Friday, October 24, 2014

In response to "Broken young lives hard to fix" By Clive McFarlane TELEGRAM & GAZETTE,

So the police are focusing on the problem youth, 105 of them, at the heart of a "subculture of young people living outside the rules and constraints of this city's civil community." 

They got that way because of "...early and prolonged exposure to violence, abuse, neglect, living in poverty and with family members involved in criminal activities, and with racism." 

Commenters point to lack of fathers, but what about lack of jobs? 

Chief Gemme's response is probably appropriate, what else can the Worcester PD do? But this is the tip of a much bigger problem: thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of young people who have never had and have no hope of ever having what my generation would consider a "good job". Many grew up fatherless because their birth father couldn't find or hold a good job either. 

By a "good job" I mean a "bread-winner" job which you can raise a family on, steady work with good pay and benefits and some assurance you won't be fired without good cause. Today many regard  temporary work for $15 an hour as good, which is ok if you have only yourself to support, but even those are few, fleeting and far between. 

The core problem is that THERE AREN'T ENOUGH JOBS! And the competition for the few jobs there are is driving down wages and conditions, making "benefits" a thing of the past. If you doubt this, go explore the BLS statistics for "Employed" and "Employment Population Ratio" at   and see if YOU can find a "recovery" there! 

In the meantime Governor Patrick has been sitting on some $16 Billion (with a B) in money for projects that could put tens of thousands back to work for 4 or 5 years, money authorized by the Legislature that he never chose to borrow and spend - despite record low interest rates. Congress and the Obama Administration, with the power to go after the unspent Trillions (with a T) that the billionaires and big corporations are sitting on, have utterly failed to tackle the task. 

And young people with no hope and no future get into trouble and throw their lives away. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ebola crisis, why now?

The failure of hospital workers to follow protocols and adequately protect themselves from the Ebola virus is something that should have been addressed a long time ago on a national scale and updated annually. Doing it on the fly will probably not work out well. There are grounds for being deeply suspicious of the integrity of the CDC, but it is a fact that their budgets have been cut steadily by a myopic Congress more intent on funding the US efforts to screw over the rest of the world and rescuing bankers from the consequences of their crimes than with meeting the needs of the folks who elected them.
Anyone who has trained in the use of haz-mat protection gear knows that understanding how to use it in theory is the easy part.  The hard part is retraining a lifetime of habits and becoming mindful of where every part of your body is and what it's doing. I've only trained in nuclear and chemical hazards, where a degree of screwup leads to a degree of contamination, and that was struggle enough.  "Humbling" is a good word for it.  
A situation which is binary, where even a fraction of a degree of screwup could be for keeps, is a far greater challenge.
Tens of thousands, then millions of health care and public safety workers will have to learn how to handle bio-hazard protective gear perfectly, without mistakes. Often they will have to learn without experienced trainers, without sufficient equipment to spare, under pressure of time and fear. To say that training videos will be no substitute is beyond understatement. Anxiety and urgency do not foster clarity, and learning this routine above all requires clarity of mind.  Overcoming habits takes time, drillling under supervision, measuring results, reflection and trying again. And it takes equipment to spare.  
When we look at how the US has handled public health emergencies in recent years - Hurricaines Katrina and Sandy spring to mind - it is easy to imagine that such massive screwups involved some kind of conspiracy. And there have certainly been enough demonstrable conspiracies going around to support that suspicion.  Plus, the large and growing bio-warfare establishment is real, malignant, and active in West Africa.  We should write nothing off at this point.
However, let's not ignore the part being played in this unfolding fiasco by
* the accumulated neglect, decay and collapse of our once great nation's entire civilian infrastructure,
* the loss of our moral center and social contract,
* the decay of our healthcare, public health and civil defense capabilities,
* the weakening of our population's resistance to disease due to unchecked pollution and contamination of our air, water and food,
* half the population weakened by the struggle with poverty and housing issues, a third suffering some degree of malnutrition
* the epidemic of depression, despair and hopelessness brought on by mass unemployment.
If the outbreak of this Ebola crisis was not planned to coincide with the imminent economic collapse, it is nevertheless not unrelated.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Gold Standard is no cure


Why is the Gold Standard Urgent?  by Keith Weiner
This good well-reasoned article ends with a logic failure and leap to an unsupported conclusion.  
Weiner writes:
"When the rate keeps falling, the borrowing keeps rising. Is there a failure point for debt?
"... What happens when an entire society doesn’t save?
"Our financial system has suffered an escalating series of crises. Each crisis has grown out of the fix applied to the previous one.
"The crisis of 2008 was different. No matter what the Fed has attempted, they have not been able to create even the temporary appearance of recovery (other than in asset prices). It’s not merely that growth will be slow, or slower than it should be in some theoretical ideal economic world.
"There will be no recovery while our monetary cancer rages, unchecked...."
Well put. Very well put.  But then he jumps to:
"We must rediscover the gold standard, which is the only cure."
Not so clear. I know, there are theoretical arguments that this should work, but what does the historical record show?
The founding of the Fed was not just simply a criminal conspiracy.  It took place during the 30-year "Long Depression" that began in the 1880's and ended with World War I, an economic and social crisis that saw the rise of populist, labor and mass socialist movements throughout the world including in the US.  By the time the smoke had cleared from that crisis, most of the old Russian Empire had repudiated capitalism and Germany had nearly followed suit.    
The next big lurch into fiat currency occurred during and just after the Great Depression, beginning with Roosevelt's confiscation of private gold holdings and crowned by Bretton Woods.  That crisis ended with the Soviet Red Army occupying Eastern Europe and Berlin, communist-led movements overthrowing old colonial empires, and the "fall of China".  By 1955 the terrified global bankers were hiding behind the threat of a world-destroying nuclear armageddon to save their system and their skins.  
The final lurch into a fiat currency world began during another profound system crisis in the 1970's, at a time when world capitalism appeared to be lurching back into depression. A depression my professors in the '60's swore could never again happen and would never again be allowed. The response was the final unpegging of the dollar from gold, followed by the unleashing, step by step, of what became today's de-regulated, financialized bubble economy, where money flows like water from the Fed, the central banks and great banking houses, where "value" and "price" have been fully conflated. 
Seen apart from this historical context, the rise of central banking and fiat currency can be modeled as simply a criminal conspiracy.  But in historical context, it appeared as a succession of apparently successful emergency responses to emerging systems failures.  But if that is how we should understand it, then it is hard to see how fiat money could be the root problem of the crisis, or how reverting to the gold standard could be the cure.
Which is not to say that gold won't play a key role in the global drama that's unfolding.  I'm just saying that it's illogical to jump to the conclusion that reverting to a gold standard alone could fix a crisis that predates and perhaps precipitated its abandonment.  
If we conclude that some underlying condition, problem or set of problems must have been driving the system into depression and mass unemployment over a century ago, and if we conclude that is what must have forced our grandparents' and great grandparents' generations to abandon the gold standard, then we should assume this underlying problem or condition must still be there waiting for us.

Monday, October 13, 2014

German Journalist Blows Whistle On How The CIA Controls The Media

Ever wonder how the doctoring and suppression of news and the propagation of lies through the mass media is organized?  How could so many intelligent, able and seemingly honorable people, many of whom started out with youthful idealism, be induced to cooperate with such a disgraceful and damaging travesty?  If so, you should take a look at this:

   German Journalist Blows Whistle On How The CIA Controls The Media
“I was bribed by billionaires, I was bribed by the Americans to report…not exactly the truth.”

- Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor of one of Germany’s main daily publications, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Essential reading.  For a world where the good guys win more often than you hear about. 

Argentina defies US Judge

Aug 20, 2014
Argentina, which thought it had put the last crisis behind it with an IMF-brokered settlement and which has successfully been meeting those obligations, has now had the settlement invalidated by a New York Federal judge, and has been thrown into a sudden solvency crisis.

As is quickly becoming apparent, Argentina's rejection and defiance of the judge's ruling is a direct challenge not just to a New York court or some Wall Street investors, but to the Empire itself.  It's not purely accidental that Argentina should be the first vassal state to do this.  The Empire could and would have squashed Greece like a bug last year, before the BRICS development bank, before Russia's challenge to the dollar, and given its size and location.  The Empire must and will try to crush Argentina now, because 100 other countries are watching and will attempt their own breakouts if it escapes.  
What are the Empire's options here?  Probably not a military assault; Argentina is much easier to defend than Greece, and much has changed in the world over the past year. Argentina is much larger, better organized and more self-sufficient.  Of the US-controlled nations from which military aggression could be launched, Paraguay could easily be pressured by Brazil, and Chile is on the other side of the Andes Mountains.  Since the fall of the Soviet Union the Medeterranian is virtually a US-owned lake, but the only naval base the Empire has near (or, arguably, within) Argentina is in the Falklands.
The greatest threat Argentina faces is from its own military, with its ties to the US and a history of US-supported coups.  That same military however does have a recent history of challenging the Empire over the Falklands.  The Argentine government and leaders must move quickly to reorient its military toward Russia, China and especially Brazil, and to purge or sideline the officers who are known to be overly tied to the Pentagon and the US Embassy.  
It seems like everyone on this site (ZH) loves to diss the government of Venezuela.  But the turning poiint there was when the Venezuelan military, with US help and direction, staged a coup and took President Chavez prisoner, and the junior officers and rank and file troops rebelled and in 24 hours forced the top brass to back down.  That was the critical event when Venezuela passed outside US control.  This was possible because the entire people, including the members of the armed forces, were part of the national conversation about Venezuela's dilemma, about Latin America's dilemma.  
Argentina will soon face such a moment.  The future is unknown, but the formation of the BRICS bank has radically improved their odds.  This is a critical moment for Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa and other Latin American nations, a fateful test of their understanding and commitment to the project they have declared.

Celebration of the Revolution of 1774

July 2014

One of the greatest misconceptions that the American people are crippled by is the conflation of our Revolution with the Revolutionary War - and hence the conflation of "revolution" with "war".  Over and over I have seen people I am talking with come up against that and be stopped by it.
Our history books and the stories we teach skip from the "foreplay" - the struggle of the Colonial merchants and traders with England that built up over a decade leading to the Boston Tea Party in 1773 - almost straight to the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775, with a bridge story about conspirators led by prominent Bostonians meeting in attics and back rooms to plot an armed revolutionary uprising.
The problem with this narrative is that it leaves out the revolution itself!  
Now for the first time in almost 200 years preparations are underway to celebrate the revolution of 1774, with thousands of reenactors preparing to act out the drama of some of its events.  This is a story America badly needs, one that should be broadcast far and wide.
Check it out:

Becoming a fascist soldier

Regarding a profile of three Ukrainian Right Sector soldiers:

Is this a made-up story?  Maybe. Maybe some part is made up, but it feels about right to me.  
Pavel, Ruslin and Dmitri aren't the kind of monsters we might expect of fascists.  They might not even be fascists yet. Hannah Arendt, writing about Adolf Eichman, coined the phrase "the banality of evil", and these three certainly fit, but all is not fascist that's banal.
Our three captors seem to be carrying around enough hate and anger to be willing to kill, and with time they'll learn to focus it on the hate object of the day, starting with Russians. (Other Russians, not themselves of course!) They seem to have nothing they believe in or care about enough to die for, except to prove something about themselves. Backed by enough weaponry to feel invincible they'll act tough and brave, but when faced on equal terms with battle-hardened soldiers who care enough about their cause - and each other - to die for them, they'll turn and run. 
Sometimes terrified, humiliated and shamed by much less heavily armed partisans, they'll feel powerful and invincible taking their revenge on unarmed "enemy civilians".  Endlessly abused and denegrated by their commanders and foreign "advisors", they'll strut with pride in their skill at killing and the thrill of seeing the fear of their victims.  Thus they will, if they live long enough, grow into their fascist roles and become the murderous but ultimately cowardly bullies you'd expect.
Veterans of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Korea may recognize their type: "allied troops" who were great at torturing and killing prisoners and unarmed civilians, but turned and ran in disorder all the way to Pusan in 1950, panicked at Pleiku and ran all the way back to Saigon in '75, and dropped their guns and their pants and ran for their lives before ISIS last month at Mosul. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How do we think about the Hong Kong protests?

The revelation that grassroots revolutions like the one unfolding in Hong Kong are not what they seem or claim to be is a step toward understanding. But like every "theory of everything" this needs to be explored to discover the boundaries of its usefulness. 
Two things need to be distinguished here: the grassroots revolutionary impulse and the organization of a revolution. 
The revolutionary anger in the minds and hearts of the regular people, the "grass roots", is very real, and smolders all around us, pretty much everywhere.  It is as real here among my neighbors, a mix of working class, middle class and small entrepreneurs, as it is in Hong Kong, though not burning as brightly yet. But the anger and impulse are insufficient in themselves incapable of generating much more than mayhem followed by greater repression.  
The actions and "propaganda" (propagating of ideas, be they based on truth or falsehoods) of "highly-organized ... conscientious and professional organizers" is the other side of a revolution, providing the essential organization, coordination, communication and allignment on direction and purpose. 
This is where it gets tangled and convoluted.  Organizing, especially when taken beyond the level of organizing a small community, local interest group or a single shop, takes money and resourses - to support and train organizers and administrators and for communications.  Plus, the legacy of organizing during normal times is tied to the system by the necessity of winning concessions from power and is not so easily pried away even when the need becomes urgent. 
The organizers themselves may emerge from and swear their loyalty to the grass roots.  They may be recruited from the grass roots and swear their loyalty to the agency that recruits them, while in their hearts believing they and that agency work for the grass roots from which they came.  Or they may be trained and injected into communities, some as conscious agents and others naively believing that their imitation of grass roots activism is or can become real.
Yet, although revolutions may look synthetic when seen through this lense, the threat and power of revolution still smolders unquenchably in the grass roots, in the hearts and minds of the people whose oppression is integral to the system they draw their living from.  It is a powerful well of instability underlying every modern society.
Ruling classes and factions, in their battles with each other, have learned how to draw on this power - the revolutionary anger of the people, the grass roots, against their rivals at home and abroad.  They increasingly bring to bear resources of money, skills, modern social science, networks of informers, paid agents and most especially the science of manufacturing and propagating illusions.  This has arguably found its highest expression in the art and science of the "color revolution".
The people of Hong Kong and China now face a terrible dilemma.  The just aspirations and righteous anger of the regular people is evidently being mobilized by secret forces - foreign nations and their domestic collaborators - whose aim is the destruction of their very nation.  The result will be the plunder and ruin of everything they and their ancestors have won in bloody battles and built with generations of work and struggle. But their way forward can't just be a defense of the status quo, which is in any case collapsing.
This drama puts us also, we in "the belly of the beast", in a dilemma.  
Everything in us cries out to support the protesters in Hong Kong, who are fighting for what we also believe.  The yearnings and anger of the grass roots flaring forth there is clearly genuine. Yet the timing of this rebellion and the overwhelming evidence of recent history lends strong credence to the Chinese government's claims that it is being controlled by sinister forces directed against Chinese sovereignty.
If that this is probable, or that it could be leading the Chinese people to disaster, was still unclear to anyone, the ghastly spectacle in Ukraine should dispell all doubts.
This same dilemma is reflected here in the West.  Two fundamental principles that some of us live by, loyalty to our people and resistance to the wars and madness of Empire, are once again being placed in opposition. Our challenge is to refuse to choose, in spite of all evidence, but to rather insist on and continue to seek a break-away of the grass roots organizers from the control and hidden agendas of the puppet-masters.
Perhaps there's a silver lining to the horrifying gathering global system collapse. The oligarchs, as they turn on each other with ever greater ferocity and exploit the revolutionary anger of their rivals' "grass roots" against them with ever greater recklessness, will destroy the illusions essential to their control. We can hope the webs of grass roots organizers and leaders will at some juncture break free and take the reins of the rebellion in their hands on behalf of the people they work with. 
It won't happen tomorrow, it won't be pretty and it won't happen everywhere at once. But it's a possible dream, and that is something we urgently need.
So dear reader, if your thinking has led you to a conclusion which seems to leave no space for a future, consider. A future will happen with or without your participation, and it won't look like the past.  Your challenge is to find your own way out of your mental cul-de-sac.  I've offered you mine, knowing yours will be different.