Bulging Waste Line

I am not anti-government.

What follows is not an argument for reducing government.

It is evidence that we need . . .

Good government.

Smart government.

Honest government.

Visionary government.

Representative government.

The following is hardly an exhaustive list. But let me just offer some examples and some numbers on vast, incomprehensible, mind-numbing, breathtaking, destructive, possibly suicidal waste by government misadventures and boondoggles over the past few decades.

I am focusing on defense squandering and pursuit of unnecessary war.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, pictured at the top of this article, has been judged by many knowledgeable military analysts as the largest boondoggle in the history of the world. It is plagued with design flaws and technical problems. So far it has cost nearly $400 billion and total outlays to bring it into full production and implementation are projected to exceed $1.5 trillion.

The Department of Defense spent $40 billion between 2001 and 2014 on a missile defense program called Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System. It has been a complete flop.

Another missile defense fiasco called X-Band Radar, a floating sea-based system, wasted $10 billion of taxpayer money. This was a project of the Missile Defense Agency, which still gets funded $8-10 billion annually, despite producing practically nothing of value.

At the end of 2014, Congress allocated funds for programs the Pentagon didn’t even want:

  • $1.46 billion for fifteen EA-18G Growler electronic warfare planes
  • $1 billion to begin work on an additional San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship
  • $479 million for four additional F-35 fighter jets (bringing the total number funded to 38)
  • $341 million to modernize twelve Apache helicopters and nine Black Hawk helicopters
  • $200 million for an additional Joint High Speed Vessel ship
  • $155 million for twelve additional MQ-9 Reaper drones
  • $154 million for an additional P-8A Poseidon Navy surveillance aircraft
  • $120 million for M1 Abrams tank upgrades
  • $150 million for medium and heavy tactical vehicles

Let’s up the ante a bit. Look at this chart.

The U.S. has spent $1.5 trillion so far fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mind you, both of these wars were completely unnecessary. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And the Taliban offered to turn over to us Osama bin Laden, who was on a dialysis machine in Kandahar, if we didn’t bomb them. So we bombed them!

Analysts are predicting that when all of the ancillary expenses are added in, including the interest on the money we borrowed to fight these two bogus wars, the combined total cost will be $4-6 trillion.

Now to add insult to injury, I’ll take this a step further.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992, Americans were promised a peace dividend. With the Cold War competition over, we could now reduce the defense budget and devote more of our tax dollars to those domestic items which would make life for everyone in the country better __ schools and libraries, parks, community and infrastructure investment, better education, recreational facilities, maybe child care services, improved health care.

The peace dividend never happened. For 16 of the 24 subsequent years, military spending increased. In fact over two-and-a-half decades, the U.S. spent over $2.5 trillion beyond the level of military spending in 1992.

$2.5 trillion!

Instead of us getting a peace dividend, defense allocations went up __ way up __ adding enormously to the national debt and cutting short all of those wonderful things that were supposed to happen since we were entering a new, more peaceful phase of our history.

Interestingly, the more we spent on military, the more conflict and war there was.

You have to wonder if this was a mere coincidence.

Now with the military budget more than twice what it was in 2000 __ and this is just the official military budget which doesn’t include a mind-boggling assortment of black budget allocations and defense spending tucked away in other departments __ we live in a more dangerous world than ever, with whole countries destroyed, jihadists, like ISIS, the Nusra Front, al Qaeda rampaging from one end of the world to the other, and a whole multitude of crises brewing in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Africa, and the South China Sea.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. is being called the Empire of Chaos in some parts of the world. Recently, in an international survey by WIN and Gallup, America easily won the #1 spot as “the greatest threat to peace” on the planet.  China and Pakistan were a distant second and third.  Yaaay!  Go America!

We are without any doubt militarily the most powerful nation on Earth, arguably the most powerful nation in history.

We already spend almost as much on defense as the rest of the world combined!

With all of this military might, we have lost every single conflict __ except one which could have been won by a high school soccer team __ since World War II.

The obvious question is . . .

What drives this extraordinary squandering of taxpayer dollars?

Actually . . . that’s easy.

The defense industry in its relentless pursuit of profits building a lot of junk that doesn’t work; the misguided neocon agenda of Congress and the White House commending the purchase of a lot of weapons we don’t need; the hunger to be the preeminent power in the world; the paranoid preoccupation of the security agencies with the potential for terrorist attacks from both within and from outside our borders; our bombing-is-the-only-solution foreign policy which creates far more enemies than it destroys; our sociopathic infatuation with American exceptionalism which creates resentment internationally and makes us the easy-choice target for aggression; the dubious distinction of being the biggest exporter on the planet of weapons and military hardware, which may bring in a lot of profits for the military-industrial complex, but perpetuates chaos and carnage, endless threats and conflict . . . all combine to destroy any sense of proportion, perspective, and fiscal responsibility.

The verdict . . .

America’s obsession with the military is bankrupting us.

It will probably destroy us.

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War! . . . What is it good for? . . . Profits!

War . . . war . . . war.

So many wars.

So little time.

Who remembers the great song released in 1970 by Edwin Starr, called “War“?:

War, huh, yeah.
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Uh-huh. War, huh, yeah …

Absolutely nothing?

While the lyrics were great and an inspiration to the anti-war movement, which was railing against the Vietnam War at the time, unfortunately war is good for something.

Profits!

The U.S. is the biggest exporter of weapons in the world.

One great thing about all of this killing hardware, much of which will ultimately be turned around and used against us by terrorists or former-friends now-enemies:  We can proudly point to the label on each and every weapon, one which isn’t seen very often these days on much of anything else . . .

MADE IN AMERICA!

My heart swells with such patriotic pride on this Memorial Day weekend to know that we’re applying so much American ingenuity and hard work to keeping our corporate defense contractors and their CEOs rolling in the dough.

Gosh . . . I’m getting all teary-eyed!


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Plausible Deniability

We should be hopeful . . . but cautious.

The latest diplomatic initiative by the U.S. in what appears to be the beginning of a welcome and very necessary rapprochement with Russia, requires withholding quick judgment and maintaining a judicious eye.

We’ve seen this before. Granted, it would be wonderful if America has come to its senses and has decided that the risks of bullying Russia far outweigh any imagined  benefits. But taking even a cursory a look at recent history, “wonderful” is a rare, if non-existent, exception whenever the U.S. does anything on the diplomatic front.

I will be offering a possible scenario which with my every fiber I hope is not what unfolds.

Secretary of State Kerry, accompanied no less by the mistress dominatrix of neocon terror herself, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland __ a demon diplomat who helped engineer the most obvious coup in history in the Ukraine __ talked to Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday, May 12.

Apparently, Kerry passed along the sentiment that the U.S. wants to work in concert with Russia on the Ukraine crisis, and moreover supports the Minsk II agreement, viewing it as the most promising and constructive path toward resolving the dispute.

The meeting lasted four hours. Both sides claimed the talks were frank, though they didn’t produce any major breakthroughs.

A few reporters noted that Nuland seemed to be pouting when she exited the meeting. Hardly a surprise there, since she is a shallow and vulgar shrew who only smiles when sparklers and balloons herald the triumphs of her destructive anti-Russian tomfoolery.

In the press conference which followed the long discussions, Kerry then warned President Poroshenko he should “think twice” before shelling the Donetsk airport, something by the way he has already started doing.

While this apparent turnaround in the confrontation the U.S. has been mounting for over a year now __ vilifying Russia, imposing sanctions, demonizing Putin, increasing military presence and staging war games all over Europe, sometimes right next to Russia’s borders __ appears to be a positive development, I fear this latest white hat routine is yet another diplomatic feint.

America is again the nice guy. Taking the initiative to make things right with the Russians. Talking up peace. Encouraging Poroshenko to cool it with the aggression.

Of course, implied in Kerry’s statement warning Poroshenko is that the U.S. has no control over him. That he’s his own man. Which is blatant nonsense. If you just look close enough, you can see the puppet strings manipulating Poroshenko’s every ham-fisted attempt to look like a credible figure.

So let’s say Poroshenko not only continues to bomb the Donetsk airport, but mounts a full scale assault on the East. He has stated with embarrassing candor very recently, even after meeting with Merkel, Hollande, and Putin, and agreeing to the terms of Minsk II, that he will not rest until he has achieved total control over Novorussia, AND reclaimed Crimea. That his real focus is war with Russia itself, though this was couched in unaccounted for paranoia that Russia would be attacking Ukraine this summer.

Thus, continuation and expansion of this conflict is inevitable.

Russia has made it clear that while it wants the cease fire to hold and strongly supports a peaceful resolution of the conflict in accordance with the Minsk II agreement, it will NOT ALLOW the wholesale slaughter of Russians in the Eastern territories.

Here is what I fear . . .

Now that they’ve benefited from six months of training by the U.S. “advisers”, armed with new “defensive” weapons supplied by various parties at the behest of America and NATO, Poroshenko will attack the East. Russia will respond and send the Ukraine army running. Russia may even feel its necessary to post garrisons in the Eastern territories to protect the local population and prevent another assault.

The U.S. will then make propaganda hay out of all of this.

“We went to Russia. We tried to be friends. We don’t approve of Poroshenko’s rash moves but we can’t control the guy.  What he did wasn’t very nice.  But look at Russia!  They are trying to rebuild the Soviet Union by invading other countries!”

America will then redouble its efforts to isolate Russia with new sanctions, more military presence on Russia’s borders, more character assassination of Vladimir Putin. The U.S. will pull NATO and the rest of the world on board. Cold War 2.0 will exponentially accelerate and again we’ll be facing the prospects of World War III.

It’s simpleminded and stupid beyond belief but with the ironclad control the U.S. has on Western media, such nonsensical smears and blatant propaganda has worked in the past and will probably work again.

What is this all about?

The long game is pinning down Russia, keeping it in check, never allowing it the room to achieve its full economic and military potential. Hem it in, poke at it and always keep it off balance, constantly keep it scrambling __ something the U.S. does very effectively with its own citizenry __ make it angry, try to goad it into making a rash move, use any excuse to humiliate it in the eyes of the world.

It’s a key ingredient of the demented neocon strategy of total dominance, which dreams of a world begging for mercy and crumbs from the Great American Empire.

Isolate Russia . . . contain it . . . ultimately dominate it.

If this new developing scenario plays out as I described it, it means that Kerry’s mission to Moscow was just more geopolitical gaming, that America’s claim to want cooperation and constructive engagement just more world-destabilizing hypocrisy, that maybe Victoria Nuland has some real acting talent, and more profoundly . . .

NO ONE SHOULD EVER BELIEVE ANYTHING WASHINGTON SAYS OR DOES!

What’s new?

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The Horror and the Shame

As deep-rooted hatred of Russia which spans many decades, and now the neocon agenda of dismembering The Bear and plundering its vast natural resources, accelerate the drive by Western powers to initiate a war that will end all wars  __ because it will probably end the human race __ it would be helpful for the more thoughtful, rational, and considerably better-informed citizens of our country to remind the ranting, chest-beating bullies who seem to be in charge of our misguided foreign policy, of some basic history. These noxious think tank thugs are the charlatans who can be heard accusing Russians of being paranoid, taunting them for foolishly raising a fuss about the U.S. and NATO taking over Ukraine.

Look at the chart above.

Russia has every reason to be concerned about aggression. It’s a brutal, horrifying fact of history, not some product of conjecture or brooding anxiety.

Russia has every reason to be concerned about the military encirclement now in place. Troops and weapons are not theoretical uncertainties. They are existential threats.

Russia lost more soldiers and citizens battling the Nazi Wehrmacht than England, Poland, Yugoslavia, France, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Italy and Germany itself . . . combined!

So it is hardly a surprise that Russia gets a bit nervous when NATO troops and weaponry are shoved right up next to its borders, when lunatic anti-Russian fulminating prevails in the Western press, when the vicious campaign of demonizing their much-beloved Vladimir Putin __ making comparisons to Hitler with no apparent irony, no less __ is orchestrated on an unprecedented scale, when unnecessary provocations mount week after week in the form of military exercises and war games, and when insults compete with lies to isolate Russia from the rest of the world.

America could be accused of having an enormous tolerance for shame, except it apparently doesn’t have any shame these days. Now in a fanciful re-writing of history __ evidently to bolster its sagging self-esteem and attempt to marginalize Russia with crassly-formulated propaganda __ it has decided that it was the U.S. which defeated Nazi Germany.

Ignore the fact that 9 out of every 10 German troops were killed by the Russian forces in a historic display of military determination and bravery which claimed nearly 11,000,000 of their soldiers.

Ignore the fact that the German army had largely been defeated by the Russians before the landing at Normandy and the Western front assault by the non-Russian Allied troops.

Ignore the fact that 27,000,000 Russians died at the hand of a German nation gone mad.

Just keep repeating the President’s favorite word these days __ exceptional __ and repeat over and over the mantra we will be hearing more and more as Americans are stampeded into another morally, economically bankrupting war:  Russia bad . . . America good . . . Russia bad . . . America good . . .

Anyone who is paying attention knows where all this is going. The drums of war beat out a very simple rhythm that even a child can understand.

Anyone who is paying attention also knows why this is taking place.

Anyone who is paying attention knows that yet again, we the helpless pawns of pointless power games, will be required to make the ultimate sacrifice of our precious lives, in the name of imperial plunder and greater riches for the corporate plutocrats.

The problem is . . . very few are paying attention.

After all, we have our own troubles at home:  Most recently Ferguson and Baltimore.

And weighty conundrums:  “To Hillary or not to Hillary, that is the question!”

No, there’s not much time to worry about all that stuff happening over there, or sufficient calm to think clearly and consider productive alternative plans, with all the hysterical cries of the warmongers relentlessly poisoning the airwaves and opeds, shouting down the few voices of sanity who attempt a balanced, coherent analysis and constructive conversation.

I still have to wonder . . .

In terms of the few isolated individuals who might actually be paying attention, yet still go along with this march to madness, and the neocon psychopaths themselves who can’t wait to chase their self-sabotaging and bankrupt delusions of world conquest and American imperial rule, WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?

Didn’t we learn anything from Vietnam?

Didn’t we learn anything from Afghanistan?

Didn’t we learn anything from Iraq?

I never hear a timidly tendered . . . “Oops.”

Not a chagrin-tinged . . . “Sorry about that.”

Not even a mildly rueful . . . “Hmm.”

Evidently reflection and apologies are for girly-boys or the zombies of the liberal class.

Many of our most respected think tanks now appear to be staffed with students of history equipped with no memory and no conscience. You’re either with us or you’re against us. Either you hate Russia and despise Vlad the Impaler . . . or you’re a Putin boot-licker.

Jingoistic cheer leading driven by testosterone-fueled delusions of empire spews simplistic black-hat/white-hat bumper stickers. The public swoons in Orwellian silence.

Russia bad . . . America good . . . Russia bad . . .

What’s another 27,000,000 bodies?

How about a 1,000,000,000 bodies?

Or if this thing goes nuclear . . . 7,000,000,000 bodies?

YEAH!  Now we’re talking!

Actually it’s kind of the perfect ending.

With horror on this scale, there is no one left to feel any shame.

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Freedom of the Press

My last piece was the longest, most intensively-researched, article I’ve ever posted here. Called Give Peace A Chance,  it contained a large number of links throughout in support of my various statements of fact.

Beyond some of the very eye-opening information I came across and cited in the piece itself, I had a startling epiphany.

Generally, I see noticeable differences in what is reported “out here” __ as you probably know, I’m an expat living in Japan __ and what I get from the American media.  These are sometimes slight but unmistakable differences in content, but more often of emphasis, as the respective articles understandably are tailored for different audiences.

But this time my realization went far beyond that. I encountered what can only be deemed crude and blatant censorship, a glaring lack of any coverage of specific noteworthy events by any of the standard U.S. news outlets __ the ones most commonly used by Americans.

Let me explain.

Sometimes I am accused of leaning too much on RT, the Russian news site. Personally I find it to be extremely valuable, mostly quite balanced, and a great source for a different take on world events. But since I sometimes get slammed by Russophobes for using that “damn Russkie propaganda rag”, I typically try to mix in a lot of different sources when providing support for whatever point I’m trying to make.

Since they have solid __ if often undeserved __ reputations in America, I heavily rely on the Washington Post, New York Times, Forbes Magazine, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, Huffington Post, Time Magazine, and occasionally USA Today.

For non-U.S. reporting I turn to Britain’s Guardian, Telegraph and Independent, Reuters, Al Jazeera, and a few Asian online news sites.

What struck me was the number of articles related to the Ukraine crisis, the confrontation with Russia, the frenzy of military exercises throughout Europe, the escalation of the new Cold War stand-off between Russian and the West, and preparation for a possibly massive military conflict between NATO and Russia, which HAD NO COMPARABLE REPORTING in America’s main stream media __ I mean nothing!

In other words, an item would be featured in RT, but Google produced no similar article in the American press.

There were numerous examples. But let me mention a few that stood out.

“Over 100 US armored vehicles roll into Latvia, NATO flexes muscles in Europe” was the headline in RT. No mention in the U.S. of what seems like a rather startling development.

You would expect an announcement like “US National Guard sends 12 F-15 interceptor jets to Europe to guard against Russia” to raise some eyebrows. Of course, since none of the major news programs __ at least none that I can find __ mentioned it, eyebrows got the day off.

A month after the Minsk II agreement struck by France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, which specifically bars introduction from outside countries of material support and lethal weapons, we have “Poroshenko: 11 EU states struck deal with Ukraine to deliver weapons, including lethal”, an ominous bit of treachery. While there is mention at an Iranian news site of Russian objections to this, and a link back to the RT article at Israel Foreign Affairs, discussion in major media forums is conspicuously lacking in the U.S. and Europe itself.

How about “US troops in Europe request bigger guns amid Russia anxieties”, appearing April 25? Do Americans even know there are U.S. soldiers in countries right on Russia’s border preparing for battle? They do only if they read the California Telegraph, a news outlet I never heard of before this.

No wonder very few in America seem aware of what’s at stake here, the current magnitude of the tension, the potential for this crisis escalating into World War III, or the possibility of an apocalyptic nuclear exchange between Russia and the U.S.

This is a frightening and dangerous breech of trust between the American people and its news sources. How are people supposed to make informed judgments about what their government is doing in their name without knowing what’s going on?

Then again maybe the point is . . . they’re not.

Of course, it’s much worse than just sins of omission.

The other half of the story is the deception __ the gross distortions and outright lies that sometimes appear.

Sometimes the distortions are so profound, if you were to lay an article written for U.S. public consumption next to one on the exact same topic written by a correspondent from a non-NATO country, you would think they were about two completely different, unrelated matters. Often you get an entirely opposite rendering of what actually happened.

There is, of course, a pattern here. It’s one I’ve seen unfolding and becoming increasingly obvious over the past few years.

At first it surfaced as journalists just respectfully aligning their perceptions and editorial perspectives to official government positions on any matters pertaining to international relations and formulation of foreign policy. Politeness and pandering discreetly replaced asking probing questions and conducting deep-source investigation.

That morphed into advocating and cheer leading on behalf of the government. We saw an abundance of this leading up to the second Iraq war. Press conferences with George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld were like frat parties before a home game.

American media now only mimics the official government line. Rather than actually cover the news, investigate it thoroughly and report it objectively, it merely takes dictation from the official spokespersons for the White House, State Department, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies, including the NSA and CIA. Doing original research, challenging shoddy reasoning, objecting to spurious claims, demanding proof and corroboration, all have faded into a hazy memory of quaint bygone times.

I can only draw one conclusion.

There is indeed freedom of the press in America.

But it’s not quite what I understood it to be.

Now it’s the freedom to keep Americans in the dark.

It’s the freedom cherry-pick from the vast array of newsworthy items and only publish those consistent with the preferred narrative of our government.

It’s the freedom to suppress anything which official spokespersons find inconvenient or untimely in their ongoing effort to enforce their manufactured version world events.

It’s the freedom to distort and invent facts which support official government policies.

It’s the freedom to shape the national conversation in ways that aligns with the official view of developments and incidents.

It’s the freedom to shape public perception by using loaded phrases and unrepresentative images, to editorialize while hiding behind a facade of objectivity.

It’s the freedom to malign and demonize both national and international figures who the U.S. government has targeted for character assassination and marginalization.

It’s the freedom to do balanced journalism, but with a new, different twist. Individual correspondents will balance their desire for career advancement with the demand they write the right kind of articles given the correct spin about a range of “acceptable” issues. News media organizations will balance their need for access to the White House and other high-level officials with the kind of coverage that meets the approval of those they access.

But I will give credit where it’s due. Under this new definition of “freedom of the press”, American journalists can now surely be saluted for unfailingly and aggressively exercising this time-honored privilege.

“A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will in time produce a people as base as itself.” - Joseph Pulitzer

Posted in Deconstruction, Democracy, Nihilism, Political Analysis, Political Rant, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Give Peace A Chance

Before the jingoistic cheer leading and Russia-hating catcalls start pouring from the poorly informed but enthusiastically irrational peanut gallery, let’s take a moment to review a few important FACTS. Maybe FACTS are not quite as spectacular or emotionally satisfying as burping up bilious gas balls of MSM propaganda, but they can provide PERSPECTIVE.

During the 90s, following the dissolution of the USSR, the military flights and air-space patrols and probing by Russia as part of their stand-off with the West __ mirrored 24/7  by the U.S. and NATO with similar fleets of fighters, bombers, reconnaissance planes, refueling tankers __ stopped completely. The reconnaissance and war readiness exercises by the Western powers, however, continued uninterrupted.

Reacting to this unbroken protraction of war readiness by the West, Russia started up their long range bomber patrols again July and August 2007, returned to guarding its air space and borders, keeping a sufficient number of planes in the air to let the West know that they were not to be permitted carte blanche superiority in the skies near Russian air space.

This means, for over 15 years Russia suspended a major component of the Cold War years confrontation, taking itself completely off of a war footing. Rather than take advantage of this historic opportunity, the West continued, and if anything increased, its intimidation of Russia, which by both choice and circumstance __ its empire had disintegrated and the country itself was in dire economic straits __ tried to pursue peaceful relations.

During the 90s Russia was understandably preoccupied with putting its house back in order and trying to rebuild the functional framework of a nation. With calculating deftness but in direct violation of recorded assurances made to Russia that NATO would not move “one inch east” of Germany __ a trade-off for Russia’s quickly withdrawing its troops from East Germany to permit an orderly, uncontested reunification of the German nation __ NATO at the prompting of the U.S. proceeded to rapidly expand its geographical orbit. Today it includes Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Slovenia. All of these countries are considerably more than an inch east of Germany.

Then in December 2001, the U.S. announced that it was unilaterally pulling out of the ABM Treaty, signaling that it claimed the right to now put anti-ballistic missiles in any country in the NATO alliance. This move was unprovoked, meaning there was no specific incident or level of tension between Russia and the U.S. prompting such a sudden breach of the agreement, one that had been in force since 1972. Ominously, this was the first time in U.S. history that America had walked away from such a major agreement.

Since the U.S. at the time and for many years afterwards, claimed that the anti-ballistic missiles were purely to prevent rogue nations like Iran and North Korea from attacking Europe, Russia offered to become part of a unified system of missile defense of Europe, offering its own sophisticated missile tracking radar to the mix.

America turned down this offer from the Russians.

While there is much more, sometimes less is more.

Here less is enough.

Encapsulating . . .

NATO moves its military alliance and bases to Russia’s borders. The U.S. starts deploying ABMs near Russia’s borders. The U.S. wants no part of Russian cooperation in optimizing those systems against the “enemies”.

Who is Russia to conclude is the real enemy being targeted by these ABMs?

What is Russia to conclude from the relentless move east, right up to its borders, of the military forces of NATO?

What is Russia to conclude from what appears to be a “containment” policy directed at them, currently implemented by twenty-seven major military installations, with possibly more yet to come?

Then to pour gasoline on the embers of suspicion, last year the U.S. assisted the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Ukraine, a nation with long historical ties going back centuries to Russia, located right on Russia’s “underbelly”.

Concurrently, a venomous anti-Russia propaganda blitz began in the West.

Everything became Russia’s fault: The whole Ukraine crisis, the downing of Malaysian Flight 17, the deaths in eastern Ukraine, the “invasion” and annexation of Crimea.

About the same time, a massive campaign to demonize Putin went into high gear, initiated and aggressively promoted by the U.S. via its presstitute media __ direct personal attacks even made by Obama, Biden, and Samantha Power at the U.N. __ and spread across the globe, the truculence championed by England, Germany and France.

What is going on here? What does this look like to you?

I know what it looks like to me. There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that hubris and arrogance, that delusional imperial ambitions and diplomatic megalomania, coupled with just plain horrible judgment has again replaced thoughtful analysis, basic respect for the interests of other nations, and responsible leadership.

Many are coming to this horrifying conclusion: America wants war with Russia.

It doesn’t help that some clueless imbeciles escaped their short bus ride for a day at the Leggo Park and infiltrated our policy-making institutions, preaching the suicidal gospel that we can win a nuclear war with Russia. They are joined by self-proclaimed political geniuses __ masters of the universe who think history is a 90s Michael Jackson album __ proposing after consulting their Magic 8-Ball that with a few slick moves America can just topple the current government of Russia and render the entire nation with its vast natural resources a vassal state, ready for easy picking by America’s corporate predators. I’m sure these same Pollyannas also believe that the Russian people will welcome America, weeping for joy, throwing bouquets before our Humvees as they roll through Moscow Square.

America thinks it can bluster and bluff, use color revolutions to nudge Putin out of office and install some bloated puppet in his place like they did with Poroshenko in Ukraine __ though even that’s far from a done deal itself.

America thinks what it says is divine truth and to hell with anyone who disagrees.

America thinks its military might and economic power confers it a special, unassailable place in the world, a position of supreme and unquestionable leadership and iron rule.

With these recent dealings with Russia, we’re another 25 years into the tragicomedy of our infantile machinations, self-absorbed exceptionalism, diplomatic myopia, and sociopathic delusions of imperial grandeur. We have engaged some of the best minds and produced some of the worst ideas.

Where do we now stand?

What do we have to show for all of this American ingenuity?

First and foremost, Cold War 2.0 is up and running full-tilt because Russia finally arrived at the inescapable conclusion that NATO is a profound military threat.

The meticulously and arduously fashioned trust and spirit of cooperation gradually built over decades is trashed, relations between the U.S. and Russia severely damaged for many years to come. Russia now believes all of the talk of integration and cooperation was just lip-service, a cheap smokescreen for America’s real agenda __ destroying their country.

As accusations and hysteria prompted by old habits and grudges now take center stage, hopeful and constructive dialogue have become drown out by the drums of war.

War fever and sabotage of peace initiatives __ mostly emanating from Washington DC __ are becoming pandemic.

The escalation of paranoia and preparation for major conflict keeps ratcheting up and up.

Trying to stop this madness is like trying to stop an avalanche with a pair of wool mittens.

We are way beyond the finger-pointing and blame-game phase. Now it’s tit-for-tat as both sides ramp up their respective militaries, each new step bringing the situation closer to spinning completely out of control.

The Pentagon pushes for a military build-up along Russia’s border. The world gets to hear General Frederick Hodges explain his no-mercy policy and lecture Europe and NATO about preparedness.  Friction develops and Russia objects as NATO continues a massive military build-up of troops in the Baltic States and other Eastern Europe NATO countries. There are U.S. paratroopers headed for Ukraine to train their army. Ukraine President, Petro Poroshenko, claims to have struck a deal will eleven EU countries to provide military weapons, including lethal ones. Great Britain deploys 30 Royal Air Force planes for Rising Panther, its largest war aerial exercises in a decade, in response to the “Russian threat”. U.S. tanks, Humvees and armored personnel carriers roll through Latvia. We have JOINT WARRIOR, a huge deployment of naval ships out of Scotland, for war game exercises. Poland is purchasing the Patriot ABM system to defend against the anticipated Russian invasion. Even the U.S. National Guard has sent twelve F-15 interceptor jets to Europe guarding against Russia.

None of this has escaped Russia’s attention, so understandably they have responded with their own build-up and heightened alert status. They conducted huge rapid deployment drills in Kaliningrad, and have deployed a new missile defense radar system there which covers the entire Atlantic. Russia is sending advanced supersonic strategic bombers to Crimea for global training exercises, as well as re-equipping early warning radar sites in the recently annexed territory. They have also announced the launch of a new advanced missile-attack warning satellite. There have been reports of an escalating presence of Russian strategic bombers near U.S. airspace, and concern expressed by NATO at the apparently growing number of “incidents” involving Russian planes and seagoing vessels, with of course no mention of the provocations emanating from NATO itself and its allies. Recognizing that Russia will stand toe-to-toe with the West in the face of aggression by NATO, U.S. troops at the front now feel “vulnerable” and want bigger, better weapons.

Through all of this, a stream of propaganda, outright condemnation, shoddy fabrication, angry provocation, and malicious innuendo continued to spew from President Obama, Vice-President Biden, Secretary of State Kerry, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, aided and abetted naturally by the main stream media.

Then yesterday, as I was finishing this article, Geoffrey Pyatt, a man with a long sleazy record of diplomatic disservice, who is currently U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, was reported to have tweeted an image of Russian air defense systems, claiming they were there in the country, when in fact the photo was actually taken outside of Moscow two years ago at an International Aviation and Space Show. Mr. Pyatt has thus expanded the range of his incompetence to even being pathetic at lying __ making him more dangerous.

So we now have the perfect storm:  hubris, idiocy, and paranoia.

The military one upsmanship coupled with diplomatic dysfunction is sheer madness.

I keep listening for a voice of sanity, appeals for restraint, some thoughtful analysis __ occasionally there have been a few faint whispers __ but mostly I’m hearing adolescent boys shouting at one another, as they rev up for a serious scrap in the schoolyard.

At the same time, as with most fights someone had to start it. Usually that gives us some clue who needs to stop it.

No matter what spin you put on everything I’ve laid out in this article, no matter how you rationalize it, hide it behind the thin vapor of noble intentions, without any equivocation, doubt, or splitting of hairs, it is the U.S. that has been provoking and perpetuating this extremely dangerous and counter-productive confrontation.

It’s not even in America’s long term interests to keep this war of nerves going.

Russia is not Zimbabwe, Iraq, or Yemen.  It’s not Grenada or Haiti.

Russia is not going to be intimidated by a chest-beating schoolyard bully.

This can only end badly for the U.S., its allies, and the rest of the world.

Obama, Kerry, Biden . . . COME ON! . . . man up a little!

Admit your mistakes.  Show some self-respect.  Let’s see real leadership.

Stand up to the neocon crazies and psychopathic empire builders.

Thoughtful judgment and common sense go a long way.

Drop the arrogant posturing and cut your losses.

History will judge you more kindly.

Give peace a chance.

Posted in Corporatism, Deconstruction, Political Analysis, Political Rant, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The March To Corporate Totalitarianism

The corporate tool, self-proclaimed man of the people, defender of democracy, putative stalwart advocate of the working man and labor unions, the man who would lift the nation to a new economic era of job creation and higher wages, now heads the charge to worldwide corporate totalitarianism.

And the individuals chosen to serve the greater interests of the American people, promote the general welfare, voice the concerns and priorities of those who elected them, march in perfect lockstep with their deep-pocketed corporate masters calling the rhythm.

Hut . . . two . . . three . . . four!  Stay in line you lowlife lackeys!  Hut . . . two . . . three . . .

Unbelievable!

This reminds me of the last words of the lead character of one of my favorite fairy tales.

As the blind old man walked through the forest toward a village of cannibals, his nose twitched and his spirits noticeably lifted. He smiled and said:

“The country fair must be right ahead. I smell barbecue!”

Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Economics, Nihilism, Political Rant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We’ll just have to agree to agree.

Agree to disagree?

How about if we agree to agree?

Did you know that 72% of American voters want a federal minimum wage of $10.00 or more.

74% of American voters are for ending oil subsidies.

76% of American voters want to cut back on military spending.

79% of American voters want no cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

93% of American voters want labeling of GMOs in their food.

There is vast agreement that the Citizens United decision was bad for America, with 80% against it and 65% strongly opposing it.

In a very recent poll, 68% of voters said that taxes on the wealthy should be increased.

I was very surprised, considering the stream of anti-Iran invective issuing from Congress, that 61% of Americans think we should do everything we can to cement the recent deal on monitoring and controlling development of nuclear technology by Iran, as opposed going to war, as is being promoted by Israel, Saudi Arabia, and a rabid core of saber-rattling warmongers here in the U.S.

Glancing at the headlines, the constant stream of partisan yelling, social turmoil, reports of widespread anger, mistrust, alarm and frustration, you would never know that on many extremely crucial issues, there is such a broad range of consensus among us normal, sane folks. You know the people I’m talking about __ real people who have better things to do than rail at everything and hate everyone in sight.

I’m not a conspiracist. But it sometimes seems as if a certain minority of self-absorbed miscreants, who don’t agree with the majority of decent people in our country, decided to mangle and manipulate the conversation. They seem bent on keeping things stirred up, making sure we don’t have a civil, constructive exchange of ideas, try to work out our differences, then join together to move things in a good, positive direction.

It’s as if they intentionally mislead and misinform us.

By keeping us divided, they control us . . . making it easy to get their own way.

This is nothing new to other countries who view America as the greatest threat to world peace, as a source of chaos, a force not for unity and order but mayhem and disarray.

What we are beginning to recognize within our borders is what the world has for a long time observed outside of them.

They see an America which wantonly uses its military and economic power to muck things up, keep people scrambling, divided, confused, desperate. They watch in horror and fear as we destroy entire nations, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and then claim we’re safer now because those countries are in shambles and no longer organized enough to stand up to us, oppose our policies, our exploitation, our callous bullying.

Is this what we want?

Surely we don’t really want to live in a nation that is at war with itself and everyone else. That’s not the America we believe in . . . that we care about . . . that we’re proud of . . . the America we hope to hand down to future generations.

We can agree on that, can’t we?

I’d say that’s a good start.

Let’s agree to agree.

Go from there.

Posted in Deconstruction, Democracy, Political Analysis, Social Commentary, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moonwalking

The moonwalk makes it appear that a person is heading forward while actually moving backwards.

Now that Michael Jackson sadly is no longer with us, his phenomenal mastery and performance of the moonwalk has been replaced by the U.S. economy.

We all hear the loud trumpeting by the usual suspects and the President himself about how the economy is recovering and how we’re heading for a brighter future.

But . . .

Since 1970, the annual earnings of the median prime-aged male have fallen by 28%.

Since 2008, the population of the U.S. has increased by 16,800,000 people, but the total number of full-time jobs has decreased by 140,000.

Since 2009, the number of Americans who are not a part of the work force has increased from 80.5 to 92.9 million.

With 62.7% of the population constituting the nation’s labor force February of this year, we are looking at the lowest level of participation in the job market since March 1978.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports: “In 2013, real median household income was 8.0% lower than 2007.” Moreover, this was 8.7% lower than in its peak year, 1999.

Since 1973, the number of people in the U.S. living in poverty has doubled, going from 23 million to over 46 million.

Since 1970, the percentage of prime age men in the work force has declined from 94% to 81%, an alarming drop which runs counter to demographic expectations. It’s not just old folks retiring. It’s young people unable to find work.

While the total wealth of the nation continues to make impressive gains, the median American household saw its total assets fall by 36% since 2003.

From over 13% in the early 70s, the saving rate for Americans recently has plunged to around 4%. There’s simply not much left to put away these days, after expenses eat up wages that effectively have been flat since 1995.

Income earned from working a full-time minimum-wage job __ adjusted for inflation to equate to 2014 dollars __ declined from $22,000 in 1968 to its current level of less than $15,000 per year.

Income inequality has become the hot new topic. The U.S. was once considered a model throughout the world for fairness and the equitable distribution of its enormous wealth. That is becoming a distant memory.

Between 1979 and 2007, while for the top 1% cumulative change in real capital income increased to 309.3%, for the middle class it actually decreased to -17.3%.

While in 1976, the richest 1% only took home about 9% of the enormous wealth generated by our country, by 2012 they were hauling in 24% of the nation’s annual earnings.

According to the analysis of economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman writing at the London School of Economics, 160,000 families in America now own as much wealth as the nation’s poorest 145 million families.

While the vast majority of Americans have not recovered from the devastation of their savings, the drop in value of their homes (if they still have a home), and whatever else they lost in the crash of 2008, the rich did quite well.  95% of the gains that have accrued in the gradual economic rebound over the past several years have gone to the wealthiest 1%.

In the mid-80s, there still existed a thriving middle class. The bottom 90% of Americans claimed ownership of over 36% of the national wealth. That has fallen to 23% and now the top .1% owns as much as that bottom 90%.

As $30 trillion of new wealth was being generated between 2007 and 2014, and the 115,000 households which comprise the wealthiest .1% were increasing their annual earnings by an average of $10 million per year, the number of children on food stamps grew from 9.5 to 16 million __ a surge of almost 70% __ and as they counted their pocket change on any given frigid night in January . . . 138,000 of those kids were homeless.

There are those who seem to think that somehow this represents progress.

Moonwalk anyone?

Posted in Corporatism, Deconstruction, Economics, Political Analysis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Billionaire Club

Does anybody remember when Ted Turner gave away $1 billion of his vast earnings to the U.N.?

How much is a billion dollars?

If you’re like me, all those zeroes start to blur. I have a real problem grasping wealth of such scale.

Maybe this will put it in perspective . . .

If you were to spend $10,000 a day, it would take 274 years to go through a billion dollars.

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, and he ended up asking you to borrow a few bucks for bus fare.

There are 2,325 billionaires in America.

There are more than 43 million people living below the poverty line in America today __ which, by the way, shockingly translates to nearly 1 out of every 5 children.

There are 400 unfathomably wealthy people in America who have more money and property than the 150,000,000 individuals in the bottom half of our population.

The .000133% vs. 50%!

Wealth inequality as a scandal and appalling affront to what America is supposed to stand for, lately appears to be taking a backseat in the national conversation, quickly replaced by catastrophes du jour in the ever-evolving parade of misery and chaos.

But since it undermines the entire premise of our democracy, and shreds the basic fabric of a society based on fairness and equal opportunity, we must keep it in the forefront of public debate, particularly with the all-important 2016 presidential election coming up fast.

It doesn’t look promising. We have flat-Earth Ted Cruz talking like a Rip Van Winkle who just awoke from a nap he started in the 2nd Century. Everyone’s concerned about Hillary’s emails when they should be worried about her warmongering and blind allegiance to the agenda of multinational corporations. Of course, none of us can sleep nights until we find out where Jeb Bush gets his news, if it’s not the New York Times.

Elizabeth Warren talks the talk but refuses to run for president. Bernie Sanders is out in front of the wealth inequality debate but he’s been marginalized, being a socialist and all.

But I remain optimistic. Miracles are possible. Americans are more frustrated than ever. They still remember the most famous meme in recent history __ the 1% vs. the 99%.

With wealth inequality accelerating, nothing less than the survival of the nation is at stake, demanding that we address this crisis before America turns into a medieval fiefdom or a 3rd World banana republic.

It’s certainly my hope that I won’t be writing about this again in five years.

But if I do, it’ll be titled . . . Trillionaire Club.

Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Political Analysis, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment