November 4, 2009Victory for Democracy -- Some very good news from Honduras. It looks like the president is going to be restored to office. As reported by Truthout, "A US-brokered, Agreement for National Reconciliation and the Strengthening of Democracy in Honduras was signed between President Manual Zelaya Rosales and coup regime leader Roberto Micheletti. Among many sectors, the deal is being hailed as a triumph for democracy in Honduras." The situation is still precarious, but at least the democratic majority pushed off the coup. And the US brokered the deal, so that's a good thing.
Fake Evidence -- A fascinating report in OpEd News by Jim Fetzner, the editor of Assassination Research, on mounting evidence that the Zapruder film was extensively altered and leaves out large sequences of events that were reported consistently by many sources at the scene. Fascinating for anyone who has followed this decades-long search for the truth about what happened when power changed hands that day in Dallas. Small Changes -- According to the Wall Street Journal, "While President Barack Obama still faces stiff headwinds on a range of major legislation on his agenda, he has been signing into law a slew of smaller initiatives that had gathered dust on the Democratic wish list for years." The article lists a number of the measures that it refers to. Recalcitrant Power Centers -- Russ Baker writes on Truthout about "What Obama is Up Against." Baker asks, " How much can any president accomplish against the wishes of recalcitrant power centers within his own government? We Americans harbor a quaint belief that a new president takes charge of a government that eagerly awaits his next command. Like an orchestra conductor or perhaps a football coach, he can inspire or bludgeon and get what he wants. But that's not how things work at the top, especially where 'national security' is concerned. The Pentagon and CIA are powerful and independent fiefdoms characterized by entrenched agendas and constant intrigue. They are full of lifers, who see an elected president largely as an annoyance, and have ways of dealing with those who won't come to heel."
November 5, 2009Bloomberg Buys New York -- It's amazing that Bloomberg, the incumbent billionaire who spent about $100 million to get elected, many times more than his unknown, unspectacular opponent, barely squeaked by with a victory. It's reassuring that it was not possible for that overkill spending to get him more of a victory than that. Bloomberg has been a breath of fresh air after the ersatz storm trooper Giuliani. But changing the law to give him a third term is creepy. Giuliani wanted to do it and was stopped. And there will be other Giulianis in the future who could be dangerous if allowed to take a third term. It's also disturbing that someone can be allowed to outspend a political rival by so much. Bloomberg spent more than any political candidate in history (LA Times), perhaps 16 times what his opponent spent (Huffington Post). He had the power of the incumbency, brand recognition, control over the government, and he still only chalked up a 5 percent margin. Given that he spent tens of millions more than his opponent and only won 557,059 votes to his opponent's 478,521 (Observer), is it possible to say that he did not buy the election, that his outspending his rival by many times was not what gave him that small edge?
Friday, November 13, 2009Afghanistan Plans on Pause -- Hats off to Obama for rejecting the military's plans for Afghanistan. Some will say it's just a show, or that it's ineffectual. We shall see. On Rachel Maddow last night she discussed with someone the parallel's between this and JFK. How JFK went ahead and sent ground troops to Vietnam at the urging of military leaders, then decided the policy was not working and issued orders to start withdrawing them. He had been burned by the CIA in the Bay of Pigs fiasco and left holding the bag for a mess. He started to take charge and exercise his legitimate authority over the military, which Eisenhower had warned in his farewell address was inclined to get out of control. The guests on Rachel Maddow's show drew this parallel and said that President Johnson had gone ahead with the military's plans for Vietnam and the result was a disaster. What remained unspoken was the fact that JFK got his head blown off a few months after issuing the order to start withdrawing troops. Given the underlying tension between the Pentagon and Obama, as reported by Seymour Hersch, one should not underestimate the seriousness of the military and its determination to not let elected officials stand in the way of its plans. There are very ominous overtones to these developments.
NASA Dicovers India on the Moon -- Now a couple of months after India's lunar mission discovered water on the moon (See Times On Line), suddenly NASA, with great fanfare, announces that NASA has discovered water on the moon. (See Google News) NASA beating back India's assault and re-asserting ownership of that psychological territory. Wash India's discovery down the memory hold and re-establish the incontrovertible connection between NASA and moon exploration. I still find it strange that after all of those NASA moon missions, this discovery was never hinted at until India discovered it independently. Now NASA is talking about the possibility of establishing a moon base. But what were they doing before? If they were not looking into the possibilities of establishing a lunar base in 1969 and in the several missions after that, what were they doing? I started to say, "Please forgive my skepticism about NASA," but I know most Americans could never forgive such skepticism. This is not something you question in American life. I first encountered skepticism about NASA's claims in Europe. It had never occurred to me to doubt before. Since that time I have run into many people outside America who never believed it, just as I never disbelieved it. But just as a psychological exercise, it is interesting to try on the theories that in fact NASA's story of landing on the moon was not entirely true. And if you do, some of these facts make more sense than they do otherwise. I just can't understand why it took the Indians in 2009 to discover there was water on the moon. If the skeptics are correct, we may run into many other such puzzles as science advances to the point where we confront the things NASA allegedly confronted 40 years ago. NASA sent men to the moon. They planted a flag. They broadcast a live TV show from the moon to the earth. They jumped around to demonstrate lunar gravity. They went back again numerous times, spending billions of dollars. But apparently it didn't occur to them to confront the question whether or not there was water on the moon. They brought back some rocks. But they didn't announce any discoveries that contradicted what was ascertained about the moon from the vantage point of the earth. They didn't apparently learn anything that was not already known. They didn't discover anything new. They were on the moon, but apparently it turned out to be exactly like everyone expected. It was a cold, lifeless planet and there was no water. That was in grade school science textbooks. And it was not challenged by NASA. There was nothing new to report. Until now. Until the Indians. Though the U.S. government has lied about countless things, this is something that remains sacred and unquestionable. But as things go forward, let's not let NASA make us forget that it was India's lunar mission that discovered the water first, not NASA. Let's not wash that down the memory hole. It may be important as further developments come to light.
December 2, 2009Not by a Bang, but a Whimper -- This piece by Chris Hedges on opednews.com is right on and coldly powerful. "Will Tiger Woods finally talk to the police? Who will replace Oprah? (Not that Oprah can ever be replaced, of course.) And will Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple who crashed President Barack Obama's first state dinner, command the hundreds of thousands of dollars they want for an exclusive television interview? Can Levi Johnston, father of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's grandson, get his wish to be a contestant on 'Dancing With the Stars'? The chatter that passes for news, the gossip that is peddled by the windbags on the airwaves, the noise that drowns out rational discourse, and the timidity and cowardice of what is left of the newspaper industry reflect our flight into collective insanity."
December 4, 2009Now It Belongs to Him -- Afghanistan really became Obama's war when he served most of his first year without taking any action. But now that he has ordered an escalation, it really is his. He has made a historically grave decision that will bear heavily on the remainder of his presidency and the future of the country. I was disappointed, not at all surprised.
Leading with the big story about 9/11, how 19 Arab terrorists... blah blah blah was not a good start. It set my teeth on edge immediately. That incident, the infamous 9/11, has been so badly abused. The people have been so badly abused on account of that horrific experience that goes by only numbers -- Clang! Clang! Clang! The mythical monolithic unstoppable force has arrived!: -- Nine One One: The Tale of the 19 Terrorists. When I hear those echoes of the Bush administration I immediately recoil. I want to listen with an open mind. After all, there are nukes in Pakistan and that is serious business. But when he starts with all that bullshit about 9/11 I feel supremely not with it, and not open minded.
Obama is not an ignoramus like Bush, who it seemed had no clue about the legal or logical implications of anything his administration did. But Obama is a constitutional scholar, a very intelligent man. So he understands in principle that the government should not be allowed to use 9/11 as a pretext for war if it is not willing to submit a coherent explanation for what actually took place that day. In order to do that, it would have to initiate a real, independent and thorough investigation that really does answer the essential questions and assign accountability through a legally sound process.
So putting aside whether that little vendetta has been satisfied against the assumed terrorists, what really is the purpose of this war in Afghanistan? What is the reason for this military conflict that has been going on eight years with no apparent change, from the point of view of the American people, except that the country is going broke from buying $400 gallons of gas in the corruption bonanza in the Middle East?
So skip the 9/11 crap and let's talk frankly about why we are conducting a war on the other side of the world. Is it for oil and the fact that our country could be held for ransom by anyone who controls that region? Is it because Pakistan has a nuclear weapon (which is almost like saying no one or any one has a nuclear weapon, it's just floating around in the Middle East like a basketball above the heads of a crowd of players grabbing for it.) These stories may not be as thrilling as the 9/11 myth, but at least with them I have some idea what we are talking about. Then I could see that there might be some security issue that is really worthy of drastic action, and that it's not just a massive concentration of capitalistic corruption and organized crime.
But when you preach those old lines that are so devoid of meaning after eight years of warfare, then I can't put a lot of credence into what you say. To me it's a case that wasn't made. But I have to admit I drifted off after a while.
Don't Do It Barack -- Michael Moore's thoughts on Obama's escalation in Afghanistan, published the night before Obama's speech. Michael Moore
December 22, 2009Quiet Coup -- This is one of the most terrifying things I recall ever reading. While we've been busy doing our Christmas shopping, the Supreme Court made a ruling that has deep implications in the long history of freedom versus tyranny. According to Chris Floyd at Uruknet: "After hearing passionate arguments from the Obama Administration, the Supreme Court acquiesced to the president's fervent request and, in a one-line ruling, let stand a lower court decision that declared torture an ordinary, expected consequence of military detention, while introducing a shocking new precedent for all future courts to follow: anyone who is arbitrarily declared a 'suspected enemy combatant' by the president or his designated minions is no longer a 'person.' They will simply cease to exist as a legal entity. They will have no inherent rights, no human rights, no legal standing whatsoever -- save whatever modicum of process the government arbitrarily deigns to grant them from time to time, with its ever-shifting tribunals and show trials." The sun is at its lowest point.
Anniversary of What? Almost a year since Obama took office I am trying to figure out what difference it has really made. He ordered an escalation of the Afghanistan war. There was never any hope given to an extension of Medicare and now We seem about to lose the public option in whatever sort of so-called reform we are about to get in the healthcare racket. And now the Supreme Court has accepted the Obama administration's contention that the president should have the power to call anyone he wants an "enemy combatant" and strip them of their rights as human beings, torture them with no fear of any kind of consequences. He has bolstered the Wall Street titans and thieves to their privileged position of being too big to fail. I'm trying to think of any times that Obama came down on what I would consider the right side on any major issue.
Friday, January 1, 2010Happy New Year! A fresh one. Throw out the rotting corpse of 2009 -- sorry. But 2009 was a year many will be happy to leave behind. One of my favorite comedian philosophers once said, "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty..." And I do agree that gratitude is very important -- though it is a concept that functions on a spiritual plane, not on a political one. In spite of the fact that much of worst aspects the status quo of a year ago are exactly the same as we begin 2010, I am still grateful for many things.
I could rattle off many of the things that are still going on that the Obama is now supporting that were first put into place by the Bush administration and are as wrong now as they were outrageous then. But I won't. I'll just proceed with a note of recognition of the triumph of the status quo. I am still very grateful that the Bush regime and its heirs were pushed out of power by a powerful popular movement that left little doubt as to its distaste for the regime. It's true that the US has not changed owner/operators. But it is a different world than under the Bush mob. When the Bush crime family reigned, it was to me a state of emergency. It was an invasion, a takeover. It goes back to the way they took power by subverting the electoral system in a broad campaign of illegal activities that they got away with. They were in fact rewarded by being given the keys to the national vehicle. It was not a legitimate election. They didn't win and should not have been put into power.
Once they got in, they grabbed the wheel and lurched the American Adventure into the ditch of lowlife criminal warfare and looting. They threw the country into a panic over 9/11 and gutted human rights, human welfare, Having taken over in an illegal seizure of power, it may yet have been tolerable if they'd ruled moderately. In any case, that is old ground now. I was just recalling the state of emergency under Bush.
Most of the problems of last year are still with us now, but at least we have a president who was the actual victor of an election that was as legitimate as our system can now produce. The system is so badly corrupted that the country is still in a state of emergency and in many ways moreso than last year. But on that one level, the power structure of the executive branch, one glaring breach has been repaired. And for that I am grateful.
The practical difference between Obama and Bush is not in their differences as people or as politicians, but more in how they came to power and the resulting situations each encountered. Though most of Obama's policies are so far identical to Bush's, the difference is, once again, in the people, the body politic. Obama does represent the choice of the people, within the narrow range of big-money candidates that are presented to the public. Bush was not elected, never recognized any accountability to the people. He was correct in recognizing that his rise to power had little to do with the will of the people and only a small minority ever cast a vote for him.
Obama, on the other hand, does owe his victory to the people. He knows it and we know it. Obama may not carry out the will of the people, may not even have any intention of it, but we can take pride in having put him there. The Bush-Rove election rigging machinery, to the extent that it was still intact after Bush was done with it, was working against Obama, not for him. So at least there is a modicum of legitimacy in his being in office, as much as is currently possible in our money-corrupted electoral system.
Obama's actual political effects have been mild to the extent that his administration's policies differ at all from its predecessor's. But at least he represents the chosen agent of the people and we can hold our heads high that we restored electoral control to the people. The activists who railed against the voting irregularities were not able to turn back the clock and get convictions or reverse phony election results. But the attention to the problem created an atmosphere of vigilance, which did in part stymie the election rigging machinery.
So there is all that to be grateful for -- not grateful to the politicians who pose as our benefactors, but grateful to our fellow citizens who took their stands and made differences, all of which combined into a substantial difference. There have been some minor reforms, nothing approaching what the will of the people demands, but it's a better environment than when Cheney was running the country in flagrant defiance of any legal limitations or obligation to even consider the will of the people.
There is a different mood in the country, in the world. The Bush era is over. The awful decade is done. The damage they did will be with us a long long time. But they are done, at least for the moment. What is left of the hard right is marginalizing itself more and more. Once again, I am not expressing gratitude to the politicians, but to the people of the world, who are moving on and leaving that retrogressive mob behind. And I'm not saying the actual power structure of the country has changed, just what is appearing on the political stage. And it does represent the movement of the population, the culture.
Meanwhile, besides leaving us with a collapsed economic system and a decimation of human rights laws and customs, they left us with the institutionalization of the Global War on Terror, which hasn't changed noticeably since Obama took office. Through all the terror of the Bush years, the American people were conditioned to accept war as an ongoing, normal condition. The fact that the economic system of the country is being continually sapped and weakened by wars is rarely alluded too, as if the economic collapse of the country and the wars are in separate worlds. Now you turn on the news and it's today's report on the never-ending war against Oceania. All the commentators are discussing everything within the framework of military strategy. They compete in terms of who can reel off more detail and military expertise than the other. There is no voice to question whether we should be fighting a war in the first place. It's just about the details of operations. Within that framework, war is just the daily business, a dignified, respectable business just as any other, like manufacturing bottles of Coke or women's underwear.
But we should keep in mind what war really is. War is the suspension of all of civilization's most ancient laws against murder, rape and plunder. War is anything goes. It is the canonization of bestiality. The bottom-line fall-back justification of the clean-cut military spokesman is "This is war." In war you have collateral damage. It's not always pretty, but this is war, they say. But why is it war? Because you say it is. Because President Bush declared it, invoked it. Not with any justification, but once it is defined as war, then no one is any longer accountable for the worst crimes against humanity.
And all the while as we pour billions into bombing, killing, destruction and occupation, the environmental crisis is heightening with such rapidly gathering force that it is likely to obscure every other issue within a short span of time. It's getting harder and harder for serious scientists to sketch out any imaginable scenario for the survival of humankind, certainly on anything approaching the scale on which it now exists.
So flying by the seat of our pants, we hurl into 2010, a new baby year full of hope and promise, innocence and naivete. Let us set our sights on the stars and if we're going to go down, let's do it with style.
January 16, 2010Bushed -- A year that began with great hope and relief that Bush and Cheney were leaving the White House ended for me in disillusionment and demoralization. Bush and Cheney were so out of control, so criminal, so dictatorial, mean, war-loving and murderous, it was easy to focus your rage against them for destroying our republic. Then when the people finally moblized enough to push them and their ilk out of power and to elect a young, smart, smooth, hip Afro-American who spoke against all the neocon insanity and promised change, it was a tremendous relief and was very empowering. The people really did make their voices heard when they elected Obama rather than an old establishment face like McCain or Hillary Clinton or, God forbid, Rudy Giuliani. But now after a year to see that very few of the most egregious policies of the Bush-Cheney New World Order power grab have been changed, it makes it clear that the president is not in charge and others are pulling the strings.
It's hard to even guess at Obama's motivations, what he really wants, whether or not he misrepresented himself, or if he would sincerely like the changes he alluded to but just can't deliver them. But obviously, it becomes increasingly irrelevant who or what he is. We're still essentially stuck in the same mire. The same people are in charge. We're still carrying on disastrous war policies, torture, environmental destruction, massive extortion via government defense contracts, expanding corporate welfare and diminishing support for the people. The health insurance companies seem to have largely defeated any meaningful reform of the healthcare industries. We are now engaged in even more war than before, not less, expanding America's Middle Eastern rampage into Pakistan and Yemen.
So it appears that the hidden esatablishment has merely shifted to a new front man while it has consolidated its grip on power even more. Where to now? What next? Does the human race still have time to head off environmental disaster and survive another century? Prospects do not look good. Human beings as a mass seem unable to change behavior no matter how disastrous. We just plow ahead blindly like a herd of cattle. So might as well enjoy the ride, such as it is.
Meanwhile, here are some interesting stories I've seen lately.
Leading the Blind -- Paul Krugmanreports that The official Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which began last Wednesday, has already shown a remarkable depth of ignorance in the banking industry people who have been interviewed. Looking to them for ideas on how to get out of the current mess is obviously a fool's errand. They don't know what to do even to the extent that they care about anything but further enriching their bank accounts. Note I do not say that their main concern is their own welfare, because they are so conditioned to seek only expansion of profits they do not realize when that is no longer even in their own best interests.
Humanitarian Bush -- Very strange to see Obama appoint his good buddy George W. Bush to head the US effort to aid Haiti. Bush literally could not have cared less what happened to Americans in the aftermath of Katrina. How can anyone hope he will care about or do any good for Haitians in Haiti? What is going on? Rob Kall of Op Ed News has some grousing to do about this in his piece "Democratic Presidential Bush Enablers Rehabilitate Criminal Bush." While Thieves Feast on their Booty -- Hate to be the bearer of bad news, so let the Wall Street Journal say it: "Economy still bleeding jobs." More Bucks for War -- Meanwhile Obama is going to ask for $33 billion more for wars. It's time for Americans to Rethink Afghanistan. Not the politicians and the contractors of the military industrial complex. They know what they want, more money for war. It's the American people who have to rethink what these racketeers are doing to us, and we are letting them. Cognitive Infiltration -- Here's another one on the chilling side ... or is it just the ridiculousness of the authoritarian mentality? An Obama staffer advocated tax dollars be spent on sending secret agents to 9/11 Truth meetings to engage in "cognitive infiltration." What business does the government have infiltrating meetings of 9/11 Truth? What is it opposing, inquiry? What is it protecting? A very smelly story from Raw Story. Of course the practice is obvious from the point of view of an intelligence-minded paranoid gook and it has no doubt already been going on for a long time. It's just the way these nuts work. "George W. Obama" Nat Hentoff writes that after a year in office, Obama has shown his true face. "On January 22, 2009, the apostle of 'change we can believe in' proclaimed: 'Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of my presidency.' But four months into his first year in command, Obama instructed his attorney general, Eric Holder, to present in a case, Jewel v. National Security Agency, a claim of presidential 'sovereign immunity' that not even Dick Cheney had the arrant chutzpah to propose." Sovereign immunity. Does this need any explanation? The United States does not have a sovereign. After a year, I'm done with Obama. There are too many of these New World Order policies going into effect quietly under the fanfare. It creates the impression of a talented young man who lobbied for the top job and got it, and now is just acting out the role of president within a very narrowly prescribed set of boundaries. His instructions seem to be something like this: "You conduct the presidential fanfare anyway you want, you can play whatever side you want of a host of issues that will get intense coverage in the media. We don't care about any of that stuff. But when it comes to what is important, the establishment of a sort of corporate new world order, in which corporations run the world, you stay out of it. Got it?" If he said yes, he had the job. He certainly had the talent to pull it off. He got Wall Street's money and both sides make out. On this level of power, it would be the same if McCain had won. There would be many differences, but in terms of the agenda of the world corporate state, there would be virtually no difference. Which brings us to the following. li>Check It Out -- The Huffington Post is drawing attention to a book by Charles Lewis: Shadow Elite: Outsourcing Government, Losing Democracy. This is what's happening. It is not some bizarre conspiracy theory for lunatics. This is what is happening.
January 21, 2010Emergency Alert -- This latest move by the right wing lunatics on the Supreme Court to unleash corporate spending for elections is the worst thing ever, and it's hard to imagine a more perfect stage upon which to build total corporate control of the world. Total corporate control will be make Orwell's 1984 look tame. The technology of human control has far surpassed what was accessible to George Orwell's imagination in the 1940s. The philosophers of totalitarianism have developed their art and Orwell was something they assimilated in their formative years. They have moved far beyond that to much more sophisticated realms today.
I don't know who is reading this, but surely I don't have to draw your attention to the massive creep of corporate power over our country during our lifetimes. The major corporations hardly needed unfettered control over our election system. They already control the media, the voting machines that determine the elections, which means they can create a narrative in the media, and then fulfill it in the invisible realms of the electronic voting system of Diebold, ES&S and other right wing companies.
It's hard to imagine them being under any spending limits in campaigns as things have stood until now. They still find ways to drop billions upon billions into the pockets of politicians who please them. And they have to have millions to give to the corporate media for ads if they want anyone in America to know their names. So the big corporations control that sphere too, and these are all public spheres that the corporations have taken over, have essentially stolen from the public.
Reagan's administration stripped the media of their obligation to provide news as a public service, which they used to have to do in return for being given control over the public airways. So candidates have to have millions of dollars to be in the game. The voice of the people, the will of the so-called common man has been lost in the shuffle of a legal system built by slick corporate lawyers who have piece-by-piece assembled the perfect corporate dictatorship. Right under our noses.
The unleashing of corporate election spending is the final piece. I can hardly imagine any power that is not now in the hands of the corporate sector. With NAFTA and other so-called Free Trade agreements, the corporations can overrule the soveriegnty of the countries. Those agreements take away the power of governments to protect themselves against multinational corporations.
With the USA Patriot Act, the government, the unitary executive, as in a corporation has nearly unlimited power. The president can now strip citizens of all their Constitutional rights, according to this travesty of a law. This is what our politicians have done to us in this first decade of the Corporate Century. They have sold us out to the Corporate State. We have been privatized.
Fortunately there are some very smart, responsible people who have been preparing for this day when the Supreme Court would roll back the 1907 law that prevented corporations from dumping money from their coffers into elections. Corporations had not long been considered persons at that time. It was a new device of lawyers arguing case law for corporations. The idea was absurd from the moment it was uttered, but has managed to hold sway in our legal system and lead to some catastrophic results, with corporations now co-opting human rights and assigning humans to nonpersonhood. That is literally what the law now allows the president to do.
There is a great deal more to be said and explained about this issue, and it's very important for Americans to rise up against this. Fortunately, unlike many other judicial travesties of the last decade, this one has attracted immediate attention and there are already forces in Congress working on doing something. There really is a chance of a movement making a difference here. And there is no bigger issue. This is the human's last stand. If we don't confront corporate power now, democracy, human rights, justice, will be things of the past.
Check these out: PUblic Citizen
Video: "Don't let corporations steal our elections".
Sign Public Citizen's petition at action.citizen.org
January 25, 2010Metanoia: Mind Change -- In the last few days since the Supreme Court struck down campaign financing regulations, I've changed my mind a bit on the subject. (Some nice men came into my office and stuck a needle into my neck and now I feel very happy.) This article by Glenn Greenwald makes some good points. I still have much to learn about this, but my feeling at the moment is that the issues of too much corporate power in our electoral system need to be attacked from the standpoint of corporate law, not campaign finance legislation. Or at this point amending the constitution to create exceptions to freedom of speech.
Parsing the free speech implications of the campaign financing laws is very delicate, and freedom of speech is very fundamental to the American system. But on the other hand corporations are artificial entities created by the laws of the states and the federal government, and I think this is the part we should focus on. Corporate law has largely evolved through case law being interpreted by slick corporate lawyers, and this needs to be re-examined radically and re-written through the legislative process.
I think the idea that corporations are legally persons should be thrown out the window. We need to re-define what corporations are. We need to go back to what they were historically, where they began. Legally it doesn't seem that difficult. But in terms of inertia, of course it's a massive undertaking. However, ironically, the court decision may have intensified the public antipathy toward this corporate state as it now exists -- and it sucks by the way if you haven't noticed. To see health insurance companies making the fortunes they are making by denying care is literally sickening.
Seeing the contrast with other countries' medical systems as in Michael Moore's Sicko shows what utter insanity we have learned to live with in this country. It is possible for things to change. We do have the power to regulate corporations and we now have to assert it. When Exxon, the richest company in history and the single largest impediment to progress in warding off climate disaster has just been given carte blanche to use its massive capital to manipulate elections, we are dealing with major survival issues. Exxon's profits versus survival of life on earth. Hmmm, which side do I come down on?
But, in fact, as Greenwald points out, the corporations already control our electoral system almost entirely. Corporations have managed to work around whatever limits have been placed on them in financing elections, so this may not be such a radical change in practice as it is on paper. Congressman Barney Frank was recently discussing how to regulate corporations and some legislation is now being formulated. We should be making a big stink about it until something is done.
June 12, 2010Metanoia: HeadBlast Resumes -- Those who have occasionally perused this site during the last 10 years may have noticed that it has lain dormant for the last six months and nearly dormant for the previous year. It's been on break, or in a state of suspended animation. Now it resumes, but differently. It's a different world, it must be confronted differently.
I still believe in most of the same crackpot theories I believed in two years ago. I have just further refined those beliefs and they have been informed by events and new information. But there are continuing outrages on a daily basis, and one must keep moving to even begin to keep a sense of being in the world. And in fact, the flood of new information each of us must now encounter every day requires us to find higher systems of organization through which to make sense of the data.
So modestly I resume making entries and observations, but on a different footing. I just completed two months in which I traveled to Chile, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and Australia. It has been an extremely hectic time, and yet that pace became the pace and it no longer seemed hectic. In two months I did 12 intercontinenal flights, another 11 domestic flights, another five small plane charters, a helicopter charter, saw four continents and six countries. I went gorilla trekking, which was something that had resided at the top of my bucket list for years. So I must now envision the list. I had so many potentially life changing experiences in the last two months I must now pause to let some of the changes take place. There is much to absorb and assimilate.
The catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico changes everything and does so profoundly. This creates vivid proof in action of the fact that corporatism is on track to destroy our civilization if not higher forms of life on this planet. It is further clear that Barack Obama is not up to the task of the confrontation with corporate power that is necessary at this moment to create some hope for survival of human beings. He is clearly beyond his scope of power now. He still sees himself, legitimately in a sense, as the hireling of the corporate state. The massive corporate support he received during the election was not given for nothing. And he has been determined not to rock the boat of the big corporations that own and control the country.
As Amy Goodman of Democracy Now showed long ago, Obama advertised himself to the corporate masters and signaled to them in his book that he would not threaten their hold on power. In The Audacity of Hope he wrote that he believed globalization is pretty much inevitable. And people who accept the conventional view that that only means business will be transacted internationally may not be threatened by that statement. But globalization essentially refers to the program of the corporate state to extend its power and control over the whole earth. This is the program that Obama has signed onto. And that is why he is dealing with this BP catastrophe like a scared rabbit.
I agree with Jim Hightower's simple formulation that the fundamental political issue of the time is the expansion of corporate power, and the inverse contraction of human rights as the power structure has continued to cede power to the corporate giants. This is the central issue of the times, and is assuming increasingly lethal proportions. Anyone who cannot see the implications of mass destructiveness of the corporate state as it now exists in the events in the gulf is just not fully awake.
Barack Obama rose from the sidelines to the center of power in Washington because he appealed to a deep and passionate revulsion of the body politic against the infestation of the Bush-Cheney corporate state, the undermining of legitimate power in Washington and the replacing of it with a corrupt regime based on extremely lethal corporatism. Obama rode that wave of the desire for change to Washington. But he has sold out and is clearly not up for the very confrontation that he was elected to make. He will not confront corporate power. Therefore, he is a mere bystander to history. He's just a placeholder president, holding the official position, conducting political theater, but really having virtually no effect on events. He is not willing to be a true advocate of the people against an illegitimate regime of corporate power that has taken over America.
The healthcare bill, for all the drama of it, did not confront the essential issue of healthcare in America: the fact that the "system" is not a healthcare system at all, but a profit system. Its objective is to produce large and ever-increasing profits for a cartel of insurance companies and other medical "providers", using the population as cattle upon which to build those fortunes. Any serious attempt at reform would immediately remove antitrust immunity from those companies, put serious limits on what they can do to gouge and cheat customers, and create a Medicare buy-in or public option for people who choose not to be cheated by the insurance oligopoly. Obama was unwilling to challenge the corporate power that ties up that system and renders it ridiculously ineffective, the sad joke of the world. No other developed country has such a primitive and predatory health system, designed only for the welfare of the cartel and its network of corporations who profit from it, including major media controllers, and without even a touch of humanity for the rest of us.
The damage that that system is creating daily, hourly, is nearly beyond comprehension. Just start with the number that represents the population that is now getting exploited by the system, people who are going broke, losing their homes, being financially ruined by it. Obama would not confront it.
Recall that Theodore Roosevelt, though he was a product of and darling of the top economic powers in the country, did confront the issue of monopolistic corporate power and made some effective changes. Franklin Roosevelt, also an aristocrat, also made essential changes. Obama is called upon by history to make a similar confrontation, but he is clearly not up for it.
In my view, the last president who tried to exercise his power as an executive for the people and to confront the shadowy power behind the scenes, got his head blown off for doing it. And no one since him has dared to cross that line. Certainly Obama does not have the stomach for that confrontation. The way he looks on the podium now, as he stands sheepishly accepting the authority of BP over his own, is like the junior VP of a major corporation that is backpedaling, obfuscating and shirking responsibility for the damage it has created. He's a hireling. His answer to the call of history was an application for the top job of the corporate state. That's as good as we're getting. He knew how to say all the right things during the election. He could divine the wishes of the American people for real change, but he has no intention or means for providing it.
Now the disaster in the Gulf is making painfully clear that the corporate state is virulent, deleterious to life, and must be stopped before it destroys everything. This is a serious job requiring reform of corporate law, of election law, of media regulations, regulations in general. This is very serious business. What's happening with Obama, unfortunately, has been reduced to little more than theater. Some very serious activism from the people is going to be required to push Obama and the rest of the mob in Washington that they are going to have to serve the people on a few issues and take the consequences from their corporate sponsors, or they'll be thrown out.
June 16, 2010This Alvin Green fiasco in South Carolina, is another brilliant electoral crime scheme of the right wing. Though it is a much more obvious and extreme case than what we have been seeing, it is essentially the same model of the Bush election in 2004. You create a narrative to explain the result you get by altering voting machine counts, which can be easily hacked and manipulated with no paper trail to show what happened. In 2004 the narrative spun by Karl Rove was the sudden emergence of a previously invisible constituency, the "values voter." These people were allegedly voting right wing because they were freaked out about gay marriage and such "values issues". That was supposed to explain the anomalies of Bush's election in 2004. That was the story that was floated out, and it flew because few were willing to look at the possibility that the machines could be compromised. I could never understand the misplaced faith in these machines, when it was so clearly demonstrated that they were not reliable.
Now in South Carolina we have an unemployed man who filed to have his name on the ballot, ran no campaign, was virtually unknown, and then suddenly got 60 percent of the vote. Sixty percent is a huge landslide in American politics, rarely acheived. This guy supposedly pulled it off without ever raising funds, holding meetings or rallies. When interviewed, he repeats the same standard responses over and over. "I just ran an old-fashioned campaign ... across the state." Where did you go? What did you do? They ask him. He has no answers. But now his unexpected landslide has cleared the way for the Tea Party candidate to take the US Senate seat. The guy is under a charge for obscenity.
Green's Democratic opponent won by a huge 84 to 16 percent in the paper ballots caset by absentee voters. But in the untrackable touch-screen machines, Green won by 59 to 41 percent.
Green claims the $10,000 filing fee came from his own personal funds. He financed the campaign out of his own funds, he said, and he's on unemployment. This one is really ridiculous, but it is essentially just a more extreme version of the kind of stuff we've been sold over the last 10 years. When a handful of activists and researchers were screaming that the voting machines with their untrackable totals were not reliable, the mainstream media, even some of the progressive blogosphere leaders were saying that election fraud issues were conspiracy theories spouted by lunatics. The problem has been largely ignored, though people like Bev Harris, Robert Kennedy, Mark Crispin Miller and others presented the case clearly for voting machine manipulation, many were determined not to hear it. So it just got worse and worse and now we're getting really flagrant examples like Alvin Green. Hopefully this will finally will show that the problem can no longer been ignored. We need real elections in America.
For more on the election numbers, see Brad Blog.
August 14, 2010Bushiness as Usual -- With Obama's press secretary Robert Gibbs ragging on the "professional left," saying they should be drug tested if they aren't happy about what Obama has done, it brings into focus where things stand in regard to Obama, the people who worked for him and put him into office, what he promised and what he has delivered. The next day after essentially saying "Fuck you" to the left, Gibbs stuck by his statements and used healthcare as an example, saying that people worked 100 years on healthcare reform and Obama finally achieved it. But in fact the grand healthcare reform did not begin to get at the problem, which is the corporate control of the entire healthcare system and the fact that it is all about their profits over all other considerations, including providing healthcare to the people.
As Vietnam vet and lawyer Ernest A. Canning writes on BradBlog, Obama started from the standpoint of finding a healthcare bill that would be acceptable to those same corporations who now control the system and gouge everyone in their moments of greatest need in order to create enormous profits. Though 60 percent of Americans would prefer having a single payer system, which just means extending Medicare to anyone who wants it, Obama never even put that consideration on the table. The little oligarchy of so-called healthcare corporations counted more than 60 percent of the country. Gibbs said those radicals who give voice to the 60 percent would only be happy if the US had a healthcare system like Canada's, but, he said, "That's not reality." Reality is corporate America, where corporations rule and their wishes are placed above those of the majority always, even with the president, who is supposed to be the one elected official who represents the entire country.
The alternative to a single payer system, the next best thing for the nonwealthy, would have been an option for people to buy into Medicare, which was called The Public Option, but by the time the armies of media confusion had unleashed their propaganda, people thought that meant a system that would kill grandma. This big healthcare reform act that Gibbs talks about as the culmination of a hundred years of struggle, actually does almost nothing the people wanted and needed for that century, and is perfectly suited to the corporate powers that oppress and gouge them. As Canning says, the resulting law was something put together by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and a former vice president of WellPoint, and it's "an insurance carrier wish-list that contains no public option, no means for controlling costs or abuse; a measure that does not merely protect but expands the already obscene wealth of the few by mandating that every citizen purchase insurance, with massive subsidies flowing into carrier coffers." Yes, for those who will be covered who were not covered, it means something. It is not without some benefits for some, but it's mostly for the business community that has been extorting billions from the people's misfortunes for decades.
Meanwhile the Sunday New York Times today has a big article saying that "Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents", which means that the US is continuing the Bush policies of presuming the entire world to be territory in which the US can attack anyone it wants, whoever it deems to be a terrorist. And that is whoever it wants to call a terrorist, whoever may be seen to oppose US power.
Yes, things have shifted. Obama represents a different branch of the corporate state than Bush. As Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall puts it in her article "Who Pulls Obama's Strings?" on OpEdNews.com, Bush and Cheney represented oil and the defense industry; Obama represents banking and Wall Street. War is the common enterprise of both constituencies. Corporate domination of the world is also a shared objective of both constituencies.
So while Obama is a new smiley face in front of the power structure, it is fully clear by now that the most offensive anti-democratic aspects of the Bush administration are being embraced and solidified into permanent policy by the Obama administration. The power has not really shifted significantly in regard to the issues that affect that massive majority of the people, including the misled and confused Tea Baggers.
As Bramhall writes on Alternet, "By now there is widespread disenchantment among progressives who busted their butt to get Obama elected only to see him break nearly all his campaign promises and continue the pro-war, pro-torture, pro-covert assassination and anti-civil liberties policies of George W. Bush." Now one question is, do the people in the neglected majority have the will to pick themselves up one more time after this demoralizing betrayal and continue trying to defend themselves against the assault of the corporate state? We might be able to live with the fact that the top 10 percent control 70 percent of the wealth of the country, but the problem is, for them it is not enough. It's never enough. It's not the poor who are raging for revolution. It's the upper upper crust who want to dismantle whatever is left for the poor and middle class and take it all. Maybe they think they can take it all and horde it on another planet after they've destroyed this one.
-- David Cogswell