Archive for January, 2010

Plea for Obama to do something good.

January 26, 2010

I am of the working class, and I object to Obama as much as I did Bush.
This is not just because his wars cost too much money and sacrifice too many lives
 (although they do), or even because he continued the Bush bailouts (among the biggest scandals in human history).
No, my main reason is that he has done nothing — not a single thing — to win even a hint of affection from me.
I’ll admit I never liked him, but still I have to say:
“C’mon Obama, do something really good!
We’ve heard you criticise so-called conservatives, but now it’s time to set yourself far apart!”
We remain a militaristic country, and quite broken economically in part because of it.
And did we buy ourselves a legitimate moral high-horse?
Not in my book.
Our less than subtle foreign policy seems to say to those we’re “liberating”:
“Well, if we kill enough people overall, of course it’ll
be harder for anyone to effectively fight back.”
More importantly, war deaths and war debts would have been reduced significantly, and
there wouldn’t have been insurgents and “foreign fighters” in Iraq,
had the US invasion never occurred.
Similarly, one wonders how long Saddam would have lasted without
 crucial American aid.
You probably didn’t read it in an article in your local paper,
but our government essentially created a monster in Iraq.

Now I can only ask, how many more monsters do we have in store?

The “Choose your divine revelation” theory

January 20, 2010

Religion can be bent to fit your politics, and vice versa.
I’ve decided to call this the “Choose your divine revelation” theory.
Following are some examples.
They may not be the best ones, but they should do the trick.

Though you wouldn’t know it by watching most mainstream media, there
 are religious groups in America that are relatively progressive.
For example, on Feb. 25, 2003 a National Council of Churches delegation
went on a trip to Rome to urge the Pope to address the Iraq War, as well as
“jobs and income, health care,
hunger, and housing and homelessness.”
In the press release I’m quoting, a “Poverty March” is mentioned:
“Special events include a series of national and local activities
 during ‘Cover the Uninsured Week,’…co-sponsored
by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, faith groups and other
organizations; a congress on urban ministry in Chicago; and a
seminar on sustainable rural communities.”

And, according to Burton Reifler, a
physician and national program director for Faith in Action,
religions have in common “a mandate to do good works
by helping those who need assistance.”

However, a Christian Rightwing Republican-dominated government had a different interpretaton of
 “good works,” which led to stories like this one from the New York Times
 (November 21, 2009):
“American and Afghan officials have begun helping a number of
 anti-Taliban militias that have independently taken up arms against
insurgents in several parts of Afghanistan, prompting hopes of a
large-scale tribal rebellion against the Taliban.
The emergence of the militias, which took some leaders in
 Kabul by surprise, has so encouraged the American and Afghan
officials that they are planning to spur the growth of
 similar armed groups across the Taliban heartland in the southern
and eastern parts of the country.
The American and Afghan officials say they are hoping the
 plan, called the Community Defense Initiative, will bring together thousands
 of gunmen to protect their neighborhoods from Taliban insurgents.
Already there are hundreds of Afghans who are acting on
their own against the Taliban, officials say.
The endeavor represents one of the most ambitious — and one
of the riskiest — plans for regaining the initiative against the
 Taliban, who are fighting more vigorously than at any time
since 2001.” 

“Ah,” I said at the time, “the plot thickens, like the semi-goopy texture of
 a vat full of feces.”
This decision sounded like divine revelation to me.
Here’s what I mean:
The United States, with immense faith in its own “good work,” decided,
 “Hey, why not just start arming these people!  Surely, that’s never
 backfired in the past!”
And, yes, one may have faith that, if it would somehow backfire, a future President could
always win accolades for eventually improving relations with the country
 in question — assuming it’s still a country and not just a rubble heap, of course.
And Jesus wept. 


1.  “NCC delegation heads to Rome,” Worldwide Faith News archives, Feb. 25, 2003:

2.  “Millions become available in grants for care-giving programs,” United Methodist News Service, 12/19/2001:
3.  “Afghan Militias Battle Taliban With Aid of U.S.,” Dexter Filins, The New York Times, November 21, 2009:

Sometimes I wonder if this system is deliberately wrong.

January 16, 2010

In the name of freedom, America’s government wants to lock people up without trial, evidence, or even formal charges.
 They’ll change the law to assist in this tyranny, but the basic standard of having trials is not strictly a legal or constitutional one anyway, but a logical one.  Evidence and charges become even more important when we know — as anyone can discover — that  people are often arrested as “terror suspects” without doing anything wrong. We know there have been mass arrests in Iraq, for example, where surely not every single person arrested did anything “terroristic.”  Proving innocence or guilt is better than simply assuming things and, contrary to right-wing media says, equal standards of justice will not automatically increase the risk of terror attacks. 

As I’ve already touched upon the subject, I’ll note how absolutely crazy US foreign policy has become, and how the US can actually do very little to prevent things getting worse. While we claim to object to terrorism and certain weapons falling into “the wrong hands,” we should consider, for example, our ally Pakistan.  Pakistan has a nuclear policy that, to any sane American, has become a liability rather than an asset.  Then there is nuclear-armed Israel and, of course, the supreme irony that the United States — the country so concerned about nuclear violence — is the only country in the world to have attacked another with nuclear weapons.  Such hypocrisy tends to go unnoticed, even as “national security” becomes ever more convoluted — and it will continue to worsen as long as huge profits in taxpayer money are available. 

And yes, due to our faltering economy, our military has become the employer of last resort.  It obviously wouldn’t enjoy as much support if (a) people weren’t so highly indoctrinated and (b) we lived in a free economy. 

General observations become relevant: 
Wise folks through the ages have criticized material greed and the accumulation of wealth, noting how it fosters social problems.  I say that if everyone, or even a substantial portion of a community, is only interested in making money and owning stuff,  they have a mental illness for which I have no cure.  Look at money itself:  First of all, wages — at least as they are now — symbolize systematic inequality. You’re having money given to you by a system, by managers and bosses you are subordinate to.  You are, by way of the monopolies of state and capitalist institutions, compelled to use money to access land in general, and most goods and services.  That’s a form of inequality, and, to my knowledge, it’s systematic.  Money should be considered an IOU and nothing more.  But that’s not what it’s intended for.  
I should touch upon something else:  Many critics of a would-be self-managed, libertarian socialist economy assume (rather bizarrely) that needed goods wouldn’t be part of worker self-fulfillment and that every last bit of economic production would cease.  Anarchist Spain proves that theory dead wrong, but the point is still argued.   It’s also assumed that a freer society would be a more violent one; as if liberty means a great man would lose all his luster, and that previously peaceful people would instantaneously begin rioting (and, I assume, suddenly decide to push grandma down the stairs).  Of course, if it’s true that all good will and social order wears out so very quickly without governmental authority, we’re screwed no matter what we do.  Thankfully, though, that’s only a myth perpetuated to keep illegitimate authority around, and the people afraid of themselves.

What more incentive do we need?

January 15, 2010

What more incentive do we need?

Please watch this:

Anarchist Spain was incredible, and the benefits were clear to see.
But let’s pretend Spanish anarchists weren’t better off self-managed. Even if that were true, I’d simply argue that self-determination trumps efficiency in any case.

And we’ll need to challenge our system if we want anything to improve.   But we’re pretty well trained to fear and hate anything different.
Communism was an effective boogeyman, and now it’s terrorism, and states that”support terrorism” (something America somehow hasn’t done — we’re not capable of doing anything terrible, or we can always shrug it off like it’s nothing significant).
Given all this, I wouldn’t be surprised if the United States quits any nuclear talks with anyone. We have a militarized economy, and presumably the government wants strong, profitable relationships with its allies against a threat that people can actually believe in. And many people are dumb enough to cling to the status quo, however awful it becomes.
I’m not saying I’m perfect, just that there are people who were born yesterday, so to speak, and that I’m not one of them. I’m aware that I may be wrong about this or that, and am therefore quite open to modifying my opinions to reflect actual facts.
Importantly, I try to be honest online about who I actually am. I’ll say what I think. My views may appear to some as “extreme,” but they’re pretty ordinary and plain to see, I think. Quite simply, I think our militarized rentier economy is pretty extreme, and fosters much hardship in the world.
… See More
Just for clarification, here is what “rentier capitalism” (a main cause of our socio-economic ills) entails:
“Rentier capitalism is a term used in Marxism and sociology which refers to a type of capitalism where a large amount of profit-income generated takes the form of property income, received as interest, rents, dividends, or capital gains.
The beneficiaries of this income are a property-owning social class who play no productive role in the economy themselves but who monopolise the access to physical assets, financial assets and technologies. They make money not from producing anything new themselves, but purely from their ownership of property (which provides a claim to a revenue stream) and dealing in that property.”

But the “Right” just doesn’t get it. Many of the social problems they bitch about would be decently addressed by abolishing the rentier economy; an economy that’s failing on its own right now anyway. I mean, what more incentive do we need?

My post on Barack Obama’s blog

January 6, 2010

Here is what Obama said on his Myspace blog:
“Thanks in no small part to your incredible work and
dedication, we have taken another step towards creating jobs and
 rebuilding our struggling economy.
Last week, the budget I submitted to Congress passed both
the House and the Senate and it embraces our most
 fundamental priorities: an energy plan that will end our dependence
 on foreign oil and spur a new clean energy economy;
an education system that will give our children the tools
to compete in the economy of the 21st century; and
health care reform that finally confronts the back-breaking costs
 plaguing families, businesses and government alike.”
My post on Barack Obama’s blog (I even tried to be polite):
In the words of American composer Jerome Kern:
       “Nothing’s impossible I have found,
       for when you find yourself on the ground
       you pick yourself up, dust yourself off,
       and start all over again.” 

That being said, Mr. Obama, I tend to agree with Michael Lind’s statement that America is “divided between rentiers and menial service-sector proles,” which does not bode well for workers in a global industrial economy.  My point is, if such a division did not exist, and if workers and non-workers alike had a greater voice in the economy, we wouldn’t even have to “bring health care to every American”, for I assume they’d already have access to care they desire and deserve.
But America is still regressing by any standard.  I encourage anyone (even a White House staffer) reading this post to look into the following story, an example of just how easy it is for average Americans to become homeless in this pitiful “rentier” economy:  

Thank you for your time, if indeed anyone has read this…  

Do you think it will be read and posted as a comment?  I doubt it.  But I figured I’d give it a shot.