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American Made

October 15, 2017 - 11:33pm

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

 

 

 


Categories: Blog articles

What in the world is going on? —part 5. Chris Hedges reports on Russia-gate, media credibility and more.

October 7, 2017 - 12:26pm

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and former New York Times correspondent, Chris Hedges, is, to me, a credible source for real news. In a recent interview he had much to say that gives a clearer picture of the present state of geo-politics, the media, and the global problematique.

About Russia’s swinging the U.S. Presidential election toward Trump, he says, “it’s as ridiculous as Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. It is an absolutely unproven allegation that is used to perpetuate a very frightening accusation—critics of corporate capitalism and imperialism are foreign agents for Russia.”

This obsession with Russia is a tactic used by the ruling elite, and in particular the Democratic Party, to avoid facing a very unpleasant reality: that their unpopularity is the outcome of their policies of deindustrialization and the assault against working men and women and poor people of color. It is the result of disastrous trade agreements like NAFTA that abolished good-paying union jobs and shipped them to places like Mexico, where workers without benefits are paid $3.00 an hour. It is the result of the explosion of a system of mass incarceration, begun by Bill Clinton with the 1994 omnibus crime bill, and the tripling and quadrupling of prison sentences. It is the result of the slashing of basic government services, including, of course, welfare, that Clinton gutted; deregulation, a decaying infrastructure, including public schools, and the de facto tax boycott by corporations. It is the result of the transformation of the country into an oligarchy. The nativist revolt on the right, and the aborted insurgency within the Democratic Party, makes sense when you see what they have done to the country.”

Hedges, himself a correspondent for New York Times from 1990 to 2005, offers a scathing critique of the paper, saying, “Critical thinking on the op-ed page, the Week in Review or the Book Review, never very strong to begin with, evaporated under Keller. Globalization was beyond questioning. Since the Times, like all elite institutions, is a hermetically sealed echo chamber, they do not realize how irrelevant they are becoming, or how ridiculous they look. Thomas Friedman and David Brooks might as well write for the Onion.

He then adds, “The rules aren’t written on the walls, but everyone knows, even if they do not articulate it, the paper’s unofficial motto: Do not significantly alienate those upon whom we depend for money and access! You can push against them some of the time. But if you are a serious reporter, like Charlie Leduff, or Sydney Schanberg, who wants to give a voice to people who don’t have a voice, to address issues of race, class, capitalist exploitation or the crimes of empire, you very swiftly become a management problem and get pushed out.”

Hedges is equally critical of the broadcast media. He says, “The commercial broadcast networks, and that includes CNN and MSNBC, are not in the business of journalism. They hardly do any. Their celebrity correspondents are courtiers to the elite. They speculate about and amplify court gossip, which is all the accusations about Russia, and they repeat what they are told to repeat. They sacrifice journalism and truth for ratings and profit. These cable news shows are one of many revenue streams in a corporate structure. They compete against other revenue streams. The head of CNN, Jeff Zucker, who helped create the fictional persona of Donald Trump on “Celebrity Apprentice,” has turned politics on CNN into a 24-hour reality show. All nuance, ambiguity, meaning and depth, along with verifiable fact, are sacrificed for salacious entertainment. Lying, racism, bigotry and conspiracy theories are given platforms and considered newsworthy, often espoused by people whose sole quality is that they are unhinged. It is news as burlesque.

Of special significance is Hedges’ description of coverage of the Iraq war: “I was on the investigative team at the New York Times during the lead-up to the Iraq War. I was based in Paris and covered Al Qaeda in Europe and the Middle East. Lewis Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney, Richard Perle and maybe somebody in an intelligence agency, would confirm whatever story the administration was attempting to pitch. Journalistic rules at the Times say you can’t go with a one-source story. But if you have three or four supposedly independent sources confirming the same narrative, then you can go with it, which is how they did it. The paper did not break any rules taught at Columbia journalism school, but everything they wrote was a lie.”

Read the entire interview here. Hedges is a regular contributor to Truthdig.


Categories: Blog articles

Our new feudal world order

September 21, 2017 - 1:24pm

Charles Hugh Smith’s article, Loving Our Debt-Serfdom: Our Neofeudal Status Quo, exposes the stark reality and brilliantly explains our current predicament.

Smith begins by defining the terms, Neoliberal, Neocolonial, and Neofeudal, then goes on to explain how they operate in today’s world. He says,
“Neofeudalism is a subtle control structure that is invisible to those who buy into the Mainstream Media portrayal of our society and economy. This portrayal includes an apparent contradiction: America is a meritocracy–the best and brightest rise to the top, if they have pluck and work hard– and America is all about identity politics: whomever doesn’t make it is a victim of bias.
Both narratives neatly ignore the neofeudal structure which disempowers the workforce in the public sphere and limits the opportunities to build capital outside the control of the state-corporate duopoly.”

He goes on to describe the control mechanisms that characterized historical feudalism and outlines their present neofeudal manifestation, saying, “Our system is Neofeudal because the non-elites have no real voice in the public sphere, and ownership of productive capital is indirectly suppressed by the state-corporate duopoly,” and backs it up with numbers that show the growing income and wealth inequality and crushing debt burden of the lower classes.

Read the complete article here. Highly recommended!

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Categories: Blog articles

Is Big Brother coming to the blockchain?

September 12, 2017 - 5:33am

Financial advisor Jim Rickards thinks so. In a recent article titled, The Global Elites’ Secret Plan for Cryptocurrencies, he says,

“…the crypto-hysteria is distracting you from a scary truth no one is talking about. There is every indication that governments, regulators, tax authorities, and the global elite are moving in for the crypto-kill. The future of Bitcoin may be a dystopia in which Big Brother controls what’s called “the blockchain” and decides when and how you can buy or sell anything and everything. Furthermore, cryptocurrency technology could be the very mechanism used by global elites to replace the dollar based financial system.”

Rickards goes on to say “Blockchain does not exist in the ether (despite the name of one cryptocurrency) and it does not reside on Mars. Blockchain depends on critical infrastructure including servers, telecommunications networks, the banking system, and the power grid, all of which are subject to government control,” then lists a number of significant developments involving major banks, governments, and supra-governmental organizations like the IMF, all relating to their plans to legislate and control the use of blockchain technology, including its use in virtual currencies and financial transactions.

Can they really do that? Of course they can. In the mid-1800s, the U.S. government imposed a tax on banknotes issued by private banks driving them out of circulation; in 1933 the government made it illegal for private individual to own gold, requiring them to surrender their gold holdings in exchange for government sanctioned paper money at the arte of $20.67 per ounce of gold.

What will be the popular response to such measures against virtual currencies? Will people docilely comply, or will there arise massive disobedience and flaunting of the law, just as occurred in the 1930s during Prohibition, and has been ongoing more recently in the war against drugs? If there is such an uprising, I think it will be in defense, not of Bitcoin, but of some yet-to-be-created virtual currency that rewards virtuous behavior and contributions to the common good. –t.h.g.

 

 

 

 


Categories: Blog articles

The decay of western civilization

September 5, 2017 - 10:32am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Categories: Blog articles

What in the world is going on? — Part 4

August 24, 2017 - 1:55pm

In this interview below Paul Craig Roberts describes the neo-conservative ideology that has driven geopolitics since the end of World War II, and discusses the elite agenda, the prospects for the Trump presidency, and the US economy.

He comes closer than in his earlier statements to highlighting the key control mechanism of domination—the global money system, but still falls a bit short, as indicated by his statement that if there is a severe economic crisis in the US, the Federal Reserve “will have to abandon the banks and save the dollar.”

On that I disagree. Roberts seem not to realize that the FED, as well as virtually all of the other central banks of the various countries around the world, is controlled by the big transnational banks, and that they work together to, as Prof. Carroll Quigley said, create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences.

The banking elite thereby control not only the dollar, but all of the other major world currencies. If the inflation rates or unemployment rates become too high in one country, the central banks can spread the misery around by monetizing various securities and manipulating interest rates and currency exchange rates.

For the past several decades the US dollar has been their primary monetary tool, but the dollar is not the be all and end all in their schemes. You can be sure that the banking elite always have a plan. At some time in the not too distant future when the dollar has outlived its usefulness, it will be replaced by a single global currency that will give the elite even tighter control over financial, economic, and political affairs around the globe.

The flies in the ointment of their plan are (1) a few governments that are bent on steering an independent monetary and financial course, and (2) the emergence of independent, non-governmental and decentralized exchange mechanisms and currencies. In the first case, Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Libya under Gaddafi were easily disposed of (but at tremendous costs). Russia and China pose a much bigger problem for the elite, hence the stalemate in Syria and the drum beat of propaganda against Putin and the fear mongering against the Chinese. With regard to alternative exchange mechanisms, the proliferation of virtual commodities like Bitcoin and others suggests that elite control may be vulnerable to innovative and disruptive technologies. But these virtual commodities mark only the beginning of the new paradigm in money and finance. Ultimately, ways will be found to create an “internet of credit” based on decentralized, personalized, local control and backed by real goods and services.


Categories: Blog articles

CBS Sunday Morning report-Creating new wealth on Sardinia, without cash

August 7, 2017 - 9:50am

This recent report on the popular TV show, CBS Sunday Morning, highlights the effectiveness of direct credit clearing among buyers and sellers of goods and services–a way of doing commerce without the need for money or banks.

See also my own report from my 2015 visit to Sardex.


Categories: Blog articles

Human self-domestication or human extinction?

July 30, 2017 - 4:34pm

The final segment in today’s episode of Radio Lab (New Normal?) on NPR Radio was a fascinating report on domestication of wild animals, specifically foxes. By selective breeding of the few foxes who did not exhibit avoidance behavior (fear) when approached by humans, a Russian scientist was able, in ten generations, to produce docile domesticated foxes.

This naturally raises the question about the possibility of domesticating human to be less aggressive and more empathetic. In fact, the anthropological evidence suggests that since we began living in settled groups, the human species has long been undergoing a process of self-domestication, this perhaps as a necessary adaptation for living together in harmony. That idea, together with Steven Pinker’s argument that humans are becoming less violent (The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined), gives me cause for hope that humanity will not extinguish itself from planet Earth.

On the other hand, the fact that power is today so concentrated in the hands of a global elite who, by their threatening behavior and objectives of domination, seem not to have sufficiently evolved in that way, is cause for worry. That raises other questions: how can they be prevented from acting irrationally or how can the levers of power that they control be disabled or overridden?–t.h.g.


Categories: Blog articles

What can history teach us about the present?

July 24, 2017 - 12:47pm

Is there a science of history? Are there patterns in human affairs that tend to repeat themselves? Can we understand what is happening in our time by studying the past? These are questions that have intrigued me for a long time. Based on my study of systems, networks, political economy, and human behavior, my conclusions tends toward the affirmative in each case.

Based on his book, 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed, Prof. Eric Cline, in this fascinating lecture, looks back more than 3,200 years to describe the collapse of an earlier “global” civilization.  He presents evidence of an elaborate trading network around the Mediterranean which was composed of what he calls “the G8 of the ancient world.”

Here is a portion of the description from the YouTube channel:
“From about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex cosmopolitan and globalized world-system. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today. Professor Eric H. Cline of The George Washington University will explore why the Bronze Age came to an end and whether the collapse of those ancient civilizations might hold some warnings for our current society.”

On the same general topic, Ian Morris, Professor of History at Stanford University, in his lecture Why the West Rules — For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future, points to the same primary factors that lead to the collapse of civilizations.

Mass migration
Epidemic diseases
State failure
Famine
Climate change

Historically, each collapse had been followed by a “dark age.” Is that what’s in store for us in our time? View the full lecture at https://youtu.be/wnqS7G3LmMo.


Categories: Blog articles

What in the world is going on? — Part 3

July 20, 2017 - 9:20am

George Friedman, professional geopolitical analyst, founder of STRATFOR and author of The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century seems quite knowledgeable about history and the current status of military and economic power around the world.  In the following presentation he talks about U.S. strategy over the past 100 years and “the real interests of the United States.” He argues that the powers that control U.S. foreign policy have one overriding fear, which is “a united Eurasia”–“Our primary interest is to make sure that Russia and Germany do not form an entente,” neither by conquest nor agreement.

He observes that “Eurasia is now in complete chaos,” Russia and China are both weakening, and that Japan, Turkey, Poland are on the rise. He admits that “We staged the coup in Ukraine.” Regarding the Middle-East, he says “it will come down to Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to work it out.”

He believes (or claims to) that the U.S. intervention in Libya was ethically motivated, but I find that hard to believe. The evidence of the past century of U.S. interventions around the world shows quite clearly that ethical and humanitarian motivations provide mere cover for quite different  objectives. In the case of Libya, I believe that the attacks by the U.S. and NATO forces, and the murder of Muammar Gaddafi, had more to do with keeping Libya within the global debt money regime than with rescuing the Libyan people from the clutches of a “brutal dictator.”–t.h.g.


Categories: Blog articles

Aaron Schwartz, revolutionary genius

July 15, 2017 - 12:50pm

I could not help but be moved by watching this documentary about the life and death of Aaron Schwartz. Aaron fought for justice and for open access to the information commons. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude.


Categories: Blog articles

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

July 12, 2017 - 1:24pm

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

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


Categories: Blog articles

“The Big Lie” and the tragedy of Europe –Yanis Varoufakis blows the lid on Europe’s hidden agenda

July 2, 2017 - 3:33am

In this interview, former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, outlines the nature of the 2008 financial crisis, the reasons for the program of “quantitative easing” and the irrational actions of the western European leaders. The fundamental point he seems to miss is the debt growth imperative that is inherent in today’s global money system, the underlying fact that keeps everyone trapped in a system that is driving the whole of civilization toward disaster.


Categories: Blog articles