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, February 4, 2017

Trump browbeats Australian “ally”

Click here to access article from World Socialist Web Site.
Just two weeks in office, Trump’s aggressive “America First” economic nationalism and militarism are sending political shockwaves around the world. Not only has the new president launched provocations and threats against Europe, Mexico, Iran and China, he has deliberately placed a question mark over a number of Washington’s key partnerships—with NATO and the European Union, and with Japan, South Korea and now Australia in the Asia-Pacific region.
Trumps actions reflect his background as an aggressive capitalist who is accustomed to control everything in his firm. Now he thinks he is in charge of America, Inc. and is acting accordingly. Given the dominant international role that the US-led Empire plays, this reckless style can have very serious consequences for the ruling capitalist class which appears to me to be divided currently into two factions (see this and this).

Assuming my theory is correct, if Trump's aggressive style of management may be too much for the Rockefeller faction and if he becomes too much of a loose cannon, or is influenced too much by ziocons, the Rockefeller faction may have second thoughts about supporting him. Meanwhile the CIA faction may be merely waiting for him to commit more diplomatic blunders before removing him from office. Once Trump is removed, most Americans will express a collective sigh of relief and gratitude, and quietly acquiesce to the same old policies pursued by the CIA and the neoliberal ruling class.

C. J. Hopkins has a somewhat different view that I have much respect for. He sees a unitary capitalist faction represented by the usual neoliberal capitalists who are merely using Trump and his "fly-over" followers by pretending to pursue neo-nationalist policies. Thus he sees only a political faction versus a solidly entrenched neoliberal ruling class.
People, unhappy with how Capitalism has been restructuring their lives since the end of the Cold War, and aware that power has been gradually shifting from sovereign nations to supranational entities, multinational corporations, international institutions, and so on, are reaching for the only alternative on offer, Neo-nationalism, in one form or another. Which is what the Trumpians and the Brexit gang are promising, a halt of the spread of global Capitalism and the restoration of national sovereignty.

The neoliberal ruling classes, naturally, would like to prevent this from happening. Which, make no mistake, they are going to do (although they may let Trump, Bannon, et al. go ahead and have their War on Islam to finish destabilizing the Middle East first). What is being marketed to us as the “resistance to Trump,” technically, is a counter-insurgency operation … the global neoliberal establishment quashing the neo-nationalist uprising. But that kind of thing doesn’t sell very well. What sells much better is Hitler hysteria, neo-McCarthyite propaganda, and emotionally loaded trigger words that short circuit any kind of critical thinking, words like “love,” “hate,” “racism,” “fascism,” “normal,” and of course “resistance.” 
How such a contradictory nature plays out is to me mind-boggling. Hopkins sees the neo-nationalist views of the Trump camp being easily subverted by the powerful neoliberalists with the result that a war on Muslims will be needed to distract Trump followers from this takeover:
...Bannon (who will continue to run things while Trump obsesses over the size of his whatever) will be relentlessly pushing his agenda forward. The scary thing is, he is obviously smart enough to know that his insurrection is doomed if the fight remains merely on the economic level (i.e, trade deals, bringing back jobs, et cetera). He understands the global economy, as do the rest of Trump’s Goldman Sachs team. Which means it probably won’t be all that long until the War on Islam gets officially launched, as there’s nothing like a war to unite a country … and manufacturing military ordnance at home won’t screw with the price of people’s smartphones.
How the factions are constituted or whichever faction "wins", we will definitely lose unless we organize ourselves into a powerful opposing independent force capable of challenging and overturning capitalist rule. But I fear, much like Hopkins, that most of us are ill prepared to pursue independent actions based on real knowledge about class rule, and consequently our actions will mostly be manipulated by one faction or the other. 

Hopkins' view does not obviate a view advanced by F. William Engdahl who predicts that US policies will try to seduce Russia away from China in a divide and conquer strategy.  

Labor Leaders Stump For Trump As White House Prepares Attack On Workers

Click here to access article by Eric Draitser from Mind Press News.
The sight of leaders of a number of major trade unions praising President Donald Trump after their meeting with him on Jan. 23 is perhaps the perfect illustration of everything wrong with the labor movement. More importantly, it demonstrates just how hollow President Trump’s rhetoric about defending workers and putting people “back to work” truly is.

For while Trump talks about investing in infrastructure and rebuilding America, ostensibly with the goal of improving the lives of workers, his administration is planning a full-scale offensive on workers and their standards of living. Fluent in doublespeak, Trump is able to posture as a friend of workers while in fact being a ruthless predator bent on the further evisceration of the working class. In that sense he’s not much different than other politicians. 

Washington state jury refuses to convict first “valve-turner” in four state tar sands pipeline action

Click here to access article by Martha Baskin from Free Speech Radio News.
In a surprise victory, a Washington state jury has refused to convict Ken Ward, the first of five “valve turners” who shut off tar sands pipelines [at Anacortes, WA] from Canada to Washington in October of last year. Ken Ward, who turned off an emergency block valve on Kinder Morgan’s Trans-Mountain Pipeline, was charged with two felony counts. After more than five hours of deliberation, Ward’s three day trial ended in a hung jury, with at least one juror refusing to convict.
Following this introduction is a transcript of the audio recording of Baskin's report.

Once again I find activists using expressions like the vacuous "powers that be" which tends to obscure the tiny class that benefits from so many problems that we face, and hides the reality that we are really engaged in a class war. Our ultimate goal must be to rid ourselves of class structured societies and replace them with true egalitarian societies. Capitalism as a system has inevitably created a tiny class of powerful people called capitalists who have over several hundred years accumulated ownership and control over nearly everything that ordinary people have created with their hard work and their creativity. If activists can't recognize reality, then all their activism will be futile.
Ward and O’Hara are among the founders of the Climate Disobedience Center, an organization committed to act publicly and with determination to, in O’Hara’s words, “undermine the fossil fuel basis of industrial civilization.”

To do that, O’Hara says, “You have to build a powerful enough movement. You have to build a power base that’s capable of shifting that policy and capable of pushing back against the powers that be.” 
[my emphasis]  

Record-busting heat in eastern Australia as climate warming goes extreme

Click here to access article from Climate Code Red (Australia).
2016 was by far the hottest year in the observation record, with the global average surface temperature 1.24 degrees Celsius (°C) warmer that the late nineteenth century, according to NASA data. This broke the record set just the previous year of 1.12°C, which in turn broke the previous mark set in 2014 of 1.01°C.


And now Ben Domensino of Weatherzone reports that the month of February is about to put eastern Australia's record-breaking hot January to shame....

Trump’s appointees are stickin’ it to the elites!

by Jen Sorensen.

Friday, February 3, 2017

America’s Looming War with Iran: What You’re Not Being Told

Click here to access article by Darius Shahtahmasebi from AntiMedia

This is an excellent, must-read article that covers so much of the background of the current threats posed by our strained relations with Iran and its history over the past sixty years.
The mainstream media has attempted to frame Donald J. Trump’s election victory as a sort of collusion between Russia and Trump — a scheme allegedly intended to promote an American president who would do Vladimir Putin’s bidding. But the truth is that there is one other country that stands to be the prime beneficiary of Trump’s reign as president: Israel.
General Buck Turgidson imitating a low-flying B-52 "frying chickens in a barnyard"
The thought occurred to me while reading the article that we might be living in the world portrayed by the classic film of the 1960s, Dr. Strangelove. Donald Trump might be playing the role of General Buck Turgidson as the mad general who loved combat and war. It appears that he has already threatened Mexico. But then I woke up from this nightmare and thought that the ruling class must be seeing to it that he doesn't do anything crazy.

When will this madness end? In the words of Noam Chomsky, the United States has been “torturing” Iran for 60 years. The intention to take out Iran is still on the table, even with the so-called “anti-establishment” candidate in office.

Clearly, the world cannot continue down this path towards nuclear annihilation. The current industrial war machine must be dismantled. 

I only disagree with the latter statement in the article. "The current industrial war machine" is a product of the capitalist system that controls and sustains it. Thus it follows that the capitalist system must be dismantled!

Iran Just Officially Ditched the Dollar in Major Blow to US: Here’s Why It Matters

Click here to access article by Alice Salles from AntiMedia. (Added a clarify link regarding Saddam Hussein's plan to sell Iraqi oil in Euros at 9:30 PM Seattle time.)
Following President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the Iranian government announced it would stop using the U.S. dollar “as its currency of choice in its financial and foreign exchange reports,” the local Financial Tribune reported.
This is likely the reason why the Trump administration officials are currently engaging in vitriolic verbal attacks on Iran (see this and this). This was likely the reason why we first invaded and toppled Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq, the first of seven too independent Muslim countries that became a target for the Empire in the Middle East and Africa according to (retired) Gen. Wesley Clark in a speech delivered in 2007. (Notice these are most of the same countries that were reportedly included in Trump's ban.)

The securing of the US dollar as a primary world reserve currency is critically important to the dominant position of the US Empire in the world, and it is also necessary to prevent rampant inflation within the US. This has enabled the privately owned Federal Reserve Bank to issue huge volumes of dollars and lend them at near zero interest to banks which, in turn, has lent them to us at much higher interest to help bail them out.

Because of the huge war debts the US racked up in the Vietnam War, Nixon was forced in the 1970s to remove gold from backing the US dollar. The solution was provided by Nixon and Kissinger and the 1974 agreement with that medieval kingdom of Saudi Arabia whereby the Saudi monarchy agreed to sell their vast supplies of oil only in US dollars in return for protection by the Empire. If this appears like a Mafia style arrangement, it appears so because it is.

So this move on the part of Iran is another reason why the directors of the Empire, lodged in various "think tanks" like the Council on Foreign Relations, and their "employees" in Congress are so upset with Iran

It’s Time We Talked About Our Owners

Click here to access article by "Don Quijones" (he resides in Spain & Mexico) posted on Wolf Street.

Sometimes it takes a people centuries to wake up. This English expat woke up when Black Rock, a private equity firm, purchased a large minority stock in Spain's telecom giant Telefónica. 

The author gives one an idea of the concentration of wealth (and power) in monster financial corporations that is inevitable in the system of capitalism, and how a tiny class of people called capitalists have managed to work around laws prohibiting monopolies by purchasing sufficient stocks to give them controlling ownership in companies that are in direct competition with each other. 

Yet he holds onto his delusion about the legitimacy of the system with the hope that Donald Trump can do something about a new "gilded age"--as if we weren't already in one.
Whether Trump’s team – filled with billionaires, Goldman Sachs alumni, and financiers – or other national governments will be inclined (or even able) to take such action is debatable. If they don’t, the concentration of ownership within national and global industries is set to grow, setting the stage for a new gilded age that promises to be even more insidious than the last one, since it will be global in scope and will almost certainly be facilitated by the international network of central banks.
Yes, all we need to do is sign a petition telling our government to do something about this, or elect people to Congress or the presidency like Trump who will reform the system. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

Blundering Into a War With China

Click here to access article by Conn Hallinan from CounterPunch

Hallinan does a reasonably good job of presenting a balanced view of China's build up of its defense forces on artificial islands near their coast.
When President Trump says he wants to make America great again, what he really means is that he wants to go back to that post-World War II period when the U.S. dominated much of the globe with a combination of economic strength and military power. But that era is gone, and dreams of a unipolar world run by Washington are a hallucination.

Climate destabilization and Trump

by Drew Sheneman

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Trump up the volume

Click here to access article by Dave Randall from CounterPunch.

There is one good thing about Donald Trump. He doesn't have the public relations skills of  Obama and he doesn't have black skin to divert attention away from what he does. He is a rather crude caricature of a wealthy tycoon with the temperament of a mobster. Now that he is in office he doesn't try to fool anybody other than those gullible and desperate people who watch TV sitcoms. Because of this different style, many liberal people are easily led into believing that the policies he pursues are substantially different than those of other administrations. 

Because their candidate, Hillary Clinton, of the CIA faction of the capitalist ruling class lost the election, they are using corporate media to whip up opposition to Trump, and people are responding with protests. It's good in a way that people are engaging politically, but they urgently need to insure that their actions serve their interests rather that some faction of the ruling class.

I'm posting this interesting piece, not only because it directly connects activists of the present with those of the past, but because music has a way of bringing people together in places where they can raise their political awareness about the difficulties they face. I learned this insight during the Vietnam War by attending many political gatherings that included music. Instead of merely relating in isolation to the world as portrayed on the boob-tube (TV), people at such gatherings are not only entertained but share stories and insights. Such social experiences can raise awareness about what is really going on and why.

Trump’s “Migrant Policy” Exposes Continuity of Agenda

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from New Eastern Outlook.

Cartalucci reminds that Trump's latest banning of refugee from seven countries has long antecedents in the ruling class's strategy to overturn independent governments in the Middle East which they described as "Soviet client regimes". The list, of course, does not include countries who have been, or were, in fact promoting terrorist armies to overthrow what were independent countries at the time of the formulation of this strategy. He argues that this action is likely motivated by the same strategy that occurred under Obama's administration: to create "safe zones" in Syria that would both serve to protect terrorist armies and fragment the Syrian nation.

Meanwhile the policy is being played up in corporate media by what I identify as the CIA faction to discredit the Trump administration and whip up more popular opposition to his administration.
Bloomberg and other allegedly “liberal” media platforms have attempted to link President Trump’s policies to his own business interests, deflecting public attention away from the fact that the seven nations targeted by the new executive order are precisely the same nations targeted since the 1990’s by Wall Street and Washington special interests.

US and European media are also leveraging their own manufactured “migrant crisis” to sell the concept of “safe zones” in Syria, a policy laid out and pursued under President Obama when initial US-backed regime change in Syria failed to materialize. The policy is now being continued without interruption under President Trump.
What is really needed is an independent popular revolutionary movement that is fully aware of this split in the ruling class and devises independent strategies to take advantage of their rivalry in the interests of the people and social justice, instead of being used by either sick capitalist faction for their own interests of controlling the Empire, ever more profit and power, and imposing their rule on the entire world.

President Trump: Nationalist Capitalism, An Alternative to Globalization?

Click here to access article by James Petras from Global Research

I am running out of time this morning and have little time to really study this article, but I am simply amazed by his portrayal of Trump's views. This article could easily be seen as a strong defense of his policies. The only problem is that Petras seems to be totally guided by what Trump said about his policies during his political campaign, and not about his actions. His concluding remarks about what he has actually done--his cabinet appointments--are not consistent with his lengthy description of Trump's views, but Petras doesn't deal with this glaring contradiction.
His cabinet appointments and his Republican colleagues in Congress are motivated by a militarist ideology closer to the Obama-Clinton doctrine than to Trumps new ‘America First’ agenda.  He has surrounded his Cabinet with military imperialists, territorial expansionists and delusional fanatics.

The Reign of Mad Donald King

by "Tom Tomorrow".

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Deranged And Deluded: The Media’s Complicity In The Climate Crisis

Click here to access article by David Cromwell, editor of Media Lens (Britain).

Cromwell's article is based on a book published last year by Indian writer Amitav Ghosh entitled The Great Derangement. 
Last Thursday, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved their symbolic Doomsday Clock forward thirty seconds, towards apocalypse. It is now two and a half minutes to midnight, the closest since 1953. Historically, the Doomsday Clock represented the threat of nuclear annihilation. But global climate change is now also recognised as an 'extreme danger'.

Future generations, warns Ghosh, may well look back on this time and wonder whether humanity was deranged to continue on a course of business-as-usual. 
Cromwell finally gets around later in the rather lengthy article to casually mention that Ghosh points to the obvious truth that "capitalism and imperialism" are responsible. But he doesn't seem to understand that major media is an integral part of capitalist rule. The best he can do is  morally condemn them.
As Ghosh also observes, capitalism and imperialism are intertwined as primary drivers of the climate crisis. But when did a BBC environment, economics or business correspondent ever report this truth? Their silence is shameful.... 
Instead of pointing to the necessity of supporting an independent media and the overthrow of capitalism, this moral condemnation seems to be the point of the entire article. This is liberal critical thinking at its best! (sarcasm)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Resistance and Its Double

Click here to access article by C J Hopkins from CounterPunch. (My commentary edited for clarity at 4:22 PM Seattle time.)

Since WWII the US backed by a NATO army has reigned mostly supreme. In 1990 the Empire's arch-nemesis, the Soviet Union, collapsed largely because of its own self-serving bureaucratic weight. The imperial masters of this new Empire were ecstatic: Bush Sr. declared that this was a beginning of a New World Order, Empire ideologists like Francis Fukuyama argued that capitalist America had demonstrated the attainment of the highest form of civilization, while Samuel Huntington saw only the Muslim nations standing in the way of the US-led capitalist Empire to rule supreme over the world. To understand this astonishing result and our present confusing situation today, we must review briefly our history since WWII.

Immediately after the war the ruling capitalist class went on the attack against organized labor (see this and this) and engaged in a purge of radicals during the McCarthy period. Along with the rollback of labor reforms and the purge of leftists, the ruling class's ideological engines completely saturated the minds of the American people with dumbed-down messages of a benevolent country trying to save the world from the evil empire of the Soviet Union and the splendid virtues of capitalism. Given the US's dominant economic position for nearly three decades following the war, the US capitalist ruling class was able to provide fairly generous material inducements to the middle and lower classes in order to head off resistance to these attacks on labor and the left.

As a result of this history, in recent decades the American public has simply reacted viscerally to the manufactured War on Drugs and War on Terror and encouraged to devote their time and energies to social identity causes and multiculturalism. The end result is what we see today: the class struggle, which became dramatic during the Great Depression of the 1930s, has completely disappeared along with any revolutionary understanding of the class war that is intrinsically embedded in capitalism.

C. J. Hopkins explains how the apparent split between the ideological engines of neoliberalists and neo-nationalists are effectively managing the minds of most Americans today in the absence of any revolutionary politics. 
...the quandary folks on the [existing] Left are currently facing is twofold: (1) how to oppose the Trumpians, and other neo-nationalist insurgencies, without serving the interests of Neoliberalism; and (2) how to oppose Neoliberalism without serving the interests of the Neo-nationalists. Which is more or less a classic Zen koan designed to make one’s head explode.

Both the neoliberals and the neo-nationalists know this, and will be using it to pressure us into joining their camps.
And he doesn't see the conflict ending well. 

And, it won't until there is an independent revolutionary left that stops simply reacting to either of these capitalist factions and promote their own organizations, strategies and tactics to eliminate the rule of this tiny class that is hell-bent on war and environmental destruction.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Trump Skips Saudis in "Anti-Terror" Sweep

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

The deceptive games being played by the two factions ("CIA faction" or the "Obama faction" versus the "Rockefeller faction" or "Trump faction" -- see this, this, and this) as represented by efforts of Kissinger and Brzezinski) of the US ruling class are getting ever more complicated, and I am having a very difficult time trying to keep up with their deceptive activities. It seems that everything is fake with our government and major media, and ordinary Americans are being played with as suckers (def. 5a).

It appears to me--correct me if I'm wrong--that corporate media (largely controlled by the CIA faction) is on the one hand trying to smear Trump with his efforts at rapprochement with the Russians (the Rockefeller faction) while playing along with the old deceptive game of fighting terrorism in the Middle East. In the following commentary Cartalucci is referring to Trump's continuation of CIA faction policies while trying to appear to be different.
Like all politicians and every US president before Donald Trump, talk is cheap - used to target and manipulate the weakest minds among any nation's population. Action, however, is more difficult to manifest among deficient and/or dishonest politicians and political parties.

That President Trump is continuing America's partnership in terror with Saudi Arabia should be of no surprise to the public. Trump - even during his presidential campaign last year - surrounded himself with Bush-era Neo-Conservatives and policymakers, corporate-financier elitists, and the right-wing counterparts of the corporate media, including those elements cleverly disguised as "alternative media" such as Breitbart News.

Objective adults weigh words against actions. Across the West, however, both President Trump's opponents and supporters appear mesmerized by his words, and entirely oblivious to both his actions and their implications.

Beyond Trump and free trade

Click here to access article by economist David Ruccio from Real-World Economics Review Blog.

It seems to me that Ruccio ignores a part of the data regarding the effects of NAFTA that he presents in this article, and I would like to point out its significance. I believe that it is consistent with an analysis from another report entitled "Wealth distribution in the United States and the politics of the pseudo-left" which I posted on my website about a week ago.  

If the following graph of Mexican salaried workers (which he supplied) also applies to American salaried workers (which I believe it does), then American middle class workers have also benefited from NAFTA.

[Note: the graph compares Average real salaried workers (the green line) with Average wage workers (the dark line).] This is another illustration of the fact that the rich ruling capitalist classes must reward their middle classes whenever they promote legislation to serve their interests. It's called "co-optation".

However, an increasing problem for the rich ruling capitalists is their increasing introduction of more sophisticated information technology and especially automation. These technical advances is already reducing the number of middle class salaried workers; and as this development accelerates, it will present numerous problems for the stability of capitalist rule. 

Obama’s administration made the “Muslim ban” possible and the media won’t tell you

Click here to access article by Seth Frantzman from his blog Terra Incognita.

It appears from this well documented article that Trump's executive order merely copied a previous order from the Obama administration.
The Department of Homeland Security targeted these seven countries over the last years as countries of concern. In February 2016 “The Department of Homeland Security today announced that it is continuing its implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 with the addition of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as three countries of concern, limiting Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals who have traveled to these countries.” It noted “the three additional countries designated today join Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria as countries subject to restrictions for Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals.”
This leaves me with some questions: why is this exposé coming from an American-Israeli living in Israel and not from someone concerned with immigration issues here in the US? And, why did Trump do this? (To prove to ordinary American that he is protecting them?), and why is there supposed chaos at the airports? Corporate media are taking full advantage of his executive order to mobilize liberal Americans against him.

For a satirical take on this issue, Jimmy Dore provides this hysterical commentary based on Frantzman's article.


Rex Tillerson and His Friends: The End Game of America

Click here to access article by Seth Ferris from New Eastern Outlook.

If this article doesn't depress you, nothing will. Ferris writes about Tillerson as being the biggest monster in the swamp of capitalism, and capitalists now rule the swamp of government which Ferris refers to as "the System Behind the System".
Tillerson is himself an integral part part of the System Behind the System. Appointing him gives a blank cheque for that system to do openly what it has done under cover of legality until now.

Is Trump unaware that it is the System Behind the System, acting independently, which has created the failed foreign policy adventures of the past two and a half decades? If he is going to drain the swamp, as he promised, why does he want to appoint another member of it to run the show? If you ever wondered what Chicago would have been like if Al Capone was the actual Mayor instead of merely controlling the elected officials, you may be about to find out.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

George Galloway on Why He Still Backs Brexit

Click here to access article by Joe Emersberger from TeleSur.
The EU has nothing to do with internationalism nor with anti-racism as those suffering the lash of racism and islamophobia in mainland Europe know. And those sinking in the Mediterranean trying and failing to enter Fortress Europe know.

It is nothing to do with peace either, as the people of Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Iraq, Libya Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Mali and others know. The EU is the political wing of NATO.

How We Were Misled About Syria: Amnesty International

Click here to access article by Tim Hayward from his blog.

It seems nowadays that nobody can be trusted, that deception is practiced by everybody. Hayward had long believed in the morality of Amnesty...until one day he read about the White Helmets.
Most of us living outside Syria know very little of the country or its recent history. What we think we know comes via the media. Information that comes with the endorsement of an organisation like Amnesty International we may tend to assume is reliable. Certainly, I always trusted Amnesty International implicitly, believing I understood and shared its moral commitments.

As a decades-long supporter, I never thought to check the reliability of its reporting. Only on seeing the organisation last year relaying messages from the infamous White Helmets did questions arise for me.