Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Reporting" on Iran should seem familiar


"Reporting" on Iran should seem familiar By Glenn Greenwald

Excellent article on media hype regarding Iran, and more.

At the end, in an update, is a link to Glenn's interview on the Joe Scarborough show which examines this situation.


Obama’s Neverending Afghan Adventure by Brian Doherty

Honest in the Worst Way by Philip Giraldi

"McConnells and Chertoffs have always been around. During the Civil War contractors in Philadelphia made army boots out of cardboard and uniform jackets that fell apart after being worn once or twice. Trying to make money off of government contracts goes back even farther than that with Cicero having prosecuted corrupt governors who robbed the treasury of the Roman Republic. Today’s snake oil vendors will always be with us, particularly as both Republicans and Democrats appear to be enamored of the war on terror which will apparently go on forever and everywhere. As it is global and terror is a tactic you can bet it will never end until it bankrupts the United States, which just might come sooner than most people think likely.

What is lacking is any restraint on the activity of the promoters of the war economy. The salesmen for total war would not be so dangerous if they were not portrayed as experts and given a platform to parlay their former government positions into private gain. A skeptical media would be nice, asking hard questions about what financial interests former senior government officials might have. But we are long past the point where we might expect the media to do its job or do anything at all but promote the long war, which presumably sells newspapers and ad time on television."

Bill

Wired Estonia



Public Television (PBS) had a great show tonight featuring Estonia's e-card system.

The technology is impressive and easy to imagine the benefits of. The much harder part is dealing with the fact that all of the information collected can be accessed by government (a class of people granted access). This amounts to a frontal assault on our privacy.

Does it have to be a question of service or privacy, but not both? Is there a solution acceptable to everyone? Estonia claims to have it's system setup this way, to serve the people and not the government. Either I missed it, or they didn't cover how they do it, but it would be interested to know.

Bill

Monday, March 29, 2010

Women as terrorist weapons in Russia

Women as terrorist weapons in Russia By Tracy Clark-Flory

"The common assumption is that women have different motivations than men for turning to terrorism; some popular theories include mental illness, coercion and a desire to escape their second-class status. But as Lindsay O'Rourke wrote in an Op-Ed in the New York Times after spending several years researching cases of female terrorists, "the main motives and circumstances that drive female suicide attackers are quite similar to those that drive men." Which is to say: Revenge for slain loved ones or as a protest against a foreign military occupation. "

Moscow subway explosions: a blip of terrorism or long-term economic drag? By Laurent Belsie

"The question for Russia is what Monday's bombings signal: a one-off event or the beginning of a long campaign."


These stories are particularly important because they are harbingers of what's to come. Just when you start to think your enemy is weak or stupid, think again. This is indeed more ripples of more waves in a big ocean. Can you count to 1.3 billion (the number of Muslim people in the world)? How many are needed to keep a campaign going? We are being so duped it's incredible. The warmongering bastard Neocon gang belongs on trial and in jail if found as guilty as the tons of evidence I've been seeing would dictate. Start with Bugliosi's campaign to put Bush on trail for murder and take it from there. This would be the appropriate, non-violet but effective way of dealing with this situation and American's plight with the blight of Neocon thinking. The "might makes right" mantra is entirely, diametrically wrong and is exactly the path we do not want to go any further down. Instead we must bring justice to the perpetrators of that invasion and make amends with the people in the Middle East. And we should not waste any more time, because time is working against us. 2 female bombers today ... _______________ tomorrow, and ___________ so on, and on, and on, and on - until we-the-people finally wake up and see the disaster that gang has wrought on our country, ourselves, our children and our future.


Bill

Rupert Murdoch's Internet answer: More pay walls


Rupert Murdoch's Internet answer: More pay walls by Andrew Leonard

"As legend has it, King Canute's real goal, when he famously ordered the tide to halt, was to demonstrate to his subjects how powerless even the mighty were before God. Rupert Murdoch, however, appears determined to do Canute one better: As far as he is concerned, the tide will stop.
...

I am as perplexed as anyone at the challenge of building business models for journalism in the era of the Internet, but I remain skeptical that people will pay for general interest content online in any significant numbers. There are just too many options for our disposable attention time. If I had followed Glyn Moody's tweet to a pay wall, I would have just bounced off and gone elsewhere. And I am someone who lives and breathes news -- the next generation, reared on Facebook and YouTube and Twitter and able to Google more sources of primary and secondary information in 10 seconds than any previous generation of humans could in months or years? They will not pay.

I think Rupert Murdoch is about to find out that the Internet is like God. Even the mightiest will be humbled before it."

------------------
Note: with apologies for trying to say too much with too few words in the following, I'll be back to revisit and flesh out the thinking here. I regard what's at stake here as the greatest battle of our generation.
-----------------

Andrew acknowledges and takes into account the nature of the Internet, but he seems to take it for granted that even some parts of the old model still apply. For example, the need for a news organization such as Murdoch's at all.

"Organization" has at least two very large meanings. The first meaning is that information, be it news or some other form, must be properly organized, a challenge the Internet has yet to seriously accomplish, but progress is being made.

The other "organization", consisting of people like Murdoch and his ilk, who sit at the top of our information supply today. With the Internet and some more work on it, we have no need for any of them, and they should simply disappear from our lives. Indeed, good riddance to them. It was Murdoch and his Neocon cronies that ushered us into that monumentally terrible military invasion of the Middle East. The way I see it, they can't be let to sink into the abyss of bad memories fast enough.

The first kind of organization we do need. It consists of architecture, design, definitions - and champions. If you work in or with the IT world, you know this. Given a useful design, and setting our minds to making it happen, *anything* is achievable. We can search and self-edit Internet content, and with the "new breed of editors" assembling (such as myself, I daresay), we're basically replacing that entire genre.

And I can't speak more lowly of Murdoch and his ilk. They've been sucking money from our population for so long, but more importantly spreading their bullshit propaganda at the same time. It was a great scheme for them, making money while spinning their webs of deceit, but "the jig is up" now and it's time for Poof! and the Big Bad Wolf to be gone.

The Internet is totally amenable to evolving into an information resource the likes of which many people can barely imagine today. It takes time and practice to assimilate what technology is delivering today. And then, the more you use it, the more you appreciate it - while it continues to grow and improve itself.

Murdoch and his ilk are going to fight this battle. It really is life or death for his empire, which drove him to the battle. Essentially it's about control of the Internet. I know he has powerful connections in Congress Good! Let it suck all of their ill-gotten gains.

But Murdoch and his ilk will not go down without a fight. This means, essentially, that we're now in a race between he and his kind who wish to control the Internet, and our ability to use the Internet to dispose of their authority.

Let's hope that enough people see and appreciate the value of the Internet and will defend it against this attack. In it's greatest sense, it can give us real democracy, and so much more. Of course, we must always pick the "baobabs" - the scourges, attackers and thieves and the like that breed on the Internet, but that's manageable and a useful role for police, to protect us from theft and attacks.

What we don't want is police and authorities in general having control over us. To protect us, we need a Constitutional amendment on privacy as a human right. It's too late to nip this problem in the bud, but at least we can stop it before it gets much, much worse. We need to firmly establish that gov't exists to serve and protect us, never the other way around. Knowledge and privacy are the keywords here.

To put this in perspective, consider that computers, the Internet, etc. are the product of all mankind, since the very first time a human wrote something down or counted something, the chain of events led to what we have today.

And what we have, this "machine", is owned by humanity, not Rupert Murchoch or anyone else, but by all of humanity.

The really incredible thing about all this is how efficient and incredibly cost effective the Internet is when you strip out the money extracted by Murdoch and his ilk. The cost of running the Internet is actually minuscule. It's computers and cables or airwaves, and organization. Factor in the value of having so much knowledge at your fingertips, the potential advantage to all mankind cannot be overstated.

On the other hand, if Murdoch and his ilk find a way to control the Internet - which is what this battle is really all about, then we're screwed big time.

Update I: See The Looming War on Bloggers

Bill

The 'Long War' quagmire


The 'Long War' quagmire By Tom Hayden

"The costs are unimaginable too. According to economists Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, Iraq alone will be a $3-trillion war. Those costs, and the other deficit spending of recent years, yield "virtually no room for new domestic initiatives for Mr. Obama or his successors," according to a New York Times budget analysis in February. Continued deficit financing for the Long War will rob today's younger generation of resources for their future."

Social Security Scare Tactics By Dave Lindorff

"The so-called Social Security funding “crisis,” which has Republicans and many Democrats warning of the system’s looming “insolvency” as though Social Security were just another AIG, could be solved simply by just eliminating the income cap, and taxing investment income."

War Movies and Veteran Memory By Brian M. Downing

"I couldn’t stand movies about my war. Shows like China Beach and Tour of Duty? Couldn’t watch ‘em. Many World War Two vets report the same thing. William Manchester says that while visiting a hospital John Wayne was roundly booed by wounded soldiers. It takes years to acquire the emotional distance to see war movies for what they are – consumer products, with an occasional fine effort."



Bill

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Health care costs


Following an unrelated news article, some reader feeback are particularly interesting on the subject of health care, so I thought to quote a few:

"Libertarians believe that free markets are always the best way to provide the most for the most. I agree this is still true, but this only works when the buyer is in charge. When the seller is in charge, which is the case of health care, banking, and the international corporations, then so called free markets are just monopolies, where the buyers are slaughtered. Health care is a monopoly - the supply of medical practioners is controlled, drugs are controlled, and health insurance are all controlled to effectively produce a monopoly. Ditto banking, ditto radio/TV etc. Why celebrate "free markets" that no longer exist.
--richard vajs"


"Food is vital for life. In most instances, one can live longer without medical care than without food. Yet the relatively free market in food, as burdened as it is with government interference, is delivering affordable goods. The free market clearly does not favor farmers and grocers over consumers and neither should it favor health care providers over consumers. That it does is a result of heavy government regulation and monopoly licensing laws whose real intention is not to protect the public but to limit supply for the benefit of the politically influential medical lobby.

All regulatory agencies are eventually captured by the industries they are meant to regulate for the benefit of the public. Those industries' coercive regulatory powers are then turned to fleecing the public and crippling competitors. Regulation has always been a godsend to established industries. They even beg to be regulated! Health care is no different. For example, the FDA exists not to protect the public from dangerous drugs but to protect the profits of Big Pharma from competition by nutrient supplements, herbs and holistic practitioners.

Since supplements and herbs cannot be patented, no one could afford to spend hundreds of millions of dollars jumping through the FDA's approval hoops. So, Big Pharma's chemists tinker with natural molecules in order to concoct a synthetic molecule which can be patented. With the FDA's connivance, the public is kept ignorant of the fact that inexpensive, safe and effective natural alternatives are available for almost all of Big Pharma's expensive and dangerous prescription drugs. How many people know that for only pennies a day, vitamin B3 (niacin) will not only reduce blood cholesterol levels but also clear arteries of cholesterol buildup. Compare that to surgery and expensive and dangerous statin drugs! The general population of developed countries suffers from severe vitamin D deficiency which has been traced to cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and all kinds of infections. Widespread supplementation with vitamin D3, costing almost nothing, or better yet, exposure to free sunlight would result in the bankruptcy of most pharmaceutical companies and hospitals! Yet, under the regulatory powers of the FDA to "protect" the public, such truthful statements on bottles of vitamin D3 would result in the arrest and prosecution of anyone selling this "unapproved drug."

So, as should be evident, unavailable and obscenely expensive health care is not caused by the failure of free market capitalism. It is instead caused by the politicization of health care in order to protect powerful lobbies. Real capitalism would force a collapse in health care costs just as it is forcing a continuing collapse of the costs of computing.

The latest 2,400 pages of health care reform at gun point will do nothing to increase the supply and quality of health care. But its "free" provisions will increase the demand and consequently escalate costs. If government attempts to legislate prices downward thus producing further shortages, then this vital service will be rationed and the poor will once again suffer as those with money find a means to buy there way to the front of the queue."
-- MetaCynic


And, on the free market:

"Libertarians (like Milton & Rose Friedman) have their minds stuck in the days when "free enterprise capitalism" mean a guy can save a few bucks and buy a handcart and peddle vegetables in any city. How long would Kroger tolerate that? Try starting your own neighborhood bank? Find an open slot in the radio spectrum and start cranking out a free broadcast. Then tell me about free enterprise.

Ah, Walmart. I remember when Walmart first came to a town in the Florida panhandle that I lived in. The town built what amounted to free private roads, paved a parking lot and changed zoning to accomodate them. They provided jobs all right - while bankrupting every small merchant in town.

Let us forever ban the notion of "free enterprise" in this country; the operative phrase is "crony capitalism" and government granted monopoly."
--richard vajs


On healthcare, a mention of the German system, which happens to be the best model in the world, yet managed to be completely ignored by our "news" in the major presentations on the subject I've seen. The difference to me is that Doctors in Germany don't expect to get rich - just as I remember our family doctor so 50 years ago. It's about greed, of course, and capitalism thrives on greed, which can be argued ad naseum, but we're not even seeing what capitalism and the market can do, given health care industry influence in Washington. It's far more like some monopolies setting the rules then market forces battling it out.

I'm not a major fan of Wal Mart, but I like what I'm hearing about their prescription drug program.


"There is alive in Libertarianism, and evidenced by some of the responses here, a soulless penchant for holding free-market ideals to excruciating standards. In reality, there's no reason why healthcare should be catsup - a product we buy or do without. Here's the problem: No catsup? No tomato-based condiment for your fries. No heathcare? ...Die. There's no reason for civilized societies to allow their citizens' health to rest on the vagaries of "free enterprise" - which, in reality, is as unattainable a goal as "pure socialism". Government can't be based on ideology so sociopathic. Capitalism can't be human? Germany instituted universal health care in the 1880s, and for all the epic triumph and tragedy that nation has borne and birthed in 120 years, not once did catastrophe stem from its medical delivery system."
--San Fernando Curt


Bill

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Crisis That Wasn’t by Philip Giraldi


The Crisis That Wasn’t by Philip Giraldi

"Lest there be any confusion about what happened, the White House said "Thou shalt not" and Bibi Netanyahu responded "I shall" with Bibi left standing at the end. AIPAC managed to get the support of nearly every congressman who mattered, including many leaders from Obama’s own party. Half of the entire Congress attended the Monday evening gala dinner where Bibi Netanyahu was the guest speaker and there was what amounted to a bipartisan love fest when the Israeli Prime Minister visited Capitol Hill on the following day.

...

Clinton did make one intriguing comment, perhaps not completely understanding the implications of what she was saying: "We cannot escape the impact of mass communications." She meant that many people have now become concerned about what is going on in Israel and Palestine because of what appears on the internet. But if Israel were truly the cowboy in the white hat upholding truth and justice that would hardly matter, would it? In reality, the narrative of Israeli exceptionalism and entitlement that has been carefully shaped by the Israeli government and its friends in the mainstream media has been thoroughly discredited by alternative sources of information made available through the internet. Once upon a time, only a very narrow audience that could easily be dismissed as "kooks" was aware of the Israeli repression of the Palestinians because the news was carefully filtered, particularly in the US. Today anyone with a computer and interest in the subject can become well-informed very quickly. If there was one hopeful aspect of Hillary’s speech, that was it. The rest was depressing, scripted, and did absolutely nothing to address the real issues."


Bill

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It


Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It By Paul Craig Roberts

"Today Americans are ruled by propaganda. Americans have little regard for truth, little access to it, and little ability to recognize it.

Truth is an unwelcome entity. It is disturbing. It is off limits. Those who speak it run the risk of being branded “anti-American,” “anti-semite” or “conspiracy theorist.” "

Congress, Israel and U.S. National Security By Ralph Nader

A stark truth: Israeli arms, U.S. dollars By Glenn Greenwald

Why AIPAC Feels 'Like Shit' by Ira Chernus

WashPost: Christiane Amanpour can't be "objective" By Glenn Greenwald


Bill

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We Stand on the Cusp of one of Humanity's Most Dangerous Moments


We Stand on the Cusp of one of Humanity's Most Dangerous Moments By Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is one of my favorite thinker/writers. This particular piece is long (and deep), which is necessary, but a shame because most people just don't have the time to read lengthy online articles. It's only because I think so highly of Chris Hedges that I forced myself to take the time. It was worth every minute, of course, and as I knew it would be.

Here he talks about the big picture of where we stand today, which isn't pretty, and the only practical and realistic thing we can do about it. Coincidentally, I started this blog with this thought: "1 person's protests may not matter much, but if we all protest at least as much, we can make a difference". In this article, Chris points out that it's going to be harder and take longer then even I thought.

How to entice you to read his article? One thing is to copy/paste some quotes from the article:


" We stand on the cusp of one of the bleakest periods in human history when the bright lights of a civilization blink out and we will descend for decades, if not centuries, into barbarity.

...

As long as the mass of bewildered and frightened people, fed images that permit them to perpetually hallucinate, exist in this state of barbarism, they may periodically strike out with a blind fury against increased state repression, widespread poverty and food shortages. But they will lack the ability and self-confidence to challenge in big and small ways the structures of control. The fantasy of widespread popular revolts and mass movements breaking the hegemony of the corporate state is just that – a fantasy.

...

And when anarchic violence begins to disrupt the mechanisms of governance, the power elite will use these acts, however minor, as an excuse to employ disproportionate and ruthless amounts of force against real and suspected agitators, only fueling the rage of the dispossessed.

...

.. those who proved most adept at defending Sarajevo invariably came from the criminal class. When they were not shooting at Serbian soldiers they were looting the apartments of ethnic Serbs in Sarajevo and often executing them, as well as terrorizing their fellow Muslims. When you ingest the poison of violence, even in a just cause, it corrupts, deforms and perverts you. Violence is a drug, indeed it is the most potent narcotic known to humankind. Those most addicted to violence are those who have access to weapons and a penchant for force. And these killers rise to the surface of any armed movement and contaminate it with the intoxicating and seductive power that comes with the ability to destroy.

...

Democracy, a system ideally designed to challenge the status quo, has been corrupted and tamed to slavishly serve the status quo. We have undergone, as John Ralston Saul writes, a coup d’├ętat in slow motion. And the coup is over. They won. We lost.


...

The levers of power have become so contaminated that the needs and voices of citizens have become irrelevant. The election of Barack Obama was yet another triumph of propaganda over substance and a skillful manipulation and betrayal of the public by the mass media

...

We live in a culture characterized by what Benjamin DeMott called “junk politics.” Junk politics does not demand justice or the reparation of rights. It always personalizes issues rather than clarifying them. It eschews real debate for manufactured scandals, celebrity gossip and spectacles. It trumpets eternal optimism, endlessly praises our moral strength and character, and communicates in a feel-your-pain language. The result of junk politics is that nothing changes, “meaning zero interruption in the processes and practices that strengthen existing, interlocking systems of socioeconomic advantage.”

...

.. the power elite is impervious to the charade of democratic participation. Power is in the hands of moral and intellectual trolls who are ruthlessly creating a system of neo-feudalism and killing the ecosystem that sustains the human species. And appealing to their better nature, or seeking to influence the internal levers of power, will no longer work.

...

Political candidates are elected in popular votes by citizens but are ruled by armies of corporate lobbyists in Washington, Ottawa or other state capitals who author the legislation and get the legislators to pass it

...

Those who control the images control us.

...

The proponents of globalization and unregulated capitalism do not waste time analyzing other ideologies. They have an ideology, or rather a plan of action that is defended by an ideology, and slavishly follow it. We on the left have dozens of analyses of competing ideologies without any coherent plan of our own. This has left us floundering while corporate forces ruthlessly dismantle civil society.

...

It left the world’s poor worse off and the United States with the largest deficits – which can never be repaid – in human history. The massive bailouts, stimulus packages, giveaways and short-term debt, along with imperial wars we can no longer afford, will leave the United States struggling to finance nearly $5 trillion in debt this year. This will require Washington to auction off about $96 billion in debt a week. Once China and the oil-rich states walk away from our debt, which one day has to happen, the Federal Reserve will become the buyer of last resort. The Fed has printed perhaps as much as two trillion new dollars in the last two years, and buying this much new debt will see it, in effect, print trillions more. This is when inflation, and most likely hyperinflation, will turn the dollar into junk. And at that point the entire system breaks down.

...

All traditional standards and beliefs are shattered in a severe economic crisis. The moral order is turned upside down. The honest and industrious are wiped out while the gangsters, profiteers and speculators walk away with millions. The elite will retreat, as Naomi Klein has written in The Shock Doctrine, into gated communities where they will have access to services, food, amenities and security denied to the rest of us. We will begin a period in human history when there will be only masters and serfs. The corporate forces, which will seek to make an alliance with the radical Christian right and other extremists, will use fear, chaos, the rage at the ruling elites and the specter of left-wing dissent and terrorism to impose draconian controls to ruthlessly extinguish opposition movements. And while they do it, they will be waving the American flag, chanting patriotic slogans, promising law and order and clutching the Christian cross.

...

A self-regulating market, Polanyi wrote, turns human beings and the natural environment into commodities, a situation that ensures the destruction of both society and the natural environment. The free market’s assumption that nature and human beings are objects whose worth is determined by the market allows each to be exploited for profit until exhaustion or collapse. A society that no longer recognizes that nature and human life have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, commits collective suicide. Such societies cannibalize themselves until they die. This is what we are undergoing.

...

We must continue to resist, but do so now with the discomforting realization that significant change will probably never occur in our lifetime. This makes resistance harder. It shifts resistance from the tangible and the immediate to the amorphous and the indeterminate.

...

The indifference to the plight of others and the supreme elevation of the self is what the corporate state seeks to instill in us."



Damn, I couldn't stop copy/pasting. Every word he says is worth reading and seriously considering.



Bill

Saturday, March 20, 2010

They bet our farms, you know


A military invasion of the Middle East, to establish authority in the region, with Iraq to be the first conquest on the list that included neighboring countries, was the Neocon plan from the beginning.

If you don't believe or understand this, a little Googling with provide all the facts and evidence you need to see it together for yourself. You can even Google on "neocon videos" and have it explained without having to read.

It's seven years later and the plan has been an obvious and monumental failure. We have established fear and contempt in the hearts of millions of people, but not authority.

Like the baby only a mother can love, the plan is still the plan for it's parents. What we're missing is an appreciate the depth of the commitment and the power it's parents have.

There is no way in the world that the Neocons are going to accept a withdrawal of the American military from the Middle East. Doing so would be tantamount to defeat, because once those troops are pulled out, they wouldn't go back any faster then they'd go back to Vietnam. With the troops gone and not likely to return, Israel would then find it's neighborhood more threatening and dangerous then it was before the invasion. Without American troops in the neighborhood, how will we protect Israel from it's enemies? Will we send in drones and air strikes on unidentifiable people in a dozen or so countries? How long will that go on, and how many people will it infuriate, including Americans?

So, here we are today, seven years after raining all that death and destruction on the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and still with hundreds of thousands of troops and mercenaries on the ground. What to do?

Enter Afghanistan. A place where victory can't even be defined, more less achieved. Why are a hundred thousand American troops (and probably an equal number of mercenaries) being placed there, then? An attention diverter? See this excellent article about the Forgotten War. Maybe Afghanistan is just being used as a parking lot for the troops, to keep them deployed in the area until the next incident that re-ignites the war plan?

How hard it is to make an incident?
Vincent Bugliosi makes the case that Bush (and implicitly the Neocon gang) is guilty of murder. Would people capable (and culpable) of murder stop at anything at all to protect themselves? Imagine what they can do with unlimited money, vast resources, amazing technologies, and the power to manipulate people and events?

The point of this post is to call attention to the "they bet our farms, you know" thought, because if that war goes bad, your farm is somewhere down that road. Exactly what the next incident will look like is anyone's guess, but if we-the-people can't find a way to stop them, any escalation at all will only breed more escalation, as we should have learned from history.

The best way, I think, to stop them is to follow Vincent Bugliosi, see put Bush on trial for murder.
All he needs is a federal prosecutor to take on the case. Since prosecutors report up the chain of command, there is reluctance on their part, but it only takes one, and he/she would be an instant hero. What's happened was a grave miscarriage of justice that must have it's day in a court of law if we hope to recover from the damage they've caused with that invasion.

Going after Bush first makes perfect sense. This approach starts with the person at the center of the scheme and unravels it from the inside out. That should work.


Bill

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Fellow Americans, Tonight I'm Going to Talk Frankly About a Pesky Little Nation Called Israel ...


"My Fellow Americans, Tonight I'm Going to Talk Frankly About a Pesky Little Nation Called Israel ... " By Alexander Cockburn

Alexander Cockburn is a regular contributor to CounterPunch. He's one of a still small, but growing group of writers willing to take on Israel. It's to my great relief that people like Alexander are putting to words what I think, based on my own research and common sense, but cannot express as well.

In this article, Alexander talks about just how powerful AIPAC's influence is, and in the case of dealing with today's "crisis", he gives an account of historical examples on how other crisis's in the past were handled. Paints a bleak picture because if history is any guide, they'll get away with this one too.

I think that Israel is a failure and a giant thorn in America's side. We can live comfortably side by side, but the majority needs to rule, that's what democracy is all about, and the majority in America is Christian. And this majority is not "right wing" or so-called "evangelists", that's just a media-marketing invention, where the "news" is used to puff a few loud-mouths and make them appear to be speakers for Christianity.

What Alexander should look into, if he hasn't, is Zionist ownership, control and influence over what we call "news". To see the big picture of what's happened, it's necessary to look at how Washington, Wall Street and the "news" have been manipulated to give so much power to so few people.

Update I: I'll take this space to also mention that I've read Thomas Paine's Age of Reason and am very inclined to agree with his reasoning on God and organized religion.



Bill

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Revealed: Ashcroft, Tenet, Rumsfeld warned 9/11 Commission about ‘line’ it ’should not cross’

Revealed: Ashcroft, Tenet, Rumsfeld warned 9/11 Commission about ‘line’ it ’should not cross’ By Sahil Kapur

Following this story is a collection of reader comments, the likes of which is becoming more and more typical as the case against Bush and his Neocon pals becomes clearer over time.

Another comment: anyone reading the "alternate news" lately sees the gulf of difference between what these source and the mainstream propaganda machine (including the Huffington Post, which has obviously crossed over into their territory) are saying.

Israel vs. America: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do The Biden ambush by Justin Raimondo

As usual, Justin Raimondo hits the nail on the head.

US-Israel Tensions Continue to Percolate by Jim Lobe

" "What Petraeus made clear – and that should be a wake-up call for Israel – is that the unresolved Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the entrenched occupation are placing an increasingly unbearable burden on the U.S.-Israel relationship, and the best way to address it would obviously be to resolve that conflict," he added.

According to a widely read article published by ForeignPolicy.com last weekend, the administration’s tougher stance toward Israel and its settlement policies over the past week was due in major part to growing frustration and concern by Petraeus and other military commanders over the loss of U.S. credibility in the region resulting from Washington’s failure to rein in Israel, particularly with respect to the expansion of Jewish settlements. "

I've long wondered when Americans would stand up to Israel. Looks to me like the time is starting now.



The Video That Will Put Geithner Behind Bars
By Mike Whitney
"Quite a few observers... have been stunned and frustrated at the refusal to investigate what was almost certain accounting fraud at Lehman.

...

This story isn't going away. Someone has to go to jail. It's clear that Geithner acted as the "chief facilitator" of industrial scale securities flim-flam which led directly to the Great Crash of '08. He needs to be held accountable for his actions."


Update I: See Juan Cole's articles at Israel Humiliates Biden, Announces Further Colonization on Eve of US-Brokered Talks and The Map: The Story of Palestinian Nationhood Thwarted After the League of Nations Recognized It

Last, but maybe should have been first is this particularly poignant piece called The Break on Palestine by David Bromwich




Bill

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Official dogma: Iraq War a success

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Pentagon's Runaway Budget; The end of newspapers


The Pentagon's Runaway Budget By Carl Conetta


"Taking the new budget into account, the Defense Department has been granted about $7.2 trillion since 1998, when the post-Cold War decline in defense spending ended."


Does the word "obscene" come to mind?

The End of Newspapers By Marie Benilde

"The transfer of advertising from newspapers to the net is often blamed, but the public has also become disillusioned with the content supplied by a journalistic elite that has lost credibility: newspapers are seen as politically biased, following the crowd, and uninterested in the needs of their readers."


Marie has this right.

Bring on the long overdue "new breed of editors"!


Bill

Monday, March 8, 2010

Calling All Rebels


Calling All Rebels By Chris Hedges

Ends with:

"Those who do not rebel in our age of totalitarian capitalism and who convince themselves that there is no alternative to collaboration are complicit in their own enslavement. They commit spiritual and moral suicide."


Chris Hedges is an excellent thinker/writer, and this compelling piece is certainly one of his best. The trouble is the picture it paints.

I still hold out hope because I see one possibility (and one only!), that we can somehow remove money from the political system (using the Internet) and thus elect representatives who do represent us. I still trust the "average American" to, on balance, do the right thing and select/elect our best people. I know they are out there, but I also know they have no power whatsoever. This is the problem and this is what we need to reverse, and we should waste no time doing it.

Maybe it's just me, but it's very clear how the Internet can be used for a voting system, and since I'm a programmer, how it can be done with enough security and integrity as to make it trustworthy. Why, I ask, isn't there a movement to do this? Where is M.I.T's design?

What makes Chris's piece so very scary is the scope of the problem.

For too many years now, I have been focused on what I saw as the Big 3 protagonists: Big Oil, the Military Industrial Complex, and Israel as being responsible for America's precipitous decline in almost every respect (freedom of speech being one of the remaining goodnesses). But I argued, essentially, that power in the hands of these organizations was very bad for America and we needed to do something about it.

Then, when we invaded the Middle East, it was no longer much of an argument. The dice were rolled and our farm was bet. Heretofore, the argument was that we might bet the farm, but now we had.

Of course, there are those who believe it's not that serious. People watch Fox "news" would never get this impression. But it's true. We did bet the farm on their crusade to establish military authority in the Middle East. We don't see it this way, because the "news" doesn't see it this way, but if you have any common sense left, you'll see that they have absolutely no intention of removing our military from the Middle East. Shifting it to Afghanistant - which everyone knows is impossible to conquer - but it serves as a convenient holding location for all those troops, who will be needed once the next phase of their crusade cuts in. They can't bring the troops home and disarm them, because they know they'll never get another shot at such a crusade again. That, another invasion, will not be tolerated, even by sheep.

So the troops are there, being moved around, but they are still there and - I fear - soon to become engaged in yet another campaign in the area, to keep the engine going until all the "terrorists" (anyone who opposes their authority) are dead. That's a lot of killing. But to people who truly believe the ends justify the means, it's a small price and well worth it.

Someone close to me recently pointed out that the Iraq's have their election and it's all evidence of the democracy we instituted in Iraq, and therefore how, in the end, we ultimately did the right thing. You don't have to play with words too much before you can see the sameness of "ends justify the means" and "ultimately did the right thing". One wording or the other denotes a fundamental attitude, that what we do along the way, as long as we get "there".

It's the kind of attitude that says there is no God, no purpose for our existence, no use to be good for it's own sake, no need for justice, no such thing as love, ...

Those afflicted with this attitude share much in common with their twain. Both enjoy music, travel, food, and those with the most money can indulge in the finest products mankind can create. They can have you send them your children to do the killing and dying, and they can pull more money right out of your pocket for their causes in a number of ways, all legal. Wars of conquest can be launched. All these things can happen so long as there are people to put together words and videos that tell people every day how right they are. Watch Fox "News" (or any of major news reporters) to see how it works.

We can fix this problem, hopefully before it's too late, by replacing those in power with people who believe the opposite: that the means justifies the ends.

One solution is to use the Internet to reinvent the election process. At last we can have gov't of/by/for the people, as our common hero Lincoln so eloquently said at Gettysburg, and it's actually within our reach, if we want it.

Of course, as the argument against goes, people need to be educated to make the best choice. But do people need to be educated before instituting such a system? No. We can err on the side of getting this job done, and we can trust that it will self-correct over time. Certainly the majority of Americans do not believe the ends justify the means (to put the whole wrong-headed philosophy I'm so against into a single perspective) and would replace all of it's practitioners given the chance.

America is in decline. Instead of staying the terrible course we're on, we can literally switch tracks. The world awaits and will support us. And regaining the world's respect is the best way to reduce, if not remove, the threat of terrorism using the terrible weapons that exist today. There are too many people quite willing to carry any weapon at all into battle, anywhere, and with the fevor of the zealot, knowing he/she is a hero to others. We cannot live under this threat, it's killing us.

We cannot kill all of the people who hate us. It's impossible. The more we kill, the more hate us. And how many people does it take to deliver a terrible weapon? I wouldn't digress into the meaning of terrible weapon, you can read all day about them using Google. They are real and they are terrible in every sense of the word.

With people who represent us and mankind at the helm, we can do wonderful things, such as replacing the TV with the Internet, and let a new breed of editors help guide us through the mass of channels it makes available. We can use our machines to feed and otherwise benefit everyone on the planet, and then we can reach for the stars. There are plenty of challenges out there to keep us busy. Compare this world to the one on a mission to establish authority in the Middle East, and ask yourself which road you want to be on.


Bill

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Time for a U.S. Revolution – Fifteen Reasons


Time for a U.S. Revolution – Fifteen Reasons by Bill Quigley

"The 1776 Declaration of Independence stated that when a long train of abuses by those in power evidence a design to reduce the rights of people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is the peoples right, in fact their duty to engage in a revolution."


A Wrench in the Israeli Gears By Alison Weir

Alison Weir's account is powerful and disturbing, because there is never a word of any of this in the "news". If this article isn't detailed enough, see this website for considerable more details on this elephant in the American living room.

Mullen Wary of Israeli Attack on Iran by Ray McGovern

"Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came home with sweaty palms from his mid-February visit to Israel. He has been worrying aloud that Israel will mousetrap the U.S. into war with Iran."


I've been watching this situation (Israel's power in America) for years now, and it's taken it's toll mostly because I find it so hard to accept that people are only concerned about what the "news" says is important. It's like there are 2 different worlds, the one portrayed by the "news" and the real world.

Something different going on these days is that I'm seeing larger numbers of reader feedback posts which are very negative towards Israel, and there is a sense of real anger in their tone. There was a time, and not long ago, when someone speaking out like this had little support and pretty much stood alone (myself included). Now it seems like people are really getting pissed off - as well they should. What I think I'm seeing is the scales of justice moving slowly to coming around.



Bill

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A look at some Big Picture stories


Many Voices Calling for War with Iran by Philip Giraldi

"Wanting to go to war with Iran has created some very strange bedfellows. Leading neoconservative Daniel Pipes’ assertion that President Barack Obama can salvage his presidency and get reelected by attacking Iran is about as low as it gets, suggesting as it does that an act of war can and should serve as a diversion from a failed domestic agenda. The soldiers and civilians who would inevitably die in such a conflict might not agree with Pipes that all is fair in politics. They would no doubt consider themselves betrayed and manipulated by a venal and disconnected political leadership, but no matter. It would not be a first time a neocon would consider a non-neocon casualty little more than a disagreeable statistic."



New issues push Iraq off radar for Obama, press By Joseph Curl

"Despite persistent violence and a critical election coming up, President Obama hardly ever mentions the war in Iraq - where more 110,000 U.S. troops remain - and leading American news outlets have drastically scaled back coverage of the conflict, moving on to domestic issues such as health care and the troubled economy."


You'd have to look really hard through history to find a better example of manipulation by a "news" propaganda machine then this. First it got in front of unleashing the invasion of Iraq, and now it's in front of it's retreat from prominence.

No doubt they consider themselves masterful in the art of deception, but anyone with half a brain and Internet access can readily see what's happened. If there were a case that illustrates collusion among the handful at the top of the broad-strokes editorial control center who gets to define and frame the issues that matter to us, this is right up there at the top.

Nowadays we read a lot about the flight of people from newspapers and TV to the Internet for their news. Nowhere in material on this subject is the above mentioned, perhaps because people don't even realize why they are walking away from the "news" propaganda machine, but they should know. Why? Because if the truth is not made plain they will find some way to stay in charge of our "news", i.e. deciding the framework of issues that matter to us.

Unfortunately, there are ways they could accomplish staying at the helm, but I'm not going to help them by giving any ideas on how to do it, suffice to say that it can be done. Indeed, we can expect it to be done. They will not give up their power without a major fight.

Sliding Backwards on Iraq? Raed Jarrar and Erik Leaver

Underscoring the above discussion on Iraq being moved to the back-burner, the subject matter, Iraq itself, refuses to cooperate.

The Iraqi people want the occupier out. That's their job # 1. This just can't be that hard to understand! Just imagine foreign troops in your neighborhood, and how you'd feel.

Beyond that, when the occupier is gone, which will happen, they will decide their own future. I can't see what that future holds, but I am quite assured there will be no love lost on the ousted occupier who brought death and destruction to their country on a scale not seen since Vietnam. Who, besides the Neocons, can even imagine those people being our friends for a long time to come. No, we'll be out and they will solve their own problems and fashion their own future with little or no regard for any of the bullshit we've been fed.

It's easy to guess some things, though. The majority Shites, with Iran's support and assistance, will be in charge of the political system, the minority Sunni's will fight them, perhaps with the assistance of other countries in the area, and the Kurds will take their autonomy as far as they can, likely in the form of an independent state.

This being the case, Iran is the obvious winner of the invasion, because in the end they will rule not only Iran, but effectively Iraq as well.

And America gets to be the loser. Not overnight, though. The gang behind the invasion will see to it that our pockets will be picked dry with payoff money to push the inevitable as far into the future as possible, so as to muddy and dilute the connection between what they've done and the results.

The Pentagon’s Runaway Budget by Carl Conetta


"Taking the new budget into account, the Defense Department has been granted about $7.2 trillion since 1998, when the post-Cold War decline in defense spending ended.

...

Looking forward, the Obama administration plans to spend more on the Pentagon over the next eight years than any administration since World War II.

...

Measured in 2010 dollars, the Korean War cost $393,000 per year for every person deployed. And the Vietnam conflict cost $256,000. By contrast, the Iraq and Afghanistan commitments have cost $792,000 per year per person.

...

The factors outlined above have converged to give America a historically unique predominance in military spending. The United States today is responsible for nearly half of all military expenditure worldwide. In 1986, it claimed only 28 percent."


Is the Recovery Real? By Paul Craig Roberts

"The economy, in other words, is going nowhere.

...

As I have emphasized for years, an economy that moves its high productivity, high value-added jobs offshore is going nowhere but down. Except for the super-rich, there has been no growth in people’s incomes for a decade. To substitute for the missing income growth, consumers took on more debt. The growth in consumer debt kept the economy going. However, most consumers have now reached their maximum debt load, and millions went beyond their limit, resulting in foreclosures and lost homes.

There are no jobs to which people can be called back to work. The jobs have been given to the Chinese and Indians.

The economy is set for a “double-dip,” that is, renewed decline. This, of course, means larger federal, state, and local budget deficits. The U.S. federal deficit is now so large that it can no longer be financed by the trade surpluses of China, Japan, and OPEC.

...

The reason is that the dollar’s role as reserve currency is at stake. If the Federal Reserve has to monetize the federal deficit, the world will turn its back on a rapidly depreciating dollar. The minute the dollar loses the reserve currency role, the U.S. can no longer pay its bills in its own currency, and its days as a superpower come to a sudden end. Wars can’t be financed, and Washington’s pursuit of world hegemony will hit a brick wall.

The power-mad denizens of DC will do anything to further the expansion of their world empire."


As you can see, there are 2 realities: one fed us by the "news" propaganda machine, and the other described by people like Mr. Roberts. Which do you believe?



Bill

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

War Guilt in the Middle East


War Guilt in the Middle East by Murray Rothbard

I suspect there are far too few people willing to take the time and expend the effort to actually read a paper like this. It seems people want sound bites and screaming headlines, and not reason, which requires something too few are willing to do: think.

What makes this paper important? It's important because, if you read it to the end, you'll see that Mr Rothbard (in 1967) describes a useful, workable solution to the gigantic mess in the Middle East.



"Israel, therefore, faces a long-run dilemma which she must someday meet. Either to continue on her present course and, after years of mutual hostility and conflict be overthrown by Arab people’s guerrilla war. Or – to change direction drastically, to cut herself loose completely from Western imperial ties, and become simply Jewish citizens of the Middle East. If she did that, then peace and harmony and justice would at last reign in that tortured region."


My reasoning has come to exactly the same conclusion, although I could never articulate it as clearly.

Will Eliminating Nuclear Weapons Make Peace More Likely? by Ivan Eland

An excellent position paper on what should be done about nuclear weapons.

Learning From History: Can the US Win the Afghan War? by Ivan Eland

"So the U.S. escalation in Afghanistan is likely to face insurmountable long-term obstacles. "


Another great piece by Ivan Eland. I think he should also explore the connection between the winding up of Afghanistan and the winding down of Iraq in the "news", and the consequential shift of the American frame of reference from one to the other. See how easy it is to manipulate people? Think back, at the time of the pump-up for the invasion of Iraq, and how many times Saddam's face was on the TV and in the newspapers, and nary a word of (now plainly) more correct opposition to the plan. We were mightily duped then - and we're being mightily duped now. Nothing has changed, except some faces.


A Photo to Pass Along by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

Where is justice?


Bill

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Whatever Happened to "We the People"?


Whatever Happened to "We the People"? By RALPH NADER

"The twin swelling heads of Empire and Oligarchy are driving our country into an ever-deepening corporate state, wholly incompatible with democracy and the rule of law.

...

American was not designed for Kings and their runaway military pursuits. How tragic that we have now come to this entrenched imperium so loathed by the founding fathers and so forewarned by George Washington’s enduring farewell address. "



Bill

Monday, March 1, 2010

Anger at injustice, as Martin Luther King wrote, is the political expression of love.


Ralph Nader Was Right About Barack Obama by Chris Hedges

We owe Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney an apology. They were right about Barack Obama. They were right about the corporate state. They had the courage of their convictions and they stood fast despite wholesale defections and ridicule by liberals and progressives.

...

... Anger at injustice, as Martin Luther King wrote, is the political expression of love. ...



Bill