Archive | April 2013

Democracy For the Wealthy, Dictatorship For the Poor

US Politicians and media keep raving about “American democracy. The truth quite different. All three branches of the government are in the service of the wealthiest of individuals and routinely push their agenda and policies, and the results speak for themselves – loud and clear. The rich keep getting richer and the poor poorer. Income for those at the top keeps increasing while for the vast majority, it keeps declining. But, these are not just numbers. We’re talking about real people who are suffering. Since 2009, poverty among American children has risen form about 14% to about 20%.

Even putting aside the fact that the media is owned and operated by that same wealthy class and their corporations and considering the opinions of the people, it’s still very hard to argue there is any semblance of democracy in this country. 73 percent of Americans want a reduced reliance on fossil fuels, and fifty percent want something done about climate change. Fifty eight percent of the U.S., according to Gallup, wants “major cuts in military and defense spending,” much more than the puny 1.6 percent reduction called for in the new White House budget. 90 percent of the American public is in favor of background checks for gun purchases and a healthy majority favors other gun control measures. Yet, none of these are implemented.

When the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas killed at least 15 — 11 of them first responders — and injured more than 200 last week, there was hardly any reaction by the government, as if it were “an act of God”, although it wasn’t God who according to The Reuters news service “had last year been storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” The company was required to tell the department and didn’t.

Compare that to their reaction to Boston Marathon bombings which triggered the lockdown of the city and turning it into a war zone and police state and doing house to house searches without warrants and without home owners’ consent. Why? Because their treatment of ordinary people living in their homes is quite different from their treatment of corporations they serve.

And, now, with the new budget cuts, there will be even less on-site inspections. The plant hadn’t been inspected in nearly thirty years, and there are so few OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) inspectors in Texas that “it would take 98 years for them to take a look at each workplace in the state once”. According to the non-partisan reform group Public Campaign, “Already only able to conduct 40,000 workplace inspections a year in a country with seven million worksites, OSHA will see its budget cut by an additional 8.2 percent this year on account of the sequester.”

And, they claim to be concerned about the Syrian government using chemical weapons and want to inspect them! Go figure!

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Syria And Obama’s Red Line

Israel’s top military analyst Brigadier-General Itai Brun claimed Syria has used chemical weapons and for proof he pointed to the fact that two Syrians had a headache which went away only after they took Tylenol, one had a bad cough and another suffered from a bad case of indigestion. Okay, I was joking about him offering any proof. But, not to worry; Secretary of W&A (War and Aggression), Chuck Hagel, assured us that that was the case. He said: U.S. intelligence has concluded “with some degree of varying confidence” that the Syrian government has twice used chemical weapons “on a small scale”. That was enough proof for Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham to announce that Syria had “crossed the red line”, implying that it’s time for military action.

And, I, have reason to believe, “with some degree of varying confidence” that both these senators are the product of breeding between a pig and an orangutan (my apologies to these wonderful and lovely animals for comparing them to those assholes). And with much more certainty and confidence, I’m convinced they’re warmongering lunatics who get excited of the thought of yet another US war in Middle East. McCain wasn’t satisfied with the war on Libya. He kept complaining that the US didn’t take a more prominent and leading role in it, even though they did bomb population centers extensively and non-stop, for weeks, and ran thousands of sorties dropping all kinds of bombs, killing thousands, and in the end, it was the US which bombed Gaddafi’s convoy leading to his capture, torture and brutal killing in the hands of pro-US thugs. I don’t know what would have satisfied McCain. Maybe he wanted to see all Libyans dead.

But, don’t think that Obama is any less of a warmonger. The difference between him and the grumpy old McCain is, aside from the grumpy old part, that he’s in the White House and has to consult with the Empire’s generals, intelligence analysts and strategists, taking into account risk and cost analysis within the framework of Empire’s global and long term goals and plans.

After failing to convince the UN to give them the green light to intervene militarily, they opted to wait and weigh other options. They tossed around the idea of Israel going in, supposedly to get hold of the country’s chemical weapons, but that was deemed too risky, politically. Then, they tried to get Turkey involved militarily. The Turkish government had an incentive to. Their military loved an opportunity to go after Syria’s Kurds. And they did go as far as flying US provided F-16’s over Syria and their troops even crossed the border and went into the country, but, faced with a strong anti-war sentiment at home, they quickly pulled back.

Now, taking a page from the Iraq war, the Obama Administration wants to send in UN inspectors to investigate the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. The reason this time the Russians and Chinese are harder to convince to cooperate is because they’ve seen this movie before and know how it goes. They know the actors, the director and the storyline. They remember how the inspections of the Iraqi sites for WMD’s were used for pre-war intelligence gathering and at the same time as pretext for attack in the name of regime’s non-cooperation with all the terms of the inspection program.

Russia, China and others who have been calling for dialog and negotiations between the two sides in the civil war which the Administration and Pentagon have dismissed, are reluctant to give their green light to another US war of conquest. They have reason to be weary, as the Empire keeps encroaching and surrounding them with their military bases, complete with troops, missiles, warships and heavy weaponry. They know that the last thing US policy makers care about is the Syrian or Iraqi or Afghan or Libyan or Iranian or any other people. They know that their focus is world domination and don’t want to make it easy for them to achieve it. This, of course, you will never hear from CNN or any other major US news organization.

Bill Maher Blames Islam For The Boston Bombings

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Bill Maher once again demonstrated his Islamophobia, ignorance and idiocy in his weekly HBO show, Real Time. When interviewing Brian Levin of California State University at San Bernardino who specializes in domestic and international terrorism about the Boston Marathon bombing, he kept insisting that Islam was different from other religions in that only it encourages violence and terrorism. When Mr. Levin tried to explain that his assertion makes no sense since only very few of the 1.4 billion Muslims resort to terrorism and that there are also many non-Muslim terrorists, he rejected the professor’s disagreement as “liberal bullshit”. Unfortunately, Mr. Maher’s contention, which is the same as the idiots’ at Fox News, is all too common in this country, and as is the case with him, even among some liberals.

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News complained that Muslims are staying quiet about the Boston bombing, even though many have indeed condemned it. But, he’s right: not all Muslims have – probably well over a billion of them have yet to do so. And, Mr. Maher and O’Reilly are demanding it from ALL Muslims of the world, just as they demanded the same of all Christians of the world every time there was a bombing or massacre by a Christian. And Bill Maher did claim that the violence perpetrated by Christian bombers and killers has its source in their religion, that Christianity encourages terrorism and killing of innocent people, and when someone tried to tell him that Christianity is not to blame for those acts, he yelled “that’s liberal bullshit”.

Let’s be clear on one thing: blaming such criminal and atrocious acts as the bombing of Boston Marathon on Islam is for the purpose of and tantamount to blaming ALL MUSLIMS who – surprise, surprise – believe in that very religion. By singling out their religion and making it the culprit, they’re really blaming ALL MUSLIMS, thus spreading hatred and prejudice against all those people. Blaming a terrorist act on how he says his prayers or whether he does it in a church or mosque or whether he prays to God or to Allah, is no different than blaming a crime on one’s race or skin color, and of course, that’s never been done in this county. No, no, never!

Now, whether Mr. head-in-the-ass Maher means it or not, he’s joined the propagandists of Fox News to pave the way for more wars against Muslim countries, the next in line being Iran. Get it?

 

An Attack On Boston And On Due Process

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There is a systemic problem in the US that not many want to talk about and most of those who do make excuses for and sweep it under the rug, and it keeps getting worse, as the dirt is piling up. The police in this country and especially in large metropolitan cities are out of control. They are, as they say, armed and dangerous and a serious threat to public safety.

Many of those who join the force are war veterans who returned in one piece and didn’t take their own lives, as so many do, and didn’t suffer from the kind of mental problems that prevent many of them from living a normal life, if being in police force can be called normal life, that is. Most police officers are violent individuals who find their calling in the military that gives them an opportunity to kill with impunity. To them, joining the police is the next best thing – an opportunity to carry a gun, feel powerful and untouchable and kill with impunity, when given a chance, as they did overseas. Ironically, what saves these individuals from taking their own lives or falling into severe depression is their psychopathic nature.

It’s been known by scientists that many of us are born with the genetic predisposition to be violent, but are influenced by environmental factors which keep that natural tendency in check and inert. For the vast majority of people, killing their own kind doesn’t come naturally, and that’s when military as well as police training comes in. Despite all the training, though, which can really be classified as brainwashing given the techniques that are used, most soldiers have a hard time pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger. Military trainers know this, as well as the fact that many of their soldiers will deliberately miss their human targets, and therefore pick who will be stationed at what post or given what function, accordingly. In any case, military training does the best it can to bring out the violent in the trainees. It also tries to use hatred which can be a good tool to overcome the resistance to kill people who have done nothing to them. That hatred is most easily provoked and aroused through racism.

Racism has been on full display in most wars the US has been involved in: all the wars against American Indians, the war with Mexico in 1848, the war in the Philippines in 1898, both world wars and most pointedly WWII directed against the Japanese, the Korean War of 1950, the Viet Nam war of 1960’s, both wars on Iraq – 1991 and 2003 – the war in Afghanistan, and the many smaller scale military interventions and bombings the US has been involved with from Central America to Middle Easy and Africa. Racism has been a factor and has been exploited by military brass in all these and other cases.

Those who return from wars to join the police literally bring their cultivated and sharpened violence and racism to the urban population and especially to the working class which is viewed by the corporate government with as much disdain and sense of threat as any overseas whom they call “the enemy”.

The police love an opportunity to lock down a city, roll down their personnel carriers with a dozen riding on top with guns drawn and others in the hundreds marching in military formation with machine guns and order people to stay inside and do house to house and vehicle to vehicle searches and violate the constitutional rights of the people, as they did before they killed one of the two Boston Marathon bombers and wounding and capturing the other. It gives them a sense of power and invincibility and an opportunity to intimidate and own the streets. The “anti-globalization” and neoliberal protesters of a decade ago caught on to this when they chanted: “whose streets? Our streets”.

Upon capturing the younger brother, the police announced he was not going to be read his Miranda rights which means he will not be told he has the right to remain silent and will not have the right to consult an attorney or have him or her present during questioning, based on a Supreme Court ruling that says a limited amount of questioning conducted before reading the Miranda Rights is admissible as evidence when public safety is at stake. But, to announce in advance that they don’t intend to read him his rights is new and breaks new ground in undoing the rule of law and due process.

I believe, I owe the reader a warning at this point: If you are one of those who felt proud of the police and how they conducted themselves and proudly cheered them when they took him into custody, you may want to stop reading now because you’re not going to like what I have to say about it.

While I strongly condemn the criminal act of planting bombs in public areas causing death and injury to innocent people, I also condemn the actions of the police, the FBI and the military-corporate government of the US as a whole. You see, I hate hypocrisy and lies. I’d rather be told this is a police state, that they don’t give a damn about the Constitution, due process and rule of law and that they reserve the right to shoot us if we fail to obey their orders or stop our cars when ordered and that they reserve the right to stop and search us without a warrant. At least, we’d know what we’re dealing with and what to expect. At least, our intelligence wouldn’t be insulted and we wouldn’t be taken for gullible fools. But, I know that’d be too much to ask for from the government of the 1%.

The fact is, laws are there primarily for working people and for crowd control, not for those who do the controlling. For them, there is some “protocols” which can be defined and interpreted as they please. When I complained about a police officer to his supervisor about a month ago, I was told “that’s within the protocol”.
The fact is, they will do as they please and they care not what the law says. Police are not supposed to shoot and kill people for no cause. Running from police is not reason to shoot them in the back or at a vehicle because its driver fails to stop. They’re also not supposed to do searches without a reasonable cause or warrant or plant a gun or drugs on black or Hispanic youth. They’re also not supposed to close streets and declare a protest illegal as I’ve personally witnessed on many occasions, or raid homes of protesters and confiscate their signs and banners or spy on political or environmental activists or keep a black list on citizens without a cause, etc., but they do these and other violations, all the time.

During the lockdown in Watertown, a man was seen outside on his bicycle and even though he looked nothing like the two brothers they were looking for, his backpack was searched. This is nothing but intimidation and disregard for law. A few months ago, Los Angeles and Big Bear, California, police went on a frenzied manhunt for Christopher Dorner who was wanted for murder whom in the end they burned alive by setting the cabin he took refuge in on fire. In that case, too, they went house to house and conducted extra-judicious searches of vehicles and homes. Some officers even opened fire on vehicles they thought belonged to Dorner, including a newspaper delivery van, injuring its occupants. When an armed bank robber was confronted by the police on the streets of North Hollywood, California, some years ago, the suspect got hit by several police bullets and went down. When an ambulance arrived, the police prevented it from approaching the suspect who had been on the ground motionless and was not shooting his guns anymore. The police stood around and waited until he bled to death. I’m not even mentioning all the killings and beatings they’ve done which have got some news coverage.

The massive manhunt of the other day was an opportunity to give the residents of Watertown a glimpse of what it’s like to face US occupation forces, though, on a much smaller and less hostile level, if they cared to see through all the hype about catching Muslim terrorists, with emphasis on Muslim, even though there are far more attacks and killings by white Christians than Muslim Poole. What happened in Boston was sad on more than one level, notwithstanding the cheering and flag waving crowd. TV news channels showed, non-stop, the crowd celebrating, jumping up and down and waving flags and some chanting USA USA. Five people were dead, including one of the perpetrators and lives were destroyed, including those who were badly injured, as well as that of a 19 year old, and people jump up and down in elation.

The rolling of military vehicles with machine gun carrying officers riding on it and locking down a city may seem innocuous and even benevolent when trying to apprehend bombing suspects. Even tossing aside due process may seem harmless and even reasonable when you want justice for the perpetrators of a bombing attack. But, the casualties of this tragic incident, which included both human lives and due process, are no cause for celebration. When such attacks occur, lives aren’t the only things lost; we also lose some more of our rights and civil liberties to the government which is always eager and pushing the envelope on erasing due process. Those officers you cheer and applaud have attacked and will again attack workers and their defenders demanding social and economic justice. In fact, I dare say that’s the main task of the police who have perfected the “art” of crowd control. This was a lockdown of a city to find a killer. It won’t always be for that reason.

 

 

Anti-Muslim Hysteria

Every time there is some bombing attack and before it’s even known who did it, speculation and talk of Muslim terrorists who are trying to get us and kill us all fills the air. But, the fact of the matter is there have been far more bombings, shootings, massacres and targeted attacks with guns, pipe and other bombs, anthrax, etc., by white non-Muslims, including many by overzealous cops themselves than by Muslim terrorists. This is common to all prejudices and stereotyping: they’re not based on objective facts and are blown out of proportion to the level of panic and phobia which plays in the hands of racists and bigots with hidden agenda, as well as politicians who try to take advantage of such fear to push their policies of war, reaction and plunder.

When some Muslims commit an attack, discussion often revolves around their religion and how vile and violent it is and demands are put on Muslims to condemn the attack and terrorism in general and proclaim their allegiance to the country. Yet, when a white person commits such act, no one talks about Christianity as the source of their violence, and Christian politicians and public officials are not asked to distance themselves from the attack or attackers or to prove their loyalty to the nation.

There are white militia members, most of them racist and just about all Christians, in the hundreds and even thousands, who are stockpiling large and small weapons, practicing military operations, including shooting, and are even talking about confronting the US government, which in their eyes is too soft on blacks, Hispanics and other minorities. Can you imagine if there were such Muslim militia members in military fatigue talking about overthrowing the government to set up a Muslim fundamentalist government the way many white militia groups want a Christian fundamentalist government? Can you imagine the outcry and hysteria that that would engender?

There is reason why acts of terror by Muslim individuals are attributed to their religion rather than to specific individuals regardless of their religion or race or ethnicity. Generalizing and attributing such acts to a specific group of people serves to divide people along any number of arbitrary lines, whether it be religion, race, gender, etc., and serves to make part of the population the scapegoat for societal problems, pitting people against people and distracting them from the real issues, problems and the real source of societal ills, especially economic ones.

Knowledge is power and a defense against deception, division and prejudice.

Boston Bombings

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Like everyone else, I, too, am saddened and disgusted by the Boston bombings that resulted in the death of three people and wounding of some 150 others. Regardless of what motivated the perpetrators to commit such horrible and criminal act, such bombings that result in the killing of innocent bystanders, including children, are not excusable on any grounds whatsoever and serve no purpose other than showing the insanity and cowardice of those who commit it. Such bombings, though not on a scale comparable to the level of killings and destruction that the US government commits in different parts of the world, on a regular basis, are despicable and criminal all the same.
 
On the other hand, Mr. Obama has no Goddamn right to condemn such murderous acts when he orders similar bombings, regularly. He and others in US government, in either party, have, for ever, lost the right and standing to condemn any such acts. I say to those who kill innocent people: you are nothing but scum, and yes I mean you too Mr. Nobel Peace Prize awardee. Obama said: “The American people refuse to be terrorized”. Other nations don’t mind being terrorized? Is that why you keep raining down bombs on them? Is that why you keep sending bombers and bombs to Israel? State sanctioned murders and acts of terror such as those committed by the US and Israel using drones, fighter jets and cluster bombs are no more justifiable and are even more criminal and despicable than those committed by individuals using a pressure cooker.
 
I understand the anger and sorrow the American people feel over the bombings and my sympathy goes out to the victims and their families. But, feel this, too: during the senseless and criminal war on the people of Iraq which was waged for no other reason than to expand the control and domination over the region by the Empire, the US military closed the borders of the city of Fallujah and bombed the city relentlessly, killing young and old, men, women and children, in the thousands, to avenge the killing of four US servicemen killed by Iraqi resistance fighters defending their country. The US media wants us to forget that and many others like it and would rather not talk about them, but the Iraqi people and others who have not lost their humanity yet will not. Yes, the perpetrators of the attacks on Boston should be held accountable, but so should George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton and many others.

Time For Change

Since people settled down and created cities and civilizations thousands of years ago, there have been two distinct classes of people in most societies: a minority of wealthy individuals who formed the ruling class and the vast majority who remained poor and enslaved and created the wealth of the rich who used all the tricks in the book, including those considered holy and divine, to maintain their rule and protect and enlarge their wealth. So much has been the difference in the life style and livelihood between these two classes that they might as well have been of different species. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to compare the subjugation and exploitation of the majority by the minority in all the hitherto phases of the human development to that exercised on animals, such as horses, cattle and sheep. It’s apropos and little wonder that the Christian faith often refers to the masses as sheep.

In all the different phases of the human civilization, the current phase always seemed the final and natural one. Although all these phases have been based on exploitation of the masses by a minority of usurpers, they have not all been equally cruel and unjust; each represented an improvement over the one that came before it, such as feudalism over slavery and capitalism over feudalism. Although the transition from feudalism, which was based on exploiting peasants who worked the land to capitalism which is based on individual capitalists exploiting workers, involved rebellions by the masses, it was also aided by the shift in the mode of production from mainly agricultural to industrial, spurred by the explosion in science and technology and the industrial revolution. In other words, times were changing, the world was changing and so had to the economic system. The old system was not appropriate for the new world.

Despite tremendous advances in science and technology in the last couple hundred years, there is no industrial or technological pressure for change in the mode of production, as was in the previous transition. The change to socialism will not do away with factories and assembly lines or how products are manufactured and distributed, but will mainly and primarily be legal and organizational in the sense that ownership will go from individuals to governments formed by awakened masses and set up to respond to and meet the public’s and societal needs including those of the environment and health and well being of all people, instead of the profit margin of a few rich and powerful. This makes the element of consciousness and social and political awareness that much more important than in previous change.

The shift to capitalism did open the door to developing and advancing the means, tools and techniques of production and helped advance science and technology and improved life overall, but it didn’t do away with exploitation of humans by humans which through time, concentrated the wealth in few hands leaving the vast majority increasingly impoverished. And in its advanced stage, it gave rise to rivalry amongst capitalist classes of more developed nations which turned deadly and took millions of lives and resulted in massive destruction of infrastructure, means of production and in fact entire cities in the two world wars, all because greed knows no bounds. And now, though the rivalry is kept in check – for now – we’re witnessing endless wars by the most dominant of these capitalist classes, with the help and support of its followers and partners in other developed countries, for more and more control of the resources, markets and labor of the world. This situation and the current trend is not sustainable – not for billions of people living in poverty, if they live at all, not for the environment, and not for our health and well being. And, it’s only getting worse: poverty, hunger, malnutrition, homelessness and lack of basic necessities and care is at all time high, and so are corporate profits and environmental ruin and degradation of food and water, while there is no end in sight to wars of conquest and empire building. It’s time for change.