Friday, May 18, 2012

Riders On The Storm ... Of Plunder - 2

Bush II Still Doesn't Get It
In the first post of this series, we marveled at how quickly just one presidency can bring down our economy.

If it is bad enough, it can take two presidencies to recover, if at all.

In other posts we reflected on the damage war does to an economy (e.g., see The Graphs Of The Age Of Plunder, and the more recent series, The Homeland: Big Brother Plutocracy).

In this post we will focus on the propaganda method Bernays fashioned for the American powers that be:
Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month’s rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene. But as Business Week helpfully pointed out in 2007, the poor in aggregate provide a juicy target for anyone depraved enough to make a business of stealing from them.

The hoi polloi
The trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators. Employers, for example, can simply program their computers to shave a few dollars off each paycheck, or they can require workers to show up 30 minutes or more before the time clock starts ticking.

Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest. When supplemented with late fees (themselves subject to interest), the resulting effective interest rate can be as high as 600% a year, which is perfectly legal in many states.
(Preying On The Poor). Essentially the 1% elite convince the 99% that they have their best interests at heart, even as they devise a system to devastate the 99% by plundering them.

It is a form of social kuru caused by the cannibalism of society, and is one of the signs of a dying empire.

The lyrics to the following song are here.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fighting Terrorism For 200 Years - 3

In the previous post of this series Dredd Blog quoted members of the 9/11 Commission, and others, who said that Saudi Arabia funded 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers.

Those officials also said that the federal government is, and has been for ten years or so, covering that reality up.

The media, i.e. Hardball and Morning Joe on MSNBC, carried the story, which is noteworthy on its own (see videos below).

A perplexing mystery was also asserted, in that they came to the conclusion that the ongoing cover-up was and is due to our addiction to Saudi Arabian oil (see videos below); a perplexing mystery that is in effect the practice of crimes hidden in plain sight:
Whoever provides material support or resources or conceals or disguises the nature, location, source or ownership of material support or resources, knowing or intending that they are to be used in preparation for, or in carrying out, a violation of [various criminal statutes] . . . shall be . . . imprisoned for not more than 15 years.

18 U.S.C. § 2339A(a).
(Hedges v. Obama, 5/16/12, pg. 11-12). It is a crime for members of the government to cover up Saudi Arabia's involvement in 9/11 because of our addiction to oil:
The MSNBC videos at the bottom of this post contain, first, discussions of the case between Chris Matthews of Hardball, ex-CIA agent Baer, and NY Times investigative reporter Lichtblau.

They discuss the sworn testimony of two U.S. Senators, one of whom was a commissioner on the 9/11 Commission, the other was the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee overseeing the 9/11 issues.

Chris Matthews asks CIA agent Baer why the U.S. government did not go after Saudi Arabia back then, and why they still are not doing so now.

Agent Baer replied that it is because we needed Saudi Arabia to be on our side in the Iraq war then, they had big oil then, and still have big oil now.
(Fighting Terrorism For 200 Years - 2). What is wrong with this picture that brought a war against cavemen in Afghanistan, another war against an uninvolved country, all the while letting a guilty country get away with it?

Hardball, March 1, 2012:



Morning Joe, March 1, 2012:



The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Homeland: Big Brother Plutonomy - 5

The 1% Plutocracy
In this series we have been comparing the reality of what the United States now is, in terms of formal economic structure, with what people in the United States still think it is.

We have also gone beyond that, to also explain why the difference in reality, compared to perception, is so night vs. day, yes, why the reality is now opposed to The American Dream (see The Graphs of Wrath).

One of our so called enemies was a German philosopher named Karl Heinrich Marx (5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883), who strangely enough had more of an appreciation and a better expectation of Americans, in terms of The American Dream, than many of us have had of ourselves:
Marx argued that at capitalism would succeed in its initial stages quite well in promoting growth by means of capital investment in new technology and improved means of production. Everyone would prosper. As capitalism developed, however, he argued that capitalists would appropriate to themselves more and more of the profits or income from the economy and that laborers would come to have increasingly less.

Over time, in time and such circumstances, Marx claimed that, first, capitalistic economies would undergo ever more vicious cyclical swings from boom to bust. These cycles and the on-going process of capitalism would, second, result in ever richer capitalists and ever poorer working classes, until, finally, at some point, laborers would revolt and take over the means of production, causing Socialism to ensue as a result. Socialism, in turn, was merely a transitional step to Communism.
(The Impact of Toxins of Power On Evolution, bold in original). Marx expected and predicted what has actually now happened, both in terms of American success at the onset, as well as the rich getting richer with the rest getting poorer during the decline into a plutonomy.

But what of the quality part Marx saw in Americans, a quality that would allow us to discern and figure out what was being done to us, to see our ongoing impoverishment, and our reaction to that ongoing demise?

Marx predicted that Americans would react in a way that would cause us to take control to improve our lot in this American Dream business, say for example by:
The NCEO will unveil its 2012 list of the 100 largest majority employee-owned companies in the United States in its upcoming July-August newsletter. Should your company be on that list? Your company qualifies if a majority of your company's stock is held by an ESOP, stock bonus, profit sharing, or similar plan, or if you have a stock purchase plan in which at least 50% of full-time employees participate and if you have enough employees. In the 2011 list, companies needed to have at least 1,200 employees (where the term "employee" counts all full- and part-time employees in the U.S. and overseas).
(NCEO Bulletin). In short, Marx thought we would fix the inequities as soon as we saw what was happening, a fix which he called "socialism", however, employees owning a corporation is not socialism.

Employees owning a corporation they work for is employee oriented capitalism, and it is sorely needed.

That part of Marx's prescience about American economic evolution ("Americans will fix it by taking control of the means of production") has not happened, in a revolutionary way yet.

Some observers say that there are detectable reasons for that revolution not having happened yet:
In Robert E. Gamer’s book “The Developing Nations” is a chapter called “Why Men Do Not Revolt.” In it Gamer notes that although the oppressed often do revolt, the object of their hostility is misplaced. They vent their fury on a political puppet, someone who masks colonial power, a despised racial or ethnic group or an apostate within their own political class. The useless battles serve as an effective mask for what Gamer calls the “patron-client” networks that are responsible for the continuity of colonial oppression. The squabbles among the oppressed, the political campaigns between candidates who each are servants of colonial power, Gamer writes, absolve the actual centers of power from addressing the conditions that cause the frustrations of the people. Inequities, political disenfranchisement and injustices are never seriously addressed. “The government merely does the minimum necessary to prevent those few who are prone toward political action from organizing into politically effective groups,” he writes.

Gamer and many others who study the nature of colonial rule offer the best insights into the functioning of our corporate state. We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized. We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense.
(Chris Hedges). Noam Chomsky has watched the transition to an American plutonomy take place too, and has put it in similar words that match Gamer's terms:
Concentration of wealth yields concentration of political power. And concentration of political power gives rise to legislation that increases and accelerates the cycle. The legislation, essentially bipartisan, drives new fiscal policies and tax changes, as well as the rules of corporate governance and deregulation. Alongside this began a sharp rise in the costs of elections, which drove the political parties even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector.
The Individual Twin-Political Parties

The parties dissolved in many ways. It used to be that if a person in Congress hoped for a position such as a committee chair, he or she got it mainly through seniority and service. Within a couple of years, they started having to put money into the party coffers in order to get ahead, a topic studied mainly by Tom Ferguson. That just drove the whole system even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector (increasingly the financial sector).

This cycle resulted in a tremendous concentration of wealth, mainly in the top tenth of one percent of the population. Meanwhile, it opened a period of stagnation or even decline for the majority of the population. People got by, but by artificial means such as longer working hours, high rates of borrowing and debt, and reliance on asset inflation like the recent housing bubble. Pretty soon those working hours were much higher in the United States than in other industrial countries like Japan and various places in Europe. So there was a period of stagnation and decline for the majority alongside a period of sharp concentration of wealth. The political system began to dissolve.
(Tom Dispatch). The American political system dissolved from the system of The American Dream, into a system that serves the Plutocracy in the fashion and manner of Ayn Rand.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Innocent, Tortured, Human Being Freed - 2

On this date in 2009, Dredd Blog discussed the issue of torture by the American government.

In the U.S.eh? nothing has changed in terms of government attitude concerning authoritarianism.

In fact the attitude of U.S. officials may be worse, since public officials like Dick Cheney go around bragging in public about their waterboarding episodes during the Bush II regime.

But, as Dredd Blog has pointed out, things are changing with regard to torture in other places around the globe:
For the past decade, South Africa has been the preferred vacation spot, shopping destination and international transit hub for members of the tyrannical and murderous government ruling its northern neighbor, Zimbabwe — a government that has rigged elections, beaten and killed opposition activists and ruined a once thriving economy. All of this could now change because of a landmark legal decision.

Last week, the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, handed down a historic judgment. It ordered South African authorities to investigate and prosecute members of Robert Mugabe’s government who had tortured their political opponents. Under South African law, the police are obliged to investigate evidence of a crime against humanity, wherever it occurs, if the rule of law does not exist there, as is the case in Zimbabwe.

The ruling has profound implications. It could cement South Africa’s commitment to protecting human rights and broaden the application of universal jurisdiction, which is the ability of countries to prosecute people who committed certain egregious crimes outside its borders.
(NY Times). The decision faces appeal, yet it does show that there are countries that still may bring prosecutions against U.S. officials who did war crimes, seeing as how no administration here will do so.

Previous Dredd Blog posts Democracy School & Too-Big-To-Jail, and The Tortured Past also dealt with this subject.

Here is the text of that 2009 post:

The Bush II regime is "proud to have water boarded" according to Dick Cheney.

I wonder if that goes for a famous captive at GITMO of whom it is said:
"He was deemed innocent of all charges relating to the participation in eventual terrorist activities by judicial decisions in several countries, including the United States," Chevallier said. "Now that he is free, we hope that Lakhdar Boumediene can resume a normal life." ... said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier ...
(HuffPo, emphasis added). An innocent man tortured to elicit lies to cover up the despicable crimes of a mad, corrupt, and despicable Bush II regime.

The Supreme Court had ruled in Boumediene's favor in the past. The courts seem to be getting it that the Bush II regime was a pathological liar.

But is the Bush II regime now being protected by an Obama Administration gone awry?

I hope not. Good for the Obama Administration for releasing an innocent person!!!

This is also a microcosm for the condition the United States was left in by the Bush II regime; the U.S. on a stretcher asking the rest of the world for help ... e.g. money from China.

The Obama administration will not be able to change most of the chronic sickness of the society by becoming Ferengi on steroids.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Iraq: World's Number One Oil Producer? - 7

The Modern Oil Drilling Rig
An old adage was "follow the money" when an investigator wanted to get to the bottom of some perplexing behavior.

To add to the adage list, Dredd Blog, in several related series of posts, has added a new adage "follow the oil."

If you want to know why certain foreign policies stay in place forever, for no apparent reason, follow the oil.

In this series, from the beginning we said the reason for the Iraq war was oil.

As as we hypothetically looked forward, we predicted a time when Iraq was likely to become the number one oil producer, even though it did not hold the greatest reserves, in terms of billions of barrels in the ground.

That Dredd Blog hypothesis is building strength, because Iraq will be the number two producer in OPEC by the end of the year:
Iraq, seeking to more than double oil output by 2015, is poised to overtake Iran as OPEC’s second- largest producer by the end of the year as sanctions hobble crude production in its Persian Gulf neighbor.

Iraq is pumping at the highest rate since Saddam Hussein seized power in 1979, supported by foreign investors such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP Plc (BP/) that are developing new fields and reworking older deposits.
(Bloomberg). Notice that the usual suspects, BP and ExxonMobil, are key culprits who pull the purse strings behind the scene.

A related series is: The Peak of The Oil Wars (see also Secret Afghanistan Underground).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.