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True, He’s the First Black President But Obama’s the Worst President Ever

 

By Ron Ridenour


Yes, I mean it: the worst ever!


We’ve had James Monroe and his doctrine of supremacy over Latin America. We’ve had Theodore Roosevelt and his invasion of Cuba; Nixon, Reagan, Bush-Bush and their mass murder, and all the war crimes and genocide committed by most presidents. Yes, but we never had a black man sit on the white throne of imperialism committing war crimes.


Techno-Utopia

By Bruce Gagnon

TECHNO-UTOPIANISM SEMINAR REPORT

I have just returned from San Francisco where I attended a private seminar called Techno-Utopianism: Killing the World with about 30 leading environmentalists, scientists, economists, writers, and activists.  I was asked to represent the Global Network and report on the latest space technology issues including drones, global strike systems, surveillance, and the like.  It was quite an honor to be invited to attend this event and I learned a great deal from those assembled.

 
The event was led by Jerry Mander (Int’l Forum on Globalization), Andrew Kimbrell (Int’l Center for Technology Assessment), Randy Hayes (Foundation Earth), Stephanie Mills (Post Carbon Institute), and Doug Tompkins (Foundation for Deep Ecology).
 
The three-day event began with Mander outlining the vision of the meeting, which was to report on current anti-technology struggles, discuss root causes and begin to define next steps.  Mander said that the techno-machine had not only transformed our planet in negative ways but had also dominated the consciousness of human kind.  He labeled our current situation a “techno-dictatorship” which calls itself progress.  The Internet, he suggested, creates the illusion of resistance to the machine.
 
Physicist and ecologist Vandana Shiva stated, “Technology is really about appropriating resources”.  In India the chemical industry subsidy is as big as what is spent on the military.  Forty percent of greenhouse gases come from industrial agriculture.  Public relations have replaced science.  “No village is safe under globalization’s resource war”, Shiva said.  “The state comes under corporate control and then becomes a militarized state.”
 
Randy Hayes reported that our present “Brush fire fights are not connected enough to systemic change.”  Our social movement’s critique of mega-technology is weak.
 
Andrew Kimbrell (who represented the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice in federal court in 1989-1990 when we sued NASA opposing the Galileo and Ulysses plutonium rocket launches) told the assembled, “Nano-technology is the next industrial revolution.  When you make molecules smaller their properties change.  Worker safety becomes a big issue.”  Nano particles are already getting into our rivers and into the brains of fish.  Carbon nano-tubes are stronger than steel and some are talking about using them to make elevators into space.  The Pentagon is heavily funding nano-tech research and development.  Kimbrell called Nano-tech and GMO’s the “Hail Mary technologies.”
 
Gar Smith (editor emeritus of Earth Island Journal) spoke about nuclear power with particular emphasis on the impacts of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.  Nearly half of children in the area now have thyroid cysts.  Forty tons of water per day are being used to keep the radioactive rods cooled and the water will eventually end up in the ocean.  Smith reported, “One fish found in the ocean off Fukushima had 2,500 times the radiation levels over ‘safe’ limits.”  The radioactive wastewater will reach the US west coast in five years and will “be the end of the west coast fishing industry.”
 
Mander, who authored the best selling book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, reminded us that “We are living inside media and media is living inside of us.  We are receiving 30,000 commercial images per year and once in the brain they are there forever.”  Our minds essentially become colonized by corporate branding.
 
Eileen Crist (Associate Professor in Dept. of Science & Technology at Virginia Tech) warned us that our movements have not developed a “compelling alternative [to capitalist destruction of the planet] for her students.”  “The pieces are all there but not put together in a compelling vision,” she said.  She reported that the “new environmentalism”, heavily funded and influenced by the corporate technologists, “is warmed over nature conservation” where “human aspirations are primary”.  We must “name these environmental groups as corporate serving groups. The corporate agenda wants to break the emerging alliance between the ecological and social justice movements,” Crist said.  There is a “battle [underway] for the branding and soul of the environmental movement.”
 
Filmmaker and former monk Godfrey Reggio told the assembled, “We are all cyborgs, and we have become the environment we live in.  We are aliens…. I want the courage to be hopeless about this present situation so I can be hopeful about the future.”
 
Chet Bowers (author and professor of Environmental Studies at University of Oregon) told us “When we are born into a language community our imagination is restricted by the silence of our elders.”  During that silence “our alternative vocabularies get excluded” thus widespread thinking and debate about our way out of the techo-mess gets limited to more corporate techno solutions.
 
Lisi Krall (Professor of Economics at the State University of New York, Cortland) suggested, “Difficult economic conversations have fallen out of favor.  Technology is our last refuge before we face what we don’t want to face.”  We must “deal with techno-industrial culture and talk about reducing consumption.  The world made by hand takes a vibrant healthy eco-system.”  The current and coming economic “depression brings clarity,” she said.  “We can’t be afraid to use the word planning…. how do we reallocate labor and resources?”
 
In our hand-held device world of  “communication” we’ve become strangers from one another and increasingly violent.  Charlene Spretnak (professor emerita in philosophy and religion) well illustrated this point by sharing, “Studies show that talking to people leads to better mental and physical function…. Children who witness violence see a shortening of life…. the part of kids’ brains where empathy is found is shrinking from playing violent video games…. Nature helps increase empathy.”
 
In one of my own interventions during the seminar I suggested that the “business model” has also colonized our “progressive movement’s” method of organizing.  We are in a state of competition with one another in our isolated quest for funds, members, media coverage, and personal recognition.  Our “resistance has itself become a corporatized monoculture,” I suggested.  We will find no real solution and positive alternative vision and direction without first learning to work in unity and diversity by connecting the dots between our single-focused-issue organizing. This must be done locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.
 
Jerry Mander urged us “not to be afraid to get rid of something that is destroying us and the natural world.”  Vandana Shiva insisted we must “talk about the new slavery” to corporate technology.  One participant suggested that we have been a “nation of hustlers” that has become “a nation of thugs who use technology for global domination.”
 
Research scientist Michael Huesemann told the seminar participants “techno-fixes are ineffective.”  Dealing with traffic congestion by building more roads and making electric cars won’t work.  We’ve got to get rid of the cars.  “Technology increases the separation from the environment,” he said.
 
Mander, who has a new book out called The Capitalism Papers: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System, reminded us “In order to save capitalism, government had to intervene and rescue it by regulating it.”  Part of a new economic vision he suggested would include some of these ideas/principles: Cooperatives (now 9% of the US economy); Small-scale efforts (when they fail they don’t bring the whole system or environment down with them); Nature come first; Hybrid economics.
 
The fatal flaws of capitalism “can’t be fixed” Mander insisted.  The present system relies on ecologically devastating “economic growth”, is inequitable, has a propensity to militarism and war, occupies democracy and our consciousness, and does not make people happy.  Global capital is the problem.
 
“We’ve got to name the system if you want to change it,” Mander concluded.  Capitalism means endless “expansion” and by now we know that means death.
 
Wes Jackson (Land Institute in Kansas) handed out small bags of Kernza whole grain flour to all the seminar participants.  Kernza is a perennial grain with deep roots being developed by his institute.  He reminded us “nature’s eco-systems are the only true economies.”  We must “Bring the wild to the farm,” he said. 
 
Mander and others at the seminar are working toward a major Teach-In in 2014, which will likely be held in New York City.  We must all increase our ability and resolve to make these vital connections between rampant capitalism, ecological destruction, and endless war. 
 
Technology impacts each and every one of our movements and the corporate oligarchy fears our collective response.  Let’s step up our critical analysis of capitalism and articulation of a nature-based economics.   

Climate Pledge

Climate_February_17th_Green_Party_march.jpg

They were the largest climate protests in U.S. history, with over 50,000 marching in Washington D.C. and tens of thousands more taking part in protests across the country. Yesterday, Jill Stein joined a large Green Party contingent from across the country, sending a clear message at the protests that ending climate change requires political change and systems change.

To drive that message home, Jill Stein has launched the Climate Voter Power Pledge, a pledge to not to vote for any candidate who supports a climate-killing "All of the Above" approach to energy production. Got that, White House?

Please sign the Climate Voter Power Pledge and tell everyone you know about it. Marching and rallying is one way to show power. But the power of the vote, and of denying the vote, is another way we can redirect our politics and our economy away from the climate cliff. 

Read, sign, and share the Climate Voter Power Pledge by clicking here: http://www.jillstein.org/climate

Thank you.

Citizens Tell Obama to Stop Pipeline and Get Serious about Environment

By Michael Collins

(Washington, DC 1/17)  The nation's capital hosted over 40,000 citizens assembled to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  The crowd urged President Obama to bring to reality his lofty words on climate change in the inaugural address just days ago.  By stopping the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the president would deal a blow to the rogue energy companies who, by their actions, are ready to sacrifice everything to transport oil from Alberta, Canada's tar sands, across the United States, for refinement in Houston, Texas and shipment to China.

The broader concern of the gathered citizens and march sponsors, 350.org, and the Sierra Club, represents the existential issue of our time.  We need to get very real, very soon on the manifest threat to the earth's climate posed by fossil fuels and the threat to the human species embodied by insane ventures like the Canadian tar sands project.  The verdict of science is clear.  As leading climate scientist James E. Hansen said, the full exploitation of tar sands oil and use by China, or any nation, is "game over for the climate."

Pseudo-Protests and Serious Climate Crisis

"You elected this president. You reelected this president. . . . Stop being chumps!" --Van Jones

Going in, I was of mixed views regarding Sunday's rally in Washington, D.C., to save the earth's climate from the tar sands pipeline.  I still am.

Why on a Sunday when there's no government around to protest, shut down, or interfere with? 

And why all the pro-Obama rhetoric?  Robert Kennedy, Jr., was among the celebrities getting arrested at the White House in the days leading up, and his comment to the media was typical.  Obama won't allow the tar sands pipeline, he said, because Obama has "a strong moral core" and doesn't do really evil things.

As a belief, that's of course delusional.  This is the same president who sorts through a list of men, women, and children to have executed every other Tuesday, and who jokes about it.  This is the guy who's derailed international climate protection efforts for years.  This is the guy who refused the demand to oppose the tar sands pipeline before last year's election.  If he had been compelled to take a stand as a candidate there would be no need for this effort to bring him around as a lame duck.

As a tactic, rather than a belief, the approach of the organizers of Sunday's rally is at least worth questioning.  For one thing, people are going to hear such comments and take them for beliefs.  People are going to believe that the president would never do anything really evil.  In which case, why bother to turn out and rally in protest of what he's doing?  Or if we do turn out, why communicate any serious threat of inconvenience to the president?  On the contrary, why not make the protest into a campaign rally for the president through which we try, post-election, to alter the platform on which the actual candidate campaigned?

The advantage to the expect-the-best-and-the-facts-be-damned approach is clear.  Lots of people like it.  You can't have a mass rally without lots of people.  The organizers of this event are not primarily to blame for how the U.S. public thinks and behaves.  But, then again, if you're trying to maximize your crowd at all costs, hadn't you better really truly maximize it?  Sunday's rally probably suffered from being held on a bitterly cold day, but I suspect that most people who planned to come did come; and I've seen more people on the Mall in the summer for no reason at all, and many times more people on the Mall in the winter for an inauguration (which, in terms of policy based activism, is also nothing at all). 

What if the celebrities generating the news with arrests at the White House were to speak the truth?  What if they committed to nonviolently interfering with the operations of a government destroying the climate?  What if they committed to opposing the Democratic and Republican parties as long as this is their agenda?  What if they said honestly and accurately that the personality of a president matters less than the pressures applied to him, that this president can do good or evil, and that it is our job to compel him to do good?

Sunday's rally, MC'd by former anti-Republican-war activist Lennox Yearwood, looked like an Obama rally.  The posters and banners displayed a modified Obama campaign logo, modified to read "Forward on Climate."  One of the speakers on the stage, Van Jones, declared, "I had the honor of working for this president."  He addressed his remarks to the president and appealed to his morality and supposed good works: "President Obama, all the good that you have done . . . will be wiped out" if you allow the tar sands pipeline.

The pretense in these speeches, including one by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, was consistently that Obama has not already approved part of the pipeline, that he is guilty of inaction, that the government is failing to act, that what's needed is action -- as if our government were not actively promoting the use of, and using vast quantities of fossil fuels, not to mention fighting wars to control the stuff.

Van Jones ended his remarks by addressing himself to "the next generation."  And this is what he had to say: "Stop being chumps! You elected this president. You reelected this president.  You gave him the chance to make history. He needs to give you the chance to have a future. Stop being chumps!  Stop being chumps and fight for your future, thank you very much."

Reading these words, one would imagine that the obvious meaning they carry is "Stop electing people like this who work for parties like this and serve financial interests like these."  What could be a more obvious interpretation?  You elected this guy twice.  He's a lame duck now.  You've lost your leverage.  Stop being such chumps! 

Nothing could be further, I think, from what Van Jones meant or what that crowd on Sunday believed he meant.  This was a speaker who had, just moments before, expressed his pride in having worked in Obama's White House.  The fact that this crowd of Obama-branded "activists" had elected him twice was not mentioned in relation to their chumpiness but as grounds for establishing their right to insist that he not destroy the planet's atmosphere.  They would be chumps if they didn't hold more rallies like this one.

Wait, you might ask, doesn't everyone have the right to insist that powerful governments not destroy the earth's atmosphere? 

Well, maybe, but in Van Jones' thinking, those who committed to voting for Obama twice, no matter what he did, and who have committed to voting for another Democrat no matter what he or she will do, deserve particular attention when they make demands.  Paradoxically, those who can be counted on regardless, who demand nothing and therefore offer nothing, should be the ones who especially get to make demands and have them heard and honored. 

Needless to say, it doesn't actually work that way.

Our celebrity emperors attract a great deal of personal affection or hatred, so when I suggest an alternative to packaging a rally for the climate as a belated campaign event, it may be heard as a suggestion to burn Obama in effigy.  What if there were a third option, namely that of simply demanding the protection of our climate? 

We might lose some of those who enjoyed burning Bush in effigy and some of those who enjoy depicting themselves as friends of the Obama family.  But would we really lose that many?  If the celebrities and organizers took such an honest policy-based approach, if the organizations put in the same money and hired the same busses, etc., how much smaller would Sunday's unimpressive rally have really been?

(And couldn't such a crowd be enlarged enough to more than compensate for any loss, by the simple tactic of promising ahead of time to keep the speeches to a half-hour total and to begin the march on time?  I'd pay money to go to that rally.)

The problem, of course, is that the celebrities and organizers themselves tend to think like Obama campaign workers.  It's not an act.  It's not a tactic aimed at maximizing turnout.  And it's not their fault that they, and so many others, think that way. 

But imagine a realistic, policy-based approach that began to build an independent movement around principled demands.  It would have the potential to grow.  It would have the potential to threaten massive non-cooperation with evil.  It would have the energy of Occupy.  It would have the potential to make a glorious declaration out of what now appears to be self-mockery when oversmall crowds of hungover campaign workers shout "This is what democracy looks like!" as they plod along a permitted parade route.

No.  It really isn't.

Protesting for the Planet - Sun. 2/17 Washington D.C.

by Debra Sweet                 Tuesday night we heard from Barack Obama that climate change demands immediate action, but the solution appears to also be the problem:

"The good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth.  I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago."

Bruce Cumings on “Operational Control” of the South Korean Military

Bruce pictureMost Americans are unaware of the role the U.S. Military has played in Korea since World War II. But, ever since then, the U.S. Military has had “operational control” of the Korean army that continues to this day.

Bruce Cumings, a historian and leading expert on Korea and East Asian American relations explains how and why the U.S. controls a standing army of 650,000. He will also explain why the recent change in U.S. policy of allowing S. Korea to extend the range of its ballistic missiles to reach all of N. Korea, and the sale of drones to S. Korea is causing a rise in tensions between the two Koreas.

At a time when N. Korea is defying the international community and the U.S. for launching rockets and detonating a third nuclear test, the danger of the U.S. being dragged into another conflict with the North because of “operational control” has increased exponentially.

One interesting insight that Bruce offered was that Obama’s “pivot to Asia” isn’t really a pivot to Asia, as it is a pivot out of Afghanistan and the Middle East because the U.S. presence in the Pacific has not changed since the end of WWII. He says, all Obama has done is “”shift”" more resources to places in the South Pacific and East Asia.

Enjoy this informative 10 minute excerpt from the two hour interview with Bruce Cumings.

The Foodopoly: Too Big to Eat


We've come to understand that the banks are too big to fail, too big to take to trial, too big not to let them write our public policy, too big not to reward them for ruining our economy.

Why have we come to understand that? 

We've been told it by a mega media cartel that has itself been deemed too big to fail, too big not to subsidize with our airwaves, too big not to reward with political ads buying back our airwaves in little bits and pieces.

Speaking of which, the buying of elections is moving rapidly in the direction of monopoly ownership itself.

What Obama Said -- and What He Meant -- About Climate Change, War and Civil Liberties

By Norman Solomon

The words in President Obama’s “State of the Union” speech were often lofty, spinning through the air with the greatest of ease and emitting dog whistles as they flew.

Let’s decode the president’s smooth oratory in the realms of climate change, war and civil liberties.

“For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.”

We’ve done so little to combat climate change -- we must do more.

“I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change…”

Climate change is an issue that can be very good for Wall Street. Folks who got the hang of “derivatives” and “credit default swaps” can learn how to handle “cap and trade.” The corporate environmental groups are on board, and maybe we can offer enough goodies to big corporations to make it worth their while to bring enough of Congress along.

Okay -- Don't Believe Me!

 

I was having a hard time falling asleep

When I heard a loud noise coming from the kitchen.

Probably the cat after a mouse

Knocked something off the counter.

I made my way downstairs

Glad to have an excuse to get vertical.

Veterans For Peace Asks Peabody To Stop War on Mother Earth

At 11 am, Friday, Jan. 25, members of Veterans For Peace (VFP), headquartered in St. Louis, and other organizations will gather in Kiener Plaza, across from the headquarters of Peabody Energy Corp. to demand that the company:

  1. Stop all forms of strip mining, including mountaintop removal, a practice it claims to have ended, but which continues with spinoff coal companies like Patriot.

  2. Stop polluting the watershed and air and stop coal extraction in favor of renewable energy sources.  

  3. Return millions in tax breaks to the city of St. Louis. In 2010, Peabody Coal, the largest coal-mining company in the world, received a $61 million tax break from the St. Louis Development Corporation, including $2 million from the St. Louis public schools.  

Veterans for Peace joins with MORE (Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment), RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain People's Survival) and Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) in making these demands.

They are presenting these demands because of concerns such as:

  • Peabody Western Coal Co., a subsidiary of Peabody Energy Corp., has strip-mined Black Mesa, which overlaps Navajo and Hopi lands in the Four Corners area of the Southwest, since 1968. Each year more than one billion gallons of groundwater is removed from the Black Mesa aquifer to make the toxic coal slurry needed to move the coal through a long-distance pipeline.
  • Every day in West Virginia 3 million pounds of high explosives are detonated to remove mountaintops that cover coal seams. Over the course of a year that adds up to 27 times the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Mountains, valleys, streams and the lives of people and wildlife are forever changed and in many cases, destroyed. Peabody, which claims to have stopped MTR, has non-the-less done incalculable damage, while other coal companies like Arch Coal and Patriot Coal (a spin off of Peabody) both  headquartered in St. Louis, still use the process.
  • According to a report by Physicians for Social Responsibility and backed by other groups, pollution from burning coal kills tens of thousands of people each year due to asthma, chronic pulmonary obstruction, emphysema, heart attack, stroke and cancer. http://www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/psr-coal-fullreport.pdf
  • The National Academy of Sciences concluded that coal-fired plants and overall damages from coal cost U. S. taxpayers  an estimated $62 billion in environmental and health outlays in 2005  http://dels.nas.edu/Report/Hidden-Costs-Energy-Unpriced-Consequences/12794?bname=best


VFP national board member Tarak Kauff explained, “There's a battle going on between huge fossil fuel corporations like Peabody Energy Corp. and a growing public interest grassroots movement. In the end this conflict may matter more than those in Viet Nam, Iraq or Afghanistan because the outcome may determine whether life as we know it will continue on this planet. Members of VFP, many who have experienced directly the horrors of war, realize that the war on Mother Earth is potentially the most dangerous war of all. We are more than veterans of war, we are veterans for peace. Real peace is more than just the absence of war. Peace means justice, in this case environmental justice. Raping, polluting and destroying the environment is not justice.”
 
Paul Appell, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, farmer and VFP member, added, "After working the land full time for nearly half a century, I know that one reaps what one sows. In Vietnam I learned that when one sows violence, one reaps blood. As one who has daily witnessed strip-mining here in Knox County, Illinois, for 50-plus years and farmed strip-mined ground for 35, I have experienced the war on Mother Nature. As I stand in solidarity with my fellow citizens protesting Peabody Energy Corporation’s coal removal methods, it is with intimate, firsthand knowledge that violence begets more violence."

The Sierra Club Begins to Get Serious

The Sierra Club has decided to promote nonviolent civil disobedience for the first time.  Before a climate habitable for humans collapsed was probably the right moment, I'd say.  Now might be a time to support and encourage the Sierra Club.  And now might be a time to nudge it further.  The top destroyer of the environment right now is the U.S. military, and the Sierra Club has never wanted to challenge it, but almost began to indirectly when it recently objected to the U.S./South Korean construction of a naval base on Jeju Island.  The Sierra Club is defending its decision to nonviolently resist evil on the grounds that doing so is "patriotic," as if patriotism is a force alligned with preservation of the earth.  More progress is needed.

Growth is the Enemy of Humankind

 

By Dave Lindorff


What is wrong with America?

            

Big question.


Simple answer.

Guatemalans Resist Invasion of North American Mines

By Helen Jaccard and Gerry Condon

In November we traveled to Guatemala to study Spanish and learn about the lives of the indigenous Maya people.  Guatemala is an amazingly beautiful country, with countless mountains and valleys, and 22 volcanoes, the most in Central America. The people are very friendly and good humored. Traditional Mayan culture, mostly observed in the colorful dress of the Mayan women, lives side by side with modernity. Picture a traditionally dressed indigenous peasant woman tending her cattle and sheep on a hillside pasture. Now watch her pull a cell phone out of her skirt to call her children.

US Intelligence Analysts: American Power is in Terminal Decline

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The US is on the way out as a hegemonic power. 


That is the primary conclusion of a new report out of the National Intelligence Council -- a government organization that produces mid-term and long-range thinking for the US intelligence community.


Following the Freeway Blogger

http://freewayblogger.blogspot.com

 I just bought two hundred posters of the earth from space and will be putting them up on west coast freeways for the next few months. Remember all those flags that went up after September 11th? This is like that, except instead of putting signs up after the tragedy, I'll be putting them up before.
 These are the three things that worry me most:
1) The amount of carbon we're putting in the atmosphere.
2) The amount of carbon dioxide and methane seeping out of a now melting permafrost, and
3) The fact that an ice-free Arctic will start absorbing all the heat from the sunlight it used to reflect.

Occupy Sandy: The Movie

Thinking the Unthinkable: What if America’s Leaders Actually Want Catastrophic Climate Change?

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

What if the leaders of the United States -- and by leaders I mean the generals in the Pentagon, the corporate executives of the country’s largest enterprises, and the top officials in government -- have secretly concluded that while world-wide climate change is indeed going to be catastrophic, the US, or more broadly speaking, North America, is fortuitously situated to come out on top in the resulting global struggle for survival?

Where’s the News?: World Bank Warns Globe Could be Cooked by 2060

 

By Dave Lindorff


Run a google search of “World Bank” and “climate change” and you’ll discover that this month the World Bank released a major study predicting a global “cataclysm” if world-wide temperatures increase by a predicted four degrees celsius (that’s roughly 8 degrees fahrenheit).  

Election's Over: It's Time to Organize!

 

By Dave Lindorff


Okay, the etch-a-sketch vulture capitalist who would have given us four years of that smarmy missionionary-at-your-door smile, was thankfully sent packing by the voters, and Barack Obama gets four more years in the White House.


Talk Nation Radio: Gar Smith on Nuclear Roulette

Gar Smith discusses his new book, Nuclear Roulette: The Truth About the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth, which has a foreword by Jerry Mander and Ernest Callenbach.   Gar Smith is editor emeritus of Earth Island Journal, a Project Censored award-winning investigative journalist, and cofounder of Environmentalists Against War.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Drowning on Wall Street and Ending World War II

Imagine if George W. Bush had stood on the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center and declared, "We are going to continue our pursuit of world domination and environmental destruction until the oceans rise, the storms surge, and this spot and all the surrounding streets are drowned in routine floods, destroying the infrastructure, and collapsing the buildings of this great city, while you morons are distracted by my screams for vengeance and genocide against people who've never driven an SUV a block in their lives or ever heard of us."

Imagine if Barack "Clean Coal" Obama had followed the same honest path, and not only competed with Mitt Romney in debates over who could drill more oil, but also stated plainly and openly that the Pentagon is still not ready for World War II to end.

On August 14, 1941, the military brought before the Senate plans to build a permanent building that would be the largest office building in the world and would be called the Pentagon.  Senator Arthur Vandenberg asked for an explanation: "Unless the war is to be permanent, why must we have permanent accommodations for war facilities of such size?" Then he began to catch on: "Or is the war to be permanent?"

We weren't supposed to have standing armies, much less armies standing in everyone else's countries, much less armies fighting wars over the control of fuels that destroy the planet and armies that themselves consume the greatest quantity of those fuels, even though the armies lose all the wars.  Before the Nobel Peace Prize was handed out to war makers, it was intended for those who had done the best work of removing standing armies from the world.  World War II changed everything.

We never went back to pre-WWII taxes or pre-WWII military or pre-WWII restraint in foreign empire or pre-WWII respect for civil liberties or pre-WWII notions of who deserved a Nobel Peace Prize.  We never saw another declaration of war from Congress, but we never stopped using those of 1941, never left Germany, never left Japan, never dismantled the Pentagon.  Instead, as William Blum documents in his remarkable new book, "America's Deadliest Export: Democracy," since the supposed end of WWII, the United States has tried to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of them democratically elected; interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries; attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders; dropped bombs on people in over 30 countries; and attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 nations.

Oh, but we meant well, and we mean well.  Absolutely not so.  There's no "we" involved here.  The U.S. government meant and means global domination, nothing else.  And yet, even foreigners buy the U.S. snake oil.  Gaddafi thought he could please Washington and be spared.  So did the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein.  When Hugo Chavez heard about the coup planned against him in 2002, he sent a representative to Washington to plead his case.  The coup went ahead just the same.  Subcomandante Marcos believed Washington would support the Zapatistas once it understood who they were.  Ho Chi Minh had seen behind the curtain when Woodrow Wilson was president; World War II didn't change quite everything.  Maurice Bishop of Grenada, Cheddi Jagan of British Guiana, and the foreign minister of Guatemala appealed to Washington for peace before the Pentagon overthrew their governments.  "We" don't mean well when we threaten war on Iran any more than we meant well when "we" overthrew Iran's government in 1953.  The U.S. government has the very same agenda it had in 1953 because it is still engaged in the very same war, the war without end.

At the very moment of supreme moral pretense in 1946, as the United States was leading the prosecution of Nazi war crimes and killing the Nazis found guilty, at the very moment when Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson was declaring that those who sat in judgment at Nuremberg would be subject to the same standard of law, the United States was giving Guatemalans syphilis to see what would happen to them, and importing Nazi scientists by the dozen to work for the Pentagon.  The war to save 6 million Jews that in reality condemned them and 60 million others to death, the war of innocence that followed the arming of the Chinese and the British, and before that the arming of the Nazis and Japanese, the war against empire that in reality spread the largest empire the earth has known, the war against inhumanity that in reality developed and used the greatest weapons ever directed against humans: that war wasn't a triumph; it IS a triumph.  It has never ended.  We've never stopped making our children pledge allegiance like little fascists.  We've never stopped dumping our money into the complex that Dwight Eisenhower warned us would exert total influence over our society.  We've never stopped to consider whether attacks on a finite planet must end someday.  Truman showed Stalin a couple of bombs, and the goddamn flags haven't stopped waving yet.

If you don't believe me, read more William Blum.  The Marshall Plan was a plan for domination -- smarter and more skillful domination than some other attempts -- but still domination.  U.S. capitalist control was the highest purpose.  Sabotage of leftist political gains was the primary approach.  It's never changed.  Dictators that play along have "our" full support.  Don't go looking for "humanitarian" attacks by NATO in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia or Jordan or UAE or Qatar or Kuwait or Yemen, any more than Obama was willing to turn against Ben Ali or Mubarak or Gadaffi or Assad until doing so appeared strategic for the pursuit of global domination.  The United States does not intervene.  It never intervenes.  It is incapable of intervening.  This is because it is already intervened everywhere.  What it calls intervening is actually switching sides.

If you don't believe me, read a short new book by Nick Turse called "The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Spies, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare."  The "new" U.S. military is not a return to pre-WWII, not a reduction in financial expense, not a redirection away from global domination, not a shift toward somehow becoming defensive rather than offensive.  The "new" military is a technological and tactical tweaking of the existing U.S. empire based on racist exploitation.  Here's what's new:

The branches are blurring.  The military, CIA, State Department, and Drug Enforcement Agency are becoming a team that operates in secret at the behest of the President.  (Before you cheer, stop and consider that come January the president may belong to the Bad Team.)  The Pentagon now has its own "intelligence" agency, while the State Department has its own office of proxy war making.  U.S. Special Forces are active in 70 nations on any given day, on behalf of the President, without the authorization of Congress, and in the name of the uninformed people of the United States.  The "special" forces, operating under the acronyms SOCOM and JSOC, are no longer special for being smaller.  They're special for having the power to operate in greater secrecy and without the apparent limitation of any laws whatsoever. 

Remember that raid that killed Osama bin Laden?  Yay! Hurray! Whooo Hooo! Murder is sooooooo cool.  But did you know that soldiers working for you do at least a dozen such raids somewhere in the world on any given night?  Are you confident that everyone killed in a dozen raids a night is also Pure Satanic Evil deserving of execution without charge or trial?  Are you certain that this practice sets a good example?  Would you support other nations adopting its use?  "Our" "special" forces are now larger than most nations' militaries, and we don't have the slightest idea what those forces are doing.  "Our access [to foreign countries]," says Eric Olson, former chief of Special Operations Command, "depends on our ability to not talk about it."  Got that?  Your hero-murderers want you to keep quiet.

Here's what's new: the U.S. military has set up dozens of bases all over the world from which to fly killer robots known as drones.  And there are dozens of bases all over the United States involved in the drone wars.  Turse helpfully lists them; I guarantee there's at least one near you.  Here in Virginia at Langley Air Force Base our brave desk-murderers watch what they oh-so-comically call "Death TV" -- the live video feeds from drones flying over people's homes on the other side of the world.  At Fort Benning in Georgia, where the annual protest of the School of the Americas torture school is coming up soon, they're testing drones that can shoot to kill without human input.  What could go wrong?  Not only has the blowback begun, but it's how we learn where some of the drone bases are.  In 2009, a suicide attack killed CIA officers and mercenaries at Forward Operating Base Chapman in the Khost province of Afghanistan, and only then did we learn that the base was used for targeting drone murders in Pakistan. 

This is of course apart from the usual blowback of greatly heightened hostility which is being produced by the U.S. military in nations all over the world.  The 2010 attack on Libya, for example, resulted in well-armed Tuareg mercenaries, who had backed Gadaffi, heading back to Mali, destabilizing that country, and producing a military coup by a U.S.-trained officer, as well as parts of the country being seized by the latest al Qaeda affiliate.  And that's in Mali.  Never mind what a paradise Libya has become post liberation!

Many of the bases the U.S. military uses abroad are in nations less heavily occupied than Afghanistan.  They are permitted to operate where they do by the nasty governments of those nations, thanks to U.S. support for dictatorship.  This explains why the Arab Spring produced so much footage of U.S.-made armored personnel carriers, tanks, helicopters, and tear gas.  The Obama administration is eagerly increasing supplies of U.S.-made weaponry to the very regimes beating, jailing, and killing pro-democracy activists.  Repeat after me: "But it's a jobs program." 

In fact, it's a major jobs program.  The Pentagon/State Department markets U.S. weapons abroad, and the U.S. tripled its sales of weapons abroad last year, now accounting for 85% of international weapons sales.

But the weapons sales are the least of it.  The United States now maintains its own troops in most nations on the earth and engages in joint training exercises with the local militaries.  The biggest areas for base construction today are probably Afghanistan and Africa.  Despite the supposed "winding down" of the war on Afghanistan over the next 2 or 12 years, base construction is moving ahead full steam, including new "secret" bases for "special" forces, new "secret" drone bases, and new prisons.  The thinking -- and I use the term generously -- in Afghanistan and around the globe is that the United States should let the locals do more of the killing and dying.  Of course, this hasn't worked in Afghanistan or Iraq, any more than it worked in Vietnam.  In Afghanistan, a proxy war in the 1980s produced notable blowback that can only be appreciated by fanatics for continued war, not by residents of New York City. 

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Countrywomen, let's grow the fuck up.  Stop blaming an imaginary being for a storm that you and your government produced.  Stop thanking "God" for sparing one house while wiping out another.  Put down the flags and the bullshit love of country.  If you want to love this country you'll have to love the planet it's on.  If you want to love this planet you'll have to love all of its people, and all of its other life forms.  The storms are our own creation.  The rising ocean is our own knowing act.  If we want to turn this trend around we will have to shut down the Department of Defense and create a new department aimed at defending us from dangers that actually exist.

A Nation Armed to the Teeth but Living in Fear

 

By Dave Lindorff


A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana, showing that young children who are fearful in childhood are likely to be conservative when they grow up got me to thinking.


Obama Campaign Displays Democratic Dysfunction and Warnings of Future Betrayal

 

By Dave Lindorff


We know that there isn't much "Hope" for "Change" -- at least for progressive change -- should President Obama win a second term as president.

Even when he had the chance, with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress during the first two years of his presidency, and with a solid mandate from the voters to act on restoring civil liberties, taking significant action against climate change, ending the wars and defending Social Security and Medicare, he did nothing.

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