Greece's Papandreou had to go for resisting the enforcement of the plutocrats' "austerity" and for clinging to the vestiges of democracy. Italy's clown-crook Berlusconi . . . well, he just had to go.
"These attacks on currencies are deranged. The countries are not in that much difficulty, certainly the idea that France is in enough difficulty to be under attack is crazy. These attacks are about power. . . . The financial elites are on a plundering spree, gleefully using their power to force entire nations into poverty, blackmailing governments into huge payouts. . . . The elites will only respond when they feel your pain. And they will only feel it if you make them feel it."
-- Ian Welsh, in "What's happening in Europe is what matters: rules of the financial rich"
I don't imagine any DWT reader imagined that the fall of the governments in Greece and Italy was likely to be a portent of better things to come. In Greece, of course, Prime Minister Papandreou had to go for having the temerity to suggest that the even more stringent chokehold about to be placed on his country be subjected to, you know, a vote. (Voting in a nominal democracy? How unplutocratic!) And in Italy, well, the clown-crook Berlusconi simply had to go.
In his post "What's happening in Europe is what matters: rules of the financial rich" Ian Welsh argues: " The idea that the Mario Monti, the new PM of Italy, is something wonderful, is deranged. Note that once again, neither an election nor a referendum was allowed."
Here's Ian's take:
If you want to save the Euro and some form of European prosperity, there is only one solution, the European Central Bank (ECB) must do what it keeps insisting it won?t do, it must buy Eurobonds from members. And it must buy them at fixed prices. Italian, Greek, French, German bonds will be issued at X price, and if insufficient investors want to buy at that price, tough, the ECB will buy. If this causes inflation, great, Europe needs inflation right now.#
Even France and to a lesser extent, Germany, are coming under attack. However France is under significant attack, and Merkel and the ECB seem unwilling to really do anything about it. France has the option to go off the Euro in a way that most other countries don?t. The issue with going off the Euro is simple: oil prices. You now have to buy oil with your lousy currency, which is even more worthless than the Euro. But if you happen to control countries that have oil, like France does (for example, France is mostly in control of Libya right now, not the US), then hey, sign some long term contracts and voila. It is not written in stone that prices must be set on open bid markets.
Which leads us to the sudden surge in the price of oil to $107 a barrel. On the face of it, this is crazy. Yes, the US has had a bit of a recovery, but Europe is going hard core austerity. But this is the game the hot money is playing: they move out of bonds and into oil, out of oil and into bonds. $107/barrel oil means the US recovery (such as it is, which isn?t much) isn?t going to last much longer.
Being rich is about being liquid when everyone else isn?t, so you can buy up assets on the cheap. When the rich are properly under control (ie. when you keep them poor and terrified of government and the people, as they should be) they can?t create such buying opportunities, they have to wait for them, and the government makes it so that the rich can?t take too much advantage of them, because taking advantage of them means taking advantage of other people when they?re most vulnerable.
Right now the rich can and are crashing asset prices by forcing countries into austerity through attacks on their currencies and control of their elites. They then buy up assets for fire-sale prices. (The history of fire-sale is worth commenting on. Crassus, the Roman Senator of the first triumvirate, had a fire fighting team. When a fire broke out they?d go to the fire, fight off the other fire teams, then Crassus would buy the burning buildings from their owners, negotiating as they burned. If they refused to sell, well, they lost everything.)
These attacks on currencies are deranged. The countries are not in that much difficulty, certainly the idea that France is in enough difficulty to be under attack is crazy. These attacks are about power: the global rich were bailed out after the crash, now they are using their hot money in attack after attack, demanding austerity, which will cause semi-permanent depression in those countries which accept it. That allows them to buy up what they want, keeps their labor costs down, and lets them divert what money they spend on investment which creates actual real economic growth into developing countries which are cheaper for them.
But watching European leaders respond has also made clear that they are either compromised, ideologically neo-liberals or completely ineffective. Watching the ECB insist that it won?t just buy bonds has been particularly amusing, because if the ECB won?t defend even France, the Euro is in great danger of not existing in a few years, and if the Euro doesn?t exist, neither does the ECB, which means all those central bankers will be out of jobs. They won?t even act to save their own jobs.
All of this is crazy. The financial elites are on a plundering spree, gleefully using their power to force entire nations into poverty, blackmailing governments into huge payouts. Pay extra on bonds, or pay extra on oil, or hey, why not both!
The political elites are clearly either bought or completely ineffective at resisting. If the ECB won?t buy bonds, then countries just need to leave the Euro so they can print money. Yes, that might cause inflation and various other problems, but that is better than semi-permanent depression through austerity.
Now, what can the people do when the elites won?t allow direct referendums, and when there are elections you can only vote for parties which are all in favor of austerity?
Make them fear you. Start as follows, which is what was done in Argentina: find their cars, those nice expensive cars, and trash them. Every time you see someone in a suit coming from the airport, surround the car and slash the tires.
And if you?re going to riot, don?t do it in your own neighbourhoods. Go to the parliament buildings, the bank HEADQUARTERS or to the neighbourhoods in which the rich live, and riot there.
If you insist on some form of pure nonviolence (which the European left and right don?t) then you must chain and twist tie yourselves around important areas. Go to the headquarters and shut them down by tying yourself up to all the entrances. Twist ties aren?t just the cop?s friends, they are yours. Love them and learn how to use them.
The elites will only respond when they feel your pain. And they will only feel it if you make them feel it.
Whatever it is on the campus at UC Davis, it is not a democracy. It's a police state. For helmeted cops to be openly pepper-spraying unarmed peacefully demonstrating students at a fucking campus is not American. The over-reaction, the lack of professionalism, the random sadism of this boggles the mind.
These kids are harming no-one and exercising a core First Amendment right. The only response to this, to my mind, is to return to that spot in massive numbers and maintain a rigorous nonviolence in defense not just of their cause, but of the First Amendment itself: a sit-in, in other words, in defense of the First Amendment.
You can forgive, but hold accountable, officers who make mistakes in the heat of the moment. But taking glee in spraying pepper spray in the faces of unarmed students is an ugly, ugly event.Background on this story here.
In May of 2009, as President Barack Obama prepared to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court, he let something terrible slip--something that could threaten the very fabric of our civilization! He would try and pick a new judge for our highest court that possessed "empathy," or the ability to identify ?with people?s hopes and struggles? when making decisions that would intimately affect their lives.
In other words, slightly different than how Justice Clarence Thomas does it, which generally involves applying lessons learned from all-expenses covered, first-class corporate speaking gigs and serial viewing of the wacky antics of Long Dong Silver.
Predictably, right wingers from Senator Orrin Hatch to former Republican National Committee Chair (and lobbyist for every destructive interest in existence) Ed Gillespie were just beside themselves, hissy-fitting at the outrageous notion that someone who actually cares about people might become a sitting justice on the High Court.
It is this degradation of American culture since the Reagan Years--on steroids in our current Citizens United Era as corporations have become people (and were almost granted zygote status in Mississippi!)--that says the only healthy emotions are the ones that highlight one's personal greed and lack of compassion for others. This is the cultural sickness that has been on full display for all its misanthropy this past week.
The most egregious example occurred in University Park, Pennsylvania, with the growing and nausea-inducing scandal engulfing Penn State University. No, our culture didn't create the pedophilia of former Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Sadly, this has been with us since the dawn of time.
But the greed of a big college football program and the fortune and fame it creates allowed it to go on for years. This certainly played a defining role to decisions made by everyone from an assistant coach who witnessed Sandusky's anally raping a 10-year old in the shower to the lack of action by the university's president to the post-2002 Rick-Perry-memory hole of the sainted (now) former coach Joe Paterno.
All of them spent at least a decade, perhaps closer to 15 years, covering up the behavior of a serial-child rapist. One who used their reputations and facilities to both locate his victims and commit his crimes.
For these men in positions of power, "greed was good," a lesson learned by the lunkheaded Penn State students who chose to "riot" Wednesday evening upon news of Paterno's firing by the Penn State University Board by turning over a car, breaking windows and performing other acts of mass stupidity. For them, being able to party hardy post-victory and continue the cult of Paterno was more important than the lives of potential peers violently victimized by a beast.
The personal responsibility touted by these protectors, and in particular Joe Paterno--rock-ribbed Republican friend of the Bushs and former Pennsylvania Senator turned presidential candidate Rick Santorum--was no match for the avarice their politics and personal-belief system would seem to espouse. The Pennsvlvania right winger, who sponsored the Republican-registered Sandusky for the Congressional Angels in Adoption" award, based on the non-profit he founded to provide care for foster children (see: target them), was still defending Paterno, last we heard.
So in case you're scoring at home, to Santorum being gay is terrible, because homosexuality is just like "pedophilia." But if the person performing or covering up child rape is a friend, pedophilia's a-ok. So does that mean Santorum supports gay rights--as long as the non-straight in question is a friend of his?
This has been a another edition of Deep Thoughts with Rick Santorum.
Speaking of deep thoughts, the same big money created Santorum's debate mate, avatar of the right-wing greed culture and a man who thinks "right of return" has something to do with sending back a pizza because it took longer than 30 minutes to arrive--Herman Cain. His existence in this race is courtesy of those Libertarian, Iran investors known affectionately as the Koch Brothers.
The fact that he too is a sexual predator is of no particular importance, because what he has done to women pales in comparison to what he could do for them and their big-money buddies with tax cuts, subsidies, deregulation and other items in the Norquist goody bag.
A philosopher that conservatives once believed in, Edmund Burke, famously said that "all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." For too many at Penn State and among the Herman Cain express train, just doing nothing would be a step up.
This column was first published at Al Jazeera English
We're getting one report after another from local FDL Member liaisons on how critically supplies are needed. From OccupyLouisville, Patty C says "I was there when one of the hats and pair of socks was given to a homeless man who had been there since day[...]
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This video comes to us from a reader, Vince in Portland, Oregon who writes "Police chief Mike Reese seems [to] accuse the Occupy Movement of preventing a rape victim from receiving help, due to police being understaffed. I cannot tell you offended I am, and shocked that Chief Reese would exploit the case of a rape victim in order to suppress a peaceful movement. And people ought to know what kind of bias they're facing from most of the media, as this video exemplifies."
A reporter with KGW News speaks with Portland Police Chief Mike Reese on Thursday, November 17th:
KGW: "I want to ask you about how much this [Occupy Portland] is distracting the police force from other crimes that are going on in our area?"
Reese: "Well, that's a great question and I appreciate you asking it because we are reducing our patrol response. Many days like today we're taking emergency calls only for service. For example, we had a rape victim stand by for three hours until we could get an officer to take a report, and that makes all of us very sad."
KGW: "For three hours? And that's directly related because there wasn't enough staff because they've been doing other things with Occupy Portland?"
Well, Vince in Portland, I wish I could say that I'm shocked, but sadly there is a lot of negative spin going on in the media as they try to paint the Occupy movement as a horrible thing that is to blame for all of society's ills. Very convenient that KGW just happened to ask Chief Reese that "great" question.
It's also not surprising that Portland was one of the cities that a Justice Department official says coordinated recent evictions of Occupy movement across the country "with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies."
It is horrible if true that a rape victim had to wait such a long time for a police officer after going through such a trauma. No question about that. However, the belief that the general public needs to be "protected" from people exercising their Constitutional rights, and the calling attention to injustices in our country is nothing more than spin from those who would rather the public remain silent about such things.
Serving an individual community's victims of crime - and especially victims of violent crimes - should certainly come before surveillance of hippies who might serve some hot soup or offer a blanket to a homeless person.
I think it was Marx who said that "Democracy is the road to Socialism".
"There was a time when the captains of finance and industry were proud of the label capitalist. ?Forbes?Capitalist Tool? was a magazine popular with the Wall Street crowd. Schools taught about the benefits of capitalism over its biggest enemy, socialism.
Somewhere along the way, the enthusiasm for capitalism began to wane. Maybe it had to do with the fact that real wages were dropping and benefits were being slashed while the super-rich were whooping it up. More popular-sounding phrases began to take over. Countries were being pressured to accept ?free markets.? The people who put up ?venture capital? were called?entrepreneurs.? The magazine of multi-millionaire Steve Forbes became just plain ?Forbes.?
Then came the housing crisis, the stock market dive, the jobs crisis, the budget cuts, the credit card crisis?in other words, the boom-to-bust crisis of capitalism that was inevitable in this profit system. The super-rich demanded, and got, trillions of dollars from the government to shore up their banks and other financial instruments.
But for millions of workers and dispossessed, the bottom has dropped out of their lives. More and more they are realizing this is the product of capitalism.
A national telephone survey was conducted recently by the polling firm Rasmussen Reports. It asked a simple question: Which is better, capitalism or socialism?
Just four months ago, in December, a similar poll asked people if they preferred a ?free market economy? over one managed by the government. Some 70 percent were for the free market. But now, it seems, they don?t think capitalism is so ?free.? In the new poll, two-thirds said big business and big government work together against the people?s interests. Now only 53 percent say they prefer capitalism over socialism. Among younger people, 37 percent prefer capitalism, 33 percent socialism, and 30 percent are undecided.
After so much Red Scare propaganda in this country, a lot of people are confused about socialism?although fewer than before. What if the questions were phrased this way:
Would you prefer an economy run by workers (socialism) or by bosses (capitalism)?
Would you prefer an economy geared to meeting people?s needs (socialism) or geared to producing profits for a few (capitalism)?
Do you think people should have a right to a job, a home, education and health care (socialism), or that the rich should have the right to fire, evict, foreclose, underfund the schools and deny medical care (capitalism)?" [Source]
Republicans are always calling Obama a Socialist. He is not. In fact, he is closer to everything that they hold dear than to someone who is progressive in his thinking or leadership.
The irony is, of course, than under Obama wealthy corporations in A-merry-ca have become wealthier than they were under their great leader, W. The middle class has been shrinking for a long time, and under Obama, thanks to the disdain that those who control wealth in A-merry-ca feel for him, it has been getting worse.
They sit on record profits and refuse to invest in jobs, and they outsource more jobs to other countries, causing more A-merry-can workers to lose their jobs here at home.
Don't expect this to change anytime soon. If things hold true to form Flipper Mitt will take the White House come November, 2012, and they will be partying on Wall Street once again.
Sadly, the folks on Main Street really won't care, because they understand that while the ideologues on the right celebrate a political victory, their lives will not change. In fact, unfortunately for them, it will only get worse.
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Seif al-Islam el-Gadhafi, the son of the former dictator and the most recognizable living face of the old Libyan regime, was captured by Libyan militia fighters today in the southwestern desert, where he was apparently attempting to cross the border.[...]
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Art offers his perspective as a movement progressive activist. “Every American ought to have the right to be treated; as he would like to be treated, as one would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated.” -JFK. Labor[...]
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When I heard Jean Quan offhandedly drop that she was on a multi-mayor conference call during a BBC interview, I knew I had heard something of note. The rapid succession of similar crackdowns on Occupy encampments in several US cities seemed like more[...]
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