Chris Hedges Speech – April 15, 2011 – BOA Protest

“Liberal or Conservative, it makes no difference now. Barack Obama serves corporate interests as assiduously as George W. Bush. And to place our faith in any party or established institution as a mechanism of reform is to be entranced by the celluloid shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave.”

~ Chris Hedges

As I mentioned here, New York City’s Union Square was my destination yesterday for a Bank of America/plutocracy protest. In all honesty, I expected a much bigger turnout than the 250ish people who showed up, especially since Chris Hedges was slated to make an appearance, but those of us who made it were fierce and on point.

And since Hedges can say it better than I could on my best day, I’ll just pass him the mic…

Oh, and you really need to see this guy dance to the jazzy rage of Junkyard Empire’s version of Get Up, Stand Up.

Dancing goodness begins at 0:41.

Advertisements

Greenwald: Obama’s “bad negotiating” is actually shrewd negotiating

I’m too busy to write at the moment, so I’m just going to highlite Glenn Greenwald’s latest piece in which he does a great job of shattering the “incompetence theorist” myth that continues to propose that poor Obama keeps on “failing” to enact progressive policies, while being “forced” to enact corporatist friendly ones.

It’s a point that I made here last week, and it’s really nice to see that Glenn and I are on the same wavelength, because he’s awesome.

Obama’s “bad negotiating” is actually shrewd negotiating

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 09:14 ET

By Glenn Greenwald

In December, President Obama signed legislation to extend hundreds of billions of dollars in Bush tax cuts, benefiting the wealthiest Americans. Last week, Obama agreed to billions of dollars in cuts that will impose the greatest burden on the poorest Americans. And now, virtually everyone in Washington believes, the President is about to embark on a path that will ultimately lead to some type of reductions in Social Security, Medicare and/or Medicaid benefits under the banner of “reform.” Tax cuts for the rich — budget cuts for the poor — “reform” of the Democratic Party’s signature safety net programs — a continuation of Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies and a new Middle East war launched without Congressional approval. That’s quite a legacy combination for a Democratic President.

All of that has led to a spate of negotiation advice from the liberal punditocracy advising the President how he can better defend progressive policy aims — as though the Obama White House deeply wishes for different results but just can’t figure out how to achieve them. Jon Chait, Josh Marshall, and Matt Yglesias all insist that the President is “losing” on these battles because of bad negotiating strategy, and will continue to lose unless it improves. Ezra Klein says “it makes absolutely no sense” that Democrats didn’t just raise the debt ceiling in December, when they had the majority and could have done it with no budget cuts. Once it became clear that the White House was not following their recommended action of demanding a “clean” vote on raising the debt ceiling — thus ensuring there will be another, probably larger round of budget cuts — Yglesias lamented that the White House had “flunked bargaining 101.” Their assumption is that Obama loathes these outcomes but is the victim of his own weak negotiating strategy.

I don’t understand that assumption at all. Does anyone believe that Obama and his army of veteran Washington advisers are incapable of discovering these tactics on their own or devising better strategies for trying to avoid these outcomes if that’s what they really wanted to do? What evidence is there that Obama has some inner, intense desire for more progressive outcomes? These are the results they’re getting because these are the results they want — for reasons that make perfectly rational political sense.

Conventional D.C. wisdom — that which Obama vowed to subvert but has done as much as any President to bolster — has held for decades that Democratic Presidents succeed politically by being as “centrist” or even as conservative as possible. That attracts independents, diffuses GOP enthusiasm, casts the President as a triangulating conciliator, and generates raves from the DC press corps — all while keeping more than enough Democrats and progressives in line through a combination of anti-GOP fear-mongering and partisan loyalty.

Isn’t that exactly the winning combination that will maximize the President’s re-election chances? Just consider the polling data on last week’s budget cuts, which most liberal commentators scorned. Americans support the “compromise” by a margin of 58-38%; that support includes a majority of independents, substantial GOP factions, and 2/3 of Democrats. Why would Democrats overwhelmingly support domestic budget cuts that burden the poor? Because, as Yglesias correctly observed, “just about anything Barack Obama does will be met with approval by most Democrats.” In other words, once Obama lends his support to a policy — no matter how much of a departure it is from ostensible Democratic beliefs — then most self-identified Democrats will support it because Obama supports it, because it then becomes the “Democratic policy,” by definition. Adopting “centrist” or even right-wing policies will always produce the same combination — approval of independents, dilution of GOP anger, media raves, and continued Democratic voter loyalty — that is ideal for the President’s re-election prospects.

That tactic in the context of economic policy has the added benefit of keeping corporate and banking money on Obama’s side (where it overwhelmingly was in 2008), or at least preventing a massive influx to GOP coffers. And just look at the team of economic advisers surrounding Obama from the start: does anyone think that Bill Daley, Tim Geithner and his army of Rubin acolytes and former Goldman Sachs executives are sitting around in rooms desperately trying to prevent budget cuts and entitlement “reforms”?

Why would Obama possibly want to do anything different? Why would he possibly want a major political war over the debt ceiling where he looks like a divisive figure and looks to be opposing budget cuts? Why would he possibly want to draw a line in the sand defending Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from any “reforms”? There would be only two reasons to do any of that: (1) fear that he would lose too much of his base if he compromised with the GOP in these areas, or (2) a genuine conviction that such compromises are morally or economically intolerable. Since he so plainly lacks both — a fear of losing the base or genuine convictions about this or anything else — there’s simply nothing to drive him to fight for those outcomes.

Like most first-term Presidents after two years, Obama is preoccupied with his re-election, and perceives — not unreasonably — that that goal is best accomplished by adopting GOP policies. The only factor that could subvert that political calculation — fear that he could go too far and cause Democratic voters not to support him — is a fear that he simply does not have: probably for good reason. In fact, not only does Obama not fear alienating progressive supporters, the White House seems to view that alienation as a positive, as it only serves to bolster Obama’s above-it-all, centrist credentials. Here’s what CNN’s White House Correspondent Ed Henry and Gloria Borger said last night about the upcoming fight over entitlements and the debt ceiling:

Henry: I was talking to a senior Democrat who advises the White House, outside the White House today who was saying look, every time this president sits down with Speaker Boehner, to Gloria’s point about negotiating skills, the president seems to give up another 5 billion dollars, 10 billion dollars, 20 billions dollars. It’ s like the spending cuts keep going up. If you think about where the congressional Democrats started a couple of months ago they were talking about no spending cuts on the table. It keeps going up.

But this president has a much different reality than congressional Democrats.

Borger (sagely): Right.

Henry: He’s going for re-election, him going to the middle and having liberal Democrats mad at him is not a bad thing.

Borger: Exactly.

That’s why I experience such cognitive dissonance when I read all of these laments from liberal pundits that Obama isn’t pursuing the right negotiating tactics, that he’s not being as shrewd as he should be. He’s pursuing exactly the right negotiating tactics and is being extremely shrewd — he just doesn’t want the same results that these liberal pundits want and which they like to imagine the President wants, too. He’s not trying to prevent budget cuts or entitlement reforms; he wants exactly those things because of how politically beneficial they are to him — to say nothing of whether he agrees with them on the merits.

When I first began blogging five years ago, I used to write posts like that all the time. I’d lament that Democrats weren’t more effectively opposing Bush/Cheney National Security State policies or defending civil liberties. I’d attribute those failures to poor strategizing or a lack of political courage and write post after post urging them to adopt better tactics to enable better outcomes or be more politically “strong.” But then I realized that they weren’t poor tacticians getting stuck with results they hated. They simply weren’t interested in generating the same outcomes as the ones I wanted.

It wasn’t that they eagerly wished to defeat these Bush policies but just couldn’t figure out how to do it. The opposite was true: they were content to acquiesce to those policies, if not outright supportive of them, because they perceived no political advantage in doing anything else. Many of them supported those policies on the merits while many others were perfectly content with their continuation. So I stopped trying to give them tactical advice on how to achieve outcomes they didn’t really want to achieve, and stopped attributing their failures to oppose these policies to bad strategizing or political cowardice. Instead, I simply accepted that these were the outcomes they most wanted, that Democratic Party officials on the whole — obviously with some exceptions — weren’t working toward the outcomes I had originally assumed (and which they often claimed). Once you accept that reality, events in Washington make far more sense.

That Obama’s agenda includes an affirmative desire for serious budget cuts and entitlement “reforms” has been glaringly obvious from the start; it’s not some unintended, recent by-product of Tea Party ascendancy. Since before Obama was even inaugurated, Digby has been repeatedly warning of his support for a so-called “Grand Bargain” that would include cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And Jane Hamsher and Ezra Klein had a fairly acrimonious exchange very early on in the Obama presidency over the former’s observation that Obama officials were expressly advocating cuts in Social Security while Klein insisted that this would never happen (yesterday, Klein reported that Obama would be supportive of Bowles-Simpson, which proposes deep cuts to Social Security, and boasted of his anticipation weeks ago that this would happen). Before Obama’s inauguration, I wrote that the most baffling thing to me about the enthusiasm of his hardest-core supporters was the belief that he was pioneering a “new form of politics” when, it seemed obvious, it was just a re-branded re-tread of Clintonian triangulation and the same “centrist”, scorn-the-base playbook Democratic politicians had used for decades.

What amazes me most is the brazen claims of presidential impotence necessary to excuse all of this. Atrios has written for weeks about the “can’t do” spirit that has overtaken the country generally, but that mindset pervades how the President’s supporters depict both him and the powers of his office: no bad outcomes are ever his fault because he’s just powerless in the face of circumstance. That claim is being made now by pointing to a GOP Congress, but the same claim was made when there was a Democratic Congress as well: recall the disagreements I had with his most loyal supporters in 2009 and 2010 over their claims that he was basically powerless even to influence his own party’s policy-making in Congress.

Such excuse-making stands in very sharp contrast to what we heard in 2008 and what we will hear again in 2012: that the only thing that matters is that Obama win the Presidency because of how powerful and influential an office it is, how disaster will befall us all if this vast power falls into Republican hands. It also contradicts the central promise of the Obama candidacy: that he would change, rather than bolster, the standard power dynamic in Washington. And it is especially inconsistent with Obama’s claimed desire to be a “transformational” President in much the way that Ronald Reagan was (but, Obama said to such controversy, Bill Clinton was not). Gaudy claims of Fundamental Change and Transformation and Yes, We Can! have given way to an endless parade of excuse-making that he’s powerless, weak and there’s nothing he can do.

Obama’s most loyal supporters often mock the notion that a President’s greatest power is his “bully pulpit,” but there’s no question that this is true. Reagan was able to transform how Americans perceived numerous political issues because he relentlessly argued for his ideological and especially economic world-view: a rising tide lifts all boats, government is not the solution but is the problem, etc. — a whole slew of platitudes and slogans that convinced Americans that conservative economic policy was optimal despite how much it undermined their own economic interests. Reagan was “transformational” because he changed conventional wisdom and those premises continue to pervade our political discourse.

When has Obama ever done any of that? When does he offer stirring, impassioned defenses of the Democrats’ vision on anything, or attempt to transform (rather than dutifully follow) how Americans think about anything? It’s not that he lacks the ability to do that. Americans responded to him as an inspirational figure and his skills of oratory are as effective as any politician in our lifetime. It’s that he evinces no interest in it. He doesn’t try because those aren’t his goals. It’s not that he or the office of the Presidency are powerless to engender other outcomes; it’s that he doesn’t use the power he has to achieve them because, quite obviously, achieving them is not his priority or even desire.

Whether in economic policy, national security, civil liberties, or the permanent consortium of corporate power that runs Washington, Obama, above all else, is content to be (one could even say eager to be) guardian of the status quo. And the forces of the status quo want tax cuts for the rich, serious cuts in government spending that don’t benefit them (social programs and progressive regulatory schemes), and entitlement “reform” — so that’s what Obama will do. He won’t advocate, and will actually oppose, steps as extreme as the ones Paul Ryan is proposing: that’s how he will retain his “centrist” political identity and keep the fear levels high among his voting base. He’ll pay lip service to some Democratic economic dogma and defend some financially inconsequential culture war positions: that’s how he will signal to the base that he’s still on their side. But the direction will be the same as the GOP desires and, most importantly, how the most powerful economic factions demand: not because he can’t figure out how to change that dynamic, but because that’s what benefits him and thus what he wants.

Ironically, Obama is turning out to be “transformational” in his own way — by taking what was once the defining GOP approach to numerous policy areas and converting them into Democratic ones, and thus ensconcing them in the invulnerable protective shield of “bipartisan consensus.” As Digby put it: “Reagan was a hard-core ideologue who didn’t just tweak some processes but radically changed the prevailing conventional wisdom. Unfortunately, Obama is actually extending the Reagan consensus, even as he pursues his own agenda of creating a Grand Bargain that will bring peace among the dueling parties (a dubious goal in itself.)” That has been one of the most consequential outcomes of the first two years of his presidency in terms of Terrorism and civil liberties, and is now being consecrated in the realm of economic policy as well.

I’m sorry, but Obama is a corporatist tool

“Sorry, I’m feeling a little superior tonight. Seven schools in seven states, and the only thing different is my locker combination.”

~ J.D. – Heathers

Heathers is a movie about tribalism, group think, conformity, and the ways in which people’s thoughts and actions are constricted by the groups they belong to, or aspire to belong to. On the surface, it’s about the ridiculousness of high school, but it’s really about the ridiculousness of EVERYTHING. But more to the point, it’s about how astonishingly difficult it is to be an aware, awake individual existing in the echo chamber of nonsense we think of as reality. And just as it often happens in real life, the character in Heathers who sees things as they truly are is ultimately destroyed by his failure to vigorously shake the zombies from their slumber.

Why on earth am I talking about a Christian Slater film from 1988? Well, I bring it up now because, as my prolonged absence from writing this blog would suggest, I’ve been feeling more and more alienated from the other 99% of the population who seem to be as happy as pigs in shit as long as they have their Nikes, Big Macs, and $5.25 café au laits.

Even though I haven’t been blogging, however, I have been a posting machine on Facebook, where I’m able to interact in a quicker and dirtier fashion than I can here. It’s funny, because I’m seen as a “radical leftist” by my right-leaning acquaintances, and as a closet Republican by a lot of my “liberal” friends who can’t be bothered to look past the fact that I’m criticizing their hero, President Peace Prize, and let’s face it, if you criticize a Democrat then you MUST be a Republican, because there are NO OTHER OPTIONS. Only left and right. Blue and red. You remember what happened when Ralph Nader ran for President as a third-party candidate, don’t you? He ruined EVERYTHING!!!!!! The problem wasn’t all of the other rubes who voted for Bush and Gore, and it certainly wasn’t the crooked Supreme Court. Nope, the problem was the third-party, so I guess we can never try THAT again.

</sarcasm>

Anyway, I’ve decided that the first step towards real change is a realization that change is actually required. With this in mind, I’ve decided to start small and impact my immediate community by using my Facebook page to convince my friends that Barack Obama is a corporatist tool of the military empire. You’d think that this would be a relatively simple task, since most of my friends are well-educated, creative, smart self-proclaimed liberals, and Obama’s allegiance to the new Amerikan fascism is so self-evident at this point that even the Neocon in Chief, Bill Kristol, is finding it increasingly difficult to hide his admiration.

“Of course, since his (Obama’s) sound policies are more like the policies people like me have been advocating for quite a while, I’m happy to support them, you know. He’s a born-again neocon.”

~ Bill Kristol

There you have it, folks.

Game over.

Obama is not a socialist.

Obama is not a progressive.

Obama is not a liberal.

Obama is not a good guy.

In fact, based on the Nuremberg principles, Obama is a war criminal.

Seriously.

It’s as plain as the noses that used to be on the faces of any number of children who have been murdered or maimed by his flying robot brigades in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Good guys don’t bomb civilians by remote control while continuing a completely unnecessary nine-year war (NINE FREAKING YEARS!), and they certainly don’t joke about it.

Now THAT’s some funny stuff right there.

Isn’t Obama a pisser?

He reminds me of this other really funny guy.

Oh, I’m sorry. Bush is a Republican and Obama is a Democrat. It’s ok to criticize one but not the other. I keep forgetting that I’m in bizarro world. Besides, only one of them has received the Henry Kissinger Nobel Peace Prize, and they don’t hand that out to just anybody.

Back to reality.

This is your President.

This is your Nobel Peace laureate.

This is your hope and your change.

You need to snap yourselves out of fantasy land and see this monster for who and what he is; a murderous tool of the corporotocracy.

But let’s go back to the Heathers analogy for a minute, because if you’ve seen the movie, then you know that J.D. was unsuccessful in his quest to pull back the curtain. In fact, he ended up destroying himself instead. I’m finding myself at a cross-roads because I really don’t know what to do any more. You can’t lead a movement when people don’t want to be moved. Especially when so much of their self-esteem is invested in the belief that they’re actually supporting the good guy. This often leads to great logical contortions in order to save face instead of admitting that they’ve been deceived by a carnival huckster with a multi-million dollar P.R. team. I had an exchange on Facebook the other day in response to my posting of the Bill Kristol clip, and I think it sums up what I’m trying to convey here.

After viewing the clip, my liberal friend said this:

“Compromise is the way of a newbie with not enough political clout to get things done in Washington, unfortunately.”

To which I replied:

“Sigh. Yes, that IS unfortunate for all of the dead, maimed, imprisoned, and tortured during the Peace Laureate’s reign. At some point though, I’m certain that the “other” side will get around to compromising so that we can craftily rub our hands together, twist our moustaches and gloat about how the Republicans have adopted, and even stepped up our hoped-for progressive policies.”

My friend’s response:

“Unfortunately was not a word I used to talk about the non-political consequences. But it is worth noting that these political decisions have very real outcomes.”

I’d like to point out that my friend DID acknowledge that there are negative consequences to Obama’s political decisions, which is much more than I usually get in these situations, but there’s certainly no outrage being expressed, and based on experience, I would bet lots of money that if we were talking about a Republican, ANY Republican, my friend wouldn’t be speaking of compromise and wouldn’t be describing the dead and maimed children as unfortunate outcomes. There would be anger and blame.

The rest of my friend’s response:

“Where do you leverage for change of these policies that have real outcomes? Surely not just by mentioning them on fb?”

On the surface, that seems like a valid criticism, but it’s really not. When 50% of the population thinks we should be murdering more Muslims, and the other 49% is walking around worshiping a cult of personality and believing, with all of their heart, that up is down, then you really can’t leverage for something as simple as a change of policies. Before you do anything else, you must convince a great number of people that a change of policies is needed in the first place, and with Obama’s public relations team continuing to successfully brand him to his loyal followers as hope and change personified, regardless of his actual policies, that is proving to be a monumentally difficult task. But again, this is exactly what I’m trying to do with my Facebook campaign, one friend at a time, so here’s how I responded:

“I leverage for change by making people aware that change is needed, and I do this by cataloging, day after day after day, that the change we’ve been sold is actually not change at all, and this is very important in a world where people pay much more attention to branding and advertising campaigns than they do to the performance of the actual product.

In other words, if we keep walking around believing, beyond logic and reason, that Obama and the Democrats are compromising as opposed to simply serving the interests that have put them into power, then we’ve lost before we’ve even begun. I’ve said this before, but the absolute brilliance of the Obama presidency is the way he’s applied the good housekeeping seal of approval to all of the wet dream policies of the neocons and the banking elite. Half of the population wrongly LOVES those policies, and now the other half are afraid to criticize them, or at best, claim that they’re simply compromise.

It’s not compromise. Obama and the Democrats do the things that they do for the same reasons the Republicans do them; because they’re serving the corporate interests that finance them. It sucks. I hate that we’ve been hoodwinked and manipulated based on our innate and socially engineered desires to support a team and to believe that somebody is looking out for us. It makes me feel awful most of my waking hours, but that’s the reality, and until we all come to terms with it, we’re going to be stuck in this feedback loop of corporo-military fucked-upness.”

(Incidentally, it’s been three days and my friend still has responded…)

The last sentence of my response is the key. It’s like that old alcoholic’s anonymous slogan:

Admitting that you have a problem is the first step towards recovery.

Obviously, the Republicans, with very few exceptions (Ron Paul comes to mind), are empire-loving corporatists. But even though most liberals desperately cling to the notion that the Democrats have the people’s best interests at heart, they really don’t. With very few exceptions (Kucinich, Sanders and a few more) the Democrats are also empire-loving corporatists, and this is especially true of Obama. This isn’t even debatable, it’s totally demonstrable. All one needs to do is to drop the emotional attachment to a party that sold its constituency out decades ago and objectively look at the record, which has been thoroughly documented by a few brave souls named Greenwald, Hedges, Floyd, Pilger, and Silber. A good rule of thumb when examining a policy is to ask yourself how you’d feel about it if it were the brainchild of a Republican.

If Bush was evil for bombing children, then so is Obama.

If Bush was evil for wire tapping your phone, then so is Obama.

If Bush was evil for facilitating the largest wealth transfer to the rich in human history, then so is Obama.

If Bush was evil for having a military budget larger than all other countries combined, then so is Obama.

If Bush was evil for renditions, torture, and locking people away in gulags without trial, then so is Obama.

If Bush was evil for deep water drilling and ignoring safety regulations, then so is Obama.

It goes on and on and on.

If you have the stomach for a laundry list of Obama’s complicity with the corporate-military-banking complex, then I highly recommend the Fuck Obama thread at Rigorous Intuition. R.I. is a blog and a message board, but more importantly, it’s also my salvation. It’s my safe room, where logic, common sense, and thoughtful analysis win the day. Here’s how I recently described it:

RI is a grass-roots think tank for people who are fed up with bullshit and lies. People who are looking for the thoughtful analysis of their peers, as opposed to the predictive programming disguised as news that spouts from the corporate media. And yes, I DID say peers, but not in an elitist sort of way. I’m only saying that you can’t get thoughtful analysis about the officially declared state of national emergency that’s been ongoing in the U.S. since 9/14/2001, Obama’s extrajudicial assassination program, and cluster bombs in Yemen from people who won’t look up from shopping or college basketball long enough to make themselves aware of those realities. At R.I. we’re trying, as best we can, to fit the puzzle pieces together in a way that explains the madness that surrounds us, because if you don’t understand the hows and whys of what’s being done to you, then you can never hope to do anything about it.

Listen, I know that it’s scary to admit to yourself that you’ve got nowhere to turn. I understand that. It’s also completely demoralizing to admit that you’ve been fooled, even more so when it’s the supposed good guys who have done the fooling. I get that too, but please swallow your pride, and take the first step towards acknowledging that we need real hope and real change, and that, as frightening as it is to admit, it’s not going to come from the current system, or from any of the corporate vampires currently posing as our leaders.

It won’t be easy. The reality that we’ve allowed the vampires to create is an awful place where we’ve been Balkanized by race, color, gender, sexuality, political party, and every other contrived “difference” under the sun, and conformity among these groups is as strictly enforced as it is amongst the preppies, the jocks, and the nerds in high school. You might end up a pariah to many of your “liberal” friends who prefer the comfort of the upside-down version of reality that allows them to put their fingers in their ears and pretend that they’re not complicit in the militarized corporate takeover because they vote for Democrats and still believe the public relations branding. Hopefully though, you’ll also be able to convince some people to join us, and then they’ll convince some people, and so on.

It has to start small and spread by word of mouth.  We’re NOT going to take over the U.S. at the 2012 elections, and our abandonment of the Democratic party in search of real progressives who aren’t bought and paid for will most likely lead to the election of more Republicans in the short-term, but we mustn’t allow this to deter us in our long-term quest to unseat the coporotocracy and give voice once again to the majority of people in the U.S. who really haven’t been represented in a very long time.

Remember, Nader wasn’t the problem, he was the solution, and there will be others if we can break down the walls of the false reality and convince enough people that real change can only come from outside of the current system. Keep pushing, and I’ll be here pushing with you.

Psywar: We are the dog that they wag

Psywar is a brand new documentary film that I believe is a potential game-changer, in that it is presented in such a way as to be palatable to someone who is new to, and even resistant to the idea that there has been a coordinated effort to herd the citizenry of the U.S. into needless wars that only benefit a tiny fraction of the population, otherwise known as “the elite.”

“If it is your desire to understand how we are manipulated into believing the things we do — watch this film. Every American should see it…for the sake of our future.”

~Timothy Gatto, fmr Chairman, Liberal Party of America

Trailer:

Please watch the entire film here:

Bageant: Waltzing at the doomsday ball

Joe Bageant’s at it again.  This guy hits more nails squarely on their heads than Norm freaking Abram ever did on his best day.  The entire article is worthy of being excerpted, but that kind of defeats the purpose of excerpting, so here’s a small sample to suck you in, followed by the entire piece.

It ain’t robbery, it’s a business cycle

Capitalism is about one thing: aggregating the surplus productive value of the public for private interests. As we have said, it is about creating state sanctioned “investments” for the workers who produce the real wealth. Things like home “ownership” and mortgages, or stock investments and funds to absorb their retirement savings. That crushing 30-year mortgage with two refis is an investment. So is that 401K melting like a snow cone the beach.

As the people’s wealth accumulates, it is steadily siphoned off by government and elite private forces. From time to time, it is openly plundered for their benefit by way of various bubbles, depressions or recessions and other forms of theft passed off as unavoidable acts of nature/god. These periodic raids and draw downs of the people’s wealth are attributed to “business cycles.” Past periodic raids and thefts are heralded as being proof of the rationale. “See folks, it comes and goes, so it’s a cycle!” Economic raids and busts become “market adjustments.” Public blackmail and plundering through bailouts become a “necessary rescue packages.” Giveaways to corporations under the guise of public works and creating employment become “stimulus.” The chief responsibility of economists is to name things in accordance with government and corporate interests. The function of the public is to acquire debt and maintain “consumer confidence.” When the public staggers to its feet again and manages to carry more debt, buy more poker chips on credit to play again, it’s called a recovery. They are back in the game.

Waltzing at the doomsday ball

Capitalism is dead, but we still dance with the corpse
By Joe Bageant

As an Anglo European white guy from a very long line of white guys, I want to thank all the brown, black, yellow and red people for a marvelous three-century joy ride. During the past 300 years of the industrial age, as Europeans, and later as Americans, we have managed to consume infinitely more than we ever produced, thanks to colonialism, crooked deals with despotic potentates and good old gunboats and grapeshot. Yes, we have lived, and still live, extravagant lifestyles far above the rest of you. And so, my sincere thanks to all of you folks around the world working in sweatshops, or living on two bucks a day, even though you sit on vast oil deposits. And to those outside my window here in Mexico this morning, the two guys pruning the retired gringo’s hedges with what look like pocket knives, I say, keep up the good work. It’s the world’s cheap labor guys like you — the black, brown and yellow folks who take it up the shorts — who make capitalism look like it actually works. So keep on humping. Remember: We’ve got predator drones.

After twelve generations of lavish living at the expense of the rest of the world, it is understandable that citizens of the so-called developed countries have come to consider it quite normal. In fact, Americans expect it to become plusher in the future, increasingly chocked with techno gadgetry, whiz bang processed foodstuffs, automobiles, entertainments, inordinately large living spaces — forever.

We’ve had plenty of encouragement, especially in recent times. Before our hyper monetized economy metastasized, things such as housing values went through the sky, and the cost of basics, food etc. went through the basement floor, compared to the rest of the world. The game got so cheap and fast that relative fundamental value went right out the window and hasn’t been seen since. For example, it would be very difficult to make Americans understand that a loaf of bread or a dozen eggs have more inherent value than an iPhone. Yet, at ground zero of human species economics, where the only currency is the calorie, that is still true.

Such is the triumph of the money economy that nothing can be valued by any other measure, despite that nobody knows what money is worth at all these days. This is due in part to the international finance jerk-off, in which the world’s governments print truckloads of worthless money, so they can loan it out. The idea here is that incoming repayment in some other, more valuable, currency will cover their own bad paper. In turn, the debtor nations print their own bogus money to repay the loans. So you have institutions loaning money they do not have to institutions unable to repay the loans. All this is based on the bullshit theory that tangible wealth is being created by the world’s financial institutions, through interest on the debt. Money making money.

As my friend, physicist and political activist George Salzman writes,

“Everyone in these ‘professional’ institutions dealing in money lives a fundamentally dishonest life. Never mind ‘regulating’ interest rates,” he says. “We must do away with interest, with the very idea of ‘money making money’. We must recognize that what is termed ‘Western Civilization’ is in fact an anti-civilization, a global social structure of death and destruction. However, the charade of ever-increasing debt can be kept up only as long as the public remains ignorant. Once ecological limits have been reached the capitalist political game is up.”

You can see why I love this guy.

Boomers and Doomers and XXL bloomers

Capitalism wouldn’t be around today, at least not in its current pathogenic form, if it had not caught a couple of lucky breaks. The first of course, was the expansion of bloodsucking colonialism to give it transfusions of unearned wealth, enabling “investors” to profit by artificial means (death, oppression and slavery). But the biggest break was being driven to stratospheric heights by inordinate quantities of available hydrocarbon energy. Inordinate, but never the less finite. Consequently, the 100-year-long oil suckdown that put industrial countries in the tall cotton, now threatens to take back from subsequent beneficiary generation everything it gave. The Hummers, the golf courses, the big box stores, cruising at 35,000 feet over the Atlantic — everything.

You’d never know that, to look around at Americans or Canadians, who have not the slightest qualms about living in that 3,500 square foot vinyl sided fuck box, if they can manage to make the mortgage nut, or unashamedly buying a quadruple X large Raiders Jersey because, hey, a guy’s gotta eat, right? Why don’t I deserve a nice ride, a swimming pool and a flat screen? I worked for it (sure you did buddy, your $12,000 Visa/MasterCard tab is proof of that).

The doomers and the peak oilers gag, and they call it American denial. Personally, I think it is somewhat unfair to say that most Americans and Canadians are in denial. They simply don’t have a fucking clue about what is really happening to them and their world. Everything they have been taught about working, money and “quality of life” constitutes the planet’s greatest problem — overshoot. Understanding this trashes our most basic assumptions, and requires a complete reversal in contemporary thought and practice about how we live in the world. When was the last time you saw any individual, much less an entire nation, do that?

Compounding our ignorance and naiveté are the officials and experts, politicians, media elites, and especially economists, who interpret the world for us and govern the course of things. The go-to guys. They don’t know either. But they’ve got the lingo down.

Somehow or other, it all has to do with the economy, which none of us understands, despite round the clock media jabbering on the subject. Somehow it has to do with this great big spring on Wall Street called “the market” that’s gotta be kept wound up, and interest rates at something called The Fed, which have got to be kept smunched down. The industry of crystal gazing and hairball rubbing surrounding these entities is called economics.

In heaven, there are no jobs

The following may be old news to some who studied economics in college. However, I did not. And, for me at least, this gets at the heart of our dilemma (if dilemma is the right word for economic, environmental and species collapse). Here goes:

The human economy is made up of three parts: nature, work and money. But since nobody would pay people like Allen Greenspan or Milton Friedman millions of dollars if they talked just like the rest of us, economists and academics refer to these three parts as the primary, secondary and tertiary economies.

Of these, nature — the world’s ecosystems and natural capital — is by far the most important. It comprises about three quarters of the total value of economic activity (Richard Costanza et al. 1997). To western world economists, nature — when it is even give nature a thought — is considered to be limitless.

The second part, work, is the labor required to produce goods and services from natural resources. Work creates real value through efficient use of both human and natural resource energy. A potato is just a potato until people sweating over belt lines and giant fryers turn it into Tater Tots.

The third economy, the tertiary economy, is the production and exchange of money. This includes anything that can be exchanged for money, whether it is gold, or mortgages bundled as securities, or derivatives. In short, any paperwork device that can be rigged up in such a fashion that money will stick to it. Feel free to take a wild-assed guess which of the three economies causes the most grief in this world.

To an economist, work — the stuff that eats up at least a third of our earthly lives, is merely a “factor” called labor. Work is considered an unfortunate cost in creating added value. Added value, along with nature’s resources, is the basis for all real world profits. Without labor, the money economy could not gin up on-paper wealth in its virtual economy. Somewhere, somebody’s gotta do some real-world work, before bankers and investment brokers can go into their offices and pretend to work at “creating and managing wealth.”

Paying the workers in society to produce real wealth costs money. Capitalists hate any sort of cost. It represents money that has somehow escaped their coffers. So when any behemoth corporation hands out thousands of pink slips on a Friday, Wall Street cheers and “the market” goes up. No ordinary mortal has ever seen “the market.” But traders on the floor of 11 Wall Street, people who’ve deemed themselves more than mortal by virtue of their $110 Vanitas silk undershorts, assure us the market does exist. No tours of the New York Stock exchange are permitted, so we have to take their word for it.

In any case, in the money economy, eliminating costs, even if those costs happen to be feeding human beings, citizens of the empire, is sublime. That is why economists in the tertiary economy can declare a “jobless recovery” with a straight face. By their lights, the perfect recovery would necessarily be 100% jobless. Human costs of generating profit would be entirely eliminated.

Say what you will about the tertiary “money economy,” but one thing is certain. It’s virulent. Right now finance makes up 42% of GDP, and is rising. Traditionally that figure has been around 9%. Fifty eight percent of the economy is “services.” When it comes to the service economy, most people think of fried chicken buckets and “customer service,” call centers harassing debtors or selling credit cards. However, much of the so-called service economy consists of “services” sub-corporations and entities owned and operated by monopolies in communications, electronic access and energy. They are designed for the sole purpose of robbing the people incrementally. Borrow a microscope and read the back side your cable and electric bill. Billing you is a “service” for which you pay. So is the guy who cuts off your lights if you don’t.

And manufacturing? Ten percent. Mostly big ticket items such as salad shooters, as near as I can tell.

What nature?

Still though, the foundation of the world, including our entire economic structure, is nature. This is clear to anyone who has ever, planted a garden, hiked in the woods, gone fishing or been gnawed on by chiggers. In vis est exordium quod terminus.

Yet, not one in a thousand economists takes nature into account. Nature has no place in contemporary economics, or the economic policy of today’s industrial nations. Again, like the general American public, these economists are not in denial. They simply don’t know it’s there. Historically, nature has never been considered even momentarily because economists, like the public, never figured they would run out of it. With the Gulf oil “spill” at full throttle, the terrible destruction of nature is becoming obvious. But no economist who values his or her career wants to start figuring the cost of ecocide into pricing analysis. For god sake man, it’s a cost!

With industrial society chewing the ass out of Mama Nature for three centuries, something had to give, and it has. Capitalists, however, remain unimpressed by global warming, or melting polar ice caps, or Southwestern desert armadillos showing up in Canada, or hurricanes getting bigger and more numerous every year. They are impressed by the potential dough in the so-called green economy. In fact, last night I watched an economist on CNN say that if the government had let the free market take care of the BP gulf catastrophe, it would not be the clusterfuck it is now. Now THAT might qualify as denial. In the mean time, anthropogenic ecocide and resource depletion, coupled with the pressures of six billion mouths and asses across the globe, have started to produce — surprise surprise, Sheriff Taylor! — very real effects on world economies. (How could they not?) So far though, in the simplistic see-spot-run American mind, it’s all about dead pelicans and oiled up hotel beaches.

Monkey with the paper

When the U.S., and then the world’s money economy started to crumble, the first thing capitalist economists could think of to do was to monkey with the paper. That’s all they knew how to do. It was unthinkable that the tertiary virtual economy, that great backroom fraud of debt manipulation and fiat money, might have finally reached the limits of the material earth to support. That the money economy’s gaming of workers and Mother Nature might itself might be the problem never occurred to the world’s economic movers and shakers. It still hasn’t. (Except for Chavez, Morales, Castro and Lula). Jobs disappeared, homes went to foreclosure, and personal debt was at staggering all time highs. America’s working folks were taking it square in the face. Not that economists or financial kingpins cared much one way or the other. In the capitalist financial world, everything is an opportunity. Cancer? Build cancer hospital chains. Pollution? Sell pollution credits. The country gone bankrupt?

“Nothing to do,” cried the mad hatters of finance, “but print more money, and give gobs of cash to the banks! Yes, yes, yes! Borrow astronomical amounts of the stuff and bribe every fat cat financial corporation up and down The Street!” All of which came down to creating more debt for the common people to work off. They seem willing enough to do it too — if only they had jobs.

Along with the EU, Japan and the rest of the industrial world, the US continues to flood the market with cheap credit. That would be hunky dory, if was actually wealth for anybody but a banker. The real problems are debt and fraud, and tripling the debt in order to cover up the fraud. And pretending there no natural costs of our actions, that we do not have to rob the natural world to crank up the money world through debt.

No matter what economists tell us abut getting the credit industry moving again, papering over debt with more debt will not pollinate our food crops when the last honeybee is dead. I suggest that we put the economists out there in the fields, hand-pollinating crops like they do in China. They seem to know all about the subject, and have placed a monetary value of $12 billion on the pollination accomplished by bees in the US. Can you imagine the fucking arrogance? All bees do is make our fruit and vegetable supply possible. Anyway, if we cannot use the economists for pollinators (odds are they are too damned whacked to do that job), we could also stuff them down the blowhole of the Deepwater Horizon spill. For the first time in history, economists would be visibly useful.

Speaking of China: Since there is no way to pick up the turd of American capitalism by the clean end, much less polish it, American economists have pointed east, and set up a yow-yow about China as “the emerging giant.” The “next global industrial superpower.” Many Chinese are willing to ride their bicycles 10 miles to work through poisonous yellow-green air, and others in the “emerging middle class” are willing to wade into debt up to their nipples; this is offered as evidence of the viability of industrial capitalism. All it proves is that governments and economists never learn. In the quest of getting something for nothing, China follows the previous fools right into the smog and off the cliff.

Sumthin’ fer nuthin’

The main feature of capitalism is the seductive assertion that you can get something for nothing in this world. That you can manufacture wealth through money manipulation, and that it is OK to steal and hold captive the people’s medium of exchange, then charge them out the ass for access. That you can do so with a clear conscience. Which you can, if you are the kind of sleazy prick who has inherited or stolen enough wealth to get into the game.

Even so, to keep a rigged game going, you must keep the suckers believing they can, and eventually will, benefit from the game. Also, that it is the only game in town. Legitimizing public theft means indoctrinating the public with all sorts of market mystique and hocus-pocus. They must be convinced there is is such a thing as an “investment” for the average schmuck drawing a paycheck (and there is, sort of, between the crashes and the bubbles). It requires a unified economic rationale for government and industry policies, and it is the economist’s job to pump out this rationale. Historically, they have seldom hesitated to get down on their knees and do so.

It ain’t robbery, it’s a business cycle

Capitalism is about one thing: aggregating the surplus productive value of the public for private interests. As we have said, it is about creating state sanctioned “investments” for the workers who produce the real wealth. Things like home “ownership” and mortgages, or stock investments and funds to absorb their retirement savings. That crushing 30-year mortgage with two refis is an investment. So is that 401K melting like a snow cone the beach.

As the people’s wealth accumulates, it is steadily siphoned off by government and elite private forces. From time to time, it is openly plundered for their benefit by way of various bubbles, depressions or recessions and other forms of theft passed off as unavoidable acts of nature/god. These periodic raids and draw downs of the people’s wealth are attributed to “business cycles.” Past periodic raids and thefts are heralded as being proof of the rationale. “See folks, it comes and goes, so it’s a cycle!” Economic raids and busts become “market adjustments.” Public blackmail and plundering through bailouts become a “necessary rescue packages.” Giveaways to corporations under the guise of public works and creating employment become “stimulus.” The chief responsibility of economists is to name things in accordance with government and corporate interests. The function of the public is to acquire debt and maintain “consumer confidence.” When the public staggers to its feet again and manages to carry more debt, buy more poker chips on credit to play again, it’s called a recovery. They are back in the game.

Dealer, hit me with two more cards,. I feel lucky.

Does it hurt yet?

To anyone who is paying attention, things look doomed. Fortunately for American capitalism, nobody is paying attention. They never have. Even given the unemployment numbers, foreclosures and bankruptcies, most Americans are still not feeling enough pain yet to demand change. Not that they will. Demand change, I mean. We haven’t the slightest idea of any other options, outside those provided by the corporate managed state. So in a chorus well-schooled by the media the public demands “reform,” of the present system, the systemic pathogenic system based on exploitation of the many by the few, the one presently eating our society from the inside out. How do you reform that?

We are clueless, and the state sees to it that we stay that way. Take the price of gas, about which Americans are obsessive. In one way or another, petroleum is the subject of much news coverage, nearly as much as pissing matches between egomaniacs in Hollywood or o Capitol Hill. So one might think that by now Americans would have a realistic grasp of the petroleum business and things like oil and gasoline prices.

Hah, think again! This is America, this is Strawberry Fields, where nothing is real and the skies are not cloudy all day. We’re stewed in a consumer hallucination called the American Dream and riding a digital virtual money economy nobody can even prove exists.

Is there an economy out there or not?

If we decide to believe the money economy still exists, and that debt is indeed wealth, then we damned sure know where to go looking for the wealth. Globally, forty percent of it is in the paws of the wealthiest one percent. Nearly all of that one percent are connected to the largest and richest corporations. Just before the economy blew out, these elites held slightly less than $80 trillion. After the blowout/bailout, their combined investment wealth was estimated at a little over $83 trillion. To give some idea, this is four years of the gross output of all the human beings on earth. It is only logical that these elites say the only way to revive the economy, which to them consists entirely of the money economy, is to continue to borrow money from them.

However, the unasked question still hangs in the air: Does the money economy even exist anymore? Is it still there? (was it ever?) Or are we all blindly going through the motions because:

A: we do not understand that, for all practical historical purposes, it’s over;

B: we do not know how to do anything else so we keep dancing with the corpse of the hyper-capitalist economy;

C: the right calamity has not come down the pike to knock us loose from the spell of the dance,

or D: we’re so friggin brain dead, commodities engorged and internally colonized by capitalist industrialism that nobody cares, and therefore it no longer matters.

This is multiple choice, and it counts ten points toward survival, come the collapse.

If there is no economy left, what the hell are we all participating in? A mirage? The zombie ball? The short answer is: Because the economy is a belief system, you are participating in whatever you believe you are. Personally, I believe we are participating in a modern extension of the feudal system, with bankers as the new feudal barons and credit demographics as their turf. But then, I drink and take drugs. Whatever it is, the money economy is the only game in town until the collapse, after which chickens and firewood may become the national currency. The Masai use cattle don’t they?

At the same time, even dumb people are starting to feel an undefined fear in their bones. When I was back in the States last month, an old high school chum, a sluggard who seldom has forward thought beyond the next beer and Lotto scratch ticket, confides in me:

“Joey, I can’t shake the feeling that something big and awful is going to happen. And by awful I mean awful.”

“Happen to what?”

“Money, work, our country. Shit, I dunno.”

“Probably all three,” I opined. “Plus the environment.”

“Cheerful fuck, ain’t ya?”

“That’s what they pay me for, Bubba.”

Some in the herd are starting to feel a big chill in the air, the first winds of the approaching storm. Yes, something is happening, and you don’t know what it is, dooooo yew, Mistah Jones?

However, the most adept economists and other court sorcerers are going along as if nothing too unusual is happening — calling it a recession, or more recently a double-dip recession (don’t you love these turd-balls, making it sound as harmless as an ice cream cone — gimme a double dip please!) or even a depression. But no matter what it is, they smugly assure us, there is nothing happening that the world has never seen before. Including the insider scams that ignited the catastrophe. It’s just a matter of size. Extent.

OK, it’s a matter of scale. Like the Gulf oil spill. We’ve seen spills before, just not this big. But over the next couple of years as the poison crud circulates the world’s oceans, the Deep Horizon spill will prove to be a global game changer, whether economists and court wizards acknowledge it or don’t. Anything of global scale, whether it is in finance, energy, foreign aid, world health or war contracting, is accompanied by unimaginable complexity. That makes it perfect cover for criminal activity. Particularly finance, where you are always close to the money.

Jim Kunstler, never at a loss to describe a ludicrous situation, sums up the paper economy’s engineering of our collapse nicely:

“Wall Street — in particular the biggest ‘banks’ — packaged up and sold enough swindles to unwind 2500 years of western civilization. You simply cannot imagine the amount of bad financial paper out there right now in every vault and portfolio on the planet … the people fabricating things like synthetic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) had no idea what the fuck they were doing — besides deliberately creating documents that nobody would ever understand, that would never be unraveled by teams of law clerks … and were guaranteed to place in jeopardy every operation of the world economy above the barter level.”

Phew!

So, for $5,000 and an all expense paid trip to Rio: What does a good capitalist do after having stolen all there is to steal from the living, then stolen the nation’s future wealth from the unborn through debt both public and private?

Tick tock, tick tock. The wheel spins.

Blaaaaaamp!

“Your answer please.”

“A good capitalist would ‘invest’ his haul in some other racket, some other scam in the money economy.”

“Vanna, a pie in the kisser for this guy, please.”

The problem with the answer is that economy is now toxed out. Radioactive. Crawling with paper vermin and all manner of vermin, especially toxic derivatives — about $1.4 quadrillion worth (even as we are still trying to get used to hearing the term trillions), according to the Bank of National Settlements. That is 1,000 trillion, or $190,000 for every human being on the planet. There is not now, and never will be, enough wealth to cover that puppy — because there is not enough natural world under the puppy to create it. Not the way capitalism creates wealth.

Defenders of capitalism who say it can and must be saved must also admit that there is not enough money left to work with, to invest. There is only debt. Oh, yeah, we forgot; debt is wealth to a banker. Well then, all we gotta do is collect $190,000 per head from people in Sudan and Haiti and the rest of the planet.

Naw, that’s too hard. Elite capital’s best bet is a good old fashioned money raid on the serfs; create another bubble that will buy enough time before it pops to make the already rich a few billion richer. To that end, the G-8 is blowing one last bounder out there in the hyperspace where the economy s alleged to be surviving. Naturally, they are doing it in order to “save the world economy.” The tough part is figuring out what to base the next bubble on.

May I suggest Soylent Green?

Under God, with fees and compound interest for all

From the outset, capitalism was always about the theft of the people’s sustenance. It was bound to lead to the ultimate theft — the final looting of the source of their sustenance — nature. Now that capitalism has eaten its own seed corn, the show is just about over, with the nastiest scenes yet to play out around water, carbon energy (or anything that expends energy), soil and oxygen. For the near future however, it will continue to play out around money.

As the economy slowly implodes, money will become more volatile stuff than it already is. The value and availability of money is sure to fluctuate wildly. Most people don’t have the luxury of escaping the money economy, so they will be held hostage and milked hard again by the same people who just drained them in the bailouts. As usual, the government will be right there to see that everybody plays by the rules. Those who have always benefited by capitalism’s rules will benefit more. That cadre of “money professionals” which holds captive the nation’s money supply, and runs things according to the rules of money, can never lose money. It writes the rules. And rewrites them when it suits the money elite’s interests. Capitalism, the Christian god, democracy, the Constitution.

It’s all one ball of wax, one set of rules in the American national psyche. Thus, the money masters behind the curtain will write The New Rules, the new tablets of supreme law, and call them Reform. There will be rejoicing that “the will of the people” has once again moved upon the land, and that the democracy’s scripture has once again been delivered by the unseen hand of God.

—————

Joe Bageant is the author of Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War. His newest book, Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir, deals with America’s permanent white underclass, and how it was intentionally created. To be released in September in Australia and October in the United Kingdom. Rainbow Pie is available for preorder from Amazon-UK and Amazon-Canada. In Australia, the book can be pre-ordered at Scribe Publications.

July 4th, or … I pledge allegiance to the aircraft carrier

“Wake up sucker! We’re thieves and we’re bad guys. That’s exactly what we are.”

~ Peter — Dawn of the Dead

I watched Dawn of the Dead (the original) on the evening of July 3rd. I’ve seen it a bunch of times, actually, but this was the first time I had watched it in a few years, and the line I quoted above hit me in a totally new way this time around. Instead of hearing it in the context of the movie, I heard it in the context of the ongoing militarized corporate takeover of the planet, and specifically, America’s role in that takeover.

Wake up sucker! We’re thieves and we’re bad guys. That’s exactly what we are.

Indeed.

I paused the movie and said it out loud to the cat sharing the sofa with me. He was unimpressed, and put his head back down on his pillow, which is exactly how most Americans would react to such a statement.

Shut up, dude, I’m trying to watch the glowing box over here. Don’t make me think too hard about anything, and whatever you do, never, ever make me think about America as anything other than the super duperist, melting pottingist, terror-fightingist, democracy-spreadingist, home of the bravest, shiniest beacon on the hill in the history of the known universe.

But, but, but … what about our toppling of the democratically elected Iranian government in 1953? What about our staging of the phony Gulf of Tonkin incident as an excuse for all-out war in Vietnam? And speaking of Vietnam, what about our carpet bombing of Cambodia? What about our unconditional backing of the apartheid state of Israel? What about our fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo? What about our nuclear holocausts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? What about our importation of Nazi scientists after WWII? What about our illegal invasion of Afghanistan? What about our illegal invasion of Iraq? What about our drone attacks in Pakistan?  What about our growing misadventures in Yemen? What about our role in the creation of Al Qaeda? What about the Patriot Act and all it’s attendant civil liberty erosions? What about our extra judicial White House assassination policy? What about our off-shore gulags and torture mills? What about our role in protecting Afghanistan’s international heroin trade? What about our destruction of our own working and middle class?  What about our 13 trillion-dollar debt? What about our…

Dude, shut up, I’m trying to watch Ultimate Lions Eating People American Gladiator Shop ’til You Drop Extreme Red Bull Wife Swap NASCAR Cage Fighting. Besides, didn’t you learn in American Exceptionalism 101 that our government only does bad stuff in self-defense against terrorists who hate us for our freedom to lie around watching Ultimate Lions Eating People, while we eviscerate their children’s sorry asses with missiles fired from flying robots? What are you, some kind of communist?

And so it goes here in the last empire standing. The myth is the truth and the truth is a myth, and this upside down version of reality has been fashioned into a corporate swagger stick that keeps us pulling on the rope of empire, just like the beasts of burden that we are.

But there’s always another day, right? For me, the next day was the 4th of July, and I decided to get my bike ride out-of-the-way early, before the ridiculous heat and humidity of New York City summer set in. My ride took me up the bike path along the Henry Hudson Highway, and again, I was seeing it through different eyes this time around. Instead of losing myself in my headphones, I thought about the fact that Henry Hudson wasn’t just some swashbuckling adventurer who happened to discover the area that would become New York City whilst water skiing and parasailing. He actually worked for a colonial corporation called the Dutch East India Company (which I’ll probably write about soon), and his arrival was just another in a long series of conquests by white Europeans that marked the beginning of the end for the native peoples who, in the coming centuries, would be mercilessly destroyed in the name of colonial corporate wealth, and twisted, Kiplingesque progress.

As I continued to ride north, I noticed that the NYPD was out in force, helping to prepare for the evening’s fireworks celebration along the Hudson river. It occurred to me that the police officers had a long hot day ahead of them in their dark navy blue uniforms. Then I remembered that it wasn’t too long ago that the NYPD wore light blue uniforms that were pleasing to the eye, and gave off an unspoken impression of helpfulness, as opposed to the current para-military styled uniforms that are much closer to black than to blue, and wouldn’t seem out of place on a Gestapo agent, which, of course, is the exact intended effect.

Check out Officer Friendly!

As I approached 42 street, I could see a long line of overweight people, clad in ill-fitting, corporate logo’d gear, clutching plastic bottles full of Coke and Pepsi products. Most of them were likely tourists, celebrating the 4th in the most American way possible; by standing in line to pledge allegiance to an aircraft carrier. The Intrepid is a floating museum dedicated to modern-day, jingoistic, chest thumping colonialism, and damned if these people didn’t bring me right back to Dawn of the Dead, aimlessly milling about like zombies, unwilling, or unable to think for even a second about the fact that they are worshiping tools of theft and destruction.

Wake up sucker! We’re thieves and …

Oh, never mind.

Happy fourth of July!

The CIA, Likud, and the October Surprise

In case you weren’t already aware of the October Surprise, here’s a bit of background.

In 1953, the CIA’s Operation Ajax unseated Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, and inserted the U.S. friendly Mohammed Reza Pahlavi as the Shah (ancestral Monarch).  Mossadegh had to go because he was the chief architect of the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry, which was a serious bummer for the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.  Within a year of the coup, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company became British Petroleum (BP), who you may or may not have heard about recently due to a minor problem they’re experiencing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Anyhow…

In January of 1979, the Iranians were fed up with the Shah and his western corporatist ways, so they had themselves a revolution, and Ayatollah Khomeini assumed power.

A bit later that same year, the deposed Shah was diagnosed with lymphoma, and he sought treatment in the U.S., which really annoyed the Iranian revolutionaries because the U.S. is Satan (their words), and generally had been meddling in their affairs for ages.

With all of that as the backdrop, on November 4, 1979, the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was seized by Iranian revolutionaries, and 66 U.S. citizens were taken hostage.  A short time later, some of the hostages were released, but 52 of them remained for 444 days.

Jimmy Carter was President of the United States at the time, and he was running against Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush for reelection.  In the weeks before the election, former CIA director Bush, along with William Casey (who became CIA Director under Reagan) and a rogues gallery of U.S. and Israeli intelligence assets met in secret with the Iranians and struck a deal that guaranteed that the hostages would NOT be released until AFTER Reagan was elected.  In exchange, Iran was to receive 52 million in arms sales (Iran Contra), and Israel would get rid of Carter, who had the audacity to force them to concede Sinai back to Egypt, and was about to put a serious cramp in their occupation of … oops, I mean their settlements in the West Bank.

This secret agreement is known as the October Surprise, but it’s generally been resigned, by an obedient press corps, to the wacky conspiracy theory file of history.  After all, we can’t have people believing that America the beautiful would ever involve itself in such chicanery.

And now that you’re up to speed, I’m presenting a far more detailed article by the George Polk Award winning Robert Parry.   He connects a lot of the dots that rarely get connected, so set aside 15 or 20 minutes of your time and dig in.

The CIA/Likud Sinking of Jimmy Carter

By Robert Parry (A Special Report)
June 24, 2010

As the Official Story of the 1980 October Surprise case crumbles – with new revelations that key evidence was hidden from investigators of a congressional task force and that internal doubts were suppressed – history must finally confront the troubling impression that remains: that disgruntled elements of the CIA and Israel’s Likud hardliners teamed up to remove a U.S. president from office.

Indeed, it is this disturbing conclusion – perhaps even more than the idea of a Republican dirty trick – that may explain the longstanding and determined cover-up of this political scandal.

Too many powerful interests do not want the American people to accept even the possibility that U.S. intelligence operatives and a longtime ally could intervene to oust a president who had impinged on what those two groups considered their vital interests.

To accept that scenario would mean that two of the great fears of American democracy had come true – George Washington’s warning against the dangers of “entangling alliances” and Harry Truman’s concern that the clandestine operations of the CIA had the makings of an “American Gestapo.”

It is far easier to assure the American people that no such thing could occur, that Israel’s Likud – whatever its differences with Washington over Middle East peace policies – would never seek to subvert a U.S. president, and that CIA dissidents – no matter how frustrated by political constraints – would never sabotage their own government.

But the evidence points in that direction, and there are some points that are not in dispute. For instance, there is no doubt that CIA Old Boys and Likudniks had strong motives for seeking President Jimmy Carter’s defeat in 1980.

Inside the CIA, Carter and his CIA Director Stansfield Turner were blamed for firing many of the free-wheeling covert operatives from the Vietnam era, for ousting legendary spymaster Ted Shackley, and for failing to protect longtime U.S. allies (and friends of the CIA), such as Iran’s Shah and Nicaragua’s dictator Anastasio Somoza.

As for Israel, Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin was furious over Carter’s high-handed actions at Camp David in 1978 forcing Israel to trade the occupied Sinai to Egypt for a peace deal. Begin feared that Carter would use his second term to bully Israel into accepting a Palestinian state on West Bank lands that Likud considered part of Israel’s divinely granted territory.

Former Mossad and Foreign Ministry official David Kimche described Begin’s attitude in his 1991 book, The Last Option, saying that Israeli officials had gotten wind of “collusion” between Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat “to force Israel to abandon her refusal to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Kimche continued, “This plan – prepared behind Israel’s back and without her knowledge – must rank as a unique attempt in United States’s diplomatic history of short-changing a friend and ally by deceit and manipulation.”

However, Begin recognized that the scheme required Carter winning a second term in 1980 when, Kimche wrote, “he would be free to compel Israel to accept a settlement of the Palestinian problem on his and Egyptian terms, without having to fear the backlash of the American Jewish lobby.”

In his 1992 memoir, Profits of War, Ari Ben-Menashe, an Israeli military intelligence officer who worked with Likud, agreed that Begin and other Likud leaders held Carter in contempt.

“Begin loathed Carter for the peace agreement forced upon him at Camp David,” Ben-Menashe wrote. “As Begin saw it, the agreement took away Sinai from Israel, did not create a comprehensive peace, and left the Palestinian issue hanging on Israel’s back.”

So, in order to buy time for Israel to “change the facts on the ground” by moving Jewish settlers into the West Bank, Begin felt Carter’s reelection had to be prevented. A different president also presumably would give Israel a freer hand to deal with problems on its northern border with Lebanon.

Much more at the link.

  • Calendar

    • September 2017
      M T W T F S S
      « Dec    
       123
      45678910
      11121314151617
      18192021222324
      252627282930  
  • Search