CIA Signals Continuity With Bush Era February 26th, 2009
Via: Wall Street Journal:
The Central Intelligence Agency’s new director outlined spy policies Wednesday, including an aggressive campaign in Pakistan, that underscored considerable continuity with the Bush administration.
CIA Director Leon Panetta, in his first meeting with reporters, said the agency will continue to carry out drone attacks on militants in Pakistan. He also said that while CIA interrogations will have new limits, President Barack Obama can still use his wartime powers to authorize harsher techniques if necessary.
Among changes under way at the CIA, the agency is now assembling a daily Economic Intelligence Brief to monitor the global economic slowdown’s impact on stability. Argentina, Ecuador and Venezuela are facing “serious problems” that threaten their economic stability, Mr. Panetta said.
The Obama administration has also shown a reluctance to overturn Bush administration views on certain terrorism-related legal matters. Earlier this month, it backed Bush-era positions that a case against a contractor alleged to have helped with CIA renditions shouldn’t go forward because it will reveal “state secrets,” and that detainees in Afghanistan don’t have the right to challenge their detention in a U.S. court. Coming cases that will provide additional signals include a lawsuit to force the release of Justice Department memos on anti-terrorism policies.
Finally, because we’re also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget. That is why this budget looks ahead ten years and accounts for spending that was left out under the old rules – and for the first time, that includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price.
Department of Defense officials who are involved in preparation of the Fiscal Year 2010 budget request are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement pledging not to divulge budget-related information to unauthorized persons.
Defense Department regulations (such as DoD Directive 7045.14 [pdf], section 4.7) already prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of budget planning documents, so the policy itself is not new. But the use of non-disclosure agreements to enforce and encourage compliance with the policy appears to be without precedent.
"will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government."
I was a very young boy when Dwight Eisenhower ran for president. I wore an "I Like Ike" button. I liked Ike 'cuz he had a great button. My dad voted for Adlai. Ike was my hero 'til everybody started talking about how much golf he was playing while the Russkies were kicking our ass all over the planet . . .
I was thirteen when John Kennedy came up to bat. He was just about everybody's hero, 'specially if you were an Irish Catholic Bostonian like I was. It was several decades before I found out the truth about his presidency and I finally threw him in the old hero hamper . . .
It will always disturb me that Ronald Reagan is a hero for so many Americans, except as a deification of American selfishness. To credit the man with "bringing down" the Soviet Union and all but destroying international communism is disingenuous at best. The USSR collapsed of its own weight of corruption and imperial overstretch, complete with its own Vietnam-like Afghanistan quagmire, just as the US and its empire are imploding now, the result of the ideology and policies of the Reagan years.
I will not take the time here to delineate those US Presidents who have been elevated to the status of hero. We all know who they are. It should be noted, however, that good historical practice can often insert critical insight and controversy into the myths upon which the stature of heroism is built. In my mind, for example, the fact that Lincoln was a racist who intended that freed African slaves be returned to Africa punctures the myth of his deification.
Presidential heroes are indeed the product of the melding of reality and mythology. In ancient Greece, the term "hero" applied to mortals who, through exceptional deeds, were elevated to the panoply of the gods as "demigods".
Every revolution and every empire needs its gods, I suppose. It's a great marketing technique, selling ideology to domestic citizens and foreign adversaries: Bolivar, Attaturk, Castro, Churchill, William the Conquerer. Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and, of all people, Teddy Roosevelt radiate their deity from visages carved into the side of a mountain. Washington himself is memorialized by a giant phallic pyramid piercing the sky from the Potomac swamp. Man become symbol. But aren't these myths usually made in retrospect? Aren't demigods the embodiment, even sanctification, of ideals and actions to be emulated by the good citizens who worship them?
It seems to me that the myth of Barack Hussein Obama has already been made up. It is almost as if the man had to be made before the demigod. It certainly wasn't difficult. George (AnybodyBut) Bush provided a ready-made foundation. Any Democratic candidate could probably have beaten whoever he endorsed (or whoever endorsed him and his policies) by just showing up, so it was just a matter of whether it would be Obama or Hillbillary who successfully wooed the King/Queenmakers (and their coffers).
The Clintons had a problem: their myth was already made and not all of it was flattering. Obama didn't really have to run against them, because many of the Clinton courtiers defected early to Obama. All he had to do was stand still and his own myth was knitted together by his handlers and even more so by politically impoverished voter-serfs ascribing their own ideals to him, regardless of whether he really held them or not. By the time the DNC rolled around, the bronze sculpture of a new superhero had already been cast and finally the election saw z bright marble bust on an iron pedestal. Unfortunately, the bust is hollow . . .
In many ways, November 2008 may have been the peak of the Obama presidency. The myth is fairly transparent and cannot last long. The man himself probably realizes that the stovepipe crown he's been given isn't really big enough to hold the gigantic magic rabbit he'll have to produce to pull off what's in the script.
The bubble of "Hope" and "Change" is burst already. One is not possible without the other. and we are still waiting for change that will not come, unless it's for the worse. Noam "The Gadfly" Chomsky has this to say . . .
As for current policies, I think Obama looks more aggressive and violent than Bush. The first acts under his administration were attacks on Afghanistan and in Pakistan, both of which killed many civilians, building up support for the Taliban. He wants to extend the military side of the war. There is an Afghan peace movement, which is calling for a reduction or an end of terror. President Karzai has pleaded with the United States not to carry out attacks that will hit civilians and, in fact, has demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces, American forces, but that's just totally disregarded and the opportunities for a peaceful settlement are just ignored.
Back a year or so ago, when Obama was still truly a dark horse, many commentators, most notably Black Agenda Report (and I) warned that the man and the myth were not of the same substance. Unable to vote for a lie, I didn't vote (in my state, my candidate, McKinney, wasn't on the ballot). I don't regret my abstinence. In fact, it's already starting to look like a wise choice.
I must admit that the best candidate in the available field did win, but that doesn't say much about the choices. The point really is whether President Obama can produce the superheroics required to pull our fat out of the fire. Demigod or demagogue, I think not. Frankly, that's not really why he was hired. He's being paid to keep us calm and hopeful while the fat sizzles down to crispy critter size.
It's 2009. You're laid off, furloughed, foreclosed on, or you know someone who is. You wonder where you'll fit into the grim new semi-socialistic post-post-industrial economy colloquially known as "this mess."
You're astonished and possibly ashamed that mutant financial instruments dreamed up in your great country have spawned worldwide misery. You can't comprehend, much less trim, the amount of bailout money parachuting into the laps of incompetents, hoarders, and miscreants. It's been a tough century so far: 9/11, Iraq, and now this. At least we have a bright new president. He'll give you a job painting a bridge. You may need it to keep body and soul together.
The basic story line so far is that we are all to blame, including homeowners who bit off more than they could chew, lenders who wrote absurd adjustable-rate mortgages, and greedy investment bankers.
Credit derivatives also figure heavily in the plot. Apologists say that these became so complicated that even Wall Street couldn't understand them and that they created "an unacceptable level of risk." Then these blowhards tell us that the bailout will pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the credit arteries and save the patient, which is the world's financial system. It will take time—maybe a year or so—but if everyone hangs in there, we'll be all right. No structural damage has been done, and all's well that ends well.
Sorry, but that's drivel. In fact, what we are living through is the worst financial scandal in history. It dwarfs 1929, Ponzi's scheme, Teapot Dome, the South Sea Bubble, tulip bulbs, you name it. Bernie Madoff? He's peanuts . . .
The article, a six-screen in-depth economic analysis, points out that the seeds of economic self-destruction didn't begin with Bush. It also makes clear that the new president is surrounded in his lofty, smog-stained ether with the aging lesser gods who planted the seeds of this jungle in the first place. The players and prayers are the same. Change strikes out.
Stokes fears that troops will be used to quell civil insurrection in wake of economic crisis
Steve Watson Infowars.net Tuesday, Feb 24th, 2009
The U.S. Army is to invest $6 million in riot equipment, a fact that has furthered fears that troops will be used inside the U.S. in order to quell any civil unrest resulting from the ongoing economic crisis.
The U.S. Army Contracting Agency, based at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, has a post on the Federal Business Opportunities website, requesting the equipment and has received several notices of interest from potential vendors.
The request titled “84–RIOT EQUIPMENT” outlines the need for hard polyethylene Shin and Chest Guards, shock absorbing Forearm Protectors, Interior leg brace supports as well as knee and ankle protectors.
The ACA asks that the equipment be able to “safely withstand a substantial blow… from non-ballistic weapons or flying debris” . . .
I'll be blunt: I think (and even expect) that Obama will be The Last Hero. Because myths and heroics are what've put us here. What we've got is broken and can't be fixed. That's a good thing, I think, because now we can build something better than we had.
So take off the cape, Mr President. We're the heroes, not you.
Brzezinski fears class warfare. Not Mika. Zbigniew. And not Barney-Frank-on-Meet-the-Press class warfare. Real, blood-in-the-streets riots.
Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Adviser expressed his concern about the possibility of riots on Morning Joe today. To stave them off, he proposes the creation of a voluntary National Solidarity Fund, whose contributors would be those who made out very well in recent times.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You also talked about the possibility of class conflict.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I was worrying about it because we’re going to have millions and millions of unemployed, people really facing dire straits. And we’re going to be having that for some period of time before things hopefully improve. And at the same time there is public awareness of this extraordinary wealth that was transferred to a few individuals at levels without historical precedent in America . . . And you sort of say to yourself: what’s going to happen in this society when these people are without jobs, when their families hurt, when they lose their homes, and so forth?
We have the government trying to repair: repair the banking system, to bail the housing out. But what about the rich guys? Where is it? [What are they] doing?
Voluntary National Solidarity Fund? Zbig fears class warfare...
Also, looks like they've been preparing for a few months:
he Iowa Army National Guard has dropped plans for urban warfare training in the western Iowa town of Arcadia after being deluged by nearly 100 e-mails and phone calls from gun-rights advocates nationwide.
The four-day event in April would have involved between 90 and 100 combat troops arriving in the Carroll County community in a convoy with a Blackhawk military helicopter flying overhead.
Troops would have gone door to door, asking the town's 443 residents about a suspected arms dealer and conducting searches of homes if property owners volunteered in advance to cooperate. There was no opposition to the Guard's plans from city leaders. But gun-rights advocates were outraged, and news about the exercise became a hot topic nationally on radio talk shows and the Internet.
Arcadia Mayor Oran Kohorst said Monday he was disappointed the exercise had been canceled. He said he had not heard of a single objection from residents, and he said the City Council supported it. At least two guardsmen live in Arcadia, and many residents either have served in the military or have family members who have served in the armed forces, he said. "This was completely blown out of proportion," Kohorst said. "They were going to come through and meet with the townspeople and just practice going in and out of their homes. They were never, ever going to confiscate guns or anything like that."
During the Bush years, it often seemed that on any given day all the leading conservative commentators were reading from the same list of talking points — because they were.
But without a conservative in the WH, who’s handing out the talking points now?
One thing’s for sure: someone is.
Republican party is playing kabuki like they have no real leadership right now, but they are remarkably on message. One of the reasons, I felt, that McCain did so poorly in the election was that, by and large, it seemed he wasn't in charge of his candidacy. Comparatively, Obama did seem to be in charge not only of his campaign but also of his party.
The Republican party (really, a consortium of Republican representatives, media pundits and Wall Street traders) is still being run from the shadows. Who's pulling the strings?
Are Iranian women the most beautiful in the world? Possible Onion headline: In Attempt to Stop Bombings from US and Israel, Iran Changes Name Back to Persia - "What? There's no Iran here. Look buddy, this is Persia, we can't accept no bombs for Iran, two separate places, last time I'm tellin' ya!"
Once a crutch for the most needy, food pantries have responded to the deepening recession by opening their doors to what Rosemary Gilmartin, who runs the Interfaith Food Pantry here, described as “the next layer of people” — a rapidly expanding roster of child-care workers, nurse’s aides, real estate agents and secretaries facing a financial crisis for the first time.
Demand at food banks across the country increased by 30 percent in 2008 from the previous year, according to a survey by Feeding America, which distributes more than two billion pounds of food every year. And instead of their usual drop in customers after the holidays, many pantries in upscale suburbs this year are seeing the opposite.
Good thing they have Jesus and Obama on their side eh?
NEW YORK, (Reuters) - A top adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday the global economy may be deteriorating even faster than during the Great Depression, grim euro zone services and manufacturing data hit a record low, and Japan warned economic conditions were also worsening.
Welcome to the theater, please take your seats, the show will begin momentarily...
There is no phrase in biz lingo more insidious, odious, and degrading than "human resources". Every company has a department with that title (or outsources its functions). Such departments used to be called "Personnel" or "Employment". Pretty neutral and innocuous, I think. Then, I guess, somebody came up with the bright idea that putting "human" in the title modernized the concept and/or made it more, well . . . "humane". Just the opposite, I'm afraid. It's that concept of "resource" that really singes my socks . . .
I was born in California in the late 40s. Pretty early on it was just my dad (a school teacher) and myself. We lived and I grew up in a series of communities, some of them in the northern rural part of the state and others that were in Sacramento, Stockton, San Francisco, and Eureka. These communities were called "neighborhoods" and our friends were, well, "friends".
I left California in 1960 and returned to the Bay Area as a 40-something. I found out that "friends" were now "networks" and neighborhoods had turned into "bases". I was a "human resources and organizational developer". I lasted two and a half years.
I think of a resource as "something that is used". If I can't use it, it has no value to me. It is, therefore, very difficult for me to think of a human as a resource, because I don't "use" him or her. S/he has value, whether I need her or him for something specific or not. From time to time, there might be things that a person might give me or do for or with me that may benefit me, but that, as they say, is icing on the cake. I understand that not everyone feels that way, but that makes me sad.
Corporations, with their nasty tentacles wrapped around the very genitals of "democratic capitalist" government have the legal status of "persons." But they're not human. To corporations, then, we humans are their resources, like oil and sand and meat-cattle. We're stuff. A corporation uses stuff it needs to make other stuff and/or money. Don't need it, no value.
We humans can be bothersome stuff, however. We can be pretty high maintenance. We have the aggravating habit of reminding corporations that we have some basic rights and basic needs. We can make things messy, especially since we gave some of us stuff to the grinding wheels of the corporation and didn't get much of a return from it. The folks who manage and own corporations took us stuff and kept a lot of it. And now, they say, a lot of us stuff they took just kinda disappeared. So now . . . We. Are. Less. Stuff. Messy, as I said.
Something pretty serious has happened as the capitalist monster has gone around devouring stuff in its slash and burn and gobble juggernaut. You see, for awhile now it's been depending on "play money" to fund its gluttony: I guess we usually call that "credit" - you know, fly now, pay later. The fantasy was that later would never come. But it did, because people started playing too hard with play money and the game collapsed. So now, none of the corporations can afford stuff and we stuff can't afford ourselves. Oops. We end up being not such hot stuff, after all.
The question of whether we can "recover" and put everyone back to work is hereby moot. As a writer calling himself "edutrain" writes at Socyberty, in "Can Capitalism Survive?" . . .
Western capitalism collapsed in 2008. It is still with us, a very lame duck, because governments, mainly in the USA and Europe, bailed it out - by pouring £ Billions into bankrupt banks.
Why did they do this? Their answer is that, without government support, banks and the economy would have collapsed.
But there is no evidence that anybody, except the bankers (who continue to pay £&$ Billions in bonuses), have benefited. Companies collapse, and people lose their homes - because they are refused the loans which the banks, when they received government funds, agreed (we are told) to arrange.
It is obvious that capitalism, which we are told, consistently, is a model for us all to follow, cannot "stand on its own two feet". Despite the £&$ (and Euro) Billions already provided, the banking system is still extremely shaky . . .
The author goes on to suggest that state socialism is the next step, while at Global Research, Professor Michael Hudson explains:
In periods of looming collapse, wealthy elites protect their funds like rats fleeing a sinking ship. In times past they bought gold when currencies started to weaken. (Patriotism never has been a characteristic of cosmopolitan finance capital.) Since the 1950s the International Monetary Fund has made loans to support Third World exchange rates long enough to subsidize capital flight. In the United States over the past half-year, bankers and Wall Street investors have tapped the Treasury and Federal Reserve to support prices of their bad loans and financial gambles, buying out or guaranteeing $12 trillion of these junk debts. Protection for the U.S. financial elite thus takes the form of domestic public debt, not foreign currency. It is all in vain as far as the real economy is concerned. When the Treasury gives banks newly printed government bonds in “cash for trash” swaps, it leaves today’s unpayably high private-sector debt in place. All that happens is that this debt is now owed to (or guaranteed by) the government, which will have to impose taxes to pay the interest charges. The new twist is a variant on the IMF “stabilization” plans that lend money to central banks to support their currencies – for long enough to enable local oligarchs and foreign investors to move their savings and investments offshore at a good exchange rate. The currency then is permitted to collapse, enabling currency speculators to rake in enough gains to empty out the central bank’s reserves. Speculators view these central bank holdings as a target to be raided – the larger the better. The IMF will lend a central bank, say, $10 billion to “support the currency.” Domestic holders will flee the currency at a high exchange rate. Then, when the loan proceeds are depleted, the currency plunges. Wages are squeezed in the usual IMF austerity program, and the economy is forced to earn enough foreign exchange to pay back the IMF . . .
Today it is easier to see that the Western economies cannot go on the way they have been. They have reached the point where the debts exceed the ability to pay. Instead of recognizing this fact and scaling debts back into line with the ability to pay, the Obama-Geithner plan is to bail out the big banks and hedge funds, keeping the volume of debt in place and indeed, growing once again through the “magic of compound interest.” The result can only be an increasingly extractive economy, until households, real estate and industrial companies, states and cities, and the national government itself is driven into debt peonage . . .
I'm no economist, believe me. So I've got some questions . . .
Socialized or not, if there's no money around, what becomes of us stuff and our stuff? Do we just do away with money and give everybody the stuff they need? Capitalism has been based on the right of every individual to choose what "need" means. Will humans be able to accept what we "need" instead of what we "want"?
From the point of view of the corporatist, the relationship of the "human resource" to the corporation is that the corporation provides money for the human resource's work so that the human resource can keep its stuff together well enough to continue being a resource.
But this relationship is broken, it appears. So if state socialism is the answer, the state is now burdened with keeping stuff going to maintain and produce stuff and around and round, and round. Dizzy? I certainly am.
The vertigo gets critical when the technology of The Computational Singularity and Trans- and Post-Humanism are added to the mix. Again, from the point of view of the corporatist, these just may lead to a situation where, well, they don't need us stuff so much anymore. We have no value - at least as we're presently constituted. Or, at the very worst, our value is only to be enslaved to the ruling class in order to pay their debt.
One conclusion to all this is simple: the rulers don't really need us. We're just useless at best, a drag and hindrance to total control at worst. Is there not a direct correlation between the amount of money one has and the number of people one needs?
Still the most popularly unexamined interrelated phenomena on the planet are eugenics, robotics, and trans/posthumanism. In our present circumstances, they are inseparable. The new eugenics movement calls for population reduction through decreasing birth rates in general and especially in "defective" humans (read "the poor" and the genetically "at risk"). Poor and "sick" humans, as far as eugenicists are concerned, are the most useless stuff, and even redirect resources to keeping that stuff around.
In addition to supporting population reduction, the most quickly developing trend is the integration of eugenics with robotics in population control. I do not use "control" as a synonym for "stabilization" or "reduction" here. I mean it as a mechanism for keeping stuff (read "angry, unruly mass mobs of 'left out' humans threatening ruler's wealth and power).
In collusion with both academic and applied science, DARPA and other government-ensured entities have become very advanced in developing crowd control and battlefield weapons systems that increase the power of the owners and users while reducing risk to the same. Witness . . .
The U.S. Super Research arm of the Department of Defense is at it again with another psychotic addition to its maniacal wish list of super deadly and undefeatable weapons, namely the self-aware AI robot mega-tank.
Pentagon chiefs have announced that they would like some self-aware computer systems capable of “meta-reasoning” and “introspection”. The plan is to place these machine intelligences in command of heavily armed, well-nigh invulnerable robotic tanks.
This latest plan for humanity’s subjugation comes, of course, from DARPA - the agency believed to harbour the largest known group of lifelike people-simulant robots piloted from within by tiny, malevolent space lizard infiltrators in the entire US federal government.
The plan is called Self-Explanation Learning Framework (SELF). It is being handled by Dr Mike Cox of DARPA’s renowned Information Processing Technology Office . . .
And we all know about Predators and other aerial drones, used by the Obama administration for surveillance, as well as for unmanned missile strikes in Pakistan.
Furthermore, at the point that artificial intelligence meets and exceeds human intelligence (the "computational singularity") robots will have the capability of sentience, learning, and self replicating. The US Navy has already spoken of the need for codes and systems which protect against robots actually turning on their human creators.
Finally, although it is the therapeutic value of nano/bio-tech advances which get all the PR these days, the implications of the potential for body/mind invasion of molecular enemies are frightening. Imagine mandated vaccine programs secretly designed to also inject genetically-spiked molecular substances which radically influence brain neurochemistry or which are deadly viruses.
In short, the great danger is that "posthuman resources" is quickly becoming more valuable, and perhaps controllable stuff than human resources. If I were you, I'd be very suspicious of that cute nannybot cyborg you want to watch your kids while you're out shopping . . .
The other relevant scene from the novel is when the old Italian man (108 years old) tells the 21-year old Lt. that the secret to a long and happy life is to surrender, not fight.
To not get in uniform, not get in line, not march with the masses, not stand in the ranks, not espouse the public goal.
To live instead like a knife cutting through water, leaving no trace of yourself while simply being yourself. The young Lt. may not see the next sunset, while the old man has lived the one day given to him, day by day, for 108 years.
Most people can't do it. Human beings live in stories, in myths about nationhood, heritage, generational accomplishments, ethnicity, in sports teams if nothing else. Most of us are eager to stand up and be a part of history, to fight for truth, justice, and a sacred cause larger than our life, to make our mark in this world, to make a difference, to be somebody, to do some thing.
When the only thing you can ever possibly have any control over is yourself, inside your own skin.
Ozymandias in the end was just a man. Though he reportedly shook the heavens and the earth, no trace of it remains. What he took to eternity was who he was, not what he did. Not the slightest speck of any mountain he moved, not the smallest coin nor thread of cloth went along with him to wherever he went.
None of those things were taken. None of those things remain.
It's hard to leave off the story, the country, the cause that appeals to you, and to care nothing about all that.
In the eight years of daily heartbreak of the Bush years now past, I went from grieving for my lost America, to a white hot rage to rescue it, to a determination to change it, to a cold examination of its core deceits.
And there has been a divorce. I've no respect or regard remaining for America's story, for its birth or history, for its government, its leaders, its various wars, or for its aims around the world today. It is not my story or my country even though I live here.
Like the majority of Americans, much has been taken from me in these eight years, and as I watch the fledgling Obama Administration service the robber barons assiduously instead of the people I perceive that even more will be taken.
But I also perceive that these taken things are just things. Job, career, savings, property, pride, prospects, patriotism, optimism, health care, community, anger, shame, love of country. These things that I once thought moved heaven and Earth are gone now.
Like so many Americans, I am standing here in my skin, with no particular loyalty to the nation that robs me, that abuses me, that uses me and then sends along a bill for its services. I won't be paying that bill, and they cannot collect it without taking my very skin, which I aim to keep.
Like so many Americans, I am 'paddling to Sweden' as Orr did in the novel -- I am getting up every morning and doing what is sane and effective to escape a mad and maddening situation, to escape with my skin. My bank is a mattress, my income is barter and black market, my taxes are nought. My interest in the blogs, news, and headlines is to dodge what's coming next, not to fight it, espouse it, worry about it, or live in it.
The oligarchs atop our nation do not grasp how very many Americans don't live in America any longer even though we live right here. How very many of us see that the Dream was only ever possible for 10% of us, and that those 10% have got theirs but good, and have no further concern for the rest of us, or for other nations, or for the planet.
They've virtually left the country. So have we. Catch 22 -- no one lives in America any longer. Some live above it, while most live below it. The Dream is increasingly unoccupied.
The 10% of wealthy Villagers atop America will happily leave the rest of us shivering in our skins, if it keeps them living in their story. In their country. The country they won, that they stole fair and square so they can live happily ever after.
With its own bank (to get that start-up play cash before learning "how to spend it" and "what it takes to earn more"), supermarket, model runway, business class flights...and an unemployment office even. Luckily, this unemployment office always finds a job for every kid.
The resounding defeat of George W. Bush's effort to privatize Social Security in 2005 seemed to be the end of attacks against the program. However, William Greider argues that Wall Street interests are leading a new round of threats to Social Security in a plan to use money from the program to recover the costs of bailing out banks. Although President Obama has indicated support for Social Security in the past, Greider argues in the video below that progressives need to exert pressure and educate the public about its solvency in order to counteract the efforts of private interests pushing for a compromise.
I wish I was a graphic artist, 'cuz I just designed (in my muddled head) a great new Nobama T-shirt. All I can do is describe it . . .
Background: the popular headshot image of the prez, but not in the colors that remind me of a bruise I developed on my shoulder in 1968, the result of a just-missed-my-noggin swing of a riot stick by a cop who took exception to my use of the word "pig" in reference to his ugly self. No, the colors are shades of gray - nothing quite white, nothing quite black. Perfect.
Foreground: in red block letters . . .
CHIEF NWOPD To Protect and Serve THE NEW WORLD ORDER
Man, I am so already weary of you "Jesus says to vomit up mediocrity" dreamers who have latched onto the "Give Obama A Chance" mantra. You're gonna wait, and apologize for him, and cover his sorry ass long after the graffiti on the wall been tagged and painted over a thousand times. Losers. (Yeah, this is one a'those 'get the hell away from me' posts.)
OK. Gonna give you the benefit of the doubt and waste my fingertips 'splainin' it to you, Lucy. Here's the scorecard so far . . .
escalating a drone pogrom against civilians in Pakistan. The easy way - no US casualties, just Asian common folks who are guarding the whereabouts of bin Laden's gravesite
trillions of bad money after bad money, while trying to water down executive bonus and compensation limits
a cabinet filled with gangsters, except for several who had to cut and run 'cuz they got caught
support for Israeli genocide
ignoring evidence that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons - again. Boy, does he want this one!
investigations into criminal activities of the Dubbleduh-Chainey Gang stonewalled. He doesn't even want Rove to testify
support for FOIA suppression, wiretapping, increased surveillance, and continuing rendition
And I'm just restating the obvious.
Bluntly: this cat's job is just (1) to protect the post-capitalist system while it wrings every last cent from the humans on the planet into the cesspool pockets of probably a few hundred thousand foolers rulers and (2) serve the interests of the international Communitarians.
Here are only a few reasons why the people in the US have not taken to the streets: (a) gas is cheap again; (b) unemployment is still under 25%; (c) the propa-entertainment complex is very sophisticated; (d) mass hypnosis; (e) we're scared shitless of the potential response of the police and military should we get a little out of hand. The last of those, by the way, is valid. I know I'm terrified.
I want to leave you with some chips of a couple of pieces I ran across in the past coupla days . . .
Psychologists have observed a phenomenon in lab rats that is called learned helplessness:
What scientists will do is put a healthy rat in an uncontrollable situation, such as in a cylinder of water with nothing to stand on - and the rat will panic and swim and fight and fight and then, finally, when none of that works, it gives up. The rat has now learned helplessness. If you put the rat back in the water, but give it a hidden ledge to stand on, the rat won’t search for it or even try to swim, it’ll just give up and drown.
The phenomenon isn’t limited to rats, of course. It is also exhibited by human beings who are consistently exposed to life circumstances beyond their control. If someone gets beat down by an unfair system for long enough, they can lose hope that the system will ever change, and they can stop trying to fight against it. For example, listen to this comment made on reddit last week in response to a call for a grassroots movement to limit corporate power:
You can’t escape them (corporations). They own everything that you need/want/must have to live. So stop living in dreamland and come back down to reality. Yeah, it’s a good idea. But completely impossible.
Or to this one:
Ha. Haha. Hahahaha. Look around you. They’ve already won. They own everything, and right now, they’re in the process of sucking what little wealth remains in the hands of freestanding small businesses through the printing of money. It’s over. Shouldn’t have been asleep at the wheel so long. Fun ride, wasn’t it? But the piper’s come…
What a sad world we live in. Traditions are crumbling, values and morals are getting lower and lower, truth and beliefs are being replaced with money and greed. What has gone wrong with the world?
It seems like commercial activities is what drives the world nowdays. Nothing is done without there being some type of gain for someone. Lets look at Christmas. You look in the shop windows, house lights, and in people homes and what do you see? Santa Clause and a stack of presents! If an alien were to visit the planet during the Christmas period, they would think the world worships a large, oversized old man with a white beard all dressed in red who rides a sleigh pulled by wierd creatures. What has happened to the story of the Birth of Jesus? What has happened to the Son of God being born in a manger? Where is the Star? Now it's all about money, money and more money . . .
It doesn't have to be about money. And the way things are headed, it won't be long before it ain't about money anymore.
It can be about community and caring and cooperation. But you're not ready. You're too scared. You can't see it. You'd rather brand me a cynical pessimist. I get it. It's OK.
First, I want you to know right up front that I did not vote for you. I did not vote for your opponent(s) either. I proudly withheld my vote because there was no presidential candidate on the ballot in my state whom I believed represented my best interests as a citizen of this country or the best interests of the nation as a whole. My vote is a valuable commodity. I wasn't about to waste it by casting it against someone or for a "lesser of two evils". Evil is evil. I won't vote for it.
First, I want you to know that people who honestly thought that there was no discernible difference behind Obama and get off your lawn guy and his dimwitted vice presidential pick are deeply delusional. Obama is no saint but he's going to do some good for the country. I very seldom say that when the GOP controls the presidency.
But let's take a look at the "evil" shall we?
ITEM: I turn to Open Left again where I find two pretty good summing ups. Here's Mike Lux who puts it in pretty good perspective:
Sometimes lost in all the anger and irritation over the things that we don't like about this Economic Recovery Act, and over some bad decisions that seem to be being made on the banking bailout, is the fact that some really big things are going on right now for the good. We had to make some really irritating compromises to get the recovery bill passed, and it's too small, and we sure didn't message it well at times. But wow: almost $800 billion dollars going mostly into great investments into the economy for the poor and middle class, and tax cuts targeted vastly more towards middle income people than rich people. The size, the scope, the kinds of investments- health care, state/local fiscal relief, universal broad band, school construction, infrastructure, health care, green jobs, poor people's income support- it really is historic. Let's get this thing passed.
And let's stop for a minute after this gets passed, and take some satisfaction: The Lily Ledbetter is law. S-CHIP, including children of immigrants, is law. About a dozen outstanding executive orders on civil liberties, labor, reproductive choice, regulatory issues are signed and in place. And now an $800 billion jobs bill, targeted mostly to progressive things, hopefully is about to become law.
Geithner and Summers are still pissing me off. We have a long way to go on a whole lot of issues. But even so: wow.
ITEM: The environmental goodies alone make my vote for Obama a worthwhile one. From Treehugger:
Everyone from the Sierra Club to the National Resource Defense Council to environmental bloggers and journalists have been downright jubilant about all the green initiatives included in the bill. But just how green will the bill actually be?
The short answer is: Very.
An impressive $60 billion dollars of the $790 billion will be spent on alternative and clean energy, scientific research, and various environmental projects.
The Stimulus Green by the Numbers: Where the Money Will Go And here's what's got everyone so excited: (from NRDC)
• $6 billion for clean and safe water, creating more than 200,000 jobs • $4.5 billion for greening federal buildings • State energy grants, issued through the Treasury Department, that will fund renewable energy projects that are eligible for the available tax credits • Funding for the state energy program, which includes important utility reforms and building code conditions • $2.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy Research and Development • $5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program, creating approximately 90,000 jobs • A multi-year extension of the renewable production tax credit • A more effective tax credit for home efficiency upgrades • $6 billion in loan guarantees for renewables, transmission and leading edge biofuels • $2 billion for advanced batteries • $9.3 billion for intercity rail, including high-speed rail • $27.5 billion for highways (this large pot of money is not exclusively for highways, and states and cities must use this flexibility to invest in fuel-efficient public transportation) • $8.4 billion for transit • $1.5 billion in competitive grants for transportation investments (which could be used for public transportation)
Even some of the smaller numbers are encouraging: (from previous TreeHugger post)
* $125 million to restore trails and abandoned mines * $146 million for trail maintenance at National Park Service sites * $140 million for volcano monitoring systems * $600 million for the Environmental Protection Agency Superfund environmental cleanup program * $200 million to clean up leaking underground storage tanks * $500 million for forest health and wildfire prevention
More Green News: Tax Credits for Wind Energy More good news—a three year extension for tax credits for wind energy. Before the bill, wind energy advocates had to lobby every year to get the credits extended. Now, the tax credit is safe for at least three years—an encouraging message to wind energy proprietors.
What Got Left Out With perhaps the biggest investment in stimulating a green economy in history, it seems silly to make gripes like 'it could have been better.' But it could have been better. The $12 billion initially proposed for public transit fell to $8.4 billion, seemingly out of proportion to the $27.5 billion allocated to highway renovation.
ITEM: More proof of lesser of two evils stuff. Yes, I'm certain that McCain would have set aside a billion for Head Start, even though he voted against this bill.
Tree Hugger - Eleven pools were built in New York City alone by the Works Progress Administration. But America will stay dry thanks to the final wording of the Coburn Amendment. The original wording, which prohibited spending on parks and the arts, has been revised to read:
"None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this Act may be used by any State or local government, or any private entity for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool."
So the arts, parks, museums and highway beautification are back on the menu. Other items approved that are driving the "free minds and free markets" types crazy:
- $24 million for United States Department of Agriculture buildings and rent - $176 million for renovating Agricultural Research Service buildings - $290 million for flood prevention - $50 million for watershed rehabilitation - $1.4 billion for wastewater disposal programs - $295 million for administrative expenses associated with food stamp programs - $1 billion for the 2010 Census - $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges and libraries - $650 million for the digital TV converter box coupon program - $2 billion for Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program - $10 million to combat Mexican gunrunners - $125 million for rural communities to combat drug crimes - $1 billion for the Community Oriented Policing Services program - $1 billion for NASA - $300 million to purchase scientific instruments for colleges and museums - $400 million for equipment and facilities at the National Science Foundation - $3.7 billion to conduct "green" renovations on military bases - $375 million for Mississippi River projects - $10 million for urban canals - $5 billion for weatherizing buildings - $2 billion to develop advanced batteries for hybrid cars - $3.4 billion for fossil energy research - $5.1 billion for environmental cleanup around military bases - $5.5 billion for "green" federal buildings - $300 million for "green" cars for federal employees - $20 million for IT upgrades at the Small Business Administration - $200 million to design and furnish Department of Homeland Security headquarters - $98 million earmarked for a polar icebreaker - $210 million for State and local fire stations - $125 million to restore trails and abandoned mines - $146 million for trail maintenance at National Park Service sites - $140 million for volcano monitoring systems - $600 million for the Environmental Protection Agency Superfund environmental cleanup program - $200 million to clean up leaking underground storage tanks - $500 million for forest health and wildfire prevention - $25 million for the Smithsonian Institution - $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts - $1.2 billion for "youth activities" (for "youth" up to 24 years old) - $500 million earmarked for National Institute of Health facilities - $1 billion for Head Start Program - $32 million for home-delivered nutrition services - $160 million for volunteer programs at the Corporation for National and Community Service - $500 million earmarked for the SSA National Computer Center in Maryland - $220 million for the International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. and Mexico - $8 billion for high-speed railways - $1.3 billion for Amtrak
According to Hudson, we are now at 11 TRILLION DOLLARS given away to the rich in the past four months, and counting.
He states, "The debt overhead far exceeds the economy's ability to pay."
Which begs the question: Incompetence, or Planning. Does every country have leaders who all independently come to the exact same disastrous policies? (Of course they arrive at their solutions independently -- otherwise it would be a conspiracy, and that certainly won't do.)
Later Hudson compares Obama's disastrous policies directly to those undeertaken by Tony Bliar.
But anyway, we're gonna have a real smashin' Secretary of Labor, so who cares how many trillions Obama gives away? Am I right guys?
Negotiations had been going on all day, following extensive talks on Tuesday night, to close the gap between the Senate and House versions. In the end, the agreed-upon package will pare back Democrats’ proposed spending on education and health programs in favor of tax cuts that were needed to win Republican votes in the Senate.
The article starts out sounding like there was give and take, but by the end of it, I'm left with the impression that the House caved to the Senate. I wouldn't doubt it if Reid wanted to spin the facts coming out of this to make it seem like there was more back and forth. Democrats have to stop extending olive branches to the Republicans. So far as the Republicans are concerned, Obama is the Antichrist, and there is no compromise. Democrats have to learn to play dirty.
A month ago, Obama economists Romer and Bernstein released job-creation projections that "assumed a package just slightly over the $775 billion currently under discussion." Lo and behold, the final bill comes in at $789 billion. It reportedly includes Obama's proposed tax cuts, comprising almost exactly the same proportion of the overall package. For the past month, media attention has focused on all the changes to the package, and on the controversies it has engendered. Obama has been criticized for failing to forge a bipartisan consensus, for not safeguarding his priorities, and for not taking a sufficiently aggressive role in the negotiations on the Hill. So it's worth stepping back to take note of the fact that the final package looks remarkably like what Obama has wanted all along. In fact, it's closer to that original proposal than to either the House or Senate versions of the bill. Remarkable.
Whether or not it's the right package is a whole separate topic. But as a legislative achievement, coming so early in the term, this is astonishing.
$40 billion State Fiscal Stabilization $16 billion School Construction $1.25 billion project based rental $2.25 Neighborhood Stabilization (Eliminate) $1.2 billion in Retrofiting Project 8 Housing $7.5 billion of State Incentive Grants $3.5 billion Higher Ed Construction (Eliminated) $ 100 million FSA modernization $50 million CSERES Research $65 million Watershed Rehab $30 million SD Salaries $100 million Distance Learning $98 million School Nutrition $50 million aquaculture $2 billion broadband $1 billion Head Start/Early Start $5.8 billion Health Prevention Activity. $2 billion HIT Grants $1 billion Energy Loan Guarantees $4.5 billion GSA $3.5 billion Federal Bldgs Greening
Defense operations and procurement, STAG Grants, Brownfields, Additional transportation funding
And, of course, tax cuts for suburbia. Looking at the breakdown of the House bill I posted earlier, I didn't see any money for defense procurement, just construction and retrofitting of existing facilities.
"It looks like the Senate may end up passing a stimulus bill that’s smaller (spending-wise), larger (tax-cut-wise), and far less likely to work than the bill passed in the House.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of Senate Democrats letting Republicans blackmail them with the mere threat of a filibuster. Here’s a thought: Instead of caving in to GOP demands, how about telling them to go filibuster themselves? ..."
Amnesty International uses the term "rendition" to refer to a variety of practices by the US authorities involving transfers of individuals from one country to another, without any form of judicial or administrative process such as extradition. These practices, usually carried out in secret, include transferring "war on terror" detainees into the custody of other states, assuming custody of individuals from foreign authorities and abducting suspects on foreign soil.
Amnesty International believes that these practices are illegal because they bypass any judicial or administrative process such as extradition. Under international law, it is illegal to transfer people from one country to another without any kind of judicial or administrative process.
Bruce Alexander is best known - though deserves to be much better known - for the 'Rat Park' experiments he conducted in 1981. As an addiction psychologist, much of the data with which he worked was drawn from laboratory trials with rats and monkeys: the 'addictiveness' of drugs such as opiates and cocaine was established by observing how frequently caged animals would push levers to obtain doses. But Alexander's observations of addicts at the clinic where he worked in Vancouver suggested powerfully to him that the root cause of addiction was not so much the pharmacology of these particular drugs as the environmental stressors with which his addicts were trying to cope.
To test his hunch he designed Rat Park, an alternative laboratory environment constructed around the need of the subjects rather than the experimenters. A colony of rats, who are naturally gregarious, were allowed to roam together in a large vivarium enriched with wheels, balls and other playthings, on a deep bed of aromatic cedar shavings and with plenty of space for breeding and private interactions. Pleasant woodland vistas were even painted on the surrounding walls. In this situation, the rats' responses to drugs such as opiates were transformed. They no longer showed interest in pressing levers for rewards of morphine: even if forcibly addicted, they would suffer withdrawals rather than maintaining their dependence. Even a sugar solution could not tempt them to the morphine water (though they would choose this if naloxone was added to block the opiate effects). It seemed that the standard experiments were measuring not the addictiveness of opiates but the cruelty of the stresses inflicted on lab rats caged in solitary confinement, shaved, catheterised and with probes inserted into their median forebrain bundles.
Yet despite (or perhaps because of) their radical implications for the data that underpin addiction psychology, the Rat Park experiments attracted little attention. Alexander's paper was rejected by major journals including Science and Nature, and eventually published only in the respectable but minor Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior. Although the experiments have subsequently been replicated and extended, they still inform the science of addiction only at its margins. The Globalisation of Addiction is Alexander's attempt to draw out their full implications for our understanding of addiction, and to chart a course towards forms of treatment that can transform their findings into practice.
bumper sticker of the day:, "kids who hunt and fish don't steal and deal"
'What has happened is - now you all have to turn your brains around - the greatest work of art there has ever been. That minds could achieve something in one act, which we in music cannot even dream of, that people rehearse like crazy for ten years, totally fanatically for one concert, and then die. This is the greatest possible work of art in the entire cosmos. Imagine what happened there. There are people who are so concentrated on one performance, and then 5000 people are chased into the Afterlife, in one moment. This I could not do. Compared to this, we are nothing as composers... Imagine this, that I could create a work of art now and you all were not only surprised, but you would fall down immediately, you would be dead and you would be reborn, because it is simply too insane. Some artists also try to cross the boundaries of what could ever be possible or imagined, to wake us up, to open another world for us.'
Stockhausen on the 9/11 attack
But you know, some say, "interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art", I say...Fuck The People Fuck The People
The point was to induce mass trauma through images produced for television. Though it required the deaths of thousands in horrific, unforgivable fashion, it was a public relations act or, as Stockhausen had it, a work of art. The target was not the World Trade Center, it was YOU.
By the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including section 2(c)(1) of the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962 (the "Act"), as amended (22 U.S.C. 2601), I hereby determine, pursuant to section 2(c)(1) of the Act, that it is important to the national interest to furnish assistance under the Act in an amount not to exceed $20.3 million from the United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund for the purpose of meeting unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs, including by contributions to international, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations and payment of administrative expenses of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the Department of State, related to humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees and conflict victims in Gaza.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has removed all its agents from Bolivia, complying with orders by President Evo Morales, officials said.
The DEA began pulling agents out several weeks ago and the last agents left Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported. The development comes even as Bolivian officials say coca cultivation and cocaine processing are growing.
I'm very curious as to how to interpret the phrase "several weeks ago," insofar as there's been a wee bit of a transition between administrations and all.
The overall unemployment rate currently stands at 7.2 percent, a 15-year high according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each day since the current recession began, in December 2007, the news has been full of reports of job layoffs. Just today the government released a report indicating that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits is at its highest level in a quarter of a century, as more workers seek government assistance. Could the news get any worse? It’s all in how you calculate the numbers.
Here is a visual guide to the truth behind the numbers (click to open)
Stunning really, but hey, we can always turn to God for a hand up.
Televangelist's claim that Ariel Sharon's stroke was an act of God may have cost him the friendship of some Israelis, but it hasn't prevented his charity, Operation Blessing, from garnering faith-based grants from the U.S. government ... "More than 380,000 CBN 'partners' who donate a minimum of $20 per month ... are the bedrock of CBN, which attracted more than $132 million in donations in 2004," the Times-Dispatch reported.
Finding funds and thriving through faith-based grants
Despite the near universal condemnations of Robertson's remarks, back in Virginia Beach, Virginia -- where his ventures have their headquarters -- it was business as usual. Especially for Operation Blessing, the charitable entity whose mission is to "demonstrate God's love by alleviating human need and suffering in the United States and around the world."
In January 2001, when President Bush announced his Faith-Based Initiative by issuing an executive order establishing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Organizations, and one that instructed the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, Justice, Education and Housing and Urban Development to set up Centers for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives within their agencies, the Rev. Robertson -- along with his buddy, the Rev. Jerry Falwell -- roundly criticized the project. ... Robertson changed his tune the following year, when in October 2002, Tommy Thompson, then the head of the Department of Health and Human Services awarded a $500,000 Compassion Capital Fund grant to Robertson's Operation Blessing International.
Five years later, "the federal government has become a major source of money for Operation Blessing ... In two years, the group's annual revenue from government grants has ballooned from $108,000 to $14.4 million," the Virginian-Pilot's Bill Sizemore recently reported.
And if god can't help, well, there's always plan B. Our new commander in chief has a plan, to keep you from starving... Economic DraftCivilian Expeditionary Workforce
"America was never innocent. We popped our cherry on the boat over and looked back with no regrets. You can't ascribe our fall from grace to any single event or set of circumstances. You can't lose what you lacked at conception.
"Mass-market nostalgia gets you hopped up for a past that never existed. Hagiography sanctifies shuck-and-jive politicians and reinvents their expedient gestures as moments of great moral weight. Our continuing narrative line is blurred past truth and hindsight. Only a reckless verisimilitude can set that line straight."
--James Ellroy, American Tabloid
Ensure a Free and Fair Election (Ban Paperless Voting Machines