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, May 16, 2015

CIA-embedded Hollywood liars and their lies

Click here to access article by David Walsh from World Socialist Web Site.

The outstanding film critic Walsh, whose articles I have read for a number of years, takes aim at a widely acclaimed film produced by Hollywood spin-meisters. Once again we see a Hollywood production that films into "reality" a myth created by the directors of the Empire to serve their interests. The "reality" as presented by the film Zero Dark Thirty is the one that will be remembered by the vast majority of Americans regardless of the well researched findings of Seymour Hersh. Thus, Hollywood should be regarded as another very powerful propaganda organ of the Empire.
Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, was a detestable work for many reasons. The film, released in December 2012 to much critical acclaim, was promoted as the true story of the decade-long hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, assassinated by the US military in Pakistan in May 2011.

Now we know, thanks to Seymour Hersh and his article in the London Review of Books, that, along with everything else, the Bigelow-Boal film was a pack of lies from beginning to end. About the only plot element of Zero Dark Thirty that remains unrefuted is that the CIA did indeed operate illegal “black sites” and horribly torture people.

Power and Vulnerability: Saudi Kingdom and its Troubles

Click here to access article by Salman Rafi Sheikh from New Eastern Outlook.

After reading this article, I was impressed with its arguments which seem to make a lot of sense, but I was also dismayed by the lack of any supporting documentation. Thus, one must rely on the author's credibility and reputation. I found little of this on the internet. Then I read another recent article of his entitled "The Iran deal and the Western Geo-Politics" which did not depend so much on evidence, and again I found some very sound analysis. I also considered the fact that internet evidence that would support arguments in this more recent article would be very hard to find given the widespread censorship that pervades Saudi Arabian society. Thus, I decided to post this article for your consideration.

His main thesis is this:
The present crisis in Yemen is, in a very sinister way, related to this very (internal) vulnerability and fragility of the Kingdom. It has created an ‘enemy’ out of thin air to consolidate its position internally; and, at the same time, this invasion has exposed how vulnerable it is internally too. Despite all the ‘power’ it has amassed over the years, the reality is that the Kingdom cannot find a way for resolving internal crisis without creating an external crisis. Therefore, the crisis in Yemen is, for Saudia, not merely a fight for the establishment of uncontested hegemony in the region; it is equally for sustaining internal hegemony. The gist of the matter is that we may not be able to arrive at a sound understanding of this crisis and the Saudi invasion without first understanding the challenges the ruling family is facing internally.

Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans

Click here to access article by Andy Borowitz from The New Yorker. (satire)
Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The US-Saudi war with OPEC to prolong oil’s dying empire

Click here to access article by Nafeez Ahmed from Middle East Eye.

There are signs everywhere that the directors of the US Empire are getting desperate to maintain control of their Empire which, with considerable efforts, has been slowly acquired since WWII. Such desperation heightens the ever-present threat of a major, most likely a nuclear, war breaking out either by accident or by design. 

There is little doubt that the increasing triple deficits occurring in the US (national debt at over $18 trillion, ongoing annual trade deficits, and savings deficit) which appear to have no effect on the rich who over the past 30 years have gotten even richer. I suspect that's largely because their income is mostly untaxed because of many loop-holes in tax laws and hiding their money in off-shore banks. In other words the rich have been sticking all the debt financing needed to keep the US economy afloat on American workers. So far this has worked mostly because the world's rich capitalists like to stash their money in banks and investments of the most powerful nation, that is, the nation that has the most means of direct or indirect violence that can be used against other nations. 

Since the US control all the major financing organizations like the IMF, World Bank, and numerous international US banks such as Goldman-Sachs and Citibank, they have used financing as a weapon against other countries that oppose US policies. Because the directors of the Empire have by far the biggest military and control of NATO, they can, and do, use the threat of violence against other countries that oppose US policies.

Now we see the growth of other countries led by China and Russia who are determined to stop US economic and military imperialism with increasing military, economic, and financial cooperation. This is leading up to a very dangerous confrontation that could end in a nuclear conflagration--unless we, the people of the world, can stop it.

In this article Ahmed reports on the US Empire's latest desperate attempt to weld an alliance directly with Saudi Arabia, the most backward regime on earth and the primary source of terrorist armies, as a means to increase their control over a major source of the world's energy and secure the backing of the US dollar.

What if Putin is Telling the Truth?

Click here to access article by F. William Engdahl from New Eastern Outlook.
Putin stated bluntly that in his view the West would only be content in having a Russia weak, suffering and begging from the West, something clearly the Russian character is not disposed to. Then a short way into his remarks, the Russian President stated for the first time publicly something that Russian intelligence has known for almost two decades but kept silent until now, most probably in hopes of an era of better normalized Russia-US relations.

Putin stated that the terror in Chechnya and in the Russian Caucasus in the early 1990’s was actively backed by the CIA and western Intelligence services to deliberately weaken Russia. He noted that the Russian FSB foreign intelligence had documentation of the US covert role without giving details.
Although Engdahl really doesn't answer the question posed by the title, he reports on Putin's recent charge that the CIA was behind the terror in Chechnya and in the Russian Caucasus in the early 1990’s. As the head of the Russian intelligence agency until August of 1991, Putin was very well informed of events in the Caucasus region. While he on this occasion did not provide the details, Engdahl draws on his own research written up in his 2014 book Amerikas’ Heiliger Krieg to provide us with some revealing details of the episode in extracts (in English) that support Putin's charge.

Battlefield: Black Sea

Click here to access article by Eric Draitser from New Eastern Outlook. 
The presence of US military assets all throughout the Black Sea region is undoubtedly provocative as it is pushing perilously close to Russia’s borders. The potential for escalation – premeditated or otherwise – puts the entire region, and indeed the entire world, at risk of catastrophe.

This article will focus on the US-NATO military developments in and around the Black Sea. While by no means a comprehensive listing of all of Washington’s moves in the region, it is an attempt to provide a glimpse into a little discussed theater of deployment for the West – one that is regarded as a very serious threat by Moscow. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Energy Against the Market

Click here to access article by Matt Huber from Capitalism Nature Socialism. 

I believe that Huber has an important insight here in this brief essay. Too often people on the left are unconscious of the ways capitalist indoctrination informs our thought processes and end up essentially supporting capitalist "solutions" to environmental crises.
...the idea of a self-regulating market is based in mythology. It has never existed. The market is never free or fair. It brings us booms and busts. It concentrates power. It only focuses on the short term. Most importantly for this essay, it does not (and I would add cannot) monetarily value the complex ecological systems that sustain life on this planet. We cannot “green” the market.

Yet sometimes our climate and energy politics implicitly assumes we can. In our neoliberal age of market idolatry, it becomes harder to realize when the logical outcome of our critiques reproduce market logics. I will lay out three common refrains in left energy politics that are themselves based on reasserting competition in a market.
Read the article to see how he argues for a public good politics of energy and against the politics of private accumulation of wealth derived from energy under the capitalist system. But then, shouldn't all important needs of our society be governed by the same principle? If your answer is "yes", then doesn't it follow that we need a new system whose basic tenets requires the public good over private advantage?

Speculation for its own sake pays billions

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

Dolack describes how today's super-capitalists use algorithms, obscure derivative investments, and high speed trading to obtain wealth from the efforts of workers worldwide. They are increasingly insulated from real work, real workers, and the consequence of their actions. Their sole focus is on increasing their wealth by using these instruments. For them Wall Street and all the other trading exchanges have become merely casinos at which they place bets. 

Dolack takes us on a brief tour of their world which is totally divorced from our world and the world of the billions of people throughout the globe whose daily lives are impacted by the kind of bets these players place at their casinos. This is the world of the "invisible hand" working its magic in the 21st century. So what if the unwashed billions suffer poverty, exploitation, become refugees from the horrors of wars, have their farms and lands stolen from them by banks and and corporations, or forced from their land because of extreme weather due to climate destabilization?

'Fake' Reform: Little to Celebrate as USA Freedom Act Passes House

Click here to access article by Jon Queally from Common Dreams.

The article which provides a critical examination of how an extension of the Patriot Act was approved by the House of Representatives in a very deceptive way to appear that they were supporting civil liberties. This is an excellent illustration of corporate-controlled democracy in action. 
Though the overwhelming and bipartisan passage of the USA Freedom Act in the House of Representatives on Wednesday portends the end of the NSA's mass collection of Americans' private telephone records, civil liberties groups found little else to celebrate as the ultimate passage of the bill, which now heads to the Senate, would re-authorize a number of worrisome programs by extending the life of the controversial Patriot Act.
Another excellent illustration was provided recently by Sen. Harry Reid in an article entitled "Harry Reid’s Orwellian Doublespeak About The Patriot Act" by Lou Colagiovanni from AntiMedia. Colagiovanni compares what Reid recently said in opposition to an extension of the Patriot Act with his actual votes over the past 14 years of its existence.

In collaboration with these games that Congress people play, the media always gives wide coverage that serves to hide their ruses.

US Senate reaches bipartisan deal to push trade pacts

Click here to access article by Patrick Martin from World Socialist Web Site. 

People who celebrated Wednesday's Senate vote against Trade Promotion Authority or "fast-track" authority as a launching pad for the new trade policies negotiated in secret may be disheartened to learn that Congressional leaders are already finding ways to meet their corporate sponsors' demands to pass such legislation as well as the new trade pacts. Martin is not fooled by these games as he writes:
The entire legislative exercise is a charade, in which a faction of Senate Democrats pretends to be supporting the interests of workers by espousing a chauvinist and protectionist policy, while the Obama White House and the Senate Republicans pretend to be supporting the interests of workers by advocating “free trade.” [and jobs]
And later he writes:
There are so many layers of lies in these rival claims that it is difficult to cut through them all, but the most blatant is the claim that either faction cares the slightest about American workers. The Democratic and Republican parties are both political arms of the financial aristocracy that is waging unrelenting war against the jobs, living standards and social conditions of working people.

Seymour Hersh [in interview] Details Explosive Story on Bin Laden Killing & Responds to White House, Media Backlash

This is a Democracy Now! 21:05m video interview with Seymour Hersh about his report on May 11th via YouTube. You might be interested in this more for the summary Hersh provides for his longer report rather than the expected denials from official sources or their collaborators. Surely no people who follow this blog believed the official epical stories created by our ruling masters.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why I Wept at the Russian Parade

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

This German-American geopolitical analyst was in Moscow to observe the celebrations of the defeat of the Nazis in WWII. He was so moved by the optimistic spirit of the Russian people that was so visibly reflected in their faces and actions that he wept. Then he wept again thinking about the depressed spirit of his fellow Americans. 
You could see it in the eyes of the Russians on the street: they knew that they were good. They were good not because their fathers or grandfathers had died defeating Nazism. They were good because they could be proud Russians, proud of their country after all the ravages of recent decades, most recently the US-backed looting during the 1990’s Harvard Shock Therapy in the Yeltsin era.

I shed tears being deeply moved by what I saw in those ordinary Russians and tears for what I felt had been destroyed in my country. We Americans have lost our sense that we are good or even perhaps again could be. We have accepted that we are bad, that we kill all around the world, that we hate ourselves and our neighbors, that we fear, that we live in a climate of race war, that we are despised for all this around the world.

We feel ourselves to be anything but good because we are in a kind of hypnosis induced by those narcissistic oligarchs to be so. Hypnosis, however, can be broken under the right circumstances. We only have to will it so.
For more of an explanation about Gen. Shoigu's gesture and the overwhelmingly positive response by the Russian crowds as briefly described in this article, I suggest you read Saker's take on the event which he watched via video.

Opportunity in collapse: the horizon of the post-apocalyptic

Click here to access article by Joseph Todd from Reflections on a Revolution.

Cultural products of capitalist society relating to a collapse of government authority often portray themes of social disintegration, chaos, people running amok and abusing each other for their personal advantage. But is this valid? Or is this another propaganda prop to deter people from rebelling against the capitalist social order because this order is protecting us from something much worse? Could this be a projection of the personalities of sociopathic capitalist elites onto ordinary people? He examines a wide variety of evidence from situations where state authority has broken down or was completely missing to find the answers.
It thus turns out that our view of the apocalyptic is necessarily bound up with our pessimistic view of human nature and the world around us. Ever since Hobbes, civilization and the state have been our savior from a brutish, natural realm; a place we go for adventure, one of risk and daring that only those more unfortunate than us inhabit.

Yet this notion of a violent, competitive, dog-eat-dog natural world with which capitalism and the state justify themselves is in part a fallacy. In fact, nature teems with co-operation — both between animals, between species and within the ecosystem as a whole.

UK Election Aftermath: Cameron To Continue Waging War On Working People

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from East by Northwest.

Britisher Todhunter offers his views on what lies ahead for British workers after the Tory victory.
What we can now expect to see is the attempted completion of a project that had begun under Thatcher in the eighties: the complete subservience of ordinary working people to the needs of powerful corporations, the tax-evading corporate dole-scrounging super rich and the neoliberal agenda they have imposed on people. And key to securing this is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The European Commission tries to sell TTIP by claiming that the agreement will increase GDP by one percent and will entail massive job creation.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Vindication of Edward Snowden

Click here to access article by Conor Friedersdorf from The Atlantic. (Commentary edited for errors and added to at 7:20 PM Seattle time.)

There are numerous articles this morning directly related to secret government and it's contradiction with democratic principles. I'm referring to the sentencing of Jeffrey Sterling the former CIA agent for leaking an operation that handed Iran faulty information designed to impair their nuclear program, to an article by Chelsea E Manning entitled "We're citizens, not subjects: We have the right to criticize government without fear", and this one about Snowden who went public with information about the NSA's mass spy programs of US citizens.

What few people realize that the government of, by, and for a class of people, who own and control most of our economy and money supply, is that this tiny segment of people have been practicing in secret and engaging in conspiracies from the very founding of our nation. Their capitalist ideology laid the foundation in the unrestricted ownership of economic property that has brought to this class overwhelming wealth and power which, in turn, has produced a grotesque empire engaged in never-ending wars, 24/7 surveillance of its citizens, militarized police forces, Patriot Acts, etc. A little history is needed to put this into perspective. 

Before capitalism, the economy was overwhelmingly based on small farming operations by people who, as serfs, belonged to the land and their king together with an aristocracy whose ancestors through violence obtained control of most of the land. Their rule was legitimatized by the Catholic church who taught their unwitting serfs that kings ruled by "divine right". 

Beginning in the 17th and 18 centuries a new class of people entered the world scene. Slowly there developed the practice of a king granting permission ("charters") to groups of individuals to pursue economic enterprises that were in the interest of the kingdom such as the East India Company to extend the crown's control over India. Little did the king and his aristocracy know that this would eventually result in the overthrow of their rule. The huge success of this Company and the rise of a new ruling class was no doubt aided by co-opting members of the aristocracy into buying stocks in the newly charted Company. 

The Renaissance followed by the Age of Enlightenment produced a new understanding of the physical world based on observation and experiments. These periods also contributed to the rise of this new class.  The latter period saw the rapid development of mechanical technology, inventions, and the harnessing first of water power to mechanical technology, then coal-fired steam engines to drive the machinery, then gas, etc. Capitalists began to see how their "ownership" of such marvelous inventions could benefit them.

To make a long story short, these chartered companies became more numerous and successful by economically using both private armies and public armies to gain control of new lands which they developed into plantation farming using slaves. Improvements in transportation brought them to new lands and people to exploit. These operations created a new class of influential people called capitalists who chaffed under the restrictive rules of the monarchies. They advocated a new religion which they frequently called "liberalism" which sounded much nicer than capitalism.

The term "liberal" has always meant the absence of control or restrictions on people's behavior. The new class of capitalists adopted this term to serve their own interests of getting rid of monarchical interference in their economic pursuits and to deceive the unwitting public that they were promoting civil rights by being against rules restricting their behaviors and expressions of opinion. This is the way they enlisted the support of ordinary people to overthrow the rule of monarchies and aristocracies.

Moving ahead several centuries, here in the US we've witnessed how ordinary Americans such as Tom Paine whose writings were used to pitch the liberal version about civil liberties for ordinary citizens. After the success of the War of Independence from Britain, the governing elite severely criticized Paine's democratic views, and he died in obscurity and virtually penniless. Another illustration of how little the new embryonic class of American capitalists believed in civil liberties for the masses is their passage of the Sedition Act of 1798. Only seven years after the adoption of the Constitution with the Bill of Rights, the Sedition Act (see this and this) was passed by the Federalists which prohibited the following:
To write, print, utter or publish, or cause it to be done, or assist in it, any false, scandalous, and malicious writing against the government of the United States, or either House of Congress, or the President, with intent to defame, or bring either into contempt or disrepute....
In the 19th century the new ruling capitalist class successfully waged many pitched battles with wage workers and small farmers. They didn't hesitate to use private armies as well as their government armies to thoroughly crush organized worker opposition. (See my commentary here for a brief summary.) Farmer resistance during the Populist Movement was more easily managed by capitalist party politics which co-opted resistance leaders and diverted activists toward dead-end projects like silver coinage.

Now we are seeing their new version which is called appropriately "neoliberalism" that eliminates national borders which prevent capitalists from accruing even more wealth and power. This time they are peddling another story to sell this program to ordinary people: neoliberal trade treaties will provide more jobs!

The history of the US has been a history of subterfuges, conspiracies, violence, and government secrecy using "classified information" justified by reasons of "national security". All such actions have been directed by the capitalist class for their interests of wealth and power against all opposition both domestic and foreign. So, isn't it time for progressive people to grow up and realize that they have been deceived for centuries into believing that they are living in a "democracy", a government by and for the people??? Isn't it time for we, the people, to finally realize that the time has come to establish a new society? After all, our ruling masters even admitted we had that right more than two centuries ago:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Of course, we have that right, and it is our obligation to see this through not only for the "pursuit of happiness", but for our very survival on a planet that can sustain human life, the lives of our children and succeeding generations. It is for us now the living to "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor" for the overthrow of the capitalist system so that we can create a system that truly serves our happiness and futures.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Killing of Osama bin Laden

Click here to access article by Seymour M. Hersh from London Review of Books.

I haven't had time to read all of this, but what I have read has a ring of authenticity to it. Besides, Hersh has a long track record of providing in-depth reports about events which have stood the test of time. What really stands out at first glance is that the official story is packed with many deceptions. But, what is confirmed is that the real OBL was caught, probably in a very sickly condition, and murdered by the Seals. The cover story was concocted to serve various political interests such as Obama's re-election and relations with the Pakistani government, particularly with ISI, Pakistan's version of the CIA.

You can read a commentary provided by "lambert" of Corriente blog, and we can expect others to comment on the revelations in the coming days.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

An Institution of Oppression or for Public Well-Being and Civil Rights? Reflections on the Institution of Police and a Radical Alternative

Click here to access article by R.C. Smith from Heathwood Institute and Press.  

Smith makes the case that reforms to a bad system cannot result in significant change. Only a radical change in the social system can produce alternative modes of "policing". Later he provides some examples of what these alternatives might look like.
It is a mistake, in seeking police reform, to limit one’s campaign solely to the institution of police. Groups engaged in anti-oppression and racial struggle, like those engaged in anti-capitalist struggle, share in one way or another a common universal struggle against a system which runs against the well-being of all, against the prospect of actual democracy, equality and egalitarianism. This is not to take anything away from the particular suffering, conflict and fight experienced by black communities across the US. If Chris Hedges is right, moreover, in his observation that the “discontent in Ferguson, Athens, Cairo, Madrid and Ayotzinapa” and now Baltimore “is one discontent”, this is because the fundamental source of injustice that unites them all is an unjust social-political, economic system.

.... modern democracy, as a concept and as a thing, has always had less to do with the actual content of “democracy” as an egalitarian system of political-economic values than with the neglect of this content for its (mere) form. The concept of democracy today is really the leftover after the actual content (Equality, Egalitarianism, Justice, Rights, etc.) has been boiled away. This sentiment is expressed most clearly on the streets, where the chant ‘there can be no democracy in capitalism’ is frequently voiced.

Re-imagining the future of work

Click here to access article by Rhiannon Colvin from openDemocracy. 

This extract from a book entitled Resist! Against a precarious future provides some visions about how society could be organized to serve everyone in society instead of what now exists--serving only those few who "own" part of society--the economy. While reading this and other articles like this, I question whether such ideas are merely exercises in fantasy to detract from effective revolutionary activities, to encourage a belief that one can simply create such egalitarian institutions within a society that is organized to serve the needs of one tiny, but very powerful class. 

The answer that I arrive at is frequently the same: there are many paths to a future of social justice and a sustainable economy, and there are many people who will take these paths. No one path guarantees success, but many people going down many promising paths can add up to a better future. What is dead certain is that simply doing nothing in the way of radical social change is no longer a serious option. Human survival now makes social change of the greatest urgency. Before we choose a path, we must ask ourselves if the path's activities can somehow contribute toward the construction of a new society, the realization of an egalitarian and sustainably society, a society designed for the benefit of all that can exist within the natural limits of our planet. 

Video: I.F. Stone’s One Weird Trick to Do Great Journalism

Click here to access article by Jon Schwarz from The Intercept

I relied, along with more obscure sources in foreign media, chiefly on I. F. Stone's Weekly report to find out what was really going on in the Vietnam War. This was because, like today, corporate media is the property of the ruling class which instigates the wars that our country gets into and they will report endless lies to justify the wars. This piece reports on the valiant efforts by I. F. Stone to report the realities of the war. Stone was an independent journalist who was widely respected by other mostly independent journalists of his time, and is today revered by those who appreciate him as a role model for independent, honest journalism.

The real lessons of the Tory victory [lessons also for the USA]

Click here to access article by Jonathan Cook from his blog. 

I couldn't agree more with his views about voting for the lessor evil, and what is really needed to challenge the rule of our capitalist masters.