Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tomorrow the Congress and the President will decide who or what will be sacrificed to the gods of sequestration. Will it be Social Security, Medicare, Medicade, education and food stamps -- or will the giant corporations, many of which have managed to pay no taxes at all, be dunned to pay enough taxes to cover any short fall. Surely 99% of all Americans would vote for the latter ...but most of the Congress has been paid off by the 1% and Obama is under easily imaginable pressure.

Sanders on Sequestration

Democracy is polluted with special interests and corrupt politicians.

Polluted America — Paul Craig Roberts

February 24, 2013 | Go to original

Democracy is polluted with special interests and corrupt politicians.

Accountability is polluted with executive branch exemptions from law and the Constitution and with special legal privileges for corporations, such as the Supreme Court given right to corporations to purchase American elections.

The Constitution is polluted with corrupt legal interpretations from the Bush and Obama regimes that have turned constitutional prohibitions into executive branch rights, transforming law from a shield of the people into a weapon in the hands of government.

Waters are polluted with toxic waste spills, oil spills, chemical fertilizer run-off with resulting red tides and dead zones, acid discharges from mining with resulting destructive algae such as prymnesium parvum, from toxic chemicals used in fracking and with methane that fracking releases into wells and aquifers, resulting in warnings to homeowners near to fracking operations to open their windows when showering.

The soil’s fertility is damaged, and crops require large quantities of chemical fertilizers. The soil is polluted with an endless array of toxic substances and now with glyphosate, the main element in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide with which GMO crops are sprayed. Glyphosate now shows up in wells, streams and in rain.

Air is polluted with a variety of substances, and there are many large cities in which there are days when the young, the elderly, and those suffering with asthma are warned to remain indoors.

All of these costs are costs imposed on society and ordinary people by corporations that banked profits by not having to take the costs into account. This is the way in which unregulated capitalism works.

Our food itself is polluted with antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, and glyphosate.

Glyphosate might be the most dangerous development to date. Some scientists believe that glyphosate has the potential to wipe out our main grain crops and now that Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack, has approved genetically modified Roundup Ready alfalfa, maintaining sustainable animal herds for milk and meat could become impossible.

Alfalfa is the main forage crop for dairy and beef herds. Genetically modified alfalfa could be unsafe for animal feed, and animal products such as milk and meat could become unsafe for human consumption.

On January 17, 2011, Dr. Don Huber outlined the dangers of approving Roundup Ready alfalfa in a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack. Huber requested that approval be delayed until independent research could evaluate the risks. Vilsack ignored Huber’s letter and ten days later deregulated Roundup Ready alfalfa on January 27, thus accommodating Monsanto’s desire for monopoly profits that come from the company’s drive to control the seed supply of US and world agriculture by approving Roundup Ready alfalfa.

Who is Don Huber, and why is his letter important?

Huber is professor emeritus at Purdue University. He has been a plant pathologist and soil microbiologist for a half century. He has an international reputation as a leading authority. In the US military, he evaluated natural and manmade biological threats, such as germ warfare and disease outbreaks and retired with the rank of Colonel. For the USDA he coordinates the Emergent Diseases and Pathogens Committee. In other words, he is high up in his scientific profession.

You can read online what Huber told the Secretary of Agriculture. Briefly, the outcome of many years of Roundup Ready GMO corn and soybeans has been a decline in nutritional value, the outbreak of new plant diseases resulting in widespread crop failures, and severe reproductive problems in livestock, with some herds having a spontaneous abortion rate that is too high to maintain a profitable business.

Glyphosate is a powerful biocide. It harms beneficial soil organisms, altering the natural balance in the soil and reducing the disease resistance of crops, thus unleashing diseases that devastate corn, soybean, and wheat crops, and giving rise to a new pathogen associated with premature animal aging and infertility. These developments, Huber told the Agriculture Secretary, “are threatening the economic viability of both crop and animal producers.” The evidence seems to be real that genetically modified crops have lost their genetic resistance to diseases that never previously were threats.

There is evidence that the new pathogen is related to a rise in human infertility and is likely having adverse effects on human health of which we are still uninformed. Like fluoride, glyphosate might enter our diet in a variety of ways. For example, the label on a bottle of Vitamin D says, “Other ingredients: soybean oil, corn oil.”

Monsanto disputes Huber’s claims and got support for its position from the agricultural extension services of Iowa State and Ohio State universities. However, the question is whether these are independently funded services or corporate supported, and there is always the element of professional rivalry, especially for funding, which comes mainly from agribusiness.

The Purdue University extension service was more circumspect. On the one hand it admits that there is evidence that supports Huber’s claims: “The claim that herbicides, such as glyphosate, can make plants more susceptible to disease is not entirely without merit. Research has indicated that plants sprayed with glyphosate or other herbicides are more susceptible to many biological and physiological disorders (Babiker et al., 2011; Descalzo et al., 1996; Johal and Rahe, 1984; Larson et al., 2006; Means and Kremer, 2007; Sanogo et al., 2000; Smiley et al., 1992). . . . Although some research indicates there is an increase in disease severity on plants in the presence of glyphosate, it does NOT necessarily mean that there is an impact on yield.”

On the other hand, the Purdue extension service maintains its recommendation for “judicious glyphosate use for weed control.” However, one of Huber’s points is that weeds are developing Roundup resistance. Use has gone beyond the “judicious” level and as glyphosate builds up in soil, its adverse effects increase.

A submission to the Environmental Protection Agency by 26 university entomologists describes the constraints that agribusiness has put on the ability of independent scientists to conduct objective research. The submission, in which the scientists are afraid to reveal their names because of the threat of funding cutoffs, is included as an item in one of the bibliographical references below. Here is the statement:

“The names of the scientists have been withheld from the public docket because virtually all of us require cooperation from industry at some level to conduct our research. Statement: Technology/stewardship agreements required for the purchase of genetically modified seed explicitly prohibit research. These agreements inhibit public scientists from pursuing their mandated role on behalf of the public good unless the research is approved by industry. As a result of restricted access, no truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions regarding the technology, its performance, its management implications, IRM, and its interactions with insect biology.

Consequently, data flowing to an EPA Scientific Advisory Panel from the public sector is unduly limited.”

Monsanto is not only sufficiently powerful to prevent any research other than that which it purchases with its funding, but also Monsanto succeeded last year in blocking with money and propaganda the GMO labeling law in California. I would tell you to be careful what you eat as it can make you ill and infertile, but you can’t even find out what you are eating.

You live in America, which has “freedom and democracy” and “accountable” government and ”accountable” corporations. You don’t need to worry. The government and responsible corporations are taking good care of you. Especially Obama, Vilsack, and Monsanto.

Short bibliography:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

While fracking is running rampant in the U.S., poisoning deep lying aquifers, in Mexico City a deep aquifer has been discovered and will soon be tapped for drinking water as the shallower aquifers rapidly become exausted.

Injection Wells
The Hidden Risks of Pumping Waste Underground

Message from Mexico: U.S. Is Polluting Water It May Someday Need to Drink
Mexico City's mayor and general director of the country's National Water Commission watch as a geologist takes a drink of water from an exploratory well into an aquifer underneath Mexico City, on Jan. 23, 2013. (Dario Lopez-Mills/AP Photo)

by Abrahm Lustgarten                                                                                   Original here
ProPublica, Jan. 25, 2013, 8:49 a.m

Mexico City plans to draw drinking water from a mile-deep aquifer, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. The Mexican effort challenges a key tenet of U.S. clean water policy: that water far underground can be intentionally polluted because it will never be used.

U.S. environmental regulators have long assumed that reservoirs located thousands of feet underground will be too expensive to tap. So even as population increases, temperatures rise, and traditional water supplies dry up, American scientists and policy-makers often exempt these deep aquifers from clean water protections and allow energy and mining companies to inject pollutants directly into them.

As ProPublica has reported in an ongoing investigation about America's management of its underground water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued more than 1,500 permits for companies to pollute such aquifers in some of the driest regions. Frequently, the reason was that the water lies too deep to be worth protecting.

But Mexico City's plans to tap its newly discovered aquifer suggest that America is poisoning wells it might need in the future.

Indeed, by the standard often applied in the U.S., American regulators could have allowed companies to pump pollutants into the aquifer beneath Mexico City.

For example, in eastern Wyoming, an analysis showed that it would cost half a million dollars to construct a water well into deep, but high-quality aquifer reserves. That, plus an untested assumption that all the deep layers below it could only contain poor-quality water, led regulators to allow a uranium mine to inject more than 200,000 gallons of toxic and radioactive waste every day into the underground reservoirs.

But south of the border, worsening water shortages have forced authorities to look ever deeper for drinking water.

Today in Mexico City, the world's third-largest metropolis, the depletion of shallow reservoirs is causing the ground to sink in, iconic buildings to teeter, and underground infrastructure to crumble. The discovery of the previously unmapped deep reservoir could mean that water won't have to be rationed or piped into Mexico City from hundreds of miles away.

According to the Times report, Mexican authorities have already drilled an exploratory well into the aquifer and are working to determine the exact size of the reservoir. They are prepared to spend as much as $40 million to pump and treat the deeper water, which they say could supply some of Mexico City's 20 million people for as long as a century.

Scientists point to what's happening in Mexico City as a harbinger of a world in which people will pay more and dig deeper to tap reserves of the one natural resource human beings simply cannot survive without.

"Around the world people are increasingly doing things that 50 years ago nobody would have said they'd do," said Mike Wireman, a hydrogeologist with the EPA who also works with the World Bank on global water supply issues.

Wireman points to new research in Europe finding water reservoirs several miles beneath the surface — far deeper than even the aquifer beneath Mexico City — and says U.S. policy has been slow to adapt to this new understanding.

"Depth in and of itself does not guarantee anything — it does not guarantee you won't use it in the future, and it does not guarantee that that it is not" a source of drinking water, he said.

If Mexico City's search for water seems extreme, it is not unusual. In aquifers Denver relies on, drinking water levels have dropped more than 300 feet. Texas rationed some water use last summer in the midst of a record-breaking drought. And Nevada — realizing that the water levels in one of the nation's largest reservoirs may soon drop below the intake pipes — is building a drain hole to sap every last drop from the bottom.

"Water is limited, so they are really hustling to find other types of water," said Mark Williams, a hydrologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "It's kind of a grim future, there's no two ways about it."

In a parched world, Mexico City is sending a message: Deep, unknown potential sources of drinking water matter, and the U.S. pollutes them at its peril. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

The ancestors of the living native Americans took thousands of years to develop the many types of corn that the world now thrives on. But now, to improve its profit, Monsanto is getting set to plant their genetically modified corn in Mexico irrespective of the likelihood that all of the original varieties may be destroyed. Fortunately, the Mexicans are protesting.

                                         Go to Original here. 

February 25, 2013

Mexican Farmers Protest the Entrance of GMO Corn

Thousands across Mexico demand their government reject permits for GMO Corn while Monsanto defends their patent on life in U.S. Supreme Court

More at The Real News

Fracking Our Farms: A Tale of Five Farming Families ...and a video


Fracking Our Farms: A Tale of Five Farming Families

Their names are Carol, Steve & Jackie, Susan, Marilyn & Robert, and Christine. They share a bond. Two bonds, actually: They all own, or owned, farms. And those farms, along with their own health and the health of their farm animals, have all been ruined by fracking.

More than 600,000 fracking wells and waste injection sites have popped up all over the country, according to ProPublica. The oil and gas industry, along with federal regulators, would have you believe that injecting trillions of gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth is harmless. Tell that to Jacki Schilke of North Dakota, who lost two dogs, five cows, chickens – and her health – after 32 oil and gas wells sprouted up within three miles of her ranch. Or Christine Moore, a horse rescuer in Ohio who sold her farm after a well went up five miles from her farm, creating an oily film on her water and making her too sick to care for her horses.

You’ve heard it before. No farms, no food. As one farmer said, “If they frack all the farms, there isn’t going to be any organic.”

Read the essay

Get Involved: Stop the Frack Attack!

Have a fracking story to share? Want to become a better spokesperson for the anti-fracking movement? Like to learn more about clean energy alternatives, celebrate fracking victories, strengthen the national movement? Join others who share your concerns and motivation.
Join the OCA in Dallas, Texas, for the National Summit to Stop the Frack Attack, Mar. 2-4.

Can’t make it? Help someone else attend!


Give Us Some Truth: Artists Against Fracking

Yoko Ono and Artists Against Fracking Find Out What Fracking Has Done to Pennsylvania from JFOX on Vimeo.

“Democracy is messy, that’s the way it works. And we need to take the time for something that’s this huge, to really make sure we think it through.” Watch Susan Sarandon, Yoko Ono and other Artists against Fracking tour Pennsylvania where hundreds of families’ water supplies have been polluted by fracking.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Paul Craig Roberts: "Forty Senate Republicans made it clear that not only do they refuse to put their service to America ahead of their service to Israel, but also that they will not even put their service to America on a par with their service to Israel."

America Shamed Again: A colonized people — Paul Craig Roberts

February 17, 2013 | Go here for original

Americans have been shamed many times by their elected representatives who cravenly bow to vested interests and betray the American people. But no previous disgraceful behavior can match the public shame brought to Americans by the behavior of the Senate Republicans in the confirmation hearing of Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

Forty Senate Republicans made it clear that not only do they refuse to put their service to America ahead of their service to Israel, but also that they will not even put their service to America on a par with their service to Israel. To every American’s shame, the Republicans demonstrated for all the world to see that they are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Israel Lobby. (The Israel Lobby is not their only master. They are also owned by other powerful interest groups, such as Wall Street and the Military/Security Complex.)

The most embarrassing behavior of all came from the craven Lindsay Graham, who, while in the act of demonstrating his complete subservience by crawling on his belly before the Israel Lobby, dared Hagel to name one single person in the US Congress who is afraid of the Israel Lobby.

If I had been Hagel, I would have written off the nomination and answered: “You, Senator Graham, and your 40 craven colleagues.”

Indeed, Hagel could have answered: The entire US Congress, including Rand Paul who pretends to be different but isn’t.

The real question is: Who in the Congress is not afraid of the Israel Lobby?

The hatchet job on Hagel is driven by fear of the Israel Lobby.

Perhaps the worst affront Israel’s American representatives ever inflicted on the US military was the coverup of the Israeli air and torpedo boat attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. The Israeli attack failed to sink the Liberty but killed and wounded most of the crew. The survivors were ordered to silence, and it was 12 years before one of them spoke up and revealed what had happened (James Ennes, Assault On The Liberty). Not even Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff could get Washington to own up to the facts.

The facts are now well known, but as far as Washington is concerned they are dead letter facts. The entire event has been moved to some parallel universe.

Why are the Senate Republicans out to destroy Hagel for Israel?

The answer is, first, back when Hagel was a US Senator he refused to be intimidated by the Israel Lobby and declared, “I am a US Senator, not an Israeli Senator.” In other words, Hagel did the impermissible. He said he represented US interests, not Israel’s interests. Hagel’s position implies that the interests of the two countries are not identical, which is a heresy.

The second part of the answer is that Hagel doesn’t think that it is a good idea for the US to start a war with Iran or for the US to permit Israel to do so.

But a US war with Iran is what the Israeli government and its neoconservative agents have been trying to impose on the Obama regime. Israel wants to get rid of Iran, because Iran supports Hizbollah in Southern Lebanon, thus preventing Israel from annexing that territory and its water resources, and because Iran supports Hamas, the only Palestinian organization that tries to oppose Israel’s total theft of Palestine, although Iran has never supplied Hamas with effective weapons.

The two organizations that oppose Israel’s territorial expansion, Hizbollah and Hamas, represent large numbers of Arab peoples. Nevertheless, both are declared, on Israel’s orders, to be “terrorist organizations” by the servile US Department of State, which in all reality should be called the Israeli Department of State, as it never puts US interests before Israel’s.

In other words, Hagel did not grovel. He did not say how much he loved Israel and how it would be his great honor to sacrifice all other interests to Israel’s, how he has waited his entire life for the chance to serve Israel as the US Secretary of Defense.

Hagel is not an opponent of Israel. He merely said, “First, I am an American.” His lack of craven subservience is unacceptable to the Israel Lobby, which has branded him an “anti-semite.”

Lindsay Graham, in contrast, has what it takes to be Israel’s perfect choice for US Secretary of Defense.

Graham will go out of his way to please the Israel Lobby. He will pull out all stops and behave with maximum servility to a foreign power in his effort to embarrass the President of the United States and his nominee, a war veteran and former US Senator who simply thinks that the US Congress and the executive branch should put American interests first.

Senate Majority Leader Reid has used Senate rules to keep Hagel’s nomination alive.

If Lindsay Graham succeeds in doing the Israel Lobby’s dirty work, he will have handed a defeat of the US President to the Israeli Prime Minister, who has demeaned the President of the United States for not doing Israel’s bidding and attacking Iran.

Americans are a colonized people. Their government represents the colonizing powers: Wall Street, the Israel Lobby, the Military/Security Complex, Agribusiness, Pharmaceuticals, Energy, Mining, and Timber interests.

Two elected representatives who tried to represent the American people–Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich–found representative government to be an inhospitable place for those few who attempt to represent the interests of the American people.

Like Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Gerald Celente, I stand with our Founding Fathers who opposed America’s entanglement in foreign wars. In an effort to prevent entanglements, the Founding Fathers gave the power to declare war to Congress. Over the years Congress has gradually ceded this power to the President to the extent that it no longer exists as a power of Congress. The President can start a war anywhere at any time simply by declaring that the war is not a war but a “time-limited, scope-limited, kinetic military action.” Or he can use some other nonsensical collection of words

In the first few years of the 21st century, the executive branch has invaded two countries, violated the sovereignty of five others with military operations, and has established military bases in Africa in order to counteract China’s economic penetration of the continent and to secure the resources for US and European corporations, thus enlarging the prospects for future wars. If the Republicans succeed in blocking Hagel’s confirmation, the prospect of war with Iran will be boosted.

By abdicating its war power, Congress lost its control of the purse. As the executive branch withholds more and more information from Congressional oversight committees, Congress is becoming increasingly powerless. As Washington’s war debts mount, Washington’s attack on the social safety net will become more intense. Governmental institutions that provide services to Americans will wither as more tax revenues are directed to the coffers of special interests and foreign entanglements.

The tenuous connection between the US government and the interests of citizens is on its way to being severed entirely.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Paul Craig Roberts, a man with bona fide right-wing credentials, reflects on the natures of the political left (supporting government power) and right (supporting private-sector power). But, says Roberts, today's left and right both have TOO MUCH power and, worse, they are ONE AND THE SAME "...beholden to a private oligarchy, consisting of the military/security complex, Wall Street and the financial sector, the Israel Lobby, agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, and the energy, mining, and timber businesses, with the power to shut down people’s protests at their exploitation by robber barons and government alike." The blogger, with fair-to-middling left-wing credentials, is in 100% agreement with this view.

While Left And Right Fight, Power Wins–Paul Craig Roberts

February 14, 2013 | Go to Original

My experience with the American left and right leads to the conclusion that the left sees private power as the source of oppression and government as the countervailing and rectifying power, while the right sees government as the source of oppression and a free and unregulated private sector as the countervailing and rectifying power. Both are concerned with restraining the power to oppress, but they take opposite positions on the source of the oppressive power and remedy.

The right is correct that government power is the problem, and the left is correct that private power is the problem. Therefore, whether power is located within the government or private sectors cannot reduce, constrain, or minimize power.

How does the progressive Obama Regime differ from the tax-cut, deregulation Bush/Cheney Regime? Both are complicit in the maximization of executive branch power and in the minimization of citizens’ civil liberties and, thus, of the people’s power. Did the progressive Obama reverse the right-wing Bush’s destruction of habeas corpus and due process? No. Obama further minimized the people’s power. Bush could throw us in prison for life without proof of cause. Obama can execute us without proof of cause. They do this in the name of protecting us from terrorism, but not from their terrorism.

Americans who have no experience with, or knowledge of, tyranny believe that only terrorists will experience the unchecked power of the state. They will believe this until it happens to them, or their children, or their friends.

The view of human nature held by the right and the left depends on whether the human nature is located in the private sector or the government sector (“public sector”). For the right (and for libertarians) human nature in the private sector is good and serves the public; in the government sector human nature is evil and oppressive. For the left, it is the opposite. As the same people go back and forth from one sector to the other, one marvels at the transformations of their character and morality. A good man becomes evil, and an evil man becomes good, depending on the location of his activities.

One of my professors, James M. Buchanan who won a Nobel Prize, pointed out that people are just as self-serving whether they are in the private sector or in government. The problem is how to constrain government and private power to the best extent possible.

Our Founding Fathers’ solution was to minimize the power of government and to rely on contending factions among private interests to prevent the rise of an oligarchy. In the event that contending private interests failed, the oligarchy that seized the government would not have much public power to exercise.

The Founding Fathers’ design more or less worked except for interludes of civil war and economic crisis until the cold war built up the power of government and the deregulation of the Clinton and Bush presidencies built up the power of private interests. It all came together with the accumulation of new, dictatorial powers in the executive branch in the name of protecting us from terrorists and with deregulation’s creation of powerful corporations “too big to fail.”

Now we have a government, whose elected members are beholden to a private oligarchy, consisting of the military/security complex, Wall Street and the financial sector, the Israel Lobby, agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, and the energy, mining, and timber businesses, with the power to shut down people’s protests at their exploitation by robber barons and government alike.

Vast amounts of government debt have been added to taxpayers’ burdens in order to fight wars that only benefit the military/security complex and the Israel Lobby. More vast amounts have been added in order to force taxpayers to cover the reckless gambling bets of the financial sector. Taxpayers are denied interest on their savings in order to protect the balance sheets of a corrupt financial sector. Legitimate protestors are brutalized by police and equated by Homeland Security with “domestic extremists,” defined by Homeland Security as a close relation to terrorists.

Today Americans are not safe from government or private power and suffer at the hands of both.

What can be done? From within probably very little. The right blames the left, and the left blames the right. The two sides are locked in ideological combat while power grows in the private and public sectors, but not the benevolent power that the two ideologies suppose. Instead, a two-headed power monster has risen.

If the power that has been established over the American people is to be shattered, it will come from outside. The Federal Reserve’s continuing monetization of the enormous debt that Washington is generating can destroy the dollar’s exchange value, sending up interest rates, collapsing the bond, stock, and real estate markets, and sinking the economy into deep depression at a time in history when Americans have exhausted their savings and are deeply in debt with high levels of joblessness and homelessness. The rise in import prices from a drop in the dollar’s exchange value would make survival an issue for a large percentage of the population.

Overnight the US could transition from superpower to third world penitent begging for a rescue program.

Who would grant it? The Russians encircled by US military bases and whose internal serenity is disrupted by inflows of American money to dissident groups in an effort to destabilize the Russian State? The Chinese, the government of which is routinely denounced by a hypocritical Washington for human rights abuses while Washington surrounds China with newly constructed military bases and new deployments of troops and naval vessels? South America, a long-suffering victim of Washington’s oppression? Europe, exhausted by conflicts and by Washington’s organization of them as puppet states and use of them as mercenaries in Washington’s wars for hegemony?

No country, except perhaps the bought-and-paid-for puppets of Britain, Canada, Australia, and Japan, would come to Washington’s aid.

In the ensuing collapse, the power of Washington and the power of the private robber barons would evaporate. Americans would suffer, but they would be rid of the power that has been established over them and that has changed them from a free people to exploited serfs.

This is, perhaps, an optimistic conclusion, but those relatively few Americans who are aware need some hope. This is the best that I can do. The majority of Americans remain trapped in their unawareness, which implies a bleak future. The insouciance of the American population is its downfall.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Economist Paul Krugman debunks the G.O.P. reply by Senator Marco Rubio to Obama's State of the Union Address.

Rubio and the Zombies
Published: February 14, 2013 611 Comments

The State of the Union address was not, I’m sorry to say, very interesting. True, the president offered many good ideas. But we already know that almost none of those ideas will make it past a hostile House of Representatives.

On the other hand, the G.O.P. reply, delivered by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, was both interesting and revelatory. And I mean that in the worst way. For Mr. Rubio is a rising star, to such an extent that Time magazine put him on its cover, calling him “The Republican Savior.” What we learned Tuesday, however, was that zombie economic ideas have eaten his brain.

In case you’re wondering, a zombie idea is a proposition that has been thoroughly refuted by analysis and evidence, and should be dead — but won’t stay dead because it serves a political purpose, appeals to prejudices, or both. The classic zombie idea in U.S. political discourse is the notion that tax cuts for the wealthy pay for themselves, but there are many more. And, as I said, when it comes to economics it appears that Mr. Rubio’s mind is zombie-infested.

Start with the big question: How did we get into the mess we’re in?

The financial crisis of 2008 and its painful aftermath, which we’re still dealing with, were a huge slap in the face for free-market fundamentalists. Circa 2005, the usual suspects — conservative publications, analysts at right-wing think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute, and so on — insisted that deregulated financial markets were doing just fine, and dismissed warnings about a housing bubble as liberal whining. Then the nonexistent bubble burst, and the financial system proved dangerously fragile; only huge government bailouts prevented a total collapse.

Instead of learning from this experience, however, many on the right have chosen to rewrite history. Back then, they thought things were great, and their only complaint was that the government was getting in the way of even more mortgage lending; now they claim that government policies, somehow dictated by liberals even though the G.O.P. controlled both Congress and the White House, were promoting excessive borrowing and causing all the problems.

Every piece of this revisionist history has been refuted in detail. No, the government didn’t force banks to lend to Those People; no, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn’t cause the housing bubble (they were doing relatively little lending during the peak bubble years); no, government-sponsored lenders weren’t responsible for the surge in risky mortgages (private mortgage issuers accounted for the vast majority of the riskiest loans).

But the zombie keeps shambling on — and here’s Mr. Rubio Tuesday night: “This idea — that our problems were caused by a government that was too small — it’s just not true. In fact, a major cause of our recent downturn was a housing crisis created by reckless government policies.” Yep, it’s the full zombie.

What about responding to the crisis? Four years ago, right-wing economic analysts insisted that deficit spending would destroy jobs, because government borrowing would divert funds that would otherwise have gone into business investment, and also insisted that this borrowing would send interest rates soaring. The right thing, they claimed, was to balance the budget, even in a depressed economy.

Now, this argument was obviously fallacious from the beginning. As people like me tried to point out, the whole reason our economy was depressed was that businesses weren’t willing to invest as much as consumers were trying to save. So government borrowing would not, in fact, drive up interest rates — and trying to balance the budget would simply deepen the depression.

Sure enough, interest rates, far from soaring, are at historic lows — and countries that slashed spending have also seen sharp job losses. You rarely get this clear a test of competing economic ideas, and the right’s ideas failed.

But the zombie still shambles on. And here’s Mr. Rubio: “Every dollar our government borrows is money that isn’t being invested to create jobs. And the uncertainty created by the debt is one reason why many businesses aren’t hiring.” Zombies 2, Reality 0.

In fairness to Mr. Rubio, what he’s saying isn’t any different from what everyone else in his party is saying. But that, of course, is what’s so scary.

For here we are, more than five years into the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, and one of our two great political parties has seen its economic doctrine crash and burn twice: first in the run-up to crisis, then again in the aftermath. Yet that party has learned nothing; it apparently believes that all will be well if it just keeps repeating the old slogans, but louder.

It’s a disturbing picture, and one that bodes ill for our nation’s future. 

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on February 15, 2013, on page A27 of the New York edition with the headline: Rubio And The Zombies.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Paul Jay: "President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech Tuesday night in Washington. And, of course, if you watched American news media, all the discussion was about the bargain with the Republicans. Would he have the grand bargain? Well, some people have suggested what's being talked about is a grand betrayal." In this video, economist Bill Black states that it's betrayal, but more than this, Black says that cutting the safety net would prolong and deepen the present recession, whereas what is needed to recover is more public sector investment, including the social net (which actually increases employment), and definitely not privatization of present public sector functions such as Medicare and Medicaid, which would cost more while making the poor even poorer and sicker.

 theREALnews                                                                               Permalink

February 13, 2013

SOTU: Obama Opens Door to Grand Betrayal

Bill Black: President Obama offered up "reform" of medicare and social security, that is cuts at a time of deep recession

More at The Real News


William K. Black, author of THE BEST WAY TO ROB A BANK IS TO OWN ONE, teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC). He was the Executive Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention from 2005-2007. He has taught previously at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and at Santa Clara University, where he was also the distinguished scholar in residence for insurance law and a visiting scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Black was litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, deputy director of the FSLIC, SVP and general counsel of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and senior deputy chief counsel, Office of Thrift Supervision. He was deputy director of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement. Black developed the concept of "control fraud" frauds in which the CEO or head of state uses the entity as a "weapon." Control frauds cause greater financial losses than all other forms of property crime combined. He recently helped the World Bank develop anti-corruption initiatives and served as an expert for OFHEO in its enforcement action against Fannie Mae's former senior management.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Paraphrasing economist Bill Black: Flagstar was a big mortgage lender that lent among the riskiest kinds of mortgages and was a major user of liar's loans. These were the pervasively fraudulent loans that were insured by an insurance company that specialized in guaranteeing the quality of these kinds of loans, once they were packaged. They bank covered its fraud by making the home buyer appear to be the liar. The real significance of this case is that the same methodology is being used in an enormously bigger case against the Bank of America ...which would be wiped out if it is found guilty.

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February 11, 2013

Judge Rules Against a Bank - Precedent Could Cost Bank of America Billions

Bill Black: Judge rules that Flagstar, a big mortgage lender that gave "liars loans", is liable to insurance company - same issues at stake in Bank of America case
Watch full multipart The Black Financial and Fraud Report

More at The Real News


William K. Black, author of THE BEST WAY TO ROB A BANK IS TO OWN ONE, teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC). He was the Executive Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention from 2005-2007. He has taught previously at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and at Santa Clara University, where he was also the distinguished scholar in residence for insurance law and a visiting scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Black was litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, deputy director of the FSLIC, SVP and general counsel of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and senior deputy chief counsel, Office of Thrift Supervision. He was deputy director of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement. Black developed the concept of "control fraud" frauds in which the CEO or head of state uses the entity as a "weapon." Control frauds cause greater financial losses than all other forms of property crime combined. He recently helped the World Bank develop anti-corruption initiatives and served as an expert for OFHEO in its enforcement action against Fannie Mae's former senior management.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

John Williams is the legendary watchdog of the true state of the U.S. economy -- as opposed to the continuously fudged official numbers. For example, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has held the price of beef to be unchanged in recent years assuming that when the price of T-bone stake rises, people will switch to top sirloin, and when top sirloin becomes out of reach people will switch to top round, etc. Due to this sort of fudging, the national debt supposedly fell from $1.3 Trillion to $1.1 Trillion in 2012 ...whereas John Williams counts the true national debt to be $6.9 Trillion! Although concealed from the American people, this stupendous number is well known to America's creditors such as China, who John Williams believes will be forced to begin selling off their dollars within 4 months, leading to a dollar devaluation.

Dollar Sell Off Within 4 Months - John Williams

Greg Hunter
Published on Jan 27, 2013 If Congress does not get its financial house in order by the new deadline in mid-May 2013, John Williams of contends, "It will be the end of the road . . . . They are not going to have another opportunity . . . they are pushing the limit as it is now." Williams says he expects, ". . . a negative reaction in the next 3 or 4 months to the dollar." Williams adamantly continues to predict hyperinflation to the U.S. dollar by the end of 2014. Join Greg Hunter of as he goes One-on-One with economist John Williams.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Paul Craig Roberts: "In 'freedom and democracy' America, innocent until proven guilty is no longer the operative legal principle. If the government says you are guilty, you are. Period. No evidence required for your termination. Even Stalin pretended to have evidence."

It Has Happened Here–Paul Craig Roberts

February 7, 2013 | Original Here

the police state is real

The Bush regime’s response to 9/11 and the Obama regime’s validation of this response have destroyed accountable democratic government in the United States. So much unaccountable power has been concentrated in the executive branch that the US Constitution is no longer an operable document.

Whether a person believes the official story of 9/11 which rests on unproven government assertions or believes the documented evidence provided by a large number of scientists, first responders, and structural engineers and architects, the result is the same. 9/11 was used to create an open-ended “war on terror” and a police state. It is extraordinary that so many Americans believe that “it can’t happen here” when it already has.

We have had a decade of highly visible evidence of the construction of a police state: the PATRIOT Act, illegal spying on Americans in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the initiation of wars of aggression–war crimes under the Nuremberg Standard–based on intentional lies, the Justice Department’s concocted legal memos justifying the executive branch’s violation of domestic and international laws against torture, the indefinite detention of US citizens in violation of the constitutionally protected rights of habeas corpus and due process, the use of secret evidence and secret “expert witnesses” who cannot be cross-examined against defendants in trials, the creation of military tribunals in order to evade federal courts, secret legal memos giving the president authority to launch preemptive cyber attacks on any country without providing evidence that the country constitutes a threat, and the Obama regime’s murder of US citizens without evidence or due process.

As if this were not enough, the Obama regime now creates new presidential powers by crafting secret laws, refusing to disclose the legal reasoning on which the asserted power rests. In other words, laws now originate in secret executive branch memos and not in acts of Congress. Congress? We don’t need no stinking Congress.

Despite laws protecting whistleblowers and the media and the US Military Code which requires soldiers to report war crimes, whistleblowers such as CIA agent John Kiriakou, media such as Julian Assange, and soldiers such as Bradley Manning are persecuted and prosecuted for revealing US government crimes. The criminals go free, and those who report the crimes are punished.

The justification for the American police state is the “war on terror,” a hoax kept alive by the FBI’s “sting operations.” Normally speaking, a sting operation is when a policewoman poses as a prostitute in order to ensnare a “John,” or a police officer poses as a drug dealer or user in order to ensnare drug users or dealers. The FBI’s “sting operation” goes beyond these victimless crimes that fill up US prisons.

The FBI’s sting operations are different. They are just as victimless as no plot ever happens, but the FBI doesn’t pose as bomb makers for terrorists who have a plot but lack the weapon. Instead, the FBI has the plot and looks for a hapless or demented person or group, or for a Muslim enraged over the latest Washington insult to him and/or his religion. When the FBI locates its victim, its agents approach the selected perpetrator pretending to be Al-Qaeda or some such and ply the selected perpetrator with money, the promise of fame, or threats until the victim signs on to the FBI’s plot and is arrested.

Trevor Aaronson in his book, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s War on Terrorism, documents that the FBI has so far concocted 150 “terrorist plots” and that almost all of the other “terrorist cases” are cases unrelated to terrorism, such as immigration, with a terror charge tacked on.! The presstitute American media doesn’t ask why, if there is so much real terrorism requiring an American war against it, the FBI has to invent and solicit terrorist plots.

Blogger's Note: Below is embedded the video linked to above.

Neither does the media inquire how the Taliban, which resists the US invasion and attempted occupation of Afghanistan, fighting the US superpower to a standstill after 11 years, came to be designated as terrorists. Nor does the US presstitute media want to know how tribesmen in remote regions of Pakistan came to be designated as “terrorists” deserving of US drone attacks on the citizens, schools and medical clinics of a country with which the US is not at war.

Instead the media protects and perpetrates the hoax that has given America the police state. The American media has become Leni Riefenstahl, as has Hollywood with the anti-Muslim propaganda film, Zero Dark Thirty. This propaganda film is a hate crime that spreads Islamophobia. Nevertheless, the film is likely to win awards and to sink Americans into both tyranny and a hundred-year war in the name of fighting the Muslim threat.

What I learned many years ago as a professor is that movies are important molders of Americans‘ attitudes. Once, after giving a thorough explanation of the Russian Revolution that led to communist rule, a student raised his hand and said: “That’s not the way it happened in the movie.”

At first I thought he was making a witty joke, but then I realized that he thought that the truth resided in the movie, not in the professor who was well versed in the subject. Ever since I have been puzzled how the US has survived for so long, considering the ignorance of its population. Americans have lived in the power of the US economy. Now that this power is waning, sooner or later Americans will have to come to terms with reality.

It is a reality that will be unfamiliar to them.

Some Americans claim that we have had police states during other wartimes and that once the war on terror is won, the police state will be dismantled. Others claim that government will be judicious in its use of the power and that if you are doing nothing wrong you have nothing to fear.

These are reassurances from the deluded. The Bush/Obama police state is far more comprehensive than Lincoln’s, Wilson’s, or Roosevelt’s, and the war on terror is open-ended and is already three times longer than World War II. The Police State is acquiring “squatter’s rights.”

Moreover, the government needs the police state in order to protect itself from accountability for its crimes, lies, and squandering of taxpayers‘ money. New precedents for executive power have been created in conjunction with the Federalist Society which, independent of the war on terror, advocates the “unitary executive” theory, which claims the president has powers not subject to check by Congress and the Judiciary. In other words, the president is a dictator if he prefers to be.

The Obama regime is taking advantage of this Republican theory. The regime has used the Republican desire for a strong executive outside the traditional checks and balances together with the fear factor to complete the creation of the Bush/Cheney police state.

As Lawrence M. Stratton and I documented in our book, The Tyranny Of Good Intentions, prior to 9/11 law as a shield of the people was already losing ground to law as a weapon in the hands of the government. If the government wanted to get you, there were few if any barriers to a defendant being framed and convicted, least of all a brainwashed jury fearful of crime.

I cannot say whether the US justice system has ever served justice better than it has served the ambition of prosecutors. Already in the 1930s and 1940s US Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland and US Attorney General Robert Jackson were warning against prosecutors who sacrifice “fair dealing to build up statistics of success.” Certainly it is difficult to find in the ranks of federal prosecutors today Jackson’s “prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who approaches his task with humility.”

Just consider the wrongful conviction of Alabama’s Democratic governor, Don Siegelman by what apparently was a Karl Rove plot to rid the South of Democratic governors. The “Democratic” Obama regime has not investigated this false prosecution or given clemency to its innocent own. Remember how quickly Bush removed the prison sentence of Cheney’s operative who revealed the name of a CIA undercover agent? The Democrats are a cowed and cowardly political party, fearful of justice, and as much a part of the corrupt police state as the Republicans.

Today the purpose of a prosecution is to serve the prosecutor’s career and that of the party that appoints him or her. A prosecutor’s career is served by high conviction rates, which require plea bargains in which the evidence against a defendant is never tested in court or before a jury, and by high profile cases, which can launch a prosecutor into a political career, as Rudy Giuliana achieved with his frame-up of Michael Milken.

Glenn Greenwald explained how Internet freedom advocate Aaron Swartz was driven to his death by the ambition of two federal prosecutors, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz and Assistant US Attorney Stephen Heymann, who had no aversion to destroying an innocent person with ridiculous and trumped-up charges in order to advance their careers.

It is rare for a prosecutor to suffer any consequence for bringing false charges, for consciously using and even paying for false evidence, and for lying to judge and jury. As prosecutors are rarely held accountable, they employ illegal and unethical methods and routinely abuse their power. As judges are mainly concerned with clearing their court dockets, justice is rarely served in America, which explains why the US has not only a larger percentage of its citizens in prison than any other country on earth, but also the largest absolute number of prisoners. The US actually has more of its citizens in prison than “authoritarian” China which has a population four times larger than the US. The US, possibly the greatest human rights abuser in history, is constantly bringing human rights charges against China. Where are the human rights charges against Washington?

In America the collapse of law has gone beyond corrupt prosecutors and their concocted false prosecutions. Unless it needs or desires a show trial, a police state does not need prosecutors and courts. By producing legal memos that the president can both throw people into prison without a trial and execute them without a trial simply by stating that some official in the executive branch thinks the person has a possible or potential connection to terrorism, tyranny’s friends in the Justice (sic) Department have dispensed with the need for courts, prosecutors and trials.The Bush/Obama regime has made the executive branch judge, juror, and executioner. All that is needed is an unproven assertion by some executive branch official. Here we have the epitome of evil.

Evidence is no longer required for the president of the US to imprison people for life or to deprive them of their life. A secret Justice Department memo has been leaked to NBC News that reveals the tyrannical reasoning that authorizes the executive branch to execute American citizens on the basis of belief alone without the requirement of evidence that they are terrorists or associated with terrorists.

Blogger's Note: Below is the video included in the link above.

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In “freedom and democracy” America, innocent until proven guilty is no longer the operative legal principle. If the government says you are guilty, you are. Period. No evidence required for your termination. Even Stalin pretended to have evidence.

The United States government is working its way step by step toward the determination that any and every critic of the government is guilty of providing “aid and comfort” to Washington’s “terrorist enemies,” which includes the elected Hamas government in Gaza. The only critics exempted from this rule-in-the-making are the neoconservatives who criticize the US government for being too slow to throttle both its critics and “anti-semites,” such as former US President Jimmy Carter, who criticize the Israeli government’s illegal appropriation of Palestinian lands. Most of Palestine has been stolen by Israel with Washington acquiesce and aid. Therefore, nothing is left for a “two-state solution.”

There is no doubt whatsoever that the Israeli government’s theft of Palestine is illegal; yet, Washington, on which Israel is totally dependent, does nothing about law. Law, we don’t need no stinking law.” Washington has might. Might is right. Get used to it.

Not only for Palestinians has law ceased to exist, but also for Americans, and for Washington’s NATO puppets in the UK and Europe, pitiful remnants of once great nations now complicit in Washington’s crimes against humanity. The Open Society Justice Initiative, a NGO based in New York, has issued a report that documents that 54 governments are involved in Washington’s rendition and torture program. Twenty-five of the governments that help Washington to kidnap, disappear, and torture people are European.

The opening decade of the 21st century has seen the destruction of all the law that was devised to protect the innocent and the vulnerable since the rise of the now defunct moral conscience of the West. The West’s moral conscience never applied outside of itself. What happened to people in Europe’s colonies and to native inhabitants of the US and Australia is a very different story.

Nevertheless, despite its lack of coverage to the powerless, the principle of the rule of law was a promising principle. Now America under Bush and Obama, two peas of the same pod, has abandoned the principle itself.

The Obama police state will be worse than the Bush/Cheney police state. Unlike conservatives who in times past were suspicious of government power, Obamabots believe that government power is a force for good if it is in the right hands. As Obama’s supporters see him as a member of an oppressed minority, they are confident that Obama will not misuse his power. This belief is akin to the belief that, as Jews suffered so much at the hands of Hitler, Israel would be fair to the Palestinians.

Glenn Greenwald writes that “the most extremist power any political leader can assert is the power to target his own citizens for execution without any charges or due process, far from any battlefield. The Obama administration has not only asserted exactly that power in theory, but has exercised it in practice.”

This is the power of a dictator. That Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were said to have this power was part of their demonization as “brutal dictators,” a justification for overthrowing their governments and murdering the dictators and their supporters.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the president of the United States now murders his political opponents just as Saddam Hussein murdered his. How long before critics move from the no-fly list to the extermination list?