Nov 18 2009
Nouriel Roubini, one of the predictors of the economic catastrophe, along with most of the progressive netroots, appears to just be making a dour economic prediction. In fact, he is describing the transformation of American society.
Think the worst is over? Wrong. Conditions in the U.S. labor markets are awful and worsening. While the official unemployment rate is already 10.2% and another 200,000 jobs were lost in October, when you include discouraged workers and partially employed workers the figure is a whopping 17.5%.
So we can expect that job losses will continue until the end of 2010 at the earliest. In other words, if you are unemployed and looking for work and just waiting for the economy to turn the corner, you had better hunker down. All the economic numbers suggest this will take a while. The jobs just are not coming back.
The long-term picture for workers and families is even worse than current job loss numbers alone would suggest. Now as a way of sharing the pain, many firms are telling their workers to cut hours, take furloughs and accept lower wages. Specifically, that fall in hours worked is equivalent to another 3 million full time jobs lost on top of the 7.5 million jobs formally lost.
“The jobs just are not coming back.” That could be the theme slogan for the last 40 years. If we had had a big election back in 1973 on whether or not we wanted to move our manufacturing sector overseas, thereby decimating a huge chunk of the economy, and destroying millions of livelihoods and lives, how do you think that election would have turned out? I’m pretty sure the political careers of the people who even suggested it would have been over.
Yet, behind the scenes, through the lobbying work of international trade groups like the CFR and COC, that is exactly what our democratically elected representatives set out to accomplish.
And what they accomplished was nothing less than the transformation of American society. We went from having a thriving middle class, with an immense amount of common wealth, to a borderline third world state, common wealth looted, private wealth looted, public facilities starved and in shambles, society on the verge of collapse or, more accurately, balkanized into segments in varying degrees of prosperity and collapse.
It’s not a mystery. We were attacked. Our treasury looted, public policy turned against us on trade, manufacturing, taxes. The history is not secret. It has been chronicled in books and publications, in print and on the web.
But the liberal left never saw it coming. We were too busy with academic issues like prayer in schools or the ten commandments on the courthouse steps to notice that our country was being turned into a third world state. While we were waging our culture war, corporate America was quietly dismantling American society.
Nov 17 2009
Reposted courtesy of Truthdig
By Chris Hedges
We can join Bill McKibben on Oct. 24 in nationwide protests over rising carbon emissions. We can cut our consumption of fossil fuels. We can use less water. We can banish plastic bags. We can install compact fluorescent light bulbs. We can compost in our backyard. But unless we dismantle the corporate state, all those actions will be just as ineffective as the Ghost Dance shirts donned by native American warriors to protect themselves from the bullets of white soldiers at Wounded Knee.
“If we all wait for the great, glorious revolution there won’t be anything left,” author and environmental activist Derrick Jensen told me when I interviewed him in a phone call to his home in California. “If all we do is reform work, this culture will grind away. This work is necessary, but not sufficient. We need to use whatever means are necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet. We need to target and take down the industrial infrastructure that is systematically dismembering the planet. Industrial civilization is functionally incompatible with life on the planet, and is murdering the planet. We need to do whatever is necessary to stop this.”
The oil and natural gas industry, the coal industry, arms and weapons manufacturers, industrial farms, deforestation industries, the automotive industry and chemical plants will not willingly accept their own extinction. They are indifferent to the looming human catastrophe. We will not significantly reduce carbon emissions by drying our laundry in the backyard and naively trusting the power elite. The corporations will continue to cannibalize the planet for the sake of money. They must be halted by organized and militant forms of resistance. The crisis of global heating is a social problem. It requires a social response.
The United States, after rejecting the Kyoto Protocol, went on to increase its carbon emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels. The European Union countries during the same period reduced their emissions by 2 percent. But the recent climate negotiations in Bangkok, designed to lead to a deal in Copenhagen in December, have scuttled even the tepid response of Kyoto. Kyoto is dead. The EU, like the United States, will no longer abide by binding targets for emission reductions. Countries will unilaterally decide how much to cut. They will submit their plans to international monitoring. And while Kyoto put the burden of responsibility on the industrialized nations that created the climate crisis, the new plan treats all countries the same. It is a huge step backward.
“All of the so-called solutions to global warming take industrial capitalism as a given,” said Jensen, who wrote “Endgame” and “The Culture of Make Believe.” “The natural world is supposed to conform to industrial capitalism. This is insane. It is out of touch with physical reality. What’s real is real. Any social system-it does not matter if we are talking about industrial capitalism or an indigenous Tolowa people-their way of life, is dependent upon a real, physical world. Without a real, physical world you don’t have anything. When you separate yourself from the real world you start to hallucinate. You believe the machines are more real than real life. How many machines are within 10 feet of you and how many wild animals are within a hundred yards? How many machines do you have a daily relationship with? We have forgotten what is real.”
The latest studies show polar ice caps are melting at a record rate and that within a decade the Arctic will be an open sea during summers. This does not give us much time. White ice and snow reflect 80 percent of sunlight back to space, while dark water reflects only 20 percent, absorbing a much larger heat load. Scientists warn that the loss of the ice will dramatically change winds and sea currents around the world. And the rapidly melting permafrost is unleashing methane chimneys from the ocean floor along the Russian coastline. Methane is a greenhouse gas 25 times more toxic than carbon dioxide, and some scientists have speculated that the release of huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere could asphyxiate the human species. The rising sea levels, which will swallow countries such as Bangladesh and the Marshall Islands and turn cities like New Orleans into a new Atlantis, will combine with severe droughts, horrific storms and flooding to eventually dislocate over a billion people. The effects will be suffering, disease and death on a scale unseen in human history.
We can save groves of trees, protect endangered species and clean up rivers, all of which is good, but to leave the corporations unchallenged would mean our efforts would be wasted. These personal adjustments and environmental crusades can too easily become a badge of moral purity, an excuse for inaction. They can absolve us from the harder task of confronting the power of corporations.
The damage to the environment by human households is minuscule next to the damage done by corporations. Municipalities and individuals use 10 percent of the nation’s water while the other 90 percent is consumed by agriculture and industry. Individual consumption of energy accounts for about a quarter of all energy consumption; the other 75 percent is consumed by corporations. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States. We can, and should, live more simply, but it will not be enough if we do not radically transform the economic structure of the industrial world.
“If your food comes from the grocery store and your water from a tap you will defend to the death the system that brings these to you because your life depends on it,” said Jensen, who is holding workshops around the country called Deep Green Resistance [click here and here] to build a militant resistance movement. “If your food comes from a land base and if your water comes from a river you will defend to the death these systems. In any abusive system, whether we are talking about an abusive man against his partner or the larger abusive system, you force your victims to become dependent upon you. We believe that industrial capitalism is more important than life.”
Those who run our corporate state have fought environmental regulation as tenaciously as they have fought financial regulation. They are responsible for our personal impoverishment as well as the impoverishment of our ecosystem. We remain addicted, courtesy of the oil, gas and automobile industries and a corporate-controlled government, to fossil fuels. Species are vanishing. Fish stocks are depleted. The great human migration from coastlines and deserts has begun. And as temperatures continue to rise, huge parts of the globe will become uninhabitable. NASA climate scientist James Hansen has demonstrated that any concentration of carbon dioxide greater than 350 parts per million in the atmosphere is not compatible with maintenance of the biosphere on the “planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” He has determined that the world must stop burning coal by 2030-and the industrialized world well before that-if we are to have any hope of ever getting the planet back down below that 350 number. Coal supplies half of our electricity in the United States.
“We need to separate ourselves from the corporate government that is killing the planet,” Jensen said. “We need to get really serious. We are talking about life on the planet. We need to shut down the oil infrastructure. I don’t care, and the trees don’t care, if we do this through lawsuits, mass boycotts or sabotage. I asked Dahr Jamail how long a bridge would last in Iraq that was not defended. He said probably six to 12 hours. We need to make the economic system, which is the engine for so much destruction, unmanageable. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has been able to reduce Nigerian oil output by 20 percent. We need to stop the oil economy.”
The reason the ecosystem is dying is not because we still have a dryer in our basement. It is because corporations look at everything, from human beings to the natural environment, as exploitable commodities. It is because consumption is the engine of corporate profits. We have allowed the corporate state to sell the environmental crisis as a matter of personal choice when actually there is a need for profound social and economic reform. We are left powerless.
Alexander Herzen, speaking a century ago to a group of Russian anarchists working to topple the czar, reminded his followers that they were not there to rescue the system.
“We think we are the doctors,” Herzen said. “We are the disease.”
Nov 17 2009
I don’t believe you can judge a president absent the context of their presidency. This is why I have always been weary of comparisons to Lincoln (now there’s a context) or FDR.
All presidents and their presidencies are the product of their time and circumstance. Inseparably so. So it is in this time and under these circumstances that we must assess Obama.
Witness the wisdom of democracy. Even a brainwashed, uninformed, misinformed electorate knew this time was different. They understood, on some level, that time is running out. So, with a passion not seen in our lifetimes, they embraced a candidate who truly embodied change. It was the “fierce urgency of now” campaign for a country and a world in an increasing state of emergency.
So Obama swept into power with an unusual, unprecedented mandate. Millions of Americans thought they voted him in to really make some serious changes to the country. In Obama’s own words, to change the way Washington does business.
It was a fucking lie. It was all a lie. While Obama was up on stage claiming that since “they didn’t finance my campaign, they won’t control my White House”, secretly, behind the scenes, “they” already controlled him. They still do.
In any context, Obama would be considered a conservative president – a preservationist of the status quo. But in the context of our current world condition, Obama’s subservience to what is is unforgivable.
Greatness arises from crisis. We are all tested and the choices we make, to face the crisis and use it to achieve a greater good, or to kick it down the road for future generations, determines our fate. Obama failed his test. He chose to pass on change, to bow out of conflict, to leave the most dangerous and destructive force in American history not only intact, but empowered.
Understand, it is not Obama’s failure to take on the banking cartel that makes his failure stand out. Or his failure to present the country with a new vision for the future with the $1 trillion he was granted to spend.
It is his failure in the context of opportunity. Never in our lifetimes (unless you were around in the early 1930s) has there been such an opportunity to really change this country and the world.
Imagine if Obama had taken the side of the overwhelming majority of Americans and said “No.” No, we will not give you trillions of dollars. We will nationalize you and break you up and re-regulate you so that you may never do anything similar. Additionally, we are going to investigate you and get to the bottom of how this happened.
Oh there would have been a fight. Obama would have won. He said it himself. Some idiot from the White House press office leaked that Obama had told a gathering of some of the top bankers that the only thing separating them from a mob with pitch forks was him.
They thought they were showing the president being tough by leaking the comment. What they really did was show the real role of Obama’s presidency. To protect bankers.
But Obama has protected a lot more than bankers. By refusing to nationalize the banks, and enter them into a controlled dismantling, Obama was really protecting the shambles of a failed ideology.
That’s because, at heart, Obama is just another visionless, Harvard assimilated empty suit. And all he knows is what he’s been trained to know: NOLIBERALISM.
In Obama’s world, the crash of the financial economy wasn’t the manifestation of a failed ideology. It was just the boys going a bit too far. And so the remedy, as he said to joe the plumber, was balance.
The guy’s a fucking idiot. His mentors, Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, Bob Rubin. Idiots. How does someone so smart get so stupid? Ideology. Ideologues believe in the perfection of their ideas. That’s mistake number one. Then they will do the most irrational things to defend those ideals.
Obama, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, and all the other idiots of the new Wall Street just spent upwards of 20 TRILLION DOLLARS not just to bail out the financial sector. It was to bail out the perfect idea that markets are divine and democratic government is evil.
That is why they couldn’t nationalize the banks. It would have been an admission that no PR firm could have concealed. When Alan Greenspan finally admitted that his ideology of market supremacy was “flawed”, the corporate media quietly swept that from public discourse. Nationalizing much of the banking system would have been a little harder to conceal.
So what we have now, under the stewardship of Obama and his economic team at Goldman Sachs, is a big fat lie; a quasi-fascist, corporate/government hybrid bureaucracy, managing the greatest act of fraud ever perpetrated, all behind a free market facade.
One can argue that Obama is just being presidential by utterly failing to live up to his campaign promises, caving to the plutocrats, and serving the war machine. But that is only a conception of the presidency concocted by our enemies. The fact is, Obama has had the opportunity to fight for change, serve the people, and live up to the promise that got him elected, over and over again. Yet, no matter what, he fails to lead. Why?
I think Chris Hedges’ assessment of Obama has no match for getting to the bottom of it:
Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest.
What, for all our faith and hope, has the Obama brand given us? His administration has spent, lent or guaranteed $12.8 trillion in taxpayer dollars to Wall Street and insolvent banks in a doomed effort to reinflate the bubble economy, a tactic that at best forestalls catastrophe and will leave us broke in a time of profound crisis. Brand Obama has allocated nearly $1 trillion in defense-related spending and the continuation of our doomed imperial projects in Iraq, where military planners now estimate that 70,000 troops will remain for the next 15 to 20 years. Brand Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan, including the use of drones sent on cross-border bombing runs into Pakistan that have doubled the number of civilians killed over the past three months. Brand Obama has refused to ease restrictions so workers can organize and will not consider single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans. And Brand Obama will not prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes, including the use of torture, and has refused to dismantle Bush’s secrecy laws or restore habeas corpus.
Brand Obama offers us an image that appears radically individualistic and new. It inoculates us from seeing that the old engines of corporate power and the vast military-industrial complex continue to plunder the country. Corporations, which control our politics, no longer produce products that are essentially different, but brands that are different. Brand Obama does not threaten the core of the corporate state any more than did Brand George W. Bush. The Bush brand collapsed. We became immune to its studied folksiness. We saw through its artifice. This is a common deflation in the world of advertising. So we have been given a new Obama brand with an exciting and faintly erotic appeal. Benetton and Calvin Klein were the precursors to the Obama brand, using ads to associate themselves with risqué art and progressive politics. It gave their products an edge. But the goal, as with all brands, was to make passive consumers mistake a brand with an experience.
Nov 06 2009
I’ve never typed Glenn Beck’s name before except to point out how irrelevant he is. I actually think Beck and the tea party stunts are all part of an elaborate PR psyop. I have been researching that story for months and will write about it when it’s ready.
But right now, I want to bring to your attention, those of you who missed it, last night’s Daily Show performance by Jon Stewart. It truly transcends comedy to the level of performance art. It is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
|Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
|The 11/3 Project
Oct 29 2009
Matt Taibi’s Latest big Rolling Stone article came out last week to no fanfare. RS has stopped simulpublishing to the web and print edition to sell hard copies. That may or may not be working. I can’t say. But it’s killing Taibbi’s viral-ability on the internet.
Anyway. I just found the article, but only by wondering if it was up yet, then going there, and finding it. Shame because it’s really important. It goes a long way towards confirming what many of us have suspected/known all along: that Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were taken down deliberately by naked shorting and other schemery.
This is an email I wrote to my friend Bob Swern, one of the best writers over at Daily Kos who covers economics and the ongoing crime that is the financial sector. In it, I asked him for help in my research of the real story behind the financial collapse that wrecked the fortunes of so many, yet made trillions for a few others.
I WANT YOUR HELP TOO.
This will be an experiment in Open Source Reporting (a concept I just thought of). If you know of anything that contributes to this investigation, please provide it.
Here’s the email to Bob which lays out my line of inquiry.
I have a theory. It goes like this:
Bankers (Goldman, JPM, etc.) saw derivatives crisis years ago (2005?, 06?, earlier?)
They knew they needed Shock and Awe to get Americans to bail out their
So they drove up oil prices by speculating on oil futures among other things.
As always, any spike in oil prices causes a recession. It worked (People seem to
be acting like $4 gas prices never happened or had nothing to do with the economic
contraction. It was the single biggest factor in causing the recession) and the economy started to grind to a halt.
THEN, stage 2: Sink Lehman and/or Bear Sterns. Like setting a managed forest
fire. Naked short selling, media operatives trashing the company, which WAS trash but
no more so than anyone else. They had to let one fall, maybe two.
Shock and awe ensues, and then the political blitz of sky is falling and…. OKYOUCANHAVETRILLIONSOFDOLLARS!!!
Anyway, you get the gist. So, what do you think. Am I close? Do you have any
evidence to support some of the main contentions in this thesis? They are again:
1. Preknowledge that the whole thing was going to tank.
2. Shock Doctrine to crash the economy by manipulation of oil and gas prices.
3. Naked shorting to bring down Lehman
My thesis probably places Goldman at the epicenter of this whole scheme. And, though
I’m not sure where it ties in, I am almost certain that the entire market rally is a scam too.
I think the timing it essential too and maybe even their choice of Obama.
Anyway, there it is. Would love your opinion on the plausibility of this. And I
would love any evidence that confirms or refutes any part of it.
I’l post my own evidence soon. And there’s a lot.
Here’s a taste of the Taibbi article:
On Tuesday, March 11th, 2008, somebody – nobody knows who – made one of the craziest bets Wall Street has ever seen. The mystery figure spent $1.7 million on a series of options, gambling that shares in the venerable investment bank Bear Stearns would lose more than half their value in nine days or less. It was madness – “like buying 1.7 million lottery tickets,” according to one financial analyst.
But what’s even crazier is that the bet paid.
At the close of business that afternoon, Bear Stearns was trading at $62.97. At that point, whoever made the gamble owned the right to sell huge bundles of Bear stock, at $30 and $25, on or before March 20th. In order for the bet to pay, Bear would have to fall harder and faster than any Wall Street brokerage in history.
The very next day, March 12th, Bear went into free fall. By the end of the week, the firm had lost virtually all of its cash and was clinging to promises of state aid; by the weekend, it was being knocked to its knees by the Fed and the Treasury, and forced at the barrel of a shotgun to sell itself to JPMorgan Chase (which had been given $29 billion in public money to marry its hunchbacked new bride) at the humiliating price of … $2 a share. Whoever bought those options on March 11th woke up on the morning of March 17th having made 159 times his money, or roughly $270 million. This trader was either the luckiest guy in the world, the smartest son of a bitch ever or…
Or what? That this was a brazen case of insider manipulation was so obvious that even Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman of the pillow-soft-touch Senate Banking Committee, couldn’t help but remark on it a few weeks later, when questioning Christopher Cox, the then-chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission. “I would hope that you’re looking at this,” Dodd said. “This kind of spike must have triggered some sort of bells and whistles at the SEC. This goes beyond rumors.”
[UPDATE]: Some folk seem to have a problem with my assertion that the “entire market rally is a scam”. Perhaps I should have clarified. I don’t thank all of the trades that led to this rally are bogus or illegitimate. And as time has passed, nervous investors have edged back in.
But there have been red flags going back to last spring that the market was artificially pumped up by the Fed and the few remaining big banks in a position to do so.
There has been much reporting on this issue. Here’s a good primer. But I’ve yet to find it better explained than here (go to the 4:00 minute mark):
Oct 26 2009
This Alexander Cockburn essay got me thinking.
Across the country last weekend, there were antiwar demonstrations, modest in turnout, but hopefully a warning to Obama that war without end or reason in Afghanistan, plus 40,000 more troops to Kabul, is not why people voted for him.
I spoke at our own little rally in my local town of Eureka, Calif. My neighbor Ellen Taylor decided to spice up the proceedings by having a guillotine on the platform, right beside the Eureka Courthouse House steps. Her father was Telford Taylor, chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg,
When she told me about the plan for the guillotine, I wasn’t sure it was a good idea. But Ellen said she wanted to reach out to new constituencies beyond the committed left, and what better siren call than the swoosh of the Avenging Blade? A hundred years ago, people liked to stress the similarities of the American and French revolutions. Mark Twain composed the most eloquent defense of the Terror ever written, in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” But then, after 1917, the French Revolution was seen as the harbinger of Bolshevik excess and it grew less popular.
Up on the platform I took the guillotine issue head on. Only 666 aristocrats in Paris had been topped versus 1,543 throughout France. The reward: decisive smack on the snout of the land-holding aristocracy; durable popular power for peasants, workers and the petit bourgeois: M. le patron and M. le proprietaire stepped into history.
Here in America, the corporate class is now entirely out of control, lawless and beyond the sanction of prosecutor, juror or ballot box. If every corporate lawbreaker felt that somewhere along the line the retribution of the guillotine might await them, it would concentrate their minds marvelously and cow them into lawfulness.
He’s right. They are out of control. So, I’m wondering. Is it guillotine time? Is that what it’s going to take?
What do you think?
Oct 24 2009
They were warned. They didn’t listen. They are fossils.
We are not too unlike the volcano people. All of the signs are visible. But even the most informed of us still do not grasp what exactly it is we are looking at. And as a result, we are powerless to fight it, much less to defeat it.
The gravest threat to our country in its entire history is bearing down upon us. And we fiddle.
Right now, there is a perfect storm of sorts. For the first time in the history of the human race, a sociopolitical-economic system is on the verge of gaining the ability, through great and horrifying advances in technology, to completely control an entire population.
It is both naive and irresponsible to assume that power such as this will never be used.
Think about what is being put into place right now.
– A massive and unconstitutional surveillance and intelligence infrastructure aimed at you.
Never has technology, and our reliance on it, made it so easy for us to be tracked, eaves dropped on, and monitored.
– A massive, trillion dollar propaganda-disinformation-indoctrination operation that spans several mediums including television, internet, radio and film, and has one primary objective – to control your behavior.
Many people back in the 30s, after seeing the power Hitler had gained over Germans with radio, were concerned about this new medium’s power to gain control over the public’s susceptible minds. By the 1950s, there was a veritable movement of psychologists warning that television could be used as a weapon, and steps were taken. The fairness clause, the outlawing of subliminal images. But as Al Gore writes in his book, Assault On Reason, even flashing images put people in a sort of trance. That was true in the 50s, on a 14″ black and white monitor. How effective is it on a 56″ HD system? Television is the most powerful political weapon in the history of mankind. And it is being used in ways daily that even the most savvy political minds miss.
– Unprecedented and insurmountable weapons technology not aimed at defeating a foreign nation, but aimed at threatening, controlling, and if necessary, defeating you.
And now, the 130 year old law restricting a standing army on US soil has been violated.
Naturally, the volcano people scoff at the notion that such power would ever be used against Americans by Americans. Things like that just don’t happen here. But this pollyannic view just isn’t supported by history. In fact, history has shown time and again that when men have such power available, THEY WILL USE IT.
But when you look at all of these developments combined, and fully grasp the scope of these changes in power and technology, it is clear that people who have shown nothing but contempt for the the American people, our laws, and our way of life are gaining this power while we sleep.
We are in the final stages of losing our country. It’s almost complete. And if we lose it all the way, we lose everything.
Believe it or not, our government still fears its people. This is the only reason we have not become a purely, openly corporatofascist state. But the second they no longer fear us, when their technology becomes so advance, their surveillance becomes so pervasive, that they can put down the most populous riot, or surveil even their most powerful political opponent, then we are done. No more progressive movement. No more get out the vote or march on the Mall. It’s over.
Can we stop it? I don’t know, especially if we waste all of our time bickering and infighting. But I have always believed we have a moral obligation to try. To not be the volcano people.
You can read the bit of Gore’s book on television brainwashing here.
Oct 17 2009
The little joke about putting the interest’s name after a politician’s name instead of the state they’re from — Max Baucus (D-Wellpoint)– dates back to the muckraker era. Nowadays, however, the joke would be far more appropriate to replace the party affiliation and keep the state –Charles Schumer (Goldman Sachs-NY)
In fact, when you look at the Senate, with it’s binary seating arrangement, you may think you see Republicans and Democrats, neatly divided on each side of the isle. But I assure you this is merely an illusion. If you could see each senator’s real affiliation as a little sign above their heads, what you would really see is corporate logos bobbing up and down on the Senate floor.
The Democratic party is a myth. Not for us plebes out here in the real world. But the higher up the food chain you go, the less party affiliation means. By the time you reach the United States Senate, you are almost certainly, completely owned and affiliated with one of the big powerful interests or, most commonly, a combination of them.
How it really works is pretty simple. We have a Plutocracy. It is controlled by a small, handful of interests, or more accurately, assholes who have taken over our government by subversive means. They own almost everything, more than Michael Moore estimates and certainly more than the comical Forbes 500 suggests. And they control most of our most established institutions: almost all the main universities, think tanks, PR firms, defense organizations and of course, the mass media. They also control state and local governments all across the country.
But their main prize is the US government, especially the U.S. Senate. With few exceptions, each of your senators is a crook (most probably), an accomplice after the fact (maybe but probably a crook), or a useful idiot (unlikely).
The way the Plutocrats use the two party system is like good cop, bad cop. The good cops are the Democrats, off to the rescue to appease the disgruntled masses. Except they always seem to have an excuse to fail – the evil Republicans. They would be the bad cops. They serve as a sledgehammer, constantly knocking the Overton Window to the right. Making it easier for the Democrats to fail.
It is all a charade. They all work for the same little group of asshole, mostly bankers and/or the oil and energy cartel. (the intersection of these groups is quite fascinating)
The exact song and dance act they perform on behalf of their clients, the Plutocrats, varies as needed. But regardless of the play, it’s almost always to the benefit of the Plutocrats. Of course, the greatest function the parties serve is to keep the public as evenly divided as possible. Think about this:
Ever heard the expression divide and conquer? How bout divide by 50% and conquer quicker? We have millions and millions of people. What are the odds of our population being so consistently, evenly divided for so long? Kennedy and Nixon, 1960, down to Chicago? How did Barack Obama’s approval rating drop to, surprise, 51%?
The function of the media is to set the debate, and keep the people evenly split. If one side starts to pull ahead, they get taken down a notch or two. This doesn’t require a conspiracy. It is almost automatic. But it is intentional.
It was almost exactly 40 years ago that Lewis Powell wrote his infamous memo – a call to arms for big business to get serious, take control of the American political and cultural centers, and RECREATE AMERICAN SOCIETY.
This is what we have seen. The deliberate, well funded, and quite successful re-engineering of American society to be selfish, short sighted, materialistic, and uneducated.
Congratulations. Look around.
The two party system is simply the means by which to turn the American public against itself while the Plutocrats pillage the common wealth. Remember the common wealth?
Forty years later, after the Powell Memo launched the greatest political campaign no one has even heard of, what have they accomplished? They have gutted this country.
We have been gutted. All of our common wealth, from infrastructure, schools, parks, government services, are all starved to death. Our communities, towns, cities are in ruin, complete with their own war zones.
Our families have been decimated, with unprecedented rates of divorce, domestic violence, unwanted pregnancies and teen suicides.
This was an attack. A full scale assault on our very way of life. And no one ever even knew it was happening. Well, no one except for the US Senate, much of the House of Representatives, and the last four presidents.
I will do anything within the framework of the US Constitution to stop this attack. What about you?
Oct 16 2009
A moment of truth came down on Keith Olbermann and Alan Grayson last night. After playing Olberman’s usual game of ‘make a point then bring out a rent-a-pundit or a guest to agree with him’, the guest, congressman Grayson, was asked what to do about the Democrats who are, to say the least, as beholden to the health insurance companies as the Republicans.
Oct 11 2009
…since I can remember.
BILL MOYERS: Let — let’s look at this story that just– I just read from the Associated Press this week about how Treasury Secretary Geithner is on the phone several times a day with a select group of very powerful Wall Street bankers, especially Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs. He will talk to them when Members of Congress have to leave a message on the answering machine. And these are the bankers who helped bring on this calamity and who are now benefiting from it. What does that say to you?
MARCY KAPTUR: That says to me that– Wall Street and Washington is a circuit. And because Mr. Geithner headed the New York Fed that that historic relationship, unfortunately, continues. And it gives them special access and special power to influence policy.
SIMON JOHNSON: Well, I think it really tells you how the– the system works. The system is based on access and is based on– on what– on Wall Street shaping Washington’s view of what’s important. It’s the people who are very close to Mr. Geithner before– when he was the head of the New York Fed. Before he became Treasury Secretary. These people have unparalleled access. And in a crisis, when everything is up for grabs, you don’t know what’s going on, the people who– who will take your phone calls, right, in government– and people who are gonna be standing in the oval office, making the key decisions. That– that’s the– that’s the heart of the system. That’s the– the heart of how– you get your agenda through, by changing their worldview.
MARCY KAPTUR: And they also move people. In other words, Mr. Geithner came from the New York Fed, he came from Wall Street, and he becomes Secretary of the Treasury. His– his– predecessor, Mr. Paulson, came from Goldman Sachs, and he becomes Secretary of Treasury. You can go back decades, and you will see that there’s this– revolving door between Wall Street and Washington. And I recently asked Chairman Bernanke of the Federal Reserve, “Let me ask you a question. Would you be willing to consider a reform where the Cleveland Fed would have equal power to the New York Fed, in terms of how the Fed is run?” And his answer was, “No.”
BILL MOYERS: And why did you ask that question?
MARCY KAPTUR: Because I think we need to democratize the Fed. I think that my region of the country, which is suffering so heavily from these decisions that were made by Wall Street and Washington, we need to have voice. And our bankers, who didn’t do the bad things. Our community bankers, who are having to pay higher fees– shouldn’t be treated this way. Why should the people who did it right be penalized for those that did it wrong?
Oct 08 2009
We had been talking a lot about computerized voting machines in the Leftopshere in the leadup to the 2004 election. Over at Daily Kos I even made the front page when Meteor Blades promoted my diary urging people to get serious about it.
Then, all of the sudden, just weeks before the election, “people” started popping up everywhere attacking anyone who questioned allowing private contractors to count our votes in secret. And when things didn’t quite add up after the election, things really got nasty.
I spent about a week trying to trace some of the sockpuppets who showed up every time anyone posted on election fraud or the perils of computerized voting. The results of that investigation were inconclusive. The internet can be quite anonymous if you know how and all I discovered was that there was an entire ring of these sockpuppets. I traced one account to Ohio. Who knows.
I also spent days backtracking to find any place where Bev Harris actually discredited herself by making false claims or any other impeachable offense. I COULDN”T FIND IT. What I found instead were just more sockpuppets making unsubstantiated claims, spreading lies and innuendo, and never, even backing any of it up with hard evidence even when that was demanded of them.
Harris did make a mistake which I remember in real time. She announced that she had a big bombshell down in Florida and then, as far as I could tell, never really dropped it. Maybe I missed it. Regardless, this led many to think she made it up. It certainly led me to question her credibility.
It was only when the HBO documentary, Hacking Democracy, came out that I saw that she had in fact caught a big story. Was it wise to wait for a documentary deal to air it? I won’t say. But her story had been big: she caught red handed a bunch of election officials manipulating votes and destroying evidence.
Finally watching that documentary on HBO, and seeing for the first time the evidence that Harris had talked about back in those crazy days following Kerry’s defeat, and thousand and thousands of blog posts claimed didn’t exist, I felt Harris had been utterly vindicated. Imperfect for sure, but here was a person who actually walked the walk. She got off of her ass, left her computer for a while, and went out to fight for our democracy and our country. I still think she’s an American hero.
And then I thought of all the little sleazebags who made sport of attacking her. I mean that kind of hate was usually reserved for Rush Limbaugh. And every time I asked for specific evidence against her, all I got was, “Everybody knows” she’s this or that. Everybody knows. That’s actually what the Daily Kos frontpager “brownsox” said. And I won’ t even mention what kind of vitriol spewed from the lips of rabid dog DHinMI. Turns out no one even needed evidence once “Bev is bad” had become a meme.
And the hate wasn’t reserved for Bev Harris. Before long, anyone who laid claim to the issue of voting integrity became enemy number one at Daily Kos and other Democratic blogs. And after a while, a lot of people just gave up on the issue. I know I did. There is really no issue that gets me more upset. So I had to back off to prevent a coronary. Seriously.
So it is not surprising that I hadn’t seen this video. Maybe some of you missed it as well. If so, watch for a reminder of why your government and your president’s attempts to put the criminal Bush presidency behind us are simply unacceptable.
The entire corrupt Washington establishment is now trying to pretend that the previous eight years was just a difference of opinion. A different philosophy. They want to ignore the treason and war crimes and out and out unconstitutionality of that “presidency” so they can repeat it when necessary. The next time they want a war, or other illegal act, they now have a template to follow. They must protect the template.
And Barack Obama is at best an accomplice after the fact. At worst, he’s just Act II in a game of good cop, bad cop. Either way, it doesn’t matter. He’s guilty.
Now watch Dan Rather’s most important report of his life that, if you’ve been seeing too much orange, you probably missed.
UPDATE: Oh Yeah. Here’s Hacking Democracy.