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Saturday, December 1st, 2007
9:46 pm - Revolution

How many ready for revolution?

If someone presented you with a clear cause for government change, and you knew the system of government we have wouldn't allow it, would you be ready for revolution? With twenty people I could deliver the Houston area. It's not hard. And rifles are easy enough to find.

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Saturday, September 8th, 2007
3:58 pm - U.S. Politics are Organized to Worship Wealth


Alternate Title:
Our U.S National Committees: - Ever Wonder What They Do?

Short Introduction
Most other nations have private member based national political parties. Parties whose members, directly or indirectly, write and approve an enforceable political platform that gives political unity to the party.
  Conversely, the DNC's and RNC's collect money at the national level. Besides providing the convenience of one-stop shopping for donors, I am sure that you will be pleased to learn that, working together our national committees can often create a great deal of bipartisanship.

Bipartisanship and our Glorious National Committees
Quotes from Arrogant Capital by Kevin Phillips
Little, Brown and Company 1994, Chapter V, Page 123

Aspects of Republican-Democratic rivalry can seem as staged and phony as American professional wrestling.  Since the 1980's bipartisanship in the United States frequently involves suspending electoral combat to orchestrate some outcome with no great public support, but a high priority among key elites.  

In foreign policy, these issues have included the Panama Canal treaties and NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico.  On the Domestic front, bipartisan commissions or summit meetings have been used to increase Social Security taxes on average Americans while the income tax rates of the rich were coming down and to raise the salaries of members of Congress.

The pay raise deal involved walking on so many political eggshells that both sides negotiated an extraordinary side bargain: that the Democratic and Republican National Committees would refuse to fund any congressional candidate who broke the bipartisan agreement and made the pay raise an issue!

Would you agree with any of the following comments?

1  The DNC/RNC can provide a significant amount of party unity by controlling who gets their money.

2.  Any unity they provide would tend to be approved of by the donors.

3. Any time that a significant numbers politicians of both political parties feel disturbed about voter influence, both the DNC and the RNC stand ready to do all in their power to eliminate that influence.

As a political science book I read in the 70's said (paraphrasing)
; "Political parties in the U.S. are probably unique in having few other functions than raising money for politicians."


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Tuesday, September 4th, 2007
2:02 pm - Songs About War

Brickfish has a really cool music competition going on now for songs about war. Some of the entries are really good- they’re definitely worth checking out. Lets show some love for these artists who are supporting our troops! Don’t miss “Freedom Ain’t Free” and “She’s an American Soldier”; you can listen here http://www.brickfish.com/politics/warsongs?tab=1&cpn=politics/war 

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Friday, May 11th, 2007
2:30 am - America people = good; America elite = bad

The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating because the Afghanistan project was always held hostage to Iraq. The Bush administration after 9-11 used Afghanistan as a casus belli to get to Iraq. And you can see this written in the lackluster way in which the administration embraced the project in Afghanistan.

First, they used the war in Afghanistan as an advertisement for Rumsfeld’s theory of lightning fast, high-tech war. Where there wouldn’t be that many casualties; special forces, air traffic controllers embedded with local forces, bomb people from the sky, then Taliban get scared and run away, and finally you call in the Europeans whose NGOs can rebuild Afghanistan, and the inner American in every Afghan will start to blossom. Then you can quickly move onto Iraq, and that’s what they did.

There are several fundamental reasons why the US went to Iraq.

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Monday, October 23rd, 2006
12:55 am - Nuclear Proliferation and North Korea

Part of what we claim is that North Korea getting nuclear weapons would threaten the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


Lets look back to 1993, when the World Health Organization voted to request that the World Court consider the legality of the use of nuclear weapons, and issue an opinion on it.

As soon as they heard about this the United States and Britain went totally berserk: remember, just the fact that the World Court might hear a case on the legality of nuclear weapons is already a contribution to nuclear non-proliferation..

One must also, not forget that we benefit from proliferation, since we're the main producer, seller, and possessor of nuclear weapons.

I mean, it's not as if anybody would listen to the World Court if it said that the use of nuclear weapons is illegal (which means by implication that possession of them is illegal too) - but it would certainly be a big publicity coup for the disarmament movement if it did.

So for the big nuclear powers, this was a major issue.

Actually, it's of particular significance for Britain, because one of Britain's last claims to being a country, instead of like a country of the United States, is that they have nuclear weapons - so for them it's important on a symbolic level.

And nuclear weapons are important to the United States because they're part of the way we intimidate everyone - we intervene around the world under what's called a "nuclear umbrella," which serves as kind of a cover to back up our conventional intervention forces.

Ok, so that year (1993) Indonesia was serving as the head of the Non-Aligned Movement at the U.N. [a coalition of Third World nations in the General Assembly], and the 110 countries of the Non-Aligned Movement decided to introduce a resolution endorsing this request for an opinion - that's all that was up, endorsement of a request for an opinion from the World Court. The U.S., Britain and France immediately threatened trade and aid sanctions against Indonesia if, in their role as head of the Non-Aligned Movement for that year, they submitted this resolution at the General Assembly. So Indonesia instantly withdrew it, of course - when they get orders from the boss, they stop. And they stop fast.

Well, that just shows you that there are some atrocities that go too far for the Western powers: genocide in East Timor we can support, but endorsement of a request for an opinion on the legality of nuclear weapons is an atrocity we simply cannot tolerate. It also shows you what we can do to Indonesia if we feel like it.

Anyway, back to North Korea... if we're so concerned with non-proliferation, obviously nothing would be more of a shot in the arm for it than this World Court decision we tried so desperately to block. Okay, that tells you something about our motives in all this. But actually, I think the problem with North Korea is in fact what they're saying: the wrong guys are getting possible power, nuclear weapons.

Look, nobody in their right mind would want North Korea to have nuclear weapons. But on the other hand, there's nothing much that they would do with nuclear weapons if they had them, except maybe defend themselves from attack. They're certainly not going to invade anybody, that's not even imaginable: if they ever made a move, the country gets destroyed tomorrow... so the only role that nuclear weapons play for them is a deterrent to attack - and that's not totally unrealistic.

North Korea is a pretty crazy country, and there's not very much good and there's nothing good you can say about the government. But no matter who they were, if they were Mahatma Gandhi they would be worried about a possible attack. The United States was threatening North Korea with nuclear weapons at least as late as the 1960s. And after all, just remember what we did to that country - it was absolutely flattened. Here people may not be aware of what we did to them, but they certainly know it well enough.

Towards the end of what we called the "Korean War" - which was really just one phase in a much longer struggle [beginning when the U.S. destroyed the indigenous nationalist movement in Korea in the late 1940s] - the United States ran out of good bombing targets. We had total command of the air of course, but there was nothing good left to bomb - because everything had already been flattened. So we started going after things like dikes. Okay, that's a major war crime. In fact, if you take a look at the official U.S. Air Force history of the Korean War, it's absolutely mind boggling, it's like something straight out of the Nazi archives. I mean, these guys don't conceal their glee at all, it's just this account of all their terrific feelings: we bombed these dikes, and a huge flow of water went through the valleys and carved out huge paths of destruction and slaughterd people! I really can't duplicate, you have to read the original. And the Koreans lived on the other end of that.

Our treatment of North Korean prisoners of war also was absolutely grotesque - again, it was kind of like the Nazis. This is all documented in the West by now, and of course they certainly know about it. So there are plenty of things for the North Koreans to remember, and plenty of things for them to be afraid of - which is not to justify their getting nuclear weapons, but it's part of the background we should keep in mind.

The other thing is, North Korea is in a desperate situation right now: they're hemmed in politically, and they're struggling very hard to break out of their total isolation - they've tried setting up free trade zones, and are desperately trying to integrate themselves into the international economic system, other things like that. Well, this is apparently one of their ways of attempting to do it. It's neither intelligent nor justifiable, but that's a part of what's motivating them, and we should at least try to understand that.

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Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006
6:51 am - Understanding the Middle East Conflict

Israel is having more and more trouble putting down this popular revolution over the Occupied Territories. The repression of the Palestinians and the Lebanese is not qualitatively different right now from what it was 40 years ago -- it's just that it's escalated in scale sincee the Palestinians and the Lebanese started fighting back. For the Palestinians it started during the Intifada. So the brutality you see occasionally on television has in fact been going on for the last 40 years, and it's just the nature of a military occupation: military occupations are harsh and brutal, there is no other kind [Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria during the Six Day War in 1967, and has controlled them ever since]. There's been home-destruction, kidnappings, torture, collective punishments, expulsion, plenty of humiliation, censorship -- you'd have do go back to the days of the American South to know what it's been like for the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. They are not supposed to raise their heads -- that's what they say in Israel, "They're raising their heads, we've got to do something about it." And that's the way the Palestinians have been living.

Well, the United States has been quite happy supporting that -- so long as it worked. But in the past few years, it hasn't worked. See, people with power understand exactly one thing: violence. If violence is effective, everything's okay; but if violence loses its effectiveness, then they start worrying and have to try something else. In fact, the occupation's beginning to be rather harmful for Israel. So it's entirely possible that there could be some tactical changes coming with respect to how Israel goes about controlling the Territories.

Outside the United States, everybody knows what the solution for resolving the conflict in the region would be. For years there's been a very broad consensus in the world over the basic framework of a solution in the Middle East, with the exception of two countries: the United States and Israel. It's going to be some variety of two-state settlement.

Look, there are two groups claiming the right of national self-determination in the same territory; they both have a claim, they're competing claims. There are various ways in which such competing claims could be reconciled -- you could do it through a federation, one thing or another -- but given the present state of conflict, it's just going to have to be about the modalities -- should it be a confederation, how do you deal with economic integration, and so on -- but the principle's quite clear: there has to be some settlement that recognizes the right of self-determination of Jews in something like the state of Israel, and the right of self-determination of Palestinians in something like a Palestinian State. And everybody knows where that Palestinian state would be -- in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, along roughly the borders that exsisted before the Six Day War in 1967.

All of this has been obvious for years -- why hasn't it happened? Well, of course Israel's opposed to it. But the main reason it hasn't happened is because the United States has blocked it: the United states has been blocking the peace process in the Middle East for the last twenty years -- WE'RE the leaders of the rejectionist camp, not the Arabs or anybody else. See, the United States supports a policy which Henry Kissinger called "stalemate"; that was his word for it back in 1970. At that time, there was kind of a split in the American government as to whether we should join the broad international consensus on a political settlement, or block a political settlement. And in that internal struggle, the hard-liners prevailed; Kissinger was the main spokesman. The policy that won out was what he called "stalemate": keep things the way they are, maintain the system of Israeli oppression. And there was a good reason for that, it wasn't just out of the blue: having an embattled, militaristic Israel is an important part of how we rule the world.

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Sunday, August 20th, 2006
3:13 am - Peoples Democratic Socialist Republics

One of the issues which has devastated a substantial portion of the left in recent years, and caused enormous triumphalism elsewhere, is the alleged fact that there's been this great battle between socialism and capitalism in the twentieth century, and in the end capitalism won and socialism lost-and the reason we know that socialism lost is because the Soviet Union disintegrated. So you have big cover stories in The Nation about "The End of Socialism," and you have socialists who all their lives considered themselves anti-Stalin saying, "Yes, it's true, socialism has lost because Russia failed." To even raise questions about this is something you're not supposed to do in our culture, but let's try it. Suppose you ask a simple question: namely, why do people like the editors at The Nation say that "socialism" failed, why don't they say that "democracy" failed?--and the proof that "democracy" failed is, look what happened to Eastern Europe. After all, those countries also called themselves "democratic"--in fact, they called themselves "People's Democracies," real advanced forms of democracy. So why don't we conclude that "democracy" failed, not just that "socialism" failed? Well, I haven't seen any articles anywhere saying, "Look, democracy failed, let's forget about democracy." Ant it's obvious why: the fact that they called themselves democratic doesn't mean that they were democratic. Pretty obvious right?

Okay, then in what sense did social fail? I mean, it's true that the Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe called themselves "socialist"--but they also called themselves "democratic." Were they socialist? Well, you can argue about what Socialism is, but there are some ideas that are sort of at the core of it, like workers' control over production, elimination of wage labor, things like that. Did those countries have any of those things? They weren't even a thought there. In the pre-Bolshevik part of the Russian Revolution, there were socialist initiatives--but they were crushed instantly after the Bolsheviks took power, like within months. In fact, just as the moves towards democracy in Russia were instantly destroyed, the moves towards socialism were equally instantly destroyed. The Bolshevik takeover was a coup--and that was perfectly well understood at the time, in fact. So if you look in the mainstream of the Marxist movement, Lenin's takeover was regarded as counter-revolutionary; if you look at independent leftists like Bertrand Russell, it was instantly obvious to them; to the libertarian left, it was a truism.

But that truism has been driven out of people's heads over the years, as part of a whole prolonged effort to discredit the very idea of socialism by associating it with Soviet totalitarianism. And obviously that effort has been extremely successful--that's why people can tell themselves that socialism failed when they look at what happened to the Soviet Union, and not even see the slightest thing odd about it. And that's been a very valuable propaganda triumph for elites in the West--because it's made it very easy to undercut moves towards real changes in the social system here by saying, "Well, that's socialism--and look what it leads to."

Okay, hopefully with the fall of the Soviet Union we can at least begin to get past that barrier, and start recovering an understanding of what socialism could really stand for.

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Friday, August 11th, 2006
7:23 pm - Call me a crazy conspiracy nut

So I've been sort of absently following the Israeli-Lebanon conflict as of late, which is where most americans are on the subject. We're absently interested. Our allies are fighting people who are allied to our enemies, but none of this has really hit home yet, so we go about our lives. The accounts from Lebanon say that the Israelis are killing unarmed women and children using bombs and soldiers and air strikes. The Israelis for their part acknowledge these deaths as accidental.
Now, an analysis of history will show that very few Civilian deaths are actually accidental. Generally, Civilians are killed in order to demoralize the survivors and soldiers. Take Sherman's march to the sea, Truman deciding to drop the bomb twice on Japan or the Massacre of Indian towns whose warriors were away by U.S. Cavalry. If you don't like that I'm pointing out specific American examples, no problem. The Romans did it, the Chinese did it, the Japanese did it, the Spartans did it, the English definitely did it. Break the will of your enemy by hurting those who can't defend themselves and aren't expecting to be attacked because it would be wrong by almost all standards of honor and morality, it's an age old tactic. More recently, Al Quaeda did it on 9/11.
So the few scholars and fools who are willing to admit that many of these deaths are in fact not accidents are offering up the justification that Hezbollah is doing it too, and on a proportionally equal if not greater scale. The stories of Hezbollah "terrorists" (we refuse to call them soldiers, despite the fact that that is really what they are, they're just a different kind of soldier than we usually see. They're Guerrilla soldiers) shooting civilians or using them as shields in order to make the Israeli's look even worse in international eyes are prevalent. So who is putting out these stories I might ask? I hear them from people who heard from a friend who heard that CIA said this, or on CNN they said that or the Israeli's are saying this. Sounds to me like propaganda, not dissimilar to competing Nazi and Russian propaganda meant to dishearten soldiers on the opposing sides at Stalingrad and Leningrad. Basically it's letting one side of the conflict tell you what happened without the other side getting to explain their version of it.
Between civilians and on a small two to a few hundred person conflict of interests here in the U.S. we'd call that kind of reporting slanted. Why should it be any different because multiple governments are involved?
But I'll tell you what's really got me bothered is that the justification of "They've been doing it to us, therefore we can do it to them" that the scholars, generals and fools are putting forward actually invalidates their reason for invading in the first place. Not because they should be setting an example, or holding themselves to higher standards (though they should), but because the Israelis have argued since the beginning that attacks on civilians were reprehensible because the dead Israelis were uninvolved. But now they're saying that no Lebanese civilian is a complete civilian, they're all (or the majority) are all supporting Hezbollah, therefore every kill is acceptable. Now here is the problem with that. In Israel, service in the IDF (the Israeli Defense Force aka army) is compulsory. You have to do it. So by the Israeli's own logic, what Hezbollah has been doing for years is justified because every Israeli civilian isn't really a complete civilian. Either they've been an enemy, they are an enemy or they will be an enemy.
In short, by justifying their attacks on Lebanese civilians, the Israelis have legitimized what they've been calling terrorism as a legitimite means of warfare. Thus their whole reason for going into Lebanon (protecting their civilians) ceases to be valid because every Israeli is as much a soldier and an acceptable target to Hezbollah as every person in Lebanon is a valid target to the IDF.
To sum it up, either every person in Israel and Lebanon is a soldier and there are NO violations of human rights or of honor itself going on, or the explanation that "we're only doing to them what they've done to us" is invalid and wrong.

Now this wouldn't be such a major problem, historically speaking, if this were one country against another, but it's not. This is a problem because the Israeli government would like for nothing better than to expand this conflict into Syria and ultimately Iran. Why? Because these countries are sworn enemies of Israel with no shortage of suicide bombers and who are growing steadily closer to being nuclear weapon capable. The Israeli leadership isn't stupid, they know that they need to fight their enemies NOW before their enemies can destroy the entire nation in a few coordinated nuclear suicide bombings. But how? How does Israel fight a war on so many fronts? The IDF is certainly a capable military force, but it isn't invincible and they know it. So how do you get massive support from other nations to go to war with your enemies multi-laterally and make yourself look like the defending party? Simple. You let the situation escalate until "terrorists (Guerillas) from Syria and Iran are captured or die in an attack on Israeli civilians in response to events in Lebanon. When that happens, you appeal to the United States for help. The United States is still in the Middle East dealing with the mess it made in Iraq, so they've got soldiers and equipment already deployed close by. And for Israel's sake, they have to do it now because once we declare victory and leave Iraq, it will be twenty to thirty years before we'll seriously consider coming back to the region. Look at Vietnam if you doubt what I say. Most of our Country wants our troops to come home as soon as possible, we just disagree when ASAP actually is. But once we do get out, we aren't coming back. The Israeli's know that, which is why they've chosen now to strike Lebanon. Right about the time we're mobilizing our army in Iraq to pull out, Israel will be attacked by either Syria or Iran or both and they will need our help.

Now here is where I think Israel is gambling heavily. It's gambling that either the U.N. will come down with the U.S. in favor of Israel or that the combined might of the IDF and US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines will be enough to subdue the middle east itself. Either bet seems hazardous to me.
On the former, the problem lies in China and it's precariously perched economy. China is on the up, but to all ups a down must come. A sudden shortage of Iranian oil would probably do just that. So China either exercises it's veto power as a member of the UN security council, or it backs the decision to go into Iran heavily so it can claim the oil for itself and take it during a tense political stand off with the U.S later on after the military end of things is done.
Now, another problem is the French, who are also members of the U.N. Security council and who also rely heavily on the Iranian oil. Added to this that the French have been having difficulties of late with an increasing muslim minority in their country who have participated in several riots which amount to a show of force of the power of the fundamentalist muslim community in France, but little more. Now the French don't have many reasons at all to back a U.N. incursion into Iran or Syria. The only real plusses to doing that for them would be to 1. shore up French-U.S. relations and 2. to show the Muslim minority that despite the rioting and damage, they can't force the French into a course of action that its majority won't support. At best I would say France is a wild card.

Now the other option is for the IDF and USA to go in unilaterally (Undoubtedly accompanied by a "multi-lateral" force that includes the British and any other members of the origianl Coalition of the willing who are still on board and cheering from the safety of not having an actualy army to send). This seems like a bit of a gamble to me because this same force really can't keep control of Iraq and the addition of the IDF will probably not be enough to control Lebanon, Syria and Iran. And even if they can control the majority of the area and it's borders, that isn't the same as being able to route out enemies disguised as civilians as has been highlighted in Iraq, Afghanistan and in Pakistan quite clearly over the past few years.

It seems to me that Israel wants to put all their money on Red and spin the roulette wheel. The trouble is they aren't just gambling with their own lives, they're gambling with ours and with Lebanese and with the Syrians and with Iranians and with the lives of billions of other people as well. This situation is a tightrope and a single misstep can will lead to utter disaster for the entire world. Now there is an alternative. It isn't too late for Israel to withdraw from Lebanon and send aid to rebuild it. Now some will say "but if they do, Hezbollah will rearm and dig in deeper". Yes, they will. But would you rather have the situation as it was or the situation as I've outlined? World War 3, with the very real possibility of Nuclear warfare, or the same conflicts in the middle east that have been going on for the past 35 years? These conflicts can be resovled, and diplomatically at that. It won't be easy. There will still be violence from both sides. But if both sides are comitted to peace despite the setbacks, then eventually they will have peace. So, what will it be? Thousands dead? or Billions?

Questions? Comments? Insane accusations of me being an anti-semite (I'm really not, you know)? Couldn't care less (why did you read it all this way then)? Go nuts, for the first time in this journal, all comments are left unscreened. Any input, be it insane rants, accusations of my own insanity or (not likely) reasoned intelligent responses to my crackpot theories either in favor of or refuting, is welcome. Input away please!

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Thursday, July 27th, 2006
9:10 pm - An unpopular view


Please paste the above link into your browser and watch the film it puts up after what will doubtlessly be a several minute loading time.

The video is approximately 1 hour and 14 minutes long.
If you're at all interested in how the news is distorted before it arrives at your door, watch this.
If you're at all interested in why our enemies hate us, why our support of Israel is unjust and what your country is doing in your name, watch this.
If you're even remotely interested in keeping an open mind and trying to see from the perspective of the people you have been led to believe are brutal, savage, and merciless; watch this.

At the very least, you might see things that you have never seen before.


Please don't ask me what this has to do with Halo, I was just watching gamer videos before I stumbled on this.

For this post, all comments are unscreened.

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Sunday, July 23rd, 2006
3:36 am - Healthcare and the Social Security Non-Crisis

The rapidly escalating costs of health care are threatening a serious fiscal crisis, along with immeasurable human costs. Infant Mortality in the U.S. is one major index. The UN Human Development Report 2005 reveals that "since 2000 a half century of sustained decline in infant death rates [in the United States] first slowed then reversed." By 2005 the rates had risen to the level of Malaysia, a country where the average income is one-quarter that in the United States. The report also reviews the effects of government programs. In the United Kingdom, for example, the rate of child poverty rose sharply during the Margaret Thatcher years, then reversed after the Labour government adopted policies to halve child poverty by 2010. "fiscal redistribution has played a central role in strategies for meeting the target," the report concludes: "Large increases in financial support for families with children," as well as other fiscal programs, "boosted the incomes of low-income working families with children," with significant effects on child poverty.

The financial crisis is surely is no secret. The press report that 30 percent of health care costs go for administration, a proportion vastly higher than in government-run systems including those within the United States, which are far from the most efficient. These estimates are seriously understated because of the ideological decision not to count the costs for individuals- for doctors who waste their own time or are forced to misuse it, or patients who "enter a world of paperwork so surreal that it belongs in one of Kafka's tales of the triumph of faceless bureaucracies." The complexities of billing have become so outlandish that the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the president's senior adviser, says when he gets a bill for his four-year-old child, he "can't figure out what happened, or what I'm supposed to do." Those who want to see government bureaucracy reaching levels that even Kafka might not have imagined should look at the official ninety-eight-page government handbook on the Medicare prescription drug plan, provided to Medicare participants to inform them of their options under the bill passed by Congress in June 2004, with the help of an army of lobbyists from pharmaceutical companies and health maintenance organizations (HMOs). The idea, the Wall Street Journal informs its affluent readers, "is that patients will be encouraged to bargain-hunt for medical care" and may even save money, if they can hire enough research assistants to work through the many private options available, and make lucky guesses. Health Savings Accounts, also welcomed by the editors, have similar properties. For the wealthy and the corporate beneficiaries the exciting new programs will be just fine, like health care in general. The rest will get what the deserve for not having ascended to these heights.

The Bush administration response to the health care crisis has been to reduce services to the poor (Medicaid). The timing was again impeccable. "As Republican leaders in Congress move to trim billions of dollars from the Medicaid health program," the Washington Post reported, "they are simultaneously intervening to save the life of possibly the highest-profile Medicaid patient: Terri Schiavo." Republican majority leader Tom DeLay, while proclaiming his deep concern forSchiavo and his dedication to ensure that she has the chance "we all deserve," simultaneously shepherded through the House a budget resolution to cut $15 billion to $20 billion from Medicaid for the next five years. As if the exploitation of the tragedy of this poor woman for partisan gain were not disgraceful enough, DeLay and others like him were depriving her, and who knows how many others, of the means of moral values and concern for the sanctity of life.

The primary method devised to divert attention from the health care crisis was to organize a major PR campaign to "reform" Social Security--meaning dismantle it--in the pretext that it is facing an awesome fiscal crisis. There is no need to review the remarkable deceit of the administration propaganda, and the falsifications and misrepresentations repeated without comment by much of the media commentary, which cooperated in making it the "hot topic" in Washington. Exposure has been carried out more than adequately eslewhere. The steady drumbeat of deceit has been so extreme as to drive frustrated analysts to words rarely voiced in restrained journals: that Bush "repeatedly lied about the current [Social Security] system," making claims that were demonstrably false and that his staff must have known were false(New York Times, Paul Krugman, 15 Aug, 2005)."

It is not that the system has no flaws. It surly does. The highly regressive payroll tax is an illustration. More generally, an OECD study found that the US system "is one of the least generous public pension systems in advanced countries," consistent with the comparative weakness of benefits in the United States.

The alleged crisis of Social Security is rooted in demographic facts: the ratio of working people to retired people is declining. The data are accurate, but partial. The relevant figure is the ratio of working people to those they support. According to official statistics, the ratio of working people to dependents (under twenty, over sixty-five) hit its lowest point in 1965 and is not expected to reach that level through the projected period (to 2080). The Propaganda image is that the retirement of the "baby boomers" is going to crash the system; as repeatedly pointed out, their retirement has already been financed by the Greenspan-led increase in payroll taxes in 1983. That aside, the boomers were once children, and had to be cared for then as well. And we find that during those years there was a sharp increase in spending for education and other child care needs. There was no crisis. If American society was able to take care of the boomers from ages zero to twenty, then there can be no fundamental reason why a much richer society, with far higher output per worker, cannot take care of them from ages sixty-five to ninety. At most, some technical fixes might be needed, but no major crisis looms in the foreseeable future.

Critics of Bush's efforts to chip away at Social Security by various "ownership society" schemes have proclaimed success because public opposition was too high to ram the legislation through. But the celebration is premature. The campaign of deceit achieved a great deal, laying the basis for the next assault on the system. Reacting to the PR campaign, the Gallup poll, for the first time, included Social Security among the choices for "top concerns." Gallup found that only "the availability and affordability of healthcare" is a larger concern for the public than Social Security. About half of Americans worry "a great deal" about it, and another quarter a "fair amount," more than are concerned about such issues as terrorism or oil prices. A Zogby poll found that 61 percent believe the system faces "serious problems" and 14 percent think it's "in crisis," though in fact it is "financially stronger than it has been throughout most of its history, according to the Trustees' [President Bush's] numbers," economist Mark Weisbrot observes. The campaign has been particularly effective among the young. Among students, 70 percent are "concerned that the pension system may not be there when they retire."

These are major victories for those who hope to destroy Social Security, revealing once again the effectiveness of a flood of carefully contrived propaganda amplified by the media in a business-run-society where institutionalized deceit has been refined to a high art. The propaganda success compares well with that of the government-media campaign to convince Americans that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to their survival, driving them completly off the spectrum of world opinion.

There has been some discussion of the curious fact that the need to reform Social Security became the "hot topic" of the day, while reforming the health care system in accord with public opinion is not even on the agenda, an apparent paradox: the very serious fiscal crisis of the remarkably inefficient and poorly performing health care systems not a crisis, while urgent action is needed to undermine the efficient system that is quite sound for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, to the extent that Social Security might face a crisis some time in the distant future, it would result primarily from exploding health care costs. Government projections predict a sharp increase in total benefits relative to GDP, from under 10 percent in 2000 to almost 25 percent in 2080, which is as far as the projections reach. Through this period Social Security costs are barley expected to increase beyond the 2000 level of 5 percent. A slightly larger increase is predicted for Medicaid, and a huge increase for Medicare, traceable primarily to extreme inefficiency of the privatized health care system.

Sensible people will seek differences between the Social Security and Health care systems that might explain the paradox. And they will quickly find critical differences, which are quite familiar in other domains: the paradox mirrors closely the "schizophrenia" of all administrations that underlies the "strong line of continuity" with regard to "democracy promotion," to take one example. Social Security is of little value for the rich, but it is crucial for the survival for the working people, the poor, their dependents, and the disabled. For the wealthy, it is the "major source" of retirement income, and the most secure. Furthermore, as a government program, it has such low administrative costs that it offers nothing to financial institutions. Social Security helps only the underlying population, not the substantial people. It is therefore natural that it should be dispatched to the flames. The medical system, in contrast, works very well for the substantial people, with health care effectively rationed by wealth, while enormous profits flow to private power for superfluous bureaucracy and supervision, overpriced drugs, and other useful inefficiencies. The underlying population can be treated with lectures on responsibility.

There are other sound reasons to destroy the Social Security system. It is based on the principles that are deeply offensive to the moral values of the political leadership and the sectors they represent--not those who vote for them, a different category of the population. Social security is based on the idea that it is a community responsibility to ensure that the disabled widow on the other side of town has food to eat, or that the child across the street should be able to go to a decent school. Such evil ideas have to be driven from the mind. They stand in the way of the "New Spirit of the Age" of the 1850s: "Gain Wealth, forgetting all but Self." According to the right thinking, it isn't my fault if the widow married the wrong person or if the child's parents made bad investment decisions, so why should I contribute a few cents to a public fund to take care of them? the "ownership society," in contrast, suffers from none of these moral defects.

Returning to the November 2004 elections, we learn a little of the significance from them about popular attitudes and opinions, though we can learn a lot from these studies that are kept in the shadows. And the whole affair adds more to our understanding of the current state of American democracy--with most of the industrial world trailing not too far behind, as privileged and powerful sectors learn and apply the lessons taught by their leader.

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Wednesday, July 19th, 2006
2:56 pm - SB

Cant wait till 2008,to see somebody else but no Bush,as president. 

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3:23 am - The Empire

Despite what you hear, U.S. interventionism has nothing to do with resisting the spread of " Terrorism," or "Communism," it's INDEPENDENCE we've always been opposed to everywhere... and for quite a good reason. If a country begins to pay attention to its own population, it's not going to be paying adequate attention to the overriding needs of U.S. investors. Well, those are unacceptable priorities, so that government's just going to have to go.

And the effects of this commitment throughout the Third World are dramatically clear: it takes only a moment's thought to realize that the areas that have been the most under U.S. control are some of the most horrible regions in the world. For instance, why is Central America such a horror-chamber? I mean, if a peasant in Guatemala woke up in Poland [i.e. under Soviet occupation], he'd think he was in heaven by comparison... and Guatemala's an area where we've had a hundred years of influence. Well, that tells you something. Or look at Brazil: potentially an extremely rich country with tremendous resources, except it had the curse of being part of the Western system of subordination. So in northeast Brazil, for example, which is rather fertile area with plenty of rich land, just it's all owned by plantations, Brazilian medical researchers now identify the population as a new species with about 40 percent the brain size of human beings, as a result of generations of profound malnutrition and neglect... and this may be unremediable except after generations, because of lingering effects of malnutrition on one's offspring. Alright, that's a good example of the legacy of our commitments, and the same kind of pattern runs throughout the former Western colonies.

In fact, if you look at the countries that have developed in the world, there's a little simple fact which should be obvious to anyone on five minutes' observation, but which you never find anyone saying in the United States: the countries that have developed economically are those which were not colonized by the west; every country that was colonized by the West is a TOTAL WRECK. I mean, Japan was the one country that managed to resist European colonization, and it's the one part of the traditional Third World that developed. What does that tell you? Historians of Africa have actually pointed out that if you look at Japan when it began its industrialization process [in the 1870's], it was about the same developmental level as the Asante kingdom in West Africa in terms of resources available, level of state formation, degree of technological development, and so on. Well, just compare those two areas today. It's true there were a number of differences between them historically, but the crucial one is that Japan wasn't conquered by the West and the Asante kingdom was, by the British-so now West Africa is West Africa economically, and Japan is Japan.

Japan had its own colonial system too, incidentally- but its colonies developed, and they developed because Japan didn't treat them the way the Western powers treated their colonies. The Japanese were very brutal colonizers. they weren't nice guys, but they nonetheless developed their colonies economically; the West just robbed theirs. So if you look at the growth rate through the early part of this century-they were getting industrialized, developing infrastructure, educational levels were going up, agricultural production was increasing. In fact, by the 1930s, Formosa (now Taiwan) was one of the commercial centers of Asia. Well, just compare Taiwan with the Philippines, an American colony right next door: the Philippines is a total basket-case, a Latin American-style basket-case. Again, that tells you something.

With World War 2, the Japanese colonial system got smashed up. But by the 1960s, Korea and Taiwan were again developing at their former growth rate-and that's because in the post-war period, they've been able to follow the Japanese model of development: they're pretty closed off to foreign exploitation, quite egalitarian by international standards, they devote pretty extensive resources to things like education and health care. Okay, that's a successful model for development. I mean, these Asian countries aren't pretty; I can't stand them myself-they're extremely authoritarian, the role of women you can't even talk about, and so on, so there are plenty of unpleasant things about them. But they have been able to pursue economic development measures that are successful: the state coordinates industrial policies that are IMPOSSIBLE in Latin America, because the U.S. insists that those governments keep their economies open to international markets-so capital from Latin America is constantly flowing to the West. Alright, that's not a problem in South Korea: they have the death penalty for capital export. Solves that difficulty pretty fast.

But the point is, the Japanese-style development model works-in fact, it's how every country in the world that's developed has done it: by imposing high levels of protectionism, and by extracting its economy from free market discipline. And that's precisely what the Western powers have been preventing the Third World from doing, right up to this moment.

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Friday, July 7th, 2006
10:03 pm

Can someone please explain to me why a country that is advocating greed is running the world? We are at a time when we're running out of oil, and the country that is sadly in charge of it all is using up more than anyone else, when the population of the world is too high, they advocate making more people.

It seems to me that if Russia had won the Cold War, and Russia was the 21st Century dominant country, we wouldnt have poverty - at least not to the same extent we do today - we would all get free healthcare and education, cheap public transport, affordable housing, guaranteed job and retirement.

And all we would have to give up is our luxury cars and flat screen tvs, that only one tenth of the pop'n can afford anyway...seems like a small price to pay.

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Wednesday, April 26th, 2006
7:33 pm - U.S.: More Than 600 Implicated in Detainee Abuse

Two years after the Abu Ghraib scandal, new research shows that abuse of detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at Guantánamo Bay has been widespread, and that the United States has taken only limited steps to investigate and punish implicated personnel.

A briefing paper issued today, “By the Numbers,” presents findings of the Detainee Abuse and Accountability Project, a joint project of New York University’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First. The project is the first comprehensive accounting of credible allegations of torture and abuse in U.S. custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo.

“Two years ago, U.S. officials said the abuses at Abu Ghraib were aberrations and that people who abused detainees would be brought to justice,” said Professor Meg Satterthwaite, faculty director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU Law School. “Yet our research shows that detainee abuses were widespread, and few people have truly been brought to justice.”

The project has collected hundreds of allegations of detainee abuse and torture occurring since late 2001 – allegations implicating more than 600 U.S. military and civilian personnel and involving more than 460 detainees.

Read more...Collapse )

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Sunday, April 16th, 2006
6:14 pm

In 1971 OPEC had a meeting at which they decide that whereever oil is bought or sold, it may only be bought or sold in US dollars. This means that Mexico selling oil to China has to be sold in US dollars, Holland trading with Morrocco has to be done in US dollars, etc etc. What this means is for anyone to trade oil, they have to buy dollars. This is how the US can owe more money than any country in the history of the world, but doesn't have to pay anything back because since 1971, thanks to this OPEC agreement, the US effectively has a magic chequebook.

Imagine you're maxed out past your overdraft limit in every bank in the world, and have been for decades, but it doesn't matter because everyone still accepts your cheques and they never come back to the bank.

So what could possibly happen to the magic chequebook of the US dollar to bring all of that money back to chase Washington on Wall Street? Well, it almost happened.

On 30/10/2000, when a switch was made to a deposit account in the Wall Street branch of a French bank. This was the account handling the 2.3 million barrells of oil sold per day by Iraq under the "oil for food" scheme. The Iraqis said that they wanted to switch the account from being a dollars denominated account to a euro denominated account. The UN couldn't stop them, but it looked like a stupid thing to do at the time because the euro was only worth eighty cents to the dollar. They'd lose money on every barrell they sold. They'd bankrupt their country within a year. The Iraqis didn't care, they hated America so much that they didn't want to trade in their currency.

In 2001, the euro gained 25% against the dollar. The Iranians then decided to switch their central bank's reserve funds from dollars to euros too. This makes them member number two on the axis of evil list, with number one being the Iraqis who started the trend.

7/12/2002, North Korea declares that it's going to do ALL of it's trading in euros. Not just oil, but everything. They're quickly branded "Axis of evil" member number three.

In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, the elected president, gains chainmanship of OPEC. He calls a meeting in Spain, in April of 2003 and on the table is the proposal that every single OPEC member stops trading in dollars and starts trading in euros. If that happened, that would be the federal reserve's worst nightmare because then every single central bank in every single country in the world has to abandon the dollar and start trading in euros. Such is the need for oil. All the dollars in those banks would be flushed out, the market would be awash with dollars and it would become a worthless currency. Worth less than toilet roll. The US would be back in it's 1920s and 1930s depression and this time they wouldn't have the Nazi party to invest in to save themselves.

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Wednesday, April 5th, 2006
5:17 pm - They're going to cut water to the villages of Daechuri and Doduri tomorrow

They're going to cut water to the villages of Daechuri and Doduri tomorrow
It seems that the Ministry of National Defense planns to attempt to cut water to the villages of Daechuri and Doduri tomorrow, April 6, 2006. Please contact the groups and individuals listed at http://www.saveptfarmers.org/Action

Also, please contact the South Korean Ministry of National Defense and demand that they halt this brutal attack!
from USA (011) Country code (82) 02-748-6891

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Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

Civilian populations in Afghanistan and Iraq and occupying troops ha been contaminated with astounding levels of radioactive depleted and nondepleted uranium as a result of post-9/11 United States' use of tons of uranium munitions.
Uranium dust will be in the bodies of our returning armed forces. Nine soldiers from the 442nd Military Police serving in Iraq were tested for DU contamination in December 2003. Conducted at the request of The New York Daily News, as the U.S. government considers the cost of $1,000 per affected soldier prohibitive, the test found that four of the nine men were contaminated with high levels of DU, likely caused by inhaling dust from depleted uranium shells fired by U.S. troops. Several of the men had traces of another uranium isotope, U-236, that are produced only in a nuclear reaction process.
Most American weapons (missiles, smart bombs, dumb bombs, bullets, tank shells, cruise missiles, etc.) contain high amounts of radioactive uranium. Depleted or non-depleted, these types of weapons, on detonation, release a radioactive dust which, when inhaled, goes into the body and stays there. It has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. Basically, it's a permanently available contaminant, distributed in the environment, where dust storms or any water nearby can disperse it. Once ingested, it releases subatomic particles that slice through DNA.
UPDATE BY JOSH PARRISH: There is national dispute on the dangers of Depleted Uranium (DU). The Depart of Defense has continually claimed that DU munitions are safe. At the same time, veterans groups and various scientists and doctors say that DU is the cause of Gulf War Syndrome and responsible for a sharp rise in birth defects among Iraqis and returning U.S. servicemen.
The information coming from the Department of Defense has, at best, been contradictory. Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, the deputy director of the Deployment Health Support Directorate and Pentagon spokesman on Depleted Uranium, has said "as long as this (DU exposure) is exterior to your body, you're not at any risk and the potential of internalizing it from the environment is extremely small." Several studies, commissioned by the Pentagon, have supported this assertion. One in particular, The Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, that reported to President Clinton in 1996 stated that "current scientific evidence does not support a causal link" between veterans symptoms and chemical exposures in the Persian Gulf. This committee goes on to say that stress "is likely to be an important contributing factor to the broad range of physical and psychological illnesses currently being reported by gulf war veterans."
However, these Pentagon studies contradict an Army report from 1990 that stated DU is "linked to cancer when exposures are internal, [and] chemical toxicity causing kidney damage." Here the U.S. government acknowledges that internal exposure to DU is likely to be harmful. It is only after the 1991 Gulf War, where DU munitions were used for the first time, the government began to claim they were harmless.
The main point of contention between the U.S. government and those who oppose the use of DU is what constitutes internal exposure and how does this exposure occur. The military insists that only soldiers who had shrapnel wounds from DU or who were inside tanks shot by DU shells and accidentally breathed radioactive dust were at risk. This ignores the findings of Leonard Dietz who, in 1979, found that DU contaminated dust could travel great distances through the air. Dietz accidentally discovered that air filters he was experimenting with had collected radioactive dust from a lead plant that was producing DU 26 miles away. "The contamination was so heavy that they had to remove the topsoil from 52 properties around the plant," Dietz said.
When they were in Iraq, the soldiers of the 442nd Military Police Company performed duties such as providing security for convoys, running jails and training Iraqi police. The fact that some of these soldiers have DU in their bodies is proof that one need not be directly exposed to a DU explosion to become contaminated. "These are amazing results, especially since these soldiers were military police and not exposed to the heat of battle," said Dr. Asaf Duracovic, who examined the GIs and performed the testing that was funded by the New York Daily News. One soldier from the 442n0, who tested positive for DU exposure, Specialist Gerard Darren Mathew has since fathered a child with birth defects. The child is missing three fingers and most of her right hand.
Whether or not DU is the cause of the myriad of ailments referred to collectively as "Gulf War Syndrome" has not been conclusively proved or disproved, and that is the problem. No thorough studies of DU's long-term effects have been done. In the absence of studies and definitive findings, the U.S. government has simply avoided the issue and refused to decontaminate affected areas in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Tuesday, March 21st, 2006
12:29 am

Ha Ha Ha America.



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Monday, March 20th, 2006
4:44 am - Buy Your Gas at Citgo: Join the BUY-cott!

Looking for an easy way to protest Bush foreign policy week after week? And an easy way to help alleviate global poverty? Buy your gasoline at Citgo stations.

And tell your friends.

Of the top oil producing countries in the world, only one is a democracy with a president who was elected on a platform of using his nation's oil revenue to benefit the poor. The country is Venezuela. The President is Hugo Chavez. Call him "the Anti-Bush."

Citgo is a U.S. refining and marketing firm that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company. Money you pay to Citgo goes primarily to Venezuela -- not Saudi Arabia or the Middle East. There are 14,000 Citgo gas stations in the US. Here is a locator for the nearest citgo. http://www.citgo.com/CITGOLocator/StoreLocator.jsp. By buying your gasoline at Citgo, you are contributing to the billions of dollars that Venezuela's democratic government is using to provide health care, literacy and education, and subsidized food for the majority of Venezuelans.

Instead of using government to help the rich and the corporate, as Bush does, Chavez is using the resources and oil revenue of his government to help the poor in Venezuela. A country with so much oil wealth shouldn't have 60 percent of its people living in poverty, earning less than $2 per day. With a mass movement behind him, Chavez is confronting poverty in Venezuela. That's why large majorities have consistently backed him in democratic elections. And why the Bush administration supported an attempted military coup in 2002 that sought to overthrow Chavez.

So this is the opposite of a boycott. Call it a BUYcott. Spread the word.

Of course, if you can take mass transit or bike or walk to your job, you should do so. And we should all work for political changes that move our country toward a cleaner environment based on renewable energy. The BUYcott is for those of us who don't have a practical alternative to filling up our cars.

So get your gas at Citgo. And help fuel a democratic revolution in Venezuela.

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Monday, February 27th, 2006

A government scientist has been forced to resign, after discovering dangerous
levels of a toxic chemical in the Mississippi River. The toxins, specifically
known as perfluoronated chemicals (PFCs), are a byproduct of the manufacture of
a number of products including Teflon and Scotchgard. In late 2005, Dr. Oliaei
Fardin found dangerous levels of PFC's in the Mississippi River downstream from
a 3M Corporation's dumping site in Minnesota. 3M had been dumping 50,000 pounds
of the toxic chemical in the river every year, in a heavily populated
metropolitan area, where the river serves as the main drinking water source for
Minneapolis and St. Paul. PFCs have caused birth defects and deaths in animal
studies and are considered a likely human carcinogen. Fardin, a scientist at the
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, found levels of PFCs in the area's fish that
were the highest ever discovered in the world. Following her discovery, she was
unable to get the state to issue a public health advisory, as would normally be
required by law. After she filed a federal whistleblower's lawsuit against the
agency, Fardin was forced to resign by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's
Commissioner, a former Executive of 3M. Her research, which has now been halted,
would have helped assess how far downstream the chemical contamination had
traveled in the Mississippi River, one of the nation's largest waterways and
municipal water sources. Please send a letter to the EPA, MPCA, and Minnesota
Governor Pawlenty demanding the 3M Corporation be fined for chemical cleanup
costs. Take action here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/rd-pfc.cfm

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