During Cold War One those of us in the American radical left were often placed in the position where we had to defend the Soviet Union because the US government was using that country as a battering ram against us. Now we sometimes have to defend Russia because it may be the last best hope of stopping TETATW (The Empire That Ate The World). Yes, during Cold War One we knew enough about Stalin, the show trials, and the gulags. But we also knew about US foreign policy.
E-mail sent to the Washington Post July 23, 2014 about the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17:
Your July 22 editorial was headed: “Russia’s barbarism. The West needs a strategy to contain the world’s newest rogue state.”
Pretty strong language. Vicious, even. Not one word of hard evidence in the editorial to back it up. Then, the next day, the Associated Press reported:
Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for ‘creating the conditions’ that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement. … the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.
Where were these words in the Post? You people are behaving like a rogue newspaper.
– William Blum
I don’t have to tell you whether the Post printed my letter. I’ve been reading the paper for 25 years – six years during Vietnam (1964-1970) and the last 19 years (1995-2014) – usually spending about three hours each day reading it very carefully. And I can say that when it comes to US foreign policy the newspaper is worse now than I can remember it ever was during those 25 years. It’s reached the point where, as one example, I don’t take at face value a word the Post has to say about Ukraine. Same with the State Department, which makes one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s wholly inconclusive and/or unsourced or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation. Do they have something to hide?
The State Department’s Public Affairs spokespersons making these presentations exhibit little regard or respect for the reporters asking challenging questions. It takes my thoughts back to the Vietnam era and Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, the man most responsible for “giving, controlling and managing the war news from Vietnam”. One day in July 1965, Sylvester told American journalists that they had a patriotic duty to disseminate only information that made the United States look good. When one of the reporters exclaimed: “Surely, Arthur, you don’t expect the American press to be handmaidens of government,” Sylvester replied: “That’s exactly what I expect,” adding: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? – stupid.”
Such frankness might be welcomed today as a breath of fresh air compared to the painful-to-observe double-talk of a State Department spokesperson.
My personal breath of fresh air in recent years has been the television station RT (formerly Russia Today). On a daily basis many progressives from around the world (myself included occasionally) are interviewed and out of their mouths come facts and analyses that are rarely heard on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR, PBS, Fox News, BBC, etc. The words of these progressives heard on RT are typically labeled by the mainstream media as “Russian propaganda”, whereas I, after a long lifetime of American propaganda, can only think: “Of course. What else are they going to call it?”
As for Russia being responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the shooting down of Flight 17, we should keep in mind that the current series of events in Ukraine was sparked in February when a US-supported coup overthrew the democratically-elected government and replaced it with one that was more receptive to the market-fundamentalism dictates of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the European Union. Were it not for the coup there would have been no eastern rebellion to put down and no dangerous war zone for Flight 17 to be flying over in the first place.
The new regime has had another charming feature: a number of outspoken neo-Nazis in high and low positions, a circumstance embarrassing enough for the US government and mainstream media to turn it into a virtual non-event. US Senator John McCain met and posed for photos with the leader of the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party, Oleh Tyahnybok (photos easily found on the Internet). Ukraine – whose ties to Naziism go back to World War Two when their homegrown fascists supported Germany and opposed the Soviet Union – is on track to becoming the newest part of the US-NATO military encirclement of Russia and possibly the home of the region’s newest missile base, target Moscow.
It is indeed possible that Flight 17 was shot down by the pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine in the mistaken belief that it was the Ukrainian air force returning to carry out another attack. But other explanations are suggested in a series of questions posed by Russia to the the Secretary-General of the UN General Assembly, accompanied by radar information, satellite images, and other technical displays:
“Why was a military aircraft flying in a civil aviation airway at almost the same time and the same altitude as a civilian passenger aircraft? We would like to have this question answered.”
“Earlier, Ukrainian officials stated that on the day of the accident no Ukrainian military aircraft were flying in that area. As you can see, that is not true.”
“We also have a question for our American colleagues. According to a statement by American officials, the United States has satellite images which show that the missile aimed at the Malaysian aircraft was launched by the militants. But no one has seen these images.”
There is also this intriguing speculation, which ties in to the first Russian question above. A published analysis by a retired Lufthansa pilot points out that Flight 17 looked similar in its tricolor design to that of Russian President Putin’s plane, whose plane with him on board was at the same time “near” Flight 17. In aviation circles “near” would be considered to be anywhere between 150 to 200 miles. Could Putin’s plane have been the real target?
There is as well other serious and plausible questioning of the official story of Russia and/or Ukrainian anti-Kiev militias being responsible for the shootdown. Is Flight 17 going to become the next JFK Assassination, PanAm 103, or 9-11 conspiracy theory that lingers forever? Will the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the Syrian chemical weapons be joined by the Russian anti-aircraft missile? Stay tuned.
Will they EVER leave Cuba alone? No.
The latest exposed plot to overthrow the Cuban government … Oh, pardon me, I mean the latest exposed plot to bring democracy to Cuba …
Our dear friends at the Agency For International Development (USAID), having done so well with their covert sub-contractor Alan Gross, now in his fifth year in Cuban custody … and their “Cuban Twitter” project, known as ZunZuneo, exposed in 2012, aimed at increasing the flow of information amongst the supposedly information-starved Cubans, which drew in subscribers unaware that the service was paid for by the US government … and now, the latest exposure, a project which sent about a dozen Venezuelan, Costa Rican and Peruvian young people to Cuba in hopes of stirring up a rebellion; the travelers worked clandestinely, using the cover of health and civic programs, or posing as tourists, going around the island, on a mission to “identify potential social-change actors” to turn into political activists. Can you believe that? Can you believe the magnitude of naiveté? Was it a conviction that American exceptionalism would somehow work its magic? Do they think the Cuban people are a bunch of children just waiting for a wise adult to come along and show them what to think and how to behave?
One of these latest USAID contracts was signed only days after Gross was detained, thus indicating little concern for the safety of their employees/agents. As part of the preparation of these individuals, USAID informed them: “Although there is never total certainty, trust that the authorities will not try to harm you physically, only frighten you. Remember that the Cuban government prefers to avoid negative media reports abroad, so a beaten foreigner is not convenient for them.”
It’s most ironic. The US government could not say as much about most of their allies, who frequently make use of physical abuse. Indeed, the statement could not be made in regard to almost any American police force. But it’s this Cuba that doesn’t beat or torture detainees that is the enemy to be reformed and punished without mercy … 55 years and counting.
The United States and torture
Two of the things that governments tend to cover-up or lie about the most are assassinations and torture, both of which are widely looked upon as exceedingly immoral and unlawful, even uncivilized. Since the end of the Second World War the United States has attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders and has 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 and encouragement by American instructors, particularly in Latin America.
Thus it is somewhat to the credit of President Obama that at his August 1 press conference he declared “We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.”
And he actually used the word “torture” at that moment, not “enhanced interrogation”, which has been the euphemism of preference the past decade, although two minutes later the president used “extraordinary interrogation techniques”. And “tortured some folks” makes me wince. The man is clearly uncomfortable with the subject.
But all this is minor. Much more important is the fact that for several years Mr. Obama’s supporters have credited him with having put an end to the practice of torture. And they simply have no right to make that claim.
Shortly after Obama’s first inauguration, both he and Leon Panetta, the new Director of the CIA, explicitly stated that “rendition” was not being ended. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time: “Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.”
The English translation of “cooperate” is “torture”. Rendition is simply outsourcing torture. There was no other reason to take prisoners to Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, Kosovo, or the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, to name some of the known torture centers frequented by the United States. Kosovo and Diego Garcia – both of which house large and very secretive American military bases – if not some of the other locations, may well still be open for torture business. The same for the Guantánamo Base in Cuba.
Moreover, the Executive Order referred to, number 13491, issued January 22, 2009, “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”, leaves a major loophole. It states repeatedly that humane treatment, including the absence of torture, is applicable only to prisoners detained in an “armed conflict”. Thus, torture by Americans outside an environment of “armed conflict” is not explicitly prohibited. But what about torture within an environment of “counter-terrorism”?
The Executive Order required the CIA to use only the interrogation methods outlined in a revised Army Field Manual. However, using the Army Field Manual as a guide to prisoner treatment and interrogation still allows solitary confinement, perceptual or sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, the induction of fear and hopelessness, mind-altering drugs, environmental manipulation such as temperature and noise, and stress positions.
After Panetta was questioned by a Senate panel, the New York Times wrote that he had “left open the possibility that the agency could seek permission to use interrogation methods more aggressive than the limited menu that President Obama authorized under new rules … Mr. Panetta also said the agency would continue the Bush administration practice of ‘rendition’ – picking terrorism suspects off the street and sending them to a third country. But he said the agency would refuse to deliver a suspect into the hands of a country known for torture or other actions ‘that violate our human values’.”
The last sentence is of course childishly absurd. The countries chosen to receive rendition prisoners were chosen precisely because they were willing and able to torture them.
No official in the Bush and Obama administrations has been punished in any way for torture or other war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and the other countries they waged illegal war against. And, it could be added, no American bankster has been punished for their indispensable role in the world-wide financial torture they inflicted upon us all beginning in 2008. What a marvelously forgiving land is America. This, however, does not apply to Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, or Chelsea Manning.
In the last days of the Bush White House, Michael Ratner, professor at Columbia Law School and former president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, pointed out:
The only way to prevent this from happening again is to make sure that those who were responsible for the torture program pay the price for it. I don’t see how we regain our moral stature by allowing those who were intimately involved in the torture programs to simply walk off the stage and lead lives where they are not held accountable.
I’d like at this point to once again remind my dear readers of the words of the “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”, which was drafted by the United Nations in 1984, came into force in 1987, and ratified by the United States in 1994. Article 2, section 2 of the Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”
Such marvelously clear, unequivocal, and principled language, to set a single standard for a world that makes it increasingly difficult for one to feel proud of humanity.
The Convention Against Torture has been and remains the supreme law of the land. It is a cornerstone of international law and a principle on a par with the prohibition against slavery and genocide.
“Mr. Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States.” – United States Attorney General Eric Holder, July 26, 2013
John Brennan, appointed by President Obama in January 2013 to be Director of the CIA, has defended “rendition” as an “absolutely vital tool”; and stated that torture had produced “life saving” intelligence.
Obama had nominated Brennan for the CIA position in 2008, but there was such an outcry in the human-rights community over Brennan’s apparent acceptance of torture, that Brennan withdrew his nomination. Barack Obama evidently learned nothing from this and appointed the man again in 2013.
During Cold War One, a common theme in the rhetoric was that the Soviets tortured people and detained them without cause, extracted phony confessions, and did the unspeakable to detainees who were helpless against the full, heartless weight of the Communist state. As much as any other evil, torture differentiated the bad guys, the Commies, from the good guys, the American people and their government. However imperfect the US system might be – we were all taught – it had civilized standards that the enemy rejected.
Just because you have a right to do something does not make it right.
The city of Detroit in recent months has been shutting off the supply of water to city residents who have not paid their water bills. This action affects more than 40% of the customers of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, bringing great inconvenience and threats to the health and sanitation of between 200 and 300 thousand residents. Protests have of course sprung up in the city, with “Water is a human right!” as a leading theme.
Who can argue with that? Well, neo-conservatives and other true believers in the capitalist system who maintain that if you receive the benefit of a product or service, you pay for it. What could be simpler? What are you, some kind of socialist?
For those of you who have difficulty believing that an American city could be so insensitive, allow me to remind you of some history.
On December 14, 1981 a resolution was proposed in the United Nations General Assembly which declared that “education, work, health care, proper nourishment, national development are human rights”. Notice the “proper nourishment”. The resolution was approved by a vote of 135-1. The United States cast the only “No” vote.
A year later, December 18, 1982, an identical resolution was proposed in the General Assembly. It was approved by a vote of 131-1. The United States cast the only “No” vote.
The following year, December 16, 1983, the resolution was again put forth, a common practice at the United Nations. This time it was approved by a vote of 132-1. There’s no need to tell you who cast the sole “No” vote.
These votes took place under the Reagan administration.
Under the Clinton administration, in 1996, a United Nations-sponsored World Food Summit affirmed the “right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food”. The United States took issue with this, insisting that it does not recognize a “right to food”. Washington instead championed free trade as the key to ending the poverty at the root of hunger, and expressed fears that recognition of a “right to food” could lead to lawsuits from poor nations seeking aid and special trade provisions.
The situation of course did not improve under the administration of George W. Bush. In 2002, in Rome, world leaders at another UN-sponsored World Food Summit again approved a declaration that everyone had the right to “safe and nutritious food”. The United States continued to oppose the clause, again fearing it would leave them open to future legal claims by famine-stricken countries.
I’m waiting for a UN resolution affirming the right to oxygen.
- See various examples at RT.com, such as “Jen Psaki’s most embarrassing fails, most entertaining grillings”, or simply search the site for “Ukraine Jen Psaki”
- Congressional Record (House of Representatives), May 12, 1966, pp. 9977-78, reprint of an article by Morley Safer of CBS News
- “Letter dated 22 July 2014 from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General”, released by the UN 24 July, Document No. A/68/954-S/2014/524
- “Pre-WWIII German Pilot Shocker, MH17 ‘Not Hit By Missile’”, Before It’s News, July 31 2014
- Associated Press, August 4, 2014
- Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2009
- New York Times, February 6, 2009
- Associated Press, November 17, 2008
- Associated Press, November 26, 2008
- Washington Post, November 18, 1996
- Reuters news agency, June 10, 2002
Now that I’m back here in America after personally observing Syria’s recent presidential elections, I’ve been totally amazed at some of the fabrications, gross exaggerations and out-right lies that my country’s mainstream media has come up with regarding these vote results.
“Election fraud in Syria!” the newspapers cry over and over again. “Assad forces Syrians to vote for him! The elections were coerced!” plus many many other words to that effect. And even President Obama jumped on the band wagon — after even he himself has committed election fraud of a sort, having run on a ticket of peace and more jobs and then giving us war and no jobs instead. To say nothing of when G.W. Bush stole the Florida and Ohio elections. Twice!
Well. I am here to tell you that what they are saying about the Syrian elections is just so much bull dookie. And how do I know? I was there. In Syria. They weren’t. Eye-witness accounts always trump outsourced fabrications. Hopefully.
And so in the name of setting the record straight, I’ve decided to type up all of my various 50 pages of notes that I took over there in order to show you, step by step, minute by minute, what actually happened over in Syria — to me personally.
This eye-witness account is going to be a long read — but an accurate one. Some good stuff happened. And some bad stuff. And some fun stuff too (fun stuff in a war zone? Huh?) But I dare you to read it. And if you do, I’m sure you will find that it will be just like you came along to Syria with me.
Here is the link.
PS: How much do you know about America’s new “Army of One”? It’s just not your father’s Army any more. Or even your son’s (or your daughter’s). The new U.S. Army appears to have gone totally mercenary — and its new source of recruits goes way far beyond just hiring some Blackwater guys sporting AK-47s or a Bangladeshi kitchen crew.
Under America’s new rules of war, recruiters don’t have offices on Main Street USA any more. Instead they have offices in poverty-stricken countries like Chechnya, Afghanistan, Somalia and South Sudan — any godforsaken hell-hole where there is over 50% employment. “Wanna interesting job with good pay,” American recruiters whisper into future soldiers’ ears. But the good pay these recruiters are offering is this: When these new soldiers come home in a box, their families might possibly be given burial expenses.
And, trust me, these new recruits are a whole different breed from your traditional G.I. Joe. They are angry. They are far from home. They have had a grueling hand-to-mouth childhood. Many of them are wingnut religious fanatics who think that the Bible and the Koran are all about slaughter and vengeance, not compassion and justice. And they truly do not care who they kill.
And did I already mention that these new recruits work for cheap? No need for pensions plans or VA hospitals or none of that other slacker stuff for them. These guys are the ultimate outsourcing/cheap labor Republican wet dream.
Too bad that the neo-Nazi blood-thirsty recruits that Wall Street and War Street have hired in Ukraine are refusing to work as cheaply as the ones that they send to Syria.
However, thanks to this new recruiting policy, no one back home in America whines and bellyaches any more because their sons and daughters have been killed while defending America’s military-industrial complex’s oil either. This is a win-win situation for American war mongers. The Bush dynasty and Mr. Cheney must be ecstatic right now. But Eisenhower must be rolling over in his grave.
In addition, these new fanatical terrorist jihadi wingnut recruits are actually really really good at doing what they have come to love best: Killing and looting. They just took over Mosul and Tikrit in Iraq, no small feat. And they have been driving Syria bananas over the last three years, like so many psychotic bedbugs. Forget the Marines! These new recruits are always Semper Fi — to whoever pays them peanuts to behead civilians and rape women. And Americans like you and me are paying billions to keep these wannabe butchers in the field.
Welcome to the new “Army of One”.
PPS: Perhaps I may be wrong about all those crazy-eyed jihadis and wingnut foreign fighters earning almost nothing in their American paychecks. I just read an article about how ISIS (the main jihadi gang of thugs operating in Syria) has pretty much sacked a lot of Syria’s wealth.
Basically ISIS has just swooped in and looted Syria like so many pirates — and now, with American and Saudi help, it is also looting Iraq too. Let me make one thing clear: These barbarians do not want to start an Islamic civil society in the Middle East. They just want to plunder. “Argh.”
According to Alakbar English, “ISIS currently controls many [oil] fields and is battling for control for more fields still. According to al-Nusra sources, one oil well south of Raqqa brings in up to $1.3 million per day, while other fields in and around Raqqa like Zamla, al-Tabaqa, and Kuniko bring in $500,000 per day, in addition to unknown revenues from the Jazal and Shaer oil fields, and al-Jafra (oil and gas)
“ISIS also profits from thousands of kidnappings and ransoms involving locals and foreigners, including journalists, as well as robbery and looting, including of archaeological sites and factories. For example, ISIS seized control of large factories in Aleppo, including the government-owned railway and cables factory, a batteries factory, and a tractor factory. In some cases, ISIS dismantled and sold their equipment and machinery. Al-Nusra sources put the resulting revenues at $1 million per month.
“In addition, ISIS has taken control of grains and cotton production in the eastern regions. For instance, al-Nusra accuses Amer al-Rafdan, one of the most prominent figures in ISIS, of stealing $5 million worth of cotton in Deir al-Zour alone. Meanwhile, al-Nusra sources say that ISIS has earned more than $25 million from al-Alia grain silos in Al-Hasakah.
“The conflict in Syria has also allowed ISIS to put its hands on a large arsenal of weaponry, consisting of both weapons seized in combat and weapons purchased directly from arms dealers, who are always willing to sell weapons to just about everyone.”
This is just plain scary. This is just like when the barbarians sacked and burned ancient Rome. And now the same Middle Eastern jihadi wingnuts who tried to sack and burn Syria have gone on to sack and burn Mosul and Tikrit too (not to mention Benghazi et al.) And Baghdad is next.
And one election observer I met in Damascus also brought up another good point. “Something about this advance does not add up. How could 1,500 fighters hold a town or a province? How come American satellites did not see this coming? Major advances like that are not easily done.” Not unless America and Saudi Arabia are offering up the technology and footing the bill. Duh.
Wall Street and War Street should be ashamed for supporting these kinds of hoodlums. And what if they come over here to sack and burn us next? “Sorry, I plan to be out of town that weekend,” just isn’t gonna wash. But, oops, too late now. The FBI has already claimed that Saudi and Chechen barbarians have already been active in Boston and New York.
These pirating wingnuts in ISIS are psychotic. The American military-industrial complex may think that their pirate crews in the Middle East are controllable — but, guys, this is not Halloween. You are playing with fire.
While staying here in Damascus, I have heard the same thing said again and again from a whole array of sources, including foreign journalists, Syrian citizens and even Christian nuns. “This war on Syria is being fought by Al Qaeda operatives, fanatic Islamist jihadis, foreign fighters, terrorists and mercenaries for hire. And they are being financed by American money and given American weapons.” Yikes!
What this means to me personally is that my very own head (which I have actually become quite attached to) could possibly be blown off at any minute by fanatics and/or weapons bought and paid for by my very own tax dollars. Now that is a really confusing thought.
“War by proxy” is becoming a more and more frequently-used phrase here in Syria. The American military-industrial complex is now out-sourcing their war.
But, hey, that’s better than having American soldiers over here fighting and dying for Wall Street and War Street like they did in Iraq. Our soldiers’ jobs are being shipped overseas? That’s one example of outsourcing that is just fine by me.
Except, in the words of one local college professor I interviewed the other day, “We Syrians are fighting dirty enemies. This is a dirty war. The jihadists attack hospitals, power plants and schools. But the Syrian people are fighting back.” The professor also mentioned the discovery of vast new oil fields off the Syrian coast. And he found it ironic that the very first place that the jihadis, inquisionists, Taliban wannabes and Al Qaeda death squads attacked was in this oil-rich region. The original peaceful protests by Syrians themselves — before the Taliban wannabes arrived in force from overseas and turned Syria into a slaughterhouse — took place in Daraa, not in the oil fields. Hmmm.
“I also find it ironic that Americans are citing democracy as their primary reason for attacking Syria — while their biggest ally in this region is Saudi Arabia, a known dictatorship.” Not to mention the doubts that everyone has about American elections. Take Diebold for instance. And Florida and Ohio and that weird Supreme Court ruling that forced GWB down our throats. And voter ID cards and 92-year-old women turned away from the polls. But, hey, America is famous for exporting hypocrisy. Get over it, prof.
In Sweida, I talked with a young woman who spoke English and she said, “Living in Syria is like living in one of those Hollywood horror movies.” Slasher flicks. “These terrorists come here and they bomb our hospitals and schools, kill and rape women and children and even eat our flesh like cannibals. We Syrians just want this horror movie to stop.” And she was proud of Bashar Assad for standing up to these wannabe Freddy Kruegers. And most of the Syrians I have talked with feel the same way. “And you would too — if it happened to you.”
And it did happen to me too — sort of. I can hear the shelling outside Damascus going on night and day. Nerve-racking. I almost felt like a heroic citizen of London during the Blitz.
Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, has been playing the Great Game of political chess in this region like he is a grand master — and perhaps that’s why the American military-industrial complex hates him so much. But Syrians love him. They just do. It’s a Syrian thing. Remember what Maya Angelou said in “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings”? How she was being raped as a child and prayed for the Green Lantern to save her? Well President Assad, like it or not, is Syria’s Green Lantern.
Assad might have been a bit to enthusiastic in the past about suppressing dissidence. But please be aware that the inquisionist crazies and Al Qaeda freaks that have tried to invade Syria are so very much worse. Syrians weren’t totally behind Assad before the invasion — but they certainly are now, thanks to America’s military-industrial complex. Eisenhower warned us about the complex. He shoulda warned the Syrians too.
The only thing that I can truly fault Assad on presently are all those all-pervasive giant posters of him that you see everywhere — on buildings, in shops, on cars and buses, on T-shirts and even in elevators. Everywhere. He should stop doing that. He’s not just some Ken doll or even the next Brad Pitt. He’s a political genius who is trying save Syria from the bad guys. He should have understood by now that he has found a place in the hearts of the Syrians and just leave it at that.
PS: Observing the elections was fun. It was like attending a country-wide block party. Or, as Mother Agnes-Mariam said to me in an interview at the Dama Rose Hotel, “It would be impossible to coerce that many Syrians to vote out of fear. People actually went out from rebel-held territory to vote. Even the rebels voted.” So. Who are you going to believe about the authenticity of the Syrian elections? Mother Agnes-Mariam who said that they were valid — or Wall Street and War Street, who claim they were a fraud?
Are you going to believe the same people who lied to us about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction – or a mother-superior Christian nun?
PPS: In Homs, those nasty American-sponsored jihadists blew up a historic old Christian church — only to find an even older church lay buried under the newer church’s foundations. Built in 59 AD, this older church might actually been visited by the Apostles and Saint Paul himself. And these Taliban wannabes were happily trying to blow this older church up too. But apparently they got distracted by trying to break up the bones of some nearby Christian saints’ relics — and the old church was saved!
PPPS: I never did get to meet President Assad. “Apparently he has to keep his eye out for being assassinated by drones,” one journalist explained to me as to why Assad hadn’t come to the Dama Rose hotel. But still…I could have worn my cool “Berkeley High Water Polo Team” T-shirt that I had swiped from my daughter Ashley. I’m sure Assad would have been quite impressed.
How corrupt has America become? It has become as corrupt as globalism itself, a byproduct in international greed, where the gutting of good paying jobs has relegated the United States to being nothing more than a third rate country with a first rate war machine. An essential aspect to what we regard as the American economy today is its reliance on fraud and corruption, from the banking sector to corporations exporting and outsourcing good jobs with the help of a political class that is not only fraudulent but treasonous to the extreme, they are driving America towards an abyss that it will not come back from.
Waging international war for resources under false pretenses is a globalists wet dream, and under the cloak of the nefarious “war on terror,” multinational defense and security firms have made trillions of dollars over the last decade. They destroy so they can rebuild, and all the human collateral damage is just an unsightly part of doing business.
Another perverse aspect to globalism is massive illegal immigration under the disreputable banner of multiculturalism, for some shady businesses in America the profit margins can increase exponentially by hiring illegal workers over Americans.
Corporations hire illegal workers to keep wages low, and benefits to an absolute minimum. Americans are shunned for unquestioning cheep labor, and governments allow and foster this fraud to the detriment of many Americans. Some Americans, if you can still call them Americans, profit greatly in this perverse atmosphere of fraud. The Federal government consistently places the interests of illegal aliens and businesses who hire them over and above American workers and the ‘rule of law’.
A case in point is Oklahoma, specifically Tulsa, Oklahoma, which has become a hotbed of greed and corruption. Tulsa is what some call a sanctuary city, where tens of thousands of illegal workers are in jobs that Americans are obviously not occupying. This ugly fact is good for some corporations and businesses, expanding their profits by paying undocumented workers low wages with no real benefits. What does it cost the American tax payers when these illegal workers have babies and use the medical industry with false identities, who foots the medical bills? It defiantly is not businesses or the governments.
Another case in point is a company called Name Brand Clothing; based in Tulsa, it has stores in six states, the company sells salvage clothing at 75 percent off retail and it prefers to hire illegal workers instead of Americans. It is the proverbial ‘poster child’ for corporate greed and corruption in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Why does it hire illegal workers? Well, first of all, it is about greed, making some people rich at the expense of everyone else. The managers at Name Brand Clothing generate outrageous bonuses by essentially suppressing wages on all hourly paid employees year after year. They choose illegal workers because illegal’s do not complain about being stuck on minimum wage for years on end with no real medical benefits and no paid holidays.
The owners and managers of Name Brand Clothing knowingly and willingly submit false identifications and Social Security Numbers to the IRS and to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, which is of course contrary to both federal and state laws. They have been doing this for over a decade, and they can commit these criminal acts because Federal and State governments are currently as corrupt and dishonest as companies like Name Brand Clothing.
Veracity Voice interviewed a long time worker at Name Brands Clothing for an inside examination into the workings of corporate greed and corruption that currently plagues corporate America.
We are protecting the person’s identity because the person is still currently employed by the company. We will refer to that person as the ‘Employee’.
Veracity Voice: How long have you been working for Name Brands?
Employee: I rather not say exactly since I still work for them, lets just say that I have been employed at Name Brands for about 10 years, give or take a couple of years.
Veracity Voice: What do you do there?
Employee: Again, I rather not say exactly, lets just say I worked in the head office, and have seen the corruption first hand.
Veracity Voice: Why have you decided to speak out at this time, and not before?
Employee: Actually I did in a way speak about this before; I wrote a letter to the Sheriff’s department, and the FBI about 4 years ago. I also wrote letters too FOX 23 and Channel Six News, concerning the outlandish fraud and corruption happening at Name Brands, and absolutely nothing came of it. It seems that it is not PC to talk about this issue in Tulsa; the mainstream media won’t touch it. That is why I am talking with Veracity Voice; the only outlet whistleblowers have today in America is in the alternative media.
Veracity Voice: Are you saying that the mainstream media is covering it up?
Employee: In a way they are by not reporting all the law breaking going around Tulsa as far as hiring illegal workers by businesses, they certainly seem to be part of the club, and will not rock the boat.
Veracity Voice: What Club?
Employee: Corrupt businesses, Local, State and Federal governments that allow the criminal behavior, the police departments that will not enforce the law and mainstream media that will not report any of it. It is one big corrupt club.
Veracity Voice: What kind of fraud and corruption have you seen at Name Brands?
Employee: Well, you can compare the greed and corruption at Name Brands along the lines of what’s happening in Wall Street and the financial system, some people are profiting greatly through outright fraud and thievery at the expense of everyone else, and government is engaged in helping the criminality.
At Name Brands, the fraud is done by submitting false ID’s and Social Security Numbers (SSN) to the IRS. I’ve seen with my own eyes management turn away American workers seeking work then turn around and hire illegals. The main reason they do this, Is because the illegals are content to work for minimum wage with no real benefits. Essentially, they keep everyone’s wages stagnant except for management.
Veracity Voice: What do you mean except for management?
Employee: The lower the costs for running the business, the higher the bonuses for management, its classic corporate greed. Management at Name Brands make large sums of money in the form of bonuses while all other workers do not receive real medical benefits or paid holidays except for two, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and those two paid holidays are highly conditional.
Veracity Voice: Highly conditional?
Employee: Yes, two weeks prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas if an employee is late for work for any reason Name Brands will not pay you for the holiday.
Veracity Voice: You’re kidding right?
Employee: No, unfortunately I’m not kidding. At Name Brands it’s a culture of nepotism and greed, like the saying goes “there is no honor among thieves” there is no honesty, no real integrity, just godless corruption. There is one woman, who has worked for the company for 17 years, and she has only received one 5 cent raise not counting minimum wage increases. It’s outright disgusting how they treat workers.
Veracity Voice: Why does she stay?
Employee: Well, some people have problems, and finding other employment can be difficult.
Veracity Voice: What kind of problems?
Employee: All sorts of problems like emotional and mental problems, in some cases drug problems, other cases workers being ex-convicts, finding employment can be difficult. Like some parasite, companies like Name Brands like to take advantage of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society, that’s why they like illegals; they can thieve from them without any complaint, protected by corrupt governments. Most self-respecting Americans will not work for a company that treats hourly workers like trash.
Veracity Voice: Let’s get back to the fraud, how many illegals are they employing?
Employee: At TPC which is Name Brands production center in North Tulsa, they usually have around 80 illegals working there, and at their store in South Tulsa there are about 10.
Veracity Voice: That many?
Employee: Yes, it’s absolutely incredulous and in your face. It is both frustrating and depressing at the same time to see this traitorous conduct on a daily basis. It is time for Americans to take a stand against these globalists that are profiting through corruption.
Veracity Voice: Who are the people that run Name Brands Clothing in Tulsa?
Employee: As far as I know, Rusty Gaddy is the CEO, Jim Stevenson and Jim Breese are VP’s. At TPC there is Reid Lewellin and Jason Garman, both managers, and Brent Daily is the manager at the Tulsa Store, they all commit fraud on a daily bases. They do not care for America or Americans, all they care about is increasing their bonuses at the expense of everyone else, and what really bothers me is that the governments, both at the local and federal level engage in the same fraud, they do absolutely nothing about it. The Federal government knows very well that Name Brands has for well over a decade submitted thousands of false ID’s and SSN’s. This is criminal behavior at both the local and Federal level when the government chooses not to enforce its own laws.
Veracity Voice: What do you think should be done with these people?
Employee: These people are more than thieving fraudsters, they are traitors to the country and its people, so I say arrest Rusty Gaddy, arrest Jim Breese, arrest Jason Garman and Reid Lewellin, and arrest all of the crooks that run the criminal enterprise called Name Brands Clothing. These people are also very cowardly, if they find out that any employee is against their corruption they will slander him or her with false accusations, they will make up stuff to make that employee look bad. The two most egregious slanderers at Name Brands are Jason Garman and Jim Breese, they will slander and harass you to the point of desperation, and people will quit their jobs because of the continual harassment.
Veracity Voice: Job harassment is a crime.
Employee: Yes, and they get away with that too.
Veracity Voice: Talk a little bit about the one man that has used more than one ID to work at Name Brands.
Employee: Ya, he has three different aliases. I do not know which one is his real name, all I know is that Name Brands went out and got him a new fake ID, when they found out that the old ID the man was using belonged to a another man.
Veracity Voice: Where did they get the fake ID?
Employee: I do not know for sure, I heard that they went to some website run by the Federal government, and it provided Name Brands with a fake ID.
Veracity Voice: What do you think should be done with companies that choose to break the law as a regular part of doing business?
Employee: Again, arrest and prosecute the criminals, if law enforcement will not do their jobs, then Americans need to start fighting back by boycotting corporations like Name Brands that fragrantly and openly break the law. I mean these people act like it’s the turn of the 20th century or something; these anti-American globalists – at the end of the day that’s what these people really are – Name Brands conducts business like multinationals that run sweatshops all over the third world. They help create the culture of illegal behavior, by giving employment to illegals, which allows the illegals to stay in the city, drive vehicles without drivers licenses and insurance, use emergency Heath Services at taxpayer cost, they currently function ‘above the law’ and all accountability. Real Americans need to stand up against these criminals before they completely destroy this country.
Veracity Voice: Many in the business sector and in the political establishment will argue that the illegals fill jobs that Americans will not do, this reasoning is also pushed by the mainstream media, what do you say to this reasoning?
Employee: I think it is a false argument, I’ve seen with my own eyes Name Brands turn away Americans willing to work, in some cases desperate for a job, they are turned away in favor of hiring illegals. So, that kind of reasoning is nothing more than an illusion.
Veracity Voice: Some will charge you with racism for holding these views, how do you respond to this kind of slander?
Employee: It has been my experience that those that accuse people of being racist are in fact racists themselves. They falsely accuse others of being racist so they could push their nefarious agenda by smearing the reputations of those that are opposed to their mendacity and corruption. The charge of racism holds no water in the case of illegal immigration.
Veracity Voice: Why don’t you look for another job?
Employee: I am its not easy finding work these days. And if I quit, I probably will not be able to collect unemployment benefits if I can’t find a job.
Veracity Voice: Why?
Employee: Because Name Brands will fight against your right to obtain unemployment insurance, its company policy. They will send their managers to testify against your eligibility for unemployment benefits, and they will without any hesitation, lie and malign anyone applying for the benefits.
Veracity Voice: They have done this before, entered false information against former employees to the Unemployment Bureau?
Employee: Yes, many times, and they get away with that too, companies like Name Brands function ‘above the law,’ and it must stop now.
Veracity Voice: Thank you for your time.
Employee: You’re welcome.
The massive unrestrained flux in illegal immigration has changed the demographics of Tulsa, forcing many businesses to provide bilingual services, including city and state government services at great cost to the taxpayer. It is the ongoing balkanization of the city where east Tulsa is now known as little Mexico, a criminal and negative phenomenon that is currently occurring in many cities across the nation.
The globalists put their plan into motion decades ago. The proper meaning of the headline is not that China is an economic miracle, but that the United States, systematically stripped of its industrial might, is destined to fall even further. The Chinese economy is a haven of direct transnational integration. The outsourcing of manufacturing from domestic capacity is not solely a response of cheaper economic cost of goods production. No, the underlying reason for the migration of product assemblage is to weaken an independent American economy.
The news of this long awaited milestone, primarily announced in the foreign press, almost has a ring of glee. The Guardian reports that China surpasses US as world’s largest trading nation.
“China’s annual trade in goods passed the $4tn (£2.4tn) mark for the first time last year according to official data, after exports from the world’s second largest economy rose 7.9% to $2.21tn and imports rose 7.3% to $1.95tn.
As a result total trade rose 7.6% over the year to $4.16tn. The US is yet to publish its 2013 trade figures, but with trade totaling $3.5tn in the first 11 months of the year, it is unlikely to beat China.”
“It’s always been a matter of time until China surpasses the US … and there are good reasons to believe that China is likely to retain this pole position for the foreseeable future.
“The trade figures look very healthy and the factors underpinning them are structurally sustainable. It is hard to see them being reversed significantly, at least in the short to medium term.”
Contrast this viewpoint with the assessment out of Marketwatch.
“And let’s not forget: The economic data out of Chinese agencies has long been seen as a bit questionable. Even the country’s own statistics office has said it is trying to clean up the inaccuracies. As our own Michael Kitchen points out, trade data has come under particular suspicion, as businesses disguise some money flows as trade to try to bypass controls.”Of course, the U.S. press continues to make excuses that conceal the betrayal of American trade policy goals and practices. These are the same business journalists that repeat the statistical figures coming out of recent administrations that need revisions, when caught in dramatic errors of omission or deception.
Proponents of a structured destruction of America’s economy, laud international trade, as long as it slanted to eliminate domestic survival and reduces our standard of living. This lunacy, stated in Benefits of International Trade, does not square with the aftermath of a trade deficit that has become a permanent fixture.
Some important benefits of International Trade
- Enhances the domestic competitiveness
- Takes advantage of international trade technology
- Increases sales and profits
- Extend sales potential of the existing products
- Maintain cost competitiveness in your domestic market
- Enhance potential for expansion of your business
- Gains a global market share
- Reduce dependence on existing markets
- Stabilize seasonal market fluctuations
Now examine the real significance of this “Free Trade” globalist plan for America.
1. How can domestic competitiveness improve, when entire industries move offshore?
2. Where is the advantage in developing new technology domestically and transferring it to foreign plants, even if owned by “so called” U.S. national companies?
3. Increase sales and profits, booked by foreign subsidiaries, means that the capital is not repatriated back.
4. If products produced domestically, shipped, and sold to overseas markets, there would be a valid benefit. However, the direction is in reverse.
5. Maintaining cost competitiveness translates into closing domestic facilities.
6. Expansion of business means look overseas because domestic consumers have less money to spend.
7. Oh yes, the holy grail of market share, means last company standing, since domestic markets have reduced sales.
8. Yep, now that existing domestic markets are sinking, move your boat to a different ocean.
9. Seasonal fluctuations means that booms are past profit spikes, the new normal is a perpetual dip.
The Chinese perspective as reported in China Daily from Wang Haifeng, a researcher with the Institute for International Economic Research at the National Development and Reform Commission, needs especial emphasis.
“The size of the value of the trade in goods tells just one side of the story. The other side is that China’s export competitiveness, as well as the competitiveness of its trade structure, is far behind the US. The competitive advantage of US exports centers on its technology, quality and brands, with added-value being very significant. China’s export prices are much cheaper on average and a large part of its exports are from OEMs (original equipment manufacturers),” Wang said.
When an economic system intentionally transfers their technological advantages, inventions and intellectual edge to a foreign country so that companies can avoid domestic taxation or onerous regulation, the future adverse and inevitable consequences with such relocations, are preordained.
According to World Bank data, in 2011, the US GDP reached $15 trillion while China totaled $7.3 trillion. Just how long will it take this gap to narrow and surpass the U.S. GDP?
If a comparison of gambling revenue is a leading indicator, just look at Chinese Territory Broaden Lead as Global Casino Capital. “It now takes Macau’s gamblers just one day to wager what’s bet in an entire week on the Las Vegas Strip.” To make thing even worse, Nevada’s biggest casinos lose $1.35B in 2013.
This example demonstrates the extravagant cash flow and disposable income that is circulating in China. Much of this opulence comes from the pocketbooks of struggling Americans, who buy essential or sustainable goods that have a made in China label.
Tech firms transfer the secrets of their products and software to their Chinese partners as the U.S. government subsidized consumer or the remnant middle class, just deepen this destructive cycle. This absurd economic bargain drives the wealth disparity to irrational levels. That is exactly the objective of the globalists, and the rest of us are mere spectators as the Chinese laugh at our stupidity.
The latest proof of the Globalist plan for total economic imprisonment is available for scrutiny. Thanks to whistleblowers, the clandestine trade missions of international corporatists must contend with public blowback. Recently, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text, Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The TPP Agreement along with the Table of Contents and supportive documentation provides the evidence.
When vastly diverse segments of political perspective unify against this assault on economic self-determination, challenging the very exercise of such agreements is in order. In the article, Obama’s Dangerous International Deal, a libertarian viewpoint argues and warns, “The USTR acknowledges the existence of 29 chapters under negotiation. Only five of these chapters deal directly with trade. The other 24 aim to influence many issues, such as food and environmental standards, intellectual property, and pharmaceutical formularies.”
Perennial progressive Jim Hightower writes in an Alternet article, A Corporate Coup in Disguise.
“What if our national leaders told us that communities across America had to eliminate such local programs as Buy Local, Buy American, Buy Green, etc. to allow foreign corporations to have the right to make the sale on any products purchased with our tax dollars? This nullification of our people’s right to direct expenditures is just one of the horror stories in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).”.
From the Voice of Russia, not usually known for defending transnational cartels, is an observation that you are not hearing in the financial press, Obama attempting to ram through unconstitutional secret treaty.
“With the US debt at over $200 trillion dollars and their grasp on control slipping, Obama and the corporations that have taken over the US Government are attempting to do anything they can to cling to power and enslave the populace.
The fact that the heads of the governments who are a party to the TPP, would attempt to sign such an all encompassing treaty without the knowledge of their respective governments and their people is a something unheard of an unprecedented in history.”
If only free enterprise was the standard of economic commerce, instead of the state-fascism that has developed over the years of the “Free Trade” ruse that has destroyed real competition from the financial environment.
Central planning failed miserably in the old Soviet Union, now we are supposed to believe that a corporatist negotiated arrangement with the full backing and force of government bureaucracies is a superior method for prosperity.
Backers of the TPP pact would have you believe that it is a trade agreement. Nile Bowie in an OpEd, TPP: From corporation personhood to corporate nationhood, has it correct.
“Although proponents of the TPP may claim that its focus is to help the economies of signatory countries create comprehensive market access, eliminate barriers to trade, improve labor rights and encourage environmental protection, every indication suggests that the wide-ranging agreement intends to maximize dramatically corporate revenues at the expense of public health and safety, civil liberties and national sovereignty.”
From the left leaning Huffington Post, Bruce E. Levine interjects a political aspect in
“The truth today, however, is that the United States is neither a democracy nor a republic. Americans are ruled by a corporatocracy: a partnership of “too-big-to-fail” corporations, the extremely wealthy elite, and corporate-collaborator government officials.”
World economic agreements vary little based upon partisan political ideology. The corporate business outsourcing strategy and the offshoring of jobs are the inevitable results of every phony trade deal enacted for decades.
The real objective of TPP is to codify in law and treaty the special treatment that favored industries or well-connected interests exert upon the global economy.
When monopolies eliminate competition, the marketplace suffers a crowding out of main street businesses. With the demise of familiar business enterprises, the multinationals expand without hindrance. Entrepreneurial small business is seldom in a position to fill the void left when the muscle of international finance decides to control a business sector.
Setting environmental standards, intellectual property, and pharmaceutical formularies, behind closed doors endangers the public. Imposing rabid global warming penalties, perpetual expanding of copyright privileges and banning natural holistic supplements and vitamins, all intend to strip choice from consumers or to burden the population with irrational tax obligations.
In an outstanding account, by Don Quijones his article, The Global Corporatocracy is Almost Fully Operational, provided the essential context and ultimate consequence.
“The new generation of trade treaties goes far beyond what was envisaged for NAFTA and GATT. What they ultimately seek is to transfer what little remains of our national sovereignty to the headquarters of the world’s largest multinational conglomerates. In short, it is the ultimate coup de grâce of the ultimate coup d’état. Not a single shot will be fired, yet almost all power will be seized and transferred into private hands — and all of it facilitated by our elected representatives who, by signing these treaties, will be permanently abdicating their responsibilities to represent and protect the interests of their voting constituencies.”
If you have the courage to face the dire implications of this globalist scheme, view the video TPP & One World Government. The bare honesty may be too much for the “PC” crowd.
Advocates of a merchant based economy are inherently in opposition to globalism. Yet, this round of integration under cartel syndicate governance is part of an end game for world economic consolidation. The Corporatocracy that rules over purported democratic countries is the real power overseer that maintains the indentured servant plantation. The comptrollers of the credit dictatorship maintain the financial system for the ultimate controllers.
In the next episode, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is analyzed. Complementing the TPP, both accords will place the yoke of even greater mastery over the economies of once sovereign nations.
After five years of Obama’s economic recovery, the American people are as gloomy as ever. According to a Bloomberg National Poll that was released this week, fewer people “are optimistic about the job market” or “the housing market” or “anticipate improvement in the economy’s strength over the next year.” Also, only 38 percent think that President Obama is doing enough “to make people feel more economically secure.” Worst of all, Bloomberg pollsters found that 68 percent of interviewees thought the country was “headed in the wrong direction”.
So why is everyone so miserable? Are things really that bad or have we turned into a nation of crybabies?
The reason people are so pessimistic is because the economy is still in the doldrums and no one’s doing anything about it. That’s it in a nutshell. Survey after survey have shown that what people really care about is jobs, but no one in Washington is listening. In fact, jobs aren’t even on Obama’s radar. Just look at his record. He’s worse than any president in modern times. Take a look at this graph.
More than 600,000 good-paying public sector jobs have been slashed during Obama’s tenure as president. That’s worse than Bush, worse than Clinton, worse than Reagan, worse than anyone, except maybe Hoover. Is that Obama’s goal, to one-up Herbert Hoover?
Obama has done everything he could to make the lives of working people as wretched as possible. Do you remember the Card Check sellout or the Wisconsin “flyover” when Governor Scott Walker was eviscerating collective bargaining rights for public sector unions and Obama blew kisses from Airforce One on his way to a campaign speech in Minnesota? Nice touch, Barry. Or what about the “Job’s Czar” fiasco, when Obama appointed GE’s outsourcing mandarin Jeffrey Immelt to the new position just in time for GE to lay off another 950 workers at their locomotive plant in Pennsylvania. That’s tells you what Obama really thinks about labor.
What Obama cares about is trimming the deficits and keeping Wall Street happy. That’s it. But the people who elected him don’t want him to cut the deficits, because cutting the deficits prolongs the slump and costs jobs. What they want is more stimulus, so people can find work, feed their families, and have some basic security. That’s what they want, but they’re not going to get it from Obama because he doesn’t work for them. He works for the stuffed shirts who flank him on the golf course at Martha’s Vineyard or the big shots who chow down with him at his $100,000-per-plate campaign jamborees. That’s his real constituency. Everyone else can take a flying fu** for all he cares.
Then there’s the Fed. Most people don’t think the Fed’s goofy programs work at all. They think it’s all a big ruse. They think Bernanke is just printing money and giving it to his criminal friends on Wall Street (which he is, of course.) Have you seen this in theNew York Times:
“Only one in three Americans has confidence in the Federal Reserve’s ability to promote economic growth, while little more than a third think the Fed is spinning its wheels, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll….
The Fed has been trying for five years to speed the nation’s recovery from the Great Recession by reducing borrowing costs to the lowest levels on record….
Most Americans, it would appear, remain either unaware or unpersuaded.” (“Majority of Americans Doubt Benefits of Fed Stimulus“, New York Times)
“Unpersuaded”? Are you kidding me? Most Americans think they’re getting fleeced; unpersuaded has nothing to do with it. They’re not taken in by the QE-mumbo jumbo. They may not grasp the finer-points, but they get the gist of it, which is that the Fed has run up a big $3 trillion bill every penny of which has gone to chiseling shysters on Wall Street. They get that! Everyone gets that! Sure, if you want to get into the weeds about POMO or the byzantine aspects of the asset-purchase program, you might detect a bit of confusion, but –I assure you–the average Joe knows what’s going on. He knows all this quantitative jabberwocky is pure bunkum and that he’s getting schtooped bigtime. You don’t need a sheepskin from Princeton to know when you’ve been had.
And that’s why everyone is so pessimistic, because they know that the Fed, the administration and the media are all lying to them 24-7. That’s why–as Bloomberg discovered–”Americans are losing faith in the nation’s economic recovery.” Because they don’t see any recovery. As far as they’re concerned, the economy is still in recession. After all, they’re still underwater on their mortgages, Grandpa Jack just took a job at a fast-food joint to pay for his wife’s heart medication, and junior is camped out in the basement until he can get a handle on his $45,000 heap of college loans. So where’s the recovery?
Nobody needs Bloomberg to point out how grim things are for the ordinary people. They see it firsthand every damn day.
Did you catch the news on Wal-Mart this week? It’s another story that helps explain why everyone’s so down-in-the-mouth. Here’s what happened: Wal-Mart’s stock tanked shortly after they announced that their “inventory growth …had outstripped sales gains in the second quarter…. Merchandise has been piling up because consumers have been spending less freely than Wal-Mart projected….” (Bloomberg)
Okay, so the video games and Barbie dolls are piling up to the rafters because part-time wage slaves who typically shop at Wal-Mart are too broke to buy anything but the basic necessities. Is that what we’re hearing?
Indeed. “We are managing our inventory appropriately,” David Tovar, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said today in a telephone interview. “We feel good about our inventory position.”
Sure, you do, Dave. Here’s more from Bloomberg:
“US. chains are already bracing for a tough holiday season, when sales are projected to rise 2.4 percent, the smallest gain since 2009, according to ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based firm. Wal-Mart cut its annual profit forecast after same-store sales fell 0.3 percent in the second quarter. …
Wal-Mart’s order pullback is affecting suppliers in various categories, including general merchandise and apparel, said the supplier, who has worked with Wal-Mart for almost two decades and asked not to be named to protect his relationship with the company. He said he couldn’t recall the retailer ever planning ordering reductions two quarters in advance.” (“Wal-Mart Cutting Orders as Unsold Merchandise Piles Up”, Bloomberg
So we’re back to 2009?
Looks like it. When the nation’s biggest retailer starts trimming its sails, it ripples through the whole industry. It means softer demand, shorter hours, and more layoffs. Get ready for a lean Christmas.
The Walmart story just shows that people are at the end of their rope. For the most part, these are the working poor, the people the Democratic Party threw overboard a couple decades ago when they decided to hop in bed with Wall Street. Now their hardscrabble existence is becoming unbearable; they can’t even scrape together enough cash to shop the discount stores. That means we’re about one step from becoming a nation of dumpster divers. Don’t believe it? Then check out this clip from 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.” (“76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck“, CNN Money)
Savings? What’s that? Do you really think people can save money on $30,000 or $40,000 a year feeding a family of four?
Dream on. Even an unexpected trip to the vet with pet Fido is enough to push the family budget into the red for months to come. Savings? Don’t make me laugh.
The truth is, most people are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. They can’t make ends meet on their crappy wages and they’re too broke to quit. There’s no way out. It’s obvious in all the data. And it’s hurting the economy, too, because spending drives growth, but you can’t spend when you’re busted. Economist Stephen Roach made a good point in a recent article at Project Syndicate. He said, “In the 22 quarters since early 2008, real personal-consumption expenditure, which accounts for about 70% of US GDP, has grown at an average annual rate of just 1.1%, easily the weakest period of consumer demand in the post-World War II era.” (It’s also a) “massive slowdown from the pre-crisis pace of 3.6% annual real consumption growth from 1996 to 2007.” (“Occupy QE“, Stephen S. Roach, Project Syndicate)
So the economy is getting hammered because consumption is down. And working people are getting hammered because jobs are scarce and wages are flat. But we live in the richest country in the world, right?
Right. So what’s wrong with this picture?
The lifeless bodies of Afghan children lay on the ground before their funeral ceremony, after a NATO airstrike killed several Afghan civilians, including ten children – Sunday, April 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Naimatullah Karyab)
An Associated Press photograph brought the horror of little children lying dead outside of their home to an American Audience. At least 10 Afghan children and some of their mothers were struck down by an airstrike on their extended family household by order of President Barack Obama. He probably decided on what his aides describe as the routine weekly “Terror Tuesday” at the White House. On that day, Mr. Obama typically receives the advice about which “militants” should live or die thousands of miles away from drones or aircraft. Even if households far from war zones are often destroyed in clear violation of the laws of war, the president is not deterred.
These Obama airstrikes are launched knowing that very often there is “collateral damage,” that is a form of “so sorry terrorism.” How can the president explain the vaporization of a dozen pre-teen Afghan boys collecting firewood for their families on a hillside? The local spotter-informants must have been disoriented by all those $100 bills in rewards. Imagine a direct strike killing and injuring scores of people in a funeral procession following a previous fatal strike that was the occasion of this processional mourning. Remember the December 2009 Obama strike on an alleged al-Qaida training camp in Yemen, using tomahawk missiles and – get this – cluster bombs, that killed 14 women and 21 children. Again and again “so sorry terrorism” ravages family households far from the battlefields.
If this is a war, why hasn’t Congress declared war under Article 1, Sec. 8 of the U.S. Constitution? The 2001 Congressional Authorization to Use Military Force is not an open-ended authorization for the president. It was restricted to targeting only nations, organizations or persons that are determined to have been implicated in the 9/11 massacres, or harbored complicit organizations or persons.
For several years, White House officials, including ret. General James Jones, have declared that there is no real operational al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan to harbor anyone. The Pakistani Taliban is in conflict with the Pakistani government. The Afghan Taliban is in brutal conflict with the Afghanistan government and wants to expel U.S. forces as their members view occupying-invaders, just as their predecessors did when they expelled the Soviet invaders. The Taliban represent no imminent threat to the U.S.
President Obama’s ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, used to complain to his colleagues about the CIA’s drone attacks saying “he didn’t realize his main job was to kill people.” He knew how such attacks by whining drones, hovering 24/7 over millions of frightened people and their terrified children produce serious backlashes that fester for years.
Even a loyalist such as William M. Daley, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff in 2011, observed that the Obama kill list presents less and less significant pursuits. “One guy gets knocked off, and the guy’s driver, who’s No. 21, becomes 20?” Daley said, describing the internal discussion. “At what point are you just filling the bucket with numbers?”
Yet this unlawful killing by a seemingly obsessed Obama, continues and includes anyone in the vicinity of a “suspect” whose name isn’t even known ( that are called “signature strikes”), or mistakes, like the recent aerial killings of numerous Pakistani soldiers and four Afghan policemen – considered our allies. The drone kill list goes on and on – over 3000 is the official fatality count, not counting injuries.
In a few weeks, The Nation magazine will issue a major report on U.S.-caused civilian casualties in Afghanistan that should add new information.
Now switch the scene. The president, filled with memories of what his secret drone directives as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner have done to so many children, in so many places, traveled on Monday to Newtown, Connecticut for the second time. He commiserated with the parents and relatives of the 20 children and six adults slain by a lone gunman. Here he became the compassionate president, with words and hugs.
What must be going through his mind as he sees the rows of 10 Afghan little children and their parents blown apart in that day’s New York Times? How can the president justify this continued military occupation for what is a civil war? No wonder a majority of the American people want out of Afghanistan, even without a close knowledge of the grisly and ugly things going on there in our name that are feeding the seething hatred of Obama’s war.
Sometime after 2016 when Barack Obama starts writing his lucrative autobiographical recollections, there may be a few pages where he explains how he endured this double life ordering so-called precision attacks that kill many innocent children and their mothers and fathers while mourning domestic mass killings in the U.S. and advocating gun controls. As a constitutional law teacher, he may wonder why there have been no “gun controls” on his lawless, out-of-control presidency and his reckless attacks that only expanded the number of al-Qaeda affiliates wreaking havoc in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, North Africa and elsewhere.
Al-Qaeda of Iraq is now merging with an affiliate called “al-Nusra” in Syria that will give Obama more futile exercises on Terror Tuesdays. The CIA
calls the reaction to such operations “blowback” because the unintended consequences undermine our long-term national security.
Obama is not like the official criminal recidivist, ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, who misses no chance to say he has no regrets. Obama worries even as he greatly escalates the aerial attacks started by George W. Bush. In his State of the Union speech he called for a “legal and policy framework” to guide “our counterterrorism operations,” so that “no one should just take my word that we’re doing things the right way.” Granted, this is a good cover for his derelictions, but it probably reflects that he also needs some restraint. Last year he told CNN it was “something you have to struggle with.”
Not that our abdicatory Congress would ever take him up on his offer for such legal guidance should he ever submit a proposed framework. Nor would Congress move to put an end to secret laws, secret criteria for targeting, indefinite imprisonment, no due process, even for American citizens, secret cover-ups of illegal outsourcing to contracting corporations and enact other preventive reforms.
Mr. Obama recognized in his CNN interview that “it’s very easy to slip into a situation in which you end up bending rules thinking that the ends always justify the means. That’s not who we are as a country.”
Unfortunately, however, that’s what he has done as a president.
Unless the American people come to realize that a president must be subject to the rule of law and our Constitution, our statutes and treaties, every succeeding president will push the deficit-financed lawlessness further until the inevitable blowback day of reckoning. That is the fate of all empires.
Source: Ralph Nader | ICH
When the Corporate Elite tells us we need to be afraid of something, they almost always expect to make some money off our fear.
From the same people who brought us the “Ground Zero Victory Mosque,” FEMA concentration camps, and every single George Soros conspiracy theory, comes a brand new hyper-paranoid threat-to-America’s-sovereignty that, they say, should scare the hell out of all of us.
It goes by the name of Agenda 21, which just so happens to be the title of Glenn Beck’s new dystopic novel.
Billed as, “more frightening than anything Orwell could have envisioned,” Beck’s Agenda 21 paints a disturbing picture of America following the implementation of the United Nation’s Agenda 21, which is actually a real life UN initiative, though not nearly as nefarious as Beck would have us all believe.
The book’s tagline reads: “This used to be called America. Now it is just ‘the Republic.’ There is no president. No congress. No freedom.”
Over at GlennBeck.com you can watch a movie trailer made specifically for the book featuring grizzled Americans lined up on the streets in a post-Soviet winter landscape reeking of desperation, waiting for tiny morsels of food to be parceled out by “the authorities.” Reminiscent of both Nazi concentration camps and the Book of Revelation, everyone’s foreheads are tattooed with identification numbers – and in homage to Sarah Palin’s “death panels,” one scene in the trailer depicts an emaciated, scraggly-haired old man loaded on to a conveyor belt and sent into a burning furnace.
Of course, this is all fiction. Whether you like him or not, Beck has made a fortune off sensationalism – and more recently televangelism – and this book will tap into a wellspring of paranoia on the fringe Right that will undoubtedly make a lot more money for multimillionaire Mr. Beck himself.
But whether Beck really believes in his depicted Agenda 21 future for America isn’t all that important. What’s important is that a lot of other powerful people do believe in it. To them, there’s nothing fictional at all when it comes to Agenda 21.
On October 11th this year, the Georgia state Capitol building hosted a four-hour briefing for Republican state senators on the issue of…Agenda 21. It was emceed by a man named Field Searcy who, according to MotherJones, is a local Conservative activist, whose Tea Party leadership was revoked after endorsing birther and truther conspiracy theories. But on that day, Searcy had the attention of his state’s most powerful lawmakers – including the Republican Party’s Senate Majority Leader, Chip Rogers – to warn them of President Obama’s wicked plot to use Agenda 21 to hand the United States off to the United Nations.
Searcy told the Georgia Republicans, and later spoke of it on the Thom Hartmann Radio Program, that President Obama is using a mind control procedure known as the “Delphi Technique” to slowly condition Americans to submit to the control of the United Nations’ Agenda 21, which will, according to Searcy, force mass migrations of Americans out of the countryside and into the cities, while handing over control of our rural lands to an international, one-world government.
The goal of the presentation was to influence Georgia lawmakers to follow in the footsteps of Tennessee and Kentucky Republican lawmakers who’ve already passed legislation to block Agenda 21 from being implemented in their states. In fact, earlier this year Republican Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers introduced legislation in Georgia to do just that.
Also on the “Fear Agenda 21″ bandwagon is newly-elected Tea Party Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz. He devoted an entire section of his website, TedCruz.org, to Agenda 21 fearmongering. Under the title, “Stop Agenda 21: The Constitution should be our only ‘Agenda,” Cruz writes:
“The originator of this grand scheme is George Soros, who candidly supports socialism and believes that global development must progress through eliminating national sovereignty and private property… Agenda 21 attempts to abolish ‘unsustainable’ environments, including golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads. It hopes to leave mother earth’s surface unscratched by mankind. Everyone wants clean water and clean air, but Agenda 21 dehumanizes individuals by removing the very thing that has defined Americans since the beginning—our freedom.”
Oh no! Not the golf courses! Luckily for the golfing community, Ted Cruz is headed to the United States Senate to stop George Soros and the UN from confiscating Augusta National.
Though, hopefully, someone will notify Cruz, perhaps by removing his tinfoil hat, that the United Nations has no interest whatsoever in turning Augusta National into a sustainable bio-dome. Likewise, hopefully someone will tell Mr. Field Searcy that the UN has no interest in forcibly removing Americans from the country-side, either.
Concerns coming from the Right about American sovereignty in the face of the United Nations aren’t anything new.
It’s true that FDR pushed the idea after World War Two, and Democratic President Harry Truman signed us up for the UN in 1945, and it’s also true that in signing up for the United Nations, the United States surrendered a small amount of our sovereignty, inasmuch as we can no longer unilaterally declare war on another nation – unless they attack us first – without getting the approval of the UN. Of course, this is true of every other nation in the UN as well. The UN was created to promote world peace, an idea that doesn’t sit well with the neocons and chickenhawks.
But, here’s what Agenda 21 really is. Standing for “Agenda 21st Century,” it’s a completely non-binding UN agreement that aims to address climate change and inequality by calling on local and federal governments, NGOs, and businesses, to develop plans to create more sustainable environments in their respective nations. The UN believes that by working together, and giving financial assistance to developing nations to promote sustainable living, wealth disparities can be reduced, indigenous populations can be protected, and the deterioration of ecosystems around the globe can be reversed.
If you ask the environmentalists who are growing more and more concerned with a warming, crowded planet what they think of Agenda 21, they’ll say it doesn’t go nearly far enough. Especially after new reports by the UN about record levels of greenhouse gases and the atmosphere, and a report by the World Bank on the global economic impacts of a planet that’s 7-degrees warming by 2100 as a result of climate change.
But, as you’d expect from a plan to reduce poverty worldwide and use resources and land in more eco-friendly ways, wealthy oil barons and banksters are opposed to it. When people, governments, or organizations talk about things like sustainable energy, corporate responsibility, and educating the world’s children, billionaires like the Koch brothers get a little uneasy.
So, right-wingers have employed their best charlatans in America, people like Glenn Beck, to reinvent Agenda 21 as something completely different: a nefarious plot by communist globalists to force redistribution of wealth and confiscation of private property, and ultimate devour American sovereignty. Or, according to Glenn Beck, an Orwellian takeover to purge the nation of its sick and elderly.
And it just so happens that legislation passed in Tennessee and Kentucky to block Agenda 21 comes straight from model legislation produced by the notoriously loony, yet well-funded, John Birch Society. The Koch Brothers dad, Fred Koch, who had no problem with state-controlled economies when he made his fortune working with Joe Stalin in the Soviet Union, was one of the founding members of the Jon Birch Society back in 1958.
The UN has provided right-wing fear mongers a lot of grandstanding opportunities over the years, but the UN has never lived up to their warnings that it’s coming to destroy America. Most people think of it as a toothless international body that’s been hijacked by the United States to protect its own interests and the interests of its allies.
And while the Bircher billionaire class continues to fret over the UN, they stay silent over the actual threat to our nation’s sovereignty in the form of the World Trade Organization, which has enforced free trade agreements through international courts that have overturned laws passed by our elected Congress and signed by our elected President. For example, laws banning the importation into the United States of poisonous additives to gasoline, products made by child labor, and tuna caught at the expense of dolphins have all been overturned by the “one-world government” that is the WTO.
Yet, not a peep from the same wealthy elite who are warning us about Agenda 21. That’s because there’s a lot of money to be made in so-called Free Trade, and not so much to be made in promoting sustainable living.
The same is true of why Glenn Beck isn’t writing a book about the $67 trillion global shadow banking system, which is extremely dangerous to our sovereign economy – yet making billions of dollars for banksters.
The point is, this latest scheme by the Corporate Elite to scare the hell out of all of us with Agenda 21 is just like every other scare tactic by the Corporate Elite – it’s meant to distract us. It’s a sleight-of-hand technique to keep us focused on bogeymen, while their ranks of Texas oilmen, outsourcing CEOs, and Wall Street banksters carry out the true destruction of the United States of America: the pillaging of the Middle Class at home and the construction of a WTO-style one-world corporate government to promote unfettered capitalism and free trade everywhere on the planet.
And in the process, useful quacks like Glenn Beck and Field Searcy can make a lot of money feeding the paranoid, Fox News-watching masses their latest conspiracy theories.
Presidential debates between Obama and Romney will begin next week, beckoning Americans to focus on the candidates and who they should support.
It is time to ask ourselves if either of the present presidential campaigns or any debate between the two candidates matters.
Eight years ago, on Sept. 28, 2004, an editorial published by The Lone Star Iconoclast, the hometown newspaper of George Bush in Crawford, Texas, outlined the issues that were being overlooked by the mainstream media. The newspaper endured threats and boycotts after endorsing John Kerry for President. Kerry had been struggling in the wake of an off-point swift-boat campaign launched by covert manipulations orchestrated by the Rove White House. We suggest you read the editorial again, in full.
The editorial, which began with “Few Americans would have voted for George W. Bush four years ago if he had promised that, as President, he would…” sent shock waves through the electorate and around the world.The Iconoclast site went down, overpowered by the force of 10,000,000 hits in one day as real, substantial issues came into sharp relief.
Instead of irrelevancies, the ensuing 2004 presidential debates refocused attention on the shocking developments in America and around the world, driven by war, irresponsible spending, the emptying of the Social Security Trust as benefits were slashed, the outsourcing of jobs, granting of cost plus contracts to friends of the administration, and the conversion of a budget surplus to the largest deficit in history.
The editorial concluded that Bush was a liar and cited “elements of a hidden agenda that surfaced only after he took office.”
The Kerry Campaign experienced a surge of support, which most Americans believed would carry him into the White House. The issues have not changed, despite attempts by both candidates to distract you. But we are farther down the path on a trajectory to absolute disaster.
Today the truth about Bush has become obvious, despite constant attempts to make him look good in comparison to Obama, who after a short, giddy period of fervent relief, stunned supporters by continuing the Bush presidency. Most Americans cannot discern a difference between the two administrations.
2004 provided a lesson we need to learn.
Beginning in the summer 2003 flyers were being circulated in the extended Cleveland, Ohio area reading, “Get Rid of Bush.” This was before the primary process had identified the opposing candidate.
Rebecca Anne, then living in the area, remembers the flyers, which urged people to register to vote for the explicit purpose of removing Bush from office. No one, Rebecca Anne said, cared very much who replaced Bush. Anyone would do. The people she knew included a broad range of political affiliations.
The editorial board of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, which has been criticized by liberal columnists for the generally conservative positions on its editorial page, despite the Democratic readership, withheld any endorsement. Then-publisher Alex Machaskee wanted to endorse Bush, over the objections and vote of the editorial board. He was instead persuaded by editorial page editor Brent Larkin to withhold any endorsement.
In the immediate aftermath of the election an article appeared in The Free Press by columnist Bob Fitrakis, entitled “How the Ohio election was rigged for Bush,” on Nov. 22, 2004.
The article cited four community public meetings about “election irregularities and voter suppression – two in the capitol, Columbus, and one each in Cincinnati and Cleveland – a clear pattern and practice of voter disenfranchisement is emerging.”
The 2004 election raised intensity on the troubling issue of electoral integrity. Millions of Americans had waited in long lines across the country to vote on Nov. 2 and went to sleep in the belief John Kerry had been elected President. They woke up the next morning to the news Kerry had conceded in the small hours of the night, refusing to contest the highly questionable outcome of counts in several states.
Today, a growing number of Americans from all parties accept that Kerry was actually elected. The election had been stolen by use of a back door in the voting machines, designed and sold to Americans by wealthy Bush friends. As this realization sunk in questions about the 2000 election also dawned.
Stolen elections require both the means of carrying it out with voting machines that can be remotely programmed and providing probable deniability. But the same people are used for this, over and over again.
The publication of another book, Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk, by Rove confidant John Fund, formerly of The Wall Street Journal, with Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky, serves to illustrate how the Bush strategy for covering up their serial election thefts works. Building on their mainstream credentials operatives such as Fund provide cover which dampens protests by muddying the waters with false facts and rhetoric.
Fund’s first book, “Stealing Elections,” published in 2004, and his presence as a spokesman, has been invaluable as well.
Today, the whole electoral process appears to be a distraction for the public, providing shreds of false hope as the next round of take-downs are put in place, carried out with the callousness of the slaughter house.
Since the moment Bush was inaugurated in 2001 Americans have been subjected to a continuous onslaught of falsehoods, from the infamous weapons of mass destruction used to justify the war in Iraq, and moves by Congress which changed the economic rule book, immunizing the financial sector from wrong doing. Since then, Americans have suffered through a series of shocks which can each be traced back to the income stream of a small number of interests.
Wealth is being transferred from those who earned it to those who use government to fill their own pockets. Changes in statute, rubber stamped by Congress, and the erosion of the rights of Americans, through conversion of our courts, have transformed America.
What began as a trickle into the pockets of special interests has become a hemorrhage, with the 2008 real estate crisis only one of many.
As Americans vote this November, if they bother, the next round of planned takings will begin. The target will, again, be the homes of Americans. This will happen no matter who is elected to fill the office of President and a growing number of Americans realize this.
Today, there are more ‘Obama in 2008′ stickers weathering on cars than new 2012 stickers. Romney signs are still outnumbered by those for Ron Paul.
“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those, who in time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” – Dante
The world watches as a nation is torn, slow motion, at the seams. Money and geopolitics has caused a feeding frenzy of western nations biting and tearing at Syria, all hoping to profit from the regime’s destruction.
Toward this effort, England, France, and the United States announced increased support to the “rebels” of Syria. The Obama administration promised $45 million more in funding for aid that has now totaled $175 million (is it any wonder there are budget problems inside the U.S.?).
And although much of the U.S. aid is designated as “humanitarian,” this money will directly help the military mission by bolstering the prestige of opposition groups, who will use the U.S. aid to gain adherents by being able to feed and house refugees fleeing the destruction (assuming that not all of this money will simply be used to buy guns).
Of course there is no accounting of the amount of money and arms the CIA is funneling into the country. But even The New York Times has admitted the CIA’s involvement; in June it wrote:
“A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers…the weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.”
There you have the Syrian opposition in a nutshell: groups of mercenaries funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States and France, and the Muslim Brotherhood inside Syria. All of these groups have their own self-interest in toppling the Syrian government, while destroying the country and its people in the process.
Saudi Arabia has used the Muslim Brotherhood as a key tool in its foreign policy for decades, funding the organization in countries all over the Middle East and North Africa. When Saudi Arabia beckons, the Muslim Brotherhood and associated groups can be used to destabilize “unfriendly” regimes in the name of “jihad” — officially declared by clerics who work in tandem with the Saudi Arabian government to recruit fighters for the effort. This is why there are “terrorist” groups now fighting to overthrow the Syrian government, including Al Qaeda — itself born from the purse strings of Saudi Arabia, like the Taliban (there is an excellent chapter about this dynamic in Vijay Prashad’s book, the Darker Nations).
It is very revealing that, after the U.S. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and large amounts of weaponry has been trafficked into the country, the Syrian government still controls the vast majority of the country. This is because the majority of people inside Syria do not support the so-called Syrian Opposition. If this were the case, the Syrian government would have long since been overthrown. The revolutionaries of Egypt and Tunisia did not need any outside help in toppling their government, nor large amounts of money or weaponry.
Therefore, the steady destruction of Syria will continue until it reaches a Libya-like crescendo: a “no fly zone” will be the goal of the western powers, with the motive of toppling the regime.
But like in Libya, a no fly zone equals total war. Syria has advanced Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, which must be destroyed to enforce such a no fly zone. Syria also has fighter jets that must be destroyed. Additional ground support must be destroyed. And like Libya, once the bombs start dropping, the mission quickly changes from a “no fly zone” to “regime change,” i.e., war.
But Syria has a much more powerful army than Libya, requiring that the U.S. military become directly involved in the war, as opposed to outsourcing the conflict to England and France as they did in Libya. Only the U.S. military and its subordinate allies have the required weapons to deal with Syria’s Russian-made weaponry.
But the American people hate war, and thus the U.S. government must introduce the Syrian war slowly, through non-stop anti-Syria media coverage, in the hopes that opinion polls shift enough to allow direct military intervention, as opposed to the current indirect type.
What do the people of Syria really want? The New York Times revealed that, inside Syria, a group of twenty opposition groups recently met in Syria’s capital to demand that Syria’s democratic transition happen peacefully, in effect denouncing the armed rebels who are being funded by foreign nations.
The international implications of this war have already begun to manifest. Neighboring countries are experiencing stress and destabilization by the flood of refugees from Syria. The Kurds in Syria may soon call for independence, which will incite further violence from Turkey. Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, and Iran will work doubly hard to re-enforce the Syrian government as western powers do the opposite.
Ethnic and religious tensions are being stoked in all neighboring countries, which has already led to violence and will be used by politicians in those countries for political aims, leading to more violence. It’s also possible if an official war is declared against Syria, other powers will use the chaos as a shield to pursue their own interests —Israel for example, may opportunistically bomb Iran. Whatever the course of events, the emerging war in Syria has the potential not only to turn the Middle East into dust, but to drag larger powers like Russia — an ally of Syria — into conflict with the United States.
All working people in the United States have a duty to denounce this U.S.-made humanitarian tragedy and the future threat of war.
Geographically: Now that the world’s ocean levels have started rising much faster than predicted, America’s coastal cities may become submerged far sooner than we thought. And, sooner rather than later, Manhattan stands a very good chance of becoming the next lost Atlantis.
Here’s a cute little video from NASA that describes what’s been happening to our planet’s climate over the last 131 years. Check it out: http://www.climatecentral.org/
But enough said about that. I just hope that you don’t own a condo down in SoHo or beach-front property in Honolulu. You do? You’re screwed.
And then there’s Burning Man. This year Black Rock City was completely engulfed in air-born dust particles and white-out sand storms almost 24/7. If this drought doesn’t let up, perhaps they ought to change its name to Dust Bowl City.
And also, for the first time in memory, we have gotten a hecka lot of Canada geese hanging around Berkeley this summer instead of just passing by in the spring and the fall. Guess they don’t have to fly so far south to get warm any more. No winter vacation in Cancun for them! And we humans don’t need to fly south to Puerto Vallarta during the winter months any more either. Last year was the warmest winter in NorCal that I can remember (but I still love Puerto Vallarta).
Morally: The Republican party (and the huge corporations that now own it) are completely using and abusing their only staunch allies — the older white American males and blind-faith Christians who support them — in order to enact laws and make policies that not only undermine these staunch allies’ beliefs but also their very existence.
Jobs, Social Security, homes, families, medical care, infrastructure, water supplies, energy sources, the very teachings of Christ Himself, you name it — all have been put in grave danger by the very corporate interests that naive older white Americans and gullible Christians have blindly trusted and supported all these years. It’s just sad to watch these trusting staunch allies of the GOP constantly getting knifed in the back.
Then there are the famous Fetus Wars. Jesus is being called upon to testify against Planned Parenthood — and yet Jesus isn’t even allowed on the premises when multiple brutal vicious and bloody wars have been declared against millions of innocent children all around the world. You wanna call yourself a Christian? Then you gotta act Christ-like! Duh.
And Repubs are now actually saying that Ted Kennedy originated the War on Women. Chappaquiddick was a tragic accident. That’s not the same thing. But a true war on women appears to be the GOP’s latest favorite game plan — as Repubs happily head down the same path that other “Christians” took back in the European Middle Ages when an estimated nine million women who dared to speak up for themselves, tried to get an education or attempted to practice medicine were burned alive at the stake.
Economically: Since outsourcing and deregulation has hit America like a category-5 hurricane, our economy has become a disaster area — literally. So many jobs have fled overseas and so much wealth has fled to the Caymans that many parts of the USA look almost like New Orleans after Katrina.
All the things that we used to make here? We don’t even know how to make them any more. And all that knowledge of how to make them has been lost too.
Sometimes I wish that the UN or NATO or whoever — perhaps the war-criminal-trial folks over at the Hague — would sanction America like they are now sanctioning Iran. Then we would be FORCED to become economically independent again.
Republicans have deliberately created a vast pool of unemployed Americans so that they won’t have to pay us high wages. Hence the GOP’s refusal to endorse a job program. Why would they want to do that!
In their haste to make more and more money, large corporations are polluting our water and air and elevating our risk of cancer of course. But they are also killing off billions of bees. Good luck with getting our crops in when there is no pollination. And bye-bye flowers too. We don’t even have to wait until water drowns out the new American Atlantis to miss our fruit trees and flowers. Monsanto has already taken care of that.
Politically: Anyone can buy a seat in Congress these days — or even buy the White House itself or the Supreme Court (especially the Supreme Court). Who would have ever thought that it would be that way here in the former Land of the Free. Not since Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall have our public offices been so “For Sale”. Shame on us for letting this happen.
And remember back in 1999 when we all thought that YK2 was going to be an international disaster? Well all the computers didn’t crash, but YK2 turned out to be an incredible disaster anyway — when George W. Bush stole the 2000 election and almost NOBODY in America objected or even noticed. Then Bush allowed 9-11 to happen, followed by the disastrous Afghanistan invasion, the incredibly expensive Iraq invasion and the 2008 economic crash.
Yes, YK2 really was a disaster.
More political immorality: Who has been a very important ally of corporate-owned Washington in places like Afghanistan, Syria and Libya? Wait for it. “Al Qaeda!” Arming and encouraging the people behind 9-11? Isn’t that about as politically immoral as you can get? But Americans seem to accept this hypocrisy without batting an eye. Go figure.
And what can our bought-and-paid-for politicians possibly be thinking when they systematically alienate huge countries like Russia and China while kissing the booties of their corporate neo-con counterparts in teeny-tiny Israel. Israel? The size of New Jersey? Israel’s neo-con corporatists are gonna save us from the wrath of Russia, China, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and all the other places and countries that our corporate-owned government has thoroughly screwed over the years? Huh?
And then there’s that cruel joke that used to be America’s legendary and heroic Supreme Court. No justice at all to be had there these days — if you are merely working class. Those guys in black robes take their reverse-Robin-Hood roles very seriously.
“Take from the worker bees and give to the drones” should be carved in marble over our corporate-owned government buildings in Washington — just before America, the next lost Atlantis, slowly sinks into the sea.
But you had better get to carving it soon — because there is something in the air in America these days, a sense that nasty undercurrents are moving stealthily toward us from somewhere very deep, somewhere that the average voter isn’t in touch with — except in our guts.
And our guts seem to be telling us that America is now sinking fast. And that “We the People” have absolutely no life jackets — but that the billionaires who now own our government are already provisioning their yachtshttp://www.smirkingchimp.com/
To paraphrase Plato, “…once upon a time your State stayed the course of a mighty host, which, starting from a distant point in the Atlantic ocean, was insolently advancing to attack the whole of Europe, and Asia to boot” — and then their city of Atlantis got all drowned out.
And to paraphrase Ray Bradbury, “Something wicked is definitely coming our way”.
The United States has collapsed economically, socially, politically, legally, constitutionally, and environmentally. The country that exists today is not even a shell of the country into which I was born. In this article I will deal with America’s economic collapse. In subsequent articles, i will deal with other aspects of American collapse.
Economically, America has descended into poverty. As Peter Edelman says, “Low-wage work is pandemic.” Today in “freedom and democracy” America, “the world’s only superpower,” one fourth of the work force is employed in jobs that pay less than $22,000, the poverty line for a family of four. Some of these lowly-paid persons are young college graduates, burdened by education loans, who share housing with three or four others in the same desperate situation. Other of these persons are single parents only one medical problem or lost job away from homelessness.
Others might be Ph.D.s teaching at universities as adjunct professors for $10,000 per year or less. Education is still touted as the way out of poverty, but increasingly is a path into poverty or into enlistments into the military services.
Edelman, who studies these issues, reports that 20.5 million Americans have incomes less than $9,500 per year, which is half of the poverty definition for a family of three.
There are six million Americans whose only income is food stamps. That means that there are six million Americans who live on the streets or under bridges or in the homes of relatives or friends. Hard-hearted Republicans continue to rail at welfare, but Edelman says, “basically welfare is gone.”
In my opinion as an economist, the official poverty line is long out of date. The prospect of three people living on $19,000 per year is farfetched. Considering the prices of rent, electricity, water, bread and fast food, one person cannot live in the US on $6,333.33 per year. In Thailand, perhaps, until the dollar collapses, it might be done, but not in the US.
As Dan Ariely (Duke University) and Mike Norton (Harvard University) have shown empirically, 40% of the US population, the 40% less well off, own 0.3%, that is, three-tenths of one percent, of America’s personal wealth. Who owns the other 99.7%? The top 20% have 84% of the country’s wealth. Those Americans in the third and fourth quintiles–essentially America’s middle class–have only 15.7% of the nation’s wealth. Such an unequal distribution of income is unprecedented in the economically developed world.
In my day, confronted with such disparity in the distribution of income and wealth, a disparity that obviously poses a dramatic problem for economic policy, political stability, and the macro management of the economy, Democrats would have demanded corrections, and Republicans would have reluctantly agreed.
But not today. Both political parties whore for money.
The Republicans believe that the suffering of poor Americans is not helping the rich enough. Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are committed to abolishing every program that addresses needs of what Republicans deride as “useless eaters.”
The “useless eaters” are the working poor and the former middle class whose jobs were offshored so that corporate executives could receive multi-millions of dollars in performance pay compensation and their shareholders could make millions of dollars on capital gains. While a handful of executives enjoy yachts and Playboy playmates, tens of millions of Americans barely get by.
In political propaganda, the “useless eaters” are not merely a burden on society and the rich. They are leeches who force honest taxpayers to pay for their many hours of comfortable leisure enjoying life, watching sports events, and fishing in trout streams, while they push around their belongings in grocery baskets or sell their bodies for the next MacDonald burger.
The concentration of wealth and power in the US today is far beyond anything my graduate economic professors could image in the 1960s. At four of the world’s best universities that I attended, the opinion was that competition in the free market would prevent great disparities in the distribution of income and wealth. As I was to learn, this belief was based on an ideology, not on reality.
Congress, acting on this erroneous belief in free market perfection, deregulated the US economy in order to create a free market. The immediate consequence was resort to every previous illegal action to monopolize, to commit financial and other fraud, to destroy the productive basis of American consumer incomes, and to redirect income and wealth to the one percent.
The “democratic” Clinton administration, like the Bush and Obama administrations, was suborned by free market ideology. The Clinton sell-outs to Big Money essentially abolished Aid to Families with Dependent Children. But this sell-out of struggling Americans was not enough to satisfy the Republican Party. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to cut or abolish every program that cushions poverty-stricken Americans from starvation and homelessness.
Republicans claim that the only reason Americans are in need is because the government uses taxpayers’ money to subsidize Americans who are unwilling to work. As Republicans see it, while we hard-workers sacrifice our leisure and time with our families, the welfare rabble enjoy the leisure that our tax dollars provide them.
This cock-eyed belief, on top of corporate CEOs maximizing their incomes by offshoring the middle class jobs of millions of Americans, has left Americans in poverty and cities, counties, states, and the federal government without a tax base, resulting in bankruptcies at the state and local level and massive budget deficits at the federal level that threaten the value of the dollar and its role as reserve currency.
The economic destruction of America benefitted the mega-rich with multi-billions of dollars with which to enjoy life and its high-priced accompaniments wherever the mega-rich wish. Meanwhile, away from the French Rivera, Homeland Security is collecting sufficient ammunition to keep dispossessed Americans under control.
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
The U.S. media has made its intentions clear: the ‘rebels’ attacking Syria’s government must have more support to advance Syria’s “revolution.” This was the result of the much-hyped advance of Syria’s rebels into the country’s two largest cities, which the western media portrayed as a defining moment in global democracy. But “journalists” like these have blood on their hands, with much more in the works.
The systematic dismantling of Syria has more to do with western media lies and geo-politics than “revolution;” and the more that the U.S. media cheers on this bloodletting, the more politicians feel enabled to spill it.
The rebel attacks on the cities of Damascus and Aleppo were, in actuality, meant to convince the western media that the rebels are near victory, with the hopes of attracting more direct military support from abroad. In reality, however, the attacks in Damascus were instantly crushed by the Syrian government, but the U.S. media predicted “victory just around the corner” for the rebels.
Suddenly Syria is becoming a U.S. presidential topic of debate. Republicans have accused Obama of “outsourcing” the Syrian conflict, refusing to be involved when the rebels deserve extra support (guns mainly). But Obama is the principal cause of this humanitarian catastrophe. Middle East expert Robert Fisk explains:
“While Qatar and Saudi Arabia arm and fund the rebels of Syria…Washington mutters not a word of criticism against them. President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, say they want a democracy in Syria. But Qatar is an autocracy and Saudi Arabia is among the most pernicious of caliphate-kingly-dictatorships in the Arab world.”
Fisk fails to mention that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are virtual puppets of U.S. foreign policy; they would never act independently to overthrow a regional neighbor; they do so on command.
Syria is conveniently surrounded by close allies of the U.S., and it is through these allies that guns and foreign fighters have poured into Syria to cause massive destruction. The rebel-held areas of Syria exist only on the rural borders of Turkey, Jordan, and Northern Lebanon, areas in alignment with U.S. foreign policy.
Revolutions are city affairs, but the Syrian revolution has been a rural undertaking ever since foreign powers decided to destroy the country. It is fortunate for the rebels that Syria’s two largest cities are close to these border countries: the rebels made a quick foray into the cities for some high profile attacks, and then drifted back to the border areas to seek protection from their friends.
Although it is true that the so-called Free Syrian Army includes defectors from the Syrian military, it is possible that these defectors are simply betting that, in the long term, the U.S. will spare no expense in overthrowing the Syrian government.
The commonsense question that the U.S. media never explores is whether Syrians want their country destroyed, the inevitable result of this conflict. In fact, there are numerous indications to the contrary. After constant cheerleading of the Syrian rebels, The New York Times has been forced to admit on several occasions that massive pro-government rallies have been held in Syria’s only two large cities:
“The turnout [at least tens of thousands] in Sabaa Bahrat Square in Damascus, the [Syrian] capital, once again underlined the degree of backing that Mr. Assad and his leadership still enjoy among many Syrians… That support is especially pronounced in cities like Damascus and Aleppo, the country’s two largest.”
This was further confirmed by a poll funded by the anti-Syrian Qatar Foundation, performed by the Doha Debates:
“According to the latest opinion poll commissioned by The Doha Debates, Syrians are more supportive of their president with 55% not wanting him to resign.” (January 2, 2012).
This should be of zero surprise. Syrians have seen Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya destroyed by U.S.-style “liberation.” Americans should know better too — and many do — regardless of their media’s blatantly criminal behavior.
The United States is using a strategy in Syria that has been perfected over the years, starting with Afghanistan (in the 1980’s) Yugoslavia, and most recently in Libya: arming small paramilitary groups loyal to U.S. interests that attack the targeted government — including terrorist bombings — and when the attacked government defends itself, the U.S. cries “genocide” or “mass murder,” while calling for foreign military intervention.
In each instance the targeted society is dismembered, mass murder and ethnic/religious violence is consciously used to gain military advantage that inevitably spirals out of control; refugee crises are also natural consequences, which inevitably lead to cross border destabilization and wider regional conflicts. Millions of lives are completely ruined in each instance, if not ended.
There is every indication that the Syrian conflict has the potential — as the Iraq war before it — to cause incredible ethnic and religious violence on a multi-nation scale. Neighboring Lebanon has already experienced armed conflict as a direct result of Syria and is a powder keg of ethnic and religious tension that needs only a spark to explode, and Syria promises to spew flames.
The U.S. population has largely been spared images of the incredible suffering and social destruction caused by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Syria’s crisis is thus happening in an already-destabilized region, having the potential to completely tear the social fabric of the larger Middle East.
These war crimes benefit nobody except the very rich who take over the helm of governments and use these positions to privatize the invaded country’s economy, though especially the oil. The people in Syria, however, are being used as cannon fodder for an additional reason: so that the U.S. can have a steppingstone towards destroying Iran (Syria is Iran’s close ally). But Russia and China are acting more boldly against this genocidal behavior, and may act with more vigor in defending their allies, a dynamic that could easily lead to a regional or even world war.
Thus, the hell that has become the Middle East is being poked and prodded by U.S. foreign policy with absolutely no regard for the global implications. Both U.S. major presidential candidates are cheerleading the flood of blood to different degrees, ensuring that the next election will provide fresh “legitimacy” to an equally barbarous U.S. foreign policy.
It wasn’t just that ABC’s Brian Ross was wrong in suggesting that the “Jim Holmes” he found on a Tea Party website was the same man who committed the heinous crime inAurora,Colorado. It’s that his comment was indicative of stupidity and corruption.
If Ross had thought for a moment and possessed a grasp of reality, he would’ve realized that “Jim Holmes” is a common name belonging to many hundreds of men throughout the nation. If he had some integrity and a desire to be even-handed, he would have vetted the information more before airing it—just as he would have if at issue had been an alleged left-wing association.
Just imagine if someone appeared on TV shortly after theAuroratragedy and stated, not just to provide biographical info but with an ominous implication, “We now know that Holmes attended UC Riverside….” Now, I’ll be the first to say that modern academia does teach insanity; nonetheless, since this school isn’t known to orchestrate terrorist acts, it wouldn’t leap to mind to implicate it in Holmes’s atrocity. The fact is that any given person will have had a number of associations in his life, and few, if any, will bear relevance to a crime he may commit.
So there can be only two reasons why ABC would mention a possible Holmes/Tea Party (TP) association: either its people want to demonize conservatives every chance they get, or they think traditionalist thought constitutes a pathology. It turns out that Effluent Stream Media leftists are deeply involved in doing the former and generally believe the latter.
Now, you see, my last line contains what is called a correct profile. Because it happens to be true. On the other hand, if leftists were intellectually honest, they’d accept that the TP has been remarkably civilized. Unlike Only Whining Socialists (OWS), its events aren’t marked by sexual abuse, the occasional rape, violence, vandalism and slovenly, anti-social behavior. Rather, TP attendees protest peacefully, abide by the law, listen to speeches and then go home, leaving the site behind them clean and tidy. It’s the difference between sane citizens and those who mistake police cars for toilet bowls.
In fact, ABC hewed so closely to the leftist profile it’s uncanny. Liberals have been trying for ages to get the goods on the TP, but the most their sleuthing has uncovered is an allegation that a black politician was targeted by one or two TP attendees with a racial epithet that, curiously, wasn’t caught on audio or video despite today’s ubiquity of electronic devices. And it must be frustrating. That darn reality just refuses to conform to leftist prejudices.
And sometimes prejudices persecute those who promote them. Ross might have learned this through his corrupted act, if liberals were receptive to reality and could learn anything contrary to their deified feelings. Note that “corrupted” isn’t quite the same as “corrupt,” even though many leftists are both. When we say a computer file is corrupted, all that’s being recognized is that it’s degraded and cannot function properly. And to whatever extent liberals are willfully corrupt, they are certainly corrupted. They cannot, and do not, function properly.
This is, by the way, why ex-newsman Dan Rather’s career was scuttled (far too late) through an act that was somewhat reminiscent of Ross’s. When Rather peddled documents purporting to show that George W. Bush shirked his military duties, he didn’t know they were forged. They did, however, align with his prejudices. “Why, that’s exactly how these conservatives are! This has to be true; it makes sense.” But only when you’re senseless. Just as with Ross, if a leftist person or entity stood to be impugned through the reportage, Rather would have moved mountains to discover if the documents were authentic; that is, if he would have considered doing the story at all. Instead, after a career running with the bulls of his own bovine excrement, he finally suffered a trampling of his own design.
So I’ll be blunt. As is often the case, when leftists accuse conservatives of failings, it is projection. Traditionalist thought is not a pathology.
Liberal unthought is a pathology.
And a severe one that destroys everything it touches.
As Peter Schweizer reported in his piece “Don’t listen to the liberals—Right-wingers really are nicer people, latest research shows,” studies have borne out what I’ve always known: Liberals are cheap, ungenerous, uncharitable, unloving, self-centered, envious, greedy and covetous. They’re less likely than conservatives to devote time to ailing or needy loved ones, and they even hug their children less. And this reflects one reason why they support big government: they assuage their consciences by outsourcing their charity. I’ll add to this that they’re lustful, prideful, wrathful, often slothful and, if Michael Moore is any indication, gluttonous as well. In a word, they are the Seven Deadly Sins incarnate.
As for ABC, since news obviously isn’t its bag, I have a programming suggestion. It could replace a certain long-running but recently cancelled soap opera it’s famous for with something that can be called “All the Bolsheviks’ Children.” This could break new ground and help rebuild ABC’s reputation for honesty, as it would be the most self-revelatory reality show in history.
During the week of July 1st – 7th an international cabal of corporate lobbyists will be meeting behind closed doors in San Diego. Their aim is moving the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) towards completion. For over two years TPP negotiations have been in process, yet the proposals and agreements made so far have been carefully kept from public view, until recently.
A leaked TPP document, published at Public Citizen, has revealed what the 600 corporate advisers involved in the negotiations, including representatives from Verizon, FedEx, and Walmart, have been up to. Considering the contents of this document, it is no wonder why the public and even elected representatives have been kept in the dark.
Publicly the TPP is being described as a Free Trade Act (FTA). This understates its scope. While the FTAs already in existence have raked in giant profits for the corporate elite, for workers internationally they have resulted in lay offs and a race to the bottom in terms of living conditions and rights. The big business tops have been working hard to enhance the power of their moneymaking weapons of mass destruction. If NAFTA was a hand grenade, the TPP is a bunker buster.
What is perhaps most astonishing about the TPP is its architects’ disregard for the consequences of its destructive potential. Their greed has blinded them to the political instability and popular revolt the consequences of the TPP will create. The corporate elite imagines their rule to be absolute and eternal. Sheltered by these illusions and goaded on by the need to increase their riches regardless of social costs, they are creating a bomb that could blow them up as well.
Currently the countries in on the TPP are the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These countries alone are a combined market of 658 million people worth $20.5 trillion annually. (1) Canada, Japan, and Mexico are also expected to get on board. The TPP also has built in mechanisms to allow other nations to join after its ratification.
While China could theoretically become a member, there can be little doubt that part of the intention of this pact is for the United States to build a coalition, in which its big business interests dominate, to compete against China’s economic might. This ratcheting up of competition will result in greater political animosity. In turn, these consequences will contribute to a course towards greater conflict, including the possibility of war. This is because international capitalist competition is not determined by gentlemanly agreements, but by the law of the jungle and, frequently, brute force. While it may be a relatively simple matter for the United States to bully its economically weaker TPP partners into line, China is not so easily dominated. Other more crude and costly measures than diplomacy will be required to get the competitive upper hand and the TPP is laying the foundation for this possibility.
What all FTAs share in common, including the TPP, is how they open up doors for multi-national corporations to transfer operations to other nations where labor is cheaper and the profit rate is greater. In the first 10 years of NAFTA this outsourcing resulted in the net loss of 879,280 U.S. jobs. (2) Considering the greater number of countries involved in the TPP, this number of lost jobs will be all the greater.
In addition, for the nations these jobs are outsourced to, the results are even more devastating. The dislocation of local economies by the larger scale corporations moving in also results in greater unemployment. For instance, NAFTA resulted in the loss of 1.3 million Mexican farm jobs as U.S. agribusiness moved in (3), leaving the farmers to toil for a living in the brutal Maquiladoras or move to the U.S. for jobs where they have been persecuted as “illegal” immigrants. Even more damaging was how NAFTA accelerated the privatization of Mexico’s once strong public sector resulting in huge layoffs, wage cuts, and a dramatic drop in the countries unionization rate. Other than for a well-connected few within the developing nations signing onto the TPP, there is nothing to gain and much to lose for these countries’ citizens if this agreement is enacted.
Where the TPP departs from past FTAs is in the range of issues it covers and the degree it flagrantly defies national sovereignty in favor of multi-national corporate interests. Only two of the TPP’s 26 chapters have to do with trade. The rest are focused on new corporate rights, privileges and tools to override local government interests.
Perhaps the most controversial of these tools would be the setting up of a three attorney tribunal, with no checks on conflicts of interest, to judge foreign corporate complaints regarding government regulations in the countries they are setting up operations in. If, for instance, a foreign owned corporation argues it is losing profits because of its host nation’s overtime laws, this tribunal could rule that the country’s taxpayers owe that corporation compensation for this loss. Such costly judgments could result from any regulations including labor law, local environmental standards, financial rules, etc. In short, the TPP’s tribunal would act as the hammer of multi-national corporate interests above the power of the states’ governments they do business in. While, because of their size, U.S. based corporations have the most to gain from this arrangement, it will result in not only a greater deterioration of the living standards of those working in the U.S. but also any semblance of democracy as well.
As negotiated under the Obama administration by U.S. trade representative Ron Kirkland, the TPP is extremist. Public interest and national sovereignty are sacrificed on the altar of a corporate agenda to a degree that it is doubtful a Republican president could get away with. Should it be passed into law, revolts against its effects are likely. This will set into motion events that will not go as planned by the 1% behind the measure.
The time is now to start trying to defeat the TPP. Currently, many of the organizations expressing concerns about it, including the AFL-CIO leadership, are limiting the fightback to pressuring the Obama administration to amend or drop the TPP. It should first be demanded that the agreements and proposals regarding the TPP are open for all to see. The public needs to be educated about its effects. If such efforts are linked to a mass action campaign for jobs – not cuts, it would go a long way towards creating a grass roots political movement that could take on this extremist 1 percent agreement.
Such a movement cannot afford to counter the TPP with an equally reactionary protectionist program. Currently, this is the position put forward by the AFL-CIO leadership and their “buy America made” slogan. At first glance, it appears to be common sense for many rank and file U.S. workers. “If we want to prevent the off shoring of American jobs we should only buy products made at home” goes the reasoning. However, there are several problems with this line that undercut our ability to combat the TPP.
One problem is that there are very few products that are made exclusively in the U.S. The division of labor to produce even most “American made” commodities is international in scale. Otherwise, few if any of the corporations that make them would be able to survive. Therefore, the logic behind this protectionist slogan is utopian, harking back to a long gone time before the economy became such a globally dependent system.
There are other more pernicious consequences to protectionism, however. It fosters jingoistic “America first” attitudes that, as political tensions increase between economically competing nations, can easily be manipulated into support for military adventures that are against the 99% interests. In addition, even if U.S. jobs are being protected by such measures as tariffs against foreign competitors, this, in effect, exports unemployment and divides the working class by nationality. If extremist 1% measures are to be defeated, it can only be done by a political policy that unites the 99% across national boundaries. Protectionism creates just the opposite.
Workers need their own international campaign to fight the TPP. The labor movement in the U.S. could begin by linking up with other union and community groups from the nations signing onto it. An international conference could be set up to share information, assist one another in their efforts to combat the TPP, and plan for joint actions. However, in order for such a conference to not be limited to purely symbolic value, serious efforts must be dedicated towards turning the ideas coming out of it into a physical force through mass organizing.
The passage of NAFTA was a defeat for workers that we are still suffering from in a big way. Labor and its allies were unprepared to effectively fight it, though there were notable solidarity efforts between U.S. and Mexican unions. The stakes are even higher with the TPP. Statesman like appeals to President Clinton by labor to drop or, at least, reform NAFTA did no good. Likewise, similar appeals to President Obama, especially after the passage of the Korean, Colombian, and Panama FTAs, will leave us saddled with the TPP. Workers need leverage to defeat the TPP, and that leverage comes from mass organizing and action.
For further reading check out the leaked document at http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/tppinvestment.pdf
For “Controversial Trade Pact Text Leaked, Shows U.S. Trade Officials Have Agreed to Terms That Undermine Obama Domestic Agenda go to http://www.citizen.org/documents/release-controversial-trade-pact-text-leaked-06-13.pdf
For Public Interest Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Investment text go to http://www.citizen.org/documents/Leaked-TPP-Investment-Analysis.pdf
1.) Trans-Pacific Partnership decoded: Canada lobbied to be part of trade talks. Now what? By Madhavi Achar-Tom Yew for Business Reporter. http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1214595–trans-pacific-partnership-decoded-canada-lobbied-to-be-part-of-trade-talks-now-what
2.)See “NAFTA – Related Job Losses Have Piled Up Since 1993″ by Robert E. Scott for the Economic Policy Institute.
3.) Disadvantages of NAFTA By Kimberly Amadeo for About.Com US Economy.