Category Archives: Government

The Post–Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

Yesterday, I had occasion to watch Stephen Spielberg’s latest film, The Post, which tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked the top secret government documents that came to be known as the “Pentagon Papers.” The film does a fine job of portraying an episode in history that everyone needs to know about and understand. These leaked documents, which Ellsberg hoped would help end the Vietnam war, formed the basis for a series of articles that were published by the New York Times and the Washington Post. A major point that the film brings out is the fact the Vietnam war was perpetuated over several administrations because no President wanted to admit that the war was unwinnable (not to mention, unjust). As a consequence, the lives of tens of thousands of American servicemen and untold numbers of Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians were sacrificed for no good reason.

Here is an NPR interview with Ellsberg originally broadcast Dec. 4, 2017:
https://www.npr.org/player/embed/568310782/568340893

I’m pretty sure that no mainstream media outlet today would likely be willing to do what the Times and the Post did back then, and I wonder how long it will be before the independent internet channels are also taken over or censored out of existence.

Greater government openness and transparency are essential to ending the war economy and the culture of war, but that will not occur until we the people empower ourselves enough to force politicians to bring it about. We need a strategy that can effect a power shift toward popular control, and I believe the most promising approach for achieving that is to decentralize control of credit-based exchange media. Private and community currencies, and credit clearing networks can circumvent political currencies and bank-created debt money. We’re running out of wiggle room so we had better not waste any time in deploying them.

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Addendum:
And while we’re on the subject of the Vietnam war, here’s a pertinent documentary that tells about another important aspect of the anti-war movement.

“In the 1960’s an anti-war movement emerged that altered the course of history. This sir-no-sirmovement didn’t take place on college campuses, but in barracks and on aircraft carriers. It flourished in army stockades, navy brigs and in the dingy towns that surround military bases. It penetrated elite military colleges like West Point. And it spread throughout the battlefields of Vietnam. It was a movement no one expected, least of all those in it. Hundreds went to prison and thousands into exile. And by 1971 it had, in the words of one colonel, infested the entire armed services. Yet today few people know about the GI movement against the war in Vietnam.” http://sirnosir.com/

 

American Made

How do you take a tragic story about deception, malfeasance, and betrayal at the highest levels of American government and turn it into a farcical comedy? Remarkably, that is precisely what has been achieved in the just released movie, American Made, starring Tom Cruise as Barry Seal. The tag line in the movie publicity says this film is “based on a true lie.” In reality, it’s about the mountain of lies that became known as the Iran-Contra affair, and shows it in a way perhaps that far surpasses what could have been achieved in a dry documentary. As one old enough to remember those times and at least the superficial reports of those events, I came away with an even more cynical regard for the myth of the United States government as the champion of decency and democracy.
See it as expose’ or see it as entertainment, but see it!

 

 

 

The decay of western civilization

One of my correspondents, Irish financial advisor Christopher Quigley, recently sent me a link to his article, Civilizations Die by Suicide Not by Murder. In that article, he mentions famed historian Arnold Toynbee’s monumental work, A Study of History which describes the rise and fall of 23 civilizations throughout human history. Toynbee concluded from his study that, “civilizations start to decay when they lose their moral fiber and the cultural elite turns parasitic.” That certainly rings true for our present world—the banking and corporate elite and their political minions have clearly turned parasitic, putting power and profit above all else.

Then by some strange coincidence I happened to notice a few days ago a book on display at my public library.  The book is, The Lost City of the Monkey God, by Douglas J. Preston, which tells the story of the search for a legendary city that was supposed to have existed several hundred years ago in the eastern part of Honduras in Central America. It is a true adventure story that reads like fiction. Preston was part of a team that went looking for, and by using some highly advanced technology, ultimately found, not only a city, but extensive remnants of a lost civilization, one that appears to be distinct from the Mayan and others of the region that are well known.

In one chapter, Preston speaks more generally about the civilizations that existed in that region and tells of the decline around AD 650 of the Mayan city of Copan. He says,

“This happened even as the ruling classes apparently swelled in size over succeeding generations…in what archaeologists call the ‘increasingly parasitic role of the elite.’  (We see the same process today in the gross expansion of the Saudi royal family into no fewer than fifteen thousand princes and princesses.) This proliferation may have triggered the vicious internecine warfare and killing among the elite.”

He goes on to say, “The commoners were willing to support the privileged class as long as they kept up their end of the bargain with effective rituals.”

What does that suggest for western civilization today? Who are those that comprise our privileged class, and what is the nature of the bargain between them and the “commoners?” I leave it to the reader to ponder those questions, but I would suggest that the bargain must at least include assurances of social justice, basic human rights, and access to a fair share of our natural and cultural heritage. But however one might define that bargain, political developments around the world in recent years seem to indicate that increasing numbers of people are feeling let down by their leaders.

Are we then doomed? Will western civilization continue to  decay and collapse to be followed by another dark age?

I think it is not “we” who are doomed, it is the global interest-based debt-money regime that sits at the pinnacle of the power pyramid, and the American imperial hegemony that are doomed. How long the collapse will take, how much pain and suffering will it cause, how can the present dysfunctional systems be displaced? These are all open questions. The optimist in me sees the peaceful emergence of a multi-polar political order and a sustainable and equitable global economy based on the devolution of power and new exchange and financing mechanisms that are interest-free, cooperative, and grounded in a spirit of compassion and mutual aid. –t.h.g.

Edit: This article from the BBC provides an excellent elaboration on the topic of this post: How Western Civilization Could Collapse.

Universal Basic Income, an idea whose time has come…again

In ancient Israel, Mosaic Law, in addition to the division of the land among the tribes and families, delineated several ingenious provisions to assure the welfare of all. Recognizing the tendency in organized societies for inequities to develop over time, it prescribed such measures as the sabbatical year, the jubilee year,  gleaning and the prohibition of usury. Some of these, in some form, were carried over into the Christian era, but over time mercantile and industrial demands overshadowed social concerns. The mid-twentieth century saw tremendous gains in productivity along with renewed demands by the laboring class and racial minorities for a more just distribution of the collective wealth, but over the past 35 years many of the social programs that were instituted by governments have been under systematic attack by powerful reactionary forces resulting in massive increases in the disparities of income and wealth. These disparities bring with them increased violence, crime, addiction, and deteriorating quality of life for all.

Now, with automation rapidly reducing the need for human labor, the separation of livelihood from jobs is becoming an obvious necessity.

Here below are two pertinent videos, and this article mentions a few places where basic income allowances are being tried.

Secret World of US Election: Julian Assange talks to John Pilger (full interview)

In this interview, Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange reveals, among other things,  that the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding ISIS and have been making huge financial contributions to the Clintons. Just published today, November 5, 2016.

Julian Assange has been living for the past four years in the Ecuadoran embassy in London. While he has not been charged with any crime and the early allegations against him have been shown to be without merit, there is no doubt that if he sets foot outside the embassy he will be taken into custody by police and extradited to either Sweden or the United States. Assange is a political prisoner of the global elite Establishment.

David Stockman on Donald Trump’s Demagoguery—The Dangers And Digressions Of It

David Stockman, who was Budget Director under President Ronal Reagan, makes a great deal of sense in this essay which is about much more than Donald Trump’s “domineering and authoritarian personality” and his scary authoritarian inclinations (he accuses Trump of being and “incipient police statist.)” Stockman also presents facts that belie the justifications for insane government policies like monetization of government debts, the war on drugs, and foreign interventions, as well as the illusions created by the sensationalist media. I recommend reading the entire article but here are a few excerpts.—t.h.g.

Donald Trump’s Demagoguery—–The Dangers And Digressions Of It
By David Stockman

“…both parties are fully onboard, of course, with the massive fraud that has become central bank policy both here and around the world.”

“The Fed has actually purchased $4 trillion of Treasury debt and GSE securities since the year 2000 and funded it with credits conjured from thin air. This has been a monumental act of “something for nothing” economics in which the trillions Congress has wasted on war and peace have been financed with digital money magic.”

“The purported crime and terrorism wave, in fact, is essentially a figment of cable news version of reality TV, and most especially the CNN War Channel and its perennial Black versus Blue &White race narrative. …According to the FBI data there has been an astonishing 50% reduction in the U.S. violent crime rate since the early 1990s.”

And regarding the supposed increase in targeting of police officers by criminals, Stockman points out that, “In fact, the actual rate of intentional, felonious killings per 100,000 officers has been plummeting for decades. During 2014 it was actually 71% lower than the year Ronald Reagan left office.”

“At the end of the day, the overwhelming message of the data is that there is no crime wave nor an eruption of police violence on either the giving or receiving end.” —More

Dump Trump and Hillary, Too

I don’t usually put much energy into partisan politics but comes the time when opportunity knocks and we all must stand up and be counted. That time is now.

The US has been on the road to fascism for a long time. Both Democrats and Republicans have for decades been advancing the same agenda of ceding power to transnational mega-corporations and the global banking cartel. So called “free trade” agreements are simply ways of allowing capital to more freely exploit labor and the environment and forcing governments to guarantee their profits.

Changes in financial regulations, like the repeal of Glass-Steagall under Bill Clinton in 1999, have enabled banking companies to grow to monstrous size (“too big to fail”) and to more easily cheat the clients they are supposed to serve. In this article, James Rickards places the blame for the 2008 financial crisis squarely where it belongs and demolishes the arguments of the big bank apologists: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/economic-intelligence/2012/08/27/repeal-of-glass-steagall-caused-the-financial-crisis.

Many countries are caught in the debt trap and are being forced to sell off government owned assets which further concentrates wealth and control of “the commons.” Those who control the creation and allocation of money are able to control politics, economics and virtually everything else.

When political and financial pressures prove inadequate, the US military is used to bludgeon countries into line with the global financial regime which is the most anti-democratic force in the world today. General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, testifies in this 2-minute video that the US planned to overthrow seven countries after 9/11: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. A thorough account of General Clark’s story is told by Glenn Greenwald here: http://www.salon.com/2011/11/26/wes_clark_and_the_neocon_dream/.

Under Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, the Pentagon came up with a new organization–the “Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG) to carry out secret missions designed to “stimulate reactions” among terrorist groups, provoking them into committing violent acts which would then expose them to “counterattack” by U.S. forces. Those “violent acts” would also be used to justify regime change in countries accused of harboring the terrorists. This article from 2002 clearly described the causes of the mayhem we have seen unfold in the years since then: http://www.counterpunch.org/2002/11/01/rummy-s-plan-to-provoke-terrorist-attacks/. A little research will make it clear that the US and NATO are responsible for the turmoil in Syria and the consequent refugee crisis.

Hillary is clearly in the pocket of the banking/corporate elite and will continue to promote their agenda, just as Obama has. We were sold on Obama with promises of change and the feel-good idea of electing the first black President. Hillary is being sold to us as the non-Trump candidate together with the feel-good idea of electing the first woman President. I’m all for making the oval office accessible to minorities and women but what we have gotten is a lot of broken promises, a continuation of the Clinton-Bush policies, and an escalation of US interventions in other countries and a rekindling of the cold war against Russia.

Trump appeals to people’s fears and outrage over being misled by both parties. He promises what he cannot possibly deliver, while pandering to the religious right with his selection of a running mate whose policy positions seem diametrically opposed to much of what Trump says he is for. That makes his promises as unbelievable as Hillary’s and leads me to wonder if he has even a glimmer of understanding of the geo-political facts of life. I can only conclude that he is a megalomaniac to whom winning is everything.

So, what can we do to stop this madness?

We can continue to bide our time, watch the chaos unfold and hope for the best while waiting for new opportunities to emerge, and working to make our communities better and more resilient in spite of it all.

But maybe we already have an opportunity to make a change at the level of national politics. There is a viable third choice, and it is on the ballot in every one of the 50 States. It is the Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. Johnson is a former businessman and Republican governor of New Mexico, and Weld is a former Republican governor of Massachusetts, US Attorney, and head of the Department of Justice Criminal Division. In this short twitter video they make a strong pitch for their progressive social and anti-war agenda. https://mobile.twitter.com/GovGaryJohnson/status/748320273754165249/video/1. It sounds good to me.

This ticket should have broad appeal, especially among Sanders supporters who cannot bring themselves to vote for Hillary and Republicans who cannot bring themselves to vote for Trump. With the Republican Party in disarray and Hillary’s vast unpopularity among voters, this may be the year when a third party candidate can win the White House and upset the pattern of politics as usual.

With virtually no advertising, a recent CNN poll shows Johnson already with 13% support (and the Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 5%), and a CBS/New York Times poll had Johnson at 12 percent. According to the Libertarian Republic, “If Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, polls at least 15 percent in five national public opinion polls before the first presidential debate, he’ll be eligible to appear on the stage with the Democratic and Republican nominees.”

If Libertarians, Greens and all the rest of us who are dissatisfied with the state of politics in America can get behind the Johnson/Weld ticket, we can have the much needed Second American Revolution before this year is out.

Are we the people ready to govern ourselves? The power elite think not; let’s show them that we are.

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