Thursday, December 30, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
America is now under martial law.
All constitutional rights have been suspended.
Stay in your homes.
Do not attempt to contact love ones, insurance agents or attorneys.
Do not attempt to think or depression may occur.
Stay in your homes.
Curfew is at 7 PM sharp after work.
Anyone caught outside of gates of their sub-division sectors after curfew will be shot.
Remain calm, do not panic.
Your neighborhood watch officer will be by to collect urine examples in the morning.
Anyone caught inteferring with the collection of urine examples will be shot.
Stay in your homes, remain calm.
The number one enemy of progress is questions.
National security is more important than individual will.
All sports broadcasts will proceed as normal.
No more than two people may gather anywhere without permission.
Use only the drugs prescribed by your boss or supervisor.
Shut up, be happy.
Obey all orders without question.
The comfort you've demanded is now mandatory.
At last, everything is done for you.
Well, the worldwide socialist takeover the Birchers have been warning us about is coming to fruition, but it's a little different than what they had in mind. It's socialism for the bank$ters, but feudalism for everyone else, and unlike the with Thatcher/Reagan '80s, there doesn't seem to be a dot-com escape hatch this time.
Devo was right. Freedom from choice is what we want, but the illusion of choice is what we've got, and now the Corporate Feudal State is upon us. But, hey, if you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about. Shut up. Be happy. The number one enemy of progress is questions.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Monday, December 06, 2010
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
Exclusive: British Novelist John le Carré on the Iraq War, Corporate Power, the Exploitation of Africa and His New Novel, "Our Kind of Traitor"
Posted by Big Daddy Malcontent at 10:02 AM
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
by John Cory
I'm tired of pundits and know-nothing media gasbags. I'm tired of snarky "inside politics" programming. I am sick of the bigotry and hatred of "birthers" and faux patriotic cranks and their GOP puppet masters. And I'm really pissed at the Democratic Party that confuses having a plate of limp noodles with having a spine.
I'm going to vomit if I hear the word "bipartisanship" one more time.
It was "bipartisanship" that gave us this activist conservative Supreme Court. A Supreme Court that says money is free speech and corporations are persons except when real people try to hold them accountable for their greed and poisonous ways.
"Bipartisanship" gave us the Patriot Act and FISA and illegal wiretaps and two wars and "free speech zones" and "no fly" lists. God bless bipartisan America.
I get nauseated every time the Senate explains how it takes a super majority to do anything for the American people. Tell you what Senate Bozos, if it takes 60 votes to pass legislation than it should take 60% of the popular vote to get you elected.
When some Tea Party crank says, "I want my country back," I respond, "No madam, you want your country backward."
When a deficit-mongering politician says, "How do we pay for this?" Why not ask, "What did you Republicans do with the surplus we Democrats left you?"
When a compassionate conservative says, "Healthcare reform is socialism," why not answer, "No, sir it is the moral and American way to care for people."
Yes, I can hear it now: "You are naïve and simplistic. These are complicated matters and require sophisticated solutions. Democrats are a big tent and strive for balance. But Republicans block our path at every turn. We are thinking and considering new ways to work in harmony with everyone."
The only thing you get with "harmony" is a Barbershop Quartet.
Democrats stop being Republican Lite. Stop whining about that mean GOP and their nasty messaging. Grow a pair, get a message, get a bumper sticker and hang it out there. Get some strong vivid talking points.
G-O-P = Greed Over People.
Greed Kills - jobs, people and the economy.
Terrorism is Viagra for Republicans: The more fear - the more excited they get.
When a soldier dies for America, who dares ask if they were gay or straight?
Don't act so shocked, Democratic Party. Have you looked around lately?
You're losing the young vote that showed up to elect Obama. You're losing those old enough to remember real Democrats. Why? Because you don't talk to them any more than you talk to me. You talk at me. You talk around me. You talk down to me. You talk about me. You don't talk with me. And you don't inspire and you don't champion and without that you are nothing more than an arbitrator of compromise and abdication.
You are facing a bully. Deal with it!
Republicans want the country backwards. They champion superstition over science because it entrenches ignorance and bigotry and captures the easily frightened.
Republicans treat the Constitution the way they treat the Bible, with selective interpretation and selective application to others while exempting themselves from judgment and accountability.
Republicans preach the gospel of fear because fear is darkness and darkness covers their theft of civil liberties and Constitutional principles.
For thirty years the Republican Party has claimed the mantel of law and order but now quake in dread of the American judicial system when putting terrorists on trial. How criminal is that?
Torture is illegal. Period. John Wayne and Jack Bauer were not our Founding Fathers - only in the make-believe world of Republican drugstore-patriots.
DADT needs to be repealed. Now. It is unconscionable, immoral, and disgusting.
Empathy, compassion and equality are not pejoratives. They are American values proven again and again throughout our history.
Republicans believe that bake-sales and cookies for chemotherapy best determine the value of life and healthcare because life is a pre-existing condition and the "free market" should not have to take on such a high risk - after all, no one gets out alive, so why should the corporation be left holding the bag? Unless of course the price is right.
Republicans believe that government should keep its hands off healthcare but should put its hands inside a woman's body.
Republicans believe in small government - small enough to hold the "right" people and small enough to be owned and operated by the "right" people. And who are the "right" people? Them. Not you.
Democratic Party, DNC, DLCC, DSCC or whatever your acronym - I have only one question for you: Really?
You can't win against these guys? You can't get your message out against these guys? You can't give America leadership against these guys?
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Today is not only Veterans Day. It is also the birthday of Kurt Vonnegut, a WW2 veteran who wrote one of the best anti-war novels of all time, Slaughterhouse Five.
From that book:
Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times.
Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
As shown on Ch4 and repeated several times on More4, available at IndyBay on the web and many other places, now on Google video (not great video quality) Robert's stand-up act examines the history of the last 100 years or so but putting oil center-stage. Brilliant!
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
When Bush won re-election in 2004, I did serious research into moving to Canada. They have a point system for immigration, and I came up a few points short, according to my calculation. Today, I feel about a million times more despondent than I did then. Any Canadian, Australian or New Zealand women out there who would like to marry an American malcontent who's really a nice guy beneath the gruff exterior? I'm good at cooking, chopping firewood and cunnilingus.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
So George W. Douche says his biggest failure was not privatizing Social Security, a sentiment shared by Republicans in Congress. Meanwhile, Obama wants to make cuts to Social Security in order to balance the budget. So as usual, our choices are shitty or really shitty.
Well, here's what pisses me off about the Social Security debate and about Americans in general:
In France, the president -- a conservative, mind you -- suggests raising the retirement age by two years and people go apeshit. They halt oil production and disrupt trains and clash with riot police and so forth. In this country, the president -- a liberal, mind you (nominally at least) -- suggests the same thing and...nada, zilch, crickets chirp, leaves rustle.Cutting Social Security is considered A-OK simply because it's less bad than the Republican plan. But the secret no one wants us to hear is that there's nothing wrong with Social Security. It's fine. The way to balance the budget is to end our two (or more) illegal, un-winnable foreign occupations and return the tax schedule to pre-Bush levels. I mean, it's a simple fix and nobody is suggesting it, except for a few non-viable types like the Green Party and Bernie Sanders, etc.
America is over. When your choices are between two Wall Street hookers, the only option is to stock up on toilet paper and brace for the worst. We are getting the government we deserve.
EDIT: I don't know what the fuck is up with this piece of shit blogging software. I've changed the fourth paragraph to the same motherfucking font as the rest of the paragraphs 20 motherfucking times, but it insists on staying like that. You would think that Google, with all their trillions of dollars, would be able to come up with a rudimentary blogging program, but I guess they're too busy colluding with Verizon to give a fuck about little details like text consistency in their shitty fucking software. Fuck this fucking country. I CANNOT WAIT to see this fucking shit hole go down in flames. I will waste my last breath laughing.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
92 percent prefer Swedish model to US model when given a choice
Americans generally underestimate the degree of income inequality in the United States, and if given a choice, would distribute wealth in a similar way to the social democracies of Scandinavia, a new study finds.
For decades, polls have shown that a plurality of Americans -- around 40 percent -- consider themselves conservative, while only around 20 percent self-identify as liberals. But a new study from two noted economists casts doubt on what values lie beneath those political labels.
According to research (PDF) carried out by Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University, and flagged by Paul Kedrosky at the Infectious Greed blog, 92 percent of Americans would choose to live in a society with far less income disparity than the US, choosing Sweden's model over that of the US.
What's more, the study's authors say that this applies to people of all income levels and all political leanings: The poor and the rich, Democrats and Republicans are all equally likely to choose the Swedish model.
This is what I've been saying for years, and it's a point I've made on numerous comment threads. Ignore the labels. Focus on policy. Most Americans are too ill-informed to understand what "conservative" and "liberal" even mean. They just hear what the Rupert Murdoch noise machine keeps repeating so they go along. This study is a case in point. Harvard Business School and Duke University are both widely respected institutions, so a study like this would seem newsworthy, but you won't hear about it from the corporate "news" media.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
FDR famously said, "Don't tell me to do it, make me do it." (Or words to that effect.) By contrast, Obama is complaining because progressives ARE trying to make him do it. He has what every president dreams of: a mandate from the people. The electorate has spoken clearly, both by electing him by a strong majority and by making their desires known throughout the first two years of his presidency. It wasn't Republicans who stymied the health care debate; it was fellow Democrats. It wasn't Republicans who watered down Wall Street "reform;" it was Tim Geithner & Larry Summers -- people within his own administration. It's worth noting that these two guys -- Summers & Geithner -- were the ones who stymied Brooksley Born's efforts to regulate over-the-counter derivatives trading during the Clinton administration. And that, in turn, helped create the financial meltdown, yet they are STILL opposing regulation of over-the-counter derivatives trading. This is why the Democrats' approval ratings are in the toilet -- not because they're doing too much, but because they're doing too little.
In short, the president is whining because his supporters are actually paying attention for a change. Instead of complaining about progressives, he should be telling the GOP and the bluedogs, "I'm sorry, guys. It's what the people want."
Both parties are beholden to business interests, but the anti-masturbation, gun nut whackaloons that make up the Republican base are not in direct opposition to Wall Street, Big Oil, etc., whereas the book-reading, reality television non-watching, homo non-fearing citizens who comprise the Democratic base ARE in direct opposition to such interests. I suspect that privately, you would find Karl Rove & Dick Cheney mocking the evangelicals & slack-jawed yokels who comprise their base. In fact, I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that they did just that. Ah, yes. Here it is.
In his book, (David) Kuo wrote that White House staffers would roll their eyes at evangelicals, calling them "nuts" and "goofy."
But publicly, they embrace so-called "values voters" because it's politically expedient to do so.
The Democratic leadership, on the other hand, is OPENLY hostile to its base. Robert Gibbs, for example, was instrumental in undermining Howard Dean's candidacy, much more so than any Republican. And that was long before his recent whining about progressives.
The reason you don't see the unity among Democrats that you do among Republicans is that the neo-liberal DLC crowd is at odds with the old-school FDR Democrats.
"Good luck with the next asshole you hand the presidency to," you say? Democrats have a 20-year history of handing the presidency to assholes. One was named Clinton and one was named Obama. Oh, but they had that ever-important (D) behind their names and that makes all the difference. I guess a Democrat bombing the snot out of civilians and handing the reins of power to Wall Street is so much better than a Republican doing it.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
via Raw Story:
Walt Disney, Monsanto discovered among Blackwater’s hidden clients
Also on list: Royal Caribbean, Deutsche Bank, Chevron
Almost three years ago exactly -- Sept. 17, 2007 -- a cadre of guards from the security firm then known as Blackwater shot and killed 17 Iraqis at a public plaza in Baghdad.
The company, long in the public eye, has been known for brutal tactics and as a mercenary for the US State Department in countries where the US has boots on the ground. What hasn't been known, however, is that the same company was handling intelligence ops for publicly-traded US companies.
Atop the list is Monsanto, the biotech giant, who The Nation's Jeremy Scahill revealed Wednesday accepted a proposal through a Blackwater subsidiary which "offer[ed] to provide operatives to infiltrate activist groups organizing against the multinational biotech firm."
Monsanto doesn't stand alone. Through a network of 30 subsidiaries and shell corporations, Blackwater-linked entities provided "intelligence, training and security services" to a cache of major multinational firms, including: Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents Scahill obtained.
Blackwater's owner and founder, Erik Prince -- who has himself been linked to the CIA -- helped train companies through two other firms he controlled: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center.
Not surprisingly, no one responded to requests for comment.
Monsanto topped the list of firms using Prince's services, Scahill writes.
"According to internal Total Intelligence communications, biotech giant Monsanto—the world's largest supplier of genetically modified seeds—hired the firm in 2008–09," the reporter writes. "The relationship between the two companies appears to have been solidified in January 2008 when Total Intelligence chair Cofer Black traveled to Zurich to meet with... Monsanto's security manager for global issues."
"After the meeting in Zurich, Black sent an e-mail to other Blackwater executives.... saying that Wilson "understands that we can span collection from internet, to reach out, to boots on the ground on legit basis protecting the Monsanto [brand] name.... Ahead of the curve info and insight/heads up is what he is looking for." Black added that Total Intelligence "would develop into acting as intel arm of Monsanto." Black also noted that Monsanto was concerned about animal rights activists and that they discussed how Blackwater "could have our person(s) actually join [activist] group(s) legally." Black wrote that initial payments to Total Intelligence would be paid out of Monsanto's "generous protection budget" but would eventually become a line item in the company's annual budget. He estimated the potential payments to Total Intelligence at between $100,000 and $500,000. According to documents, Monsanto paid Total Intelligence $127,000 in 2008 and $105,000 in 2009.
....In an... e-mail to The Nation, Wilson confirmed he met Black in Zurich and that Monsanto hired Total Intelligence in 2008 and worked with the company until early 2010. He denied that he and Black discussed infiltrating animal rights groups, stating "there was no such discussion." He claimed that Total Intelligence only provided Monsanto "with reports about the activities of groups or individuals that could pose a risk to company personnel or operations around the world which were developed by monitoring local media reports and other publicly available information. The subject matter ranged from information regarding terrorist incidents in Asia or kidnappings in Central America to scanning the content of activist blogs and websites." Wilson asserted that Black told him Total Intelligence was "a completely separate entity from Blackwater."
The Walt Disney Company hired Total Intelligence and TRC to do a "threat assessment" for potential film shoot locations in Morocco, with former CIA officials Black and Richer reaching out to their former Moroccan intel counterparts for information. The job provided a "good chance to impress Disney," one company executive wrote. How impressed Disney was is not clear; in 2009 the company paid Total Intelligence just $24,000.
How about Deutsche Bank?
Total Intelligence and TRC also provided intelligence assessments on China to Deutsche Bank. "The Chinese technical counterintelligence threat is one of the highest in the world," a TRC analyst wrote, adding, "Many four and five star hotel rooms and restaurants are live-monitored with both audio and video" by Chinese intelligence. He also said that computers, PDAs and other electronic devices left unattended in hotel rooms could be cloned. Cellphones using the Chinese networks, the analyst wrote, could have their microphones remotely activated, meaning they could operate as permanent listening devices. He concluded that Deutsche Bank reps should "bring no electronic equipment into China." Warning of the use of female Chinese agents, the analyst wrote, "If you don't have women coming onto you all the time at home, then you should be suspicious if they start coming onto you when you arrive in China." For these and other services, the bank paid Total Intelligence $70,000 in 2009.
Prince, now the owner of Blackwater successor Xe Services, now has his eyes on another target: the Democrats.
He's now writing a book alleging that officials in the Clinton and Obama administrations "approved of his most sensitive and controversial operations," according to a report by veteran intel reporter Jeff Stein published in The Washington Post earlier this month.
The Post's Jeff Stein cited two unnamed sources who say Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, is hurrying to sell his company before he can go public with a book that takes aim at the Democratic Party. One of the sources told Stein that Prince and his friends "think this will destroy the Democratic Party in the elections."
The source, who is described as having a "business relationship with Xe," said Prince had "given his people three weeks to complete the sale of the company and the book will be released then," in time for the November elections.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Untangling the Bizarre CIA Links to the Ground Zero Mosque
So far, the debate over the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero has unfolded along predictable lines, with the man at the center of the project, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, drawing attacks from the right painting him as a terrorist sympathizer with ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
But meanwhile, links between the group behind the controversial mosque, the CIA and U.S. military establishment have gone unacknowledged.
For instance, one of the earliest backers of the nonprofit group, the Cordoba Initiative, that is spearheading the Ground Zero mosque, is a 52-year-old Scarsdale, New York, native named R. Leslie Deak. In addition to serving on the group's board of advisors since its founding in 2004 by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Deak was its principal funder, donating $98,000 to the nonprofit between 2006 and 2008. This figure appears to represent organization's total operating budget--though, oddly, the group reported receipts of just a third of that total during the same time period.
Deak describes himself as a "Practicing Muslim with background in Christianity and Judaism, [with] in-depth personal and business experiences in the Middle East, living and working six months per year in Egypt." Born into a Christian home, Deak became an Orthodox Jew and married a Jewish woman before converting to Islam when he married his current wife, Moshira Soliman, with whom he now lives in Rye.
Leslie Deak's resume also notes his role as "business consultant" for Patriot Defense Group, LLC, a private defense contractor with offices in Winter Park, Florida, and in Tucson. The only names listed on the firm's website are those of its three "strategic advisers." These include retired four-star General Bryan "Doug" Brown, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command until 2007, where he headed "all special operations forces, both active duty and reserve, leading the Global War On Terrorism," and James Pavitt, former deputy director for operations at the Central Intelligence Agency, where he "managed the CIA's globally deployed personnel and nearly half of its multi-billion dollar budget" and "served as head of America's Clandestine Service, the CIA's operational response to the attacks of September 11, 2001."
Besides Pavitt, Brown and a third advisor, banker Alexander Cappello, the Patriot Defense Group is so secretive it doesn't even name its management team, instead describing its anonymous CEO as a former Special Forces and State Department veteran, the group's managing director as a former CIA officer experienced in counter-terrorism in hostile environments and the group's corporate intelligence head as a "23-year veteran of the U.S. Secret Service who worked on the personal security details of former Presidents Bush and Clinton."
Patriot Defense Group's primary business involves leveraging its government connections and know-how. The firm is divided into two divisions: one that "focuses exclusively on the needs of the U.S. military and law enforcement communities as well as the requirements of friendly foreign governments," and a corporate division, which "provides business intelligence and specialized security services to corporate clients and high net-worth family enterprises."
So, to recap: From 2006 to 2008, R. Leslie Deak worked as a "business consultant" to this super-secretive security contractor with ties to the CIA and counterterrorism forces, and in those same three years he also donated nearly $100,000 in seed money to the foundation now advocating the construction of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque.
Interestingly, during the same three-year period during which the Deak Family Foundation was financing the Cordoba Initiative, Deak also donated a total of $101,247 to something called the National Defense University Foundation. The National Defense University is a network of war and strategy colleges and research centers (including the National War College) funded by the Pentagon, designed to train specialists in military strategy. The organization recently announced a November 5 dinner gala in honor of Defense Secretary and former CIA chief Robert Gates. Sponsors include Northrup Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and...the Patriot Defense Group.
Deak also sits on the NDUF's board of directors, the chairman of which is Mark Treanor, the former general counsel for Wachovia bank from 1998 through its collapse in 2008 and a major bundler of campaign donations for the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008. Wachovia, now owned by Wells Fargo, was recently fined $160 million for laundering "at least $110 million" in Mexican drug money between 2003 and 2008, while Treanor was Wachovia's general counsel, though the figure is likely higher since Wachovia admitted it didn't put any controls on at least $420 billion--that's billion--in cash moved through its network of Mexico currency exchanges.
Which leads to another odd coincidence: Laundering money for drug lords is what brought down Deak & Co., the company run by Leslie Deak's father, Nicholas Deak, years ago. The elder Deak, a former top intelligence commander during World War II for the OSS (the forerunner of the CIA), was the founder of Deak-Perera, which became for a time one of the world's biggest foreign currency and gold dealers. But in 1984, a Presidential Commission on Organized Crime accused the firm of acting as a money laundering operation for Columbia drug cartels, who reportedly brought sacks of cash containing tens of millions of dollars into Deak's Manhattan offices. By the end of 1984, Deak & Co. had declared bankruptcy, and a year later, Nicholas Deak was murdered in the company's headquarters at 29 Broadway by a deranged homeless woman.
After the firm went bankrupt and Leslie Deak was left on his own, the corporation was broken up and sold off in pieces. One company that traces its beginnings to the defunct Deak empire is Goldline International, a business concern well known to fans of Glenn Beck as well as California investigators. Goldline is to Glenn Beck what General Electric was to Ronald Reagan: The company sponsors Beck's TV and radio shows as well as his touring act, and Beck is its public face. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, along with the Santa Monica City Attorney's office, are currently investigating Goldline for defrauding customers by railroading gullible customers into buying their most debased products.
Speaking of Glenn Beck, it has been reported that Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, the second-largest shareholder in News Corp., the parent company Fox News, which airs Beck's program, is also a major funder of Imam Rauf's projects, as Jon Stewart viewers heard all about last week.
Coincidences happen, of course. (For instance, Pamela Geller, the blogger who's become the leading voice denouncing the mosque project was once, bizarrely enough, associate publisher of The New York Observer.)
But add to this array of unexpected connections the work of Imam Rauf on behalf of the U.S. government—which includes serving as an FBI "consultant" and being recruited as a spokesperson by longtime George W. Bush confidante Karen Hughes, who headed up the administration's propaganda efforts in the Muslim world—and a compelling picture begins to emerge. Bush's favorite Imam, with backing from a funder with connections to the CIA, the Pentagon and the currency trading company that now sponsors rightwing firebrand Glenn Beck, proposes to build a mosque around the corner from the site of the most devastating terrorist attack ever visited on America. In the name of "[cultivating] understanding among all religions and cultures," he puts forth a project that offends a majority of Americans and deals a significant setback to the broader acceptance of Muslim-Americans. It's a little like Billy "White Shoes" Johnson claiming the only reason he moonwalks after scoring a touchdown is to lower tensions on the football field and raise the other team's spirits.
Whether the Cordoba Initiative ever gets its way with the Ground Zero Mosque, it may well have a lasting legacy at odds with its stated intention: By damaging the very moderates and progressives who actually view New York, and the nation as a whole, as a tolerant melting pot, and strengthening the position demagogues on both sides, it will almost certainly deal a setback to interfaith relations. It will also help to hobble the Democratic party. Which just might have been the point all along.
Either that, or it's merely a coincidence that this controversy has erupted now, during crucial mid-term elections. In which case we can all go back to what we were doing before—either denouncing the Park51 Mosque as an affront to Americans, or championing it as a symbol of our fundamental rights-playing our accustomed roles in a drama that seems too perfect, somehow, to believe.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
By Lance Freeman
April 08, 2010
You have the worst quality of life in the developed world – by a wide margin.
If you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker.
I know this because I am an American, and I escaped from the prison you call home.
I have lived all around the world, in wealthy countries and poor ones, and there is only one country I would never consider living in again: The United States of America. The mere thought of it fills me with dread.
Consider this: you are the only people in the developed world without a single-payer health system. Everyone in Western Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand has a single-payer system. If they get sick, they can devote all their energies to getting well. If you get sick, you have to battle two things at once: your illness and the fear of financial ruin. Millions of Americans go bankrupt every year due to medical bills, and tens of thousands die each year because they have no insurance or insufficient insurance. And don’t believe for a second that rot about America having the world’s best medical care or the shortest waiting lists: I’ve been to hospitals in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Singapore, and Thailand, and every one was better than the “good” hospital I used to go to back home. The waits were shorter, the facilities more comfortable, and the doctors just as good.
This is ironic, because you need a good health system more than anyone else in the world. Why? Because your lifestyle is almost designed to make you sick.
Let’s start with your diet: Much of the beef you eat has been exposed to fecal matter in processing. Your chicken is contaminated with salmonella. Your stock animals and poultry are pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics. In most other countries, the government would act to protect consumers from this sort of thing; in the United States, the government is bought off by industry to prevent any effective regulations or inspections. In a few years, the majority of all the produce for sale in the United States will be from genetically modified crops, thanks to the cozy relationship between Monsanto Corporation and the United States government. Worse still, due to the vast quantities of high-fructose corn syrup Americans consume, fully one-third of children born in the United States today will be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives.
Of course, it’s not just the food that’s killing you, it’s the drugs. If you show any sign of life when you’re young, they’ll put you on Ritalin. Then, when you get old enough to take a good look around, you’ll get depressed, so they’ll give you Prozac. If you’re a man, this will render you chemically impotent, so you’ll need Viagra to get it up. Meanwhile, your steady diet of trans-fat-laden food is guaranteed to give you high cholesterol, so you’ll get a prescription for Lipitor. Finally, at the end of the day, you’ll lay awake at night worrying about losing your health plan, so you’ll need Lunesta to go to sleep.
With a diet guaranteed to make you sick and a health system designed to make sure you stay that way, what you really need is a long vacation somewhere. Unfortunately, you probably can’t take one. I’ll let you in on little secret: if you go to the beaches of Thailand, the mountains of Nepal, or the coral reefs of Australia, you’ll probably be the only American in sight. And you’ll be surrounded crowds of happy Germans, French, Italians, Israelis, Scandinavians and wealthy Asians. Why? Because they’re paid well enough to afford to visit these places AND they can take vacations long enough to do so. Even if you could scrape together enough money to go to one of these incredible places, by the time you recovered from your jetlag, it would time to get on a plane and rush back to your job.
If you think I’m making this up, check the stats on average annual vacation days by country:
The fact is, they work you like dogs in the United States. This should come as no surprise: the United States never got away from the plantation/sweat shop labor model and any real labor movement was brutally suppressed. Unless you happen to be a member of the ownership class, your options are pretty much limited to barely surviving on service-sector wages or playing musical chairs for a spot in a cubicle (a spot that will be outsourced to India next week anyway). The very best you can hope for is to get a professional degree and then milk the system for a slice of the middle-class pie. And even those who claw their way into the middle class are but one illness or job loss away from poverty. Your jobs aren’t secure. Your company has no loyalty to you. They’ll play you off against your coworkers for as long as it suits them, then they’ll get rid of you.
Of course, you don’t have any choice in the matter: the system is designed this way. In most countries in the developed world, higher education is either free or heavily subsidized; in the United States, a university degree can set you back over US$100,000. Thus, you enter the working world with a crushing debt. Forget about taking a year off to travel the world and find yourself – you’ve got to start working or watch your credit rating plummet.
If you’re “lucky,” you might even land a job good enough to qualify you for a home loan. And then you’ll spend half your working life just paying the interest on the loan – welcome to the world of American debt slavery. America has the illusion of great wealth because there’s a lot of “stuff” around, but who really owns it? In real terms, the average American is poorer than the poorest ghetto dweller in Manila, because at least they have no debts. If they want to pack up and leave, they can; if you want to leave, you can’t, because you’ve got debts to pay.
All this begs the question: Why would anyone put up with this? Ask any American and you’ll get the same answer: because America is the freest country on earth. If you believe this, I’ve got some more bad news for you: America is actually among the least free countries on earth. Your piss is tested, your emails and phone calls are monitored, your medical records are gathered, and you are never more than one stray comment away from writhing on the ground with two Taser prongs in your ass.
And that’s just physical freedom. Mentally, you are truly imprisoned. You don’t even know the degree to which you are tormented by fears of medical bankruptcy, job loss, homelessness and violent crime because you’ve never lived in a country where there is no need to worry about such things.
But it goes much deeper than mere surveillance and anxiety. The fact is, you are not free because your country has been taken over and occupied by another government. Fully 70% of your tax dollars go to the Pentagon, and the Pentagon is the real government of the United States. You are required under pain of death to pay taxes to this occupying government. If you’re from the less fortunate classes, you are also required to serve and die in their endless wars, or send your sons and daughters to do so. You have no choice in the matter: there is a socio-economic draft system in the United States that provides a steady stream of cannon fodder for the military.
If you call a life of surveillance, anxiety and ceaseless toil in the service of a government you didn’t elect “freedom,” then you and I have a very different idea of what that word means.
If there was some chance that the country could be changed, there might be reason for hope. But can you honestly look around and conclude that anything is going to change? Where would the change come from? The people? Take a good look at your compatriots: the working class in the United States has been brutally propagandized by jackals like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Members of the working class have been taught to lick the boots of their masters and then bend over for another kick in the ass. They’ve got these people so well trained that they’ll take up arms against the other half of the working class as soon as their masters give the word.
If the people cannot make a change, how about the media? Not a chance. From Fox News to the New York Times, the mass media in the United States is nothing but the public relations wing of the corporatocracy, primarily the military industrial complex. At least the citizens of the former Soviet Union knew that their news was bullshit. In America, you grow up thinking you’ve got a free media, which makes the propaganda doubly effective. If you don’t think American media is mere corporate propaganda, ask yourself the following question: have you ever heard a major American news outlet suggest that the country could fund a single-payer health system by cutting military spending?
If change can’t come from the people or the media, the only other potential source of change would be the politicians. Unfortunately, the American political process is among the most corrupt in the world. In every country on earth, one expects politicians to take bribes from the rich. But this generally happens in secret, behind the closed doors of their elite clubs. In the United States, this sort of political corruption is done in broad daylight, as part of legal, accepted, standard operating procedure. In the United States, they merely call these bribes campaign donations, political action committees and lobbyists. One can no more expect the politicians to change this system than one can expect a man to take an axe and chop his own legs out from underneath him.
No, the United States of America is not going to change for the better. The only change will be for the worse. And when I say worse, I mean much worse. As we speak, the economic system that sustained the country during the post-war years is collapsing. The United States maxed out its “credit card” sometime in 2008 and now its lenders, starting with China, are in the process of laying the foundations for a new monetary system to replace the Anglo-American “petro-dollar” system. As soon as there is a viable alternative to the US dollar, the greenback will sink like a stone.
While the United States was running up crushing levels of debt, it was also busy shipping its manufacturing jobs and white-collar jobs overseas, and letting its infrastructure fall to pieces. Meanwhile, Asian and European countries were investing in education, infrastructure and raw materials. Even if the United States tried to rebuild a real economy (as opposed to a service/financial economy) do think American workers would ever be able to compete with the workers of China or Europe? Have you ever seen a Japanese or German factory? Have you ever met a Singaporean or Chinese worker?
There are only two possible futures facing the United States, and neither one is pretty. The best case is a slow but orderly decline – essentially a continuation of what’s been happening for the last two decades. Wages will drop, unemployment will rise, Medicare and Social Security benefits will be slashed, the currency will decline in value, and the disparity of wealth will spiral out of control until the United States starts to resemble Mexico or the Philippines – tiny islands of wealth surrounded by great poverty (the country is already halfway there).
Equally likely is a sudden collapse, perhaps brought about by a rapid flight from the US dollar by creditor nations like China, Japan, Korea and the OPEC nations. A related possibility would be a default by the United States government on its vast debt. One look at the financial balance sheet of the US government should convince you how likely this is: governmental spending is skyrocketing and tax receipts are plummeting – something has to give. If either of these scenarios plays out, the resulting depression will make the present recession look like a walk in the park.
Whether the collapse is gradual or gut-wrenchingly sudden, the results will be chaos, civil strife and fascism. Let’s face it: the United States is like the former Yugoslavia – a collection of mutually antagonistic cultures united in name only. You’ve got your own version of the Taliban: right-wing Christian fundamentalists who actively loathe the idea of secular Constitutional government. You’ve got a vast intellectual underclass that has spent the last few decades soaking up Fox News and talk radio propaganda, eager to blame the collapse on Democrats, gays and immigrants. You’ve got a ruthless ownership class that will use all the means at its disposal to protect its wealth from the starving masses.
On top of all that you’ve got vast factory farms, sprawling suburbs and a truck-based shipping system, all of it entirely dependent on oil that is about to become completely unaffordable. And you’ve got guns. Lots of guns. In short: the United States is about to become a very unwholesome place to be.
Right now, the government is building fences and walls along its northern and southern borders. Right now, the government is working on a national ID system (soon to be fitted with biometric features). Right now, the government is building a surveillance state so extensive that they will be able to follow your every move, online, in the street and across borders. If you think this is just to protect you from “terrorists,” then you’re sadly mistaken. Once the shit really hits the fan, do you really think you’ll just be able to jump into the old station wagon, drive across the Canadian border and spend the rest of your days fishing and drinking Molson? No, the government is going to lock the place down. They don’t want their tax base escaping. They don’t want their “recruits” escaping. They don’t want YOU escaping.
I am not writing this to scare you. I write this to you as a friend. If you are able to read and understand what I’ve written here, then you are a member of a small minority in the United States. You are a minority in a country that has no place for you.
So what should you do?
You should leave the United States of America.
If you’re young, you’ve got plenty of choices: you can teach English in the Middle East, Asia or Europe. Or you can go to university or graduate school abroad and start building skills that will qualify you for a work visa. If you’ve already got some real work skills, you can apply to emigrate to any number of countries as a skilled immigrant. If you are older and you’ve got some savings, you can retire to a place like Costa Rica or the Philippines. If you can’t qualify for a work, student or retirement visa, don’t let that stop you – travel on a tourist visa to a country that appeals to you and talk to the expats you meet there. Whatever you do, go speak to an immigration lawyer as soon as you can. Find out exactly how to get on a path that will lead to permanent residence and eventually citizenship in the country of your choice.
You will not be alone. There are millions of Americans just like me living outside the United States. Living lives much more fulfilling, peaceful, free and abundant than we ever could have attained back home. Some of us happened upon these lives by accident – we tried a year abroad and found that we liked it – others made a conscious decision to pack up and leave for good. You’ll find us in Canada, all over Europe, in many parts of Asia, in Australia and New Zealand, and in most other countries of the globe. Do we miss our friends and family? Yes. Do we occasionally miss aspects of our former country? Yes. Do we plan on ever living again in the United States? Never. And those of us with permanent residence or citizenship can sponsor family members from back home for long-term visas in our adopted countries.
In closing, I want to remind you of something: unless you are an American Indian or a descendant of slaves, at some point your ancestors chose to leave their homeland in search of a better life. They weren’t traitors and they weren’t bad people, they just wanted a better life for themselves and their families. Isn’t it time that you continue their journey?
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
"Breitbart had edited the video, of course, and he refuses to release the whole thing, naturally. But that didn't matter in this case any more than it mattered in the ACORN case. It's nothing but a play to America's racist lizard brain."
UPDATE: Monkey Muck sums up my feelings succinctly:
President Obama is a weak kneed, lily livered, scaredy cat. He's the cowardly lion who got taken in by a bunch of right wing nitwits. He tossed a decent and good public servant under the bus to avoid being made fun of by the crying Mormon and the man behind the Acorn non scandal.
And you know I'm right when one of his biggest supporters calls him out for being such a wuss.
I've said it before and unfortunately, I'll have to say it again, GROW A PAIR and stop being afraid of your own fucking shadow Obama. Stop starting from a compromised position and you won't have to give in as much. Stop being such a timid version of Jimmy Carter and start being a lion like FDR.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
So, in addition to the fact that around half of the Democratic Party are recalcitrant corporate hookers, we are supplying their pimps with capital.
Friday, July 09, 2010
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
LONDON – An independent British report into the leak of hundreds of e-mails from one of the world's leading climate research centers has largely vindicated the scientists involved, a finding many in the field hope will calm the global uproar dubbed "Climategate."
The inquiry by former U.K. civil servant Muir Russell into the scandal at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit found there was no evidence of dishonesty or corruption in the more than 1,000 e-mails stolen and posted to the Internet late last year. But he did chide the scientists involved for failing to share their data with critics.
"We find that their rigor and honesty as scientists are not in doubt," Russell said. "But we do find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness."
Russell's inquiry into the scandal is the third major investigation into the theft and dissemination of the e-mails, which caused a sensation when they were published online in November, right before the U.N. climate change conference at Copenhagen.
The messages captured researchers speaking in scathing terms about their critics, discussing ways to stonewall skeptics of man-made climate change, and talking about how to freeze opponents out of peer-reviewed journals.
The ensuing scandal energized skeptics and destabilized the Copenhagen talks. The research center's chief, Phil Jones, stepped down while Russell, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow in Scotland, investigated.
While Russell's report said there was no evidence to show Jones or any other scientist had subverted the peer-review process, it did revisit the now infamous e-mail exchange between Jones and a colleague in which the climatologist refers to a a "trick" used to "hide the decline" in a variable used to track global temperatures.
Some skeptics took that as proof that scientists were faking global temperature trends. Russell's report rejected that conclusion, but did say the resulting graph was "misleading" — although not intentionally so.
Russell also criticized the university for being "unhelpful" in dealing with Freedom of Information requests — something Britain's data-protection watchdog has already scolded the university for.
University of East Anglia Vice-Chancellor Edward Acton said the report had "completely exonerated" Jones, who would now return to the Climatic Research Unit as director of research — a new position that Acton said would free him from administrative duties.
Acton also said the university has since overhauled the way it dealt with requests for data.
Russell's report follows a British parliamentary inquiry that largely backed the scientists involved and another independent investigation that gave a clean bill of health to the science itself. Yet both reports have been criticized by skeptics who alleged they were incomplete or biased.
It has been difficult to gauge the impact of the scandal, which played widely in the British and U.S. media. In Britain, there is some evidence that public concern over global warming has been diluted, although not by much.
An Ipsos MORI poll published last month suggested that 78 percent of Britons believed that the world's climate was changing, compared with 91 percent five years earlier. Seventy-one percent of respondents expressed concern about global warming, versus 82 percent in 2005. The pollster surveyed 1,822 people aged 15 and over in interviews between January and March 2010.
Some scientists say the scandal has made it impossible for researchers to hide data from their critics and has pushed those who do believe in the dangers of man-made global warming to be more vocal about their doubts.
"The release of the e-mails was a turning point, a game-changer," Mike Hulme, a professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia, told The Guardian newspaper before the Russell report was released. "Already there is a new tone. Researchers are more upfront, open and explicit about their uncertainties, for instance."
Bob Ward, the policy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, agreed that openness was the now order of the day.
"There is a need to re-establish trust," he said.
Read the report here: http://www.cce-review.org/
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force. He has a right to argue for them as eloquently as he can, in season and out of season. He has a right to teach them to his children. But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them. He has no right to demand that they be treated as sacred. He has no right to preach them without challenge. Did Darrow, in the course of his dreadful bombardment of Bryan, drop a few shells, incidentally, into measurably cleaner camps? Then let the garrisons of those camps look to their defenses. They are free to shoot back. But they can’t disarm their enemy.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
"You didn't give me no bag," she explains, her words dripping with injury.
The clerk glances at me, recognizing my building rage, chuckles, and laboriously pulls a plastic bag from the hanger and carefully spreads it open for her to deposit her precious motherfucking Nacho Cheese Doritos. Finally, the obese food tube waddles off allowing me, at long last, to access the ATM, which, despite the fact that it's charging me two dollars and fifty cents to access my own money, takes for fucking ever. After chirping and grinding and wheezing for an eternity, it finally spits out my measely twenty. I snatch it and dash to the stored value card vending machine. But by this time, there is a line of people waiting to put money on THEIR stored value cards. The line is long, in part because the other vending machine is out of order (naturally), and in part because two motherfucking thirds of my fellow countrymen have not yet figured out how to operate these things. They are hell on wheels when it comes to texting their post-literate friends, but when it comes to reading pictograms on a vending machine rivaling a PlaySkool infant's toy in simplicity, they turn into stone cold imbeciles.
Anyway, by some miracle, I am able to add the twenty dollars to my stored value card and make it to my bus moments before it leaves the station. And guess who I see on the bus. Come on, guess. That's right! The very same fat, cretinous whore who wouldn't get the motherfuck out of my way until she got the plastic motherfucking bag for her stupid goddamn fucking Doritos, which she doesn't fucking need anyway. And guess what I see on the floor of the bus beneath her idiotic hooves. Go ahead, guess. That's right! The plastic fucking bag that she wouldn't move until she got because it was owed to her.
This meat puppet, this disgusting, worthless food tube is exactly why people go postal. She will go through her entire pointless life consuming and consuming and consuming while producing nothing of value until she dies and begins decomposing, which can't happen soon enough. Every bite of food that has sustained her, every stitch of clothing that has kept her warm, every brick, piece of lumber, slab of concrete, tile, shingle, rug that has sheltered her, every tidbit of knowledge her teachers tried in vain to ram through her thick skull, every gallon of gas that has moved her carcass around, every satellite that has been launched and every megabyte of bandwidth that has been used so she can text her backward, half-witted motherfucking friends has gone one hundred percent to waste. She is a monumental drag on civilization, and, unfortunately, there are millions just like her. They waddle around prattling on and on about god knows what, consuming every idea and resource like matter down a black hole and leaving nothing in their wake but a trail of discarded wrappers and stains and crumbs. God it's great to be American. Thanks for listening (and by listening, I mean reading.) I'll be here all week.