Why Are We Still at War? - Christian Support for Killing Iraqis - The New World Order And The Stimulus - The End of Capitalism? - The Role of Government: Keeping the Wealthy Rich - Truth, By George - War On Terror Was Wrong - Brother Can You Spare a Dime? - Victory - Idols
February 10, 2009
Why Are We Still at War?
by Norman Solomon
The United States began its war in Afghanistan 88 months ago. "The war on terror" has no sunset clause. As a perpetual emotion machine, it offers to avenge what can never heal and to fix grief that is irreparable.
For the crimes against humanity committed on Sept. 11, 2001, countless others are to follow, with huge conceits about technological "sophistication" and moral superiority. But if we scrape away the concrete of media truisms, we may reach substrata where some poets have dug.
W.H. Auden: "Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return."
Stanley Kunitz: "In a murderous time / the heart breaks and breaks / and lives by breaking."
And from 1965, when another faraway war got its jolt of righteous escalation from Washington's certainty, Richard Farina wrote: "And death will be our darling and fear will be our name." Then as now came the lessons that taught with unfathomable violence once and for all that unauthorized violence must be crushed by superior violence.
The U.S. war effort in Afghanistan owes itself to the enduring "war on terrorism," chasing a holy grail of victory that can never be.
Early into the second year of the Afghanistan war, in November 2002, a retired U.S. Army general, William Odom, appeared on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" program and told viewers: "Terrorism is not an enemy. It cannot be defeated. It's a tactic. It's about as sensible to say we declare war on night attacks and expect we're going to win that war. We're not going to win the war on terrorism."
But the "war on terrorism" rubric -- increasingly shortened to the even vaguer "war on terror" -- kept holding enormous promise for a warfare state of mind. Early on, the writer Joan Didion saw the blotting of the horizon and said so: "We had seen, most importantly, the insistent use of Sept. 11 to justify the reconception of America's correct role in the world as one of initiating and waging virtually perpetual war."
There, in one sentence, an essayist and novelist had captured the essence of a historical moment that vast numbers of journalists had refused to recognize -- or, at least, had refused to publicly acknowledge. Didion put to shame the array of self-important and widely lauded journalists at the likes of the New York Times, the Washington Post, PBS and National Public Radio.
The new U.S. "war on terror" was rhetorically bent on dismissing the concept of peacetime as a fatuous mirage.
Now, in early 2009, we're entering what could be called Endless War 2.0, while the new president's escalation of warfare in Afghanistan makes the rounds of the media trade shows, preening the newest applications of technological might and domestic political acquiescence.
And now, although repression of open debate has greatly dissipated since the first months after 9/11, the narrow range of political discourse on Afghanistan is essential to the Obama administration's reported plan to double U.S. troop deployments in that country within a year.
"This war, if it proliferates over the next decade, could prove worse in one respect than any conflict we have yet experienced," Norman Mailer wrote in his book "Why Are We at War?" six years ago. "It is that we will never know just what we are fighting for. It is not enough to say we are against terrorism. Of course we are. In America, who is not? But terrorism compared to more conventional kinds of war is formless, and it is hard to feel righteous when in combat with a void..."
Anticipating futility and destruction that would be enormous and endless, Mailer told an interviewer in late 2002: "This war is so unbalanced in so many ways, so much power on one side, so much true hatred on the other, so much technology for us, so much potential terrorism on the other, that the damages cannot be estimated. It is bad to enter a war that offers no clear avenue to conclusion. ... There will always be someone left to act as a terrorist."
And there will always be plenty of rationales for continuing to send out the patrols and launch the missiles and drop the bombs in Afghanistan, just as there have been in Iraq, just has there were in Vietnam and Laos. Those countries, with very different histories, had the misfortune to share a singular enemy, the most powerful military force on the planet.
It may be profoundly true that we are not red states and blue states, that we are the United States of America -- but what that really means is still very much up for grabs. Even the greatest rhetoric is just that. And while the clock ticks, the deployment orders are going through channels.
For anyone who believes that the war in Afghanistan makes sense, I recommend the Jan. 30 discussion on "Bill Moyers Journal" with historian Marilyn Young and former Pentagon official Pierre Sprey. A chilling antidote to illusions that fuel the war can be found in the transcript .
Now, on Capitol Hill and at the White House, convenience masquerades as realism about "the war on terror." Too big to fail. A beast too awesome and immortal not to feed.
And death will be our darling. And fear will be our name.
Norman Solomon is a journalist, historian, and progressive activist. His book "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death " has been adapted into a documentary film of the same name. His most recent book is "Made Love, Got War. " He is a national co-chair of the Healthcare NOT Warfare  campaign.
Christian Support for Killing Iraqis
By Jacob G. Hornberger
February 07, 2009 "fff" - --- Among the things about the Iraq War that I have never been able to understand is how American Christians have been able, in good conscience, to support this war. After all, no one can deny that neither Iraq nor the Iraqi people ever attacked the United States. That makes the United States the aggressor the attacker in this particular conflict. How could American Christians support the killing of Iraqis in such a war of aggression? How could they reconcile this with God´s sacred commandment, Thou shalt not murder.
One possibility is that Americans initially viewed the Iraq War as one of self-defense. Placing their trust in their president and vice-president, they came to the conclusion that Iraq was about to unleash WMDs on American cities. Therefore, they concluded, America had the right to defend itself from this imminent attack, much as an individual has the moral right to use deadly force to defend his life from someone who is trying to murder him.
But once the WMDs failed to materialize, American Christians did not seem to engage in any remorse or regret over all the Iraqis who had been killed in the invasion. It was all marked up as simply an honest mistake. At the same time, hardly anyone called for a formal investigation into whether the president and the vice president had intentionally misled Americans into supporting the war based on bogus exaggerations of the WMD threat.
After the WMDs failed to materialize, American Christians had an option: They could have called for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops. Instead, they did the exact opposite. They supported the continued occupation of Iraq, with full knowledge that U.S. troops would have to continue killing Iraqis in order to solidify the occupation.
That´s when Christians began supporting a new rationale for killing Iraqis: that any Iraqi who resisted the U.S. invasion or occupation was a terrorist and, therefore, okay to kill. Since terrorists were bad people, the argument went, it was okay to support the killing of Iraqis who were resisting the invasion and occupation of their country.
Yet, rarely would any Christian ask himself the important, soul-searching questions: Why didn´t Iraqis have the moral right to resist the invasion and occupation of their country, especially if that invasion and occupation had been based on a bogus principle (i.e., the WMD threat)? Why did their resistance convert them into terrorists? Why did U.S. troops have the moral and religious right to kill people who were defending their country from invasion and occupation?
Instead, people in Christian churches all across the land simply just kept supporting the troops.’ I suspect part of the reasoning has to do with the mindset that is inculcated in public schools all across the land that in war, it´s our team’ vs. their team,’ and that Americans have a moral duty to support our team,’ regardless of the facts.
Among the most fascinating rationales for supporting the killing of Iraqis that American Christians have relied upon has been the mathematical argument. It goes like this: Saddam Hussein would have killed a larger number of Iraqis than the U.S. government has killed in the invasion and occupation. Therefore, the argument goes, it´s okay to support the invasion and occupation, which have killed countless Iraqis.
But under Christian doctrine, does God really provide for a mathematical exception to his commandment against killing? Let´s see how such reasoning would be applied here at home.
Let´s assume that the D.C. area is besieged by two snipers, who are killing people indiscriminately. Let´s assume that they´re killing people at the rate of 5 per month. That would mean that at the end of the year, they would have killed 60 people.
One day, the cops learn that the two snipers are parked in a highway rest area. There are also 25 other people there, all Americans, men, women, and children, and all innocent.
The Pentagon offers to drop a bomb on the parking lot, which would definitely snuff out the lives of the snipers. The problem is that it would also snuff out the lives of the other 25 people.
Under Christian principles, would it be okay to drop the bomb? I would hope that most Christians would say, No! As Christians, we cannot kill innocent people even if by doing so, we rid the world of those snipers. If we cannot catch the snipers except by dropping the bomb, then we simply have to let them get away. God does not provide a mathematical justification for killing innocent people.
Yet, isn´t that precisely the mathematical analysis that has been used by Christians to justify their support for the killing of Iraqis. What´s the difference?
In their blind support for our team’ and for supporting the troops’ in Iraq, American Christians seem to have forgotten an important point about government and God: When the laws or actions of one´s government´s contradict the laws of God, the Christian has but one proper course of action to leave behind the laws of man and to follow the laws of God.
The New World Order And The Stimulus
By Dennis Kaiser
The United States is burying its future by printing money at outrageous speeds in order to stimulate our economy. Another segment of elected gerbils is saying we need to lower taxes, in particular to the wealthiest amongst us.
So one group says print money, hand it out to corporations so they can hire people in order to put some money into the pockets of the consumers. So, that will mean we will put even more money into the hands of the likes of Haliburton and KBR, who have already proved to over-charge us, produce soddy work, or even no work in Iraq so they can continue doing the same here in the US. On top of that there are no guarantees US citizens will be hired.
Then we have those who continue to advocate lowering taxes to the wealthiest in order to create jobs. I guess someone should pull their heads out of where they obviously are because they may not be aware of the millions of jobs we have LOST since they were given the tax cuts.
The solution to the situation actually flies in the face of the new world order’ elitists. The situation we are in now has been created by these fanatics for power and the movement gained momentum during the Reagan years the icon’ as the Republicans will have you believe. That was the era of voo doo economics’ and the beginning of outsourcing and the concept of Wall Street being the benchmark for how our economy is doing. That was the major transformation over to the concept that our economy is good if, and only if, corporations are doing well. There was no concern over how individuals were doing in terms of their living conditions, only how corporations were doing mattered. Companies would fire thousands and their stock price would go up.
Then came Bush, Sr and Clinton and the emphasis we on free trade’, a travesty for people. Even nations lost in these agreements. Those nations, such as the United States, who gained power under fair trade policies lost, economically, under free trade. Every country lost its sovereignty under the terms of free trade agreements. Corporations wrote the terms, monitored the terms, and mediated the terms under these agreements. I cannot think of a single country that has won a mediation against a corporation. With the corporation winning huge sums of money these countries then have to take out loans with the World Bank. Once in debt to the World Bank, guess who controls the country? So, the country now owes huge sums and guess who pays? The people have their taxes raised, in many cases they have been forced to work for less, if they are able to find work.
Then came the Bush/Cheney era to put the exclamation point on the already deteorating world situation. The New World Order needed a much lower standard of living in the United States in order for the Americans to be more accepting of this world economy’, globalization’, whatever name they give to it today, but the proper term is really world take-over’. Bush/Cheney did several things early in its administration that were designed to hurt the average citizen. One can recall Cheney's Energy Task Force which was held in stealth mode. Even today one can only surmise what took place in those meetings, but things that became evident were the rape of Californians by Enron in the manipulated energy costs to those citizens and the state.
This was followed by the Debtors Bill’ which was passed and allowed the escalation of interest rates credit card companies were allowed to charge their customers. These rates rivaled those of the Loan Sharks who were arrested back in the 1920's, except now they were made legal (these are the same banks who have their hand out now and our government officials are giving them billions of newly printed dollars). This law alone added hundreds of dollars each month to the bills of the average US citizen.
In order to drain our treasury at more fantastic rates, along with giving reasons for more to come to the citizens, as well as further feeding the privatized Federal Reserve Bank, we had to go to war, as banks make huge sums during times of war (if we can come up with ways banks can make money during times of peace this would be a much better place to live). Hence, we illegally invaded, and occupied Afghanistan (that invasion was already on Bush's desk prior to 9/11. They were planning an October invasion). As they were maybe unable to figure out how they could spend fast enough in Afghanistan, they came up with no fewer than 27 lies to illegally invade and occupy Iraq. It was here they really began draining our treasury, and that continues as this is written. You might say Iraq is the US's gift that keeps giving to the Fed.
During this time energy costs escalated at historic levels, much like the energy costs did in California in the Spring of 2001, due to the manipulation of Enron. The gasoline prices were manipulated in much the same way in its meteoric rise. Doesn't it appear strange that with the financial institution bailouts the price of gasoline fell drastically over $100/barrel!! This added a minimum of $100/month to the average citizen's budget.
Healthcare expenses have risen to levels that are obscene and more and more American citizens are being forced to drop their insurance in order to be able to feed themselves. Where are our elected officials? They are passing legislation that makes it illegal for them to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices! To make this even worse is AARP, that organization most think is an advocate of the elderly, lobbied to pass that legislation. That would enable them to raise the price of their insurance programs and they are actually nothing more than an insurance company that requires membership in order to purchase their insurance.
At the same time we were losing thousands of jobs a month, food costs were going up, energy costs were skyrocketing, prices on consumer products were going up (even though we keep being told that by having them produced in China, or some other place, they are kept under control. That may be true is the $billions paid to executives in bonuses weren't allowed), credit expenses were at obscene levels, people were tapped out. The consumers of the world’ were tapped, broke. What did these great thinkers, the power elite, the New World Order manipulators, imagine would happen when nobody had money in order to purchase the goods (in some cases not so good) produced by people all over the world. The consumers of those products were unemployed and broke.
It seems if they want to stimulate the world economy the consumer has to be brought back. In order to do that jobs have to be created. In order to best do that we need to begin producing again. Creating jobs to repair our infrastructure is great. However, not very foresighted. Recreating jobs that produce consumer products will go on and on. In addition to putting people back to work and earning a livable wage by producing products here we are also building more security as a nation. Presently, when most of our consumer products are manufactured outside of the US our nation's security is at risk. If we produce it here we are becoming less dependent on outsiders. Some might say this is isolating our nation from the rest of the world. I say it is building security. Presently, what nations appear to be doing well? The one nation that comes to mind is China. Many of our production jobs are there, they have been financing the US's debt for several years, and their main problem now is with our jobs there we don't have the money to buy their products.
Nothing short of bringing production jobs back to our country will save the world economy. Kissinger, The Chicago Boys, and all the other elitists and economists be damned. They're advocating the world develop into a globe of third world countries.
Authors Website: http://notseeamerica.com/nsa.html
The End of Capitalism?
Cracks in the Foundation
By Ann Robertson
The collective consciousness of the U.S. working class is on the brink of a profound transformation. We grew up being told that capitalism was the best of all possible systems, with apparent confirmation being supplied by the fall of the Soviet Union. But we are now entering a new reality that has the potential to overturn all the old, established assumptions perhaps, in the final analysis, even to overturn capitalism itself.
The U.S. government, which has been lecturing other countries for decades about the virtues of privatizing state-owned enterprises, has recently embarked on a campaign of reversing its own dictates by partially nationalizing many of the financial institutions that were teetering on the brink of disaster. In other words, the U.S. government became a stockholder in these companies, thereby ironically taking a step in the direction of socialism socializing their losses, that is, not their profits. Meanwhile, for decades, the U.S. working class has watched helplessly as public education has been defunded, the environment has been progressively destroyed, and social services in general have shriveled, all supposedly because no money was available to launch a rescue operation. Yet the breathtaking speed with which the government threw a staggering trillion-dollar bailout to the financial institutions with no strings attached has not been lost on
the working class. And more is on the way: the government has thus far pledged a total of $8.5 billion to help rescue the financial institutions. Workers, too, through their unions, are now demanding bailouts.
Policies that only yesterday appeared as irrevocable as acts of nature suddenly appear as they truly are: political decisions made by the federal government where Democrats and Republicans are united in their commitment to rescue their friends ? the rich.
And fuel has been thrown on the fire. Recently, when asked for an account of how they spent the bailout funds, the financial institutions refused to oblige. After all, they calculated, why should they start becoming accountable to the U.S. public after all these centuries? This, too, has not been lost on the working class.
The working class also took notice of the modest but resounding victory scored by the United Electrical workers at the small windows and doors factory in Chicago. These workers did not have the advantage of working in a key industry so that if it were shut down, the reverberations would echo far and wide, thereby providing them with bargaining leverage. But they were emboldened by the outpouring of public support from across the country, and Bank of America, one of the most powerful banks in the world, backed down.
Finally, the working class was assured that the Great Depression would never see a second coming. Lessons had been learned and mechanisms were inserted to guarantee everlasting stability, we were told. All these assurances now look like more toxic assets, and working people will begin to draw the obvious conclusion: not only are recessions endemic to capitalism, but depressions are as well. And this realization will inevitably provoke questions about the desirability of capitalism itself.
Harboring a rather grim view of human nature, capitalism´s apologists have argued for centuries that we are incorrigibly greedy to the core, meaning that we focus exclusively on our individual self-interest, not the interests of our neighbors or the community at-large or those who are most needy, and we define our well-being principally in terms of the accumulation of material wealth. Accordingly, Milton Friedman, leading member of the notorious Chicago School of Economics, reasoned: The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that system.’
Hence, capitalism is a system that embraces greed; its defenders insist that to do otherwise would be hopelessly naive and utopian. But, they continue, by placing certain restrictions on greed, such as rules of ownership and regulations governing production, distribution and exchange of property, capitalism succeeds in harnessing greed in order to maximize its effectiveness. In other words, greed is the fuel that energizes the system. Ayn Rand, the most virulent defender of capitalism, simply put it this way: greed is good.
Adam Smith, one of capitalism´s earliest and most eloquent defenders, argued that when individuals are allowed to compete against one another and pursue their private self-interest, everyone´s interests are advanced by means of an invisible hand.’ For example, if two businesses are in competition, then the business that manufactures the best product for the lowest price will prevail. In this way, everyone is motivated to excel, and progress in the production of wealth seems almost guaranteed.
The Veil Slips
But with economic turmoil engulfing the world where millions of people are being thrown out of work through no wrongdoing on their own part and where homelessness and hunger are on the rise, the arguments in support of capitalism begin to lose their compelling force. As the crisis deepens, faith in capitalism will be dragged down faster than the value of a worker´s 401k. And what was considered virtuous in the past will become the vice of the future.
For example, let us consider the role of individual self-interest and greed in the current crisis. The subprime loan debacle offers an instructive example. Financial institutions engaged in a frenzied flurry of brokering loans to people who wanted to buy a house but had bad or no credit. The loans were manipulated to entice the unsuspecting house buyer by originally pegging interest rates low, but, disguised by the fine print, jumping to much higher rates a few years later. Many homebuyers were consequently duped after all, we are not taught how to buy a house in school and put down their money only to discover not long afterwards that they could not afford the payments.
One might assume it was not in the financial institutions´ interests to negotiate loans that would certainly fail, but the opposite was in fact the case. Lenders were often rewarded with handsome bonuses in relation to the quantity of loans they brokered, not their quality. Moreover, these loans were routinely bundled together and sold to unsuspecting investors who had no idea what they were buying. The original lenders scored a quick profit and left the investors holding toxic bundles. It was all about greed and self-interest.
But the pursuit of naked self-interest, regardless of the misery inflicted on others in the process, surely does not represent an anomaly in capitalist society. Capitalist enterprises that are connected with fossil fuels are choosing to destroy the planet rather than curb their pollution. Clean operations cost money, and these companies would rather protect their profit margins than protect the environment. Automobile industries have vigorously lobbied against higher fuel standards, coal companies have invested millions in advertising in an attempt to convince the U.S. public to believe in the fantasy of clean coal,’ and oil companies, in a similar campaign, have tried to convince us that they are on the cutting edge of clean energy, while all of them are accelerating the destruction of the planet through the intensification of global warming. They have all carefully crafted policies in the self-interest of their particular company, and they have
been willing to sacrifice everyone else´s interests in the process. This is business as usual for capitalism.
In a recent New York Times op-ed article (December 16, 2008), Thomas Friedman, in a fit of exasperation, vilified the toxic lenders, and concluded:
The Madoff affair is the cherry on top of a national breakdown in financial propriety, regulations and common sense. Which is why we don´t just need a financial bailout; we need an ethical bailout. We need to re-establish the core balance between our markets, ethics and regulations. I don´t want to kill the animal spirits that necessarily drive capitalism but I don´t want to be eaten by them either.
But isn´t this rather like asking wolves to become sheep? Capitalism is driven by a basic set of rules, and if you do not adopt the rules, you do not survive. Accordingly, ruthless competition in the business world is a virtue. Selling products to people without warning them of their potential flaws, even fatal flaws, is simply good business sense. On the other hand, hiring people who are nice and desperately in need of work, regardless of their abilities, is a vice because, if such policies become the norm, the company will collapse under the weight of incompetence.
Morality isn´t something that is suspended in midair -- always waiting for us if we tire of acting selfishly. Morality is nurtured by, and is inseparable from, the social structures we operate in, as Philip Zimbardo´s famous Stanford prison experiment illustrated. It showed that when people are placed in relations of vastly unequal power ? some were assigned the role of prison guards while others the role of prisoners ? individuals who are otherwise good, decent people will turn sadistic. Our morality is molded by the structures that surround us, and today these structures are defined overwhelming by market relations with their own agenda: profits are the highest good.
These market relations are not just a side-show in our society; they radiate from the economy and penetrate almost every sphere, particularly the political. Corporate America routinely gives huge sums of money to politicians. Does anyone really believe corporations would engage in this practice if they did not get a return on their investment? That is why, when Friedman states, We need to re-establish the core balance between our markets, ethics and regulations,’ one can only wonder, whom is he addressing? If he is directing this plea to the working class, we should point out that our concerns have never constituted a political priority. If he is addressing corporate America, Friedman should be informed they do not care about ethics except in rare cases when ethics and profits coincide. And if he has the politicians in mind, then the question should be redirected back to the corporations, their handlers.
Ben Stein, economic writer for The New York Times, paused after losing considerable wealth in the current economic meltdown and offered these musings in his December 28, 2008 column: We are more than our investments... We are what we do for charity. We are how we treat our family and friends. We are how we treat our dogs and cats. We are what we do for our community and nation. If you had $100 million or $100,000 a year ago and now you have a lot less, you are still the same person.’ In other words, he rightly concluded that family and community have real value, as opposed to the acquisition of meaningless things. Unfortunately, this insight only rises to consciousness when capitalism breaks down, and a lull interrupts the frenetic race for profits. As soon as capitalism revs up again, this insight is submerged and we are back to the routine of equating morality with money, offering our greatest respect to those with the greatest wealth and the most
People are a social species. We need each other, not only to satisfy our basic physical needs, but also to satisfy our deep-seated psychological needs. We need to be appreciated, loved, and enjoy the pleasures of friendship. Capitalism, however, directs people to look to the accumulation of wealth as the highest good so that each of us competes against the others for success.’
While some material wealth is obviously necessary for survival and for a comfortable life, when wealth is promoted to the supreme good -- when people are valued on the basis of their income and not on the content of their character ? then human needs become subordinated to the accumulation of material things. Genuine needs are forsaken for artificial substitutes. Once people accept this premise, then they embark on a lonely, futile road. When the accumulation of wealth proves unfulfilling, then these unwitting victims pursue even more wealth, but fulfillment and satisfaction always seem to recede to a more distant horizon. In short, they become more like drug addicts, always identifying happiness with a bigger fix, but becoming progressively more miserable in the process.
Capitalism has placed us at a crossroads in history. Our planet can no longer sustain the hyper consumption that this economic system encourages. 70 percent of the U.S. economy has been dependent on consumption; without it, we slip into a recession. When there is a national disaster, we are encouraged to go shopping. Meanwhile, the environment is breaking down. If these tendencies are not checked, it will suffer irreversible damage.
We are not greedy to the core; greed is not the origin of capitalism but to a large part its effect. People are placed in structures in which greed and selfishness are rewarded. Hedge fund operators have walked away with tens of millions, sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars, and then successfully used their wealth to lobby Washington for low taxes. Meanwhile, teachers who are dedicated to helping everyone achieve their full potential must struggle to get by. Artists who want to make our world more beautiful, and us happier in the process, must struggle to get by. Hard-working maids and janitors must struggle to get by. People who do not like to compete but just want to do a good job must struggle to get by. But those who are only dedicated to money and themselves can indulge in every imaginable luxury.
If the environment were healthy and the rest of us had plenty, who would care? These money-obsessed fanatics could be dismissed as immature, self-absorbed and self-indulgent degenerates. But the irrationality and injustice becomes intolerable when this rapacious greed implies that millions of others will not have their basic needs met and the environment will be destroyed.
Socialism is predicated on the premise that in order for society to operate in the interests of the majority, everyone must have both a voice and vote in democratically determining its direction. Instead of the economy being owned by a wealthy elite who run it entirely in their own interests while impoverishing billions of people around the world and destroying the environment, it would be placed in public hands. And its basic operating framework would then be determined by a public discussion, with all the relevant information available, followed by a debate and vote. In this way, the economy could be steered onto an entirely rational foundation so that its ability to serve the interests of ALL members of society would be maximized coupled with the recognition that our collective interests can only be served when the environment, which nurtures and sustains us, is healthy and vibrant.
Such a revolutionary transformation would represent a tremendous moral advance for humanity: the impulses of individual self-interest and greed would be replaced by a conscious commitment to defend the interests of everyone. Instead of the weak and frail being cast by the wayside to fend for themselves, society would redouble its efforts to ensure that their needs, too, were properly addressed. Instead of living by the uninspiring dictum, Everyone for him or herself,’ we would embrace the principle, An injury to one is an injury to all’ because, in the final analysis, the well-being of each individual is bound by millions of invisible threads to the well-being of all others.
The stakes are high. The U.S. working class will be reevaluating everything in these next years, and in particular the nature of the capitalist economy which runs most efficiently when wages and benefits are at rock bottom, or when workers can be replaced by machines and when unemployment is high. Although workers might not succeed in overthrowing capitalism during this profound economic crisis, their consciousness will emerge transformed. Capitalism will never again enjoy their unquestioning loyalty. If this crisis does not prove to be the end of capitalism, it will be the beginning of the end.
Ann Robertson is a writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org), and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Role of Government: Keeping the Wealthy Rich
For some reason most of the discussion in Washington and the media of the bank bailouts is overlooking their central feature: taxpayer dollars are being used to sustain the income of incredibly rich bankers. The public should be furious over this upward redistribution of income.
The basic story here is very simple. If we got the government out and left things to the market, virtually the entire banking sector would be bankrupt. Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and almost all the other big banks, and thousands of smaller ones, would be out of business. (My bet is that even "healthy" banks like Wells Fargo would be in bankruptcy before too long. They hold plenty of bad debts, too.)
Most of the top executives of these banks would likely be sent packing, while those remaining would have their compensation (including "golden parachutes" and bonuses) set by bankruptcy judges who would be running the companies in the interest of the creditors, not the shareholders. The shareholders themselves would be out of luck for the most part. Many bank stocks have already lost 80-90 percent of their value over the last 18 months. Bankruptcy would likely eliminate what little remains.
However the banks are not in bankruptcy because the confused state of affairs and potential lost of creditors' wealth created by large-scale bankruptcies in the financial sector would be a devastating hit to the economy. This is the rationale for the TARP, the various special lending facilities created by the Fed, and other measures to ensure the survival of the banking system.
The government has intervened in a huge way to keep the market from taking its course. But the key issue that has been buried in the debate in the media and political circles is the separation of the interest of the public in a functional financial system and the interests of bank executives in high salaries and shareholders in getting returns on their capital.
At this point, the banks are desperate -- they would be dead without government handouts. This means that the government can set whatever terms it wants. And, for both economic and moral reasons, it has an obligation to set terms that do not reward the bank executives and shareholders.
The bank executives and shareholders took big risks that went bad. If they are rewarded with taxpayer handouts, then the message this sends to the financial sector is to keep taking irresponsible risks. The game becomes heads they win, tails we lose. If the bets pay off, then they are incredibly rich. When the bets go bad, the taxpayer gets the tab.
The moral reason for not rewarding executives and shareholders is that these rewards require the taxation of middle income people, like truck drivers and nurses, to transfer money to some of the richest people in country.
This sort of upward redistribution is difficult to justify. Usually people in the United States like to believe that the market determines the distribution of income. Many get outraged over the idea that a mother on TANF can get a check for a few hundred dollars a month from the government. In this case, the government is effectively handing checks of millions of dollars to bank executives who would be out of work if the market was left to run its course.
We have to keep the financial system functioning, but we can do this without transferring hundreds of billions of dollars from middle class taxpayers to the wealthiest people in the country. If the bailout conditions imposed by the Obama administration and Congress don't effectively eliminate shareholder wealth in the bankrupt banks and bring compensation (in whatever form) of bank executives back down to main street levels then it is can only be explained by corruption. There is no excuse for this massive intervention to redistribute income upward.
Truth, By George
By Rand Clifford
Truth in our time has become so muddied, the first thing we need in any search for fundamental, unambiguous truth is a good working definition. Something to clutch as a certain cruciform against vampires...a touchstone to help us better navigate lies.
truth \'trüth\ n. : That which is true
Hhmmm...so precisely what is "true"-?
Truth. Truth is true.
That Möbius strip leads nowhere. Could a better understanding of truth as an aide to our search for it be found by examining the opposite of truth--by examining untruth?
American life floods us with one particular very tried and true untruth: Everything our federal government tells us, either officially, or through mainstream corporate media. So, a reliable working definition of truth here could be: "Exactly what government does not tell." Certainly they tell occasional superficial truths, but those always have tendrils merging into the massive and nearby body of deceit.
Let's test drive the definition--not conventionally as one would with perhaps a list of lies, specific lies, that'd set us on another Möbius strip since ultimately it's all the same, or has only one side, lies. No, let's take a spin through authority, some entrenched establishment symbolism.
What might evoke more bedrock images of federal government than the Federal Reserve (Fed), our central bank (which is not actually a bank, and has no reserves)? Simmering in its deep heritage of untruth...the Fed is in no way a part of the federal government, but is instead a private corporation. The Fed's ultimate agenda orbits profit for a mostly foreign banking cartel. It is a private money making machine disguised as a part of "Government of the People, by the People and for the People"-, creating "money"- by simple data entry, then bleeding the people by loaning it to the government at interest. How in the name of government, in disgusting violation of the Constitution, did this happen? Rep. Ron Paul tells us. He introduced the Federal Reserve Board Abolition Act (HR 2755), in June 2007.
The Great Depression is a sinister example of the Fed's untruth. One of their "duties" is to stabilize the money supply, but Sirens of personal accumulation dictate their "mission." Leaked documents and defector testimony reveals their zeal over how many thousands of banks and farms they hoped to acquire for pennies on the dollar.... The Great Depression was a coup by the financial elite to seize more wealth for themselves at the expense of the working class--one of history's more hideous refrains. Please note that before their coup of '29, these elite controlled only a majority of banks in the Northeast; afterward they dominated American capital from coast to coast. Ben Bernanke, the Fed's current head, even admitted when squeezed: "Regarding the Great Depression. We did it. We're sorry. We won't do it again."
Considering the Fed's seamless legacy of untruth...one might suspect that they actually are doing it again--note how much of the current "bailout" money is being used for acquisition...banks swallowing other banks, trillions in debt passed to future taxpayers. Try explaining something like this to your child.
Shaking the Bushes is an unlikely way to flush out truth, but it seems a blue moon can make both Georges spontaneously stray into actual truth. Is it a ploy to further confuse us, or merely a wrinkle in perception management?
One of George II's most germane chucking of beans: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
Then in 1992, when asked what Iran-Contra was really all about, George the First replied that it was done for "...the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands."
Talk about hitting pay dirt! In that simple nonchalance of George I, the fundamental truth underlying the foundational untruth of not only the Fed, but the federal government, corporate mainstream media--and owners of all of the above--the financial elite, is revealed.
Yes, the government is owned by our nemesis, the financial elite. They own our free press, they own you...they own the world. The common good is as irrelevant to our owners as the future of humanity, and what they want is all they've ever wanted: more. Will we simply keep swallowing their effluent until the Republic is dead?
"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country...Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
--Abraham Lincoln, November 12, 1864
All we really need to know, something we've had our noses rubbed in a very long time, is that the government deals exclusively in untruth. If it ever mattered even a little, truth has been absolutely and permanently supplanted by perception management (including Abe's prejudice piquing), which, when it comes to the people, is the government's only genuine concern (in Bush jargon, one American = OFU, or "one fodder unit"-). The people have been so incredibly dumbed-down chemically and socially and every possible way in between that in the breadlines and soup kitchens, major-league baseball will probably be the hottest topic...or the Superbowl, or Brittney and Brad and Jen or the latest Superhero movie....
Perpetual Sheep, Perpetual Slaughter
A very wise woman said, "You can lead sheep to enlightenment, but you can't make them think."
Evolution has given women special insight to survive in a world where men dominate physically, do most of the slaughtering, and blaze where humanity would be better off not going. So what has a majority of the slaughter throughout history been motivated by? "...the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands." If George I spoke only two truths in his whole wretched infliction upon us, that one rules.
"...the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands"- drove the fraudulent presidential installation of George II, twice. Same thing for 9/11...for the absolutely mind-defying War on Terror! Oil wars, shock-and-awe, wanton slaughter of millions. War on the Biosphere, Great Depression redux, American concentration camps for Americans, American troops deployed against Americans on American streets, false flag terror, martial law. Suspension of the Constitution, death of the Republic.... Inhumanity American "leadership" has inflicted on the rest of the world for over half a century is now coming home.
"...the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands."
That's the foundational truth everything can be distilled down to, the bottom-line truth we've been looking for--and what an unlikely place to find it...what eerie irony. From the forked tongue of George I.
"...the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands."-
It's the driving force behind everything in Planning Central, the only thing that matters. And with the face of the beast exposed...if we still have time, will we ever muster the will--and especially find the leadership--to turn back toward the humane?
Authors Website: www.starchiefpress.com
War On Terror Was Wrong
The terrorist attacks in Mumbai seven weeks ago sent shock waves around the world. Now all eyes are fixed on the Middle East, where Israel's response to Hamas's rockets, a ferocious military campaign, has already left a thousand Gazans dead.
Seven years on from 9/11 it is clear that we need to take a fundamental look at our efforts to prevent extremism and its terrible offspring, terrorist violence. Since 9/11, the notion of a "war on terror" has defined the terrain. The phrase had some merit: it captured the gravity of the threats, the need for solidarity, and the need to respond urgently - where necessary, with force. But ultimately, the notion is misleading and mistaken. The issue is not whether we need to attack the use of terror at its roots, with all the tools available. We must. The question is how.
The idea of a "war on terror" gave the impression of a unified, transnational enemy, embodied in the figure of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. The reality is that the motivations and identities of terrorist groups are disparate. Lashkar-e-Taiba has roots in Pakistan and says its cause is Kashmir. Hezbollah says it stands for resistance to occupation of the Golan Heights. The Shia and Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq have myriad demands. They are as diverse as the 1970s European movements of the IRA, Baader-Meinhof, and Eta. All used terrorism and sometimes they supported each other, but their causes were not unified and their cooperation was opportunistic. So it is today.
The more we lump terrorist groups together and draw the battle lines as a simple binary struggle between moderates and extremists, or good and evil, the more we play into the hands of those seeking to unify groups with little in common. Terrorist groups need to be tackled at root, interdicting flows of weapons and finance, exposing the shallowness of their claims, channelling their followers into democratic politics.
The "war on terror" also implied that the correct response was primarily military. But as General Petraeus said to me and others in Iraq, the coalition there could not kill its way out of the problems of insurgency and civil strife.
This is what divides supporters and opponents of the military action in Gaza. Similar issues are raised by the debate about the response to the Mumbai attacks. Those who were responsible must be brought to justice and the government of Pakistan must take urgent and effective action to break up terror networks on its soil. But on my visit to south Asia this week, I am arguing that the best antidote to the terrorist threat in the long term is cooperation. Although I understand the current difficulties, resolution of the dispute over Kashmir would help deny extremists in the region one of their main calls to arms, and allow Pakistani authorities to focus more effectively on tackling the threat on their western borders.
We must respond to terrorism by championing the rule of law, not subordinating it, for it is the cornerstone of the democratic society. We must uphold our commitments to human rights and civil liberties at home and abroad. That is surely the lesson of Guantánamo and it is why we welcome President-elect Obama's commitment to close it.
The call for a "war on terror" was a call to arms, an attempt to build solidarity for a fight against a single shared enemy. But the foundation for solidarity between peoples and nations should be based not on who we are against, but on the idea of who we are and the values we share. Terrorists succeed when they render countries fearful and vindictive; when they sow division and animosity; when they force countries to respond with violence and repression. The best response is to refuse to be cowed.
David Miliband is the foreign secretary email@example.com
Brother Can You Spare a Dime?
By Norma Sherry
We, as a nation, are on the brink of the most momentous change our country has experienced in most of our lifetimes. Collectively we hold our breath, expel the air in our lungs and heave a sigh in recognition of the enormity of the unknown.
What we do know for certain is that we´re sinking and there are no lifeboats in sight. We fear our existence as we´ve known it will never be the same again. Stories we´ve been told, and stories we´ve read about the worst of times seemed incomprehensible to us just a mere few years ago, now fill us with a new and palpable dread. It is as if we were suddenly struck by a storm, leaving us with a sense of helplessness.
Our parents or our grandparents lived lives very different than ours. As children of the Great Depression they valued their money and saved for the proverbial rainy day that they knew would surely come. They worked with gratefulness in their hearts, appreciative that they had a job with which to support their families.
On the other hand too many of us grew up believing the world owed us. We, boomers, X´s and such, up until very recently lived each day as if it were our last. Many of us spent way beyond our means because we knew we deserved it. Jobs for the most part, were a means to an end nothing more; and if our boss expected that with which we didn´t agree, we simply quit because we knew we were better than this damn job anyway’.
This mindset didn´t matter because jobs were plentiful and when we got around to it, or our unemployment insurance ran out, we´d just find another job and a new employer who would appreciate our true worth. So many of us rarely planned and almost never saved; there were those of us that bought the hype and were convinced that designer labels judged our good taste; that our cars should be foreign, platinum and 24K were the metals of choice and that our diamonds and gems ought to be colorful and compellingly substantial. Standing out in a crowd was the standard. Getting ahead became the mantra; loyalty and good judgment were thrown out with the bath water.
Instead we were touted as heroes when we excelled in doing our job as expected. Whistleblowers were ostracized by fellow employees and most certainly their employers when they dared to speak up and speak out about employer/employee wrongdoings. Books that became bestsellers were books that exposed illicit affairs in business and of the heart. Religious leaders tearfully left their pulpits when their human flaws were laid bare for all to see and our legislators continued to be bought and paid for by corporate greed. Pharmaceutical companies cut corners and outwardly and extravagantly lied to their unsuspecting, trusting patients as they put their lives at risk all for the sake of the almighty dollar.
And as for us, whilst we were absorbed in the ecstasy of our pseudo sham of comfort buying homes we couldn´t afford and driving cars whose tanks we didn´t have the means to fill and admiring our closetful of designer duds and investing our pitifully miniscule bounty in the Wall Street marketplace of which we knew absolutely nothing, we neglected to notice that in the course of time, in the dead of night and in the clear, bright skies of daybreak, China became our banker, our landlord and the new Chairman of the Board.
All the while, those jobs that we berated were being shipped abroad to workers willing to work for pennies, literally. Our extravagantly enormous three or five or ten thousand square foot homes suddenly became worthless: pennies on the dollar. Money, our currency, became not worth the paper it´s printed on.
So, here we are on the brink of -- what? Homeless is no longer the poor shlub’ who no one knows. He or she is our neighbor or perhaps soon to be us. The thought, the mere suggestion, is no longer inconceivable, but in reality, each of us is filled with fear and dread of the unknown. Together we hold our breath; we may even reach our hand out in the hope of a handout’ when in the past the thought would have been too demeaning to even contemplate.
Here it is in the year of our Lord, two-thousand and nine; with a new, vibrant president. A man who promises that if we work hard, if we work together, if we have foresight, and if we move forward with dignity and diplomacy, if we care for one another, and become keepers of one another then just perhaps we can become the country, the society and the nation we aspire to be.
He warns us that it will be difficult; that the days ahead will be fraught with hardship and that there will be nothing easy about the tasks ahead. He uses cautionary words, carefully chosen words to bolster us and encourage us to be the best of us. He inspires good works and honorable efforts. He speaks to us all to each of us - to reach in and reach out and to find that which moves us and motivates us. Clearly, he is asking all of us to care again, to believe again, and to help make us proud again.
His words, so carefully chosen move me. I know I´m not alone. I know for certain that a great majority of us want to make a difference. We want to move from foolishness to a more generosity of spirit and that just perhaps if enough of us are moved to do something, to do anything for the better good of us all, then just possibly we can turn the doom of our future into a glimmer of hope.
If somehow we can find that spirit of our parents and grandparents, if we can live with less, to buy only that which we can afford, if we can learn the value of saving a penny here and there actually stowing it away under the pillow, under the mattress or in the piggy bank; if we can be thankful that we have a job, that we´re earning a salary and doing a job worth doing; if we can offer a hand to those less fortunate; if we can smile instead of crying or laugh just for the sake of laughing then we have begun to turn us around and together we can prove we´re worth saving.
President Barack Obama´s words are cautionary words, uplifting though they are, they are chosen to touch the innermost of ourselves, our spirit; to have us rise as if anew and to encourage each of us to see with new eyes, to hear with clear ears, to put aside preconceived notions, to permit us to think for ourselves, to put asunder the voices of rhetoric and disenchantment.
For me, his words plead each of us to be true to ourselves, to care for one another, but foremost to listen and consider the possibility of what we can be if we truly join hands and hearts. I believe he sees a better world and I, for one, wish this to be true with all of my being. Let freedom ring and give us courage to step out of ourselves and be the best that we can be.
Authors Website: www.togetherforeverchanging.org
Have I not destined victory for My children?
My victory is the cross! The victory was won there. To live is to die, for I am seeking a people of total surrender to My will. Whatever is born of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory, even our faith.
I am calling a people to live from the perspective of faith, for faith is the translation to the spirit realm; to the heavenly dimension that I have already established. Faith is the access point to My will, and when you releases My will, you releases heaven on earth.
I must be Lord. I am calling My people to the altar. When they lay it all down, I will arise in them, and the true sons of the earth will be established. My kingdom shall come, My will shall be done--it will manifest in you.
Yes, I have destined victory for you, My child. Faith and obedience are the keys to enable you to walk in it.
When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away. But the man who makes me his refuge will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain." Isaiah 57:13
"I tell you that I have called you to be separate my people. I have called you to shun evil men. I have asked you to be mine only. I have asked you to seek for me more than silver or gold. I want you to put me first. Idols are not always made of stone or wood. They can come in the form of anything that takes precedence over me. What are you consumed with? What is it that gives you fascination? I am a jealous God. I tell you that even your ministries and your churches can become idols. Lay them all down at my feet. Then when you pursue them, they will have my purposes in them."
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