10/31/10

The Fit Doesn't Suit Me

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Is this the object of consciousness? He addressed the assembly. We're gathered here to hunt the fallacy in reason.

How many belches make a gut response? Have you noticed how well one works to justify failure? You can see by the fit doesn't suit me.

Economic Crisis: "What We Need Is War" [Targeting Iran]

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Observing the continuing economic crisis, Washington Post columnist David Broder asks Can Obama harness the forces that might spur new growth?
The answer is obvious, but its implications are frightening. War and peace influence the economy.

Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.

Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs.

This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.
Dean Baker corrects Broder on the basic economics, noting that “War affects the economy the same way that other government spending affects the economy”:
If spending on war can provide jobs and lift the economy then so can spending on roads, weatherizing homes, or educating our kids.

Yes, that’s right, all the forms of stimulus spending that Broder derided so much because they add to the deficit will increase GDP and generate jobs just like the war that Broder is advocating (which will also add to the deficit).
Leaving aside the ridiculous idea that we can just ramp up the war machine, whip America into an anti-Iran frenzy and then shut it all down once the economy’s back on track, there’s the question of basic human decency.

Especially in light of what has just occurred in Iraq, what kind of moral degenerate seriously suggests we get ready to do it again in neighboring Iran, just as a way to spur job growth?

The kind who writes a regular column in the Washington Post, apparently.

Afghanistan: It Costs the US $50m to Kill One Taliban Guerrilla

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Michael Nasuti of Kabul Press recently published an article in which he calculated that killing each Taliban soldier in Afghanistan costs on average of $50 million to the US.

The article, carefully researched with all assumptions laid out so that anyone can examine them, is well worth reading. Nasuti, Killing Each Taliban Soldier Costs $50 million.

He points out that at this rate, killing the entire Taliban forces (only 35,000) would cost $1.7 trillion.

Not a small amount for a country suffering from a severe economic downturn to spend on a war with no apparent purpose.

Nasuti's number, of course, assumes that they coud not be replaced faster than they are killed, but it appears that they can, easily.

Nasuti, who actually uses a "conservative" number (assuming that he has undercounted the number of Taliban casualties by one half), states that he had previously served "at a senior level" in the United States Air Force. He says:

"The Pentagon won't tell the public what it costs to locate, target and kill a single Taliban soldier because the price-tag is so scandalously high that it makes the Taliban appear to be Super-Soldiers.

"The estimated cost to kill one guerrilla is as high as $100 million, with a conservative estimate being $50 million.

"The reason for these exorbitant costs is that United States has the world’s most mechanized, computerized, weaponized and synchronized military, not to mention the most pampered (at least at Forward Operating Bases).

"An estimated 150,000 civilian contractors support, protect, feed and cater to the American personnel in Afghanistan . . . The ponderous American war machine is a logistics nightmare and a maintenance train wreck."

The Taliban’s best ally within the United States may be the Pentagon, whose contempt for fiscal responsibility and accountability may force a premature U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as the Americans cannot continue to fund these Pentagon excesses.

Is Obama a Closet Republican?

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With consummate cynicism, Obama has attacked the Republicans as tools of Wall Street, focusing on their demand to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich.

He has the nerve to claim this as top administration officials have sent feelers for a compromise to allow most, if not all, of the wealthy to retain their tax windfalls.

White House aides have given interviews appealing for the Republicans to join with the administration after the election to cut social spending and raise taxes on consumption.

At the University of Minnesota on Saturday, Obama denounced the Republicans for cutting taxes “mostly for millionaires and billionaires.”

Almost simultaneously, Vice Biden in an interview on Bloomberg TV was offering to raise the threshold for tax cuts from $200,000 a year to an unstated figure. Some Democrats are proposing making the cutoff $1 million in annual income.

There are indications that Obama would welcome a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives and a reduced Democratic majority in the Senate.

He has conspicuously campaigned in the run-up to the vote exclusively for Democrats locked in tight Senate and gubernatorial races, not for threatened Democrats in the House.

A divided Congress with greater Republican strength would provide a pretext for dropping even small-scale stimulus measures, and give the administration political cover for ending extended benefits for the long-term unemployed.

The French Revolt: "Diagnosis of the Future"

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It was not May '68 remix. But in the end, micro-Napoleonic former casual populist French President Nicolas Sarkozy got his May 68 - he of all people who always derided the "poisonous" heritage" of that time.

He may be destined for the dustbin of history as a one-term fiasco, now that he is the most unpopular (71% disapproval rate) French president since Charles de Gaulle in 1968.

As for Sarko's master plan of betting on conflict and confrontation - against the working class, against young people - to scare the French right and the extreme right back to his fold, it will fail.

Where's the late, great Herbert Marcuse when you need him?

Marcuse defined '68 as a total protest against specific wrongs, and at the same time a protest against a complete system of values, a protest against the society of the one-dimensional man.

France has not lived through four revolutions in 100 years for nothing.

As Sarko configured himself as a neo-emperor of social regression, a president of the wealthy and the "social state" for the rich.

Inevitably millions of French men and women would have to vent their colere (anger) in the streets - complete with high-school students marching in defense of old people's rights.

Marcuse would tell us today that - as much as May '68 - the French October 2010, in its refusal of the misery, normality, violence and lack of democracy of turbo-charged capitalism, was a "diagnosis of the future".

As much as May '68 was a - hopeful - critique of "solid" capitalism, October 2010 is a critique of the worst of Zygmunt Bauman-defined liquid modernity. No perspectives. No hope. Instead of "we want the world, and we want it now", it's "please, world, give us a break".

We Need to Be Liberated from the Capitalist Yoke

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Under capitalism there's a fundamental, irresolvable antagonism of interests between workers and capitalists, between those who work and those who don't.

We need to build a system that best meets the needs of people. One that will end the polarization of wealth necessary for class society and the structural coercion for most individuals associated with it).

We need to abandon individualist methodology in both explaining and replacing capitalism. As the systemic nature of the injustices being faced under capitalism becomes clearer the focus moves beyond simple reforms into demands that the system itself be changed.

Class consciousness (which is, above all else, the consciousness of classes, the awareness that society is divided into classes based upon those who control and those who do not the means of production) can be seen to arise from this examination.

The ultimate goal is the replacement of capitalism with a system in which one’s creativity is not squeezed into and limited by the confines of commodity production and consumption.

A system in which individuals are not selling themselves for money, a system in which one’s dreams can be extended beyond the hope for more and/or nicer “stuff.”

One can only imagine what the individuals who make up the working class (the overwhelming majority of the population) can accomplish once they have been liberated from the constraints within which they exist under the present capitalist system.

10/29/10

You've Been Inculcated

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You know management disapproves of. Ask yourself before you condemn him. Did he intend to loiter?

What we have here is a failure to inculcate. He doesn't respond to the bell. The boy's been badly trained. Are you surprised he's out of the ring? I'm sure you'd be if you were.

Obama: Brought to You by the White Liberal Bourgeoisie

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Angela Davis recently told television audiences that Barack Obama won the presidency “despite the power of money.” Any knowledgeable person – much less a learned academic and activist heroine – should know better.

The reality, which is not in serious dispute, is that Obama “set new corporate fundraising records, receiving many millions of dollars from powerful Wall Street firms and other profit-based economic giants.

Prof. Davis is spouting discredited 2008 campaign propaganda, as a cover for the collapse of Left opposition to Obama’s pro-war and pro-Wall Street policies.

She is wrong on numerous levels. I and many others on the left thought early on that a slippery, squishy, expertly marketed, telegenic, eloquent, charismatic, fake-progressive, deeply conservative” and corporate-neoliberal politician and media star like Barack Obamaa could definitely be “elected.

Well, selected and elevated by the “hidden primary of the ruling class” who really chooses the nation’s top officeholders beneath the pretense of populace governance to the presidency.

I had a hunch this was coming when I watched his speech at the convention four years ago, my wife and I both sat and took it in and looked at each other and said, almost word for word, ‘He’s good, he’s very good.’

The rakish JFK style jabs, the clearly studied rhetorical grace. What better gift to the empire than JFK in sepia?

What better figure to have out there than one to restore faith in the imperial project, but someone with a black face? They managed to live with Powell and Rice, why not Obama?

What is Obama’s attraction to big business? Precisely the same as Robert Kennedy’s in 1968. By offering a “new,” young and apparently progressive face of Democratic Party – with the bonus of being a member of the black elite – he can blunt and divert real opposition.

That was Colin Powell’s role as Bush’s secretary of state. An Obama victory has brought intense pressure on the US antiwar and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent v

The power brokers [financial and political] figured the time was right for a certain kind of non-white president, just the re-branding medicine that Uncle Sam’s doctor ordered after the damage done to America’s public image and the American system by the long national Bush-Cheney nightmare.

And clearly a large number of Wall Street and K Street insiders thought early on that Obama could possibly prevail. They invested heavily in his campaign after vetting him and finding out that “a figure like Barack Obama” was completely safe and inordinately useful for existing dominant domestic and imperial hierarchies and doctrines.

Professor Davis is free to think that college kids on the Internet pushed Obama into the White House but the real story has far more to do with more mundane, traditional and timeworn factors: Wall Street backing, establishment approval, corporate media love, and a bad economy that worked against the incumbent party.

America's Unemployment Disaster

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Over the last decade, the net new jobs created in the U.S. have nothing to do with the growth of high-tech industries or well-paid management jobs in corporations.

The majority of new jobs jobs consist of waitresses and bartenders, health care and social services (largely ambulatory health care), retail clerks, and while the bubble lasted, construction.

These are not the high-tech, high-paying jobs that the “New Economy” promised, and they are not jobs that can be associated with global corporations. Moreover, these domestic service jobs are themselves scarce.

But facts have nothing to do with it. Did Slaughter, Cohen, the Chamber, and the Wall Street Journal ever wonder how it was possible to have simultaneously millions of new good-paying middle class jobs and virtually the worst income inequality in the developed world with all income gains accruing to the mega-rich?

In mid-October Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs puppet Tim Geithner gave a speech in California in the backyard, or former backyard, of 60 Minutes’ Silicon Valley dispossessed upper middle class interviewees in which Geithner said that the solution is to “educate more engineers.”

We already have more engineers than we have jobs for them. In a recent poll a Philadelphia marketing and research firm, Twentysomething, found that 85% of recent college graduates planned to move back home with parents.

Even if members of the “boomeranger generation” find jobs, the jobs don’t pay enough to support an independent existence.

The financial media is useless. Reporters repeat the lie that the unemployment rate is 9.6%. This is a specially concocted unemployment rate that does not count most of the unemployed.

The government’s own more inclusive rate stands at 17%. Statistician John Williams, who counts unemployment the way it is supposed to be counted, finds the unemployment rate to be 22%.

The financial press turns bad news into good news. Recently a monthly gain of 64,000 new private sector jobs was hyped, jobs that were more than offset by the loss in government jobs.

Moreover, it takes around 150,000 new jobs each month to keep pace with labor force growth. In other words, 100,000 new jobs each month would be a 50,000 jobs deficit.

Midterm Elections: Both Parties Are Right-Wing

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With only a few days remaining in the 2010 election campaign, one thing is certain: the Obama administration and the Democratic Party are preparing a further lurch to the right.

Four years after a massive turnout at the polls to repudiate the Republican-controlled Congress and give the Democrats the majority, and two years after the election of Barack Obama to the White House by a margin of 7 million votes, the administration’s right-wing policies have shattered the popular illusions raised by Obama’s vague appeals to “hope” and “change.”

Millions are coming to see the Democrats as a second party of big business, committed to the defense of corporate interests both at home and abroad.

But within the framework of the American two-party system they are given no way of expressing their frustration and anger except by staying home on election day or casting a vote for the even more right-wing party of big business, the Republicans.

Given the orchestrated and manipulated character of the election, with more than $4 billion expended, largely by the wealthy and corporate interests, and a corporate-controlled media that suppresses any consideration of political alternatives to the two official parties, the outcome of the November 2 vote must necessarily have a contradictory character.

Under the impact of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American population is moving broadly to the left, as suggested in poll after poll.

But the official interpretation of the vote, reiterated in a thousand commentaries by media pundits and echoed by politicians of both parties, is just the opposite:

The American voter will deliver a rebuke to the supposed liberal excesses of the Democratic Party, demanding fiscal austerity, more tax breaks for the rich and further deregulation of banks and corporations.

Standing Up to America: Al Qaeda & the Taliban

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More than nine years after 9/11, the leaders of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and his number two compadre, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are believed to be alive, well, and living comfortably in the Pakistani borderlands with not a cave in sight

With the globe’s “sole superpower” eternally on OBL's trail there's nothing to report but abject failure.

Admittedly, the Bush Regime took a few years off from the “hunt” to crash and burn in Iraq, But Osama is a prospective global winner just for staying alive.

Before we close the books on him, he gets extra points for a singular accomplishment.

With modest funds and a few thousand ragtag masked recruits swinging on monkey bars and clambering over obstacles in “camps” in Afghanistan, he managed to lure the United States into two financially disastrous, inconclusive wars, one in its eighth year, the other in its tenth.

To give credit where it’s due, he had help from the Bush troglodytes with their dominatrix-like global fantasies. Still, it’s not often that someone can make his dreams your nightmares on such a scale.

The Taliban are another crew heading toward the winner’s circle after yet another typically fraud-wracked Afghan parliamentary election conferring even less legitimacy on President Hamid Karzai’s toothless government in Kabul.

Think of the Taliban as the miracle story of the global backlands, the phoenix of radical Islamic fundamentalist movements.

From the Taliban point view things are getting better. Yes, they are now pounded by a heightened American bombing campaign, a Special Operations night-raids-and-assassination campaign, and pressure from newly surging U.S. forces in the southern part of the country.

Nonetheless, they are achieving some remarkable successes in northern Afghanistan. After all, the Taliban had always been considered a Pashtun tribal movement and while there are Pashtuns in the north, they are a distinct minority.

But the insurgency is now drawing ethnic Uzbeks, Tajiks, and other minorities previously seen as unsympathetic to the rebel cause.”

If, more than nine years later, the Taliban are attracting groups that theoretically loathe it, have few cultural affinities with it, and long fought or opposed it, then you know that the American campaign in Afghanistan has hit its nadir.

Thanks to us and our man in Kabul, the Taliban is increasingly the fallback position, the lesser of two disasters, for Afghan nationalists.

This helps explain why more than $27 billion dollars in American training funds hasn’t produced an Afghan military or police force capable of or willing to fight, while Taliban guerrillas, lacking such aid, fight fiercely anyway.

Futile 'Tinkering' with Capitalism

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Capitalism can't be made fairer for the majority of the population by tinkering with it in the right way. Those of you trying to do so are wasting your time.

The negative features of capitalism are fundamental to it (it cannot exist without them) and therefore any efforts to ameliorate their effects will be only partial and temporary.

Building a faier system requires capitalism's structured inequality, necessary to preserve capital, must be overthrown, and a fundamentally different system put in its place, one which prioritizes the needs of humans over the needs of capital.

That does not mean turning our backs on the positive features of capitalism, it simply means building upon these accomplishments by ending class society and commodity production for the market and replacing it with conscious human direction.

Capitalism has a two-sided nature: on the one hand, it has increased production and productivity to levels unimaginable previously. On the other hand, it impoverishes the overwhelming majority of the population.

From where does the two-sided nature of capitalism derive? In a society characterized by general commodity exchange a class tends to form controlling sufficient resources to purchase means of production as well as means of subsistence.

Another class (comprising the overwhelming majority of the population) tends to form that lacks these resources.

Lacking the material means of survival, “free” wage-laborers are forced, through structural economic coercion, to work for the capitalist of their choosing, under terms favorable to the capitalist, in order to survive.

What are the terms? Work hard, for the minimum possible amount, or we’ll replace you with someone from the 5-10% continuously unemployed.

What happens if a firm does not follow this fundamental drive and does not exploit its workers? It is forced out of business as its per-unit labor costs rise by competition from firms that do exploit their workers.

As such, capitalism is enormously productive because of its inherent tendency to lower per-unit labor costs without the need for extra-economic coercion on workers: work or starve.

Yet these productivity advantages do not accrue to the majority of the population. We live in a society in which those who enjoy most of the benefits of society are almost completely separated from those who shoulder the burden.

10/28/10

Free to Fancy

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There's this idea of a germ. It increases our antagonism towards authority, If you don't mind. I'd rather fall apart than join up. The consolation prize belongs to.

He pulled the communication cord on a train of thought. Do you want to get off with me? We're be free to fancy. That's an order. Follow it.

Jon Stewart Endorses Apathy

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When Jon Stewart was on Larry King's show talking about his Rally to Restore Sanity, he likened himself to Alice in Wonderland and the rally as the Mad Hatter Tea Party.

But is Jon Stewart really Alice, trying to find sanity in an upside-down world? Or is he the March Hare, the ultimate reactionary who encourages people to sit back and mock attempts by others to change things.

All Jon Stewart is interested in is promoting himself. His jokes are closer to slapstick than satire. "The Daily Show" makes us comfortable, even happy.

It reinforces our sense of superiority to those 'crackpot' republicans. Stewart's role is to create a young, hip audience to increase advertising revenue for Comedy Central.

"The Daily Show" is like comfort food consumed night after night in place of broccoli, we are gorging ourselves on what feels good instead of processing what feels so bad - and doing something about it.

The 10-30-10 rally on the capital's mall is looking more and more like a celebration of apathy. Stewart is courting people who do not want to open their window and yell, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

As he says in the Rally for Sanity website, he's looking for the people who've been "too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs)."

So let's get this straight: people who were so horrified when the U.S. invaded Iraq that they joined millions of others to protest are not sane?

We shouldn't speak out against Wall Street bankers whose greed led to millions of Americans losing their jobs and homes?

It's irrational to be angry when you see the Gulf of Mexico covered in oil because BP cut corners on safety?

Don't get upset when the Supreme Court rules that corporations are people and can pour unlimited funds into our elections?

Stewart often roasts the war-makers and corporate fat-cats on his show, but he seems to think that his viewers should be content to take out their frustrations with a good belly laugh.

Midterm Elections: Choice? What Choice?

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The element of manipulation in US elections is immense. Under conditions of a political monopoly of two right-wing big business parties, the control is legally enforced by ballot access restrictions and a host of other barriers to third party campaigns.

There are torrents of corporate campaign cash and the exclusion of anti-capitalist views by the corporate-owned media.

Elections in America have far more to do with the ruling class’s recalibration of policy and changes in its governing personnel than with the democratic will of the people. The sentiments and desires of the people can find no genuine expression within the existing political framework.

Next Tuesday’s midterm elections are no exception. With Election Day less than a week away, it is clear that, whatever the precise breakdown of Democrats and Republicans in the new Congress and in statehouses across the country, the outcome of the vote will be a further shift to the right by the Obama administration.

This pivot to even more overtly anti-working class policies flies in the face of popular sentiment, which is moving to the left.

However, the semi-official narrative of the election, relentlessly promoted by the media, is that the American people, in the midst of the deepest economic and social crisis since the Great Depression, are rebelling against even the most minimal forms of social relief and clamoring for fewer regulations for the banks and corporations and more tax cuts for the rich.

American Liberals Are Washed Up

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The purging and silencing of independent and radical thinkers as well as iconoclasts have robbed the liberal class of vitality.

The liberal class has cut itself off from the roots of creative and bold thought, from those forces and thinkers who could have prevented the liberal class from merging completely with the power elite.

Liberals exude a tepid idealism utterly divorced from daily life. And this is why every television clip of Obama is so palpably pathetic.

Once the liberal class can no longer moderate the savage and greedy inclinations of the capitalist class...

Once the labor unions are reduced to the role of bartering away wage increases and benefits...

Once public education is gutted and the press no longer gives a voice to the poor and the working class, liberals become as despised as the power elite they serve.

The liberal class lacks members with the vision and fortitude to challenge dominant free market ideologies. It offers no ideological alternatives.

It remains bound to a Democratic Party that has betrayed every basic liberal principle including universal health care, an end to our permanent war economy, a robust system of public education, a vigorous defense of civil liberties, job creation, the right to unionize and welfare for the poor.

Liberalism once dismissed the market as exploitative. It now honors the market as rational and humane. It once disdained mass culture as exploitative; now it celebrates it as rebellious.

Liberals once honored independent intellectuals as courageous; now they sneer at them as elitist. Liberals rejected pluralism as superficial; now it worships it as profound. We are witnessing not simply a defeat of the left, but its conversion and perhaps inversion.”

Capitalism, and especially corporate capitalism, was once viewed as a system to be fought. But capitalism is no longer challenged in public discourse.

Capitalist bosses, men such as Warren Buffett, George Soros and Donald Trump, are treated bizarrely as sages and celebrities, as if greed and manipulation had become the highest moral good.

As Wall Street steals billions of taxpayer dollars, as it perpetrates massive fraud to throw people out of their homes, as the ecosystem that sustains the planet is polluted and destroyed, we do not know what to do or say.

We have been robbed of a vocabulary to describe reality. We decry the excesses of capitalism without demanding a dismantling of the corporate state. Our pathetic response is to be herded to political rallies by skillful publicists to shout inanities like “Yes we can!”

The liberal class is finished. Neither it nor its representatives will provide the leadership or resistance to halt our slide toward despotism. The liberal class prefers comfort and privilege to confrontation.

It will not halt the corporate assault or thwart the ascendancy of the corporate state. It will remain intolerant within its ranks of those who do.

The liberal class now honors an unwritten quid pro quo, one set in place by Bill Clinton, to cravenly serve corporate interests in exchange for money, access and admittance into the halls of power.

The media, the universities, the labor movement, the arts, the church and the Democratic Party, fearful of irrelevance and desperate to retain their positions within the corporate state, will accelerate their purges of those who speak the unspeakable, those who name what cannot be named.

It is the gutless and bankrupt liberal class, even more than the bizarre collection of moral and intellectual trolls now running for office, who are our most perfidious opponents.

10/27/10

Obama's 'Corporate Socialism'

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No one with any knowledge of history should be surprised at the ignorance emanating from right-wing circles today.

Just as the right of yesteryear attacked FDR for his “socialism” (a.k.a. his rescue of capitalism), today’s reactionaries warn about Obama’s dissolution of the private sector, conveniently.

They ignore the fact that there may very well not be a private banking sector if it were not for the dramatic interventions of Obama (along with other Democrats in Republicans) in saving the “too big to fail” banks in 2008.

Such is the way of things with ignorant ingrates. When education becomes a vice in American culture, one is bound to see a growing intertwining of arrogance, ignorance, and extremism among those who view facts not as essential in understanding reality, but as unnecessary roadblocks getting in the way of their hate and fear mongering.

The great travesty is that the American right can't read the writing on the wall: Obama will not go down in history as the menacing "socialist" threatening to destroy capitalism. Rather he'll be remembered as the quintessential corporate socialist.

As a vulgar (corporate) socialist, he doesn't believe that the point of government is to redistribute resources from the top down, rather the flow is the other way. American taxpayers' proper role is funding the power of a state that redistributes resources from the bottom up.

This may have been far less the case in the past, with officials such as FDR, JFK, and LBJ supporting genuine reforms that took tax dollars from the rich and provided for social welfare programs from the poor.

But those days are mostly gone. Obama's no FDR or LBJ. His modest expansion of Medicaid was over shadowed by major boons for the pharmaceutical, hospital, private health practitioner, and insurance industries.

He has talked about cutting Social Security, rather than strengthening it. He abandoned the Employee Free Choice Act, rather than strengthening the right of workers to organize. If this is socialism, I'd hate to see what capitalism looks like.

Once Again, Americans Salivated When the 'Hope' Bell Was Rung

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People everywhere have learned a blunt lesson about power, who has it and who doesn’t. They've watched Washington run to rescue the very financial interests that caused the catastrophe.

They've learned that government has plenty of money to spend when the right people want it. And – a critical point– they have received this lesson with Democrats at the helm.

This is nothing new. The big-chilling Hope-Killing Obama let-down is just an especially dramatic example of a very old problem in the United States.

Every four years, many Americans are led to invest their hopes in an electoral process that does not deserve their trust.

These voters are duped into dreaming that a savior can be installed in the White House.

It will be someone who will raise wages, roll back war and militarism, provide universal and adequate health care, rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, produce high-paying jobs, fix the environmental crisis, reduce inequality, guarantee economic security, and generally make daily life more livable.

The dreams are regularly drowned in the icy waters of historical and political “reality.”

In the actuality of American politics and policy, the officially “electable” candidates are vetted in advance the hidden primary of the ruling class.

By prior Establishment selection, all of the “viable” presidential contenders are closely tied to corporate and military-imperial power in numerous and interrelated ways.

They run safely within the narrow ideological and policy parameters set by those who rule behind the scenes to make sure that the rich and privileged continue to be the leading beneficiaries of the American system.

In its presidential as in its other elections, U.S. “democracy” is “at best” a “guided one.

At its worst it is a corrupt farce, amounting to manipulation, with the larger population projects of propaganda in a controlled and trivialized electoral process.

It's an illusion that real change can ever come from electing a different ruling class-sponsored candidate.

Relying heavily on candidates’ repeated promise to restore “hope” to a populace disillusioned by corporate control, corruption, and inequality is a standard claim of non-incumbent Democratic presidential candidates.

This dark essence of United States political culture goes back further than the corporate-neoliberal era into which Obama came of political age. It is arguably as old the Republic itself, always torn by the rift between democratic promise and authoritarian realities of concentrated wealth and power.

10/26/10

Too Much Condensation

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Can a human be aware? I reckon it's soft in the head. How do I know this? As a member of the same species. Wasn't I programmed to perform acts of? Fuck it's only a metaphor.

I really must do something about the condensation. It's causing structural damage. I've got to alter the state I'm in.

The Wonders of Capitalism: Exploitation & Endless War

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We are drowning in an economic crisis. Unemployment, which is worst in black and Latino communities, is nearly 10 percent nationally.

Homes continue to be foreclosed at record rates, raids and deportations of immigrant workers continue to escalate and poverty is on the rise.

Today, one in seven Americans live below the poverty line. Half of the world's population lives on less than $2.50 a day.

Not everyone is suffering, though. There is one sector of the population that has been doing just fine in this recession – the capitalist upper class.

While the government hasn't lifted a single finger to help out working people, it has given trillions of dollars to Wall Street bankers and other capitalists in the form of government bailouts and tax credits.

The war industry is also booming. More than half of our federal tax dollars go to funding the military.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Pakistan-Israel conflict, which have already killed millions of people for the sake of corporate profits, rage on with no end in sight. This happens whether Democrats or Republicans are in office.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This is capitalism, a system where war, racism, homophobia, exploitation and sexism are all acceptable to the people who profit from it.

Under capitalism, the chief means of production (i.e. the banks, factories, businesses, etc.) are all privately owned and the economy is driven by the profit motive. Everything the capitalist ruling class does is for the sake of extending or protecting profits.

Capitalism has nothing left to offer except poverty, wealth inequality and endless war.

The only way to get out of this endless boom and bust cycle of capitalism and imperialism is to take control of industry out of the hands of individual capitalists and put it under the control of working people.

Workers create all of the wealth in society, so they should be the ones who decide how it's used. This is what socialism is all about.

The Tea Party Supports 'Right-Hand' Big Government

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I may run amok in medialand if I hear one more pundit refer to the Tea Party Republicans’ supposed demand for “small government.”

Like the broader business-shaped right-wing Republican agenda it reflects, advances, and re-brands, “the Tea Party” is not actually opposed to “big government.”

Yes, the new right-wing “super-Republicans” attack welfare for the poor, Social Security, the Department of Education, Civil Rights enforcement, labor law reform, health reform, and government regulation of industry and finance[2.

But they say nothing against the gargantuan Pentagon system (which bills taxpayers at least $1 trillion a year to account for nearly half of the planet’s military spending), the nation’s globally unmatched and racist prison-industrial complex, the border patrol and the broader war on immigrants.

The Ron Paul libertarians who oppose militarism and the drug war prison state have been marginalized in the Tea Party. They were buried long ago under the wave of more traditionally nationalist authoritarians like Sara Palin, Dick Army, and Glenn Beck[3.

Starve the Left Hand of the State, Feed the Right

There’s no paradox here. Reflecting the influence of its reactionary-business class sponsors, the Tea Party hates what the left French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called “the left hand of the state.”

These are the parts of the public sector that serve the social and democratic needs of the non-affluent majority.

The Tea Party wants to starve and crush those branches of government that reflect past popular victories in struggles for social justice and democracy.

But the portions of the state that serve the opulent minority and dole out punishment for the poor are not the subject of its ire.

The repressive “right hand of the state,” comprising the big sections of “big government” that distribute wealth upward and attack those who resist empire and inequality at home and abroad, is not its enemy.

It can in fact be expected to grow in according with the slashing of left-handed social protections and supports, as the increased insecurity that results can be expected drive ever more disadvantaged people into the clutches of the military and the mass incarceration state.

The Tea Party is the same old standard corporate sponsored neoliberalism dressed up in the rancid fake-populism of an ever more right-wing Republican Party.

Wikileaks - As Rumsfeld Said: 'Stuff Happens"

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As usual, the Arabs knew. They knew all about the mass torture, the promiscuous shooting of civilians, the outrageous use of air power against family homes.

The vicious American and British mercenaries, the cemeteries of the innocent dead. All of Iraq knew. Because they were the victims.

Only we could pretend we did not know. Only we in the West could counter every claim, every allegation against the Americans or British with some worthy general.

The ghastly US military spokesman Mark Kimmitt and the awful chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Peter Pace, come to mind.

American atrocities were ring-fenced lies. Find a man who'd been tortured and you'd be told it was terrorist propaganda; discover a house full of children killed by an American air strike and that, too, would be terrorist propaganda, or "collateral damage", or a simple phrase: "We have nothing on that."

Of course, we all knew they always did have something. And yesterday's ocean of military memos proves it yet again.

Al-Jazeera has gone to extraordinary lengths to track down the actual Iraqi families whose men and women are recorded as being wasted at US checkpoints.

I've identified one because I reported it in 2004, the bullet-smashed car, the two dead journalists, even the name of the local US captain.

We first alerted our readers to the hordes of indisciplined gunmen being flown to Baghdad to protect diplomats and generals. These mercenaries, who murdered their way around the cities of Iraq, abused me when I told them I was writing about them way back in 2003.

It's always tempting to avoid a story by saying "nothing new". The "old story" idea is used by governments to dampen journalistic interest as it can be used by us to cover journalistic idleness. And it's true that reporters have seen some of this stuff before.

But, written in bleak militarese as it may be, here is the evidence of America's shame. This is material that can be used by lawyers in courts.

If 66,081 – I loved the "81" bit – is the highest American figure available for dead civilians, then the real civilian mortality score is infinitely higher since this records only those civilians the Americans knew of.

Some of them were brought to the Baghdad mortuary in my presence, and it was the senior official there who told me that the Iraqi ministry of health had banned doctors from performing any post-mortems on dead civilians brought in by American troops.

Now why should that be? Because some had been tortured to death by Iraqis working for the Americans? Did this hook up with the 1,300 independent US reports of torture in Iraqi police stations?

The Paranoia of American Politics

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The anger among the American people is more than justified by the suffering many people are now experiencing.

But an understanding of such anger is stifled largely by right-wing organizations and rich corporate zombies who want to preserve the nefarious conditions that produced such anger in the first place.

The result is an egregious politics of disconnection, not to mention a fraudulent campaign of lies and innuendos funded by shadowy, ultra right billionaires such as the Koch brothers.

There is the loss of historical memory amply supported in dominant media such as Fox News and a massively funded depoliticizing cultural apparatus.

All of which help to pave the way for the new barbarism and its increasing registers of cruelty, inequality, punishment and authoritarianism.

This is a politics that dare not speak its name - a politics wedded to inequity, exclusion and disposability and beholden to what Richard Hofstadter once called the "paranoid style in American politics."

Driven largely by a handful of right-wing billionaires such as Rupert Murdoch, David and Charles Koch and Sal Russo, this is a stealth politics masquerading as a grassroots movement.

It's determined to maintain corporate power and the benefits it accrues for the few as a result of vast network of political, social and economic inequalities it reproduces among the many.

This is a politics wedded at the hip to an irrational mode of capitalism that undermines any vestige of democracy.

At the heart of the new barbarian politics is the drive for unchecked amounts of power and profits in spite of the fact that this brand of take-no-prisoners politics is largely responsible for both the economic recession and producing a society that is increasing becoming politically dysfunctional and ethically unhinged.

It's a fringe politics whose funding sources hide in the shadows careful not to disclose the identities of the right-wing billionaire fanatics eager to finance ultra-conservative groups such as the Tea Party movement.

While some Republicans seem embarrassed by the fact that the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin have taken over their party, most of its members still seem willing to embrace wholeheartedly the politics of inequality.

They are ready to accept the exclusion and disposability that lies at the heart of an organized death-march aimed at destroying every public sphere essential to a vibrant democratic state.

The United States has not just lost its moral compass in a sea of collective anger; it has become a country that is no longer able to connect reason and freedom.

It's unable to recognize the anti-democratic forces that now threaten it from within and for the most part question its capacity to protect its citizens from the ravages of unscrupulous neoliberalism as its spreads like a plague across the globe.

The spectacle of moral panics over immigrants, the wild fire of religious and racial bigotry, conscienceless support for unchecked inequality and corporate power, the endless reproduction of celebrity and consumer culture and the growing registers of shared fears now define American politics.

The future is increasingly being shaped by barbarians who thrive on ignorance and stupidity, while reaping the rewards of big corporate power and money.

Freedom is now tied to the making of instant fortunes largely by the corporate elite and to an individualistic ethic that disdains any notion of solidarity and social responsibility.

The social state has become a garrison state committed to dismantling collective forms of insurance that cover individuals who suffer from debilitating and life-changing calamities while simultaneously expanding the human waste disposal industries.

Chaos Capitalism

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You know conditions are chaotic when media pundits are constantly surprised, short-term predictions go in radically different directions, establishment figures say previously taboo things, and ordinary people are scared and unsure what to do.

As a result, governments face impossible choices, individuals even tougher ones when no one's sure what's right or coming. Are other parts of the world more stable than America? Some yes, others no, but there are no guarantees" at a time of uncertainty and instability.

When the giant teeters, many things can (and nearly always) come down with it. It's a situation in which the economic, political, and cultural fluctuations are large and rapid. And that is frightening for most people, especially the most vulnerable.

Are we witnessing the imminent end of Capitalism? We're in this chaotic situation, which we will be in for twenty to forty years to come. This crisis has to do with the lack of sufficient surplus-value available and thus with the possible profit one can make.

Long term, global capitalism is shrinking. A new world-system lies ahead that will "replicate certain basic features of the existing" one, but it won't be capitalism as we know it.

It'll be one of two alternatives - either still hierarchical and exploitative or relatively democratic and relatively egalitarian. No knows which one.

The only sure thing is that today's system won't survive. In its place, we'll create "order out of chaos" if we haven't self-destructed altogether, a real possibility militarily and/or environmentally.

There can be no question that neoliberalism is absolutely at an end. Globalization as a term and a concept will be forgotten ten years from now because it no longer has the impact it was meant to have.

Thatcherism and Reaganomics were wrong. There IS an alternative. It's coming and won't be like today's system. It'll either be better or worse. What can't go on forever, won't because no system goes on forever.

They're all historical, starting at a certain point, surviving by established rules, then veering from equilibrium and dying.

The western system has moved far from equilibrium over the past 500 years. Now chaotic, it won't last more than 40 or 50 years.

Stay tuned. Understand that tomorrow's world won't be your grandfather's, but it may be worse.

10/25/10

A Delicate Fabrication

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We put up with conditioning. It's in the air we breathe. We're well-run programmes in a washing machine. Has the cycle finished yet?

Have pity on him, members of the inquisition. As you've seen, he's a delicate fabrication. He needs a gentle spin. Not the scrubbing you delight in.

"Jews Are the Master Race"

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In case the Goyim [racist term for non-Jews] cannot find a purpose in their life, Israeli senior Sephardi Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is there to help them out. In his Saturday sermon Rabbi Yosef revealed that the sole purpose of Gentiles is to serve Jews.


“Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world.” The Rabbi was also kind enough to provide the Goyim with some precise tasks.

“Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat.
That is why gentiles were created.”

I guess that it is about time the friends of Israel in Western politics started to fully comprehend their role in our Judified universe.

AIPAC and the Conservatives’ Friends of Israel do indeed, have a crucial function: They are there to ‘help’ our politicians grasp why they ‘were created’.

And their role is, apparently, to ‘serve the Jews,’ as the Chief Rabbi describes it so eloquently.

But there is a further and even much more sinister meaning to Rabbi Yosef’s sermon: according to the Rabbi, the Goyim will ‘work’ hard, they will ‘plow’ and ‘reap’ while the Jew ‘sits like an effendi (master)’ and ‘eats’.

In just a few words Rabbi Yossef expresses the depth of Judaic contempt towards labour.

The senior Rabbi provides us with a devastating glimpse into the Judaic alienation from these aspects of the human condition and human experience.

In an unequivocal manner, Rabbi Yosef depicts a clear dichotomy: Jews are the master race and the Goyim are nothing but a work force.

The Goyim are there to sweat and struggle while the Jew is ‘sitting’ and ‘eating’. I guess that Rabbi Yossef has managed, in just a few words, to portray the intrinsic relationships between Judaism and Capitalism.

Ending the Housing Crisis: Nationalize Mortgage Lenders

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The decline of American capitalism was expressed in the decay of its industrial base and its growing recourse to financial parasitism as the basis of profit-making. The generation of profits was increasingly removed from the creation of real value.

For its personal enrichment, the financial elite turned to the creation of speculative bubbles. Following the collapse of the dotcom bubble in 2001, a new bubble was needed. Hence the speculative housing boom.

The response to the mortgage document scandal being prepared by Wall Street and the White House will shift the burden of the crisis even more directly onto the backs of the working class.

The Obama administration all but openly asserts that the “recovery” in housing depends on driving homeowners who cannot afford their mortgage payments out of their houses.

With millions of American households already in the foreclosure process, and tens of millions more “underwater”—owing more to the banks than their homes’ market value—the implications of this pro-Wall Street policy are dire.

Its end result is the devastation of entire neighborhoods and cities, a process that is already far advanced in urban centers such as Detroit, which once boasted the highest rate of home ownership in the country.

This week, US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Donovan told the Detroit News that the Obama administration endorses Mayor David Bing’s plan to depopulate entire sections of the city. “Look, we’re not going to be able to save every neighborhood,” Donovan said.

The legal and due process issues raised by the mortgage foreclosure scandal, and, more importantly, the underlying social issue - the right to housing - can't be resolved without overturning the entire framework of private ownership and the subordination of housing to the profit drive of banks and corporations.

The banks and mortgage lenders must be placed under pubic ownership and the democratic control of the working population.

The ill-gotten wealth of bank executives and Wall Street speculators must be expropriated and put toward a multi-billion-dollar program to provide good quality and affordable housing for all.

Those who broke the law in order to bilk homeowners and then seize their homes must be prosecuted and held to account for their crimes.

This requires a fight against the Obama administration, which is nothing more than an instrument of the financial elite, and against both parties of big business.

The Hidden Hand of Capitalist Exploitation Behind 'Austerity Measures'

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Why are austerity measures are being implemented in so many European countries? These include Greece, Germany France and the UK?. The answer is very simple for those who can understand the dynamics of the capitalist economies.

It is an opportunity for ruling classes of European countries, who work for the interests of the big business and finance houses, to withdraw welfare state measures.

These include unemployment benefits, child benefits, pension benefits, health benefits, insurance benefits and so on.

This is done in the name of saving countries’ economies. The operation succeeds, the doctor’s pocket fills but the patient dies.

One should observe the decreases in the basis amount for pension commutation, decreases in retirement ages in several EU countries and the reduction of scope of job creation in the public sector.

There appears to be a conspiracy to destroy the concept of welfare states proposed by WWII era economist Keynes and successfully implemented by all the matured capitalist economies from west to east.

The conspiracy is carefully crafted by the European elite business houses in the name of passionate and convincing terms like fiscal discipline, fiscal consolidation and stabilization. The real purpose is to increase the power of capitalism.

A welfare state envisages the welfare of the people with government support, pushing the interests of the greedy private conglomerates to the back burner, at least to some extent.

These principles were not the result of the magnanimity of the ruling classes but brought into being by the hard fought struggles of workers for decades against capitalist, oppressive and exploiting rule

The Significance of Wikileaks Release

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We still haven't got to the bottom of the WikiLeaks story, and I suspect that there are more than just a few US soldiers involved in this latest revelation.

Who knows if it doesn't go close to the top? In its investigations, for example, al-Jazeera found an extract from a run-of-the-mill Pentagon press conference in November 2005.

Peter Pace, the uninspiring chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is briefing journalists on how soldiers should react to the cruel treatment of prisoners, pointing out proudly that an American soldier's duty is to intervene if he sees evidence of torture.

Then the camera moves to the far more sinister figure of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who suddenly interrupts – almost in a mutter, and to Pace's consternation – "I don't think you mean they (American soldiers) have an obligation to physically stop it. It's to report it."

The significance of this remark – cryptically sadistic in its way – was lost on the journos, of course. But the secret Frago 242 memo now makes much more sense of the press conference.

Presumably sent by General Ricardo Sanchez, this is the instruction that tells soldiers:

"Provided the initial report confirms US forces were not involved in the detainee abuse, no further investigation will be conducted unless directed by HHQ [Higher Headquarters]."

Abu Ghraib happened under Sanchez's watch in Iraq. It was also Sanchez, by the way, who couldn't explain to me at a press conference why his troops had killed Saddam's sons in a gun battle in Mosul rather than capture them.

So Sanchez's message, it seems, must have had Rumsfeld's imprimatur. And so General David Petraeus – widely loved by the US press corps – was presumably responsible for the dramatic increase in US air strikes over two years. 229 bombing attacks in Iraq in 2006, but 1,447 in 2007.

Interestingly enough, US air strikes in Afghanistan have risen by 172 per cent since Petraeus took over there. Which makes it all the more astonishing that the Pentagon is now bleating that WikiLeaks may have blood on its hands.

The Pentagon has been covered in blood since the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, and for an institution that ordered the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 – wasn't that civilian death toll more than 66,000 by their own count, out of a total of 109,000 recorded? – to claim that WikiLeaks is culpable of homicide is preposterous.

The truth, of course, is that if this vast treasury of secret reports had proved that the body count was much lower than trumpeted by the press, that US soldiers never tolerated Iraqi police torture, rarely shot civilians at checkpoints and always brought killer mercenaries to account, US generals would be handing these files out to journalists free of charge on the steps of the Pentagon.

They are furious not because secrecy has been breached, or because blood may be spilt, but because they have been caught out telling the lies we always knew they told.

UK Government Declares Class War

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The furore over the government's vicious and vindictive spending review rumbles on with the Lib Dems and the Tories both on the back foot.

Which is hardly surprising, since almost everybody involved in the public sector, be it service providers, pressure and special interest groups, charities or trade unions was uniformly outraged by Osborne's butchery of the welfare state.

Indeed, the only people not attacking this exercise in blatant class war were dogmatic Tory or Lib Dem sympathisers and their media and business toadies.

But this government, like its Thatcher ancestors, is not for turning, it appears.

Unsurprisingly, rather than admit that they've been caught bang to rights exploiting a large deficit to provide an excuse for rolling back the welfare state, Clegg and Cameron have dug their heels in and loudly denounced their critics.

But they are on a bit of a sticky wicket here, because their critics aren't just the usual suspects.

As well as the trade unions, the charities and the few remaining left-wing voices within the Parliamentary Labour Party, the dreadful duo are being forced to confront experts who they have previously had little but respect for.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg loudly proclaimed that the government "fundamentally" disagreed with highly respected economic think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) - which damned the review as "regressive" and described its measure of fairness as "a complete nonsense."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union gave his usual robust response the the government's austerity programme:

"These cuts represent the most brutal assault on public services, jobs and living standards since the 1930s.

"They show that the ConDem government are prepared to force the working class to carry the can for an economic crisis cooked up in the boardrooms and on the trading floors. This is all-out class war with its roots firmly planted in the playing fields of Eton.

"While the bankers, spivs and speculators are preparing for a return to mega-bonuses this Christmas, for the vast majority of British people this spending review means attacks on living standards, jobs and the public services we rely on.

"The idea that the spending cuts are about 'sharing the burden' is a sick joke. Coming from a Government of millionaire public schoolboys is an insult to the people who make this country tick and who are in the front line of this assault.

10/24/10

Bump & Grind

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I've got no intention of. Must I apply to the planning department for internal alterations? As a conscious subject I protest my treatment.

Where's the freedom in limited choice? You want to take me off the high slope. I'm expected to bump and grind in the multiplex culture. A saturated diet of sweetness and light.

Chomsky on the Liberal Media' & Propaganda

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The major media, the New York Times and so on, tend to be what is called liberal. That implies they are highly supportive of state power, state violence and state crimes.

Their major commitment is to the centres of power—state and private. For example, there are major attacks on civil rights today but because those are coming from the Obama administration, the liberal media barely discusses the violations.

Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to totalitarianism. It enables the elite to dull the will of people, depriving them of the capacity to make political choices?

Back in the 1920s, it was openly called propaganda. But the word acquired a bad flavour with Nazism in the 1930s. So now, it’s not called propaganda any more. But they were right in the 1920s.

The huge public relations industry, for example, has its goal to control attitudes and beliefs. Liberal commentators, like Walter Lippmann, said we have to manufacture consent and keep the rabble away from the decision-making.

We are the responsible men, we have to make decisions and we have to be protected “from the trampling under the rage of the bewildered herd—the public”.

In the democratic process, we are the participants, they watch. And the task of intellectuals, media and so on is to make sure that they are quiet, subdued and obedient.

That is the view from the liberal end of the spectrum. Yes, I don’t doubt that the media is liberal in that sense. The media becomes the voice of the government and elite.

In his introduction to Animal Farm, George Orwell writes that the British (the audience for which he was writing) should not be too complacent about his satire on the crimes of the totalitarian enemy.

He said in free England unacceptable ideas could be suppressed voluntarily, without the use of force. He says the reasons are that the press is owned by wealthy men who have every reason not to want certain ideas to be expressed.

In the more modern period, generally, the media are either big corporations or parts of mega corporations or closely linked to the government.

The other reason, maybe more significant, is that if you have a good education, you would have instilled into you that there are certain things that it just wouldn’t do to say.

Twats on Twitter

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The time has come to ask; what on earth is the point of Twitter? Why would anyone in their right mind bother to spend time twittering short banalities about what time they got up in the morning, whether they caught the 91 bus.

Or in one of those hideous one liners, littered with typos and abbreviations, inform all and sundry what they think of Wayne Rooney’s decision to stay with Manchester United?

The only remotely good thing that has come from Twitter are the tweetings of the serially stupid, vapid public figures, whose streams of consciousness often contain nuggets of such astounding vacuity that they can make good newspaper diary items, and earn one some money.

I remember sitting next to a fellow reporter on one of those mind numbing tedious Sundays when nothing was happening in the newsroom, and asking him why he bothered to tweet all sorts of nonsense.

“It’s the bosses in Doha”, he said. “They all have the TV switched on in their offices – but they never have the sound on, so they have no idea really how good any of us are. But they do got to lots of pointless meetings and get bored. Which is when they switch on their blackberries and see us tweeting”.

Reluctantly, and under his guidance, I set up a Twitter account. The day in question was one when North Korea’s Kim Jong Il was threatening to set off a nuclear test, and since bizarrely the news editor hadn’t seen fit to get me – one of the very few journalists to have reported from that country, and on several occasions – to commentate, I sent one short, lonely tweet.

I can’t remember what I wrote about North Korea, but I did elicit a response, from a former colleague that I couldn’t stand. So that was it. One short tweet into cyberspace, a response from an abomination of a man I just could not abide, and the rest is history.

Twitter is a waste of time and space. It gets in the way of real communication and provides yet another exercise in filling the void. It is unutterably childish and banal, and no adult who wishes still to be regarded as such should go anywhere near it.

If Only Tea Partiers Blamed the Real Culprit [Capitalism]

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Tea Party candidates express anger over government programs, but say nothing about a government that provides tax breaks for the rich, allows politicians to be bought off by powerful lobbyists, contracts out government functions to private industries and guts almost every major public sphere necessary for sustaining an increasingly faltering democracy.

Tea Party members are outraged, but their anger is really directed at the New Deal, the social state and all those others whom they believe do not qualify as "real" Americans.

At the same time the American public is awash in a craven and vacuous media machine that routinely tells us that people are angry, but offers no analysis capable of treating such anger as symptomatic of an economic system that creates massive inequalities, rewards the ultra rich and powerful and punishes everybody else.

liberal pundits argue that the rich and powerful are indifferent to poor people and, of course, he is right, but only partly so. In actuality, it is much worse.

Today's young people and others caught in webs of poverty and despair face not only the indifference of the rich and powerful, but also the scorn of the very people charged with preserving, protecting and defending their rights.

We now live in a country in which the government allows entire populations and groups to be perceived and treated as disposable, reduced to fodder for the neoliberal waste management industries created by a market-driven society in which gross inequalities and massive human suffering are its most obvious byproducts.

Capitalism Fades Away

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Things that can't go on forever won't, especially ill-conceived over-reaching ones.

America's chaotic "capitalist world system" is one, says Immanuel Wallerstein, a Yale University Senior Research Scholar.

A different future lies ahead in one of two forms - more progressive or hard line opposite, what neither Wallerstein nor anyone can know or time precisely.

However, disruptive change is coming, ending America's global dominance. One or more other powers will supplant it under a new system, not today's.

Wallerstein believes the Soviet Union sustained US hegemony for a quarter century post-WW II by scaring Western Europe and other countries to America's side, and during the war diluting Hitler's power by his futile invasion.

After the end of the Soviet empire, both countries struck a deal for sustainable world order, America controlling two-thirds, Moscow the rest, besides the specter of mutually assured destruction (MAD) deterring either side from declaring war on the other.

Plans often don't turn out as intended, the US/Soviet pact breaking down in East Asia with Mao's independence and Vietnam resisting colonial occupation.

It bogged America down in an unwinnable war, much like Iraq and Afghanistan today, accelerating America's decline by thinking otherwise.

In the 1970s, it began, says Wallerstein, at first slowly, faster after the Soviet Union's dissolution, then further accelerated by post-9/11 events.

Hard line neocons were empowered, believing brute force could solidify US dominance, when, in fact, it's done the opposite.

Alliances opposed to US belligerence formed, including China and other rising powers strengthening their economies over America stressing military strength as a fist to maintain global hegemony whether or not other nations concur.

Still the world's dominant economic power, Wallerstein believes capitalism's demise will doom it, citing three negative long term trends weakening the ability to accumulate profits:

(1) Rising wages that began declining around 1970, then accelerated during the current economic crisis, a trend likely to continue, not reverse quickly, but will longer term. It's anyone's guess when, but for now, lower pay, fewer benefits and high unemployment are deeply embedded in a sick global economy.

(2) Rising taxes that always squeeze profits, though again in today's economy, they're fixed or declining until conditions improve, besides not knowing the full impact of America's healthcare reform cost, an indirect tax. Most likely, workers will bear the main burden, not employers easily able to offload most of it.

(3) Higher input costs are ahead. Externalizing them by environmental contamination continues, but that ecological limit approaches, perhaps destructively enough to endanger human life.

Overall, governments aren't improving conditions, especially in America and Europe with growing numbers suffering through hard times because bad public policies help business at the expense of workers, an unsustainable secular trend.

France Fights Harsher Neoliberal Policies

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Thank God for France. While American liberals tremble at the idea of sending an angry email to congress for fear that their name will appear on the State Department's list of terrorists, French workers are on the front lines choking on tear gas and fending off billy-clubs in hand-to-hand combat with Sarkozy's Gendarmerie.

That's because the French haven't forgotten their class roots. When the government gets too big for its britches, people pour out onto to the streets and Paris becomes a war zone.

There are overturned luxury cars, smashed storefront windows, and stacks of smoldering tires issuing pillars of black smoke. This is what democracy looks like when it hasn't been emasculated by decades of propaganda and consumerism.

Take note, Tea Party cry-babies who moan about restoring "our freedoms" while stuffing the backyard bunker with seed corn and ammo. Glenn Beck won't save you from the "mean old" gov'mint. Liberty isn't free anymore. If you want it, get out of the barko-lounger and organize.

The amount of freedom that any nation enjoys is directly proportionate to the amount of blood its people spilled fighting the state. No more, no less. The man who is willing to accept the blunt force of a cop's truncheon on his back is infinitely more praiseworthy than the leftist/rightist scribe crooning from the bleachers.

The state isn't moved by lyrical editorials or prosaic manifestos. It responds to force alone, which is why it takes people who are willing to "throw themselves on the gears" of the apparatus and stop it from moving forward. Unfortunately, most of those people appear to live in France.

There's no question that Sarkozy has joined the Reagan-Thatcher Neoliberal revolution.

Neocapitalism is offloading the massive debts from the financial meltdown onto workers and retirees. With The US, UK and France leading the way, a new form of po0litics is establishing a permanent state of economic emergency to justify their actions.

That will allow them to move ahead with so-called "austerity measures" that are designed to impoverish workers and strip popular government programs of their funding.

The trend towards "belt-tightening" merely masks the ongoing class war which is aimed at restoring a feudal system of royalty and serfs.

The retirement age is not really the issue at all. This is about union busting and "putting people in their place." It's about "who will call-the-shots" and in whose interests will society be run.

The French are fighting back against this "oligarchy of racketeers" and the ripoff system they represent, while, namby-pamby Americans are neutralized by signing their umpteenth petition or venting their spleen at a Palin rally.

10/22/10

I'm Here for No Reason

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I've been brought here for no reason. Those who manage must be convinced. For the purposes of this hearing. Do you, the accused, have any idea of what you're doing?

Let's make it to the end of this sentence. Something's bound to occur by then. The present progresses to an immediate future.

How the Rich Got Richer

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The marginal income tax rate on the very rich is the lowest it’s been in more than 80 years.

Under President Dwight Eisenhower (who no one would have accused of being a radical) it was 91 percent. Now it’s 36 percent.

Congress is even fighting over whether to end the temporary Bush tax cut for the rich and return them to the Clinton top tax of 39 percent.

Much of the income of the highest earners is treated as capital gains. Thus subject to a 15 percent tax. The typical hedge-fund and private-equity manager paid only 17 percent last year. Their earnings were not exactly modest. The top 15 hedge-fund managers earned an average of $1 billion.

Congress won’t even return to the estate tax in place during the Clinton administration – which applied only to those in the top 2 percent of incomes.

It won’t limit the tax deductions of the very rich, which include interest payments on multi-million dollar mortgages.

Yet Wall Street refuses to allow homeowners who can’t meet mortgage payments to include their primary residence in personal bankruptcy.

There’s plenty of money to help stranded Americans, just not the political will to raise it. And at the rate secret money is flooding our political system, even less political will in the future.

The perfect storm is approaching American capitalism. An unprecedented concentration of income and wealth at the top. A record amount of secret money flooding our democracy.

And a public becoming increasingly angry and cynical about a government that’s raising its taxes, reducing its services and unable to get it back to work.

These are similar to the causes that brought about the French revolution. While the French aristocracy wallowed in exorbitant luxury, the peasants starved.

Now the wealthy aristocracy collect luxury yachts while the poor see their meager social benefits further reduced. How long can this go on?

American Indoctrination

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Americans are too indoctrinated to see clearly. The majority exists in a media-induced state of false consciousness. We're confused and disoriented. We're misled and lied to. The game is fixed. The appearance of choice is an illusion, an utter hoax.

Political and media demagogues portray liberals (progressives & socialists), who continue to be miscast as democrats, as the enemy of the working class.

Working people do not comprehend that the benefits they are fighting to preserve were the result of progressive policies, many of them stemming from Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Conservatives, neoconservatives, and neoliberals have always opposed these policies and have fought to end them since the day of their inception. Let us not forget that FDR was accused by one of his adversaries of being “a traitor to his class.”

It would be a mistake, however, to confuse FDR for a genuine progressive. Certainly he was no socialist. The New Deal excluded most blacks. It was essentially affirmative action for whites.

Spooked by the social unrest engendered by The Great Depression, FDR, an avowed capitalist, perceived these policies as the only way to save capitalism from the socialist threat of his time. Roosevelt was correct in his assessment.

It would have been better for the nation in the long run if FDR hadn't enacted The New Deal. If he had not, it is likely that massive social upheaval would have ensued, and Socialism may well have supplanted capitalism as the dominant paradigm.

Similarly, if Obama hadn't bailed out America’s financial institutions with public funds, global capitalism would have collapsed. Predicated upon greed and exploitation, these institutions should have been allowed to fail, bringing down the global capitalist economy.

If Adam Smith’s much ballyhooed, ‘invisible hand of the market’ actually existed, the world today would look very different than it did a few short years ago. We might actually be in recovery. Now we are waiting for the next onslaught.

History demonstrates that free (deregulated) markets, the Holy Grail of Milton Friedman’s capitalism, don't actually exist. They never have. Free market capitalism is an ideological myth that is reified in our culture. Markets are always manipulated by elites for the sole benefit of elites.

Otherwise the global economy would have fallen like a row of dominoes two years ago. What we witnessed was Socialism (public funds) propping up capitalism (privately owned financial institutions).

All of the benefit, to the tune of $13.8 trillion, went to the financial institutions and to the elite. Working people were rewarded with government-imposed austerity. This has occurred not only in the U.S. but elsewhere in the world.

The international financial aristocracy is laying the foundation for global governance. The public domain is being privatized. The poor are no longer part of the social and political discourse.

As a consequence of these policies, there is social turmoil in every capitalist nation except the U.S. Compared to the rest of the world, Americans are comatose.

That's the result of fierce conditioning. The purveyors of 'truth' and 'objectivity' are the capitalist media. One can hardly expect balance there.

It's not enough to blame Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Fox News. It's the whole apparatus of the 'State' media, from the NYT to gossip mags. They propagate the myths of freedom, individualism and democracy. It's ideological propaganda. We live in an indoctrinated state.

France: Increasing the Retirement Age Hits the Poorest Hardest

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An increase in the retirement age is a highly regressive cut that will hit working people hardest. Poorer workers have shorter life expectancies and would lose a higher proportion of their retirement years.

Workers who have to retire early because of unemployment or other hardships will take a benefit cut as a result of this change. And of course this cut would not matter to the richest people who do not rely on the public pension system for most of their retirement income.

Sarkozy had promised not to raise the retirement age for the public pension system. This has contributed to the mass outrage at his current proposal to raise it from 60 to 62, for those taking the reduced benefits, and from 65 to 67, for full benefits.

Most of the media thinks the French are being unrealistic and should just get with the program like everyone else. The argument is that life expectancy is increasing, so "we all" have to work longer.

On the other side is the fact that productivity and GDP also increase over time, and so it is indeed possible for the French to choose to spend more years in retirement, and pay for it.

France's retirement age was last set in 1983. Since then, GDP per person has increased by 45 percent. The increase in life expectancy is very small by comparison. The number of workers per retiree declined from 4.4 in 1983 to 3.5 in 2010.

But the growth of national income was vastly more than enough to compensate for the demographic changes, including the change in life expectancy.

The situation is similar going forward: the growth in national income over the next 30 or 40 years will be much more than sufficient to pay for the increases in pension costs due to demographic changes.

It will allow future generations to enjoy much higher living standards than people today. It is simply a social choice as to how many years people want to live in retirement and how they want to pay for it.

If the French want to keep the retirement age as is, there are plenty of ways to finance future pension costs without necessarily raising the retirement age.

One of them, which has support among the French left. would be a tax on financial transactions. Such a "speculation tax" could raise billions of dollars of revenue while simultaneously discouraging speculative trading in financial assets and derivatives.

The French unions and protesters are demanding that the government consider some of these more progressive alternatives.

It is therefore perfectly reasonable to expect that, as life expectancy increases, workers should be able to spend more of the lives in retirement. And that is what most French citizens expect.

They may not have seen all of the arithmetic but they can see intuitively that, as a country grows richer year after year, they should not have to spend more of their lives working.

Britain's Class-Driven Austerity Measures

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The savage cuts unveiled in Wednesday's fierce neoliberal budget doesn't only amount to the deepest programme of public spending cuts since the 1920s. The Tory-led coalition is using the economic crisis not only to rein in the state, but to reorder society.

The heaviest cut, however, of at least £18bn, is to welfare, targeted on the poorest in the country. It includes a new one-year cutoff to the revamped incapacity benefit, another squeeze on housing benefit and a sharp net cut in child-related tax credits.

It is women, families and the sick who will be picking up the bill for the bank-triggered meltdown, along with low-income teenagers and public sector workers in their millions.

When it comes to welfare, the calculation is cynically straightforward. The poorest and most vulnerable have least political clout, while the military are cosseted and the majority of pensioners, who are highly likely to vote, are treated with kid gloves by comparison.

Osborne's insistence that those with the "broadest shoulders" would "bear the greatest burden" and that his cuts would hit the richest hardest is risible. A similar claim at the time of his emergency June budget was shown in short order to be the opposite of the truth.

The chancellor's own figures show that the poorest 10% will bear the largest share of yesterday's spending review announcements.

Even when all tax and spending measures are taken into account, they come off the second worst of all income groups – and that is only because the government calculation boosts the impact on the top 10% by including Labour's 50% tax rate.

When it comes to the seriously rich, of course, the coalition's cuts and tax changes hardly register at all.

Osborne's bank levy barely matches the cut in child benefit, while corporation tax is to be reduced year after year. Those who actually caused the crisis that blew a hole in the public finances are being asked to pay almost nothing all.

Meanwhile, close to a million jobs now stand to be lost as a direct result of the chancellor's announcements in the public and private sectors.

Potentially even more disastrously, by squeezing demand out of the economy Cameron and Osborne's cuts risk tipping it back into recession, at a time when governments across Britain's main trading markets are doing exactly the same thing.

Social Media: 'Rent a Friend"

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There's an article here about the emergence of friend-renting services. In the past, these services were often known as escort services and often implied prostitution, or they are known as travel guides.

You might be friendly with such people, but friends? With the reification of friendship through online social networks the meaning of the word friend has been denatured and made into an all-purpose synonym for someone with whom you are having any sort of social relation at all.

‘Friend’ has become a word we use unthinkingly and it’s almost ruined as a result. It started before we had ‘friends’ on Facebook whom we’ve never met.

This has put the concept of friendship as a noncommercial relation motivated entirely by affection under some stress, making such relations seem almost naive or suspect. Friends, in the new dispensation, are “service providers.”

Are we able to make the distinction between rented friends and “regular” friends. One rental friend is quoted as saying, “I’d definitely be open to transitioning from being a rented friend to a regular friend, but I haven’t met anyone I like enough to do that yet.”

I can’t conceive of a situation where such a transition is possible. You proclaim yourself outside the boundaries of friendship once you take money to consent to be in another person’s presence, once you pretend to like them for profit.

It's like asking the prostitute you've just had sex with if she could be your friend. Imagine her response.

Back in the day, when I taught in adult education, Many students took my 'friendliness' in the classroom as the cue to continue it outside.

I felt like saying to them, "look I get paid to be friendly and cooperative. I 'perform' as expected in the classroom. That's my profession. I'm a whore. No free fucks, I'm afraid."

A regular friend is someone who has earned your trust and attention and affection through reciprocal acts.

Renting a friend removes reciprocation for both parties and ushers them into the realm of commercial exchange, where the contract is governed by the principles of getting the best bargain.

The rented friend expects someone else to pay her for an option on friendship that she holds the right to exercise.

Are people that desperate and deluded? Do they think, “If only I get my foot in the door with a stranger, she will recognize what a good person I am and want to get to know me for free”?

The romanticised notion of 'true' friendship is that you need to risk something intrinsic to secure a true friend. To open up, leaving you more vulnerable.

In the era of hyper-conscious self-construction and externalized identity building, I wonder ifwe have anything intrinsic left.

Does anything about our "essential selves” remain, something we couldn’t possibly lose or remake, that we can offer in a gesture of pure friendship?

When we commodify our identity in various ways online, it makes such intrinsic character traits harder to recognize in ourselves. All that seems to be left is the marketing of self as a brand, an object, as someone who is desirable. We're all whores now.

10/21/10

I'm Mentally Unable

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Look up and set aside. I'm doing time devoted to myself. And you think it's a punishment.

I deliberately dissed authority in the conviction that. I expect the state to provide for me. Take care of the mentally unabled. Here I'm born again to be a thug. I serve my term of endearment.

The United States of Conditioning

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The paradox underlying US politics is that while the working class have overwhelmingly rejected right-wing policies, the country nevertheless continues to lurch further to the right.

This happens when voters mistake politicians like Obama for a liberal or a Socialist. Conservative and liberal working-class people should be philosophically and ethically opposed to any political party that undermines their social and economic interests.

Almost inexplicably, conservatives continue to identify themselves with Republicans and liberals with Democrats. Traditional conservatives and traditional liberals, while still in existence, are politically extinct.

Neither conservatives nor liberals are organized into a viable political force. They are fighting one another while the super-rich are looting the public treasure and privatizing the public domain.

Traditional conservatives and traditional liberals were replaced by neoconservatives and neoliberals, which are entirely different animals.

We behave as if the terms ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ and the parties they were traditionally associated with continue to exist and function the way they did in the past.

The Democrats sold out their liberal base to pursue corporate bribes in order to compete with the Republicans. As a result, the left continues to ineffectually grope for political expression.

The trouble is that the people do not comprehend who or what the real enemy is. Let me clarify it for them: The enemy is the ruling class, its social, financial, and political institutions, and the capitalist system that spawned them.

Its enemy is the corporate state and the commercial media in its various forms of expression.

It is irrational, if not delusional, for working class people to support candidates and policies to which they are philosophically opposed. And yet that is what they are doing.

As recent polls make clear, neither conservatives nor progressives want to have their social security benefits cut. They do not want to see their retirement benefits reduced, or their Medicare and Medicaid payments slashed.

The unemployed do not want their unemployment checks cut or eliminated, as some Republican members of Congress advocate. Workers do not want the retirement age raised. They do not want to see college tuition priced out of reach to all but the wealthy.

Why would the working class support a social and economic system that exploits and subjugates them? Clearly they do not understand that system or the alternatives that are available to it.

Americans are too indoctrinated to see through the fog of pro-capitalist propaganda. The majority exists in a media-induced state of false consciousness.

To them, up is down and down is up. Brown is white and white is brown. The people are confused and disoriented. They are misled and lied to. They are told what to think. America should be renamed the United States of Conditioning.

The British Lie Back & Accept Savage Austerity

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Yesterday, the British government announced the most drastic budget cuts in decades.

The savagery unveiled by George Osborne doesn't only amount to the deepest programme of public spending cuts since the 1920s.

As the chancellor's fog of spin started to clear, the scale of the political ambition behind them also became apparent. The Tory-led coalition is using the economic crisis not only to rein in the state, but to reorder society.

This is to be Britain's shock therapy. It is the culmination of the Conservative project to dismantle the heart of the welfare state – or, as Osborne put it today, to "reshape" public services – that began more than 30 years ago.

Neither the Conservatives nor their Liberal Democrat cheerleaders have a mandate to do any such thing.

Nor for the string of decisions they have handed down in blatant violation of pre-election pledges, from the abolition of universal child benefit to the privatising top-down transformation of the NHS. This is what most people at the May general election in fact voted against.

So coalition leaders have used the absurd claim that the country is on the brink of bankruptcy to force through an array of sweeping changes, any one of which would normally be the focus of a prolonged political battle.

It is a kind of political coup, and the result has been policymaking chaos, with a 16% cut in the BBC's budget imposed in the middle of the night and a Ministry of Defence deal that promises aircraft carriers without any actual planes.

But when it comes to choreography, the Bullingdon boys, Osborne and David Cameron, a former PR executive and a master of the darker political arts, have played a blinder.

Months of leaks of staggering cuts and carefully timed announcements of raids on middle-class incomes, from child benefit to tuition fees, were used to soften up the public for today's package with the preposterous theme of "we're all in this together".