Just a theory . . .

Can you imagine?  Many ancient cities and monuments were built by dragging enormous blocks of stone on sleds.  It took hundreds of slaves to move giant boulders and huge slabs of cut rock into position.

Then someone suggested putting logs under the sleds, permitting a reduced number of slaves to push the incredibly heavy pieces along, or the same number of slaves to move the load much more quickly.  This also allowed transporting even more monstrous blocks of cut stone and other bulky components. Some of the great wonders of the world came out of this simple suggestion, which seems obvious to us now.

Who thought of that?  Some inventive member of the royal court?  Maybe one of the slave foremen who was trying to score some points with the king?

Who subsequently made the astonishing mental leap to create the wheel?  To make a large disk, drill a hole in the center, mount it on a long shaft attached to the “sled”?

Was it some cosmic thinker?

Maybe it was a slave who thought it might be his ticket to freedom. You can imagine him getting 50 lashes for dilly-dallying, drawing his theory for revolutionizing transportation for the entire future of mankind, in the sand with a stick . . .

“Listen, I have this idea for making . . . Ow! . . . Damn!  That really hurts! . . . It’s just a theory but . . . AAAAAH! . . .”

My latest political book came out June 7.  To put it mildly, it’s been an interesting couple months.

I’ve sent out over 900 copies. The book is a step-by-step plan for radical electoral reform, designed specifically to address the pandemic corruption among our elected politicos. It outlines in detail a real alternative to the two-party monopoly which has crippled our system. These copies went to independent political candidates and campaign managers, party campaign strategists, political analysts, academicians, pundits, journalists, opinion makers, bloggers, across a wide diversity of institutions __ colleges and universities, think tanks, media outlets, local and national political organizations.

I can’t say the response is very encouraging.

Most people don’t have time or are simply not interested in something outside-the-box and paradigm-shifting. Big ideas are the stuff of lunatics or delusionals. Everyone knows that change crawls along like a turtle and the hares should be put on Ritalin.

One moderately famous activist __ most progressives would know him, as he is involved in a lot of grass roots work and is regularly published in the media outlets of the left __ while tearing me a new anal sphincter, pointed out all of the ridiculous flaws and dead ends he could see in my worthless ideas. In a series of several long emails, he demolished my plan point-by-point, taking down one idea after another, condemning it all as just more of the same stuff that he typically finds in “these kinds of books”.

Of course, none of the ideas he so devastatingly ripped to shreds actually appeared in my book.  He had clearly not read it, or any portion of it.  The ideas he found easy to dismiss were the ones he assumed were there, I guess by looking at the title and the book cover.

When I pointed this out to him, I was accused of being obnoxious and too sensitive to criticism.  The capper was accusing me in no uncertain terms of being out-of-control, hysterical, and going ballistic.

Granted, I’m not by any stretch a master of diplomacy. But I didn’t think that telling him that he might want to actually read the book before wasting any more of his or my time carrying on about how worthless it was, would be considered unreasonable or impolitic.

He concluded six very long, detailed emails by saying whatever the particulars of my strategy might be, it was “just a theory”.

Just a theory?

What is that supposed to mean?

A theory.

You mean like drilling a hole in a large disk, mounting it on an axle?

Am I comparing my approach to electoral reform to something as profound and truly history-shaping as the invention of the wheel?

Of course not. Maybe I’m more like the guy at the bottom of a lake who suggested making boats out of concrete instead of wood.

But . . .

How will we ever know if we don’t try?

How will we see any progress if we don’t look at new ideas, fresh approaches?

How does anyone new get heard when “established” experts go off like a cluster bomb when anyone encroaches on the staked-out territory of their self-proclaimed expertise?

Having said that . . . let me finish on a more positive note.

Other than a few very negative responses like the one I just described, and the 99% of those 900+ who didn’t respond at all, I did get some encouragement.

I’m not a name-dropper, so I’m not going to give you names.

But a very well-known government whistle-blower, certainly famous in circles of people concerned about the errant ways of the CIA and NSA on torture and spying, read my book cover-to-cover and said this:

“It is absolutely outstanding — a public service, really.  You made it analytic, yet easy to understand, logical, and convincing. Well done.”

Another individual whose name the vast majority of Americans would know, who is widely respected as a progressive fighter and a fierce advocate for peace, a gentleman who served his country for most of his life, and has even run for president, called me from Washington DC and we talked for twenty minutes. He said my ideas were promising, that the kind of creative and unique thinking I brought to the difficult challenges of electoral reform and restoring representative democracy, were quite welcome and certainly valuable. He said that typically now, many established thinkers were locked into methodologies that didn’t work. Dramatic change would only come from dramatic and bold new ideas.

I’m not going to pretend it didn’t feel good to get some positive feedback, especially from two individuals who I respect and admire on a lot of different levels.

At the same time __ and I sincerely mean this __ a nice pat on the back is not what I’m looking for.  Approval is great but it’s not what drives me to do the enormous amount of work that goes into a book like this, or even writing my political blogs and magazine articles.  There’s much more:

I’d like to see some serious changes in both the way we see things and the way government does things.

I’d like to see people become inspired again to get involved, particularly young people who mostly don’t vote or believe that politics is worth their time and attention.

I’d like to see the cynicism about the potential for change to be replaced with genuine hope and a positive vision for the future.

I’d like to make a constructive and enduring contribution to discussions and debates, be one of the voices which injects energy and fresh ideas into the national conversation.

But then I am sometimes prompted to ask . . . what national conversation?

It seems like everyone is talking. No one is listening.

Is citizen engagement possible when so many of those we look to for leadership themselves are not engaged?

Is it possible for groups of people working together __ and there are many phenomenal, highly motivated activist organizations these days doing their best, trying to get America back on track, attempting to shape a better future for themselves and generations to come __ to force our leaders to change their ways?

Is it possible for one citizen to make a difference anymore?

Or is that just a theory?

Posted in Books, Creativity, Deconstruction, Democracy, Political Analysis, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beauty . . . is everywhere!

I often jokingly say . . .

“Beauty is in the eyelids of the beholder.”

There is an element of truth in this. It suggests that the world is sometimes such an ugly, offensive place, we must resort to projecting within our mind’s eye an imagined reality, creating a beauty that’s not really there but meets our craving for visual delight.

I just returned from three weeks in Scandinavia, the fulfillment of a lifelong yearning to see this unique part of the world.

A few of those days were spent in Norway, and I am convinced that it may be the most beautiful country in the world. The photo at the head of this blog is the Geirangerfjord, which is indescribable __ even the above picture can’t begin to capture the breathtaking majesty of this phenomenal place.

Since my return home, I’ve introduced into my routine something new. I’ve started to climb a small mountain __ maybe 1100 feet __ three times a week.

Besides improving my stamina, it has also resulted in a profound epiphany.

This is the view from the top . . .

If you have a good arm, you could throw a rock and hit my house from up here. It is less than 3/4 of a mile from my doorstep to the trail head and only takes a few minutes to get there on my bike.

Here are some other highlights of the hike, which takes about an hour round trip.

Getting back to the epiphany . . .

When I was in Africa working for a number of NGOs, we would visit various local organizations which were giving much-needed help to area residents. This is a photo from a visit to an AIDS/HIV orphanage.

Like the other 120 children there, this little girl was HIV positive. In this region __ the poorest, most-backward sub-county in Uganda __ that is a death sentence.  This lovely, innocent child is probably dead now.  She took a special liking to me, was so giggly and full of life at the time, full of the blind optimism of youth.

It’s heartbreaking to think about.

In any case, on my official visits, I was usually asked to sign an organization’s guest book. On one of my walks up the mountain the other morning, I remembered what I used to always write above my signature . . .

“There is beauty everywhere.”

In the midst of the worst squalor and unconscionable living conditions, immersed in the uncertainty and despair of the most hopeless situations, one can find beauty.

Though I’m glad I did, I didn’t have to fly 5,200 miles for a view that would take my breath away after all.

It was right down the street.

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Donald Knows Best

It’s obvious why everyone loves Donald Trump. He’s saying the right things and people finally have someone speaking their minds. He’s spewing the ignorant, hateful, ill-informed, and entirely irrational stuff a lot of folks have been thinking but were too embarrassed to say themselves.

Hillary’s handlers have her saying the right things too, but there’s a reason why she is not resonating. Everyone knows she’s a pathological liar, a political chameleon, a sociopathic warmonger, and a self-aggrandizing opportunist. And those are her pluses. It goes downhill from there. Just like her recent poll numbers.

Granted, Donald Trump isn’t the sharpest needle in the haystack.

But the office of president is a team effort. Thus, what Grand Canyon-size deficiencies the master of the comb-over might bring to the job can readily be offset by making the right Cabinet appointments.

Thus, I’ve taken the liberty of putting together the Donald Trump dream team. They all coincidentally are named Donald, which in a twisted way assures absolute transparency. Whatever flashes of genius come from this synergistic partnership as they lead America into a new age of peace, love, harmony, respect, and national pride, we’ll always know:

“It was Donald’s idea.”

Here we go . . .

Donald Sutherland: Secretary of Bible Studies. I don’t know where he stands politically __ he’s probably another closet Communist like 99% of those Hollywood liberals __ or what his religious inclinations are, but look at that beard and hair! My goodness, it’s enough to make Moses twitch with envy.

In terms of credentials, did you see him in MASH?

What a cut up!

Donald Rumsfeld: Secretary of Known Unknowns. This probably comes as a surprise. But considering the other appointments and being entirely objective about President Trump himself, I truly felt his administration needed some sex appeal.  Granted, at 83, Rumsfeld probably seems like an odd choice, given the availability of Donald “Donny” Osmond. But the fact is, Rumsfeld who was literally a sex god during the George W. Bush presidency is still living up to his libidinous image with the ladies as “yummy Rummy” __ even as his evident decay accelerates. Hey, what can I say? Like the expression goes . . . Some people have just got it, baby!

Donald O’Connor: Secretary of State. So many of our politicos are accused of dancing around the truth. Well, here’s a guy who can really dance!  Who can forget his sensational make-’em-laugh routine in “Singing In The Rain”?

Granted, this phenomenal talent has been dead for over a decade. But this is actually an advantage. He won’t be able to wreak as much chaos and destruction, or further destroy America’s reputation in the world, as his recent maniacal predecessors. Besides, even dead he has more charisma than John Kerry.

Donald Duck: Secretary of the Treasury. Okay okay. I’m stretching it here. A cartoon character? Actually, when it comes to things like the debt ceiling, the responsibility of shaping a coherent budget, the U.S. honoring its financial obligations, abiding by international law, or just handling the press, ‘duck’ seems to be the operating word.

Besides, after having Timothy Geitner as Secretary of the Treasury, and watching all of the other Wall Street crooks sucking up to the Obama administration, it will be refreshing to have someone looking after our nation’s financial interests who comes with no nasty baggage.  Name one major scandal involving Donald Duck, and I’ll send you my entire collection of Kajagoogoo posters.

Yo! MC Donald: Secretary of Education in the Popular Arts. Here’s a guy with a real solid rap sheet. Successful entrepreneur, acclaimed and respected nutritionist, great role model, loved by the whole family, an all-around good guy. Beyond putting a smile on reporters’ pouty little pusses during press conferences, his is the sort of “public face” America needs today across the globe to offset its standing reputation as a warmongering rogue nation. And how can you not love this man? It has been rumored that based on the enormous success of teaching Ebonics in the public schools, this forward-thinking adviser to President Trump will be introducing “Beginning and Advanced Rap” into the curricula of all federally-funded school districts. Every student will receive a free rhyming dictionary, plus a 75-watt signature Kanye West beat box will be provided for every class room.

Admit it.  Isn’t this what makes America great?  Everyone else in the world takes all this political stuff WAY TOO SERIOUSLY, whereas here in the U.S. we know that it’s all just a TV sitcom, merely another way to market more stuff, an ever-abounding assembly line of products we never knew we needed until we saw them on television and in YouTube ads.

Which, by the way, includes a phenomenal selection of Donald Trump tie clasps, charm bracelets, t-shirts, action figures, and bronze busts for the mantle or dining room table.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Once Trump takes the oath of office, the price of this stuff is going through the roof!

Posted in Deconstruction, Political Analysis, Satire, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nothing new . . . but who knew or even knows now?

I finally got around to reading Confessions of An Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about America and is concerned with the recent proliferation of events and crises which appear to be sabotaging much of what most of us hold dear about our country. I especially recommend it to people out there who have naively bought into the satisfying but quite simplistic notion that everything our country does is wonderful and altruistic, that our primary mission in the world is and has been to spread democracy, promote justice and human rights, fight for freedom and equality, that the U.S. just wants peace and only resorts to violence and military conflict as a last resort.

I do this, not to shock anyone, or pursue some malicious agenda.

I do this because humankind appears to be rushing headlong down a suicidal path which can only result in the extinction of our species, yet somehow we face our self-annihilation not with alarm and trepidation, but embrace and celebrate most of what is taking us there, with glee and joyful abandon. Actually, much of what the book talks about has been going on, unbeknownst to most of us (including myself), for a long time. And I believe the only way to turn things around and begin constructive and cooperative engagement with the rest of the world community __ if it’s not too late __ is to fully understand what the worst of these activities consists of, to openly confront what has been done in our names as U.S. citizens, and analyze what prompts such sinister pursuits, towards demanding this ugly business immediately stop.

Much of what I discovered in Confessions aligned with my already deeply held suspicions about the “purity” of our values and intentions, and my intuitive sense of the hollowness of the self-congratulatory rhetoric we disseminate as to our exceptional role in history as the nation chosen by destiny to lead.

But going far beyond those superficial impressions, Perkins’ highly readable exposition provided a thorough and clear narrative which explains, among other things, what often appear to be dubious, self-sabotaging decisions by our political leaders, decisions which seem to be at odds with the broader interests of the country. It also goes a long way toward explaining why America’s favored approach is quickly making us the most hated empire in modern times.

Our methodology is easy to grasp.  America sends out some of its finest economic advisers to developing countries in the world to recommend taking on huge loans for infrastructure development.  These are provided mostly through the IMF and World Bank.  Our advisers are referred to as EHMs, as in ‘economic hit men’, and their job is to use all sorts of highly sophisticated models, dense and incomprehensible statistics and other persuasive devices, to conjure overly-optimistic forecasts for all of the wonderful benefits of taking on highly inflated bank loans. These loans are never intended to be paid back. They are by design so onerous they guarantee default, at which time the banks go into the country and take over national assets, plunder the natural resources __ oil, gas, diamonds, precious metals __ and privatize the public services.  Essentially, the banks “repo” the country.  By the way, we have been watching this exact scenario unfold in Greece over the past couple years. Tragically, Ukraine has also bought into this shell game.

This is what imperialism looks like in the 21st Century. America is conquering the world, one country at a time, using its own wealth and powerful economic institutions to gobble up naive and unsuspecting victim countries, impoverishing their populations, enriching their oligarchic class (who get a nice cut of the initial loans but force their own citizens to pay the loan balance), stripping the wealth that could have been used to raise the countries out of poverty, and lastly gaining a permanent foothold for our military bases and further corporate exploitation.

The real kicker is that the money for these loans never arrives in the countries themselves. These deals are arranged so that the public works projects __ dams, hydroelectric plants, communication systems, and other infrastructure __ are all performed by giant American corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel. The loans go from the banks into the coffers of these behemoths, with virtually none of it trickling down to help the local populations.

So we loan the country money they can never repay, the money goes to U.S. corporations, the country defaults, we go in and plunder the nation’s resources, our already incredibly wealthy .01% who own the corporations get even richer, America ends up with another vassal state, and the people of the country sink even deeper in misery.

This is what passes for the noble work of the U.S. across our globe.

I would love to say that I admire Mr. Perkins for his “confession”. I certainly appreciate the insider view he has given into the vicious enterprise which he himself participated in and benefited from over most of his life.  He claims that he had moral issues with what he was doing over the entire course of his career. That he waited over thirty years, during which time he accumulated a sizable fortune and lived the privileged life of a high-level corporate executive, before he finally made the break from his notorious, highly destructive career as an EHM, casts a long shadow of doubt as to his honor and how much praise he deserves for his late-adopted penitent role as whistle blower.

We all make difficult choices in life, putting career before art, sometimes job before family or community service. But for most of us, the little compromises and rationalizations don’t result in the destruction of whole countries, uprooting of hundreds of thousands of people, genocide of indigenous tribes, ruination of rain forests, the poisoning and devastation of entire ecosystems, wholesale plundering of economies, the enslavement of millions of innocent individuals, or accelerating the crippling wealth inequality across the planet.

Mr. Perkins should be commended for telling his story and giving invaluable insights into the behind-the-scenes workings of U.S. foreign policy, but he certainly should not be given a pass for the decades he gave in service to such horrifying plunder, especially considering his dedication and effectiveness as a corporate sellout of the worst kind ultimately made possible this book, which will net him even more income, yet another reward for his villainous role as an economic hit man.

Posted in Banking, Books, Corporatism, Democracy, Economics, Political Analysis, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Man Who Loved Too Much Trilogy

Hard at work on "The Man Who Loved Too Much" in Pokhara, Nepal . . . May 2009.

I confess to being schizophrenic.

There are two distinct personalities co-existing in this one John Rachel.

One is the political, driving my skewed commentary on world events … often resulting in death threats.

The other is the artistic, inspiring my work as a novelist. This often results in … more death threats.

Hmm.  Am I doing something wrong?

In any case, everyone can breathe easy. This is not a political rant.

In fact, it’s a celebration!

Six years ago, while living in Nepal and India, I wrote the initial draft of The Man Who Loved Too Much. Gosh, I was proud, hopeful, ecstatic. Much work and many long hours went into this patently semi-autobiographical tome, which weighed in at over 800 pages.

Like the clueless and naive apprentice that I was, I sent my masterpiece out to hundreds of publishers and literary agents. The unanimous reaction was that it was too long! Too long? Maybe I should have called it The Man Who Wrote Too Much.

Understandably, I was both confused and disappointed. The Bible is more than 800 pages and look how well it has sold!

I went into a self-destructive death spiral of anxiety and depression, tragically resulting in my suicide __ asphyxiation by immersing my face in an iron pot full of dal bhat.

Ha ha ha!  Just seeing if you were paying attention.

Actually, I put the book aside and wrote five more novels, hundreds of political blogs __ apparently my appetite for death threats is insatiable __ three screenplays, a number of songs, carved my initials in a bench at a city bus stop, sent out over 6,000 Tweets . . . and changed the banner on my Facebook page three times. Wow! Talk about being productive. I’m so impressed with myself!

Anyway, my lovely wife and I were camping through Europe a couple summers ago, when I was gobsmacked by an epiphany. Our tent was pitched outside of Bern, Switzerland, and I was floating on my back in the cold Alpine waters of the Aare River . . . when it hit me.

The Man Who Loved Too Much should be a trilogy!

Yes, I would take that monster the size of the New York Manhattan phone directory and split it into three. With a blessedness that would rival the Trinity in the greater scheme of things, people would then flock to my inspired words.  Surely these novels would kick the Bible itself out of first place as the best selling book ever!

As they say, the rest is history.

Six years.

My trilogy is complete.

When sending death threats, please attach a $100 bill.

_______________________________________________________

The Man Who Loved Too Much – Book 1: Archipelago

Fellow lovers of literature! Here we begin the story of Billy Green. With all of the swell advantages of growing up in beautiful Detroit, Michigan . . . what could possibly go wrong? Aren’t you maybe just a little bit curious?

Darn . . . I know I was.

And folks, because I genuinely believe in the power of impulse, there’s no reason to postpone a decision you will always regret. This epic faux pas is available NOW!

Apple (iBook) . . . bit.ly/1ycltFD
Amazon (Kindle) . . . amzn.to/1tyIRiw
Amazon (Paperback) . . . amzn.to/1z8F8aD
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Direct from printer . . . bit.ly/1r6qWYQ

__________________________________

The Man Who Loved Too Much – Book 2: Entendre

The Billy Green saga continues! Billy’s challenging, sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic, always unpredictable journey.

Our boy from Detroit was more determined than ever to find meaning in life and comfort in love. He failed.

Admittedly, this is the darkest of the three books.

Available from all of the usual suspects!

Apple (iBook) . . . apple.co/1bkFQe7
Amazon (Kindle) . . . amzn.to/18x1ZnS
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_______________________________________________________

The Man Who Loved Too Much – Book 3: Oxymoron

How do we function in a world which is both as randomly and intentionally cruel, as it is randomly and intentionally kind? Can we make sense of our lives when so much around us makes no sense?

In this, the final book of the trilogy, we find out what it means to be a “man who loves too much”. Even more importantly, we discover if Billy Green is such a man.

Whew!  Heavy stuff.

Apple (iBook) . . . apple.co/1DfoG9g
Amazon (Kindle) . . . amzn.to/1LJnMcX
Amazon (Paperback) . . . amzn.to/1NZPU9Y
Barnes & Noble . . . bit.ly/1fvzxXD
Smashwords . . . bit.ly/1LJnRgJ
Direct from printer . . . http://bit.ly/1K07Yzy

Posted in Books, Creativity, Satire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What if . . . ?

What if you had a favorite cause or a host of issues which were important to you?

∞  Better schools.
∞  Taxing the wealthy.
∞  Mortgage debt relief.
∞  Raising minimum wage.
∞  Protecting social security.
∞  Expanding Medicare.
∞  Reducing the military.
∞  Ending police brutality.
∞  Free college education.
∞  Money out of politics.
∞  Safer water and food.
∞  Ending the wars.
∞  GMO labeling.

What if you knew with absolute, 100% certainty that a candidate if elected would go to Congress and fight to get new laws passed on those issues?

What if you knew that the candidate when elected had no choice? That there was no room for excuses or quibbling? That this candidate was bound by legal contract to do precisely what you wanted him or her to do?

What if this candidate was not a Democrat of a Republican?

Would you be afraid to vote for this individual, even knowing with absolute certainty that he or she would go to Washington DC to do exactly what you wanted done?

Would you be throwing your vote away voting for this candidate?

Or would you be throwing away your vote by supporting a Republican or Democrat, who you knew would promise all the right things, then go and vote the way the corporations, bankers, rich and powerful, and their mercenary lobbyists told them to vote?

Obviously, if you were the only person to vote for this candidate who was required by contract to keep their promises, your vote wouldn’t count for anything. Your vote would have been “thrown away” by all the other votes which defeated your candidate of choice.

But what if hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of voters did the same as you and voted for someone they could trust?

What if . . . ?

__________________________________________________________

“Candidate Contracts: Taking Back Our Democracy” is now available. This is how we get the representation we deserve. This is how we make our elected officials do our bidding, to stop taking orders from the 1%, the rich and powerful who have destroyed our system of government with their truckloads of money . . .

Amazon (Kindle) . . . amzn.to/1QJRiNZ
Apple (iBook) . . . apple.co/1BXnPcy
Amazon (Paperback) . . . amzn.to/1Cuq0du
Barnes & Noble . . . bit.ly/1GpTTLq
Smashwords . . . bit.ly/1B4DQCp
Direct from printer . . . bit.ly/1MGjDnN


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Justin Bieber is the new Hitler!

If someone in the State Department or the White House decides that Justin Bieber’s music truly sucks, or even if they just take a disliking to that froofy, pseudo-pompadour hair style he alternates with his Beetle boy look, you can be assured of the headline the next day, front page of the New York Times:

Justin Bieber is the new Hitler!

The campaign of demonizing this young pop star, thus getting the public fired up for his inevitable liquidation, will have begun.

We’ve seen a lot of ‘Hitlers’ over the past couple decades. If fact, this vilification by association would seem by now to have outworn its usefulness. But no, the public’s knee still jerks when tapped with the mallet of ultimate evil personified. Then it’s bombs away, or at bare minimum, a nice bloody assassination or regime change by proxy.

The great thing about the Hitler device is that everyone knows how it ended. And they can now sleep well, fully convinced of what the new evil-drenched Hitler-reincarnation faces in the Great Battle of the White Hats vs. the Black Hats, an epic struggle which defines our moral sensibilities in this age of television and smart phone enlightenment.

Back in 2003, we had a real solid Hitler in Saddam Hussein. Boastful, cocky, imperious to the core.  He ended up swinging on a rope.  Yes!  Take that brutal tyrant!  Nobody messes with freedom, justice, and the American Way!

Gaddafi was an easy target. He even strutted like Adolph, and though he dispensed with the erect-penis-surrogate arm salute, Muammar had all of the PR trappings of Hitler, his Third Reich gallery-of-rogues henchmen, even his puffed-up Italian sidekick, Benito. Ha! Take a knife up the ass, scumbag!  Blam blam blam!  Bye-bye, chest-thumping despot. Guess we showed him what democracy is all about.

Of course, the latest big-bang-for-the-buck Hitler clone is the grim Vladimir Putin. Oh baby! Are we ever doing a number on this contemptible autocrat!  Though the wily and aggressive Russian propaganda machine pumps out transparently phony approval ratings __ the latest was a laughable 86% __ we know in the West that the cowering Russkies can’t wait for the U.S. and its hyper-masculine NATO allies to reduce their struggling ball-and-chain nation to smoldering, radioactive rubble, so that they can enjoy the benefits of the Home Shopping Channel and 24/7 Donald vs. Hillary news, just like us lucky, well-informed Americans. I’d say your days are numbered, Vlad the Impaler! Keep your shirt on.  Oh . . . I forgot.  You don’t wear a shirt.

Not regularly making the headlines up there with the big neo-Hitlers are little neo-Hitlers. Maybe the general public isn’t paying very close attention, but these tyrants are never off the radar screens of the neocon ninjas and their proud servants, the Orkin men in the CIA.

Included now or the recent past in this exclusive Hitler-lite, by-invitation-only club, would be the likes of Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Evo Morales of Bolivia, certainly Raol and Fidel Castro of Cuba, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Tabaré Vázquez of Uruguay.

What do all of these scary new Hitlers have in common?

Well, it turns out to be one of two things.

Either they’re socialists __ working hard to block the predatory agenda of capitalism, offering citizens a fair share of national wealth, fulfilling the promise of a good life with minimum standards for income, health care, education, home and land ownership __ or they’re trying to get out from under the oppressive control of the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency __ the Bretton Woods system that has propped up American political and economic hegemony over the past seven decades.

This last one will definitely get you blown away. This was the real crime of both Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi in the eyes of our neocon goon squad politicos __ George W., Obama, Hillary Clinton, and way too many others to mention.  Currently, we see that the cooperative effort by Russia and China toward de-dollarizing has installed them as the #1 and #2 ranking targets for America’s 7000+ nuclear arsenal.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen . . . many observers have drawn the conclusion that America’s exceptionalist imperial conquerors would prefer risking nuclear Armageddon to giving up the almighty USD as the economic weapon of choice in the international marketplace. World War III will be the ultimate temper tantrum.

“If we can’t have it our way, then everybody dies!”

Having said that . . . I always try to end on a positive note.

All of you devoted fans who swooned to “One Less Lonely Girl” and danced the night away to “As Long As You Love Me” can rest easy.

It doesn’t appear that Justin Bieber is planning on de-coupling from the U.S. dollar __ it has served him quite well __ or leading a socialist revolution among his tweener fan base. Justin seems not at all concerned about the general welfare and never sings about social justice to his faithful “Beliebers“.  He just keeps pumping the U.S. dollars out of their non-biodegradable plastic wallets, like the exemplary capitalist he is.

I’d say he’s probably pretty safe for now.

Posted in Deconstruction, Democracy, Political Rant, Satire, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Another Average Run-of-the-Mill Benevolent Dictator

I am in shock!

Since reading a recent article on OpEdNews, I have been hovering somewhere between appalled and paralyzed.

While I don’t claim to be an expert on all that is going on in this messy world of ours, I do consider myself fairly well-informed. By sourcing a wide variety of news sites from all over the globe, I think generally I have some idea what’s going on “behind the headlines” __ meaning what intrigues and power plays actually drive the more prominent events and crises. These reports often are quite at odds with what folks get from the main stream media here in America.

Quite honestly, however, I never quite got a handle on Libya. I know the U.S. fingered its highly-visible despotic leader, Muammar Gaddafi, for all sorts of things, some true, some never proven. I remember that despite Gaddafi’s denials, he was blamed for the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, a horrifying event. I am aware that Ronald Reagan displaying the incredible military prowess and resolve of the U.S. launched air strikes on Tripoli, in retaliation for the bombing of a Berlin disco in 1986. This was part of an ongoing campaign of demonizing Gaddafi for his aggressive anti-corporate, socialist agenda. Going back to 1981, Libya had been under sanctions for suspected involvement in a variety of terrorist activities.

Almost all sanctions were lifted in 2004. Libya renounced weapons of mass destruction. Slowly relations between Libya and the U.S., and Libya and the E.U. normalized, and mutual understanding appeared to be steadily improving over the next seven years.

Gaddafi, of course, was still mocked in the Western press as a wild-eyed dictator. His penchant for always dressing in military uniform, wearing Hollywood sunglasses, and assuming poses of pompous majesty provided lots of ammunition.

This was very one-sided, to put it mildly. Libyans themselves loved their autocratic leader.

They had good reason to, considering how he treated them, the policies he put into place to bring Libya from a miserable, backward, isolated Third World country, to what it was in 2011 when America and NATO turned on him. I will now quote verbatim from the article I mentioned, by the brilliant economic analyst, Derryl Hermanutz, a list outlined originally by Michael Parenti.

Before Libya was destroyed by the violent coup instigated and coordinated by the West, finally brought to a cataclysmic end with NATO’s bombing of Gaddafi’s security forces, permitting takeover by extremist Muslim terrorists . . .

1)  There was no electricity bill in Libya; electricity was free for all its citizens.
2)  There was no interest on loans, banks in Libya were state-owned and loans given to all its citizens at zero percent interest by law.
3)  Having a home was considered a human right in Libya.
4)  All newlyweds in Libya used to receive $60,000 dinar (U.S.$50,000) by the government to buy their first apartment so to help start up the family.
5)  Education and medical treatments were free in Libya. Before Gaddafi only 25 percent of Libyans were literate. Today, the figure is 83 percent.
6)  If Libyans wanted to take up a farming career, they would have received farming land, a farming house, equipments, seeds and livestock to kick start their farms… all for free.
7)  If Libyans could not find the education or medical facilities they needed, the government funded them to go abroad. For it was not only paid for, but they got a U.S.$2,300/month for accommodation and car allowance.
8)  If a Libyan bought a car, the government used to subsidize 50 percent of the price.
9)  The price of petrol in Libya was $0.14 per liter.
10)  Libya had no external debt and its reserves amounted to $150 billion -which are now frozen globally.
11)  If a Libyan was unable to get employment after graduation, the state would pay the average salary of the profession, as if he or she was employed, until employment was found.
12)  A portion of every Libyan oil sale was credited directly to the bank accounts of all Libyan citizens.
13)  A mother who gave birth to a child received USD $5,000.
14)  40 loaves of bread in Libya used to cost $0.15.
15)  25 percent of Libyans have a university degree.
16)  Gaddafi carried out the world’s largest irrigation project, known as the Great Manmade River project, to make water readily available throughout the desert country.

Gaddafi believed that the wealth of a country belonged to everyone. Libya has vast oil reserves. Once the spigots were turned on after sanctions were lifted, enormous sums of money poured into the country. And Gaddafi put it to work for everyone, not just the elites, not just the multi-national corporations.

Gaddafi had big plans. He imagined the entire continent of Africa adopting his vision of shared wealth, of plenty for all. When he was brutally murdered, he was in the process of implementing a pan-African currency.

Now, if this man was doing such wonderful things for his people, why did America and NATO take him out? Granted, he wasn’t democratically elected. In the first place, if the Libyan people want to have three elephants and a laptop computer chosen by a divining rod running their country, what business is it of the U.S. and Europe? Secondly, had they bothered to go through the motions of setting up electoral mechanisms in Libya, Gaddafi would have won by a 98% landslide. In view of what he accomplished over forty years of rule, despite the despotic, often brutal nature of his leadership, he was widely respected and admired.

The simple answer __ one that I am frankly having a lot of trouble processing __ is that Gaddafi’s ideas were too dangerous. What if his vision for Africa and developing countries of the world had come true? Free education, health care, abundant food and housing?

What if his ideas spread over here?

Think about it . . .

What kind of America would we have if when you went to buy a new car, our government sent you a check for $15,000? Or when you got married, you received $50,000 to help you get started. What if your mortgage was interest-free? What if you could attend college and not have to take out a loan? What if money appeared in your bank account every month because American industry was doing well and showing good profits?

Yes, think about it . . . long and hard.

Dangerous ideas indeed.

Gaddafi was no angel. He was an egotistical, power-crazed megalomaniac, ruthless in his iron rule, aggressively anti-Western, sometimes the sponsor of terrorist killings.

But that’s not why the U.S. got rid of him.

They got rid of him because those dangerous ideas might spread . . . because people might start asking dangerous questions like . . .

“Why can’t we have free education / health care / electricity?”

“Why can’t we all share in the enormous riches of our great country?”

“Why isn’t having a home to live in a basic human right?”

“Why are we all in so much debt __ the federal government, cities, towns, people?”

You’re skeptical?

Just ask yourself this . . .

If America had policies like those in Libya before the U.S. and NATO destroyed it and turned it over to ISIS and other fanatic extremists . . .

Could 1% of America’s population own and control 43% of its wealth?

Could the ultra-wealthy be lord and masters of the world?

Yes . . . think about it.

Think long and hard.

Posted in Corporatism, Deconstruction, Political Analysis, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Values of the Rich

I’ve always considered it important to thoroughly understand other people, in order at bare minimum to know how to act towards them, but more importantly, to learn to appreciate their values, and see what drives their choices in life.

As a successful blogger __ by golly, I have almost 5,000 Facebook friends! __ many of my closest, most intimate buddies are fabulously wealthy. Predictably, the rich regularly devote the major part of their day to Facebook, and hanging out on other social sites. They don’t have to work a real job. They jump online, there’s my stunning profile picture, they click ‘Add Friend’ . . . Bingo! Another billionaire for my growing list of ultra-wealthy connections.

So, despite the holes in my jeans, the t-shirts that I wear __ which look like they’ve been dragged by an 18-wheeler across twenty-three state lines __ I can offer some very valuable insights into the .01%, the folks who are actually pulling the strings here in America for the puppet show we endearingly call the Land of Opportunity.

The other day I started thinking about the way rich people see the world. I was shocked to realize how much we regular folks have in common with them __ how much the filthy rich value the exact same things we do.

Restraint: The rich are conservative. They are emphatically for restraint! They want us to show restraint so they won’t have to. If we regular folks go squandering the nation’s wealth on silly and unnecessary frivolities __ like food and clothing, education for our kids, a car which doesn’t look like it was in a demolition derby __ there won’t be anything left for them to buy a Greek Island or sponsor a coup to overthrow the elected government of a country. And OMG! Have you checked out the price of cosmetic surgery these days? Why, it’s simply frightening! Liposuctioning away that unsightly inner tube and getting dermal abrasion from head to toe is cutting deep into the money that was going toward buying those beautiful art works stolen by the Third Reich. How frustrating!

Turning the other cheek: The rich definitely believe in turning the other cheek! Let’s say there’s some homeless bum standing on the curb. What an eyesore! Talk about ruining a nice day, having to look at that. The rich will understandably turn the other cheek, thereby averting their gaze. Now they don’t have to look at this poor, hungry slob, who probably was laid off from the factory they shipped to Vietnam. This meets the “letter” of Christ’s turn-the-other-cheek mandate, if not strictly His intent. It’s all a matter of interpretation anyway. Let the Biblical scholars nitpick the thing to death, if that’s what they have to do.

Love thy neighbor as thyself: Absolutely! Of course, they mean their neighbors, not ours. Their neighbors belong to the same private clubs, and are less likely to be infected with some awful STD or Ebola, or whatever. There is even evidence that poverty is contagious. Being anywhere close to any common, low-life losers, why all the hard-earned fortune inherited from daddy could go up in smoke . . . just like that! Better safe than sorry.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you: To be completely candid, the wealthy are as confused about this one as the rest of us.  How do you give a blow job to a woman?  So basically they ignore it.

Whew!

Thinking all these deep thoughts is giving me a headache.

I’ll just cut to the chase.

I can sum up the whole ball of wax by just laying out for you what I consider to be the basic ethic __ the defining value system __ of our ultra-wealthy class of aristocrats. Here is the simple, forthright maxim I believe sums up the world view of the ultra-wealthy. By the way, this is from page 92 of my recent book on taking back our democracy . . .

“It’s all mine!  Screw everybody else.”

Now, reach deep into your hearts, folks, and tell me you haven’t felt exactly this same way at some point in your life.

Your mom has just taken away from you a huge bowl of candy you grabbed from the coffee table. The bowl is full of the white chocolate bonbons and caramel squares she has set out for arriving guests. You want them, like really bad! So you start kicking and screaming and throwing a window-rattling tantrum.

“I want it!  It’s all mine!

There you have it. Just like rich people.

Granted . . . you were only three years old at the time.

But you know the feeling.

Posted in Deconstruction, Economics, Political Analysis, Satire, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Real Debt Ceiling

Sovereign debt and its corollary, the federal debt ceiling, are arguably mirages. These operate in a macro context where valuation of wealth and debt are essentially illusions, or at the very least, manageable artifices.

What is not at all manageable, however, is internal debt and wealth inequality. Why? Because in the internal workings of our economy __ and those of most of the developed countries of the world __ ownership and control of wealth are reinforced by rigid and unforgiving legal authority. As is becoming increasingly evident, the laws of this country now serve a very wealthy elite __ a tiny slice of our 318,000,000 people __ at the expense of everyone else.

This is not the 1%.

We’re talking about the .1% and the .01% __ about 30,000 people __ the rich and powerful who actually run the country.

These are the folks you and I never see, because we can’t get within fifty miles of them.

These are the people who operate in a bubble of incomprehension, so detached from the realities of our “ordinary” lives, the basics of survival are about as apparent to them as the emotional life of a Cambodian weaver ant is to you and I.

These are the folks who will repossess your car, foreclose on your home, garnish your pay when you fall behind on your student loan, make it impossible to get an apartment or job for the horrible crime of falling behind on your credit card bills.

They own.

We owe.

Home mortgage debt: $8.17 trillion.

Credit card debt: $3.34 trillion.

College loans: $1.2 trillion.

Auto loans: $955 billion.

Home equity loans: $550 billion.

Total household debt: $13.6 trillion!

The astonishing thing about all of this is that in the wealthiest nation in the world, none of this debt slavery is necessary. There is enough wealth to go around. We could all have the security and basic right to a minimum guaranteed income, a shared sense of community and country which would materialize from sharing our enormous resources and riches.

The ultra-rich could still live in splendor. After all, beyond a certain point, accumulation of money has no impact on the individual life style of a human being, no matter how absurdly rapacious that person is. More money just becomes a pathological numbers game.

How many Bentleys, private jets, wading pools full of caviar, diamond cuff links the size of grapefruits can you own?

I’ve referenced this in a prior blog. But it’s worth reviewing.

To spend the Koch brothers incomprehensible fortune at $10,000 per day, it would take almost 28,000 years __ it would be 29,394 C.E. when you finished your shopping spree.

Spending one million dollars a day, it would take 214 years to go through the monumental wealth of Gates.

The fortune of the Walton family __ owners of Wal-Mart __ totals more that the bottom 42% of Americans. One family has more money than 134,000,000 people.

This is insane.

This is the system we have in place.

This is what the laws of this country have cemented into our national landscape.

Wealth inequality on this level is inhumane and grotesque.

Worst of all __ and the subject of a whole other blog __ the economic infrastructure which locks in this kind of excessive capital aggregation is destroying our planet, and may lead to human extinction. I can’t improve on Naomi Klein’s lucid exposition of this, so I won’t try.

Just taking the narrow view of the social consequences, and the destructive impact wealth inequality has had on our democracy, we need to ask ourselves . . .

Is this sustainable?

One great thing about a rhetorical question is that the answer is so obvious, you don’t have to answer it.

But we certainly need to do something about it . . . before it’s too late.

Other than a handful of legislators __ Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren certainly are talking about it __ and our president who gives lip service to this critical issue, there is no one in public life who is serious about addressing this threat to our existence as a nation.

No one!

Just about everyone in elected office __ to a man, to a woman __ needs to go.

Stuffing them all in a massive launch vehicle for a mission to Mars might be too drastic. But getting them out of office and replacing them with officials who represent the needs and values of every American __ not just the privileged elite __ is not.

Just do it.

__________________________________________________________

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Posted in Banking, Corporatism, Democracy, Economics, Environment, Political Analysis, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments