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, March 25, 2017

Abby Martin & Lee Camp [of Redacted Tonight] Reveal The Truth Behind The Headlines

Listen/view via YouTube especially to Abbie Martin on Camp's Redacted Tonight's RT show discuss issues. Martin is featured during the first 16:20m of the 26:10m show.
In this episode of Redacted Tonight VIP, host Lee Camp interviews the one and only Abby Martin. Abby is a brilliant, cutting-edge investigative journalist and host of the Empire Files. She’s constantly speaking truth to power and calling out the US war machine and the failings of the corporate mainstream media. Lee and Abby discuss all of this, as well as the apartheid state that is Israel-Palestine. This is an interview not to be missed. In the second half of VIP, Lee discusses how the systems that rely on our ignorance are now trying to come up with ways to keep us dumb. He talks about the fast food industry. They’re trying to trick us into eating their food, even though most of us already know it’s poison. They’re trying to rebrand as healthy, even though they are everything but. 

Keeping the Myth and the Islamic State Alive

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

The US Empire and its partners in war crimes (the medieval Gulf kingdoms, Turkey, and Israel) have employed a grand myth of Islamic terrorist armies acting independently to sow discord in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, as a propaganda cover to promote their sponsorship of these terrorist armies in order to overthrow the Syrian government. The success of Russia's injection of forces to support the Syrian government, at the latter's invitation, has threatened this myth and Empire propagandists, who control nearly all corporate media, have had to work overtime to invent new lies to prop up this myth. Cartalucci sums up this dilemma in the following paragraph and expands on the use of phony terrorist armies in the rest of the article. (I took the liberty to edit this paragraph to add greater clarity to it.)
...many of these groups face defeat within Syria, prompting their foreign sponsors into two courses of action: 1) posing as the forces responsible for their defeat as the US and Turkey are attempting to do amid their respective, illegal incursions into Syrian territory, and 2) creating a narrative to serve as cover for the evacuation and harboring of these militant groups elsewhere for future use.
Someone, who is an unidentified "military-diplomatic source", has likely exposed the second narrative of this propaganda: the semi-encirclement of Mosul by Empire's coalition of forces in this piece entitled "US, Saudis to grant 9,000 ISIS fighters free passage from Iraqi Mosul to Syria – source".

This grand myth is like all the other myths (War on Drugs, Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, 9/11, the assassinations of the John & Bobby Kennedy, ML King, etc.) promulgated by the Empire's corporate media. With the huge wealth that the transnational capitalist class has accumulated, they are now able to create whatever myths that support their criminal actions and have their media and entertainment corporations (even educational institutions) repeat endless narratives to support the myths until they become "reality" for most Americans. That is precisely why Karl Rove made that infamous statement shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. 
We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
Today the American people (and many others) are like Truman Burbank in the "Truman Show". At the beginning the character doesn't realize that his existence and notion of reality is thoroughly controlled by the show's directors. But towards the end Truman is starting to realize that his view of reality does not make sense, and eventually he escapes this artificial reality of the "show". I keep asking myself: can this happen to all the present day Trumans of the world?  

North Korea: The really serious options on the table

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online.

Escobar sees important changes both within, and between relations, in the following countries: China, Japan, the two Koreas, and the US that might bring about some major political change in the year or two ahead.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Russophobia – Symptom of US Implosion

Click here to access article by Finian Cunningham from Strategic Culture Foundation
Unable to accept the reality that the governing structure of the US has lost legitimacy in the eyes of the people, that the people rebelled by electing an outsider in the form of business mogul-turned-politician Donald Trump, that the collapse of American traditional politics is due to the atrophy of its bankrupt capitalist economy over several decades – the ruling class have fabricated their own excuse for demise by blaming it all on Russia.

The American ruling class cannot accept, or come to terms, with the fact of systemic failure in their own political system.

A Tale of Two Cities: Aleppo and Mosul

Click here to access article by James O’Neill, an Australian-based Barrister at Law from New Eastern Outlook.

After comparing the Empire's corporate media coverage of the two battle-scarred cities, he asks the obvious questions and reaches obvious conclusions.
Why does the western media not ask the obvious questions, such as how is it possible for these disparate terrorist groups to go on fighting for years, with limitless access to modern armaments? Or why are wounded terrorist fighters treated in Israeli and Turkish military hospitals and allowed to return to the fighting?

They avoid these questions for the reasons given above. It would expose the real reasons for US and their allies’ military intervention in the Middle East and their support for terrorist groups as an instrument of foreign policy. Promoting sectarian warfare is an essential component of that policy.

Those policies are unlikely to ever change as long as the media continues its role as essentially a propaganda outlet for unbalanced depictions of what is actually happening in the Syrian and Iraqi war zones. Aleppo and Mosul are but two illustrations of a wider process.
In another article posted in New Eastern Outlook, Tony Cartalucci provides more fuel to the increasing alternative media fire that exposes these phony terrorist army themes that the Empire's media are full of.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The United States of Cognitive Dissonance

Click here to access article by CJ Hopkins from CounterPunch.

Hopkins argues (maybe tongue-in-cheek) that Americans (and many in the world) are infected with a deadly mind disease called "cognitive dissonance". And he describes how this process works: (I have taken the liberty of changing the pronoun and corresponding verb.)
Imagine [yourself] strapped in a chair like Alex was in Clockwork Orange, barraged with images of frightening terrorists until [your] mind accepts them as “the enemy,” at which point “the enemy” is immediately switched, and now it’s Hitler that is coming to get [you], which, after a time, [you come] to accept (and [forget] the former terrorist “enemy”), at which point “the enemy” is switched once again, and now it’s Putin and the Russians who are after [you]. And so on … until [your] mind just snaps and surrenders to whatever official “reality” is being fed into it any given day. At which point [they] have rendered the subject [yourself] a totally compliant, scramble-headed, functionally psychotic member of society, whose attention span is about twenty seconds, and whose brain [they] can fill full of fancy pharmaceuticals to keep it from completely melting down in response to the stress of the cognitive dissonance that it has to deal with on a daily basis.
Are our fellow Americans really like this? Well, I know of some who fit this description, but others more skilled (and therefore employed and paid well) are simply following the orders of their capitalist masters and agents in order to feed their families and pay their next month's mortgage payment. Most of them don't believe such nonsense, but they feel that their only choice is to go along to get along. These people are well educated and indoctrinated to follow orders and thus are employed at living salaries to serve the capitalist ruling class in the latter's corporations. Possibly many other Americans who are employed as wage workers (if they are lucky) at less than living wages, and less skilled and less educated, are like this. I simply don't know. I do know that the key to the ruling class's success is dependent on the salaried workers willingness to serve the interests of their capitalist masters and agents.

Hopkins also observes that such conditioning seems to be tapering off, and he argues that this is because Trump's attackers can not come up with any proof to support some of their crazy notions about Trump. However, I think it is tapering off because Trump is slowly being turned (or intimidated) to support a dominate faction in Wall Street that is promoting an anti-Russian agenda.

We’re All Minorities Now

Click here to access article by Pam Martens and Russ Martens from Wall Street on Parade.

The authors ask:
How did a society that fought a brutal and bloody revolution to throw off the yoke of one percent rule end up where we find ourselves today?
My answer is that the people were lied to and fooled into supporting the new capitalist plunderers of America against the British monarchy.

The causes they list are simply effects that have developed ever since that capitalist American revolution.
...we believe the major causes are as follows: a highly consolidated corporate media that failed to tackle these issues with regularity and force; a timid Internal Revenue Service that was afraid to take on the billionaire class for setting up faux citizen front groups that drowned out the voice and views of real citizens; and, of course, an abjectly corrupt system of billionaire financing of political campaigns. 

Trump's military tower

by editorial cartoonist Joe Heller.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Republican insider: Trump is creating Deep State 2.0, but it might crash the economy

Click here to access article by Nafeez Ahmed from Insurge Intelligence. (Edited for clarity at 3:45 PM Seattle time.)

The "Republican insider" is Mike Lofgren who had a 28 year career in various staff positions in Congress. This article consists of interview with Lofgren by Nafeez Ahmed. I found it to be one of the most insightful interviews that I've ever read. I gained two major insights.

First of all, I now see why major political figures always deny that what happens politically is in any sense a result of a conspiracy. Since the publication of Logren's book in January 2016 people on websites have increasingly used the word "deep state" with little understanding of the concept. Although I have not read Lofgren's book, from his comments in this article I conclude that he doesn't understand the extent of it either. Nobody does. (Although some people have a much better understanding than others.) That is precisely why the "deep state" functions in secret so that nobody knows their existence and the details of how they actually function. Still, Lofgren insists, like many others, that they are not engaging in a conspiracy. 
“It’s a series of coalitions of people and it’s not a conspiracy. The names of the people we know. We know Lloyd Blankfein is the CEO of Goldman Sachs, who now has dozens of his alumni throughout the government, including in the president’s economic team. I would say that Trump’s cabinet has so many billionaires it makes George W. Bush’s cabinet look like a Bolshevik workers council. It’s just unbelievable. So to conclude it’s just the military is wrong. It’s a series of interlocking interest groups who coalesce the same way people with power, money and influence always gravitate to one another. Adam Smith said 225 years ago or more that there’s never a meeting among businessmen, a private meeting that takes place, but that sooner or later they get involved in some conspiracy against the public interest.”
I think the main reason why Lofgren and others insist that their operations are not a conspiracy is because the "deep state" controls the entire government and insures that participants in it make and interpret laws that favor the interests of the ruling capitalist class. Therefore they, unlike typical criminals, don't do anything that is strictly illegal. But they do function in secret and plan the policies that will be carried out by their puppets in government. It's just that they don't experience the mindset of criminals of doing things illegally. This interpretation often creates some confusion in the minds of people who deny a conspiracy. Notice the contradiction contained in the above statement by Lofgren by comparing the first sentence with the last.

Secondly, I can see more fully why the ruling class through their corporate media are portraying Trump's many actions so negatively. They are very concerned that his bumbling actions, vulgar behavior, and reckless lies are going to make people question more about the nature of their government and ultimately expose the deep anti-democratic and anti-working class character of their government.
“Trump is kind of like Herman Goering telling the German police ‘your bullet is my bullet’. All this signalling that’s been going on has resulted in these customs and immigration people behaving in an extremely high handed and brutish fashion towards ordinary immigrants, not just people with Arab names, a white Frenchman, a white Australian woman, for the most trivial things. And I could see that really getting out of control with this kind of Gresham’s law of human behavior. The bad apples will sort of set the example. They’ll get promoted, they’ll get the plum assignment and everyone else will be swept along.”

Insight: Trump is escalating the repression of ordinary people. But this will make more people opposed to him – and to the Deep State structures he wields against them. This creates a heightening opportunity for people to wake up and step up.
Also, aside from his remarks about Goldman Sachs executives being a major part of Trump's administration, I don't get a lot from this interview that Lofgren really understands the composition of the deep state. For example:
You see aspects where some of the more obviously Deep State-type institutions like law enforcement, these customs and immigration inspectors, Border Patrol and its union endorsed Trump. And now I see gradually occurring what happens in authoritarian states…
Yes, Trump is trying to reconstruct the numerous "intelligence" agencies to serve his agenda, but that is only one component of the deep state and leaves out the numerous think tanks that formulate policies that serve the interests of the capitalist class. The police state structure that he refers to are only agencies to carry out policies of the deep state. Thus, I believe that "Deep State 2.0" is only a figment of Lofgren's imagination.
It appears to me that Lofgren suddenly woke up one day to see that official policies did not make sense and thus he posited that some sort of "deep state" had to be operating behind the scenes in control of government regardless of which political party was theoretically in control.  He was right, but his knowledge of the deep state is rather shallow.

I've noticed in the past several weeks that some very knowledgeable people are predicting a disastrous crash of the economy under Trump. Lofgren adds to this chorus of doom.

We’re #1!

Click here to access article by economist David Ruccio from Real-World Economics Review Blog.
...the United States has the most unequal distribution of wealth of any rich nation. 

And it’s not even close!

Thomas calculates the ratio of mean to median wealth for each country (the last column in the table above) to devise a measure of wealth inequality.

 As you can see, the U.S. inequality ratio is more than 50% higher than #2 Denmark and fully three times as high as the median country on the list, France.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Meaning of Life (Part I)

Click here to access article by Jonathan Latham, PhD from Independent Science News.

This scientist provides details of the influence of early 20th century capitalists on the search for biological determinants that underlay human behavior. Their concern was most of all their fear of "unruly and resentful mobs" especially following the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Many people date the DNA revolution to the discovery of its structure by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953. But really it began thirty years before, conceived by the mind of John D Rockefeller, Sr. Thus it is fitting that DNA is named after him. DNA stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid and ribo stands for Rockefeller Institute of Biochemistry (now Rockefeller University) where the chemical composition of DNA was first discovered in the 1920s. The Rockefeller Foundation had become interested in DNA because its trustees feared a Bolshevik-style revolution. Intense public resentment had already compelled the break-up of their Standard oil Company in 1911; so the Foundation sought ways, said trustee Harry Pratt Judson in 1913, to “reinforce the police power of the state”. They intended to find the ultimate key to human behaviour which would allow the resentful and envious mobs to be effectively managed.

The Foundation had two strategies for management that were distinct but complementary: to control human behaviour at the level of social structures: family, work and emotions, which the Foundation referred to by names such as “psychobiology”; and to control human behaviour at the level of molecules.
Later the influence was to prevent the questioning of harmful products that their corporations produced such as tobacco. 

Latham records the astounding influence of the Rockefellers and other rich capitalists have had on science research and other science related activities. 

The True Legacy Of David Rockefeller

Click here to access article from Mint Press News.
No one person encapsulates the enduring legacy of the “robber barons” of the Industrial Age quite like David Rockefeller. Rockefeller, who died today at the age of 101, was the last surviving grandson of John D. Rockefeller, the oil tycoon who became America’s first billionaire and the patriarch of what would become one of the most powerful and wealthiest families in American history. David Rockefeller, an undeniable product of American nobility, lived his entire life in the echelons of U.S. society, becoming symbolic of the elite who often direct public policy to a much greater extent than many realize, albeit often from the shadows.

Rockefeller made it clear that he preferred to operate out of public view despite his great influence in American – and international – politics.
The true legacy of this grandson of America's first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller, is that he was probably the key person of America's deep state, the mysterious people who run the puppet show called the US Government from behind the curtain of illusion. Of course, he always wanted to stay behind the dramatic scenes that he helped shape in order to preserve the illusion that the puppet show was the real show. 

Much of the power and wealth of today's ruling class is derived from what people in the 19th century accurately referred to as "robber barons" whose descendants now form a major part of what is popularly known as the One Percent ruling class and also the deep state. David Rockefeller is a prime example. He is a descendant of people who include the con artist and rapist William Rockefeller Sr. whose son John D. Rockefeller began the fantastic accumulation of wealth on the sweat-labor of workers in the mines and oil refineries that he "owned". But John D. wasn't the only one.

It was during the latter half of the 19th century that we also saw the rise of the Carnegies, the Vanderbilts, Astors, etc.; and also the brutal attacks on working people such as the Ludlow Massacre, the Lattimer Massacre, the Columbine Mine massacre, and the Homestead Strike (you probably didn't learn much about these incidents in your education). The 19th century industrial and financial titans' rise to power created the ruling class as we know it today (see also this). The latter are the beneficiaries of these 19th century capitalists who created the foundation for the construction of the wealthy and extremely powerful 1% of the One Percent who now rule the US and much of the world from the deep state that lies behind the curtain of "democratic" illusion brought to you daily by their media corporations.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Globalization of Capitalism: The Rise of Capitalism's Fourth Epoch [third in a series of five]

Click here to access article by Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D. from ThoughtCo
Capitalism, as an economic system, first debuted in the 14th century and existed in three different historical epochs before it evolved into the global capitalism that it is today. In this article we take a look at the process of globalizing the system, which changed it from a Keynesian, "New Deal" capitalism to the neoliberal and global model that exists today.

The foundation of today’s global capitalism was laid, in the aftermath of World War II, at the Bretton Woods Conference, which took place at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1944.

Global Capitalism: Five Things that Make Capitalism "Global" [fourth in a series of five]

Click here to access article by Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D. from ThoughtCo
Global capitalism is the fourth and current epoch of capitalism. What distinguishes it from earlier epochs of mercantile capitalism, classical capitalism, and national-corporate capitalism is that the system, which was previously administered by and within nations, now transcends nations, and thus is transnational, or global, in scope. In its global form, all aspects of the system, including production, accumulation, class relations, and governance, have been disembedded from the nation and reorganized in a globally integrated way that increases the freedom and flexibility with which corporations and financial institutions operate.

What's So Bad About Global Capitalism? Ten Sociological Critiques of the System [fifth in a series of five]

Click here to access article by Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D. from ThoughtCo

I don't think that Cole wishes to imply that the other stages of capitalism were beneficial to working people. Because capitalist laws made everything created on the owners' property as belonging to the owner, and by reducing everything to a commodity that could be purchased, soon capitalist "owned" everything of productive value and workers were reduced to wage-slaves to be hired or fired at the discretion of the "owners".

I think she is arguing that each stage of capitalism tightened the hold that capitalists had over their nation-states and workers residing in these states, and now with the advent of trans-national capitalism things are even worse. 
The five key elements that make capitalism “global” are summarized below. A more detailed analysis can be found here.
  1. the fully globalized nature of the production and distribution of goods;
  2. the flexible nature of a global pool of labor that corporations can choose from;
  3. globalized circuits of accumulation and investment among wealthy corporations and individuals;
  4. the existence of a global class of elite who set the agenda for production, trade, finance, and development; and,
  5. a globalized form of governance, known as the transnational state, run by these elite via institutions like the WTO, World Bank, and IMF, among others.
Now, let’s take a critical look at the implications of these particular arrangements of capitalist relations of production.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

What is Capitalism, Exactly? [one of a series of five articles]

Click here to access article by Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D. from ThoughtCo

Cole has provided us with a series of articles related to capitalism that shed so much light on its various aspects. Although this website runs one article into another, I will post them separately in what I believe is a logical order and selecting five articles that I believe are the most important. I am posting two of the five articles today. Thus I believe we should begin with the important characteristics of capitalism as described by Cole in this article. 
Capitalism is a term that we are all familiar with. We have a capitalist economy in the U.S., and most of us could probably answer that a capitalist system is premised on competition between private businesses that seek to make profit and grow. But, there’s actually quite a bit more to this economic system, and it’s worth understanding the nuances, considering the fundamental and important role it plays in our lives.

So, let’s dig in to it a bit, from a sociological perspective.

Private property and ownership of resources are key aspects of a capitalist economy. 

The Three Historic Phases of Capitalism and How They Differ [the second in a series of five]

Click here to access article by Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D. from ThoughtCo. (Edited for clarity at 8:30 AM March 20 Seattle time.)

In addition to the Italian entrepreneurs who engaged in trade in the eastern Mediteranean, early capitalists were probably influenced by monarchical charters that were given to a monarch's friends, adventurers, and explorers as a way of motivating them to extend their imperial reach to other lands to secure resources and territories. Such charters gave these people rights to profit off their investments in these lands, and many became very rich by engaging in such enterprises. This gave birth to a class of people who wanted to extend such arrangements to all commerce and production, but free of monarchical control. 

While this social development was occurring, the Age of Enlightenment gave increasing emphasis on reason and evidence-based truth that saw workers creating all kinds of mechanical inventions and later power sources like steam which in turn were soon introduced into productive enterprises. However this new capitalist class laid claim to these inventions because workers created them on the owners' property or were simply purchased from the inventors. (Under the new system of capitalism everything was reduced to a commodity that could be bought or sold.) This embryonic class of capitalists soon displaced feudal authorities and went on to establish nation-states with authority to foster private ownership of most productive enterprises.

Cole begins her history with this statement.
Most people today are familiar with the term "capitalism" and what it means. But did you know that it has existed for over 700 years? Capitalism today is a much different economic system than it was when it debuted in Europe in the 14th century. In fact, the system of capitalism has gone through three distinct epochs, beginning with mercantile, moving on to classical (or competitive), and then evolving into Keynesianism or state capitalism in the 20th century before it would morph once more into the global capitalism we know today.