Friday, January 31, 2014

Greece and the EU: why do they accept>

The curtain has been pulled back and the Greek people are confronted with the naked reality of no democracy, outcomes that cry out against fairness, logic and reason, and a spineless gaggle of "socialist" and "social democratic" politicians unable or unwilling to lead them in a fight for their very survival.  The question has to be asked: "why not?"  It is not sufficient to just dismiss those leaders as bad or worthless people.  They must have their reasons.  We all have our reasons.
I keep remembering how the Greek Prime Minister Papandreou proposed to put a bailout package to the voters, but withdrew that several days later reporting that he had been personally told "I'll kill you!" by President Sarkozy of France.  I wonder, was his capitulation simply personal cowardice? Complicity? Or bowing to Greece's reality as an enslaved nation? What would have happened had he defied Sarkozy and pushed ahead with the vote? A simple murder would not have been enough for the EU to set that right, but who else was implicitly threatened?
Then there's the Army. Greece's army is descended from the puppet forces that collaborated with Hitler and took control during the Civil War of 1946-49, with heavy British and American support.  The generals took back full power in a bloody coup in 1969, as told in the movie Z, to tame a population that was getting out of control.  It relinqueshed power under pressure in 1974 but was not defeated or purged.  
The key to understanding the collapse of Greek democracy in the face of the EU bankers may lie in the answer to the question: Whose army is it?
The denouement may perhaps lie in the hands of the junior officers and the sergeants, whose loyalties and state of mind we can only imagine.

To a fighter for safe healthy food

At times we all can feel hopeless and powerless in the face of the size, power, ruthlessness and pure evil of the corporations, of how hard it is to win little victories, how fast new threats emerge, and the illusion of a blind and apathetic public reflected back to us by the corporate media.  

People who care about and struggle over other issues are having the same experience.  Some despair, give up or grow numb out of exhaustion. 

Environmental justice, anti "tracking", global warming, workplace health and safety, nuclear power, animal rights, little victories are won.  Bank and mortgage fraud, globalization and secret trade deals, drives to privatize everything from schools to water supplies and prisons, banks financing criminal cartels and massively rigging interest rates and every market with impunity, all have come to light because they are someone's battle. But to really win/ each needs to be everyone's battle, which seems impossible.

Voting rights and voter suppression, Citizen's United and corporate personhood, big money control over every institution of government, fraudulent government statistics and media lies and censorship, the fight for the open Internet, massive government spying, a phony war on terror, militarization of local police, torture and rendition, each of these issues has come to light because thousands are engaged in them.  Victories are won, yet new outrages keep popping up while public attention flitters on to the next thing.  

Ending the wars, closing the bases, caring for the veterans, bringing the troops home, stopping the torture, rendition and executions by drone;  job creation, infrastructure, homelessness, hunger, workplace justice, the right to organize, parents' rights, welfare rights, ex-prisoners rights; each is critical to the thouands who are fighting them.  

An epidemic of discrimination is totally out of control, whole new classes of people are no longer considered for jobs,  Millions, gripped by fear of being destroyed by some employer-alert list, swallow their bile and try to "keep their noses clean." 

This same fractal-like pattern appears on almost any smaller scale - battles over the privatization of parking meters, the breakdown of a state Food Stamp system, the stealth passage of some outrageous state law overturning a just court ruling, or countless personal injustices  - new battles just keep popping up.  We feel isolated in the face of armies of cynical "suits", too overwhelmed to support each other's fights.

Meanwhile flocks of corporate-funded politicians, pundits and shock-jocks orchestrate campaigns of division, hate and self-blame, drawing on all our fears, myths and confusion, setting up and promoting phony protest movements and false leaders, Judas goats and Pied Pipers, playing on our shame,  twisting our anger back against each other and against ourselves, scapegoating, channeling and fanning our outrage, stirring up false hope and wasting our energy on dead ends.  

Consider the Million Veteran March on Washington.  Maybe two hundred Tea-Party veterans plus Sarah and Michelle got wall-to-wall press coverage for defying the barricades at the War Memorial, while the leaders of 30 national veterans groups and thousands of veterans who converged on Washington the following week to protest the very real cuts in benefits got virtually none.  

The fight for safe, wholesome food is deeply connected to all these other battles. One people fighting for our homes, our families, our very lives in thousands of battles on hundreds of fronts confronting one hydra-headed shape-shifting foe and its doctrine of unrestrained greed.  1000 streams flowing toward one ocean.  

The story of our food has rippled outward.  The seemingly-docile satisfied masses shuffling their full baskets through the checkout line know far more than you think.  Exhausted, barraged with conflicting information and misinformation, living paycheck to paycheck, yet all know something's very wrong.   Obesity, deformities, chronic illness, disability and early death surround us.  All have horror stories of bad medical care.  And all suspect the food.

Our stories - of all our struggles and what we've learned in them - are permeating outward.  Few know all the pieces but everyone knows some.  Some incident will draw us together in outrage, the way the Crash and Bank Bailout did.  Some turn of events will sweep aside all the distractions and focuses our minds on the common source of our afflictions.

In that moment, we will shed the last illusion: that the problem is "all those other stupid people" out there, sitting on their couches stuffing their faces with Devil Dogs, consuming and believing all the happy lies.  

Occupy was starting to draw us all together into one great invincible force, but it wasn't quite there yet.

Or rather, it was we, the American people, who weren't quite there yet.

We've learned a lot since then, and there will be a next time.  


Friday, January 24, 2014

Who are all those wealthy Chinese buying US homes with cash?

From Hugh-Smith's article we could conclude that those Chinese nationals buying foreclosed properties in our cities with cash are neither agents of the Chinese government nor China's new billionaire class scheming to gain power or control over the US.  Rather they are simply criminals laundering their loot and preparing their getaway.


Two Powder Kegs Ready to Blow: China & India

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,
China and India are both powder kegs awaiting a spark for the same reason: systemic corruption.
China's "princelings" (offspring and family of the inner political circle and top apparatchiks of the Communist Party) are billionaires, not mere millionaires. A recent expose of offshore accounts held by various Chinese billionaires estimated the wealth skimmed and transferred our of China at between $1 trillion and $4 trillion: China's Epic Offshore Wealth Revealed: How Chinese Oligarchs Quietly Parked Up To $4 Trillion In The Caribbean.
Even the top number is a gross underestimate, as $4 trillion only accounts for the skim of the top layer
... even the lowly functionary skimmer can get huge sums out of China: take a "vacation" to Macau. Buy $1 million in casino chips with your looted yuan. Lose $50,000 at the tables and then go cash in your remaining chips in U.S. dollars. Deposit the dollars in a Hong Kong or other Asian bank and then transfer the cash to L.A. or Vancouver to buy a house for cash. Repeat as necessary.
It has taken an enormous credit bubble of $23 trillion (The $23 Trillion Credit Bubble In China Is Starting To Collapse – What Next?) plus the monumental credit expansion of the shadow banking system in China to enable the skimming of $6 trillion by the political/financial Plutocracy….
CH: Hugh-Smith ends with some words of wisdom that would apply at home:
The spark that ignites the powder keg cannot be predicted or suppressed. Don't look to the disenfranchised peasantry as the source, though they are ready enough to cast off the Powers That Be; look to those who believed the gilded promises issued by the looters and discovered that the fruits of their labor and their hopes is disillusionment on a scale as vast as the skim looted from their nation by their self-serving leadership.

My comments on:

Warren, McGovern push for extension of jobless benefitsROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION IN WORCESTER

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Jim McGovern both gave fabulous presentations and responses, and made clear that they saw themselves as leading a struggle to help people survive, save the unemployment benefits, save the SNAP program and win a massive public works, green economy and infrastructure jobs program.  The press did a so-so job of reporting it, but had a nice page one photo.

Most of the comments were the usual nasty stuff.  Here's some responses.


17Grey wrote 
   "well gee...... unemployment rate is down. why can't they get a job? " 

CH: Yeah, and the rate's about to drop to 6% or 5.8% as another million who have been looking with little hope are dropped from the rolls! That should make you feel even more righteous! 


Independent wrote: 
   "Just create an environment for job creation and the unemployment benefits will take care of itself." 

CH: Six years into a depression, 30 years into the most massive wave of deregulation, tax cuts on the rich and corporations, privatization, de-unionization and liquidation of the welfare system perhaps that the world has ever seen, and you can still say this? How much more would it take to satisfy you? 

The endless refrain here is that things will be fine if the government just gets out of the way and lets things get back to normal. It should be obvious six years into a depression that things are not getting better, and won't until we do something different. 

The rich and powerful have won the game. They have accumulated so much power and wealth that the game doesn't work anymore. But it still feels good to them! 

Warren and McGovern are raising the demand for the direction that has not been tried yet: a massive public works program to put people back to work, and a program of closing tax loopholes, corporate welfare and tax havens, ending incentives to ship jobs overseas, prosecuting the criminal wrongdoings of the banisters and taking our money and banking systems our of their greed-blinded hands. 

A good way of describing this program: a "New Deal". 

None of this can happen if we go on waiting. It will require a massive shift of power from the corporate wealthy to the rest of us. But it has to happen. 

Six years of waiting, and the economy is stagnant and on life support, with the Fed still pumping $1 trillion a year into the financial markets, pumping up a stock market that gets ever more out of line with reality. Median income is down over 10%. The labor force is still shrinking. Expansion by borrowing can't happen; we're tapped out. The WSJ reports that Nov-Dec retail foot traffic is down 50% from 2010 to 2013. The commercial real estate and banking sectors are on the brink of a meltdown. 

The economy has to start expanding soon, or it will collapse. The banksters have prepared to save themselves with "bail-ins", like in Cyprus: confiscating their depositors' accounts - and swallowing the economy into a black hole! 

Warren and McGovern are calling us into battle for a New Deal to save our real economy, our communities and homes, friends and neighbors. 

They have offered us their leadership and voices, but they can't do it for us. We have to do it. 

"jimmys" wrote: 
   "Where is Warren and McGovern's plan? They keep pointing fingers and crying but I do not see them introducing a new plan." 

What I should have answered:  They certainly talked about it at this Forum. Why didn't your newspaper, TV or radio network tell you about that? 

There is a vast silence out there in medialand about a lot of issues and events, and this non-coverage appears to be carefully crafted to create the illusion of a vast silence and passivity in the real world. Then we all get to sit around and blame all those other people out there who don't get it - and our representatives for what we didn't hear them say.


"I'mRight" posted:

   "The GOVERNMENT DOES NOT CREATE JOBS! ( Except its own wasteful inefficient ones)" 

CH:  A lot of folks keep shouting this, like it's an obvious truth and anyone who disagrees is somehow bad and stupid. But it's just not true. Scream at me all you want, but governments can and do create jobs. 

Look at the Interstate Highway System. Didn't that create jobs - a lot of them? You're going to tell me those weren't real jobs?  Would those jobs have been more real if the Interstates had been built for profit by a syndicate of investors? 

This issue is important for a number of reasons.  Right now it's urgent. Private investors are just not creating jobs. Huge quantities of government and Federal Reserve money shoveled in their direction for five years has not induced them to even replace the jobs that were lost in 2008-9. There's no reason to think they're suddenly about to start producing the millions of new jobs we need. 

And if SOMEONE doesn't start producing a lot of new jobs, right quick, the whole economy will collapse in on itself! 

I know that's not what they taught you in school, but it's time to let go of all this ideological stuff and get very practical. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Oath Keepers

My comment to the article on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Website about the Oath Keepers

I posted it below the article where it remained for several hours.  It was then marked "Under review by moderator" for several hours, and has now apparently been removed.

Maybe it was just too long.


OK, so we don't know which way the Oath Keeper sword will cut in a crisis, or who will be on which side around what when all the masks come off, but seriously, we need to admit we have a real and overarching problem which they are addressing in a plausible and perhaps necessary way.

We elected a President who says all the right words and does the opposite, leaving the people in a state of profound disillusionment and demoralization. Our corporate media is clearly lying and concealing the truth about any issue that poses a threat to the corporate elite, including the reality that out here on Main Street, for the 90%, there has been no economic recovery and it's still a depression, with growing poverty, hunger, mass unemployment, declining wages, union busting and a great pall of fear and dread. All the while the pundits and talking heads proclaim "It's a boom! A boom!"

The abrogation of our sovereignty by NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT and proposed in the TPP effectively overrides the power of our legislatures and courts to protect our health, safety, environment and labor rights. The legal arms of the Federal Government that prosecuted large-scale corporate and financial malfeasance have been disbanded and the banksters commit global-scale crimes with complete impunity. And the NSA spying and blackmail machine is real, vast, all-intrusive and casts a pall of fear across the land, but has apparently never stopped one terrorist attack. 

The Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Agency represent profoundly anti-democratic responses to a threat which each passing day stands more plainly exposed as an operation of our own Security State, now openly supporting the most murderous terrorists in Syria. The FIMA camps are real. There's one in my neck of the woods on Cape Cod and it looks like a giant prison, not a camp. It must have cost a fortune to build. The militarization of local police forces and accumulation by police agencies of military technology, arms and ammunition is widespread and accelerating. Virtually every terrorist plot that has been exposed and stopped in recent years - and some that have not, like our Boston Marathon bombing  - have turned out to have been hatched and abetted by FBI or CIA provocateurs or under their eyes.

Our economy is careening toward the next global meltdown, which promises to dwarf that of 2009 and will feature a collapse - already underway - of the dollar as the world reserve currency,  Preparations to replace it with a global currency - controlled by the central bankers and utterly beyond any democratic control - are well documented, but the outcome is uncertain. 

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this vast edifice of government abuse has as its target ... us. The regular people. The 90% or the 99%. And it increasingly becomes clear that the War on Terror is about our greed-crazed corporate overlords being terrified of ... us.

In this context, what the Oath Keepers are doing looks like a sane and honorable response by members our military and police forces, mostly recruited from the children of the working people and in a sense still of us. Most grew up believing in a righteous land of freedom and democracy, and many have experienced the hypocrisy and horrors of wars waged against other freedom-loving people under false pretenses.  Among the beliefs they brought with them was the precious principle that the arms-bearing services serve a democratic state and stay out of politics. But what should be their response to a reality where democratic institutions have ceased to be effective and the rule of law is breaking down? If and when the military is unleashed upon an outraged populace, whether to obey or refuse orders will be a political choice, one way or the other.

I write as a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement - which we need to acknowledge could not have accomplished what it did without Presidents from Eisenhower to Nixon ordering a reluctant FBI and Federal prosecutors to protect it.  As a veteran of peace, anti-war, labor and electoral struggles of the '50's, 60's and 70's, I've experienced some very troubled relationships with the Federal and local police forces. Yet ultimately, with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center and countless others, the security forces were constrained by the Constitution and the laws, and we were able to struggle in the streets, the workplaces and at the ballot boxes, sometimes advancing sometimes driven back, as free, proud people defending and exercising our rights.  How different it is now to live in a land where all that is being swept away, where so many of my former companions in struggle, grown accustomed to comfortable salaries and bound by "golden handcuffs", seem powerless or afraid to help lead the fight back.

I have followed with admiration the work and at times the heroism of the staff of the SPLC since its inception. And I admit to feeling deeply disturbed by evidence I've seen of racists, secessionists and insurrectionist groups aligning with the Oath Keepers. Yet to align with the Security State against the Oath Keepers without acknowledging the urgent truth and power in much of what they are saying and the courage of the stands they are taking feels to me like a profound misreading of the moment we are in.

At a time when the Commander in Chief, a former professor of Constitutional Law, is trashing the Constitution on almost every front, I was often inspired to see those fearless leaders of the Labor Left and Constitutionalist Right, Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, standing together against repression, lawlessness and imperialist wars, each armed with a pocket copy of the Constitution.  I'll never share Paul's views about many vital issues, yet in the dark days ahead all of us will find our ideas about who are the "good guys" and who the "bad guys" sorely tested.