Sunday, November 6, 2011

Economic Future Is Dark as Fake Economic Recovery Consists Only of Low-Paying Jobs

(Many of you out there think we're just going through a rough patch but that things will eventually go back to the way they used to be. Dream on. The way things were is a bygone era. Those days are gone and they aren't coming back. Things are going to get a whole lot worse before ever getting better, and they won't get better until many things have changed. And those wealthy controllers of the economy won't go down without a fight, either. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Democrat's "snake in the grass" (whose Republican counterpart is Henry Kissinger), was recently quoted saying "in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people." If that isn't a rather ominous warning to those of us protesting against the corruption of the wealthy, then nothing is. 

Life is not going to go back the way it was, it's going to get a whole lot worse for everyone who isn't a billionaire (even millionaires will suffer). You might have a lot of money now, but you might as well spend all of it before it gets taken away from you. Your heirs won't see a dime of your fortune, no matter how much you leave to them. It's OK to be afraid, in fact, it's quite natural.--jef)


The current "recovery" is actually a deepening deficit of good jobs.
By Annette Bernhardt, AlterNet
Posted on November 6, 2011

Major newspapers last week reported a trend that won’t come as a surprise to working Americans:  incomes are falling.  In fact, median household income, adjusted for inflation, has fallen faster since the recession "ended" (and the "depression" began--jef) than during the recession itself.  Analysts point to high unemployment and weak economic growth as the culprits, but that is only part of the story.

Just as the country struggles to confront a seemingly insurmountable jobs deficit, America’s chronic low-wage problem is reasserting itself with a vengeance.  Here are three ways to understand just how severe the problem is.

First, the current recovery is actually deepening our deficit of good jobs. During the Great Recession, the jobs we lost were concentrated in mid-wage occupations like paralegals, health technicians, administrative assistants and bus drivers, making $15 to $20 an hour.  But so far in this weak recovery, employment growth has almost completely come from low-wage occupations like retail workers, office and stock clerks, restaurant staff and child care aids – most making $8 to $10 an hour.  There has been barely minimal growth in mid-wage occupations, and net losses in those that pay higher.

In part, this unbalanced growth is a byproduct of the Great Recession.  The financial crash and bursting of the housing bubble caused big job losses in construction, finance, insurance and real estate, and these better-paying industries are having a harder time coming back than low-wage industries such as retail trade, restaurants, temp agencies, and nursing homes.

But there are also other factors at work, such as the long-standing decline in manufacturing and outmoded telecommunications industries (again, better-paying sectors).  The slashing of state and local public jobs has also continued unabated during the recovery, dragging down middle-class employment.

Second, the paychecks of workers in low-wage occupations are shrinking.  While real wages for the average American worker have been essentially flat (adjusted for inflation) since the start of the recession, wages for Americans in low-wage occupations have actually declined by 2.3 percent. That’s a troubling pattern for jobs that are also growing the fastest.

Finally, job quality was already a problem in the U.S. labor market even before the Great Recession began.  From 2001 through 2008, low-wage and high-wage occupations grew significantly more than mid-wage occupations.  In fact, mid-wage occupations constituted only 6 percent of net job gains during this period, continuing the increase in economic inequality in America that dates all the way back to the late 1970s. 

The U.S. has struggled to respond to these trends.  The failure to pass a strong enough stimulus package in 2008, the endless fights to continue unemployment benefits, the debt ceiling debacle that  imposed fiscal austerity when government should be investing in the economy – this dysfunction in our politics has done significant harm.  Even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor acknowledges that there is too much income disparity in the United States (He does have to get re-elected and say the "right" things for his campaign in a district that is suffering like the rest of the country, after all...--jef). Yet the recent unveiling of President Obama’s American Jobs Act gave us only a brief glimpse of sensible policy debate before it, too, disappeared into the same vortex of take-no-prisoners politics.

In this context, the problem of low-wage work and declining wages doesn’t even register on the radar screen.  

Putting aside the abysmal political context for a moment, it is clear that the U.S. needs to work on dual fronts and tackle both job creation and job quality.  There are plenty of ideas out there:
  • rebuilding and modernizing America’s infrastructure, 
  • incubating green jobs sectors, 
  • creating universal pre-K, 
  • sending more fiscal relief to the states to avoid lay-offs, and more.  

We can also strengthen the wage floor by raising the minimum wage and putting more resources towards fighting wage theft, an endemic problem in low-wage service industries.

All are win-win solutions, but the politics at the federal level aren’t even close to being there.
There are rays of hope, however, in our states and cities.  The bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors is calling for quick investment in infrastructure, small business, manufacturing, trade and tourism to create jobs. Renewed activism, like the Wisconsin and Occupy Wall Street protests, is advancing calls for job creation, living wages and a strong safety net for the unemployed.  The immigrant community has become a powerful voice for workers’ rights, increasingly winning anti-wage theft campaigns.  And diverse coalitions have successfully fought back attempts to weaken state minimum wage laws, as they launch campaigns to raise the minimum wage in more than half a dozen states.

The question, of course, is will it be enough – enough to pierce the bubble of insanity that is holding American politics hostage and put jobs and wages squarely on the front burner of domestic policy.  The answer to this question has enormously high stakes, not just for avoiding a second recession, but for the long-term project of building a competitive, sustainable, and just America.

U.S. Military Official: We Are Concerned Israel Will Not Warn Us Before Iran Attack


Senior U.S. military official tells CNN U.S. 'increasingly vigilant' over military developments in Iran and Israel, says 'absolutely' concerned Israel may attack Iran nuclear facilities. 

 

U.S. officials are concerned that Israel will not warn them before taking military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, a senior U.S. military official said Friday.

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, told the CNN network that although in the past, U.S. officials thought they would receive warning from Israel if it did take military action against Iran, "now that doesn't seem so ironclad."

The U.S. is "absolutley" concerned that Israel is preparing an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and this concern is increasing, CNN reported the official as saying.

The U.S. has increased its “watchfulness” of Iran and Israel over the past few weeks, U.S. Central and European Commands, which watch Iranian and Israeli developments respectively, are “increasingly vigilant” at this time, according to the official, and a second military official who also spoke with CNN.

The military official emphasized that the U.S is concerned about the risk a strike against Iran could pose for American troops in Iraq and in the Persian Gulf, according to the CNN report.

The official also said that the U.S. does not intend to follow a military action against Iran, CNN said.

This past week, reports have surfaced regarding Israeli military action against Iran. A senior Israeli official said Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are trying to muster a majority in the cabinet in favor of military action against Iran.

On Friday, President Shimon Peres said that he believes Israel and the world may soon take military action against Iran. His comments followed

As the drumbeat of reports about possible military action against Iran's nuclear facilities intensified, an International Atomic Energy Agency report, to be released next week is expected to reveal intelligence suggesting Iran made computer models of a nuclear warhead and other previously undisclosed details on alleged secret work by Tehran on nuclear arms, diplomats told The Associated Press on Friday.

The 99%, the 1%, and Class Struggle

 
Between 1979 and 2007, the income share of the top 1% of U.S. households (by income rank) more than doubled, to over 17% of total U.S. income. Meanwhile, the income share of the bottom 80% dropped from 57% to 48% of total income. “We are the 99%,” the rallying cry of the #OccupyWallStreet movement, does a good job at calling attention to the dramatic increase of incomes for those at the very top—and the stagnation of incomes for the majority.

This way of looking at income distribution, however, does not explicitly focus on the different sources of people’s incomes. Most people get nearly all of their incomes—wages and salaries, as well as employment benefits—by working for someone else. A few people, on the other hand, get much of their income not from work but from ownership of property—profits from a business, dividends from stock, interest income from bonds, rents on land or structures, and so on. People with large property incomes may also draw large salaries or bonuses, especially from managerial jobs. Executive pay, though treated in official government statistics as labor income, derives from control over business firms and really should be counted as property income.

Over the last forty years, the distribution of income in the United States has tilted in favor of the wealthy (including business owners, stock- and bondholders, and corporate executives) and against workers. Between the 1940s and 1960s, U.S. workers’ hourly output (“average labor productivity”) and workers’ real hourly compensation both grew at about 3% per year, so the distribution of income between workers and capitalists changed relatively little. (If the size of a pie doubles, and the size of your slice also doubles, your share of the pie does not change.) Since the 1970s, productivity has kept growing at over 2% per year. Average hourly compensation, however, has stagnated—growing only about 1% per year (see figure below). As the gap between what workers produce and what they get paid has increased, workers’ share of total income has fallen, and capitalists’ share has increased. Since income from property is overwhelmingly concentrated at the top of the income scale, this has helped fuel the rising income share of “the 1%.”



The spectacular rise in some types of income—like bank profits or executive compensation—has provoked widespread outrage. Lower financial profits or CEO pay, however, will not reverse the trend toward greater inequality if the result is only to swell, say, profits for nonfinancial corporations or dividends for wealthy shareholders. Focusing too much on one or another kind of property income distracts from the fact that the overall property-income share has been growing at workers’ expense.

Workers and employers—whether they like it or not, recognize it or not, prepare for it or not—are locked in a class struggle. Employers in the United States and other countries, over the last few decades, have recognized that they were in a war and prepared for it. They have been fighting and winning. Workers will only regain what they have lost if they can rebuild their collective fighting strength. In the era of globalized capitalism, this means not only building up labor movements in individual countries, but also creating practical solidarity between workers around the world.

A labor resurgence could end workers’ decades-long losing streak at the hands of employers and help reverse the tide of rising inequality. Ultimately, though, this struggle should be about more than just getting a better deal. It should be—and can be—about the possibility of building a new kind of society. The monstrous inequalities of modern capitalism are plain to see. The need for an appealing alternative—a vision of a cooperative, democratic, and egalitarian way of life—is equally stark.

Most of the Unemployed No Longer Receive Unemployment Benefits




by Christopher S. Rugaber 
 
 
WASHINGTON — The jobs crisis has left so many people out of work for so long that most of America's unemployed are no longer receiving unemployment benefits.
  
Early last year, 75 percent were receiving checks. The figure is now 48 percent — a shift that points to a growing crisis of long-term unemployment. Nearly one-third of America's 24 million unemployed have had no job for a year or more.

Congress is expected to decide by year's end whether to continue providing emergency unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks in the hardest-hit states. If the emergency benefits expire, the proportion of the unemployed receiving aid would fall further.

The ranks of the poor would also rise. The Census Bureau says unemployment benefits kept 3.2 million people from slipping into poverty last year. It defines poverty as annual income below $22,314 for a family of four.

Yet for most of the unemployed, a vote in Congress to extend the benefits to 99 weeks is irrelevant. They've had no job for more than 99 weeks. They're no longer eligible for benefits.

Their options include food stamps or other social programs. Nearly 46 million people received food stamps in August, a record total. That figure could grow as more people lose unemployment benefits.

So could the government's disability rolls. Applications for the disability insurance program have jumped about 50 percent since 2007.

"There's going to be increased hardship," said Wayne Vroman, an economist at the Urban Institute.

The number of unemployed has been roughly stable this year. Yet the number receiving benefits has plunged 30 percent.

Government unemployment benefits weren't designed to sustain people for long stretches without work. They usually don't have to. In the recoveries from the previous three recessions, the longest average duration of unemployment was 21 weeks, in July 1983.

By contrast, in the wake of the Great Recession, the figure reached 41 weeks in September. That's the longest on records dating to 1948. The figure is now 39 weeks.

"It was a good safety net for a shorter recession," said Carl Van Horn, an economist at Rutgers University. It assumes "the economy will experience short interruptions and then go back to normal."

Weekly unemployment checks average about $300 nationwide. If the extended benefits aren't renewed, growth could slow by up to a half-percentage point next year, economists say.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that each $1 spent on unemployment benefits generates up to $1.90 in economic growth. The CBO has found that the program is the most effective government policy for increasing growth among 11 options it's analyzed.

Jon Polis lives in East Greenwich, R.I., one of the 20 states where 99 weeks of benefits are available. He used them all up after losing his job as a warehouse worker in 2008. His benefits paid for groceries, car maintenance and health insurance.

Now, Polis, 55, receives disability insurance payments, food stamps and lives in government-subsidized housing. He's been unable to find work because employers in his field want computer skills he doesn't have.

"Employers are crying that they can't find qualified help," he said. But the ones he interviewed with "weren't willing to train anybody."

From late 2007, when the recession began, to early 2010, the number of people receiving unemployment benefits rose more than four-fold, to 11.5 million.

But the economy has remained so weak that an analysis of long-term unemployment data suggests that about 4 million people have used up 99 weeks of checks and still can't find work.

Contributing to the smaller share of the unemployed who are receiving benefits: Some of them are college graduates or others seeking jobs for the first time. They aren't eligible. Only those who have lost a job through no fault of their own qualify.

The proportion of the unemployed receiving benefits usually falls below 50 percent during an economic recovery. Many have either quit jobs or are new to the job market and don't qualify.

Today, the proportion is falling for a very different reason: Jobs remain scarce. So more of the unemployed are exhausting their benefits.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has noted that the long-term unemployed increasingly find it hard to find work as their skills and professional networks erode. In a speech last month, Bernanke called long-term unemployment a "national crisis" that should be a top priority for Congress.

Lawmakers will have to decide whether to continue the extended benefits by the end of this year. If the program ends, nearly 2.2 million people will be cut off by February.

Congress has extended the program nine times. But it might balk at the $45 billion cost. It will be the first time the Republican-led House will vote on the issue.

Six Reasons to Move Your Money for Bank Transfer Day (2 articles)

(I realize this is a day late but it's a good article...--jef)


 
Kristen Christian didn't know she was tapping into a wellspring of consumer discontent. She just knew she was fed up with her "too big to fail" bank's treatment of its customers. So she created a Facebook event called Bank Transfer Day and invited 500 of her contacts to move their money to credit unions. The response went viral.

Within weeks, Bank Transfer Day swelled to nearly 70,000 participants. Credit Union Times reported that several large credit unions were experiencing record account openings and funds transfers. Kristen's event had given thousands of unhappy bank customers a solution, and a day of action: November 5th, 2011.

Despite all the ruckus, 70,000 is only a fraction of the big banks' customer base. Many people have been with the same bank for most of their adult lives, and aren't likely to move their savings without a few good reasons, of which "my bank is evil" may not be the most convincing.

With that in mind, here are a few solid arguments for moving your money out of a for-profit bank and into a not-for-profit institution like a credit union. Making the move might be the smartest choice for your wallet as well as your conscience.

1. Share Responsibility for Your Money
Credit unions are cooperative financial institutions, collectively owned by their members. When you join a credit union, you gain the power to vote on how the union's funds are invested. Each member has one vote, regardless of how much money they have invested. Want to get involved on a more significant level? Any member can be elected to the volunteer Board of Directors, which makes decisions on interest rates, fees and other matters that directly affect members.

Andrew Schrage, a 25-year old Brown graduate in economics and editor of Money Crashers, looks forward to making the switch. "What bank customer wouldn't also want to be a part owner in their bank? A setup like this can significantly reduce any conflicts of interest or potential for moral hazard to play a role."

Think that sounds too good to be solvent? The World Council of Credit Unions reports that there are over 49,000 credit unions in 97 countries, with over 184 million combined members. In the United States, credit unions are guaranteed by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, which is backed by the U.S. Government and has a higher insurance fund capital ratio than the FDIC.

2. Contribute to Your Community
You can easily search for credit unions with offices in your area. Here in Reno, a local search turns up a credit union for Nevada educators, one for electrical union members, one for Whirlpool employees and several for local residents. Most credit unions are specific to either a geographic region or to a professional or cultural group, giving you the ability to invest in your community's interests simply by participating.

A regional credit union, for example, can choose to invest in local business — or in services that benefit the community. No instances of banks buying other, failed institutions here; just a group of like-minded individuals putting money toward their common interests.

3. Share The Wealth
A Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) is a bank, credit union, lender or fund that provides credit and services to underserved communities. For example, OneUnited Bank is African-American owned and focuses its efforts on serving and developing urban communities. The Center for Community Self-Help, on the other hand, provides services to low-wealth, rural and minority individuals seeking home and business loans.

If you join a CDFI, you may not see monetary returns on your investment. Rather, your participation helps provide a better future to someone in need.

Solidarity economy activist and organizer Mira Luna believes that investing in your community ultimately has greater benefit than saving your money in banks:
"A sustainable and healthy community is the best investment as long as you plan to stay: You will have a more joyful, healthy and abundant place to live. Rather than bottling up energy and hoarding it in bank accounts, community currencies ... facilitate the flow of energy and wealth in a community more locally, without leakage to outside corporations that spend their money elsewhere."
If you're looking to invest in people directly, you might also be interested in peer-to-peer and microlending sites like Kiva, Prosper or LendingClub. With LendingClub, for example, you can make loans to credit-worthy individuals in your local area that save them money and earn you a lot more than a savings account at a big bank.

For more information, see Five Community-Driven Alternatives to Banks.

4. Save Money
In October, Bank of America announced a new $5 fee for debit card purchases. For many of their customers, including Andrew Schrage, this was "the straw that broke the camel's back." Rising fees over the years have left customers feeling that their bank was trying to make them pay more than their share.

Karen Hawkins, a New York Times bestselling author and Master of Political Science, found the increase in fees infuriating partially because of bank executives' high salaries.
"The head of my soon-to-be-old bank made over 20 million in compensation last year. The head of the credit union I'm moving to made around $350,000. Which is now charging huge fees? Not the credit union."
Overall, credit unions tend to have lower fees, often offering fee-free accounts, along with higher interest rates and lower loan rates. If your money is tight, odds are you'll be better off at a credit union.

Don't just leap blindly and expect lower fees at all credit unions, however. Fee structures can vary; do your research before you switch.

5. Get Better Service
This one depends on how you define "service." Many credit unions don't provide widespread ATM access, online bill pay and other useful options you may use regularly. For some people, losing those privileges can be a major inconvenience.

That said, banks' attitude toward their individual customers can be irksome. Karen Hawkins recently discovered that when she made an online transfer between her accounts after 6 p.m., it didn't register until the following day.
"When I went to the bank and spoke to their one staff person about this unfortunate change, I mentioned that when I purchase something from my grocery store, the charge goes through right away, so why couldn't I transfer between my own accounts and have it be immediate. The staff person said, 'They're a bigger account so we have a different agreement with them.' I can't tell you how angry that made me."
Hawkins also notes that her bank tellers are under pressure to sell her new services. "I can't go through the drive-through line without a pitch of some sort."
For Andrew Schrage, poor service has been an ongoing issue.
"I am tired of being treated like a number rather than a person by my current bank. ... If someone is going to be watching over my money for me, I'd at least like to feel like they care about me as a person. I have not had this feeling with my current bank in a long time."
Shareable's Beth Buczynski recently closed her account at Wells Fargo after discovering that, unless she opted into two new account services, she would be charged a $15 "service fee." "I closed my checking and credit card accounts with WF later that week. During the appointment, the 'personal banker' never once asked me why I had chosen to close my accounts or whether I was satisfied with my experience as a customer."

For Beth, the difference between Wells Fargo and her credit union is night and day: "They know my name, and always ask me how my day is going. They never try to force me into buying new products or opening new accounts, because they're not a business."

6. Make A Statement
Ultimately, an act of protest may be one of the lesser reasons you decide to switch. But for many, it's the spark that has ignited their passion.

Kristen Christian certainly intended to make a statement when she started Bank Transfer Day. "The final straw came with the announcement of new monthly fees for any customers with less than $20,000 in combined accounts. It's apparent this new policy directly targets the impoverished and working class," she said in an interview. "If you don't believe in a company's practices or feel that a company's practices are unethical, then, very simply, you should not have money with that company."

Karen Hawkins agrees. "It's time we took a stand for our rights as consumers ... Our economy is in shambles from the mess made by big banks. I support capitalism and I don't mind people making decent money. I DO mind a business paying obscene amounts to their top few people while charging me and my business more and more for fewer and fewer services."

Andrew Schrage hopes Bank Transfer Day will communicate a clear message: "The American public is no longer going to tolerate unethical business practices or unfair fee hikes by our nation's big banks."

Ready to join the movement? Switching banks isn't a simple process, but it's not overly complicated either. Fearless Revolution's Field Guide to Closing Your Bank Account can give you all the information you need to proceed — including the hot tip that to complete the process by 11/05, you should start today.

And for some alternatives to Credit Unions see Five Community-Driven Alternatives to Banks.

+++++++


Why Bank Transfer Day Is Only the Beginning of Something Huge
The movement to make sure our money serves our own values rather than the bottom line of huge banks will only gain energy as small victories accumulate.
By Andrew Leonard, Salon
Posted on November  6, 2011
On Oct. 9, Kristen Christian, a 27-year-old art gallery owner in Los Angeles, created a Facebook page urging her friends to move their money out of the big banks on Nov. 5. The suggestion hit a nerve. By Nov. 4, 77,015 “friends” had declared their intention to “attend” Bank Transfer Day.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that 77,015 people will be pulling all their money out of the likes of Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America all at once. Saturday is hardly an ideal day to get banking business done, and the process of switching over one’s account to a new bank or credit union is not something that can be accomplished — yet — with a flip of a switch. (Detailed advice on how to change your banking account can be found here.)

And of course, clicking your intent to do something on Facebook is a far cry from actually, well, doing it.

It’s also not clear that the big banks will take a big hit from Bank Transfer Day. The usually sensible economics commentator Felix Salmon goes so far as to assert that “the big banks are blithely unconcerned about people withdrawing their funds on Saturday … I’m not kidding myself that doing so is going to harm the big banks at all.”

In purely numerical terms, Salmon might be right, but there’s a larger sense in which he is almost surely wrong. The simple fact that one ordinary citizen using social media tools can start a grass fire of protest that captures massive media attention and connects hundreds of thousands of people to useful information is an encouraging sign of where our society is headed. Every single person who actually goes ahead with a switch of banks is casting a potent vote in the long-range democratization of finance. Even if the banks shrug it off, people who go ahead and change their bank will probably feel better about themselves. Just because it’s a psychotherapeutic clichĂ© doesn’t mean it’s wrong: Taking action is empowering.

And something is clearly happening here. According to a press release from the Credit Union National Association, “at least 650,000 consumers across the nation have joined credit unions in the past four weeks.”

CUNA estimates that credit unions have added $4.5 billion in new savings accounts. More than four in every five credit unions experiencing growth since Sept. 29 attributed the growth to consumer reaction to new fees imposed by banks, or a combination of consumer reactions to the new bank fees plus the social media-inspired Bank Transfer Day.

$4.5 billion here, $4.5 billion there, and pretty soon you are talking about real money, even for JPMorgan-Chase. In all of 2010, credit unions added only 600,000 new customers. But even more telling has been the decision by the big banks to abandon their plans to institute fees for debit-card use. Whatever the reasons for their capitulation, it’s hard to describe that about-face as representing a “blithe disregard” for how their customers are feeling.

Tracing out the cause-and-effect connections here are tricky. Bank overreach, Occupy Wall Street and Bank Transfer Day are all feeding into and reinforcing each other. If Bank of America hadn’t announced plans to charge a $5-a-month fee for debit card use and Occupy Wall Street hadn’t pointed an accusing finger at the financial sector with such a powerful media-amplified voice, Kristen Christian’s Bank Transfer Day might never have advanced beyond her own family and friends.

But now the genie is out of the bottle. Because it doesn’t stop on Nov. 5. The movement to go local, go independent, and make sure that our money serves our own values rather than the bottom line of huge banks will only gain energy as word spreads, and small victories accumulate.

Oh, and in the time it took to write this post, another 200 people decided to attend Bank Transfer Day. Inch by inch …

Some Disturbing Truths about Rick Perry's Texas


 
I’m at sea this week -- literally, for once -- and learning helpful nautical stuff. For example, the old, three-mile limit for territorial waters was established in 1702 as the maximum distance a cannon ball could reach when fired from shore.

It’s even more useful to gain some distance from political events back on the mainland. Much of the week before this was spent chairing an international meeting of writers from a dozen or so countries. Combined, seeing ourselves as others see us, both experiences are revelatory.

One theme that prevails is a general mystification over many Americans’ propensity for the outright rejection of anything that’s not instantly comprehended. Just yesterday, talking with a couple from Calgary, the Canadians expressed their incredulity that relatives in the States were so vehemently opposed to President Obama’s health care and jobs programs "when they haven’t even bothered to read anything about them."

For another, you realize yet again how bizarre our system of campaigns and elections seems when viewed by those from abroad -- even though these days the rest of the world isn’t exactly the picture of mental health either. Something like our media frenzy over the harassment charges swirling around Herman Cain -- mired as those accusations appear to be in years of hubris and egotism on his part and our consuming national neurosis when it comes to all things involving sex or race -- seems distinctly odd.

Whether or not the Rick Perry campaign is behind any of the leaks surrounding Herman Cain’s alleged improprieties, the distraction certainly made the Texas governor, as the website Talking Points Memo reported, the "luckiest presidential candidate in the universe this week." Up to now, the governor has been experiencing the most dramatic crash from electoral hero to goat since Tennessee’s Fred Thompson ran his presidential campaign’s pick up truck off the road four years ago.

The Cain scrutiny helped draw attention from Perry’s plummeting poll numbers and his wacky address last Friday night at that dinner held by New Hampshire’s Cornerstone Action, a group of social conservatives with a notoriously anti-gay agenda. The speech came off more like Open Mike Night at Chuckles Comedy Club than High Noon on Inauguration Day 2013.

(You can see the highlights here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7M4gz97Y9W8.)



In the words of Jon Stewart, "Best-case scenario, that dude's hammered. Worst-case scenario, that is Perry sober, and every time we've seen him previously, he's been hammered." I prefer to think that Perry decided, "What the hell, this campaign’s going nowhere, might as well let it all hang out." Or maybe he suffers from a case of premature election burn-out, like Robert Redford’s character in 1972 movie The Candidate, reeling from one too many iterations of his stump speech, blathering: "Can't any longer play off black against old, young against poor. This country cannot house its houseless, feed its foodless," and so on.

Of course, these are idle distractions from what we really should be paying attention to: candidates’ positions on the issues and their prior track records as business leaders or officeholders. And blahblahblah, I can hear you tuning out now. Luckily, though, when it comes to Rick Perry at least, in the tradition of such greats of journalism as Ronnie Dugger and Molly Ivins, we continue to have fine investigative reporting coming out of the state of Texas.  Reporters there care -- even when you don’t. They’ve been covering Perry and his stewardship as governor with an intensity as white hot as Tiger Beat’s recording of the day-to-day tribulations of Justin Bieber. Certainly, ounce for ounce, Perry has greater entertainment value.

The non-profit, non-partisan Texas Tribune, for example, features on its webpage an exhaustive "Perrypedia," which offers the latest on all things Rick. The publication recently noted that "Perry’s presidential campaign hinges on one overarching message: that states perform best when left to their own devices and federal regulators should butt out. Yet during his decade-long tenure in the governor’s office, Perry and his staff repeatedly downplayed the severity of abuse and neglect allegations at Texas’ state-run institutions for the disabled -- until conditions became so dire that the U.S. attorney general was forced to intervene."

Two years after that Justice Department investigation found violations of civil rights and avoidable deaths, "a Texas Tribune review of facility monitoring reports and employee disciplinary records shows mistreatment is still relatively commonplace. And though there’s been some evidence of improvement, the state’s federally designated disability watchdog group Disability Rights says that halfway into the five-year settlement agreement, not even a quarter of its requirements have been met."

A couple of months ago, the Houston Chronicle ran a terrific, four part series, "Perry’s Texas," examining the deteriorating condition of the state’s infrastructure during the governor’s tenure. And the October 22 edition of the Austin American-Statesman took a closer look at Perry’s time as state agriculture commissioner during the 1990s. The paper’s Laylan Copelin reported, "Over his eight years as Texas' farmer-in-chief, Perry oversaw a loan guarantee program with so many defaults that the state had to stop guaranteeing bank loans to startups in agribusiness and eventually bailed out the program with taxpayer money.

"The state auditor panned Perry's claims of creating jobs and criticized Perry and his fellow board members at the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority for not following their own lending guidelines...

"Even as the first alarms were sounded, Perry defended the program, saying no taxpayer money was at risk, blaming others and claiming he had fixed it.

"It only got worse."

Guaranteeing risky business loans with public money is a familiar tune -- all together, let me hear you say Solyndra. But instead of solar energy schemes, during Perry’s watch, "Entrepreneurs lined up for money to spin cotton into yarn, process meats, develop cotton insulation, market canna bulbs to wholesale nurseries and sell pinto beans as a ready-to-eat frozen meal, to name a few."

Forewarned is forearmed. These and other reports from Texas journalists present Rick Perry as the poster boy for conservative humorist and essayist P.J. O’Rourke famous description of Republicans as "the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it."

Unsensational as it may be to all but the wonkiest, more attention to all candidates’ public records serves us far better than the latest private gossip and innuendo. Sorry, the salt air must be going to my head. Land ho.

Drugs R Us

by SAUL LANDAU
 
 
Americans have descended into a legal drug culture, while simultaneously retaining the “illegal” one – at great expense. But the government responds by denying the evidence its own agencies produce.

Last month, a funding “highlights” of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) showed how the Obama administration had decided to emphasize again its focus on law enforcement–not treatment.

For FY 2011, Obama allocated $15.5 billion, more than 3.5 percent more than last year for law enforcement. Treatment allocation barely rose.

Given the Administration’s belief in the law of supply and demand — when there’s demand, there’s a supply — Obama must have gone into a drug-induced stupor for continuing to fund the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. $66 million goes to a so-called drug czar to supervise the production and distribution of ads (see an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9B-h_bU-uI). The ads claim smoking pot can lead to rape. But the ads don’t mention the flood of alcohol commercials on TV and radio, showing how you get babes by buying them beers and extolling the virtues of their products. But, they caution, “DRINK responsibly.” The ads don’t compare drunk driving deaths to high-on-marijuana deaths; or rape due to drinking with sexual aggression caused by marijuana highs! Alcohol wins, hands down.

The pharmaceutical companies pour out their propaganda for mood-altering drugs; some far more powerful than marijuana. Surprised? Why should Obama’s drug policy deal with reality? It’s easier to follow Bush’s priorities. Cops combined with slogans address a major social issue.

In American reality tens of millions of people use drugs – legal or illegal – for a variety of reasons. Around the country stress levels have risen. Thanks to the recession – now enjoying its fourth year – and pharmaceutical companies’ propaganda, doctors get to prescribe more downer pills. Even the ever-ridiculous New York Post related the “limp economy” to decline in sex desire. “Men’s libidos have gone the way of the Dow as struggles with economy-related stress, depression and anxiety are at an all-time high, experts say.

“With Wall Street woes worsening and job security shaky, men have bailed out of the bedroom and women are reporting a citywide sexual recession.

“The couple, who once hit the hay three to four times a week, has had a romp only once since the economy went soft.”

The Post’s “marriage therapists” and sexperts concluded that men’s libidos have fallen off following their income drop.” (Susannah Cahalan, Stefanie Cohen and Angela Montefinise, November 30, 2008)

More scientifically, the CDC reported antidepressant usage rose 400% since 1988. And doctors routinely prescribe such remedies for patients complaining of feeling depressed. These mood-altering drugs have become “the most frequently used by people ages 18-44,” according to a CDC report. (Janice Lloyd, USA TODAY, Oct. 18, 2011)

Most doctors who dispense downers don’t see their patients regularly to insure they’re not suicidal. Yet, the prescribed pills can produce drastic mood changes when patients decrease, stop taking or increase doses.

The CDC reported that more than “Eleven percent of Americans ages 12 years and older took antidepressants during the 2005-08 study period.” 12,637 participants  told of their prescription-drug use and antidepressant use, and about symptoms and interactions with doctors and shrinks.

Some mental health pros in the study pointed to job losses and home foreclosures as causes for the increase in people using legal ant-depressants. Even non-shrinks know that getting laid off makes you feel lower than a cockroach. But why drugs as remedy for economic disorder?

“These drugs can be very helpful for people who need them,” says psychologist Elaine Ducharme. “People should expect to be depressed after a layoff” but, she added, “they should not be put on a drug, though, unless they have an acute problem.” (Lloyd, USA TODAY)

The popularity of the anti-depressants relates also to aggressive pharmaceutical companies’ ad campaigns citing benefits of the drugs.
(See Pfizser’s Pristiq promo video:  http://www.pristiq.com/pristiq_serotonin_norepinephrine.aspx)

“Marketing,” pushing a product for profit to meet a supposed human need, has become the ubiquitous center of American culture. The messages pound the brain from all media forms. Shit disguised as sugar sells. Deceit and fraud masquerade as trendy. “You need,” the ad tells you, the most important person in the world, “to buy something to improve your hair, skin, shoes, sex life, car, home or mortgage payment.”

That notion should make anyone miserable. Women between 40 to 59 fare worse. The USA story stated that 25% of those women take antidepressants. More discouraging, an October 25 NYT story reported that children now spend more time than ever watching TV– lots of ads, few books.

The country’s common value center, a reason to cohere, has devolved into shopping, watching sports on TV, occasionally mowing a lawn or washing a car

Politicians affirm love of country and support for troops. But Americans watch TV, and hope to win a lottery, instead of conversing with family and friends. They vicariously associate themselves with celebrities and game show stars. Worse, they confuse advertising-provoked desires for immediate needs.

Some of those occupying cities had used pills to assuage bad feelings after not finding jobs, or getting laid off. Noww they use energy creatively. They also watch cops, representing a declining free enterprise system (civilization), pepper-spray and beat them Where, they asked, was the country God had blessed? Or was police behavior just part of a failed, drug-policy acid trip?

Oakland’s General Strike

by NIKOLAS KOZLOFF
 
 
As an undergraduate at University of California, Berkeley in the late 1980s, I did not visit the nearby city of Oakland very frequently.  For the most part, I was ensconced in my own student circles and, to the extent that I got involved in politics, it was the local campus activist scene which drew me in with its focus on Central America and U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in the region.  To be sure, Oakland had a radical tradition going back to the 1960s and the Black Panther movement, yet by the time I was in school that era was already a distant memory for many.

If there was any doubt about Oakland’s radical stripes, however, then yesterday’s general strike will certainly dispel any such notions.  Galvanized by tumultuous developments over the past several weeks, in particular a nasty police crackdown on a local “Occupy” encampment, activists moved to effectively shut down the city by carrying out a general strike no less.  Activists were particularly incensed by violent police tactics including use of tear gas and even grenades.  During nighttime unrest, an Iraq war veteran was hit with a projectile and suffered a skull fracture.

Spurred on by the need to end police brutality, defend schools and libraries against local closures, and put an end to overall economic inequality, Occupy Oakland called for a day of action in which the circulation of capital would be blockaded, students would walk out of class, and various occupations would be staged around the city. Oakland is particularly important to commerce as the local port is the fifth largest in the country, and though union officials did not authorize a strike many longshoremen voiced support for Occupy’s efforts.

The Unusual Weapon of the General Strike
General strikes are practically unheard of in the United States.  Indeed, the Oakland unrest marks the first general strike in the country in 65 years.  One notable exception to this pattern of labor docility was the Seattle general strike of 1919, which in my estimation holds profound historic lessons for anti-capitalist protesters in Lower Manhattan.  For the most part, however, U.S. labor has shied away from such confrontational tactics, and this has posed a great tactical dilemma for the left according to veteran organizers.

Over the past month or so, I have puzzled over the fact that most of the organizing and political activism has centered upon New York, which is a little unusual.  On a purely personal note, I have always been struck by the contrasting political cultures on the east and west coasts.  As a New Yorker observing the local scene in the late 1980s, I was taken aback by the greater militancy of protests in Berkeley and San Francisco.  In contrast to the Big Apple, where people were isolated from one another and seemed obedient and deferential towards the authorities, Bay Area protesters were less willing to play ball.

It is now Oakland, however, which has come full circle, providing a crucial missing link in the Occupy movement within the Bay Area and indeed farther afield.  Peer a little closer and it’s not too surprising that the city should be in the radical vanguard.  With its long and checkered political past, Oakland has been a path breaker in many ways including class struggle, women’s rights and racial justice.

Local Oakland Boy Jack London
It was the celebrated writer Jack London (1876 – 1916) no less who inspired future generations.  A local Oakland boy, London was a member of the Socialist Labor Party and to this day his presence can be vividly felt in the city.  Currently, Jack London Square is one of Oakland’s great landmarks and a symbol of the city’s maritime history.  Situated in front of a natural estuary leading to San Francisco Bay, the site lies at the heart of Oakland’s port operations.  As a boy, London spent much of his time on this very waterfront, later taking up an adventurous sea-faring life as an oyster pirate.  And it is here in the square that local residents continue to honor London’s heritage by observing the general strike.

Though he is most recognized for masculine adventure stories and such works as Call of the Wild and the Sea Wolf, London also penned political fiction like the Iron Heel, a futuristic, distopian story about America in which corporate interests are on the ascendant.  In the Iron Heel, London sought to consolidate his ideas concerning the working class and its struggle against the so-called shadowy “oligarchy.”  The central protagonist of the book, a socialist named Ernest Everhard, witnesses the fall of the American republic and goes into underground resistance.  A highly influential work, The Iron Heel exerted an impact upon George Orwell who went on to write two of the 20th century’s other great political novels, 1984 and Animal Farm.

Through Everhard, London was able to project his own political predictions for the coming decades.  In 1937, Trotsky wrote “Jack London already foresaw and described the fascist regime as the inevitable result of the defeat of the proletarian revolution.”  In the Iron Heel, London presciently anticipated the growing power of money in politics.  Portraying capitalism as a “monstrous beast,” London foresaw Reaganomics and the rise of the Republican far right.

In an echo of today’s Occupy movement, London warned that the poor can only achieve a level playing field by uniting against the 1% who have inordinate access to the world’s wealth and resources.  Though the oligarchy kills strikers and citizens, Everhard endures as a kind of personification of the working class ideal.  “Far be it from me to deny that Socialism is a menace,” London once remarked.  “It is its purpose to wipe out, root and branch, all capitalistic institutions of present-day society.  It is distinctly revolutionary, and in scope and depth is vastly more tremendous than any revolution that has ever occurred in the history of the world.”

Today, London’s great granddaughter Tarnel Abbott continues to walk in the radical footsteps of the notable American writer.  During the recent Oakland police disturbances, she wrote “It is true that Jack London is my ancestor, he is my great grandfather, but more importantly, he is a working class hero and a visionary. I looked at the Jack London oak tree in front of City Hall and felt possessed by the spirit of the great man. I thought of him standing there on his soap box making socialist speeches and getting arrested because he didn’t have a permit. I thought of him writing RevolutionThe People of the Abyss and The Iron Heel. I felt that I was witnessing the Iron Heel of fascism being challenged. I knew that I too had to resist it.”

London’s Radical Heritage
If he had lived to see the day, London would surely have been proud of his great granddaughter as well as Oakland’s militant and combative post-war labor movement.  In 1946, shortly after the end of World War II, workers gathered in Oakland’s streets to support the struggle of women department store employees.  The move formed part of a larger national strike wave designed to ensure that demobilization did not serve to erode workers’ rights.  The epicenter of the Oakland strike, which quickly developed into a general strike, was none other than Latham Square at the intersection of Broadway and Telegraph Avenue, which today serves as an organizing point for the Occupy movement.

Very soon, the strikers instructed all stores except pharmacies to shut down.  A carnival-like atmosphere took root in the city with couples dancing in the streets, and Oakland was effectively shut down when 100,000 laborers joined the effort.  What distinguished the Oakland general strike from other labor unrest was that it spread from the bottom up without much evidence of official union leadership in the streets.  In this sense, the events of 1946 are reminiscent of today’s Occupy movement, which is not being formally directed by the rank and file [indeed, since the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act one year after the 1946 Oakland general strike, unions have been barred from participating in strikes “in support of other workers,” though to be sure many local unions endorsed Occupy’s actions within the local vicinity].

Though certainly impressive, the general strike unfortunately collapsed after just 54 hours, called off by a wary and conservative American Federation of Labor.  In the end, the city promised to stop sending scab delivery trucks to businesses where workers had been on strike, but female retail clerks didn’t get any of the concessions they had sought.  Nevertheless, four labor candidates were elected to Oakland’s city council in 1947 and the strike had important psychological and symbolic consequences. Put simply, labor demonstrated that workers were willing to take big risks and rebel against top down control, even going so far as to essentially take control over the city itself.

Oakland’s 1960s Legacy
Though the 1946 strike was an important forerunner of the Occupy movement, it would be a mistake to view recent disturbances in the city within a strictly labor perspective.  Judging from some recent online videos, Oakland’s Occupy activists are fairly diverse in a racial sense, perhaps more so than the Occupy Wall Street crowd.  In this sense, what is happening in California harks back to the previous activist wave of the 1960s.

Founded in Oakland in 1966, the Black Panther Party played an important role in furthering the growth of black liberation movements.  Guided by Oakland’s earlier socialist politics, the Panthers espoused revolutionary goals and called for a radical and, if necessary, violent transformation of society.  The movement was founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, who had met as students at Merritt College in 1962.  Their friendship was solidified by a desire to tackle issues such as racism, police brutality, housing discrimination and inferior quality of education.

By the 1960s, Oakland had changed dramatically in a racial sense.  Though numerically small in the early twentieth century, Oakland’s black population had always displayed a tradition of radical political organizing.  In the 1920s, for example, the city had one of the most active chapters of the UNIA or United Negro Improvement Association, an organization headed by the infamous Marcus Garvey.  Later, Oakland served as the headquarters of the powerful Sleeping Car Porters Union.  Though the city was overwhelmingly white in the early 20th century, World War II accelerated the pace of change by drawing in new workers to the shipyards and defense industries.

By the 1960s, the growing black population had grown incensed by the overwhelmingly white dominated city government and cases of police brutality, which all served to spur on the likes of Huey Newton.  Though the Panthers were subjected to FBI harassment and imprisonment, eventually splintering in the early 1970s, the movement had an important impact on Oakland politics.  Indeed, Seale himself went on to garner a full 37% of the vote in the city’s mayoral election of 1973, and eventually African Americans succeeded in wresting the entire political machine from white Republicans, occupying all major elected positions in Oakland.  Moreover, the Panthers inspired other marginalized groups such as Native Americans, Chicanos and Asian-Americans who in turn launched their own struggles for racial equality.

Political Impact of Wednesday’s Strike
As of this evening eastern time, it’s still a bit early to assess the practical impact of Oakland’s general strike.  Some reports suggest that activists have not succeeded in shutting down the entire city let alone Oakland’s important port, though some businesses remain shuttered.  It’s unclear moreover how many city workers joined the strikers but local coverage indicates that many teachers have joined the effort as well as thousands of students from the University of California, Berkeley.

Whatever the case, yesterday’s actions represent an important milestone for the Occupy movement.  Just a couple of weeks ago, as I penned my latest article outlining how a general strike might unfold in Lower Manhattan, I wondered how many people might take my writing seriously.  And while it’s still probably a stretch to think that activists can shut down the Wall Street area, the protests now seem to be accelerating at an exponential rate.  Already, solidarity marches with the Oakland general strike have been organized in Boston and Philadelphia, for instance.

It is perhaps fitting that it was Oakland, home to radical socialists such as Jack London as well as later black liberation figures like Huey Newton, which pushed the unique weapon of the general strike.  Though it was New York which initially provided the spark for the Occupy movement, Oakland is now nationalizing this struggle and inspiring other cities to take more decisive action.  Already, the familiar call of “Oakland is New York, New York is Oakland!” is gaining traction amongst the demonstrators, much to the chagrin of economic elites and the political establishment.

On Western Democracy

A Farce and a Sham
by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS, former editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury under Ronald Reagan

Every day that passes adds to the fraudulent image of what is called Western democracy.

Consider that the entire Western world is outraged that the Greek prime minister announced that he is going to permit the Greek people to decide their own fate instead of having it decided for them by a handful of banksters, politicians, and bureaucrats living it up at taxpayer expense at “talks” in the French resort of Cannes on the Mediterranean.

The Greek economy is facing its fourth year of decline and lacks the revenues to service its national debt held by private European banks.  The banks don’t want to lose any money, so a handful of power brokers reached an agreement with representatives of the Greek government to write off some of the debt in exchange for EU capital subsidies to be financed by inflicting severe austerity on the Greek population. Wages, salaries, pensions and medical care are being cut while the rate of unemployment rises to depression levels.

Government employees are laid off. Valuable public properties are to be sold to private parties for pennies on the dollar. In short, Greece is to be looted.

Large numbers of Greeks have been in the streets protesting the austerity policy and have reached the point of anger of throwing Molotov cocktails at the police.  Greece is disintegrating politically. The Greek people sense that the EU “bailout” is not bailing out Greece.  It is bailing out the French, Dutch, and German banks at the expense of the Greek people.

The Greek prime minister, watching his party’s support and power crumble, announced that he would let the people decide in a referendum.  After all, allegedly that’s what democracies do.  But it turns out that “we have freedom and democracy” is not supposed to be taken literally. It is merely a propagandistic slogan behind which people are ruled through back-room deals decided by powerful private interests.

The Greek prime minister’s announcement that he would put the back-room bailout deal to a referendum shocked the EU hierarchy, Washington, and investors.  Who does this Greek guy think he is permitting the people, who bear the cost of the deal, to have a say in it? Who let this Greek guy out of his cage?  This is not the way democracies are ruled.

The EU power brokers are outraged over the Greek prime minister’s departure from normal procedure.  But the Greek PM is relying on the Greek people to approve the deal, and not without reason.

The Greek people have been brainwashed for decades as to the importance of “being part of Europe.”  That means being a member of the European Union. When the Greeks realize that voting down the bailout of the banksters means being thrown out of the European Union, which is what they will learn between now and the referendum, they will vote for the back room deal.

Polls already indicate this. A poll for a Greek newspaper indicates that whereas 46 per cent oppose the bailout, 70 per cent favor staying in the EU, which the Greeks see as a life or death issue.

If this poll is a reliable indicator, the Greek PM made a brilliant political decision. The Greek people will vote in favor of what they have been protesting violently in the streets. As the Greek people will do themselves in, the politicians are off the hook. This is the bet that the Greek PM has placed.

Whatever the outcome, keep in mind that the entire Western political and investor world was shocked that a politician, instead of simply imposing a back room deal, said he would let the people decide. Letting the people decide is a no-no in Western democracies.

If you need more evidence of this mythical creature called “Western democracy,” consider that Western governments are no longer accountable to law. Contrast, for example, the sexual harassment charges that are plaguing US presidential candidate Herman Cain’s campaign with the pass given to high government officials who clearly violated statutory law.

What follows is not a defense of Cain. I take no position on the charges.  The real point is different.  In America the only thing that can ruin a politician is his interest in sex.  A politician, for example, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, cannot be ruined by violating United States and international law or by treating the US Constitution as a “mere scrap of paper.”  Bush and Cheney can take America to wars based entirely on lies and orchestrated deceptions. They can commit war crimes, murdering large numbers of civilians in the cause of “the war on terror,” itself a hoax.  They can violate US and international laws against torture simply “because the president said so.” They can throw away habeas corpus, the constitutional requirement that a person cannot be imprisoned without evidence presented to a court. They can deny the right to an attorney. They can violate the law and spy on Americans without obtaining warrants. They can send due process to hell. In fact, they can do whatever they want just like Hitler’s Gestapo and Stalin’s secret police. But if they show undue interest in a woman or proposition a woman, they are dead meat.

Very few commentators have said a word about this.  The House of Representatives did not impeach President Bill Clinton for his war crimes against Serbia. They impeached him for lying about a sexual affair with a White House intern. The US Senate, which had too many sexual affairs of its own to defend, didn’t bother to try to convict.

This is Amerika today. A president without any authority whatsoever, not in law and certainly not in the Constitution, can assassinate US citizens based on nothing except an assertion that they are a “threat.”  No evidence is required. No conviction. No presentation of evidence  in any court. Just a murder. That is now permissible to the Amerikan president. But let him try to get a woman who is not his wife into bed, and he is a cooked goose.

In Amerika there is no such thing any longer as torture; there is only “enhanced interrogation.”  A mere word change has eliminated the crime. So torture is permissible.

In Amerika today, or in the UK and the EU, anyone who tells the truth is a “threat.” Julian Assange of Wikileaks, who made public information leaked to him by US government sources horrified by the criminal actions of the United States government, is now, as a result of Amerikan pressure on UK courts, being turned over to Sweden, which, for favors from the “world’s only superpower,” will turn him over to the US regardless of law to be prosecuted on trumped-up charges.

Western “civilization” is totally corrupted by American money. There is no integrity anywhere.  For a decade Washington has been murdering women, children, village elders, and journalists in the name of the hoax “war on terror.”

What terror does the world actually see?  The world sees the terror that Israel, protected by Washington, inflicts on the Palestinians.  The world sees the terror that the US inflicts on Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Latin America and now Africa, with Syria, Lebanon, and Iran waiting in the wings. The “war on terror” is nothing but an orchestrated invented excuse for Amerika-Israel to achieve hegemony while enriching their armaments industries.

In Greece, at least the PM committed to giving the people a say in their fate.  In America the people have no voice whatsoever. The sheeple are content to be protected by “security,” porno-scanners, warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention, and sexual groping. To carry on the hoax “war on terror,” the US government has elevated itself above the law.

The American effort to achieve accountability to law, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, if not shut down by cold weather, ice, and snow, is likely to be shut down by police violence. One riot begun by provocateurs is all it takes to transform protesters into “domestic extremists,” the number one concern of Homeland Security. The presstitute media will make the case against the rioters, and the sheeple will buy it.

The police have been militarized by Washington. Community police forces no longer represent the local public that pays their salaries.  Local police represent Washington’s war against America.

American citizens are all suspects. Anyone who goes through airport security knows this. The only law that the US government obeys is not even a law. It is a bureaucratic regulation that prevents, even in dire wartime, any profiling of suspects by ethnicity or country of origin.

Consequently, all native born, flag-waving, American super-patriots are suspects when they board commercial airliners. Americans who have a life time of security clearances are subject to being porno-scanned or sexually groped. Airport Security cannot tell a “terrorist” from a CIA analyst, a Marine general or a US Senator.

Well-connected members of the ruling elite, such as Michael Chertoff, can become rich from selling the porno-scanners to taxpayers in order “to protect the public from terrorists.”

The only terrorists Americans will ever experience are those funded by their own tax dollars within their “own” government.  A people incapable of perceiving its real peril has no chance of surviving.  America might be a military superpower, but it no longer exists as a free country with accountable government and a rule of law.