Saturday, September 26, 2009

Can America Be Salvaged?

By David Michael Green

September 18, 2009 "Information Clearing House" -- I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which proposing a new and better version of corporate-plunder masquerading as national healthcare gets you burned in effigy for being a socialist stooge by gun-toting angry mobs.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which the same people who hate you for being a socialist simultaneously hate you for being a fascist.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which angry mobs of supposed anti-socialist demonstrators scream at their congressional representatives to “keep your government hands off my Medicare”.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which claims that the government is going to start killing off seniors are taken seriously by tens of millions of people.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which people are all worked up about government czars, but sat silently while the Bush administration destroyed the Bill of Rights and used a thousand signing statements to write Congress out of the Constitution.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which deficits have all of a sudden become the source of enormous anger among people who said nothing about them previously, as the tax cuts for the wealthy, off-budget wars based on lies, and unfunded prescription drug Big Pharma giveaway transmogrified the biggest surplus in American history into the biggest deficit ever.

I really don’t know what to say anymore, about a country in which politicians can rant incessantly about other peoples’ sexual morality, get caught screwing prostitutes, and then still be reelected to the highest ranks of government by trashing the president.

I could go on and on, but what would be the point? The positions of so many Americans on so many policy questions are truly inane – yes, for sure. I wish that was all that concerned me. But it all goes so much deeper than that.

The entire premise of a self-ruling democracy rests on some reasonable degree of rationality and some reasonable degree of an ability to discriminate between real information and falsehoods. Today’s American democracy seems to lack these qualities in increasingly abundant amounts.

And yet it goes deeper than that still. The entire premise of a society – any society, democracy or not – is that it possesses a certain degree of shared community, a ‘we-ness’ that transcends narrower tribalisms and self-interest in critical ways and at critical moments. That too has unraveled of late. Think of the nice white men with shotguns blocking the exit from flooded New Orleans during the worst moments of Hurricane Katrina.

Looking at America today, it all feels so very past tense to me.

In some very profound ways, this is not the place nor the time you’d expect the implosion of an established democracy and society. To be an American is to be a member of the richest and most powerful nation on Earth. If they’re not whining so much in Botswana these days, who the hell are we to?

On the other hand, though, it makes a lot of sense. The moment correlates precisely with the peaking of the empire several decades ago, now further exacerbated as the deep wells of remedial pillaging – our credit cards, our mortgages, our children, a rising Chinese middle class, brown people everywhere, the environment – have disappeared entirely, with nothing but despair and moral dessication left in their place. Moreover, the folks most aggrieved and most estranged from their senses of late are precisely the people who were bought off of their sanity at every turn with the latest form of bigotry du jour, used to assuage their ever-diminishing sense of relative social status. Over and over again, the people I see on my television screen acting absolutely and incoherently stupid in their senseless rage seem to be little more than fat, white, Southern, sixty-something racist good ol’ boys.

Well past their sell-by dates, they’ve of course gotten tremendous help cranking it up again. That’s no surprise. I’m not sure these crackers are smart enough to even be stupid without coaching. As Lyndon Johnson used to say: “Couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel”. Lucky for them, those marching orders come from a host of politicians and media whores who, in an even moderately just world, would receive a wee taste of Abu Ghraib in repayment for the reckless destructiveness they’ve fomented upon the always precarious edifice of liberal democracy. There’s special place in Hell reserved for these shouters of “Fire!” in crowded theaters, these bloodsucking bottom-feeders, especially since they are being paid so handsomely for their faithful service as prolocutors for predators.

I doubt anyone has ever reminded us of this ongoing danger more eloquently than did the famous American diplomat, George Kennan, when he wrote:

“The counsels of impatience and hatred can always be supported by the crudest and cheapest symbols; for the counsels of moderation, the reasons are often intricate, rather than emotional, and difficult to explain. And so the chauvinists of all times and places go their appointed way: plucking the easy fruits, reaping the little triumphs of the day at the expense of someone else tomorrow, deluging in noise and filth anyone who gets in their way, dancing their reckless dance on the prospects for human progress, drawing the shadow of a great doubt over the validity of democratic institutions. And until peoples learn to spot the fanning of mass emotions and the sowing of bitterness, suspicion, and intolerance as crimes in themselves – as perhaps the greatest disservice that can be done to the cause of popular government – this sort of thing will continue to occur.”

Hear, hear. Sorry to say it, George, but you’re lucky to have died when you did. It’s only gotten so much worse in just the last few years.

And while the O’Reillys and the Reagans of our time have joined forces to turn “the counsels of impatience and hatred” into an entire political party and more, they are, of course, mere conscious tools of the Big Green Greed that ultimately drives the system. They know they are prostitutes, but the money’s good. And so is the fame and adulation – no small thing for these sorry critters. Look at the Beck's and Limbaugh's and Gingrich's of this country. Were there ever people in this world with so much self-esteem ground to be made up from the transparent ostracization of their younger days? Were there ever individuals so obviously motivated by retribution against everyone who treated them like the jerks they were in their formative years? Was there ever a walking warning sign more brightly flashing about the costs to society of youthful bullying? I’m sorry Glenn, I’m sorry Rush, I’m sorry Newt. I know when you were younger you were pudgy fast-talking smart-ass petulant pricks who made up in wedgies from bigger guys what you never got in attention from attractive women. But isn’t about time you stopped taking it out on America? I’m sorry you got your ass kicked on a weekly basis, but I didn’t do it.

Though I’m thinking about it now.

It takes a willful act of ignorance (something we see a lot of these days) not to perceive the United States as the latest in history’s falling empires. Like Rome, the true contribution of its sometimes great ideas has ultimately been substantially buried under the rubble of its ill-fated decision to greedily grasp the nettle of empire. Unlike Rome, this puppy is taking decades, rather than centuries, to collapse.

Empires come and go, of course. Rising and falling is what they do. It’s their job in life. What is truly frightening to contemplate, however, is what happens when an empire falls in the era when technological capacity absolutely dwarfs political maturity? And what happens if that occurs not just anywhere, but in arguably the most immature, self-serving and self-indulgent of developed societies on the planet?

The only model we have for this so far is the Soviet implosion of two decades ago, though even that is only a partial representation, since the Soviet bear was no match for the American boor in piggishness. Even so, that history does not bode so well, outward appearances notwithstanding. We should all collectively be walking on eggshells thinking about the tens of thousands of strategic and smaller tactical nuclear warheads that may or may not be accounted for. Nor is the renascent and rather irredentist new Russia necessarily a pretty picture either, a fact that may become increasingly relevant in the coming decades. Still, all this noted, the Russian imperial collapse has to be said to have been relatively uneventful, closer to the post-war British and French experiences than to any cataclysmic end of days scenario.

I wish I could be so sanguine about the implosion of the American empire. In one sense, it was probably a good thing for the Russians to go through this experience with only a fake democracy and repressed civil liberties in place, and some serious if undemocratic quasi-dictators running the show. It might have saved the country from the worst elements seizing control. I don’t much care for the product of American democracy and political discourse as things now stand. Imagine how it might all turn out under real duress, with the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaugh's further egging on both the angry rabble on the ground and the Sarah Palin's in the political sphere.

I’m tired of overused Nazi references these days, but the most salient analogy has to be to 1930s Weimar Germany. The economy is broken, the political system is broken, the public is struggling, angry and full of nationalistic rage at their country’s failure to possess all the riches and glory it and they deserve. And so say bombastic demagogues, backed by a small army of street thugs, and offering both a scapegoat and a solution. Given a democratic election in which voters can choose between a dynamic, assured and energetic salvation figure, on the one hand, and an enervated, inept and passionately passionless status quo government, on the other, it’s not hard to figure what will happen. And what did.

Above all, what is wrong with this country (and what therefore inevitably becomes the world’s problem too – just ask the people of Iraq), is not so much the vicious thugs who would just as soon vacuum it free of any piece of wealth they can get into their hands as take their next breath. Nor is it the existentially petrified Confederate Crackers for Jesus who find that hate and violence is a pretty decent emollient to mitigate for the moment their otherwise completely debilitating fears.

That stuff always happens, though admittedly not often quite like this.

What’s really wrong is the near total absence of prominent political figures willing to sacrifice much of anything to protect their country from these depredations.

It’s been so long now that I’ve forgotten for sure, but didn’t they used to call that patriotism?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Osama Bin Laden Has Been Dead Since December 2001

Written by Abhijay Patel
Pakistan Daily
Sep 24, 2009

“If they didn’t have an Osama Bin Laden, they would have invented one.”
Milt Bearden – CIA agent, in an interview with anchor Dan Rather of the CBS (September 12, 2001)

“The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11. He has not been formally indicted and charged in connection with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11″.
(Rex Tomb, spokesman, FBI’s Chief of Investigative Publicity)

Now that even Asif Ali Zardari the President of Pakistan & General Musharraf are stating that Bin Laden is dead, it is high time that we in India began to both debate as well as challenge this sheer calumny.

Basically the truth and the fact of the matter is that Bin Laden has been dead since the latter half of December 2001. So then why did Bush-Cheney & now the Obama-Hillary combine, as well as the Neoconservatives & Zionist ideologues, continue to insist & actively propagate the myth of Bin Laden?

First let us address the ‘Politics of Fear’, that is an integral part of the flawed ‘Global War on Terror’, which is part of the Neo-Zioncon doctrine of ‘Controlled Chaos’. The ghost of Bin Laden serves multiple purposes both at the Global and Indian context. In India, Bin Laden is used to generate fear in the mind of the Hindu community, the epitome of “Islamic terror” and thus distrust & hatred for the Muslim is its natural corollary.

For the Muslims he is meant to be the “false hero” and to wrongly inspire youth to follow the flawed path of extremism and terror.

The other primary strategy in propagating the myth of Bin Laden is so that every political struggle against US-Zionist Imperialism is converted into a struggle for the supposed cause of Islam and Muslims and thus reduce every struggle to a narrow religio-sectarian agenda, to the negation of all political, economic & social factors. Every Bin Laden message appeals to “Muslims to wage a jehad against Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists”. The agenda is to communalise, divide, confuse and thus weaken society. The agenda is also to further isolate and marginalize Muslims from the mainstream struggles & spread Islamophobia. For example the Palestinian national freedom struggle against Israeli colonial occupation is reduced to a mere Muslim cause as per Bin Laden’s announcements & thus weaken the global Palestinian solidarity movement which is today striving for the total “Boycott of Israel”.

Now let us come to a few facts that will help us establish that Bin Laden has been dead since the last eight years and more.

During the period 4-14th of July, 2001 (only two months prior to the 9/11-WTC terror attacks), Bin Laden was in the American Hospital in Dubai. According to the United Press International (Oct 31, 2001), Bin Laden underwent kidney surgery and treatment under Dr. Terry Callaway. According to both the French “Le Figaro” & the “Radio France International”, Bin Laden was visited by a top US-CIA agent. This report and the one below are further substantiated by CBS anchor Dan Rather, Peter Bergen, investigative journalist Barry Petersen and Prof. Michel Chussodovsky.
More astonishing is the fact that just a day prior to the September 11 attacks, Bin Laden was undergoing treatment in the Military Hospital in Rawalpindi itself (Le Figaro – Jan 28, 2002). So both the Pakistani Military establishment and the ISI as well as the CIA were more than aware of Bin Laden’s whereabouts.

A few days later Dr. Sanjay Gupta (a highly respected Indian-American within the Medical fraternity) gave his assessment that both due to the heavy US bombing of the Taliban areas as well as the fact that kidney dialysis requires a special environment, it is impossible for a patient to survive beyond a week.

According to Pentagon sources, Bin Laden’s voice could not be detected beyond December 14, 2001.

Reports of Bin Laden’s death have been so widespread that it is a wonder as to how the myth of OBL has been kept alive. Now consider the following reports:

Dale Watson, the FBI chief of counter-terrorism said on BBC that he thought that OBL was dead.

In fact the announcement of OBL’s death and the funeral as well, appeared in the Egytian newspaper Al-Wafd on December 26, 2001. Also refer to an article by Robert Burns (26/04/02) on this matter.

Even the Israeli intelligence had announced the death (World Tribune). They also said that the new messages are possibly fabrications.

Reports of his death have appeared in the New York Times (July 11, 2002) as well the Guardian (UK) and the Telegraph (UK).

Both Musharraf and Karzai have been reported saying the same on CNN.

Most recently the most remarkable revelation on this matter was made by none other than the late Benazir Bhutto. In an interview with David Frost on Al-Jazeerah English (November 2, 2007), she made the stunning announcement that Bin Laden was dead and had been murdered by Omar Sheikh. Interestingly Omar Sheikh was an ISI operative and was also responsible for the murder of Daniel Pearl. The most telling part is the deafening silence of the International media.

The BBC did carry this interview but edited this line.


If this is not “Breaking News”, then what is?

Does not this statement warrant international attention? Would not have this statement guaranteed higher TRP ratings and increased newspaper circulation? But not a word. The complicity of the corporate media is apparent.

But then people ask me and rightly so that, “what about all these Bin Laden-Al Qaeda tapes?, how do you explain that?”. So lets deal with that issue as well.

Bin Laden tapes have appeared prior to his death in December 2001, but since then the world has been subjected to a barrage of fake tapes. Prof. Bruce Lawrence of Duke University, is the world’s leading expert on these tapes and has studied every tape since then and it is his analysis and that of Diana Lee, Wayne Madsen as well as others that I put before you.

The first fake Bin laden tape was released by the Pentagon on December 13, 2001 and found in a deserted house in Jalalabad. It shows a stout and healthy man posing as Laden and making the claims of the destruction of the WTC. The most glaring error in the video is that the Laden duplicate is signing the confession letter with his right hand. Bin Laden used his left!

Another Laden video appeared just prior to the US presidential election on October 29, 2004, a few days after Bush had lost the first Presidential debate to John Kerry the Democratic nominee. The calls for a jehad against America helped to boost Bush’s ratings and was a factor in his ultimate victory.

The Bin laden audio tapes began to arrive in 2002. These tapes were also meant to achieve and create a climate of fear at the global level. However the experts at the IDIAP, the world’s premier voice identification institute based in Switzerland, have clearly stated that the voice on the tapes was not that of Bin Laden.

Bin Laden and Al Qaeda tapes have also appeared in India and the political agenda is the same. Last year (June 8, 2007) an Al Qaeda tape surfaced in Kashmir claiming that Al Qaeda had established a base in India. It appeared only a day after an Israeli Military delegation arrived in India to advice the government to combat “Islamic terror in Kashmir”. Even certain Indian intelligence and military sources rejected the tape as a fake.

But now the pattern at the global level of releasing the Bin Laden-Al Qaeda tapes has undergone a remarkable change. Earlier there would be a direct relay of the tapes without any fanfare. But now unbelievably the release is accompanied with a curtain raiser at a global scale. The release of the tapes is announced a few days prior to the final release. The news of the same appears in practically every newspaper and channel of note the world over. The ground is prepared to ensure that as many people as possible see the tape and register its message of fear and hatred. It is basically akin to a curtain raiser for a new movie or a music video.

Consider the following:

It was on the 6th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that we were subjected to this mirage. The announcement of the new Bin Laden message flooded the airwaves and newspapers. We then saw a Bin Laden, hale and hearty and with a black beard. The reports stated that Bin Laden’s bodyguard (where did he come from and did he have a name?) had “revealed” that Bin Laden was healthy and was living with his four wives (how cliched!), in a compound (where, which country, city, location?). The media did not ask a single question. Worse was to follow. After a few days we had another Bin Laden photograph plastered all over the front pages, but this time with a “white beard”. Did the dye run off or had he lost his virility?. It was all so ridiculous, but they got away with it.

Then the Mumbai Mirror (29/05/08) reported that a new Laden tape is due in the next 24 hours. What’s more, this time the contents of the tape were also known to the “sources” even prior to the release. So we know then as to who writes all the scripts for these tapes, don’t we?. The report ominously states that the tape “will urge jehadis to use nuclear, chemical and biological weapons against civilians”. It quotes intelligence sources that have spoken to ABC News.

I too was very confused in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks but I began to ask questions and seek answers independent of the corporate media, as the unfolding socio-economic and political scenario did not make rational sense. The incident that made me question and challenge the dominant paradigm was the following.

On the 14th of February 2003, prior to the final US-NATO attack on Iraq, an Al Qaeda tape appeared. It asked the Muslims of the world to unite and wage a jehad against the Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists of the world. I was too stunned because of the simple fact that I was aware that on the next day the Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, people of faith and none, were going to march in their millions across the streets of USA, South America, Canada, Europe, Australia along with their Muslim brethren to oppose the impending war on Iraq. Clearly, the Al Qaeda tape had been released with the specific agenda to divide the masses of the world and further serve to demonize the Muslims. From that day I began to maintain a record of the Al Qaeda tapes and I found a design, a clear objective and purpose that was basically serving the cause of the Zionist empire.

Terror is and has always been an instrument of Imperial Zionist foreign policy. It is the politics of terror that is reshaping the geo-strategic and economic map as well as leading to the deepening of the religio-cultural & ethnic fault lines across the world. It is the myths of terror that seek to confuse and weaken the anti-imperialist masses and their struggles against neo-liberal globalization and perpetuate hatred for Muslims and spread Islamophobia, which itself is now a global phenomenon.

Thus it is imperative that we expose these myths and the lies of Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda. It is actually a very simple task and it must be done. By F Mithiborwala

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Economy Is A Lie, Too

by Paul Craig Roberts .
Global Research,
September 22, 2009

Americans cannot get any truth out of their government about anything, the economy included. Americans are being driven into the ground economically, with one million school children now homeless, while Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke announces that the recession is over.

The spin that masquerades as news is becoming more delusional. Consumer spending is 70% of the US economy. It is the driving force, and it has been shut down. Except for the super rich, there has been no growth in consumer incomes in the 21st century. Statistician John Williams of reports that real household income has never recovered its pre-2001 peak.

The US economy has been kept going by substituting growth in consumer debt for growth in consumer income. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan encouraged consumer debt with low interest rates. The low interest rates pushed up home prices, enabling Americans to refinance their homes and spend the equity. Credit cards were maxed out in expectations of rising real estate and equity values to pay the accumulated debt. The binge was halted when the real estate and equity bubbles burst.

As consumers no longer can expand their indebtedness and their incomes are not rising, there is no basis for a growing consumer economy. Indeed, statistics indicate that consumers are paying down debt in their efforts to survive financially. In an economy in which the consumer is the driving force, that is bad news.

The banks, now investment banks thanks to greed-driven deregulation that repealed the learned lessons of the past, were even more reckless than consumers and took speculative leverage to new heights. At the urging of Larry Summers and Goldman Sachs’ CEO Henry Paulson, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bush administration went along with removing restrictions on debt leverage.

When the bubble burst, the extraordinary leverage threatened the financial system with collapse. The US Treasury and the Federal Reserve stepped forward with no one knows how many trillions of dollars to “save the financial system,” which, of course, meant to save the greed-driven financial institutions that had caused the economic crisis that dispossessed ordinary Americans of half of their life savings.

The consumer has been chastened, but not the banks. Refreshed with the TARP $700 billion and the Federal Reserve’s expanded balance sheet, banks are again behaving like hedge funds. Leveraged speculation is producing another bubble with the current stock market rally, which is not a sign of economic recovery but is the final savaging of Americans’ wealth by a few investment banks and their Washington friends. Goldman Sachs, rolling in profits, announced six figure bonuses to employees.

The rest of America is suffering terribly.

The unemployment rate, as reported, is a fiction and has been since the Clinton administration. The unemployment rate does not include jobless Americans who have been unemployed for more than a year and have given up on finding work. The reported 10% unemployment rate is understated by the millions of Americans who are suffering long-term unemployment and are no longer counted as unemployed. As each month passes, unemployed Americans drop off the unemployment role due to nothing except the passing of time.

The inflation rate, especially “core inflation,” is another fiction. “Core inflation” does not include food and energy, two of Americans’ biggest budget items. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) assumes, ever since the Boskin Commission during the Clinton administration, that if prices of items go up consumers substitute cheaper items. This is certainly the case, but this way of measuring inflation means that the CPI is no longer comparable to past years, because the basket of goods in the index is variable.

The Boskin Commission’s CPI, by lowering the measured rate of inflation, raises the real GDP growth rate. The result of the statistical manipulation is an understated inflation rate, thus eroding the real value of Social Security income, and an overstated growth rate. Statistical manipulation cloaks a declining standard of living.

In bygone days of American prosperity, American incomes rose with productivity. It was the real growth in American incomes that propelled the US economy.

In today’s America, the only incomes that rise are in the financial sector that risks the country’s future on excessive leverage and in the corporate world that substitutes foreign for American labor. Under the compensation rules and emphasis on shareholder earnings that hold sway in the US today, corporate executives maximize earnings and their compensation by minimizing the employment of Americans.

Try to find some acknowledgement of this in the “mainstream media,” or among economists, who suck up to the offshoring corporations for grants.

The worst part of the decline is yet to come. Bank failures and home foreclosures are yet to peak. The commercial real estate bust is yet to hit. The dollar crisis is building.

When it hits, interest rates will rise dramatically as the US struggles to finance its massive budget and trade deficits while the rest of the world tries to escape a depreciating dollar.

Since the spring of this year, the value of the US dollar has collapsed against every currency except those pegged to it. The Swiss franc has risen 14% against the dollar. Every hard currency from the Canadian dollar to the Euro and UK pound has risen at least 13 % against the US dollar since April 2009. The Japanese yen is not far behind, and the Brazilian real has risen 25% against the almighty US dollar. Even the Russian ruble has risen 13% against the US dollar.

What sort of recovery is it when the safest investment is to bet against the US dollar?

The American household of my day, in which the husband worked and the wife provided household services and raised the children, scarcely exists today. Most, if not all, members of a household have to work in order to pay the bills. However, the jobs are disappearing, even the part-time ones.

If measured according to the methodology used when I was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, the unemployment rate today in the US is above 20%. Moreover, there is no obvious way of reducing it. There are no factories, with work forces temporarily laid off by high interest rates, waiting for a lower interest rate policy to call their workforces back into production.

The work has been moved abroad. In the bygone days of American prosperity, CEOs were inculcated with the view that they had equal responsibilities to customers, employees, and shareholders. This view has been exterminated. Pushed by Wall Street and the threat of takeovers promising “enhanced shareholder value,” and incentivized by “performance pay,” CEOs use every means to substitute cheaper foreign employees for Americans .

Despite 20% unemployment and cum laude engineering graduates who cannot find jobs or even job interviews, Congress continues to support 65,000 annual H-1B work visas for foreigners.

In the midst of the highest unemployment since the Great Depression what kind of a fool do you need to be to think that there is a shortage of qualified US workers?