a hint--because, of course, this view of human nature directly supports the capitalist world-view and justifies all sorts of sociopathic crimes against the rest of humanity. This is correct, but I'd like to attack this "dangerous notion" that Renzo refers to from another direction.

The view of human nature as composed of genetic predispositions toward certain behaviors which are modulated by social experience is supported by overwhelming evidence. Yet, in spite of this, capitalist ideologues continue to revert to a more mechanistic view based entirely on genetics. It seems that this phenomenon keeps coming back. Recall its prominence among fascist regimes in the 1930s and in the quasi-fascism of 1920-1930 America? Such a view prevents any notions that the way societies are organized can have deleterious effects on human development; and thus, discourages any examination of evidence that a capitalist organized society contributes to all sorts of human behavioral disorders.

If you use a class-based analysis to class-structured societies dating from their first appearance in agrarian societies until the present time (which represents about two percent of human history), you will understand that a ruling class will always impose self-justifying views on the rest of society including its scientists.

Government Pushes Propaganda Through Video Games

Click here to access article from Washington's Blog.

At last I find people endorsing a view I've had for the last 25 years--the ruling class often use video games as another ideological tool to indoctrinate children. Their emphasis on, not just competition, but brutal competition where kids are encouraged to engage in life and death struggles against "evil doers" conveniently mirrors propaganda imposed on their adult populations. I never cease to be amazed at the brilliance of the ruling class's indoctrination agents to come up with such clever methods of controlling and manipulating the 99 Percent.
“By the late 1990s,” says Nick Turse, an American journalist, historian and author of The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives, “the [US] army was pouring tens of millions of dollars into a centre at the University of Southern California – the Institute of Creative Technologies – specifically to build partnerships with the gaming industry and Hollywood.” 

The Idle No More Movement for Dummies

Click here to access article by Gyasi Ross from Indian Country
First and foremost, the Idle No More Movement is about protecting the Earth for all people from the carnivorous and capitalistic spirit that wants to exploit and extract every last bit of resources from the land. Therefore, anybody who cares about this Earth should be interested in the Idle No More Movement.

These mobilized Native people wanted to ensure that children two, three and twelve generations from now would have clean water. The children who will benefit from the Native mobilization are not just Native children—it’s for all children. Lakes and rivers tend to be either clean or dirty for Native and non-Native children alike.

It’s not a Native thing or a white thing, it’s an Indigenous worldview thing. It’s a “protect the Earth” thing. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

NATO funding, arming, & simultaneously fighting Al Qaeda from Mali to Syria.

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from Land Destroyer Report.

The author provides information to indicate that the Empire's warlords are spreading chaos by a variety of methods, especially the use of known terrorist organizations, from one country to another in the Middle East and North Africa. Today, in Africa it's Mali, tomorrow it appears that Algeria is the next target. Hence, it might be worth taking a look at what is happening in Algeria by also reading "For Algerians, a Divide on France in Mali" posted on Al-Akhbar.

...thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become – a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. ...illustrating a pattern of using clearly terroristic organizations, even those listed as so by the US State Department, to carry out US foreign policy.

Everything We Know So Far About Drone Strikes

Click here to access article by Cora Currier from ProPublica

This is a very comprehensive report which includes links to other documents and reports, and provides up-to-date information on the use of drones to kill suspected militants that Empire warlords don't like.

I found this most disturbing:
Just last week, a federal judge ruled that the government did not have to release a secret legal memo making the case for the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen. The judge also ruled the government did not have to respond to other requests seeking more information about targeted killing in general.  (In making the ruling, the judge acknowledged a “Catch-22,” saying that the government claimed “as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret.”)

Revealed: America’s Arms Sales To Bahrain Amid Bloody Crackdown

Click here to access article by Justin Elliott from ProPublica

ProPublica has obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act to reveal the following:
Despite Bahrain’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, the U.S. has continued to provide weapons and maintenance to the small Mideast nation.
Defense Department documents released to ProPublica give the fullest picture yet of the arms sales: The list includes ammunition, combat vehicle parts, communications equipment, Blackhawk helicopters, and an unidentified missile system.

The rotten foundations of US policy in the Middle East

Click here to access article by Bill Van Auken from World Socialist Web Site.

The author provides a graphic description of brutal exploitation of workers in Arab states protected by, and allied with, the Empire in the Middle East.
There are some 15 million of these workers in the Gulf States. They account for over half of the workforce and the overwhelming majority of workers in the private sector. It is they who have built the high-rise towers, luxury palaces and highways of Manama, Dubai and Riyadh, paid for with the oil earnings of the parasitic ruling dynasties.

The high cost of new and improved

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from his blog Systemic Disorder.

We have often heard the expression "planned obsolescence" used in critiques of capitalism. Faced with his own computer dilemma, this writer provides us with much more information regarding this practice which generates tremendous waste in order to improve next quarter's financial statements of corporations. Of course, they disguise this practice behind the euphemism of "new and improved". 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The greatest offensive against European social rights since the Second World War

Click here to access article by Eric Toussaint from Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt.

The author explains how European capitalists are benefiting from the current crisis there which, of course, they created with their reckless gambling. (Of course, given the globalized nature of capitalism it is clear that all capitalists with investments in Europe are benefiting.) After securing the safety of their banks with government bailouts and other schemes, they are now benefiting from the misery of most working populations. Economic crises that are devastating for workers provide many opportunities for these owners of economies to reap big profits and steal more properties from the public sector.
...one of the lessons they have learned from the absorption of East Germany at the beginning of the 1990’s is that important wage disparities between employees can be greatly exploited to the advantage of employers. The massive East German privatisations, the attacks against the job security of ex-GDR workers, along with an augmentation of German public debt due to the costs of this absorption (which have been used as the pretexts for austerity programmes) have permitted the employers to greatly erode the situation of East as well as West German workers. The present German leaders see the eurozone crisis, and the brutal conditions imposed on the Greek people, as an opportunity to push further and to reproduce at the European level, the gains they have made at home.
 He also explains the difference between relative and absolute surplus-value and how capitalists gain from each method of appropriation of worker-created wealth.
After several decades of neoliberal offensives, increases in absolute surplus-value have become, once again, a major element in the extraction of surplus-value and add to the relative surplus-value. The employers, using crisis based campaigns are now gaining on both surplus values, thus showing the magnitude of the current offensive.

The Economics of Insurgency Thoughts on Idle No More & Critical Infrastructure

Click here to access article by Shiri Pasternak from The Media Co-op (Canada).

Pasternak reports on the threats posed my the Idle No More movement in Canada to the Canadian economy as seen by their ruling class as revealed in their media and released classified government reports.
News reports are ablaze with reports of looming Indigenous blockades and economic disruption. As the Idle No More movement explodes into a new territory of political action, it bears to amplify the incredible economic leverage of First Nations today, and how frightened the government and industry are of their capacity to wield it.
This Canadian media co-op appears to be an excellent source of coverage of news and analysis for the 99 Percent in Canada in general, and coverage regarding the Idle No More movement in particular. They may offer an inspirational model for a peoples' centered media to overcome the information blockade imposed on all 99 Percent populations everywhere in the world.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Aaron Swartz, Canary in a Coal Mine for the Information Cartel

Click here to access article by Nozomi Hayase from Dissident Voice.

An American Hero

On Jan 11, 2013, a bright light burned out. Aaron Swartz was not only a prodigy. He was a genius with technical skills and articulated political thoughts. But more importantly, he was a thoroughly good person. Many who were touched by his life noted that he was always so willing to help people. “What can I do? I can build it. I can solve it. I can make it possible”. All of his work was based on that simple yet extraordinary generous heart.

This "canary", one of the finest examples of American youth, died while fighting against a core value of US capitalist society--property rights. Aaron was one of the key leaders of the victory over internet censorship which would have given the government the right to shut down sites that infringed on information commodities.

The open internet has been embraced by nearly two generations of youth who have seen the incredible potential of the internet to connect people with each other, with ideas, with knowledge, all of which could vastly enrich their lives. Also, maybe because of their youth they were not fully indoctrinated in capitalist values and concepts, especially the core concept of private property which is the foundation of capitalism. And, the more private property the better to feed the appetites of wolf-like, predatory creatures called capitalists who created a system that would transform everything into a commodities to be bought, owned, and sold for profits. Even money became a commodity which they (the privately owned "Federal Reserve") lend to the larger society--with interest, of course.

The system was created by, and for, this tiny minority who could see its potential to force the rest of mankind to work for them. Their system was never designed to serve society, but only a small segment, their segment, who "owned" the implements of production and thus "owned" everything that was produced. 

The defeat, so far, of these censorship bills represents a rare grassroots victory won in the halls of Congress owned and controlled by the ruling capitalist class. Obviously, he became their target along with class warriors like Bradley Manning who dared to challenge this class's right to commit war crimes with impunity. We, the people, simply must carry on their fight and support such dissidents against the backlash of an angry, vindictive ruling class.

Come Home, America!

Click here to access poem by one of my favorite writers, Gary Corseri, posted on Dissident Voice.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Are we heading to an economic crash in the next few years?

Click here if you wish to access source of this 9:21m video from an interview with Michael Hudson on the Thom Hartmann Program broadcast via RT TV. (Note: there is a brief interruption in the middle of the broadcast, but quickly resumes.)

It would be helpful in understanding Hudson's comments, to understand the difference between defined benefit and defined contribution pension programs. As I recall, this shift began in the 1990s until now whereby most pension plans are of the latter type. As one would expect, this shift has been enormously popular with the One Percent who live largely off of their ownership of corporations and speculative investments. Not only does this allow hedge fund agents and corporate executives to engage in more risky endeavors, but it also has the advantage of encouraging more of the 99% to identify with corporate interests.

For more information on pensions and their reckless use by hedge funds, I highly recommend perusing the Pension Pulse website where the Canadian blogger has specialized in following this issue. Although this offers a Canadian perspective, most of his analyses applies to the US. Specifically, I recommend this and this.

Unfortunately, Hudson's liberal recommendations for change consist of only reforms to the existing system which is doing what it is logically set up to do--to provide the One Percent with short-term profits and power. Over the past 300 years this system has so abundantly rewarded them that they are now hopelessly addicted to it. It is up to us to dismantle it and replace it with a sustainable system that serves everybody. We must do this or else...we will perish from the Earth.


Interview: Indigenous Occupy

Click here if you wish to access article and and source of 4:59m RT video interview with Andrew Gavin Marshall from his blog. 

The article offers more background on the Idle No More fightback that originated among Canadian aboriginals and includes some excerpts from the interview and a few additional comments. 

“Bill C-45 is not just about a budget, it is a direct attack on First Nations lands and on the bodies of water we all share from across this country,”

The indigenous populations across North American have always had to fight back whenever the dominant European ruling class saw that their lands contained valuable resources. Thus, they have always been shunted off onto reservation lands where elites saw little of value. With new technologies come opportunities for corporate exploitation of resources in many of these lands, and Prime Minister Harper's promotion of Bill C-45 is just the latest assault. They are fighting back to not only preserve their habitat; but being much more conscious of the ongoing devastating assaults on nature by corporations obsessed with short-term profits, they feel that they must take the lead in a last stand to protect all of our homelands on planet Earth.

This is happening everywhere in the world: most aggressively in Central and South America, and Africa. See this, this, and this.