Friday, May 2, 2014

Low-wage labor in America

Go To Original
This week, the National Employment Law Project issued a report showing that since the financial crash of 2008, 1.9 million high- and average-paying jobs in the private sector have been eliminated and replaced with some 1.8 million low-wage jobs.
The report reveals the real character of the so-called “economic recovery” proclaimed by President Barack Obama and the entire political establishment. The only recovery has been in corporate profits, financial assets and the wealth of the super-rich.
For the great majority of the people, the past six years have been marked by unemployment, stagnant or declining wages, and a growth of temporary and part-time employment. This has been linked to a sharp increase in poverty, hunger, homelessness and other forms of social distress.
Mass unemployment and falling wages have led to a transformation in the financial position of American households. Real median household income fell from $55,600 in 2007 to $51,017 in 2012—a decrease of nearly ten percent in just five years.
This is the outcome of an attack on the working class that, while ongoing since the 1970s, has escalated dramatically in the aftermath of the 2008 crash. The character of American society has been changed in the process. Three decades ago, an auto assembly worker would have received $30 per hour or more. Now, the starting wage for new auto workers is $15 per hour or less, barely above the wages that prevail in the retail and food service sectors.
The so-called “middle-class” blue-collar worker has become a thing of the past. Working people are being reduced to the type of penury that characterized the slums of the 19th century, before the advent of industrial unions and the revolutionary struggles of the 20th century.
The Obama administration has taken the lead in this social counterrevolution. In the 2009 restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler, Obama’s Auto Task Force made the imposition of a 50 percent wage cut for new-hires the condition for providing financial assistance to the US auto makers. Since 2009, wages in the auto industry have declined an average of 10 percent, generating record profits for the auto companies while setting a benchmark for wage-cutting throughout the economy.
The decades-long assault on the living standards of working people has led to a vast shift in the distribution of income from workers to the ruling elite. Labor’s share of economic output peaked in 1970 at 51 percent. It fell to 46 percent in 2000, 44 percent in 2008, and now stands at 41 percent. Corporate profits as a share of the economy have grown inversely, nearly quadrupling from three percent in 1986 to 11 percent today.
The decision of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party to make the promotion of “middle-class jobs” the theme of their campaign in the 2014 midterm elections, centered on the call for Congress to increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, is a cynical hoax. The Obama administration has made low-wage labor a centerpiece of its economic policy. Its drive to revive American industry—more rhetoric than reality—is predicated on narrowing the wage gap between American workers and those in cheap-labor havens in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin American and elsewhere, so as to make it profitable for corporations to return production to the US. In the unlikely event that the Democrats’ minimum wage proposal was passed, it would still leave the minimum wage at a lower level than it was, in real terms, in 1968.
The social gains that are now being rolled back were neither gifts from the ruling class nor the result of abstract economic processes. The transformation of American society that took place following the 1930s—in which social inequality diminished and the living standards of broad sections of the working class improved—was the result of mass struggle.
The eruption of class struggle worldwide in the first part of the 20th century—in which the 1917 Russian Revolution was the high point—forced concessions from the ruling class. In the United States, workers were able to win significant social reforms, including Social Security (and, in a later period, Medicare and Medicaid), as well as increased wages, cost of living adjustments and health and retirement benefits.
These concessions were wrenched from the ruling class during a period in which American capitalism stood dominant over the world economy. The world capitalist system as a whole was restabilized in the aftermath of the Second World War on the basis of the strength of the US economy.
When these conditions began to change—accelerating in the 1970s and 1980s—the ruling class launched a counteroffensive. Entire industries were dismantled and hundreds of thousands of jobs wiped out as the corporate and financial elite engaged in a policy of redistributing wealth from the bottom to the top. This was a period of deindustrialization and financialization, with the wealth of the ruling class increasingly generated through parasitic means.
The working class was organizationally and politically hamstrung by the fact that, while it engaged in enormous struggles in the first half of the 20th century, it did not succeed in forging an independent political organization in opposition to the ruling class and the capitalist system. The organizations created in the midst of these struggles, the trade unions, were dominated by an anticommunist bureaucracy that established a pact with the Democratic Party and the capitalist system.
The trade unions responded to the offensive of the ruling class beginning in the late 1970s by partnering more closely with the employers and politicians to slash workers’ wages and benefits so as to promote the international competitiveness of American corporations. For decades, the destruction of decent-paying jobs, health care and retirement benefits has taken place with the full support of the unions, run by increasingly wealthy executives.
The capitalist crisis that erupted in 2008 has intensified these social and political processes. The ruling class under Obama has redoubled its offensive against the working class, while the trade unions operate as labor contractors and industrial police tasked with suppressing working-class resistance.
The enormous rollback of workers’ wages and living standards is creating the conditions for renewed mass struggles. But this requires a new leadership and a new perspective.
The only way to defend the social rights of all people, including a decent job, housing, health care, education, and a secure retirement, is through the independent industrial and political mobilization of the working class in opposition to capitalism. The working class requires a socialist program, including the expropriation of the wealth of the ruling elite, the nationalization of the major corporations, and the reorganization of economic life under the democratic control of the working class.

US Economy Is A House Of Cards

Go To Original

The US economy is a house of cards. Every aspect of it is fraudulent, and the illusion of recovery is created with fraudulent statistics.
American capitalism itself is an illusion. All financial markets are rigged. Massive liquidity poured into financial markets by the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing inflates stock and bond prices and drives interest rates, which are supposed to be a measure of the cost of capital, to zero or negative, with the implication that capital is so abundant that its cost is zero and can be had for free. Large enterprises, such as mega-banks and auto manufacturers, that go bankrupt are not permitted to fail. Instead, public debt and money creation are used to cover private losses and keep corporations “too big to fail” afloat at the expense not of shareholders but of people who do not own the shares of the corporations.
Profits are no longer a measure that social welfare is being served by capitalism’s efficient use of resources when profits are achieved by substituting cheaper foreign labor for domestic labor, with resultant decline in consumer purchasing power and rise in income and wealth inequality. In the 21st century, the era of jobs offshoring, the US has experienced an unprecedented explosion in income and wealth inequality. I have made reference to this hard evidence of the failure of capitalism to provide for the social welfare in the traditional economic sense in my book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism, and Thomas Piketty’s just published book, Capital in the 21st Century, has brought an alarming picture of reality to insouciant economists, such as Paul Krugman. As worrisome as Piketty’s picture is of inequality, I agree with Michael Hudson that the situation is worse than Piketty describes.http://michael-hudson.com/2014/04/pikettys-wealth-gap-wake-up/
Capitalism has been transformed by powerful private interests whose control over governments, courts, and regulatory agencies has turned capitalism into a looting mechanism. Wall Street no longer performs any positive function. Wall Street is a looting mechanism, a deadweight loss to society. Wall Street makes profits by front-running trades with fast computers, by selling fraudulent financial instruments that it is betting against as investment grade securities, by leveraging equity to unprecedented heights, making bets that cannot be covered, and by rigging all commodity markets.
The Federal Reserve and the US Treasury’s “Plunge Protection Team” aid the looting by supporting the stock market with purchases of stock futures, and protect the dollar from the extraordinary money-printing by selling naked shorts into the Comex gold futures market.
The US economy no longer is based on education, hard work, free market prices and the accountability that real free markets impose. Instead, the US economy is based on manipulation of prices, speculative control of commodities, support of the dollar by Washington’s puppet states, manipulated and falsified official statistics, propaganda from the financial media, and inertia by countries, such as Russia and China, who are directly harmed, both economically and politically, by the dollar payments system.
As the governments in most of the rest of the world are incompetent, Washington’s incompetence doesn’t stand out, and this is Washington’s salvation.
But it is not a salvation for Americans who live under Washington’s rule. As all statistical evidence makes completely clear, the share of income and wealth going to the bulk of the US population is declining. This decline means the end of the consumer market that has been the mainstay of the US economy. Now that the mega-rich have even more disproportionate shares of the income and wealth, what happens to an economy based on selling imports and off-shored production of goods and services to a domestic consumer market? How do the vast majority of Americans purchase more when their incomes have not grown for years and have even declined and they are too impoverished to borrow more from banks that won’t lend?
The America in which I grew up was self-sufficient. Foreign trade was a small part of the economy. When I was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, the US still had a trade surplus except for oil. Offshoring of America’s jobs had not begun, and US earnings on its foreign investments exceeded foreign earnings on US investments. Therefore, America’s earnings abroad covered its energy deficit in its balance of trade.
The economic stability achieved during the Reagan administration was shattered by Wall Street greed. Wall Street threatened corporations with takeovers if the corporations did not produce higher profits by relocating their production of goods and services for American markets abroad. The lower labor costs boosted earnings and stock prices and satisfied Wall Street’s cravings for ever more earnings, but brought an end to the rise in US living standards except for the mega-rich. Financial deregulation loaded the economy with the risks of asset bubbles.
Americans are an amazingly insouciant people. By now any other people would have burnt Wall Street to the ground.
Washington has unique subjects. Americans will take endless abuse and blame some outside government for their predicament–Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, China, Russia. Such an insouciant and passive people are ideal targets for looting, and their economy, hollowed-out by looting, is a house of cards.

Washington Is Humanity’s Worst Enemy

Go To Original

How does Washington get away with the claim that the country it rules is a democracy and has freedom? This absurd claim ranks as one of the most unsubstantiated claims in history.
There is no democracy whatsoever. Voting is a mask for rule by a few powerful interest groups. In two 21st century rulings (Citizens United and McCutcheon), the US Supreme Court has ruled that the purchase of the US government by private interest groups is merely the exercise of free speech. These rulings allow powerful corporate and financial interests to use their money-power to elect a government that serves their interests at the expense of the general welfare.
The control private interests exercise over the government is so complete that private interests have immunity to prosecution for crimes. At his retirement party on March 27, Securities and Exchange Commission prosecutor James Kidney stated that his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other “banks too big to fail” were blocked by superiors who “were focused on getting high-paying jobs after their government service.” The SEC’s top brass, Kidney said, did not “believe in afflicting the comfortable and powerful.” In his report on Kidney’s retirement speech, Eric Zuesse points out that the Obama regime released false statistics in order to claim prosecutions that did not take place in order to convince a gullible public that Wall Street crooks were being punished.http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/09/65578/  
Democracy and freedom require an independent and aggressive media, an independent and aggressive judiciary, and an independent and aggressive Congress. The United States has none of the above.
The US media consistently lies for the government. Reuters continues to report, falsely, that Russia invaded and annexed Crimea. The Washington Post ran an obviously false story planted on the paper by the Obama regime that the massive protests in former Russian territories of Ukraine are “rent-a-mobs” instigated by the Russian government.
Not even Washington’s stooges in Kiev believe that. Officials of the Washington-imposed government in Kiev acknowledged the need for some autonomy for the Russian-speaking regions and for a law permitting referendums, but this realistic response to widespread concerns among Ukrainians has apparently been squelched by Washington and its presstitute media. US Secretary of State John Kerry continues to turn a deaf ear to the Russian Foreign Minister and continues to demand that “Russia must remove its people from the South-East.”
What is happening is very dangerous. Washington misjudged its ability to grab the
Ukraine. Opposition to the US grab is almost total in the Russian-speaking areas.
Local police and security forces have gone over to the protesters. The corrupt Obama regime and the presstitute media lie through their teeth that the protests are insincere and mere orchestrations by “Putin who wants to restore the Soviet empire.” The Russian government keeps trying to end the conflict and unrest that Washington’s reckless coup in Kiev has caused short of having to reabsorb the former Russian territories as it was forced to do in Crimea. But Washington continues ignoring the Russian government and blaming the unrest on Russia’s not Washington’s, interference. http://rt.com/news/lavrov-kerry-ukraine-talks-200/ See also: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38196.htm
The Russian government knows that Washington does not believe what Washington is saying and that Washington is systematically provoking a continuation and worsening
of the problem. The Russian government wonders what agenda Washington is pursuing. Is Washington in its arrogant stupidity and superpower hubris unable to acknowledge that its takeover of the Ukraine has come amiss and to back off? Does Washington not realize that the Russian government is no more able to accept the application of violence against Russian populations in Ukraine than it could accept violence against Russians in South Ossetia? If Washington doesn’t come to its senses, the Russian government will have to send in troops as it had to do in Georgia. nal-288/ ” target=”_blank”>http://rt.com/news/ukraine-russia-operation-criminal-288/
As this is clear even to a fool, is it Washington’s goal to start a war? Is that why Washington is massing NATO forces on Russia’s borders and sending missile ships
into the Black Sea? Washington is putting the entire world at risk. If Russia concludes that Washington intends to drive the Ukraine crisis to war rather than to resolve the crisis, will Russia sit and wait, or will Russia strike first?
One would think that the Chancellor of Germany, the British Prime Minister, and the President of France would see the danger in the situation. Perhaps they do. However, there is a large difference between the aid that Russia gives countries and the aid given by Washington. Russia provides financial support to governments; Washington gives bagfuls of money to individuals in the government with the knowledge that individuals are more likely to act in their own interest than in the interest of their country. Therefore, European politicians are silent as Washington pushes a crisis toward war. If we don’t get to war, the only reason will be that Putin comes up with a solution that Washington cannot refuse, as Putin did in Syria and Iran.
It is a paradox that Putin is portrayed as the heavy while Washington pretends to be the champion of “freedom and democracy.” In the 21st century Washington has established as its hallmarks every manifestation of tyranny: illegal and unconstitutional execution of citizens without due process of law, illegal and unconstitutional indefinite detention of citizens without due process of law, illegal and unconstitutional torture, illegal and unconstitutional rendition, illegal and unconstitutional surveillance, and illegal and unconstitutional wars. The executive branch has established that it is unaccountable to law or to the Constitution. An unaccountable government is a tyranny.
Tired of being spied upon and lied to, the Senate Intelligence Committee has produced a thorough investigation of the CIA’s torture programs. The investigation took four years to complete. The Committee found, unequivocally, that the CIA lied about the extent of the torture and kidnappings, that detainees did not undergo some mild form of “enhanced interrogation” but were subjected to brutal and inhumane torture, that the CIA, contrary to its claims, did not get even one piece of useful information from its grave crimes against humanity. The American presstitutes assisted the CIA in inaccurately portraying the effectiveness and mildness of the CIA’s Gestapo practices. During the entirety of the investigation, the CIA illegally spied on the Senate staff conducting the investigation.
Is the public ever to see this report beyond the parts that have been leaked? Not if the CIA and Obama can prevent it. President “change” Obama has decided that it is up to the CIA to decide how much of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation will be made public. In other words, unless someone leaks the entire report, the American public will never know. Yet, “we have freedom and democracy.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee itself has the power to vole to declassify the entire report and to release it. The committee should do so immediately before the members of the committee are browbeat, threatened, and propagandized into believing that they are endangering “national security” and providing those mistreated with grounds for a lawsuit.
The US government is the most corrupt government on earth. There is no independent judiciary or media, and Congress has acquiesced to executive branch encroachments on its powers. Consider the judiciary. Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights represented the father of the American citizen, who Obama said would be murdered by the US government on suspicion that he was associated with terrorism. When Ratner asked the federal courts to block an illegal and unconstitutional execution of an American citizen without due process, the federal judge who heard the case ruled that the father of a son about to be murdered did not have standing to bring a case in behalf of his son.
After several lives were snuffed out by President “I’m good at killing people” Obama, Ratner represented relatives of Obama’s murdered victims in a damage suit. Under US law it was clear as day that damages were due. But the federal judge ruled that “the government must be trusted.”http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38202.htm
Whether or not anyone has standing is entirely up to the government. The IRS takes a completely different position on the matter. Children have standing to have their tax refunds confiscated by the IRS if the IRS thinks the IRS may have overpaid the parents’ Social Security benefits.http://www.cnbc.com/id/101576080
So in “freedom and democracy” Amerika, children are responsible if the IRS “thinks”–no proof required–that it wrote parents too large of a Social Security check, but a father has no legal standing to bring a lawsuit to prevent the US government from the extra-legal murder of his son.
Thanks to the Republican Federalist Society and to the Republican judges the Federalist Society has managed to have appointed to the federal bench, the federal judiciary functions as a protector of executive branch tyranny. Whatever the executive branch asserts and does is permissible, especially if the executive branch invokes “national security.”
In America today, the executive branch claims that “national security” is impaired unless the executive branch can operate illegally and unconstitutionally and unless citizens are willing to give up every constitutional right in order to be made safe in a total police state that spies on and documents every aspect of their lives.
Even the Government Accountability Office has been neutered. In 2013 the Government Accountability Office told the TSA to eliminate its behavior screening program as it is a waste of money and does not work. So what did the TSA do. Why, of course, it expanded the useless intrusion into the privacy of travelers.
This is Amerika today. Yet Washington prances around chanting “freedom and democracy” even as it displaces the greatest tyrannies in human history with its own.
Only gullible Americans expect leaders and elites or voting to do anything about the institutionalization of tyranny. Elites are only interested in money. As long as the system produces more income and wealth for elites, elites don’t give a hoot about tyranny or what happens to the rest of us.

Privatization Is A Ramp For Corruption and Insouciance Is a Ramp for War

Go To Original

Libertarian ideology favors privatization. However, in practice privatization is usually very different in result than libertarian ideology postulates. Almost always, privatization becomes a way for well-connected private interests to loot both the public purse and the general welfare.
Most privatizations, such as those that have occurred in France and UK during the neoliberal era, and in Greece today and Ukraine tomorrow, are lootings of public assets by politically-connected private interests.
Another form of privatization is to turn traditional government functions, such as prison operation and many supply functions of the armed services, such as feeding the troops, over to private companies at a large increase in cost to the public. Essentially, the libertarian ideology is used to provide lucrative public contracts to a few favored persons who then reward the politicians. This is called “free enterprise.”
The privatization of prisons in the US is an example of the extraordinary cost and injustice of privatization. Privatization of prisons requires ever higher rates of incarceration in order to build profitability. The US, supposedly “a land of liberty” has by far the highest incarceration rates of all countries. The “free” US has not only the highest percentage of its population in prison but also the highest absolute number. “Authoritarian” China with four times the US population has fewer citizens in prison.
This article shows how well prison privatization works for well-connected private interests:http://www.globalresearch.ca/privatization-of-the-us-prison-system/5377824
It also shows the extraordinary shame, corruption, and discredit that prison privatization has brought to the US.
A few years ago I wrote about the conviction of two judges who were paid by privatized juvenile detention facilities to sentence kids to their facilities.
As Alain of Lille and later Karl Marx said, “Money is all.” In America money is all that is
important to the political system and to the bulk of the population. Essentially, America has no other values.
Another great libertarian fantasy is Wall Street. In the libertarian mythology Wall Street is the mother of entrepreneurs and of the start-up companies that blossom into industrial, manufacturing, and commercial giants. In actual fact, Wall Street is the mother of enormous corruption. As Nomi Prins shows in All The President’s Bankers, it has always been the case.
Recently, there has been a spate of Wall Street whistleblowers. Many are reported by Pam Martens on her site, Wall Street On Parade, http://wallstreetonparade.com/2014/04/insiders-tell-all-both-the-stock-market-and-the-sec-are-rigged/
Unlike libertarian ideologues, Prins and Martens are former Wall Street insiders and know what they are talking about.
All US financial markets are rigged for the benefit of a few. We have had the exposure of high frequency trading front-running buy and sell orders. We have had the exposure of the big banks rigging the LIBOR interest rate and the London gold price fix. We have had the exposure of the Federal Reserve rigging via its dependent bullion banks the price of gold in the futures market. We have had the exposure in Congressional hearings of the rigging of metal and commodity prices. The dollar’s exchange value is rigged. And so forth. Yet no heads have rolled. Recently a SEC prosecuting attorney, James Kidney, retired. Upon his retirement, he proclaimed that his cases against the criminal big banks have been suppressed by SEC higher ups who have their eyes fixed on big jobs with the banks they are protecting while in government service.
So there you have it. The United States government is so overwhelmingly corrupt that even the financial regulatory agencies have been corrupted by the money of the private capitalists they are supposed to regulate.
America the corrupted. That is what we have become.
Not even Vladimir Putin understands how totally corrupt and insensitive to humanity Washington is.
Putin’s response to the Ukraine crisis created by Washington’s coup in Kiev is to rely on
“Russia’s Western partners,” the UN, the Obama regime, John Kerry, etc., to work out a reasonable solution to the crisis.
Putin’s hope for a diplomatic solution is unrealistic. The NATO governments are bought-and-paid-for by Washington. For example, Germany is not a country. Germany is a mere piece of Washington’s empire. The German government will do as Washington says.The German government represents Washington’s agenda. The European governments to whom Putin is speaking are not listening.
Paul Wolfowitz, the neoconservative who as Deputy Secretary of Defense presided over the orchestration of the false evidence used by the Bush regime to launch Washington’s wars in the Middle East, declared the minimization of Russian power as the “first objective” of US foreign and military policy:
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”
What Wolfowitz means by “hostile power” is any power independent of Washington’s hegemony.
Washington overthrew the elected Ukraine government in order to orchestrate a crisis that would distract Russia from Washington’s adventures in Syria and Iran and in order to demonize Russia as an invader rebuilding an empire that is a danger to Europe. Washington will use this demonization in order to break-up growing economic relationships between Russia and Europe. The purpose of sanctions is not to punish Russia, but to break up economic relationships.
Washington’s strategy is audacious and brings risk of war. If the West had an independent media, Washington’s plan would fail. But instead of a media, the West has a Ministry of Propaganda. The New York Times has even found a replacement for Judith Miller. As you might have forgot or never known, Judith Miller was the New York Times reporter who filled the Times with Bush regime neoconservative lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Instead of examining and exposing the Bush regime’s false claims, the New York Times bolstered the regime’s case for war by using the newspaper’s credibility to advance the neoconservative war agenda.
The new Judith Miller is David M. Herszenhorn, with accomplices Andrew Roth, Noah Sneider, and Andrew Higgins. Herszenhorn dismisses the totality of Russian media accounts of events in Ukraine as “an extraordinary propaganda campaign” designed to hide the fact from the Russian population that the entire Ukraine crisis is the fault of the Russian government: “And so began another day of bluster and hyperbole, of the misinformation, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, overheated rhetoric and, occasionally, outright lies about the political crisis in Ukraine that have emanated from the highest echelons of the Kremlin and reverberated on state-controlled Russian television, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/world/europe/russia-is-quick-to-bend-truth-about-ukraine.html?ref=davidmherszenhorn&_r=0
I have never read a more blatant piece of propaganda than Herszenhorn’s. He bases his report on two “authorities,” Lilia Shevtsova of the American-funded Carnegie Moscow Center, and Mark Galeotti, a NYU professor.
According to Herszenhorn, the widespread protests in eastern Ukraine are entirely the fault of the protesters who are putting on a show for propaganda purposes. The protests are not a response to words and deeds of the Washington-installed stooge government in Kiev. Herszenhorn dismisses reports of extreme nationalist neo-nazi Russophobia as “sinister claims” and regards the Washington-imposed unelected government in Kiev as legal. However, Herszenhorn regards governments formed as a result of referendums to be illegal unless approved by Washington.
If you place your faith in Herszenhorn, you will dismiss all reports such as those below as lies and propaganda:
The Western World is the World of the Matrix protected by the Ministry of Propaganda. Western populations are removed from reality. They live in a world of propaganda and disinformation. The actual situation is far worse than the “Big Brother” reality described by George Orwell in his book, 1984.
The ideology known as neoconservatism, which has controlled US governments since Clinton’s second term, has the world set on a path to war and destruction. Instead of raising questions about this path, the Western media hurries the world down the path. Read what medical doctors report will be the result of the neoconservative Obama regime’s belief that nuclear war can be won:http://original.antiwar.com/lawrence-wittner/2014/04/14/your-doctors-are-worried/
The Chinese government has called for “de-americanizing the world.” The Russian legislature understands that being part of the dollar payments system is a Russian subsidy to American Imperialism. The Russian legislator, Mikhail Degtyaryov told Izvestia that “The dollar is evil. It is a dirty green paper stained with blood of hundreds of thousands of civilian citizens of Japan, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Korea and Vietnam.” http://rt.com/politics/russian-dollar-abandon-parliament-085/
However, Russian industry spokesmen, possibly on Washington’s payroll but likely just people without a clue, said that Russia was bound by contracts to the dollar system and that perhaps in 10 or 15 years Russia could take a more intelligent approach. That is assuming that Russia would still be capable of acting in its own interests after suffering 10 or 15 years more of US financial imperialism.

Every country that wishes to have an independent existence without living under Washington’s thumb should immediately depart the dollar payment system, which is a form of US control over other countries. That is the only purpose that the dollar system serves.
Many countries are afflicted by economists trained in the US in the neoliberal tradition.
Their US education is a form of brainwashing that ensures that their advice renders
their governments impotent against Washington’s imperialism.
Despite the obvious threats that Washington poses, many do not recognize the threats because of Washington’s pose as “the greatest democracy.” However, scholars looking for this democracy cannot find it in the US. The evidence is that the US is an oligarchy, not a democracy.http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-u-s-is-not-a-democracy-it-is-an-oligarchy/5377765
An oligarchy is a country that is run for private interests. These private interests–Wall Street, the military/security complex, oil and natural gas, and agribusiness–seek domination, a goal well served by the neoconservative ideology of US hegemony.
The American Oligarchs win even when they lose. Finally, Washington’s notorious torture prison, Abu Ghraib, has been closed.  But not by Washington. The Iraqi city fell last week to “defeated” al-Qaeda.  Remember, we won the war in Iraq.  $3 trillion wasted, but that’s not the way the military/security complex sees it.  The war was a great victory for profits. http://news.antiwar.com/2014/04/15/after-al-qaeda-expansion-iraqs-infamous-abu-ghraib-finally-closes/  
How much longer will dumbshit americans fall for the flag-waving deception?
The Republicans used the wars in order to create huge budget deficits and national debt that are now being used to dismantle the social safety net, including Social Security and Medicare. There’s talk of privatizing Social Security and Medicare. More profits for Oligarchs in the offering. The gullibility of the American population is really without compare.
The gullibility of the American public will doom the world to extinction.

Knowledge Is Crime in Washington: Kidnapping, Torture, Assassination and Perjury Are Not

Go To Original

How the mighty have fallen.  Once known as “Obama’s favorite general,” James Cartwright will soon don a prison uniform and, thanks to a plea deal, spend 13 months behind bars.  Involved in setting up the earliest military cyberforce inside U.S. Strategic Command, which he led from 2004 to 2007, Cartwright also played a role in launching the first cyberwar in history -- the release of the Stuxnet virus against Iran’s nuclear program.  A Justice Department investigation found that, in 2012, he leaked information on the development of that virus to David Sanger of the 
New York Times. The result: a front-page piece revealing its existence, and so the American cyber-campaign against Iran, to the American public.  It was considered a serious breach of national security.  On Thursday, the retired four-star general stood in front of a U.S. district judge who told him that his “criminal act” was "a very serious one" and had been “committed by a national security expert who lost his moral compass." It was a remarkable ending for a man who nearly reached the heights of Pentagon power, was almost appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and had the president’s ear.


In fact, Gen. James Cartwright has not gone to jail and the above paragraph remains -- as yet -- a grim Washington fairy tale.  There is indeed a Justice Department investigation open against the president’s “favorite general” (as Washington scribe to the stars Bob Woodward once labeled him) for the possible leaking of information on that virus to the New York Times, but that's all.  He remains quite active in private life, holding the Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as a consultant to ABC News, and on the board of Raytheon, among other things. He has suffered but a single penalty so far: he was stripped of his security clearance.

A different leaker actually agreed to that plea deal for the 13-month jail term.  Nearly three weeks ago, ex-State Department intelligence analyst Stephen E. Kim pled guilty to “an unauthorized disclosure of national defense information.”  He stood before U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who offered those stern words of admonition, and took responsibility for passing classified information on the North Korean nuclear program to Fox News reporter James Rosen in 2009. 

Still, someday Cartwright might prove to be unique in the annals of Obama era jurisprudence -- the only Washington figure of any significance in these years to be given a jail sentence for a crime of state.  Whatever happens to him, his ongoing case highlights a singular fact: that there is but one crime for which anyone in America’s national security state can be held accountable in a court of law, and that’s leaking information that might put those in it in a bad light or simply let the American public know something more about what its government is really doing.

If this weren't Washington 2014, but rather George Orwell’s novel 1984, then the sign emblazoned on the front of the Ministry of Truth -- “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” -- would have to be amended to add a fourth slogan: Knowledge is Crime.

Seven Free Passes for the National Security State

With Cartwright as a possible exception, the members of the national security state, unlike the rest of us, exist in what might be called “post-legal” America.  They know that, no matter how heinous the crime, they will not be brought to justice for it.  The list of potentially serious criminal acts for which no one has had to take responsibility in a court of law is long, and never tabulated in one place.  Consider this, then, an initial run-down on seven of the most obvious crimes and misdemeanors of this era for which no one has been held accountable.

*Kidnapping: After 9/11, the CIA got into kidnapping in a big way.  At least 136 “terror suspects” and possibly many more (includingcompletely innocent people) were kidnapped off the streets of global cities, as well as from the backlands of the planet, often with the help of local police or intelligence agencies.  Fifty-four other countries were enlisted in the enterprise.  The prisoners were delivered either into the Bush administration’s secret global system of prisons, also known as “black sites,” to be detained and mistreated, or they were “rendered” directly into the hands of torturing regimes from Egypt to Uzbekistan.  No American involved has been brought to court for such illegal acts (nor did the American government ever offer an apology, no less restitution to anyone it kidnapped, even those who turned out not to be “terror suspects”).  One set of CIA agents was, however, indicted in Italy for a kidnapping and rendition to Egypt.  Among them was the Agency’s Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady.  He had achieved brief notoriety for overseeing a la dolce vita version of rendition and later fled the country for the United States.  Last year, he was briefly taken into custody in Panama, only to be spirited out of that country and back to safety by the U.S. government.

*Torture (and other abuses): Similarly, it will be no news to anyone that, in their infamous “torture memos,” officials of the Bush Justice Department freed CIA interrogators to “take the gloves off” and use what were euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques” against offshore prisoners in the Global War on Terror.  These “techniques” included “waterboarding,” once known as “the water torture,” and long accepted even in this country as a form of torture.  On coming to office, President Obama rejected these practices, but refused to prosecute those who practiced them.  Not a single CIA agent or private contractor involved was ever charged, no less brought to trial, nor was anyone in the Bush Justice Department or the rest of an administration which green-lighted these practices and whose top officials reportedlysaw them demonstrated in the White House.

To be accurate, a single member of the national security state has gone to prison thanks to the CIA’s torture program.  That was John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent who tortured no one, but offended the Obama administrations by turning whistleblower and going public about Agency torture.  He is now serving a 30-month prison sentence “for disclosing a covert operative’s name to a reporter.” In other words, the only crime that could be prosecuted in connection with the Agency's torture campaign was one that threatened to let the American public know more about it.

Now, however, thanks to leaks from the embattled Senate Intelligence Committee’s 6,300-page report on the CIA’s interrogation and torture program, we know that the Agency "used interrogation methods that weren’t approved by the Justice Department or CIA headquarters."  In other words, its agents went beyond even those techniques approved in the torture memos, which in turn means that they acted illegally even by the standards of the Bush administration.  This should be an obvious signal for the beginning of prosecutions, but -- not surprisingly -- it looks like the only prosecution on the horizon might be of whoever leaked parts of the unreleased Senate report to McClatchy News.

*The destruction of evidence of a crime: To purposely destroy evidence in order to impede a future investigation of possible criminal acts is itself, of course, a crime.  We know that such a thing did indeed happen.  Jose Rodriguez, Jr., the head of CIA clandestine operations,destroyed 92 videotapes of the repeated waterboardings of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned the 9/11 attacks, and alleged al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, “tapes that he had been explicitly told to preserve as part of an official investigation.”  The Justice Departmentinvestigated his act, but never charged him.  He has since defended himself in a book, Hard Measures, saying that he was, in essence, “tired of waiting for Washington's bureaucracy to make a decision that protected American lives.”  He is still free and writing op-eds for theWashington Post defending the interrogation program whose tapes he destroyed.

*The planning of an extralegal prison system: As is now well known, a global network of extralegal prisons, or “black sites," at which acts of torture and abuse of every sort could be committed was set up at the wishes of the highest officials of the Bush administration.  This system was created specifically to avoid putting terror suspects into the U.S. legal system.  In that sense, it was by definition extralegal, if not illegal.  It represented, that is, a concerted effort to avoid any of the constraints or oversight that U.S. law or the U.S. courts might have imposed on the treatment of detainees.  This was a well-planned crime committed not under the rubric of war against any specific power, but of a global war without end against al-Qaeda and like-minded groups.

*The killing of detainees in that extralegal system: The deaths of detainees in CIA custody in offshore (or borrowed) prisons as a result of harsh treatment ordered by their Agency handlers was not considered a crime.  In two cases -- in the “Salt Pit” in Afghanistan and atAbu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- such deaths were investigated by the Justice Department, but no one was ever charged.  In the case of Gul Rahman, the prisoner in the Salt Pit, according to the Washington Post, “a CIA officer allegedly ordered Afghan guards in November 2002 to strip Rahman and chain him to the concrete floor of his cell. Temperatures plunged overnight, and Rahman froze to death. Hypothermia was listed as the cause of death and Rahman was buried in an unmarked grave.”  (In a rare case brought before a military court, a low-level Army interrogator was convicted of “killing an Iraqi general by stuffing him face-first into a sleeping bag,” and sentenced to “forfeit $6,000 of his salary over the next four months, receive a formal reprimand, and spend 60 days restricted to his home, office, and church.”)

*Assassination: Once upon a time, off-the-books assassination was generally a rare act of state and always one that presidents could deny responsibility for.  Now, it is part of everyday life in the White House and at the CIA.  The president’s role as assassin-in-chief, as the man who quite literally makes the final decision on whom to kill, has been all-but-publicly promoted as a political plus.  The drone assassination campaigns in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, though “covert” and run by a civilian agency (with much secret help from the U.S. Air Force) are openly reported on in the media and discussed as a seeming point of pride by those involved.  In 2009, for instance, then-CIA Director Leon Panetta didn’t hesitate to enthusiastically praise the drone attacks in Pakistan as “the only game in town.” And best of all, they are “legal.”  We know this because the White House had the Justice Department prepare a 50-page document on their legality that it has refused to release to the public.  In these campaigns in the backlands of distant places where there are seldom reporters, we nonetheless know that thousands of people have died, including significant numbers of children.  Being run by a civilian agency, they cannot in any normal sense be “acts of war.”  In another world, they would certainly be considered illegal and possibly war crimes, as Christof Heyns, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, has suggested.  Top officials have taken responsibility for these acts, including the drone killings in Yemen of four American citizens condemned to death by a White House that has enthusiastically taken on the role of judge, jury, and executioner.  No one involved, however, will ever see a day in court.

*Perjury before Congress: Lying to Congress in public testimony is, of course, perjury.  Among others, we know that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper committed it in a strikingly bald-faced way on March 12, 2013.  When asked by Senator Ron Wyden whether the NSA had gathered “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans” -- a question submitted to him a day in advance -- Clapper answered, “No, sir.  Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”  This was a lie, pure and simple, as the Snowden revelations on the NSA’s gathering of phone metadata on all Americans (including, assumedly, our congressional representatives) would later make clear.  Clapper subsequently apologized, saying that he spoke in what he called “the least untruthful” way possible, which, were crime on anyone’s mind, would essentially have been a confession.  Congress did nothing.  Just in case you wondered, Clapper remains the director of national intelligence with the “support” of the president.

Mind you, the above seven categories don’t even take into account the sort of warrantless surveillance of Americans that should have put someone in a court of law, or the ways in which various warrior corporations overbilled or cheated the government in its war zones, or the ways private contractors “ran wild” in those same zones.  Even relatively low-level crimes by minor figures in the national security state have normally not been criminalized.  Take, for example, the private surveillance of and cyberstalking of “love interests,” or “LOVEINT,” by NSA employees using government surveillance systems.  The NSA claims that at least one employee was “disciplined” for this, but no one was taken to court.  A rare exception: a number of low level military figures in the Abu Ghraib scandal were tried for their abusive actions, convicted, andsent to jail, though no one higher than a colonel was held accountable in court for those infamously systematic and organized acts of torture and abuse.

Too Big to Fail, National Security-Style

All in all, as with the banks after the meltdown of 2007-2008, even the most obvious of national security state crimes seem to fall into a "too big to fail”-like category.  Call it "too big to jail."  The only crime that repeatedly makes it out of the investigative phase and into court -- as with Stephen Kim, Chelsea Manning, and John Kiriakou -- is revealing information the national security state holds dear.  On that, the Obama administration has been fierce and prosecutorial.

Despite the claims of national security breaches in such cases, most of the leakers and whistleblowers of our moment have had little to offer in the way of information that might benefit Washington’s official enemies.  What Kim told Fox News about the North Korean nuclear program was hardly likely to have been news to the North Koreans, just as the Iranians are believed to have already known what General Cartwright may have leaked to the Times about the origins of the Stuxnet virus.

Of course, leaking is a habit that’s often considered quite useful by those in power.  It’s little short of a sport in Washington, done whenever officials feel it to be to their advantage or the advantage of an administration, even if what's at stake are “secret” programs like the CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan.  What’s still up in the air -- and to be tested -- is whether leaking information in the government’s supposed interest could, in fact, be a crime.  And that’s where General Cartwright comes in.  If there is, in fact, but a single crime that can be committed within the national security state for which our leaders now believe jail time is appropriate, how wide is the category and is knowledge always a crime when it ends up in the wrong brains?

If there were one man of power and prominence who might join Kim, Kiriakou, Manning, and Edward Snowden (should the U.S. government ever get its hands on him), it might be Cartwright.  It’s a long shot, but here’s what he doesn’t have going for him.  He was an insider who was evidently an outsider.  He was considered "a lone wolf" who went to the president privately, behind the backs of, and to the evident dismay of, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense.  He seems to have had few supporters in the Pentagon and to have alienated key Republican senators.  He could, in short, prove the single sacrificial lamb in the national security state.

In Washington today, knowledge is the only crime.  That’s a political reality of the twenty-first century.  Get used to it.