BREAKING NEWS

ISIS is Israeli Secret Intelligence Service

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

So

So, this morning I received the below e-mail entitled "So" from
President Obama.

So, today I have decided to publicly respond to his e-mail and
donation request.

So, President Obama, you would like for me as a former supporter,
to now send you some money?

So, you can continue to be the President of the United States of
America, for yet another four more years?

So, President Obama, what about all of those illegal campaign
contributions from Microsoft, and my former boss and business
partner, Mr. Jon DeVaan, back in 2008?

So, whatever happened to my official complaint in regards to
all of this which was filed with the FBI, back in March of 2010?

So, President Obama, why so many, many, broken campaign
promises?

So, why haven't you ended all the wars and brought all of the
Troops home?

So, President Obama, I'm sure that you and your 2012
campaign staff do not wish to talk about any of this.

So, for now I will just move on to one of your
other comments in your "So" called personal e-mail.

So, President Obama, you say your opponents have now out
raised you by distorting the truth and by misleading people?

So, isn't this the exact same strategy that you and your campaign
used and followed on the road to victory back in 2008?

So, President Obama, isn't this simply a case of the pot now
calling the kettle black, here in 2012?

So, isn't this just one more example of politics and business
as usual versus your promised hope and change?

So, President Obama, do you really think you can actually fool the
American people into voting for you for a second term in office?

So, do you really think that we the people are actually going to
fall for all of your lies, and all of your bullshit, all over again?

So, President Obama, I won't be voting for you in November,
and I won't be sending you $3.00 or more, by midnight tonight.

So, please don't bother sending me anymore e-mails, because
you loss this vote, and this loyal supporter, a very long time ago.

So, President Obama, I guess this means good-bye for now, as
well as good-bye to you and yours, come this November 06, 2012.

So, let the all of the American People rejoice and sing, let liberty,
justice, and freedom ring, because five plus five equals ten, and
The Expotera Revolution, is about to begin.

Power To The People!!

Tony

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Barack Obama
Date: Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 9:47 AM
Subject: So
To: Tony Whitcomb

Tony --

Sometimes politics can seem very small.

But the choice voters face in this election couldn't be bigger.

Over the past two months, we have been outraised by our opponents.

They've used that advantage to distort the truth and mislead
people, over and over, on TV and the radio in battleground states.

Tonight is one of the most critical fundraising deadlines we'll face.

If we win this election, it will be because of what you did in
moments like this to close the gap.

Please make a donation of $3 or more right now:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Deadline-Midnight

Thank you.

Barack

Sunday, July 29, 2012

How Fragile We Are

Nothing Is Guaranteed, Lest We Forget

By Randall Amster
New Clear Vision
July 29, 2012

Once again, events conspire to remind us how fragile is our
existence and how vulnerable we really are.

A young man whose goal in life might have been “helping others”
winds up hunting them instead, ruthlessly mowing them down in
a bizarre public spectacle in which it is not life but rather death
that mirrors art.

Chillingly, a neighbor describes the gunman as a “typical American
kid” who “kept to himself [and] didn’t seem to have many friends.”

In the postmortem analysis, fingers will be pointed and political
positions staked, but the essential issues will again likely go
unaddressed as we forge ahead to the next reel in the film,
without noticing that the entire narrative itself is deadening by
its very nature.

There are no “good guys” or “bad guys” in this veritable societal
shooting gallery that places all of us in the crosshairs.

Some people simply break, while some seek to break others, but
both are responses to a society that places alienation, dependency,
and casual brutality at its cultural core.

We might blame a specific organ when it contracts cancer or treat
the disease like an individual pathology, all the while neglecting
to address the obvious socio-environmental roots of the condition.

To do the latter would require us to ask hard questions about the
society we have created, the one we participate in and benefit
from — yet if we do not, the issue will likely soon become moot
as the patient expires.

We simply cannot continue to sow the seeds of a “culture of
violence” any longer.

The almost daily explosion of some disaffected soul, leading to
the decimation of others in public and private spaces alike, is
too demonstrable to be dismissed as the result of a few “bad
apples” or faulty parts somehow working in isolation from the
whole.

The mass-shooting phenomenon that happens routinely in the
United States is part and parcel of a society that legitimizes force,
individualizes burdens, medicalizes despondency, and demonizes
dissent.

In such a system, many feel utterly trapped in their isolation and
powerless to change it — and some will accordingly act out their
desperation in horrifying ways.

To how many violent images is a typical American child exposed?

How many marketing campaigns exploit feelings of diminished
self-worth and alienation?

How many valorizations of the heroic use of force are put before
our eyes on a daily basis?

How many trespasses and forms of disempowerment do we suffer
in our lives, from the exploitation of our labor to the mind-numbing
attributes of mass media?

How many toxins and other alterants infuse our food supply and
infest the larger environment?

In how many ways are we made to accept dehumanization in our
economic arrangements, as we inhabit a world in which everything
is for sale and anything (including absolution) can be bought for a
price?

The connections are obvious, so much so that we oftentimes
cannot see them.

This is an anti-life society at nearly every turn, and any rhetorical
claims to being politically “pro-life” are utterly nonsensical.

What is worse is that the U.S. is rapidly exporting this macabre
model (by finance, fiat, or force), creating a globalized
monoculture where commodities supplant communities and
people are relegated behind profits.

Meanwhile, a relatively small cadre of global elites greedily sucks
out the life of this world, co-opting its powers for themselves
while giving the rest of us either abject poverty or an illusion
of prosperity that masks the reality of its inherent cruelty.

Still, despite the proliferation of corporate fortresses and
military bases, the edifice of skewed power and privilege is
as fragile as we all are, perhaps even more so in some ways.

To wit, if it was not fragile it wouldn’t require so much brute
force to sustain it; indeed, the weaker something is, the more
force it necessitates.

Counter to the dominant security narrative, a more apt solution
would be to embrace our innate fragility, to recognize and validate
our vulnerability, and to stop collaborating with the pretense that
we modern humans are some immutable force of nature whose
cleverness will ultimately ensure our survival and sustainability.

Nothing is guaranteed — not military might, not reified power,
not homeland security. Not even a midnight movie in the suburbs.

And perhaps in this realization we can begin a new era of authentic
engagement that takes nothing and no one for granted, one that
prioritizes systemic health and individual potential equally, and
that moves us from the lethal rigidity of a society built for the
powerful toward one designed for the abundant fragility of actual
human beings.

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the color of the evening sun
Tomorrow’s rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime’s argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

– Sting, “Fragile” (1987)

Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D., is the Graduate Chair of Humanities at
Prescott College. He serves as Executive Director of the Peace and
Justice Studies Association, and is the publisher and editor of New
Clear Vision.

http://www.newclearvision.com/2012/07/23/how-fragile-we-are/
#more-1718

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kleptocracy: Debt as a Method of Legalized Robbery

Kleptocracy: Debt as a Method of Legalized Robbery

By Raimundo Viejo
Roar Magazine
July 27, 2012

‘Cutbacks announced by Rajoy will deepen recession until 2013’.

Thus read the El País headline on the package of austerity measures
kicking off the imperial economic protectorate of the EU and the
markets.

The headline, however, could have been another one, no less
consistent or resounding:

“It’s not a crisis! It’s a scam!”

After all, what we are witnessing is surely the worst extortion
we have ever seen.

Extortion, let’s recall, is an ‘offence that consists of forcing —
through violence or intimidation — the commission or omission
of an act or commercially motivated legal transaction with a view
to making money and with the intention of causing material loss
to the victim or a third party’.

In this case, the intimidation is that exercized by the markets,
and the act or commercially motivated legal transaction is the
package of measures approved in Las Cortes with the goal of
ruining the lives of the 99% to the benefit of the 1%.

But is there really a crisis?

The explicit awareness that the measures not only do not remedy,
but prolong and deepen the crisis, reveals something far more
insidious, if this were even possible, than the obvious
irresponsibility of misrule.

Namely, that:

1) the nation state is no longer the center of modern sovereign
power;

2) liberal democracy and representative government have failed
institutionally to reconcile capital and labour;

3) the authority that rules us today operates somewhere midway
between supranational institutions like the EU and financial
institutions like the rating agencies (to cite two obvious examples
of a far more complex network).

With things this way, what kind of (mis)government is it that is
based on continuing to deliberately aggravate the suffering of its
citizens?

An illegitimate government, no doubt.

It is also, as we have pointed out, a government that is nothing
of the sort, but instead the transmission belt of decision-making
bodies no less illegitimate, given that they evade all democratic
control.

But above all, it is a (mis)government that responds to a logic that
must be diagnozed in its functioning, denounced in its effects and
fought with an effective strategy.

Kleptocracy

The neoliberal logic of (mis)government can be identified with
a type of regime that is established with each measure that gets
approved: kleptocracy.

From the Greek kleptēs or theft and kratos or rule, it can be
defined as “government of those who steal”.

Given that we are speaking of an illegitimate robbery, one can
say, straight out, that we are facing a “government of thieves”.

This is a matter of a kind of regime that consists not of government
of, by and for the demos (as in democracy), but of government in
the service of the logic of the priva(tiza)tion of resources that were
once public.

A simple example: if university fees go up and only a minority
can pay them, but we all fund public universities with our taxes
equally, where is the redistribution of wealth?

Where is the equality of opportunities? Where are the principles
of the welfare state? Where is the Constitution?

This, however, is how kleptocracy works: it subtracts from the
99% to give to the 1%.

Debt is the mechanism that makes legalized robbery possible: the
private debt which through illegitimate means is converted into
public debt; the debt which, like a deus ex machina condemns us
to poverty.

Debt today consumes the future and, equally, reduces people’s
existence to its merely vegetative dimension.

This is why stopping the payments is an imperative in the defense
of a decent life.

Faced with a rule that appears before us as a financial automatism,
it is today urgent to move forward along the route of disobedience,
in autonomous empowerment, towards the political regime of the
commons.

http://roarmag.org/2012/07/raimundo-viejo-kleptocracy-debt-
crisis/

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Silence Absolves Liars, Scoundrels & Hypocrites

Silence Absolves Liars, Scoundrels & Hypocrites

By P.A. Farruggio
Information Clearing House
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My 84 year old pal John and I stand each Tuesday outside the
local library with our protest signs.

We’ve been out there, one hour each week, for over a year;
before that for six years on a busy street corner during rush
hour.

One day, this German lady approached us.

She thanked us for taking the time out and added “You know,
Americans don’t like to get out and protest. If this was Germany,
and our government did what yours did, we’d have thousands
outside this library, not just two people.”

How correct she was.

The Germans, the French and all the European peoples remember,
or are taught, what it was like to be occupied and threatened by
the Nazi police state.

We Americans are lucky that our nation has never been occupied
by a foreign power. Never!

Thus, you would think that it might have been more difficult for
us Americans to accept the propaganda pertaining to 9/11 and
the phony wars that followed. The opposite was true, sadly.

From Mathew in the New Testament:

“And Jesus went into the temple of God and cast out all of them
who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of
the moneychangers and the seats of them that sold (sacrificial)
doves, and said onto them ‘It is written, My house should be
called a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves."

Why did it take Jesus to initiate this action?

How long had this process gone on in the Jewish religion? Why
did not others, those who agreed with Jesus, take the mantle
and challenge the powers that be?

After all, this was not challenging the Roman Empire, which
would have done harm to anyone who protested their edicts.

This was not like a German in the mid 1930s challenging the
Nazi regime.

No, the similarities between the silence of those who agreed with
Jesus and the silence of those who agree with we protestors now
is striking.

Look at what occurred here in America before we invaded Iraq
and after. We had a group of so called leaders and advisors to
leaders who had a tattered track record on patriotism.

Mitt Romney, in the late 1960s, supported the Vietnam War,
yet refused to join up and fight the good fight.

We have the infamous chicken hawks of the Junior Bush gang,
starting with Junior himself.

Bush supported the Vietnam War and chose to stay safely at
home in the Texas Air National Guard.

Then we have Dick Cheney, who received at least five deferments,
none of them medical by the way, yet he vociferously supported
the war.

Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and others connected with the Bush
crew cheered for ‘War War War ‘yet never would dare go and fight
the gooks they hated.

Years later all of these people, along with a compliant mainstream
media, railed about the threat that Saddam Hussein and his army
presented to us here at home.

How he was connected with Al Qaeda and Bin Ladin, and how he
had WMDS ready to use on us in America or our surrogate in the
Middle East, Israel.

All lies!

Factor out the one day in February 2002 that many Americans stood
up and spoke out, and after that… Silence! To this day…Silence!

As with the Jews who agreed with Jesus about their religion being
hijacked by liars, scoundrels and hypocrites… today we see the
same thing here.

Imagine for one minute if all of the Americans who know deep
inside that our nation has become a military industrial empire
actually spoke up.

Instead of a handful of us out there on the street corners and town
squares, there would be thousands, as that German lady suggested.

What truth could then be expressed as to the few who do the
lying, cheating and conning?

One simple hour a week of public protest is all it would take to
peacefully initiate real and lasting change in the very fabric of
our society.

We do not need leaders to tell us what to do; all we need is
a ‘symphony of voices’ to shout down the hypocrites who are
placed before us to hinder and confuse us.


Philip A Farruggio is a free lance columnist, environmental products
sales rep and an activist. Since 2010, Philip is a spokesperson for
the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military
spending 25%.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31975.htm

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why We're Screwed

Why We’re Screwed

By L. Randall Wray
Naked Capitalism
July 23, 2012

As the Global Financial Crisis rumbles along in its fifth year, we
read the latest revelations of bankster fraud, the LIBOR scandal.

This follows the muni bond fixing scam detailed a couple of weeks
ago, as well as the J.P. Morgan trading fiasco and the Corzine-MF
Global collapse and any number of other scandals in recent months.

In every case it was traders run amuck, fixing “markets” to make
an easy buck at someone’s expense.

In times like these, I always recall Robert Sherrill’s 1990 statement
about the S&L crisis that “thievery is what unregulated capitalism
is all about.”

After 1990 we removed what was left of financial regulations
following the flurry of deregulation of the early 1980s that had
freed the thrifts so that they could self-destruct.

And we are shocked, SHOCKED!, that thieves took over the
financial system.

Nay, they took over the whole economy and the political system
lock, stock, and barrel. They didn’t just blow up finance, they
oversaw the swiftest transfer of wealth to the very top the world
has ever seen.

They screwed workers out of their jobs, they screwed homeowners
out of their houses, they screwed retirees out of their pensions,
and they screwed municipalities out of their revenues and assets.

Financiers are forcing schools, parks, pools, fire departments,
senior citizen centers, and libraries to shut down.

They are forcing national governments to auction off their
cultural heritage to the highest bidder.

Everything must go in firesales at prices rigged by twenty-
something traders at the biggest and most corrupt institutions
the world has ever known.

And since they’ve bought the politicians, the policy-makers,
and the courts, no one will stop it.

Few will even discuss it, since most university administrations
have similarly been bought off—in many cases, the universities
are even headed by corporate “leaders”–and their professors
are on Wall Street’s payrolls.

We’re screwed.

Bill Black joined our department in 2006. At UMKC (and the Levy
Institute) we had long been discussing and analyzing the GFC that
we knew was going to hit, using the approaches of Hyman Minsky
and Wynne Godley.

Bill insisted we were overlooking the most important factor, fraud.

To be more specific, Bill called it control fraud, where top
corporate management runs an institution as a weapon to loot
shareholders and customers to the benefit of top management.

Think Bob Rubin, Hank Paulson, Bernie Madoff, Jamie Dimon and
Jon Corzine.

Long before, I had come across Bill’s name when I wrote about the
S&L scandal, and I had listed fraud as the second most important
cause of that crisis.

While I was open to his argument back in 2006, I could never have
conceived of the scope of Wall Street’s depravity. It is all about
fraud.

As I’ve said, this crisis is like Shrek’s Onion, with fraud in every
layer. There is, quite simply, no part of the financial system that
is not riddled with fraud. The fraud cannot be reduced much less
eliminated.

First, there are no regulators to stop it, and no prosecutors to
punish it. But, far more importantly, fraud is the business model.
Further, even if a financial institution tried to buck the trend it
would fail.

As Bill says, fraud is always the most profitable game in town.
So Gresham’s Law dynamics ensure that fraud is the only game
in town.

As Sherrill said, without regulation, capitalism is thievery. We
stopped regulating the financial system, so thieves took over.

A century ago Veblen analyzed religion as the quintessential
capitalist undertaking.

It sells an inherently ephemeral product that cannt be quality
tested. Most of the value of that product exists only in the
minds of the purchasers, and most of that value cannot be
realized until death.

Dissatisfied customers cannot return the purchased wares
to the undertakers who sold them there is no explicit money
back guarantee and in any event, most of the dissatisfied
have already been undertaken.

The value of the undertaker’s institution is similarly ephemeral,
mostly determined by “goodwill”.

Aside from a fancy building, very little in the way of productive
facilities is actually required by the religious undertaker.

But modern finance has replaced religion as the supreme
capitalistic undertaking.

Again, it has no need for production facilities a fancy building,
a few Bloomberg screens, greasy snake-oil salesmen, and some
rapacious traders is all that is required to separate widows and
orphans from their lifesavings and homes.

Religious institutions only want 10%; Wall Street currently gets 20%
of all the nation’s output (and 40% of profits), but won’t stop until
it gets everything.

There is rarely any recourse for dissatisfied customers of financial
institutions. Few customers understand what it is they are buying
from Wall Street’s undertakers.

The product sold is infinitely more complicated than the Theory
of the Trinity advanced by Theophilus of Antioch in 170 A.D., let
alone the Temple Garments (often called Magic Underwear by
nonbelievers) marketed today.

That makes it so easy to screw customers and to hide fraud
behind complex instruments and deceptive accounting.

A handful of thieves running a modern Wall Street firm can
easily run up $2 trillion in ephemeral assets whose worth
is mostly determined by whatever value the thieves assign
to them.

And that is just the start. They also place tens of trillions of
dollars of bets on derivatives whose value is purely “notional”.

The thieves get paid when something goes wrong the death
of a homeowner, worker, firm, or country triggers payments
on Death Settlements, Peasant Insurance, or Credit Default
Swaps.

To ensure that death comes sooner rather than later, the
undertaker works with the likes of John Paulson to handpick
the most sickly households, firms and governments to stand
behind the derivative bets.

And the value of the Wall Street undertaker’s firm is almost wholly
determined by euphemistically named “goodwill” as if there is any
good will in betting on death.

With these undertakers running the show, it is no wonder that
we are buried under mountains of crushing debt—underwater
mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans,
healthcare debts, and auto-related finance.

Simply listing the kinds of debts we owe makes it clear how far
along the path of financialization we have come: everything is
financialized as Wall Street has its hand in every pot.

Thirty years ago we could still write of a dichotomy industry versus
finance and categorize GE and GM as industrial firms, with Goldman
Sachs as a financial firm.

Those days are gone, with GM requiring a bail-out because of its
financial misdealings (auto production was just a sideline business
used to burden households with debt owed to GMAC, the main
business line), and Goldman Sachs buying up all the grain silos to
run up food prices in a speculative bubble.

Obamacare simply fortifies the Vampire Squid’s control of the
healthcare industry as it inserts its strangling tentacles into
every facet of life.

Food? Financialized. Energy? Financialized. Healthcare?
Financialized. Homes? Financialized. Government? Financialized.
Death? Financialized.

There no longer is a separation of the FIRE (finance, insurance, and
real estate) and the nonFIRE sectors of the economy. It is all FIRE.
Everything is complexly financed.

In the old days a municipal government would sell a twenty year
fixed rate bond to finance a sewage system project.

Now they hire Goldman to create complex interest rate swaps (or
even more complex constant maturity swaps, swaptions, and
snowballs) in which they issue a variable rate municipal bond and
promise to pay the Squid a fixed rate while the Squid pays them a
floating rate linked to LIBOR—which is rigged by the Squid to ensure
the municipality gets screwed.

Oh, and the municipal government pays upfront fees to Goldman
for the sheer joy of getting screwed by Wall Street’s finest.

The top four US Banks hold $171 Trillion worth of derivative deals
like this.

Derivatives are really just bets by Wall Street that we will get
screwed, it is all “insurance” that pays off when we fail.

Everything is insured by them against us. What is healthcare
“insurance”, really?

You turn over your salary to Wall Street in the hope that should you
need healthcare, they will allow your “service provider” to provide
it. But when you need the service, Wall Street will decide whether
it can be provided.

Oh, and Wall Street’s undertakers have also placed a bet that you
will die sooner than you expect, so it wins twice by denying the
coverage.

Finally, US real estate—the RE of the FIRE–underlies the whole kit
and caboodle.

That is the real story behind the GFC: given President Clinton’s
budget surpluses and the simultaneous explosion of private finance,
there simply was not enough safe federal government debt to
collateralize all the risky debt issued by financial institutions to
one another back in the mid 1990s.

Wall Street needed another source of collateral. You see, all the
top financial institutions are dens of thieves, and thieves know
better than to trust one another.

So lending to fellow thieves has to be collateralized by safe
financial assets which is the traditional role played by Treasuries.

But there were not enough of those to go around so Wall Street
securitized home mortgages that were sliced and diced to get
tranches that were supposedly as safe as Uncle Sam’s bonds.

And there were not enough quality mortgages, so Wall Street
foisted mortgages and home equity loans onto riskier borrowers
to create more product.

Never content, in order to suck more profit out of mortgages,
Wall Street created “affordability” products—mortgages with
high fees and exploding interest rates that it knew would go
bad.

Even that was not enough, so the Squids created derivatives of
the securities (collateralized debt obligations—CDOs) and then
derivatives squared and cubed and then we were off and running
straight toward the GFC.

Wall Street bet your house would burn, then lit a firebomb in the
basement.

Mortgages that were designed to go bad would go bad. CDOs that
were designed to fail would fail.

Suddenly there was no collateral behind the loans Wall Street’s
thieves had made to one another.

Each Wall Street thief looked in the mirror and realized everything
he was holding was crap, because he knew all of his own debt was
crap.

Hello Uncle Sam, Uncle Timmy, and Uncle Ben, we’ve got a
problem. Can you spare $29 Trillion to bail us out? And that
is why we are screwed.

I see two scenarios playing out.

In the first, we allow Wall Street to carry on its merry way, as
the foreclosure crisis continues and Wall Street steals all homes,
packaging them into bundles to be sold for pennies on the dollar
to hedge funds.

All wealth will be redistributed to the top 1% who will become
modern day feudal lords with the other 99% living at their pleasure
on huge feudal estates.

You can imagine for yourselves just what you’re going to have
to do to pleasure the lords.

This will take years, maybe even a decade or more, but it is
the long march Wall Street has formulated for us. To be sure,
“formulated” should not be misinterpreted as intention.

No one sat down and planned the creation of Western European
feudalism when Rome collapsed.

To be sure, the modern day feudal lords on Wall Street certainly
conspire to rig LIBOR and muni bond markets, for example and each
one individually wants to take as much as possible from customers
and creditors and stockholders.

But they are not planning and conspiring for the restoration of
feudalism.

Still, that is the default scenario the outcome that will emerge
in the absence of action.

In the second, the 99% occupy, shut down, and obliterate Wall
Street.

Honestly, I have no idea how that can happen. I am waiting for
suggestions.


L. Randall Wray, is a Professor of Economics at the University of
Missouri-Kansas City.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/07/randy-wray-why-were-
screwed.html

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Lesser of Two Evils

It’s All Relative

By Brent Daggett
End The Lie
July 21, 2012

In the classic tome Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, the
slogan of “The Party” is, WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY,
and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

And over the past several years, it seems as though the traditional-
two party system (democrats and republicans) have adopted this
mantra, which, in essence, has allowed the surrendering of much
of our Constitutional rights.

Unless the delegates and unbound delegates for Ron Paul at the
Republican National Convention in August pull off a miracle, it
appears as though former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney
will become the nominee.

So with the aforementioned in mind, let’s take a look at President
Barack Obama’s term and what a Romney presidency might look
like.

Obama’s Tenure

In the article Obama’s Accomplishments, by David Boaz, the
executive vice president of the Cato Institute, which appeared in
the Huffington Post on July 6, Boaz evaluates Obama’s first term.

Here is some of what Boaz addresses.

Most Deportations

While Obama supports the DREAM Act, he has been deporting
about 400,000 illegal immigrants a year.

Most Troops In Afghanistan

In the last year of President Bush’s term, The United States had
approximately 30,000 troops in Afghanistan.

By the end of 2010, President Obama had the number increased
to roughly 100,000.

Currently, there are around 88,000, which this might come as
a shock, given his antiwar stance while campaigning in 2008.

Most Medical Marijuana Raids

Despite how Attorney General Eric Holder in March 2009 said the
Justice Department would end the previous administrations agenda
on raiding medical marijuana distributors, if distributors were in
compliance with state laws (even though state laws violate federal
statutes), no such thing has occurred.

Similarly, attempts in the legislature have been a failure as well.

Lucia Graves reported for The Huffington Post:

“The administration has unleashed an interagency cannabis
crackdown that goes beyond anything seen under the Bush
administration, with more than 100 raids, primarily on California
pot dispensaries, many of them operating in full compliance
with state laws. Since October 2009, the Justice Department has
conducted more than 170 aggressive SWAT-style raids in 9 medical
marijuana states, resulting in at least 61 federal indictments.”

Most Drone Strikes

During Obama’s tenure, the administration has carried out 308
covert drone strikes in Pakistan.

While Boaz put together a decent list, Obama also signed the
extension of the PATRIOT Act, signed the National Defense
Authorization Act (with the indefinite detention provisions) into
law, while his administration also supports the Arms Trade Treaty,
has left Guantanamo Bay open with no signs of closing down soon
and has even ordered raids on establishments selling raw milk.

Lastly, in March, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in front of the
Armed Services Committee basically said we seek international
permission to go to war instead of going to Congress as the U.S.
Constitution demands.

Knowing that Obama has been evaluated, we shall turn our focus
on what a Romney presidency might bring.

Mitt Romney Presidency

First and foremost, we must realize Romney supports the PATRIOT
Act, Guantanamo Bay (and wanted to actually enlarge it when
he was running in 2008), as well as the NDAA (with the indefinite
detention provisions of course) and the so-called War on Terror.

Also, Romney supports the Hyde Amendment, which would end
federal funding of abortions and basically eliminate Planned
Parenthood.

Romney also has advocated for a Federal Marriage Amendment
(which would be a Constitutional Amendment), which would
define marriage as one man and one women.

In regards to Syria, the New York Times reported in May that
Romney supports arming Syrian rebels.

While his stance on civil liberties is really nothing to brag about,
his economic record probably leaves a little bit to be desired.

While Romney’s economic policies have been called into question
by Obama through his television ads, Michael Tomasky of Newsweek
and the Daily Beast compared the two candidates on this issue in
the article, Mitt Romney’s Economic Failure in Massachusetts.

Tomasky points out that by using a method developed by political
scientist Larry Bartels in his work Unequal Democracy, one would
find, “Obama has created a net 3.635 million jobs.

Applying the same rules to Romney’s numbers through the same
time period—that is, through April of his fourth year in office,
2006—we credit Romney with 64,500 jobs.

So he grew jobs by 1.9 percent. Obama’s job-growth rate is 2.35
percent.”

For more of Romney’s flip-flops and unconstitutional stances, I
encourage all to do their own research.

This is one subject where documentation really is not difficult
to find.

Contributors

We should now take a look at some of the main contributors to the
Obama and Romney campaigns for this election cycle, according to
Open Secrets.

Obama’s top contributors include: Microsoft Corp ($387,395),
University of California ($330,258), DLA Piper ($306,727),
Google Inc. ($271,300) and Sidley Austin LLP ($257,296).

Romney’s main supporters include: Goldman Sachs ($593,080),
JPMorgan Chase & Co ($467,089), Bank of America ($425,100)
and Morgan Stanley ($399,850).

Also, it is important to realize Obama’s major donors in the 2008
elections were Goldman Sachs, Microsoft Corp, JP Morgan Chase
& Co, Time Warner and Morgan Stanley.

Do we really want major corporations and bankers determining the
outcome of the election and thus putting more politicians in power
who cater to those institutions?

As Thomas Jefferson once opined:

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our
liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow
private banks to control their currency, first by inflation, then by
deflation, then banks and corporations that will grow up around
[the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their
children wake-up on the continent their fathers conquered. The
issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the
people, to whom it properly belongs.”

The axiom, “the lesser of two evils is still evil” only applies if
relativity is taken out of the equation, since one person’s evil
maybe another person’s alleged savior.

Whether Obama will be reelected or Romney getting a victory
remains uncertain.

But a recent HuffPost Pollster charts and analysis projects
Obama receiving 268 electoral votes with Romney gathering 191.

In an article, appearing in U.S. News and World Report,
“Libertarians Unite: Gary Johnson Courting Ron Paul
Supporters” Johnson said:

“Take as many votes as possible away from the people in both
parties keeping us in a state of perpetual war, increasing
unsustainable debt, record joblessness, and a bipartisan
economic death wish ruining America for 330 million of us.”


http://endthelie.com/2012/07/17/the-lesser-of-two-evils-its-
all-relative/#axzz21GjMKWyD

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

War Is Betrayal

Persistent Myths of Combat

By Chris Hedges
Boston Review
July 18, 2012

We condition the poor and the working class to go to war.

We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We
promise boys they will become men.

We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town
life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages,
lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment.

The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has
for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food
restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die
for war profiteers and elites.

The poor embrace the military because every other cul-de-sac
in their lives breaks their spirit and their dignity.

Pick up Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front or
James Jones’s From Here to Eternity. Read Henry IV. Turn to the
Iliad.

The allure of combat is a trap, a ploy, an old, dirty game
of deception in which the powerful, who do not go to war,
promise a mirage to those who do.

I saw this in my own family. At the age of ten I was given
a scholarship to a top New England boarding school.

I spent my adolescence in the schizophrenic embrace of the
wealthy, on the playing fields and in the dorms and classrooms
that condition boys and girls for privilege, and came back to my
working-class relations in the depressed former mill towns in Maine.

I traveled between two universes: one where everyone got
chance after chance after chance, where connections and
money and influence almost guaranteed that you would not
fail; the other where no one ever got a second try.

I learned at an early age that when the poor fall no one picks
them up, while the rich stumble and trip their way to the top.

Those I knew in prep school did not seek out the military and were
not sought by it. But in the impoverished enclaves of central Maine,
where I had relatives living in trailers, nearly everyone was a
veteran.

My grandfather. My uncles. My cousins. My second cousins. They
were all in the military.

Some of them—including my Uncle Morris, who fought in the
infantry in the South Pacific during World War II—were destroyed
by the war. Uncle Morris drank himself to death in his trailer. He
sold the hunting rifle my grandfather had given to me to buy booze.

He was not alone.

After World War II, thousands of families struggled with broken
men who, because they could never read the approved lines from
the patriotic script, had been discarded. They were not trotted
out for red-white-and-blue love fests on the Fourth of July or
Veterans Day.

The myth of war held fast, despite the deep bitterness of my
grandmother—who acidly denounced what war had done to her
only son—and of others like her. The myth held because it was
all the soldiers and their families had.

Even those who knew it to be a lie—and I think most did—were
loath to give up the fleeting moments of recognition, the only
times in their lives they were told they were worth something.

“For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ‘Chuck him out, the
brute!’” Rudyard Kipling wrote. “But it’s ‘Saviour of ’is country’
when the guns begin to shoot.”

Any story of war is a story of elites preying on the weak, the
gullible, the marginal, the poor.

I do not know of a single member of my graduating prep school
class who went into the military.

You could not say this about the high school class that graduated
the same year in Mechanic Falls, Maine.

• • •

Geoff Millard was born in Buffalo, New York and lived in a
predominately black neighborhood until he was eleven. His
family then moved to Lockport, a nearby white suburb.

He wrestled and played football in high school. He listened to punk
rock. “I didn’t really do well in classes,” he says. “But that didn’t
seem to matter much to my teachers.”

At fifteen he was approached in school by a military recruiter.

“He sat down next to me at a lunch table,” Millard says. “He
was a Marine. I remember the uniform was crisp. All the medals
were shiny. It was what I thought I wanted to be at the time.

“He knew my name,” Millard adds. “He knew what classes I was
taking. He knew more about me than I did. It was freaky, actually.”

Two years later, as a senior, Millard faced graduation after having
been rejected from the only college where he had applied.

“I looked at what jobs I could get,” he says. “I wasn’t really
prepared to do any job. I wasn’t prepared for college. I wasn’t
prepared for the workforce. So I started looking at the military.
I wanted to go active duty Marine Corps, I thought. You know,
they were the best. And that’s what I was going to do."

“There were a lot of other reasons behind it, too,” he says. “I
mean, growing up in this culture you envy that, the soldier.”

His grandfather, in the Army Air Corps in World War II, had died
when he was five. The military honor guard at the funeral had
impressed him. As a teenager, he had watched the burial of his
other grandfather, also with military honors. Millard carried the
folded flag to his grandmother after receiving it from the honor
guard. The pageantry has always been alluring.

“We marched a long time,” Louis-Ferdinand Céline, who fought
in World War I, writes in Journey to the End of the Night:

There were streets and more streets, and they were all crowded
with civilians and their wives, cheering us on, bombarding us with
flowers from café terraces, railroad stations, crowded churches.
You never saw so many patriots in all your life! And then there
were fewer patriots . . . . It started to rain, and then there were
still fewer and fewer, and not a single cheer, not one.

And nearly a century later it is the same.

When Millard told his mother he wanted to be a Marine, she
pleaded with him to consider the National Guard. He agreed
to meet with the Guard recruiter, whose pitch was effective
and simple: “If you come here, you get to blow shit up.”

“I’m seventeen,” Millard says. “I thought being in the military
was the pinnacle of what coolness was. I was just like, oh, I get
to blow up stuff! I signed up right then and there on the spot.
But the interesting thing he didn’t tell me was that the ‘shit’
that he referred to would be kids."

“They don’t teach you when you’re in land mine school that the
overwhelming percentage of victims of land mines are little kids.
Because, like, in the States, a little kid will chase a soccer ball in
the streets. And overseas, a little kid will chase a soccer ball into
a minefield."

"Whether, you know, it happens in Korea or Bosnia or Iraq, kids get
killed all the time by land mines. They get maimed by them. And
that’s just a reality of our military industrial complex. We put out
these mines. We have no concern for what they do.”

Not that this reality intruded on his visions of life in the military
when he began. “I just thought of it like this stuff you see on TV
where cars blow up and stuff like that,” he says.

For Anthony Swofford—author of Jarhead, a memoir about being
a Marine in the first Gulf War—the tipping point came when the
recruiter, who assured him he would be “a fine killer,” told him
he could book a threesome for $40 in Olongapo in the Philippines.

“I’d had sex three times and been the recipient of five blow jobs
and fourteen hand jobs,” he writes. “I was sold.”

But sometimes there’s no need for a recruiting pitch. The culture
does enough to make war, combat, and soldiering appealing.

Ali Aoun was born in Rochester, New York. His father is Lebanese.
His mother is from the Caribbean. He says he wanted to be a soldier
from the age of nine. He was raised watching war films.

But even antiwar films such as Platoon and Full Metal Jacket
celebrate the power and seductiveness of violence. He wanted
this experience as his own. He says no one pushed him into it.

“I enlisted,” he explains. “It was something I always wanted to do,
although I got more than I bargained for. You never really know a
woman until you jump in bed with her."

"It’s just like the Army: you never really know about it until you
enlist. It’s not about defending the country or serving our people.
It’s about working for some rich guy who has his interests.”

• • •

At first Millard liked the National Guard. He was able to enroll in
Niagara County Community College as a business major, where he
signed up for an African American studies class thinking it would be
an easy A.

He read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. He read Howard Zinn’s A
People’s History of the United States. He read Frederick Douglass.
“It was the first time I’d really started to read,” he says.

He was in the African American studies class when the attacks of
9/11 occurred. His wrestling coach came into the room to tell him
he had been activated. He went home. He packed his bags. He
thought about combat.

“I was pissed,” he says. “I was like, they attacked us. I was ready
to go to war.” But he was confused from the start.

“I really wanted to go to war with somebody, because we were
attacked,” he says. “But the one question I couldn’t answer was,
who were we going to go to war with?”

At first he did military funerals. Then he was called up for Iraq. He
was by then a sergeant and was assigned to work in the office of a
general with the 42nd Infantry Division, Rear Operation Center.

He became, in military slang, a REMF—a rear echelon motherfucker.
He was based in Tikrit, where he watched the cynical and cold
manipulation of human life.

He relates the story of a traffic-control mission gone awry when
an eighteen-year-old soldier made a bad decision.

He was sitting atop an armored Humvee monitoring a checkpoint.
An Iraqi car approached, and the soldier, fearing it might be
carrying a suicide bomber, pressed the butterfly trigger on his
.50 caliber machine gun.

He put two hundred rounds into the car in less than a minute,
killing a mother, a father, a four-year-old boy, and a three-year
-old girl.

“They briefed this to the general,” Millard says. “They briefed it
gruesome. I mean, they had pictures. And this colonel turns around
to this full division staff and says: ‘If these fucking Hadjis learned
to drive, this shit wouldn’t happen.’

“If you lift your rifle and you look through the sights and you see
a person, you can’t pull the trigger,” Millard says. “But if you lift
your rifle and you look through the sights and you see a fucking
Hadji, then what’s the difference."

“That’s a lot of what I saw in Iraq,” he says. “These officers,
high-ranking officers, generals, colonels, you know, the
complete disregard. They knew all the stuff that happened."

"They got all the briefings. They knew what happened. And they
either didn’t speak up, they didn’t say anything about it or they
openly condoned it. When Iraqis got killed, to them, it was one
less fucking Hadji around.”

Millard’s thirteen months in Iraq turned him into a passionate
antiwar activist. He is the cofounder of the Washington, D.C.,
chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and served as its
president for three years.

He has taken part in numerous antiwar demonstrations around the
country, was one of the organizers of the Winter Soldier hearings,
returned to Iraq on a humanitarian aid mission in 2011, and now
directs a homeless veterans initiative.

The briefing that Millard and his superiors received after the
checkpoint killing was one of many.

Sergeant Perry Jeffries, who served in the Fourth Infantry Division
in Iraq after being called out of retirement, said the killing of Iraqi
civilians at checkpoints was routine.

“Alpha troop and Balad Ruz shot somebody at least once,” he says,
referring to a troop detachment and to the soldiers manning a
checkpoint in a small Diyala Province village.

“Somebody else on what we called the Burning Oil Checkpoint,
they shot somebody with a .50 cal, shot a guy once, and then
several times.”

Killing becomes a job. You do it. Sometimes it unnerves you.

But the demons usually don’t hit until you come home, when you
are lying alone in bed and you don’t dare to tell your wife or your
girlfriend what you have become, what you saw, what you did, why
you are drinking yourself into a stupor, why you so desperately
want to forget your dreams.

The disillusionment comes swiftly. It is not the war of the movies.
It is not the glory promised by the recruiters.

The mythology fed to you by the church, the press, the school,
the state, and the entertainment industry is exposed as a lie.

We are not a virtuous nation. God has not blessed America. Victory
is not assured. And we can be as evil, even more evil, than those
we oppose.

War is venal, noisy, frightening, and dirty. The military is a vast
bureaucratic machine fueled by hyper-masculine fantasies and
arcane and mind-numbing rules.

War is always about betrayal—betrayal of the young by the old,
of idealists by cynics, and of soldiers and Marines by politicians.

“The biggest misconception about the war is that the soldiers
care about politics,” Jeffries says.

“The right thinks the soldiers want support. They want to feel
good. They want everybody to fly their flag and have a bumper
sticker and go, ‘Rah! Rah! Rah! I support the troops. Yay, thank
you! Thank you! Thank you!"

"The left thinks the soldiers all want to run off and get out of there,
that they’re dying in a living hell. I think that most of the soldiers
are young people that are having a decent adventure.”

But, he goes on, “They may be having a very hard time. They’re
frustrated about the amount of resources they have been
provided—how many hours of sleep they get, how nice their day
is, whether they get to play their PlayStation or read their book
at night or whatever. Like any human, you’d like to have some
more of that.”

Yet, while soldiers don’t want to be forgotten, the support-the-
troops brigade only maintains the mythology of war on the home
front by pretending that we’re actually all in it together, when in
fact it’s overwhelmingly the poor, powerless, and adrift who suffer.

Jeffries has little time for lawn chair warriors:

“I remember hearing that somebody said, ‘Oh, we’re going to have
a barbecue to support the troops.’ I heard about this when I was in
Iraq. I said, how the hell is that going to support me? It’s not doing
anything. Don’t drink beer. Send me the beer. It’s not doing me any
good to have you drink it. I still don’t like the yellow ribbons.”

It is no surprise that soldiers sometimes come to despise civilians
who chant patriotic mantras.

Those soldiers may not be fans of the remote and rarely seen senior
officers who build their careers on the corpses of others, including
comrades, either.

But to oppose the machine and risk being cast out of the magic
circle of comradeship can be fatal.

Fellow soldiers are the only people who understand the
psychological torment of killing and being shot at, of
learning to not think at all and instead be led as a herd
of animals.

Those ostracized in war have a hard time surviving, mentally
and physically, so most service members say and do nothing to
impede the madness and the killing.

Jessica Goodell came to understand that torment only too well, as
she relates in her 2011 memoir Shade it Black: Death and After in
Iraq.

Goodell wasn’t poor. She grew up in a middle-class home near
Chautauqua Lake in upstate New York. Her father was a lawyer,
and her mother worked at home.

But her “universe fractured” when she was sixteen and her parents
divorced. She could barely continue “the motions of everyday
existence.”

She was accepted at Ithaca College her senior year, but just before
graduation a uniformed Marine came to her high school. He told her
he had come to find “tough men.”

“What about tough women?” she asked.

By that afternoon she was in the Marine recruiting office. She
told the recruiter she wanted to be part of a tank crew but
was informed that women were prohibited from operating tanks.

She saw a picture of a Marine standing next to a vehicle with a huge
hydraulic arm and two smaller forklift arms. She signed up to be a
heavy equipment mechanic, although she knew nothing about it.

Three years later, while stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground
Combat Center in the desert town of Twentynine Palms, California,
she volunteered to serve in the Marine Corps’ first official Mortuary
Affairs unit, at Al Taqaddum Airbase in Iraq.

Her job, for eight months, was to “process” dead Marines—collect
and catalog their bodies and personal effects. She put the remains
in body bags and placed the bags in metal boxes.

Before being shipped to Dover Air Force Base, the boxes were
stored, often for days, in a refrigerated unit known as a “reefer.”

Her unit processed six suicides. The suicide notes, she told me
in an interview, almost always cited hazing.

Marines who were overweight or unable to do the physical training
were subjected to withering verbal and physical abuse. They were
called “fat nasties” and “shit bags.”

They were assigned to other Marines as slaves. Many were forced
to run until they vomited or to bear-crawl—walk on all fours—the
length of a football field and back.

This would be followed by sets of monkey fuckers—bending down,
grabbing the ankles, crouching like a baseball catcher, and then
standing up again—and other exercises that went on until the
Marines collapsed.

Goodell’s unit was sent to collect the bodies of the Marines who
killed themselves.

They usually blew their faces off with assault rifles in port-a-johns
or in the corners of abandoned bunkers or buildings. She and the
other members of the Mortuary Affairs unit would have to scrape
the flesh and brain tissue from the walls.

Goodell fell into depression when she returned home. She
abused drugs and alcohol. And she watched the slow descent
of her comrades as they too tried to blunt the pain with
narcotics and self-destructive behavior.

She details many of her experiences in Shade It Black, a term that
refers to the missing body parts of dead Marines, which she colored
black on diagrams of the corpses.

In a poignant passage, she talks about what it was like for her and a
fellow Marine named Miguel to come home and see all those yellow
ribbons:

We’d frequently pass vehicles displaying the yellow ribbon ‘support-
our-troops decal,’ but we never once mentioned it. We probably
passed a hundred or more decals—two hundred if you count the
multiple decals decorating the cars of the more patriotic
motorists—and yet neither of us even once said, ‘Look, more
support from the citizenry. Let’s give the ‘thumbs up’ as we
pass.’ . . . I knew that these people on their way to work or home
or dinner had no idea what it was they were supporting. They did
not have a clue as to what war was like, what it made people see,
and what it made them do to each other. I felt as though I didn’t
deserve their support, or anyone’s, for what I had done. . . . No
one should ever support the people who do such things.

Stateside “support” not only reflects the myths of war, but it also
forces Goodell and her comrades to suppress their own experiences:

Here we were, leaving the ribbons behind us as we sped up on
our way to Hell, probably, where we would pay for the sins
these magnetic decals endorsed. There was an irony of sorts
shaping the dynamic between our ribbon decal supporters and us.
They were uninformed but good people, the kind whose respect we
would welcome—if it were based upon something true. It was when
we were around them that we had to hide the actual truth most
consciously.

• • •

Those who return to speak this truth, like Goodell or Millard, are
our contemporary prophets.

They struggle, in a culture awash in lies, to tell what few have
the fortitude to digest. The words these prophets speak are painful.

As a nation we prefer to listen to those who speak from
the patriotic script. We prefer to hear ourselves exalted.

If veterans speak of terrible wounds visible and invisible, of lies
told to make them kill, of evil committed in our name, we fill
our ears with wax.

Not our boys and girls, we say, not them, bred in our homes,
endowed with goodness and decency. For if it is easy for them
to murder, what about us?

It is simpler and more comfortable not to hear, to wish only that
they would calm down, be reasonable, get some help, and go away.

We brand our prophets as madmen. We cast them into the desert.

This is why so many veterans are estranged and enraged. This is
why so many succumb to suicide or addictions.

Not long ago Goodell received a text message from a Marine she
had worked with in Mortuary Affairs after he tried to commit
suicide.

“I’ve got $2,000 in the bank,” the message read. “Let’s meet in
NYC and go out with a bang.”

War comes wrapped in patriotic slogans; calls for sacrifice, honor,
and heroism; and promises of glory.

It comes wrapped in the claims of divine providence. It is what a
grateful nation asks of its children. It is what is right and just. It is
waged to make the nation and the world a better place, to cleanse
evil.

War is touted as the ultimate test of manhood, where the young
can find out what they are made of. From a distance it seems
noble.

It gives us comrades and power and a chance to play a bit part in
the great drama of history.

It promises to give us identities as warriors, patriots, as long as we
go along with the myth, the one the war-makers need to wage wars
and the defense contractors need to increase their profits.

But up close war is a soulless void.

War is about barbarity, perversion, and pain. Human decency and
tenderness are crushed, and people become objects to use or kill.

The noise, the stench, the fear, the scenes of eviscerated bodies
and bloated corpses, the cries of the wounded all combine to spin
those in combat into another universe.

In this moral void, naïvely blessed by secular and religious
institutions at home, the hypocrisy of our social conventions,
our strict adherence to moral precepts, becomes stark.

War, for all its horror, has the power to strip away the trivial
and the banal, the empty chatter and foolish obsessions that
fill our days.

It might let us see, although the cost is tremendous.


Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who has worked
for The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor, and
he is author of The Death of the Liberal Class.

http://www.bostonreview.net/BR37.4/chris_hedges_war_soldiers_
army_military_suicides_ptsd.php

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Absurdity Rules the World

Absurdity Rules the World

By Siv O'Neall
The Smirking Chimp
July 14, 2012

The absurdity of the world today is so blinding that we can barely
see through the fog to discern what went so wrong.

Plans had been spun for years in the dark underground caves by the
enemies of man. The Neoconservatives had it all planned, but one
factor was missing.

Propaganda had already been working its insidious misinformation.
The mass media were already more than willing to play the game
of Big Money.

Americans were thoroughly indoctrinated to toe the line of Big
Power. Respect for power and blind obedience were the result
of the U.S. educational system.

“I pledge obedience to the flag of the United states of America …”
Millions and millions of yes-men had been molded out of the clay
of propaganda and history books.

Yes, the Neoconservatives had it all in hand. Ronald Reagan
had taken the first big step to load the dice.

Anybody with a conscience was now going to be deprived of any
realistic means of resetting the scales to a just balance. This was
the beginning of the policy of ‘starving the beast’.

The little people had no say. Only Big Money weighed heavily
enough to tip the balance.

Bill Clinton continued in the steps of his predecessors and
the famous climbing ladder, supposed to be available to all
Americans, has become more and more of an illusion.

But the real introduction of lawlessness and the total contempt
for the needs of the masses, that were soon to follow, were still
only in the sick minds of the Neocon cavemen.

In order to carry out their destructive projects, one factor was
standing in their way. The people might become a powerful force
against their openly unconstitutional planned take-over.

Could even the Supreme Court be relied on to take the side of
the Neocon monsters?

The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) may well have
as its goal the promotion of American global leadership, but would
the end justify the means?

Could this little clique of psychopaths do their deeds and clear
the hurdles that were still in clear view?

The Path To World Domination Is Made Possible

September 11 made it all possible. Whatever really happened on
that fateful day will probably never be known to the public, even
though theories abound.

But what we do know is that mass hysteria was awakened in the
American people and the surgeons could now come in and chop
away at human rights, spread fear instead of showing a reasonable
calm, and all this without being hampered by any humanitarian
considerations.

The homeland had been attacked. All means were from now on
considered legal.

The cheerleaders were in full swing, flags were waving all over
America the beautiful.

National pride was steered towards revenge with an unstoppable
force, constantly nurtured by radio, television and bumper-sticker
propaganda.

Patriotism had its field day and barely any questions were asked.

The tiny clique of cavemen made preposterous statements,
unsupported by any real facts and the citizens lapped it up
blindly, without the slightest attempt at verifying the truth
of the accusations. Mass hysteria snowballed.

A country was pointed out as being behind this incomparably
heinous deed. It made absolutely no sense whatsoever, but
people didn’t pay any attention.

The propaganda channels were screaming:

“Never in the history of mankind has a deed been wrought
that was more evil, more undeserved, more incomprehensible.
What do they have against us? There’s absolutely nothing in
the world that we have done that would deserve an attack like
this one.”

The rah-rah chorus got louder and louder.

“Our country, the most civilized, the most moral and the most
powerful country in the world has been attacked by an evil
country. How did they dare?”

The patriotic screams covered over any voice that dared point
out that the entire show didn’t make any sense.

The Big Invention – The War On Terror

Now the doors were open for the United States of America to
put their underground plans into action.

From that day on, any lies were accepted without so much as a
question as to the logic and credibility of the claims brazenly made.

The U.S. President became an ever more powerful actor on the
world stage.

He could wage wars that were not wars. He could kill civilians who
were not civilians. He could initiate invasions of nations that were
not invasions.

Up was down and down was up. Sense and logic had given up the
stage to hysteria and illusions. Non-sense is the rule of the day.

How was this possible?

Because of an attack on two skyscrapers that collapsed like sand
castles because two airplanes flew into them and a third one that
did so without anything hitting it?

No, that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t quite that simple. They had to invent a War On Terror.

Never was a shrewder invention made in human history. Everybody
who opposes our holy war on terror is a terrorist. Et voilà. As simple
as that.

The fear and pride in their country made Americans blind to what
was really going on in the aggressive U.S. politics.

Countries were invaded and torn apart, hundreds of thousands of
civilians were killed, lost their homes, were made to flee their
countries.

Families were disunited, parents were searching for their children,
children were crying for their lost parents.

The horror that spread through the world was hidden from the
American people due to the corruption of the mass media.

What they saw on their television screens was theater à la carte.
What they heard and read was that the United States was saving
the world from tyranny and introducing freedom and democracy.

The overall purpose of the PNAC people, the Neoconservatives,
is to control the planet. At whatever cost.

Cost in human lives, cost in destruction of the environment, cost
in the destruction of other people’s cultures. Millennia of traditions
are of no importance.

To this end slogans are made up that fit their goal.

Muslims are terrorists. Everybody who is against the War on Terror
and Washington’s all-means-justify-the-end principle is a terrorist
and should be sent to lifelong imprisonment or killed outright.

Drug traffic is evil, unless it’s run by the United States. U.S military
are all good people and are justified in doing whatever they are
doing. Except for a few bad apples, of course.

Whatever country does not cooperate fully with the United States
is corrupt and should be made to see the light. See Libya. See Syria.
See Iran. And first of all there was of course Afghanistan and Iraq.

Any country which has valuable resources that they don’t willingly
turn over to U.S.-centered corporations must be taught to rethink
their policies. Or they will become the victims of Invasions and
ghastly killing sprees.

Washington's Sore Toe

Latin America was once considered the U.S. backyard and it is
against nature itself that those countries now have the gall to
run their own business. So Paraguay happens. So Mexico happens.

How long will they be able to run business in Colombia? When will
the freedom fighters (the ‘terrorists’ of course) manage to stop the
corrupt and deadly U.S. influence over the running of this nation?

When will the other September 11 be repeated, the one in
Santiago, Chile, in 1973, when Salvador Allende was killed
and a murderous dictatorship installed?

Oh yes, the neoliberalism of Milton Friedman and the Chicago boys
dates back much farther than to the Neoconservative fanatics.

A coup was tried again in April of 2002, this time against Hugo
Chávez, but the rage of the people made this coup a miserable
failure. Chávez was reinstalled after two days of rightist brainless
celebrations.

If the mass media had done their job, the power behind the coup,
that is the United States, would have become a worldwide laughingstock.

Caring For The People Is Communist-Inspired Soft-Headed Nonsense

Socialism is for the weak of heart, and a strong nation doesn’t need
nationalized enterprise.

Private ownership is what makes for progress and private profit is
what makes the world go round. Real men are capitalists.

The people are of no importance. They are all collateral damage.

Who needs the local store owner? Who needs the industrial worker
since labor is so much cheaper elsewhere.

Who needs the small farmer since agribusiness is so much more
profitable to the corporations?

The United States is busy wielding its secret power in any country
that becomes a threat to the Empire – any country that might
possibly be won over to democracy in a popular uprising.

Egypt looked at first like a promise to the world of freedom, but
there is not a chance that a new regime will ever heed the voice of
the people who fought so bravely in Tahrir Square over a year ago.

The military and the Muslim Brotherhood will no doubt do whatever
Washington tells them to do.

Libya was callously and stealthily destroyed. Tripoli and much of
the rest of the country was bombed to smithereens. And what had
Qaddafi made himself guilty of?

Making Libya the richest country in Africa after its having been
the poorest.

But he threatened to nationalize the oil and gas and that is strictly
verboten if the U.S. can have a say. And they made sure they did.

Qaddafi had to go since Libya is essential for U.S. control over
the Middle East.

And then comes Syria, an increasingly bloody mess, waiting
for its turn to be submitted to the same destiny.

And who is in collusion with Washington in all this western
imperialism? NATO, of course.

The EU with all its puppets called Barroso, Christine Lagarde (IMF),
Cameron, Sarkozy/Hollande (in spite of Hollande’s empty talk of
ending austerity measures), Merkel, who might well be the one
honest president in Europe, since she seems to be acting for
Germany more than for the Empire.

But Washington is the preserver of freedom and democracy in the
world and no country is as free or has the moral rectitude of the
United States.

Follow the example of Washington and all will be well.

We will all be little Americans and we will all be eating big Macs
at MacDonald’s and buying our T-shirts at Walmart’s.

The way the Empire runs its mission of saving the world is by
ignoring any humanitarian needs at home or abroad.

The standard of living is steadily going down in the Western world.

Who cares?

People are dying by the hundreds of thousands all over the world
and in particular in the countries that have become the special
targets for Washington since they are considered essential for U.S.
absolute global domination.

The corporations are getting together to make the poor farmers
in Africa a mass of starving slaves of Big Money, the victims of
the monstrous proceedings of the totally immoral corporate agribusiness.

The Absurd World

We are living in a theater of the absurd. Our world has been
emptied of all real meaning.

The substitute for real living is accumulating – whatever. Mainly
money, of course. Or things. Anything.

In the absence of money, we accumulate debt.

Our reason for living has become adding one gadget to another, or
one million to another, and then, finally, sitting on top of a tower
of failed hopes and ambitions.

Communication is getting limited to incessant blabber on our
mobile phones to say – nothing.

People have let their own hearts and minds go stale and they are
now only occupied with a semblance of communication which has
become an obsession without any meaning.

With no ideals, no goals in life, what are we going to become?

Empty vessels of hate and fear, exactly the robots that the
monsters in power were planning on.

Politics have become entertainment, another soap opera to
distract the masses.

There is no sense in participating in the election game since all
elections are rigged in advance.

The stage is set for the Corporations to run the planet Earth into
the ultimate abyss.

Have people even noticed that democracy is dead?

Conclusion

The predator hawks are flying across the skies, swooping down to
attack wherever there is a vague sign of populism, combined with
resources of any kind that can be turned into money.

All this is made possible in the thick fog spread over the world
by the War On Terror. Anything goes.

People are totally ignorant of how the Corpocrats are busy
destroying their lives and the environment.

The blind and deaf people, the propaganda victims, are the
perfect, easily manipulated human robots that the Neocons
were depending on for their total success.

Unless we can relearn to use our brains and our critical sense, our
ability to see the reality through the fog of fear and indolence,
not only will we ourselves be done away with through the gradual
‘starving of the beast’, but the whole planet will be made a sterile
desert.

At the end of the day the predators will be found begging for the
crumbs of food left over from the few self-supporting farmers who
managed to withstand the corporate predators.


Siv O'Neall was born and raised in Sweden where she graduated
from Lund University. She retired after many years of teaching
French in Westchester, N.Y. and English in the Grandes Ecoles
(Institutes of Technology) in France.

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/siv-oneall/44320/absurdity
-rules-the-world

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How to Think

How to Think

By Chris Hedges
Truth Dig
July 11, 2012

Cultures that endure carve out a protected space for those who
question and challenge national myths.

Artists, writers, poets, activists, journalists, philosophers, dancers,
musicians, actors, directors and renegades must be tolerated if a
culture is to be pulled back from disaster.

Members of this intellectual and artistic class, who are usually not
welcome in the stultifying halls of academia where mediocrity is
triumphant, serve as prophets.

They are dismissed, or labeled by the power elites as subversive,
because they do not embrace collective self-worship.

They force us to confront unexamined assumptions, ones that, if
not challenged, lead to destruction.

They expose the ruling elites as hollow and corrupt.

They articulate the senselessness of a system built on the ideology
of endless growth, ceaseless exploitation and constant expansion.

They warn us about the poison of careerism and the futility
of the search for happiness in the accumulation of wealth.

They make us face ourselves, from the bitter reality of slavery
and Jim Crow to the genocidal slaughter of Native Americans
to the repression of working-class movements to the atrocities
carried out in imperial wars to the assault on the ecosystem.

They make us unsure of our virtue.

They challenge the easy clichés we use to describe the nation—
the land of the free, the greatest country on earth, the beacon
of liberty—to expose our darkness, crimes and ignorance.

They offer the possibility of a life of meaning and the capacity
for transformation.

Human societies see what they want to see.

They create national myths of identity out of a composite of
historical events and fantasy.

They ignore unpleasant facts that intrude on self-glorification.

They trust naively in the notion of linear progress and in assured
national dominance.

This is what nationalism is about—lies.

And if a culture loses its ability for thought and expression, if
it effectively silences dissident voices, if it retreats into what
Sigmund Freud called “screen memories,” those reassuring
mixtures of fact and fiction, it dies.

It surrenders its internal mechanism for puncturing self-delusion.

It makes war on beauty and truth. It abolishes the sacred. It turns
education into vocational training. It leaves us blind. And this is
what has occurred. We are lost at sea in a great tempest.

We do not know where we are. We do not know where we are
going. And we do not know what is about to happen to us.

The psychoanalyst John Steiner calls this phenomenon “turning a
blind eye.”

He notes that often we have access to adequate knowledge but
because it is unpleasant and disconcerting we choose unconsciously,
and sometimes consciously, to ignore it.

He uses the Oedipus story to make his point.

He argued that Oedipus, Jocasta, Creon and the “blind” Tiresias
grasped the truth, that Oedipus had killed his father and married
his mother as prophesized, but they colluded to ignore it.

We too, Steiner wrote, turn a blind eye to the dangers that
confront us, despite the plethora of evidence that if we do
not radically reconfigure our relationships to each other and
the natural world, catastrophe is assured.

Steiner describes a psychological truth that is deeply frightening.

I saw this collective capacity for self-delusion among the urban
elites in Sarajevo and later Pristina during the wars in Bosnia and
Kosovo.

These educated elites steadfastly refused to believe that war was
possible although acts of violence by competing armed bands had
already begun to tear at the social fabric.

At night you could hear gunfire. But they were the last to “know.”
And we are equally self-deluded.

The physical evidence of national decay—the crumbling
infrastructures, the abandoned factories and other workplaces, the
rows of gutted warehouses, the closure of libraries, schools, fire
stations and post offices—that we physically see, is, in fact, unseen.

The rapid and terrifying deterioration of the ecosystem, evidenced
in soaring temperatures, droughts, floods, crop destruction, freak
storms, melting ice caps and rising sea levels, are met blankly with
Steiner’s “blind eye.”

Oedipus, at the end of Sophocles’ play, cuts out his eyes and
with his daughter Antigone as a guide wanders the countryside.

Once king, he becomes a stranger in a strange country. He dies,
in Antigone’s words, “in a foreign land, but one he yearned for.”

William Shakespeare in “King Lear” plays on the same theme of
sight and sightlessness. Those with eyes in “King Lear” are unable
to see.

Gloucester, whose eyes are gouged out, finds in his blindness a
revealed truth.

“I have no way, and therefore want no eyes,” Gloucester says
after he is blinded. “I stumbled when I saw.”

When Lear banishes his only loyal daughter, Cordelia, whom he
accuses of not loving him enough, he shouts: “Out of my sight!”

To which Kent replies: "See better, Lear, and let me still remain
The true blank of thine eye."

The story of Lear, like the story of Oedipus, is about the attainment
of this inner vision. It is about morality and intellect that are
blinded by empiricism and sight.

It is about understanding that the human imagination is, as William
Blake saw, our manifestation of Eternity. “Love without imagination
is eternal death.”

The Shakespearean scholar Harold Goddard wrote:

“The imagination is not a faculty for the creation of illusion; it is
the faculty by which alone man apprehends reality."

The ‘illusion’ turns out to be truth.” “Let faith oust fact,” Starbuck
says in “Moby-Dick.”

“It is only our absurd ‘scientific’ prejudice that reality must be
physical and rational that blinds us to the truth,” Goddard warned.

There are, as Shakespeare wrote, “things invisible to mortal sight.”

But these things are not vocational or factual or empirical. They
are not found in national myths of glory and power.

They are not attained by force. They do not come through cognition
or logical reasoning. They are intangible.

They are the realities of beauty, grief, love, the search for
meaning, the struggle to face our own mortality and the ability
to face truth.

And cultures that disregard these forces of imagination commit
suicide. They cannot see.

“How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,” Shakespeare wrote,
“Whose action is no stronger than a flower?”

Human imagination, the capacity to have vision, to build a life
of meaning rather than utilitarianism, is as delicate as a flower.

And if it is crushed, if a Shakespeare or a Sophocles is no longer
deemed useful in the empirical world of business, careerism and
corporate power, if universities think a Milton Friedman or a
Friedrich Hayek is more important to its students than a Virginia
Woolf or an Anton Chekhov, then we become barbarians.

We assure our own extinction.

Students who are denied the wisdom of the great oracles of human
civilization—visionaries who urge us not to worship ourselves,
not to kneel before the base human emotion of greed—cannot be
educated. They cannot think.

To think, we must, as Epicurus understood, “live in hiding.”

We must build walls to keep out the cant and noise of the crowd.

We must retreat into a print-based culture where ideas are
not deformed into sound bites and thought-terminating clichés.

Thinking is, as Hannah Arendt wrote, “a soundless dialogue
between me and myself.”

But thinking, she wrote, always presupposes the human condition
of plurality. It has no utilitarian function. It is not an end or an aim
outside of itself.

It is different from logical reasoning, which is focused on a finite
and identifiable goal.

Logical reason, acts of cognition, serve the efficiency of a system,
including corporate power, which is usually morally neutral at best,
and often evil.

The inability to think, Arendt wrote, “is not a failing of the
many who lack brain power but an ever-present possibility for
everybody—scientists, scholars, and other specialists in mental
enterprises not excluded.”

Our corporate culture has effectively severed us from human
imagination.

Our electronic devices intrude deeper and deeper into spaces
that were once reserved for solitude, reflection and privacy.

Our airwaves are filled with the tawdry and the absurd.

Our systems of education and communication scorn the
disciplines that allow us to see.

We celebrate prosaic vocational skills and the ridiculous
requirements of standardized tests.

We have tossed those who think, including many teachers of the
humanities, into a wilderness where they cannot find employment,
remuneration or a voice.

We follow the blind over the cliff. We make war on ourselves.

The vital importance of thought, Arendt wrote, is apparent only
“in times of transition when men no longer rely on the stability
of the world and their role in it, and when the question concerning
the general conditions of human life, which as such are properly
coeval with the appearance of man on earth, gain an uncommon
poignancy.”

We never need our thinkers and artists more than in times of
crisis, as Arendt reminds us, for they provide the subversive
narratives that allow us to chart a new course, one that can
assure our survival.

“What must I do to win salvation?” Dimitri asks Starov in “The
Brothers Karamazov,” to which Starov answers: “Above all else,
never lie to yourself.”

And here is the dilemma we face as a civilization.

We march collectively toward self-annihilation. Corporate
capitalism, if left unchecked, will kill us.

Yet we refuse, because we cannot think and no longer listen
to those who do think, to see what is about to happen to us.

We have created entertaining mechanisms to obscure and
silence the harsh truths, from climate change to the
collapse of globalization to our enslavement to corporate
power, that will mean our self-destruction.

If we can do nothing else we must, even as individuals, nurture
the private dialogue and the solitude that make thought possible.

It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country,
than an outcast from one’s self.

It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than
to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.


http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/how_to_think_20120709/?ln

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Angry Americans

The Occupy Movement and The Tea Party have some common
targets

By Luigi Zingales
Juneau Empire
July 09, 2012

In the presidential race, it’s striking to note that the Republican
and Democratic candidates’ campaigns contain only vague echoes
of the two significant popular movements of the last few years:
the "Tea Party" and Occupy Wall Street.

In an attempt to tap some of the political momentum behind these
movements, each party has pushed the idea most amenable to its
base: the tea party’s anti-tax stand for Republicans; Occupy’s soak-
the-rich attitude for Democrats.

Yet both parties ignore what unites the two movements: their
fundamentally anti-elite, anti-establishment attitude.

The tea party and the Occupy movement both arose in response
to pervasive frustration. As we’ve grown accustomed to hearing
in recent years, Americans are angry.

They’re angry at bankers, who helped cause the financial crisis
but paid no price for it.

They’re angry at Washington, which blamed the bankers but
deserved as much blame, if not more, for failing to rein them in.

And they’re angry at an economy that seems to enrich the wealthy
while leaving most everyone else standing still or falling behind.

This anger manifests itself in a strong anti-elite bias and a
determination to resist an oppressive leviathan though the
monster takes different forms in the two movements.

For the Tea Party, it’s the federal government in Washington;
for Occupy, it’s bailout-addicted big business.

The difference is more apparent than real.

The problem is not big business per se but monopolistic and
politically powerful business. It is not government per se but
intrusive and corrupt government.

Is Fannie Mae inefficient, for example, because it is a large
monopolistic company or because it is a state-sponsored
enterprise? The answer is both.

Does the blame lie with the government or with the private
sector? Neither.

Their failures are the result of an increasingly corrupt system
of crony capitalism, in which businesses succeed not through
competitive merit but through government connections and
favoritism such as tax breaks, subsidies and other preferential
treatment.

For many people, the way big banks escaped the financial crisis
with their profits intact (and often enhanced) epitomized American
-style crony capitalism.

Neither party has had the courage to confront it, for fear of losing
campaign contributions and political power.

What would meaningful reform entail?

The first step would be an elimination of all tax deductions
and loopholes. Many of them have some justification, but
their existence creates the incentive to lobby for more.

Because cronyism thrives in opacity and complexity, the second
step would be to require that new regulations be so simple that
even members of Congress could understand them.

In a perfect world, legislators should be required to take a test
on the content of a law before they can vote for it.

This requirement would promote more competent representatives,
and it would also produce simpler legislation more sensitive to
people’s needs and not to the wishes of politically powerful
corporations, which hire armies of lobbyists to distort laws in
their favor.

What is also needed and has been shown to work is for every piece
of legislation to contain a metric against which its effectiveness
could be measured, so that any regulation that doesn’t achieve
the stated objective can be abolished.

To prevent undue influence on the political process, lobbying
and campaign contributions should be taxed progressively.

I’m not a legal scholar, but as freedom of enterprise doesn’t
prevent taxes on business, why should the 1st Amendment
prevent taxes on lobbying?

The battle against crony capitalism is foremost a battle against
anti-competitive, monopolistic corporations.

Antitrust regulation should thus be extended to the political
consequences of mergers.

When companies become disproportionately big, they become
disproportionately powerful, and as we have seen, their influence
distorts the political system.

In no sector is this truer than in finance, where consolidation
has made banks “too big to fail” and too powerful to combat.

A reinstitution of the separation between commercial and
investment banking, along the lines of the old Glass-Steagall
Act (repealed in 1999), would help contain this excessive power.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the patriots who threw English tea
into Boston Harbor in 1773 were not revolting against higher taxes
(the Tea Act, in fact, lowered the price of tea legally imported in
America) but against the privileges granted to the British East India
Co.

The American Revolution was a battle for political rights, but
it was also a battle for economic freedom and against an 18th
century form of crony capitalism.

Corrupt arrangements of this kind have unfortunately endured
to the present day, and their abuses finally sparked protest
movements from the right and the left.

The two political parties ignore these movements at their peril.


Luigi Zingales is a professor at the University of Chicago Booth
School of Business and a contributing editor to City Journal.

http://juneauempire.com/opinion/2012-07-08/angry-americans-
occupy-movement-and-tea-party-have-some-common-targets#.T_
s74Bd8Bq0