We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Class struggle is our starting point

Click here to access article by Stephanie McMillan from her website.

...we must grasp that class struggle is not merely economic, and that its unfolding is not mechanically pre-determined, but must be a deliberate, comprehensive struggle against total social domination, involving the economic, political, and ideological fields. In other words, what is contested is not simply ownership and control and use of the means of production and the distribution of its output, but also political power, as well as the prevailing ideas with which we approach and interpret reality. These are intertwined and inseparable.

US “International Court” Ruling on China Falls Short

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from New Eastern Outlook.
While the US is sure to resort to an array of punitive measures against the Philippines, as well as the rest of Southeast Asia for failing to enable its "primacy in Asia," one thing is certain. An "international tribunal" the entire world fails to recognize is no longer "international." The irrelevance of the US-backed tribunal is a harbinger of what's to come for the "international order" itself that the US poses as head of.

Hillary Clinton Is Spreading Islamist Extremism, Hillary’s Saudi Sponsors Support Terrorism

Click here to access article by Andre Vltchek from Global Research (Canada).
...the West embarked on a brutal, Machiavellian path: it decided to destroy socialist Islam – that (historically) moderate, compassionate and progressive religion. It smashed once secular Egypt; it overthrew the government in socialist Iran and then in near-Communist Indonesia, implanting in all these places horrifically degenerate and fully outdated religious concepts. It used extremists to destroy healthy patriotism and socialism. Like the Brits in the 19th Century..., the West embraced Wahhabi teaching, because it was able to guarantee full obedience, dictatorial (pro-Western) governance and oppressive feudalism.

Black August event wins support for Black Power 96.3 FM Radio

Click here to access article from Burning Spear News.

I offer this as an excellent example of a grassroots community coming together to organize their own media. Americans of African ancestry have organized their own radio station in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Our biggest goal was to raise $1000 in donations and pledges for Black Power 96 Radio during the Black August celebration.

Our team has an undying faith in the people, not only was our goal of $1000 met, but we nearly doubled the amount with $1800 raised! This was accomplished with the generous contributions from the attendees in the room, as well as the viewers online who watched live from theburningspear.com.

The community really responded to our message. They understood that having our own voice––our own radio station––is a critical form of resistance and part of the struggle to win self-determination.

The success of our Black August event clearly illustrates the power of the black community.
Capitalist ruling classes certainly know the importance of propaganda. They've invested billions in it throughout the world to infect people with their ideology and to dumb down people so that they will serve capitalist interests, not their own. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Trump vs. Hillary: A Summation

Click here to access article by Paul Craig Roberts for his blog.

In this article Roberts reflects the dilemma faced by most Americans in the upcoming election in November. Although he exhibits a great deal of confusion over what to do, he ultimately follows the old proverb: "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". He also ends up blaming the American people for allowing this to happen.

My position on this question is, as I have stated many times, that only a revolutionary movement can counter the increasing rightward trend toward fascism and possibly prevent a nuclear war. Because I always try to face the reality such as the facts that there is no viable revolutionary movement in the US and that voting is irrelevant, I am not very hopeful

Suppose Trump were elected as Roberts prefers. This would only be a minor hindrance in the rightward political trajectory. Trump would be assassinated and replaced with a more compliant figurehead president. Suppose the scenario that I described in a recent post was realized: that the deep state would suspend the election, or refuse to accept the outcome of the election, and appoint an executive to occupy the White House--nothing would change. Or suppose that Hillary was elected, as I think is the most likely outcome: the deep state would directly proceed with its imperialist and neoliberal policies abroad and privatization policies here at home. Possibly the best we can hope for is that the directors of the deep state would finally lose their nerve after suffering many defeats in their efforts to counter the growing power of their combined opposition represented by Russia, China, and other countries, and decide to pursue a policy of peaceful coexistence.

The only real, solid hope I see for this country and the world is that a revolutionary movement could develop in the aftermath of the election in time to make a difference. This is a slim hope. 

The Russia-Iran Strategic Game-Changer

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Strategic Culture Foundation.

The Brazilian journalist and geopolitical analyst lays out an argument that an evolving coalition consisting of Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, China plus Hezbollah represent a "game-changer" in US Empire's plans for world domination.

I think he is right, but I worry how the hidden directors of the Empire will see this evolving threat to their plans. If they continue to receive setbacks to their imperial ambitions, will they in desperation respond with an all-out nuclear war against their rising opponents? Stay tuned, or better yet, stay active and informed so that you can be a positive influence for peace and social justice in the perilous days ahead.

Israeli think tank: Don’t destroy ISIS; it’s a “useful tool” against Iran, Hezbollah, Syria

Click here to access article by Ben Norton from Salon

I normally post the original article that other posts focus their attention on, but in this case Norton has a lot more information about the Israeli author and I have only one minor problem with his post.

The minor problem is his use of "fascist" twice to describe ISIS. In this context he uses the word only as a kind of curse word. I think words matter, and fascism should not be emptied of its meaning as a capitalist regime that rules using police state methods.

Otherwise Norton correctly sees that the conflicted views of the Israeli professor regarding the terrorist organization of ISIS as representing accurately the views of the Zionist regime in Israel, and by extension, the views of most Zionists here in the US. The professor's tortuous reasoning used to justify the existence of this terrorist organization is followed by this argument: if it is good for Israeli hegemony in the region, it is good.
...stability is not a value in and of itself. It is desirable only if it serves our interests. The defeat of IS would encourage Iranian hegemony in the region, buttress Russia’s role, and prolong Assad’s tyranny.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives up on Empire

Click here to access article by Mike Whitney from CounterPunch. (Amended on Aug. 30)
While Zbigniew Brzezinski’s article in The American Interest titled “Towards a Global Realignment” [because this can no longer be accessed at The American Interest website--access it here] has largely been ignored by the media, it shows that powerful members of the policymaking establishment no longer believe that Washington will prevail in its quest to extent US hegemony across the Middle East and Asia. Brzezinski, who was the main proponent of this idea and who drew up the blueprint for imperial expansion in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, has done an about-face and called for a dramatic revising of the strategy.
Even though Whitney backed his interpretation of Brzezinski’s new political orientation, I was so mystified by the dramatic change that I decided to read his article (which unfortunately I didn't post back in April when it was published). 

The inferences I draw from reading his article are slightly different than Whitney's who takes a rather superficial view of US politics. Although Whitney sees Brzezinski as influential, he attributes agency to official office holders like Obama and H. Clinton. In contrast I see a deep state (see this and this) that functions as decision makers behind the officials. The latter only serve to carry out orders of the deep state. In the past Brzezinski with his extreme hostility toward Russia has clearly served as a major actor in this deep state. However unless we see parallel changes in the conduct of current US foreign policies, one can only conclude that he is no longer a major influence in deep state circles. Thus far I have seen no changes. 

This could be an indication that the Zionist faction, aka "neocons", are now in command of the deep state. Thus one should look at the continuing conduct of US foreign affairs and the support placed on this conduct by corporate media to decide who controls the deep state and place much less importance on the political campaign statements made by H. Clinton.

Otherwise Brzezinski’s article shows considerable insight about changes in the global power struggle for dominance.  His Polish aristocratic background is illustrated in the article with his global power chessboard perspective and the importance he places on maintaining global order. Ruling class people always think that in the absence of their rule social chaos would ensue. 

The article also demonstrates an unusual (for him) awareness of the crimes committed by powerful nations against colonial peoples, and an awareness of the imminent problem of climate destabilization and the need for united action against its effects. Absolutely amazing!

Hats Off To Mother Jones [and privatization of public services]

Click here to access article by Paul Craig Roberts from his blog. 

The first part relates to the headline by applauding the Mother Jones' investigation of privatized prisons which, if you read the link to their report, you will find quite disturbing. But then he puts this in the context of a more general trend of privatization promoted by the compulsively wealth seeking ruling class. 

Being a retired person trying to live on Social Security benefits, I was especially drawn to his remarks about this subject. 
Republicans intend to privatize Medicare and Social Security. The road to Medicare privatization is the small percentage of medical billings that Medicare pays. Medical care providers are beginning to find that it is unprofitable to provide care to Medicare patients. When doctors cease to provide care under Medicare, the massive payroll tax revenues will be diverted into the hands of “more efficient” private providers.

The road to Social Security privatization is the “reform” of the consumer price index, which under-measures inflation in order to deny Social Security recipients cost-of-living-adjustments. The continuing decline in the real value of Social Security benefits will result in large-scale economic distress. This distress will be used to discredit the Social Security system and to privatize it.
I can personally attest to the validity of the above statement. My cost of just my living quarters in a one bedroom apartment has increased over the past 10 years by 75.2% while my Social Security benefits have only increased 18.2% for the same period. And I have been unable to find a private practice doctor who will take me on as a patient once they learn that I don't have additional private insurance.

Unhealthy healthcare

Click here to access article by David Ruccio from Occasional Links & Commentary
Given the high costs of U.S. healthcare, insurance is obviously the way most Americans are able to gain some kind of access to the health system.

According to the latest (January–March 2015) National Health Interview Survey (pdf), about two-thirds of Americans below the age of 65 rely on private health insurance. The rest either don’t have health insurance coverage (10.7 percent) or have some kind of public health plan (24.2 percent).

The problem is, even without the latest proposed mega-mergers, the U.S. private health- insurance industry is already highly concentrated.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Bogus ‘Humanitarian’ War on Serbia

Click here to access article by John Pilger from ConsortiumNews.

The lies of the Empire will inevitably be revealed, but often only many years later. And then when we finally learn the true story of their crimes, corporate media provides very little coverage. Slowly the deceptions about 9/11 are being reported in alternative media while corporate media totally ignores such reports. 

Pilger provides an accurate history of the dissolution of Yugoslavia by the Empire which became a model strategy used to destabilize other countries. 
This was the model for Washington’s subsequent invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and, by stealth, Syria. All qualify as “paramount crimes” under the Nuremberg standard; all depended on media propaganda. [my emphasis]

Aleppo prepares for a major battle and the Kurds in Syria are attracting everybody’s animosity.

Click here to access article by Elijah J. Magnier from his blog.

I believe that this journalist, who I remember is a Kuwaiti journalist, offers what I believe is a most accurate portrayal of a very confusing war situation in Syria. US corporate media takes advantage of this confusion by adding more confusing reports to cover for US's balkanization strategy by attempting to create "safe zones" in Syria to weaken the Syrian government. One major component of this strategy is their support of Syrian Kurds with air support and ground military advisors. Magnier also gives an updated report on the Syrian situation following the recent deterioration of relations between Turkey and the US. 

Numerous articles started appearing in alternative websites--and I have posted some of them (here, here, here, and here)--which saw the Syrian Kurds as very progressive, frequently comparing their struggles with the republican left during the Spanish Civil War and portraying the region as a bastion of women's rights. Earlier this year I began to form a more accurate picture of what was really going on. 

Such groups present ideal opportunities for US Empire strategists to support (or cynically use) them because their aspirations fit well with the Empire's strategy of balkanization of independent countries. So when the struggles of these groups in the latter countries no longer align with the hegemonic goals of the Empire, they will inevitably be betrayed.

So I think there is a lesson to be learned from this and the many cases of NGOs/non-profit organizations that have been funded by the rich ruling class or indirectly from the US government: never take money or other support from such sources under any circumstances.

The new form of climate destabilization denial

by cartoonist Patrick Bagley.

Since Hurricane Sandy in 2012 attacked the central region of the US Empire, corporate media's denial of climate destabilization has taken another form: pretending that the extreme weather we are experiencing is completely normal.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Propaganda for Syrian ‘Regime Change’ [best article of the month]

Click here to access article by Rick Sterling from ConsortiumNews

This is a perfect antidote to all the poison being spewed by corporate media in support of further escalation of the US military campaign in Syria. He has supplied an abundance of links to solid independent sources that put the lie to Western propaganda. If you give a damn about war and peace and about honest information, then you must pass this piece on to those of your friends and neighbors whose minds are not totally brainwashed by corporate media.

For London, propaganda is an art

Click here to access article by Thierry Meyssan from VoltaireNet (France). 
Just as in all wars, the war against Syria has triggered an avalanche of propaganda. And the use of children is always a winning strategy.

Confronting the Violence of the State

Click here to access article an editorial from The Spark
During two nights in mid-August, on Milwaukee’s north side, angry crowds pelted the police with rocks and bottles, smashed police cars, while several businesses were engulfed in flame.

As usual, the police, the politicians, the media, and the supposed experts called this “a riot.” They decried the so-called “senseless violence.”

Yet, their police are armed to the teeth. And when police unleash their violence on a regular basis, these same authorities, politicians and news media don’t condemn it. They don’t decry the “senseless violence” of the police. No, they justify it!

And that’s exactly what happened after the Milwaukee police shot and killed 23-year-old Sylville K. Smith during a routine traffic stop.

Autonomous Co-ops, Planning, and the State: Some Considerations for Cuba's Economic Transition

Click here to access article by Al Campbell from Grassroots Economic Organizing

I don't like the way this article is written, but it is important, especially for Cubans, to discuss what kind of society they want. I will offer only some brief problems I had with the article.

First of all, there was no introduction to identify the writer. Then there were indications that this was a talk, but where and when was never specified. It was only later that I learned he was a professor at a US university. Also it seemed to me that the content was poorly organized. Basically, I think that he tries to do too much by weaving in abstract remarks about what socialism is with specific problems that coops can pose for a society.

I'm reasonably sure that many such discussions are going on in Cuba; but living in the US, I have no access to this knowledge. It would be very interesting to learn what is currently going on there.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Will fascism come to America in November? A conspiracy theory to consider

by Ron Horn for this blog. (Amended at 3 PM 8-22 and 10 AM 8-23 Seattle time.)

It occurred to me recently that political conditions are very conducive for a fascist coup to take direct control of the government. I put it his way because I am certain that a deep state exists that indirectly controls the government behind a democratic facade of the official government. The deep state (see this and this) are made up of hidden actors connected to major banks and industrial corporations. This deep state arose from bourgeois democracy and its power became especially concentrated after WWII with the growth of secret agencies. They clearly demonstrated their power with the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, his brother Bobbie, and Martin Luther King a few years later.

So what is fascism? This is probably the most abused and obscured word in the English language, and that's for good reasons: to provide cover for capitalist rule at its ugliest. It is capitalist rule via a police state. So if you understand fascism as capitalist class rule plus a police state, then you know what fascism is. It's really that simple. 

Now consider the fact that elections are becoming a huge expense for our capitalist ruling class; consider that the most hideous crime so far in the 21st century was the 9/11 event and that a substantial portion of the citizenry do not believe the official story and suspect some kind of
government involvement (see this, this, this, and this), and that there are many organizations putting tremendous pressure on government authorities to re-investigate the event; and that both candidates for president are disliked by the majority of Americans: Hillary Clinton for her email scandal and connections with the Benghazi debacle, and of course Trump for his outlandish buffoonery and racism.

I ask you: what is a capitalist ruling class to do under such conditions? Well, one very convenient answer would be a coup to install a "benevolent" dictator to solve the problem. Of course, this would be covered by corporate media as only a temporary measure and one that was necessary under the circumstances. They would convince most Americans that it was a blessing given that both candidates were not suitable for this office. We probably wouldn't notice any change for a while, but eventually most of the official apparatus of representative government and civil liberties would disappear and we would find ourselves living in a total police state.

Please understand that I am not predicting this outcome, but it is something to mull over in our minds--as if we didn't have enough to worry about already!


Click here to access article by Roger Stone from LewRockwell.com.

The sources he cites have been reported before, but he puts them all together in one article. And, of course, you must know that as puppets of the ruling class, Obama and H. Clinton were only following orders from the ruling class directorate to create ISIS, and as such were not responsible as the author alleges.

Arctic Death Rattle

Click here to access article by Robert Hunziker from CounterPunch.
As of August 17th U.S. Naval Research Lab measurements of Arctic sea ice over a 30-day period “shows that the multi-year sea ice has now virtually disappeared,” Storms over Arctic Ocean, Arctic News, August 19, 2016. This means the Arctic has lost its infrastructure. It’s gone.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The 21st Century Doesn't Need a New Deal -- It Needs a New Economic Model

Click here to access article by C.J. Polychroniou from TruthOut.

For those of us who decided long ago the question of whether reform of the capitalism or the construction of a new system was needed to solve the many crises of capitalism, this article may seem sophomoric. Still, that is where many on the left in the US are today in their political thinking. The author in this article attempts to move these people from a reformist position to a radical position.

The Obamacare Death Spiral

Click here to access article from The Polemicist.

He addresses the reasons why major insurers such as United Health, Aetna, and Humana are dropping out of the Affordable Care Act. It appears that they are not making enough money.
...the insurance companies and the business press focus on what was always the real measure of Obamacare’s success: whether it can provide sufficient profitability. The defection of large insurers means that Obamacare is failing in this, always its prime, objective, and, as Sally C. Pipes puts it, for CNBC: the "death spiral" has arrived. It is not—It was never going to be!—the objections of liberal or conservative critics, but the objections, and ultimately the withdrawal, of its founding business partners, that would put an end to Obamacare. The point of this program is to allow the private health insurance companies to make more profits. If they don’t, it fails, in its own real capitalistic (as opposed to its ostensible humanitarian) terms. That day has come.