Romney

“Coming To A Theatre Near You…”

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 19, 2013

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

In researching TWTWID, it is doom, doom, doom all the time. So for a break, let’s talk about movies about Doom.

It would be difficult to overstate just how oblivious I am to some aspects the world in which I live. While acutely aware of political developments on the local state and national scene, and while passionately devoted to a handful of vital causes,I am in fact one of the more popular-culture-ignorant people you could ever meet. There is an entire skein of knowledge about individuals and phenomena of which I am blissfully unaware. (Of course, any free time I have is devoted to reading the Diner Forum, a few other blogs, and eternal maintenance on my mouldering urban slum.)

With that admission in mind, consider this: on Fathers’ Day, my daughter took Contrary and I to the movies, which was a first, since I have been taking her since Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The movie we saw was just fine, but what really struck me were the coming attractions.

I found, in the trailers we saw in the cool darkness,  a remarkable reflection of the zeitgeist, and distinct echoes of topics and issues we have discussed in the recesses of the Forum. To that list I’ve added from a brief web search, so that you will have an idea when Doom is Coming To A Theatre Near You.

Now this is not a stretch, because we talk about EVERYTHING on the forum at one time or another. Yet I found the timing of the upcoming release of these films quite remarkable. Take a brief tour with me:

 

World War Z

Due for release  June 21
WWZ
The story revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop a pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself. The pandemic involves zombies. Given the rollicking “Zombie Rehab” thread inside the Diner Forum, this film is being released right on time.

Since Brad Pitt is starring, it is reasonable to expect boffo box office, as the Variety hacks might say.

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Assault on Wall St.

Was released on May 10, but I never heard of it, and its plot is such that it deserves a mention here. Especially given RE’s predilection for “Orkin Man” solutions.

Assault on Wall Street

 

A security guard for an armored truck, Jim (Dominic Purcell) is a blue-collar New Yorker who works hard to earn a living. His wages support himself and his wife Rosie (Erin Karpluk), who is on the upswing recovering from a near-fatal illness. Yet things start to fall apart after Rosie’s health insurance stops covering her treatment and Jim’s life savings are lost via a disastrous investment his stockbroker had advised him to make. As a row of professional and personal dominoes falls, Jim is confronted by the realization that, after being abused and exploited by financial institutions for far too long, he has only one choice: to strike back.

 

Simply based on the trailer and description, this film promises to rettrace some of the ground broken in Falling Down, a 1993 crime drama film starring Michael Douglas in the lead role of  a divorcé and unemployed former defense engineer who tears up LA in a violent rampage. This time, it’s the bankers’ turn. RE is already ordering the Blu-Ray version…

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The Purge

The Purge

 

This film has been released in some markets as of June 7; and is actually playing here. Starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headley, it touches upon themes of lawlessness, tight governocorporate supersision, and how much liberty people will trade for security. Newshawk Joe P. brought this film to our attention recently on his remarkable Newz page.

 

 

A thriller that follows one family over the course of a single night, four people will be tested to see how far they will go to protect themselves when the vicious outside world breaks into their home.

In an America wracked by crime and overcrowded prisons, the government has sanctioned an annual 12-hour period in which any and all criminal activity—including murder—becomes legal. The police can’t be called. Hospitals suspend help. It’s one night when the citizenry regulates itself without thought of punishment. On this night plagued by violence and an epidemic of crime, one family wrestles with the decision of who they will become when a stranger comes knocking.

When an intruder breaks into James Sandin’s (Ethan Hawke) gated community during the yearly lockdown, he begins a sequence of events that threatens to tear a family apart. Now, it is up to James, his wife, Mary (Lena Headley), and their kids to make it through the night without turning into the monsters from whom they hide.

Sounds like family fun, yes?

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Elysium

Elysium

Scheduled for release on August 9, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.

In the year 2159 two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), a hard line government official will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max (Matt Damon) is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that if successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.

 

Elysium 2

From the trailer, this film promises to revisit themes familiar to Diners,especially H.G. Wells’ story, The Time Machine, including the tension between the Elois, who in this incarnation are aloft in another realm, and the Morlocks left behind in the rubble of a ruined planet.

Or it could just be Jason Bourne in space.

Wells’ story has spawned  two feature films of the same name,  and, according to Wikipedia,

…two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction in many media. This story is generally credited with the popularisation of the concept of time travel using a vehicle that allows an operator to travel purposefully and selectively. The term “time machine”, coined by Wells, is now universally used to refer to such a vehicle. This work is an early example of the Dying Earth subgenre.

I am planning to remain oblivious. But I surely intend to catch a couple of these films, in the dark, cool comfort of a local theatre, here at the end of the Age of Oil.

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™.”

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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

Mittney, we hardly knew ye!

Off the keyboard of Morris Berman

Published on Dark Ages America on November 7, 2012

 

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

Ay, Mittney, Mittney!

Who were you, anyway? You streaked across the dark, Obamaesque sky like a comet, and then just as quickly–you we’re gone. A nation weeps.

You were, like the man who defeated you, an empty person, a Nowhere Man. Basically, a shmuck with a haircut. But there is one crucial difference: whereas your rival stands for nothing at all, and thus got filled up with Wall St. and the Pentagon–in other words, wound up as a corporate shill and a war criminal–you did have a philosophy. True, it wasn’t much–warmed-over Reaganism, really–but you believed it. You believed that 47% of the American public were worthless layabouts; that the government is there to promote the rich and grind the poor into the dust; and that we should project American power to every corner of the globe, just for the hell of it. You probably think trees cause pollution, that ketchup is a vegetable, and that the homeless are homeless because that’s what they really want for themselves. Pretty thin gruel, intellectually speaking, but at least it was something.

Of course, your rival has done enormous damage to America in four short years. He shredded the Bill of Rights, institutionalized kill lists and destroyed thousands of civilian lives in Pakistan and Afghanistan, increased hatred and bitterness toward the US, funneled $19 trillion into the pockets of bankers while the real unemployment rate stood at 18%–man, the list goes on and on. He even murdered American citizens on a whim, and has probably implemented the torture of many more. But what bothers me about your defeat, O Great Mittney, is that you could have done more, you could have made things even worse, and faster, too. And that’s what America really needs, O My Mitt: to just fucking get it over with, instead of dawdling around with social/economic and cultural disintegration. So we’ll continue slouching towards Bethlehem, committing suicide in piecemeal fashion, where you might have put us on the fast track to hell. This is indeed a sad day for our great nation, as you sat in your hotel room eating meatloaf, and composing your concession speech.

Who will remember you, in a month’s time, O Mittney? Who remembers John Kerry? Who the hell was John Kerry? You get my point. Ay, Mittney: we hardly knew ye!

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 …

On the Eve of the 2012 Election

Off the keyboard of William Hunter Duncan

Published on Off the Grid in Minneapolis on November 6, 2012

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Today, America elects a President. You’re a fool if you think there won’t be cheating on both sides. If you want to know about the integrity of our political system, look to Lance Armstrong. He didn’t want to win seven consecutive Tour d’ France titles, more than the American political machine wishes to maintain global hegemony. Juiced on cash and crude, prepared to treat Americans like it would any people in any country.

The Dems have a long history of cheating, but in this election my expectation is of preeminent Republican malfeasance. Not so much with the traditional Dem, mob-like stuffing of ballot boxes, but more like tinkering with the process, and maybe slowing the process. Do you expect to see liberals intimidating suburban moms? How about Tea Partiers and various paid operatives stirring up trouble in Latino and black neighborhoods? Remember too, people have been voting for awhile. Every day a vote sits around, that’s one more day for somebody to do what people will do.

Which is mostly, treat the electoral process, the nuts and bolts at the local level, with integrity. It is run remarkably well, for a thing primarily volunteer. Really, as corrupt as the Republican and Democratic Machine is, I don’t worry about cheating changing the course of this election. The political, financial, corporate, military machine that is Amerika, will continue to do what it was created to do, achieve global hegemony, regardless this election. Which is to say, the presidential vote in this election will do nothing to alter the course of empirical overshoot, and the general trend toward total State surveillance. The only thing that will prevent that, is collapse, or some kind of awakening, the American people seem ill-equpped and certainly not well enough informed to make.

“Superstorm”* Sandy I think has the potential to weaken New York in a way that 9/11 could not. There are now estimates into the hundreds of thousands, people who have been made homeless. Living so close to the sea, I think we can safely assume most of them had jobs, which they are presumably no longer doing, which is lost economic activity. It seems clear to me the estimates of the cost are grossly under-estimated. They reflect a gross estimate of rebuilding as it was. Every time I look at pics, I think, who thought it was a good idea to build all those houses on a fucking sand bar? Shall we talk about a gross misapplication of resources? I think if I were God and I heard Right-wing “Conservatives” yammering on about the great hand of God that is the Market, I’d be pissed. Any market that builds houses on a sand bar on the ocean or a river, has it’s head up its ass. Or rather, it is run by scoundrels. But don’t-ya-know, it’s gay peoples fault?

Good God the Whole Country needs to get STONED; And of course I mean, smoke pot, not throw rocks at each other.

Really, Benghazi? At this point, when there are men of think-tank level influence speaking openly about killing Americans to incite Americans to war against Iran, because they know the MSM won’t report it, which they haven’t, it is impossible to say anymore whether or not that attack in Libya was somehow facilitated directly or indirectly by the CIA, not when we know al Qaida practically is the Syria Free Army funded by America, directly or indirectly. That’s during an Obama Admin, BTW, and your an idiot or worse if you think a Repub Admin isn’t MORE likely of it. LOL. Notice, the only country where we are engaged, the mainstream media isn’t whore enough to associate with al Qaida? An American ambassador died by ambush and they don’t say it was al Qaida! After 9/11, it was like 24 hours. Ad infini-dumb-dumb/ad nauseum for a fucking decade.

The great tragedy of this election for me, is the failure of Americans to recognize, that growth, as our economy has come to depend on it, is at an end. And that is having profound ramifications, and we are pointing our fingers at everything but reality. We are not having an adult conversation about what seven billion people adding 80 Billion people every year, MEANS on a finite planet. GOOD GOD, how infantile the message, lower taxes to generate growth/tax the rich. What has the message given us? Sandy! Billionaire Hedge Fund managers who don’t pay taxes, indistinguishability between Treasury/FED/Wall Street, a grotesquely inflated people physically and economically dependent on a grotesquely inflated State, a hundred million yearly prescriptions for anti-depressants, kids drugged with pharmaceuticals by their parents and people in jail and disenfranchised for smoking the flower of the most useful plant on the planet.

It’s likely to be a contested election, one way or the other. How contested depends on many other factors, not least the progress on the east coast. That nor-easter portends ill. It might be a thing for the nation to rally around beforehand, but it’s almost election day as I write this, and I assume the storm will have begun to hit by then. Consider the rest of November, a languishing relief effort in the east as the nation rages about a contested election. I admit I hesitate to imagine a republican controlled Congress and the presidency (much because the so-called Republicans are controlled by maniacs,) though I console myself that the party would probably be faced with the choice of preventing the 2014 election from happening, and being destroyed politically as a Party forever, but of course that is not really a choice. More, it looks like a Dem Senate, Repub Congress and maybe, eventually, a Repub Prez. Or Obama. Which means more gridlock, as we muddle our way along the seemingly spiral path of industrial dissolution.

(It’s useful I think, to think about the spiral, when faced with the anxiety inevitable, contemplating TEOTWAWKI. The square, rigid world we have built won’t withstand THAT spiral. Best to think about flow.)

Who am I voting for? Mostly I’m voting against my state Minnesota tending toward control, against the marriage and ID-Voter red herrings. For Prez, I’m going to vote for Jill Stein. Partly because I don’t expect the office of the President will ever be inflicted upon her, but mostly because she was arrested bringing sustenance, treats and attention to the sitters, protecting the earth and the land, preventing the dozing of the Keystone II pipeline right-of-way that isn’t yet supposedly a done deal.

Because this election should be about a choice. And really that isn’t so much about a choice, as a conversation, about the fact that any further thrust of the current economic paradigm, of the kind of progress we have grown accustomed to, depends on destroying much of what remains of the vitality of the earth and the biosphere, and only seems to feed the attitude of CONTROL.

* If Spiral Theory is correct, then one might expect to think of Sandy as a pale precursor of what is to be come, climate-wise.

The Hypocrisy called American Justice

Off the keyboard of Phillip Farruggio

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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 }

 

The Empire’s ‘Servants’ Debate’… Round 1

Off the keyboard of Phillip Farruggio

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasboard inside the Diner.

We got to see fantastic theater last night. Obama and Romney, servants of the empire and spokesman for their respective parties, the Repugnants and the Demoncrats, danced to the same tune, with but different lyrics. If you notice, neither of the two candidates, or their countless minions in the media and general public, ever discussed the real cause or our economic downfall: The Military Industrial Empire! You won’t hear Obama or Romney mentioning the obscene levels of military spending… record breaking levels that rake in over half the federal income taxes we suckers send to Uncle Sam. After all, the subject was about the economy, and what really is bankrupting it was and will never be mentioned. Is our economy affected by the 800+ military bases we have in over 100 different countries which drains both our treasury and our prestige as a nation internationally? Or that our drone attacks kill more innocent civilians than the targeted terrorists they claim to be after. How about our fine young soldiers dead or wounded for life in that desert heat, for a cause that many still doubt?

No issue has as lasting influence on our daily way of life, the way of life for us working stiffs, than this Military Industrial Empire… which both parties serve so well, and always have. Abortion and contraceptive choice are very vital issues for all of us. Yet, to elect a man president because he agrees with you on that, and then to watch him serve the interests of a War Machine that drains your wallets…. You got me on that one.

I love how the two servants of the elite interests argued back and forth on health care. Obama was so proud for his Affordable Care Act, that he liked it when Romney referred to it as Obamacare. Bottom line: both political parties are in bed with the private health insurance industry, and what little reform they will make is just that… little! This writer is against Obamacare, but for vastly different reasons than Romney. What could have and should have been done was for the president and the Congress to push for an option for anyone under retirement age to buy into the current Medicare system. This could be done in a similar fashion as we do with our FICA taxes. The more you earn (up to an income ceiling to be determined) the more you pay into the kitty. Regardless of what the actual costs would be, they could never equal the premium costs and restrictions (and deductibles) that a private plan entailed. The president’s new Obamacare plan, even with most of us being put into large pools, would perhaps save around maybe 20-25%. So, a plan that a husband and wife now pays for fairly decent coverage (with maybe deductibles of $ 1000, which is actually low nowadays) that currently would cost $ 12,000 to $ 15,000 yearly, would be discounted 20-25%. So what? Who in the hell can afford $ 1,000 a month, plus an out of pocket initial $ 1000 deductible? No, Obama and his corrupt party could have used the bully pulpit to say to Americans: “Hey, if you wish to come into this plan, fine. If not, then you can stay with private insurers. And, private insurers, we are not going to do anything to you legislatively… just to compete with you.” When this approach was taken by local towns that were fed up with the monopoly cable television company in their area, back around 10-12 years ago, the results were astounding! Local towns and cities went into the cable television business, nonprofit, and competed with the local for profit carrier. Soon after, when all the smoke cleared, the prices and service restrictions by the private carrier were lowered dramatically! Obama and Romney: competition works!

Imagine if we had a multi party system in place, and legitimate third party candidates and platforms were part of the debate process. Why in this the 21st century is that not the case here in America? Who is controlling things so that we cannot hear differing voices and differing ideas and solutions? The empire’s representatives were on that dais last night, and the guy asking the questions had his handlers as well. The deck has been stacked for so long, dear fellow citizens, that many of you do not even read the cards anymore. Sad.

PA Farruggio

October 4th, 2012

Obamney vs Robama

Off the keyboard of George Mobus

Published on Question Everything on Septemeber 29, 2012

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What Can the Next President Do?

Regardless of Who Wins

As I write it looks like Obama will get a second term and a second chance to do the right things.

But the reality (as I see it) for this race is the tragicomedy that neither candidate is promising to do anything that would actually work. For one thing, given the political divisions that exist in the legislature it won’t really matter much even if they try to do anything. But more cogently, what either candidate claims to want to do is simply not physically feasible. Both say they want to get the economy growing again. They want to increase jobs. Obama, to his political credit, even lays out some specific actions he would like to undertake to implement his desires. Romney only says he has a plan. As far as I know no one has actually found anything in the Romney campaign rhetoric that resembles an actual plan.

Obama has had four years of experience now. He probably has a better idea of what a president can and cannot do. His proposals for economic fixes are pretty tepid, actually, but that is likely because he realizes that anything bolder is simply infeasible. Romney, on the other hand, has no real idea what to expect. Nor does he have advisers that have any real inkling of what a president can do. This is so typical of American election campaigns and despite the fact that most Americans recognize this fallacy, they still act like the election is important. They still cling to an old ideal that probably never was true but still holds appeal. The president is something like a king — the head of state. S/he ought to be able to get things done.

And exactly what does anybody think can be done even if the president were like a king? Liberal economic pundits like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich are demanding Keynesian heroics claiming it worked once before so it should work again. I understand their sentiments. They care deeply that there are people hurting by not having jobs and the income distributions have become unfairly slanted to the wealthy. They are liberals after all. But we should not confuse their desires with intellectual prowess. Believing that, “all other things being equal”, what worked before should work again is not the same as a careful, intelligent analysis of the whole systemic situation now that would reveal just how all things are not equal. We are in an entirely new physical regimen when it comes to the fuel for economies.

Conservatives still push on the same tired agendas, lower taxes and regulations and reduce the deficit by decreasing the size (and functions) of government. They conveniently forget that it was a few of their champions (like Ronald Reagan) that did pretty much the opposite when they had the chance. Republicans (the kind running the party today) never let facts get in the way of a good ideological story.

The liberals cling to the notion that a growing economy will benefit all as long as government sees to it that tax laws are fair and regulations of commerce and over the environment are handled properly. So they cling to growth as a fix all. Conservatives, likewise, hold the same position with respect to the goodness of growth, but only since a growing economy will reward those stalwarts who risked their capital to produce that wealth more than the interchangeable part of the economic machine we call workers.

This is a true tragicomedy. The foibles of either party will result in efforts to go against the laws of nature, wasting who knows what little wealth we might still have. Either one will make us all hugely poorer even while they are trying to make us (or some of us) richer. You have to laugh at their bungling but you have to cry at the outcomes.

What we might do is compare possible scenarios for each of the candidates regarding what they would actually try to do. A lot depends on the ideological mix in the House and the Senate, of course.

If Romney Wins

Romney’s position has been that if government gets out of the way of business then the businesses will invest and start growing, thus hiring more workers. So he would presumably try to reduce taxes on business and reduce regulations that burden business. Suppose for a moment that the Senate swings to the Republican side, and, in fact, gets a large enough majority to bust a filibuster move by the Democrats to block any Romney-sponsored legislation (tit-for-tat guys). Would moves to reduce taxes and regulations while simultaneously decreasing the deficit (and debt) actually work?

Lets consider the idea that by improving (in his mind) the climate for business that those businesses would invest in new plant and equipment (or offices in the US) and start hiring people. Where will the businesses get the capital to invest. Currently the meme floating around is that businesses are sitting on heaps of cash because they are uncertain where things are going. They are not using that cash to invest but if government gets off their backs they will do so. For this we need to ask ourselves if this is really true. Are businesses sitting on cash because of government-generated uncertainty? While there is evidence that this idea holds some merit for small businesses, particularly with respect to the complexities of tax code (not the tax rates per se) the majority of uncertainty in the minds of business managers is with regard to not understanding where their customers are going to come from and, for that matter, where the kind of skilled workers they need will come from. You don’t build product on hopes that there will be customers with money to spend and you don’t invest in automation unless you know you have the kinds of skilled workers to run it and maintain it (see: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/3038-small-business-capital.html). There is a great deal of uncertainty about the future of sales because the global economy is in the dumps. China, the great hope for growth, is slowing down (and may actually be slower than they self-report). And as I have argued consistently the global downturn is due to declining net energy available for economic activity. This decline is seen in the increasing costs in fossil fuels, especially oil[1]. Since oil is the basis for the vast majority of our transportation systems the increased costs will show up in inflation in all sorts of goods and services. Those costs will propagate throughout the economy and are seen especially easily in food and transportation fuel costs.

Romney’s thesis is flawed. He doesn’t really understand that it isn’t government per se that is in the way of business, it is costs to do business that is the problem. And those costs have been consistently rising. Back in the day it was possible in the short run to compensate for inflation by borrowing short-term capital and rolling the interest forward. Companies did this under the belief that they could eventually catch up and pay back the debt with excess profits in the future. The problem is, and we are all starting to grasp this, is that the future they imagined never came. Today they are reticent to borrow and banks have become reticent to loan because the real uncertainty is in the likelihood that some grand day when we resume producing vast amounts of real (not financial instrument) wealth will come is the only thing growing.

But, if Romney wins and was able to get some of his proposals through (he could by fiat reduce the effectiveness of the EPA, for example) would that do more harm than good? In my opinion the rate at which things are going downhill would probably overcome the economic system before he or Congress could actually get anything through. In fact I can easily imagine that by the end of a Romney administration’s first term there will be massive revolts and mayhem from people fed up with any form of government. He would be either voted out or find himself in a worst case scenario having to declare martial law. Physically determined events, not a Romney presidency will determine just how bad things might get.

If Obama Wins

I really think Obama believes the economists and bankers who convinced him to hire Geithner and Summers, et al. He buys into neoclassical economics and probably does believe the Keynesian’s version. Therefore he may try to implement some kind of stimulus beyond the quantitative easing the Fed has put in place. Rather than print money (that is the Fed’s job now) he will try to take the country deeper into debt to invest in infrastructure repair. He’ll want to repair the roads and bridges used by transportation vehicles that will eventually be parked permanently for the cost of fuels. What a waste.

He will probably try to do something about wage disparities. He may try to increase the taxes on the rich and reduce them on the middle class and poor. Good luck with that. He may try to invest more in alternative energies and clean coal. But that is because he hasn’t, apparently, ever taken a physics class and his main science and energy advisers are too chicken or too self-possessed to explain to him what the real problem is.

He just might have the courage to speak to the American public about the kinds of sacrifices they will have to make (as he alluded to in his inaugural address less than four years ago). But his notion of sacrifices is modeled on those made by American citizens during WWII. Yes Americans were will to sacrifice their creature comforts in support of the war. But they also assumed the war would one day end and they would get back to business at home. They had just come off of a Great Depression so the acceptance of some sacrifice probably wasn’t foreign to their minds. Modern day Americans are incredibly spoiled. But even if they were to accept that message it would be in the same vein as accepting sacrifices during the war — they would be temporary inconveniences while we built back our massive economic engine and revved it up. One day, all will believe, we’ll get back on track consuming the s**t out of stuff and living merrily ever after. Our kids will have a better life than did we.

But, of course, it is merely a sad hope. There are fundamental physical reasons why humanity is now in permanent contraction. That will go not only for economic activity (the kind that actually produces assets of use) but for the population itself. Modern food production and health care require substantial levels of energy flow, which, until very recently, was coming in increasing amounts from fossil fuel extraction. That is no longer the case. Food prices and medical costs will continue to rise until the average person can simply no longer afford them. Already the movement toward home gardening is showing a sensitivity to the trend. Unfortunately it is nearly impossible for the average suburban (and definitely the urban) home to produce enough food for year-round consumption, let alone supplying all needed nutrition during just the summer-fall months.

I now see Obama as an empty suit. He is a smart rhetorician but he is ignorant, perhaps as much as Romney is, of basic physical laws and the facts that tell us where things are really going. I’m not even sure he is particularly intellectual and a critical thinker. You would think that after so many failed attempts to buoy the economy by financial manipulations he would be asking fundamental questions. Instead he claims that it would have been so much worse if his programs (bailing out the auto industry and banks, for example) hadn’t been implemented. Of course he has absolutely no way to verify such a claim, but hey, this is about getting reelected not scientific verification of hypotheses.

Everyone Loses

The fact of the matter is that all a president can or should do at this point is to tell the truth about our physical reality. He (or, if ever she) has a moral duty to inform the citizenry as to their actual options. Right now, however, we seem to have two candidates for the office who either do not know the truth or are willing to pose the big lie just so they can get elected. Not knowing the truth means that person is ignorant. We are talking about real science, but it isn’t rocket science. Understanding the simple relationship between net energy and economic activity (and growth) does not require a PhD in physics. But it does require dropping ideological biases that blind one to the reality.

As I look at either candidate’s positions on the economy and energy it seems clear enough that Romney is completely and profoundly ignorant. It is an ignorance imposed on him by his ideology (or more likely his adopted ideology of the right wing, as I suspect he is a hollow man). He is ignorant both of the problems that come from unbridled economic growth and the role of energy in providing economic activity. He and his ilk live in la-la land. Obama, on the other hand has access to a greater amount of factual information about net energy and its relation to the economy, though he is ignorant of the reality of alternative energy as a scalable source of power. Where he is more deeply ignorant, apparently, is his persistent belief that a growth economy is the only viable way for humans to live in the world.

The two also differ in their notions of how economic wealth should be distributed among the citizens. This may be the most important difference as the economic pie continues to shrink in the future. As the shrinkage began in the early 70s we began to see an earnest application of old principles of rewards going to the already wealthy and the burden of declining total wealth going to those already low in the economic strata. As the total wealth declined, the pressure for those in power to open more pathways for the already rich to get richer increased resulting in abandoning many forms of commerce and financial regulations as well as turning to off-shoring jobs to lower priced labor markets to protect profits. Today we have a global house of cards in which the money supply is no longer representing the real physical wealth it ought to be able to purchase. It is just created out of thin air to make it seem that things are almost OK. They are not OK in any sense, but the average person doesn’t understand this. Apparently, however, neither does the average candidate for president.

By not telling the people of the world the truth about the end of growth and the onset of decline, and explaining to them why this is happening, the leaders of the governments of the world are essentially saying that people do not have the right to know. They do not have the right to consider how they should plan their own futures in light of decline. The big problem with this position is that there will be a point in time when the truth of decline becomes clear to all even though they will not know why (i.e., that it is everyone’s fault for demanding a consumer lifestyle, so no one group or person should be blamed solely) and they will react very badly. The damage from not telling the whole story as soon as possible will be far worse, I think, then continuing to pretend (or believe) that things will get better one day and we can all be happy again. Those who are now maintaining the façade will quickly be seen as the perpetrators and the masses, to the extent they have the energy to do so, will turn on them mercilessly. And since those who are in the so-called 1% category have only wealth on paper, and since that paper will become worthless in the blink of an eye, they will not be able to hire armies to protect them. They will discover that their smoke and mirror tricks for creating that supposed wealth will backfire on them.

Everyone in the world will be increasingly poor as the years go by. The rate of decline is still in debate, but there are really no more deeply thoughtful people who don’t understand that we are in decline. There are many bright people who remain hopeful, and even optimistic. But I think they are driven by personality traits rather than intellectual reasoning to maintain that position (though some are extremely good at using their intellects to rationalize their optimism!). Over the past five years I have seen one after another hopeful optimist realize that all of their optimism hinged on the notion that somehow the leaders would see the truth and we would all get on board with programs to save society. But the rates of decline are catching up. Weather anomalies from global warming/climate change becoming the norm and economic decay spreading and accelerating are overwhelming that optimism.

No leader of any country or under any kind of governance philosophy can do anything to change physical reality. So long as net energy is trending downward economic activity will follow. Nothing short of a technological miracle could alter this. And that would require a scientific breakthrough of an incredibly serendipitous kind; one that could be followed by rapid exploitation and adoption. And it would pretty much have to ‘fund’ itself. That is it would have to bootstrap up to scale in a very short period of time (decades), Contrast that with the situation with, say, solar energy, which requires an existing fossil fuel energy infrastructure to underwrite its manufacture, distribution, and maintenance. No. The leaders of nations today are powerless to do anything that will make it better. The only thing they can do, honestly, is tell people the truth. And what are the odds of that happening?


[1] Natural gas price is currently depressed due to a glut owing to the well performance of non-conventional (fracked) wells in shale formations. It is now becoming clear that while these wells tend to produce an initially higher production rate than conventional wells, that the nature of the shale gas is such that production falls off more rapidly and the total production per more expensive well drilled is lower. That is, these wells have a significantly lower EROI and in addition, not all wells are going to perform all that well. This means we are likely to see a rapid decline in gas stocks as there will be fewer and fewer wells performing at economic flows.

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Jobz, God and the DNC

Off the Keyboard of William Hunter Duncan

This article first appeared at Off the Grid in Minneapolis.

Discuss this in the Epicurean Delights thread of the diner forum

 

Last week was my second, in my return to the beast, my return to another behemoth. If there is anyone out there who remembers my early days as a blogger, you might recall that at my last job under the wing of the beast, I spent part of my days on the job, blogging about the job, in a not very flattering way about the job, or the behemoth. That job was like paradise compared to my current employment; there will be no more blogging about the beast on the job. The last behemoth didn’t care much what I did, or even if I was there, as long as what they expected of me got done. This new job, if I am not a computer or a machine, big bank will force me to think and act like one. This behemoth is about breaking the spirit, in as subtle a way as is possible.

It’s the hand of God, don’t you know, that I have ended up here. The hand of God is the reason I am working for less than I make landscaping, less than half I made at that other behemoth, doing something that is entirely outside my primary skill set. I know how to take a house off the grid; I know how to grow large amounts of food; I write prolifically and well; I am good at managing people. But God apparently has said, you will stare at a computer all day and organize digital mortgage documents because my favored children made loans to people to buy houses they couldn’t afford, while imploding the global economy with those mortgages – therefore you, as my not-favored child, because you have not preyed upon your fellow humans, because you have not been greedy and have not twisted yourself in knots justifying your exploitation, shall wither as an automaton!

My one “abuse” of the clock is to read the banking “news” as proferred by big bank on it’s website. The newz can be summed up as, regulations are bad, the mysterious market heals all wounds, and shouldn’t you be happy to have a job, even if you are making half to a third of what you were making before the collapse, (even if the cost of everything important has risen or remained equal, not least of all your mortgage, assuming you still have one.) The latest scheme is to bundle big blocks of those foreclosed homes and sell them to speculators, who will rent them, or have the option to sell. Said speculator getting a far sweeter deal than Joe and Jill Schmo would. Because don’t you know you don’t have the incentive to work your ass off and justify warmongering and global exploitation, if you aren’t compelled to by a fat mortgage? I’m sure the speculators will take excellent care of the houses and the renters, at a price the market can bear (read, work your ass off and keep your mouth shut about the way God runs things.)

Meanwhile, this week like the week prior with the RNC, I stayed up past my bedtime to listen to the Democratic National Convention. I turned to NPR Tuesday evening, to catch the tail end of John Kerry pimping for war in Syria, Bill Burton of Priorities Superpac, quoting Donald Rumsfeld and analogizing Pearl Harbor, and that warmonger EJ Dionne gushing about how unlike any previous Dem convention, everybody in the mob was in sync. If you listened or watched at all you know the Dems are plenty capable of mindlessly chanting USA. For awhile listening to Michelle Obama, I remember thinking I’d prefer her as president, until I remembered that she is a lawyer too. An ace for Barack though, for sure.

Bill Clinton is an Ace too. Too bad he forgot to mention, it was during his presidency that the financial markets were deregulated. He did mention that regulations are important, and the Republicans want to go back to the way it was before the crash. Hmm…That was about the time I began to reflect on the fact, that to the extent Americans are paying attention, policy does not matter anywhere near as much as rhetoric. The Dems in their convention did an excellent job, IMHO, of telling a story that is in contrast to the Republican story (the Repubs did a horseshit job of telling theirs, which is a hard sell admittedly, it’s so goddamned mean.) The trouble is, it’s only a story, and if you don’t give a damn about the story and you actually pay attention to the policies, at the core there isn’t any fundamental difference between the parties. It’s really all about big corporate, big banks and global war.

Biden was up next, Thursday prior to Obambam. Grandpa Joe, the abider. Now, I listened to the DNC, I didn’t watch it on tee-vee. And I can tell you, without the visuals, the voice-over in the video introduction to Biden’s speech, was just plain creepy. But not as creepy as Grandpa Joe. What sort of American VP, the author of anti violence-against-women legislation no less, refers to his wife, the mother of his children, the matriarch to his grandchildren, as Kiddo, on the stage at the DNC? But that is not necessarily as creepy as a sitting American VP who goes to Jerusalem and says publicly, “It’s good to be home.” Or his professed loyalty to a president with a spine like a “ram rod.” On the whole, a speech that can be summed up as warmongering, “BOOM BOOM BOOM,” and support for carz, because don’t you know, it was the makers of carz that “put America on the map.” “No intention to downsize the American Dream,” clearly. His choked up pity party for the “fallen angels” was pure political fakery. No ace there, though his speech was far more impressive rhetoric than Romney’s, the standard bearer.

Obama is an Ace, too. A testament to his celebrity, that the much less obtrusive voice-over in his video was no less than George Clooney. Though what does it say about a sitting American president, who takes the stage to accept his party’s nomination for a second term, to the soothing sounds of Coldplay? I can imagine that was an oblique reference to O’s ice cold handling of the Bin Laden affair (and by extension, though never mentioned of course, his kill list, or his lawyerly dismantling of the Constitution.) But Coldplay are Englishmen.

“Hope has been tested,” he said. Indeed, he sounded like a practiced actor, until he got to the point about how much land he had and would open up to gas, oil and “clean coal” extraction. Though hey, he talked about renewables, and he even mentioned global warming! But then he repeated the well refuted lie about 100 years of natural gas, with emphasis. Nevertheless, the crowd was fired up! even chanting USA with intensity when he got to talkin about Osama. Though there was an ever so subtle pause in the fervor, when he talked about maintaining the strongest military the world has ever known – not long after which he reiterated America’s loyalty to Israel, and rebuked Iran. “God bless the Democratic Party.”

First of all, I’m wondering, when did the numbers 2016 and 2024, in reference to the insolvency of Medicare, become part of the lexicon? I consider myself a fairly astute observer of the newz, and I have never heard these numbers before. They were up front and center, at the DNC. And since when has this President embraced the Simpson/Bowles commission, and their deficit reduction scheme? Not at all in the first four years – he walked away from it! But now it’s what he’s been fighting for all along? I listen to these men, and I can’t help but think, this is only theatre. There is some agenda that transcends America. There is some plan that supercedes the American dream, and these men are commissioned to tell us what we want to hear, when it comes time to make a good face of it, so we continue to think we are voting for people who have ours or America’s best interest in mind.

I said last week the Dems have no soul. That would be a generalized reference to the party that has not abandoned “science”, or scientific materialism. Which is to say, the party that believes literally that we have no soul, notwithstanding what anyone in the party thinks for themselves. Though “God” was referenced in abundance at the convention, if not in the platform. As if God were any measure of the behavior of, say, the Republicans? As if proclamations about God are not mostly about justifying whatever corrupt, vicious, inhuman behavior one wishes to justify? Warmongering, for instance. Or making the poor poorer. Or treating people like automatons.

The Dems have no soul because they are as captive as any American, to the narrative of progress and growth, which is inextricably leading them to support military action in the Middle East, again. Only this time, for all the marbles. Except such a war is going to crack, nay, shatter all the marbles, destroying modernism as we know it, potentially even reducing global population by the billion, leading to an attempt at total government lock down here in America and eventually total chaos.

But wtf am I barking about? I took this job because I made a commitment to this community, and I stayed up late analyzing the message of the supposedly separate political parties, out of a sense of duty. And what has that got me? Sick. A chest infection, exactly like the one I had when I left the beast four years ago, a sickness which I haven’t had anything like, these last four years.

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.

2012 US Elections: Obamney vs. Rombama

Off the Keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

Published originally on Landdestroyer on August 25th, 2012

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

War, economic collapse, and personal devastation await Americans no matter who they vote for – and what we should do instead. by Tony Cartalucci
August 25, 2012 -A vote for Obama will bring war with Syria, Iran, and eventually Russia and China. The economy will continue to suffer in order to bolster the interests of off-shore corporate-financier interests, while  the collective prospects of Americans continue to whither and blow away. A vote for Romney, however, will also bring war with Syria, Iran, and eventually Russia and China. The economy will also continue to suffer in order to bolster the interests of off-shore corporate-financier interests, while the collective prospects of Americans continue to whither and blow away. Why?
Because the White House is but a public relations front for the corporate-financier interests of Wall Street and London. A change of residence at the White House is no different than say, British Petroleum replacing its spokesman to superficially placate public opinion when in reality the exact same board of directors, overall agenda, and objectives remain firmly in place. Public perception then is managed by, not the primary motivation of, corporate-financier interests.
It is the absolute folly to believe that multi-billion dollar corporate-financier interests would subject their collective fate to the whims of the ignorant, uninformed, and essentially powerless voting masses every four years. Instead, what plays out every four years is theater designed to give the general public the illusion that they have some means of addressing their grievances without actually ever changing the prevailing balance of power in any meaningful way.
The foreign policy of both Obama and Romney is written by the exact same corporate-financier funded think-tanks that have written the script for America’s destiny for the last several decades.
Bush = Obama = Romney
As was previously reported, while the corporate media focuses on non-issues, and political pundits accentuate petty political rivalries between the “left” and the “right,” a look deeper into presidential cabinets and the authors of domestic and foreign policy reveals just how accurate the equation of “Bush = Obama = Romney” is.

Image: Professional spokesmen, representative not of the American people but of Fortune 500 multinational corporations and banks. Since the time of JP Morgan 100 years ago, the corporate-financier elite saw themselves as being above government, and national sovereignty as merely a regulatory obstacle they could lobby, bribe, and manipulate out of existence. In the past 100 years, the monied elite have gone from manipulating the presidency to now reducing the office to a public relations functionary of their collective interests.

….

George Bush’s cabinet consisted of representatives from FedEx, Boeing, the Council on Foreign Relations, big-oil’s Belfer Center at Harvard, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Circuit City, Verizon, Cerberus Capital Management, Goldman Sachs, and the RAND Corporation, among many others.

Image: The Henry Jackson Society is just one of many Neo-Conservative think-tanks, featuring many of the same people and of course, the same corporate sponsors. Each think-tank puts on a different public face and focuses on different areas of specialty despite harboring the same “experts” and corporate sponsors.

….

His foreign policy was overtly dictated by “Neo-Conservatives” including Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, Richard Armitage, Zalmay Khalilzad, Elliot Abrams, Frank Gaffney, Eliot Cohen, John Bolton, Robert Kagan, Francis Fukuyama, William Kristol, and Max Boot – all of whom hold memberships within a myriad of Fortune 500-funded think-tanks that to this day still direct US foreign policy – even under a “liberal” president. These include the Brookings Institution, the International Crisis Group, the Foreign Policy Initiative, the Henry Jackson Society, the Council on Foreign Relations, and many more.

Image: A visual representation of some of the Brookings Institution’s corporate sponsors. Brookings is by no means an exception, but rather represents the incestuous relationship between US foreign and domestic policy making and the Fortune 500 found in every major “think-tank.” Elected US representatives charged with legislative duties, merely rubber stamp the papers and policies drawn up in these think-tanks.  
….

Obama’s cabinet likewise features representatives from JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, the Council on Foreign Relations, Fortune 500 representatives Covington and Burling, Citi Group, Freedie Mac, and defense contractor Honeywell. Like Bush’s cabinet, foreign policy is not penned by Obama sitting behind his desk in the Oval Office, but rather by the very same think-tanks that directed Bush’s presidency including the Council on Foreign Relations, RAND Corporation, the Brookings Institution, the International Crisis Group, and the Chatham House. There are also a myriad of smaller groups consisting of many of the same members and corporate sponsors, but who specialize in certain areas of interest.

Image: Obama, not a Marxist. A visual representation of current US President Barack Obama’s cabinet’s corporate-financier ties past and present. As can be plainly seen, many of the same corporate-financier interests represented in Obama’s administration were also represented in Bush’s administration.

….

And with Mitt Romney, “running for president” against Obama in 2012, we see already his foreign policy advisers, Michael Chertoff, Eliot Cohen, Paula Dobrainsky, Eric Edelman, and Robert Kagan, represent the exact same people and corporate-funded think-tanks devising strategy under both President Bush and President Obama.
While Presidents Bush and Obama attempted to portray the West’s global military expansion as a series of spontaneous crises, in reality, since at least as early as 1991, the nations of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and many others that previously fell under the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence, were slated either for political destabilization and overthrow, or overt military intervention. While the public was fed various narratives explaining why Bush conducted two wars within the greater global “War on Terror,” and why Obama eagerly expanded these wars while starting new ones in Libya and now Syria, in reality we are seeing “continuity of agenda,” dictated by corporate-financier elite, rubber stamped by our elected representatives, and peddled to us by our “leaders,” who in reality are nothing more than spokesmen for the collective interests of the Fortune 500.

Image: The International Crisis Group’s corporate sponsors reveal a pattern of mega-multinationals intertwined with not only creating and directing US, and even European foreign policy, but in carrying it out. ICG trustee Kofi Annan is in Syria now carrying out a ploy to buy time for NATO-backed terrorists so they can be rearmed, reorganized, and redeployed against the Syrian government for another Western-backed attempt at regime change – all done under the guise of promoting “peace.”

….

No matter who you vote for in 2012 – until we change the balance of power currently tipped in favor of the Fortune 500, fed daily by our money, time, energy, and attention, nothing will change but the rhetoric with which this singular agenda is sold to the public. Romney would continue exactly where Obama left off, just as Obama continued exactly where Bush left off. And even during the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Bush Sr., it was the same agenda meted out by the same corporate-financier interests that have been driving American, and increasingly Western destiny, since US Marine General Smedley Butler wrote “War is a Racket” in 1935.
What Should We Do About It?
1. Boycott the Presidential Election: The first immediate course of action when faced with a fraudulent system is to entirely disassociate ourselves from it, lest we grant it unwarranted legitimacy. Boycotting the farcical US elections would not impede the corporate-financier “selection” process and the theatrical absurdity that accompanies it, but dismal voter turnout would highlight the illegitimacy of the system. This in many ways has already happened, with voter turnout in 2008 a mere 63%, meaning that only 32% of America’s eligible voters actually voted for Obama, with even fewer voting for runner-up John McCain.
Ensuring that this mandate is even lower in 2012 – regardless of which PR man gets selected, and then highlighting the illegitimacy of both the elections and the system itself is the first step toward finding a tenable solution. People must divest from dead-ends. Presidential elections are just one such dead-end.
Focusing on local elections and governance first, not only emphasizes the primacy of local self-determination, but affords us a grassroots-up approach to transforming our communities, and collectively our nation back into something truly representative of the people.
2. Boycott and Replace the Corporate Oligarchy: The corporate-financier interests that dominate Western civilization did not spring up overnight. It is through generations of patronage that we the people have granted these corporate-financier interests the unwarranted influence they now enjoy. And today, each day, we collectively turn in our paychecks to the global “company store,” providing the summation of our toil as fuel for this oligarchy’s perpetuation.
By boycotting the goods, services, and institutions of this oligarchy, we steal the fire out from under the proverbial cauldron – the very source of the current paradigm’s power. While it is impractical to commit overnight to a full-spectrum boycott, we can begin immediately by entirely boycotting corporations like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Kraft, Unilever and others by simply supporting local businesses and our local farmers market. This “voting with one’s wallet” is a form of democracy that unlike elections, will undoubtedly shift the balance of power toward a system more representative of the people’s interests.
By creating self-reliant communities independent of the machinations of corporate-financier interests, we provide ourselves with the greatest form of insurance against instability and uncertainty – an insurance policy placed solely in our own hands.
3. Get Educated, Get Organized: Leveraging technology is a necessary step in eliminating dependency on other corporate-financier interests – such as big oil, big defense, big-agri, big-pharma, and the telecom monopolies. To leverage technology, people at a grassroots level must get organized, educate themselves, and collaborate to create local business models and solutions to systematically replace large multinational holdings.
A recent interview by geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser with Seth Rutledge, featured on Stop Imperialism, explored the possibilities of developing local broadband networks. Community spaces dedicated to technological education, collaboration, and resource pooling are also an emerging phenomenon. Called “maker spaces” or sometimes “hacker spaces,” these grassroots initiatives serve as incubators for innovative, local small businesses.
Technology will eventually provide solutions to problems generally “solved” by government subsidies. Medicare, for instance, is a government subsidy to address the expenses and subsequent inaccessibility of medical care. Medical care, in turn, is expensive because the means to provide it are scarce. The supply of doctors, hospitals, treatments, biomedical technology, and many other aspects of modern health infrastructure are vastly outnumbered by demand.
Until technology can better balance this equation, people must organize to either defend as temporary stopgap measures, national programs that provide care to those who can’t afford it, or create local alternatives. To cut programs people depend on for the sake of saving an economy plundered by special interests, to specifically preserve these same special interests is unconscionable.

An organized political front that demands the preservation/reformation of these programs as well as investment in the development of permanent technological solutions, needs not pass the hat around to the working or even productive entrepreneurial classes of society, but rather level taxes on parasitic financial speculation and market manipulation – thus solving two problems in a single stroke. Geopolitical analyst and historian Dr. Webster Tarpley has already enumerated such an approach in his 5 point plan for international economic recovery (.pdf) by specifically calling for resistance to austerity and a 1% Wall Street tax.
Conclusion
Undoubtedly people realize something is wrong, and that something needs to be done. To ensure that the corporate-financier elite remain in perpetual power, a myriad of false solutions have been contrived or created out of co-opted movements, to indefinitely steer people away from influencing the current balance of power and achieving true self-determination.
By recognizing this and seizing the reins of our own destiny, we can and must change the current balance of power. In the process of doing so, we must recognize and resist attempts to derail and distract us by way of the incessant political minutia now on full display during the 2012 US Presidential Election. For every problem faced by society, there is a permanent, technological solution. For hunger there was agriculture, for lack of shelter, there was architecture, and no matter how daunting today’s problems may seem, there lies similar solutions.
We must realize that by endeavoring to solve these problems, we jeopardize monopolies as insidious as they are monolithic, constructed to exploit such problems. If we fail to recognize and undermine these interests through pragmatic activism, we will be resigned to whatever fate these special interests determine for us, no matter how cleverly they sell us this fate as one of our own choosing.

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