Masters Of War

Come you masters of war You that build all the guns You that build the death planes You that build all the bombs You that hide behind walls You that hide behind desks I just want you to know I can see through your masks. You that never done nothin' But build to destroy You play with my world Like it's your little toy You put a gun in my hand And you hide from my eyes And you turn and run farther When the fast bullets fly. Like Judas of old You lie and deceive A world war can be won You want me to believe But I see through your eyes And I see through your brain Like I see through the water That runs down my drain. You fasten all the triggers For the others to fire Then you set back and watch When the death count gets higher You hide in your mansion' As young people's blood Flows out of their bodies And is buried in the mud. You've thrown the worst fear That can ever be hurled Fear to bring children Into the world For threatening my baby Unborn and unnamed You ain't worth the blood That runs in your veins. How much do I know To talk out of turn You might say that I'm young You might say I'm unlearned But there's one thing I know Though I'm younger than you That even Jesus would never Forgive what you do. Let me ask you one question Is your money that good Will it buy you forgiveness Do you think that it could I think you will find When your death takes its toll All the money you made Will never buy back your soul. And I hope that you die And your death'll come soon I will follow your casket In the pale afternoon And I'll watch while you're lowered Down to your deathbed And I'll stand over your grave 'Til I'm sure that you're dead.------- Bob Dylan 1963

Friday, December 31, 2010

Gnarls Barkley - Crazy (Live Roskilde 2008)

Gerald Celente's Top Predictions for 2011

"How To Cure A Hangover, Or Not"

 "How To Cure A Hangover, Or Not"
By Colleen Graham

"Now you've done it and it's official, you have a hangover. Now what? No matter what you do sleep and water or juice should be included. There are many folk cures that are supposed to help cure a hangover. Many of them will help you cope by replenishing the vitamins and liquid you lost over night, while some like avoiding caffeine are very important to a quicker recovery. There is no one size fits all cure, find what works for you but the list below is a good place to start. There are also a few suggestions from readers who found their own way to cope.
Difficulty: Hard
Time Required: As long as it takes to feel better. 
Here's How:

• Sleep. Rest is your best friend at this point to give your body a recover. It is best to stay in bed so call in to work if you have to, tell them you have the stomach flu. You will sound so horrible on the phone they may believe you (unless they saw you at the bar, not a good idea then).
• Replenish your body with fruit juice and water.
• Avoid caffeine. A weak cup of coffee may be okay but a lot of caffeine will continue to dehydrate you, the opposite of what you want right now.
• Drink orange juice for Vitamin C.
• Drink a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade.
• Eat mineral rich food like pickles or canned fish.
• In Poland, drinking pickle juice is a common remedy.
• Drink a Bloody Mary. While the popular phrase “hair of the dog that bit you” may sound logical with a shot of whiskey left in the bottle next to your bed, it’s only temporary. Try a Bloody Mary instead, while your blood is dealing with the new alcohol it is ignoring the old and in the mean time tomato juice and celery are full of vitamins. If you drank the last of the vodka make a Virgin Mary. Another spicy morning after drink option is Hair of the Dog, in which gin and hot sauce are sure to bite your hangover back.
• Take a shower, switching between cold and hot water.
• In Ireland it was said that the cure for a hangover is to bury the ailing person up to the neck in moist river sand.
• Try Alka Seltzer Morning Relief. One reader says that it's all that he and his wife have found that really works for them. He stumbled across this "cure" while his wife was still suffering after two days, within 15 minutes after taking the Alka Seltzer she was fine.
• Get some exercise. Another reader suggests doing some sort of physical activity. He writes, "In the rare case of having hangover I usually drink about 1-2 liters of water and go outside to do some exercise like mountain climbing, swimming, cycling or just about anything that keeps me sweating." It takes willpower to move like that when standing seems like a challenge, but it is a good theory. 
• The side effects of aspirin, Tylenol and ibuprofen can be magnified when alcohol is in your system, so it is best (even though it may be the first thing you reach for) to avoid them to kill the hangover pain. Aspirin is a blood thinner, just like alcohol, and can intensify its effects and Tylenol (or acetaminophen) can cause more damage to your liver. Ibuprofen can also cause stomach bleeding. So be cautious when going for the quick relief.
• Watch the video: "Hangover Remedies." Jonathan Stewart demonstrates how to make a blended hangover remedy. There are a more than a few ingredients so you may want to have everything organized prior to overindulging.
• As an antidote, one reader takes a little extra multi B vitamin and drinks a lot of water before going to sleep."

"Wall Street's Ten Biggest Lies for 2010"

 "Wall Street's Ten Biggest Lies for 2010"
by Les Leopold

"What a great year for Wall Street: profits up, bonuses up and, best of all, criticism down, especially from Washington. Somehow Wall Street has much of America believing its lies and rationalizations. We're even beginning to forget that Wall Street is largely responsible for the economic mess we're in. So before we're completely overtaken by financial Alzheimer's, let's revisit Wall Street's greatest fabrications for 2010. (For the full story, please see "The Looting of America".) 
1."Honest, we didn't do it!" Two years ago Wall Street's colossal greed crashed our economy. Our financial elites created and spewed highly leveraged toxic assets around the globe. These poisonous "innovations" pumped up the housing bubble and Wall Street grew insanely rich in the process. When it all burst, we learned that the big Wall Street institutions that had caused the crash were far too big to fail - and too connected. High government officials came to their rescue with trillions in cash and guarantees - underwritten, of course, by we taxpayers. Everyone knew this at the time. But if you asked just about anyone on "The Street" they denied all culpability and pointed the finger everywhere else: Fannie, Freddie, the Fed, the Community Reinvestment Act, tax deductions for home buying, bad regulations, not enough regulations, too many regulations, too much consumer debt, the rating agencies, the Chinese - and on and on. Sadly, their blame-shifting strategy worked, bamboozling the media and people across the political spectrum. The GOP members of the Financial Crisis Commission are so drunk with this Kool-Aid that in their minority report, they refuse even to use the words "Wall Street" or "speculation" in assessing the causes of the crash. Hypocrites? Crooks? Morons? Take your pick. 

2. "The overall costs will be incredibly small in comparison to almost any experience we can look at in the United States or around the world." Ever since Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner screwed up his tax returns we knew he was numerically challenged. But his statement to Congress on December 16, 2010, on the cost of the bailout shows a willful inability to count. Yes, Wall Street has paid back most of our bailout funds. Whoopee! Our economy is in shambles, and millions of people are suffering. With his offensive "no big deal" analysis, Geithner glosses over all this human misery, and sidesteps the hidden costs of the bailout, including the financial insurance we taxpayers provided to every giant financial company in the country via the Fed. On the open market, that insurance - which guarantees trillions of dollars in toxic assets - would come at a very steep price. We coughed it up for free. But that's still chump change compared to the human costs of the worst employment crisis since the Great Depression - the lost income, the depleted savings, the ravaged neighborhoods. Then there's the capsized state and local budgets, the public service reductions, the laid off teachers, firefighters and police officers - all resulting from a plunge in public revenues caused by Wall Street's crash. Why aren't these costs on Geithner's balance sheet? A cynic might think Tim was priming us to accept the latest round of Wall Street bonuses. Hey - they paid us back, so why should we care how much they earn?

 3. "It's a war. It's like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939." Steven Schwarzman is supposed to be brilliant. After all, he made billions as head of the Blackstone Group, a private equity company and hedge fund. But last August, as some members of Congress mulled about eliminating a very lucrative tax loophole, he suffered a mental meltdown and saw an impending Nazi invasion. But the awful attack never happened. Schwartzman and his fellow hedge fund honchos all held onto their unbelievable tax break: Hedge fund and private equity income is still only taxed at 15 percent rather than at the top income tax rate of 35 percent. (That's because, inexplicably, it's considered "capital gains," not income.) Taxing Schwartzman's income as income would cost him hundreds of millions of dollars - and the prospect of this apparently triggered a shock spasm that catapulted his foot into his mouth. I'm sure my IQ isn't high enough to keep up with the genius logic behind Steve's analogy. But just who is Hitler and who is Poland in his scenario? Maybe in his grandiose conceit, his firm is as big as Poland? Or it would require a Blitzkrieg to wipe out his tax loophole? In reality, even if Schwarzman had to pay a 90 percent tax rate (as he would have under Eisenhower), it would hardly have been a hardship - let alone World War 3. He'd still have more money than he could ever spend in his lifetime. Schwarzman should be proud though: He gets 2010's Dumbest Wall Street Quote of the Year Award. Bravo! (In 2009 the honor went to Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, who claimed he was "doing God's work."

4. "The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifice, and that sacrifice must be shared by employees of the federal government." But not by Wall Street. President Obama words of November 29th came only days before he "compromised" with the Republicans to continue the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich and to bestow an enormous estate tax gift to the 6,600 richest families in America. Mr. President, the "hard truth" is that you're slapping around public sector workers because you don't have the nerve to take on Wall Street. If you had the guts, you could raise real money by going to war with Steven Schwartzman and eliminating the hedge fund tax loophole. By the way, closing that loophole for just the top 25 hedge fund managers would raise twice the revenue than you'll get by freezing the wages of all two million federal workers! (See "The Wall Street Tax Debate that Never Was")

5. "25 hedge fund managers are worth 658,000 teachers." Nearly everyone on Wall Street sincerely believes that they are "worth" the enormous sums they "earn." You see, their pay is determined by the market, and markets don't lie. They reflect the high value our skilled elites bring to the economy. So we shouldn't be shocked that the top 25 hedge fund managers together "earn" $25 billion a year, even at a moment when more than 29 million Americans can't find full-time work. The outrageous economic logic of Wall Street compensation has those 25 moguls taking home as much as 658,000 entry level teachers (they earn about $38,000 per year). How can that be justified? It can't. These obscene "earnings" are the product of 30 years of financial deregulation, as well as the tax cuts and tax loopholes that our government has just extended. The hedge fund honchos get most of their money by siphoning off wealth from the rest of us, not by creating new value. I dare Wall Street to prove otherwise.
 6. "To bolster the economy we need... an improvement in the relationship between business and government (the current antagonism, even if not the primary explanation for slow hiring and sluggish investment, does seem to be affecting hiring and other business behavior)." In this op-ed, Peter Orszag, Obama's former budget director, parrots the Wall Street line that employers aren't hiring because of "regulatory uncertainty." Mother of God, how much more certainty do they want? The Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats aren't about to let Obama seriously regulate Wall Street, even if he wanted to, which he doesn't. The truth is that employers aren't hiring because there's insufficient consumer demand for goods and services. But at least Peter Orszag is a man of his word. He personally plans to "improve the relationship between business and government" by tapping his government contacts at his new fat job at Citigroup, the nearly failed mega-bank that he helped to save at taxpayer expense. Orszag could have landed a coveted professorship at just about any university in the world. But apparently the 42-year-old wiz kid prefers Citigroup's multi-million dollar compensation package. Any bets on how long it takes for Larry Summers to cash in?

 7."Lengthened availability of jobless benefits has raised the unemployment rate by 1.5 percentage points." You see, the unemployed cause their own unemployment, at least if you believe this assessment from a March 17th research note from JP Morgan Chase. (Next, Wall Street will call for a return of the Poor Houses.) The theory is simple - you give people money not to work and they won't look for jobs. Still, it takes chutzpah for JP Morgan Chase, the beneficiary of billions of dollars in taxpayer largess, to criticize the unemployed for not finding jobs that aren't there, precisely because JP Morgan Chase helped to destroy them! Dear JP Morgan research staff: Five to six workers are now competing for every available job. If that's too complicated for you quants to grasp, maybe you should try a game of musical chairs in the trading room.

8. "Private employers, led by our revitalized financial sector, will create the jobs we need - that is, if the government would just stay out of the way." We now need 22 million new jobs to get us back to full employment (5 percent unemployment). In addition, each month the economy must generate another 105,000 jobs just to keep up with new entrants into the workforce. To get to full employment, the private sector would have to create about 630 firms the size of Apple (35,000 employees each). These numbers don't lie. Does anyone on Wall Street really believe that the private sector alone can pull off this miracle? But really, why should they care? They've got theirs, thank you very much. The painful truth that both Wall Street and Washington refuse to face is that if the big, bad government doesn't fund or create millions of new jobs, we'll face crippling unemployment for decades to come.
9. "Tim Geithner extolled 'the benefits of financial innovation' to the American economy." (Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2010) Sorry to beat up on Tim again, but it's sometimes hard to tell who he's working for. Whenever you hear the phrase "financial innovation" put your hand on your wallet. That's the phrase Wall Street uses to justify its casinos and its outlandish profits and bonuses. People who talk about "financial innovation" are either getting big bucks on Wall Street, want more bucks on Wall Street, or hope to get a job on Wall Street the nano-second their public service ends. My question for Tim is: If Apple creates iPhones, what does Wall Street create? Warren Buffett says it creates "financial weapons of mass destruction." Paul Volcker, Reagan's Fed Chair, said there is not a "shred of evidence" that "financial innovation" is beneficial. Volcker also believes that the economy "was quite good in the 1980s without credit-default swaps and without securitization and without CDOs." Volcker gets the Smartest Wall Street Quote of the Year Award: "The most important financial innovation I've seen in the last 25 years is the automatic teller machine." How could Tim get it so wrong?

10. "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here." Okay, okay, Claude Raines said that in Casablanca, not on Wall Street. But Wall Street and its defenders say exactly the same thing about their opaque derivatives games. Louise Story's excellent piece in The New York Times shows how a handful of banks have cornered the market clearinghouses for derivatives - entities that are supposed to make derivatives less risky. The big banks are limiting competition, according to Story, because they "want to preserve their profit margins, and they are the ones who helped write the membership rules." Meanwhile, Wall Street is quietly pushing to exempt its most profitable derivatives from even these rigged exchanges. So don't be "shocked, shocked" when Wall Street crashes again and we're asked to foot the bill. And that's when, not if."
And for all that, they seem to have forgotten what inevitably happens to porkers...
Happy New Years, Wall Street!

Lobbyist Lanny Davis’ Client List Puts Him on the Defensive |

Lobbyist Lanny Davis’ Client List Puts Him on the Defensive |

[United Students Against Sweatshops hung this banner July 20, 2009 on the building across the street from Honduran coup regime lobbyist Lanny Davis’ office in Washington.]
United Students Against Sweatshops hung this banner July 20, 2009 on the building across the street from Honduran coup regime lobbyist Lanny Davis’ office in Washington.

Lanny was also a big Shillary Clinton supporter.

Noam Chomsky: U.S. Savage Imperialism, The U.S. Empire, the Mideast, and the world, part I

U.S. Savage Imperialism

Tunisia: IMF "Economic Medicine" has resulted in Mass Poverty and Unemployment

by Prof. Basel Saleh

Mass and spontaneous demonstrations erupted on Friday, December 17th in the city of Sidi Bouzid (central Tunisia) when Mohammad Bouazizi , a 26 year-old, doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire after a female police officer slapped and spat on him. The only crime Bouazizi committed was that of being a street vendor selling vegetables and fruits without a permit, in a country where neoliberal economic policies failed to provide economic opportunities to Bouazizi and thousands of others like him.[1] Bouazizi’ s attempted suicide, which comes hard on the heels of police humiliation and confiscation of his only source of income, reveals the utter despair prevalent today among Tunisia’s population especially college graduates. Twenty-four years of ruthless corruptions, dictatorship, and neoliberal economic policies led to wealth being concentrated in the hands of very few people connected to President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife’s family. Bouazizi, a college graduate,[2] was trying to live in dignity and provide for his family by becoming a street vendor despite living in a country that is considered an economic miracle and one of the African lions by western economic monitors and analysts.[3]
The miserable economic conditions in the interior of the country, lack of employment opportunities and political freedoms pushed Bouazizi, like thousands of other young men and women in the Maghreb countries, to the margins of society. Tunisia’s national unemployment rate, which understates the true unemployment situation, stands at 14%.[4] However, the youth unemployment rate (those between15-24 year-old) is at 31%. The income share of the top 10% is approximately 32%, and the top 20% of the population controls 47% of Tunisia’s income. Tunisia’s inequality is so severe that the bottom 60% of the population earns only 30% (the top 40% take home 70% of the income).[5] Still, the IMF describes the government management of the economy and the uneven economic growth which benefited mainly northern and coastal cities while marginalizing the interior of the country as a “prudent macroeconomic management.”[6]
The despicable behavior of the police officer described above is not uncommon in Tunisia and is condoned by the police state that ignores basic human rights, shows no respect for the dignity of its citizens, and does not tolerate any signs of dissent. Poverty, unemployment and oppression have pushed yet another young man to commit suicide just few days later after Bouazizi’s attempt. On Wednesday, December 22nd, Hussein Nagi Felhi, also unemployed, unfortunately succeeded in committing suicide by climbing a high-voltage electric power line. He was electrocuted and died on the scene. Witnesses say the young man was shouting “no for misery, no for unemployment” as he climbed the electric pylon.[7]
The epidemic of youth unemployment, inequality, political repression, and lack of any meaningful freedoms inflamed solidarity among the population which took to the streets in a spontaneous and unplanned organic protests. Within days of the attempted suicide by Bouazizi and the suicide of Felhi, protests spread across the country and reached the capital Tunis and are still ongoing even in the face of total national media blackout and police brutality which resulted in the killing of an 18 year-old. This is not the first time the dictator of Tunisia Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has faced street anger over joblessness and economic misery during his 24-year reign, but this is by far the most serious challenge to his rule. About three years ago in January 2008, his security apparatus crushed protesters in the southern mining town of Redhayef when workers and young people protested wages and unemployment.[8]At that time, over 300 people were arrested as a result of the protests.[9] However, this time the desperation among the population has reached the boiling point. Aided by social media, some protesters launched a Facebook page to document riots and share news although the government promptly shuts down any protest-linked websites.[10] The demonstrations are increasing in intensity and show no signs of abating. The protesters are fed up with the status quo of a self-enriching and corrupt ruling family which is the de facto governing system in the Middle East and North Africa.
A Western Ally: The Hypocrisy of Western Neoliberal and Foreign Policies
Respect for human rights and freedom of the press is almost nonexistent in Tunisia. The Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom labels Tunisia as ‘mostly unfree’ nation and marginally close to being repressed—its lowest score.[11] Transparency International ranks Tunisia among its seriously corrupt nations with a score of 4.3 out of 10 (10 being free of corruption and 1 as most corrupt), and Tunisia is considered ‘not free’ according to Freedom House Index.[12] This is no surprise in a country where the government controls almost all aspects of people’s lives. Young people are especially tightly controlled and monitored. Even fields of study in post-secondary education are decided by the government where the Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research decides in which field of study students will be placed.[13]
Although the protests that are spreading across the country took on the form of social unrest for the first few days, they rapidly metamorphosed over the last ten days to become a mass political rally by the people. The protesters are now on the streets calling openly for the president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to leave office by holding signs in Tunisian Arabic dialect that read “Yezzi Fock” (Ben Ali, it is enough) which has become the protesters’ political slogan. Labor and industry unions which played an active role in public life since independence from France are also supporting the protesters. President Ben Ali, nearing 80, is very aware of the gravity and the real threat to his grip on power. His first reaction was to preempt the protesters by firing some local officials, replace some ministers in his cabinet, and then immediately promising more investment and job creation completely oblivious to his record after 24 years in power. When these empty promises failed to deflate the protesters’ anger, he resorted to the routine policies of riot police and explicit threats directed to his citizens. Facing the most serious unrest in the history of his rule, he took to the airways and gave a televised address in response to the demonstrations. He vowed to punish “the minority of extremists” whom he blamed for the riots (as he calls them) and also indicated that these protests “will have a negative impact on creating jobs. It will discourage investors and tourists which will hit jobs."[14] It appears that the President’s main concern is the tourism industry which is tightly controlled by his family and that of his wife as revealed by several Wikileaks concerning the economic and financial corruption of the first family.
The Tunisian dictator and his family are touted by Western governments as an example of a stable and progressive North African Muslim nation. The neoliberal economic policies are hailed as prudent and wise by the IMF yet these policies primarily benefited his family, that of his wife in addition to other well-connected wealthy Tunisians. In one incident of corruption revealed by Wikileaks, the Son-in-Law of the President purchased a 17% share of a bank just before it was to be privatized and then sold the shares at a premium. Readings from Wikileaks U.S. diplomatic cables underscore that success in the Tunisian economy is directly related to connection to the first family. Income and regional inequalities are on the rise in Tunisia. Job creation and widespread prosperity promised by defunct orthodox economic dictates never trickled down to the masses or even materialized for most unemployed college graduates where net migration has been steadily increasing rising from -16,000 in 1980 to -80,000 in 2005.
The Tunisian Government is an important ally for the U.S. in its resource-driven colonial wars with Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. A United Nations report on secret detention practices lists Tunisia as having secret detention facilities where prisoners are held without International Red Cross access. [15] Intelligence services in Tunisia cooperated with the U.S. efforts in the War on Terror and have participated in interrogating prisoners at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan and in Tunisia. Recent Wikileaks diplomatic cables reveal that the U.S. not long ago was concerned about the growing anger on the streets and the corruption of Ben Ali and the Trabelsi family (his wife’s family) who treat everything in the country as theirs. A list of Wikileaks cables from the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia posted on The Guardian newspaper website indicate that the U.S. considers Tunisia as a police state “with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems,” and the Ben Ali family as a “quasi mafia.”[16] Nevertheless, the State Department boasts about the active support the Tunisian security forces receive from the U.S. in spite of the Ben Ali’s government record of serious human rights violations. According to the State Department website:
“The United States and Tunisia have an active schedule of joint military exercises. U.S. security assistance historically has played an important role in cementing relations. The U.S.-Tunisian Joint Military Commission meets annually to discuss military cooperation, Tunisia's defense modernization program, and other security matters.”[17]
The fate of the protests is unclear at this point. The Ben Ali government is frantic to control the situation by sending police and security enforcements in the cities affected by the protests. The protesters have been peaceful and have not resorted to any violence or destruction of property. Some protesters simply held a loaf of bread and others are simply holding signs that call for jobs and dignity. In the meantime, the IMF is continuing to push Tunisia to more austere economic policies on the expenditure side, recommending that the government ends its support for food and fuel products and reform its social security system, a code word for privatizing the pension system in Tunisia which benefits the masses of poor Tunisians.[18]The greatest hypocrisy in all of this is that the IMF recommends these policies in the name of greater employment and growth which is the IMF’s cut-and-paste recipe for all nations it studies.
In the meantime, the Western international community has been largely silent about the protests. The U.S. corporate-run media is as usual busy selling air time to corporations eager to cash in on the Christmas holiday while simultaneously raising their prices to squeeze more out of their customers.[19] The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal didn’t report on the Tunisian protests at all. The U.S. State Department remains tight-lipped on the issue and has yet to release any statement on the situation. The U.S. government’s deafening silence confirms the inherent hypocrisy in U.S. diplomatic and foreign policy that is widely known, detested, and recently confirmed by Wikileaks released U.S. diplomatic cables.
Basel Saleh is an Assistant Professor of Economics and Peace Studies Faculty at Radford University, Virginia. His work on Palestinian suicide bombers is widely cited in national media and academic journals. He is currently writing his book Economics When People Matter due for publication with Kendall Hunt in the summer of 2011. The author can be reached by email

Latin America: no longer the USA’s backyard

by Boris Volkhonsky

Hugo Chavez. Photo: EPA
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has in his usual outright manner rejected the pressure from Washington trying to impose the candidacy of a new US Ambassador to his country. The ambassador-to-be, whose choice is supported by the State Department but whose confirmation by the Senate is still pending, is Larry Palmer. Hugo Chavez’ objections rise from the comments Mr. Palmer made earlier this year at Senate hearings when he said that morale is low in Venezuela's military and that Colombian leftist rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are finding refuge in Venezuela.
It is true that the relations between Venezuela and Colombia are at a very low level with the two countries balancing on the brink of an open military conflict. But it is hardly acceptable when a nominee for the highest diplomatic posting makes public comments on the internal policy of the country he is supposed to be posted in. At least, it could be appropriate some 15 or 20 years ago when Latin America was universally accepted as a kind of backyard of the US. But the situation has changed drastically since then.
During the late 1990s and 2000s quite a number of Latin American countries elected leaders who no longer agree to a passive role of “yes-leaders” in regard to whatever orders come from the north. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is probably the brightest of them, but not the only one. Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and, to a great extent and to Washington’s greater disappointment, Brazil which is economically and politically the strongest player on the continent, can no longer be regarded as Washington’s backyard.
Much of the fault for this lies with the previous US administration, when George W. Bush, preoccupied with affairs in the Middle East and South Asia, largely neglected Latin America taking for granted that there is no real threat to US monopoly in the region. But it seems that Barack Obama has not learned the lessons and inherited the legacy from his predecessor.
While China, following the policy of “soft power” has penetrated the Latin American economies to an extent that presents it as a real threat for American businesses, the countries themselves are realizing their increased role in international politics that does not demand following the guidelines set by the US. The emergence of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as a prominent player on the international arena is one example, the Russian-Venezuelan Navy maneuvers of November 2008 is another, out of the many.
It should not, however be understood that the US’ role on the continent has become irrelevant. Traditional strategic and economic ties still remain important. Venezuela, for example, is the chief supplier of oil to the US, and severing ties between the two countries would be harmful for the US and probably disastrous for Venezuela. But the changing overall situation suggests that the lingo of force is no longer acceptable even by the countries that by and large rely upon economic ties with their northern neighbor.
It is a sovereign right of any national leadership not to give agreement to a candidacy of any other country’s ambassador. The fact that the State Department is insisting on Mr. Palmer’s candidacy only shows that the US have no abandoned blackmail as a language of their diplomacy.
“If they're going to cut diplomatic relations, let them do it!” said President Chavez. “Now the U.S. government is threatening us that they're going to take reprisals. Well, let them do whatever they want, but that man will not come.”
And Chavez is not alone in his evaluation of the present administration’s policy towards Latin America. Brazil’s outgoing President Lula da Silva recently stated that Obama’s policy reflects the old “imperial” vision. And that despite the fact that in the early days of Obama’s presidency, there was much hope that the relations between Latin America and its northern neighbor would improve, and Barack Obama even hailed Lula da Silva as “the most popular politician on earth”.
“I would like the relationship of the United States with Latin America to be different to what it is today,” said Lula da Silva. “In the United States they should understand the importance of Latin America. The Americans don’t have an optimistic vision of Latin America. They have always related as an empire to poor countries. This vision needs to change.”
Whether Washington politicians will lend their ear to these words or not, is for the future to show. But insisting on an ambassador’s candidacy when a country’s leadership shows obvious disagreement and threatening Venezuela with possible retaliations, shows that they are not eager to give up the old imperial policies towards a continent they still regard as their backyard what it definitely is not.

Boris Volkhonsky is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Boris Volkhonsky

The Economic Hitmen

Imagining Extrasolar Planets

News in Brief: Corporate Executives Asked Obama to Authorize a "Tax Holiday" for Their Firms, and More ...

News in Brief: Corporate Executives Asked Obama to Authorize a "Tax Holiday" for Their Firms, and More ...

President Obama and the US Generals in Search of Navigational Change

President Obama and the US Generals in Search of Navigational Change

Washington's Blog: Is Gold - Or Fiat Currency - In a Bubble?

Washington's Blog

Research links rise in Falluja birth defects and cancers to US assault | World news | The Guardian

Research links rise in Falluja birth defects and cancers to US assault | World news | The Guardian

US marines prepare for Fallujah offensive

Israel discovers giant gas field

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Image of the Year: "The Creation Illusion"

Image of the Year: "The Creation Illusion"

In early 2007, scientists using the Spitzer discovered evidence that potentially indicates the famed three Pillars of Creation photographed by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 1995 in the Eagle Nebula were destroyed by a nearby supernova explosion about 6,000 years ago, but the light showing the new shape of the nebula will not reach Earth for another thousand years.
Continue reading "Image of the Year: "The Creation Illusion"" »

How do We Search for Quantum-Based ETs? (A 2010 Most Popular)

How do We Search for Quantum-Based ETs? (A 2010 Most Popular)

6a00d8341bf7f753ef0133f4775a0c970b-500wiOn a recent Discovery program on the Universe, Stephen Hawking voiced concern about the dangers, he believes, are posed by aliens who may arrive some day on Earth: "To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like..."
Life as we know it is based on chemistry but what, asks Randy D. Allen of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Oklahoma State University, if life elsewhere is based, not on chemistry but on quantum mechanics?
An alien life form that can manipulate subatomic particles like our cells manipulate chemical compounds. Humans have existed as a species for less than a million years and we are, as far as we know, the only species on Earth that has even the vaguest notion of physics. We only discovered the atom and learned to unleash its power, Allen observes, within the last century:
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GEAB N°50 is available! Global systemic crisis: Second half of 2011 - European context and US catalyst - Explosion of the Western public debt bubble

GEAB N°50 is available! Global systemic crisis: Second half of 2011 - European context and US catalyst - Explosion of the Western public debt bubble

GEAB N°50 is available! Global systemic crisis: Second half of 2011 - European context and US catalyst - Explosion of the Western public debt bubble

Robert Greenwald: Media ignores infinite Afghan war


Wikileaks: Pakistan's ISI Chief Met Israelis To Stop India Attack – The Express Tribune

The ISI chief had been in direct touch with the Israelis on possible threats against Israeli targets in India. PHOTO: AFP
ISLAMABAD: The chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency said he had contacted Israeli officials to head off potential attacks on Israeli targets in India, according to an October 2009 US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks.
Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan’s spy agency, told former US Ambassador Anne Patterson that he wanted Washington to know he had been to Oman and Iran “to follow up on reports which he received in Washington about a terrorist attack on India”.
“Pasha asked Ambassador to convey to Washington that he had followed up on threat information that an attack would be launched against India between September-November. He had been in direct touch with the Israelis on possible threats against Israeli targets in India,” the Oct 7, 2009 cable reported.
An ISI spokesman had no immediate comment.
Pakistan has no diplomatic relations with Israel. Such contacts would infuriate militants waging a campaign to topple the government.
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Serfing U.S.A.: How Corporate America is Robbing Workers

The United Corporate States of America 

Along with the staggering theft in broad daylight of Americans' assets that has occurred in the course of the ongoing financial crisis, as taxpayers funded multi-trillion bank bailouts and banks stole homes through foreclosures with the help of fraudulent paperwork, American companies have also been picking the pockets of workers more directly.
This second round of paycheck theft has come in the form of stolen productivity gains.
Historically, the relatively high and rising standard of living of American workers--both blue and white-collar--, which once gave the US one of the highest standards of living in the world, has come courtesy of rising productivity, which has allowed US companies to produce more goods with less labor, and to then pass some of the enhanced profits on to workers in the form of higher wages, without having to raise prices. That has been important because, when higher wages are financed by higher prices, it tends to be a kind of zero-sum game: higher wages cancelled out by inflation.
But beginning in 2000, the old system, already creaky, broke down.
The corporate onslaught against trade unions and against the minimum wage, which began with the Nixon administration in 1968, combined with so-called "free-trade" deals that allowed US companies to shift production overseas and then to freely import the products of their overseas production facilities back for sale to Americans at home, by weakening the power of workers to demand higher wages, has led to a situation where companies can just pocket all the profits from productivity gains, leaving wages stagnant, or even driving them down.
The recession that began in late 2007 has only made matters worse, giving owners and managers to opportunity to really hammer employees. With real unemployment and underemployment now running at close to 20%, employees are in no position to press for higher wages, even as those who are still working are putting in extra effort to keep their jobs, thus pushing productivity gains even higher.
The figures speak for themselves.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gains during the 1990-1999 decade averaged just 2.1% per year. The prior decade, from 1980-1989, the average productivity gain was 1.5% per year. But between 2000 and 2009, when the economy suffered two recessions, the average annual productivity gain has been 2.9%, almost 50% higher than the prior decade, and almost double the rate in the 1980s.
During this same period, however, wages have actually declined. According to the BLS, wages in 2010 rose 0.1%, but inflation, running at an official (and grossly under-measured) 1%, more than ate that up. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, for the whole decade from 2000 through 2009, wages actually sank for most people. In 2000, the median weekly wage for a high school graduate was $629. By the end of 2009, high school graduates were earning a median weekly wage, in inflation-adjusted dollars, of just $626--three dollars a week less than a decade earlier. A college degree didn't change things, either. In 2000, the median weekly wage for a college grad was $1030, but that had fallen to $1025 by the end of 2009.
Remember, all during that decade, companies were seeing productivity gains averaging almost 3% per year. If 50% of that gain in productivity annually had gone to workers, as might have been typical back 30 years ago when unions were stronger and before Congress gave away the store by signing onto the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Act and similar trade agreements, that high school grad would have been earning $729 a week in inflation-adjusted dollars by 2009, while the college grad would have been earning $1,195.
Of course as a whole, Americans have been doing even worse, because these are just the mean wages of people who are working full weeks. In fact, many companies have been laying off workers, and making the remaining workers, desperate to hang on to their jobs, work harder to produce the same amount of product, meaning that besides not getting any pay increase, they are producing much more profit for the boss. Many workers who are still hanging onto their jobs are actually working fewer hours, and thus are taking home smaller paychecks, all of which goes into that higher productivity figure for output per worker the government is reporting.
Indeed, the Wall Street Journal today reported glowingly that US production of goods and services had returned to its 2007 pre-recession level, but this is with unemployment running at an official rate of 9.8 percent, and an actual rate of about 19 percent.
What we're witnessing is a massive national "speed-up" which is enriching the owners of capital, while the workers are getting stiffed. It is the payoff to the ruling class of decades of hammering of trade unions, and also of trade unions cutting deals with the Democratic Party, which in turn has refused to defend workers' interests. Look at the sell-out of Labor during the first two years of the Obama administration. The union movement's one big issue--restoring some measure of fairness to the Labor Relations Act, so that it would be at least possible to organize unions and to win contracts and improved wages and working conditions--was dropped without even a fight by the Obama administration and the leadership of the House and Senate. The government, fully in the hands of Democrats, has also continued to sign trade agreements, most recently with Korea, that further shift jobs overseas, thus further weakening the position of workers here at home.
A cynic might speculate that this is also why the Democrats have refused for over three years now to come up with any real public jobs program despite the desperate straits of tens of millions of jobless people who have been without work for more than a year. The Democrats, in thrall to corporate interests, would on the evidence much rather spend $50 billion on a program of extended unemployment benefits that leaves those millions of people hungry for any real job, than spend that same sum on providing them with government jobs, as that would actually reduce unemployment and increase the bargaining power of all workers vis-a-vis employers.
Meanwhile, the national corporate media, itself viciously anti-union, continue to skew news coverage to portray unions as corrupt and greedy, so that the 90 percent of American workers who are not in a union don't even realize that any pay gains or benefits they get are because employers are trying to avoid unionization of their workforce.
Unless Americans wake up soon to how this process is impoverishing us all, we will see this shifting income and wealth to the top strata of the population continue until most of us are little more than modern-day serfs.
A start would be for people to at least recognize that this stagnation and decline in incomes we're witnessing is not some natural phenomenon. It is, no less than the fat salaries, perks and bonuses paid by corporate managers to themselves, simply another manifestation of corporate greed gone wild.
Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at

US Treasury Global Capital Firefighter-in-Chief

War and peace in Quran and Bible - Riz Khan - Al Jazeera English

War and peace in Quran and Bible - Riz Khan - Al Jazeera English

Senator John McCain's born identity: Maverick or McNasty? - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Senator John McCain's born identity - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Capital's war against WikiLeaks

Can the leak phenonomen sustain the continued assault by the corporate sector to prevail in the first ever cyber-war?
 Last Modified: 29 Dec 2010 13:47 GMT
In the words of Thomas Friedman,"the hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas..."[EPA]
When your Swiss banker throws you overboard, you know you've made some very powerful enemies.
Long famed for hiding money for everyone from Nazis and drug lords to spies and dictators, the Swiss government's banking arm has decided that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are just too hot even for it to handle.
And so the PostFinance, which runs the country's banks, declared in early December that it had "ended its business relationship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Paul Assange" after accusing Mr. Assange of - gasp! - providing false information about his place of residence.
This move followed similar moves by credit card companies MasterCard and Visa, as well as PayPal and, to no longer process WikiLeaks payments and, in's case, to cease hosting its data.
As I write this, Bank of America has joined the crescendo of corporations taking aim at WikiLeaks, refusing to process payments for it any longer because of "our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments."
And soon after, none other than Apple joined the chorus, pulling the plug on a WikiLeaks app only days after it went on sale on its iTunes website. Every sector of the corporate economy, it seems, is out to get WikiLeaks.
Zeroing in on "neocorporatism"
Should CIA agents, mafia bosses and other fellow Swiss banking customers who have likely been even less than forthright in their personal representations than Assange is alleged to have been also worry about the loyalty and discretion of their Swiss bankers?
Probably not. And that's because the world's criminals, autocrats and spooks are very much part of the global political economic system, even if sometimes on opposite sides.
But WikiLeaks both operates outside the system, seeking "Matrix"-style, to use technology - the internet - to "destroy" it by prying it open to public scrutiny, exposing the constant conspiracies of the powerful against the rest of society.
This task, Assange argues, is the most important way to help free the system's millions of often complicit - if not quite willing - victims and in so doing, "change or remove... government and neocorporatist behaviour".
As a political theorist, Assange leaves something to be desired. "Neocorporatism" describes a system in which capital and labour are enmeshed in an integrated but ultimately dependent relationship with a powerful and autonomous state apparatus - an update of the triangular relationship that enabled unprecedented economic growth and gains for the working class in the West in the decades after World War II.
Ideologically, this kind of close working relationship between government, big business and organised labour is the antithesis of the neoliberal system WikiLeaks seeks to combat.
But Assange is right that there is something "neo", if not exactly new, in the way the corporate sector is behaving today and its relationship with government. It lies in the embrace - or better, re-embrace - of finance capitalism and militaristic empire and the military industrial complex that sustains it.
Whether preying on unwitting consumers in middle America or preying on suspected insurgents in the Middle East, these are two of the most secretive sectors of the American economy. They depend on the public knowing as little as possible about their inner workings to secure the greatest possible freedom of action, power and profits.
The power of secrecy
Assage's abandonment by the Swiss banking system and its American corporate cousins is thus not surprising. Few industries have used secrecy and lack of disclosure more effectively than the banking, financial services and credit card industries.
Indeed, their secretive business practises are central to their constant ability to rake in enormous profits at the expense of working and middle class Americans through monopolising trading systems, charging morally usurious interest rates and fees, and engaging in other practises that would make even the most cold-hearted lone shark blush.
If the grand bargain between workers, capitalists and governments enabled the first two post-World War II generations to move from high school right into the middle class, this road was irreparably damaged by the 1980s, when the neoliberal Right first came to power.
As the United States entered its long and painful era of deindustrialization American foreign policy became more aggressively militaristic; and so joining the military as opposed to GM or Ford became one of the few routes to secure any kind of stable economic future (as long as you stayed in the military).
Not surprisingly, profits from the financial sector surpassed that of manufacturing in the early 1990s and haven't dropped since. But these profits and the economic growth they generated have relied disproportionately on government and consumer debt and a hollowing out of the manufacturing sector, which together helped make the US the "sick man of the globe", as one senior corporate economist.
For their part, GM, Ford and Chrysler simultaneously focused most of their energies on producing comparatively profitable gas-guzzlers like SUVs while establishing financial services arms that quickly became responsible for a substantial share of their profits (in some years upwards of 90 percent of profits are so derived).
Their lending practises, it's worth noting, included the kinds of "liar" home loans, given out with little concern over the ability of borrowers to pay them, that precipitated the global economic crisis of 2007 till today.
Financialisation and history
None of these practises would have withstood the light of public scrutiny, and it was only the corporatisation - in good measure, financialization - of American politics that allowed them to flourish in the last thirty years. Few enterprises threaten that secrecy as much as WikiLeaks and its laser-like focus on openness, which is why its actions are viewed in Washington as "striking at the very heart of the global economy".
The "financialisation" of the economy represents the increasing dominance of the financial industries in the overall economy, taking over "the dominant economic, cultural, and political role in a national economy".
Crucially, this process isn't unique to the United States; it also happened to previous empires, like the Hapsburg's, Dutch and British empires, at precisely the eras they lost their dominant global position. In all cases, financialism and militarism went hand in hand, as first pointed out by the British historian John Hobson's famous 1902 book Imperialism: A Study.
In it, Hobson argued that the monopolisation of the financial sector created a new oligarchy that linked together the large banks and industrial firms together with "war mongers and speculators" which encouraged imperialism to secure markets for the surplus products produced by corporations.
America's rise to global dominance came after the end of the imperial era and so it couldn't blatantly conquer territory to create new markets. But at the moment of its rise policy makers called on the government to use high military spending to ensure overall robust economic growth.
This coincided with rapid expansion of easily obtainable credit, creating two "giant black holes" (in the words of Israeli economists Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan) whose potential for expansion was limited only by the willingness of citizens to support the policies that enabled them, despite the long term harm to the economic and political well-being of their societies.
During the first thirty years of the Cold War era, the propensity towards militarism was balanced by the robust manufacturing economy and the tripartite business-labour-government relationship that secured it.
This began to change in the 1970s, when the hugely expensive, and profitable, Vietnam War began to wind own.
At this moment, as Nitzan and Bichler describe in their hugely important book, The Global Political Economy of Israel, beginning in this period "there was a growing convergence of interests between the world's leading petroleum and armament corporations. The politicisation of oil, together with the parallel commercialisation of arms exports, helped shape an uneasy weapondollar-petrodollar coalition between these companies."
What is most crucial about Nitzan and Bichler's analysis is that one of the most important ways that the arms and oil industries were able to earn a disproportionate (as they describe it, "differential") level of profits was through the regular eruption of Middle Eastern energy conflicts, which ensured both relative high oil prices and arms purchases.
McDonald's and McDonnell Douglas
As this process developed, the authors explain that "the lines separating state from capital, foreign policy from corporate strategy, and territorial conquest from differential profit, no longer seem very solid."
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman puts it more colourfully: "The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas - and the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps."
This is the "neocorporatism" that Assange and his WikiLeaks comrades have zeroed in on, although today, more than a decade after Friedman wrote the above words, Master Card is more relevant than McDonald's.
The problem is that WikiLeaks alone cannot turn the tide in this conflict.
Assange might well be a "high tech terrorist," as US Vice President Joseph Biden recently called him, given how much terror his actions have struck in the heart of the American political system.
But the US is ultimately only one of a group of powerful countries and corporations whose leaders all share a fundamental commitment to securing as much profit and power as possible for themselves, however much their methods and politics differ.
Indeed, a sober look at the relevant data reveals that the profit share of the financial sectors outside the US has almost always been significantly higher than in the US, meaning that the rest of the world has long been more "financialised" than has the US economy.
As always, capitalism and power have never been as conveniently centred in one country or region as people imagine.
To really have an impact, WikiLeaks needs to inspire a whole generation of leakers in other countries and cultures, who are as willing to risk their freedom as Assange and the other people behind WikiLeaks. The leak culture has started to take root, however only time will tell is it resists the forces working against it's development.
If this doesn't happen - if Assange and his comrades are successfully made into examples by their corporate and political enemies that scare off those who might be inspired by their example - Capital will likely win the world's first "cyber-war", much as it's won most every war before it during modernity's long, bloody and unimaginably profitable history.
Mark Levine is a professional musician and professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of California, Irvine. He is author of half a dozen books, including Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Religion and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam (forthcoming, Random House/Verso, companion CD to be released by EMI Records).
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Sudan: Degrees of Separation - People & Power - Al Jazeera English

Degrees of Separation - People & Power - Al Jazeera English

Human Rights in Afghanistan

Human Rights in Afghanistan

Basir Seerat\

2010: The Big Con Continues

by Ted Morgan
Despite the end-of-the-year upturn with Congressional ratification of the START Treaty and repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the United States remains stuck in a quagmire that has paralyzed our politics for 30 years. While the Republican party holds our government hostage, Democrats typically collaborate in public policies that don't have a prayer of resolving the deeply serious problem we face.
Though Americans younger than about 40 have never experienced it, there was a time when government was seen as a vehicle the American people could use to resolve pressing societal problems. When government failed to address the needs of relatively powerless groups, it was possible for them to mobilize around their grievances and place them on the public's agenda.
No longer. Today, protest has become routinized and all-but-impotent. Or, like the Tea Party, it has been coopted by the agenda of wealthy conservatives.
The dominant political message beamed at younger Americans for the past 30 years is that government is the problem, the market is the solution, and the United States must rely on aggressive military intervention to defend "our" interests.
And so, when the Democrats pledge to end the tax cuts enjoyed by the wealthiest Americans, the Republicans cry "class warfare," and the Democrats cave. With former Senator Alan Simpson gleefully anticipating the budgetary "blood bath" this coming spring when Congress has to raise the ceiling on national debt, we'll see more of the same. Social Security looms as perhaps the likely next target.
If we are to escape this quagmire, it is important to understand how we got into this mess and why we have lost the sense that we as a people can solve our problems and determine our future.
The crucial turning point occurred with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Reagan's policies were anticipated in earlier pronouncements by then corporate attorney Lewis Powell and the Trilateral Commission who blamed America's economic woes of the 1970s on the "democratic excess" of the 1960s -most notably the entry of new populations -racial minorities, women, and the young- into an increasingly agitated political process. Both Powell in 1971 and the Trilateralists in 1975 called for a concerted effort to shift American public opinion to the Right, while turning politics over to the market.
Reagan's electoral success stemmed from his ability to appeal through folksy rhetoric to voting majorities while simultaneously producing the market friendly policies corporate America desired. Thus he appealed to time-honored "family values" that allegedly prevailed in a simpler, if mythical, United States before the era of "riots, assassinations, and domestic strife over the Vietnam war," as he characterized the 1960s.
By tapping into the very real grievances of Americans who felt they were losing ground in the 1970s, Reagan created the key to the Right's electoral success ever since: a pseudo-populism that blamed the "strife" of the 1960s on an allegedly liberal elite: liberal Big Government, liberal university administrators, and the "liberal" media who paid attention to the strife. Pseudo populism drew crucial populations who felt aggrieved by 60s era movements -notably the white South and the white working class-away from the Democratic Party. The Democrats' response was telling: a new Democratic Leadership Council was organized to move the party into the corporate-friendly center.
The political backlash against the 60s was greatly aided by the commercial media -by a narrowed range of political discourse produced by an increasingly subservient news media, and by a wide range of films (think Big Chill or Forrest Gump), television sit-coms (Reagan's favorite: Family Ties), and advertisements that either reinforced the 60s imagery played up in the conservative backlash or converted 60s social movements to stereotypes that robbed them of their political meanings relevant to today.
It would take pages to explain adequately, but I argue that during the 1960s era the very same forces -a narrow range of media interpretation and the commercial emphasis on dramatic imagery, conflict and personalities- provided an open invitation to the kinds of "strife" backlash types love to equate with something they call the "Sixties." The mass media did not consider the more system-challenging meanings and arguments of 60s-era social movements worthy of serious consideration. But they were attracted to the behavioral expressions of what they too glibly saw as a generation in revolt.
These are the same images, behaviors, and personalities -and generational frame for understanding them- that continue to provoke unending media treatments and "hip" sales pitches designed to encourage our consumption of material goods and entertainment. We are stuck with a discourse that loves to use media images to blame some "Other" for our problems.
As for the now-distant 1960s era, it has been relegated to an alleged "generational debate" between those who continue to blame the 60s for our contemporary problems and those who are, perhaps, wistfully nostalgic for a more vital and hopeful time. What we have lost as a people is, first, a history whose central meaning was that even relatively powerless people can organize and achieve historic change, and second, the ability to carry on a democratic conversation with each other across the boundaries that have long been rigidified in what passes for political discourse in our mass media.
Left to its own devices, a capitalist economy extracts enormous wealth from the labor of employees and reliable access to cheap resources. The inequality capitalism produces is supposedly balanced by the one-person-one-vote equality of a political democracy. The "people" are thus empowered to rein in the excesses of capitalism through the political process. Under the neo-liberal regime, we the people have lost that power.
Ted (Edward P.) Morgan, a political science professor at Lehigh University, is the author of the newly-published What Really Happened to the 1960s: How Mass Media Culture Failed American Democracy (University Press of Kansas).