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This Was The Week That Was In Doom August 12, 2013

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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on August 12, 2013

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Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 

“To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”:

~Nuremburg War Tribunal regarding wars of aggression

“A Society that is in its higher circles and middle levels widely believed to be a network of smart rackets does not produce men with an inner moral sense; a society that is merely expedient does not produce men of conscience. A society that narrows the meaning of “success” to the big money and in its terms condemns failure as the chief vice, raising money to the plane of absolute value, will produce the sharp operator and the shady deal. Blessed are the cynical, for only they have what it takes to succeed.”

The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills

Hiroshima Nuclear-Bomb

Post your comments here on the Diner Forum.

In reply to a teabagger troll inside the Doomstead Diner Forum this week, I opined that the act of dropping atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was tantamount to selling of the American soul to the devil.  Was dropping those bombs militarily necessary?   My correspondent averred that “The bombs were dropped, the Japanese surrendered,”  Which to my reading of history is a post hoc ergo proctor hoc  logical fallacy.  I say this because history is always written by the winners, and serious leaders in positions of responsibility for securing victory during World War II asserted that dropping atomic weapons was not necessary. Senior military men including Adm. William D. Leahy, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D Eisenhower, and even the US Strategic Bombing Survey all agreed that dropping the bombs was militarily unnecessary. From 70 years remove, it is virtually forgotten that Japan offered to surrender in July of 1945, and that the US government ignored the proffer.

Much is made of the Japanese plan for the defense of the home islands, called “Ketsu-go.”  Near the end of 1944, the Japanese high command  had lost a succession of naval battles, including losing the Mariana Islands and the Battle of the Philippine Sea, at a cost of men and materiel not easily replaced. Japan’s planners realized that the decisive battle was likely to be fought on Japan’s main islands. They planned accordingly. Sources say that Japanese strategists predicted correctly that Americans would assault Iwo Jima and then Okinawa, where the Japanese hoped fierce resistance would force a negotiated peace. The Japanese also prepared for an invasion of Japan from Okinawa. They calculated the range of American fighter planes, and predicted correctly where the landing would be — on the island of Kyushu, and from there on to Tokyo. The Japanese called this plan Ketsu-Go, which I am unable to translate, but which either seems to mean “conclusion” and/or “a bite on the ass.” Or maybe both.

bomb-exploding-nagasaki

Yet by spring 1945, the emperor had his doubts. He sent an envoy to Russia to ask the Soviet Union to mediate an end to the war. The emperor and his war cabinet also faced reports citing depletion of Japanese industry, likely food shortages, poor harvests leading to mass starvation, and concern about popular unrest. The Imperial Navy was done and the Imperial Army in China was fully occupied with Chinese resistance forces  Facing this evidence, it was likely that Japan’s war planners were seeking a decisive battle sooner rather than later before their situation became so desperate that they could not even mount such a resistance.

 

On July 27,  Japan’s government ignored the Allied ultimatum from Potsdam, warning of “prompt and utter destruction” unless it surrendered unconditionally.  It was still waiting to hear back from Uncle Joe.  In the fullness of time, Russian invaded Manchuria, and the race for Japan was on.

 

 skulls hiroshimaEven George Marshall, who supported Truman’s decision to drop the bombs, said that the bombs were dropped for political rather than military reasons, not the least of which was to send a message to Russia and Stalin. It is this act that opened Pandora’s box.   The act was a message to the Soviet Union and Stalin.  It was rooted in the capitalists’ dread of communism; remember that Truman succeeded Henry Wallace on the 1944 ticket as the candidate for vice president, as Wallace was seen as too sympathetic to socialist causes. The red scares whipped up by Hoover in the post-World War I era were still within living memory of many of the people serving in Roosevelt’s administration, and fear of Godless Communism informed the defense posture and foreign policy of postwar America. It was this fear which led America  from its republican origins to the sort of garrison state that would routinely overturn governments from Iran to Central America to Argentina and Chile, and then on to Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Fear gave us the atomic weapons arms race, the Cold War, and several generations of existential dread, now culminating in a national security state that serves only corporate interests and war profiteers, and whose moral framework is indistinguishable from that of the Mongol horde.

 

Indeed, what real moral distance is spanned between employing nuclear weapons of mass distraction on a helpless civilian population, and the “double tap” employed by our drone operators on first responders to drone attacks? You’ll not readily find such information in the corporate media. One has to look far afield even to be vaguely informed about what our government does in our name, and how the rest of the world feels about it. And we sit, complicit, in silence.

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In related news, “Breaking Bad” opens its fifth and final season tonight. “Breaking Bad” is in itself a study of how a good man can go wrong, and how evil, like cancer, can metastasize within us. This series can be enjoyed both as a gripping tale of money and power in the American southwest, and as a vivid allegory for contemporary American life.  “Breaking Bad” references our capacity for self-delusion, how money replaces values, how evil can grow like cancer even in the mildest of men, and how terror can become a commonplace. Hannah Arendt’s famous quote about the “banality of evil” is clearly on display. “Breaking Bad” illustrates what happens when murder becomes part of your skill set. And those of us not willing to murder yet sit, silently complicit. Part of the appeal of this program is that many of us recognize Walter White dwelling just below the surface in many people we meet, in corporate life, and sometimes even in the mirror.

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The Double-Tap

Bureau Investigation Finds Fresh Evidence of CIA Drone Strikes on Rescuers

One hopes it is not overly difficult to see the direct line between the decision to drop weapons of mass distraction 70 years ago and the decisions made, now on a daily basis, to wage warfare by remote control. These techniques have in common faceless incineration and death from above, now apparently commonplace and well accepted techniques of statecraft.  investigators find the CIA is deliberately targeting rescuers, or 1st responders after drone strikes. For his part, the CIA vigorously denies the charge.

A field investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in Pakistan’s tribal areas appears to confirm that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) last year briefly revived the controversial tactic of deliberately targeting rescuers at the scene of a previous drone strike. The tactic has previously been labelled a possible war crime by two UN investigators.

The Bureau’s new study focused mainly on strikes around a single village in North Waziristan – attacks that were aimed at one of al Qaeda’s few remaining senior figures, Yahya al-Libi. He was finally killed by a CIA drone strike on June 4 2012.

The Bureau’s field researcher found five double-tap strikes took place in mid-2012, one of which also struck a mosque

Congressional aides have previously been reported as describing to the Los Angeles Times reviewing a CIA video showing Yahya al-Libi alone being killed. But the Bureau’s field research appears to confirm what others reported at the time – that al-Libi’s death was part of a sequence of strikes on the same location that killed up to 16 people.

If correct, that would indicate that Congressional aides were not shown crucial additional video material.

The CIA has robustly rejected the charge. Spokesman Edward Price told the Bureau: ‘The CIA takes its commitment to Congressional oversight with the utmost seriousness. The Agency provides accurate and timely information consistent with our obligation to the oversight Committees. Any accusation alleging otherwise is baseless.

Read the report for yourself here.

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Is the Government Out to Eat You?

A man named Paul Rosenberg runs a website called Freeman’s Perspective. In spite of the fact that Rosenberg is an avowed  “adventure capitalist” he appears to also have been a successful engineer, government consultant, educator. Even though he has many perspectives that I personally do not agree with, often I find his perspectives useful and challenging my own views. Like the article submitted for your edification, below.

Given the fact that so much of what we do on the Diner runs on the Internet, and to a significant extent my own livelihood depends on the internet’s continued function and well-being, when a writer has written the first ever standard for the installation of fiber optic cables, as has Rosenberg, I assume he has something useful to say.

This graph is a very typical display of the predator/prey relationship. It comes from a study on rabbits and coyotes, but the relationship is the same for all predator/prey tandems, from tiny parasites and their hosts to lions and antelopes. The predators always overfeed until the prey can no longer sustain them, then most of them die and the rest wait for the prey to replenish themselves.

It works in the same way for human governance. You are the rabbits; the rulers are the coyotes.

 

 

By his own admission, Rosenberg often looks at economic matters from the perspective of the rabbits. This time, if he looks at it from the perspective of the coyotes. Many things become clear:

Rulership is an exercise in skimming. Think of your own interactions with your government – the primary exchange is that they take some of your production. This occurs in many ways: when you get a paycheck, when you pay your electric bill or phone bill, when you get a license plate for your car, every time you pay sales tax, and so on. Rulership lives on the skim.

In order to maintain the skim, a ruler has several mental tools:

Claims of necessity. Make people fear that without the ruler, monstrous foreigners will invade and make things much, much worse.

Inertia. Once people are moving in any given direction (such as paying the skim as a matter of course), they will tend to keep moving that way until an outside force deflects or stops them.

Tradition. This is the story that it has always been this way, and that your grandparents (and their grandparents) have all lived this way and called it righteous. Tradition displaces analysis. At the gate of analysis (deciding if the skim is or isn’t good for you), tradition stands as a guardian saying, “You shall not pass.” To analyze would be to spit in tradition’s face.

Fear of standing alone. The friends of rulership can be counted on to present images of conformity and to exalt the concept of unity. The effect of this is to raise the price of non-conformity. To question the skim, you must face the fear of becoming an outcast.

Disguising fear. This is crucial and multifaceted. Rather than saying, “Pay taxes or armed men will imprison you,” for example, they must appeal to patriotism, shared sacrifice, helping the poor, or something. Of course it is true that people only pay because of fear, but that truth should not be seen. A plausible substitute must be provided.

From this perspective, of the coyote, “maintaining the skim” seems to be BAU in the FSA.  This weekend, where I live in southeastern Virginia, social media has been ablaze with notices of state patrol cars lying in wait on major arteries, doubtless to help state patrolman book their monthly quota of fees. To Charles Hugh Smith’s “tax donkeys and debt serfs,”  add “fine and fee monkeys.”

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New Study Finds High Levels of Arsenic in Groundwater Near Fracking Sites

Brian Fontenot and Kevin Schug, two of the authors of a new study that ties fracking to arsenic contamination. (University of Texas Arlington)

Pro Publica this week published an article about a study that found high levels of arsenic in groundwater near fracturing sites. An article by Theodoric Meyer includes a Q&A with Brian Fontenot, whose research gives the latest indication that fracking may be tied to arsenic contamination.
 The levels of heavy metals appear to be many times higher near fracturing sites that occurs naturally without fracking. Also, the fluid used for fracking remains proprietary to the energy companies, who resist revealing the contents. Thus it is left to sciences to investigate after the fact, and after the groundwater has been destroyed.
Here’s an excerpt:

We found that there were actually quite a few examples of elevated constituents, such as heavy metals, the main players being arsenic, selenium and strontium. And we found each of those metals at levels that are above EPA’s maximum contaminate limit for drinking water.

These heavy metals do naturally occur in the groundwater in this region. But we have a historical dataset that points to the fact that the levels we found are sort of unusual and not natural. These really high levels differ from what the groundwater used to be like before fracking came in. . . .

We also found a few samples that had measureable levels of methanol and ethanol, and these are two substances that don’t naturally occur in groundwater. They can actually be created by bacterial interactions underwater, but whenever methanol or ethanol occur in the environment, they’re very fleeting and transient. So for us to be able to actually randomly take a grab sample and detect detectable methanol and ethanol — that implies that there may be a continuous source of this.

You found levels of arsenic in areas with fracking that were almost 18 times higher than in areas without fracking or in the historical data. What would happen to someone who drank that water?

Arsenic is a pretty well-known poison. If you experience a lot of long-term exposure to arsenic, you get a lot of different risks, like skin damage, problems with the circulatory system or even an increased risk of cancer. The levels that we found would not be a lethal dose, but they’re certainly levels that you would not want to be exposed to for any extended period of time.

 Studies like this always require further research.  Arsenic occurs naturally in many formations, and it may be that the process of tracking, rather than the fluids themselves, and disturbed this natural occurrence.But one of the reasons the research is not done is because the energy extraction industries don’t want to do it, and don’t want to see it done. In a rational world frackers would be obliged to perform this research prior to drilling, but that would be bad for profits. Once again, profits are privatized, while risks and costs are socialized and borne by we mere commons.

Keep in mind  that the energy extraction industry is enthusiastically abetted by Republicans and neoliberal Democrats,  who operate by an ethical system that permits the sacrifice of the lives of many to further enrich a few.

If you care about these matters, the rest of the Pro Publica article is well worth your time.

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Can Activists Win the PR Battle With the Fossil Fuel Industry? 

This TransCanada PowerPoint slide depicting anti-pipeline activists was used to brief the FBI and law enforcement officials. (Tar Sands Blockade)

In Waging Nonviolence 
Adam Federman reports: “Until recently the energy industry has been able to keep its hardball tactics largely out of public view. But if state, federal and corporate surveillance of environmental activists continues, the noisy millions … might have even more reason to join the fight.”

More evidence that rust never sleeps.  Remember those “fusion centers” created by Homeland Security with our tax dollars? Well, now they work in collusion with privatized intelligence gathering and security apparatus directly for the benefit of corporations,  against protesters, activists and others who dare oppose the privatization and profit extraction of the Commons.

In mid-June, Bold Nebraska — a grassroots environmental organization opposed to construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline — obtained documents that detail how local and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the company responsible for building the pipeline, are working together to undermine peaceful political protest. The documents revealed that the company, TransCanada, had briefed the FBI as well as law enforcement officials — district attorneys, attorney generals and county sheriffs — in Oklahoma and Nebraska on the potential threat posed by environmental activists and local landowners. In their PowerPoint presentation the company suggested that district attorneys should explore “state or federal anti-terrorism laws” in prosecuting activists and provided a crude dossier on the key organizers. They also included a list of individuals previously arrested for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience in Texas and Oklahoma.

There is a long history of corporations and the state acting in concert to suppress environmental activism. But in recent years the relationship has deepened. This is in part a function of the post-9/11 national security state, which has placed a premium on information sharing between Department of Homeland Security fusion centers, local law enforcement officials and the private sector. In fact, on the same day that TransCanada delivered its presentation to Nebraska law enforcement officials, a representative of the Nebraska Information Analysis Center, a Department of Homeland Security fusion center, also briefed participants on the agency’s information-sharing network. According to emails exchanged before the meeting and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request, “The NIAC will brief on our intelligence sharing role/plan relevant to the pipeline project and provide an overview of a project we are working on.”

The article goes on to say the corporations engaging in espionage on activists are not bound by the regulations that  governmental agencies are obliged to follow, at least in theory.

“They don’t have to abide by the U.S. attorney manual on spying guidelines,” Regan said. “They don’t even have to go through secretive FISA courts to hack into people’s computers or listen in on their cell phone calls.”

This is the world in which activists now find themselves. Not only must they contend with the sweeping surveillance powers of the state, brought to light most recently by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, but also the expanding — and essentially unregulated — corporate security and intelligence gathering network.

Yet activists continue undaunted. Public opposition to fracturing, the Keystone XL pipeline, and other attempts to confiscate the common enterprise has resulted in a number of highly visible campaigns that continue undaunted. The fact that public opposition continues to grow  like wildfire has corporate interests very worried.  As well they should be. As common citizens become more educated to the dangers posed by the current techniques of energy extraction industries, the numbers of those willing to participate in acts of protest and civil this immediate’s can only grow. As occupiers know, the only way to affect change is to mass people in the streets. Ham-handed techniques employed by the corporate state often assist activists in getting the word out.

Read the rest of the article here.  and in a related article, here’s how they do it.

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The Corporate Strategy to Win The War Against Grassroots Activists: Stratfor’s Strategies

It turns out that there is a template to corporations and governments use to disrupt, dissuade, and defuse popular movements. It certainly comes as no surprise to several former occupiers. And it turns out that it was developed by the founders of our good friends over at Stratfor

Steve Horn  Of the “Popular Resistance blog at Mint Press News published this thorough and magnificent article.  The article details the history of the groups that led to the formation of Stratfor,  the involvement of key individuals with Big Tobacco, and their current collaboration with government and the energy extraction industries (such as the American Petroleum Institute) to provide a highly sophisticated level of intelligence used to disrupt and oppose activist groups.

Unsurprisingly, they have a formula and use different take weeks on each of the four different sorts of dissenters and resisters.

 

Divide activists into four groups: Radicals, Idealists, Realists and Opportunists. The Opportunists are in it for themselves and can be pulled away for their own self-interest. The Realists can be convinced that transformative change is not possible and we must settle for what is possible.  Idealists can be convinced they have the facts wrong and pulled to the Realist camp.  Radicals, who see the system as corrupt and needing transformation, need to be isolated and discredited, using false charges to assassinate their character is a common tactic.

Let’s be clear about the kind of people were dealing with here. The attitude evinced below is typical of the true believer:

And how best to deal with “radicals” like Julian Assange, founder and executive director of WikiLeaks, and whistleblower Bradley Manning, who gave WikiLeaks the U.S. State Department diplomatic cables, the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and the “Collateral Murder” video? Bart Mongoven has a simple solution to “isolate” them, as suggested by Duchin’s formula.

“I’m in favor of using whatever trumped up charge is available to get [Assange] and his servers off the streets. And I’d feed that shit head soldier [Bradley Manning] to the first pack of wild dogs I could find,” Mongoven wrote in one email exchange revealed by the “Global Intelligence Files.” “Or perhaps just do to him whatever the Iranians are doing to our sources there.”

Indeed, the use of “trumped up charges” is often a way the U.S. government deals with radical activists, as demonstrated clearly during the days of the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Program during the 1960s, as well as in modern-day Occupy movement-related cases in Cleveland and Chicago.

The intelligences that Stratfor sells to corporate clients is, as the article asserts, “the information economy’s equivalent of guns.” Corporations wage war upon activists to ensure that power, profits, and control I had influenced by the actions of mere mortals. And the changes urged by activist becomes even more difficult in a political environment where corporate interests dominate with money, and corporate media offer little more than corporate press releases.

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 New Crash Footage Fuels Rumors Surrounding Journalist Michael Hastings’ Death

he newly released surveillance footage shows what appears to be an uncharacteristically bright explosion from the crash of journalist Michael Hastings’ car, killing him. (Photo/screen grab via YouTube)

Some weeks ago, journalist Michael Hastings was killed in a car crash in Los Angeles.  For those who do not know, Hastings was a reporter for BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone who gained an A-list reputation after he wrote the piece for Rolling Stone  that profiled Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Yes, THAT piece . . .
An odor of conspiracy surrounds this crash, including recent news about the vulnerability to hacking of on board computer systems on certain high-end vehicles via remote control.
Newly released surveillance footage shows what appears to be an uncharacteristically bright explosion from the crash.
According to San Diego 6 News, the new surveillance video provides new information about the incident, which some say may not have been an accident. As Mint Press News previously reported, hours before his death, WikiLeaks says the journalist contacted the organization’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, and said the FBI was investigating him.

The new surveillance footage “shows a flash of light appearing at the 13-14-second mark, the headlights are on at 14 seconds, but all lights are extinguished at the 16-second mark. The car then turns left and the first horizontal explosion appears just after the 16-second mark (it ejects the left front tire across northbound highland approximately 40-50 feet). The second explosion engulfs the engine compartment at the 17-second mark. The third and largest explosion consumes the passenger compartment at the 17-18-second mark.”

 This story continues to have legs, given the number of  anomalies surrounding it.  there are 2 explosions. The fire was more intense than a simple gasoline fire, which only burns at about 540°F. A palm tree that Hastings car hit had minimal damage, considering it was hit by a 3500 pound car supposedly moving at 100 mph, according to investigators.  But for all the unexplained facts surrounding this case, and the fact that some media outlets continue to speculate whether Hastings was targeted by the FBI, the Los Angeles police department has denied release of any information and close the case.

Laura Eimiller, the FBI’s Los Angeles spokeswoman, maintains the agency was not conducting an investigation involving Hastings.

 This little sewer grating outflow into the Internet is not closing the case.

 

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You’re Shitting Me, Right?

Time now for that portion of our program where the daily headlines have outstripped the imagination.  Follow the links to read the original articles.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Tuesday managed to insult both religious Americans and climate scientists while denying the existence of global warming.

During the kickoff for the Americans for Prosperity-sponsored “Bruce Braley Big Government Tour” in Fort Dodge, King explained that attempts to fight climate change were unnecessary and hurting the economy, according to The Messenger.

“It is not proven, it’s not science,” he insisted. “It’s more of a religion than a science.”

The Republican congressman said that scientists are too focused on the bad impacts of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“Everything that might result from a warmer planet is always bad in [climate scientists’] analysis,” he opined. “There will be more photosynthesis going on if the Earth gets warmer… And if sea levels go up 4 or 6 inches, I don’t know if we’d know that.”

King told the crowd that sea levels could not be precisely measured.

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Louie Gohmert: Global Warming Isn’t Real Until ‘My Pool Overflows’

Sometimes, they just write themselves.

WASHINGTON – Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) today dismissed a recent report that showed evidence for drastic climate change in 2012, saying that he’ll “believe it when [he] sees it.” According to Gohmert, the report—which was authored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and documented rising sea levels, among other climatic changes—is “a bunch of voodoo science,” that he won’t accept until “the ocean’s on [his] own front doorstep.”
Gohmert—who does not believe that human activity contributes to global warming—admitted that he hadn’t actually read the report. “Rising sea levels? Melting ice caps? Well now, if that were true, how come the water in my pool isn’t any higher than it was last year?”
According to the report, in 2012 many indicators of global warming intensified appreciably. Sea levels reached record levels, and the researchers documented “dramatic spikes in ocean heat content, a record melt of Arctic sea ice in the summer, and whopping temporary melts of ice in most of Greenland.”  Such measurements led Deke Arndt, co-author of the report, to conclude that climate indicators are “all singing the same song that we live in a warming world.”

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#NoNeedToSatirize: Santorum: Liberals ‘make it uncomfortable’ to shower at the YMCA

Why this particular creature continues to get news coverage is a matter of continued concern and befuddlement. The last time this humunculus stood for electoral office in his home state, the people who knew him best thrashed him like a rented mule, as he lost by double digit margins.  Proving that voters in Pennsylvania still maintain some capacity for discrimination between fact and fiction, which is more than we can save for this entity.

 

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum recently told a group of students that they needed to fight for conservative values in “every aspect of your life” because liberals who support abortion rights even “make it uncomfortable” to shower at the YMCA if you disagree with their views.

In a video clip posted by Right Wing Watch on Tuesday, Rick Santorum told the group Students for Life that the truth would only win “if you have the passion, winsomeness and charity to bring to this debate, to bring it to your communities, to bring it to every aspect of your life.”

“You see, what the left does, what the pro-choice movement does is they just don’t focus on their little issue, they focus on everything they do and every aspect of their life,” he explained. “They make it uncomfortable for students who come to Austin to shower at a young men’s Christian association YMCA gym.”

“Because they live it. They’re passionate. They’re willing to do and say uncomfortable things in mixed company. They’re willing to make the sacrifice at their business because they care enough… They simply won’t give up. We have the truth and we give up! We have righteousness and we give up because it’s unpopular!”

Santorum exists as a political force largely because he can “energize the base,” otherwise tossed red meat to the evangelicals, Christian conservatives and Aryan brotherhood types who have managed to stuff themselves in the clown car of the drooling right. Yet, as Charles Pierce has observed about Scott Walker, “do not sleep on this one.” While we may snicker and shake our heads, this sort of divisive, us–against–them commentary serves to further poison an already toxic political climate.

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#NoNeedToSatirize: Nugent: ‘People who hate Ted Nugent hate freedom.’ 

We are thinking not. We’re thinking perhaps there are just people who hate Ted Nugent who hate Ted Nugent.

 

 For my money, this next item is the topper for the week:

Gun rights advocate and right-wing provocateur Ted Nugent lashed out on Saturday at critics of his recent remarks on race and protesters who are trying to have his Tuesday show in New Haven, Connecticut canceled. The New Haven Register quoted an interview with Maine AM radio station WGAN, Nugent said that slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin was a “gangster wanna-be” who was motivated by “bloodthirst,” and that the teenager got what he deserved.

“People who hate Ted Nugent hate freedom,” the rocker alleged. “Trayvon got justice.”

Martin said that Martin’s violent tendencies were to blame for the escalation of his confrontation with George Zimmerman. He also accused the teen of racism for calling Zimmerman a “cracka.”

Nugent called a group of petitioners who want his August gig at the nightclub Toad’s Place in New Haven canceled “subhuman numbnuts.” He said that the Obama administration and Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder are “just bad people,” although, he said, it “pains” him to have to say so.

Connecticut petitioner Barbara Fair said that she and other protesters are against Nugent playing in the same state where the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre took place. She told the Register that Nugent’s views are not what the protest is about, but what he says on the national stage, including his racist rants since the George Zimmerman verdict, in which he blamed African-Americans for their own oppression. He also criticized Trayvon Martin’s parents, saying they should ask themselves why they raised a gangsta wannabe, Skittles hoodie boy.”

 Tracking the remarks of people like Da Nuge  makes an old man despair of being a member of the human race in what’s left of the United States of America.  Part of the endless, self-referential torrent of bullshit that passes for mass media these days depends on the Ted Nugents  and Ann Coulters and Michael Savages of the world saying things so outrageous that they pass the bounds of decency, thus further weakening the bounds of decency for the next  assault, as they drop their pants, squat down and squeeze out yet another opinion that would have been unthinkable to utter 20 years ago.

This franchise will be dormant for the next week, possibly two.  Family events, out-of-town visitors, and a beach wedding are at hand. Arrangements to make, fatted calves to slay, etc. And I have other articles in the queue that have suffered from lack of time to fully investigate and complete. So perhaps I will do that with the odd remaindered bits of time that I may find in the next week or so. I appreciate your indulgence; the hiatus may keep me from opening a vein.

Meanwhile, don’t forget that we operate a reasonably vibrant Facebook page, that reflects key postings on the diner forum, articles from the Diner blog, plus articles of interest from many usual suspects around the blogosphere at https://www.facebook.com/DoomsteadDiner.

Plus Kudos to JD for yeoman work in standing up the Diner Twitter feed, already vibrant with activity, and enough to make an old man get a twitter account. Damn it. Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666

–Surly1
@Surly01

Podcast: Surly on OWS & Empowerment

Off the Microphones of Surly & Monsta

Aired on the Doomstead Diner on June 20, 2013

logopodcast

Discussion at the Podcast Table inside the Diner

For Diner newcomers, by means of introduction, I am a man who came late to political activism, but who found himself in the streets as a vocal and active supporter of the Occupy movement in the fall of 2011. As I described in the first podcast, I got involved not so much for myself but for my daughters generation, who are being systematically fleeced of the opportunity to have a stable future due to the state sanctioned depredations of a handful of central bankers and vulture capitalists.

Occupiers came from all political persuasions and coalesce around a couple of common themes of political and economic justice. The “Move Your Money” effort for people to move their money from megabanks to local banks or credit unions was one; the “Move to Amend” effort to create a groundswell of support for an amendment to erase the “Citizens’ United” decision and get money out of politics was another.

The Occupy moment was a symptom than people were fed up with the current system. And the system lashed out with a terrible urgency against peaceful protestors. And there was no popular hue and cry because in the end, most people simply don’t want to hear it. Most possess a normalcy bias so profound they cannot accept new information that their way of life is coming to an end. Which was one of the subtexts of Occupy.

In this Podcast with Monsta666, I answer questions about my own experience with Occupy, and the small group dynamics that put stresses on any group, let alone one that is leaderless by definition. We also discuss what the elites think (hint: not much), what happens when the desire for justice becomes the desire for vengeance, and the consequences of what occurs when the just-in-time 72-hour shipping paradigm crashed and burns.

Podcast: Politics & Mass Media

Off the Microphones of Surly & Monsta

logopodcast

Discuss this at the Podcast Table inside the Diner

In this interview with Monsta, Surly discusses his involvement with OWS, the reportage of the MSM, Union and Labor Movements and the future for the next generation inheriting the flotsam of the Age of Oil.

RE

The Week That Was In Doom June 2, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 2, 2013

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Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

Time once again to indulge ourselves with a survey of doom–and doom–related news culled from the seedier corners of the Internet. It was a week in which Occupy Wall Street retook liberty Square, in sympathy with Turkish occupiers, while in Greece a resurgent Golden Dawn reared its fascist head in Athens streets. Giant storms in Oklahoma brought out a well-practiced chorus of climate change deniers. Meanwhile, the troglodyte right in this country exhibited its well oiled, much practiced victim pose routine in fanning the flames of the IRS tax scandal, while the esteemed solons of the Senate voted once again to deny states permission to tell people whether or not they are eating genetically modified food, the reputation of PBS lies in tatters as they stand exposed as abject whores, a Chinese concern purchases a major American food processor–what could possibly go wrong?

So let’s review the bidding.

 

OWS retakes Liberty Square
Occupy Wall Street as plan 3 days of activities in retaking liberty Square, ostensibly in support of Turkish occupiers being faced down by riot police in Istanbul right now. The Occupy Wall Street website lists a 3 day agenda of activities.

The organizing website can be found here.

Events can also be viewed on live stream. Some very stirring video, to be sure.

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Meanwhile, in Greece:

One of the more dependable things about  austerity and other self-inflicted economic wounds is that it  brings out the right wing in dependable fashion. The history of the 20th century is littered with such movements, and it’s a formula that works again and again. The right becomes the brownshirts, the muscle , or “useful idiots” for the plutocrats who actually pulling the strings and who hope to orchestrate wealth transfer and social dislocation that will redound to their advantage.

Members and supporters of Golden Dawn chant the national anthem in front of the Greek parliament. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Golden Dawn: ‘Greece belongs to Greeks. Long live victory!’

Like the soldiers on whom they model themselves, the Greeks who subscribe to the ultra-nationalist, neo-fascist dogma of Golden Dawn are the first to say they are at war. This week, as Antonis Samaras’s coalition government struggled to contain an escalating crisis over efforts to curb the extremists, it was they who appeared to be winning that war.

Amid a dramatic surge in attacks on immigrants blamed on the neo-Nazis, the debt-stricken country’s ruling alliance has come under unprecedented pressure to crack down on racially motivated crimes. Legislation calling for a ban on parties perceived to incite such violence was proposed by prime minister Samaras’s two junior leftist partners last month. Claiming that it would “victimise” Golden Dawn, which has 18 of the 300 MPs in parliament, the conservative groups last week rejected the bill as counterproductive. On Friday they put forward their own, less punitive law.

As parliament prepares to debate how best to apply legislation that will curb the party, – measures that have unexpectedly electrified the political scene – the far right is flourishing in the knowledge that, in a country reeling from the twin ills of austerity and despair, it is they who are in the ascendant.

 

Rising Hegemon adds this:

Clear political indications of what Austerity can do for a country:

It wasn’t just that their symbols looked like swastikas. Or that thousands of Greek flags filled the marble square beneath the Acropolis. Or that they were marking the 560th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople.

It was that there were so many of them. Angry men and angry women furiously screaming “Greecebelongs to Greeks” in the heart of ancient Athens, as tourists – some befuddled, some shocked – looked on or fled at the sight of neo-Nazis coming to town.

“Now we are in the thousands,” thundered Nikos Michaloliakos, the bespectacled mathematician who leads Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party. “Long live victory!”

It is always instructive to note how the lack of democratic input into the policy process always seems to result in a movement that will ensure even less democratic input in the process; namely fascism. Greece is well on its way, and as RE often says, “coming soon to a theater near you.”

 

The Stupid, It Burns


Oklahoma suffered its second set of giant tornadoes within the space of about a week. Not for nothing do they call this section of the country “tornado alley,” as it traditionally funnels cold air from the north as it meets meets warm air rising from the South at the Rockies and heads due east. This is not news. What is news is the alacrity with which the representatives of the people who live in the state engage in a remarkable set of hypocrisies. Not only do they insist on immediate aid for Oklahomans while having denied the same sort of response to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, but they also rush to practice their well-rehearsed victim pose routine, denying that climate change is making these traditional and not wholly unexpected storms much bigger and much more dangerous than they used to be.

Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, a Republican, accused the “liberal media” of exploiting the devastating tornado in Oklahoma to push its climate change “agenda.”

“The liberal media is trying to exploit a tragedy to advance and expand its own agenda. And, believe me, the victims all know this,” Inhofe said in an interview with Newsmax, adding that news outlets that link the tornado to climate change ”do a great disservice to those who have experienced this tragedy.”

“We were being hit by tornadoes long before anyone talked about climate change, and even before it was called ‘global cooling,’ before it became ‘global warming,’ and then ‘climate change,’” he continued. “The same thing that happened last week happened 14 years ago, 25 years ago, and 30 years ago.”

Inhofe is one of Congress’s most adamant climate change deniers. He has repeatedly called it a hoax, and as recently as April of this year blamed the so-called hoax on George Soros, Moveon.org, and Michael Moore.

Why stop there? Blame it on Hugo Chavez, Al Gore and Vladimir Lenin while you’re at it.

 

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The real cost of low low prices everyday

 This article moved over the weekend, where most people will have missed it. Which is certainly the way Walmart and the scions of the Walton family would like it.

 

Walmart wages are so low that many of its workers rely on food stamps and other government aid programs to fulfill their basic needs, a reality that could cost taxpayers as much as $900,000 at just one Walmart Supercenter in Wisconsin, according to a study released by Congressional Democrats on Thursday.

Though the study assumes that most workers who qualify for the public assistance programs do take advantage of them, it injects a potent data point into a national debate about the minimum wage at a time when many Walmart and fast food workers are mounting strikes in pursuit of higher wages.

The study uses Medicaid data released in Wisconsin to piece together the annual cost to taxpayers for providing a host of social safety net programs, including food stamps and publicly subsidized health care, to workers at one Supercenter in the state.

According to the report, Walmart had more workers enrolled in the state’s public health care program in the last quarter of last year than any other employer, with 3,216 people enrolled. When the dependents of those workers were factored in, the number of enrollees came to 9,207.

“When low wages leave Walmart workers unable to afford the necessities of life, taxpayers pick up the tab,” the report says.

Under this last point, Rising Hegemon has a trenchant observation:

Now THIS is the way our political class…especially the Right…wants things to work.

So not only are their employees suffering, not only do those who lose their jobs because of Wal-Mart suffer, but EVERYBODY SUFFERS.

Well, not everybody.

The Walton family, heirs to the founders of the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. superchain, are worth nearly as much as the bottom half of American households combined.

 

The Waltons’ value — $89.5 billion in 2010 – is equal to the worth of the 41.5% of families at the lower end of the income ladder, according to an analysis by Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute. That comes out to 48.8 million households.

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  The  IRS “scandal” scandal

I confess to watching this kabuki theater unfold before me with a mixed sense of outrage and horror. Let’s review the bidding conservative groups, eager to take the hill upon which Karl Rove planted the flag when established crossroads GPS, that of saying “he’s going to break the law as much as he can,” rushed to take advantage of tax law that allows tax-exempt status to “social welfare” organizations as a mask for political activity. As a matter of policy, the IRS is supposed to give all 501(C)4  groups a thorough vetting.  So what we have here are a number of archconservative groups complaining, in essence, that we are not subsidizing their illegal political activity with our tax dollars. Do I have it right?

William Boardman asks, How does the IRS doing its job become a made-up political outrage?”

 

Almost everything you hear and read in the media about the current IRS “scandal” is based on deliberate falsification of basic facts. Some might call it lying.

Here’s a reasonably typical media-framing of the IRS lie, from the usually careful and accurate Economist, posted May 23: “Even before this month’s revelation that conservative political groups applying for 501(c)(4) status were being singled out for special scrutiny … “

You see this false framing of the IRS story across the media spectrum, from Infowars to ABC News and NBC News to the Economist to DemocracyNOW (the latter on May 24: “the scandal over the targeted vetting of right-wing groups …”). Even the usually reliable Wonkblog at the Washington Post doesn’t get the story right, apparently because it hasn’t read the relevant law.

An exception to this remarkable mental stampede in the wrong direction was Jeffrey Toobin (New Yorker, May 14) who wondered, “Did the I.R.S. actually do anything wrong?” His answer started to put the story in reasonable perspective, with a focus on tax law and political money: ” … the scandal isn’t what’s illegal – it’s what’s legal. It’s what society chooses not to punish that tells us most about the prevailing ethical standards of the time.”

Anatomy of a False Narrative – Lying, Laziness, Partisanship, What?

How is it that the conventional framing is dishonest? Here are some of the ways:

    1. It wasn’t a revelation. All kinds of people were aware of the underlying problem, that 501(c )(4) tax status abuse had been going on since 1959, and that it took a quantum leap after 2011, when the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the democratic process to money flooding that would be facilitated by the secrecy offered by the 501(c )(4) status.

 

    1. There were bi-partisan public hearings on the problem scheduled by the Senate well before the “scandal” broke. Anyone could look it up.

 

    1. As soon as the story broke, Lawrence O’Donnell (MSNBC’s “The Last Word”) was reporting accurately on the issue, rooted in the difference between a law that says 501(c )(4) organizations should be “exclusively” for social welfare and a 1959 IRS regulation that says, with Orwellian authority, that “exclusively” is to be interpreted to mean “primarily.” Too many reporters and others still do not get this, even though responsible research begins with these primary sources.

 

  1. No one was singled out. That’s right, no one was singled out. The problem with 501(c )(4) applications is that the IRS must review every one to see if the applicant qualifies for tax exempt status. Given the flood of applications from political groups of all sorts post-Citizens United, the IRS needed some way to make sure those applications were “primarily” for social welfare, even though political insiders knew that had been a joke for years (Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and MoveOn.org are both IRS-approved 501(c)(4) organizations, of which there are thousands – reportedly 97,382 in 2011).

And it goes on. And on. Stubborn things, facts. Meanwhile, Charlie Pierce sets us straight:

We like to stay ahead of over what subjects the folks in the monkeyhouse soon will be flinging the poo if, for no other reason, so as to be prepared to duck. It is in this spirit that we present to you one Wayne Allyn Root, who writes for Glenn Beck’s little website, and who would like you to know that the IRS is prepared to let conservatives die in the streets very, very soon.

This is the same IRS that asked questions such as “What books do your members read?” “What is the content of the PRAYERS of your members?” “Please send us all your Facebook posts” and “Send us the list of your donors.” Now they are in charge of your healthcare. Will the same litmus test be in place? Before granting approval for expensive medical treatment, will we be asked what groups we belong to? What books we read? What is the content of our prayers? Will they look at our Facebook postings before deciding if we’re worthy of receiving expensive medical care? Just as the groups who dared to teach American citizens about the U.S. Constitution were targeted and denied tax exempt status, will those of us who dare to believe in the U.S. Constitution be denied the health care we need to save our lives?

Yes, friends, that’s what’s coming. That’s going to be what you hear going forward. The IRS dumbassery is going to be the new “death panels.” People are going to argue on the radio, and on the TV, and in congressional town halls in the hinterlands, that the IRS is going to “enforce Obamacare” by doing to sick conservatives what they did to all those poor social-welfare organizations with the tricornered hats and the flintlocks. We’ve already got Republican politicians out in Ohio arguing this very point. 

Here at the Doomsday Diner, we leave no turn unstoned in an effort to bring you tomorrow’s  stupid today. And speaking of tomorrow stupid, if you are not familiar with the stylings of one Wayne Allyn Root, invest 5 min. of your life is viewing this clip, prepared by Jason Jones of Comedy Central as part of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. In it, Root, white-haired, freshly scrubbed, and as pink cheeked as one of Smithfield’s prized pigs, stands utterly undressed and exposed for the depraved hypocrite that he is. Must see TV, indeed.

Republican_Head-Up-Ass-2

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Letter from Loretto 

 

In one of the more poignant pieces of information to move this week, this letter from John Kiriakou emerged. If you are not familiar with this man, according to Wikipedia, he

is a former CIA analyst and case officer, former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former counter-terrorism consultant for ABC News, blogger for Huffington Post, and author. Kiriakou is notable as the first official within the U.S. government to confirm the use of waterboarding of al-Qaeda prisoners as an interrogation technique, which he described as torture.

On October 22, 2012, Kiriakou pled guilty to disclosing classified information about a fellow CIA officer that connected the covert operative to a specific operation. Kiriakou thus became the second C.I.A. officer convicted of violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and the first for passing along classified information to a reporter, although the reporter did not publish the name of the operative. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison on January 25, 2013 and reported to the low-security Federal correctional facility in Loretto, Pennsylvania to begin serving his term on February 28, 2013.

He is thus a prisoner of conscience languishing in the empire’s gulag, for the crime of exposing the empire’s illegal acts. He shares that notable distinction with Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. Thus does the Empire deal with whistleblowers. The letter itself is a fascinating insight into the realities of prison life, even in medium security prison.

The cafeteria, or “chow hall” was the most difficult experience of my first few days. Where should I sit? On my first day, two Aryans, completely covered in tattoos, walked up to me and asked, “Are you a pedophile?” Nope, I said. “Are you a fag?” Nope. “Do you have good paper?” I didn’t know what this meant. It turned out that I had to get a copy of my formal sentencing documents to prove that I wasn’t a child molester. I did that, and was welcomed by the Aryans, who aren’t really Aryans but more accurately self-important hillbillies.

The cafeteria is very formally divided. There is a table for the Aryans whites with good paper, a section of a table for the Native Americans, a section of a table for people belonging to a certain Italian-American stereotypical “subculture,” two tables for the Muslims, four tables for the pedophiles, and all the remaining tables for the blacks and hispanics. We don’t all eat at the same time, but each table is more-or-less reserved as I described.

Violence hasn’t been much of a problem since I arrived. There have been maybe a half-dozen fights, almost always over what television show to watch. The choices are pretty much set in stone between ESPN, MTV, VH1, BET and Univision. I haven’t watched TV since I got here. It’s just not worth the trouble. Otherwise, violence isn’t a problem. Most of the guys in here have worked their way down to a low-security prison from a medium or a maximum, and they don’t want to go back.

I’ve also had some luck in this regard. My reputation preceded me, and a rumor got started that I was a CIA hit man. The Aryans whispered that I was a “Muslim hunter,” but the Muslims, on the strength of my Arabic language skills and a well-timed statement of support from Louis Farrakhan have lauded me as a champion of Muslim human rights. Meanwhile the Italians have taken a liking to me because I’m patriotic, as they are, and I have a visceral dislike of the FBI, which they do as well. I have good relations with the blacks because I’ve helped several of them write commutation appeals or letters to judges and I don’t charge anything for it. And the Hispanics respect me because my cellmates, who represent a myriad of Latin drug gangs, have told them to. So far, so good.

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GMO Labeling Bill Voted Down In Senate
Within a week after over 2 million people in hundreds of cities in America and around the world marched in protest of Monsanto,the United States Senate once again decided that it simply does not want to let states tell people whether or not they are eating genetically modified food.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly — 71 to 27 – against an amendment to the sweeping farm bill, squashing a measure that would not have required labeling of genetically modified organisms, but merely would have let states decide if they wanted to require such labeling.

“The concept we’re talking about today is a fairly commonsense and non-radical idea,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the sponsor of the amendment, said shortly before the vote. “All over the world, in the European Union, in many other countries around the world, dozens and dozens of countries, people are able to look at the food that they are buying and determine through labeling whether or not that product contains genetically modified organisms.”

Sanders has noted that more than 3,000 ingredients are required to be labeled, but genetically modified ingredients are not part of that list. His state and Connecticut have passed laws to require such labeling, but Sanders said local leaders fear that large biotech corporations such as Monsanto could sue the states on the grounds that they are preempting federal authority. He said his bill would make clear that states can do what they want on the issue.

But Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the chair of the Agriculture Committee, argued that the measure “is not germane to the farm bill” in the first place. She also said the labels run counter to science and the public interest in healthy food.

“This particular amendment would interfere with the FDA’s science-based process to determine what food labeling is necessary for consumers,” Stabenow said.

And us we can see that people willing to sell out the public interest occupy both sides of the aisle.

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PBS Koch-suckers

This is a matter that hits somewhat close to home for me, as I spent 25 years of  a broadcast media career working in public television. By the time I left the business, I had reached a reasonably high-level executive position for one licensee, and I came to see how utterly craven and dependent upon the goodwill of funders and potential funders the ruling junta was.

People often think that university life must be wonderful for faculty: oh, to work in the halls of academe, and think the great thoughts, free from the obligations and petty scrabblings of commerce. Anyone who works for a university will eagerly dissuade you of that notion, as academe is often a nest of petty jealousies, jostlings for position and promotion, and competitions for tenure and parking. I entered public broadcasting full of utopian idealism, and left it with my eyes wide open as well. Like many nonprofits, a public broadcasting entity is not directly responsible to a bottom line so much as it is to the whims and caprices of a Board of Directors. So often, within the public broadcasting system, those well practiced at the courtiers’ arts will flourish at the expense of the ordinary and hard-working.

In contrast, for profit enterprises are, as I have come to learn, refreshingly straightforward. What matters is the bottom line. Produce, and you’re good. Fail to produce, and get a box for your shit.

So when Democracy Now moved this story, I must confess I found nothing surprising about it at all. Years ago, NPR news revealed itself to be apparatchiks of the Bush administration, using their hated term “enhanced interrogation” as a euphemism for waterboarding and torture. Thus is the language debased, thus is the propaganda catapulted, and thus to our institutions become corrupt. The need for money has corrupted the system front to back.

Filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal say plans for their new documentary to air on public television have been quashed after billionaire Republican David Koch complained about the PBSbroadcast of another film critical of him, “Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream,” by acclaimed filmmaker Alex Gibney. Lessin and Deal were in talks to broadcast their film, “Citizen Koch,” on PBS until their agreement with the Independent Television Service fell through. The New Yorker reports the dropping of “Citizen Koch” may have been influenced by Koch’s response to Gibney’s film, which aired on PBS stations, including WNET in New York late last year. “Citizen Koch” tells the story of the landmark Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court that opened the door to unlimited campaign contributions from corporations. It focuses on the role of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity in backing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has pushed to slash union rights while at the same time supporting tax breaks for large corporations. The controversy over Koch’s influence on PBS comes as rallies were held in 12 cities Wednesday to protest the possible sale of the Tribune newspaper chain, including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, to Koch Industries, run by David Koch and his brother Charles.

Read the entire article and see some video here. Where PBS’s management and development people went wrong was in taking money from David Koch in the first place. These people are not fools, and they had to have knownwho they were getting in bed with: a scion of a family remarkably ruthless in its machinations, an American Medici, with a rabidly partisan political agenda. I blame PBS.

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Smithfield:  What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Big news in South Eastern Virginia this week was the revelation that a Chinese concern made an offer to purchase local Fortune 500 companies Smithfield Foods, one of the nations, and suppliers of pork products.

 

China is hungry.

The world’s most populous country has for years been on an agricultural buying binge, scooping up supplies of soybeans, palm oil, cotton and just about anything else that can be culled from the soil.

Now, with 1.3 billion mouths to feed, the Asian giant is turning its eyes to meat.

On Wednesday, a Chinese meat processor agreed to purchase the world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods Inc., for $4.7 billion.

The deal, the largest-ever purchase of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm, underscores the rapidly evolving taste of China’s growing middle class, which is demanding more high-quality protein in a nation that has been beset by food safety scares.

But the deal also speaks to the increasingly dominant role of China in global agriculture.

Once limited to purchasing other nations’ crops on the open market, the world’s second-largest economy has steadily moved to take control of production. Over the last decade, it’s been buying up vast acreage overseas and spending billions to lock down long-term supplies of key staples. If approved by regulators, the Smithfield deal would give China one of the most prestigious names in the lucrative meat industry.

 This seems to be part of an overall buying spree for the Chinese, seem to be using their dollar surpluses to acquire food products and the ability to produce them for their growing populations.

But in recent years, the country has been on something of a food shopping spree. It more than doubled its investment in foreign agriculture between 2007 and 2010, according to the nation’s Ministry of Commerce.

The country has shored up the pipeline for soybeans — a crucial staple for humans, animals and biofuels in China — by pumping billions of dollars into land acquisition, farming and long-term crop purchase guarantees in Brazil and Argentina.

One recent deal, for example, had a Chinese grain and oil producer paying $7.5 billion and promising to build a railroad in exchange for a guaranteed supply of 6 million tons a year of Brazilian soybeans.

So insatiable has been China’s interest in South America’s fertile fields that both countries have passed laws limiting foreign ownership of arable land in recent years.

In Africa, China has been buying up supplies of cotton, while in Southeast Asia it’s invested heavily in crops as diverse as natural rubber, cashews and palm oil, which is used for food and also fuel.

Of course, the deal isn’t completely done yet. It is subject to government review and approval which it includes a consideration of food safety issues, as The Guardian explains:

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval by the committee on foreign investments in the United States. Several large takeovers by Chinese companies have been thwarted in the recent past. The most high-profile failure came in 2005 when China’s Cnooc bid $18.5bn for US oil firm Unoca, triggering a massive political backlash that ended with the House of Representatives issuing a resolution that the deal “would threaten to impair the national security of the United States”. The bid was withdrawn.

In 2008, Huawei Technologies backed out of a deal to acquire 3Com, maker of internet router and networking equipment, amid questions about the deal’s national security risks.

The largest successful Chinese takeover of a US firm to date is the $2.6bn acquisition of cinema chain AMC Theaters by Dalian Wanda – an entertainment conglomerate – in 2012. Chinese ownership of movie theatres did not trigger political ire.

Food security issues are likely to complicate issues for Shuanghui. In 2011, CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, found the company had produced and sold pork tainted with the banned drug clenbuterol. The chemical is a fat-burning additive sometimes used by bodybuilders that can cause nausea, heart problems and dizziness if consumed by humans.

More recently, China’s food industry has faced a number of scandals. In March, 9,000 dead pigs were found in the Huangpu river. There have also been recent reports of contamination of the Chinese meat supply from a bird-flu outbreak.

Smithfield, too, has been challenged by safety and work practice issues. The first confirmed case of H1N1 swine flu during the 2009 flu pandemic was a five-year-old boy living near a Smithfield subsidiary in Mexico. More than 600 residents living near the plant in La Gloria, Veracruz, were infected with a mysterious respiratory illness.

So, we ask again, what could possibly go wrong?
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At 4700 words, it is time to set down the Surly Crown of Thorns for yet another week. The Week That Was In Doom will be taking a week of doom off  this week, as we are traveling and attending to family matters, including the graduation of a much beloved niece. Hope to meet you at zero point, but not too soon.

The Week That Was In Doom, May 26, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on May 26, 2013

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Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

It was a week in which we found ourselves awakened, much like Rip van Winkle after a 40 years sleep, to relive the worst excesses of the Nixon administration.  A week in which, 175 years ago Friday, the Trail of Tears began and the United States once again led world opinion in affirmation of human rights and the treatment of indigenous peoples. A week in which part of an interstate fell into the Skagit River, sex workers are having to call it quits for lack of customers with sufficient disposable income, A couple of senators from Oklahoma demand disaster funding for their state while insisting that the hardships of the people of Oklahoma be visited upon unnamed someones elsewhere,  and thousands of people in hundred cities marched against Monsanto.  Plus plenty of other goodies. So let’s go to the highlight reel.

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AOL2013

Truth be told, the biggest news in the world of doom this week is the Age of Limits Conference currently being held in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Pennsylvania. Our redoubtable correspondent haniel is there and is filing reports. He also promises to bring back audio, video and images, all of which he is having great difficulty uploading due to the lack of bandwidth in his rural location. But suffice it to say there is no other single activity this week in the world of doom that is as significant or as newsworthy as this ongoing conference.  Follow haniel's reports here.

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bridge skagit

In one of the most remarkable and egregious examples of infrastructure collapse as a result of maintenance deferred, the I–5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington collapsed when struck by a truck.

The Interstate 5 bridge spanning the Skagit River in Washington state collapsed Thursday evening, dumping two cars into the water. Three people were injured.

Authorities initially weren't sure how many people were involved or if there'd been any injuries or deaths. Shortly after the collapse, Washington State Trooper Mark Francis told CNN that he didn't expect a high casualty rate, in part because the bridge is located in a rural area and is rarely crowded.

CBS is reporting that the collapse was caused by an oversized semi-trailer truck, which hit a beam across the top of the bridge.

 

Great was the mewling and puking over this affair, and may stood ready to extrapolate from the specific to the general. Rising Hegemon probably had it best:

Infrastructure, schminfranstructure

Good thing we can keep affording to give tax breaks to oil companies to avoid those nasty public safety measures that also provide actual jobs!

The Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River collapsed Thursday evening, dropping two vehicles into the water and injuring three people.

Both the northbound and southbound portions of the bridge collapsed into the river sometime before 7 p.m., according to Washington State Patrol trooper Mark Francis.

Xavier Grospe, 62, who lives near the river, said he could see three cars with what appeared to be one person per vehicle.

Obviously the only thing that can keep a bridge from collapsing is another bridge with a gun.

 

 

 

And Equire's Charlie Pierce observed thusly:

First, the BridgeHunter people declared the bridge in question to be functionally obsolete three years ago. Second, the local inspectors declared it to be safe and sound back in 2008. America's bridges heve been in sorry, dangerous shape for years, and practically everybody agrees with that. Time for some lifesaving Keynesian stimulus spending, no?

Of course, not.

I mean, does a bridge have to fall on their heads?

Forget I asked that.

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Slevery for everyone

 Robert Reich asks, “who needs Republicans when Wall Street has the Democrats?” In his blog, Reich details how congressional Democrats are helping Wall Street rollback the financial reforms enacted after the near meltdown. With Citigroup and chase writing legislation, eager Democrats are rolling as many logs they can to undo Dodd-Frank and otherwise carry water for the plutocrats.  Not to be outdone, members of the troglodyte party decided to raise student loan rates, plus approved a variable-rate that will really stick it to prospective students. Your democracy at work.  Meanwhile, in the small fishing village in the south of France, The US Department of Education “has generated nearly $120 billion in profit off student borrowers”, more profit than reported by Exxon and Apple. No word on whether that includes Apple's Irish offshore accounts.

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Speaking of offshore accounts and other tax dodges,  this week AlterNet  filed a superb report on how corporations are stealing billions in tax breaks, why we confused and misdirected Muppets turn on one another, to their continued enjoyment and enrichment.  this again by Mr. Reich, who had a busy week.

 

 

… global corporations have no allegiance to any country; their only objective is to make as much money as possible — and play off one country against another to keep their taxes down and subsidies up, thereby shifting more of the tax burden to ordinary people whose wages are already shrinking because companies are playing workers off against each other.

. . . Meanwhile, At a time when you’d expect nations to band together to gain bargaining power against global capital, the opposite is occurring: Xenophobia is breaking out all over.

Here in Britain, the UK Independence Party — which wants to get out of the European Union — is rapidly gaining ground, becoming the third most popular party in the country, according to a new poll for The Independent on Sunday. Almost one in five people plan to vote for it in the next general election. Ukip’s overall ratings have risen four points to 19 per cent in the past month, despite Prime Minister David Cameron’s efforts to wrest back control of the crucial debate over Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

Right-wing nationalist parties are gaining ground elsewhere in Europe as well. In the U.S., not only are Republicans sounding more nationalistic of late (anti-immigrant, anti-trade), but they continue to push “states rights” — as states increasingly battle against one another to give global companies ever larger tax breaks and subsidies.

Nothing could strengthen the hand of global capital more than such breakups.

This sounds very much like a movie we've seen before. And none of us like the ending. Betting here we're not going to like the ending of this one either.

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Artwork: Anthony Freda

 

And while were on the subject of money, anyone who actually has to buy anything in this economy realizes that the price of goods keeps creeping up at the same time that there seems to be less and less money in the economy. Small business owners are really hurting. We have friends, Nick and Vicky, who run a beauty shop and spa, who  had had to close the spa part of their business due to lack of traffic. Many women who used to be regular once a month visitors have vanished, and with it their income.  At the same time, the landlord raises the rent on their building, meaning they have to shrink the business to survive.  Thus is it in the real world.

 

Meanwhile, this on the widening gap between Wall Street and Main Street.

While asset prices are inflated by continued interventions of monetary policy from the Federal Reserve, boosting Wall Street profits and widening the wealth gap between the top 20% of Americans and the rest, "Main Street" continues to suffer a from a rising cost of living and falling wage growth.  Just recently Gallup released the following survey:

"The federal poverty threshold for a family of four is just under $24,000; however, Americans believe such a family unit living in their community needs more than double that — $58,000, on average — just to 'get by.' That estimate reflects 29% of Americans saying these families need up to $50,000 in annual income, 47% saying they need between $50,000 and $99,999, and 10% saying they need $100,000 or more."

Gallup-Consumer-LivingNeeds-051713

And then, in a fking nutshell:

This is why the gap between corporate profits and the number of working employees is the highest level on record.  Fewer workers, higher productivity and longer hours for the same pay, or less, equals higher corporate profits.  This is great for executives, primarily the top 10% of wage of earners, who are compensated from rising share prices, bonuses and other performance related compensation.  However, for the "working stiff," there is little reward for their labor.

At $58,000, Americans' perceptions of the amount it takes just to get by in their community is substantially higher that the national median household income.  This level is also well out of reach for a bulk of the lower 30% of American households.

However, this gap between incomes and living standards goes a long way to explaining the "welfaring" of America.  As incomes have waned against a rising cost of living – it is not surprising to see more individuals receiving income supplements in the mail either from "food stamps", social security benefits or disability claims.  All of which are currently at record levels.  The chart below shows the level of social security benefits as a percentage of disposable personal incomes which is currently near the highest level on record.

Social-Benefits-DPI-051713

 

"How long can the disconnect last between Wall Street and Main Street? "

There is no clear answer for that as consumers have shown a willingness to draw down savings rates to historically low levels while quickly returning to cheap credit forgetting the disaster that it caused them not so long ago.  However, in reality, when you have a family to feed, clothe and house – it really doesn't matter what is logical, but what is necessary, regardless of the consequences down the road.  Of course, for many American's today, the only real difference between now and the "bread lines" of the 30's is that the "bread" is delivered in the mail rather than at the "soup kitchen" on the corner.

A splendid article that offers a precise description of what is happening. I mentioned above the effect of this “recovering economy” on my friends with the beauty shop and spot. Newshound Joe dug up this article earlier in the week that illustrates how even sex workers are feeling the pinch.

It is one of the oldest professions in the world.

Yet, just like many other businesses up and down the UK, even prostitution is now struggling with Britain's struggling economy.

Many sex workers are now saying its almost impossible to make a full time living out of prostitution with rising rents and energy costs and a reduced demand for services.

They also complain of a saturated market in which students and those recently sacked turn to  prostitution to make money.

Like many other workers across Britain, sex workers even complain that immigrants are providing tough competition.

All of this has resulted in many massage parlours and private flats heavily reducing their prices or even closing.

Prostitutes also say men are increasingly unable to pay for sex, with pressures on household spending increasing.

30 years ago, Richard Pryor joked about pimps having to drive Volkswagens. And now this. Clearly,  yet another sign of the breaking of the Seventh Seal.

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And perhaps none of this makes any difference because we are all screwed in the fullness of time, As we seem to be unwilling or unable to manage our energy footprint, consumption, and behavior in a responsible manner that would benefit the great bulk of humanity. This is of course a subject which has been discussed many times in many different ways within the Diner Forum.

Climate change: human disaster looms, claims new research

 

A human shadow is seen on a dried out field after drought in Germany. Photograph: Patrick Pleul/EPA

 

Forecast global temperature rise of 4C a calamity for large swaths of planet even if predicted extremes are not reached the world is still likely to be in for a temperature rise of double that regarded as safe.

The researchers said warming was most likely to reach about 4C above pre-industrial levels if the past decade's readings were taken into account.

That would still lead to catastrophe across large swaths of the Earth, causing droughts, storms, floods and heatwaves, and drastic effects on agricultural productivity leading to secondary effects such as mass migration.

Some climate change sceptics have suggested that because the highest global average temperature yet recorded was in 1998 climate change has stalled. The new study, which is published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows a much longer "pause" would be needed to suggest that the world was not warming rapidly.

Alexander Otto, at the University of Oxford, lead author of the research, told the Guardian that there was much that climate scientists could still not fully factor into their models. He said most of the recent warming had been absorbed by the oceans but this would change as the seas heat up. The thermal expansion of the oceans is one of the main factors behind current and projected sea level rises.

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Authorities never have “issues with authority.”

It’s simple. Authorities invented the idea that other people have issues with authority.

Psychiatrists rank right up there among the elitists setting the standards. They, for example, have concocted a little fictional doodad called Oppositional Defiance Disorder. And magically, they never accuse their professional colleagues of having it. No.

Why should they? They amuse themselves by deciding when civilians are overly defiant and need pacification (drugs).

 

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More from the Department of Your Tax Dollars at Work.

Got PTSD? No problem. Here: take this. At a time when government funding for veterans hospitals and healthcare is being diverted by the military and replaced with private donations comes this news of the Pentagon development of memory adjustment pills. Perhaps the combination of so-called “medication” coupled with the use of targets featuring children and pregnant mothers waving guns will usher in a new generation of conscience-free troops for the next round of "nation-building" and empire extension.

The Pentagon this week announced an $11 million grant for three research institutions, all of them long-time hubs for the military’s ongoing PTSD investigations. Experts at Emory University, the University of Southern California and New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center will study the effectiveness of D-Cycloserine (DCS). DCS is a pharmaceutical thought to help extinguish fearful memories. It’s usually taken right before exposure therapy, a process that involves recalling traumatic experiences in an effort to nullify the menacing associations that accompany them.

Your tax dollars at work. This is a clue that we will continue to be in a perpetual state of war.
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/12/fear-erasing-drugs

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photo by Jenna Pope

 

 

 

Everyone's favorite fixer and leg breaker Rahm Emanuel has come a cropper in his plan to close 54 public schools in low income neighborhoods.Three days of  protests have been going on in Chicago to fight back against the biggest public school closing action in the history of the U.S.
 
Teachers, students, and parents marching through the West Side of Chicago today for the 3-day March for Education Justice. "The mayor and Board of Education want to destroy 54 school communities. This will be the largest destruction of schools in U.S. history. We need our neighborhood schools and we should all fight together to save them."

 

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artwork by mario piperni

In the holy city of Washington DC, otherwise known as Jerusalem-on-the-Potomac, we were treated to the spectacle of two Oklahoma solons rightfully demanding disaster aid for their tornado-stricken state, but only at the cost of insuring that the suffering visited on the people of Oklahoma was transmitted by the miracle of the appropriations process up its on innocent and unsuspecting others located God knows where, but presumably not Oklahoma. "Budget offsets"so the Blessed Messrs. Cobern and Imhofe solemnly intone. In response, we need to visit with the Master, Charlie Pierce.

This is a guy who, one day after a devastating natural disaster killed his own constitutents, said he will not vote to allevate their suffering unless he can inflict some pain on someone somewhere else in the country. And his spokesman defends this as a matter of principle, and uses the worst act of domestic terrorism in the history of the United States as a salutary example. (And the link demonstrates that Coburn's aversion to tossing money down various ratholes is not universal.)  Does Senator Coburn really believe you can budget for the unthinkable? That tornadoes are zero-sum events? That you can horse-trade on human suffering as though it were a line-item on a transportation rider? I no longer am willing to try to understand how people like this think. They are monsters and they operate on their own monstrous imperatives.

The attack on the natural instincts of a self-governing political commonwealth has been a long one, a powerful one, and (alas) a very effective one. It has made the politically unthinkable a viable alternative in the face of the literally unimaginable. It is a return to the days where people died alone on the prairies during blizzards, or they drowned in floods along the plains, or they were lost in hurricanes that struck without warning. It's not a great distance removed from staving off severe weather by judging the flights of birds or reading the entrails of a disembowelled goat on a rock. The idea that there is even a "debate" worthy of mentioning over this money shows how far we've fallen.

By the way, here is the City Of Moore's official FAQ page about storm shelters and the like. I may be wrong, but this fairly reeks of defensiveness. The explanation for the lack of storm shelters seems economically prissy and more than a tad lame—people won't use them because they won't leave their pets behind? So, therefore, we don't build one? Really?—and the cruel irony of this tornado is that people were warned specifically not to "shelter in place" but, rather, to get in their cars and drive like hell. There is considerable real-time audio from local radio and TV to that effect. And this is a masterpiece of You're On Your Own, Jack:

"What if I live in a mobile home?
This means that you have additional responsibility for your safety, and that begins much earlier! Mobile homes typically do not offer good shelter from thunderstorm winds, and that means you should find shelter elsewhere—perhaps the house of family or friends. You need to plan your actions long before thunderstorms arrive, and leave early…don't wait until warnings are issued or the sirens are blowing to leave."

Oh, OK.

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http://mariopiperni.com/

In a week where the Obama administration has managed to resuscitate the cadaver of the Nixon administration through various scandals, and right-wing pols are making hay out of Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi!!,  Comes this little noticed and curious aspect to the Benghazi story from one of my favorite cranks, Jon Rappaport.

Just a coincidence. Nothing to see. Move along.

Remember the Benghazi attacks? Remember how the White House rewrote their talking points to scrub out mention of a terrorist attack?

Well, here are some new talking points.

Point one: Star CBS investigative reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, has been discussing leaving CBS since April. She can’t get some of her Benghazi stories on the air. Attkisson was hot on the trail of figuring out who, at the White House, rewrote the Benghazi talking points.

Point two: One sure candidate at the White House? Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser and “mind-melding” speechwriter.

Point three: Who is Ben Rhodes’ brother? He is David Rhodes, who happens to be Sharyl Attkisson’s boss, the president of CBS News.

Point four: Read point three again.

Point five: Those White House Benghazi rewrites scrubbed prior mention of “terror attacks.”

Point six: Again, reporter Attkisson was hot on the trail of the White House fiction writers—which could have led to her boss’s brother.

Point seven: Again, Attkisson got into hot water at CBS for her Benghazi coverage.

Point eight: Again, the president of CBS News, her boss, is the brother of the man who helped organize the White House fiction writing on Benghazi.

The Daily Caller broke this story.

Point nine: Somebody has been fiddling with reporter Attkisson’s computers. Attkisson has been assembling evidence on the what and the who for several months.

As loath as I am to repeat anything uttered in the pages of The Daily Caller–even its very name makes me twitch–even a stopped clock is right twice a day,  Much in the same way that Crazy Uncle Liberty and his son, Sen. Aqua Buddha are often right twice a day. Remains interesting to watch to see if this aspect of the story goes anywhere. Politico's Dylan Byers has a take on this. Little surprise that Attkisson has trouble getting anyone inside the Obama administration to talk to her since most of her stories have often been extremely critical of the administration and often seem to bespeak a partisan political agenda. No duh.

The only thing certain in this murky affair is that House Republicans will do everything possible to keep these flames alive well into the midterm election season. Meanwhile, in at least one poll I saw this morning, House Republicans are writing a 59% disapproval rating. Double down on crazy, boys.

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IMG_1261

 

Many protesters gathered in Virginia Beach yesterday as part of a March against Monsanto,  one of dozens of such marches organized across the globe in protest of CGI and months and tell and its genetically modified, potentially toxic food.

 

Organizers  were reported to have said the protests were held in 52 countries and 436 cities. Locally, the demonstrators were out in force by the hundreds on a clear, brisk day at the oceanfront that also heralded the beginning of the vacation season.

 

You have to love the creativity of the people who brought signs and banners. Enjoy the examples below. It was a pleasure to reconnect with local occupiers and many other activists, including many people who would not otherwise even dream of being part of a protester a demonstration, yet who are well enough informed to take a keen and abiding interest in real food. One woman held aloft a sign that said, “our children are not eating the same Cheerios we did.”

 

True dat.

IMG_1263 - Version 2

 

IMG_1241

IMG_1244

 

 

IMG_1246IMG_1248

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1249IMG_1251

 

 

 

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Many of the volunteers passed out information flyers explaining what GM owes are. Salient facts included  that most major US food companies managed to keep GM oh ingredients secret from the public. That agribusinesses have spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat Geo labeling laws. Products may contain genetically or all-natural modified foods and still be labeled natural. The most common genetically engineered crops are soy, corn, papaya, rice, cotton, tomatoes, dairy products, potatoes and peas.IMG_1255IMG_1257

 

And herewith a roundup of other news, the bones of which  I have not had the opportunity to chew, and some links that may reward the follower.

Murder is our national sport. We murder tens of thousands with our industrial killing machines in Afghanistan and Iraq. We murder thousands more from the skies over Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen with our pilotless drones. We murder each other with reckless abandon. And, as if we were not drenched in enough human blood, we murder prisoners—most of them poor people of color who have been locked up for more than a decade. The United States believes in regeneration through violence. We have carried out blood baths on foreign soil and on our own land for generations in the vain quest of a better world. And the worse it gets, the deeper our empire sinks under the weight of its own decay and depravity, the more we kill. 

–Chris Hedges.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34929.htm

Petrodollar collapse

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-20/guest-post-coming-collapse-petrodollar-system

 
Virginia Republicans take a Great Leap Backward:
 
Add I-5 bridge:
 
NC and renewables
h/t AG
 
See it yourself
 

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." – Frederic Bastiat

 

 

 

 
 
Add Detroit
 
Monsanto and stock rally
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Week That Was in Doom May 19, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on May 19, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 In which we walk around the weekly cultural signifiers that indicate that we are, week by week, proudly and confidently approaching the zero point with the same cheery sense of self-assurance with which lemmings are said to approach a cliff.  The Week That Was In Doom, might otherwise be known “as things that make you want to guzzle antifreeze,” with apologies and a tip o’ the Surly Crown of Thorns to Charlie Pierce. Pass the Prestone, hold the ice. And see what the rest of the crew will have, will ya barkeep?

 “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” –H. “Rap” Brown

We started out the week by celebrating Mother’s Day in traditional American fashion, meaning blowing the shit out of a bunch of people with guns.

Nineteen people have been wounded in a shooting at a Mother’s Day parade in the US city of New Orleans, police say. The victims included two children who were grazed by bullets. Police say most injuries are not life-threatening. It is unclear what sparked the shooting in the city’s 7th Ward on Sunday afternoon. Police say three suspects were seen fleeing the area. The incident happened at about 14:00 (19:00 GMT) at the intersection of Frenchmen and Villere streets. “Shots were fired with different guns,” a police statement said. “Immediately after the shooting our officers saw three suspects running from the scene.” The statement said 10 men, seven women, a 10-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl were wounded by gunfire. FBI spokeswoman Mary Beth Romig said they had “no reason to believe it was an act of terror, just street violence”.

 

For my money, Rising Hegemon’s rising snark sums up the whole proceedings just fine.

What could be more American  

Than this headline?

It is unclear what sparked the shooting, which happened in the city’s 7th Ward on Sunday afternoon. Police say two or three suspects were seen fleeing the area. Police said that, as well as the 12 people with gunshot wounds, one person was injured in the ensuing panic.

It is all part of a typical week of gun incidents in this country, which the NRA would like to have you completely ignore. Cue Lee Greenwood.

By the end of the week, two brothers with gang ties and a history of drug offenses had been arrested for the deed, the narrative in place, the crime scene tape pulled up, so everything is hunky-dory again, right?

Two brothers with a history of drug arrests and suspected ties to a neighborhood gang each face 20 counts of attempted second-degree murder in a shooting spree that brought a sudden bloody end to a neighborhood Mother’s Day parade.

Right?

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 Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.    ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

How really depraved are we? Really? (h/t Joe P.) Earlier in the week I found myself arguing that the story could not possibly be true, but I discoved that the only problem here is my own paucity of imagination.

Rich Manhattan moms hire

handicapped tour guides so kids can

cut lines at Disney World

The “black-market Disney guides” run $130 an hour, or $1,040 for an eight-hour day. “My daughter waited one minute to get on ‘It’s a Small World’ — the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours,” crowed one mom, who hired a disabled guide through Dream Tours Florida.

“You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge,’’ she sniffed. “This is how the 1 percent does Disney.”

The woman said she hired a Dream Tours guide to escort her, her husband and their 1-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter through the park in a motorized scooter with a “handicapped” sign on it. The group was sent straight to an auxiliary entrance at the front of each attraction.

Someone on Facebook observed that at least this gave some occasional employment to the handicapped.  Sometimes we are left without words. And sometimes the news comes pre-loaded with its own layer of snark.

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Those paying attention to continued congressional treason and the incompetence and misfeasance of the Obama administration were treated to The Benghazi Dumb Show and Obama’s IRS shooting itself in the foot. Charlie Pierce’s take:

Obama’s IRS answer probably won’t satisfy Republicans demanding a public apology from the president and insisting the story indicates Obama’s White House is run like Nixon’s. But the president put himself on the same page with elected officials of all political stripes Monday who demanded to know more about what happened at the IRS and the firing of those responsible for any malfeasance. No. It won’t satisfy them. He could have climbed up on a cross and driven nails into his own palms and that wouldn’t have satisfied them. Why is that the point? The media has no affirmative obligation to decide that a “political circus” has broken out and that it has no job left except to write play-by-play on what the monkeys are doing. Obama’s White House is not like Nixon’s any more than it is like the court of Robert The Bruce. Because some Republicans are still carrying old Watergate grudges around like goiters in their consciences is no reason for smart people to play along with it. Nixon’s IRS did not call out its own mistakes. Nixon’s IRS did not apologize. Nixon did not call a press conference and denounce the IRS for what it did, and this was because Nixon ordered the IRS to do what it did, and not even Nixon was a rancid enough bag of old sins to do something like that. So what is the purpose of throwing his name in there at all? Because the Republicans used it? That’s not good enough. In 2004, the NAACP actually got audited in the wake of its having been critical of the then-reigning Avignon Presidency. Remember how that dominated the Sunday Showz for months and led to endless hearings in both houses of Congress?

***
Dept. of Now They Notice. Funny how AP notices what many of us have been bitching about for about for a fking decade, governmental investigative overreach and the metatastized surveillance state,  when it’s their titty caught in a wringer:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news. The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.
Now there is some debate as to whether or not the seizure was justified,  on grounds of the ever-useful “national security” reason. Meanwhile, we are treated to the spectacle of editors drawing themselves up to their full Lilliputian stature and solemnly intoning on how the seizure of AP phone records is an insult to an independent press. How quaint. Actually it is the current state of the press that is an insult to an independent press.  you’ll recall that nobody said a damn thing when Eric Holder’s Justice Department took numerous mulligans on investigating white-collar financial crime. In the so-called independent press had very little to say when “Homeland Security” (sic) and its federalized local thugs employed overwhelming force against unarmed Occupy protesters.  But then that was somebody else’s titty, wasn’t it?
Again, Charlie Pierce’s take:

This is what got people sent to jail in the mid-1970s. This is the Plumbers, all over again, except slightly more formal this time, and laundered, disgracefully, even more directly through the Department Of Justice. And of course, this is not nearly good enough. And even if you point out, as you should, that the AP is hyping this story a little — The government “secretly” obtained the records? Doesn’t that imply that nobody knew the records had been seized? Wasn’t there a subpoena? The phone companies knew. — the ignoble clumsiness of this more than obviates those particular quibbles.

No Charlie, no subpoena, thanks to the quick work of our friends at Verizon Wireless.

When the feds came knocking for AP journalists’ call records last year, Verizon apparently turned the data over with no questions asked. The New York Times, citing an AP employee,reported Tuesday that at least two of the reporters’ personal cellphone records “were provided to the government by Verizon Wireless without any attempt to obtain permission to tell them so the reporters could ask a court to quash the subpoena.”

Customers of Verizon Wireless, take comfort in the knowledge that your company passed AP reporters’ phone records to the feds. Remember, muppets, “It’s The Network™.”

________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

In other news, we learn that many of the troglodyte members of the House of Representatives, the mouth-breathing consensus who yearn so dearly for the opportunity to lay a dollop of tar on presumed 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with the Benghazi flap as the tar-laden cudgel, can’t even locate Benghazi on a map. Hilarity ensues.

 

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And  in less amusing news,  the results of the preliminary investigation into the explosion of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas came in. Or not.

Robert Champion, the ATF special agent in charge, said investigators have ruled out the possibility of an earlier fire, spontaneous ignition, smoking, weather or a 480 volt electrical system. He said investigators have not ruled foul play, or a problem with a 120 volt electrical system. The officials would not discuss the arrest of Bryce Reed, a volunteer paramedic and one of the first on the scene, who was arrested last week for possession of bomb making materials. The Insurance Council of Texas estimates the damage to surrounding homes and businesses will exceed $100 million.

Clearly, Texas investigators have also not ruled out attack by the Tsarniev Brothers, an alien energy death ray from a UFO, an attack by Al Qaeda, the Symbionese Liberation Army, or the work of a secret, “self-radicalizing” terrorist cabal led by Jimmy Hoffa and Judge Crater.  But never fear, the usual gaggle of self-righteous hypocrites are showing up for the cameras, squatting down and pinching off the expected pieties:

Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement Thursday evening expressing his appreciation to the investigators. “While the cause of the fire remains undetermined and the investigation continues, this tragedy has shown the world the definition of compassion, from volunteer firefighters across the state rushing to help their colleagues at the scene, to friends, neighbors and Texans stepping in to help those who lost so much in the blast,” he said. Texas U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz issued a joint statement thanking the investigators. “Our prayers remain with those struggling to recover and mourning the loss of loved ones. While the cause remains undetermined, it is our sincere hope that at the end of the investigation, the residents of West can find closure and begin to heal,” they said.

Thanks, investigolators, for the camera opportunity to flog a continued regime of deregulation. en, the Grey Lady herself took note  in the NY Times. Texas don’t need no stinking regulations:

Asked about the disaster, Mr. Perry responded that more government intervention and increased spending on safety inspections would not have prevented what has become one of the nation’s worst industrial accidents in decades.

“Through their elected officials,” he said, Texans “clearly send the message of their comfort with the amount of oversight.”

This antipathy toward regulations is shared by many residents here. Politicians and economists credit the stance with helping attract jobs and investment to Texas, which has one of the fastest-growing economies in the country, and with winning the state a year-after-year ranking as the nation’s most business friendly.

Raymond J. Snokhous, a retired lawyer in West who lost two cousins — brothers who were volunteer firefighters — in the explosion, said, “There has been nobody saying anything about more regulations.”

Texas has always prided itself on its free-market posture. It is the only state that does not require companies to contribute to workers’ compensation coverage. It boasts the largest city in the country, Houston, with no zoning laws. It does not have a state fire code, and it prohibits smaller counties from having such codes. Some Texas counties even cite the lack of local fire codes as a reason for companies to move there.

But Texas has also had the nation’s highest number of workplace fatalities — more than 400 annually — for much of the past decade. Fires and explosions at Texas’ more than 1,300 chemical and industrial plants have cost as much in property damage as those in all the other states combined for the five years ending in May 2012.

Have a good look at what deregulation looks like. The explosion in April of a fertilizer plant near West, Tex., was so powerful that it registered as a 2.1-magnitude earthquake. McLennan, the county that includes West, has no fire code. Res ipsa loquitor. Awaiting the results earlier in the week, Pierce had it thus:

Whatever the investigators announce, the explosion will be linked to four decades of conservative-inspired deregulation, four decades of conservative-inspired corporate triumphalism, the deregulatory enthusiasm of every damn possible contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, and Rick Perry’s entire political career are pretty damn long, I’m guessing. But give up the e-mails, Holder! Ten more people died here than died in Benghazi.

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Paluel-Nuclear-Power-Plant

In a development will be very satisfying to many readers of this page, particularly those who find room for cautious optimism in the growth of renewable energy and alternative fuels (thinking of you, AG), the nuclear industry had what by any measure has to be described is a pretty bad week.

Once touted as a successor, or at least a competitor, to carbon-based power, the nuclear sector has taken a beating as the momentum behind new projects stalls and enthusiasm for domestic fossil fuel production grows. Across the country, plans to build nuclear plants have hit roadblocks recently—a sharp turn for a sector that just a few years ago was looking forward to a renaissance. *** In recent weeks, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled against a proposed partnership between NRC Energy and Toshiba, citing a law that prohibits control of a U.S. plant by a foreign corporation. Elsewhere, Duke Energy scuttled plans to construct two nuclear reactors in North Carolina, while California officials warned that two damaged reactors could be shut down permanently if the NRC doesn’t take action to get the plants back online. The change in nuclear’s fortunes is staggering, given that the U.S. is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power …. “Starting about four years ago, the industry felt it was in the middle of a renaissance” with applications for many new plants pending with the NRC, said Peter Bradford, a law professor and a former member of the commission. “They’ve gone from that high-water mark to a point at which … we’re actually seeing the closing of a few operating plants,which was unthinkable even a few years ago.”

 San Onofre, Palisades, Hanford, and even Shearon Harris near New Hill in Wake County, NC.    And none of this even includes anything new from Fukushima, where last week TEPCO engineers wanted to dump radioactive water right into the ocean.  Aging designs, expensive maintenance, which often turns into maintenance deferred, which in itself causes additional problems as corrosion builds up and makes restarting an idle plant even more problematic. Nuke plants are gifts that will continue to keep on giving; of that you may be sure.  Consider the implications when more local municipalities and utilities catch the virus Detroit has, of not having enough of the tax base and revenue stream to support infrastructure, and consider moving if you live within 50 miles of a nuke.

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Of course none of this may make much difference if the sun has its way with us. We are told that a large solar flare may be a prelude to an entire year of heavy sunspot/solar storm activity.

The Sun erupted with a large solar flare in the direction of Earth early Friday morning, causing potential disruption to radio signals in the coming days and serving as a prelude to a period of heavy solar activity. The mid-level flare, classified as an M6.5 solar flare, “was associated with an Earth-direction coronal mass ejection (CME), a solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of solar particles into space and can reach our planet days later,”according to Science World Report. While X-class solar flares are 10 times more powerful than Friday’s eruption, the radiation burst was the largest on record in 2013 and “caused an R2 radio blackout that has since subsided,” the site reported. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration classifies radio blackouts caused by space weather on a scale from R1 to R5, with R5 being the strongest. Scientists expect more such solar flares this year, because the Sun’s 11-year activity cycle is approaching its peak, expected to arrive in the closing months of 2013, Science World Report noted.

And now were told that NASA is warning that solar storms are possible. The implications of such an event are difficult to fathom. Current sunspots are said to be the diameter of 6 Earths, and some sunspot activity can lead to significant eruptions of radiation.

The Sun is currently reaching the peak of its 11-year solar cycle. The Solar Dynamics Observatory was launched by NASA in 2010. The observatory spacecraft is just one of many alerting NASA to signs of solar flares, or coronal mass ejections. One of the biggest concerns surrounding solar flares is the ability the storms have to take down our antiquated power grid. If a massive solar flare is directed at Earth, the fiscal destruction could be legendary. Both NASA and NOAA experts estimate the potential damage of such a direct hit would be in the trillions. The last major solar flare to directly impact Earth was in 1859, the Carrington Event. Telegraph wires reportedly snapped in half and caused multiple blazes. The folks of the 1800s were far less impacted by the solar flare than we would be today. Due to the computerized equipment inside vehicles built after the 1950s, nearly anything on four wheels (or two) would come to a screeching halt.

Just let the implications of that one sink in for a moment. Imagine a Carrington-type of event on top of the current economic and social dislocations we have. The mind reels.  We could be facing “a world made by hand” sooner than even Kunstler imagines.

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According to Annalee Newitz,  We may be in for a disaster or set of disasters so profound they could kick off a series of mass extinctions. Of people this time,  in contrast to the mass extinctions that Homo sapiens has already caused for other species. Ms. new it’s has written a book, Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction,  that insists that human evolution has prepared us to survive future disasters.

Are we in the first act of a mass extinction that will end in the death of millions of plant and animal species across the planet, including us?

That’s what proponents of the “sixth extinction” theory believe. As the term suggests, our planet has been through five mass extinctions before. The dinosaur extinction was the most recent but hardly the most deadly: 65 million years ago, dinosaurs were among the 76 percent of all species on Earth that were extinguished after a series of natural disasters. But

185 million years before that, there was a mass extinction so devastating that paleontologists have nicknamed it the Great Dying. At that time, 95 percent of all species on the planet were wiped out over a span of roughly 100,000 years—most likely from megavolcanoes that erupted for centuries in Siberia, slowly turning the atmosphere to poison. And three more mass extinctions, some dating back over 400 million years, were caused by ice ages, invasive species, and radiation bombardment from space.

***

During the last million years of our evolution as a species, humans narrowly avoided extinction more than once. We lived through harsh conditions while another human group, the Neanderthals, did not. This isn’t just because we are lucky. It’s because as a species, we are extremely cunning when it comes to survival. If we want to survive for another million years, we should look to our history to find strategies that already worked. The title of this book, Scatter, Adapt, and Remember, is a distillation of these strategies. But it’s also a call to implement them in the future, by actively taking on the project of human survival as a social and scientific challenge.

So what promises to be another work of techno-optimism. Perhaps we will be smart enough, unselfish enough, and astute enough to employ strategies that will be necessary to save the bulk of humanity. Indeed, part of the mission statement of the Diner is to “Save as Many as you Can.” However my money is on the illuminati bunkering up and leaving a combination of disease, solar storms, acid rain and widespread dislocation to scour the Muppets from their earth.  Or so they think.

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And Just so you know, the truth about lemmings has nothing to do with them committing suicide en masse by leaping off cliffs. it turns out that a Disney film, “White Wilderness,” used selectively shot and staged scenes that showed lemmings leaping off a cliff into water, and from there swimming out to the ocean to their Doom. (The film is still available on YouTube, for the curious.)  Turns out that the demise of lemmings, a voracious little Arctic vole, has much more to do with stoats, fox, owls and other predators. Far more so than cliffs.

 And here, in all the news that doesn’t fit for this week are some other links gathered liking gleanings from the field, and for which I lack the time and attention to  comment. You may find it of interest.   One thing is reasonably sure: next week will bring even more.

Brandon Smith on  terror, circular logic and the debasement of language in the quest for power: http://www.alt-market.com/articles/1501-lions-and-tigers-and-terrorists-oh-my

GO’s article on vectors of human  extinction  

Personal extinction: Suicide rates in middle aged Americans- Mercola http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/05/16/suicide-rate.aspx?e_cid=20130516_DNL_ProdTest2_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20130516ProdTest2

America’s first climate refugees– with a tip o’ the Surly Crown o’Thorns to JoeP: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2013/may/13/newtok-alaska-climate-change-refugees

Spreading the Horror

Off the keyboard of Guy McPherson

Published on Nature Bats Last on February 24, 2013

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Table inside the Diner

I’m pretty sure you know the drill. You pose the scenario and ask the hypothetical questions: There’s an asteroid headed for Earth. We know exactly when it will strike, and it will kill all humans. Do you want to know it will strike? Do you want to know when?

I know of no poll results, but I’ve asked the question a few times. Some people want to know everything. Others don’t want to know anything.

People who want to know when the asteroid will strike cannot fathom that people don’t want to know. People who don’t want to know the asteroid is headed our way cannot fathom why anybody would want to know. Obviously, I’m in the former camp, spreading the news like Nutella on a croissant as if people not only care about knowledge, but want to lap it up.

In fact, it’s inconceivable to me that people don’t want to know. I want to stare, unblinking, when the asteroid strikes. I want to peer into the abyss of my mortality, eyes wide open, knowing the exact moment I will depart this mortal coil. Not in the name of courage, but curiosity.

I have an idea. I could use the scenario and attendant hypothetical questions to introduce future presentations. (As an aside, the potential for speaking tours comes up quite frequently for me. Then, as prospective hosts fully understand the messages I’ll be transmitting, they fade away, often with no explanation and no response to my repeated messages. If you’re interested in jumping over the incredibly low bar necessary to host me, click this link for information.) Back to the point: If I used the hypothetical questions in my introduction, it would allow participants an opportunity to leave the premises before they hear the worst of it. They’d be out a few minutes of time, but they’d save some time and they’d depart relatively free of angst. Ignorance is bliss, especially with respect to challenging social issues, and who am I to rob people of their bliss?

Like the ninth person to arrive at a party for eight, I missed “fitting in” only by a smidgen. If I’m angry because I’m late to the party, you get to bear the brunt of my anger by reading about it here. My only defense is the line that’s become a bumper-sticker cliche: If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.

For me, not knowing is unbearable. But knowing is a great burden, too. And while I’m expecting an asteroid oddly shaped like climate chaos, we’ll probably get hit by a meteor.

If I did not know about the horrors of empire, I would still be teaching at a university. I would still be drawing a large paycheck doing the work I love and interacting with idealistic young people. I would have the respect and admiration of civilized people, including the members of my immediate family.

If I did not know about the horrors of climate change, I would be content with my path in life. I would be living large, sleeping well, and enjoying the contentment of a life well lived. Rarely would I attract animus from across the sociopolitical spectrum. Angst would lie in abeyance, along with threats on my life.

What a boring existence that would be. For better and worse, I’m stuck with the current adventure: the adventure of a lifetime until the adventure ends, along with the life.

There are no second chances, no opportunities to undo what’s been done. At the level of individuals, we refer to poor choices as stupidity (when others are making the choices) or tragedy (when it’s us). At the level of our ill-fated species, we refer to the myriad poor choices as progress. As nearly as I can distinguish, when faced with the proverbial fork in the road, we’ve taken the wrong turn at each and every opportunity. There are no second chances for our species, no opportunities to undo what’s been done. And yet we keep plugging along, claiming we’re sapient progressives. A few among us claim to be conservatives, but we’re conserving only this omnicidal way of life. Until we can’t.

We’ve committed suicide at the level of our entire species, and too many other species to correctly tally. All that’s left is more excuses in an endless string of excuses from the architects and marketers of industrial civilization. I won’t hold my breath for their long-overdue apologies.

I’m not suggesting all the bliss ignorance is inexplicable. The corporate governments of the world have been following the playbook of William Casey, U.S. Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, since long before he uttered these words in 1981: “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” It’s working great, as indicated by the one-third of Americans who would accept cavity searches in exchange for the privilege of flying commercial airlines, among many other such anecdotes.

An empire in decline requires obedience at home, and it helps if the populace remains purposefully ignorant. At a weekly White House meeting dubbed “Terror Tuesdays,” the drone-bomber-in-chief decides who will die without a whiff of due process, transparency, or oversight (and he has plenty of video-game operators forgoing their consciences to pull the trigger). In the video clip embedded in this article, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz claims she has never heard of Obama’s infamous “kill list,” thus branding herself a national-level politician liar or stunningly ignorant (if she’s lying, she has plenty of company in the Obama administration).

Obama has given himself power over all communication systems in the country, and he can wiretap, indefinitely detain, and kill any of us on a whim, thereby indicating how meaningless is the Bill of Rights. In addition, he’s constantly seeking more power (including pre-emptive prosecution, in case he believes you’re thinking about committing a crime). Obama’s brand of evil, which includes dictatorial assassinations and ongoing destruction of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, is exceeded only by the audacity and willful ignorance of his supporters.

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My monthly essay for Transition Voice is scheduled to appear tomorrow. Look for it here.

My latest cyber-conversation with Sherry Ackerman was posted at Transition Voice last week. It’s here.

From my Facebook page: Support the 99er documentary film, featuring Guy McPherson (“Walking Away From Empire”), Bill Moyer (Backbone Campaign), Keef Ward, Vincent Scotti Eirene, Jim Rehberg, Dana Light, Samsarah Morgan, Lazarus Long, Darrel Willis and other everyday people wholeheartedly involved in making another world possible. To pitch in, click here. Two trailers are embedded below.

Hope…Change…

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

Published on Economic Undertow on November 7, 2012

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

President Obama easily won re-election yesterday: Where do we go from here?

– look for ‘Brand X’ opponent Romney to retreat into what Edward Gibbon called, ‘a well-deserved obscurity’. Smarmy Romney lacks the kooky charisma and media horsepower of a Sarah Palin or Paul Ryan, his TV days are done. He has nothing to say and says it with less conviction than just about anyone in public life. There is little left for Mr. Romney to do but to go back to Wall Street where he can reassure his own customers he is not stealing their money … while he steals their money.

The Tea Party has unraveled as a political phenomenon. The ultra-libertarian/Austrian/liquidationist faction within GOP politic has discredited itself: the public won’t buy social Darwinism no matter how much religion and patriotic moralizing are spackled over it.

– The GOP has no one to blame for the election outcome but themselves. Their primary process — dominated by petroleum industry stooges and ‘missionary evangelists’ — prevented the Republicans from fielding a candidate able to challenge the vulnerable Obama. Who could have beaten him? An ordinary human being … that is, a non-radical Republican automatically excluded from the candidacy … by the extremist-filtering primary process and funding structure.

– From the ‘Welcome to the ironic universe’ department: this is the end of Ron Paul and his son, while there is no end in sight for Ben Bernanke. Gone: Palin, Santorum, Allen (in Virginia), Akin, Mourdock, Perry, Mack. Lost in influence: Bachmann, Ryan, Cantor, Gingrich.

– Libertarian economics do not appeal to Americans who do not want to be thrown to the ‘free-market’ wolves any more than they already have been. Americans want a level playing field with big business. Disappointment with Obama is that he is unwilling to hold powerful interests accountable, not that they are too accountable. The intrusive, overbearing government doesn’t do its job or it does so in ways that protect private interests at the expense of the public.

– A big winner of the election is Occupy movement. They won by not embarrassing themselves and by helping out in New York City with the hurricane relief … where the reactionaries were notably absent. The crumbling Tea Party has left a political vacuum … if the Occupy group has the wit to seize the moment.

– The clock is ticking on the tycoons. They couldn’t buy this election and won’t get a better chance in any conceivable future. The shift is underway … from tycoons being admired and emulated to being loathed. The step after is for tycoons to be hunted down like rats. Credit the timely hurricane Sandy and a rising public awareness of tycoon-driven climate change.

– If I wuz a tycoon I would make like French and get the hell out of Dodge …

– Having fixed his footnote in history at the cost of a billion-plus US dollars look for the president to retreat with some dispatch from the public stage. ‘Hope and Change’ have morphed into hopelessness on one hand and an establishment death-grip on the status quo with the other. The establishment has few choices that allow it to remain the establishment! Conventional economics have run aground. The austerity camp and the stimulus factions both insist their policies will propel the USA waste-monetizing economic machine forward. None of the factions acknowledge that the operation of the machine itself … is what undermines it. The present devours the future faster and faster: the cost of each fill-up becomes more crushing as the machine annihilates with constantly greater scope and efficiency what it needs to run. The only returns are ‘money’ for the despised tycoons while the rest must be satisfied with the thin gruel of ‘We’re Number One’ and other inconsequential generalities. Meanwhile, the life support on our space ship is fed into the furnace.

– Obama is clever enough to know there is nothing conventional policies can do to remedy our current situation: he has access to the ‘input’ of at least a dozen intelligence services. At the same time, he never has to pay for a round of golf for the rest of his life. He can loiter with tycoons which clearly pleases him, he can start writing the obligatory post-presidential memoirs, he can secure places in corporate boardrooms/in places of tycoon exile. When the time comes in 1,515 days he can become a petit-tycoon himself. The office of Lincoln and Roosevelt has devolved into a running-board or ramp to commercial success. Obama is now a ‘Brand’: one day after the election the president has one foot out-the-door, he is a lame duck.

– Obama the Ironic: no doubt airports across the country will be renamed for the president just as the airline industry collapses due to fuel shortages … that are denied by Obama.

– Obama the Ironic part two: sometime within the next four-plus years the president is going to have to tell the American public the truth about energy supplies: we’ve run out and cannot afford to burn any more for endeavors that don’t pay for themselves — which means fuel for agriculture and some basic services and nothing else! Here is something to live for … and watch on live TV.

Goofiness is not confined to America, the Europeans have similar problems facing reality:

 


Worst of the Eurozone Crisis Is Not Over Yet
 Megan Greene (Economonitor)Greece released its 2013 budget last week, indicating that public debt will surge to 189 per cent of GDP by the end of next year. If Greece’s debt burden cannot be deemed to be on a sustainable path, the IMF cannot release more money.

The only way to reduce Greece’s debt burden effectively and sufficiently is to write down some of its debt. So far, Germany, the ECB and the IMF have all indicated they would refuse to take a hit on their Greek government bond holdings.

… even if Germany wants to give Greece more time and money to achieve a swingeing fiscal adjustment, Greece might not have any interest in doing so, particularly not after five years of economic recession.

A model student

In contrast to Greece, Ireland has been identified by creditor countries as a shining example of how Europe will emerge from the crisis.

It is true that Ireland has stood apart from the other bailout countries in a few important ways. For starters, Ireland has dipped a toe back in the bond markets, despite being in a bailout programme. Investors also seem relatively confident that Ireland will not default, as exhibited by lower, long-term Irish bond yields than its Greek, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian counterparts.

According to the Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI), Ireland has seen its manufacturing activity expand over the past eight months. This is in sharp contrast with the eurozone, which has, on average, seen manufacturing activity contract for 15 consecutive months.

Ireland’s PMI data is encouraging, with new foreign orders particularly buoyant in recent months. This is a positive indicator for Ireland’s export sector, which should keep expanding.

But here’s the big problem in Ireland: there is no economic growth.

 

It’s hard not to come away from articles like this perplexed. What are the Irish or the Greeks supposed to do over the longer term … like 1000 years or so? How about 100 years? How about 10 years? Where is the ‘reality plan’?

There is the usual ‘growth’ mantra but what is supposed to grow? More auto sales? More vacation ‘villas’ around more miles of Mediterranean coast? More McDonald’s and Tescos? Right now the European auto industry is collapsing. Real estate is a bust. Retail margins are narrowing or gone. The European fuel consumption is almost 15 million barrels per day … most of this is imported from Africa and the Middle East. It is paid for with massive and unaffordable borrowing. The waste-based machine has been backfiring since 2008, the complete breakdown is heaving into view.

From whom are the Europeans borrowing? Ireland and the rest cannot borrow against their own accounts — they are shackled to the euro — they must borrow from financiers in City of London and Wall Street. Currently, credit terms are onerous … what comes next? If Europe cannot pay its bills its fuel consumption is exportable to the United States which can borrow against its own account at all levels. There is a reason why the US president is claiming the country is ‘energy independent’.

How is Ireland supposed to cope with the current state of affairs for more than a few months? Ireland has no domestic fuel production to speak of. It MUST borrow or go onto a severe — and permanent — energy diet. Can Ireland borrow for another year? It must, obviously. How deep a the hole will creditors allow Ireland to dig? How can the country repay- or service its debts when it cannot borrow more fuel? The Irish corporate tax shelter is not very useful to corporations that aren’t earning much. Eire can be the gateway for flight capital to exit Europe but that lasts only until the euro is done away with. At that point Ireland descends toward failed-state status like Serbia … or Yemen.

Figure 1: Irish oil consumption plummets because Ireland cannot afford to borrow. As it wastes more it falls further into debt. Even if the Irish gain new credit today, they certainly cannot do so forever.

This is the debt-energy trap that has enmeshed all the world’s modern nations. The idea is that something magical will turn up in the next decade or so and ‘solve all the problems’ in the meantime, the entire European Enterprise hinges on whether the ECB can keep offering rear-guard actions: making loans … that are more dubious every month! At some point, organic returns are needed … these never arrive. Sadly, there are no returns on consumption … simple waste for its own sake. The West has nothing in the way of real goods or services to offer in exchange for the petroleum they burn up … except for petroleum burning gadgets! Here is the most vicious of all vicious circles.

One outcome of this dynamic is fuel poverty … something that occurring right now across the euro-zone and in the UK. What the Europeans need to do pronto is to rethink the ‘business as usual’ concept and ditch growth. Cheap natural resource capital does not exist any more. What remains is worth too much to waste. The economy built around monetizing waste is a loser. Europe needs to power down and figure out how to provide decent lives for citizens without consumption. Unfortunately, there is little time remaining to figure out how to do this. The ongoing Euro-calm is an eye in the hurricane, the next phase will see Europe cut off from fuel supplies and structural shortages that cannot be dealt with.

Conservation by other means …

The Hypocrisy called American Justice

Off the keyboard of Phillip Farruggio

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

This snippet from the main section of today’s USA Today in Brief section on page 2: Hearings Begin At Gitmo for 9/11 Terror Suspects….” The military judge did agree with the defense lawyers who said their clients shouldn’t have to attend the rest of the week-long hearing because it dredges up memories of treatment in CIA detention. The pre-trial hearing includes an effort by prosecutors to prevent (my italics) the accused from revealing details of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.” Duh, that means torture folks! Take a guess who it was that instructed John Yoo and Jay Bybee to write the protocols to circumvent the Geneva Accords and embrace the use of enhanced interrogations AKA torture? You know the little guy with the glasses who sat there, during his confirmation hearing to become Bush Junior’s new Attorney General. It was none other than Alberto Gonzales, the one who Senator Joe Biden told “I like ya, and I’m probably going to vote for ya “(he did). Biden knew, well before those hearings even began, that Fredo Gonzales was directly linked to those protocols. Jay Bybee, for his immoral deeds, was promoted to a federal judgeship- why not?  John Yoo was hired by that liberal UC Berkley for a professorship.  The age of hypocrisy is center stage.

 

So, we have what they call enemy combatants remain detained at Gitmo, the place that Barack Obama promised us four years ago that he would shut down. Who are these people, many of whom have been incarcerated without their day in court for almost a decade? Are they terrorists by the textbook definition? Maybe handfuls are truly bad guys who want to kill Americans just for some fanatical religious cause. Then again, what we do know as fact is that after the (illegal) invasion of Afghanistan in 2002, the warlords AKA poppy producers, gobbled up and sold many Afghans to the Americans for very high bounties… I mean, like very high cash rewards. In many circumstances, the word of a warlord could send an Afghan off to Gitmo and our enhanced interrogations. Please watch Alex Gitney’s fine documentary Taxi to the Dark Side and see how things were working 10 years ago. We now know about what went on at Abu Ghraib prison, don’t we?

 

Last night’s second presidential debate AKA town hall meeting was one more round of hypocrisy at the highest levels. For the second time, and also with last weeks’ Biden vs. Ryan debate, little if nothing was even discussed about A) what in the hell are we even doing occupying Afghanistan and Iraq in the first place? ;B) when will all those innocent civilians we killed with our Shock and Awe and drone attacks influence the group conscience of our nation? C) the % of our tax dollars we spend for this military empire ( 56 cents of every federal tax dollar received in fiscal year 2011 ) ;D) why do we continue to maintain, at a costly expense, over 850 + bases in over 100 different countries? ; E) How drastic cuts in military spending could positively solve our state and city budget shortfalls?

 

Instead of real debate on what is truly bankrupting our economy and our soul as a nation, these 2 Party scam job debates only serve up hot button peripheral issues and lots of “He’s wrong! That‘s not true! “Four thousand young Americans are dead, along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan citizens, for what? Did you ever hear McCain and Obama in 2008 discuss the run-up to the invasions? Of course, the whole 9/11 Truth movement has been marginalized and actually cartoonized by a compliant media and 2 Party politicians. You see, nothing of truth even exists anymore in mainstream Amerika. Instead, we have what we are now living through during this season of the horserace. Stop looking at the horse’s head and focus on the other end, and watch what comes out.

PA FARRUGGIO

October 17th, 2012

 

Update: POTUS Debate #3

Sellouts: An Empire Love Story

 

They were supposed to have a foreign policy debate last night between Obama and Romney. What you saw is exactly what you have been getting from the embedded politicians and mainstream media for God only knows how many years! Not one time during the pre debate and post debate talking heads shows, or during the actual 90 minute claptrap, was there ever a mention of just how much the military spending is. No one dared to bring up the fact that over 50 cents of each of our federal tax dollars goes to fund our War Empire. Readers of this writer’s work have read this over and over, and by now are most likely numbed by it. Yet, to any out there who still believe in the fairy tale of Two Party Democracy, please take caution before you go and vote.

 

This writer has a theory that seems each day to be closer to the truth. That being that anyone we find in political elected office, OR having any position of influence in (so called) mainstream media journalism (columnists, hosts of shows or talking head regular guests) has got to be a total sellout! For if they were not so, they would never see their name in lights or on a printed page. Period! The proof in the pudding is exactly what transpires during this latest 2012 Presidential horserace. Never has there been the issue of our 800+ bases worldwide and the obscene spending on our military empire. Both the president and his ‘ game show host Mr. Brylcream ‘ opponent love to talk about the deficit and the economy etc. Yet, they refuse to deal with the fact that it is the obscene military spending on phony wars and occupations that have the rulers of this empire happy as can be. The more the politicians sidestep the truth of what really ails us, the more the money is pumped out of our pockets and into theirs. So, with these two sellout candidates and their respective talking head media supporters, we get column A) and column B). Romney and his gang want column A) which is more and more military spending, in excess of the record breaking $ 563 billion last year ( which was almost double what we spent 10 years earlier- record-breaking at the time ). Column B) is Mr. Obama and his gang proud to say that he expects the military spending to remain the same or perhaps a wee bit higher.  Meanwhile, we have Mom and Pop businesses going under, layoffs, severe state and city budget cuts… you know the drill?

 

No mention last night of the perils that the Palestinians are facing under the Israeli boot. No, only how Israel is our best ally and friend. Ask any member of the massive Israeli peace movement and they would say to both candidates “With friends like that…” The president was so proud of what we did to Libya with our bombing campaign that killed more innocent civilians than it did the regime’s military. Ditto for what we did to the Iraqis under Bush and Cheney, and now our drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan under a Democratic president. Boy oh boy, the movers and shakers of this Military Industrial Empire are laughing all the way to their banks, the money they are all making out of this ****. Yet, the majority of those who actually will go and vote only see the issues that the empire controlled media want them to focus on. Shame on them! Guess what? When all the smoke clears on November 7th, the Fat Cats who run this empire could not give a rat’s ass who the suckers put in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Most likely, they would rather see Obama re-elected so as to use him (as they have already) to ‘Keep the natives off the streets ‘when the next depression finally takes hold. To date, we have had only a mere foreshadowing of it… the rest is on the way.

PA Farruggio

October 23rd, 2012

 

{Philip A Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He is a free lance columnist (found on Information Clearing house, Dandelion Salad, Doomstead Diner, Activist Post, Dissident Voice and Smirking Chimp sites), an environmental products sales rep and an activist. Since 2010, Philip is a spokesperson for the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military spending 25%. Philip can be reached at paf1222@bellsouth.net }

 

Romney/Ryanism in Tampa

Off the Keyboard of Steve Lendman

 Published originally on August 31st, 20121 on the Steve Lendman Blog
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasboard inside the Diner
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
Tampa may never be the same. Republicans left it pockmarked. At least they’re gone. Residents welcomed their departure. Three days of pre-scripted hokum were featured. Romney/Ryan speeches featured revisionist history. Democrats get their turn next week.
Campaigning is in high gear. According to Bloomberg, “you’d need six months to watch every presidential campaign ad.” As of August 22, 526,633 (30 or 60 second) spots were run.
By election day November 6, perhaps they’ll top a million. And that’s only for president. All House and 33 Senate seats are up for grabs. So are numerous others at state and local levels. They range from gubernatorial to local school boards.
A war of words hammers US voters nonstop. Relief won’t come until post-election. America’s campaign season never ends. Preparations begin immediately for the next cycle. Big money plans it that way. Candidates and officeholders either go along or find another line of work. Voters get betrayed every time.
Tampa was Exhibit A. Romney/Ryan represent socially destructive interests. Obama’s the same. Voters are stuck between fire and brimstone.
America’s political process is too dysfunctional and corrupted to fix. People should either vote independent or stay home. Both major parties are two sides of the same coin. Not a dime’s worth of difference that matters separates them.
They represent money power and imperial lawlessness. People needs are spurned. Bipartisan complicity plans destroying them entirely. Social America is on the chopping block for elimination. Political Washington’s vision is dark age harshness.
Obama/Biden/Romney/Ryan represent the worst of all possible worlds. Obama’s con man days began in Illinois. Before entering politics, Romney parlayed grand theft into super wealth.
As Bain Capital head, he profiteered by leveraged buyouts, asset-stripping companies, and leaving thousands of workers high and dry. As president, he’ll do for America what he did to one plundered company after another.
On August 29, Matt Taibbi headlined his Rolling Stone article “Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.”
He calls him the flip side of Che or Trotsky. He’s a human wrecking machine. He’s right out of predatory capitalism’s central casting. He’s a visionary for everything harming people.
His campaign reflects “a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy.” He’s kept it hidden out of sight. Ryan’s his alter ego. He’s “a self-righteous anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who’d be honored to tell Oliver Twist” the soup bowl is empty, go hungry.
On the one hand, Romney claims “a prairie fire of debt” is ravaging America. On the other, he got super-rich by “borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back.” He’s one of the “most irresponsible debt creators of all time.”
In Ryan, he’s got “perhaps the only politician in America more pompous and self-righteous” than himself on the evils debt piled up by borrowed money. “No one in history has ever successfully run for president riding this big a lie.” In November, he may become the exception that proves the rule.
He’s unapologetic. He’s emblematic of Wall Street fraud, greed, and indifference about human need and welfare. He’s one of their own. He can be president, Treasury secretary and Fed chairman all in one. He represents everything wrong with America getting worse.
He’s a dagger at humanity’s heart. He’s the perfect frontman for destroying decades of social progress. Give him four years and it won’t exist. He endorses government of, by and for super-rich elites like himself.
He’s “a new and improved version” of Gordon Gekko dressed up in better PR and more grandiose notions of wealth and power. He envisions leveraged buying out America. He’ll leave everyone else to pay the tab.
His business model is scorched earth asset stripping. Expect ordinary people to be left high and dry. He wants America looking like one company after another he wrecked. He thinks it’s OK as long as his hands don’t look dirty.
His free market notions suck life from people. He’s a brigand who discards them like trash. He believes only making money matters. He made piles the old fashioned way by stealing it. Dirty money buys as much as honest cash. Romney got lots of federal help making plenty.
Government giveaways enriched him. So did business-friendly tax provisions. They facilitate leveraged buyout scams. They made Romney super-rich.
Before he took office, James Petras called Obama “the greatest con man in recent history.” He compared him to Melville’s Confidence Man. “He catches your eye while he picks your pocket.” Romney one-ups him and then some. He knows every dirty trick in the book to steal, wreck human lives, and get off scot free.
He’s the perfect frontman for financialized America. It uses money to make more of it without manufacturing anything. It prospers at the expense of others. It hides wealth in tax havens. It watches from the sidelines while America crumbles.
It’s being transforming into Guatemala, complete with police state harshness. Come January, Romney may head the grand scheme. Obama’s able to match him blow for blow.
Imagine the state of the nation four years hence under either leader. Imagine having endless wide awake nightmares. Imagine the worst of all possible worlds. Obama/Romney assure it. They’ll be no place to hide.
Take no prisoners defines their style. Romney comes off brash. Obama’s more subtle. Either way they’re flip sides of the same coin. Decades earlier Republicans and Democrats wouldn’t recognize their modern-day successors.
Political conventions today bear little resemblance to earlier ones. Predictability replaced suspense. In 1976, Gerald Ford contested Ronald Reagan on the convention floor to become Republican nominee.
In 1960, Jack Kennedy lacked a majority until Wyoming voted last. Everything now is pre-scripted theater. It’s like watching an old film aired many previous times.
Tropical storm Isaac/turned hurricane had first say in Tampa. It shortened circus shenanigans to three days. Reactionary extremism, hokum, grandiosity, and revisionist history took center stage. Influence peddling dominated behind the scenes deal making.
Pre-scripted bluster went off as planned. Dissembling obscured reality. Delegates were fed red meat malarkey. Tough issues were ducked. They were distorted by falsely claiming Romney/Ryan have ways to fix America.
Today’s political conventions are coronations, not nominations. Suspense and political honesty are nowhere in sight. Everything heard is predictable.
In Tampa, politicians impersonated actors. Clint Eastwood played the opposite role. He fell flat and then some. He sounded more under the table than over the top.
Critics called his cameo “bizarre” and “embarrassing.” At age 82, best stick to gardening. Even Republicans called it a mistake to invite him. Democrats make fools of themselves next week. Ready or not, Charlotte awaits their arrival.
They’ll match Republicans blow for blow. Rhetoric alone separates them. Politics on either side of the aisle reflect flip sides of the same coin. They’re lawless, merciless, inhumane, anti-labor, anti-welfare, racist, neoliberal, elitist, pro-business, pro-war, and anti-populist.
A previous article said both parties believe America’s future depends on greater wealth disparity, ignoring public need, waging war on humanity, silencing truth, and cracking down on non-believers.
On November 6, voters get to choose between either wing of America’s money party. Duopoly power offers no alternative.
A Final Comment
All week, Tampa was on virtual lockdown. Hundreds of protesters showed up. Thousands of cops confronted them. Media scoundrels largely ignored them.
They marched on the RNC’s convention site. Occupy Tampa came out. Ahead of convention week, they noted an unemployment crisis, a do-nothing Congress, and other vital unaddressed issues. They complained about security protocol restrictions compromising their First Amendment rights.
Occupy the RNC was there. They’re unaffiliated. They stand in solidarity with Charlotte DNC protesters. They railed against both parties. They’re tied to corporate rule, war, economic injustice, and freedom extinguishing policies.
America’s “entire system….is rooted in greed and power.” Exploitation and oppression are prioritized. They demand better like others. They facilitated logistics for protesters.
They published Tampa Principles. They support political diversity within their struggle for social, economic, and environmental justice. They’re committed to treating everyone with respect.
They oppose repressing dissent, surveillance, infiltration, disruption, police brutality, and restrictive “free speech zones” far from convention activities. They united for change not possible without sustained commitment.
Code Pink came out in force. During Romney’s speech, their members stood up chanting and unfurling banners saying “People over Profits.” “Democracy is not a business.”
They interrupted Ryan’s speech. They demanded women’s rights, control over their own bodies, and healthcare, not warfare.
They stormed the streets and convention site day and night. They delivered messages saying end wars and get money out of politics. They explained America’s broken electoral system. What’s the point of kicking out bums for new ones.
Dressed as pink police, they staged mock citizens’ arrests at every Condi Rice event. At a pro-Israeli one, they denounced its illegal occupation. They spoke out against war on Iran. With barely a chance to exhale, they’re off for Charlotte and more demonstrations.
Others in Washington shut down a busy intersection as Romney was about to accept his party’s nomination. They chose a spot known for activism.
They protested his politics of the rich. They held signs saying “Stop the Romney economy.” “We are here to protest Romney’s nomination.” People need to hear disenfranchised voices.
Others must lend support. The only solution is world revolution. Change comes only from the bottom up. It’s time to challenge the beast and slay it.

The Orkin Man: Which Side Are You On?

Comment on this article here:

 

The Orkin man is one of RE's favorite memes, often invoked as a symbol of retribution by the meek against the great. When we watch gangsters confiscate houses with impunity and murder by proxy and a pen (see the story of Norman Rousseau), run the economy into a ditch, commandeered great bonuses and be subject to none of the usual proceedings of justice, it is easy to despair and to look for revenge. This overwritten screed is a meditation upon what has become a thought-provoking thread rife with implications, a thought experiment which, if followed through the course of its own ineluctable logic, obliges each of us to measure where we would fall, and what we would do, in the event TSHTF.

What has actually happened here in this country on these rare occasions when people have stood up en masse to Fight the Power? In a previous lifetime, I investigated and created a documentary  about the Battle at Blair Mountain. You will likely not have heard of this, the teaching of labor history having apparently been classified as a Class I misdemeanor here in the FSA. In the largest uprising in the United States outside of the Civil War, in 1921, thousands of miners waged armed warfare in Logan County, West Virginia against mine owners,  sheriff Don Chafin, and federal troops, in an effort to unionize the mines.

In Mingo, Logan and McDowell counties, miners worked under incredibly bad conditions, were paid next to nothing, had no freedom of speech or assembly, and were dispatched with impunity by mine guards and local politicos in an atmosphere reminiscent of a third-world dictatorship, or contemporary South Carolina. In 1921, thousands of miners and  families were  evicted from their tents after having the temerity to join a union. The Miners’ March, as it was called, was set to change all that. The military was engaged, as always, to Protect Property Rights, those most sacred and revered of all rights extended by the Hand of God to the white, male property owners who created the FSA. The miners’ intention was to march to the southwestern coalfields and free  fellow miners from abominable treatment at the hands or mine owners.

The miners were opposed by a well-armed contingent of mine guards and State Police with rifles and machine guns. These would eventually be joined by 2,000 regular Army troops armed with airplanes, bombs, and poison gas. The two forces met at Blair Mountain, in Logan County, along the ridge line.

This was the Battle of Blair Mountain.

 

The battle marked the first time U.S. troops were ordered to bomb civilians.  Federal troops squared off against citizen miners, many  themselves veterans hardened from recent service in WW I.

The union leader Bill Blizzard eventually surrendered his army in order to avoid further civilian casualties. Blizzard was acquitted in court of insurrection. Future UMW & CIO leader John L. Lewis fought alongside Blizzard at the Battle of Blair Mountain and succeeded in getting recognition for the union 14 years later in southern West Virginia.

One of the songs that sprung up in the wake of  these labor troubles with the song "Which side are you on?" It was written by Florence Reece, the wife a union organizer for the UMW in Harlan County, Kentucky, when the miners of that region were locked in a bitter and violent struggle with the mine owners called the Harlan County War. In an attempt to intimidate the Reece family, the local sheriff illegally entered their family home in search of Sam Reece. Sam had been warned in advance and escaped, but Florence and their children were terrorized in his place. That night, after the men had gone, Florence wrote the lyrics to "Which Side Are You On?" on a calendar that hung in the kitchen of her home. She took the melody from a traditional Baptist hymn, "Lay the Lily Low."  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Which_Side_Are_You_On%3F)

A Song by Florence Patton Reece

Come all of you good workers
Good news to you I'll tell
Of how that good old union
Has come in here to dwell

Chorus
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?

My daddy was a miner
And I'm a miner's son
And I'll stick with the union
Till every battle's won

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there
You'll either be a union man
Or a thug for J.H. Blair

Oh, workers can you stand it?
Oh, tell me how you can
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?

Don't scab for the bosses
Don't listen to their lies
Us poor folks haven't got a chance
Unless we organize

So the miners organized together to Fight the Power, to take the law into their own hands because the law was an ass. What they got for their trouble was the full response of the state in all of its Majesty and force of arms. Eventually the legal system would catch up. In the fullness of time, union rights would be recognized, at least until after World War II, when the elites mounted their counterrevolution under the banner of "right to work” laws.

In my loathing for the Banksters and their apologists,  I take a back seat to nobody. The bailout  of 2008, otherwise known as the "banksters coup," was just the cherry on top of the same toxic milkshake served up as economic and social policy over the last 30 years. The insane clown posse that passes for the modern Republican Party has eyeballed the demographic trends, and pasted together an assemblage  of what Drfitglass called "the scattered,raving remnants of the Confederacy for one, last glorious bonfire of democracy." Combine the wholesale assault of the remnant of the New Deal in an atmosphere of "industrialized political hatespeech," Fox News, Hate Radio and the Tea Party with its Billionaire backers, and it's easy to succumb to the desire to want to kill something.

Intellectually I hold with Kunstler's "lamppost and 40 feet of sturdy nylon rope" as the due for the "masters of the universe "who have ground down our economy and wrecked the ship of state. But personal morality makes looping the first skein of rope over the lamppost morally fraught. On the other hand, one is left with the spectacle of the pigmen rooting among the remains of the economy and the country, like Wu's pigs disposing of a fresh corpse in HBO's "Deadwood."

 

 

It is this episode that springs to mind as I consider the "Orkin Man Master Plan" (OMMP) as discussed on the forum of the Doomstead Diner. http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/forum/index.php?topic=477.0

The Orkin man is a favorite device of RE, the invoking of which I have enjoyed since the same since his days on The Burning Platform blog. The Orkin man is an exterminator who cleanses the dwelling of lice, vermin, termites and all manner of infestations. The analogy is clear. The remedy less so.

One poster on Doomsday Diner posed the question, "Who gets to be the Orkin man?” Indeed. Who gets to be the decider? Being the decider has great costs, which turned on a fundamental moral issue, at a time when our moral and spiritual institutions are in decline, church attendance down, and many people utterly and completely unequipped to weigh moral and ethical questions. And as much as I like to give voice to my inner hunchback, there is that "judge not lest ye be judged" morality imbued by a Catholic education and nun-beatings that inflects one's thoughts, processes and decisions, even decades later.

As I reflected on the more recent exemplars of individuals taking on such a strategy in this country, and after Blair Mountain, my mind skittered to thoughts of Kosovo, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Pinochet's Argentina, and then settled on the best recent example: Pol Pot whose efforts to form a Communist peasant farming society resulted in the deaths of 25 percent of the country's population from starvation, overwork and executions. Those Khmer Rouge wanted to return to the land as well, and also wanted to cleanse the parasites, userers and useless eaters from the face of Cambodia. A cautionary tale about the work of idealists who want to remake a society by means of "cleansing" the "parasites…"

It took a while for ol' Pol to consolidate power– he needed to throw in with Sihanouk to fight the right wing junta the US had installed, then the US had to leave the 'Nam and Cambodia. But once in power, he began a radical experiment to create an agrarian utopia that would warm the heart of the most doomy doomster. Pol Pot had seen Mao's Cultural Revolution first-hand during a visit to Communist China, so he figured to go The Great Yellow River Swimmer one better.

Mao's "Great Leap Forward"  included forced evacuations of Chinese cities and the purging of "class enemies, " a move that would apparently gain favor among participants in this thread. Pol Pot now stood up his own "Super Duper New and Improved Great Leap Forward" in Cambodia, which in itself was new and improved, hence renamed the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea.

Remember Pol Pot's ringing declaration, "This is Year Zero?" Ah, search your memories. Society was to be "purified." Capitalism, Western culture, city life, religion, and all foreign influences to be extinguished. Intellectuals, bureaucrats and other glasses-wearers were to push wheelbarrows, the better to repent of their pointy-headedness, and to learn the glories of peasant Communism. Foreigners were expelled, embassies closed,  foreign economic or medical assistance refused. No use of foreign languages. Newspapers and television stations were shut down, radios and bicycles confiscated, and mail and telephone usage curtailed. Money was forbidden. (That will kick those usurers in the ass.) Businesses were shuttered, religion banned, education halted, health care eliminated, and parental authority revoked. Thus Cambodia was sealed off from the outside world, almost as effectively as if information were controlled by a small handful of media companies.

Something about that live-or-die thingy tends to bring out the excesses in our revolutionary heroes. I'll put that in my "Robespierre was overworked and misunderstood" file.

Can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. All of Cambodia's cities were forcibly evacuated. At Phnom Penh, two million inhabitants were evacuated on foot into the countryside at gunpoint. As many as 20,000 died along the way. Can't let that stop a man with a purpose.

Millions of Cambodians accustomed to city life were now forced into slave labor in Pol Pot's "killing fields" where they soon began dying from overwork, malnutrition and disease, on a diet of one tin of rice (180 grams) per person every two days, the better to become compost and improve the yields.

 

 

Workdays ran to the 18 hour day, Pol having taken the American South's "right to work" euphemism to heart. The starving were forbidden to eat the fruits and rice they were harvesting, as that was confiscated by the Khmer rouge and loaded onto their own trucks.

And you can't have a party without the purges… a veritable binge of purges. Up against the wall went the remnants of the "old society" – the educated, the wealthy, Buddhist monks, police, doctors, lawyers, teachers, glasses-wearers all, no doubt. Ex-soldiers were killed along with their wives and children. Eventually the taste for human blood leads to a paranoia of sorts, and why not?  Anyone suspected of disloyalty to Pol Pot, including eventually many Khmer Rouge leaders, was shot or bludgeoned with an ax. "What is rotten must be removed," a Khmer Rouge slogan proclaimed.

The casualty count rose until Vietnam launched a full-scale invasion of Cambodia seeking to end Khmer Rouge border attacks. On January 7, 1979, Phnom Penh fell and Pol Pot was deposed, and a Vietnamese puppet government put in.

Pol Pot disappeared into the jungles of Thailand with his Khmer Rouge remnant and waged guerrilla war against a succession of Cambodian governments for decades, eventually sputtering out and dying of an apparent heart attack before he could be dragged to trial before an international tribunal.

So it matters little who you pick as the Orkin Man, or how good your motives are, or how thorough your efforts at re-education or eradication may be. The role seems to carry some occupational hazards, as if the appetite for blood, human death and destruction carries with it the seeds of insanity.

Although the image of banksters and stockbrokers mucking out pigpens and pushing wheelbarrows through knee-deep mud remains compelling.

But point was that any kind of social engineering, social cleansing, ethnic cleansing executed by a political agenda will inevitably collapse, most often due to its own corruption and increasingly escalating paranoia on the part of the strongman or the secret oligarchy of "deciders." There is a reason that we are taught from a very early age, "vengeance is mine saith the Lord, ”  "Thou shalt not kill," and  other Biblical admonishments against the taking of life. It could be that this ancient wisdom recalls that wielding the tools of vengeance is simply above the pay grade of us mere mortals. On the other hand, psychopaths recognize no such compunction. But the question remains: what do we do, what action should we take at a time when psychopaths have commandeered the engines of government and commerce, economic or rate with complete impunity and beyond the reach of such justice as still remains?

 

In response to such musings, RE posted the following:

RE:

Here of course is the EXCESS which occurs in many an Inqusition/Reign of Terror type scenario.  There is going to be a lot of BLOWBACK resultant from many people who have lost their comfortable life and who want to see PPII DEAD because of that.  He gets blamed for the problems they have; he gets blamed for their loss of economic status in the society.  So PPII gets PARANOID, for good reason.  People really ARE out to get him.  So he starts Killing Them before they Kill Him. //

So all of them go down in History as the most vicious and Genocidal Dictators in all of Recorded History, at least in gross numbers if not in Percentages .  .  .  

Moving into the FUTURE here, the issue is you cannot even Save As Many as you Can by PLAYING BALL with the Illuminati.  Why?  Because said Illuminati are Fresh OUT of Cheap Oil to sell you with Loans they hand out to you.  So unfortunately here in this Morton's Fork situation, the social dynamic is likely to produce numerous PPIIs and Great Uncle Joes.  Because unless somebody does SOMETHING to try to keep the society organized up, the Dieing will be WORSE than it would be if you have some Dictator FORCING people to evacuate the Big Shities.  They aren't going to do that on their own until it is too late and they all are starving and Cannibalizing each other.

 

We are thus faced with an untenable situation: if any one of us were to put on the Pol Pot T shirt, we would find ouselves in a similar situation, fraught with awful decisions and tinged by paranoia, regions of the mind visited by Joseph Conrad. Far preferable to remember the biblical injunctions that direct our conduct, as Ashvin observed:

Ashvin:

It's not about what we you and I can justify to ourselves with our personal beliefs. It is what you can get OTHER PEOPLE to accept based on their beliefs. Anyone who truly believes in Judeo-Christian theology cannot accept OMMP any more than they can accept Infanticide, even when they are committed with "good intentions" for some Utilitarian goal. According to them, God is perfect and they are imperfect. God has commanded them to avoid certain Sins, and they must have faith in God's wisdom no matter what. It is not up to them to decide what sins are acceptable via good intentions or utilitarian calculations. 

Quote from: Matthew 7:14-27

14“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20“So then, you will know them by their fruits.

21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25“And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27“The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

I'm just using them as an example of people whose beliefs are fundamentally in opposition to OMMP. They will become your enemies… but them and who else? I think you can easily make the argument that most true Hindus and Buddhists will as well. Now we are easily talking about a lot of people. How many people who claim to believe in these Immortal Truths will have the nerve to follow through when your so-called Herd is stampeding against them? I don't know, probably only a small fraction. 

But my point here is that some of them will, and people like me will admire them for doing so. It's an amazing thing, really, to have that kind of total devotion to some higher power even in the face of what appears to be the likely threat of species-wide extinction. Talk about a small gate and narrow way!

 

Yet as we abjure violence, the fact is that evil remains. RE remains adamant about proactively taking the fight to the Pigmen:

RE:

Regardless of the means here, whether it is Sepukku or Capital Punishment, the situation is going to create the BLOWBACK from people who once had power, now removed.  They will attempt Counter Revolutions and so forth.  So you get forced into a battle here no matter what, and people DIE no matter what.

Practical sort of fellow that I am, I work my way through this dynamic to try to find the pathway with the least pain and the greatest survivability for the typical Slave in our society.  The means I see working best is to take the battle to the Illuminati before they get the Death Camps rolling in earnest here.  You do have to wait for the Failure of the Conduits though, because as long as the Iluminati have the Big Ass Military and Gestapo organized up and functioning, you stand no chance here.  Once those Conduits fracture though, the playing field is LEVELLED.

Then you don't just get MAD, you get EVEN.

 

In other words, when you observe that the Illuminati are engineering a significant die-off of the "excess" workforce, to bring the earth's carrying capacity in line with that proscribed by the Georgia Guidestones, what should the meek do? Stand obediently in line at the abattoir, or take the fight to the oppressors? As we all observe every day, there IS such a thing as evil. [There is an entire website (http://www.sott.net/) devoted to the subject of “ponerology” (the study of evil), for those who need a deeper dive into that sort of thing. I confess a somewhat light stomach for learning much more about the rarefied appetites of our elites, the Franklin affair and multiple pedophilia rings being enough to induce projectile vomiting .  .  .]

The question each of us has to address is, Which side are you on? If you knew that those in control were working to box you into a freight car headed to an unknown future, but which would likely involve Fresh Towels and Hot Showers, would you get on the train or would you take the fight to them? And would you take the fight to them knowing that they controlled all of the vectors and tools of violence with force  overwhelming to individual scale? Indeed, our elites have changed the laws to enable the military to operate with impunity here in the "North American battleground" (yes, friends, if you are paying the least bit of attention, we are indeed the enemy), as they have likewise militarized our local police forces, complete with spiffy looking SWAT team suits, armored vehicles. and drones, as the latest invention. We have as our president the only Nobel Peace Prize winner with a personal kill list. So it may be well to say that we're living in a time where the lessons of history no longer inform  what we may be able to infer about the future. All bets are off.

 

Ultimately, I hold with RE when he says, "save as many as you can," although we may differ about what that means. As an occupier, I believe that our presence in the streets and withholding our consent is everything that we can do. The community gardening movement is a step toward self-reliance, and teaching others to be self reliant. A self-reliant independent populace is anathema to the powers that be. But even the most psychopathic will find it difficult to dial-up a drone strike against a community garden, unless I miss my bet. Our resistance will be nonviolent, as the state has an utter and complete monopoly of the tools of violence, and a demonstrated increasing bloodthirstiness in  applying them. I do not wish to make it easy for them, and have little desire to become a martyr, in a time when even bankster loan officers can murder with a pen and a computer.

Hunter S. Thompson once described himself as a "Road Man for the Lords of Karma." Since nature, or God bats last, my own view is that through education, self-reliance, and nonviolent resistance we can change a culture. The history of this society guarantees a rain of vengeance and disproportionate response on the part of the minions of the elites, in a road that runs from the Cherokee "Trail of Tears," though the gulag, through Logan Country through the paddies of Kampuchea to Zuccotti Park. And even if successful, the victors turn into monsters. Changing a society will take generations; generations which we may not have. Our opponents have been at this for many decades; we should not expect the quick fix.

In the coming days, each of us will need to stand up and be counted. At least I know which side I'm on.

You CANNOT Make Something from Nothing

Repost from a debate underway between Steve of Virginia of the Economic Undertow and RE of the Doomstead Diner on the question of whether a 3rd Party presents a Political Solution to our current spin down.  The original thread on EU is Topic for Discussion.

RE

Discuss this further inside the Diner at the Frosbite Falls Daily Rant

Reverse Engineer says:

We do of course have many “3rd Parties”, just none with a snowball’s chance in hell of getting Elected on any kind of scale.  Occassionally they do, Bernie Sanders is a Socialist, right?

Creating some kind of monolithic 3rd Party to represent the 99% is pretty tough, because of all those nasty subsidiary issues people get bogged down in, like Gay Marriage, Stem Cell Research, School Prayer yadda yadda.

Then you have your Eurotrash example to deal with, where new Parties pop up like Buboes all the time, the new Syriza party in Greece beign a classic example of this.  So you get your Parliamentary structure with 10 different parties seated and brokering to make “coalitions” to form Goobermints and the Lock Up is just about as bad as the Two Party Farce we have.

So, while a 3rd Party is a nice idealized concept, in practicality it would do little to change the general state of Political Seizure we have going all over the world these days.  There really is not a good Political Solution to the problems we are confronted with, and no I do not think simply eliminating the Carz would help the situation all that much even if you could pull this off Politically.

In all likelihood, the structure we have in place here cannot be salvaged at all, including the “democratic” institutions of Goobermint which basically just serve as Window Dressing anyhow for very powerful people who work behind the Curtain.  the system will have to collapse before anything new can be rebuilt, if there is anything left to rebuild with anyhow.

A 3rd Party here in the FSofA, even if a viable one is formed will not make a difference in the way Da Goobermint is operating.  The 3rd Party POTUS if elected would still face gridlock in CONgress, and eliminating all the corruption and lobbyists and Golden Parachute jobs in Banking or Industry for revolving door Congressmen is about impossible.  NO financing rules will stop this action from taking place, they’ll just find back doors around it all.

The only solution is a DISSOLUTION of the FSofA Nation State Entity into many Baby Bells, an anti-trust type action.  then individual regions will be more free to develop their own local solutions and own local Political Parties.

The FSofA is Too Big to Save.

RE

 

Reverse Engineer says:

 

 

“RE, you are giving the establishment too much credit.”-Steve

I don’t think so.  These are the same folks who wrote into existence the credit necessary to build and subsidize the Railroads, the Electrical Grid, the Interstate Highways, Goobermint Motors and of course the Internet.  That is a LOL of Credit Steve, by any measure.

Who EVER really had a “choice” here about whether the Railroad would get Right of Way through their Farmhouse?  Who ever really had a choice whether a Macondo Well was drilled or not?  Sure, we got the EPA and other Window Dressing, but man, if the Money Masters want to Drill ANWR, bet your bottom Dollar (or really theirs) they’ll go right ahead and do that.

Describing the Tea Party as a raging success here is IMHO nonsense, that “Party” is just another piece of Window Dressing, taking money from the Koch Brothers and other monied interests.  They aren’t independent in any sense of the word.  Besides that, like Syriza in Greece, they buy the same idea that “Growth” can be achieved, when it cannot.

How does anyone form a 3rd party around the idea that Contraction and Shrinkage is what is necessary, when that means in practicality that the Lights will Go Out or at least regular brownouts for a while, everybody has to give up their Carz and all the mobility that allows them and everybody has to give up their Iphones and 24/7 connection to the Internet?

Any 3rd Party which does form is going to make the same tired promises every other party does, then once in office will be subjected to the same pressures resutant from a contracting economy.  So then they get dumped out of office or eventually strung up by their Gonads, and the next somewhat more extreme group plops into the power vacuum.

This is the nature of the collapse as it plays out with the Political systems of control. It will of course become exacerbated when the logistical systems also begin to fail, the power grid, the JIT delivery system etc.  You cannot fix that by any means, because the thermodynamic energy is not there to do it with.  The whole system is built on that, you know that as well as I do.

Trying to fix the problems we have here at the Political level is like trying to fix a Car that is misfiring by replacing the Spark Plugs when the REAL problem is the Gas Tank is about EMPTY.  You can drop Shiny New Plugs into the Engine, but its STILL not going anywhere.

Outta Gas.

RE

 

  • steve from virginia says:

     

     

    Unmanaged breakdown has unforeseeable consequences. Selling restraint is easy when the only reasonable alternatives are unpleasant, such as what you describe.

    By the time people realize the current suite of canned ‘solutions’ is defective it will be too late to organize better strategies. It is best to start now. Everyone over @ this blog understands what is behind ‘Door Number 1′. If you’ve come this far in the ‘game’ you know there isn’t a whole lot left to lose.

    Meanwhile, your grandparents dealt with hard times without complaint as did mine … although I have to admit that doing so made them kinda crazy. The Depression made ‘prosperity in a can’ an entitlement rather than good luck. That is an attitude rather than a condition. :)

     

     

  •  

     

    “Meanwhile, your grandparents dealt with hard times without complaint as did mine … although I have to admit that doing so made them kinda crazy. The Depression made ‘prosperity in a can’ an entitlement rather than good luck. That is an attitude rather than a condition.”-Steve

    Our GPs dealt with hard times when probably 90% of the population was still agrarian and when there really still was plenty-o-oil left to be extracted into the economy, thence and thereafter to be burned up to run the big engine of Industrialization.  Besides that, there were not near so many of them running willy nilly around the planet as there are now.

    The “hard times” our GPs faced would come to an end with an explosion of credit first to finance WWII, ours will not.  It’s not even clear WWIII can be financed on credit this time before the system implodes.  Even if it can be though, the aftermath won’t see a Marshall Plan rebuild of the Eurotrash OR a news Interstate Highways system built here in the FSofA.

    Selling on the Political Level that our future is one of an ever increasingly austere lifestyle is not a message most people want to hear, EVER.  Even if you predate Fossil Fuels, nobody would have been very popular saying “your kids are going to live an even WORSE life than you do”.

    Now, you can make the case that the End Life here is better in the Spiritual Sense, you can hold dear the life of Monet and his paintings or the world the Founding Fathers lived in as an idealized version of reality,  but fact is none of that was very sustainable EITHER. For the average J6P of those years, they had at least as many problems as we have with the current paradigm, at least personally.  What they did not have was quite the level of ecological damage this paradigm does of course.

    Is there a POLITICAL solution to this problem, 3rd Party or otherwise?  I put it to you that there is not.  It’s a catabolic collapse Steve, and ain’t NUTHIN gonna stop it now.  We WILL get 3rd parties, and 4th and 5th ones also as the first 2 parties fail in providing even the most basic of services and Goobermint to the community.

    This system cannot be repaired within the confines of it’s current structure, and it will, it MUST collapse before any other system can be dropped in as replacement.  3rd Parties are not the Solution.  The Final Solution is the complete destruction of this paradigm and it won’t take revolt for that to occur, though this most certainly will be part of the outcome.  The destruction will come organically from internal rot and the necessary obediance to the most fundamental of Natural Laws.

    You CANNOT make Something from Nothing.

    RE

  • Update 9:30PM 5/29/2012

Reverse Engineer says:

“Meanwhile, your grandparents dealt with hard times without complaint as did mine … although I have to admit that doing so made them kinda crazy. The Depression made ‘prosperity in a can’ an entitlement rather than good luck. That is an attitude rather than a condition.”-Steve

Our GPs dealt with hard times when probably 90% of the population was still agrarian and when there really still was plenty-o-oil left to be extracted into the economy, thence and thereafter to be burned up to run the big engine of Industrialization.  Besides that, there were not near so many of them running willy nilly around the planet as there are now.

The “hard times” our GPs faced would come to an end with an explosion of credit first to finance WWII, ours will not.  It’s not even clear WWIII can be financed on credit this time before the system implodes.  Even if it can be though, the aftermath won’t see a Marshall Plan rebuild of the Eurotrash OR a news Interstate Highways system built here in the FSofA.

Selling on the Political Level that our future is one of an ever increasingly austere lifestyle is not a message most people want to hear, EVER.  Even if you predate Fossil Fuels, nobody would have been very popular saying “your kids are going to live an even WORSE life than you do”.

Now, you can make the case that the End Life here is better in the Spiritual Sense, you can hold dear the life of Monet and his paintings or the world the Founding Fathers lived in as an idealized version of reality,  but fact is none of that was very sustainable EITHER. For the average J6P of those years, they had at least as many problems as we have with the current paradigm, at least personally.  What they did not have was quite the level of ecological damage this paradigm does of course.

Is there a POLITICAL solution to this problem, 3rd Party or otherwise?  I put it to you that there is not.  It’s a catabolic collapse Steve, and ain’t NUTHIN gonna stop it now.  We WILL get 3rd parties, and 4th and 5th ones also as the first 2 parties fail in providing even the most basic of services and Goobermint to the community.

This system cannot be repaired within the confines of it’s current structure, and it will, it MUST collapse before any other system can be dropped in as replacement.  3rd Parties are not the Solution.  The Final Solution is the complete destruction of this paradigm and it won’t take revolt for that to occur, though this most certainly will be part of the outcome.  The destruction will come organically from internal rot and the necessary obediance to the most fundamental of Natural Laws.

You CANNOT make Something from Nothing.

RE

Update 9:30PM 5/29./2012

  • steve from virginia says:

     

     

    RE you are conflicting yourself. On one hand you insist that _______________-driven unraveling is underway (true) then you insist that nobody will accept it. At the same time the basis of public unhappiness is acceptance of the FACT of the _______________-driven unraveling.

    Collapse is a really, really big idea, but it’s already embedded in pop culture … Hollywood has made a bunch of movies and TV shows about it. What this means is that as big as it is it has already been framed. Everything is in play within pop culture, even doom.

    Unhappy folks want something. A return of Santa Claus is high on the wish list but cutting off the bailouts is a good second choice … that is also within reach.

    Nobody promises outcomes, certainly not politicians, not even the shills on late-night television.

    I’m certainly not doing a good job of explaining my economics (‘Economic’ undertow rather than just plain ol’ undertow). Restraint in the present means resources in the future, that is reasonable (and also a fact). The public discussion including ‘sustainability’ genuflects in this direction,

    Business as usual means competitive resource stripping and bankruptcy. This is failure … because business as usual is not working.

    I don’t agree that the press to consume comes from the bottom up. We are bombarded with manipulative advertising, our corporate culture insists on a place within every human activity. Business interests carry enormous weight: the customer is always wrong … or a victim … or some kind of chum. Business undermines its own interests even as it demands constant debt subsidy.

     

     

  •  

     

    “I don’t agree that the press to consume comes from the bottom up. We are bombarded with manipulative advertising, our corporate culture insists on a place within every human activity. Business interests carry enormous weight: the customer is always wrong … or a victim … or some kind of chum. Business undermines its own interests even as it demands constant debt subsidy. “-Steve

    I never said the press to consume comes from the bottom up, Steve.  In fact I said precisely the opposite, which is that those at the top chose to issue the credit to build the railroads and the interstate to create the culture we have before us.

    “We the People” can’t stop what is occurring short of a Global Revoltion because “We the People” are not in control of this and never have been.  Electing 3rd Party Puppets won’t do a damn thing to change anything, and if a truly charismatic “Leader” with a great vision stepped in to try to stop the Bailouts he would end up with Bullet meets Brain disease.

    Finally, I don’t see any conflict with the observation that although people are not happy with the status quo, the “solution” to their woes isn’t a life they either want or are prepared at the moment to live.  Nor in fact is it even clear that “conservation” will work or is possible to work given the dependence established on Oil.  Its not going to be possible to run Big Shities with all their electric lights and water sewage and pumping stations once “conservation” is fully implemented, either by choice or by economics.

    How do you move all those people out of those places and back to the land?  You can’t do it.  How do you deconstruct 100 years worth of ring roads and McMansions that are completely non-functional without the automobile?  You can’t do it.  At least not in a manner that itself is going to have vicious blowback.

    Perhaps “Collapse” has already been absorbed into the zeitgeist through pop culture, from Mad Max to Children of Men to Hunger Games.  It doesn’t make it wrong just because its been glommed by Hollywood.  Whether those apocalyptic depictions are precisely correct or not doesn’t matter.  The reality is we have an unsustainable paradigm which is collapsing on itself and we are long since past the point of being able to manage that collapse, if we ever were.  The relentless expansion of population and stripping of earth resources began long before the Age of Oil, it began with Agriculture and possibly even before that with the acquisition and control of Fire.  As top of the food chain predators, we simply were way too successful.  Now we live on a beaten up planet housing far too many locusts in this plague.  If there is a solution, it comes in the form of a massive population reduction, and that is not going to happen fast enough with even forced sterilization.  Even if you did THAT, you end up with a demographic nightmare of aging people.

    The solution will be imposed as it always has been, by Famine, Pestilence, War and Death.  The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

    RE

     

     

    • steve from virginia says:

       

       

      Keynes said it best: “in the long run we’re all dead”. What happens between now and then?

      First of all, you have no obligations to do anything, I won’t ask you to do anything (other than not beat up my other visitors). This is a discussion not the Wehrmacht. Part of the point is to see how folks feel about the future … from a more activist angle.

      You aren’t afraid of the activist angle are you?

      None of us has ever experienced a post-industrial society, we can’t imagine what it might be like. How to cope? I don’t know any more than anyone else, but the problems we face are human problems, not an invasion from Outer Space. The only reason we don’t solve these human problems is because we don’t want to. It’s that simple: ‘Now People’ (particularly Americans) are like little children. Nobody has ever said ‘no’ to them. Consequently, nobody knows how … to say no to them. Saying no is a lost art, like plastering.

      I agree to a large degree about the ‘crash idea’. So do a lot of other people. I don’t think it will take place tomorrow. What can be done with a perfectly serviceable tomorrow? Sleep in? Speak with a friend? Why not?

      Why write internet comments? There is a reason that speaks for itself regardless of your words: life is short, after all in the long run we are all dead!

      :)

       

       

    •  

       

      “First of all, you have no obligations to do anything, I won’t ask you to do anything (other than not beat up my other visitors). This is a discussion not the Wehrmacht. Part of the point is to see how folks feel about the future … from a more activist angle.”-Steve

      I don’t beat up on anybody who doesn’t throw the first punch :)  I also find it a lot more fun to jump in the ring with somebody in the same weight class than to plaster flyweights.

      The activist angle is important, and while I don’t support the 3rd Party idea or working through conventional Political Channels, I’m certainly not out here on the net putting excess mileage on my keyboard fingers because I wanna GIVE UP and throw in the towel.

      My take on it is that we have to wait for the system to implode on itself before  any realistic changes can be attempted.  The population as a whole is going to have to go through some real PAIN and HARDSHIP before they will let go of the idea that perpetual growth is possible.  After all, perpetual growth has had a log standing success rate here for Homo Sapiens, its been ongoing for 70,000 years since Toba knocked down the population to 10,000 Human Souls or 1000 Breeding Pairs.

      The key elements for me are preparation for the world to come, avoidance of the neighborhoods most likely to experience the worst aspects of the collapse and developing IN THEORY at least a paradigm that could be pursued afterward that would lead to a Better Tomorrow.

      I’m not a Hopeless Uber-Doomer who will capitulate to the idea that this is an Extinction Level Event.  Neither do I grasp hold of Doom Lite ideas, like changing our Political Leadership or building Greeny Windmills will resolve our problems.  I fit into what I call “Full Doom”, which postulates that rebuild cannot occur until all or at least most of the Conduits built throught he Age of Oil have collapsed into catastrophic failure mode.  This appears to me to be already well underway.

      Meanwhile what to do?  Duck and Cover.  Get as far away as you can from the Collapse Center, the Big Shities built on the thermodynamic energy of Oil.  Make connections locally, and work on redundant systems which can take over when the Oil based systems fail.  Let the Nation State wither and die, don’t support it and in fact do the best you can to undermine its further existence.  All these are Active things you can do which could help to create a Better Tomorrow.

      RE

Boys in the Black Pajamas

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table in the Diner

 

Ben Wrote:

thinking of you and your girls today, surly.

here’s the video of the niketown incident. diversity of tactics (DOT), baby. molotovs to follow. then trebuchets from rooftops. i mean roofstop.

Video of the Mayhem

inside the video player there’s a 2min version in the related videos menu at the culmination of this 50sec vid. it has ‘niketown’ in title. in case you want to see the front doors go smashy.

agents provocateurs (AP)? the actors themselves, covered up though they may be, physically don’t look like it to me. (this may seem arbitrarily presumptive but there it is.) if the black bloc marchers are not being shadowed by the popo they will be now, though i would expect that unless Occupy is stupid there is an tacit understanding between factions that DOT blacks and black bloc marchers remain mutually exclusive on any single day. i assume they are not actually marching but using it for cover. indeed the march looks to be at a trickle in this video which indicates they are hanging out on the periphery. surly, what’s your take on this?

at any rate it’s immaterial whether they are AP because the violence will escalate by hook or by crook.

 

The arrival of the Boys in Black Pajamas on the scene here in the FSofA is a major escalation from last year’s OWS Action.

BBPs are common in the Eurotrash Street Actions, and they are the Symbolic Uniform of the Anarchists. They also harken back to the Vietnam era, when the Freedom Fighters there also wore Black Pajamas. However, up until today, there was no obvious organized effort by BBPs to dispense mayhem on the streets during an FSofA demonstration. These folks were clearly well organized, since they obviously had their own Videographer on the scene to record their actions.

It is a Toss Up as to whether these folks are Agents Provacateur or not, but as Ben indicates, its not all that relevant whether they are or are not. What it does indicate is that there is going to be a clear escalation now to Violence on the Streets in actions taken here in the FSofA.

Why the Black Pajamas, other than the obvious Anarchist Statement they make? The Uniform provides a measure of Anonymity if they are caught on video, they all look the same more or less, so unless they are physically caught in the act by the Gestapo, they can’t simply be identified by Video and prosecuted afterward for the actions.

I am a little disappointed by some of their Techniques, trying to bust through hardenned Glass of a Bank with Wooden Batons is just a waste of energy here. Better tool would be a Sledgehammer or a Slingshot or Sling firing a Golf Ball size Rock or a Steel Ball Bearing at Point Blank Range. You wanna carry some serious velocity into that type of Glass to shatter it. KE=1/2MV[sup]2[/sup] and you’ll get a whole lot more bang for your buck with a rock travelling at 10 m/s than you will a wooden baton.

Technique aside, clearly anybody wearing All Black is now going to be Shadowed by the Gestapo, and possibly preemptively arrested before acting at all, although to date there is still no Law against wearing All Black that I know of. This of course can be easily overcome simply by wearing a different color Overshirt until you assemble for the Mayhem, then stripping off the overshirts, throwing a Black Bandana over your face and proceeding with the task of doing Property Damage.

I did also note in one story another new tactic, it was reported that in at least one case a few people were Arrested and Kettled, but these folks were then “Freed” by a larger group that overran the Gestapo position. Also noted was that the BBPs were moving around Police Barricades barricade the Gestapo from easy movement, as opposed to the usual other way round. In yet another story, I read that perhaps 100 Bicyclists engaged themselves in blockading the Gestapo. Clearly, these folks are picking up Tactics from the Eurotrash.

With this kind of escalation, it can’t be long before the Gestapo brings on the Heavy Artillery in the form of LRAD and Microwaves. However, these are hard to apply as long as the BBP work Guerrilla Actions and Flash Mob. The general demonstration provides the Cover, and you don’t Attack until a predetermined time and point which unless you are Infiltrated canot be known.

It will be interesting to see what the Gestapo will do to prevent this from escalating at the Conventions. If this is the action now, by then one suspects an order of magnitude increase. At some point here the Live Ammo will arrive on the scene, and when all those Guns come out, this is going to be a whole new Ballgame. No Eurotrash country has the sheer VOLUME of Guns floating around out there as the FSofA does.

No telling how fast this will escalate, but escalate it will, this is Carved in Stone now. With the Boys in Black Pajamas hitting the scene, it gets SERIOUS.

RE

How many people died for your eight-hour day?

Discuss this article at the Economics table in the Diner

How many people died for your eight-hour day?

The first week of May is the anniversary of some of the bloodiest struggles in the history of labor, culminating in a holiday commemorated worldwide in recognition of American events, but ignored by design in the United States.

In Hampton Roads, several Occupy groups came together to plan an action whose results quill be seen on Tuesday. All of this effort in support of the Occupy call for a general strike on Tuesday.

Many of the labor conditions that we accept as our birthright came at a huge cost, generally borne by working-class people banding together to insist on better conditions for themselves and their comrades. As Americans, we take for granted the many working conditions that were won for us only by the struggle of organized workers coming together in common to work for common goals.  From the vantage point of 2012, it’s easy to forget that the eight hour day was such a radical, leftist idea that police would fire into crowds of workers to stop it.The 8 hour day was actually a labor movement in the 19th century that took place over decades.

May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries. International Workers’ Day (also known as May Day) is a celebration of the international labor movements. It commonly sees organized street demonstrations and marches by working people throughout most of the world. International Workers’ Day is the commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago.

This 1886 engraving was the most widely reproduced image of the Haymarket affair. It inaccurately shows Fielden speaking, the bomb exploding, and the rioting beginning simultaneously.

 

Following the Civil War, the United States experienced a rapid expansion of industrial production. Chicago was a major industrial center and tens of thousands of German and Bohemian immigrants were employed at pauper’s wages, about $1.50 a day. Not surprisingly, the city became a center for many attempts to organize labor’s demands for better working conditions. Employers responded with repressive tactics, including acts of violence, often abetted by police.

On May 1, 1886, in support of the eight-hour day, Albert Parsons, head of the Chicago Knights of Labor, accompanied by his wife, two children, and 80,000 fellow workers, marched down Michigan Avenue, Chicago, in what is regarded as the first modern May Day Parade. Every road in Chicago stopped running, and most of the industries in Chicago were paralyzed. The stockyards were shut down. The state militia had been called out, and the police were ready. In the next few days they were joined nationwide by 350,000 workers who went on strike at 1,200 factories, including 70,000 in Chicago, 45,000 in New York, 32,000 in Cincinnati, and additional thousands in other cities. Some workers gained shorter hours (eight or nine) with no reduction in pay; others accepted pay cuts with the reduction in hours.

On May 3, 1886, August Spies, editor of the Arbeiter-Zeitung (Workers Newspaper), spoke at a meeting of 6,000 workers, and afterwards many of them moved down the street to harass strikebreakers at the McCormick plant in Chicago. At a subsequent rally on May 4 to protest this violence, a bomb exploded at a rally in Haymarket Square. The bomb wounded 66 policeman, of whom 7 later died. The police fired into the crowd killing several people and wounding over 200. Hundreds of labor activists were rounded up and the prominent leaders arrested, tried, convicted, and executed giving the movement its first martyrs. Those put on trial were guilty only of their ideas. None of the accused had been at Haymarket that day except for one, who was speaking when the bomb exploded. A jury found them guilty and they were sentenced to death.

 

Engraving of the seven anarchists sentenced to die. An eighth defendant, Oscar Neebe, not shown here, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

There was some evidence to suggest that the person who actually threw the bomb was an agent of the police, and agent provocateur, hired to throw the bomb enable the arrest of hundreds of people, and thus the revolutionary leadership. This was never proved. The immediate effect was to suppress the radical movement of labor. But the long-term in fact was the fan the flames of class anger in many and to inspire many others to action the revolutionary and labor causes, and effort that would bear fruit in subsequent generations. Many thousand people signed petitions and a later governor of Illinois, John Peter Altgeld, investigated what happened and pardon the 3 remaining prisoners who had not yet been executed.

The American Federation of Labor, meeting in St Louis in December 1888, set May 1, 1890 as the day that American workers should work no more than eight hours. The International Workingmen’s Association meeting in Paris in 1889, endorsed the date for international demonstrations, thus starting the international tradition of May Day.

May 1  is known as May day and celebrated as international workers day across the world, except in the United States, where the official holiday for workers is Labor Day in September. This is because Pres. Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre and thus create martyrs. So he moved in 1887 to support Labor Day in September, and thus obscure the focus on the rights of working people. Right wing governments have traditionally sought to repress the message behind international workers day, with results that we see today.

The site of the Haymarket affair was designated as a landmark in Chicago in 1992, and the public sculpture was dedicated in 2004.

The lessons of history demonstrate that change ONLY happens when ordinary people band together to educate one another and work to achieve their common interests. This is why we occupy.

The Philosopher, the Austrians, and the Occupiers

Discuss this article inside the Diner

It was called, “A Marxist and Free Market Analysis of the Crisis in Capitalism and public forum. It was sponsored by the Old Dominion University Philosophy club. Who would’ve thought that such a thing as a philosophy club could possibly exist in this era of untrammeled free markets and Ayn Randian supermen striding like colossi across the post 9-11 landscape?

The ODU Philosophy Club, Halie Hovenga photo

 
Well it does, they do, and it all unfolded on April 6 on the campus of Old Dominion University. It was organized by members of the ODU Philosophy Club and facilitated by Halie Hovenga, president of the  Club and a philosophy major/women’s studies minor, working towards her undergraduate degree.
 

Halie Hovenga offers the introduction.

Featured speakers included Dr. Lawrence Hatab, Dr. Rod Evans, and Prof. Anthony Nattania, along with Ed Hightower of the Socialist Equality Party, several young men from ODU Out, plus two Occupiers, Tess Amuroso, artist and photographer, and Deb Lassiter, a local activist. An interesting, if combustible mix.

 
 

Dr. Hatab was the first to speak. A tweedy, affable and clearly thoughtful fellow, Dr. Hatab was a University Professor and Eminent Scholar and has variety of degrees from Villanova, Fordham et al. and a resume brimming with the variety of publications one would associate with an Eminent Scholar, spanning neighborhoods from Nietsche to Heidigger,  through Postmodern Politics and “The Redemption of Time and Politics.” Brimming with a sense of both incredulity and outrage at the excesses of the market and their government enablers in 2008, Hatab came to engage the assignment, that being an analysis of a “crisis in capitalism.” One of his more fascinating observations was that he thought that the Marxist view of capital would work if it weren’t for the phenomenon of corporate welfare.  He noted that we do not have the capitalist system whether we have a crony capitalist system in which government picks winners and losers through the various mechanisms of tax breaks, favorable legislation, and outright gifts, not to mention no-bid Government contracts . . .

Dr. Hatab described our state as “welfare capitalism” and that without welfare capitalism, Marx would’ve been right. He noted the meltdown of 2008 as an example, in which massive wealth was transferred to banks while risk transferred to the taxpayers, in the form of debts that will likely prove unpayable. He talked at some length about the way that what used to be tangible has become abstract– the phenomenon of derivatives, and “rehypothification,” et al . . .an interesting rabbit hole regarding the nature of money as a quantitative unit standing for qualitative things. His opinion was that these thieves and pirates on Wall Street understood exactly what they were doing: “These people make the old industrialists of the Gilded Age look like choir boys.”  Lending used to have something to do with relationship. Time was your mortgage banker was an individual, who looked you in the eye, assessed your value and reliability, and who otherwise had an interest in who you were and what your ability to pay might be.No more. Hatab decried the fact that the financial transaction itself is become utterly and completely abstract, its value restricted to the fees gained on their resale.

 
Hatab described the chaos of 2008 as a game of musical chairs: “As long as I can get my deal done before the music stops I am good to go,” the prevailing ethic. And it’s a long haul from the 1980s and Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street:” as Hatab noted, “Even Gordon Gekko had to look at the books from time to time.” Not this crowd today. These people are taking the “creative destruction” of the markets to new heights, and are interested only in getting paid. He observed these Great Players as “ubermenschen,” having corrupted Nietsche’s concepts by way of Ayn Rand into arrogance and bullshit.
 
Cue the apologists for the Masters of the Universe, fully thus arrayed.
 
In stark contrast to the assessment provided by Hatab, the next speakers came to establish a beachhead of free market libertarianism on the hostile shores of academe. I refer to them as “Austrians” because of the obvious reference to and dependence upon the work of Friedrich  Hayek and that body of economic theory known as the “Austrian school,” which extolls the virtues of the blessings of the  free-market, the primacy of individual responsibility and action, and the magical belief in the healing power of laissez-faire economics.

A “Free Market Analysis” was presented by Prof. Anthony Nattania, a professor of philosophy and religious studies since 2001. Nattania, tall, slender and understated, asked rhetorical questions to frame his argument. He laid many ills at the feet of Fannie and Freddie, and the infamous “no document loans” I had never heard of. The motives of fee-mongers had apparently not crossed his mind as a potential ill.

Prof. Nattania: Halie Hovenga photo

Nattania equated people who receive government services to “thieves.” He decried the attempts on the part of government to mitigate the problems caused by the poor choices made by individuals. and he thought that this level of coercion in which government picks winners and losers was the root of the problem.

His fellow Austrian, Dr. Rod Evans, was far more voluble. He came not to analyze, but to deliver a blistering manifesto of accusations against the state, in one instance managing to work “Nancy Pelosi” into the conversation twice in five minutes. Evans evidently intererned for a summer at the H. Ross Preot school for presentation, so ready was he with a variety of flipcharts for the easel. They appeared then disappeared with a staggering frequency. One example of the many in which he provided proof that it was the umngrateful proles of the working class that should bear the responsibility for all the ills that affect society: Unhealthful diet+inadequate exercise+drug use= explosion of health care costs. Why should they have to pay for health care because of the poor choices “they” make?

Dr. Evans

At no time did Evans give shrift of any kind to the role of Big Pharma in escalating drug use of market manipulation…

His presentation was a farrago of anecdotes and unfinished stories and selected instances– a broadside fueled by a slavish devotion to the Gospel according to Milton Friedman. (“You like Nobel prize Winners, don’t you?”) A familiar voice was heard to growl, “Not particularly,” thinking immediately of the Dronemeister-in-Chief. It was when he played the excerpt of a Friedman interview with Phil Donahue that a voice, sounding much like mine, could be heard arising to say, “May he burn in hell.” At this point my friends prepared to restrain me. Guess the white knuckles gripping the tabletop gave me away.
 
Evans made the mistake of accepting questions, and received several verbal brickbats tossed his way. People challenged his analysis. In response, his tactics was to make jokes, belittle, or to answer by posing a question he would then answer himself. My friend asked, “What obligation do the capitalists have toward the labor forces which made them rich? Should they share the fruits of their labor or abandon them to fend for themselves?”
 
Evans replied by asking if the questioner owned property or stocks? “If so, then you’re a capitalist.”
 
My friend responded, “I am simply a citizen trying to make my through the capitalist system.” Another Occupier demanded, “Answer her question.”  No dice.
 

Dr. Evans: Halie Hovenga photo

I asked Evans, “Why it was that the apologists for the one per cent, disciples of Hayek and Friedman, wanted to blame working people for the ills of society when they wielded exactly zero per cent of the power over the levers of action? How in a system captive by and servile to the interests of capital, the workers were responsible for bad outcomes? So the solution must be to remove such few protections to workers as remain?   And how, in this much to be hoped for absence of regulation of any sort over large corporate movers, American life would be in any wise distinguishable from that in Somalia, which, a society of warlords and pirates? Evans’ response was to to ask another question: “Were we not all interested in freedom? That a government strong enough to provide for your rights was strong enough to take them away.” While I have a continued, if quaint interest in both freedom and the Bill of Rights, I failed to see how this was a constructive answer; rather it was the good doctor’s attempt to jab himself out of a corner.
 
 
 
 
Evans made it clear that corporations owe nothing to anyone  but themselves, a system based on delusion. Which works quite well for one per cent of the population.
One woman across the hall made an interesting observation that had the smell of truth, much like cordite: She said, “Government is not the problem. Government is the prize, which is why so much effort and treasure is being expended right now by the radical right to seize the reins of government and rewrite the rule of law.” Res ipsa loquitor.

 

***

After a break, Ed Hightower offered a brief 20 minute summation of Marx’s analysis of capital. I was somewhat familiar with these, having reread the “Communist Manifesto,” A Christmas gift from my daughter. His presentation was basic: how “surplus value” is sieved from the working class by the capitalists. Some discusion of how socialism is not a moral idea, and discuision materialism v. idealism. This presentation was intellectual and could have benefitted from making the almost self-evident with more immediacy. Which is precisely what happened as the presentation came closer to the present day, as we saw how the economic position of the working class has collapsed since 1980, corresponding almost one-to -one with the transfer of wealth to the one per cent. The top 20% have realized a 277% increase in their income since 1970. As most of us know, the Reagan revolution has corresponded with the greatest transfer of wealth from the middle-class to the upper class in American history, an enormous boondoggle benefiting the upper 1%.The conservative professors sat and listened to this presentation, Hatab having already left. Then as the occupiers made ready to speak, and they all left and went outside, as if they had nothing left to learn. One could have made the excuse of other commitments, except that they stood outside and talk to one another while the occupier presentations were going on.

Tess Amoruso speaks at rally in January, 2012

Tess Amoruso was first. An artist and photographer, Tess showed a slide show of her pictures from various occupations ranging all over the country, while she made her appeal for peace and justice through people power, and envisioning a better world through the use of peaceful non-violent demonstration. Her words were deeply moving, her pictures absolutely riveting. I was transfixed by her work, and how the images, in series, moving from one occupation to another all along the East Coast, captured the essence of the essentially decency of most people who self-identify as Occupiers. With an eye for the telling detail or small truth, her images captured that oft-repeated truism that “we need to be the change that we envision in our world.” It is precisely those images I wish these self-satisfied professors had had the patience and willingness to see.

Deb Lassiter addresses January rally

Deb Lassiter followed. Deb is a guerrilla gardener, a longtime activist and, like Tess, another founding member of Occupy Norfolk. Deb and her partner Leo have reclaimed a crack house on a marginal neighborhood and have made it a place of beauty and goodwill, even creating a Peace garden. Deb spoke about the connection of the different movements from Tahrir Square through Wisconsin through OWS, and even this small group of of activists plunked in the navel of one of the greatest concentrations of military force in the world. In these movements we see the stirrings of a political consciousness that this generation has not seen, and that those of us a certain age of not seen since the Vietnam era. This is a struggle there will be largely led by the millennials. Rather than the intergenerational war suggested and hoped for by some, we shall see the boomers actually supporting the millennials in a search for for systemic change, in the hopes that we can leave a country worth living in for our children and grandchildren.
 
 
The Occupiers left the audience at the end of the three hour event with a sense of hope and possibility. What we see in front of us is a scramble for winners and losers, as people try to suss out a winning position before the music stops. And stop it will: peak energy, peak oil, peak education, peak bullshit. They urge us to consider that another world might indeed by possible. How we get there, especially given the forces arrayed against us, is anybody’s guess.
~Surly1
 
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Police riot at Zuccotti; the “American Spring” begins in Norfolk

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“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” ~JFK

Which, unfortunately, may be the point.

By now you will have seen some of the news about the police riot at OWS on Saturday night. Why on earth would police feel the need to clear people from the Wall Street area at 11:30 pm on a Saturday night? The streets are empty down there at that hour. The answer will be apparent with a little inference . . .

The NYT article below is pretty good, with one singular exception: I really wish the Times and other journos would stop hiding behind the word “clashed” to describe what occurs between the police and protesters, in what might be more accurately described as a police riot. Being led away in handcuffs is not “clashing” with the police. Having your head smashed into a plate glass window so hard it shatters the window is not “clashing” with police.

A police state is in place, at the beck and call of King Bloomberg, and paid for in large measure by an extra generous JPM donation to the Police Benevolent fund. And the wholesale repression evidenced by Bloomberg’s thugs, obviously designed to crush the movement, should only serve to invigorate it.

The Constitution is clear: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It does not say you need a permit to march. It does not say you have to confine your march to the sidewalk. It does not say you must have a permit to use a sound system or bullhorn. These are all abridgments of our Constitutional rights, invented by the New York Police Department, and others like them around the country who mirror their example. Bloomberg’s private army is issuing illegal and unconstitutional orders, making illegal arrests and committing scores of unlawful acts.

 

This weekend’s demonstrations and police riot come on the heels of Greg Smith’s indictment of Goldman Sachs. The same week, we are told, that Bloomberg went to GS to lend his support to the robber barons he worked for. This mayor has lost all credibility when it comes to class differences and the plight of the working class and the poor. I suspect OWS and the many groups throughout the country that it has spawned will warm up their activities along with the weather. A weekend protest in Norfolk against the NDAA and EEA was pretty well attended, and even some Tea Party people joined in protesting the endless incursion of what used to be rights. A couple of police cruisers attended these modest efforts, although it was reassuring to see our old friends parked along our gathering.In other news, the final trial for Occupy-related defendants in Norfolk General Court is scheduled for Friday. Thus far, Norfolk Occupiers are 4-0 against the city’s law enforcement and judicial system. Which is much better than my NCAA bracket.

 

-Surly

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Read more at

http://www.breakingnews.com/topic/occupy-wall-street-protest

From the NYT:
Scores of Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested on Saturday night as police officers swept Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan and closed it.

Dozens of demonstrators sat down and locked arms as officers moved in about 11:30 p.m. The protesters chanted “we are not afraid” as the police began pulling people from the crowd, one by one, and leading them out of the park in handcuffs.

The operation occurred after hundreds of people had gathered in the financial district to observe the founding of Occupy Wall Street six months ago. Earlier, protesters had embarked upon a winding march, after which police officers made initial arrests of about a dozen people near the park.

By 11:30 p.m., as police officers massed on Broadway, a commander announced that the park was closed. Those inside shouted back that the park was obliged through an agreement with the city to remain open. The commander then announced that anyone who remained inside would be arrested and charged with trespassing.

After clearing the park, police officers and private security guards began placing a ring of metal barricades on the park’s perimeter, as those who had been arrested were placed inside a city bus.

At one point, a woman who appeared to be suffering from seizures flopped on the ground in handcuffs as bystanders shouted for the police to remove the cuffs and provide medical attention. For several minutes the woman lay on the ground as onlookers made increasingly agonized demands until an ambulance arrived and the woman was placed inside.

By 12:20 a.m., a line of officers pushed against some of the remaining protesters, forcing them south on Broadway, at times swinging batons and shoving people to the ground.

Kobi Skolnick, 30, said that officers pushed him in several directions and that as he tried to walk away, he was struck from behind in the neck. “One of the police ran and hit me with a baton,” he said.

Earlier that afternoon, as protesters gathered under blue skies while carrying banners and signs, the day was in some ways reminiscent of the first time the Occupy protesters gathered in mid-September. Just after 1 p.m., brandishing placards with messages like “Take back government from corporations,” the crowd left Zuccotti Park headed south on Broadway, chanting the now familiar slogan “We are the 99 percent.”

When the first protesters set foot in the financial district six months ago, few people imagined what would follow, including a two-month encampment in Lower Manhattan, similar camps in cities across the country and critiques of corporate greed becoming part of the national dialogue.

The movement was mainly quiet during the winter, but organizers said they were aiming for a springtime resurgence.

“It’s just a reminder that we’re here,” Brendan Burke said, as the crowd marched past the New York Stock Exchange. “It’s an opportunity to remind Wall Street that we aren’t going anywhere.”

In several respects, Saturday’s march was similar to the inaugural one. The crowd was small but spirited and marched past the bronze sculpture of a bull at Bowling Green, which had served as a mustering spot for the first march. Marchers were accompanied by police officers on foot and on scooters who at one point blocked access to Wall Street, just as they did on Sept. 17.

And, as they did that day, the marchers made sudden turns that appeared to surprise the police and walked along Wall Street for at least a brief time.

At one point, several demonstrators stood on the steep steps of Federal Hall and chanted “1-2-3-4, I declare class war.”

Later, members of the group ignored orders from the police to remain on sidewalks and flowed onto parts of Exchange Place and Beaver Street. Later, on Broad Street, a deputy inspector turned to a sergeant and said, “We got to start collaring some.”

For the next 30 minutes or so, things remained calm as marchers stuck to the sidewalks and entered Zuccotti Park.

But then, just after 2 p.m., police officers began telling a large group of protesters that they could not stand on the sidewalk on a stretch of Liberty Street. Officers pushed the crowd until more than 100 protesters on the sidewalk were pressed against a wall that borders the park.

Then the police began grabbing and arresting people, taking into custody at least half a dozen. Officers surged into the crowd, dragging protesters toward the street, as people yelled objections.

“They were grabbing people randomly,” Zachary Kamel said, adding that his girlfriend, Lauren DiGoia, had been arrested while dancing on the sidewalk.

One sergeant grabbed a woman wearing a green shirt by the bottom of her throat and shoved her head against the hood of a car. A moment later, another officer approached and forcefully pressed her head against the car before placing her into the back of a police truck.

Over the next few hours, protesters conducted meetings inside Zuccotti Park and held a dance party fueled by a saxophone and a battery of drums. Sporadic moments of tension also arose.

At one point, the police arrested a handful of protesters on Cedar Street near Trinity Place. A few moments later, near Cedar Street and Broadway, a police captain pushed a man by the shoulders for almost a block, then released him when a crowd loudly demanded to know whether the man was under arrest.

The man, Charlie Gonzalez, 31, said that the captain had told him he was not permitted to stand on the sidewalk.

About an hour later, the same captain pushed another man several hundred feet east down Cedar Street, about a block from Zuccotti Park, and briefly detained him.

That man, Yoni Miller, 19, said he was counting officers standing in rows near Broadway when the captain forced him to walk around a corner onto Cedar Street, then asked him if he was a terrorist or was planning any crimes.

Paul Moore, 25, said that he was videotaping the encounter when the captain asked him for identification and began pushing him away, telling him he was not permitted to document what was happening.

After nightfall, the number of people inside the park swelled to more than 500.

About 10 p.m., some of those in the park began a regimen of running and dancing that they called “spring training,” which they said was meant to prepare for coming demonstrations.

At 10:30, protesters sprung up a green tarp, folded over a piece of rope suspended from two trees near the center of Zuccotti Park. Security and police officers looked on from the perimeter.

 

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Storage Unit OWS Professional Protester Paradigm (OWSPPP)

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Occassionally I like to consider Transitionary means of handling the collapse
for people who are already “off the cliff” or very near to being so. One of my
most famous such paradigms was the “Golden Corral” means of using All U Can Eat
Buffets as a great source of cheap food to last you days on one sitting you
actually pay for.

Most of these ideas work best for the Single Male, and are in fact most
necessary for single men because they generally get the least help in the form
of State subsidies which are designed mostly to help Women with dependent
children and to an extent 2 parent families under the poverty line also. Single
women tend to get more help from charity groups and women’s protection groups
that have evolved since the 70s “Women’s Liberation” movement. However, the
ideas can work for all these groups to one extent or another.

Today’s important Transition prep I’d like to consider for the Big Shity or
Suburban dweller is the Storage Unit. The biggest problem once you lose your
home to Foreclosure and become Nomadic is the safety and storage of your
personal possessions, those things I believe a person CAN “own”, as they can be
carried with you.

Of course I think its important to try to hold onto your Car aka Bugout Machine
as long as possible here, but it is not a good idea to wedge all your personal
belongings into your car. They can’t all fit into your trunk usually unless you
have really ared down to essentials; they’ll crowd up the car and on top of that
make the car itself a target for theft. So having a Storage Unit provides a
relatively SAFE place to barbor most of your worldly possessions besides the
car.

If you have NO car of course, the Storage Unit is even MORE important. The
amount of stuff you can carry around with you in a Backpack and Wheely Bag or
even with a Bike-Trailer combo is exceedingly small and VERY insecure. You
can’t even leave it to go inside Walmart with your SNAP Card to buy food.

Even if you have the “Rolls Royce” of motorized Bugout Machines, the RV, keeping
all your stuff inside one of these is a risk because they are easily broken
into, plusd if the Gestapo tows it away at some point then along with the Bugout
Machine you ALSO lose all the rest of your Preps.

Comercial Storage Units in most suburban locations aren’t very expensive. Until
I shoved my Jeep into one when I came up to Alaska, the one I maintined for my
trucking years only cost me $35/mo. 10’x20′, PLENTY of room for a shit load of
preps! Hell you could even easily live in it, though that is not allowed by the
Storage unit Management People, and you want to Obey their rules scrupulously so
they don’t kick you out. However, said storage untis are usually accessible
every day from 7AM-9PM or so, you have your own Code to get in past the gate at
any time, then only you know the Combination to the lock you put on the storage
unit. Its Guarded during Bizness Hours by the Manager, and during non Biz Hours
said manager often lives on the property in a small room in the back of the
office also. Plus there are Alarm Systems. They are very secure. I’ve kept my
Lower 48 Junk in the same storage facility for over a decade now with never any
problem at all.

So, let us say for example you have lost your Job and your Domicile, all yu are
left with here is your SUV, a trailer, a Bike and Bike Pulled Trailer you can
have in SUV Trailer, plus all the Preps you can stuff into your SUV and the
bigger trailer. You decide that what you want to do now is become part of the
OWS Movement, and travel around the country to where all the Biggest Protests
are Occurring. This for a few reasons. First it gives you something worthwhile
to be DOING, second it gets you moving around with possibilities of finding some
kind of work somewhere, third you’ll hook up with others and perhaps form a
small Tribe of Gypsies.

You get to your OWS Protest spot, do you want to be risking ALL your Preps to
the inevitable Gestapo Crackdown? Hell No. You find a Storage Unit somewhere
in say a 10-15 mile radius. Cost for Storage Unit, $40/mo say. Cost to store
your Trailer on the property inside the Gates, another $15. You empty out your
car and trailer into the Storage Unit, now you are just another J6P with a car
in the neighborhood. Yo drive from the Storage Unit to within say a Mile of the
OWS emcampent, find Legal parking on a Daily Basis. All you take with you to
the encampent is a cheap $40 Tent from Walmart, a $15 Sleeping Pad and $25
Sleeping Bag. So when the Rosut comes from the Gestapo, the MOST you can lose
here is around $80, and that’s only if you decide to stay if there is warning
given that the Bust is coming. If you even get a few hourse warning, you can of
course pack up the sleeping gear and tent, hike them back to the Bugout Machine,
throw them in the Trunk, then Hike Back with your Gas Mask and Hockey Pads on
and get ready to confront the Storm Troopers. You get thrown into the Pokey for
the night, get a Hot Meal and a Summons to report to the Courthose at some
future date for “Disturbing the Peace” and “Resisting Arrest”, then you head
right back to join up with the other OWSers to contemplate your next move.

How much now is your New Life as a Professional OWS Protester going to cost you?
Say $100/mo for the storage Unit in the general vicinity. Upon arrival, you’re
not going to use the Car much, just move it through various parking spots that
are legal on a daily basis. A tank of Gas probably lasts you easy a month this
way, likely more. Say another $30 for Gas at current prices. You’re going to
want to keep the Tags legal and basic Insurance, so let’s call it $120/yr for
Registration and another $600/year for Insurance. $10/mo and $50/mo respectively
for those costs. Having a Mail Box at Mailboxes etc or some siilar place would
be a good idea also, call that $25/mo. Big expense a but MUST HAVE is your Cell
Phone with Wireless 4G Internet service for a whopping $100/mo, big expense but
you want to maintain that one as long as possible. With said phone you can make
Vids and Document the protest, perhaps catch Gestapo in the Act of Brutality and
make a Vid that goes Viral.

So, all totalled here, your monthly expenses excluding Food are around $315/mo,
let’s round up to $350. You’re likely eligible for a SNAP card, but besides
that you have access to all the Donated Pizzas at the OWS encampment, not to
mention the Jail Food each time you get Arrested. Food should be a Negligible
expense, you might even be able to make a Profit off your SNAP card as described
in prior threads of selling Soup or slices of Quiche etc if you are a decent
Field Cook.

I’ll do some further Up Rounding here to say this entire paradigm costs you no
more than $5000/year to follow for so long as the monetary system holds up and
inflation doesn’t go Full Zimbabwe. You get to keep most of your Personal
Possessions, and keep them relatively SAFE.

You ALSO may be able to significantly REDUCE these costs if you start to HOOK UP
and form a small Tribe along the way here. If you find a cute young girl with a
Trust Fund and impress her with your Political Savvy, Radical Ideas, Poetry
and/or Guitar Playing and Folk Songs, you could be in clover for the duration of
the Spin Down! LOL. Seriously though, if you find a couple of others who do not
have Cars, you can offer them to kick in with you, up to say 4 people travelling
together in the SUV as it becomes necessary to move on. If they can each cough
up say $100/mo ($3/day which they probably could BEG), your costs could get
close to zero here.

Even if you don’t choose the OWS Professional Protester Paradigm though, the
Paradigm works for exiting a Big shity in a relative hurry and heading for a
rural location, long as said location has an available Storage Unit facility,
and most of them do. They aso come dirt cheap in said rural locations. In the
early stages of the Collapse this is probably a better paradigm to undertake
than going Full Primitive, though less good than Hooking Up with a Doomstead
Owner and using his Barn as the Storage Facility while you help Defend and
Protect said Doomstead and make it productive.

Total Costs here for a Secure Package that probably keeps you from falling
conpletely off the cliff and into a FEMA Concenteration Camp for say 2 years?
$10K in CASH, and another $5-10K in Preps depending how expensive the Bugout
Machine is and how complete you want to make the package overall with Freeze
Dried Foods, PV panels and so forth. About all of this stuff goes in the Storage
Unit wherever you end up, it’s not deployed for so long as we have not arrived
at complete Mad Max. During the time Da Goobermint sorta functions here, you
utilize the systems that WILL be organized to keep people from immediately
starving. Even if the Monetary System craps out completely, there will be Ration
Coupons (SNAP Cards) distributed for a while and Goobermint Cheese, and Charities will pick
up some slack as well.

You should be extremely CAREFUL about who if anyone you reveal your System to.
On arrival at an OWS emcampment, you should look pretty Poor overall, as though
just your Tent and Sleeping Bag is all you have. Only after significant time
getting to know ANYONE should you make the Offer to Join Forces as an incipient
Tribe, and your ability to judge the Honesty and Trustworthiness of the
individuals you make such an offer to is of paramount importance. If you make
the WRONG choice here, the person you Hook Up with might just wait for the first
night alone with you when you go to sleep and slit your throat for all you have.
You are obviously much better off if you BEGIN the paradigm with 2 or 3 others
who are long time friends or relatives or a Significant Other.

This paradigm should operate well for the next 2-3 years IMHO, barring a Sudden
Stop of the Monetary System as a whole, and even with that could operate that
long. You might have to abandon the Car sooner if Gas becomes unavailable to
buy, but then you still have the Bike and most of the stuff is still safe in the
Storage Unit. However, if you see it coming in time far as Gas Unavailability
goes, you are at that time probably best off using your Last Tank and extra Gas
Cans to load up the Bugout Machine to make the Final Bugout of going Full
Primitive.

RE

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Burlesque in Norfolk and the TRUTH about Violence at Occupy

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In the scheme of things, the politics of Occupation occur on bigger stages than Norfolk, VA. Better known and noisier Occupations on Wall Street or Oakland, even Richmond, make the news and earn the headlines. Yet the fact that several groups of Occupiers maintain a presence and effect actions here in the heart of East Coast military might, and continue to bear witness to the abuses of the combination of state and economic power even here, has seemingly rattled the judgement of the stewards of that power here in southeastern Virginia.

Later she told me, “Right before it happened, I had a moment of clarity: that this was going down, and I could choose to go through with it, and if I did there could be repercussions. And I decided then to do it. And while they were arresting me, I felt pity for them.” The pretrial thoughts ofCarmen, my 20-year old daughter, the “littlest Occupier.”

 

The case of three of the Norfolk Occupiers for “obstruction of justice” by the police of the city of Norfolk went to trial today in General District Court. The three, Angela, Tess, and Carmen, had charges dismissed by the judge.

The judge found the charges overdrawn and that the behavior in question failed to rise to the standards required of obstruction in the statute, which was it itself clarified in a 1925 Virginia state decision cited by the defense.The charges were dismissed even before the defense attorneys mounted their defense of their clients. As the judge said, “Had the City pursued tresspass or even resisting arrest charges, they might have made a case. But they didn’t bring it to court.”

The issues were several: 1) there was no evidence that a lawful order to clear the park had ever been given; discovery produced no order; 2) there was no clear indication why the three women were even arrested, where it was clear that people that were in the park at the same time were not arrested; 3) the arresting officers failed to bring those arrested before a magistrate, violating procedures. From the cheap seats, it was pretty clear that the City might have made a trespassing charge stick, but the requirements of obstruction were too high a judicial hurdle to clear.

The defendants’ behavior didn’t even belong in the same zip code as obstruction: the accused were at all times peaceable, linking arms and engaged in chanting and prayer. At no time did they so much his raise their voices. They simply linked arms.

Given the events of this morning, one has to wonder why the district attorney even brought these charges, knowing that she had such a weak case with so many holes? If doing this was an attempt to send a message to the burgeoning Occupy movement, I have to think the message was marked as “not received.” That doesn’t mean that civil disobedience does not and will not have its costs.

On this day, justice was served. There will be other causes, other days, and we must remain ready.

UPDATE March 9: Yesterday, three Norfolk Occupiers, Anna, Tess, and Aliaka had a court date in room #6 in the General District Court Building downtown. They faced the heinous charges of “desecration of a monument” for having written in CHALK messages of peace, love and hope on the base of the Confederate monument opposite Commercial park (where the encampment had been.)Yes, you read that right: the messages were in chalk.
Their cases were dismissed. Nothing in their actions, as in the case of Carmen, Tess and Angela, rose to the level required by the definition required by the city statute.

So what you see at work is the same phenomenon at work in other places, that of the local police being enlisted to “crack down” on Occupy using trumped up charges. In Norfolk, the authorities are 0 for 4; the first set of cases for obstruction (Anita, Angela and Geoffrey) when the park was shut down were nolle prosequi’ed; Joelle’s arrest for trespassing, for simply sitting in the park, was dismissed; and both my daughter and colleagues’ case and the case described above were both dismissed.

One more court date remains, for a separate action on December 17. Ought to be interesting.

***

Update: The Truth About Violence at Occupy

I get a lot of crap from right wingers about supposed violence at Occupy gatherings. from first hand experience, I can say that I have never met such a fine and peaceable group of individuals. There are those, the younger, less patient “black bloc” crowd who want more confrontational direct action and to mask themselves, etc.

For my part I want them to know who I am, for better or for worse: I own a home, have raised a daughter, pay taxes and have had a career and a public life of sorts in this community, and I withhold consent from the entire rotten edifice of fixers and thugs.

In any event, it comes to this: a definitive look at the record of Occupy’s supposed record of lawlessness in the face of multiple police riots, by Rebecca Solnit, one of the most inteligent observers we have.

Surly

From Salon.com

When you fall in love, it’s all about what you have in common, and you can hardly imagine that there are differences, let alone that you will quarrel over them, or weep about them, or be torn apart by them — or if all goes well, struggle, learn, and bond more strongly because of, rather than despite, them. The Occupy movement had its glorious honeymoon when old and young, liberal and radical, comfortable and desperate, homeless and tenured all found that what they had in common was so compelling the differences hardly seemed to matter.

Until they did.

Revolutions are always like this: at first all men are brothers and anything is possible, and then, if you’re lucky, the romance of that heady moment ripens into a relationship, instead of a breakup, an abusive marriage, or a murder-suicide. Occupy had its golden age, when those who never before imagined living side-by-side with homeless people found themselves in adjoining tents in public squares.

All sorts of other equalizing forces were present, not least the police brutality that battered the privileged the way that inner-city kids are used to being battered all the time. Part of what we had in common was what we were against: the current economy and the principle of insatiable greed that made it run, as well as the emotional and economic privatization that accompanied it.

This is a system that damages people, and its devastation was on display as never before in the early months of Occupy and related phenomena like the “We are the 99%” website. When it was people facing foreclosure, or who’d lost their jobs, or were thrashing around under avalanches of college or medical debt, they weren’t hard to accept as us, and not them.

And then came the people who’d been damaged far more, the psychologically fragile, the marginal, and the homeless — some of them endlessly needy and with a huge capacity for disruption. People who had come to fight the power found themselves staying on to figure out available mental-health resources, while others who had wanted to experience a democratic society on a grand scale found themselves trying to solve sanitation problems.

And then there was the violence.

The Faces of Violence

The most important direct violence Occupy faced was, of course, from the state, in the form of the police using maximum sub-lethal force on sleepers in tents, mothers with children, unarmed pedestrians, young women already penned up, unresisting seated students, poets, professors, pregnant women, wheelchair-bound occupiers and octogenarians. It has been a sustained campaign of police brutality from Wall Street to Washington State the likes of which we haven’t seen in 40 years.

On the part of activists, there were also a few notable incidents of violence in the hundreds of camps, especially violence against women. The mainstream media seemed to think this damned the Occupy movement, though it made the camps, at worst, a whole lot like the rest of the planet, which, in case you hadn’t noticed, seethes with violence against women. But these were isolated incidents.

That old line of songster Woody Guthrie is always handy in situations like this: “Some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.” The police have been going after occupiers with projectile weapons, clubs and tear gas, sending some of them to the hospital and leaving more than a few others traumatized and fearful. That’s the six-gun here.

But it all began with the fountain pens, slashing through peoples’ lives, through national and international economies, through the global markets. These were wielded by the banksters, the “vampire squid,” the deregulators in D.C., the men — and with the rarest of exceptions they were men — who stole the world.

That’s what Occupy came together to oppose, the grandest violence by scale, the least obvious by impact. No one on Wall Street ever had to get his suit besmirched by carrying out a foreclosure eviction himself. Cities provided that service for free to the banks (thereby further impoverishing themselves as they created new paupers out of old taxpayers). And the police clubbed their opponents for them, over and over, everywhere across the United States.

The grand thieves invented ever more ingenious methods, including those sliced and diced derivatives, to crush the hopes and livelihoods of the many. This is the terrible violence that Occupy was formed to oppose. Don’t ever lose sight of that.

Oakland’s Beautiful Nonviolence

Now that we’re done remembering the major violence, let’s talk about Occupy Oakland. A great deal of fuss has been made about two incidents in which mostly young people affiliated with Occupy Oakland damaged some property and raised some hell.

The mainstream media and some faraway pundits weighed in on those Bay Area incidents as though they determined the meaning and future of the transnational Occupy phenomenon. Perhaps some of them even hoped, consciously or otherwise, that harped on enough these might divide or destroy the movement. So it’s important to recall that the initial impact of Occupy Oakland was the very opposite of violent, stunningly so, in ways that were intentionally suppressed.

Occupy Oakland began in early October as a vibrant, multiracial gathering. A camp was built at Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza, and thousands received much-needed meals and healthcare for free from well-organized volunteers. Sometimes called the Oakland Commune, it was consciously descended from some of the finer aspects of an earlier movement born in Oakland, the Black Panthers, whose free breakfast programs should perhaps be as well-remembered and more admired than their macho posturing.

A compelling and generous-spirited General Assembly took place nightly and then biweekly in which the most important things on Earth were discussed by wildly different participants. Once, for instance, I was in a breakout discussion group that included Native American, white, Latino, and able-bodied and disabled Occupiers, and in which I was likely the eldest participant; another time, a bunch of peacenik grandmothers dominated my group.

This country is segregated in so many terrible ways — and then it wasn’t for those glorious weeks when civil society awoke and fell in love with itself. Everyone showed up; everyone talked to everyone else; and in little tastes, in fleeting moments, the old divides no longer divided us and we felt like we could imagine ourselves as one society. This was the dream of the promised land — this land, that is, without its bitter divides. Honey never tasted sweeter, and power never felt better.

Now here’s something astonishing. While the camp was in existence, crime went down 19 percent in Oakland, a statistic the city was careful to conceal. “It may be counter to our statement that the Occupy movement is negatively impacting crime in Oakland,” the police chief wrote to the mayor in an email that local news station KTVU later obtained and released to little fanfare. Pay attention: Occupy was so powerful a force for nonviolence that it was already solving Oakland’s chronic crime and violence problems just by giving people hope and meals and solidarity and conversation.

The police attacking the camp knew what the rest of us didn’t: Occupy was abating crime, including violent crime, in this gritty, crime-ridden city. “You gotta give them hope, “ said an elected official across the bay once upon a time — a city supervisor named Harvey Milk. Occupy was hope we gave ourselves, the dream come true. The city did its best to take the hope away violently at 5 a.m. on October 25th. The sleepers were assaulted; their belongings confiscated and trashed. Then, Occupy Oakland rose again. Many thousands of nonviolent marchers shut down the Port of Oakland in a stunning display of popular power on November 2nd.

That night, some kids did the smashy-smashy stuff that everyone gets really excited about. (They even spray-painted “smashy” on a Rite Aid drugstore in giant letters.) When we talk about people who spray-paint and break windows and start bonfires in the street and shove people and scream and run around, making a demonstration into something way too much like the punk rock shows of my youth, let’s keep one thing in mind: they didn’t send anyone to the hospital, drive any seniors from their homes, spread despair and debt among the young, snatch food and medicine from the desperate, or destroy the global economy.

That said, they are still a problem. They are the bait the police take and the media go to town with. They create a situation a whole lot of us don’t like and that drives away many who might otherwise participate or sympathize. They are, that is, incredibly bad for a movement, and represent a form of segregation by intimidation.

But don’t confuse the pro-vandalism Occupiers with the vampire squid or the up-armored robocops who have gone after us almost everywhere. Though their means are deeply flawed, their ends are not so different than yours. There’s no question that they should improve their tactics or maybe just act tactically, let alone strategically, and there’s no question that a lot of other people should stop being so apocalyptic about it.

Those who advocate for nonviolenceat Occupy should remember that nonviolence is at best a great spirit of love and generosity, not a prissy enforcement squad. After all, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who gets invoked all the time when such issues come up, didn’t go around saying grumpy things about Malcolm X and the Black Panthers.

Violence Against the Truth

Of course, a lot of people responding to these incidents in Oakland are actually responding to fictional versions of them. In such cases, you could even say that some journalists were doing violence against the truth of what happened in Oakland on November 2nd and January 28th.

The San Francisco Chronicle, for example, reported on the day’s events this way:

“Among the most violent incidents that occurred Saturday night was in front of the YMCA at 23rd Street and Broadway. Police corralled protesters in front of the building and several dozen protesters stormed into the Y, apparently to escape from the police, city officials and protesters said. Protesters damaged a door and a few fixtures, and frightened those inside the gym working out, said Robert Wilkins, president of the YMCA of the East Bay.”

Wilkins was apparently not in the building, and first-person testimony recounts that a YMCA staff member welcomed the surrounded and battered protesters, and once inside, some were so terrified they pretended to work out on exercise machines to blend in.

I wrote this to the journalists who described the incident so peculiarly: “What was violent about [activists] fleeing police engaging in wholesale arrests and aggressive behavior? Even the YMCA official who complains about it adds, ‘The damage appears pretty minimal.’ And you call it violence? That’s sloppy.”

The reporter who responded apologized for what she called her “poor word choice” and said the piece was meant to convey police violence as well.

When the police are violent against activists, journalists tend to frame it as though there were violence in some vaguely unascribable sense that implicates the clobbered as well as the clobberers. In, for example, the build-up to the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, the mainstream media kept portraying the right of the people peaceably to assemble as tantamount to terrorism and describing all the terrible things that the government or the media themselves speculated we might want to do (but never did).

Some of this was based on the fiction of tremendous activist violence in Seattle in 1999 that the New York Times in particular devoted itself to promulgating. That the police smashed up nonviolent demonstrators and constitutional rights pretty badly in both Seattle and New York didn’t excite them nearly as much. Don’t forget that before the obsession with violence arose, the smearing of Occupy was focused on the idea that people weren’t washing very much, and before that the framework for marginalization was that Occupy had “no demands.” There’s always something.

Keep in mind as well that Oakland’s police department is on the brink of federal receivership for not having made real amends for old and well-documented problems of violence, corruption and mismanagement, and that it was the police department, not the Occupy Oakland demonstrators, which used tear gas, clubs, smoke grenades and rubber bullets on January 28th. It’s true that a small group vandalized City Hall after the considerable police violence, but that’s hardly what the plans were at the outset of the day.

The action on January 28th that resulted in 400 arrests and a media conflagration was called Move-In Day. There was a handmade patchwork banner that proclaimed “Another Oakland Is Possible” and a children’s contingent with pennants, balloons and strollers. Occupy Oakland was seeking to take over an abandoned building so that it could reestablish the community, the food programs and the medical clinic it had set up last fall. It may not have been well planned or well executed, but it was idealistic.

Despite this, many people who had no firsthand contact with Occupy Oakland inveighed against it or even against the whole Occupy movement. If only that intensity of fury were to be directed at the root cause of it all, the colossal economic violence that surrounds us.

All of which is to say, for anyone who hadn’t noticed, that the honeymoon is over.

Now for the Real Work

The honeymoon is, of course, the period when you’re so in love you don’t notice differences that will eventually have to be worked out one way or another. Most relationships begin as though you were coasting downhill. Then come the flatlands, followed by the hills where you’re going to have to pedal hard, if you don’t just abandon the bike.

Occupy might just be the name we’ve put on a great groundswell of popular outrage and a rebirth of civil society too deep, too broad, to be a movement. A movement is an ocean wave: this is the whole tide turning from Cairo to Moscow to Athens to Santiago to Chicago. Nevertheless, the American swell in this tide involves a delicate alliance between liberals and radicals, people who want to reform the government and campaign for particular gains, and people who wish the government didn’t exist and mostly want to work outside the system. If the radicals should frighten the liberals as little as possible, surely the liberals have an equal obligation to get fiercer and more willing to confront — and to remember that nonviolence, even in its purest form, is not the same as being nice.

Surely the only possible answer to the tired question of where Occupy should go from here (as though a few public figures got to decide) is: everywhere. I keep being asked what Occupy should do next, but it’s already doing it. It is everywhere.

In many cities, outside the limelight, people are still occupying public space in tents and holding General Assemblies. February 20th, for instance, was a national day of Occupy solidarity with prisoners; Occupiers are organizing on many fronts and planning for May Day, and a great many foreclosure defenses from Nashville to San Francisco have kept people in their homes and made banks renegotiate. Campus activism is reinvigorated, and creative and fierce discussions about college costs and student debt are underway, as is a deeper conversation about economics and ethics that rejects conventional wisdom about what is fair and possible.

Occupy is one catalyst or facet of the populist will you can see in a host of recent victories. The campaign against corporate personhood seems to be gaining momentum. A popular environmental campaign made President Obama reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Canada, despite immense Republican and corporate pressure. In response to widespread outrage, the Susan B. Komen Foundation reversed its decision to defund cancer detection at Planned Parenthood. Online campaigns have forced Apple to address its hideous labor issues, and the ever-heroic Coalition of Immokalee Workers at last brought Trader Joes into line with its fair wages for farmworkers campaign.

These genuine gains come thanks to relatively modest exercises of popular power. They should act as reminders that we do have power and that its exercise can be popular. Some of last fall’s exhilarating conversations have faltered, but the great conversation that is civil society awake and arisen hasn’t stopped.

What happens now depends on vigorous participation, including yours, in thinking aloud together about who we are, what we want and how we get there, and then acting upon it. Go occupy the possibilities and don’t stop pedaling. And remember, it started with mad, passionate love.

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table in the Diner

COPS: Imminent Expansion of the Police State

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics table in the Diner

Taking another Page from FDRs Playbook, Obama-sama is now promoting hiring Unemployed Vets to rebuild trails, roads and levees on Public land, a sort of Civilian Conservation Corps redux. He proposes Printing $1B to hire 20,000 of the estimated 160,000 Active duty and 95,000 in this Worthy pursuit.

This gets the Headline and lead paragraphs in the attached story, but the real MEAT here is not in the “CCC”, but in the “COPS” program. He wants $4B for the “Community Oriented Policing Services” program. If he gets his Wish and if you assume quardruple the numbers here, this would hire 80,000 more COPS Nationally in the first year. I feel SAFER already, don’t you?

Yes, what we really need are 80,000 COPS recently discharged from the Killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan dressed in full Riot Gear keeping the peace at the National Political Conventions next year. Municipalities are Fresh Out of Scratch to hire more Cops, so the Feds will GIVE them the money, and who wants to bet me on which cities will get the first grants here? The ones holding the Conventions, that’s who. LOL.

Let’s do a little Math here though. If you sprinkle $4B at 80K COPS, that would be $50K per COP, but actually quite a bit less due to the Admin costs of the program. You know, all the Fed Goobermint Apparatchiks necessary to administer the program. Minimum, this takes 20% off the top here from the get go. So maybe you can pay the new COPS an average starting salary around $40K. However, to keep them on the Payroll next year, you gotta allocate the same amount of money. If you want to hire next year’s crew of Retiring International Killers, you’ll now need to double next year’s allocation to $8B. The most this gets you is a one year pop depressing the UE number of returning Vets, coincidentally in an Election year.

You can of course see how the Police State is being Evolved Up here. You don’t have to take Active Soldiers and put them on the streets, you take the EX-Soldiers currently UE and give them jobs as COPS! 80,000 New ones is a nice Expansion of the Gestapo, especially if you Deploy them in the particular Big Shities you are expecting Trouble Coming.

With the regular multi-Billion expenditures on everything else here, $4B for new COPS next year is a Drop in the Bucket of course. This money would also actually recirculate some in the economy, as said COPS would be off UE and able to pay Rent/Mortgage etc. Inthe grand scheme of things though, 80K COPS distributed out nationwide is a Drop in the Bucket, since local Police forces are laying off more than that number each year already. All it does is keep these police forces at somewhat Steady State for a short while. Eventually, as the Municipalities start filing for Bankruptcy, Da Federal Goobermint in order just to MAINTAIN the current level of Police “Protection” will have to pick up the WHOLE TAB, which of course is far more than $4B.

Running a Police State is a VERY expensive Bizness, as the Soviets found out. For Da Feds to just maintain current levels of COPS nationally in the Big Shities is probably at least a $100B/yr commitment to start, and will grow substantially as there is more Civil Unrest. helicopter Ben of course can Print at Will to fund this, but it’s sure not going to help the Deficit any. LOL.

I do expect that this little Intitiative will get passed by CONgress, since the Pols of course want to feel Safe eating their canapes at the Parties following the Convention activities of the day. The Police Presence at these Conventions is going to be absolutely OVERWHELMING. Every Park is going to have 1000 COPS assigned to it even BEFORE any OWSers show up. Wherever they do Congregate, the COPS will then redloy and SWARM around them. Every minor violation from Vagrancy to Littering will be STRICTLY enforced, Protesters will be Kettled and then shipped by Bus FAR out of town to Holding Pens to await Arraignment for a week or so due to “backlog” until the Pols are safely out of town.

Obviously, the only way this can be counteracted against would be through an equally overwhelming turnout of OWSers, in the Millions. It remains unclear as to whether OWS will be able to muster up such Numbers by then. I would guess it is probably unlikely though at this point, since not enough people are truly Starving yet as they are in places like Greece.

An alternative Plan which would require many fewer OWSers would be to use Vehicles, drive them into the towns and then clog up the whole roadway system. Buy $500 clunkers you can Abandon as necessary. However, Roadblocks may be established to keep this from occurring if TPTB get wind of such a Plan, which they certainly would since it would have to be organized up through the Social Networks.

Tactically speaking, as soon as you lose your Freedom of Assembly rights either explicitly or defacto, it becomes very difficult to engage in any kind of Mass Actions, even Non-Violent ones. This is going to be the major problem OWS will face in trying to get anything going at the Conventions.

RE

—— Obama proposal for jobless vets includes effort resembling 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps

By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, February 2, 9:09 PM WASHINGTON — In an effort to cut the unemployment rate among veterans, the Obama administration is calling for a new conservation program that would put veterans to work rebuilding trails, roads and levees on public lands.

The administration also will seek more grant money for programs that allow local communities to hire more police officers and firefighters.

.The efforts are particularly geared to those veterans who served after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a group experiencing an unemployment rate of 13.1 percent versus 8.1 percent for non-veterans.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the Civilian Conservation Corps that operated during the 1930s could be viewed as a model for what the administration will try to accomplish through its “Veterans Jobs Corps.” He said that the administration will propose spending $1 billion that would be used to put an estimated 20,000 veterans to work restoring habitat and eradicating invasive species, among other activities.

“When one looks back at the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps, we take great comfort that those who take on these kinds of activities will leave a lasting legacy for the United States,” Salazar said.

The backdrop of presidential politics is also playing a role in the Obama administration’s new efforts. Several states that will be heavily contested in November have a significant military presence. Veterans will be evaluating specific ways the next White House administration intends to help them.

Administration officials said the initiatives are focused on helping veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Communities that hire veterans to work as police and firefighters will be given preference in the grants competition. Obama will also seek to increase spending for the grants programs. He will propose an additional $4 billion for the Community Oriented Policing Services program, or COPS. He will propose an additional $1 billion for the firefighter grants.

The administration will also propose a training program designed to help veterans wanting to start their own small businesses.

With GOP lawmakers stressing the need to cut government spending, it remains to be seen how far the proposals will make it in a deeply divided Congress. Many conservatives have in the past voted to cut spending for the COPS program, while Obama is calling for a major expansion. Obama is expected to unveil his proposals Friday at an Arlington, Va., fire station that was one of the first to respond to the attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Administration officials outlined the proposals in advance of his speech.

Congress also has been focusing on the problem of unemployment among veterans. A House subcommittee on Thursday examined the unemployment rate for those who serve in the National Guard or Reserves. Witnesses estimated that about 1 out of every 5 returning guardsmen is unemployed.

Theodore Daywalt, CEO and president of a jobs board called VetJobs, told lawmakers that veterans who totally separate from the military are for the most part finding work, even in today’s economic environment.

“But if a veteran remains active in the National Guard, they are having a difficult time finding meaningful employment due to the constant call-ups and deployment schedules,” Daywalt said in his written testimony.

Daywalt said some employers have become wary of hiring someone who is called up for as many as 24 months at a time. And the difficulty in finding work has led some guardsmen to volunteer for second or third deployments. He also predicted that the unemployment problem for guardsmen and reservists could get worse as the military downsizes because it will result in more competition when openings do occur.

About 160,000 soldiers leave active duty annually, and some 95,000 members of the National Guard and Reserves join them. The Labor Department already operates some jobs programs to help soldiers with the transition to civilian life. For example, there are employee workshops that help vets with advice on job searches and labor market conditions. The department also provides grants to states that in turn hire workers to conduct job training workshops and reach out to employers on behalf of vets.

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The South Atlantic Ocean is currently undergoing significant alterations due to climate change. This [...]

This paper assessed the variability and projected trends of solar irradiance and temperature in the [...]

Following the impact of droughts witnessed during the last decade there is an urgent need to develop [...]

A “nadir-only” framework of the radiometric intercomparison of multispectral sensors usi [...]

A fuzzy random conditional value-at-risk-based linear programming (FCVLP) model was proposed in this [...]