There’s stupid. There’s really stupid. There’s really, really stupid.
Then there’s Democrat stupid.
A prime example is a Friday Wall Street Journal article titled “This Democrat Is Giving Up on ObamaCare.” It’s penned by one Burke Beu, someone I describe as “ethnically Democrat,” as he says “I grew up in a Democratic family. I have been a registered Democrat since age 18.” He also tells us, “[I was] a Democratic candidate for statewide office in Colorado and a party precinct captain in that caucus state. I’ve volunteered for numerous Democratic candidates and contributed to party causes and campaigns. The 2014 election results were extremely disappointing for me….”
And, of course, Mr. Beu has soured on ObamaCare. In fact, he wants it repealed. All good so far. Except that he doesn’t have any explicitly harsh words for Obama, hasn’t given up on his party, wants a single-payer system and seems to believe Hillary Clinton is the solution in 2016. (Note: In fairness, Clinton is different from Obama — she has two X chromosomes.) But here are the money lines:
I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, then lost my job in the Great Recession. I was lucky; my brother lost his job and his house. I survived on part-time jobs while paying out-of-pocket for my health insurance.
I voted for President Obama again in 2012, then received a cancellation notice for my health insurance. This was due to ObamaCare, the so-called Affordable Care Act. However, I couldn’t afford anything else.
Does this guy wear a “Kick me” sign?
He wears a “Kick me harder” sign.
There’s a saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” What do you say about a guy whose life consists of being fooled?
Beu believes Medicare should be “a model for health-care reform” and says “We Democrats need to get over ourselves, start anew on a national health-care policy, and return to our progressive principles.”
Actually, sir, you need to get over your party.
First, “progressive principles” is an oxymoron; liberals don’t have principles, but provisional positions. This is because they’re governed by emotion, which changes with the wind. As G.K. Chesterton put it, “Progress is a comparative of which we have not settled the superlative.” No, I won’t explain that, Mr. Beu. You figure it out.
Beu also mentions the “stupidity of the American voter” remark by ObamaCare designer Jonathan Gruber, taking umbrage and saying “Such comments…are insults to every citizen regardless of party.” So Goober is offended by Gruber.
And Beu is one of those very “useful” people. He doesn’t get that elitist snobbery and superciliousness define the left. Just think of the revelations about socialist French president François Hollande, who is “a cold, cynical cheat and a Socialist who ‘doesn’t like the poor,’” writes National Post about insights provided by the leftist’s ex-girlfriend Valérie Trierweiler. “He presents himself as the man who doesn’t like the rich. In reality, the president doesn’t like the poor” and in private calls them “the toothless ones,” reports Trierweiler. Oh, too anecdotal? “Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned”? Then read the 2008 piece “Don’t listen to the liberals — Right-wingers really are nicer people, latest research shows.” It relates what some of us without “Kick me” signs figured out for ourselves long ago.
Beu also says, when pointing out that Democrats need to exhibit humility and admit error on ObamaCare, “We resent Republicans who act morally superior and pretend to have a monopoly on patriotism, but….”
It’s not pretense, Bucko. As this Pew poll from this summer shows, while 72 percent of “steadfast conservatives” and 81 percent of “business conservatives” “often feel proud to be American,” only 40 percent of “solid liberals” do. That, Mr. Beu, is by liberals’ own admission. (Pew also has a category in the poll called “Faith and Family Left.” I’ve never heard of such a thing — unless it refers to faith in government and the family of the person the liberal is cheating on his spouse with.)
Note also that when liberals and conservatives don’t feel proud to be American, it’s for very different reasons. Liberals don’t like what America was, was meant to be, and what they often imagine it to be (“We’re so Puritan!”); conservatives don’t like the cesspool the liberals are turning it into.
I know schadenfreude isn’t a feeling reflective of a charitable spirit, but the best I can say about the Beus of the world is that they need tough love. Mr. Beu reminds me of a guy who’s being held by the back of the neck, is being repeatedly and violently kicked, and complains about how something needs to be done about the foot. Tend to the foot. Regulate the foot. Repeal the foot.
Mr. Beu, that foot happens to be attached to a man, a being with intellect and free will. And he is not your friend.
“It’s not the underlying economics that’s driving things, it’s central bank liquidity.”
— Matt King, Citigroup
Soaring auto sales are not so much a sign of a strong economy as they are an indication of financial hanky-panky. We saw this same type of fakery play out in housing between 2004 – 2006, when prices went through the roof due to a mortgage-lending scam (“subprime”) that crashed the stock market and sent the economy reeling. Now the bigtime money guys are at it again, writing up auto loans for anyone who can sit upright in a chair and scribble an “X” on the dotted line. As a result, car sales have surged to over 16 million for the last 6 months. (A full 7 million more than the low point in January, 2009.) And it’s not hard to see why either. The finance gurus are packaging these sketchy subprimes into bonds, offloading them on eager investors, and recycling the profits into more crappy loans. It’s a perfect circle and it won’t end until the loans start blowing up, jittery investors head for the exits, and Uncle Sugar rides to the rescue with more bailouts.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First take a look at these charts by House of Debt which shows the disparity between auto spending and other types of spending since the end of the slump in 2009.
House of Debt: “New auto purchases have driven the consumer spending recovery to a large degree. The chart below shows the spending recovery for new auto sales and for all other retail spending…
From 2009 to 2013, spending on new autos increased by 40% in nominal terms. All other spending increased by only 20%. Further, excluding autos, 2013 saw lower growth in nominal retail spending than 2012…
The concern is that a lot of auto purchases are being fueled with debt, given a strong recovery in the auto loan market. Below is the net flow of auto loans from 2002 to 2013. It is a net flow because it includes pay downs in addition to new originations. As it shows, auto lending in 2012 and 2013 tops any other year during the previous expansion from 2002 to 2007 (although it is still below the amount of new auto loans in 2000 and 2001).
(“Another Debt-Fueled Spending Spree?” House of Debt)
How about that? So there’s a bigger debt bubble in auto loans today than there was before the bust. But why? Is it because demand is strong, jobs are plentiful, wages are rising, the economy is growing, and people are optimistic about the future?
Heck, no. It’s because rates are low, credit is easy, and dealers are ready to put anyone with a license and a heartbeat into a brand-spanking new car no questions asked. Here are the details from an article in the New York Times titled “In a Subprime Bubble for Used Cars, Borrowers Pay Sky-High Rates” by Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery:
”Auto loans to people with tarnished credit have risen more than 130 percent in the five years since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, with roughly one in four new auto loans last year going to borrowers considered subprime — people with credit scores at or below 640.
The explosive growth is being driven by some of the same dynamics that were at work in subprime mortgages. A wave of money is pouring into subprime autos, as the high rates and steady profits of the loans attract investors. Just as Wall Street stoked the boom in mortgages, some of the nation’s biggest banks and private equity firms are feeding the growth in subprime auto loans by investing in lenders and making money available for loans.
And, like subprime mortgages before the financial crisis, many subprime auto loans are bundled into complex bonds and sold as securities by banks to insurance companies, mutual funds and public pension funds — a process that creates ever-greater demand for loans.
The New York Times examined more than 100 bankruptcy court cases, dozens of civil lawsuits against lenders and hundreds of loan documents and found that subprime auto loans can come with interest rates that can exceed 23 percent. The loans were typically at least twice the size of the value of the used cars purchased, including dozens of battered vehicles with mechanical defects hidden from borrowers. Such loans can thrust already vulnerable borrowers further into debt, even propelling some into bankruptcy, according to the court records, as well as interviews with borrowers and lawyers in 19 states.
In another echo of the mortgage boom, The Times investigation also found dozens of loans that included incorrect information about borrowers’ income and employment, leading people who had lost their jobs, were in bankruptcy or were living on Social Security to qualify for loans that they could never afford.” (“In a Subprime Bubble for Used Cars, Borrowers Pay Sky-High Rates”, New York Times)
Can you believe that this kind of chicanery is going on in broad daylight without the regulators stepping in? Think about it for a minute: If the NYT’s journalists can find “dozens of loans that included incorrect information about borrowers’ income and employment”, then why can’t the government regulators? It’s ridiculous. What we’re talking about here is a new version of “liar’s loans” where dealers are helping people who don’t have the means to repay the debt, to fudge the details on their loan application so they can drive off in a shiny new Impala.
Haven’t we seen this movie before?
Here’s more from USA Today: “In the first quarter of 2014, 24.9% of all new-car loans were 73 to 84 months long. Four years ago, less than 10% of loans were that long. In fact, such lengthy terms have pulled the average new-car loan to 66 months. That’s an all-time record.”
7 years to pay off a car? You got to be kidding me? It’s like a second mortgage. And there’s more, too. The average monthly payment and average amount financed hit record highs in the first quarter too. This is from Auto News:
“The average monthly new-vehicle payment was $474 in the first quarter, up 3.3 percent from a year ago. The average monthly used-vehicle payment was $352, up 1.1 percent, Experian Automotive said.
Also in the first quarter, the average amount financed on a new-vehicle loan was $27,612, an increase of $964, or 3.6 percent. For used vehicles, the average amount financed was $17,927, up $395 or 2.3 percent.”
So Americans are not just loading on more debt, they’re also assuming that they’re financial situation is going to be stable enough to make these large payments well into the future. Good luck with that.
It’s also worth noting that, in many transactions, dealers are actually lending more than the value of the vehicle. According to Reuters David Henry,
“The average loan-to-value on new cars rose to 110.6 percent… On used cars it rose to 133.2 percent…
Auto lenders often provide loans that exceed the value of cars they are financing because borrowers want cash to pay sales taxes and fees.”
(“U.S. car buyers borrow more as rates fall and standards loosen“, David Henry, Reuters)
Let me see if I got this straight: You walk onto a car lot without a dime in your pocket, and drive off in a brand new car with everything paid for upfront? Such a deal! Can you see why we think that the sales numbers are a big fake? This isn’t the sign of a strong economy. It’s the sign of another gigantic credit bubble rip-off. But what do the dealers get out of this thing? Is it really worth their while to botch the underwriting when they know that eventually they’ll have to repossess the vehicle? Sure, it is, because there’s big money in stuffing people into loans they can’t afford.
Here’s how the Times explains it: ”Auto loans to borrowers considered subprime, those with credit scores at or below 640, have spiked in the last five years. The jump has been driven in large part by the demand among investors for securities backed by the loans, which offer high returns at a time of low interest rates. Roughly 25 percent of all new auto loans made last year were subprime, and the volume of subprime auto loans reached more than $145 billion in the first three months of this year.”
Bingo. So not only do they make dough on the high interest rates they charge their subprime borrowers, (Sometimes 23 percent or more.) they also make it by selling the loan to investors who are eager to buy any manner of crappy bond provided it offers a better return than US Treasuries. This is the mess Bernanke created by fixing interest rates at zero for nearly 6 years. Zirp (zero interest rate policy) unavoidably leads to excessive risk taking by yield-crazed speculators. The voracious appetite for subprime securities (ABS–Asset-Backed Securities) has even surprised the bond issuers who are constantly beating the bushes looking for sketchier products. This is from the same article by the NY Times:
“Investors, seeking a higher return when interest rates are low, recently flocked to buy a bond issue from Prestige Financial Services of Utah. Orders to invest in the $390 million debt deal were four times greater than the amount of available securities.
What is backing many of these securities? Auto loans made to people who have been in bankruptcy.
An affiliate of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, Prestige specializes in making the loans to people in bankruptcy, packaging them into securities and then selling them to investors.
“It’s been a hot space,” Richard L. Hyde, the firm’s chief operating officer, said during an interview in March. Investors are betting on risky borrowers. The average interest rate on loans bundled into Prestige’s latest offering, for example, is 18.6 percent, up slightly from a similar offering rolled out a year earlier…. To meet that rising demand, Wall Street snatches up more and more loans to package into the complex investments.” (NYT)
HA! Now there’s a good way to feather the old retirement fund; load up on bonds made up of loans to people who’ve gone bust.
This is the impact that zero rates have on investor behavior. The abundance of cheap and plentiful liquidity invariably leads to trouble. And there are victims in this Central Bank-authored gold rush too, namely the unsophisticated borrowers who pay prohibitively high rates on beater vehicles that are typically worth less-than-half the value of the loan. (Check the NYT article for examples.)
The Times also notes that the ratings agencies have been playing along with the finance companies just as they did during the subprime mortgage fiasco. Here’s more from the Times:
“Rating agencies, which assess the quality of the bonds, are helping fuel the boom. They are giving many of these securities top ratings, which clears the way for major investors, from pension funds to employee retirement accounts, to buy the bonds. In March, for example, Standard & Poor’s blessed most of Prestige’s bond with a triple-A rating. Slices of a similar bond that Prestige sold last year also fetched the highest rating from S.&P. A large slice of that bond is held in mutual funds managed by BlackRock, one of the world’s largest money managers.” (NYT)
Ask yourself this, dear reader: How are the ratings agencies able to give “many of these securities top ratings”, when the investigators from the Times found “dozens of loans that included incorrect information about borrowers’ income and employment, leading people who had lost their jobs, were in bankruptcy or were living on Social Security to qualify for loans that they could never afford”?
Let’s face it: The regulatory changes in Dodd-Frank haven’t done a damn thing to protect the victims of these dodgy subprime schemes. Borrowers and investors are both getting gouged by a system that only protects the interests of the perpetrators. The sad fact is that nothing has changed. The system is just as corrupt as it was when Lehman went down.
So, how long can this go on before the market implodes?
According to the Times:
“financial firms are beginning to see signs of strain. In the first three months of this year, banks had to write off as entirely uncollectable an average of $8,541 of each delinquent auto loan, up about 15 percent from a year earlier, according to Experian…
In another sign of trouble ahead, repossessions, while still relatively low, increased nearly 78 percent to an estimated 388,000 cars in the first three months of the year from the same period a year earlier, according to the latest data provided by Experian. The number of borrowers who are more than 60 days late on their car payments also jumped in 22 states during that period….” (NYT)
(According to Amber Nelson at loan.com: “In the second quarter, the value of all auto loans late by 60 days or more was more than $4 billion, up 27 percent from the prior year, according to Experian.”)
So, yeah, the trouble is mounting, but that doesn’t mean that this madness won’t continue for some time to come. It probably will. It’ll probably drag-on until the economy turns south and more borrowers start falling behind on their payments. That will lead to more defaults, heavier losses on auto bonds, and a hasty race to the exits by investors. Isn’t that how the subprime mortgage scam played out?
Indeed. But at least there are signs of hope on the regulatory front. Check out this clip from an article at CNBC:
“In August, both Santander Consumer and General Motors Financial Co. acknowledged receiving Justice Department subpoenas in connection with a probe over possible violations of civil-fraud laws. And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Securities and Exchange Commission have both stepped up their scrutiny of the auto-loan market.” (“New debt crisis fear: Subprime auto loans“, CNBC)
So the SEC, the DOJ, and the CFPB are actually investigating the underwriting practices of these behemoth finance companies to see if they violated “civil fraud laws”?
Will wonders never cease?
Just don’t hold your breath waiting for convictions.
15 Reasons Why Americans Think We’re Still in a Recession…
1: Wage Stagnation: Why America’s Workers Need Faster Wage Growth—And What We Can Do About It, Elise Gould, EPI
Economic Policy Institute:
“The hourly compensation of a typical worker grew in tandem with productivity from 1948-1973. …. After 1973, productivity grew strongly, especially after 1995, while the typical worker’s compensation was relatively stagnant. This divergence of pay and productivity has meant that many workers were not benefitting from productivity growth—the economy could afford higher pay but it was not providing it.
Between 1979 and 2013, productivity grew 64.9 percent, while hourly compensation of production and nonsupervisory workers, who comprise over 80 percent of the private-sector workforce, grew just 8.0 percent. Productivity thus grew eight times faster than typical worker compensation…” (EPI)
(Note: Flatlining wages are the Number 1 reason that the majority of Americans still think we’re in a recession.)
2: Most people still haven’t recouped what they lost in the crash: Typical Household Wealth Has Plunged 36% Since 2003, Zero Hedge
“According to a new study by the Russell Sage Foundation, the inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36% decline… Welcome to America’s Lost Decade.
Simply put, the NY Times notes, it’s not merely an issue of the rich getting richer. The typical American household has been getting poorer, too.
The reasons for these declines are complex and controversial, but one point seems clear: When only a few people are winning and more than half the population is losing, surely something is amiss. (chart)”
3: Most working people are still living hand-to-mouth: 76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, CNN Money
“Roughly three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little to no emergency savings, according to a survey released by Bankrate.com Monday.
Fewer than one in four Americans have enough money in their savings account to cover at least six months of expenses, enough to help cushion the blow of a job loss, medical emergency or some other unexpected event, according to the survey of 1,000 adults. Meanwhile, 50% of those surveyed have less than a three-month cushion and 27% had no savings at all…
Last week, online lender CashNetUSA said 22% of the 1,000 people it recently surveyed had less than $100 in savings to cover an emergency, while 46% had less than $800. After paying debts and taking care of housing, car and child care-related expenses, the respondents said there just isn’t enough money left over for saving more.”
4: Millennials are Drowning in Red Ink: Biggest economic threat? Student loan debt, USA Today
“Total student loan debt has grown more than 150% since 2005… We have more than $1.2 trillion of student loan debt…
And while 6.7 million borrowers in repayment mode are delinquent, the sad fact is that many lenders aren’t exactly incentivized to work with borrowers. Unlike all other forms of debt, student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. Moreover, lenders can garnish wages and even Social Security benefits to get repaid…
In 2005 student loans accounted for less than 13% of the total debt load for adults age 20-29. Today, student loans account for nearly 37% of that group’s outstanding debt. Student loan debt’s slice of the total debt pie for the age group nearly tripled! The average loan balance for that age group is now more than $25,500, up from $15,900 in 2005.”
5: Downward mobility is the new reality: Middle-Class Death Watch: As Poverty Spreads, 28 Percent of Americans Fall Out of Middle Class, Truthout
“The promise of the American dream has given many hope that they themselves could one day rise up the economic ladder. But according to a study released those already in financially-stable circumstances should fear falling down a few rungs too. The study… found that nearly a third of Americans who were part of the middle class as teenagers in the 1970s have fallen out of it as adults… its findings suggest the relative ease with which people in the U.S. can end up in low-income, low-opportunity lifestyles — even if they started out with a number of advantages. Though the American middle class has been repeatedly invoked as a key factor in any economic turnaround, numerous reports have suggested that the middle class enjoys less existential security than it did a generation ago, thanks to stagnating incomes and the decline of the industrial sector.”
6: People are more vulnerable than ever: “More Than Half Of All Americans Can’t Come Up With $400 In Emergency Cash… Unless They Borrow“, Personal Liberty
“According to a Federal Reserve report on American households’ “economic well-being” in 2013, fewer than half of all Americans said they’d be able to come up with four Benjamins on short notice to deal with an unexpected expense…
Under a section titled “Savings,” the report notes that “[s]avings are depleted for many households after the recession,” and lists the following findings:
*Among those who had savings prior to 2008, 57 percent reported using up some or all of their savings in the Great Recession and its aftermath.
*39 percent of respondents reported having a rainy day fund adequate to cover three months of expenses.
*Only 48 percent of respondents said that they would completely cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money.
7: Working people are getting poorer: The Typical Household, Now Worth a Third, New York Times
“The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation.
Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially….“The housing bubble basically hid a trend of declining financial wealth at the median that began in 2001,” said Fabian T. Pfeffer, the University of Michigan professor who is lead author of the Russell Sage Foundation study.
The reasons for these declines are complex and controversial, but one point seems clear: When only a few people are winning and more than half the population is losing, surely something is amiss.”
8: Most people can’t even afford to get their teeth fixed: 7 things the middle class can’t afford anymore, USA Today
“A vacation is an extra expense that many middle-earners cannot afford without sacrificing something else. A Statista survey found that this year 54% of people gave up purchasing big ticket items like TVs or electronics so they can go on a vacation. Others made sacrifices like reducing or eliminating their trips to the movies (47%), reducing or eliminating trips out to restaurants (43%), or avoiding purchasing small ticket items like new clothing (43%).
3–To pay off debt…
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “the U.S. spends about $64 billion each year on oral health care — just 4% is paid by Government programs.” About 108 million people in the U.S. have no dental coverage and even those who are covered may have trouble getting the care they need, the department reports.”
9: The good, high-paying jobs have vanished: Recovery Has Created Far More Low-Wage Jobs Than Better-Paid Ones, New York Times
“The deep recession wiped out primarily high-wage and middle-wage jobs. Yet the strongest employment growth during the sluggish recovery has been in low-wage work, at places like strip malls and fast-food restaurants.
In essence, the poor economy has replaced good jobs with bad ones. That is the conclusion of anew report from the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group, analyzing employment trends four years into the recovery.
“Fast food is driving the bulk of the job growth at the low end — the job gains there are absolutely phenomenal,” said Michael Evangelist, the report’s author. “If this is the reality — if these jobs are here to stay and are going to be making up a considerable part of the economy — the question is, how do we make them better?”
10: More workers are throwing in the towel: Labor Participation Rate Drops To 36 Year Low; Record 92.6 Million Americans Not In Labor Force, Zero Hedge
“For those curious why the US unemployment rate just slid once more to a meager 5.9%, the lowest print since the summer of 2008, the answer is the same one we have shown every month since 2010: the collapse in the labor force participation rate, which in September slid from an already three decade low 62.8% to 62.7% – the lowest in over 36 years, matching the February 1978 lows. And while according to the Household Survey, 232,000 people found jobs, what is more disturbing is that the people not in the labor force, rose to a new record high, increasing by 315,000 to 92.6 million!
Bottom line: Unemployment has gone down because more people aren’t working and have fallen off the radar.”
11: Nearly twice as many people still rely on Food Stamps than before the recession: Food-stamp use is falling from its peak, Marketwatch
“Food-stamp use is finally moving away from the peak. At 46.1 million people, total food-stamp usage is down about 4% from its high in December 2012 of 47.8 million. Only eight states in March (the latest data available) were up from the same month of 2013.
It’s still not great news, however, considering there were 26.3 million people receiving food stamps in 2007…”
12: The ocean of red ink continues to grow: American Household Credit Card Debt Statistics: 2014, Nerd Wallet Finance
Nerd Wallet Finance:
U.S. household consumer debt profile:
*Average credit card debt: $15,607
*Average mortgage debt: $153,500
*Average student loan debt: $32,656
In total, American consumers owe:
*$11.63 trillion in debt
*An increase of 3.8% from last year
*$880.5 billion in credit card debt
*$8.07 trillion in mortgages
*$1,120.3 billion in student loans
*An increase of 11.5% from last year
13: No Recovery for working people: The collapse of household income in the US, World Socialist Web Site
“The US Federal Reserve’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances, released last Thursday, documents a devastating decline in economic conditions for a large majority of the population during the so-called economic recovery.
The report reveals that between 2007 and 2013, the income of a typical US household fell 12 percent. The median American household now earns $6,400 less per year than it did in 2007.
Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances
Much of the decline occurred during the “recovery” presided over by the Obama administration. In the three years between 2010 and 2013, the annual income of a typical household fell by an additional 5 percent.
The report also shows that wealth has become even more concentrated in the topmost economic layers. The wealth share of the top 3 percent climbed from 44.8 percent in 1989 to 54.4 percent in 2013. The share of wealth held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33.2 percent in 1989 to 24.7 percent in 2013.”
14: Most people will work until they die: The Greatest Retirement Crisis In American History, Forbes
“We are on the precipice of the greatest retirement crisis in the history of the world. In the decades to come, we will witness millions of elderly Americans, the Baby Boomers and others, slipping into poverty.
Too frail to work, too poor to retire will become the “new normal” for many elderly Americans.
That dire prediction… is already coming true. Our national demographics, coupled with indisputable glaringly insufficient retirement savings and human physiology, suggest that a catastrophic outcome for at least a significant percentage of our elderly population is inevitable. With the average 401(k) balance for 65 year olds estimated at $25,000 by independent experts …the decades many elders will spend in forced or elected “retirement” will be grim…
The signs of the coming retirement crisis are all around you. Who’s bagging your groceries: a young high school kid or an older “retiree” who had to go back to work to supplement his income or qualify for health insurance?”
15: Americans are more pessimistic about the future, Polling Report
According to a CNN/ORC Poll May 29-June 1, 2014:
“Do you agree or disagree? The American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve.”
According to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R). April 23-27, 2014:
“Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Because of the widening gap between the incomes of the wealthy and everyone else, America is no longer a country where everyone, regardless of their background, has an opportunity to get ahead and move up to a better standard of living.”Agree: 54%
Also, according to a CBS News Poll. Jan. 17-21, 2014. N=1,018 adults nationwide.
“Looking to the future, do you think most children in this country will grow up to be better off or worse off than their parents?”Better off: 34%
Worse off: 63%
The majority of people in the United States, no longer believe in the American dream, or that America is the land of opportunity, or that their children will have a better standard of living than their own. They’ve grown more pessimistic because they haven’t seen the changes they were hoping for, and because their lives are just as hard as they were right after the crash. In fact, according to a 2014 Public Religion Research Institute poll– 72 percent of those surveyed said they think “the economy is still in recession.”
Judging by the info in the 15 links above, they’re probably right.
“…that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
– James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America (1931)
The American Dream has been defined many ways by writers of both poetic and prosaic bent, but its essentials tend to involve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (or property, depending on your source).
The Declaration of Independence, upon which an entire nation was radically brought into existence, asserts that not only are all men created equal but that this is a “self-evident” truth. By this “unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,” a contract was agreed to, that their union would be founded on this principle. Thus, America was endowed with its dream at the moment of its conception: the freedom to succeed.
The United States has promoted a self-congratulating exceptionalism for decades, waving its Declaration and Constitution in the faces of other sovereign nations as if the latter had never considered such concepts. Our capital F “Freedom” sets us apart from the rest of the world, as the political rhetoric has repeated ad nauseam, no matter the freedoms enjoyed by democracies on almost every continent. And yet our basic freedom, the freedom to succeed, America’s contractual promise, has been shrinking for thirty years.
The freedom to succeed transcends economic systems but it is most potently expressed by capitalist gains. The ability to go “from rags to riches” is ingrained in this nation’s ethos and there is nothing intrinsically immoral about that goal. However, the current state of American inequality reveals a very real and expanding gap between the rich and poor that betrays the foundational endowment of this Union. When the freedom to succeed is denied every citizen, their equality is equally denied.
Recently, the Pew Research Center released a poll on what international citizens consider the greatest threat to the planet. Conducted between March 17 and June 5 of this year, the survey received answers from 48,643 respondents in 44 countries. In the U.S. and Europe, the growing gap between the rich and the poor was overwhelmingly considered the greatest danger to world prosperity. Over a quarter of Americans ranked “Inequality” as number one, above Religious & ethnic hatred, Pollution, Nuclear weapons and Infectious diseases.
This is hardly startling news considering that the median net worth of American households fell by 35 percent ($106,591 to $68,839) between 2005 and 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is, however, disturbing that inequality remains so prevalent five years after the Great Recession.
Capitalism is not the problem. The problem is that we have let inequality advance in this country so gradually that its obviousness is masked by its familiarity. Below, I outline eight facts about inequality in America that every American should know.
1) 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined. This ratio has been verified by Politifact and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. To put it into context, last year the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were over 316 million people living in the United States. That means 400 Americans have more money than over 158 million of their fellow citizens. Their net worth is over$2 trillion, which is approximate to the Gross Domestic Product of Russia.
One explanation for the vast discrepancy in wealth is the definition of “worth,” which includes everything a person or household owns. This means savings and property but also mortgages, bills and debt. Poorer households can owe so much in debt that they possess a negative net worth.
2) America has the second-highest level of income inequality, after Chile. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development studies thirty-four developed countries and ranks them both before and after taxes and government transfers take effect (government transfers include Social Security, income tax credit and unemployment insurance). Before taxes and government transfers, America ranks tenth in income inequality. After taxes and transfers, it ranks second. Whereas its developed peers reduce inequality through government programs, the United States’ government exacerbates it.
3) The current state of inequality can be traced back to 1979. After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the gap between the rich and the poor began to narrow. For fifty years, wages differed between the upper- and working-classes, but a robust middle-class took shape and there remained ample opportunity for working-class individuals to ascend.
In his book, “The Great Divergence,” journalist Timothy Noah traced today’s inequality to the beginning of the 1980s and the widening gap between the middle- and upper-classes. This gap was influenced by the following factors: the failure of American schools to prepare students for new technology; poor immigration policies that favor unskilled workers and drive down the price of already low-income labor; federally-mandated minimum wage that has failed to keep pace with inflation; and the decline of labor unions.
4) Non-union wages are also affected by the decline of unions. The Economic Policy Institute claims that 20 percent of the growth in the wage gap between high-school-educated and college-educated men can be attributed to deunionization.
Between 1978 and 2011, union representation for blue-collar and high-school educated workers declined by more than half. This has also diminished the “union wage effect,” whereby the existence of unions (more than 40 percent of blue-collar workers were union members in 1978) was enough to boost wages in non-union jobs – in high school graduates by as much as 8.2 percent. Not only did unions protect lower- and middle-class workers from unfair wages, they also established norms and practices that were then adopted by non-union employers. Two prime examples are employee pensions and healthcare.
Today, about 13 percent of workers belong to unions, which has reduced their bargaining power and influence.
5) There is less opportunity for intergenerational mobility. In December 2011, President Obama spoke at Osawatomie High School in Kansas. He was very clear about the prospects of the poor in today’s United States:
“[O]ver the last few decades, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart, and the middle class has shrunk. You know, a few years after World War II, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50-50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. By 1980, that chance had fallen to around 40 percent. And if the trend of rising inequality over the last few decades continues, it’s estimated that a child born today will only have a one-in-three chance of making it to the middle class – 33 percent.”
As refreshing as that honesty is, Obama promised no fix beyond $1 trillion in spending cuts and a need to work toward an “innovation economy.”
In a speech one month later, Obama’s Chairman of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, elaborated on the dire state of America’s shrinking middle-class. The contraction, he stated, could partially be attributed to “skill-biased technical change”: work activities that have become automated over time, reducing the need for unskilled labor and favoring those with analytical training. He also highlighted the 50 year decline in tax rates for the top 0.1 percent, increased competition from overseas workers, and a lack of educational equality for children. Poor children are denied the private tutors, college prep and business network of family and friends available to their wealthier peers, which locks them into the class they are born into.
6) Tax cuts to the wealthiest have not improved the economy or created more jobs. Krueger also revealed that the tax cuts of the 2000s for top earners did not improve the economy any better than they did in the 1990s (meanwhile, income growth was stronger for lower- and middle-class families in the 1990s than in the last forty years).
Tax rates for the top income earners in America peaked in 1945 at 66.4 percent. Following decades of gradual reductions, they have since been cut in half. During the same time, the payroll tax has increased since the 1950s and individual income tax has bounced between 40-50 percent through the present day. Conversely, corporate tax declined from above 30 percent in the 1950s to under 10 percent in 2011.
All of these tax cuts are made ostensibly to improve the economy and create jobs. However, the National Bureau of Economic Research has concluded that it is young companies, “regardless of their size,” that are the real job creators in America. Tax cuts to the wealthiest do not create jobs.
7) Incomes for the top 1% have increased (but the top 0.01% make even more). Between 1979 and 2007, the average incomes of the 1 percent increased 241 percent. Compare that to 19 percent growth for the middle fifth of America and 11 percent for the bottom fifth. Put another way, in 1980 the average American CEO earned forty-two times as much as his average worker. In 2001, he earned 531 times as much.
Average income across the 1 percent is actually stratified into widely disparate echelons. Compare the $29,840 average income for the bottom 90 percent to the $161,139 of the top 10 percent. Compare the $1 million average income of the top 1 percent to the $2.8 million of the top 0.1 percent. Yet both still pale beside the $23 million average income of the top 0.01 percent.
If those numbers seem a bit overwhelming, Politizane has created a video that illustrates this staggering inequality:
8) The majority of Congress does not feel your pain. Empowered by the Constitution to represent their constituents, United States Congress members are, for the first time in history, mostly millionaires. The 2012 financial disclosure information of the 534 current Congress men and women reveals that over half of them have a net worth of $1 million or more.
After the past seven facts it is difficult to read this last one and believe that these 268 legislators have the best interests of the remaining 99 percent at heart. But if that is too presumptuous a leap, it is not too bold to say that wealthier donors, lobbyists and special interest groups enjoy greater access to these lawmakers than the average American.
In January, Congress failed to extend emergency benefits for unemployment, leaving 1.3 million people without federal aid. Congress then went on a weeklong recess that kept them from debating the issue until the end of the month. The bill was too divisive for Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on, though unemployment was then above 7 percent nationally.
Thankfully, the unemployed have their Congress working for them. And at $174,000 annual pay, those representatives are sure to return from their vacations committed to fresh solutions.
When I saw the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” during one of my interminably-long plane rides back from Syria, I liked it so much that I actually went out and bought a copy of the 1964 “Mary Poppins” Disney classic it was based on — the one with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke frolicking across the rooftops of London.
And much to my surprise, I discovered that Mary Poppins might have been one of the world’s first hippies. Who woulda thought! And what was even more amazing is that Mary Poppins was one of the first people to warn us about the dangers and perfidy of big bankers and big banks.
And fortunately for those of us living here in America one hundred years later, Elizabeth Warren has now become the new Mary Poppins — also warning us about the dangers and perfidy of big bankers and big banks.
If only Americans would start paying attention to Elizabeth Warren as much as they paid attention to Julie Andrews!
“Hey, Elizabeth!” I also want to shout on the rooftops like Dick VanDyke, “voters aren’t listening to you!” Maybe if Disney studios made a movie about you too? Then maybe voters would finally start to listen.
According to Warren, the American middle class has been absolutely decimated by the banking and credit-card lobbies.
And yet voters still keep falling for all those glossy ads and happy lies that still keep getting pro-big-bank candidates elected to the White House and Congress even though voters can clearly see that they themselves are losing their jobs, having their homes repossessed, becoming slaves to their student loans and getting ripped off bigtime by credit-card debt. But then I guess that those syrupy ads actually do prove that “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” after all.
In the heroic country of Iceland, their well-informed voters have vigorously fought back against bankster greed and have even re-written their constitution in order to make lending-bubbles and bank fraud illegal.
But in America, the opposite happens. Here in America our very own government, the very one that bank lobbyists have chosen for us to elect, is handing over billions of our very own hard-earned dollars to big banks just as fast as it can. And Congress is always writing new bankruptcy laws that favor banksters over the middle class every time. Mary Poppins would be livid, of course, but nobody else seems to even notice these days — except for Elizabeth Warren.
And even the Federal Reserve is dancing over the rooftops in glee as it too gives away our money to the banksters just as fast as it possibly can, singing “Step in Time” as gleefully hands over giant bags of taxpayers’ money to Chase, Bank of America, CitiBank and Goldman Sachs.
Plus the Senate just vetoed a bill that would have given students a break from paying up to 12% interest on their college loans too. According to Warren, “This isn’t complicated. It’s a choice – a choice that raises a fundamental question about who the United States Senate works for. Does it work for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists to protect tax loopholes for billionaires and profits for the big banks? Or does it work for those who work hard, play by the rules, and are trying to build a future for themselves and their families?”
Not to mention the hidden (and not-so-hidden) fees that banks gleefully charge us customers for no reason at all.
To try to completely understand how banksters and their toadies in Congress and the Department of Justice are robbing the rest of us blind, you just gotta watch this video of Bill Moyers interviewing bank-fraud expert Thomas K. Black. Seriously. You really should watch this: http://vimeo.com/107916659
In this video, Black describes how Obama was elected by the banking industry and how Obama has totally paid back his debt to the banksters by handing them all “get out of jail free” cards. Is being elected president really worth selling us Americans out to the banksters? Apparently so.
“There’s no threat to capitalism like capitalists,” continues Black. “They are destroying its underpinnings. And when dishonest people gain an advantage in the marketplace, bad ethics drive good ethics out. This is why we need the rule of law.” Doesn’t Thomas K. Black sound just like Dick VanDyke, er, I mean Burt the Chimney Sweep here — as Black proposes that it’s high time to sweep clean our banks.
And now let’s talk about America’s ratings on the so-called “Misery Index”. Apparently America rates higher on the misery charts now than it ever has, even back in the Great Depression — and probably even as high as did Mary Poppins’s 1910 London. Thanks a lot, banksters.
Isn’t it time that American voters finally join up with Elizabeth Warren and Mary Poppins — and tell big banks and banksters to go “fly a kite!”
PS: Speaking of money, look how much of it is being spent in the Middle East — and not here at home where it is needed!
According to a recent blog-post at thehill.com, the first official estimates of the ISIS price tag from the Pentagon showed that, “the costs of intervention between mid-June and late-August was $7.5 million per day. At that rate, the U.S. has spent $850 million on operations against ISIS as of October 8, adding up to about $2.74 billion per year. The Pentagon has since revised the estimate up to as high as $10 million per day, or $3.65 billion per year. In reality, both of those numbers are quite likely to be underestimates of what’s to come.”
Looks like the US military is just as bad as the US banksters when it comes to cleaning out America’s pocketbooks — after they both have put us to sleep with false promises and false news https://www.youtube.com/watch?
What we Americans really need to do these days is to once again take Mary Poppins’s advice and “Stay Awake”! https://www.youtube.com/watch?
You can’t believe a word the United States or its mainstream media say about the current conflict involving The Islamic State (ISIS).
You can’t believe a word France or the United Kingdom say about ISIS.
You can’t believe a word Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, or the United Arab Emirates say about ISIS. Can you say for sure which side of the conflict any of these mideast countries actually finances, arms, or trains, if in fact it’s only one side? Why do they allow their angry young men to join Islamic extremists? Why has NATO-member Turkey allowed so many Islamic extremists to cross into Syria? Is Turkey more concerned with wiping out the Islamic State or the Kurds under siege by ISIS? Are these countries, or the Western powers, more concerned with overthrowing ISIS or overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad?
You can’t believe the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels. You can’t even believe that they are moderate. They have their hands in everything, and everyone has their hands in them.
Iran, Hezbollah and Syria have been fighting ISIS or its precursors for years, but the United States refuses to join forces with any of these entities in the struggle. Nor does Washington impose sanctions on any country for supporting ISIS as it quickly did against Russia for its alleged role in Ukraine.
The groundwork for this awful mess of political and religious horrors sweeping through the Middle East was laid – laid deeply – by the United States during 35 years (1979-2014) of overthrowing the secular governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. (Adding to the mess in the same period we should not forget the US endlessly bombing Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.) You cannot destroy modern, relatively developed and educated societies, ripping apart the social, political, economic and legal fabric, torturing thousands, killing millions, and expect civilization and human decency to survive.
Particularly crucial in this groundwork was the US decision to essentially throw 400,000 Iraqis with military training, including a full officer corps, out onto the streets of its cities, jobless. It was a formula for creating an insurgency. Humiliated and embittered, some of those men would later join various resistance groups operating against the American military occupation. It’s safe to say that the majority of armored vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and explosives taking lives every minute in the Middle East are stamped “Made in USA”.
And all of Washington’s horses, all of Washington’s men, cannot put this world back together again. The world now knows these places as “failed states”.
Meanwhile, the United States bombs Syria daily, ostensibly because the US is at war with ISIS, but at the same time seriously damaging the oil capacity of the country (a third of the Syrian government’s budget), the government’s military capabilities, its infrastructure, even its granaries, taking countless innocent lives, destroying ancient sites; all making the recovery of an Assad-led Syria, or any Syria, highly unlikely. Washington is undoubtedly looking for ways to devastate Iran as well under the cover of fighting ISIS.
Nothing good can be said about this whole beastly situation. All the options are awful. All the participants, on all sides, are very suspect, if not criminally insane. It may be the end of the world. To which I say … Good riddance. Nice try, humans; in fact, GREAT TRY … but good riddance. ISIS … Ebola … Climate Change … nuclear radiation … The Empire … Which one will do us in first? … Have a nice day.
Is the world actually so much more evil and scary today than it was in the 1950s of my upbringing, for which I grow more nostalgic with each new horror? Or is it that the horrors of today are so much better reported, as we swim in a sea of news and videos?
After seeing several ISIS videos on the Internet, filled with the most disgusting scenes, particularly against women, my thought is this: Give them their own country; everyone who’s in that place now who wants to leave, will be helped to do so; everyone from all over the world who wants to go there will be helped to get there. Once they’re there, they can all do whatever they want, but they can’t leave without going through a rigorous interview at a neighboring border to ascertain whether they’ve recovered their attachment to humanity. However, since very few women, presumably, would go there, the country would not last very long.
The Berlin Wall – Another Cold War Myth
November 9 will mark the 25th anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The extravagant hoopla began months ago in Berlin. In the United States we can expect all the Cold War clichés about The Free World vs. Communist Tyranny to be trotted out and the simple tale of how the wall came to be will be repeated: In 1961, the East Berlin communists built a wall to keep their oppressed citizens from escaping to West Berlin and freedom. Why? Because commies don’t like people to be free, to learn the “truth”. What other reason could there have been?
First of all, before the wall went up in 1961 thousands of East Germans had been commuting to the West for jobs each day and then returning to the East in the evening; many others went back and forth for shopping or other reasons. So they were clearly not being held in the East against their will. Why then was the wall built? There were two major reasons:
1) The West was bedeviling the East with a vigorous campaign of recruiting East German professionals and skilled workers, who had been educated at the expense of the Communist government. This eventually led to a serious labor and production crisis in the East. As one indication of this, the New York Times reported in 1963: “West Berlin suffered economically from the wall by the loss of about 60,000 skilled workmen who had commuted daily from their homes in East Berlin to their places of work in West Berlin.”
It should be noted that in 1999, USA Today reported: “When the Berlin Wall crumbled , East Germans imagined a life of freedom where consumer goods were abundant and hardships would fade. Ten years later, a remarkable 51% say they were happier with communism.” Earlier polls would likely have shown even more than 51% expressing such a sentiment, for in the ten years many of those who remembered life in East Germany with some fondness had passed away; although even 10 years later, in 2009, the Washington Post could report: “Westerners [in Berlin] say they are fed up with the tendency of their eastern counterparts to wax nostalgic about communist times.”
It was in the post-unification period that a new Russian and eastern Europe proverb was born: “Everything the Communists said about Communism was a lie, but everything they said about capitalism turned out to be the truth.”
It should be further noted that the division of Germany into two states in 1949 – setting the stage for 40 years of Cold War hostility – was an American decision, not a Soviet one.
2) During the 1950s, American coldwarriors in West Germany instituted a crude campaign of sabotage and subversion against East Germany designed to throw that country’s economic and administrative machinery out of gear. The CIA and other US intelligence and military services recruited, equipped, trained and financed German activist groups and individuals, of West and East, to carry out actions which ran the spectrum from juvenile delinquency to terrorism; anything to make life difficult for the East German people and weaken their support of the government; anything to make the commies look bad.
It was a remarkable undertaking. The United States and its agents used explosives, arson, short circuiting, and other methods to damage power stations, shipyards, canals, docks, public buildings, gas stations, public transportation, bridges, etc; they derailed freight trains, seriously injuring workers; burned 12 cars of a freight train and destroyed air pressure hoses of others; used acids to damage vital factory machinery; put sand in the turbine of a factory, bringing it to a standstill; set fire to a tile-producing factory; promoted work slow-downs in factories; killed 7,000 cows of a co-operative dairy through poisoning; added soap to powdered milk destined for East German schools; were in possession, when arrested, of a large quantity of the poison cantharidin with which it was planned to produce poisoned cigarettes to kill leading East Germans; set off stink bombs to disrupt political meetings; attempted to disrupt the World Youth Festival in East Berlin by sending out forged invitations, false promises of free bed and board, false notices of cancellations, etc.; carried out attacks on participants with explosives, firebombs, and tire-puncturing equipment; forged and distributed large quantities of food ration cards to cause confusion, shortages and resentment; sent out forged tax notices and other government directives and documents to foster disorganization and inefficiency within industry and unions … all this and much more.
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, of Washington, DC, conservative coldwarriors, in one of their Cold War International History Project Working Papers (#58, p.9) states: “The open border in Berlin exposed the GDR [East Germany] to massive espionage and subversion and, as the two documents in the appendices show, its closure gave the Communist state greater security.”
Throughout the 1950s, the East Germans and the Soviet Union repeatedly lodged complaints with the Soviets’ erstwhile allies in the West and with the United Nations about specific sabotage and espionage activities and called for the closure of the offices in West Germany they claimed were responsible, and for which they provided names and addresses. Their complaints fell on deaf ears. Inevitably, the East Germans began to tighten up entry into the country from the West, leading eventually to the infamous wall. However, even after the wall was built there was regular, albeit limited, legal emigration from east to west. In 1984, for example, East Germany allowed 40,000 people to leave. In 1985, East German newspapers claimed that more than 20,000 former citizens who had settled in the West wanted to return home after becoming disillusioned with the capitalist system. The West German government said that 14,300 East Germans had gone back over the previous 10 years.
Let’s also not forget that while East Germany completely denazified, in West Germany for more than a decade after the war, the highest government positions in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches contained numerous former and “former” Nazis.
Finally, it must be remembered, that Eastern Europe became communist because Hitler, with the approval of the West, used it as a highway to reach the Soviet Union to wipe out Bolshevism forever, and that the Russians in World War I and II, lost about 40 million people because the West had used this highway to invade Russia. It should not be surprising that after World War II the Soviet Union was determined to close down the highway.
For an additional and very interesting view of the Berlin Wall anniversary, see the article “Humpty Dumpty and the Fall of Berlin’s Wall” by Victor Grossman. Grossman (née Steve Wechsler) fled the US Army in Germany under pressure from McCarthy-era threats and became a journalist and author during his years in the (East) German Democratic Republic. He still lives in Berlin and mails out his “Berlin Bulletin” on German developments on an irregular basis. You can subscribe to it email@example.com. His autobiography: “Crossing the River: a Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War and Life in East Germany” was published by University of Massachusetts Press. He claims to be the only person in the world with diplomas from both Harvard University and Karl Marx University in Leipzig.
Al Franken, the liberal’s darling
I receive a continuous stream of emails from “progressive” organizations asking me to vote for Senator Franken or contribute to his re-election campaign this November, and I don’t even live in Minnesota. Even if I could vote for him, I wouldn’t. No one who was a supporter of the war in Iraq will get my vote unless they unequivocally renounce that support. And I don’t mean renounce it like Hillary Clinton’s nonsense about not having known enough.
Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comedian, would like you to believe that he’s been against the war in Iraq since it began. But he went to Iraq at least four times to entertain the troops. Does that make sense? Why does the military bring entertainers to soldiers? To lift the soldiers’ spirits of course. And why does the military want to lift the soldiers’ spirits? Because a happier soldier does his job better. And what is the soldier’s job? All the charming war crimes and human-rights violations that I and others have documented in great detail for many years. Doesn’t Franken know what American soldiers do for a living?
A year after the US invasion in 2003, Franken criticized the Bush administration because they “failed to send enough troops to do the job right.” What “job” did the man think the troops were sent to do that had not been performed to his standards because of lack of manpower? Did he want them to be more efficient at killing Iraqis who resisted the occupation? The volunteer American troops in Iraq did not even have the defense of having been drafted against their wishes.
Franken has been lifting soldiers’ spirits for a long time. In 2009 he was honored by the United Service Organization (USO) for his ten years of entertaining troops abroad. That includes Kosovo in 1999, as imperialist an occupation as you’ll want to see. He called his USO experience “one of the best things I’ve ever done.” Franken has also spoken at West Point (2005), encouraging the next generation of imperialist warriors. Is this a man to challenge the militarization of America at home and abroad? No more so than Barack Obama.
Tom Hayden wrote this about Franken in 2005 when Franken had a regular program on the Air America radio network: “Is anyone else disappointed with Al Franken’s daily defense of the continued war in Iraq? Not Bush’s version of the war, because that would undermine Air America’s laudable purpose of rallying an anti-Bush audience. But, well, Kerry’s version of the war, one that can be better managed and won, somehow with better body armor and fewer torture cells.”
While in Iraq to entertain the troops, Franken declared that the Bush administration “blew the diplomacy so we didn’t have a real coalition,” then failed to send enough troops to do the job right. “Out of sheer hubris, they have put the lives of these guys in jeopardy.”
Franken was implying that if the United States had been more successful in bribing and threatening other countries to lend their name to the coalition fighting the war in Iraq the United States would have had a better chance of WINNING the war.
Is this the sentiment of someone opposed to the war? Or in support of it? It is the mind of an American liberal in all its beautiful mushiness.
- Derived from William Astore, “Investing in Junk Armies”, TomDispatch, October 14, 2014
- New York Times, June 27, 1963, p.12
- USA Today, October 11, 1999, p.1
- Washington Post, May 12, 2009; see a similar story November 5, 2009
- Carolyn Eisenberg, “Drawing the Line: The American Decision to Divide Germany, 1944-1949” (1996); or see a concise review of this book by Kai Bird in The Nation, December 16, 1996
- See William Blum, “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II”, p.400, note 8, for a list of sources for the details of the sabotage and subversion.
- The Guardian (London), March 7, 1985
- Washington Post, February 16, 2004
- Star Tribune, Minneapolis, March 26, 2009
- Huffington Post, June 2005
- Washington Post, February 16, 2004
Remember the days when an entrepreneur would perfect their whiz kid ideas in a garage and bring them to market? Did Steve Wozniak ever envision the behemoth that Apple would become and the cult camp that worships every new product that flows from their robotic coolie assembly lines? Riots Over Rotten Apple Mania describes an example of the forbidding underbelly of corporatist business model that Apple exemplifies so dramatically. Notwithstanding this record of 21th century sweat factories, do the venture vulture capitalists of Silicon Valley interject added value in the products and services they fund or do this culture of touting IPO offerings simply game a system to print money based upon imaginary dreams?
The Economic Policy Journal article, Silicon Valley Investor Joins The Corporatism March, cites Ron Conway, a Silicon Valley angel investor, who has backed many of the tech companies that we know and love.”
“Conway wrote a piece for Techcrunch where he’s calling for the other Fascism. Remember the Fascist Mussolini from Italy. It was he who said, “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
“Gone are the days when the tech community can innovate and run their businesses in spite of government. As we saw with the SOPA/PIPA debate, public policy has a direct and significant impact on startups and the investors who support them.
Whether it is regulations that stifle innovation or tax policies that hinder job creation, government has a major role in the success or failure of a startup. It is critically important for the tech community to engage in public policy.”
Silicon Valley companies are not limited to IT development, just as much as investment funding is not wholly occupied from Wall Street firms. The principle is the same wherever the money comes from, as the Rise of the “venture corporatists” explores in an account about John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
“None of the alternative energy sources being developed today – solar, wind, geothermal, or biomass–is close to financial sustainability, which means that the supersize returns V.C. funds depend on will require massive government subsidies, regulations, and mandates… So Doerr has launched an audacious campaign to invest millions in handpicked political candidates and influential political action committees, to push for subsidies and pro-greentech policies and require the government to purchase the kinds of fuels and technologies his startups will be marketing. Since 2000, Doerr and his wife, Ann, have contributed more than $31 million to political candidates and causes.
In essence, Doerr is helping to create the biggest new market the world has seen since the dawn of the oil industry–and asking for taxpayer dollars to do it.”
“Green” alternative energy has more to do with replicating money than producing sustainable energy. Instead of writing code for computer-generated speech, the paradigm at play buys the ambassadors of government policy, circuitously as part of the business plan.
Lachlan Markay sums up the paradox for investors and the public in The Venture Corporatists. “As long as green technology remains not simply an economic venture but a moral one, taxpayers will continue to nobly lose money as politically connected “social entrepreneurs” reap a windfall.”
Here lies the rub. What exactly is the moral imperative? The lament of Alex Shud Bayley in No, I still don’t want to work for Google makes a universal point.
“Since I’ve been out of the Silicon-Valley-centred tech industry, I’ve become increasingly convinced that it’s morally bankrupt and essentially toxic to our society. Companies like Google and Facebook — in common with most public companies — have interests that are frequently in conflict with the wellbeing of — I was going to say their customers or their users, but I’ll say “people” in general, since it’s wider than that. People who use their systems directly, people who don’t — we’re all affected by it, and although some of the outcomes are positive a disturbingly high number of them are negative: the erosion of privacy, of consumer rights, of the public domain and fair use, of meaningful connections between people and a sense of true community, of beauty and care taken in craftsmanship, of our very physical wellbeing. No amount of employee benefits or underfunded Google.org projects can counteract that.”
The notion that Silicon Valley business enterprises automatically advance civilization and improve the human condition is one of the most disturbing viewpoints that have infected the smart phone sect. Placing the blame solely on tech executives avoids the reprehensible relationship that Ron Conway is so eager to exploit.
The article, Why DC And Silicon Valley Don’t Mix Well seems to agree.
“The thing that DC should be most focused on is “fixes to previous government efforts that tried but failed to fix a problem that turned out not to need a regulatory solution.” Other industries seem to want handouts and investments and the like, but you don’t see that much in Silicon Valley.”
However, some executives excel in screwing up a once reliable service. Silicon Valley corporatist companies often fail. The next likely candidate for a downfall is Yahoo. Marissa Mayer’s tenure as CEO may be numbered according to Eric Jackson, founder and managing partner of hedge fund Ironfire Capital.
“Jackson says that since Mayer took over she has spent $2 billion buying companies and that most of those acquisitions have been for naught.
“Can you name any other acquisition Yahoo has made besides Tumblr? If not, what does that say about them?” Jackson writes at Forbes. “If these small acquisitions were mostly talent-driven as characterized by management, why was it necessary to spend, say, $30 million to hire 3 people from a dying company? Was this really the best use of shareholder capital? Yahoo should not [be] responsible for bailing out VCs from their failed investments. This isn’t TARP.”
Deplorably, many tech corporatists are mismanaged like Yahoo. Divesting a significant portion of Yahoo’s stake at the Alibaba IPO, raises a much needed current valuation, but what does this transaction do to improve the service? The Corporatists only care about tapping the rigged markets for immediate gain.
It long ago became clear to me that, despite all the pretense, protesting and politicking, no one who has ever seriously thought about equality actually believes in it. When making this case, one could point to how Eric Holder’s DOJ is currently suing the Pennsylvania State Police for treating women equally (how dare they!), but there’s perhaps no better example than a recent BBC writer who asks, “Is sport sexist?”
The author, Aimee Lewis, poses the question because there are still sports where the women’s categories don’t precisely correspond to the men’s; for example, she mentions how women gymnasts and swimmers don’t always compete in the same kinds of events, the no-contact rule in women’s lacrosse and how in tennis, “While men play five sets at Grand Slams, women can only compete over three sets.”
Now, the last example well illustrates the convoluted thinking underpinning much of the equality movement. Is the correct way of framing this that “women can only compete over three sets”?
Or it is that men must compete over five?
This is especially relevant since the equality police long ago lobbied for, and succeeded in getting, equal prize money for women at the Grand Slams (Wimbledon, French Open, U.S. Open, Australian Open). In other words, the male players must now work longer for the same pay and thus are actually earning less per hour than the women.
The head of the Women’s Tennis Association, Stacey Allaster, was asked about this recently, called it “an old discussion” and said, “[W]e’re ready, willing and able to play five sets if that’s what they’d like us to play.”
Question: Years ago, did Allaster merely say, “We’re ready, willing and able to accept equal prize money if that’s what they’d like to offer”?
No, she zealously lobbied for it.
Why isn’t she lobbying now for equal work for her players’ equal pay? Sure, it’s human nature to want the benefits others have but not their liabilities. But if you really believe in Equality™, you don’t just shout the word in an effort to institute a different model of inequality, one that benefits you or your agenda.
Having said this, I agree with Lewis’ implication: sport is “sexist.” After all, there is a separate realm of athletics that’s protected from the best competition and is only available to one sex. It is, of course, called women’s sports.
This isn’t just snark. There’s a simple answer to any feminist complaint about inequality in sports: You want the men’s money, exposure, standards, respect or something else?
Compete in men’s sports.
And women have the opportunity. Golfers Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie have received “sponsor’s exemptions” to play in PGA (men’s) events. Women have tried out for the NBA and have attempted to work their way up to baseball’s major leagues through the farm system. The door, Ms. Allaster, is open — you just have to be ready, willing and, most importantly, able to walk through it.
The point is this: It’s silly and hypocritical to lobby for equality within an inherently unequal system while simultaneously supporting that system. And if you do, do you really believe in equality in principle? Or only as ploy?
To arbitrarily say that female athletes should earn the same as male ones is like saying that lightweight boxers should have the same purses as heavyweights. It’s like saying the best handicapped “differently abled” athletes (as in the Special Olympics) should not only get paid, but they should earn the same as the able-bodied. And what of elite high-school athletes? The mile record for 15-year-old boys is better than the women’s world record, and the boys’ American high-school record is considerably better. And with some variation, these gaps hold across sports, yet most of these hard-working male athletes will never succeed in the men’s professional ranks and will never earn even what the women do. Should these young sportsmen not only be paid but be compensated as handsomely as the pros?
The answer is simple: If the market — which is just economic democracy expressed through purchasing decisions — valued events for the handicapped or juniors as highly as it does professional men’s sports, those arenas would command the same revenues. The same is true of women’s sports, of course, but in that case we’re expected to offer a special dispensation from the market forces that apply to anyone and everyone else. We’re also supposed to ignore professions in which women are paid more, such as modeling, in which 2013’s 10 top-earning female models commanded 10 times as much as their male counterparts.
The reason why heavyweight boxers have always received more money and exposure (satisfied the market more) than lightweights is because the heavyweight world champion is the world champion. This is the same reason men’s professional sports command greater revenue and exposure than athletic arenas for juniors, the handicapped or collegians — or for women. The best male athletes are the best athletes. Other sports categories exist to provide other people with opportunities to compete, have fun and build character. They are not jobs programs.
The truth is that not just sport but all of nature’s and man’s world is a place defined by varying degrees of quality, not equality. This is no doubt why the Bible barely mentions the notion, except when referring to weights and measures. It’s also why I tend to doubt that anyone who has ever pondered equality deeply actually believes in it. It sure is a great rallying cry, though, when trying to overturn the status quo and institute a special-interest-group favoring system of inequality.
For this reason it actually would be beneficial to eliminate sex-specific categories in sports, let everyone compete together and allow the cream to rise to the top. After all, to use a twist on Lincoln’s observation about laws, the best way to eliminate a bad social movement is to apply its tenets strictly. If we actually had to live with the reality of “equality” instead of just its rhetoric, lobbying for equality might go out the window really, really fast.
Ever since serious protest broke out in Ukraine in February the Western mainstream media, particularly in the United States, has seriously downplayed the fact that the usual suspects – the US/European Union/NATO triumvirate – have been on the same side as the neo-Nazis. In the US it’s been virtually unmentionable. I’m sure that a poll taken in the United States on this issue would reveal near universal ignorance of the numerous neo-Nazi actions, including publicly calling for death to “Russians, Communists and Jews”. But in the past week the dirty little secret has somehow poked its head out from behind the curtain a bit.
On September 9 NBCnews.com reported that “German TV shows Nazi symbols on helmets of Ukraine soldiers”. The German station showed pictures of a soldier wearing a combat helmet with the “SS runes” of Hitler’s infamous black-uniformed elite corps. (Runes are the letters of an alphabet used by ancient Germanic peoples.) A second soldier was shown with a swastika on his helmet.
On the 13th, the Washington Post showed a photo of the sleeping quarter of a member of the Azov Battalion, one of the Ukrainian paramilitary units fighting the pro-Russian separatists. On the wall above the bed is a large swastika. Not to worry, the Post quoted the platoon leader stating that the soldiers embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of “romantic” idea.
Yet, it is Russian president Vladimir Putin who is compared to Adolf Hitler by everyone from Prince Charles to Princess Hillary because of the incorporation of Crimea as part of Russia. On this question Putin has stated:
The Crimean authorities have relied on the well-known Kosovo precedent, a precedent our Western partners created themselves, with their own hands, so to speak. In a situation absolutely similar to the Crimean one, they deemed Kosovo’s secession from Serbia to be legitimate, arguing everywhere that no permission from the country’s central authorities was required for the unilateral declaration of independence. The UN’s international court, based on Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the UN Charter, agreed with that, and in its decision of 22 July 2010 noted the following, and I quote verbatim: No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to unilateral declarations of independence.
Putin as Hitler is dwarfed by the stories of Putin as invader (Vlad the Impaler?). For months the Western media has been beating the drums about Russia having (actually) invaded Ukraine. I recommend reading: “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?” by Dmitry Orlov
And keep in mind the NATO encirclement of Russia. Imagine Russia setting up military bases in Canada and Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Remember what a Soviet base in Cuba led to.
Has the United States ever set a bad example?
Ever since that fateful day of September 11, 2001, the primary public relations goal of the United States has been to discredit the idea that somehow America had it coming because of its numerous political and military acts of aggression. Here’s everyone’s favorite hero, George W. Bush, speaking a month after 9-11:
“How do I respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America? I’ll tell you how I respond: I’m amazed. I’m amazed that there’s such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. I am – like most Americans, I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are.”
Thank you, George. Now take your pills.
I and other historians of US foreign policy have documented at length the statements of anti-American terrorists who have made it explicitly clear that their actions were in retaliation for Washington’s decades of international abominations. But American officials and media routinely ignore this evidence and cling to the party line that terrorists are simply cruel and crazed by religion; which many of them indeed are, but that doesn’t change the political and historical facts.
This American mindset appears to be alive and well. At least four hostages held in Syria recently by Islamic State militants, including US journalist James Foley, were waterboarded during their captivity. The Washington Post quoted a US official: “ISIL is a group that routinely crucifies and beheads people. To suggest that there is any correlation between ISIL’s brutality and past U.S. actions is ridiculous and feeds into their twisted propaganda.”
The Post, however, may have actually evolved a bit, adding that the “Islamic State militants … appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”
Talk given by William Blum at a Teach-In on US Foreign Policy, American University, Washington, DC, September 6, 2014
Each of you I’m sure has met many people who support American foreign policy, with whom you’ve argued and argued. You point out one horror after another, from Vietnam to Iraq. From god-awful bombings and invasions to violations of international law and torture. And nothing helps. Nothing moves this person.
Now why is that? Are these people just stupid? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions. Consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy, and if you don’t deal with these basic beliefs you may as well be talking to a stone wall.
The most basic of these basic beliefs, I think, is a deeply-held conviction that no matter what the United States does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the government of the United States means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on the odd occasion cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are always honorable, even noble. Of that the great majority of Americans are certain.
Frances Fitzgerald, in her famous study of American school textbooks, summarized the message of these books: “The United States has been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries. The U.S. always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.”
And Americans genuinely wonder why the rest of the world can’t see how benevolent and self-sacrificing America has been. Even many people who take part in the anti-war movement have a hard time shaking off some of this mindset; they march to spur America – the America they love and worship and trust – they march to spur this noble America back onto its path of goodness.
Many of the citizens fall for US government propaganda justifying its military actions as often and as naively as Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s football.
The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window.
This basic belief in America’s good intentions is often linked to “American exceptionalism”. Let’s look at how exceptional US foreign policy has been. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:
- Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
- Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
- Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
- Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
- Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
- Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.
This is indeed exceptional. No other country in all of history comes anywhere close to such a record.
So the next time you’re up against a stone wall … ask the person what the United States would have to do in its foreign policy to lose his support. What for this person would finally be TOO MUCH. If the person mentions something really bad, chances are the United States has already done it, perhaps repeatedly.
Keep in mind that our precious homeland, above all, seeks to dominate the world. For economic reasons, nationalistic reasons, ideological, Christian, and for other reasons, world hegemony has long been America’s bottom line. And let’s not forget the powerful Executive Branch officials whose salaries, promotions, agency budgets and future well-paying private sector jobs depend upon perpetual war. These leaders are not especially concerned about the consequences for the world of their wars. They’re not necessarily bad people; but they’re amoral, like a sociopath is.
Take the Middle East and South Asia. The people in those areas have suffered horribly because of Islamic fundamentalism. What they desperately need are secular governments, which have respect for different religions. And such governments were actually instituted in the recent past. But what has been the fate of those governments?
Well, in the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a secular government that was relatively progressive, with full rights for women, which is hard to believe, isn’t it? But even a Pentagon report of the time testified to the actuality of women’s rights in Afghanistan. And what happened to that government? The United States overthrew it, allowing the Taliban to come to power. So keep that in mind the next time you hear an American official say that we have to remain in Afghanistan for the sake of women’s rights.
After Afghanistan came Iraq, another secular society, under Saddam Hussein. And the United States overthrew that government as well, and now the country is overrun by crazed and bloody jihadists and fundamentalists of all kinds; and women who are not covered up are running a serious risk.
Next came Libya; again, a secular country, under Moammar Gaddafi, who, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do marvelous things for Libya and Africa. To name just one example, Libya had a high ranking on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. So, of course, the United States overthrew that government as well. In 2011, with the help of NATO we bombed the people of Libya almost every day for more than six months. And, once again, this led to messianic jihadists having a field day. How it will all turn out for the people of Libya, only God knows, or perhaps Allah.
And for the past three years, the United States has been doing its best to overthrow the secular government of Syria. And guess what? Syria is now a playground and battleground for all manner of ultra militant fundamentalists, including everyone’s new favorite, IS, the Islamic State. The rise of IS owes a lot to what the US has done in Iraq, Libya, and Syria in recent years.
We can add to this marvelous list the case of the former Yugoslavia, another secular government that was overthrown by the United States, in the form of NATO, in 1999, giving rise to the creation of the largely-Muslim state of Kosovo, run by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA being armed and trained by al-Qaeda, in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs of Yugoslavia. Washington’s main concern was dealing a blow to Serbia, widely known as “the last communist government in Europe”.
The KLA became renowned for their torture, their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts; another charming client of the empire.
Someone looking down upon all this from outer space could be forgiven for thinking that the United States is an Islamic power doing its best to spread the word – Allah Akbar!
But what, you might wonder, did each of these overthrown governments have in common that made them a target of Washington’s wrath? The answer is that they could not easily be controlled by the empire; they refused to be client states; they were nationalistic; in a word, they were independent; a serious crime in the eyes of the empire.
So mention all this as well to our hypothetical supporter of US foreign policy and see whether he still believes that the United States means well. If he wonders how long it’s been this way, point out to him that it would be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.
And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club of our foreign-policy leadership when she wrote in 2000 that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.”
Let me remind you of Daniel Ellsberg’s conclusion about the US in Vietnam: “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side; we were the wrong side.”
Well, far from being on the right side of history, we have in fact fought – I mean actually engaged in warfare – on the same side as al Qaeda and their offspring on several occasions, beginning with Afghanistan in the 1980s and 90s in support of the Islamic Moujahedeen, or Holy Warriors.
The US then gave military assistance, including bombing support, to Bosnia and Kosovo, both of which were being supported by al Qaeda in the Yugoslav conflicts of the early 1990s.
In Libya, in 2011, Washington and the Jihadists shared a common enemy, Gaddafi, and as mentioned, the US bombed the people of Libya for more than six months, allowing jihadists to take over parts of the country; and they’re now fighting for the remaining parts. These wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, apparently CIA, in the city of Benghazi.
Then, for some years in the mid and late 2000s, the United States backed Islamic militants in the Caucasus region of Russia, an area that has seen more than its share of religious terror going back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s.
Finally, in Syria, in attempting to overthrow the Assad government, the US has fought on the same side as several varieties of Islamic militants. That makes six occasions of the US being wartime allies of jihadist forces.
I realize that I have fed you an awful lot of negativity about what America has done to the world, and maybe it’s been kind of hard for some of you to swallow. But my purpose has been to try to loosen the grip on your intellect and your emotions that you’ve been raised with – or to help you to help others to loosen that grip – the grip that assures you that your beloved America means well. US foreign policy will not make much sense to you as long as you believe that its intentions are noble; as long as you ignore the consistent pattern of seeking world domination, which is a national compulsion of very long standing, known previously under other names such as Manifest Destiny, the American Century, American exceptionalism, globalization, or, as Madeleine Albright put it, “the indispensable nation” … while others less kind have used the term “imperialist”.
In this context I can’t resist giving the example of Bill Clinton. While president, in 1995, he was moved to say: “Whatever we may think about the political decisions of the Vietnam era, the brave Americans who fought and died there had noble motives. They fought for the freedom and the independence of the Vietnamese people.” Yes, that’s really the way our leaders talk. But who knows what they really believe?
It is my hope that many of you who are not now activists against the empire and its wars will join the anti-war movement as I did in 1965 against the war in Vietnam. It’s what radicalized me and so many others. When I hear from people of a certain age about what began the process of losing their faith that the United States means well, it’s Vietnam that far and away is given as the main cause. I think that if the American powers-that-be had known in advance how their “Oh what a lovely war” was going to turn out they might not have made their mammoth historical blunder. Their invasion of Iraq in 2003 indicates that no Vietnam lesson had been learned at that point, but our continuing protest against war and threatened war in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere may have – may have! – finally made a dent in the awful war mentality. I invite you all to join our movement. Thank you.
- NBC News, “German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on Helmets of Ukraine Soldiers”, September 6 2014
- BBC, March 18, 2014
- Information Clearinghouse, “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?”, September 1 2014
- Boston Globe, October 12, 2001
- See, for example, William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower(2005), chapter 1
- Washington Post, August 28, 2014
- Foreign Affairs magazine (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000
In 1932, the third year of the Great Depression, 25 thousand homeless and destitute WWI veterans and their families camped around Washington, DC urging the government of President Herbert Hoover to make an immediate payment of about $500 which had been authorized by the Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924 but was not due until 1945. Socialism had no yet grown roots and when these veterans lost their jobs they quickly fell into severe circumstances. They called themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force (BEF).
Drew Pearson wrote that they were “ragged, weary, and apathetic”. Will Rogers said they held, “the record for being the best behaved” of any “hungry men assembled anywhere in the world.” Though the soldiers and their families had no weapons and could not even be called able bodied the government acted as if it was under siege.
Yes, they were a nuisance. They stank and some of them begged. The government spread the rumor that they were Communists. Business men complained that they hurt business.
Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur and his assistants Major Dwight Eisenhower and Major George Patton were assigned to rid the city of the vermin. Eisenhower’s friend Brigadier General George Moseley suggested they arrest the BEF and others “of inferior blood” and ship them off to one of the remote Hawaiian Islands where “they could stew in their own filth”.
President Hoover announced that veterans were “entirely of the Communist element” and troops would “put an end to the rioting and defiance of civil authority”. Presently, led by Major Patton, troops of the 3rd Cavalry marched down Pennsylvania Avenue brandishing sabers followed by a machine gun detachment, men from the 12 Infantry, and six tanks. Major Patton’s cavalry turned and charged directly into the crowd of unarmed protestors shouting “clear our”. Tear gas was thrown and men women and children began a disorderly flight. Three children were killed.
The main BEF camp was across the Eleventh Street Bridge. In spite of the fact the MacArthur had been ordered not to cross the bridge, according to Eisenhower, he defied the order and allowed Patton’s cavalry to march into the camp throwing tear gas and burning everything that was combustible.
William Manchester tells this story at the beginning of his two volumes “The Glory and The Dream”. He writes that “well to do Washingtonians in yachts cruised close to look at the show. And at 11:15 P.M. they had watched Major George S. Patton, Jr. lead his cavalrymen in a final destructive charge. Among the ragged bonus marchers routed by their sabers was Joseph T. Angelino, who, on September 26, 1918, had won the Distinguished Service Cross in the Argonne Forest for saving the life of a young officer named George S. Patton, Jr.
As the book progresses Manchester supplies the detailed results of the Great Depression. In 1932, stocks listed on the Big Board had lost 80 percent of their value. General Motors and U. S. Steel were at 8 percent of their 1929 value. Five thousand banks failed. The Gross National Product fell from 104 billion dollars to 41 and 273,000 families were evicted from their homes.
Farm prices fell so that it was cheaper to burn corn than to sell it and buy coal. Thousands of mortgage foreclosures made farm families homeless. But in spite of the rural catastrophe city dwellers could still not afford .39 cent butter, .21 cent prime rib, or .20 a dozen eggs.
Men left their families and rode freight trains to other town seeking work; they got a free ride but no work. Some school teachers worked without pay and many schools were closed. One percent of the population owned 59 percent of the wealth.
While this tragic devastation was in full swing the nation’s newspapers were singing songs of recover. “BUSINESS PULSE BEATING FASTER, factories reopening all over the country”; “BOOM AWAKENS TEXTILE PLANTS IN NEW ENGLAND, capacity production reported in some cities”; “TRADE UPTURN WITHIN 90 DAYS NOW EXPECTED”. Manchester writes, “Nowhere in any of these newspapers was there mention of the remarkable fact that in the United States of America, the richest country in the world, more than 15 million men were looking for jobs that did not exist.”
The suicide rate tripled and thousands packed union square in New York to hear Communist speakers. When upstart Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected by a landslide it was noted that the popular vote for Norman Thomas tripled. In some cities mobs broke into grocery stores and rifled the shelves, state houses were occupied, in Chicago teachers broke into the banks.
Peacenik Henry Ford began to carry a gun. The moneyed gentry retreated to their country homes and mounted machine guns on their roofs. The fuse was short and the nation was near anarchy when Roosevelt took over the presidency.
The Great Depression was an effective instrument to increase control over the populace by creating a dependent class. If that was the goal, it was a great success. President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt assumed dictatorial powers with the blessing of many elected officials of both parties. This situation was dire and volatile. Roosevelt was able to remove the fuse and to employ an array of Socialist programs that became permanent parts of American life.
Jumping ahead to the present era, the United States of America, formerly the richest country in the world, is now a tyrannical socialist state where millions of citizens depend on government welfare. The current depression is not yet as brutal as its predecessor but in spite of the propaganda that things are getting better millions of Americans remain out of work and millions more are severely under employed. Now, as then, veterans have become social flotsam and are often treated with suspicion by the government they served.
If severe economic depressions are unavoidable and not intended by devious power centers with ulterior motives, government assistance has been beneficial; so far we have survived without the guillotines of the French Revolution. Martial law would have been imposed long ago if government support had not calmed the populace. As the strong arms of government keep us from falling it must be noted that the cost of the strength of governments must be paid by its citizens – governments produce nothing.. When the wealth well runs dry the inevitable results of bankruptcy will explode and government will have secured ultimate power.
There are glaring parallels between our current situation and the 1929 debacle. Depressions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
America’s armed forces are attempting to subdue the Muslim world which forbids usury and is less susceptible to the Currency Lords. This strategy will destroy America and subdue Islam killing two major impediments to world government.
When governments wiggle out from under the dominion of the One True God (Lex Rex) and begins to see themselves in divine terms (Rex Lex) the world begins to march down a deadly road. It has been marching down that road for several decades and we are beginning to see the mother of all empires in the distance.
The current attempt to subdue the entire continent under a single Rex Lex government is a deadly misadventure that the One True God is allowing because the citizens of the world have forsaken His dominion in favor of the dominion of men.
We are living under a tyrannical government because we have chosen to rule our own lives and to appoint human rulers who rule according to their evil proclivities. When God’s people begin to humble themselves and seek His Will (obedience to His Law) instead of their own faulty reasoning we will be able to progress toward freedom.
Nations, rulers, leaders, pastors and citizens must attend to the Law of the Creator if we ever expect to see freedom again.
Maybe it’s Time to Take Back the Government…
Paul Craig Roberts is not a fool. Nor is he a card-carrying Communist. His conservative credentials at least once were impeccable – a senior researcher at the Hoover Institute, Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, one of the economists responsible for President Reagan’s supply-side economics, and Reagan’s Assistant Treasury Secretary for economic policy, working for development of the tax policies that were central to everything that followed in the US.
That is why he cannot be dismissed lightly when he says the United States and Russia are already at war over the Ukraine, and the US is planning nuclear war, based upon a transparent pretense. He is not alone. Now there are almost daily expressions of concern that the US is positioning itself to take the first strike in a nuclear war with Russia; see, e.g. Stern,”Threats Against Russia Increase Danger Of Nuclear War ,”http://www.countercurrents.
Nuclear war between the United States and Russia has been hanging over our heads now for over half a century. The great majority of the world’s humans have had that possibility lurking in the background of everything they do for all their lives – the knowledge that if they live in any major urban area they are subject to annihilation by nuclear weapons on perhaps half an hour’s notice., and that those who are far enough away from urban centers to survive that half hour are facing unknown terrors such as the abrupt disappearance of modern civilization and/or “nuclear winter.” This is totally insane, and is pretty much proof positive that President Kennedy was wrong in his immortal American University speech (perhaps not coincidentally shortly before he was assassinated,) .
Kennedy described the insanity as all of us have lived with it for most of our lives:
“Total war makes no sense in an age where great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age where a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the Allied air forces in the second world war. [The US and Russia are now in possession of comparable numbers, with a total of ninety thousand Allied World War IIs, by Kennedy’s count, http://www.armscontrol.org/
factsheets/ Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat.] It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.”
And he gave his prognosis for ending the insanity:
“Our problems are man-made. Therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” www.countercurrents.org/
In the last half century, little has changed about the insanity of nuclear war, but our ability and determination to solve the problem has waned and it no longer appears within our capacity. We are no longer certain man-made problems can be solved by man, and in particular, the worst of all, that we may be unable to undo catastrophic global warming, which threatens to turn our lush, green, beautiful world into a hot, dry uninhabitable wasteland.. But let’s leave that aside for the moment and focus on nuclear war.
We have all lived with the threat of nuclear war for all or most of our lives, but it has only been a threat. What Kennedy described has always been a threat to winner and loser alike. Realistic visions of the outcome include destruction of all the major cities of both Russia and the United States, followed by possible “nuclear winter” everywhere – instant destruction of the urban half of each nation involved, and slow destruction by starvation and undoubted socioeconomic chaos of much of the other half in months and years to follow. Not most folks’ idea of a win, even for the sociopaths presumably involved in the planning of our wars.
“Our” wars? Perhaps not. We have “outsourced” to China millions of jobs that will never come back because we cannot compete with Chinese wages. We have given to China, with the resettlement of the likes of Pfizer, rights to uncounted numbers of patents developed as a result of centuries of carefully nurtured American ingenuity. . We left in Afghanistan and Iraq, after “our” wars, hand chosen pawns who sold Afghanistan’s immense copper resources at pennies on the dollar, the great preponderance of Iraq’s petroleum, and who knows what else, to China. We have left troops in both countries to provide security for Chinese industrial establishments. “China won the war,” as the Kabul press said, made possible by a trillion dollars in bonds sold to China. See Arguimbau, “That much petroleum is that much bullshit,” www.countercurrents.org/
So if “we” gave away our jobs, gave away our major corporations, gave away our trade secrets, gave away access to the natural resources assumed to be the spoils of war, donated our military men to protect Chinese industry in Afghanistan and Iraq, and charged our taxpayers over a trillion dollars for accomplishment of these tasks, then who will determine the use of our nukes? A fair question, isn’t it? A nuclear war between the United States and Russia would likely leave China and our emigrated industry, the corrupters of Congress, untouched, at least physically, and would make it overnight the unquestioned dominant economic power in the world. So perhaps we cannot assume that our government is giving full consideration to the dangers to the US itself of nuclear war with Russia.
American politics of both parties at this time portray a nation bent on self-destruction. For instance, the Republican Party, which as a practical matter is the controlling party today, “is divided between the ‘hope America fails’ Republicans, who appear to actively want joblessness to rise to seek political gain, and the radical Republicans who adore Ayn Rand, like Paul and Ryan, who favor extremist economic policies that would make America fail .” Budowsky, ” July 4 Infamy: Republicans Try to Destroy America’s Economy,” And the Democrats, with as much or more support from Wall Street than the Republicans, elected a candidate for two terms whose political strategies (e.g. assertion of the existence of a Senate “super majority”) have assured Republican control, whose name alone uniquely qualifies him to be controversial and misunderstood, and whose very first day in office was spent openly and deliberately rejecting central campaign promises that he could as easily have kept, “What Fools We Are,” . Has it not come to anyone’s mind that Wall Street may have intentionally engineered a politics of failure for the United States, and that the Republicans’ willingness to destroy the American economy is Wall Street’s as well ?
And how better quickly to engineer a lasting failure of America, than to steer it into a nuclear first strike after resettling the great corporations thousands of miles away, leaving them free to pick up the spoils in two or three newly-vacated subcontinents? Doesn’t that make this nuclear confrontation uniquely dangerous?
These are insane questions, and one who poses them must question his own sanity, but they are no more nor less insane than the question, to which we now casually assume the answer: “Aren’t Wall Street and the world’s political and corporate leaders steering us into ultimately catastrophic climate change?”
I don’t know what’s going on here, but I know the people had better regain control of the nuclear weapons, and fast.
Life In 500 Square Feet…
One Hundred and Twenty Thousand results to a Google search on “city is more competitive”. The oligarchs who currently control our world intend to herd people in cities where inter-city contests will keep everyone producing at a high level.
Read how this is already being implemented in China.
More and more of the land is falling under government control and hundreds of thousands of homes have been repossessed. American citizens own fewer homes and less land. If this scenario is successful the earth will be enjoyed by elite overseers while the proletariat toils and lives in tiny cubicles in crowded cities.
I wrote recently about our connection to land
In his daily devotional books R. J. Rushdoony (These books are tightly connected to daily behavior and provide usable righteousness for the Christian seeker. Buy them here .)describes Rogation Sunday and its practice by early Americans. In the evening following Sunday prayer for the harvest “each farmer and his family walked the boundaries of their property and gave thanks for the good earth. As they walked, the boy of the family was ‘bumped’ against the landmarks, the boundary stone, or against a boundary tree. If a pond or stream marked the boundary he was ducked into it. Then the boy who was bumped or ducked was given a small gift. The purpose of the ‘bumping’ and of the gift was to make the boy remember the boundaries of the land he would someday fall heir to.”
Land plays a primary role in the Biblical narrative. The occupation of the Promised Land, the events the preceded, and the battles that followed make up a significant part of the Old Testament. The earth is the Lord’s and it is to be carefully maintained. He provided land for His people and it was apportioned to the Twelve Tribes. He provided the Year of Jubilee to provide stability and prevent a permanent centralization of wealth and power.
Borders of land are related to God’s Law – both are meant to restrain.
In some of America’s Western States 80 percent of the land is owned by the Federal Government. Alaska’s land is mostly government property. Oil drilling rights are controlled in Washington. If these rights were released United States would be energy independent. Reliable sources claim the government owns about 30 percent of the entire United States land mass.
There is evidence that powerful elite bankers may be conspiring to take over large tracts of land as collateral for debt. As our government obligates our posterity for trillions of dollars of debt some of it could be paid by sacrificing government owned land. This could be the genesis of the recent squabble over cattle grazing. .
In His provisions for the lands in ancient Israel God allowed the permanent sales of urban properties but had rural lands returned to their original owners in the year of Jubilee. Stability was vested in the families than owned and cultivated land. Though often overlooked it is still the same today; the cultivation of land provides sustenance for the populace of the earth.
Water and food are products of the earth. They sustain life. Without food and water death comes quickly. Control over access to water and food is power over life and death. The earth belongs to The Lord we are short term custodians. God tells us that those who do not work should not eat. It is the ability to produce food that is everyone’s God given right.
Robots are being touted as a means of reducing the need for human labor. The analyzer failed to address the fate of displaced workers. As technology replaces human labor a problem develops over the use of displaced workers. When Wal-Mart replaces cashiers with do-it-yourself checkout stations they realize an additional profit but the displaced cashiers are faced with the emergency of being deprived of their livelihood.
Societies benefit from technical progress and work that benefits the general population is deserving of reward. However, when technical improvements displace energetic workers the workers must be provided with the means of working to earn food and lodging for themselves and their families.
What is to be done with the leisure time our technical progress is giving us? For many it will be used for self-indulgence. Most of us work to provide the necessities of life but constantly pine for leisure time. But if leisure time is not filled with activity we soon hope for something to do. We were created for activity and when we are full of sleep we crave it.
Wealth provides a person with activity choices. Some wealthy individuals find productive activities; others waste their time in sinful indulgences. A few amass wealth consistently over several generations and use this tacit control of human life to manipulate world powers with an objective of world domination.
We are created beings vested with the mandate to live under the Law our Creator has provided. The Law is not an impediment to our happiness; obedience is the vehicle to righteous, peace, joy, and prosperity. God brings blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience.
It is not only difficult to experience but hard to believe that the United States of America is being gutted and destroyed on the altar of world government. Though the mainstream media is complicit and refuses to publish the atrocities the signs are everywhere. How can airplanes clearly visible to the entire population fly over our nation and spray long trails of an unknown cloud-like substance while the people, the weather channels, and the major news sources never acknowledge their presence? How can an entire government, 435 congressional representatives, 100 senators, and one president ignore hundreds of engineers and piles of evidence that the 9/11 attack was false flag operation and allow the policies of our government to be based on its authenticity? And most shocking of all, how can voters continue with confidence to cast ballots for candidates that invariably betray their trust?
U. S. Voters are like battered spouses that continue to return to the battering partner. It makes no sense to observers but to the voters its must seem like the only alternative. An intervention is sometimes the only solution – but how?
The United States of America has been filled with alien immigrants whose only interest is to rape its wealth. It is engaged in constant wars that sap its strength and destroys its youth. It has been saturated with pornography and bludgeoned into sodomy. For many years its citizens have been exposed to the most aggressive use of incarceration in the entire world. It has piled up debt that probably cannot be repaid but will enslave its children for generations. It is home to so many diverse and ineffective religions that the anarchy of secular humanism is helping push it into tyranny. Liberty has been lost to the lust for power and we now live under a police force that regularly kills citizens that do not obey.
More and more Americans are becoming concerned with our progressive downfall. They see the clouds of tyranny approaching and they feel the winds of turmoil. They are beginning to understand that their government has betrayed them and are apprehensive that unseen forces are overshadowing us. But in spite of this approaching avalanche they are unable to discern the hand of God.
During the 1930s in the small towns of Central United States a deep depression afflicted everyone. We were grateful to be able to eat from a 25 pound bag of oatmeal three times a day. Men without work hitched rides on railroad trains that took them to other areas where they hoped to find work. Those who had food to eat shared with the transients who would often do add jobs in payment.
In the little town where I lived an Evangelical pastor was called to our protestant church. In an effort to bring the congregation closer to the God of the Bible he began having altar calls. The altar call was too confrontational for the church leaders whose brush with Christianity consisted of a Sunday School Bible studies where God’s Word could be judged by the participants and they could decide whether they believed it or not. This minister was soon replaced with one who did not upset the status quo.
Before the Evangelical minister left there was a miracle at my mother’s home. She has been a Methodist all of her life and following my conversion we sometimes discussed religion. On this particular day she was sitting in her antique platform rocker in the living room when she asked me about conversion. I said, “The Bible says you must be born again”. At that very moment there was a knock on the front door. It was the recently dismissed minister. He came in and sat down. In familiar fashion mother said, “Now, Albert, tell the minster what you were telling me. I did, the minster affirmed it, and Mother said, “I don’t believe I have ever done that”. We bowed our heads and mother accepted Christ as her Savior. The minister left without ever mentioning why he had knocked on our door.
Neither my mother nor I made much progress in the Faith since correct Christian theology was not readily available and when it was preached it usually fell on deaf and recalcitrant ears. We are a nation of nominal Christians whose faith is selfish and sinful. We say we believe in God and have accepted Christ as our Savior but instead of becoming obedient servants we expect Him to serve us
During the 1930s there was a Christian patina that covered heavy layers of humanism. My mother was a good, dependable woman. She had earned a college degree from University of Illinois but with my father out of work and not having today’s labor saving devices she was forced to work hard to keep up our home and keep food on the table.
For a time my father worked in the WPA but for the most part society during the depression was free from government interference. Nevertheless, a pride-filled humanism had taken over the country and the seeds for our current tyrannical government were beginning to grow.
Evangelical Christianity brings the good news to individuals but when they are converted the lack of a solid theological base leaves them in a moral limbo that fails to bring change to society. Once our sins are forgiven and we are made new by the Blood of the Savior God seeks obedience as He always has. The Jews failed to obey God’s commandments and their disobedience broke the Covenant. All of God’s blessings are the result of obedience to His Law.
God will not long allow an oligarchy of wealthy humanistic elitists to control His creation. All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and He will bring blessing from this unprecedented quest for world domination. Unfortunately Christians who have failed to work against encroaching evil will be severely judged and will not see the blessing in store for His faithful servants.
In almost every country in the world where America’s notorious “Wall Street and War Street” gang of thugs have tampered and interfered with its internal workings, things have always turned out badly for each country involved. Almost every country that this infamous WSx2 gang has tampered with so far has pretty much seen their way of life turn to dookie. http://truth-out.org/opinion/
You want some examples? I’ve got them!
Take the Spanish-American War for instance. Wall Street and War Street drummed our country into that war with their torrid yellow journalism, and as a result both Cuba and the Philippines were so devastated and destroyed that they are still trying to recover from it — and from being muscled around afterwards by WSx2’s mob bosses Batista and the shoe lady.
During World War I, Britain, France and the Kaiser were all sick of fighting and pretty much ready to throw in the towel and make nice. But then Woodrow Wilson got a bee in his bonnet over the forged Zimmerman telegram (the Wall Street and War Street gang at work again?) and forced America to join in the fight by suspending freedom of speech, curbing civil liberties, muzzling the press and sending even mild dissenters to jail for years. http://www.amazon.com/The-
In Congo, Wall Street and War Street destabilized that country completely when they overthrew Patrice Lumumba. Over ten million dead since then. Ten million.
Iran used to be a democracy until the CIA, aka Wall Street and War Street’s dread enforcer, tampered and interfered.
In Haiti, Papa Doc and his dread Tonton Macoute invited the Marines to come join the party and Wall Street and War Street immediately sent their RSVP to this gala zombie jamboree, giving ordinary Haitians nightmares for decades. Then WS&WS hung around for the after-party, the bloody and illegal ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
I swear, I’m not making this stuff up! Don’t believe me? Go Google it yourself.
Iraq used to be a democracy too — until the WSWS gang installed Saddam Hussein. And then they deposed him too, scoring themselves a trillion dollars worth of “vig” in the process.
Vietnam? We all know what happened there. “3.1 million violent war deaths.”
Cambodia? Millions dead in what used to be a sweet and lovely country. A whole country suffering from PTSD, thanks to tampering by the US military-industrial complex, who just couldn’t keep their bombers and bombs in their jeans.
The Arab nations of the Middle East used to be friends with America before Wall Street and War Street started using Israel as a wedge. Now nobody over there likes us — not even the Israelis. http://www.blackagendareport.
“Humanitarian intervention” in Libya by WSx2 was yet another disaster, even worse than when Al Capone took over Chicago. Libya today is officially a “Failed State”.
And now the WSWS gang that can’t shoot straight is using its buddies in ISIS as an excuse to interfere and overthrow Syria’s legitimate government under Bashar Assad. And despite all the New York Times’ incredibly false lies that Assad and ISIS are buddies, the real truth is that Assad is the only obstacle standing in the way of Syria becoming just yet another WSx2 Failed State. http://www.globalresearch.ca/
Does Turkey really want to have a failed state overrun by crazies right across its border? I think not.
Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan? The label of “Failed State” is hovering over their heads too, thanks to WS&WS.
And let’s not forget Latin America. Chile was almost destroyed after the CIA and Kissinger interfered. Honduras today is a killing field, with men. women and children being butchered like cattle by Wall Street and War Street’s government of choice. And the terms “Death Squad” and “The Disappeared” came into popular use in Central America under Reagan’s watch.
Ah, Ronald Reagan, the WSx2’s best friend. And the dread John Negroponte was its chief henchman and capo. He still is. Just check out his current efforts to interfere in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine. He just loves him some snipers — firing at both peaceful protestors and police until war erupts. It’s a wonder he hasn’t tried that in Ferguson too. Or maybe he has.
Tiny Grenada was ruthlessly (and illegally) invaded in 1983 — even Margaret Thatcher and the Queen were pissed off! And today Grenada’s foreign debts equal 35 percent of its GDP and Red China is paying for its cricket pitches. Yet another WSx2 interference failure. Yawn.
And Mexico, another victim of becoming close compadres with WS/WS, has now become the drug-lord capital of the world. Er, maybe not. Perhaps Columbia holds that title. Or is it Afghanistan? I’m confused. Burma? Wall Street and War Street would know for sure. http://www.telesurtv.net/
Panama’s democratic leader was assassinated https://www.youtube.com/watch?
In central Asia, Charlie Wilson viciously fought to support WS-WS’s right to tamper with Afghanistan’s fate — and look how badly that interference turned out, handing Afghanistan to Al Qaeda and the Taliban on a platter.
And Europe wasn’t spared any WSWS gang-related action either. Take Ukraine for instance. Do Americans even know what horrors are being perpetrated there in our name by WS&WS even at this very moment? Gangland-style murders, extortion, turf wars, goons, thugs, the works. You don’t even want to know.
Wall Street and War Street happily tampered with Yugoslavia. Years of killing resulted. http://original.antiwar.com/
And even Ronald Reagan’s greatest tampering triumph on behalf of the Wall & War Boys, the fall of the USSR, resulted in dookie. With Gorbachev gone, the poor Russians were stuck with heartless oligarchs and drunken Yeltsin — and they died by the thousands from cold and starvation as a result. But, fortunately, Putin today is much better than that. And so WSx2 hates him.
I started out trying to write all these horrors down in chronological order, but now I’m just writing them all down willy-nilly because there are so many examples floating around in my brain right now of WSx2 tampering that has turned into dog poop for the countries involved, that I am totally overwhelmed.
Let’s look at Egypt next. It’s gone from Nasser, the people’s choice, to military despots like Mubarak and Sisi, thanks to WSx2. Yuck. Please give me a moment here to hold my nose.
And the Wall Street and War Street gang also propped up that brutal fascist apartheid regime in South Africa and Angola — just as they are currently propping up that brutal fascist apartheid regime in Israel now. For example, when Americans picketed the Port of Oakland the other day, to prevent an Israeli ship from unloading its cargo there, in protest of Netanyahu’s brutal slaughter of women and children in Gaza, over a hundred police showed up to help protect the Israeli ship — not the protesters. http://www.mercurynews.com/
And speaking of fascists, there is always Saudi Arabia to consider. http://www.lewrockwell.com/
But the most disastrous tampering of all has occurred when Wall Street and War Street turned its deadly sights on interfering back home, right here in America. The result for us? Just look around you. At your jobs, your infrastructure, your schools, your healthcare, your militarized police, your disappearing freedom of speech, your rigged elections, your lying media, your hate. https://www.facebook.com/
The Wall Street & War Street Gang needs to stop screwing with our world and zip up its pants. And we true patriotic Americans need to make them.
OMG, I am so sick and tired of writing about American-sponsored neo-Nazis in the Ukraine, American-financed genocide in Gaza and American-backed ISIS murderers in Syria and Iraq. Geez Louise. It’s enough to make me sick!
But not sick enough to stop eating.
Even though women and children are starving in Gaza and refugees in Erbil are hunkering down in city parks and Ukrainian babies are being shot by swastika-waving skin-heads, I still gotta have three or four square meals a day.
And all the average American can say about this insane world situation is, “Where the freak is Erbil?” It’s in northern Iraq, stupid. “Oh yeah? So where is Iraq?” It’s that rat-hole where three trillion of your tax dollars have been pounded down in the last 20 years. Iraq is the reason you have no jobs, no infrastructure, no schools — and no solar heating. http://www.truth-out.org/
“But what’s a Gaza?” Huh?
“It’s that charnel house in Palestine where Netanyahu practices being a fascist.”
“Who is Netanyahu?” He’s that guy in Israel that you pay billions of dollars to every year so he can commit genocide. Oh, good grief.
I need comfort food! Now!
Forget about genocide and dead babies. Let’s talk about sushi! And mac ‘n’ cheese. What is your favorite food? I think mine is ice cream. But I’m not sure. Chocolate cake sounds good too. http://blog.umamimart.com/
I once ate a beef stroganoff MRE in the Green Zone. It was delicious. And they had deep-fried tarantulas on offer at a roadside stall in Cambodia. Yummers! http://johnpilger.com/videos/
Got caught in a massive five-day storm off of Antarctica one time and popped Dramamine like it was candy — but still managed to eat. http://www.funnyordie.com/
Was stuck in Shenyang, China, for three weeks while waiting for my visa to North Korea to come through. Thirteen million people in that city and only ten of them spoke English. So I just drew a picture of a chicken and showed it to waiters. That worked fine until one waiter brought me a live chicken. Er, no.
And about a year later, when I finally did manage to get into North Korea, it was amazing to discover that Pyongyang featured luxury hotels, casinos, golf courses and elaborate 150,000-person choreographed mass games, all geared toward European tourists — who came in droves. The food there, however, was on the level of mediocre California Chinese take-out — but I still felt guilty eating it, knowing how many North Koreans had starved to death in the past.
In Uganda, a young girl was selling homemade flour-and-grease chapatis on the street that were so good that I still dream about them. “What’s a chapati?” Oh shut up.
The hummus and matzos in Israel/Palestine were great, served under an olive tree in Hebron. Loved Bethlehem and old Jerusalem — but why do people still keep accusing me of being anti-Semitic when I’m actually only anti-fascist and anti-apartheid? I just don’t understand. As Barb Weir is always fond of saying, “How come they never accuse the brave people who fought against apartheid in South Africa of being anti-white?”
On the beach in Yelapa, Mexico, an hour’s boat-ride south of Puerto Vallarta, friendly ladies will sell you lemon meringue pie right there on the beach. But now you don’t even have to go to Yelapa to get it, you can buy lemon meringue pie right there in Puerto Vallarta. Definitely worth the flight down if you can afford it — and if you can’t, there’s always the chocolate cream pie at the Sweet Adeline bakeshop here in Berkeley. http://rt.com/op-edge/178640-
In Motswedi, in northern South Africa, their potato fries are the best. Just ask for Mma Peter if you go there. Everyone knows her. And give her a big hug from me if you do.
In Damascus, the oldest city in the world (I think), they had fabulous ice cream for sale in the souk. That’s ICE cream, not ISIS cream. If it had been ISIS cream, I wouldn’t have had to pay for it myself — Congress woulda footed the bill.
In al Anbar province, Iraq, I accompanied a U.S. Marine colonel and his staff to a “goat pull” thrown by the local sheik. You gotta love goat meat. But now that whole area is overrun by ISIS thugs, thanks to Bush, Obama and Hillary Clinton and their grand competition to see who can destabilize the Middle East best.
At a sidewalk cafe in Cairo, a waiter jokingly offered me 200 camels for my daughter Ashley’s hand in marriage. At least I think he was joking. And in the Caliphate of Saudi Arabia, biological mother to ISIS and Al Qaeda (America’s military-industrial complex is the father, but insists on keeping that fact on the down-low), I lived on KFC and Cinnabons at a high-end mall in Mecca.
In Haiti, you just gotta love their pumpkin soup. In Afghanistan, their chicken kebobs were the best — unlike in Iran, where the kebobs tended to be rather dry. Burma offered up excellent hand-made noodles. Argentina had empanadas and beef. Berkeley has the Berkeley Bowl, best produce store in the world.
I love food! I love to eat!
So why do I keep thinking about all those poor starving children in Gaza and those poor slaughtered babies in Syria and Ukraine — thanks to the Yankee dollar?
In this article, I had first wanted to claim that America’s military-industrial complex has shed more blood in the last 53 years than anyone else in the history of the world, even Attila the Hun! But then I remembered World War I and World War II in all their grisly splendor. At the battle of Verdun alone, approximately 300,000 people died brutal and violent deaths. And at Hiroshima, there were approximately 100,000 dead. However, my point here is still legit — that American taxpayers have been paying for a whole big bunch of bloodshed during the last 53 years.
Approximately seven trillion dollars worth of human blood.
Seven trillion dollars can certainly buy you a whole lot of bloodshed. Rivers and oceans of blood. “Attila the Hun would be so-o-o jealous!” Let’s just look at the record.
It all started way back on January 17, 1961, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower very urgently and emphatically warned all of us — publicly on black-and-white TV — about the extreme dangers of allowing a massive military-industrial complex to keep growing larger and larger in America.
“In the councils of government,” President Eisenhower warned us, ” we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?
And nobody in America listened. I repeat. Nobody listened.
Shortly thereafter, Robert McNamara invented the bloody Vietnam war. And Americans happily let McNamara, President Johnson and Congress get away with it. Enough said about that. http://www.smirkingchimp.com/
Next came all those made-in-America mini-slaughters that took place in — I forget where. East Timor? Guatemala? Chile? Grenada? South Africa? Lebanon? Iran? Haiti? Nicaragua? The Philippines? Yeah, right, that was Reagan. And all funded by American taxpayers. All involving a whole big bunch of blood. Red Cross blood banks would have loved to have had that many donors!
Then George H.W. Bush trumped up that stupid Gulf War which killed thousands of Iraqis. Then Clinton tried to out-do Pappy Bush by killing hundreds of thousands more Iraqis with sanctions (400,00 dead children), followed by the Kosovo slaughters (6,000 dead from NATO bombings). “Not my fault!” cried Clinton. “We were only trying to stop more blood from being shed.” You just keep telling yourself that.
Then there was Afghanistan back in 2001. And Afghanistan is still bleeding. A lot. Attila would be uber-jealous!
But then the American military-industrial complex really got down to business in Iraq in 2003. Lots of slaughter. Brutality. Blood running in the streets like water. Think Fallugah. Think Baghdad burning. And you can’t even blame Baby Bush for that one either — he was just an unthinking pawn of Wall Street and War Street (but of course I do blame GWB anyway. Why isn’t that man in jail?).
One million dead on Bush Jr’s watch? That’s a war crime almost in the same league with Stalin and Hitler. Stalin and Hitler too would be jealous.
And wasn’t there a whole big bunch of unnecessary and brutal blood shed in Libya recently too? Benghazi comes to mind. We gotta thank President Obama for that one — just following orders from the military-industrial complex. “We are in a recession. War is good for business.” Especially if there is blood involved. And there was lots of blood involved in Libya when NATO illegally overturned Gaddafi.
And Libya to this day is still bleeding out. http://www.theguardian.com/
By now, America has not only turned Attila the Hun green with envy — but also Count Dracula and the entire cast of “True Blood”.
Red is such a lovely color, don’t you think? You had better. After all, you are paying for it — instead of for schools and hospitals and infrastructure and jobs and whatever. You had better like the color of blood a lot. It’s basically all we have left.
But then on the other hand, we are all such red-blooded Americans that clearly most of us have never even stopped to think for one minute that perhaps all this blood-shed just might be immoral and wrong. “We are Christians! Christians shed blood. It’s what we do,” Americans cry. Jesus wept.
And then America’s military-industrial complex went on to encourage, weaponize and train ISIS to kill a whole big bunch more women and children in Syria — in a stupid, unnecessary invasion of a country that was pretty much minding its own business (140,000 now dead in Syria, 7,000 of them children).
“They may have minded their business over in Syria, but they weren’t minding our business — and our business is war!” screamed Wall Street and War Street. And boy are these guys ever good at the business of war. Eisenhower nailed it!
And we American taxpayers get to pay for this brand new blood supply too. And pay. And pay. And pay.
In Ukraine, the blood also now runs like wine — and this vintage is being paid for by American taxpayers too. Of course. “2014 is a very good year for blood!” And the American military-industrial complex paid five billion of our U.S. dollars to Ukrainian neo-Nazis to get this blood-bath to start brewing last February. “A very good year.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?
In Ukraine, everybody remembers Attila.
And guess what else? “Attila, Dracula and even Eric Northman will be happy to know that we’ve found a whole new blood bank over in Gaza!” And it is costing U.S. taxpayers a whole lot more blood-money too. “Yippee!”
Now Attila’s rotting skull would be practically grinning in its grave — except for one thing. Jealousy. “That blood-sucking Netanyahu is trying to take over my reputation!” screams Attila’s ghost.
“I’ve killed more people on my List,” brags Netanyahu, “than that punk Oskar Schindler ever even thought about saving on his!” And here’s Netanyahu’s List to prove it: http://english.al-akhbar.com/
“What do you think this is, Attila? Some kind of game show where the contestant who spills the most blood wins?” Nope, not at all. You may have slaughtered more civilians back in the day, bossy-pants, but Netanyahu-the-Hun has done it with more flash and charm. Anyone can wield a sword and ride a horse — but it takes real panache to vaporize 373 little kids by just pushing a button.
“But Gaza has a right to defend itself!” some bleeding-heart liberals might say at this point. Talk to the hand.
The American military-industrial complex has the God-given right to shed blood anywhere in the world that it wants to — in any invasion, covert action, “war” or proxy war that it chooses. And to use our money to do it with too. “Brutality Gone Wild!” is the name of this reality show. Get over it, Attila.
PS: During its last 53 seasons of continuous production, the American military-industrial complex’s big hit reality show, “Brutality Gone Wild,” has been out on location, shedding blood everywhere on the planet so far — except for only one place that has been left unbloodied. You guessed it. “America.”
Attila the Hun never really had time to discover the New World, but not to worry. The guys who run Wall Street and War Street now know where we live too. And that we still have a whole big bunch of un-shed blood to tap into here as well. “Soon, very soon, it will be time to bring it all back home!” they cry at night from their crypts deep in the bowels of New York and Washington. “Bottoms up!”
And don’t say that you haven’t been warned — since way back in 1961.
A Centennial For The Forces of Evil…
Destruction of the culture by massive immigration supported by the government. Read Here.
Destruction of moral standards by humanists in media, education, and government.
Aberrant media propaganda and entertainment.
Promoting a potentially disastrous conflict with Russian. Read Here.
Iimperialistic use of Executive Orders to pass controversial legislation.
Legal decisions by the courts that codify wickedness.
Constant attempts to promote violence by distorting the news and according immigrants and Black citizens privileged status over White citizens.
Destruction of the educational system.
Robbing the nation of its wealth by allowing cheap foreign products to destroy American businesses.
Forcing American industry to move jobs and entire industries to foreign countries.
Destroying the family by promotion feminism and homosexuality.
Constant government distortions and outright lies.
Lethal false flag operations that are never challenged by the media or elected representatives.
Destruction of the Christian religion by legislation and massive propaganda.
Normalizing cognitive dissonance by creating opposing programs – i.e. Allowing Muslim immigration while waging war on Muslims in their own lands.
Failure of elected representatives to confront and correct media lies and distortions.
Destruction of the First Amendment by restricting public speech – against racial groups, about conspiracies, against the progression of the world order or the United Nations, about the control of news, or against the State of Israel.
Terminating media employees for expressing unpopular or politically incorrect opinions.
Distorting the law, traumatizing the public, and filling our prisons with sex related offenders that should be handled locally.
Representative James Sensenbrenner chairs a committee attempting to reform the thousands of laws that make up the Federal Criminal Code but nothing is being done about the equally ponderous laws that are now enforced by militarized local police forces.
This list could be continued – -
The European culture that was the foundation of our wealth and freedom has been destroyed. The wealth has been stolen and we have saddled future generations with an insurmountable debt.
The United States of America that a few short decades ago was the world’s wealthiest and most moral nation is now like an egg shell that has been emptied of its contents. Aside from a lethal and vibrant military establishment, there is nothing left but fourth rate medical facilities and a plethora of food factories. Our medical doctors are imported and the adulteration of our food supply is rampant with uninspected imports for third world nations, mutants, cellulose (wood chips) and other fillers.
The battle, if there ever was an effective deterrent, for the culture of the United States of American is over. Our nation is hopelessly Balkanized with immigrants from every nation in the world. Dozens of different languages are spoken by voters who are easily manipulated by unscrupulous politicians. There is little attempt to learn English and assimilate. They know nothing about the nation and have no concern for its well-being. Their primary concern is often for the land they left behind.
The Pharisaical cadre that controls us, as well as much of the world, hates Christianity and is successfully destroying the gossamer Christian ethic that filled most of our churches. They are doing this with the help of hundreds of thousands of obtuse Christians who lend them unrestrained support. If it wasn’t so tragic it would be laughable!
While our free fall is in progress other dumb Americans work tirelessly in the political arena hoping the vehicle that was responsible for our downfall will miraculously redeem itself and us.at the same time.
Millions of our citizens are unaware that they are reading and listening to news that is filled with lies and distortions; they are so badly maligned that they no longer recognize truth, so brain washed that they quickly brand a the truth teller as a deluded conspiracy theorist
History is replete with power seekers who have murdered and ravaged to create empires but the current quest for world domination is the granddaddy of them all.
Plans for world domination seem to have begun in earnest at the end of the First World War. The United States congress approved the Federal Reserve System in 1913; the conflict began in Europe in 1914 and the United States entered the War in 1917. U. S. participation quickly ended the conflict in 1918. Under the aegis of world peace the ill-fated League of Nations was formed in 1920. It soon lost the support of the world’s major nations and failed in its stated mission to produce peace. It was replaced by the United Nations at the conclusion of the Second World War http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
The United States provided major support to the United Nations but paid little attention to its peaceful mission, entering a war in Korea in 1950 a scant five years later. Under the aegis of peace the real agenda of these two organizations was always world domination.
World Government at the point of a gun has been foisted on the world very slowly. We are living in the Centennial. It has taken nearly a hundred years for the brutal character of the movement to become public.
Now, all the power centers of our nation are occupied with men and women who support world government and are willing to manipulate the public into complacency as its tentacles begin to grasp the world. Incrementalism has allowed the incarceration of the world to progress with only token resistance.
Talented individuals are spotted early in their careers and are ushered into Ivy League educations; following stints at Oxford where they are indoctrinated with an International ethic they are mentored into power center jobs where they are stalwart supporters of world government and the shadowing cabal that is behind it..
Michele Flournoy is a case in point. She was a guest on C-Span on Sunday for the fifteenth time since 1988. She identified herself as an Internationalist and responded to Brian Lamb’s queries like the pro that she is. From California she was educated at Harvard and Oxford. She was mentored and groomed and has become a go to expert on defense issues. She held a strategic job as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in the Obama Administration and is now President of the Center for a New American Security, a think tank that directs government defense policy. She is one of a host of dependable Internationalists that have been groomed and inserted into important positions in government; all willingly do the bidding of their mentors. Defense is a misnomer that has now become an aggressive military offensive to control the world.
The hugely successful incremental incarceration of the world has been accomplished by a patient promotion of several generations of seekers. It is a sinful grab for power and control which is familiar to any historian but of a size and strength that is larger and more ominous than any of its predecessors.
This new, total oppression is coming upon us because we have and are rejecting the obvious conclusion that we were not created to govern ourselves. Not only do we reject that clear fact but we cling to the heresy that we can play god by developing our own legal system and curbing the horrific sinful nature of every human being by requiring obedience to our particular legal opinions. Again, we refuse to understand that if we are governed by the legal opinions of one human power they are no better than the legal opinions of another which makes war and murder inevitable.
The confusion, the proliferation of legal standards, the breakdown of law and order, police brutality, government oppression, and the resulting loss of freedom are predictable results of humanism. We are all sinners, every one of us – all have sinned and fallen short of the mark.
It is easy for us to critique the government. Such critiques are common and often virulent. Each critique is a direct blow to God Who has given us His Law, the only form of righteousness available to His creation. It is sin to assume that we have the solution to humanistic government – it is sin to think such a thought! God created us and if we are ever to experience lasting peace and prosperity we must stop playing God and begin to obey His Commandments.
Today I read excellent critiques by Paul Craig Roberts, Pat Buchanan, and Jacob Hornberger. All three of these men believe they have solutions to our problem. But, all three of these men are sinners whose only righteous alternative is to turn to the Laws of the Creator. Their thoughts are good thoughts from a human perspective, but they do not direct us to obey God’s Law. We can point out the results of allowing sinful men and women to control the world but we cannot fix it by having our opinions set in place. Human wisdom is not the solution. If we had spent our lives promoting obedience to God’s Law instead of depending on our own opinions and understandings we would not be in this situation.
We have found the culprit and it is us!