Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11

by Peter Dale Scott (via The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus)

I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [the National Security Agency] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

 — Senator Frank Church (1975)

I would like to discuss four major and badly understood events – the John F. Kennedy assassination, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11. I will analyze these deep events as part of a deeper political process linking them, a process that has helped build up repressive power in America at the expense of democracy.

In recent years I have been talking about a dark force behind these events — a force which, for want of a better term, I have clumsily called a “deep state,” operating both within and outside the public state. Today for the first time I want to identify part of that dark force, a part which has operated for five decades or more at the edge of the public state. This part of the dark force has a name not invented by me: the Doomsday Project, the Pentagon’s name for the emergency planning “to keep the White House and Pentagon running during and after a nuclear war or some other major crisis.”1

My point is a simple and important one: to show that the Doomsday Project of the 1980s, and the earlier emergency planning that developed into it, have played a role in the background of all the deep events I shall discuss.

More significantly, it has been a factor behind all three of the disturbing events that now threaten American democracy.

The first of these three is what has been called the conversion of our economy into a plutonomy – with the increasing separation of America into two classes, into the haves and the have-nots, the one percent and the 99 percent.

The second is America’s increasing militarization, and above all its inclination, which has become more and more routine and predictable, to wage or provoke wars in remote regions of the globe. It is clear that the operations of this American war machine have served the one percent.2

Continue reading The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11

Unemployed Youth and College Grads drive decline in Labor Force

by Bud Meyers, published December 28, 2015

And it’s mostly for a lack of jobs, not because old people are retiring. That’s why young people should join a political revolution.

Reuters just reported (December 24, 2015) “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, nearing a 42-year low as labor market conditions continued to tighten in a boost to the economy.” The St. Louis Federal Reserves shows that initial claims for jobless benefits are indeed at historic lows, but not for the reason Reuters or others in the media claim.

The media is total B.S. — The number of jobs created haven’t kept up with the number of high school and college grads. Just because less people are receiving jobless benefits doesn’t mean more people are finding jobs — or that less people are unemployed.

Although the Great Recession didn’t officially start until December 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics didn’t begin showing consecutive monthly job losses until February 2008, lasting until December 2009 (over a period of 23 continuous monthly losses) totaling over 8 million. Last year in 2014 it was reported by the L.A. Times (among other media outlets) that the economy recovered all 8.7 million jobs lost during the Great Recession (which officially ended in June 2009).

Continue reading Unemployed Youth and College Grads drive decline in Labor Force

Five New Year’s Resolutions for Cognitively-Deprived Conservatives

by Paul Buchheit, published December 28, 2015 at Common Dreams

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“Understand that capitalism has no incentive to work for poor people,” Buchheit writes. (Photo: Jeremy hunsinger/flickr/cc)

Many conservatives shy away from the facts, but a willingness to consider them would be a good way to start 2016.

1. Accept that Poverty Causes Marital Problems, Not the Other Way Around

In his condescending way, libertarian Charles Murray wrote: “There remains a core of civic virtue and involvement in working-class America…Married, educated people who work hard and conscientiously raise their kids shouldn’t hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms.” Senator Marco Rubio agrees, calling marriage the “greatest tool” for lifting families out of poverty.

Marriage, to such people, spreads magic anti-poverty dust over newly-wedded couples.

Here are the facts: Upper-class and lower-class divorce rates rose and fell in similar fashion until the late 1980s, around the time inequality began to rip apart the fabric of American society, and to break down low-income family life. Evidence keeps piling up. Studies show that children whose families receive housing vouchers end up with higher marriage rates. On the other hand, two-thirds of single mothers who heed conservative advice and get married end up divorced. And despite what Murray’s followers might think, race isn’t a factor. A Pennsylvania study concluded that “over time, it has become evident that poor economic circumstances would produce comparable effects on whites just as they did for blacks.” Pew Research Center found little difference between white and black fathers, and the Center for Disease Control found that black fathers are in many ways more involved with their kids than fathers in other racial groups.

2. Learn that Democratic Socialism Does Not Mean Government Control

Social democracy is 100 percent American. Our nation instituted a public education system, a long-successful retirement program, and a national park system. Gar Alperovitz describes the modern form of socialism, which is “about decentralizing power, changing the flow of power to localities rather than to the center.” The Evergreen Cooperative in Cleveland, the public Bank of North Dakota, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Chattanooga Internet service are all examples of the distributed popular control of essential services. The approach works.

Continue reading Five New Year’s Resolutions for Cognitively-Deprived Conservatives

Beijing highway: $600m road just the start of China’s investments in Caribbean

by Sandra Laville in Kingston Jamaica, published December 24, 2015 in The Guardian

Road connecting north and south Jamaica will be lined with luxury hotels and is China’s largest investment in the Caribbean – but not for much longer

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Aerial views of Goat and Little Goat Islands, in Jamaica. Photograph: Jeremy Francis/Jamaica Environment Trust

Stretching some 67 km (41.6 miles) north to south across Jamaica, the $600m four-lane highway skirts around a mountain and will eventually be lined with luxury hotels, restaurants and bars.

Nicknamed the “Beijing highway” – after the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt reportedly turned down a chance for the road to carry his name – the state-of-the-art tolled carriageway is the most striking sign that the Chinese treasure ship has arrived in the Caribbean.

Continue reading Beijing highway: $600m road just the start of China’s investments in Caribbean

The US Economy Works for the Mega-Banks and for the One Percent but for No One Else

Published October 12, 2012 at The Economic Collapse blog (via Paul Craig Roberts)

depression2Have you ever laid in bed awake at night with a knot in your stomach because you didn’t know how your family was possibly going to make it through the next month financially?  Have you ever felt the desperation of not being able to provide the basic necessities for your family even though you tried as hard as you could?  All over America tonight, there are millions of desperate families that are being ripped apart by this economy.  There aren’t nearly enough jobs, and millions of Americans that actually do have jobs aren’t making enough to even provide the basics for their families. 

When you have tried everything that you can think of and nothing works, it can be absolutely soul crushing.  Today, one of my regular readers explained that he was not going to be online for a while because his power had been turned off.  He has been out of work for quite a while, and eventually the money runs out.  Have you ever been there?  If you have ever experienced that moment, you know that it stays with you for the rest of your life.  If you are single that is bad enough, but when you have to look into the eyes of your children and explain to them why there won’t be any dinner tonight or why they have to move into a homeless shelter it can feel like someone has driven a stake into your heart.  In this article you will find a lot of very shocking economic statistics.  But please remember that behind each statistic are the tragic stories of millions of desperately hurting American families.

Over the past decade, things have steadily gotten worse for American families no matter what our politicians have tried.  Poverty and government dependence continue to rise.  The cost of living continues to go up and incomes continue to go down.  It is truly frightening to think about what this country is going to look like if current trends continue.

The following are 37 facts that show how cruel this economy has been to millions of desperate American families…

1. One recent survey discovered that 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.

2. A different recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies.

3. In the United States today, there are close to 10 million households that do not have a single bank account.  That number has increased by about a million since 2009.

4. Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.

Continue reading The US Economy Works for the Mega-Banks and for the One Percent but for No One Else

Nine Numbers That Cry Out: “Bring On Bernie!”

by Paul Buchheit, published December 21, 2015 at Common Dreams

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Bernie Sanders,’ writes Buchheit, ‘is the only candidate to show genuine empathy with the middle and lower classes, and to demand changes in the tradition of Wall Street greed that has ripped our nation apart.’ (Photo: Getty)

No one individual can solve all our problems, especially with a contrarian and confrontational Congress. But greed, poverty, and inequality are some of the main targets of the Sanders campaign, and the matter of terrorism is likely to be addressed in a much more sensible way.

Here are some of the numbers that should shock us into rejecting every other candidate:

1. Terrorism: You’re about as Likely to be Killed by a Toddler as a Terrorist

The candidates and the news outlets have driven us into a frenzy of fear, even though the number of Americans killed by toddlers is about the same per year as the number of violent jihadist attacks in the U.S. since 9/11. There are more terrorist attacks if the actions of white supremacists and non-Muslim extremists are included. But there are also more toddler killings that go unreported.

Sanders understands that “the disastrous invasion of Iraq…has unraveled the region completely and led to the rise of al-Qaeda and to ISIS.” And that the United States should be “trying to use diplomacy before war.”

2. Big Business: $296,000 is Spent on Stock Buybacks for Every Job Created

Buybacks are employed to boost stock prices for investors and management. Corporations that have benefited from our public research money, infrastructure, security, and patent law for a half-century are giving up on the American people, failing to create the jobs necessary to sustain a middle class.

3. Big Business: A 4-Cent Antibiotic Tablet Surges to $3.70 in One Year

We’ve heard about Shkreli’s $13.50 to $750.00 drug price increase, and about Gilead Science’s $10 to $1,000 increase, but on a more day-to-day level, we find even generic drug makers taking advantage of consumers, imposing, for example, an 8,000% increase on a common antibiotic and a 4,000% increase on asthma pills.

4. Inequality: Unregulated Capitalism Allows ONE Person or Family to Own Nearly 1/1000 of Our ENTIRE National Wealth

A combination of financial chicanery and tax avoidance has flushed our national wealth toward the few people who know how to work the system, or who were in position to benefit from the “winner-take-all” attitude that has prevailed since Reagan. Thus individuals or families including Bill Gates and the Koch brothers and the Walton siblings each own approximately one-thousandth of our nation’s $86 trillion total wealth.

Continue reading Nine Numbers That Cry Out: “Bring On Bernie!”

A Holiday Note to Congress: Half of Your Country is In or Near Poverty

by Paul Buchheit, published December 14, 2015 at Common Dreams

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The Capitol Dome and the Capitol Christmas Tree are illuminated in Washington D.C. on Dec. 11, 2014. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Recent reports have documented the growing rates of impoverishment in the U.S., and new information surfacing in the past 12 months shows that the trend is continuing, and probably worsening.

Congress should be filled with guilt — and shame — for failing to deal with the enormous wealth disparities that are turning our country into the equivalent of a 3rd-world nation.

Half of Americans Make Less than a Living Wage

According to the Social Security Administration, over half of Americans make less than $30,000 per year.

That’s less than an appropriate average living wage of $16.87 per hour, as calculated by Alliance for a Just Society (AJS), and it’s not enough — even with two full-time workers — to attain an “adequate but modest living standard” for a family of four, which at the median is over $60,000, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

AJS also found that there are 7 job seekers for every job opening that pays enough ($15/hr) for a single adult to make ends meet.

Half of Americans Have No Savings

A study by Go Banking Rates reveals that nearly 50 percent of Americans have no savings. Over 70 percent of us have less than $1,000. Pew Research supports this finding with survey results that show nearly half of American households spending more than they earn. The lack of savings is particularly evident with young adults, who went from a five-percent savings rate before the recession to a negative savings rate today.

Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman summarize: “Since the bottom half of the distribution always owns close to zero wealth on net, the bottom 90% wealth share is the same as the share of wealth owned by top 50-90% families.”

Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Can’t Afford to Fix Their Cars

The Wall Street Journal reported on a Bankrate study, which found 62 percent of Americans without the available funds for a $500 brake job. A Federal Reserve survey found that nearly half of respondents could not cover a $400 emergency expense.

Continue reading A Holiday Note to Congress: Half of Your Country is In or Near Poverty

U.S. Wars Since 1775

This is a list of armed conflicts involving the United States of America since its founding during the American Revolution (from Wikipedia).

Summary:

Since 1775

endless-war

Continue reading U.S. Wars Since 1775

Candidates for the 2015 “Hypocrite of the Year”

by Paul Buchheit, published December 7, 2015 at Common Dreams

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Certainly, it’s hard to know where to begin. (Image: file)

There are so many candidates. But the people included here stand out in their various areas of nefarious behavior: warmaking, tax avoidance, consumer gouging, environmental destruction, and criminal arrogance.

1. Charles Koch: Fighting For Prison Reform (So He’ll Never Have To Go To Jail) 

The “scariest man in America” appeared suddenly sympathetic to the plight of the disadvantaged, advocating for criminal justice reform. But the bill supported by the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation would make it more difficult to charge executives guilty of financial fraud, environmental damage, and other high-level crimes. It’s all based on the argument that the guilty party doesn’t know he’s committing a crime.

Heritage defends “morally blameless people who unwittingly commit acts that turn out to be crimes and are prosecuted for those offenses.” Perhaps, in this comical viewpoint, years of oil pollution and years of mortgage lending fraud shouldn’t be held against the CEOs who claim they didn’t know what their employees were doing.

2. Warren Buffett: Demanding To Be Taxed at a Higher Rate (As Long As He Doesn’t Have To Pay) 

Everyone seems to like grandfatherly Warren Buffett, who famously complained that “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress.” But his company, Berkshire Hathaway, hasn’t paid any taxes in years, instead building a $62 billion liability in deferred taxes while using “hypothetical amounts” to dress up its reporting to the SEC. Meanwhile, the company’s stock has been growing for 50 years at an annual rate of well over 20 percent.

Continue reading Candidates for the 2015 “Hypocrite of the Year”