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 18, 2014

Defense Spending: Putting Toys Before Boys [and Girls]

Click here to access article by Franklin C. Spinney CounterPunch.

The author provides us with an update on the "MICC", the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, which secures the Empire for the benefit of our ruling class.
Being pro-defense in the Hall of Mirrors of Versailles on the Potomac means, in the salty words of my late friend Col. David Hackworth, one of the U.S. Army’s most decorated combat soldiers, putting “the toys before boys.”

Hackworth meant the number one budget priority in the Pentagon and the Halls of Congress is to reward the domestic political faction that benefits from buying and operating high cost, high complexity weapons....

Obama defends police state spying

Click here to access article by Eric London and Barry Grey from World Socialist Web Site

The chief public relations officer of the US, often referred to as the "President", addressed the nation to calm the fears of its citizens about being spied upon by agencies of his employer, the One Percent and their government. According to Obama... 
“The folks at the NSA are our neighbors, they’re our friends and family,” Obama said. “Our intelligence community follows the law and is staffed by patriots,” he added, declaring that NSA operatives “follow protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people.” 

MIT study of Ghouta chemical attack challenges US intelligence

Click here to access article from RT

Summary statements from the MIT report on the chemical weapons incidents in Syria:
*The Syrian Improvised Chemical Munitions that Were Used in the August 21,
 Nerve Agent Attack in Damascus Have a Range of About 2 Kilometers

*The UN Independent Assessment of the Range of the Chemical Munition Is in
 Exact Agreement with Our Findings

*This Indicates That These Munitions Could Not Possibly Have Been Fired at
 East Ghouta from the “Heart”, or from the Eastern Edge, of the Syrian
 Government Controlled Area Shown in the Intelligence Map Published by the
 White House on August 30, 2013.

*This mistaken Intelligence Could Have Led to an Unjustified US Military
 Action Based on False Intelligence.

*A Proper Vetting of the Fact That the Munition Was of Such Short Range
 Would Have Led to a Completely Different Assessment of the Situation from
 the Gathered Data

*Whatever the Reasons for the Egregious Errors in the Intelligence, the Source
 of These Errors Needs to Be Explained.

*If the Source of These Errors Is Not Identified, the Procedures that Led to this
 Intelligence Failure Will Go Uncorrected, and the Chances of a Future Policy
 Disaster Will Grow With Certainty. 

The help: dare you work for the super-rich?

Click here to access article by Hannah Betts from the London Evening Standard. (satire) 

(Note: to help you read this piece, which is directed to the Brits who are familiar with this language , you may need to learn a few words which the British rich frequently use like "butling" and "hols".)

This is another contribution to my practice on Saturdays to run articles about our fellow citizens of the One Percent (actually .01 of the 1%, or one out of every 10,000 of us) hoping that by doing this that we don't lose touch with their world and their concerns--you know, to promote understanding. It is important that we become better acquainted so that we can serve them better and make it easier for them to carry out the daily burden of making important decisions, decisions which affect whether we go off to war in foreign lands to kill their enemies, if we have jobs, if we live in a home or under a bridge, if we can afford their health care services, education, etc.

Unfortunately, for some reason they tend to hide their lives from the rest of us behind walls of secrecy, literal walls of guarded gated communities, private clubs, esoteric publications, by traveling with private jets, etc. We should not let that deter us. 

In this Saturday's featured piece we learn of a growing career that you might well want to consider given the fact that jobs are disappearing in Western countries. Those who own our economies logically seek greater profits by moving their enterprises to cheap labor areas of the world; and where possible, replace us with robots. But those of you in the 99 Percent should not despair--this is merely opening up other opportunities. You see, capitalism works.

From watching TV the rich apparently have rediscovered  the delights of having people serve their every personal need just like in the days of yore. This is good news for us. They now want to emulate the characters on their favorite TV program, Downton Abbey, by hiring people who will attend to their many personal needs in a suitably obsequious manner. Of course, this highly romanticized TV version of aristocratic life has very little to do with reality. Then domestic helpers were treated little better than slaves and sexual abuse was rampant, but the lords of the manor in these British TV programs featured on PBS are always extremely virtuous. It's clear that Downton Abbey serves the fantasies of the current ruling class who want to view themselves as virtuous as well as powerful.

This article is fairly realistic about serving the ruling class of today, and is probably helpful in evaluating such prospects by considering the rewards as well as the downsides to working for our masters.
Butling is a 24/7 career, akin to becoming a human Swiss Army knife with acute OCD. Silver service, exemplary etiquette and the right sort of demeanour are a given. One may also have to embrace cooking, gardening, driving, child supervision, styling, art preservation, gun maintenance and minor psychiatric care.

Other roles may be more obscure. One soul of discretion confides that he has to ensure that guest bedrooms are stocked with tampons and condoms, and take care of their disposal once used. Another that one of her roles was to: ‘Keep wife and mistresses apart at house parties — difficult when the latter appeared in the plural.

Friday, January 17, 2014

NATO’s Ukrainian target: The Black Sea Fleet - Rick Rozoff

Click here to access article and 15:10m audio recording posted originally on Voice of Russia.

This posting can be either listened to or read in transcript form. It is the third and final segment of an interview with Rozoff in which he makes predictions about the Empire's global moves in the years ahead--Ukraine is only one target. Rozoff is highly qualified as a specialist on all matters relating to NATO and widely respected. 

For those of you who, under the influence of US major media reporting during the Cold War years, might dismiss this because of its Russian media source, I argue that one can often learn much from sources outside of the US because they have greater latitude as to what they report and discuss without fear of sanctions from their own ruling class. 

I learned this lesson in my foreign travels and even my visits in Canada where I viewed TV programs on US political issues that would never make it onto US TV channels. And, using the same logic, I would take any reports from this Russian source on Russian domestic political and economic issues with a grain of salt

Unfortunately, we still live in an era of competing capitalist nations and ruling classes, and we are likely going to see the same vicious competition for access to raw materials, markets, and cheap labor as we witnessed in the terrifying years of the last century which featured world wars both hot and cold and many regional wars. So long as this system of capitalism exists and we allow it to exist, we will always be plagued by the violence of wars and the poverty of class exploitation.

Thailand: Wall Street to the Rescue

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from Alt Thai News Network

This author who resides in Thailand exposes the disinformation campaign by a leading Empire media source (Washington Post) which is now being emulated by other US media. This is another excellent illustration of the degree to which such media sources will go to misinform the public about issues that are important to our masters in the ruling class whenever their interests are at stake and whenever there are few independent journalists that can contradict them. 

Because Washington Post along with the New York Times function as gatekeepers of information acceptable to our ruling class, we are now seeing other media corporations reporting the same type of misinformation regarding the uprising in Thailand. But Cartalucci is informed and has been running a series of articles on the explosive situation in Thailand which offers a very different view on what's happening there than what we are getting from mainstream sources.

This type of propaganda program ranges from omission of information that mostly applies to news and analysis regarding events in many parts of Africa, and at the other end of the range, to outright lies in relation to events in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Real War Heroes

Click here to access this very moving piece posted on World News Trust. It is the first chapter of a new book entitled Radical Peace:People Refusing War by one of my favorite writers, William T. Hathaway.
[The chapter] presents the experiences of peace activists who have moved beyond petitions and demonstrations into direct action: helping soldiers to desert, destroying military computer systems, trashing recruiting offices, burning war equipment, and sabotaging defense contractors.

NAFTA at 20: State of the North American Farmer

Click here to access article by Karen Hansen-Kuhn from Foreign Policy in Focus.

This article from a quintessential liberal source provides an excellent summary of the effects of NAFTA after 20 years of operation. While its description of the effects are excellent, the article lacks any in-depth political analysis. Notice how the author reinforces the illusions perpetuated by standard capitalist propaganda that official political institutions determine policies, which in reality are determined by ruling class directors in the major banking and Wall Street which sponsor actors in these political institutions and benefit from such policies:
...policymakers in Congress and the Obama administration continue to support the same failed policies. They advocate for more free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. These are largely cut and pasted from NAFTA, but with a twist: they add dangerous new provisions that would limit any remaining restrictions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), permit questionable food additives, and pave the way for even more questionable emerging technologies. A “new” U.S. Farm Bill currently being negotiated shifts the emphasis from commodity support to crop insurance, while locking in place advantages for even bigger farms and corporations. And it perpetuates the same willful ignorance of the devastating impacts of droughts and flooding caused by climate change.
Such a superficial treatment is not an accident or necessarily caused by ignorance. This media source is operated by people in universities whose funding relies on capitalist charitable foundations with a token representation from a major labor organization that long ago sold out to the capitalist ruling class. Their careers depend on how they frame and analyze issues in their articles to be consistent with capitalist ideology.

Here in the US the ruling capitalist class is very secure given their overwhelming control of all institutions. Thus, they allow some superficial dissent in the form of articles like this which are critical of ruling class policies so long as they do not challenge basic ruling class myths and secrets such as the ruling class control of our government, their involvement in the assassination of Kennedy, 9/11, the Boston bombing, their sponsorship of terrorist groups, etc. 

This, of course, could change over time if sufficient numbers of people became more consciously aware of the political realities of capitalist rule. However, they are prepared for that eventuality by establishing what is ofter referred to euphemistically as a "national security state" which includes militarized local police forces, restrictions on civil liberties, full spectrum surveillance now widely known from Snowden's revelations, and a vast prison system.

Of course, I and others can get away with such disclosures because we influence relatively few people. Were that to change, I have little doubt that we would be eliminated immediately. 

95% Income Growth Goes to the 1% [Part 1 of 2]

Click here if you wish to directly access the posting from Michael Hudson's website. 

In a segment (from 5:00m to 13:50m) on an RT TV program Prof. Hudson provides a most interesting explanation of the neoliberal business plan and its recent effects in Europe.

Geneva II – Washington’s Plan B for Regime Change in Syria

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

The author provides some background on this proposed meeting beginning on the 22nd in Switzerland, and as an independent journalist gives a political analysis of the interests involved. The major players behind this meeting appear are US and Russia.

A successful agreement does not look encouraging for a number of reasons that he lists. On the other hand, Empire directors are realizing that the prospects on the ground do not look promising for their strategy to force Assad from power and establish a more acceptable regime in Syria, plus the fact that their Western and Saudi sponsored terrorist groups are fighting each other and spreading chaos in the region.
The Saudis appear to be the only member of the US-led axis that still retains a commitment to the covert military agenda for regime change. Washington and its other allies have sobered up to the realpolitik that regime change in Syria is not going to happen through the battlefield and wanton acts of terrorism.

That’s why Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, told the so-called Friends of Syria gathering in Paris last weekend that «there is no military solution, only a political one». The proper way to perceive Kerry’s reasoning is not one of moral exhortation, but more a jaundiced resignation to reality by the US.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Critiquing the Washington Post on Al Qaeda and the American Empire

Click here to access article by Michael McGehee from his blog Truth Addict

The author starts with a critique of a disinformation piece in a major Empire newspaper regarding Al Queda and continues on to cite evidence that traces the terrorism of this group back Saudi Arabia and its allies. He uncovers a lot of inconsistencies between the evidence and what the Washington Post article asserts as well as all the justifying propaganda for Empire policies and actions in the the Middle East and Eurasia. Such inconsistencies raise numerous disturbing questions about US policies and activities.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Economic Prosperity and Economic Democracy: The Worker Co-Op Solution

Click here to access article by Richard Wolff from Truthout.
Workers' self-directed enterprises (WSDEs) are a response to capitalism's failure to deliver economic prosperity and socialism's failure to deliver economic democracy.
This is the political project which Wolff supports in this article. First, he expresses what he believes is the resistance by ordinary US citizens to socialist alternatives, which, in my opinion, are due to a massive misunderstanding of traditional and misidentified "socialist" governments and parties. This, of course, is no accident. Ideological institutions in the West have always been flooded with intense propaganda to confuse and obscure any such understanding. (Even the Nazi party, the corporate sponsored party of fascism in Germany, was called "National Socialist German Workers' Party"!)

Following this, he then launches into what he believes are the virtues and possibilities of "workers' self-directed enterprises". Many people have favored worker cooperatives as a progressive movement, and people might easily mistakenly believe that he is arguing for the same thing. (Setting up worker cooperatives has been argued elsewhere as very problematic.) His different argument did not become clear to me until a careful reading of the final paragraph.
Transforming capitalist enterprises into WSDEs in this context would radically change workplaces, residential communities, and hence, the daily life of virtually everyone. It could realize the systemic change that traditional socialisms pointed toward but never achieved: a viable and attractive alternative preferable to capitalism. It offers leftists a means to overcome their frustrations and a focus around which to regroup, existing, as well as building, new left movements and organizations.
The key difference between his proposal and most who favor worker cooperatives is that he argues for transforming existing capitalist enterprises into worker controlled enterprises (and obviously publicly owned, but this wasn't explicitly stated) while others merely argue for setting up worker cooperatives within the capitalist system which are forced to compete with capitalist firms that exploit both workers and the environment. The difference between the two positions is startlingly dramatic!

From Madrid to Istanbul: Occupying Public Space [part 17 of 20: Reflections on the Gezi Uprising]

Click here to access article by Christopher Patz from Reflections on a Revolution. 

What I think is most valuable about this article is how the author puts a magnifying glass to the neoliberal operations in Turkey which clearly illustrates the way neoliberalism has operated throughout the world. He contrasts the social consequences of neoliberal operations with those of the squatters who reclaim empty buildings and spaces.
The ways that squatted and self-managed social centers function provide some stark contrasts to the economic growth trumpeted by neoliberal governing elites.

Superman, Clark Kent, and the Limits of the Gezi Uprising [Part 19 of 20: Reflections on the Gezi Uprising]

Click here to access article by Mehmet Döşemeci from Reflections on a Revolution. (Note: the term "çapulcus", which means "looters", refers to the government's slanderous word used to smear Turkish protesters who, in turn, adopted the term and transformed it into a proud identity.)

The author uses the popular theme Superman/Clark Kent that made an appearance in the Turkish protests of last summer as a metaphor to explain its strengths and weaknesses. 
What to make of these references to an American comic-book hero? Why did Turkish, especially middle class, protesters see themselves as Supermen? What does this self-fashioning reveal about the nature of the Turkish uprising?

Monday, January 13, 2014

What’s At Stake in Privatizing Education

Click here to access article by Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer from Workers Action

Although posted on a website that makes the pretentious statement that it is "A Revolutionary Socialist Organization", this is essentially a liberal take on the issue of the privatization of education going on now in the US. Omitted is any mention of how the issue of privatization of schooling has anything to with capitalism--it all has to do with "corporate culture" as if this were a thing separate from the rest of society.

The takeover by the ruling class, whose power is based on private ownership of the economy, of education is another indication of its hyped-up arrogance in imposing their rule over the 99 Percent. What is happening is nothing short of a revolution in education that is occurring: the transformation of anything resembling education into training for job skills needed by corporations, the driving engine of capitalist exploitation and power. 

The 99 Percent will now be forced to compete for this training in order to get an admission ticket to the privately owned economy and a reasonable standard of living. The rest will be added to the growing section of marginal people living off of low paid service jobs--if they are lucky, and if not, living under bridges. The remaining public schools must compete for funding, and teachers must compete for jobs; both must compete based on test scores designed to measure skill sets needed by corporations.

The Death of Irony, Or, University Of Penn's Secret Meetings On Secret Laws

Click here to access article by Dustin Slaughter from The Public Record

When the author, a journalist, was barred from attending this meeting, he asked for an explanation. This is what he got:
The main point of the discussions is for policy makers, academics, and others who are involved,” she begins, “to enter into dialogue with one another in a way that allows all of us to move up the learning curve, so that we become better-informed academics and policy makers become better-informed. [my emphais]
This article says a lot about the kind of society we live in, not explicitly, but implicitly. I think a more accurate translation of this statement is this:
People who have a stake in the ruling class are here to discuss this sensitive issue and need to do this away from the prying eyes of the public over which they govern.
Of course, the liberal writer cannot make such an observation in writing even if he/she consciously wanted to do so. You must realize, if you don't already, that one does not get access to major ("respectable") websites, or any other media, if one zeros in on what our masters in the ruling class need to hide: the class-based system widely advertised as "democracy" or "of the people, by the people, and for the people". Hence, the need for secrecy. The people in attendance at this meeting are part of, or crucially serve, the governing class, and what they discuss and do must remain secret--just like so many other matters of the ruling class. (And, of course, the fact that there is even a ruling class.)

One important point that was made explicitly was...
...how deeply entrenched this - and so many other non-state funded schools like Penn - are with the defense industry.
What is left unexpressed here by the liberal author is that the "defense" industry is a crucial part of the ruling class's power and profit, and that academia, as a subsystem, is also thoroughly under the control of this class as are all institutions.

New "Frackademia" Report Co-Written by "Converted Climate Skeptic" Richard Muller

Click here to access article by Steve Horn from DeSmogBlog.

As more scientific studies somehow manage to reach the public regarding the environmental hazards of the fracking technology, capitalist directors are busy promoting other studies ("frackademia") to confuse the public. However, experiencing the increase of extreme weather phenomena like the recent deep freeze helps people to tune out the messages blasted continuously from the megaphones of the fossil fuel industry's propaganda machinery. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

We’ll Have Nothing Left to Lose!!!

Click here to access article by xraymike79 from Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

I become more impressed with this website every week. It provides the perfect vehicle to blend art and social-political criticism to awaken the slumbering public to the disasters awaiting us if we continue with "business as usual". 
The oligarch’s of industry and banking shape public thought through an all-pervasive mass media monopoly, control legislation and regulation by pulling political purse-strings and commanding an army of lobbyists, sew death and mayhem with the global arms trade, sacrifice the next generation in resource wars, decimate ecosystems for short-term gain, manipulate and devalue currencies, create economic bubbles, and sell this entire vile process back to the masses as “progress” and “development” with measurements of inflated stock prices and skewed GDP figures.

Why Environmentalists Should Support Working Class Struggles

Click here to access article by Stephanie McMillan from her website. 
First, we must recognize the fact that global capitalism is driving ecocide. 
She is a cartoonist, and this is an example of her work:

Conan Shows Us That Main Stream Media Is Scripted

Click here if you wish to access the source of this posting from Ebaum's World.

Yes, it is frightening not only because much of scripted TV's content encourages us to shop, but it also encourages us to support all the other policies and actions of our ruling class.

Rule from the Shadows - The Psychology of Power - Part 1

Click here to access article from StormCloudsGathering.

You can access this elaborate article by either viewing the 37:24 video (Rule from the Shadows - The Psychology of Power) contained in the first section or by reading the material and viewing the videos following the video. The introductory video is just a more concise version of the rest of the post. 

The complete post contains a plethora of very useful historical information and links to documents that relate to the development of social-psychological manipulation techniques that not only inform the methods of public relations and advertising, but the policies and actions of our ruling class to manage the views and induce the support of ordinary citizens.

I have little idea about the ideological orientation of the person or people behind this website, and it doesn't offer any information. And the concluding statement, which I don't understand, is not helpful either.
Group psychology is a weapon and like all weapons it is capable of being used for good or for evil. For many years it has been in the wrong hands. It has been hidden from the public and used against them. It's time for the people to pick up that weapon and use it to free themselves.

Time to start studying.