Category Archives: Politics

Thanksgiving Newsletter 2018

In the United States, the fourth Thursday in November is designated as Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday. Days of thanksgiving were variously celebrated in the colonies from very early times, but the national holiday we celebrate today was proclaimed in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, by President Abraham Lincoln. It is fitting that we take time to remember the many blessings that each of us enjoys, even in the most dire circumstances.

What we consistently fail to do is to recognize the misery that our actions may be causing for others. While individually, the way we live our lives may be exemplary, our collective circumstances often derive from less than benevolent actions take on our behalf by political and economic leaders. One need not look very deeply to see the absurdity of the present world order that is based on perpetual war and struggles for dominance among national and supra-national elites. When one considers the marvelous technological advances and the vast amounts of material wealth that humans have been able to produce, it is clear that no one in this world should need to live in squalor. Yet, vast numbers of our brothers and sisters around the world lack the barest necessities to live a dignified life, much less the resources needed to realize their full potential. Still others are being terrorized, bombed, detained and persecuted through no fault of their own.

The hard question for me is, “How am I complicit in all of this, and what can I do about it?”

While driving in my car I often have the radio tuned to the local NPR station. A couple of days ago I happened to hear an episode (Ep. 356) of the popular Freakonomics program, this one titled, America’s Hidden Duopoly. The discussion was about the American two-party political system, which is in essence a duopoly of political power. Many Americans have long lamented the fact that they are often required to make a choice between “the lesser of two evils.” Third parties come and go by none has ever gained enough support to offer anything but “a wasted vote.”

Is there some other way in which the problem can be addressed? One initiative mentioned in the interview that seems to hold some promise is Unite America. Their motto is Country Over Party and their focus is on “building a movement to elect common-sense, independent candidates to office who can represent We, the People – not the party bosses or special interests.” The way they propose to achieve that is through their “Fulcrum Strategy,” that is “focused on electing independent candidates to narrowly divided legislatures, like the US Senate, where they can deny both parties an outright majority and use their enormous leverage to forge common ground solutions.” The argue that it would take only 4 or 5 independent Senators to swing the balance of power.

Hmmm, that itself is a tall order, but it just might work. Another initiative that looks promising is World Beyond War.
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David Brooks is a familiar figure on the PBS News Hour, where he has for years been providing political commentary alongside Mark Shields. I can’t say that I’ve been all that impressed with him, but after a friend referred me to a presentation he gave at the 2018 Pacific Summit earlier this year I came away with a different opinion. I find Brooks much more impressive and insightful as a social philosopher and historian. He articulately and entertainingly provides an assessment of our present sociopolitical predicament. I recommend that you can view that presentation on YouTube.

Still, I have a little different take on the situation, something that no one else seems to be seeing. Arnold Toynbee is quoted as having said, “Civilizations start to decay when they lose their moral fiber and the cultural elite turns parasitic.” That is the situation we find ourselves in today. Our political leadership has let us down. When the power elite works to dominate and exploit us, when they can no longer be trusted to tell us the truth,  when they fail to act on behalf of peace and the common good, what is there but to revert to tribal identities and find common cause with those whom we know and trust? While pundits and politicos decry the rise of “populism,” I see it as a natural response to the failure of the power elite. Populist actions are not always tainted by racism, sexism, and scapegoating. We need to rebuild society from the bottom up, starting with the people around us, then branching out to form alliances and coalitions. But if we are to end up with something better than what we wish to replace, our actions need to be open-hearted and beneficent. With good will toward all, perhaps it is possible to have a populist revolution that is peaceful and advances the causes of social justice, economic equity, individual liberty and human unity.
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The American Economy Is Rigged

In a recent article, Joseph E. Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank, argues that the American economy is rigged and outlines a few things that we can do about it.

Stiglitz begins his article by saying:
“Americans are used to thinking that their nation is special. In many ways, it is: the U.S. has by far the most Nobel Prize winners, the largest defense expenditures (almost equal to the next 10 or so countries put together) and the most billionaires (twice as many as China, the closest competitor). But some examples of American Exceptionalism should not make us proud. By most accounts, the U.S. has the highest level of economic inequality among developed countries. It has the world’s greatest per capita health expenditures yet the lowest life expectancy among comparable countries. It is also one of a few developed countries jostling for the dubious distinction of having the lowest measures of equality of opportunity.”

 

 

He then explains how economic inequality and political inequality are mutually reinforcing, each growing in response to growth in the other. When the super-rich are able to make the rules, they can rig the game to become ever richer. He concedes that “There is no magic bullet to remedy a problem as deep-rooted as America’s inequality. Its origins are largely political, so it is hard to imagine meaningful change without a concerted effort to take money out of politics.”

Stiglitz outlines a number of measures that could achieve that but all of them require legislative action. That seems like a “catch 22.” If the political machinery is so thoroughly in the hands of the economic and political elite, how is it possible to use the political process the change the status quo? I have long argued that, in view of that political reality, the only viable strategy is to design and deploy  innovative monetary and financial systems that enable us reclaim “the credit commons.” By decentralizing the control of credit, it is possible to reduce our dependence upon bank borrowing and political forms of money. This is not so far-fetched as it might first appear. For details of how it can be, and is being done, see my article, Confronting the power elite.

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Trump resists pressure from the war mongers; makes friends with Russia

The meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit was encouraging in its length, breadth, and outcomes. The western mainstream media propaganda machine has been relentless in its barrage of allegations, innuendo, and hype against Russia in the elite’s attempt to rekindle the cold war and corral every nation into the global debt-money regime that is their greatest lever of control.

President Trump seems to have thrown a monkey wrench into the works on that, but it  remains to be seen how far his administration will be allowed to get out of line before the rug is pulled out from under him—one way or another. This article by Israel Shamir on the Global Research website provides a thorough account and analysis of the Trump-Putin meeting. And this article by Finian Cunningham about the reaction from the US Deep State, is also worth reading. -t.h.g.

Roberts says raise taxes on corporations’ offshore profits; the FED manipulates all markets, may crash the economy.

Here is another excellent interview of Dr. Paul Craig Roberts in which he outlines the political situation in the U.S, some of the prospects for the Trump administration, limits to Presidential power,  and what would need to be done to rebuild the American economy.

What is Henry Kissinger Up To? — Paul Craig Roberts

This new post by Paul Craig Roberts is the best, most authoritative assessment I’ve seen of the current geopolitical situation and explains how the Trump administration is shaping up to possibly be in opposition to the neoconservative agenda and what Roberts refers to as The “military/security complex.”

He says, “Clearly, the military/security complex and the neoconservatives see Trump and Tillerson as threats, which is why the neoconservatives and the armaments tycoons so strongly opposed Trump and why CIA Director John Brennan made wild and unsupported accusations of Russian interference in the US presidential election.”

Read the entire article here.

Former CIA analyst drops bombshells on Fox News Show, denies Russian involvement in DNC hack

In an interview Tuesday on “The Alan Colmes Show,” former CIA analyst Ray McGovern had some startling things to say about the alleged Russian hack of the emails of the Democratic National Committee. McGovern, a veteran of 27 years with the CIA, said that it was not the Russians, but probably a disgruntled Bernie supporter inside the DNC who leaked them, and named Seth Rich as the person most likely responsible. Rich was shot to death early in the morning of Sunday, July 10, 2016. Interestingly, Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, has offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer. McGovern further argued that President Obama takes his marching orders on these matters from CIA director, John Brennan.
Listen to the full interview here.

Prepare to be poorer

Michael Hudson is one of the few academic economists who is worth listening to. He understands how bankers and politicians of both major parties have been deceiving and fleecing the people and he is willing to expose it. In this video he explains how it works and how both Trump and Hillary have planned to continue (and intensify) the fleecing

Michael Hudson: Donald Trump Wants to Make the 1% Even Richer

Why Trump Won the Presidency

In an earlier post prior to the election I observed that, “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.”

Now Jordan Chariton, while he does not call it fascism, details this trend in his article, Trump’s victory over Clinton was sealed 40 years ago. He points out that Bill Clinton continued the trend that began under Ronal Reagan, and that it was Clinton who presided over the deregulation of the Telecom Industry, repeal of Glass-Steagall, deregulation of credit-default swaps, loosened banking rules, and NAFTA, all of which contributed to the dismantling of American manufacturing and the decline of the American middle class.

He concludes that “The GOP, and Donald Trump, is not the answer. Unfortunately, a cowardly and corrupt Democratic Party let millions of people think they are.”

I am inclined to agree with Paul Waldman who wrote in the Washington Post If you voted for Trump because he’s ‘anti-establishment,’ guess what: You got conned. He says:
“An organizational chart of Trump’s transition team shows it to be crawling with corporate lobbyists, representing such clients as Altria, Visa, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Verizon, HSBC, Pfizer, Dow Chemical, and Duke Energy. And K Street is positively salivating over all the new opportunities they’ll have to deliver goodies to their clients in the Trump era.”

Another indication of that reality is the stock market surge on the day after the election. The companies that gained the most were banks, weapons manufacturers, and drug companies.

No, Donald Trump is not the one who will “make America great again.” That is a job that needs to be done by you and me and all of us working together to find common ground and create new systems and structures that are honest, open, transparent and consistent with our most fundamental values.

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