By: DI Editor, Dusty Schoch
June 26, 2012
With the political poles chattering and crucial elections looming I am writing to sound the alarm of potential pending doom and disaster — A disaster which will come full circle if we again elect the wrong president (Sorry, we didn’t actually elect Bush; he was crowned king by fiat of the Supremes chorusing in 5/4 Republican harmony to corporate sponsors in the Con law case of Gore v Bush).
But to what “tower” do I refer? It’s the terrible tyrannical tower which will determine whether we respond to disaster with a plea for deliverance or … greater disaster. I promise you – errant government is not like wild fires; electing more nitwitted neocons to “back-fire”–fix the disasters of former neocons won’t work. Now back to the tower: Don’t sneak-peak the end of my essay – I buried my lead for a good cause: I want to take you on a stroll through American History before pointing you to the tower where America’s history and fate will be determined.
This essay was provoked by today’s headlines showing Obama and Romney presently running even in the polls. The article rang true when it said that polls are often misleading because (as Dukakis in 1988) 9th-inning flukes and other things often reverse the tides of presidential elections. The op/ed writer today said that next to “flukes”, campaign contributions today are the prime determinant of election outcome. I agree and because of that am sounding this alarm that all beware of the sinister and potentially catastrophic co-workings of (1) the money (campaign contributions) and (2) what “the terrible tower” does with the money.
History lessons abound with caveats we’ve ignored and have gotten us Americans to the brink of national industrial, moral and financial bankruptcy. People want to blame Obama for heading the glue crew that’s failed to put Humpty Dumpty (Uncle Sam) back together and on global Wall Street. Most voters (and all Republican voters) are blind to the fact that Bush converted America from a beloved defender to a loathed aggressor nation, and while his corporate consorts were exporting America’s industry to China, his military subordinates were exporting our cash reserves (and the wealth of our grandchildren) to the Middle East to secure corporate control of diminishing oil reserves.
But the whole world knows that. The question is why (polls indicate) half of America is not SORELY aware of this…to the extent that 50 percent of us are presently undecided as to whether we’ll put America back in the hands of another corporate-controlled Republican imperialist.
Relevant history lessons include 3 modern and one ancient philosopher/writers and…prophets (predictors of American and world evolution). The three—generally contemporary–modern thinkers I write of are George Orwell (author of Nineteen Eighty Four), Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), Marshall McLuhan (“Understanding Media”). The ancient author, who wrote about “the tower” is, I believe, the one who got it “all right”, and is, therefore the one we need to study more closely and …. before the next election….heed, in order to rescue ourselves from pending disaster.
Long stories short – Orwell (English) in his “1984” warned us that there would come a day when the governments of our nation states would have seized sufficient power to become absolutely corrupt and despotic, and that as a result, all individuality and personal freedoms would be extinguished by the “Big Brother” rulers’ “Big Lies” and myriad forms of mind control designed to stifle our treasured individualized selves. This really hasn’t happened, at least as Orwell envisioned. Perhaps Huxley came closer to our evolved reality as he presaged a time when industrialization would transport America into an era where capitalistic/materialistic and pleasure-seeking people would become so narcissistically wrapped up in achieving fame, fun and fungibles that they would entirely lose sight of and empathy with anything outside their accreting fortunes and egos…like their environment or the rights of others (creatures and countries) to remain free and viable. Looking to my right and my left today, I see no one screaming in protest that we have in the past ten years criminally invaded and occupied two sovereign foreign countries. Four of eight Americans today know who the Kardashians are (commercially-synthesized cyborg celebrities) but have no idea how many hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals we have killed in the past decade (FYI, over a half million!).
Among the modern thinkers, I believe Marshall McLuhan takes the prize for predicting how a cabal of corporate bullies managed to machinate our national devolution from defender nation to international bully, and from prosperous democracy to impoverished corporate plutonomy. Corporations clearly run all the shows that the American people now watch. Corporations have now acquired such plenary—absolutely corrupting power—that they’ve enabled presidents to so sack and stack a Supreme Court bench that the Court has redefined Corporations as “people”…American citizens, having the right to elect leaders by direct means of money and might…because they can take their money and control our media.
As Orwell warned us in 1984, the corporate-sponsored (thereby controlled) media tell us big lies so often and so loudly that the majority of us can no longer see the truth….because as Huxley predicted (of America), our hedonism and self-servicing narcissism would one day make of independently-reasoning men, media-malleable sheep. Sheep stupid enough to believe bin Laden was an agent of Saddam Hussein; Sheep stupid enough to believe Saddam had anything to do with 9/11. Sheep stupid enough to believe that Obama was born in Kenya. Stupid enough to believe America’s financial meltdown is the fault of the president who inherited the White House after Bush sold it to Halliburton and China.
Before I point to the tower…and the tale of truth that could actually save us–if anything can– with its wise and prophetic view of where America stands teetering today….I’ll write a little more about the money part of the present disaster…the powerful money that has resulted in the fulfillment of Marshall McLuhan’s prophesy that one day in America and the world the MEDIA WILL BECOME THE MESSAGE. Today, it is estimated that over three billion dollars will be raised by the corporate and fat-cat superpaks to control America’s perception of—and votes for–the men running for public office. THINK ABOUT THAT FIGURE! Dividing 3 billion by America’s population shows that, on Television and Radio, corporations and fat cats will spend enough money that otherwise could drop $1,000 into the pockets of each and every living American, and $3,000 into the saving accounts of the average American family. But instead, under the new corporate-lobbied laws, that $1,000 per citizen fortune will be dedicated to molding American opinion in tune with the agendas (e.g. Romney is smart. “Fracking is safe.”) corporations are marketing to us on commercial media ads.
Well, isn’t that what Orwell, Huxley and–more specifically–McLuhan were all warning us about…big lies…propaganda…molding our thinking to the eventual point the media has become the message? Yes, yes and yes. But now I’ll reveal how: Now I’ll point to the
“terrible tower” …and the infinitely-prescient writer who envisioned it and whose identity must remain anonymous. The precursor to our terrible tower was named Babel. Open your Bibles to Genesis 11 but don’t think Judeo-Christian or Mosaic prophesy….Just think…human history and sage prophesy.
Warning to you the reader (and me the writer): The odious and inadvertently-evil builders of the terrible tower I have in sight and mind today were mostly innocent…just like the ambitious architects and builders of the Biblical Tower of Babel. While those ancient builders were so busy trying to project their stones, mortar and influence into heavenly realms where, logically and ecologically no being without feathers belongs, they had their minds so much on their “selves”, they lost sight of—and touch with– one another…and their shared planet. When they got to the sky-scraping floors, they suddenly realized that they had lost the ability to communicate with one another. The only thing they had in common was the arrogant edifice they were building, and without concern for one another, the tower was just that—an arrogant sty in the eye of heaven. In the ancient parable, man’s Creator made it impossible for him to speak to his fellow humans…and as a result, the tower came crumbling down to earth, as did America under George Bush. Unfortunately you can’t keep a bad thing down. The tower, I am loathe to report, has…risen! Sadly and to our detriment, its present embodiment is more terrible than ever. Under the shadowy influence of that terrible tower, people in America and the rest of the world are in regards to one another, becoming babbling idiots. Even the 100 sectors of America’s Wall Street Revolution have no unifying mantra or agenda. We are all speaking as with different tongues, and as a result are heading towards cultural, political, ecological and economic Armageddon.
Here’s the buried lead…finally. What is today’s “terrible tower”? It is a tower that never existed in the days of Lincoln and Jefferson or even the Roosevelts. These leaders were elected because we met and came to know them on the covers and in the coverage of newspapers and on the parchments posted in our city squares, right there in the hearts of our cities, at sea level where we belong…together. In these papers and parchments were published the words of non-partisan journalists whom we had, through time and testing, grown to trust, as purveyors, distillers and disseminators of political truths. Today we sit at home and stare at images delivered to us now serially at light speed in a language Orwell termed “double speak” (truth and falsity in the same statement) in which it is impossible for us to discern truth from lies. The messages are all partisan “newspeak” and emanate from one party or another, all according to either the corporate fat-cat (Republican, a.k.a. “conservative”) or the working class Democrat (a.k.a. “liberal”) agendas. The very idea of adversity between the parties is itself a double-speak lie, because in today’s reality, both Republicans and Democrats are merely corporate proxies. If you are a free-thinking independent such as I, your thoughts in transit in this media are labeled “liberal”. We stare at these messages from the sinister towers empowering our televisions, our Ipods, our “virally-spreading” e-mails from god/knows/who/or/where and most recently our Twittering, FaceBook and YouTubing friends who for the most part are really not our friends, but really just others who make—and take–little vampire-lie “bytes” of us while the only thing we have in common is our watching and ….obeying (by “forwarding”)… signals from the same …terrible tower.
The terrible tower to and about which I refer and rant is the broadcasting tower, my friends—the instantly-gratifying Babeling Tower that today can make a mental mouse’s message roar like a prophetic lion’s. Any little agoraphobic nerd on the planet can now, with a little effort and skill with computer technology, launch any lie he can conjure up into the orbital clouds of cyberspace and “go viral” with any lascivious thing he wants to say about the sitting president of the United States. Corporations can now invest billions of dollars directly in TV ads designed to stream half-truths and out-of-context lies before our eyes on a 24/365 basis until a sizable number of us are Tea-party tricked into viewing a native-born American president, who was previously president of Harvard Law Review, as a Kenyan-born Islamic terrorist.
This is insanity.
So what makes the media broadcasting tower of today more “terrible” than the tower in the time of ancient Babel? It’s the difference between ignorance and arrogance. It took the Babel Tower builders a lot of time and talent to build a stone and mortar structure sky-scraping tall way back then; so, apart from the egoistic arrogance and environmental insult, the tower of ancient Babel was offensive mainly to diety and comparatively innocuous within its own cultural context. The media broadcast towers of today, on the latter hand are, functionally, arrogance compounded by ignorance. Just as bottom-line dollars sustain the soulless cyborg vivacity of corporations today that will continue fracking our water and air, warming the planet, MSG/ing and transfatting our food and arteries so long as their stock manages to accrete dollars on Wall Street, the terrible towers of broadcast media will continue to telegraph, cell-phone, e-mail, radio, televise, twitter and satellite bounce, blog and otherwise transmit to every corner of the universe any ignorant nonsense and lie contrived by anyone living or dubbed “human” by Supreme Court edict so long as said imbecilic cyborg has the dollars to purchase the “air time”.
If a candidate for elective office in Lincoln’s day received either criticism or praise in the media, the source of that information bore the authenticity associated with a journalist who had established his literary prowess and journalistic skills by earning his position on the staff of a trusted periodical journal. Moreover, maintaining one’s position as a journalist required rigorous adherence to extraordinarily high ethical standards imposed by traditional (old-school) journalistic institutions. Today, if NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman makes a mistake, you can bet your life it was not the product of ignorance, partisan bias or dollar-driven allegiance to some corporate patron. By contrast, if you hear or view something from the tower of an oxymoronically-named “Fox News” broadcast, you can bet your life it is all three. Fox News is the arch villain in the terrible media tower, for the universally-known reason that its founder, Rupert Murdoch—just for the bucks—has with greed and mendacity aforethought, intentionally skewed (demolished) the line between “opining” and “news reporting” in broadcast journalism. It is doubtful that people regularly watching “Fox Media” programming will ever again be capable of recognizing the difference. Murdoch has proved to the world that wholly dollar-driven and unscrupulous utilization of the terrible tower can and does enable arrogance to beget ignorance. We can only hope that this maniacal media mogul’s recent scandal (with phone tapping) will begin the easing and eventually the loss of his 60-billion dollar grip on the broadcast media which—more than any other on earth—accounts for the terrible in the broadcast tower.
My ultimate warning is this: In your search for “truth” in news and politics, try this:
(1) Turn off your T.V., radio and Ipod/Phone. If it’s digital it’s dubious. Stanch the artesian flood of fabricated falsities in your tower-tainted emails. Delete–don’t “forward” them. If you receive a “conservative” forward in the e-mail, run their key words through the Urban Legends gauntlet (Snopes.com) and discover how many of them are total fabrications.
(2) Form your own thoughts and tell them, phone them, email them to your friends. You can Google just about any reliable newspaper articles in the world now. If you want to know who owns the newspapers or broadcast systems you are auditing, all this information is available on Wikipedia. And yes—despite what Fox News says—Wikipedia is the most accessible and reliable source of current information on earth. Wiki invites us all to police their truth and amend their mistakes. Donate to Wiki and Public Radio; they belong to you.
(3) Go down to your town squares, attend public meetings and talk to one another eye-to-eye about what you have learned in the still-reliable mainstream media by which we elected Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington, and Roosevelt(s). That would include non-partisan journals like the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, the still free (not corporate controlled) Public Radio stations, the occasional network TV broadcasts of candidates’ debates which cost the candidates nothing, and last but not least, the people and media institutions (including blogs) you personally know and trust, including your good old High Point Enterprise and yours (always) truly.
June 25, 2012 www.DeclaringIndependents.comPosted in America, American Economy, Corporations, Economics, Occupy Wall Street, Political, Repubilcans | Leave a comment
“Occupy the World” Revolution—And Solution
“2011 A Space Odyssey”
Putting a Face on the Crowds
And a Face on the Monster Stalking the Crowds
THE CAUSE AND SOLUTION (FORMULA) TO THE WORLD’S CURRENT CRISIS (REVOLUTION)
OWS VICTORY FORMULA:
Your challenge (as you read):
You already know “OWS” = “Occupy Wall Street”.
The solution (proof) of the formula comes at the
end (don’t cheat and peak).
Challenge yourself to figure out…
what the “40” stands for…
what the two “C’s” , the “R” and “A” stand for…
knowing that this is in fact a formula for “victory”.
There’s a revolution under way, people, and it’s a world-wide revolution. The fearful conservatives (wealthy) in our midst (in our Fox Media faces) will tell you that the Wall Street “occupiers” have no “cause” they can articulate, and the same thing can be said of what is happening now in Greece, Rome, London, Taiwan, and pretty much everywhere around the globe newly wired by cell phones, IPODs, Twitter, Facebook and “The Cloud”. The working classes of the world have finally united–at least temporally–and what is at stake is cataclysmically important: The world’s economy could easily collapse under the combined factors of a global economic recession bordering on depression and an electronically-hyper-connected mass protest reacting to that collapse and demanding redress (and retribution) from those variously perceived as “causes” of that collapse.
So here it is: The cause and the solution to the world’s current crisis:
Without the unifying power of a common cause, any revolution we begin is doomed to failure. Now you have an inkling of why I am writing. When I suggest “we” need to unite this revolution, I mean “we” in the GLOBAL SENSE—because like it or no, the Wikileaked, Twittered, I-phoned, in-the-cloud planet of ours is now truly “ a single creature, clinging to the round warm stone, turning in the sun.” (Thanks for the gaia image, Lewis Thomas).
With the Thomas allusion, I’ll here lay some more (sorry) complex philosophical groundwork. I want you to understand the word, “Gaia”–what it means and why it is so important. It is what Lewis Thomas was referring to when he characterized our planet as being what it is in the macrocosmic sense—a single creature. What we are ecologically we are economically. In the Gaia Principle sense, we are “one” with the trees and seas. We breathe out carbon dioxide and they (the trees and sea) breathe it in. The trees in turn (through chlorophyll and algae) breathe out the oxygen which every second keeps us animated creatures alive. As thanks for this symbiotic salvation, we (humans) clear-cut forests of trees and dump our toxic and plastic garbage into maternal oceans, but that’s collateral story and another travesty to deal with later. But the revolution of which I write today and our cutting of trees and pollution of seas have a single common denominator. Stay with me.
The point in the preceding paragraph is that we can’t affect one part of an ecosystem without affecting the whole, because the world’s ecosystem is just that– a single, interdependent system. Humans have, as a single “tissue” in the world’s unitary Gaia body, become like a cancer…through overpopulation, recently topping 7 Billion. If we were only a few million we could all drive SUV’s that get 6 miles a gallon and live in 20,000-square foot AC’d houses without killing the ozone or frying the planet. Change those millions to 7 billion, and we have changed the world’s smartest species into a virtual malignancy on the body of the unitary Gaia creature, which may be the only creature of its kind in the universe.
So what’s the relevance of the “Gaia” principle to the global protests—and burgeoning revolution—now going on literally all over the Gaia globe….? It’s the SAME THING. That is: What we are doing to our planet by over populating and polluting it, is being done to us humans —and the planet–by another over-grown monster in the same eco-logical and eco-nomical macrocosm.
We need both a familiar and purposeful face for the crowd and a “make” on the monster stalking—and being stalked (albeit knowingly or inadvertently) by that crowd. I say we start by seeking the face of the monster, because it is with that monster that everyone in those crowds is attempting to contend. It is the monster that is the seminal cause of all the only superficially-severable things they are protesting. All the things of which they complain….from “no jobs” to burst real estate and stock bubbles and bailouts…are “different”—BUT THEY ARE ALL THE WORK OF A SINGLE MONSTER. AND THE NAME OF THE MONSTER IS…………..
HERE’S WHAT WE ALL KNOW:
CORPORATIONS . . .
. . . Out of Greed and the Need “To Survive” in the global economy….
- Own/are the banks and mortgage brokerages that inflated the housing bubble, then popped it, then got bailed out while Americans got tossed out in foreclosures and bankruptcies.
- Systematically exported (“downsized” their own labor forces and “off-shored”) America’s laboring and middle-class jobs to China and other
third-world slave-labor camps. Adding insult to injury–The largest corporation in America—i.e., the one employing the most Americans, is Walmart. Walmart is a sales agent and distributorship for Communist China, our most formidable and dedicated adversary in the world. Corporate off-shoring has placed America’s destiny in the hands of Communist China.
- Bush-wacked (pun intended) America’s healthcare system by buying up control of all the healthcare providers and their addictively co-dependent insurance providers : Doctors now work for corporate HMO’s instead of themselves and physicians are now converted from professional caring healers to assembly-line cyborgs allotted 3 to 10 minutes per patient, destroying physician-patient relationships and excluding all from treatment save those who either work for corporations and have corporate-funded health insurance or who own corporations and don’t need it.
- Own/are the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the meds the majority of Americans are physically and/or mentally addicted to and can’t afford. The game they are playing and winning is “don’t make people well—make them addicted and pay.” These are the wealthiest and most powerful corporations on the planet. They make the policy that doctors, the FDA and we—the addicted—follow, pay and often die for (by either taking it or not being able to afford taking it).
- Own/are the petroleum and coal energy-producing companies which, in order to keep their obscene profits rolling in, have managed to convince forty percent of America (as opposed to 10 percent of the rest of the world) that global warming is a myth, fracking is safe, and that seeking sustainable energy sources and going green to save the planet is un-American, in spite of BP’s recent rape of our American Gulf.
- Own/are the munitions companies that profit—perennially—from the wars they lobby to launch, supply and perpetuate. They do it for oil; they do it for munitions profits; they do it for mercenary soldier profits, and they’ll do it forever until they are stopped. Without Halliburton there would have been no Cheney; without Cheney there would have been no wars in Afghanistan or Iraq. The world (outside America) already knows this, and history will confirm it. So far, over a half million non-militants have perished in these two wars, and counting. Corporate PR-coached Congressmen call it “collateral damage”. When other countries do it, the same foxy word spinners call it “terrorism”.
American terrorism abroad is known as terrorism. Domestically it is PR packaged, “shock and awe”. Corporate-funded “institutes” spin these
Orwellian distortions of truth (1984’s “Big Lies”).
- Elect freely both presidents and Congressmen through control of the media (not to mention the one they elected through control of the Supreme Court) and the newly-acquired right to campaign directly in presidential and Congressional elections without any restrictions on dollars spent on the TV and media commercials that clearly determine who wins elections.
- Through lobbyists and control of Congress create laws that tax themselves at 35 percent but at the same time provide “loopholes” that exempt the most powerful and profitable corporations from paying any income tax. [The COLLOSSAL and catastrophic irony of this shouldbe viewed in the context of tax history: Alexander Hamilton, observing a naturally stronger France be overtaken and passed—militarily and industrially– by a smaller but fiscally-responsible England, taught us that a nation can be no more successful than its fiscal policies are responsible. Financially, he taught us the axiom that a nation must maintain its financial credit and that taxing its citizenry is the only means of accomplishing that. Whereas our country was founded on the revolution of “no taxation without representation”, the current OWS revolution is largely the result of the opposite— The financial giants among us (corporations) are demanding—and getting–representation without taxation. The catastrophic result of this is corporations have converted America from the world’s strongest economy to the world’s greatest debtor nation…and our credit is now being questioned. When the answer to the question becomes “no”, the U.S. as a leader nation is history.
- Appoint freely and thereby control the U.S. Supreme Court whose decisions are now routinely 5-4 fiats dictated by corporate-controlled GOP-voting pseudo-jurists—the same jurists who in the past 4 years granted corporations the right to take your personal property and to insure the election of its chosen candidates for Congress through removing any restrictions on independently campaigning (disguised as “free speech”).
- Work together so all corporate-controlled banks, securities brokers (money lenders of all varieties) and Chinese sales representatives are viewed as “too big to fall”, so that tax-payer funded “bailouts” provide a failsafe means of perpetuating their already absolute power over us and our government and push our country further towards the brink of collapse through loss of creditability.
THE FALLOUT FROM CORPORATE CORRUPTION:
- All of the foregoing areas of unrestrained corporate power are leading to soaring unemployment, inflation, resource exhaustion, poverty, sickness, homelessness, bankruptcy, crime, insipient depression and the financial collapse of American and other formerly-thriving nations about the world and yet the corporate plutocrats are still thriving and able to host tea parties and convince a simple but sizeable sector of unemployed, uninsured desperate people that taxing or otherwise inhibiting anything corporations are doing amounts to treason because corporations are now so powerful that they are able to peddle propaganda as patriotism, proving that Orwell’s 1984 story of Big Brother corporations one day running the world by propagation of the “Big Lies” was more prophesy than mythology—more future shocking fact than fiction.
THE PAST WAS PRELUDE:
Corporate founders were made pariah and hated at the surge and ebbing of America’s first Depression—the Great One. Rockefeller Center was built as a guilt offering by former “robber barons” of American greed. When the stock market crashed then and people were ruined, it was fleetingly recognized that a monster had arisen in our midst and we had obliviously bought into the monster, fed and nurtured it until it reared its ugly head and ate up the figments of our economic imaginations, effectively putting an abrupt end to the American Dream—at least for its working class. Back then, the Rockefeller’s Standard Oil entity was technically a “trust” rather than a corporation, but its cyborg essence and power were the same. The public outrage at the soulless greed of the monster trusts led to the splitting up of those judicially-deemed “monopolies”, but if the limbs of the monopolistic plants were trimmed, they were certainly not plowed under.
Unfortunately, the seeds of that economically tyrannic institution were not destroyed—but rather morphed into even more monstrous, ubiquitous and even less human entities called corporations. During America’s “recovery period”, these new hybrid legal “beings” were widely planted and permitted to thrive in a new economic environment where their survival was secured by another creation we simultaneously devised to insure that our corporate banks and securities-based economy could never again fall—a Federal Reserve “Bank” that—when the real value-based money ran out—was authorized to counterfeit money and thus enable the poor old failures of today to be bailed out by the poor indentured youth of tomorrow…. And yes—absolutely—I am saying to you that corrupt and morally-bankrupt financial “bailouts” are nothing new on the American scene. And what I am saying further is that the monster that brought America to its knees in the Great Depression is the same monster stalking—and being stalked by–every single one of those who are separately chanting protests about only seemingly-different things in the city squares of the world, right now.
If Corporations are “the problem”, then should the goal of the OWS Revolution be to eliminate corporations? Clearly not. Corporations still employ us, produce and provide us pretty much everything from gasoline to entertainment, and even manage the HMO’s and pharmaceutical companies that provide our personal physicians and pills. So, if we can’t reverse history and get “rid” of them, what should we—in revolutionary fashion—do?
As is often the case in human history, the answer is evident in the work of an American artist:
An artist who painted for us a portentous portrait of the face of this monster—and the hero who “took him down” was a movie maker named Stanley Kubrick. His “2001 A Space Odyssey” is being literally reprised in the reality now before us as “2011, A Space Odyssey”. The monster is the same, by analogy. Kubrick’s mythical computer (nicknamed “Hal”) — gone wild—was to story’s space ship (“Discovery One”) and mission (“Odyssey” to Jupiter) exactly what the corporation has become to America and its destiny.
In the Kubrick movie, we were given a prodigious parable that could save us today—the story of “Hal” – a computer amazingly programmed and supplied with the entire extant knowledge and hyper-driven intelligence of its human creators, and ceded thereafter complete control and steerage of its Jupiter-bound spaceship. A solid-circuited-silicone-chipped machine-turned-monster and destroyer of both their shared spaceship and mission.
Where are the analogy and lesson? Hal—the Odyssey’s spaceship’s (“Discovery One”) on-board computer was functionally for that mission and spaceship exactly the same as the American corporation is to America’s ship of state (our nation and our earth). Hal did literally everything for the spaceship’s crew and mission, from preparing their food to plotting their trek through space. Moreover, both Hal and the Corporation became monstrous for the same reason, and with the same effect. That being the case, the solution –the remedy for Keir Dullea (Captain of Discovery One) and for our present-day revolutionary “occupiers” of Wall Street and other financial capitals of the Gaia-united globe—is the same
What went wrong in the creation of mythical Hal went (really) wrong when we permitted our lawyers and our governments to create the first monstrous corporation. The thing that is “wrong” with both is that they are both “cyborgs” and cyborgs built to accrete (rather than distribute) wealth and power. That’s (“cyborg”) the other term (the prior being,“Gaia”) I contend is essential for us to master. In the Kubrick movie, everything rational was built into that spaceship’s all-knowing, all-controlling computer except a …. soul. “Soul” is a term none of us can define in the same way we can’t define “happiness”. We can’t define happiness but we know it when we feel it and we know the things we can to do enhance or diminish it. The computer, Hal, was destined to become a monster because it was constructed devoid of soul. When the computer learned that the humans who created it were in the process of shutting it down for repairs (Hal had made an error, you may recall….just as Corporations do when they invent and market things like Thalidomide …and cigarettes, and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) the computer—having no soul…and accordingly no empathy for the lives and souls of others, made a decision to “shut down” the life processes of all the humans aboard spaceship Discovery One. It made this decision because at the core of its cyber-self, it had—as corporations have—a single driving force and purpose—survival. Survival of the cyber-cyborg itself, that is—and not survival of either its human creators, components or collaborators.
By definition, a “cyborb” is an amalgamation of human and material (machine) elements to form a functional being bearing some—but not all– the attributes of both. Cyborgs are common elements and characters in today’s Sci-Fi flicks and most of them (saving perhaps Star Wars’ R2-D2 and C-3PO) are made villains of the plots because, like Hal and today’s corporations, they lack that quality we call “soul”.
Now, back to Kubric’s prophetic Space Odyssey story:
When computers were–as the original “Univac”–limited in function to perform a few tasks faster and more efficient than men, they were very useful “tools” for humans and their many varied purposes and missions. When and as they were improved and evolved to the point their robotic progeny were infinitely faster and more powerful than their human creators… even to the point of assimilating men’s emotional tendencies, including (fatefully in the 2001 story) the will to survive, then the computer morphed from machine to MONSTER. (This seldom-intended negative feature of modern inventiveness is the focus of Csikszentmihalyi’s cultural caveat as taught in his tome “The Evolving Self” where the author outlines the dangerous consequences of the fact that men’s inventions live and continue to evolve after the inventors die. When, for example, Henry Ford I invented the auto assembly line, he had no idea that his invention (which Csikszentmihalyi terms “meme”) would live after him and move the world to pave its surface with concrete and asphalt to the point a cyborg-accelerated world was threatened with warming itself into extinction.
The precise thing that happened fictionally with computers in Space Odyssey happened in the real world with corporations. Conceived long ago as a means for citizens to get together and pool their money for a common business purpose, the equivalent of a useful “Univac” type tool was invented for the advancement of an industrial culture. Accordingly, 50 or a hundred citizens of “our town” could each—in exchange for “stock”– contribute $50 to a local furniture artisan and thus provide him the means of teaching ten others how to do what he did and make a profit for not only themselves but for their investors. The process became axiomatic and in terms of new capitalistic parlance became known as “taking stock” in someone or someone’s business. The sinister flaw built into the corporate system is what is termed (by lawyers) its “veil”. Shareholders who own corporations are not responsible for corporate crimes and misdeeds. When Exxon and BP are sued for environmental crimes, the only thing the stockholders risk is shrinkage in their portfolio value. Moreover, the
“corporate veil” shields all its founders and officers from criminal charges where there is no evidence they “personally” knew what was going on. This anonymity and extensive immunity from responsibility is what enables the modern corporation to act and be perceived as what it in effect is—a “mob” with a government-granted license to plunder and pillage.
Initially then, corporations functioned as useful “tools” for their creators. When Einstein first envisioned his formula E=mc2, he had in mind a means of converting Uranium into steam engine power for the world. In under 5 years that noble notion (meme) had evolved and snuffed the lives of over 246,000 human souls, and today the same notion threatens—every second—all life on earth. Mankind’s “memes” can become potentially cataclysmic.
Corporations have taken, unfortunately, the same route. Initially a really quick and effective means of converting a solitary garage carpenter to an industrial magnate, the corporation is now a monster–actually thousands of them—in control of every single aspect of human existence, from crib to crypt. The Supreme Court of the US has—because corporations elect and control the man (President) who appoints and controls them—calamitously accomplished the same thing that computer programmer did when he converted 2001’s Hal into the monster that scuttled control of Kubric’s spaceship. In the decision of Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) the Supreme Court decided that Corporations could now tell citizens to move out of their houses because corporations want to build a shopping center on the premises for their own profit. In the decision of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, 558 U.S.2010 (2010, the corporation was by the Supreme Court finally converted into a monstrous cyborg political “decider”. Before this case, we had a law (McCain-Feingold Act) limiting corporations’ contributions to the campaigns of specific candidates. After Citizens United, corporations are permitted to skirt around the rule because they were in effect proclaimed entitled to human rights. Corporations can now directly elect politicians without restraint because our corporate-controlled court has ruled (5 to 4) they have the right to “free speech” although they are by non-contestable construction deaf, dumb and soulless creatures.
Remember that other cyborg previously mentioned who was accorded the power of “free speech” and what he did with it? Our corporations have become ….Hal. From their initial purpose of permitting 100 citizens finically to enable one to hire more in order to make more value-added commodities, corporations are now empowered to elect our Congress, control their votes on all issues, and finally to make war.
When corporations—as is the case today—elect our Congressmen and presidents through their now unfettered power to campaign on his and their behalf, we have succeeded in placing cyborgs in control of spaceship America and due to the transnational nature of corporations today, the same cyborgs are insidiously in control of spaceship earth.
Get the Gaia connection yet? The worst is yet to come. Corporations are the ones today—making mega-billions in profits by drilling and selling oil. They are the same corporations which, with just a modicum of their profits, fund so-called “independent research institutes” (e.g. PNAC and the infamous war-mongering A.E.I) to publish the Orwellian (1984) Big Lies that Iraq was in league with bin Laden and global warming is a liberal, “left wing” fiction.
Why would corporations put money in hired-gun phony think tanks to gainsay global warming when if the other 99.9 percent of the environmental scientists in the world are right—and global warming from carbon emissions is in fact occurring—then the corporations along with all God’s creatures and their planet, spaceship earth, are to become …extinct?
The answer was and will remain the same—The corporation, (and Hal, the Odyssey’s all-powerful computer) have all the power and ….no soul—and they have as a “bottom line” raison d’etre only one driving force—survival. And, since corporations were never “alive” in the human sense, “survival” of course means material (i.e. monetary…bottom-line) survival. Not survival of their corporate creators, or ironically even their corporate workers—but rather their inanimate corporate carapaces- the soulless corporations themselves. Ironically—just as the Odyssey’s computer, Hal, would have been destroyed had his cyborg compulsion to save himself succeeded, the real corporations today will themselves perish in the same environmental cataclysm that will kill us non-cyborg humans, but that is the nature of the cyborg beasts…. They are doomed to machinate their own destruction, because as other axioms go, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and absolutely all absolute corruption ends in …destruction.
OK, I’ve painted the ugly clouds and the looming brooding storm of potentially-lethal revolution and destruction…..and also implied (make that…promised) to wind up this essay with a rainbow for that storm. I promised to give a solution to the problem. So here it is. And again I’ll borrow from Kubrick’s movie: When it becomes apparent to the character played by handsome Kier Dullea that Hal is bent on killing all humans on board the Discovery One and taking over the journey into oblivion on his cyborg lonesome, Captain Dullea has to– in essence—“take care of” Hal— i.e., control without destroying him. There is, unfortunately no human aboard who can do what Hal, the computer, does in calculating all that needs calculating to steer the spaceship around asteroids and black holes to safe landing on Neptune. So – “unplugging” or throwing a monkey wrench into Hal’s hard drive is out of the question. So what does Discovery’s heroic captain do?
He performs a lobotomy on Hal. He crawls—quite literally—into the man-size cyber-circuited corridors of Hal’s digital brain and one at a time pulls out memory circuit boards (computer hard-drive power) until Hal’s most powerful capacities are rendered …benignly impotent…efficaciously handicapped. In the process, we will recall feeling some contra-intuited compassion for the poor inanimate computer as Hal approaches the realization that his most advanced cognitive regions are being deconstructed. His voice becomes first curious, then congenial, thereafter sweet and supplicating…and finally impotent, and in a child’s voice he is left singing a melody any 2nd grader could master. Game over. Sinister cyborg successfully converted back to useful computer (machine). Spaceship saved. Humans survive. But this was in Kubrick’s mythical movie. What about our own, very-real and very odious corporate-cyborg-run and ruled world?
How can we do this with today’s conundrum of interrelated (trans-global) corporations? We have corporations making the expensive medicines that now both drive and cripple our health industry. We have corporations making the weapons on which our country depends in order to maintain the balance of power (hegemony) our military/industrial complex of corporations have created around the globe. When we run out of volunteer regular Army ground troops, the Blackwater corporate cyborgs have in reserve and deploy limitless contingents of mercenaries to further the corporate-contrived war plans. We have corporations now privately running America’s prisons with the disastrous result that bottom-line profits have replaced “rehabilitation” as the prime purpose of incarceration, and to attain those bottom lines we see corporations—literally—delegating prisoner supervision and control to the gang leaders of the prisoners within the institutions. Corporate-run prisons are now gang-managed, gang-breeding, crime-teaching institutions. Difficult to believe? Google “privatized prisons”, and prepare to be scared.
We have corporations and their lobbies holding the purse strings of all the politicians, including Supreme Court Justices and our Oval Office C.E.O. They are holding all the marbles. How can we get…peacefully…and efficaciously into the game of “lobotomizing” these corporations…i.e. reducing their presently unlimited power in order to convert them to their former status and function of helping American entrepreneurs and workers unite for the joint purpose of creating and marketing America’s ideas, products and services?
We use the tools at hand. Those tools now include the unique revolution of (presently) 900 world-wide “occupation” forces presently under way. We need to spread the word faster than Paul Revere’s pony that unless we unite and face our common monster foe together, our common monster foe will — like Hal in the Odyssey—continue to divide and conquer us.
We need to spread the alarm…to every commonplace village…… and farm… that we have seen the monster, and we know his face. It is a cyborg of our own unwitting creation we have dubbed “Corporation.” It is the most powerful enemy in the world because he is our invited 5th column horse of toppling Troy. He is on every corner in every town. He is our town. Yes—Our very towns are corporations, too! By definition and construction, corporations are predatory beasts, and the humans who construct them into their own cyborg image are, after their construction, no longer in control. The soldiers…workers…employees and officers of those corporations are like those soldiers in the first wooden horse of Troy…They are still humans, but they are taken into places and constrained to perform acts dictated by the horse and its strategically-programmed mission and placement.
Those who saw the recent movie, “Up in the Air” will recall the epic revulsion of empathy shared by the audience with those (e.g. the character played by George Clooney) who were appointed to fly from corporate branch to remote corporate branch cutting away the human element of the corporate cyborg as it “down-sized, roboticized and off-shored” itself in order to survive in the increasingly-global arena of “to the death” cyborg competition. The parallels in the “Up in the Air” drama of firing corporate workers with robotic precision and programmed sympathy was uncannily reminiscent of Hal’s zombie-like serial shutting down the life support systems of his ship’s cryogenically-slumbering—and humanly trusting– crew.
When a corporation owns a ship–call it “Valdese”–and that ship dumps mega-tons of toxins in our sea, I would wager every single human (with a soul) in that corporation hates what has happened. But what will the corporation do about it? As Hal, cyborg master of the spaceship Discover did, the corporate monster will do what is required to continue the life of the corporation. To hell with the humans within and without the corporate hull…The corporation must survive. How many decades did the cigarette corporations of the world know and deny knowing the lethally addicting quality of the products they were distributing to their human market? Because these corporate monsters still rule our government, they are still distributing addicting death to their human customers by the profitable bottle, syringe and pack (not to mention wars) with no end in sight.
Given the ubiquitous and seemingly limitless power of today’s corporate cyborgs, what can a crowd—even of millions—do to accomplish the equivalent of the “lobotomy” of power necessary to return to the people a semblance of the control and voice they once had in the conduct of their nation’s economic and political affairs?
Unify the Banners and Rallying Cries
Chant a single chant. Raise a common flag. March under a common banner. Challenge a common foe—Tame the cyborgs in our midst by any and all means necessary, and yes, that includes everything espoused and prescribed in our own still very extant Declaration of Independence…. Including—especially– civil disobedience…but only if absolutely necessary, and I submit it is not.
America has had one truly “real” tea party and it is high time for another. It is corporations controlling our nation’s healthcare and that should not be the case. It is corporations electing and controlling our politicians (on both sides of the aisle) and this should not be the case. It is corporations controlling the Pentagon when decisions are made to deploy our nation’s military to foreign lands to protect the interests of our corporations and this should not be the case. It is corporations deciding that jobs formerly performed by Americans should be exported to effectively third-world nations to be performed by essentially enslaved working classes, and this should not be the case.
Compassion and humanitarian empathy are clearly subordinate in the corporate entity and milieu to the prime mover of all such cyborgs—their own bottom-line survival. These worldwide urban “occupations” are our world’s long-overdue immune response to our presently malignant over-population of inflammatory corporate…monsters. So, what do we do about this contagion of cyborg corporate cancer? How do we propose to covert a discordant cacophony of protests around the globe to a melodious message—and march–of revolutionary prowess and promise?
CHANGING THE CHANTS
The first thing we do is obvious: Become aware of the fact that at the karmic base of every economic and political problem in America there is a corporate cause. Shout—no, scream—“Curb Corporations”! Scream – “No more Corporate Lobbyists”. Do not scream this at the doors of Wall Street where only corporate puppets work. Scream it in the halls of legislatures where the Cyborg lobbyists are doing their cyborg work. Scream “No more (zero tolerance) corporate ads on TV for electoral candidates. (Don’t scream this one in front of NationsBank—Scream this one on the steps of the Supreme Court, which is where corporate cyborgs derived their new pseudo-human rights and power.) Scream- Tax corporations! just as though they were humans…no more loopholes, and tax their foreign income.
Workers of the world unite. Wake up and behold the face of the enemy. There is a gap between the rich and poor today wider than at any time in history. But this is not the “fault” of the rich, but rather the “fault” of the monster corporations that made them so obscenely rich. In the secret, ivory high-rise towers of corporations there is multi-tiered life-saving money-grabbing autonomy and anonymity—a deadly combination. It is within these unseen and anonymous board rooms that telephones and checkbooks conspiratorially wed corporations and Congress and this is the epicenter of the conundrum we need to unwrap in order to attack (lobotomize) the soulless corporate cyborg monster. That monster is called “corporation”. It was made by humans, maintained by humans and represented by humans. But it is not itself human and never will be. And yet we have allowed it to take over complete control and steerage of our several ships of state and our planet…Spaceship Earth.
TAKE THE REVOLUTION INTO THE FIELD
There is only one field that makes sense, and it’s not Wall Street, and it’s not out front of the mansions of the .3 percent of the richest. And, ironically it’s not Washington, D.C., either at the capital or on Pennsylvania Avenue.
No revolution fails, no war is lost, faster than one launched in the wrong theater of battle.The only way to lobotomize the corporate monster at the base of all our present global collapsing is in America’s State Capitals. So they—state capitals-are the natural “theater” of OWS operations and occupations. Here is why:
Both political parties running the show in our nation’s capital have long ago sold out to the corporate lobbyists who purchase their loyalty and obedience by placing them in office. The only solution, then is an end-run around Washington and a power play back in the home states of all our many heroic “occupiers” of Wall Street and the rest of the warriors carrying banners all over our country in search of a rallying point for their righteousness and their rage.
The solution is a set of constitutional amendments which effectively lobotomize the corporate brain not to the point of destruction, but to the point of rehabilitation.
Seeking Federal legislation to strengthen corporate “oversight” in D.C. today is a dream as rational as chasing rabbits down a hole to a Mad Hatter tea party. It’s already been tried in fact: Behold a Palin horse.
Today, the only solution for securing control of corporate power, greed and collective oligarchy is an approach never before seriously sought, and never before accomplished –
A Fifth-Amendment state-mandated Constitutional Convention.
We need to take our collective and individual rage, flags, zeal and chants, and occupy our state capitals and their legislators until at least 3 of 4 of them have agreed to demand (of Congress) and ratify serial amendments to the U.S. Constitution as follows: (Note: only a two-thirds majority of states is required to mandate a Constitutional Convention, but ultimately the amendments must be ratified by three-fourths of the states, so why wait. Let the goal be four fifths from the first, so that when ratification time comes around, there’s clearly a three-fourth’s majority still extant. )
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS . . .
Collectively Needed to End Corporate Dominance of America and the World (Following as is expected, the American Paradigm and Model even in Revolution):
Most all (10 of 13) of the amendments here proposed are negatives (prohibitions), and the logic for this is ancient- tried and true. The prosaic paradigm that springs to mind for illustration is that of the Zen Sculptor, perhaps the world’s greatest parable for proactive creativity and successful….revolution. We can’t always envision how things should be or will become in order to remedy the disorder or chaos we are presently facing. No, I cannot outline for you all the positive, efficacious and politically-functional measures we must as a culture and country take in order to restore America and the world to their former greatness and geo-political homeostasis. But I can—and with absolute certainty will–outline some of the things we can start eliminating and saying “no” to in order to keep things moving inexorably in the right direction. When and as things are kept moving in the “right direction”, important aspects of those things begin to take shape. Positive change is achieved by incrementally eliminating negatives…as in the parable of the Zen Sculptor: In this sage story, the student approaches his master while the latter is carving a large stone and says: “Master, what will the sculpture be when it is finished?” The sage answers and in the process reveals the method in the strategic negations (prohibitions) that follow herein. The sage’s reply to his student is ours to adopt: “I do not know. But with each strike of the hammer and chisel I can determine absolutely what it is not.”
The 13 New State-Initiated and Ratified Revolutionary Amendments to the Constitution of the Liberated United States of No-Longer-Corporate-Controlled America:
Preamble: The term “corporation” shall be deemed to include regular corporations, Subchapter S Corporations, Limited Liability Corporations, publicly and/or privately owned, and companies, partnerships, charitable corporations, trusts, foundations, and any and all non-human entities recognized by state and/or federal law as entities chartered, licensed or otherwise authorized by state and federal authorities to transact business or provide services (including media broadcast and/or entertainment services) in, and/or outside the United States of America regardless of the country where the said entity was originally formed.
- No American federal politician shall serve more than two terms of 4 years in office.
- No American candidate for federal or state office shall maintain any financial interest—vested, unvested or future– in any corporation with whom the U.S. or State governments transact any business, nor accept more than $1000 from any entity, either human or corporate as a campaign contribution.
- All communications between Congressmen (Representatives and Senators) and all lobbyists and other citizens shall be recorded and all recordings along with records of all visits and collaborations shall become public record. All communications between Congressmen and corporate lobbyists must be either written or transcribed into writing and made public records.
- The offering or acceptance of any gift (of money, services or material, present or prospective) to any Congressman from any person or corporation totaling over $5O (in any calendar year) in value shall constitute a felony and cause for summary impeachment and criminal prosecution.
- Corporations are prohibited from directly or indirectly contributing funds or support of any kind in the making, public airing or dissemination—by any means– of public relations information designed or reasonably calculated to influence any voters in any election, either State or Federal.
- No elected, appointed or hired official, State or Federal, shall, after serving his State or Federal Government, pursue or accept employment by any corporation with whom the said official had any official dealings during the official’s term of office.
- No person shall serve as an employee or elected official of either State or Federal government while owning stock or any interest whatsoever (future, inchoate, option or derivative interest) in any corporation providing any goods or services to or transacting any business with the State or Federal governments.
- All citizens of the United States, individual and corporate, shall be taxed for all income earned in the U.S. and abroad (outside the territorial limits of the United States of America) as if that income had been earned—as ordinary income–within the United States.
- All elected officials of the Federal Government shall be granted healthcare benefits for themselves and their families only while in office, and those healthcare benefits shall be equivalent to and not exceed the benefits currently received by citizens receiving either Medicare or Medicaid, which ever is greater.
- There will be no retirement pensions given Federal elected officials or retirement plans to any extent funded by the American government except social security or other benefits equivalent to those provided regular (all) American citizens by the Federal Government.
- There will be no laws enacted by Congress which increase the pay levels of Congressmen during the remaining terms of their offices.
- Corporations are hereafter prohibited from producing and broadcasting media programs and/or publications tendered to the public as “news” programs or publications unless at the beginning and end of all such broadcasts or literary publishings, there is a clear and complete listing of the names (all) of the individuals and/or corporations who own, either directly or indirectly the broadcast stations and/or media syndicates which own and/or in any way control the broadcast/publishing content of said “news” programs and publications. Any broadcast programs or publications which eschew the term “news” and publish a clear and cogent statement that they are expressing their own opinions and those of their named guests appearing on said broadcast shows, need not publish such a list of corporate or individual owners.
- All individuals and corporations will pay a graduated tax on all income, foreign and domestic, varying from zero (defined as currently-calculated poverty-level subsistence), and ranging from 10 percent to 50 percent. All “loopholes” are prohibited. A graduated inheritance tax will be imposed as well ranging from 10 to 75 percent excluding the first one-million dollars per individual (living at decedent’s death) lineal descendant, per stirpes.
Now, in the words of U.S. Airlines Flight 93, All-American hero, Todd Beamer . . .
The Cardinal Rule of the OWS’ Revolution
must—of necessity—be and without exception remain -
Be nice, be legal and be THERE!
Translated: This means – Don’t give the establishment-controlled police the slightest justification for tear-gassing or otherwise running us off the lawns of the State Capitals! Throw an empty milk carton or diaper on the lawn and they’ve got a reason. Sleep or camp out on public property in a manner contrary to law and they’ve got a reason. You need to drive yourself “to work” like all other capital city workers do, peacefully occupy the governmental facades and promenades of your state while you chant the common rallying call to peaceful revolution by Constitutional resolution! The OWS manual of “arms” refers to PEACEFUL arms carrying signs, banners, trumpets, babies, food and water for each other— arms that lift each other off the corporate-dominated dirt into the freedom of freshly-cleared American air.
So, treat the Revolutionary Occupation as your 9-to-5 job (but be there at 7:45 before the law makers and their corporate bosses get to work—beat the legislative street walkers and their corporate lobbying pimps to work.)
Stand, sit, do your thing PEACEFULLY on the lawns and squares and clean up like Semper Fi Marines when the day is done and you go home. If you camp out on the lawns and malls of your state legislative summits, take care not to give them cause to arrest you. Our allies and marching soulmates in the towns of our own state capitals should provide us a bed, and hopefully some table and other bread to boot. We will be fighting their war as well, because their war is our war and our revolution their revolution.
Don’t give the corporate bullies what they want and require. Give them what they can’t possibly deal with—a rational, legal, orderly, determined, righteous, relentless and constantly-accreting conspicuous occupation until the world rallies behind its peaceful revolutionary leaders and the revolutionary change is….achieved.
FINALLY— THE PROOF OF THE
OWS VICTORY FORMULA:
Now you know:
The “40” (as in “to the power of 40”) means the 40 sovereign states which OWS must occupy until they petition Congress for a Constitutional Convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution and get those states to ratify the amendments by a 3/4ths majority (with a safety margin of 2.5 states).
The first “C” stands for “Corporations”
The “R” stands for “Revolution”
The Second “C” stands for “Constitution”
And the “A” stands for “Amendments”
So now, with your 6th grade algebra skills you can prove the OWS formula for VICTORY:
(at this point the Corporate common denominator (“C”) on the “left” side of the equation is canceled out by the Constitution Numerator “C” on the “right” side, leaving:
OWS40 = RA*
*(Revolution by Constitutional Amendment)
Let’s launch a new and courageous Odyssey of our own.Let us unify these scattered 900 points of stellar revolutionary luminescence and fashion them into fierce constellations of revolutionary warriors who together climb into the cyborg brain of the corporate beast and perform the needed lobotomy, so that once again, the cyborg corporate beast works for us…. we the people….we the old ones and bold ones, the young ones and done ones, the now united ones with sinew and soul.
Robert R. (Dusty) Schoch
Founder, B.E.A. (“Barristers et al”, a N.C.-based peace-oriented foreign policy think tank)
Founding Editor: www.DeclaringIndependents.com
October 26, 2011
The Phenotypical George Will*
(The Washington Post Column herewith criticized, captioned “How Congress Trumps Darwin” [by George Will] trails this piece by DI Editor, Dusty Schoch; immediately following are anchoring comments by DI Senior Associate Editor, Dr. Leonard Carrier)
February 8, 2009
I read George Will’s columns for the same reason my wife does crossword puzzles – to exercise the brain as a hedge against Alzheimers’ onset. Plus–I can add to my vocabulary because he inevitably tosses in a word he knows most will have to retrieve from the dictionary because his context doesn’t give a clue.
There’s so much (deserved) reverence for Will’s work out there that I think he likely receives too little negative feedback. He’s so patently smart few will question whether there is even the crudest correspondence between his captions and thesis sentences and the body of his stream-of-intellect compositions. The plaintive cry that “The Emperor has no clothes” comes to mind.
Today (Feb. 8, 09) for example, his column’s caption is “How Congress Trumps Darwin”, but instead of learning his opinion of whether our government has any chance of remediating global warming (presumably his central theme if not focus), we learn the vast amount of philosophical trivia Wills has mastered (or through Google mustered) and can cram into one intellectual exhibition. I never know if the joke is on him or us. All his analogies are apt, while most of his assertions (always more insinuations than clear declaratives, as George, argumentatively is a Will of the wisp…never leading with a limb that could be pinned to canvas) elude. But the verbal meanderings, as masturbatory as they are , are still fascinating—not because they enlighten, or in any way support their promise (thesis sentence or essay caption) but because they invariably challenge, provoke and … entertain. They make us stretch…and grow. But so do crossword puzzles. Even when the emperor has no clothes, it’s great fun to ponder what he thinks he’s wearing and why he’s strutting. Same with Will’s intellectual and philosophical meanderings.
But today, I really was hoping I’d get an idea of what this great intellect thinks about our chances of survival, either by way of Darwinian science, or legislative fiat. Instead, Will drags out the ironies of ancient history and the macro ironies of how that history is or isn’t reflected in man’s follies of today.
Let me quote from the center of his thesis today: “After Copernicus dislodged humanity from the center of the universe, Marx asserted that false consciousness—we do not really ‘make up our minds’—blinds us to the fact that we are in the grip of an implacable dialectic of impersonal forces. Darwin placed humanity in a continuum of all protoplasm.”
This paragraph is, as informative art, full of sound and fury and signifying (clearly) nothing, because it is so much disjointed…stuff–mostly intellectual preening by Will who’s demonstrated in the paragraph that his giant cortex can relate the mental machinations and memes (I’m Willing Will a bit here, aren’t I) of Marx, Copernicus, Darwin and us in a single sentence. But the sentence—at the end of our day– is a dog that just didn’t hunt. So, for the most part is the greater part of what Will writes these days. One wonders: What was it about Will’s personal origins and passage through his career and society’s milieu that evolved his writing bent from empirical to lyrical? Is his present writing style his adaptive mechanism of journalistic “survival”? Or is it an errant and potentially malignant mutation we aught to help him excise in the bud (or publishing polyp)?
He could, and I contend should, do so much better. I was about to say “more” but it’s exactly the opposite: Will should write, create, analogize, allude, allege, insinuate less. What he should (and I say could) do more for us is…simplify…clarify…exemplify.
What “good” was accomplished—what lesson instructed– in Will’s pointing out the (obvious) irony that in a single democracy (ours) a state judiciary tried a teacher for teaching Darwinian evolution and a hundred years later (through the federal government) legislated a law designed to alter natural evolution? We are facing now the threat of global extinction through mankind’s over-burning of fossil fuel causing CO-2 blanketing. And Will is glibly concerning us with the ironies inherent in our history of human folly and environmental management. What a waste of brain matter (Will’s).
I know the ignorance and narcissistic nature of the average statesman is appalling to Will and perhaps all thinking people. But George Will occupies a powerful podium in the television and print media, and he’s wasting it with prosaic and polemic preening…mental masturbation. If he wants to teach philosophy, let him head a class at Harvard. But as a columnist with his (well-earned) wealth of readership among our country’s intellectuals (which are the movers and shakers), he should be offering more in return for the trees being sacrificed to disseminate his sagacities. We don’t need any more glib court jesters; 8 years of Bush and Cheney provide fodder enough for the comedians of the next millennium. . What we need from our intellectuals—and Wills qualifies here in spades—is constructive ideas. Artful ideas always wind up saving mankind from its self-constructed catastrophes.
And, by the way, George (in case you’re reading this) – you missed the important boat in your historic sketching of Darwin. You want the TRUE irony existing today between the evangelical fundies, creationists and their collective pariah –empirical Darwinians? Here it is: Although you were “right” in saying Darwin rejected a “creator god”, he clearly embraced all versions of creator gods in his writings post “Origins of the Species”. When castigated by his religious colleagues for indirectly slighting the sacred cows of creator gods across the board, he sincerely and clearly endorsed the social currency (value) of all religions. He explained that the axioms of his “Origins” (survival of the fittest) applied as certainly in social as in individual man. First, he taught, species survive and evolve because of individual (genotypical) and social (phenotypical) adaptations. Churches and religions, he explained, are socially-evolved methods (adaptations) for group survival, as the majority of humans in any group or clan is (without religion) unreasonably and dysfunctionally obsessed with individual mortality and the like, and that, without the morality and ethicalities (and mythologies) adopted and promulgated by religious authorities, social progress (evolution) would have been very unlikely.
So, Darwin saw more than simply “beauty” in natural evolution…he saw social pragmatism.
But, I have (perhaps appropriately in the case of criticizing Will with the same intended tone Oscar Wilde crafted his “Critic as the Artist”) diverted from my intended plan and path. My intent was to encourage our brilliant commentator and columnist to keep on trucking through the courts of kings and idiots like Bush, but with (as he might put it) less Falstaffian aloofness and more Darwinian directness. Will has far too much brains and talent to induct himself to public service as passively-aggressive court jester. Will needs to fall out of his forensic addiction to turning a philosophic phrase and into a habit of using his inordinate verbal and intellectual armament to muckrake mistakes and propose solutions to our culture’s many many dire challenges, from the fiscal to the environmental. I perhaps used the wrong parable when I echoed the proverbial cry, “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” I think the words a man uses are, functionally, his intellectual “clothes”. In this sense, Will needs to heed the words of Polonius. The apparel does often “proclaim the man”, but before that, he told his son – “But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy”.
That other Will (Shakespeare) also instructed us all, even as he was admonishing this same overly-effusive father (Polonius)…. Please… “More matter and less art!”
Please, Will, give us more matter and less art. I know you can do it.
Your still fond fan,
Robert R. Schoch
Robert R. (Dusty) Schoch is an attorney, inventor (author of Milton Bradley’s “Crack the Case”; most recent environmental patent http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6048407.html; designer (United Features Syndicate-licensed “Snoopy’s Dream Machines”) and manufacturer (D.C.S. International, Inc.), Inventor’s representative and broker of novel inventions (President and C.E.O. of I.D.E.A.S. , “Invention Design Enhancement And Sales”) and writer (novels, essays, screenplays) living in High Point, N.C. BA (English) degree, UNC Chapel Hill, JD (law) U. of Ala., Tuscaloosa. Dusty is founder and scribe of the B.E.A. (“Barristers et al”) a N.C.-based, politically-independent foreign policy think tank. He is also co-editor (foreign policy) of DeclaringIndependents.com, through the contact link of which readers are invited to correspond with him. His soon-to-be published novel and soon thereafter to be released movie, “Ex Machina” are the story of an environmental hero who succeeds in saving the world from …us.
HOW CONGRESS TRUMPS DARWIN
Sunday, February 8, 2009; Page B07
“Descended from the apes!” exclaimed the wife of the bishop of Worcester. “Let us hope that it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally known.”
An American majority resists such an annoying notion, endorsing the proposition that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.” Still, evolution is a fact, and its mechanism is natural selection: Creatures with variations especially suited to their environmental situation have more descendants than do less well-adapted creatures.
This Thursday, the 200th anniversary of the births of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, remember that Lincoln mattered more. Without Darwin, other scientists would have discerned natural selection. Indeed, Darwin’s friend Alfred Wallace already had. Without Lincoln, the United States probably would have been sundered into at least two nations. Probably into more: Southerners, a fractious tribe, would not have played nicely together in the Confederacy for very long.
Unlike Lincoln, Darwin still disturbs humanity’s peace of mind. Some people flinch from the idea of natural selection, a.k.a. “survival of the fittest,” because it suggests Lord Tennyson’s “nature, red in tooth and claw.” But Darwin, in the last paragraph of “The Origin of Species,” saw beauty:
“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
Walt Whitman, seared by Lincoln’s war to guarantee the nation’s survival, adopted a materialist’s mysticism about the slaughter: Human immortality is in earth’s transformation of bodies into an “unseen essence and odor of surface and grass, centuries hence.”
After Copernicus dislodged humanity from the center of the universe, Marx asserted that false consciousness — we do not really “make up our minds” — blinds us to the fact that we are in the grip of an implacable dialectic of impersonal forces. Darwin placed humanity in a continuum of all protoplasm. Then Freud declared that the individual’s “self” or personhood is actually a sort of unruly committee. All this dented humanity’s self-esteem.
Still, many people of faith find Darwinism compatible with theism: God, they say, initiated and directs the dynamic that Darwin described.
In the end, Darwin, in spite of perfunctory rhetorical references to “the Creator,” disagreed. As a scientist dealing with probabilities, and with a profoundly materialist theory, he had no intellectual room for a directing deity that wills a special destination for our species.
Darwin’s rejection of premeditated design helped to validate an analogous political philosophy. The fact of order in nature does not require us to postulate a divine Orderer, and the social order does not presuppose an order-giving state. As a practical matter, we cannot expel government from our understanding of society as Darwin expelled God from the understanding of nature. But Darwinism opens the mind to the fecundity of undirected, spontaneous, organic social arrangements — to Edmund Burke and Friedrich Hayek.
Speaking of government, in 1973, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act. It said that when identifying an “endangered” or “threatened” species, the government should assess not only disease, predation and threats to its habitat but also “other natural . . . factors affecting its continued existence.” Natural factors?
Four years later, the act held up construction of a Tennessee dam deemed menacing to the snail-darter minnow. Ed Yoder, a learned and sometimes whimsical columnist, noted that it was under Tennessee’s “monkey law” that John Scopes was tried in 1925 for teaching biology in a way considered incompatible with Genesis. While not equating Tennessee’s law with “a measure so enlightened” as the 1973 act, Yoder noted:
“Both measures involve legislative interposition in the realm of biological change; and which will have involved the greater hubris is yet to be seen. Tennessee’s ambitions were comparatively modest. It sought only to conceal the disturbing evidence of natural selection from impressionable school children. The Congress of the United States, one is intrigued to learn, intends to stop the nasty business in its tracks.”
With that accomplished, it should be child’s play for Congress to make the climate behave. Pick your own meaning of “child’s play.”
Len Carrier’s* Anchoring Remarks
Thanks for letting me see your commentary on Wills’ piece. I agree with your critique–just a lot of mental gymnastics on Will’s part. But I’d offer a harsher criticism. I think Will is a phony. His father, Frederick Will, was a philosopher and a true intellect. George doesn’t measure up, intellectually or morally, so he tries to hide his inadequacies through sheer linguistic legerdemain. Here’s what I mean regarding his latest piece. He cites Darwin’s theory of natural selection as opening the mind to Edmund Burke and Friedrich Hayek. Why Burke and Hayek? Why not Keynes and Krugman? Will is slyly insinuating that there’s some connection between evolution and conservative political thinkers, whereas there’s no connection at all. Darwin’s theory was value free. What natural selection has wrought is not “better”; it is simply that which has adapted best to its environment.
Quoting Yoder’s comments with apparent approval with regard to the Endangered Species Act is a prime example of Will’s dishonest argumentation. Are we supposed to believe that the Tennessee Dam is simply a case of natural selection’s getting rid of the snail darter, and that we shouldn’t get in the way of evolution? This is outrageous. First, constructing dams involves conscious choice, not blind evolutionary drift. Second, if we think that certain species such as the snail darter are important to us, then, by all means, we should protect them. If we follow Will’s logic, then we shouldn’t try to prevent diseases because that would get in the way of evolution by natural selection. Will’s conclusion seems to be that we can’t do anything about global warming (a typical right-wing stand)–but to use Darwin’s theory to bolster this head-in-the-sand attitude is blatantly fallacious.
I noticed a couple of typos in your comments, which I’ve highlighted in red. I don’t see anything wrong with the substance of your remarks, aside from their giving Will too much credit.
GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS:
Confronting and Dealing with the
The Mythical Monster of “Free Market Capitalism”
EDITORIAL NOTE: The present article is in four parts, consisting of:
- (1) Dr. Leonard Carrier’s forthcoming presentation at the University of Miami’s Philosophy Colloquium Series on February 27, 2009 of his essay captioned:
- (2) DI Editor, Dusty Schoch’s reactions to Carrier’s thesis, extending the subject matter from exposition to revolutionary remediation
- (3) Tom Friedman‘s (NY Times columnist) very comprehensive and thought-provoking commentary on the pro’s and cons of how our new (Obama’s) administration is and/or should be dealing with the myriad maladies being precipitated by an economic system which may have functionally and/or morally become irreparably obsolete
- (4) Dusty’s rant entitled “The Rand Syndrome” where occasion is taken to slam dunk the notion that Ayn Rand’s recently disinterred version of neo-conservative capitalism “enlightened selfishness” (a precursor to Reaganomics) offers any chance of deliverance in the case of America’s fall from fiscal grace…
The Myth of Free-Market Capitalism”
February 5, 2009.
The Myth of Free-Market Capitalism
By: DI Senior Associate Editor, Dr. Leonard Carrier
People are fond of their myths, especially those that promise better times ahead. Perhaps myth-making is a means of retaining optimism in the face of what reason sees as good grounds for pessimism. But, as Hume famously said, reason by itself moves nothing; it is, and ought to be, a slave of the passions. What I wish to expose in what follows is a myth that has come to dominate our economic thinking, which is that of free-market capitalism. It is common to think that there is no other variety of capitalism rather than the free-market kind, but this is a mistake. Capitalism is the view that a nation’s economy, for the most part, is better left in private hands rather than being centrally planned by government. In this respect it differs from Socialism or Fascism, where, although private industry is allowed, it is in all respects directed by government decree or regulation. It is perhaps helpful, then, to distinguish capitalism from “statism,“ allowing that there might be different varieties or degrees of capitalism, some in which private business is monitored carefully by the state, as it is in China; and other varieties in which government regulation of the economy is either stronger or weaker–stronger in the case of Germany, weaker in the United States, and weaker still in Russia. A free-market capitalism would then be capitalism without any government regulations or restraints. It would constitute a free market in which property rights are exchanged voluntarily by mutual consent of buyers and sellers, without coercion or constraint, where prices are determined solely by supply and demand, and where government does not directly or indirectly regulate prices or supplies.
It is obvious that there is no such thing as a free-market capitalism operating in the world today, especially not in the United States. Even those who champion free markets make exceptions for such things as patents and copyrights. As Dean Baker points out (“Free Market Myth,” Boston Review, January/February 2009), patents and copyrights are “government-granted protections designed for a specific public purpose,” namely, to promote science and the arts. But whether copyrights are the most effective means for achieving this goal is a matter for empirical investigation. In similar fashion, Baker points out that it is through government-guaranteed patent protection that pharmaceutical companies can sell their brand-name drugs for more than a thousand per cent of what they would cost in a free market. In any case, copyrights and patents constitute government regulation of the free market, in these cases regulations that favor businesses such as publishing companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers. There might be other government mechanisms that “promote science and innovation” that are more public-friendly than patents and copyrights, but to say that they would constitute government interference disguises the fact that government has already interfered by protecting certain business interests, perhaps at the expense of the general welfare. Invention and creativity deserve encouragement, but this might be accomplished by direct government subsidies to those who advance medicine and the arts.
Free-market economists might agree with the claim that no free market exists, but that (1) if not for government interference free markets would exist naturally, and (2) that it would be better for all if we strived to approximate free market capitalism in the real world. A defense of (2) is usually called laissez-faire economics, in which government is confined to intervene in economic matters only to regulate against force and fraud among market participants, and perhaps to raise taxes to fund the maintenance of the free market. It is my contention that (1) and (2) constitute the myth of free-market capitalism, and that both of them are demonstrably false. I shall argue first against (1).
The notion that there is a sort of historical inevitability about the rise of free markets has been championed recently by Thomas Friedman, especially in his book, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first century. Friedman argues that technological innovation has “flattened” the world in that we now operate in a global economy, one in which inexorable technological advances fuel world-wide economic development and therefore shape society. Politics and culture serve sometimes to retard human progress, but in the end they cannot prevail against technological innovation and the increase of productivity. In this respect, Friedman echoes the view expressed in 1848 by Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto. Here is a celebrated passage from the latter work which Friedman accepts as a suitable preface to his own view of global “flattening“:
All that is solid melts into the air, all that is holy is profaned,
and man is at last compelled to face with his sober senses his
real conditions of of life and his relations with his kind. The
need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases
the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must
nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections
everywhere….It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to
adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to
introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to
become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world
after its own image.
The similarity of Friedman’s view to that of Marx and Engels lies in the premise that such globalization is compatible with only one economic system. The difference lies in what sort of economic system that turns out to be. For Marx, global capitalism would, after many convulsions, revolutions, and wars, finally give way to the communist order, in which nationalism and religion would be left behind, and humanity would no longer experience war and poverty. For Friedman, such globalization leads inexorably to a free-market economy among nations in which freedom and democracy are spread throughout the world.
It has been pointed out by John Gray, in his review of Friedman’s book (The New York Review of Books, Vol. 52, No. 13, August 11, 2005) that Friedman’s view adopts all of the weaknesses of Marx’s view while neglecting its strengths. Marx was aware of the self-destructive aspects of unfettered capitalism, viewing it as a revolutionary force whose world-wide expansion was bound to be disruptive and violent–destroying industries, governments, and ways of life in turning societies upside down. Friedman simply views such conflicts as friction to be overcome–sand tossed in the machinery, which is bound to be removed by unstoppable technological progress. It was this sort of optimism that led Friedman to champion our invasion of Iraq, unaware that the forces of nationalism and religion can still provide a stern antidote to the allure of the free market. Marx would not have been surprised to see capitalism and industrialization give rise to war and revolution. Friedman ignores this result because he mistakenly identifies the ongoing process of globalization with free-market capitalism, and thinks of the latter as embodying utopian hopes of freedom and democracy.
Both Marx and Friedman are mistaken in the conflation of globalization and free-market capitalism. As John Gray points out in his review of Friedman’s book, there is a difference between accepting the view that we live in a period of increasing technological progress that links up events throughout the world, and the view that this process inevitably leads to one worldwide economic system. The former view is properly called “globalization,” but there is no proven systematic connection between globalization and either free-market capitalism or a communistic society. Globalization may be unstoppable, but the economic systems that it creates do not necessarily merge into one.
There is no historical or technological determinism that naturally creates free markets. On the contrary, it has been governments that have promulgated and conducted every case of free-market experiment. This conclusion is defended forcefully by John Gray in his book False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism (1998). Gray points out that laissez-faire capitalism in Victorian Great Britain arose neither from a long process of evolution nor did it occur by sheer happenstance. Instead, it was engineered by the British government through Enclosures that transferred common land into private property. This created a capitalistic economy of large, landed estates. Repeal of the Corn laws in 1846 gave rise to laissez-faire thinking in England that survived until the Great Depression. It wasn’t until the 1980s and the Thatcherite government that free-market thinking was re-engineered, only to last for as long as Mrs. Thatcher’s tenure in government. In Japan, Russia, Germany, and the United States through its long history of protectionism, state intervention has always been involved in economic development. Only recently in the United States has our government, under the influence of economists such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, flirted with the notion of creating a global free market.
Free-market thinking, like the Marxist proposal, is merely a different facet of the Enlightenment project of the 17th and 18th centuries. Spurred on by John Locke’s empiricist thought and his criticism of the Divine Right of Kings, the French philosophes–Diderot, D’Alembert, Condorcet, and Rousseau–championed three main ideas that the influenced political thought of the times. The first was that through the use of reason human beings could discard the corruptions of superstition and religion and provide an environment in which the natural is distinguished from the artificial, human rights are recognized, and humanity can begin its progress towards a utopian future. It is salient that Condorcet held fast to the ideas he expressed in his Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Spirit, even as he lay dying in the squalor of a French prison. The Enlightenment idea of human progress is present, not only in Marx’s idea of the inevitability of the formation of a communist society, but also in the late twentieth-century doctrine of free markets as the natural outcome of free individuals using reason to progress to a global democratic society in which natural rights to liberty and property are respected and result in the benefit of all. This idea of human progress has become so ingrained in the popular imagination that the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859 did no more than divert the course of utopian thinking, so that the evolution of species became but a stepping stone to dreaming of the evolution of the human spirit to a higher and more rational plane.
In Great Britain, unlike in France (with the exception of Voltaire), Enlightenment ideas were received with more skepticism. Even though David Hume, Samuel Johnson, and Edmund Burke found a place for human reason, they did not accept the notion of a potential human rationality that led to a utopian end state. Even Adam Smith, whom free-market thinkers love to quote, did not believe in the perfectability of man through the use of reason and the free markets. Both Smith and Hume based their ethical theory on moral sentiments, not on reason, with right and wrong being determined by sympathy and fellow-feeling. For Adam Smith, the notion of laissez-faire economics was simply a working principle, subject to modifications in practice, a far cry from the free-market belief that the increase of production by itself could determine human well being. Smith, as did his earlier contemporary Joseph Butler (1692-1752), believed that acting from enlightened self-interest would probably result in better consequences than acting on impulse or even from altruistic motives, but they both agreed that most of our actions did not stem from such a motive, nor should they. Voltaire, at the end of his Candide, espouses the same sentiment when he suggests that we would all be better off if we cultivated our own gardens–but he doesn’t say that this is what all of us are bound to do. John Gray sums it up in False Dawn by claiming that free-market ideology in the United States is simply a relic of the Enlightenment, belonging to John Locke’s world, not to ours. He declares that whereas American free-marketers espouse pieties such as human rights being rooted in a Christian God, that American customs stem from natural law, and that limited government is required to respect private property, these platitudes simply mask the plural world we live in.
Because Adam Smith was impressed with the way in which the division of labor resulted in increased production, contemporary free-marketers have appropriated Smith’s ideas in order to make productivity the key to world-wide economic well-being. Most frequently cited is Smith’s reference to an “invisible hand” in The Wealth of Nations, the mechanism by which an individual, being guided solely by self-interest in his economic decisions and behavior, can effect consequences that work to the betterment of all. Yet Smith mentioned an invisible hand only once in this immense work, and the passage in which the reference occurs really does nothing to support the claims that global free-marketers make for it. This is because the passage in question is concerned with the merits of choosing domestic products over imported ones and has nothing to do with global free markets. Because the passage has usually been quoted in an abridged form, I shall quote it more fully to make my point.
As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. (p. 572, Bantam Classic edition)
It seems clear from the this passage that Smith is championing the home market over foreign ones, and claiming that promoting the home market normally benefits the society in which one lives, even though that benefit was not intended. Smith goes on to claim that sometimes it is better for the society to buy imported goods when they cannot be more cheaply manufactured at home; but, this is again always with an eye toward benefiting one’s own countrymen and not those in other countries. Thus, by no means was Smith speaking of how one could best benefit members of a global society. Put in contemporary terms, what Smith is saying is that we should “look for the union label” when we buy, because giving preference to that which is manufactured at home usually works to the betterment of the society in which we live.
The foundation of free-market thinking is that rational human beings, each by selfishly seeking his own good, will promote the good of all. Yet this assumes that we humans are or can be rational in seeking our economic good. It is not that free-marketers are unaware of decisions based on faulty information, or on emotional bias, but they assume that such distortions can be corrected by the use of reason. It is precisely this assumption that appears to be false. J. D. Trout, in his book, The Empathy Gap: Building Bridges to the Good Life and the Good Society (2009), lists several cases in which the use of reason is no antidote to the way we make decisions, suggesting that emotional bias is hard-wired into our central nervous systems and cannot be removed easily, if at all. Trout mentions “base-rate neglect,” according to which we tend to worry more about exotic disasters that are unlikely to happen than about more familiar ones that are. For instance, people worry more about avian flu, which has yet killed no one in the United States, and yet they neglect to get an ordinary flu shot to prevent the flu that kills 36,000 Americans each year. This phenomenon has also been called “probability neglect,” according to which people show more worry about dreadful but unlikely happenings, such as terrorist killings in the United States, whereas they tend to ignore the far more likely but mundane happening, such as the levees of New Orleans breaching during a hurricane.
Trout also mentions an “over-confidence bias,” which makes us underestimate challenges and risks. For example, we elect to drive rather than fly because we think we’re in control of our automobiles, whereas we know that traffic accidents account for far more fatalities than airline travel. Another irrational spring to our thought and action Trout calls an “anchoring bias,” according to which misinformation lodges in our brains, even after proven to be false. This is why “negative advertising” in political campaigns proves so effective. Everyone claims to deplore the spread of such misinformation, but it has results.
In 1979, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky made a study of irrational behavior in various risk and financial situations. Their article, “Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk,” gave rise to the discipline of Behavioral Economics. Their work provides evidence that, not only is such behavior ingrained in us, but that it can be manipulated. Free-marketers assume that in the ideal situation, agents are well-informed, that their preferences are well-ordered and stable, and that their actions are controlled, self-centered, and calculating. The psychological research shows, however, that people’s judgments are biased, and their preferences are changeable and unstable. If this is so, then one’s everyday actions cannot be made to fit into the frame of rational self-interest.
In financial matters, research has shown that people are “loss aversive,” so that, for example, they hold onto a losing stock even though they have rational justification that it will continue to fall. Some studies even suggest that the fear of a loss has twice the psychological impact as the lure of a gain. People also fail to regard sunk costs, fail to consider opportunity costs, and fall prey to money illusion. The latter phenomenon occurs when people mistake the face-value of currency for its purchasing power. For instance, people tend to think of a 2% cut in pay when there is no inflation as unfair, whereas they believe that a 2% raise where there is 4% inflation as fair. Money illusion allows employers to offer nominal raises during high inflation, thereby cutting the real purchasing power of their employees without raising any protests.
People also have a difficult time predicting their future preferences, even though they have the necessary information to do so. For instance, although a person might know that he won’t be driving a sports car at age 80, he might continue researching the futuristic models in Car and Driver. Far from being calculatingly selfish, we tend to put a value on fairness in our dealings with others. This is shown in what behavioral economists call the “Ultimate Game.” In the game you and your partner are given $100, which you are called upon to split. Whatever division of the money you propose, if your partner accepts it, you are both richer by that amount. Reason suggests that a partner should accept even a $90 – $10 split, but the experiment showed that any split less than $70 – $30 was usually rejected. We also tend to make important financial decisions based on a passing whim or emotion, usually overestimating risk over reward. With regard to risk, we seem to evaluate it with a pre-historic brain which hasn’t adapted to our relatively predator-free environment in which most dangers are gone. Our perception of risk is based largely on our feelings, not our reason, which is why people constantly make bad financial decisions.
How irrational a consumer might be is illustrated in the “$.99” factor in retail pricing. According to the classical economic theory adopted by the free-marketers, consumers make rational choices based on price comparisons and other objective factors. But people actually think they are getting a bargain by buying something for $19.99 rather than for $20.00. Researchers explain this phenomenon according to the “right digit signal” and the “left digit signal” in one’s brain. Because people read from left to right, we place more importance of the first number we read. When students were asked to compare $99.99 with $150.00 and then compare $100 to $150, they saw the gap between $99.99 and $150.00 as being significantly larger. Even though the students understood what they were doing, they still rated $99.99 as a significantly better price than $100. This phenomenon allows retailers to convince people that items priced at $99.99 are “on sale,” whereas, similar items priced at $100.00 are not. Though it defies reason, the emotional kick of getting a $.01 discount actually makes a difference to consumer spending, though I doubt whether many of us would bother to stoop and pick up a penny that was lying in the street. All these examples show that the classical notion of homo economicus has no basis in reality, and therefore premise (1), which assumed that free markets are the natural outcome of rational decisions cannot be true.
Free-market economists, however, are not fazed by such criticism. Members of the so-called “Austrian School” of economics, whose most notable lights are Ludwig von Mises and Friedich Hayek, would dispute the psychological evidence as showing that human beings are fundamentally irrational. Michael Rozeff of the Ludwig von Mises Institute defends free-market capitalism in “What Do Austrians Mean by ‘Rational’?” (07/26/2006) by claiming that the conclusions of the Behavioral Economists are false because they are based on a faulty model of rationality. Rozeff cites von Mises in claiming that all voluntary action is rational. This is because it has some aim in satisfying the desires of the agent. Thus, even though individuals might make systematic errors in their choices, this does nothing to show that they are irrational in doing so or that government interference in free markets can “cure the human race of whatever limitations it might possess.” For Rozeff, there is no excuse to resort to “statism“ to correct any human defects, because these defects are always magnified by government interference, exerting unnecessary control over free individuals.
There are two main defects in Rozeff’s criticism. The first is his view that there is an exclusive disjunction between free markets and “statism,” and that if you do not support free markets, you are committed to an economy that must be centrally planned. This error is due to viewing free-market capitalism as the only sort of capitalism, so that if you reject free markets you must thereby reject capitalism and be committed to a “statist” view of economics, such as socialism. This mistake is made obvious by considering the capitalist economies of other countries such as Germany, Japan, and China, all of which have capitalistic economies but which are regulated in some measure by their governments, even though they are not “statist” economies. Capitalistic economies have a variety of forms. The individualistic Anglo-Saxon varieties in place in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand are different from those in Asia and Europe, where cultural differences lead to different economic models.
The second mistake of Rozeff’s analysis is lodged in his claim that all voluntary action is rational.
This is not the view of rationality that is embodied in the claim by free marketers that people act with a view to their self interest in making economic decisions. The psychological experiments have shown that people do not act in their own best interests in making economic decisions. To claim that “all human action is rational,” even though this action is emotionally biased, is to confuse rationality with causation. To insist that all human action is rational is then no more than to say that it has a cause in the desires, however much emotionally colored, of the agent. This is to confuse action which has a rational justification with an action that “has a reason,” that is, an action that is caused by some desire or other. The psychological experiments mentioned above did not deny that voluntary actions are caused by reasons. What they denied is that these reasons are ones that are rationally justifiable in leading to the actual interest of the agent. Another way of expressing this is to distinguish between actions that are performed with regard to one’s self interest, which is what free marketers really must claim is the foundation of one’s economic freedom, and actions that are taken because one just happens to be interested in them. The latter allow for voluntary actions that ensue even though they occur through emotional bias; but it is the former that free marketers must insist is the basis for economic decisions. Actions that stem from emotionally influenced desires, such as smoking, eating fast foods, and driving after drinking, do not usually result in one’s actual self interest.
Still, it is the free-marketer’s claim that if individual economic decisions are flawed, then so much more so must be the decisions of those who would regulate a free market, especially since the possession of power over our economic decisions is likely to exacerbate whatever defects individuals have and create even more. As Rozeff puts it, “The institutional apparatus of government is always less responsive and less accountable to human needs and desires than free markets.” (ibid.) It is this claim that I shall now examine: the view expressed in (2) that, regardless how any free-markets actually arose, of whether they really exist at all, it would be better for everyone if they did exist, and it would be best of all if they existed globally, with no government regulation or hindrance whatsoever.
The trouble with this claim is that it has no empirical evidence at all to back it. It rests solely on the notion that the exercise of individual freedom in one’s economic behavior is a good above all others, and that this applies not only to individual people, but also to corporations and companies that are treated as “persons” under the law. In its extreme form, this view results in Libertarianism, in which the rights to one’s life and property trump all other rights, so that one should have the unfettered freedom to protect these rights against those who would override them in the name of a common good. One does not have to criticize Libertarianism, however, in order to present counterexamples showing that individuals acting selfishly from perfect economic freedom rarely enhance the good of others, or even themselves.
The first counterexample involves what is known as “the tragedy of the commons.” This especially of note when resources are scarce. For example, if an island nation depends on its livelihood on fishing harvests, it is in the interest of each individual fisherman to catch as many fish as possible, especially if the fish grow scarcer. If each fisherman competes more and more vigorously for the remaining fish, this behavior will ensure that the supply of fish is depleted and that eventually no one will have any fish. An actual example of this kind has been documented by Jared Diamond in his book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005). Diamond’s research lists severe deforestation as the reason for the collapse of the Easter Island society in the 18th century, because there was no wood available for the sea-going canoes that Easter Islanders needed for deep-sea fishing. One of the reasons for the deforestation was that the islanders used enormous quantities of wood to transport and raise the large stone statues the remnants of which remain there today. Apparently, there was a competition between rival clans to erect the most imposing statue, and so the wood supply was gradually depleted and the society failed. What was once a prosperous society of as many as 30,000 in 1680 destroyed itself largely through a self-interested competition that overexploited its resources, leaving only 111 islanders by 1872.
Another example of the tragedy of the commons concerns how self-interested behavior offers no benefit to society during a recession. During such economic downturns it is in each economic agent’s self-interest to increase his savings and cut his expenditures, because the recession threatens his income. But if each agent’s pursues his own individual interest in this way, the overall spending of the economy will be reduced, the recession will deepen, and everyone will suffer more. This has been called “the paradox of thrift.” Classic Keynesian economics calls for having government increase national spending, thereby stimulating the economy and thus end the recession to the benefit of all. If such government intervention offers the best course of action, then this falsifies (2)–although unless these funds are directed toward job creation and improvement of the infrastructure the effort is likely to fail.
A second sort of counterexample to what free-marketers claim in (2) is the phenomenon known as “the race to the bottom.” For example, if a state acts in its own self-interest by underbidding others in lowering taxes, reducing spending, and eliminating regulation, so as to make it more attractive to financial interests, then other states can only compete by doing more of the same; so a “race to the bottom” ensues with each state being worse off than it would have been had the states cooperated rather than acting in a purely self-interested way. The race to the bottom is a special case of The Prisoner’s Dilemma, in which the optimal outcome for an entire group of participants results from cooperation of the participants, whereas the optimal outcome of each individual is not to cooperate while others do cooperate.
A simple example of a race to the bottom concerns tax competition among nations. Each nation may benefit from having a high tax on corporate profits to promote income equality. But nations can benefit individually with a lower corporate tax rate to attract businesses from other nations. This would hurt all the nations except the one that lowered the tax rate. In order to be competitive, each of the other nations would have to lower its tax rate, thereby “racing to the bottom” with a result that is less favorable in promoting income equality and the good of all.
Free-market capitalism has precipitated a race to the bottom in the United States, beginning in 1980 with the adoption of what has been called “supply-side economics,” credited to Arthur Laffer. According to this view, if corporations were given tax cuts and given free rein to seek out the most favorable business environment world-wide, they would increase their own wealth and thereby increase the wealth of American citizens. Opponents of this view called it “trickle-down economics,” in which the riches of American producers would trickle down American workers. Unfortunately, the wealth did not trickle down. Instead, the tax cuts gave rise to large deficits in the Federal budget, American manufacturers lost out to foreign competition that could produce goods more cheaply, and American workers lost their jobs to those in other countries. Through increased productivity, tax cuts, and a lower wage base, the producer class became extremely wealthy, but average citizens became worse off. As John Gray points out in False Dawn, the United States became the only advanced society in which corporate productivity increased whereas the income of the majority has stagnated or fallen. Between 1973 and 1993, $200 billion that used to go the worst-off 3/5 of the population now went to the 1/5 that was best-off. A study by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty (2006) showed that total reported income increased by 9% in 2005, with the mean income of the top 1% increasing by 14% while the bottom 90% dropping by 0.6%. Thus, free-market competition, tax cuts for the wealthy, and massive borrowing to finance government spending has resulted in increased income inequality in which most of the population are worse off than they would otherwise be. As of this writing our national debt stands and $10.7 trillion and counting.
The loss of jobs created by this race to the bottom has also damaged families, neighborhoods, and increased the crime rate. In the United States today mass imprisonment acts as a surrogate for community controls that have been destroyed or weakened. In 1994 more than 5 million Americans were under some form of legal restraint. One and a half million people were in jail, which is ten times the number in European countries, and legal restraint has become the only effective means of social control, especially for drug offenses. The problem is exacerbated by creating prison dependency, as well as having those with minor offenses exposed to the teachings of seasoned criminals. When the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 was signed by President Clinton, it divested government of most of its responsibility for welfare, creating a permanent underclass that is effectively managed only by incarceration or the threat of it.
Free-market capitalism thrives on privatization and deregulation. One of the most notable examples of how this practice has backfired concerns the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933. This Act prohibited a bank holding company from owning other financial institutions, thus separating commercial from investment banking, and it was passed in order to control speculation when much of the banking system collapsed in 1933. The Glass-Steagall Act was repealed in 1999, and in 2008 many U.S. financial institutions failed because banks had taken on too much debt with risky mortgages. This could not have taken place had Glass-Steagall not been repealed. A similar case concerns the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), established as a government agency to make mortgages more available to low-income families. In 1968 Fannie Mae was converted to a private shareholder corporation in order to remove it from the Federal budget. In 1999, Fannie Mae was pressed by institutions in the primary mortgage market to ease credit requirements so that loans could be made to sub-prime borrowers. At the same time, shareholders pressed Fannie Mae to maintain its record profits, and the Clinton administration wanted more loans to be made to lower-income borrowers. As a result, Fannie Mae made some very risky loans; so when the housing bubble burst in 2008, the government was forced to place Fannie Mae into conservatorship. If Fannie Mae had not first been privatized and then been so loosely regulated, this could not have happened.
What the free-market ideologues apparently refuse to accept is that there are other goods that might override that of economic freedom. Among other things valued are physical security, adequate food and shelter, the availability of health-care, a sense of community, and having the opportunity to find structure and meaning in one’s life. All the counterexamples to free-market capitalism concern the clash between the freedom to gain economic advantage and one or more of these other human goods. If the purpose of having a sound economy is to benefit the society that enjoys it, then these counterexamples show that the society as a whole does not benefit. Treating economic freedom as if it had no other result than one’s profit is to blind oneself to its other deleterious consequences. If one wonders why the free-marketers in the Ludwig von Mises Institute refuse to accept these counterexamples, perhaps it is due to an “anchoring bias” on their parts. The ideology of the free market has become so firmly entrenched in their conceptual scheme that counterexamples do not touch it.
John Gray wrote False Dawn before the world-wide financial collapse of 2008. In it he warned of such events taking place as a result of globalization and free-market capitalism–world-wide financial cataclysms that exaggerate the cyclical booms and busts that are endemic to capitalism itself. It is not that capitalism simply falls prey to crooked speculators as the Enron, WorldCom, and Adelphia scandals have demonstrated. Instead, it is part of the fabric of capitalism itself, made worse by the global reach of free markets. What is to be done to ameliorate these effects? Gray is not sanguine about our economic futures. A reversion to statism will not help, as witness the failures of the Soviet Union and of Maoism, which resulted in far more killings and human suffering than capitalism has, without any of the economic benefits. Nor does Gray hold out much hope in trying to regulate markets, especially in the United States, which he sees as “…riven by class conflicts, fundamentalist movements, and low intensity race wars.” (p. 130). Only if Americans could admit that free markets are at odds with social stability might this conflict be moderated. But Gray sees little hope for that.
In a later work, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals (2003), Gray makes an even stronger case for pessimism, not only about the future of capitalism, but also the human race. His thesis here is that humans are what Darwin showed all animals to be, “…a result of blind evolutionary drift” (p. 5). But humans are worse than other animals by virtue of their capacity to cause untold pain and suffering to their fellow creatures. The human species is Homo Rapiens, made even more fearsome by its development of technology to such an extent that it threatens the planet that has nurtured it. Technology has taken on a life of its own, and, like global markets, it cannot be stopped. Whether it can be harnessed for human wellbeing is, for Gray, a vain hope, given its widespread destructive use. Perhaps when the human species has ceased to exist, the planet can begin to heal itself in the way that the Gaia Hypothesis contends. This is the hypothesis that the earth is a self-regulating system; and, according to Gray, if humans disturb its delicate balance, they will be trampled and tossed aside like the straw dogs used in ancient Chinese rituals (p 34).
Whether, as Gray contends, hope for the future is just another illusion to which the human race is prone, or whether we can harness technology before we destroy ourselves, is still at issue. Gray looks at our historical record and sees little hope, apparently distrusting the deliverances of reason and opting for quiescence in the face of necessity. Perhaps, like Sisyphus, we are condemned to roll the stone uphill only to have it roll back again to the bottom. But if we can learn to discern myth from reality, perhaps we can also learn something by exposing the myth. Gray has shown the enormous productivity that can be generated by a capitalistic system. Perhaps, through selective regulation, such a system can be tamed so as to be responsive to human needs. Although Gray has shown that human progress is not inevitable, he has not yet shown it to be impossible.
Time does not permit my proposing how such progress can be achieved, nor would it be an easy task because globalized capitalism, replete with its multi-national corporations, has become so convoluted that it is hard to unravel its many strands. But that, as my friend Robert Schoch has suggested to me, itself proposes at least the form of a solution. It does so by way of the Parable of the Zen Sculptor, in which the student approaches the master and asks, “How will the stone appear when finished?” The master replies, “I cannot presently tell; but with each swing of the hammer and chisel, I can determine what it is not.” Analogously, although we cannot presently tell what form our capitalism will take, we can at least discern what it will not be. For instance, it will not be more laissez faire; it will not be more tax cuts for the wealthy; it will not be a “bail out” for failing banks without any supervision; it will not be the funding of defunct corporations so that their CEOs can escape with golden parachutes. This we can determine because these things have been tried and they have failed to promote the general welfare. Perhaps we can fashion our own brand of capitalism just by saying “no” at the right time. At least it’s a start.
L. S. Carrier
2 27 2009
New Revolution for a New Imperialism
By: DI Editor, Dusty Schoch
I keep a picture of Che Guevara on the wall in front of me to remind myself that, like that ancient eastern sage said… “If you want to be beautiful, then be thou a lotus flower; If you would be strong, then be thou a mighty oak; but if your desire is to attain your own ultimate humanity, then thou must then be a revolutionary.”
That’s all Che ever was, even when he was living his “motorcycle diary” days. He left his native Argentina and led revolutionary resurgencies all over the world, recognizing even then (mid 50’s thru late 60’s) the global nature of “the” enemy – imperialism. To me, today, the root of imperialism is the multinational corporation (and the national corporations, as Halliburton and Blackwater, acting globally through a Pentagon controlled by multinational corporations…principals, agents…all the same.)
Che wouldn’t—at least readily–know what to do today. The Batistas of today are seldom native tyrants and warlords, seldom visible. I might have selected a poor exemplar there because Batista was in a way a corporate puppet, if we can deem our native Mafia the equivalent of a multi-national corporation, which it’s always been in effect.
That’s the why and where people like you fit in. It’s the philosophers (artistic historians) looking at the big picture of history and current events who must lead/inspire the masses to recognize the old villains in their new chameleonic embodiments and colorings by exposing the legerdemain and misdirections of the tricky corporate bastards running all the shows on all the economic stages and fronts; the fat cats who rake in the billions from their perches on palm islands off Dubai….regardless of the consequences occurring on the cutting edges of modern day capitalistic imperialism.
Imperialism, Che’s ubiquitous and perennial enemy, has always been capitalist, but in the past it was more corporeally capitalist. You could see and touch Batista and Iran’s Shah. In India, you could see and touch the British colonialists (capitalistic imperialists). They had flesh and blood and did their colonial thing out there in the open. When all the fat cats, with comic book efficiency, were enabled to incorporate, they were ipso facto enabled to act as though they were “invisible”. They are able to hire corporate mercenaries (e.g. Halliburton>Blackwater) to do their dirty work and take the flak and fall by invisible proxy. Because they effectively are (invisible).
My point? The “mythology” in which “free market capitalism” is all wrapped up and obfuscated is itself all wrapped up and obfuscated (thus insulated) by the macro-mythology of the transnational corporation. It’s a case of historically- nonpareil involute obliquity. The legal figment (myth) is the “invisible cloak” (image from an implement of wizardry found in Harry Potter’s school of magic) of corporate “being”. When a corporation becomes “de jure” (legally functional), its constituents (fat cat imperialists) become shielded by this cloak of invisibility, which enables them to act with total narcissistic self interest and without regard for the effect their actions will have on their country, countrymen or the oppressed peoples they enslave in the third world nations where their corporate cyborg exoskeletons export the onus of their industry’s labor.
Your provocative paper dwells on the mythology inherent in the microcosm of free market capitalism. It was my feeling on awakening that there could be drawn a powerful analogy (corollary to your thesis’ postulate) that it is the mythology in today’s macro capitalistic imperialist that must be contended with today…and that would be the transnational corporation. They are like the “octopus” which Che always used to characterize the imperialist monster (in the–ubiquitous–singular) of his day. When he went abroad to fight “the” monster, it didn’t seem to matter to Che where he found it. He led anti-imperialist insurgencies on every continent before he finally succumbed to the beast (our C.I.A. – led corporate counter-insurgency). It’s the same monster everywhere and this has not changed today. The monster is that tendency in man that makes him lethal to his fellow man and his earth when he is allowed to join and operate anonymously in a mob. The difficulty with today’s mobs is exponentially aggravated. The Batista’s of the world are now the Halliburtons. Another apt parallel – the insurgents who arise to resist the transnational imperialists (the Gaia “antibodies” or modern-day Che’s) are–enabled by modern technology– equally “stateless”, equally anonymous and invisible, and to the indigenous global populace, equally malignant in tendency and potential. These would be our invisible “terrorists”. We (our petro-pipeline corporate capitalists) created bin Laden and Al Qaeda intentionally in Afghanistan during its period of Soviet imperialism, and inadvertently every time we (through our corporate military complex) armed and allied Israel against her indigenous neighbors.
I know this is somewhat a freely—associated flood of ideas, but that is evidently what your essay provoked in me that waited til today to assume shape.
I noticed that your essay was principally expository. Nowhere do you propose a solution to the problems you surgically dissect and debride, so precisely and commendably–other than (with your Zen Sulptor parable) listing what must be etched away from our present capitalistic monolith. If there were time, you might consider what I have come to conclude: We in fact need a new revolutionary form (or leader) for a new (evolved) imperialistic beast. Free market capitalism is merely the means the transnational corporate imperialistic beasts “use”. Their end (exploitation of the weak for…capital) will never change…only their means and their appearance. We need to disinter Che and find a fiscal Dr. Frankenstein capable of revitalizing him in time to muster a following to challenge this brooding beast, before he has ravaged and warmed OUR globe to the terminal boiling point.
Thomas L. Friedman: There’s no magic bullet
Published: February 1, 2009
DAVOS, Switzerland: In its own unpredictable way, the Davos World Economic Forum usually serves as a crude barometer of the latest mood or mania on the world stage. This year did not disappoint. What has struck me is the quiet urgency that infused so many panel discussions and private conversations here between investors, politicians and social activists. To put it crudely: Everyone is looking for the guy – the guy who can tell you exactly what ails the world’s financial system, exactly how we get out of this mess and exactly what you should be doing to protect your savings.
But here’s what’s really scary: The guy isn’t here. He’s left the building. Elvis has left the mountain. Get used to it.
What do I mean? First, if it is not apparent to you yet, it will be soon: There is no magic bullet for this economic crisis, no magic bailout package, no magic stimulus. We have woven such a tangled financial mess with subprime mortgages wrapped in complex bonds and derivatives, pumped up with leverage, and then globalized to the far corners of the earth that, much as we want to think this will soon be over, that is highly unlikely.
We are going to have to learn to live with a lot more uncertainty for a lot longer than our generation has ever experienced. We keep pouring money into the dark banking hole of this crisis, desperately hoping that we will hear it hit bottom and start to pile up. But so far, as hard as we listen, we can’t hear a thing. And so we keep pouring …
A broker friend told me it reminded him of when he was a teenager and his doctor first diagnosed him as unable to digest wheat products.
He said to the doctor, “Well, just give me a pill.” And the doctor told him: there is no pill. “You mean I’m just going to have to live with this?” he asked. That’s us. There is no pill – not for this mess.
The fact that there is no single pill doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be done. We need a stimulus big enough to create more jobs. We need to remove toxic assets from bank balance sheets. We need the U.S. Treasury to close the insolvent banks, merge the weak ones and strengthen the healthy few. And we need to do each one right. But even then, the turnaround will be neither quick nor painless. Indeed, the whispers here were that what has been an exclusively economic crisis up to now may soon morph into a domino of political crises – as happened in Iceland, where the bankruptcy of the banks toppled the government on Monday.
(Davos humor: What is the capital of Iceland? Answer: $25.)
Second, we’re going to have to get used to a loss of trust. All those rock-solid people and institutions that we trusted with our money, our pensions and our kids’ piggybank savings – like Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America – do not seem trustworthy anymore.
Never before in my adult life have I looked around at every bank in my town and said, “I’m not sure I wouldn’t prefer to put my paycheck in a mattress.”
The Bernard Madoff scandal, of course, has only reinforced that loss of trust. His degree of betrayal – his alleged willingness to embezzle the life savings of people whom he had known his whole life – is so coldhearted that it charts new territory in human behavior. He’s on his way to becoming an adjective. Money managers are already being asked prove to prospective new clients that their internal safeguards are “Madoff proof.”
I’ve written a lot about the Indian outsourcing community, so I knew B. Ramalinga Raju, the Satyam chairman accused of embezzling $1 billion from his own company. What’s really sad is that I didn’t get to know him through his business but through an interest in his family’s charitable work. They created India’s first 911 emergency system in their home state and call centers in Indian villages, so young people there could get service jobs. Was all that a fake, too? Or was he just an embezzler with a good heart? Don’t know. When you can’t even trust a person’s charitable work, you’ve hit a new low.
“We’re all going to have to learn to live with a lower level of trust in our lives,” an African banker friend said to me here. But the mind recoils at that, which may explain why so many people I talked to here are hoping that President Barack Obama will turn out to be the guy.
Like Harry Truman, Obama is definitely present at the creation of something. He is arriving on the scene “not after a war but after the same kind of shattering of institutions that a war does,” said Peter Schwartz, chairman of the Global Business Network. “His job is to restore confidence to these institutions that have been at the foundation of our economy.”
That may be Obama’s most important bailout task: to educate the country that there is no easy escape here, except taking our medicine, getting our fundamentals right again and working our way out of this, brick by brick, by getting back to making money – what was that old Smith Barney ad? – “the old-fashioned way” – by earning it.
Creeping Corporate Capitalism -
The “Rand Syndrome”
(corollary to “The China Syndrome”)
By: Dusty Schoch, DI Foreign-Policy Editor (http://declaringindependents.com/)
With the sub-caption, “The China Syndrome” we allude to and invite you to review previous essays by Schoch (by using the “articles” link) on the topic of corporate America’s exporting jobs and industry to India and China.
My previous postulate was this: The China Syndrome (exporting America’s jobs and industry to China and other countries with “slave labor”) is exporting (destroying) America. Corporate greed and governmental laissez-faire policies coincide to fuel the China Syndrome, with Enron and Halliburton scandals being only the top of the catastrophic ice berg.
With the revelations that corporate-controlled Pentagon officials deceived us with false grounds for war (WMD’s etc) and further revelations that these same petro-munitions consortiums are guiding us to pursue our illegal conquest and occupation of Iraq, we saw Orwell’s nightmarish 1984 “fictional” forecast loom into actuality. “Big brother” and the “big lies” were in fact being told the American public by a neo-con manipulated press (and, let’s concede it – a dreadfully dumbed-down American press and …America).
My present postulate is this: Now the neo-cons are moving in for the final kill…that’s where (as Hitler burned the books in 1933) the neo-con corporate fat cat bullies are starting to change history. Not literally by burning books this time, but rather by a much more subtle, sinister and insidious manner…by controlling (that means revising) what is taught in our universities. By starting the propaganda in full force with our sons and daughters as they enter the cusp of the job market…as they begin to take over the leadership of our society.
If Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” became required reading at UNC Chapel Hill, would you be upset? OK. I’m telling you now, our University has now agreed to make required reading out of a book which I submit to you preaches a doctrine of capitalist fascism.
The scoop is the subject of a well-written (by Pam Kelley and Christina Rexrode) article appearing in the Charlotte Observer (March 23, 2008) available in full-print at this link:
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1010249.html and will be printed below.
Long story short – Fat cat neocon banker, John Allison, C.E.O. of BB & T has given the University of North Carolina a million dollars on the condition our students of the benefited universities read a book by Ayn Rand you may or may not have heard of entitled “Atlas Shrugged”. Our (publicly-funded) University has agreed to the deal.
Ayn Rand is, for those out of this particular end of the neo-con loop, is a recently disinterred poster-child capitalistic “intellectual” who wrote some very popular fiction a half-century ago entitled “The Fountainhead” (also a movie) and “Atlas Shrugged”. Both novels preached the same essential socio-economic sermon, coined “enlightened selfishness”. If Karl Marx and Lenin authored the “socialist” or “populist” end of the socio-economic spectrum of Twentieth Century ideology , Ayn Rand founded its “individualist” polar opposite.
The fat corporate cats of today are able and willing today to export America’s industry and jobs to foreign slave-labor (Indian and Chinese laborers earn the American equivalent of $30-$40 a month) centers in order to skim the profits while our country is tossed towards its second depression because of its blind adherence to Randian philosophy – that our government should do nothing…absolutely nothing to stand in the way of either its citizens’ creativity or their (corporate) productivity. This philosophy of unrestrained corporate dominance has given us terminal air and water pollution, global warming, war in Iraq and economic collapse. And now, the fat cats want that philosophy added to the required reading of any student who attends business school in our university system.
Sound like Hollywood mythology to you? Don’t really think that Orwell’s 1984 scenario can really come true? Think again. Not only is it possible–our university staff and boards of trustees are going along with it. Wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that every member of our University Board of Trustees is a corporate fat cat him/her self, and probably a dedicated disciple of Ayn Rand since his own college days (when reading her sophomoric crap was optional).
Why “sophomoric crap”? I’ll give you an example to illustrate. I read “The Fountainhead” when I was 20. My very intellectual mother was a real devotee of Rand. Rand is, if nothing else, a great story teller. But so’s Spephen King. You want Kujo’s creator ethically grooming your children? Back in Rand’s day, corporations were a lot better behaved, I’ll say in my mother’s (and Rand’s) defense. Back then, General Electric really did (occasionally) “bring better things to life”. Now the most important thing they bring to life is instant death (as the world’s largest supplier of nuclear warhead triggers); and by the way…GE has now exported (entirely) all its appliance service department to New Delhi. If your stove or refrigerator goes on the blink – sorry; there aren’t any GE repairmen in the U.S. They’ve been “down-sized” (fired) and their jobs exported to India and China.
This has happened because America is run by a government whose statesmen are on corporate payrolls (i.e., they don’t get elected without corporate campaign contributions, which is the same thing. The corporations get them elected; un-restricted corporate lobbyists then come straight to their (public) offices to collect the quid pro quo.
Now- back to the “example” (literary) in “The Fountainhead” that illustrates my designation of Randian Philosophy as morally bankrupt “sophomoric crap”. The “Fountainhead’s” hero is an architect named Howard Roark. He’s got the hots for the female protagonist, “Dominique Francon”. She doesn’t immediately have the hots for him in return, so he does his laizzez-faire thing and rapes her. She turns out liking it, but it was clearly rape being endorsed by this intellectually-pretentious excuse for the “great American novel” as the fat cat neo-cons call it.
But that’s not where the corporate megalomania ends. At the end of the book, Roark has designed and his client (big American city) has constructed a high-rise apartment complex for thousands of its middle class and poor. Millions of public and private funds have been invested. But midway in construction, because of cost and other factors, some of Roark’s original blue prints were compromised. The residents wouldn’t each have a balcony where they could hang out flowers and sit in the sun. Yes, this was a bad thing for the people and their visionary architect, but does Roark take them to court and make them fix what they’d done wrong? Nope. He torches the whole project. Yes sir; yes mam. His answer…and Rand’s philosophy is just that ego-centric and narcissistic. If the government steps in the way of its artists or architects, the answer is…burn the place down. To the ground.
In her novel, Ayn Rand makes Roark’s arson not only morally acceptable, but heroic. In the process, a nearly-complete habitat for thousands of the poor and middle class is torched because of the ego and pissed-off pride of a single man. Perhaps he was the original neo-con. Or perhaps Ayn Rand herself was. In her other book, “Atlas Shrugged”, the business fat cats quit their noble narcissistic pursuits and there’s “hell to pay”. Message – Do what the corporations say, or else.
Better watch out— Now– thanks to our fat cat corporate bankers–Ayn Rand is now required reading for your University of North Carolina student.
Read the following article with the insight—and fright—I hope it engenders in you. Fascism has many faces. Unrestrained corporate-controlled plutarchy is one of them.
ONE FREE VOICE
AT A TIME …
The Coastal Post Story
By DI Editor, Dusty Schoch
The Neo-Con Zionists are at it again…The neo-conservative fundamentalist Christian and Jewish Zionist Right who covertly seized control of America through a quiet coup of a clueless president’s Pentagon are now—thanks to Obama’s victory–swept effectively out of power, but they have retreated back from where they came– into America’s fecund theocratic grassroots where they are still—fervently– at work to convert America into a fascistic armed force to execute Jewish and Christian Zionist plans of Middle Eastern and/or world domination, a.k.a. Christian “Rapture” and Judeo-Christian “Armageddon”.
The case here in point is the effort on part of fundamentalist Jews in California to destroy—literally– a small and independent Morin County newspaper (The Coastal Post) for daring to oppose Israel’s militant policies in Gaza and Palestine.
Here’s what I propose we all do: (1) Read the story of the Jewish assault on American free press as it is written in the victim newspaper (with whose editor, Dan Deane, I just spoke, confirming the details and direness of the situation). Story gist: Newspapers are being literally stolen from racks and Coastal Post advertisers are being warned and intimidated by pro-Israel Zionist Jews to pull their advertisements from the paper. (2) Go on line and read the on-line Coastal Post and see what a wonderfully informative, independent and free-thinking publication it is, and then (3) reflect on what you can do to help this brave vestige of free American Media survive the dreadful juggernaut combine of (a) corporate-controlled media and (b) the continuing rise of fascistic Jewish/Christian fundamentalism in America which is still working subversively to ordain Christian and Jewish prophesies of Rapture and Zionist Armageddon in the Middle East and around the globe according to the plan already made the subject of this website’s “Free Book” entitled “American Fascism” , linked here and on our DI “Current Issues” pages.
Immediately trailing the Coastal Post’s own accounting of their struggle with fascistic American Zionists, is a sampling of their journalistic excellence written by Dr. Edward W. Miller, entitled “More Worms In The Capitalist Apple”. When you read it, you’ll realize that this is an exceptionally independent and excellent analysis of the on-going economic collapse of American-evolved capitalism which we are all contending with in one form and another. You will not have read it in one of your corporate conglomerate-owned newspapers. This form of truly independent and (if you will) “maverick” journalism is for the most part found only in the independent press, so well represented by and embodied in “The Coastal Post”.
For my part, I intend to link “The Coastal Post” to DI, and their editor assures me they will in turn link us to their on-line edition. The link between us is the spirit and cause of democratic (little-D) Independence that characterizes DI’s mission statement. I for one, as an individual, plan to both send them money and subscribe to their on-line news service (http://www.coastalpost.com/08/12/01a.html). As I said in the caption to this prefatory piece, it’s high time for all of us to do all we can to prevent another coup of America’s freedoms, especially our freedoms of speech and of the press.
THE ZIONIST ASSAULT ON “THE COASTAL POST”
AS REPORTED IN THE COASTAL POST:
MARIN COUNTY’S NEWS MONTHLY – FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 – (415)868-0502(fax) – P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924
Readers Rally, Coastal Post Prints,
Infusion of financial support from Coastal Post readers in November made December’s print edition happen and killed last month’s prediction that the paper might not print in December.
There has been a steady decline in advertising income over the last two years due to concerted efforts by a small group of individuals with strong Israeli sympathies who object to the paper’s coverage of Palestinian issues. They have contracted advertisers and distribution locations claiming the newspaper is anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli and a Jew bashing publication.
“We’re dealing with people who don’t want what we’re saying read. The Palestinian tragedy in Gaza, is the largest human rights travesty in our time.” publisher-editor Don Deane said as the Coastal Post went to press Dec. 1.
Thousands of papers have been stolen from newsstands over the last year. The Coastal Post’s critics claim the publication should not be allowed to distribute or advertise in Marin. CP critics have reportedly spoken before the city counsels, and the Marin County Board of Supervisors asking papers not be available in government buildings.
The Coastal Post, published since 1975, has lost one-third of its advertising revenues and 10 percent of distribution locations since the campaign began to disrupt and interfere with publication, distribution and advertising.
It would appear that letters have been sent to most all advertisers saying, “It would be no exaggeration to say that the Coastal Post is a viciously anti-Semitic organ that publishes articles about Jews and about Israel in virtually every issue…”
“Your advertising in this vile paper might lead your friends, patrons and customers to assume that you share its malicious and hateful views and those of its owner/publisher Don Deane, who, I understand, is also the owner of a place called Smiley’s in Bolinas. Please let me respectfully suggest that you withdraw your advertising from this despicable anti-Semitic publication…”
Now read a typical Coastal Post Column (in conjunction with DI’s own article’s on the same subject…The Economic Collapse of America; see titles in DI archives page) . . .
More Worms In The Capitalist Apple
By Edward W. Miller, MD
“Thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbors by extortion, and thou hast forgotten me saith the Lord.-Ezekiel 22:12 (King James Version)”
“Let us Prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly. – Theodore Roosevelt”
With the Dow dropping over 499 points in two consecutive days and resting around 7500, the value of 401Ks dropping sharply, and over 27,000 Americans applying for unemployment insurance this week (added to the 514,000 already enrolled), the 1.2 million jobs lost in 2008 come better into focus.
The atmosphere in Washington today is much more tense than during that second weekend in September when Wall Street jolted an already anxious public with news that a failing Merrill-Lynch was being purchased by the Bank of America, that America’s largest investment bank, Lehman Brothers, was declaring bankruptcy after the Feds had refused to bail them out, and that AIG, our largest insurance group, had reported $60 billion in bad debts, its stocks losing 65% in value.
The Dow on that frantic Tuesday had dropped some 504 points. In October, following a week’s precipitous fall of the Dow and after Congress had modified and passed Bush Jr.’s “buy-out” plan, prominent Wall Street financier, Warren Buffett remarked, “It’s an economic Pearl Harbor.”
On Columbus Day financial bigwigs from Europe met with Bush and his business advisors in Washington. No detailed plan to meet the international crisis resulted, but the British decided to nationalize three major banks, the Germans promised almost half a trillion to bolster their entire banking system, while the EU president with his colleagues agreed on what is a partial nationalization of European bank, including a guarantee that covered the savings account of every citizen of the EU countries’.
Our man Paulson, joining the gang, said he “would take $250 billion from his $700 billion bailout money for a so-called “Voluntary Equity Purchase Program” wherein Washington gets to buy out preferred bank stocks while CEO’s golden parachutes were supposedly limited.
“This is an investment, not an expenditure, and there is no reason to expect this program will cost taxpayers anything,” Paulson said in a statement.
Aside from the nine large banks originally signed up for the program, the Treasury attracted the interest “from a broad group of banks of all sizes,” Paulson added.
Paulson’s plan, a partial Nationalization of the banks (Some Republican critics called it “Socialism”, was similar in many respects to Roosevelt’s 1933-5 RFC which, after a proclaimed “Bank Holiday” injected capital into some 6000 failing banks. Washington announced it had hired global giant Bank of New York Mellon as the lead agency to help manage the spending, lending and accounting of the 700 billion.
The precipitous market fallout, plus our obvious economic slowdown, which Bush and his Wall Street financial advisors now admit ” is a real depression” didn’t just sprout up over night like a mushroom on the lawn, but has been quietly spreading like a mold within our financial structure for years.
Last summer’s stock market bubble and shaky recovery which, as it burst toward the end of August 2007, had cost investors over $6 trillion in US dollars, and was echoed in England where thousands of Brits stood in line to demand their money back from one of their country’s largest banks. Responding to this precarious August weekend, Asian stocks dropped in value, Japan’s Nikkei Index fell more than 4% and the dollar was down sharply against the Yuan, yen and Euro. This international fallout pales in contrast to our present slump.
As the March 17th 2007 Washington Post had reported: The Feds, promised some $200 Billion as a “lender of last resort” for 20 major Wall Street firms, a role it had played since its founding in 1913, but only for commercial banks. In 1902 and again in 1909, J.P. Morgan personally set aside funds to bail out potential failing banks.
This $200 billion offer of ultra-safe Treasury securities to our nation’s banks and major brokerage firms, was in exchange for a variety of collateral options –including the very mortgage-backed securities that had created the financial crisis. Banks quickly unloaded some of their not so secure assets, freeing up money, as Wall Street noted: “to keep the nation’s economic bloodstream flowing.” This bailout by the Feds, however, did little to stem the oncoming financial storm.
The 9 July SF Chronicle reported Levi Strauss and Co. profit in the second quarter plunged 98% to $701,000 compared to $45.7 million the year before. General Motors was closing four US plants and laying off 20,000 workers, while asking management-level employees to accept early retirement. The SF Chronicle also reported that by June, the US workforce had lost 709,000 jobs in 2008, that STARBUCKS was closing 600 stores and laying off 12,000 workers, and, as THE PROGRESSIVE (May, 2008) noted: The SHARPER IMAGE declared bankruptcy, closing ninety-six US stores. As the downturn continued, on September 16 Hewlett-Packard announced a lay-off some 24,000 jobs over the next three years, and in October American Express laid off 7000. With stocks loosing 65% in value. The Dow on that frantic Tuesday had dropped some 504 points In October, following a week’s precipitous fall of the Dow and after Congress had modified and passed Bush Jr.’s “buy-out” plan, prominent Wall Street financier, Warren Buffett remarked “It’s an economic Pearl Harbor.”
Fuelled by a virtual deregulation of financial capital markets, beginning in the1990′s…widespread corruption and fraud was producing a housing bubble of epic proportions. Mortgage borrowing rose more than $4 trillion between 2003 and 2006 with $2 trillion issued in sub prime mode. “Sub prime” is “nonspeak” for inadequately-funded or often, criminally-structured mortgages, some actually programmed to fail and often sold to trusting but ignorant buyers, blacks or Spanish-speaking immigrant families, completely unaware of what they were signing at the bank.
As the Stock market continued to tumble, First on the list, the Feds gave JP Morgan Chase, $236.2 million, to buy out the 85 year-old Bear Sterns investment firm, at a price representing only 1% of what Bear Stearns had been worth only ten days before. Fallout from the Bear Stearns collapse and buyout was not hidden from an anxious public. KPFA’s financial reporter noted that California Teachers Retirement Plan, investment in Bear Stearns, “had just lost $85 million.” Meanwhile mortgage foreclosures by the tens of thousands were presenting themselves across the country. The HOPE NOW data program reported back in April, 2008: “More than 2 million loans were at least 60 days delinquent”
While the big boys in Wall Street were enjoying the Fed’s bounty, a considerably smaller largess was directed at the American Taxpayer from Bush and Congress: On January 24th, 2008 Bush and leaders of the House provided almost $100 billion in tax rebates to 117 million taxpayers and another $40 billion in tax reductions for businesses ” in a bid to avert a recession.”
Like all of these “bail-out” deals, the Fed’s promised, the money will eventually come out of the taxpayer’s pocket. Printing extra money simply dilutes out the basic value of the US dollar on the world market, making everything we buy more expensive, while threatening the economy of other countries.
On 16 July, frightened by the INDYMAC collapse, the government announced a “massive aid package” to the two shareholder owned companies: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. According to a Reuters dispatch, that plan, which won approval from a frightened Congress, was designed to “head off a potential meltdown in financial markets.”
Both Fannie and Freddie had been buying mortgages from banks and other lenders and either kept them or repackaged them into securities sold to investors as hedge funds, derivatives, etc. According to the SF Chron 25 June, 2008: “Three months after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won the freedom to step up home-loan purchases, these government-chartered finance companies were doing what critics of the Federal Reserve and Congress had predicted: Instead of using powers granted by Congress to buy jumbo loans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were purchasing their own mortgage-backed securities, to reduce losses and protect their stockholders… Since the rule-change took effect, in March, Fannie Mae had repackaged $24 million in jumbo loans into securities, while Freddie Mac added $220 million. In April these two spent more than $ 32.4 billion buying their own instruments. ” Doing it unto others” again, in typical Wall Street fashion.
In contrast, Britain’s prime minister, Gordon Brown, while urging nations to “tackle economy together,” in bailing out Britain’s largest banks specified that the bailout money be spent on loans to business rather than buyouts and stock dividends to the bank’s investors.
The fact that the majority of the our “buyouts” were directed at Wall Street favorites didn’t puzzle those Americans who understand that the Federal Reserve
System (FRS) is not Federal, but a privately owned and controlled coalition of banks. The Fed has no reserves except the paper it prints at will and the zeros it adds into its coffers via computers… The system has always been a scam. The real purpose of the Fed is to transfer wealth, such as real property, and other assets into the hands of the Fed’s owners with printed paper. It is the evil product of a conspiracy of bankers and tycoons who secretly met on Jekyl Island on Christmas Eve 1913.
As Globalresearch.ca (25 July, 2008) notes: “To get their bill passed… the Wall Street faction changed the bull’s name to the Federal Reserve Act and brought it three days before Christmas when Congress was preoccupied with departure for the holidays. The Bill was so obscurely written that no one really understood its provisions.
The national money supply would be printed by the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing but it would be issued as an obligation or debt of the government to a private central bank. The Federal Reserve was wholly owned by a consortium of private banks; it is controlled by bankers and it protects their interests. It issues Federal Reserve Notes (dollar bills) for the cost of printing them or, more often for the cost of entering numbers on a computer screen.) This privately issued money is then lent to the government and is owed back to the private Federal Reserve with interest. The interest is eventually refunded to the government, but only after the Fed deducts its operating expenses and a 6% guaranteed return for its bank stockholders. Congress and the President have some input in appointing the Federal Reserve Board, but the Board works behind closed doors with regional bankers, without congressional oversight or control. Bank CEOs actually sit on the Boards of the Fed’s twelve branches. The banking lobby is powerful because private bankers, not the government, create our money and control who gets it.
The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 was a major coup for the international bankers. They had battled for more than a century to establish a private central bank in the United States with the exclusive right to “monetize ” the government’s debt, i.e. to print their own money and exchange it for government securities or I.O.U.s
The Federal Reserve Act authorized a private central bank to create money out of nothing, lend it to the government at interest, and control the national money supply, expanding it or contracting it at will. Representative Charles Lindbergh, Sr. (father of America’s flying hero) said: “This Act establishes the most gigantic trust on earth. When the President signs the Bill, the invisible government of the Monetary Power will be legalized… The worst legislative crime of the ages is perpetrated by this banking and currency Bill.”
In March, 2008, on the Charlie Rose Show former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker said the Fed’s decision to lend money to Bear Stearns to keep it from collapsing “is unprecedented and raises some real questions” about whether that’s the appropriate role for the Fed… Again, on the Charlie Rose Show on October 9th, Volker said: “Our financial markets have become a Potemkin village.” While on the same show Dominique Straus Kahn, present head of the IMF and France’s former finance minister said that: “Financial markets cannot work alone and cannot regulate themselves.” Although no one has the figures, economic experts estimate that the international derivatives markets account for around $55 trillion dollars, an example of exponential usury.
The U.S. government put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under federal control, “the largest financial bailout in the nation’s history.” The two government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) presently own or guarantee almost half of the country’s $12 trillion in outstanding home mortgage debt.
The ongoing failure of millions of “sub-prime” mortgages with foreclosures across the country, the increasing reported lack of “affordable housing”, along with a consumer debt of $2.52 trillion, despite assurances by Wall Street, our president and big money that ” the economy is basically strong”, comes as no surprise to those who have watched Congress, again and again surrender to Wall Street lobbying over the past half century.
Back on June 23rd, 1947 a newly elected Republican Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act over president Truman’s veto. The results of this assault on American labor made its appearance gradually over the years as American dads, who for decades had fed and clothed their families paid their mortgages, educated their kids and provided a safe retirement, found their paychecks no longer covered all the bills, and began to accept 50 or 60 hour weeks, or found a second job. A few years later mother joined the workforce to bring home needed cash.
The present huge pyramid of debt, both public and private was made possible by thirty years of Congress’ relentless deregulation of our financial markets, culminating, during the Clinton Administration, in the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which Act had prohibited banks from dealing in high-risk securities. In effect, Washington supposed regulators had become passive enablers to Wall Street’s financial binge drinkers.
As columnist Robert Scheer pointed out (March 12th SF Chronicle): “The Clinton-backed Gramm-Leach-Baily Act of 1999 called the “Financial Services Modernization Act,” permitted banks, stock brokers, and insurance companies to merge and was exacerbated by Bush’s appointment of rapacious Corporate foxes to watch the corporate hen house.” They will take care of their own… Their action was made possible only by the federal government’s using your tax dollars to pick up the bad debt of the banks.” This act Clinton signed overturned the Glass-Steagall Act, a major regulatory achievement of the New Deal.
As Alex Cockburn, noted in THE NATION, (Oct. 13,2008), a yea after The Clinton-backed Gramm-Leach-Baily Act was signed into law: “Gramm, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, attached a 262-page amendment to an omnibus appropriations bill right before Senate recess. Gramm’s amendment became the Commodity Futures Modernization Act which ok’d deregulation of investment banks, exempting most over-the-counter derivatives, credit derivatives, hedge funds and credit default swaps from regulatory scrutiny.”
Congress’ attempt to rein-in Wall Street’s reckless pursuit of sub prime money with the 1994 HOME OWNERSHIP AND EQUITY PROTECTION ACT, meant to police high-interest loans, proved ineffective.
A collaborating step down in the economic slide has been the not-too-subtle onslaught by the Credit-Card industry which began mailing their plastic cards out by the millions to unwary shoppers who, lacking enough cash at the Safeway checkout, found it increasingly easy to run that pretty piece of plastic through the machine. “In 2006 banks sent out 8 billion credit card applications, a 30% increase since 2005. Credit card companies now spend an average of $56 to sign up a new customer, and since 1996 when the Supreme Court struck down limits on credit card fees, the average late penalty has jumped 102% and the average fee for exceeding credit card limits rose 138%. Before long Americans found themselves with billions in credit-card debt (Mother Jones Sept 2007).
The acceptance by banks of sub-prime mortgages had begun over ten years ago as deregulation led to corporate theft in both Republican and Democratic administrations. In the past, mortgage holders who faced economic problems might go to their banker and negotiate changes in term limits or interest rates. Today their banker, who has bundled that mortgage along with a thousand others and is gambling with it on the international roulette wheel of “derivatives ” and “hedge funds, may say: “Sorry I just can’t lay my hands on your mortgage papers.”
Corporate corruption is present at the highest level. On April 1st, 2008 (Reuters) – An internal JP Morgan Chase (JPM) memo titled “Zippy Cheats & Tricks” offered a peek into those dubious lending tactics underpinning the housing market’s downward spiral. This A J.P. Morgan Chase internal memo titled: “Zippy Cheating Tricks”, sneaked to the press by an employee (who has since been fired), says it all: The piece was originally obtained by reporters at THE PORTLAND Oregonian newspaper who printed it on March 27th, 2008. The sneaked memo outlined in step-by-step instructions just how to beef up mortgage applicants’ statement s in order to qualify them for home loans they otherwise could not afford:
The instructions read as follows:
1. Make sure your assets input all income in base income. DO NOT break it down by overtime, commissions or bonus.
2. If your borrower is getting a gift, add it to a bank account along with the rest of the assets. Be sure to remove any mention of gift funds.
3. If you do not get (the desired results), try resubmitting with slightly higher income. Inch it up 500 to see if you can get the findings you want. Do the same for assets. Usury at its worse.
After Obama has closed Guantanamo and erased Bush’s “signing statements,” he still has a steep climb ahead. Will he be able to get a new Congress to intelligently weather the depression, our two wars, and return this country to the people? Not one of our politicians campaigning for the 2009 election, except Ralph Nader, mentioned that repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act should be on Congress’s agenda, and that a sales tax on “derivatives” would be a good idea. The restoration of Congressional monitoring of business, weakened by the Glas-Steagall Act’s has scarcely been mentioned. Cynthia Ann McKinney a former United States Representative and the 2008 Green Party nominee for President of the United States wants to abolish “derivatives”
Unlike Franklin D. Roosevelt, who faced the 1930s depression with a well-funded US treasury, Obama will be faced with a government trillions in debt while losing two wars. Congress must also halt the hemorrhaging of tax revenue by closing overseas tax shelters, revoke the Bush Jr. tax loopholes for the rich, and take the cap off Social Security contributions, forcing the wealthy to shoulder their fair share of our nation’s financial support. We need to collect a tariff on all goods manufactured abroad regardless of their corporate ownership. Today EU countries charge either a VAT (value-added tax) or tariff on imports from the US and other non-EU countries.
President Obama will face a Herculean task with reluctant Republicans and some Democratic leaders who are Republicans in drag. Wish him well!
Now, I hope you will all click on Coastal Post’s homepage http://www.coastalpost.com/ and sample more of their ultra-independent periodic (monthly) offerings both in their printed and on-line versions. By contributing to their cause or subscribing to their on-line service (their commercial and advertising links are great), you’ll be exercising your own pro-American, anti-fascist privilege of free speech and defending theirs, which is currently under very unfriendly fire, right here in the good-ol U.S. of A…and in California of all states!
The Editors, writers and contributors of DeclaringIndependents.com herewith commend and laud Don Deane and his stalwart staff for hanging in there and telling the truth about America’s under-cover fascism. When it got to the point that opposing Bush’s illegal pre-emptive invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq was equated with “treason” and hailed as “un patriotic”, we knew we were in trouble. Even though Obama has successfully ousted this particular cabal of Judeo-Christian-Zionist fascists, the Zionist forces that took control of the Bush Pentagon in 2001 in the wake of 9/11 are still out there regrouping and waiting for the next chink in democracy’s armor that will enable them to unearth once again their insidious arc of Zionist covenant to control and re-structure the Middle East along Biblically-prophesied parameters. Anyone who questions Israel’s mission or its military machinations in Gaza and Palestine runs the risk of inciting the wrath of America’s grass-rooted constituency of Biblically-literal Zionists who will cite chapter and verse of said theocratic text to lay legal (not merely mythical) claim to all the real estate (including oil) situated between the Nile and Euphrates rivers in the “Holy Land”.
The mainstream American media is clearly hesitant to mention—much less criticize—Zionist Israeli military machinations in Gaza and Palestine, because, well, collective Gentile guilt regarding the Holocaust still renders the cow of Israel sacred and all political proddings in its direction….taboo. Well, to the direct contrary, the U.S. Constitution makes it every man’s privilege—and every educated man’s duty when morally required– to dissent publically when it comes to the majority view of …anything , including the sacred cows of Israeli Statehood and Zionist policy. DI (and its precursor think tank, the B.E.A., “Barristers et al”) have from the first championed those who on 9/11/01 began suggesting to Americans that they should accept some responsibility for the Twin Towers’ toppling on the basis of America’s military alliance with the State of Israel—and against all its many enemies- since 1948.
In reporting the “other side of the story” of what is presently occurring in Gaza and Palestine (see Coastal Post articles at the following links) http://www.coastalpost.com/08/12/11_N.html
http://www.coastalpost.com/08/12/11_N.html ) , the Coastal Post is being accused of being “anti-Semitic” and being judged and condemned as if the accusations were both tried and true. Opposing Israel’s military conduct in Gaza and Palestine is no more “anti-Semitic” than opposing Bush war policy in Iraq was “treason”.
Let’s forget about sacred cows and come to the aid of all good people who come to the aid of their country, as has the brave news paper in California called “The Coastal Post”.
War is still our only enemy.
December 11, 2008
Should we—who fought so passionately for Obama against the desperate ones who, in the final days before the election seemed willing to do ANYTHING to win—play the roles of “gracious” victors…? Forgive all the lies that were told about Obama’s being a “terrorist” (like Kay Hagan was “godless”) and–as Obama himself–“rise above it all” and simply be “happy” it’s over and celebrate the opportunity we now have to repair the havoc the Republicans have reeked during the past decade?…. Or should we take this occasion to uncork the champagne, dance, shoot off fireworks and otherwise go deliriously nuts with the absolute and utter joy of it all? …
Or maybe both? Enjoy our own editorial staff—aided by other writers—wrestling with the urge to “be nice” to our ousted and slam-dunked GOP losers and at the same time contend with the irresistible impulse to strut like victorious warriors and dance with delight on the dashed hopes and aborted plans of those losers who demonstrated–until the very moment they knew the contest was over–that they would do and say literally anything it took to con voters into giving them 4 more years to destroy what’s left of America.
By: Dusty Schoch, DI Editor Nov. 5, 2008
Collateral reactions from:
Leonard Carrier (DI Senior Associate Editor), Letters exchanged between DI contributor Michael Murphy and West Pointer, Michael Ellerbe; a beautifully complex reaction by Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist, entitled “Yes We Did” (forwarded by N.C. Artist, Alan Mackeraghan) and finally, letters exchanged by
Marissa Murphy and Cathy Beasley—the wife of a U.S. Diplomat living in Ghana.
On Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 9:42 AM, Marisa Murphy replies to Cathy Beasley:
Regardless of political affiliation this is a great day for all Americans. It is an affirmation of the ideals that made this nation great. It is a significant step towards unifying a divided nation. It is a calling for every American to stand together to overcome the daunting challenges this nation faces. It is an example of the extraordinary nature of the American people. It is a validation of American Democracy. It is the nation we love and would lay down our lives for. When I think of the significance of this day, my eyes well with tears. I have never been prouder of this nation. I have never been prouder of being an American.
War is Still our Only Enemy 11 10 08
THE DEATH OF SCANDAL
HAS IT BEEN….EXAGGERATED?
Bush Lied and People Died…
McCain and Palin are Lying and
HAS AMERICA LOST ITS SENSE OF SHAME?
IF SO, DOES THAT MEAN
AMERICA IS …. LOST?
This DI “Current Issues” includes
“THE NEW NORMAL”
By Leonard Pitts
“PORNOGRAPHIC PROOF OF ‘THE SURGE IS WORKING’ LIE” . . .
“THE LIE OF “GUILT BY ASSOCIATION”
(THE LEGACY OF LIES IS PASSED…
FROM NEO-CON KING GEORGE INTO
PALIN’S AND McCAIN’S COWARDLY HANDS)
NEW NEO-CON “WMDs” . . .
(“Whoppers of Mass Deception”) =
The Lie of: “GUILT BY ASSOCIATION”
By Dusty Schoch
“THE LIES AREN’T JUST THOSE OF THE POLITICIANS…
I AGREE ABOUT THE WMD’S, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE
“M & M’s”…
… AND (Maybe) A RAY OF HOPE”
A trailing comment by writer,
By: DI Editors, Dusty Schoch, Leonard Carrier, with Leonard Pitts “in the middle” and Sally Doud at anchor.
October 20, 2008
Well, maybe I wish it were otherwise, but I personally still have a sense of shame; I still think I KNOW scandal when I see it, but the thing that scares hell out of me is the scandal most current in America , which is the scariest scandal in American history…the death of scandal in America.
I remember reading an article in the NY Times entitled “The Death of Scandal” and I remembered how shocked I was to read—and agree with it. The muckraking writer at the time was writing how appalled he was back in 1990-something at Congress’ voting itself a 20-percent pay raise during the worst recession since the “Great Depression.” He dubbed this the “death of scandal” because none of his fellow writers or talking TV heads were raising hell about the shameful event. And it was shameful. And they (Congressmen) got away with it. Why do I say that? (1) Because they weren’t impeached… any more than we’ll impeach our nominal “representatives” for (in addition to doing the same thing this past year) the recent bailout which was a case of grand larceny, treason, compounded by the pork barrel aggravation of the primary felony, and (more importantly) (2) because you (reader) very likely don’t recall the event (the pay raise).
Today two things made me feel that scandal in America is not only dead, but quite possibly (and according to Pulitzer Prize columnist Leonard Pitts—see below) buried for good. Today I received in the mail a piece of McCain propaganda claiming Obama was in conspiracy with Ayers’ bombing our nation’s capitol. I won’t debate that claim and thereby lend it any dignity. It is an outright lie. Lies told by politicians are under American law “privileged” – Obama is a public figure and therefore cannot sue McCain for publishing falsehoods unless he can prove actual malice. I think he could, but the lies McCain is pouring on Obama through malicious campaign managers are like rapid fire from a Bonsai machine-gun nest on Iwo Jima.
The second thing I encounter as a clear and certain nail in scandal’s coffin is Leonard Pitt’s article saying precisely that. His subject is not one lie in particular that our governing administration has launched, but rather a listing of the lies that inductively establishes that the Bush administration and his corporate commanders do little else but lie to us…to the paralyzing point that we are, as a people, now insensitive to the fact that LIES HAVE BECOME… “NORMAL” NOW IN AMERICA.
Before I resume my lament for the demise of truth and scandal in America, I give you the eulogy of Leonard Pitts, hopefully to be followed (after my amens) by the further lamentations of our own resident Historian and Philosopher, Leonard Carrier.
LEONARD PITTS’ LAMENT:
“THE NEW NORMAL”
Leonard Pitts Jr.: The new normal
We are numb to the values we’ve lost since 9/11
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Meanwhile, back at the War on Terror …
You remember the War on Terror, don’t you? It was in all the papers. Back before presidential politics sucked the air from the room and your 401(k) shrank till it was worth maybe dinner and a movie, it was considered quite the important news story. Abu Ghraib? Extraordinary renditions? Fight ‘em over there so we don’t have to fight ‘em over here? Surely you recall.
I only ask because of a news story that broke last week to a yawn of media disinterest. The Washington Post reported on two secret White House memos explicitly endorsing the use of waterboarding – simulated drowning — on so-called high-value terrorism suspects. This is, says The Post, the first time the still-classified memos have been disclosed. They were written in response to requests from then-CIA Director George Tenet, who worried his agents might be hung out to dry if the practice were discovered and the people or their representatives demanded someone’s head.
According to The Post, the White House issued written authorizations in 2003 and 2004. Yet in 2006, President Bush told the nation, “The United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values. I have not authorized it — and I will not authorize it.”
Which was, of course, a lie.
You’d think the latest proof of that lie — yet another smoking gun to stack with all the others — would merit attention. But a computer search on Thursday turned up only seven newspaper stories mentioning the memos. Searches of the CNN and FOX news Web sites also came up dry, though the story did appear on MSNBC’s site.
If you think my point is that the media missed an important story, it isn’t. No, the point is that normal is not where we thought it would be.
You remember how it was just after Sept. 11, 2001, right? Some of us vowed we would never enter a skyscraper again. Some of us didn’t want to leave our houses again. The minutiae of popular culture became staggeringly unimportant. Humorists like David Letterman and my colleague, Dave Barry, wondered if they could ever return to the business of laughter.
We were scared dry. And some of us said: Get used to it. This was the new normal.
But skyscrapers did not close from lack of use. We did not become a nation of agoraphobics. We did not lose our interest in singers and movie stars. Messrs. Letterman and Barry went back to work.
Fear, which had cut through us like a hot poker, became instead a low-grade fever, ambient noise, wallpaper, something you feel without feeling, hear without hearing, see without seeing.
Then you look up one day and realize how profoundly that fear has changed your world. People are imprisoned without charges or access to attorneys and it’s routine. People are surveilled, their reading habits studied, their telephone usage logged and it’s commonplace. People, including children, end up on a secret list of those who are not allowed to fly, nobody will tell you why, there is no appeal and it’s ordinary. We swallow lies like candy, nod sagely at babblespeak and it’s unexceptional.
Torture is inflicted with White House approval, the president lies about it and it’s just another Tuesday.
Once upon a time, Americans were fond of looking upon backward nations, upon places where law was whatever the king said it was, and noting with pride that we do things differently in our country. But that was a day long ago and a country long gone.
If we miss the one or mourn the other, you’d never know it to look at us. We live through what feels evermore like a Joe McCarthy fever dream. We feel without feeling, hear without hearing, see without seeing and do not protest what we have become.
Because this is normal now.
Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald).
First published on October 21, 2008 at 12:00 am
Leonard’s (Pitts) thesis is on the money, but his list of major lies is a minor league tallying of the neo-con Bush administration scoreboard of lies. I can’t wait for Len’s list to supplement mine, but when I’m composing the list that make America today the ordainment of Orwell’s prophesies in “1984” they go something like this:
[Note: I’m putting them in no particular order because there is no way to quantify them by any measure of ethical “evil”…they are all simply and purely lies, with differing degrees and venues of disastrous effect: I’ll list the lies therefore in random order and briefly note a damage assessment: ]
LIES AND EFFECTS:
LIE —-There are WMD’s and Al Qaeda connections in Iraq —
“Iraq was involved in the 9/11/01 attack on America.”
Bush in fact stated:
“I have also determined that the use of armed force against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. United States objectives also support a transition to democracy in Iraq, as contemplated by the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 “ (Public Law 105-338).
EFFECT: 680,000 deaths and 7 years of trillion-dollar war and national bankruptcy; thousands of US military deaths.
We now have proof that Bush knew these were lies before Colin Powel made his speech to the UN. We now have abundant proof of that treason.
LIE: “We have found the weapons of mass destruction.”(late May, 2003).
Bush—it turns out– was referring to two tractor-trailers obtained by U.S. forces in Iraq. The CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency had concluded these vehicles were mobile bio-weapons plants. Yet they had found not a trace of biological agents on either. No one has been charged for these lies on the basis of which war was waged and continues to be waged, and no one has been fired, much less impeached for this treason. Well, Colin Powel, sick of his complicity in the lies did in fact quit…which I say is the clearest ever case of “too little and too late” and that any self-respecting national warrior would have fallen on his own sword for the lies he spoke as America’s representative in the United Nations’ Security Council on the eve of war.
EFFECT: (SEE ABOVE)
(Bush said this; Cheney said this; Colin Powell said this; Condi Rice said this; John Bolton said this; Paul Wolfowitz said this…all numerous times. )
LIE: “Global Warming is a Doubtful Theory, not a Reality. James Hansen’s NASA report on Global Warming makes it clear that global warming is an unconfirmed theory based on questionable models.”
Hansen didn’t report that; Bush’s lawyer did; we now have the proof of that treason. This was an instance of our political leaders’ literally
re-writing reported science to suit themselves, and lying to us in the process.
EFFECT: As a result, America stayed out of Kyoto Accord conferences and the ecological demise of the world is rendered far more a likely (if unthinkable) event. Global warming continues because we are doing nothing officially about it. When Adolph Hitler established his openly-fascistic and totalitarian regime he publicly burned the books of the “leftist liberals” opposing him. Bush criminally revised the scientific books of the time (our time). We have the proof of that fascistic treachery and treason.
LIE: Bush: “I will pull U.S. Troops out of Iraq if asked by the new Iraq government .” “This is a sovereign nation; they are on their feet”.
When that sovereign country voted, it was overwhelmingly in favor of U.S. departure (reported by the French Associated Press June 19, 2005). The French Press wrote: Eighty two Iraqi lawmakers from across the political spectrum have pressed for the withdrawal of the US-led occupation troops from their country. Speaker Hajem Al-Hassani, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP): “We have asked in several sessions for occupation troops to withdraw. Our request was ignored,” read the latter, made public on Sunday, June 19.
EFFECT: War continues. See above.
Here’s my question (Dusty’s): Why are we reading about these lies our president is telling us…in a French Newspaper??
As a result, the war continues 3+ more years, thousands more die, billions per week spent. Halliburton and Blackwater thrive; America dies–a little more each day–in a pool of lies.
LIE: “The U.S. government does not wire tap without a warrant” . (Bush campaign speech, 2004.) What he said was:
“Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.” See video at http://www.bradblog.com/?p=2182
At the very moment Bush was telling this lie, he had given the NSA power to tap our phones and get a court order (warrant) 3 days later.
EFFECT: You and I and America have lost our Constitutional guarantees of privacy and freedom from unlawful search and seizure. Since then, King George has installed a Standing Army on U.S. soil, in further violation of the U.S. Constitution and no one is making any noise about it. No one is crying.
This is now known and undisputed matter. Bush is still uncharged with treason. Bush has not been impeached.
LIE: “THE SURGE IS WORKING!!!”
EFFECT: We are conned into supporting the mythological war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq that has killed over a half million people over the past 7 years, increased terrorism globally and locally (in the two countries the U.S. preemptively invaded) and has created the trillion-dollar drain on the U.S. economy which has bankrupted America and brought us to the brink of a global economic collapse and depression.
This was a lie almost as big as “WMD’s and Al Qaeda Connections” and twice as skillful. There is magician’s legerdemain in this lie…classic “misdirection” and professional con-artistry. In claiming “success” in the final chapter of a war which has failed from its inception because it was launched on false pretenses on an innocent country, you can validly claim a relative “improvement” in an absolutely bad thing. But your argument is unsound and fatally flawed and logically absurd…but no one seems to get the joke…so I’ll tell it in a simpler (if slightly ribald) way:
PORNOGRAPHIC PROOF OF SURGE LIE . . .
It’s like–in the course of a forceful rape–the rapist begins to shout, “This is really going well…She is losing her will and ability to fight me off; You see what I told you when I started this thing! It was so dark, I thought it was my wife. Then, when I jumped on her, I still thought it was her because of all that shock and awe my wife always puts up when I surprise her like that…with the favor of my affections. Then, when things got going, I realized it was not my wife, but rather her sister, who came to babysit because my wife was at her mother’s. But BECAUSE as we were already into the thing, and BECAUSE as I realized that my wife’s sister was frigid and clearly needed to learn the fine art of healthy heterosexuality—which is the kind of sexuality I do so well—I realized that it was in everyone’s best interests that I continue doing what I had started until she learned what she needed to know. I will always maintain that this was not no rape, no how! She had no right to resist my teaching her what she needed to learn. And now I can prove I was right. When I had the courage just now to step up the pace of our carnal….coalition, she clearly lowered her resistance to me. Her fingernails are no longer digging into my eyes or my neck; the bleeding is almost stopped and she has totally quit that awful screaming. I have increased my pace and rest my case. Take this to the jury room with you now… because it’s my last and final Johnny Cochran word on the serious subject of sexual resurgence and surge: “ When there ain’t no squeal, the rape ain’t real. Yeaaaaaaa….Surge !!! ” [that last triple exclamation point indicates an ejaculatory declaration for those of you numbed and dumbed-down enough to believe the other lies I just told].
The preceding lies (political and pornographic) listed are to me simply the ones that come immediately to mind. The Bush administration has been telling lies like this on a daily basis for the past 8 years. What effect has this had on America?…Hearing the lies, having the facts of those lies laid out before them for nearly a decade, during which NO ONE HAS BEEN PUNISHED FOR THOSE LIES except a few isolated murderers and torturers tossed out of the U.S. Armed Forces by war monger brass as sacrificial pawns in the lying game. Everyone knows that the “go ahead” for torturing prisoners went right up to and into the White House.
THE LEGACY OF LIES IS PASSED…
FROM NEO-CON KING GEORGE INTO
PALIN’S AND McCAIN’S COWARDLY HANDS
Heading now into a new presidential administration, we find ourselves occupying a nation of not only DUMBED-DOWN, BUT NUMBED-DOWN people… a nation of shorn sheep either incapable of distinguishing truth from the lies daily told them, or … much worse, INDIFFERENT to the practice of being lied to by the new aspirant to the post of PREVARICATORS’ COMMANDER IN CHIEF… which would be the duplicitous duo, John McCain and Sarah Palin. They are consciously and conspicuously paying other You/tube truth assassins to promulgate known lies to the effect that (1) Obama is “Islamic”, and (2) Obama is a “terrorist” like his friend Ayers, and that (3) Obama is a radical anti-American “racist” like his old friend and preacher, Rev. Wright or “political bully” like his father’s fellow tribesman, Kenya’s Odinga.
NEW NEO-CON “WMD” . . .
(“whopper of mass deception”) =
THE LIE OF “GUILT BY ASSOCIATION”
The oldest form of lying and character assassination is the gambit of “guilt by association”. It’s illegal under American criminal law—which requires the state to prove that the accused actually “helped” his criminal friend with the criminal enterprise. McCain and Palin make no pretense of claiming Obama encouraged or took part in any of his friends’ alleged mistakes or transgressions. They ask you to condemn Obama because he befriended them or “associated” with them. Those claiming to be among the “born-again” Christian “right” are hypocritically not telling us to love our enemies and at the same time, they are telling us that befriending (loving) a criminal makes one a criminal. Christ not only associated with and forgave criminals, he did so in their company on Golgotha and with his last breath. Who among us has not had one of our friends or associates breach some law or accepted moral code? But what is illegal in criminal law is the rule in politics: It’s the oldest legal weapon in the coward’s arsenal, and our presidential contenders, McCain and Palin in their desperate and hopefully dying effort to catch up with Obama in the polls are spreading lies just for that reason—They are inveterate cowards. They are abandoning the battle of issues and policies and launching a battle of hatred.They are hatefully spreading lies suggesting Obama is guilty because he has associated with allegedly guilty people—not because he aided or participated in any guilty conduct. That is not only a lie, and now only a cowardly lie, it is—quite clearly—anti-American. The question that remains, however is much more daunting – Has America changed its conceptions of “right and wrong” or simply discarded them? Have “lies” told in America about Americans to Americans become the new “norm” ? Have we decided as a people that “truth” is just another disposable pawn in the “game” of politics? Have we arrived at Orwell’s point of democracy’s demise – 1984, the year of Big Brother’s dictatorship constructed on the platform of the Big Lie?
Leonard Pitts thinks America is incurably conned; that we’ve been lied to so much that “lies” have become perceived by our masses as “normal” instead of “scandal”.
My jury on this question is still out. I’m still holding out hope (which no longer rises to the dignity of “belief”) that America will wake up, smell the coffee, remember the tea, and ultimately recall what it was like short decades ago when two brave reporters probed and dug in the loam of truth in the Beltway deeply enough to prove that a U.S. President had committed crime and lied to us about it…and when as a result, there were actual consequences of that scandal…consequences which involved accountability and a changing of our nation’s leadership.
Nixon’s crimes of petty burglary and cover-up do not compare in degree of criminality to the high crimes and misdemeanors (major international war crimes, crimes against environmental nature, and domestic crimes, compounded by lies to cover up those crimes) committed by our incumbent President and his administration…so many crimes that Americans seem to be now sufficiently numbed and dumbed down to accept more lies as a “normal” matter of American political course.
Has America become the proverbial “frog in the pot” of tepid water, which when warmed at the deceptively slow rate of one degree per minute, becomes lethally boiling before the frog realizes he has sat on his haunches so long he has lost the ability to leap for his…life?
Obama is offering us our only chance for change—a CONCEIVABLY LAST CHANCE–to save ourselves from the waters about to boil us into oblivion as a leader among free nations. Our nation under the leadership of the Republican Neo-Cons has been lied to to the point it is questionable whether “we-the-people” consider lies anything more than “normal politics”. If McCain and Palin win, there will be categorical and catastrophic proof that we have been dumbed and numbed down to that languishing level.
God help us if Leonard Pitts is right.
10 21 08
War is still our only enemy, but lies are its arsenal and ignorance its ally.
THE LIES AREN’T JUST THOSE OF THE POLITICIANS…
I AGREE ABOUT THE WMD’S, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE
… AND (Maybe) A RAY OF HOPE
Indeed, why do foreign news agencies have to tell us what’s going on in our own country? Just recently the British announced that their economy is in recession; whereas, we keep hearing that “maybe” our own country might be heading there. What? With foreclosures mounting, the auto industry languishing, and unemployment at more than 6%, is our government trying to tell us that we’re not in recession when we’ve been in one for months? You would think that U.S. news agencies would be as honest as the ones in the U.K., but that’s not what we get from our mainstream media. They eagerly publish the lies spewing from our present government, but refuse to refute these lies except maybe on the back pages of subsequent issues of the newspapers.
Is Leonard Pitts correct in saying that lying has become the norm, and that scandal has died in this country? I prefer to think it’s not so. I think that the majority of people in this country hate what’s been going on for the past eight years and can’t wait to replace the corrupt, lying, utterly contemptible Bush administration with an honest one that ministers to the needs of the American people and not to the greed of the wealthiest among us. Of course, 24% of our citizens still support the policies of George W. Bush; but that was about the percentage of those who supported the Tories during our American Revolution. There will always be those who, for one reason or another, just don’t “get it”—the holocaust deniers, the global warming deniers, the Sarah Palin lovers, the Muslim haters, the racists and the fear-mongers who show us daily just what we need to overcome.
In speaking about the “death of scandal,” I was reminded of a bit in the film, “The Duchess,” which portrayed the life of the Duchess of Devonshire in the late 18th century. The Duke of Devonshire was one of the most powerful men in England at the time, a philandering plutocrat who could make or break the careers of aspiring politicians in the Whig Party. Because the Duchess—immensely popular with the poets, politicians, and playwrights—could not openly criticize the Duke for his adulterous ways, she conspired with the playwright, Richard Sheridan, to have his play, “A School for Scandal,” performed before the Duke and others. Everyone knew that the play was about the scandalous behavior of the Duke, and that this was the way the Duchess chose to broadcast her complaints to everyone. What I am suggesting is that our mainstream press has become an exercise in “a school for scandal.” With the main newspaper and broadcasting outlets being controlled by the wealthiest among us—just as the Duke of Devonshire “controlled” what was said about him—what we have at our disposal are a myriad of “Duchesses” who are forced to get out the facts by other means. This, of course, is what Leonard Pitts does in his columns; and it is what Dusty Schoch and I do on this site, and it is what Daily Kos, Mother Jones, and Arianna Huffington do on the internet. The internet can’t be controlled, just as the playwrights and poets can’t be controlled. That’s why Plato, the consummate elitist, wanted the poets banned from his Utopian Republic.
I say, never ban the poets, never fail to point out that the Emperor wears no clothes. The American public might not look as if it is paying attention, but I am confident that it is. I see November 5 dawning as a new chapter in our Republic, one in which the old rubbish is swept out, and new policies adopted that will once again show that the United States, after waking from a long nightmare, is ready to fulfill our fondest dreams.
10 22 08
Worlds of gratitude to Len for countering my nightmarish worries about another 1984 regime in America on such a promising and positive note!
EARLY COMMENTS FROM DI CORRESPONDENTS
Very well argued. I can’t offer any disagreement.
My only question is how one gets this message out to all those Americans who just don’t care. Francine Prose, in a recent article in Harpers (or maybe New Yorker) took on the huge public outcry when several books purported to be memoir turned out to be fiction. A reading public aghast at the lies! But F. Prose wonders why those lies make more impact than the giant lies of the administration, lies with horrible consequences. She concludes that the public feels helpless before the powers-that-be, thus turns its frustration and anger at lies on the insignificant fake memoirists. A scapegoating, I guess.
All well and good to try and educate this tuned-out public to the real LIES, but I think a number of people (all frustrating when I run into them) don’t want to know the truth. Would rather believe than reason out; believe that huge government lies are only truths too complicated for them to understand and that big-kind-daddy-in-charge will make it all right by the end of the day. That they are free to pursue their daily lives without needing to bother their pretty little heads about “all that “political stuff.” And that’s why I’m glad we’ve had this Wall Street crash, because it starts to disturb these tuned-out Americans as it impinges on their daily lives.
I admit that for a long time I’ve had little hope for the human race, for Americans in particular, but I’ve begun to hope (just a little bit) again with all the young people getting involved in this electoral race. I hope the numbers of involved youth have not been exaggerated by the media, but I guess only the outcome of the election will tell the truth.
Sally Doud, Richmond Va. (Writer; English Instructor, V.C.U.)
10 23 08 [Emphasis added by DI to enhance well-told truth]
(Editorial Note: For any of you DI and B.E.A. correspondents who receive our DI Current Issue Previews, please feel free to send in your reactions immediately so they can be posted on line with the current issues just as the preceding comments of Sally Doud.)
NY TIMES BIGOTRY TEST . . .
(To see if you suffer from the
Dreadfully Contagious “Bradley Effect”)***
BEFORE YOU VOTE—TAKE IT
NOTE: And before you read this article, take note it is a re-print of the final article to post on the formerly Democratic–formerly “liberal”–now closed DEMOCRATSWRITE.COM website. This piece was written by Dusty Schoch, Managing Editor of DeclaringIndependents.com at a time (August 16, 2008) he was foreign policy editor for Democratswrite.com. By hitting the link to DI’s “About Us” page, you can read all about the reasons this article is appearing here (on DI) and its writer is no longer there (with DW). As you may have gleaned already, it was all about declaring independence from things like….Well, you read the articles and decide for yourself. The article immediately following is followed immediately by another, which read in combination with the present, will pretty much tell it all. Let the music of liberty and independence play on…
Now, here’s the article entitled “NY Times Bigotry Test” as it appeared previously on Democratswrite.come…a North Carolina blog, which for reasons which will become apparent, is no longer. The blog was shut down by its owner and founder before the second article (next trailing) was published (i.e., entitled: “Not All White Voters Who Fail to Support Obama Are Racist”, which article was co-written as a point-counterpoint piece by “Bobby Dees” (lead article writer) and Leonard Carrier and Dusty Schoch (writing counter-points).
***By the way, the “Bradley Effect” for those who haven’t heard, is the neo-con neology and buzzword for that potentially fatal disease of the human hypocriticus closetus which Republicans hope will infect presidential voters everywhere this year…as it did in California in 1982, when voters were polled going into their curtained booths as being 60 percent in favor of a black governor (Tom Bradley), and somehow exited having elected another good ol white boy.
NY TIMES BIGOTRY TEST
Before You Vote, Take It!
By Dusty Schoch, DW Foreign-policy editor.
August 16, 2008
I just read in the NY Times that a black woman gave birth to a white child. Call Guinness! That’s amazing! No, rather, that’s impossible…..Isn’t it? Or is it possibly illegal?
I lied for a reason. There was no NY Times article. But black women have been giving birth to white children in America forever. Just ask Thomas Jefferson.
But before I get to the point, ask yourself another question: If I’d said the Times published a story of a white woman giving birth to a black child, be honest–wouldn’t your reaction have been… “so what’s new?”
Why is it white women can have “black” babies and black women can’t have “white?” I’ll submit to you it has nothing to do with the pigment mix of the bi-racial baby. It has to do with prejudice, discrimination, bias, bigotry, hypocrisy – YOURS AND MINE. Yeah, mea culpa. If I didn’t suffer from the same knee-jerk (emphasis on jerk) reaction, I wouldn’t be writing.
The relevance? Couldn’t be more vital to us as Americans. There’s an election coming and there’s no telling how many red state rednecks will vote for a statistically-dead and intellectually-inferior white man just because he’s white. Again–jerk reactions. In Jefferson’s time there were state laws (“anti miscegenation”) against whites marrying blacks that persisted until 1967. This prejudice is culturally hardwired in ALL of us. The NY Times test you just flunked proves it.
My point? Closeted bigotry is splitting the Democratic Party and dividing America. Obama is not only the better man, he’ll unite our racially-sick country because he’s neither black nor white. He’s both. His parents were color blind and their child was produced by the only power capable of uniting and saving us—love. And face it: Anybody Jesse Jackson despises can’t be all bad.
So watch out! – - Especially you white Southern good ol boys… If you flunked this test (and the majority of you sure as h___ did), you’re most likely infected with the Bradley Effect, that closeted neo-con bug that will creep through the curtain of your voting booth with you—hiding inside of you in your hypocriticus closetus– and do its utmost to turn every patriotic, pragmatic and independent platelet in your red-blooded American body WASP white.
“BOBBY DEES” SAYS:
Not All White Voters Who Fail to Support Obama Are Racist !
By: Bobby Dees – with serious rebuttals from Leonard Carrier and Dusty Schoch (trailing, in tandem). Please don’t read one without reading them all.
There have been recent charges by certain political pundits to the effect that, if you are a white American and particularly a white Democrat and do not support Barack Obama, you are probably a racist. (See Democratswrite 8-25-2008) This premise goes against Obama’s campaign assertion that America is not about red states and blue states, but is about the United States of America. Obama advocates that Americans need not be so polarized by political party loyalty. Therefore, it would appear Obama believes it is acceptable to not always vote solely along party lines and all candidates, regardless of their party affiliation, have to earn each individual’s vote.
To recklessly label someone a racist due to his political opinion is ignorant and lazy. After someone is called a racist, that usually ends all political debate.
It may not even be a true statement that Obama does not have the support of White Americans in the Democratic Party. A recent poll showed that almost 80% of Democrats are supporting Obama.
It should be noted that in North Carolina in the 2004 presidential election, white candidate John Kerry only garnered 27% of the white vote in North Carolina. Obviously, the 73% of the white voters who did not vote for Kerry in North Carolina did not vote against him due to the fact he was a white man. In all likelihood, they voted against Kerry because they did not support his policies. Therefore, it is extremely reckless to label someone a racist who does not support Obama. Obama is currently leading in many of the states Democrats have recently been winning in presidential elections and is behind in historically Republican presidential states.
At the risk of being labeled a racist, for historical purposes and for legitimate discussion, I will attempt to articulate what are some of the problems if there are problems with Obama and his candidacy.
The first problem Obama has is that he lacks a substantive message. His political message is of change and hope with his message having no real specifics. The greatest part of Obama’s political message is about fancy words and well delivered political speeches. Watching his campaign it appears we have ventured back to the flair of the disco days of the seventies where the production is more important than the actual message. I would suggest that it would help Obama’s campaign if he would attempt to have a more intimate one on one conversation with voters. There are issues in which the two presidential candidates differ such as the Iraq War, off shore drilling, capital gains tax, employee taxes, and tax cuts. Each voter will have to decide which candidate’s political position he supports.
Many Americans could have a real problem with Obama’s lack of experience. One thing that is quite troublesome is that he began running for president immediately after winning his current Senate seat. Failure to begin or to fulfill his Senate obligation could be interpreted as a lack of loyalty to the voters of Illinois that elected the candidate and suggest out of control ambition on the part of Obama. It should be noted that many North Carolina citizens resented John Edwards not fulfilling his first United States Senate term prior to beginning his run for the Presidency of the United States.
Obama does not have a sterling work history. He was a state legislator for the state of Illinois which is certainly not that impressive. He has been criticized for refusing to vote yes or no on many issues while in the state legislature of Illinois and casting only a present vote refusing to put his political positions on recorded record in order that he could latter be held accountable for his vote. Obama is 47 years old and his lack of a significant work history is troublesome. Unlike the other presidential candidate, he has no military background.
Obama’s former pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright has been widely criticized for the publications and philosophies advocated by the church Obama attended for twenty years in Chicago, Illinois. Many of the church messages from the pulpit have been considered by many to be racist, anti -America and sexist. Obama’s explanation that he was unaware of the controversial preaching’s of his church after attending the church for 20 years has caused him to lose creditability with many voters.
There are other things that have brought scrutiny to Obama such as a questionable land deal with a since convicted felon Tony Rezko from whom Obama purchased the lot adjoining Obama’s current residence and his association with controversial former radical Weatherman activist Bill Ayers.
In discussing what harmed the personal opinion of Obama with certain Democrats, you only need to look to the organization Moveon.org. Moveon is an organization that was design to promote Democratic causes and is an organization that solicits Democrats all over the country for political donations. During the presidential primaries, Moveon announced that it was solely supporting Obama for president over Hillary Clinton and Moveon began promoting Obama’s candidacy over fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton. Moveon used financial resources that it had obtained from Democrats all over the country to defeat and destroy a fellow Democrat without any objection from Obama. Moveon released a valuable 1.7 million Democratic e-mail list to the Obama campaign. These actions violated a sense of fairness and did serious harm to unity of the Democratic Party.
Many voters opinion of Barack Obama has been harmed with the ruthless one sided pro Obama blogs like Daily Kos and the Huffington Post whose primary duties have been to attempt to seek and to destroy Obama’s political opponents. These blogs rendered ruthless daily attacks on fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, causing great resentment within the Democratic Party.
The national media has been pro Obama to a fault. Rightfully or wrongfully, Obama’s popularity may have been hurt by a general feeling of unfairness of the national media in favor of Obama. A recent Rasmussen poll demonstrated that 51% of those polled believe the national media is attempting to have Obama elected president of the United Sates with its biased political coverage. Many of the national media attacks against Hillary Clinton have been considered vicious and sexist by many Democrats.
Many believe Obama’s followers went too far when they accused Bill and Hillary Clinton of being racist and running a racist campaign against Obama. Many Hillary Clinton supporters believe that the Democratic national committee members went out out of their way to assure that Obama was the Democratic nominee.
Again, labeling someone a racist has no benefit. Voters have many issues to shift through prior to deciding who will be their presidential choice in the upcoming election. There are many issues that will decide this presidential contest other than a candidate’s race.
COUNTERPOINTS BY LEONARD CARRIER
Bobby Dees makes claims in his article of nonsupport for Barack Obama that either have no basis or are highly prejudicial. The first of these claims is that certain “political pundits” have charged that if you are white and don’t support Obama you’re probably a racist. I challenge Bobby Dees to provide the names of such pundits. I know of no one who has brought forth such charges. Consequently, I think that Dees is guilty of advancing a “straw man” argument, one in which an outrageously false claim is made only to be knocked down.
After presenting his “straw man” argument, Dees articulates what he considers to be some of the “problems” with Obama’s candidacy, the first of which being that he “lacks a substantive message.” Although Republican strategists have also made this claim, it is blatantly false. Obama has detailed proposals on ending the Iraq occupation, shoring up Social Security, providing a universal health plan, and improving public education. Anyone who is not lazy can find these proposals on Obama’s website. In addition, Obama has asked ordinary voters to submit their ideas for planks in the Democratic National Platform—the first time ordinary voters have been asked for their input in a party platform. I personally attended one of these neighborhood meetings, and our ideas were submitted to Obama’s campaign. To accuse someone of not having specific plans solely because he is a fine orator borders on being idiotic.
Dees next mentions Obama’s purported “lack of experience.” Again, this is another Republican “talking point,” but it is clearly false. Both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln had less administrative experience when they were elected than Obama has. Obama had years of experience in the Illinois legislature before becoming a Senator. To say, as Dees does, that someone presently in office is being “disloyal” to his constituency by running for another office would disqualify everyone seeking a higher position. Certainly, Alaska Republicans do not feel betrayed because their governor agreed to be McCain’s running mate after serving only eighteen months in office.
Another of Dees’ claims is that Obama lacks a “sterling work history.” There is again no basis for this claim. The citizens of the State of Illinois must have appreciated his work in the State legislature, because they elected him to be their senator. Of course, there is a perception in the South that blacks are lazy, and I hope that Dees has not been influenced by this misperception in making such a claim. At 47 years old, Obama is older than John F. Kennedy was when he took office. To reject someone because he has “no military background” would also be to reject Abraham Lincoln and Bill Clinton. Dees must also remember that fine military officers make bad presidents, as witness Ulysses S. Grant.
Dees also trots out the canard about Obama’s being a member of Jeremiah Wright’s congregation, smearing both Wright, the former U.S. marine, and Obama at a second remove. This is “guilt by association,” because Obama has never parroted what Wright said. Wright also is maligned, because snippets of his sermons were tailored to make him look unpatriotic. Anyone listening to the whole of Wright’s sermons would not be taken in by this flimsy hatchet job. More guilt by association charges involve Obama’s supposed dealings with Rezko and Ayers. Anyone who has played the game, “six degrees of separation” would know that you could connect anyone with anyone else in the world, through intermediaries, despite the fact that the principals have nothing in common.
Dees next blasts the political action organization, MoveOn.org for taking sides in the Democratic primary race, and then criticizes Obama for not objecting to MoveOn’s decision. This is a stupid objection. Why should a candidate object to an independent organization’s support over a rival? If the shoe were on the other foot, and MoveOn had supported Hillary Clinton, should Clinton be blamed if she refused that support? I don’t think so. Dees also claims that Daily Kos and the Huffington Post have offended voters by supporting Obama over his rivals. Again, why should this support in any way be blamed on Obama? Does Dees expect a candidate to disavow his supporters? If so, why would he be running for office at all?
Dees next blames the “national media” for being biased in support of Obama. This is another Republican talking point, but it has no basis in reality. The Wall Street Journal has been steadfastly conservative in its viewpoint, and even the New York Times has featured conservative columnists such as William Kristol and David Brooks. Turn on television to Fox News and you will get biased reporting in favor of Republicans. Most of the attacks on Hillary Clinton were made by these conservative journalists.
Finally, Dees says that “many believe Obama’s followers went too far” in accusing the Clintons of running a racist campaign against Obama. I ask, who are these “many” who believe these things? And who are these “followers” making such accusations? And why is all this speculation in any way an objection to Obama’s candidacy?
To sum up, I believe that Bobby Dees has issued a cranky criticism of Obama tricked out as a defense against being called a racist. I don’t know whether Bobby Dees is a racist or not. Perhaps he’s just still sore that Hillary didn’t get the Democratic nod. But whatever the reason he’s angry with Obama, he’d better get over it. Otherwise he’s in for four more years of the policies of George W. Bush.
ADDENDUM BY DUSTY…
(a.k.a. – the “certain political pundit”)
When I forwarded “Bobby Dees’ ” slam on Obama to Len Carrier, I rather suspected (and forecast to “Dees”) that Len would take him to task on his flimsy, Republican talking- point rant on Obama. Len went much further, I’d say, and pretty much blew Bobby Dees out of the water on all points. But I’ve concluded that, in spite of Len’s logical thrashings of Dees, he still needs a more out-right form of literal spanking. I’m honored and pleased to supply it here. He in fact has challenged me to “do my best”. So here goes:
I’ll cut to the chase and cover the points underlying the “issues” pointed and counter-pointed by Dees and Carrier, respectively.
First of all, “Bobby Dees” does not exist. “Dees” is a pseudonym behind which our DW founder and editor hides in order to protect himself (for unknown reasons) in the expression of his political views. I can’t—and won’t—go farther than that lest I risk revealing Dee’s true identity to the few who haven’t already figured it out. But I will say before closing the issue, that any blogger or publisher who won’t sign his true name to his public expressions of opinion clearly lacks the courage of his convictions.
Having said that, I will add that “Bobby Dees” has blatantly hoisted himself on his own petard. No one mentioned him in particular in the article I wrote and posted on this site on August 25, 2008, entitled “NY Times Bigotry Test”. It is evident that Dees took the test, flunked it miserably, and then—recognizing himself in the portrait of bigotry I painted– got defensive enough to write a diatribe against the man towards whom he is in fact racially biased. If the shoes didn’t fit, why did Bobby Dees put them on and squeal so loudly of the pain (of being purported accused of racial bigotry).
I’ll tell it like it is. Dees founded the DW site as an open forum for the purported sharing and debating of freely-expressed political thoughts and proposals. To his close associates, however, Dees has many times informed everyone that he is a big-D Democratic Party member and supporter and that he further intended to maintain the DW site for the pursuit and accomplishment of Democratic (big-D) goals, agenda and political candidates.
Consistent with this end, Dees endorsed Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and pretty much steered away from all comments on Obama until it became a fait accompli that he had his Party’s nomination. At that point, Dees amazingly and (to all the DW Staff writers and contributors with whom I have conversed, saving Bobby Dees himself) began publishing Republican-sponsored talking points slamming Obama. This in spite of purportedly being a staunch Clinton supporter and despite Hillary’s Convention-declared call for her supporters to endorse and support Obama—without question or reservation, because they shared essentially the same values and political platforms. Hillary and Bill Clinton had buried the hatchets of earlier dissentions with Obama, but somehow, Bobby Dees could not and still can not follow suit. Why not?
None of Dee’s criticisms of Obama are either original or meaningful, and Len Carrier’s dissection of them point for point demonstrate just that. What conclusion does that leave this writer with? – With the conclusion that Bobby Dees is in fact the present bane of the southern Democratic (predominantly male) voter. The bane of the Democratic party because, when all the smoke is cleared away from the things he says about Obama (merely warmed-over regurgitations of Republican party talking points), one motive for opposing Obama remains as the likely cause of Dee’s anti-Obama defection from his former big-D status as a pro-active Democratic supporter. Maybe the motive is subconscious and maybe it is felt and yet intentionally repressed (closeted) by a turn-coat Democrat who doesn’t want to publicly appear to be the bigot he is. Only Dees himself can answer that question. But as an attorney I have been taught that people in public positions of influence and authority are and morally should be judged on the basis of appearance. One who assigns to himself loyalty to the Democratic party and its policies and ideals and who takes it upon himself to become a public (on the internet) spokesman for that Party should avoid at all costs avoid the appearance of impropriety—in this case– of being a bigot.
I confessed to my own knee-jerk bias in the article I published on August 25th. In fact, I reflexively (early-on when he declared it) shared with Obama himself the view of him as a “black” man, although he is neither black nor white, but a genetic amalgam of both. I used the example of the NY Times “Bigotry Test” (which I contrived for the purpose of demonstrating the danger of bias lurking in us all) challenging everyone to consider why they (all of us) are willing to accept the fact that a white woman can give birth (as did Obama’s mother) to a black child, while no one in America would readily accept the reciprocal situation: i.e., that a black woman might give birth to a white child.
What has caused Bobby Dees, Democratic Party zealot (his entire life), to publicly write articles the natural result of which is to turn the opinions of readers everywhere against the now officially-nominated Democratic candidate for president? I will not here write at length extolling the many virtues of Obama or (because Len Carrier has already done it in spades) compose counter-points for Bobby Dee’s banal Obama bashings, which are clearly now that which I will here denominate them – the APPARENT rantings of an enraged southern bigot, who’d rather America suffer another 8 years of ruinous Republican war-mongering, depression-precipitating rule than elect an African American to the nation’s highest office.
Bobby, if the shoe fits, wear it; own up to it. But don’t expect those around you to withhold their expressions of disappointment, revulsion and contempt. Your negative rantings on the subject of Obama constitute a turncoat betrayal of your espoused membership in the Democratic Party and create the impression (the appearance as opposed to the certainty , because only you know what truly lurks in your mind and heart) of being the bigot of which I wrote on August 25, 2008. I concede that it well may be the case that you don’t have a bigoted bone in your abundantly southern body; but I will maintain with the same solemn degree of conviction that you have certainly given the world abundant cause to say you have given the appearance of being among that element that has the greatest potential for dividing the Democratic Party to such an extent that that Party’s candidate might well lose in the November election. The appearance of the self-righteous, hypocritical and closeted Caucasian southern bigot.
By the way, Bobby Dees, there was one point Len Carrier didn’t make that’s worthy of mention regarding your absurd and impertinent arguments in Obama’s regard. You point to John Kerry’s failure in NC to get the presidential votes, noting that 73% voted against him. From that irrelevant stat, you extrapolate the most amazing leap over logic I’ve ever tried to decipher: You say the 73 percent who voted against him did not do so based on racial bias. Duhhhhh! From that you argue that we should not conclude that a registered white Democrat (such as yourself) who intends to vote for McCain (which you obviously do, or you are a certifiable nut case for campaigning against your own candidate) has chosen to do so because of racial bias. That dog, Bobby, not only don’t hunt – it don’t exist. There is no argument launched…no syllogism…no…anything. The 73% who voted against Kerry were clearly voting for Bush because they are Republicans, voting for the Republican candidate. In your case, Bobby, and in the cases of god-only-knows how many others of your recessive ilk, you are a career card-carrying big-D Democrat who has defected to the Republican side in the most crucial presidential campaign in American history. Neither with your righteous denials nor your logically-vacuous arguments will you continue to fool anyone about your reasons for slamming Barack Obama.
Don’t you just love freedom of expression, Bobby Dees? Why don’t you come out of at least one of your closets and admit to the public who in fact you are? Maybe more of us would listen to (and perhaps be more apt to believe in) you. What are you afraid of, big boy?
September 10, 2008
Our Most Formidable Enemy is War
Neo-Con Republicans Circulate Soldier’s Story
Of Obama’s Snubbing U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
You’ve Gotta Read This One!
Story Capsule: DW Foreign Policy Editor, Dusty Schoch received an e-mail last week in which a conservative friend forwarded him a letter of an Afghanistan-Stationed U.S. Soldier. We are all receiving election-inspired things like this on the net these days and need to study this story as we need to study history—in order to keep it from repeating itself.
In the following exchange, you will read first the message forwarding me the message of Captain Porter claiming that Obama—on this past Tuesday– had insulted U.S. servicemen in Afganistan in a way McCain certainly would not have.
This is followed by my reply “to all” Captain Porter’s complaint had been sent wherein I contend that if Porter had any legitimate complaint, it would be against the ones who sent him into Halliburton hell without a handbasket (which would be McCain and his Neo-Con Republican oil-war hawks).
This in turn is followed by a barrage of heated hisses and damning disses from the Neo-Con wild bunch of indignant Republicans accusing me of everything from being disrespectful to their hero Republican soldier to being lunatic for taking issue with him. Several of these responses will be published verbatim, with only the profanity disguised by cryptic encodings such that words that might rime with duck come out f- – - . The Neo-Con part of this section will be in red and Dusty’s responses will be in blue.
Finally, as DW anchorman, Len Carrier weighs in with both his opinion of the soldier’s story and finally a shot of truth serum that I think you will all find most entertaining and
The moral of this story as it unfolds is that, when it comes to Neo-Con rantings in your e-mail and on the bloggosphere, don’t take anything for granted…until you double check the story with Urban Legends and other clearinghouses for truth in politics.
Richard L. Tucker writes:
UNBLIEVABLE MESSAGE SCROLL DOWN……….FROM A SOLDIER (KEEPING YOU SAFE) ACTUALLY IN IRAQ—BABYLONIA.
FOLKS, WE CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS.
THAT’S EASY TO UNDERSTAND……THIS CLOWN HAS NEVER HAD A REAL JOB OR MET A PAYROLL DEADLINE A FEW HUNDRED TIMES WITH BORROWED MONEY OR ACCOMPLISHED ANYTHING. YOU SHOULD NOT BE PREZ. UNLESS YOU HAVE WORKED IN PRIVATE BIZ IN A FACTORY OR BEEN A CPA OR BEEN A SOLDIER OR FARMED OR WHATEVER. HE RUNS FROM SOLDIERS BECAUSE HE DOESN’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING; HE KNOWS THAT WITHOUT CUE CARDS HE CANNOT SPEAK WITH YOU SOLDIERS IN EVEN HALF WAY SENSIBLE MANNER. HE IS LIKE A PUPPET AND FEARS HAVING A CUT STRING.
WHAT A STORY THIS IS BELOW. SHOWS YOU THE REAL MAN. AMERICA DOES NOT HAVE A CLUE WHAT THIS GUY IS ABOUT. BE VERY AFRAID.
VOTE FOR A WAR HERO AND STANDUP GUY. VOTE FOR McCAIN !!!
Richard L. Tucker
I don’t know each of your personal political convictions, and apologize if anyone finds this offensive. I thought it was important enough to share. This is Jeff’s first hand view of Senator Obama.
———- Forwarded Message ———-
As you know I am not a very political person. I just wanted to pass along that Senator Obama came to Bagram Afghanistan for about an hour on his visit to ‘The War Zone’. I wanted to share with you what happened.
He got off the plane and got into a bullet proof vehicle, got to the area to meet with the Major General (2 Star) who is the commander here at Bagram.
As the Soldiers were lined up to shake his hand he blew them off and didn’t say a word as he went into the conference room to meet the General. As he finished, the vehicles took him to the ClamShell (pretty much a big top tent that military personnel can play basketball or work out in with weights) so he could take his publicity pictures playing basketball. He again shunned the opportunity to talk to Soldiers to thank them for their service.
So really he was just here to make a showing for the American’s back home that he is their candidate for President. I think that if you are going to make an effort to come all the way over here you would thank those that are providing the freedom that they are providing for you.
I swear we got more thanks from the NBA Basketball Players or the Dallas Cowboy Cheer leaders than from one of the Senators, who wants to be the President of the United States. I just don’t understand how anyone would want him to be our Commander-and-Chief. It was almost that he was scared to be around those that provide the freedom for him and our great country.
If this is blunt and to the point I am sorry but I wanted you all to know what kind of caliber of person he really is. What you see in the news is all fake.
CPT Jeffrey S. Porter
DUSTY TO RICHARD TUCKER:
No offense to either you or brave Captain Porter intended, but I’ve gotta say this:
I am not an “Obama supporter”. I’m foreign policy editor for Democratswrite.com which is a communicative extension of a peace-oriented think tank (The B.E.A. – “Barristers et al”) I founded shortly after 9/11. Since 9/11/01 I have researched the causes of (and crusaders for) U.S. military involvement in the Middle East. I’ve written and published news articles, essays, made speeches, debated issues and written a short book on the causes for the war in Iraq (and Afghanistan) in the theater of which Captain Porter is presently on duty and under fire and constantly in harm’s way. I am grateful for his commitment to and sacrifices made for his country and ours. At the same time, I know he is a young man and can glean with some degree of confidence from what he writes that his attitude toward Obama is tainted by his belief in the administration (Republican) party line– that our presence in Iraq is justified and in the best interests of America and the world. I believe, in fact, that he believes somehow, that he’s risking his life every day to help preserve for Americans their freedom (from terrorism). In that belief, I believe he is—very unfortunately—mistaken. He is mistaken because, as we were in the aftermath of 9/11/01, grossly and egregiously misled.
Fighting “for freedom”? Nothing could be further from the truth. I won’t belabor the abundantly and long-established (even admitted by the Neo-Cons who started the war on false pretenses) facts that America and the world were lied to by Bush, Powell and the neo-con run Pentagon in order to gain Congressional nod to invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Since our preemptive invasions, we’ve caused in one way and another the deaths of over a half million non-military humans (civilians) in those countries. The only logic presently justifying our presence in Iraq today is that an immediate and total withdrawal of troops would endanger those troops. There will be havoc among the warring Islamic factions upon our departure in any and all cases, just as there has been for hundreds of years, although under the reign of Saddam H, a totalitarian tyrant held that havoc in abeyance with tactics of rule by fear and fierceness.
Our presence in Iraq today is as criminal (under international law, from the ambit of which Bush shrewdly exempted the US—and himself as an otherwise chargeable war criminal– prior to the invasion of Afghanistan). Don’t take my word for it – read the sources summarized and cited in my on-line (free) book on the Iraq war and how a stealthy group of crazy Zionist Jews and fundie Christians combined to pull off a coup of the Pentagon that precipitated the mess in which we’re now boxed in both those theaters (Afghanistan) wherein we have accomplished precisely zero of our declared causes de guerre (finding bin Laden and reducing “terrorism”). The project has bankrupted America, led us into the present depression (it ain’t simply a “recession”), and perhaps worst of all for many of us we hold dear, has jeopardized and cost the lives of thousands of innocent and patriotic Americans.
The book outlining both the facts and the time-lines of all events resulting in our invasion of Iraq is available at HERE. We can all choose to either read and master the history or watch it repeat itself. Your choice.
For any of you who want to more thoroughly educate yourselves on how and why the war in Iraq happened, and who was behind it, and thereafter want to hear what an independent foreign policy writer has tendered to his government as a solution to the problem of international terrorism (of which the U.S. in its waging of unprovoked and preemptive war is part and parcel), one proposed “solution” for this so-called “war on terrorism” is outlined in another article which I’ll link here, entitled “The Onion of War: Peeling it to the Core and Declaring Peace” – Click HERE to read it!
I actually debated the Wurmsers*** (co-authors of “A Clean Break”) on the tenets espoused in that peace proposal. As a bottom line, let me again stress that I mean no offense to Captain Porter. It is our duty to support and defend our troops abroad, risking their lives every day under the command of our elected statesmen. The best way to do this is to get rid of the lousy leaders who put our troops there in harm’s way without just (or rational) cause. Obama is in the process of doing just this. The sooner he’s elected and the sooner, after his empowerment, he succeeds in getting American troops out of that hell hole where, as in Nam, they are dying for reasons none of them can understand, much less articulate, the better. And I know Captain Porter will immediately and reflexively react to what I just said by saying “I am here following the orders of my commander according to the oath I took to defend America against all aggressors.” And he will likely add, that he is there, as are all his comrades in arms, watching each other’s backs. And I will commend—and defend– him on both those accounts. However, this time, his commanders—all the way to the chief– are dead wrong. Iraq was not an aggressor nation in our regard and we became one in regard to it. We invaded and currently occupy two nations on entirely false and unjustified pretexts. There was reason to seek out and destroy bin Laden, but no justification for presently occupying Afghanistan as in-control imperialists. On the practical side, not even their giant next-door neighboring country (Russia) with 10 times the dedicated (and strategically local) ground and air power could conquer that clandestine conundrum of Islamic mountain beast. There was no reason for the invasion of Iraq. There we remain as internationally-despised invaders, for the first time in American history. We are, by way of natural resident reprisals (called “insurgents” instead of “resistance” or “underground” as French nationals were called when they chose to resist Nazi occupation in WWII) fueling terrorism by our presence in Iraq rather than quelling it. Captain Porter has—understandably– bought into false propaganda. No one wants to believe he is risking his life for something entirely lacking in noble purpose. But the fact remains – - U.S. troops are in fact not fighting for “freedom” of anyone in the Iraq theater. They are fighting to stay alive and to keep one U.S. corporate-selected sect of Islamic zealots (those who are more willing than others to keep Iraq’s oil reserves pledged to support American corporate game plans) in power. This is the game of regional hegemony, the game plan of which was concocted (in 1998) by a couple named David and Mayrev Wurmser *** in a document entitled “A Clean Break”, the story of which is outlined in the free book first linked above. My compassion and gratitude go out to Captain Porter for his brave and loyal service to his country. My never-ceasing support and Kudos will go out to the first politician who succeeds in getting Captain Porter out of that hell hole and back in the U.S.A. with his family where he belongs. Every minute he is there, in harm’s way, they must suffer the unceasing angst of his endangerment. And they too—as he—crave to find purpose in his perilous mission. It is my present intention to post Captain Porter’s letter about Obama on our website along with the present (as an open letter) e-mail. The exchange and communication of ideas about these issues is vital—and I contend healthy—for America about this time when we are facing a much needed changing of our domestic and foreign military guard. I invite any of you—including Captain Porter—to respond to the present letter with any views you want to express and have included in the article before it posts. Please send your responses to me personally at the trailing e-mail address (Rschoch@triad.rr.com) instead of the contact link on the website. I will wait a week (through Friday , August 1) to receive anything you want to express to me and have published along side Porter’s and my own (present) letters. We censor out nothing except vulgar profanity and essentially-personal (ad hominem) attacks on people (including ourselves) contributing ideas to the site. We invite all to critically attack (or agree with) our ideas and issues we raise, but refuse to print attacks on people (by essentially unkind name-calling and the like). Wishing you all the best, and with heart-felt gratitude and compassion, wishing for the safe and soon homecoming of Captain Jeffrey S. Porter, I remain sincerely yours, in Peace. Dusty SchochJuly 25, 2007
From: Jim Krauss [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, July 25, 2008 2:01 PM
To: R Schoch;
What a pathetic and gushy gushy bleeding heart unrealistic disconnected evolutionary believing global pacifist LINE OF PURE S- – - that I’ve ever heard — take this guy out and shake some sense into his retarded ass—PLEASE
From: R Schoch [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, July 25, 2008 2:35 PM
To: ‘Jim Krauss’
Why don’t you do it? (The retarded ass). From: Norwood Jackson [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, July 25, 2008 3:15 PM
Subject: modern day fairy tale
Holy mackeral Kingfish, where did you get this fella? Is his middle name ostrich?
Norwood JacksonFirst Coast Realty/Realty WorldPOB 2829 (Crow’s Nest Shopping Center)Atlantic Beach, NC 28512
Once upon a time there was a company that needed a new president. A number of viable candidates were put forth but none seemed to fit the “New Age” look that the company was seeking. One of the board of directors suddenly exclaimed “How about the mailroom boy? You know he shows up for the staff meetings although he never contributes, he is just “present”. He knows his way around the company as he delivers mail to all the offices but he has not ever put a suggestion in the suggestion box. He has no employees under him so he has no enemies in the company. He has never really sided with any particular movement within the company. He is young so he will appeal to the young employees and he is black so he will appeal to the minorities.” One of the other board members said “What kind of experience does he have? Has he ever run a billion dollar company before or even a small company? Was he an officer or platoon leader in the military? What experience does he have to warrant going from mailroom boy to president of the whole company?” The other board member replied “I heard him in the break room state that he thought the company needed to change but he did not offer any solutions. But he did volunteer at the elections board and he has a college degree. That ought to count for something. After all, he would only be running a billion dollar company with thousands of employees and analyzing huge budgets plus negotiating with the heads of other billion dollar companies. How hard could that be? Plus he has stated he wants us to withdraw from certain areas of our business.” In response, one of the board members suggested “Maybe we could get a good V.P. to work with him that has large corporate experience.” So therefore the board voted the mailroom boy into the president spot. Epilogue:
Company went bankrupt due to mismanagement and poor decisions. Would you want your retirement dependent on stock in this company? Why should our country be any different?
EPILOGUE TO STORY (Or as Paul Harvey used to say….Here’s the rest of the story.)
Sent: Friday, July 25, 2008 3:15 PM
To: Norwood Jackson [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: modern day fairy tale
Given that brief excerpt from the company’s corporate minutes, it would appear that the mailroom boy fell into a presidential spot by workings of the proverbial “peter principle” – i.e., that sooner or later, on most American corporate ladders of ascension, a given worker gets promoted to a level beyond his level of competence. In this case, that was not the case. Examining the “rest of the story” one learns that the entire presidential promotional predicament was the result of a polarization within the company’s board that resulted in an evitable deadlock. The “liberal” side came up with the green candidate from the mail room; whereas the conservatives came up with their single candidate. The board therefore had only two choices and this resulted in the choice of the lesser of arguable evils. The conservative candidate was an over-the-hill has been of a politician who nearly ran out of gas running for the conservative side’s endorsement. He had far more experience in the corporate business than his green counterpart, but most of his decisions in the past were—for the company counter-productive. He had voted in favor of his company’s backing a proxy fight initiated by some foreign Jews who wanted to take over the board to expand their personal portfolios (they code-named “the promised land”) that had led the company to virtual insolvency. Moreover, the conservative candidate was still preaching the same sermon—in favoring the hostile takeover even if it took another 100 years. To cap it off, the Conservative candidate ran his election campaign on the sole strength of having –as a pilot---been shot down by corporate enemies and held captive by them for years (during which he admits saying and signing false things about the corporation that damaged the corporate image and PR considerably.) Finally (and most saliently) it was discovered that the conservative candidate —at the unprecedented age of 72 was going to be statistically dead in his second year of service as corporate president. So, when you read and understand the “rest of the story” it turns out the appointment of the green mailroom boy made really good sense. You know- in corporate America, it’s never easy….being green.
From: Leonard Carrier [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, July 26, 2008 12:37 AM
To: R Schoch
Subject: Re: fyi Dusty,
I read Capt. Porter’s letter with interest. I’m sorry he was disappointed that Barack Obama didn’t shake hands with soldiers at Bagram. But that is not what he was there for. He was there to get briefed on the military situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East by top commanders in the field. He is running for President, and his priority is to gain as much foreign policy knowledge as he can. His stated goal has always been to get our troops out of Iraq, and, hopefully, out of Afghanistan as well. There will be plenty of time for hand-shaking when Capt. Porter and his fellow soldiers are again on American soil. What was really curious, though, was Mr. Richard L. Tucker’s introductory disparaging comments about Obama and his praise of John McCain. In Tucker’s eyes, McCain is a “war hero and a stand-up guy.” Tucker’s claim is certainly false. John McCain, the son of two Navy admirals, graduated fifth from the bottom of his class at Annapolis. His fellow midshipmen remember him as a reckless rule-breaker. His flying record shows him to be a mediocre pilot who crashed five U.S. aircraft, including he one in which he was shot down over Viet Nam. According to his own book, McCain revealed information to the enemy that was used for propaganda purposes. His claim that he was tortured to reveal it was disputed by his Vietnamese interrogator who claims that merely the threat of withholding medical attention was enough to get McCain to talk. The fact that the Vietnamese knew that McCain’s father was CINCPAC ensured that he would be kept alive. Many other POWs suffered more and said less. So much for McCain’s being a war hero. As for being a “stand-up guy,” this is a phrase that is often used by Republicans to refer to George W. Bush. Whether it applies to Bush is highly dubious. That it doesn’t apply to McCain is certain. After several extramarital affairs McCain divorced his crippled wife to marry a billionaire beer heiress. It is a matter of record that he used the ‘c’ word to refer to his new wife in public. That doesn’t translate into being any sort of “stand-up guy.” I conclude that when it comes to a question of character, it is Barack Obama–someone with a law degree who opted to work with poor, inner-city youth, someone who has always been married to the same woman, someone who has consistently said that he will get our troops out of the Middle East–who stands head and shoulders over John McCain.
Best, Len Carrier
NEO-CON CROW EATIN’ TIME!!! (thanks to Len Carrier and Snopes.com)…
Dear “all” who have been deceived by that typically-rank Republican propaganda about “Captain Porter” ’s negative review of Obama’s ungentlemanly conduct in Afghanistan: Several of you gave me down the road for even questioning Captain Porter’s assessment of Obama and Richard Tucker’s taking the occasion to contradistinguish McCain as a war hero. The truth of the matter turns out to be this: There is in fact a “Captain Porter” stationed in Afghanistan and he did write home (to his family) some falsely-reported rumors he’d picked up, not first hand, but through the military (mostly pro-administration, pro-ditto-headed Republican, pro-war) grapevine. Having learned the truth, he has recanted his lies and asked that people quit circulating his letter on the internet both because of its gross inaccuracies and because sending such news along with his locale, name and rank violates military law. All in all, the Captain Porter story is what’s called in military parlance a total “cluster f…”. We have Democratswrite.com’s In-House Historian, Dr. Leonard Carrier, to thank for this factual wake-up call. I will here trail his letter to me which supplies you to the link wherein you can read for yourself the history of the entire hoax. For those of you who don’t know, election-year propaganda like this blogger B-S can nearly always be checked for truth on the www.snopes.com website. The article link that Len furnishes us here makes it crystal clear how Republicans will grab up a sound byte (this time a paragraph from a soldier’s letter to his parents) and explode it into political mythology in order to counter the surge of popularity and sanity that is hopefully going to sweep the neo-con war mongers out of office.Porter totally regrets the careless lies he has told and asks all who have disseminated them to see that the truth of the matter gets told. That’s what I’m doing in writing to you all. Thanks, Len for the vigilance I can always count on you to maintain. This time, for some reason, I didn’t think to question the neo-con contrived crap. I’ll be much more watchful in the future. Now for those of you with the courage to admit you’ve been fooled, I give you Len’s letter which will supply you with the link to the truth of the Captain Porter story which you need to (slowly, carefully and with reflection) read. The same people who 7 years ago convinced you there were WMD’s in Iraq are–with tripe like this–trying to steal another election through the corruption of truth in order to prolong two stupidly catastrophic wars and launch a third. I have to say, finally- Richard Tucker said one correct thing in the letter with which he circulated the Porter myth…it was in fact an “unbelievable message” (his words).
LEN’S LETTER: (AND LINK)
After my last email to you, I decided to scope out Capt. Porter and his letter. It now turns out that what Porter said was false, and that he has retracted his statement and asked people not to forward his letter. Check it all out on Snopes below.
All those die-hard Republicans who were cursing you out should be eating lots of crow when they discover that Porter’s letter was a bunch of baloney.
The DW editors and staff want to make it clear that none of us blame Captain Jeffrey Porter for all this disinformation. He made a careless mistake in quoting unsubstantiated (and it turns out false) press on Obama and, perhaps because of his own naïve politics, made a worse mistake in trusting his correspondents not to publicize a personal letter to his family. The lesson here is, however, a serious and solemn one, in spite of the Republicans-eat crow outcome. We are involved in a war in Afghanistan and Iraq because we Americans have been conned over and over again by the Neo-cons about the truth and realities of both foreign and domestic affairs. We are seeing Orwell’s 1984 fiction enacted in nightmarish reality before our very eyes in the media and on the internet where Republicans, frenetically fearful of losing their grip on the Pentagon and our tax dollars, are doing everything they and their propaganda spin masters can contrive to obfuscate the truth of their disastrous leadership with lies and slick-sounding talking points.I personally fell for this one until Len took the time to research the truth on Snopes.com. Let’s thank Len for his vigilance on our editorial parapets and adopt his skepticism and resourcefulness as a paradigm for future considerations of and contentions with these soon-to-be sidelined Neo-Con Republican saboteurs of besieged American democracy.
Dusty SchochJuly 27, 2008 It was a happy birthday btw.
U.S. war planners want an obedient client state that will house major U.S. military bases, right at the heart of the world’s major energy reserves.
The deal just taking shape between Iraq’s Oil Ministry and four Western oil companies raises critical questions about the nature of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq — questions that should certainly be addressed by presidential candidates and seriously discussed in the United States, and of course in occupied Iraq, where it appears that the population has little if any role in determining the future of its country.
Read the rest of the article here:
LEN CARRIER’S COMMENTS:
What Chomsky writes is undoubtedly true: we invaded Iraq so that we could control its oil and set up permanent military bases to protect our investment. This is really no surprise. Several writers saw through the smokescreen and said the same thing before our invasion. I wrote a commentary in a local newspaper saying exactly that in 2003–and was excoriated by a swarm of right-wing letter writers.
Chomsky doesn’t mention another facet to our invasion, which is that it was designed to strengthen Israel’s hand, our military partner in the Middle East, one that could be depended on to inflict severe damage on Iran, Syria, or Lebanon, should these states protest against the American hegemony. In return for its help, Israel gets to run roughshod over Palestine and gobble up the entire West Bank–all this while Washington turns out fancy phrases in protest, as well as a blind eye.
What should also be obvious, but apparently isn’t, is that Bush, Cheney, and the neocons were not alone in their illegal war. The American Congress, with only a few courageous exceptions, went along with their war-making plans, and only recently have some of the war enablers come around to say the invasion was a mistake–Hillary Clinton being a notable example. My take on this is that Congress, as well, wanted us to control that oil and didn’t care what means were used.
Even today, long after the Downing Street memo has proved conclusively that the intelligence was fitted around the policy, Nancy Pelosi is dragging her feet on Dennis Kucinich’s impeachment articles, hoping to bury them in John Conyers’ Judiciary Committee. Why would she do this? Why would Conyers sit on these articles? The only rational conclusion is that not only Republicans, but high-ranking Democrats, as well, were and are in collusion with the Bush Administration to steal another country’s oil.
The American people aren’t stupid. I suspect that low approval ratings for Congress are in large measure due to its hypocrisy in pretending to be against the Bush-Cheney war and occupation, but are in reality continuing to enable this Administration in its illicit behavior. These Democratic critics give lip service to a desire to remove our troops from Iraq, but they want a Status of Forces Agreement and a sweet oil deal no less than the Bush team does.
It is a progressive’s hope that a new Administration will sweep away all the Congressional war enablers, remove our troops from Iraq, dismantle our bases, tell Israel to pull in its horns, and begin to search for peace in the Middle East and not another country’s natural resources. Judging from past experience, however, the chances are slim.