Thursday, February 26, 2009

Denverites Protest Israel's Invasion, according to ME

Look who's talking! This has been distributed over town in print version too! The story was origionally published here, then updated right before press time.

Sunday, 15 February 2009 18:27

By Christian Wright

According to The Denver Post, which is not known for being an outspokenly pro-Palestinian journal, by Jan. 3rd, the state of Israel, in its bombardment of Gaza, had “killed more than 460 people and left 1,700 injured …” through air strikes alone. By the end of the month that number would rise to 1,334 killed – one-third of them children – and 5,450 injured.

Less widely reported was the fact that between the end of the cease-fire and the start of Israel’s ground invasion on Jan. 3rd, Palestinians’ notoriously inaccurate Quassam rockets had killed exactly four Israelis. Yet this was claimed by Israel to be sufficient justification for unleashing one of the world’s deadliest and best-equipped militaries upon the people of Gaza, who reside in one of the most densely populated areas of the planet.

Such a proportion of 115 Palestinians killed by the Israeli military for every one Israeli killed by Hamas’ generally ineffective, homemade rockets does not even tell the whole story, as absurd and enraging as that statistic alone may be. Almost entirely missing from every American account of the conflict is the fact that residents of Gaza have been living under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade for years. There is no convenient way to tabulate the deaths, not to mention the much more difficult to measure psychological trauma inflicted upon these people by Israel’s methodical destruction of their economy and infrastructure. The Israeli Navy’s decision on Dec. 30th to ram and threaten to sink a private ship, the Dignity, which was attempting to deliver medical supplies to Gaza, graphically illustrated the reality of this blockade. Were it not for that incident, millions of Americans who heard about it on the news might very well not have known that a blockade even exists at all, or that it has been the main reason cited by Hamas for its rocket attacks.

On Jan. 3rd, for the second time in less than a week, Denverites of conscience added their voices to the wave of worldwide protest that erupted in response to Israel’s recent escalation of aggression. Approximately 70 people assembled in front of the state capital from 2-4 p.m. to make their voices heard. The crowd was about 60 percent persons of Middle Eastern and Palestinian descent – the rest made up by members of Denver’s progressive and activist community. The political composition of the crowd was quite diverse. It seems every shade of ideological perspective, organization, and non-organization was represented, from anarchist vegetarians, to liberals and pacifists holding U.N. flags, to toddlers barely young enough to walk unassisted, and everything in-between. Clearly, it was the sign of a healthy and a broad movement, albeit of a rather modest size.

The fact that snow flurried intermittently throughout the day, and the temperature was a chilly 25-degrees at 2 p.m., seemed only to harden their resolve, and emphasize the seriousness of the situation. As one clearly underdressed protester put it, “We’re here to show solidarity with the people of Palestine. What’s going on over there is really fucked up. Holding a sign isn’t much, but it does say something when you’re out here in the cold.”

The solemnness of the occasion was broken by a series of chants projected from a megaphone. A young speaker in his teens led
the crowd:
“Free, Free, Palestine/End this Genocide!”
“Shame, Shame, Israel/Shame on Arab
“What do we want/Peace! – When do we want it?/Now!”

Cars passed, several honking their horns in support, to the welcome surprise of many protesters. While a video crew did show up to take pictures and conduct interviews, sadly neither of the city’s major dailies felt compelled to cover the demonstration in their Sunday issues.

This is of course not to say the crowd had nothing worthwhile to say, as I soon found out by taking the opportunity to speak with several of those demonstrating whom I did not recognize.

Adel, a Libyan by birth who has lived in Denver since 1983, took pains to express the fact that he was by no means an “activist,” or even a generally “political” person. In his words, “This is the first time I come to something like this, in my whole life. I used to be a regular guy, keep to myself, and not get involved. But I saw on the news … Yesterday I went to the mosque to pray, and heard about [the protest]. Coming here to stand with the people is the least I can do.”

Najah, a woman of Palestinian birth, who attended the rally with her husband, Hassan, and two children, was representative of much of the crowd. Like many others, she heard about the demonstration by word of mouth, and was determined to add her voice to those assembled.

“I’m here to say end the war in Gaza … and to demand protection for Palestinians in Gaza, especially for children and women, and to call for an intervention to stop [the war],” she said.

After being translated, her husband added, with more intelligence than any of the commentators on the major new networks:
“I believe the U.S. has the power to stop this. Unfortunately the American actions so far have been to support Israel, and to justify war crimes … it’s a one-sided, immoral, inhuman war. Even if we accept retaliation, it should be in equitable amounts. So far Palestinian rockets have killed four Israelis. Israel retaliates by dropping “bunker buster,” 2,000-lb bombs on a mosque and an orphanage. If this is the land of the free, all Palestinians have been supporting for years is their freedom! I wonder if Americans are truthful to their own principles, to their own moral imperatives.”

Protests returned to the Capital on Jan. 11th, when a Pro-Israel rally on the Capital-side of Lincoln Street was countered by a Pro-Palestinian one directly across from it. For this occasion, the media broke its silence, and at least one network covered both sides remarkably objectively on a nightly newscast.

Then on Feb. 2nd, as the Colorado Senate assembled to pass resolution SR 09-009, which expresses support for Israel, demonstrators standing about the entrances greeted them once more. It was unfortunate that despite the efforts of these activists, the resolution passed, as most protestors had feared.

Weaning American support for Israeli militarism will not be a short or simple process, though in the past few years the debate has shifted somewhat. Since the invasion of Lebanon in 2006 and the recent invasion of Gaza, Israel has found it harder to shake the image of occupation and present itself as a benevolent, besieged democracy.

Taxes collected from the people of the United States continue to provide billions of dollars worth of weapons to Israel every year, with a terrible civilian death toll to show for it. But as this past month’s protests have shown, not all these taxpayers are comfortable being complicit in the blockade and bombing of densely populated urban areas. The fact that mainstream news even reported “two sides” with their own arguments being heard in front of the capital on Jan. 11th is a tremendous step forward for this country, where Palestinian advocates have been marginalized and ignored for decades. If this month’s protests can tell us anything, it is that Americans of conscience are getting louder. -Insight

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Music Sucks. Is it the DJs or the Club People?

I don't know if I should rant against the djs... they play terrible terrible music... but people danced to it.

After a set of generic new wave 'industrial', where every beat is EXACTLY the same for 30-40 minutes, and there is no interesting message in any lyric, I go up to the guy playing this stuff and politely ask if he ever does requests...

"Hey, you play a lot of new-school industrial. Do you ever play old school industrial, like puppy, or leatherstrip, front line assembly, front 242 or something?"

"Sure, yeah..."

The guy plays the hit off "Tyranny for You"... which is great. I dance to it. I dance to it and THREE other people dance it it also.

Afterwords the next song is "Dead Stars Still Burn".

And the floor is packed. I count 22 people dancing. It is a small club.

My god....

DJs, you really piss me off when you play "Dead Stars Still Burn", "This Shit Will Fuck You Up", that "supersonic overdrive" song, those two obnoxious Wolfshiem songs, or that VNV Nation song with the filtery clicky drum sound in it off their new record that I refuse to buy...

But people dance to that crap! They dance to it and it fucking sucks... it all sounds the same, is repetitive as hell, and EVERY drum pattern is the same BPM and, yes, repetitive as all hell...

These club people know nothing about the hard, industrial rage and anger of "Capital Punishment", "Torn Skin", "Atheistic Sermon", "Don't Tame Your Soul", "Adrenaline Rush".... track 6 off "Hard Wired", "Tin Omen", "Fascist Jockitch", "Satan Complex", or "Speedball OD"... You take that away and you kill all the emotion and all the energy. You're left with about all the energy and romance of a "magic the gathering" circle.

Platform boots and dance techo ONLY, at EVERY night... is a fucking joke. Do you know what is not a joke? "Infra Red Combat", "Rivers", "Love in Vein", "Candle", or "Circling Overland"... that is some dark, serious, post apocalyptic god damn nightmare of industrial wasteland right there. That is music to contemplate the end of the world or the end of your soul or whatever to.

Why is it that FIVE and TEN years ago, they were playing the same songs that were already overplayed and boring as hell, and they are STILL doing the same thing? "I See Blue Lights In Your Eyes". Congratu-fucking-lations. I see a DJ who has ZERO interest in actually going online, learning about some new bands with new sounds and new ideas, and getting them exposure, opening people's ears, and making a real name for themselves...

Yeah yeah, I know what you're going to say already... You're going to say that "people dance to this crap, and I only get more dj gigs if I can prove that people dance to the stuff I play, so I'm going to keep playing it, so that I can get more dj gigs".... Fine. Fucking say that. Enjoy your inability to play new material, or to help anyone who hasn't been signed to metropolis for at least half a decade. Be content with your mediocre fashion show of conservatism. The only difference between you and Top 40 radio is that Top 40 radio plays new artists every couple of years.

* * *

Do you know why I became a "rivethead" in the late 1990s? It was because I was fucking weird, or at least I appeared "weird" compared to everybody else. I was angry, my mind thought about dark things, how fucked up the world, politics, and people all were. I was punk rock but punk rock enough that I didn't feel I had to wear a uniform and speak the right language and drop the right names and know the right people to feel part of someone else's imitation of someone else's scene and thus feel validated...

I was tired of all the dumb shit around me in that puffed up bubble of a superficial economy before it imploded and I wanted to scream in my voice and with my words and with my clothes and in my hair. I wanted to remind everyone in their cookie cutter suburbs with their "friends" re-runs and their boring parties and their funding for the School of the Americas and their blockade of Iraq that things like death, and war, and people sleeping on the street on christmas eve, kids kicked out of their houses for being gay, prostitution, abuse, and hypocrisy, war and intolerance, exploitation of the working class, suicide, and sexual violence, are all REAL and HAPPENING. The world outside was making the most terrible sound and Fox News, CNN, my teachers, the church, Bill Clinton, and the Teletubbies were doing the best they could to drown it all out.

Industrial music came to me with an energy, creativity, edginess, and talent, that was utterly lacking everywhere else. It was darker and harder than punk and freer, more individualized than the punk scene was. It wasn't fake and corporate like Marilyn Manson, or the other pop stars for confused teenagers... It was the world in a burnt out tv image on the "Aint it Dead, Yet?" video. It was impailed on Bryan Erickson's hair. It was the samples about apocalypse on track five of "Hard Wired". It was in the death of Dyawne Gottel. It was in the Cling-Clang-Boom-Crumble of the Test Dept. music videos. It was in the impatience, fear and anger of the passenger in my car when I put on "Swallowing Scrap Metal". It was Claus Laursen's moog synthesizer. It reverberated throughout that electrified metal stuff Neubauten was playing live with.

It was "INDUSTRIAL", as in "the industrial mode of production", i.e., noise, pain, clangy sounds, sampling sounds the industrial world makes into music, recording or recreating the ambiance of the industrial environment into music, oppression, resistance, drugery, hope, spirit, and spirit crushed, the struggle and the pain of modern life...

I was a rivet head in the late 90s and early 2000s and I believe in pushing all these things up the hill and rolling them down the hill and the train rolling it over and smashing into a million pieces. I walked over it in my boots to set it on fire and film it and make a music video with samples of the sound it made. That was fucking industrial.

If I want to hear generic, upbeat synthpop all evening I'll go to an 80s night, which is actually what I am about to start doing, because at least there they have some basic musical difference in structure from one song to the next...

* * *

I don't invite my friends to "industrial" music nights these days. I don't because it would embarrass me. Do you think you are tough, or dark, with your platform boots, your make up, and your pathetic, repetitive, synth pop? I'd rather go to a cowboy bar and talk to real people who want to talk about real life...

It's DJs who add nothing that wasn't already there... and it's people who (apparently) seem not to care, and just want to go out every week and dance to THE SAME exact songs they danced to last week, and the week before that, and the month before that, and the year before that, and now.... yes... the decade before that.

Well... here's an "Aliens" sample for ya.... "You can count me out".

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Better things?

So last time was a big long negative list, let's make a positive list:

-I have a job interview on Monday
-I have an *awesome* part time job for the summer ( I hope the two are compatible!)
-Hanging out with more people lately
-Noodles were on sale and I got six boxes of them for only six dollars!
-I finished mixing the Ghosts.... album
-... and I re-designed the website for it, and added a sweet new photo album section to it
-My cold is gone
-They are fixing the Garbage disposal on Tuesday and I'm getting a different contractor to come take a look at the oven.
-I'm working on ideas for a new live show. One plan would be:

1) write new songs now
2) get people down for live
3) be able to do some mini-tours around this summer

-Free market capitalism is a completely discredited ideology and even mainstream news sources are throwing around the word "socialism":

Also, there are nice pictures here of the winter!

Panorama of foothills in Roosevelt National Forest. "Big Scraggly Mountain" is a great name (click to make the img bigger):

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I'm Feeling Slightly Violent...

These are not the only, or best thoughts... they should not be the only ones we think about... love and beauty and friendship can be found here and there... but true thoughts deep and painful these are nonetheless, and they are my thoughts tonight. These are not the words that crazy people write. People only go crazy when they *don't* write words like these, and they keep everything bottled up inside. These are all the problems and the things that are weighing me down and I want to put them all on a ship and launch it to sea and then blow it up but there is no ocean here so I can at least get them out of my system this way.

My parents have apparently gotten me a subscription to "Newsweek" magazine, to help balance out from a more mainstream, "establishment" point of view, all the left wing propaganda I read. The headline this week is "WE ARE ALL SOCIALISTS NOW". Damn. I've been saying that stuff for like 10 years. What gives?

The point is that the ruling class is completely discredited in what it has been doing to our economy and our foreign policy for the past several decades. It has no confidence in its own ideas or leaders or propagandists so it's looking to borrow some from other traditions (of course in a watered down, pervered way...). The point though is that it is super ironic, and indeed, validating, to see such a headline proclaimed so loudly from a mainstream source...

You steal bread and you go to jail. You destroy the economy of the biggest (economically), most powerful nation in the history of the world and YOU GET PAID BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN BAILOUTS, AND YOU GET TO KEEP YOUR JOB WHILE EVERYONE ELSE LOOSES THEIRS! But there is one price paid: it is a political price. The cost of doing business like this is that people see the men behind the curtains for the manipulators they really are, and they will find their voices and find (and become) new leaders. The political price of the American neo-liberal impolosion is that across the land, articulate, unemployed college graduates brought up on myspace and service jobs are writing angry blogs with embedded revolutionary imagery about their own life experiences. This isn't about reading some book of Marx or Trotsky's that was written a hundred years ago over coffee with a tiny handful of people with similarly 'quirky' interests... Nor is it about protesting the IMF or kicking sweatshops off campus because it's the morally "right" thing to do... This is about people choosing between food and rent, adults having to live with their parents or off their parents because their skills and lives aren't cared about by the people who decide what jobs will exist.

This is about people's ideologies being broken down and new paradigms emerging out of our own, painful, life experiance.

Tonight these are my words.... and I am feeling slightly violent.

Unemployment deleted my claim.
The former employer that laid me off denies I worked for them.
Someone in Georgia stole my SSN and is apparently filing an unemployment claim with it.
People have been here SIX times to look at garbage disposal or oven and neither are fixed yet
A sometimes GF / FWB calls me while I am at the bar with other people crying about a horrible day and losing her job and being stabbed in the back by her friends so I go there to try and be supportive and I knock on her door and she doesn't even open. I call she says she's taking a bath and doesn't want to be bothered. The people I left at the bar think I am lame for ditching them. Then today this same girl I see walking down the street and she just says 'hi' and walks by apparently not caring at all.
Another friend asks me to give them a ride five blocks from the bar to their house so they don't have to walk in the snow. I get there (I have a cold) and I have to wait at this bar for an hour for her to talk to the bar manager who is in a meeting about something. Why didn't she do that before she asked me to come pick her up and if I'm upset about my time being wasted I am the bad guy?
I have some money... wait I have to pay electric bill and cpr + first aid certification for a job there goes the money never mind
I thought the album mixing was done but it is not there are still things that need to be fixed, just a decibel or two up or down here and there it is driving me crazy I want this done and to work on some new music.
I like freezing soup in Tupperware and then microwaving it but today I learned this can give me cancer.
Car windshield wiper switch is broken again I had it replaced in May it is still fucking around I have to take the fuse in and out with pliers to turn it on or off.
They pass all these 'stimulus' bills... the bills give more money than I can conceive of to rich capitalist speculators and banks and the banks aren't loaning it out or creating more jobs with it or putting anyone back to work.
They keep funding the war so we can keep rapist, human rights violating, fundamentalist warlords in power in Afghanistan who make money by growing the opiates that in our depression we buy and then get sent to jail for using and another corporation gets paid our tax dollars to build the jail.
Fucking windows vista keeps blue screening.
My degree is worthless. I went to college for four years and paid 10s of thousands of dollars each year of it and I can't get a job driving a delivery truck or disassembling bits of electronic stuff for $8 an hour on an assembly line because I don't have 'experiance'.
In a few months I will have self written/ released nine full length albums that no one hears that only looses money and I have waited in rip off car repair places on tour and frozen in the snow to take this sound and image and authentic, live playing of instruments to people but it's the people who make poorly produced, repetitive music that is not at all creative or innovative or meaningful and who have never played a live show in their life that are now getting distribution deals and ego boosts dropped into their laps.

I came in to work when I was sick when the manager asked me to because it was busy.
I brought to the manager's attention that we need to move the chairs and extra tables from the fire escape when the fire marshal came during a party for a surprise inspection and I helped us frantically do this so "we" would not get caught.
I stood on my feet at one am after working 16 hour day double shifts all week to fold 175 napkins in a hot kitchen because there was no where unoccupied to sit.
I told the tables the grat was already on the bill and didn't try to cheat them this way.
I sucked it up and went home with little money because I preferred to see what money there was distributed more equally among us than if I just sharked the tables.
I believed that, even though I don't necessarily like these rich people, or how they got their money, that if I was relatively honest and hard working for them and did all the crazy shifts and begged in different languages for the chef to do all the stupid food modifications that they wanted of me, that I could then take that money and experiance and use it for my own hopes and dreams afterwords...

I believed in the America of following your dreams, doing what is right for you, being nice to others and going out of your way for people you care about when you can, loving the country you live in, taking time to get to know its people, its dialects, its different fast food chains, its languages, and its geography, and I have written in word and in music about these places so that others may know the stories they tell...

And I feel at times like this that no one cares, that it has all been a complete waste of time. The government that allegedly gives a crap about whether or not an Iraqi can vote doesn't give a fuck about whether or not I can pay the rent or buy food before I get thrown out into the street... The people I thought were cool and genuine and that I tried to care about in the deep, loving way apparently only wanted me for random sex if that... The things I have done for myself to try and keep myself sane and re-affirm that the world really *is* beautiful, splendid, exciting, and at times rewarding are pounded out of my mind by the daily burden of every humiliation and theft and lie- petty and presidential alike...

The oil companies took all my savings in 2008 with their inflated prices. Exxon reported the highest quarterly earnings of any corporation in the history of the world that year. "Democratic" governors and senators eat Alaskan king crab and raw oysters and chocolates with pieces of silver on top of them while kids die in a stupid war because they are trying to get money for a college degree that none of the existing jobs even care about.

I am feeling slightly violent and slightly cheated and I want to scream or hurt something or hurt myself or start a revolution. I don't want to be at home by myself on the internet. I want to be next to you with signs and slogans and torches and pitchforks and I want to help the army revolt and I want to defend my co workers when the secret police deports them while their children wait at a school that no one will be able to pick them up from and I want to cry in joy and hold hands with homosexuals who love with a strength and a stability few hetero marriages have ever had and I want the CEOs and the Stock brokers to go to prison and I want people who sold dope because the jobs got exported to china to be freed and I want to vote on whether we burn down Ken Lay and Paris Hilton's mansions or turn them into homes for wounded soldiers instead and I want to breathe and relax and look into your eyes and have you tell me it will all be better and I want to have children that smile and laugh and I don't want you to look at the floor when you walk down the street and I want every bully confronted and I don't want to live in a world that can put a man on the moon but can't put food in people's stomachs or a roof over their heads so I will DEMAND and I will be HEARD when I say that all of us have the right to LOVE and to SMILE and to LIVE.

Have I done everything right? No... but I've done more things right than a lot of people who are more 'successful' in this rat race than I am.

I have the right to be ornery.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Driving Over the Cliff

The bit about university graduates "not even" having waiter/bartending jobs anymore is painful.

February 9, 2009
The Washington Morons
Driving Over the Cliff


Is there intelligent life in Washington, DC? Not a speck of it.

The US economy is imploding, and Obama is being led by his government of neconservatives and Israeli agents into a quagmire in Afghanistan that will bring the US into confrontation with Russia, and possibly China, American’s largest creditor.

The January payroll job figures reveal that last month 20,000 Americans lost their jobs every day.

In addition, December’s job losses were revised up by 53,000 jobs from 524,000 to 577,000. The revision brings the two-month job loss to 1,175,000. If this keeps up, Obama’s promised three million new jobs will be wiped out by job losses.

Statistician John Williams ( reports that this huge number is an understatement. Williams notes that built-in biases in seasonal adjustment factors caused a 118,000 understatement of January job losses, bringing the actual January job loss to 716,000 jobs.

The payroll survey counts the number of jobs, not the number of employed as some people have more than one job. The Household Survey counts the number of people who have jobs. The Household Survey shows that 832,000 people lost their jobs in January and 806,000 in December, for a two month reduction of Americans with jobs of 1,638,000.

The unemployment rate reported in the US media is a fabrication. Williams reports that in changes since 1980, particularly in the Clinton era, "‘discouraged workers’ those who had given up looking for a job because there were no jobs to be had--were redefined so as to be counted only if they had been ‘discouraged’ for less than a year. This time qualification defined away the bulk of the discouraged workers. Adding them back into the total unemployed, actual unemployment, [according to the unemployment rate methodology used in 1980] rose to 18% in January, from 17.5% in December.”

In other words, without all the manipulations of the data, the US unemployment rate is already at depression levels.

How could it be otherwise given the enormous job loss from offshored jobs. It is impossible for a country to create jobs when its corporations are moving production for the American consumer market offshore. When they move the production offshore, they shift US GDP to other countries. The US trade deficit over the past decade has reduced US GDP by $1.5 trillion dollars. That is a lot of jobs.

I have been reporting for years that university graduates have had to take jobs as waitresses and bartenders. As over-indebted consumers lose their jobs, they will visit restaurants and bars less frequently. Consequently, those with university degrees will not even have jobs waiting on tables and mixing drinks.

US policymakers have ignored the fact that consumer demand in the 21st century has been driven, not by increases in real income, but by increased consumer indebtedness. This fact makes it pointless to try to stimulate the economy by bailing out banks so that they can lend more to consumers. The American consumers have no more capacity to borrow.

With the decline in the values of their principal assets--their homes--with the destruction of half of their pension assets, and with joblessness facing them, Americans cannot and will not spend.

Why bail out GM and Citibank when the firms are moving as many operations offshore as they possibly can?

Much of US infrastructure is in poor shape and needs renewing. However, infrastructure jobs do not produce goods and services that can be sold abroad. The massive commitment to infrastructure does nothing to help the US reduce its huge trade deficit, the financing of which is becoming a major problem. Moreover, when the infrastructure projects are completed, so are the jobs.

At best, assuming Mexican immigrants do not get most of the construction jobs, all Obama’s stimulus program can do is to reduce the number of unemployed temporarily.

Unless US corporations can be required to use American labor to produce the goods and services that they sell in American markets, there is no hope for the US economy. No one in the Obama administration has the wits to address this problem. Thus, the economy will continue to implode.

Adding to the brewing disaster, Obama has been deceived by his military and neoconservative advisers into expanding the war in Afghanistan, a large, mountainous country. Obama intends to use the draw-down of US soldiers in Iraq to send 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan. This would bring the US forces to 60,000 -- 600,000 fewer than US Marine Corps and US Army counterinsurgency guidelines define as the minimum number of soldiers necessary to bring success in Afghanistan--and less than half as many as the army that was unable to occupy Iraq.

The Iranians had to bail out the Bush regime by restraining its Shi’ite allies and encouraging them to use the ballot box to attain power and push out the Americans. In Iraq the US troops only had to fight a small Sunni insurgency drawn from a minority of the population. Even so, the US “prevailed” by putting the insurgents on the US payroll and paying them not to fight. The withdrawal agreement was dictated by the Shi’ites. It was not what the Bush regime wanted.

One would think that the experience with the “cakewalk” in Iraq would make the US hesitant to attempt to occupy Afghanistan, an undertaking that would require the US to occupy parts of Pakistan. The US was hard pressed to maintain 150,000 troops in Iraq. Where is Obama going to get another half million soldiers to add to the 150,000 to pacify Afghanistan?

One answer is the rapidly growing massive US unemployment. Americans will sign up to go kill abroad rather than be homeless and hungry at home.

But this solves only half of the problem. Where does the money come from to support an army in the field of 650,000, an army 4.3 times larger than US forces in Iraq, a war that has cost us $3 trillion in out-of-pocket and already incurred future costs. This money would have to be raised in addition to the $3 trillion US budget deficit that is the result of Bush’s financial sector bailout, Obama’s stimulus package, and the rapidly failing economy. When economies tank, as the American one is doing, tax revenues collapse. The millions of unemployed Americans are not paying Social Security, Medicare, and income taxes. The stores and businesses that are closing are not paying federal and state income taxes. Consumers with no money or credit to spend are not paying sales taxes.

The Washington Morons, and morons they are, have given no thought as to how they are going to finance a fiscal year 2009 budget deficit of some two to three trillion dollars.

The practically nonexistent US saving rate cannot finance it.

The trade surpluses of our trading partners, such as China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia, cannot finance it.

The US government really has only two possibilities for financing its budget deficit. One is a second collapse in the stock market, which would drive the surviving investors with what they have left into “safe” US Treasury bonds. The other is for the Federal Reserve to monetize the Treasury debt.

Monetizing the debt means that when no one is willing or able to purchase the Treasury’s bonds, the Federal Reserve buys them by creating bank deposits for the Treasury’s account.

In other words, the Fed “prints money” with which to buy the Treasury’s bonds.

Once this happens, the US dollar will cease to be the reserve currency.

In addition, China, Japan and Saudi Arabia, countries that hold enormous quantities of US Treasury debt in addition to other US dollar assets, will sell, hoping to get out before others.

The US dollar will become worthless, the currency of a banana republic.

The US will not be able to pay for its imports, a serious problem for a country dependent on imports for its energy, manufactured goods, and advanced technology products.

Obama’s Keynesian advisers have learned with a vengeance Milton Friedman’s lesson that the Great Depression resulted from the Federal Reserve permitting a contraction of the supply of money and credit. In the Great Depression good debts were destroyed by monetary contraction. Today bad debts are being preserved by the expansion of money and credit, and the US Treasury is jeopardizing its credit standing and the dollar’s reserve currency status with enormous quarterly bond auctions as far as the eye can see.

Meanwhile, the Russians, overflowing with energy and mineral resources, and not in debt, have learned that the US government is not to be trusted. Russia has watched Reagan’s successors attempt to turn former constituent parts of the Soviet Union into US puppet states with US military bases. The US is trying to ring Russia with missiles that neutralize Russia’s strategic deterrent.

Putin has caught on to “comrade wolf.” He has succeeded in having the president of Kyrgyzstan, a former part of the Soviet Union, evict the US from its military base. This base is essential to America’s ability to supply its soldiers in Afghanistan.

To stop America’s meddling in Russia’s sphere of influence, the Russian government has created a collective security treaty organization comprised of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Uzbekistan is a partial participant.

In other words, Russia has organized central Asia against US penetration.

To whose agenda is President Obama being hitched? Writing in the English language version of the Swiss newspaper, Zeit-Fragen, Stephen J. Sniegoski reports that leading figures of the neocon conspiracy--Richard Perle, Max Boot, David Brooks, and Mona Charen--are ecstatic over Obama’s appointments. They don’t see any difference between Obama and Bush/Cheney.

Not only are Obama’s appointments moving him into an expanded war in Afghanistan, but the powerful Israel Lobby is pushing Obama toward a war with Iran.

The unreality in which he US government operates is beyond belief. A bankrupt government that cannot pay its bills without printing money is rushing headlong into wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. According to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis, the cost to the US taxpayers of sending a single soldier to fight in Afghanistan or Iraq is $775,000 per year!

Obama’s war in Afghanistan is the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. After seven years of conflict, there is still no defined mission or endgame scenario for US forces in Afghanistan. When asked about the mission, a US military official told NBC News, “Frankly, we don’t have one.” NBC reports: “they’re working on it.”

Speaking to House Democrats on February 5, President Obama admitted that the US government does not know what its mission is in Afghanistan and that to avoid “mission creep without clear parameters,” the US “needs a clear mission.”

How would you like to be sent to a war, the point of which no one knows, including the commander-in-chief who sent you to kill or be killed? How, fellow taxpayers, do you like paying the enormous cost of sending soldiers on an undefined mission while the economy collapses?

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Take Over Your School

I was going through some old files and I found this directory:

It's photos I scanned from the yearbooks of the college I went to. They had the most boring yearbooks imaginable all during the early sixties. Around 68-73 they got super interesting. I have a whole printed out folder with a lot of the articles from then to.

What did your school do about the 60s?

What is your school doing about today?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Obama's Cabinet is Not Left-Wing or Antiwar

This is a good article by David Sirota that appeared today in the Denver Post.. He also wrote this book discussing the primordial symptoms of a new period of angry populist uprising against the status quo, and he spoke at a public forum on the economic crisis that was organized in Denver back in the fall.


Team of rivals? No, a team of zombies

By David Sirota
Posted: 02/06/2009 12:30:00 AM MST

Only weeks ago, the political world was buzzing about a "team of rivals." America was told that finally, after years of yes-men running the government, we were getting a president who would follow Abraham Lincoln's lead, fill his administration with varying viewpoints, and glean empirically sound policy from the clash of ideas.

Little did we know that "team of rivals" was what George Orwell calls "newspeak": an empty slogan "claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts." Obama's national security team, for instance, includes not a single Iraq War opponent. The president has not only retained George W. Bush's defense secretary, Robert Gates, but also 150 other Bush Pentagon appointees. The only "rivalry" is between those who back increasing the already bloated defense budget by an absurd amount and those who aim to boost it by a ludicrous amount.

Of course, that lockstep uniformity pales in comparison to the White House's economic team — a squad of corporate lackeys disguised as public servants.

At the top is Lawrence Summers, the director of Obama's National Economic Council. As Bill Clinton's Treasury secretary in the late 1990s, Summers worked with his deputy, Tim Geithner (now Obama's Treasury secretary), and Clinton aide Rahm Emanuel (now Obama's chief of staff) to champion job-killing trade deals and deregulation that Obama Commerce Secretary Judd Gregg helped shepherd through Congress as a Republican senator. Now, this pinstriped band of brothers is proposing a "cash for trash" scheme that would force the public to guarantee the financial industry's bad loans. It's another ploy "to hand taxpayer dollars to the banks through a variety of complex mechanisms," says economist Dean Baker — and noticeably absent is anything even resembling a "rival" voice inside the White House.

That's not an oversight. There's no shortage of qualified experts who have challenged market fundamentalism. But they have been barred from an administration focused on ideological purity.

Regardless of election hoopla, Washington is the same one-party town it always has been — controlled not by Democrats or Republicans, but by Kleptocrats. Their ties to money make them the undead zombies in the slash-and- burn horror flick that is American politics: No matter how many times their discredited theologies are stabbed, torched and shot down by verifiable failure, their careers cannot be killed. Somehow, these political immortals are allowed to mindlessly lunge forward, never answering to rivals — even if that rival is the president himself.

Remember, while Obama said he wants to slash "billions of dollars in wasteful spending" at the Pentagon, his national security team is demanding a $40 billion increase in defense spending. Obama also said he wants to crack down on the financial industry, strengthen laws encouraging the government to purchase American goods, and transform trade policy.

Yet, his economic team is not just promising to support more bank bailouts, but also to weaken "Buy America" statutes and make sure new legislation "doesn't signal a change in our overall stance on trade," according to the president's spokesman.

Indeed, if an authentic "rivalry" was going to erupt, it would have been between Obama's promises and his team of zombies. Unfortunately, the latter seems to have won before the competition even started.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

You're Doing it Fucking Wrong!

"How Dare You Call Yourselves Professionals!"

Also check out the links to similar videos youtube suggests.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

We Won't Pay For Your Crisis! Italy shows the Way Forward!

Here's an idea!

February 4, 2009
Riding the Anomalous Wave
Student Protests Sweep Italy


The rectors of twelve Italian universities met in Bologna last March to launch Aquis, a quality-assurance association for Italy's public universities. Their aim was that institutions should compete for funding on criteria based solely on their financial management and their position in various rankings. It looked as though the process of aziendalizzazione (the transformation of public services on business models) was complete.

But Silvio Berlusconi's government has united the nation's university rectors against the aziendalizzazione which Berlusconi himself favors. After he returned to power last April, he called for budget cuts just as the already weakened Italian economy was feeling the first effects of the international financial crisis. On June 25 the cabinet took "urgent measures" (since passed into law) after just nine minutes' deliberation - 85 articles including swingeing cuts in higher education.

This "euthanasia of the universities", as Gaetano Azzariti, professor of constitutional law at Rome university, calls it, was a political decision, sacrificing teaching and research to sectors of the economy. It means that for a university to hire a new lecturer now, two others have to leave its payroll. And it means more private sector funding in universities and higher tuition fees, leading to increased levels of debt for the poorest students. And on August 28, education minister Mariastella Gelmini presented another executive order, setting out budget cuts and plans to return to single teachers in primary schools (each class is normally taught by several different teachers), meaning a shorter school day for children (and reducing parents' ability to go out to work). Other measures aimed to revive old practices, such as marks for behavior up to secondary level.

Such reforms are part of an ongoing campaign by some on the right against waste in the education sector, staff costs in particular, and a clear attempt to address Italians' (often justified) resentment of the wasteful use of public funds. This campaign was a continuation of a decade-long trend which has been backed by governments of both right and left.

Ascano Celestini, a writer who sympathizes with opponents of the reforms, said: "The disappearance of 87,000 teaching posts in the next three years is on the horizon, concealed behind nostalgia for old school smocks and topped off with the unimaginative plans for the return of the single-teacher system ... behind the reintroduction of the old marking system [out of 10, rather than a percentage] and marks for behavior, we're expecting cuts in public education proportionate to the increases in aid to the private system, which since 2001 have gone up by 65 per cent".

Unsurprisingly, tempers were running high by the start of the new school year. On September 15, parents and teachers at Iqbal Masih school in Rome's Centocelle district occupied the building. A nationwide movement quickly sprang up under the banner of "Non rubateci il futuro" (Don't steal our future). Parents, teachers and children slept in schools, put up banners and demonstrated together. With the occupation of Mamiani school, the wave of protest reached the secondary schools. After the start of the new term on October 5, it also spread to the tertiary sector, beginning at Pisa university. On October 7 the administrative offices at La Sapienza university in Rome were occupied and eight days later, 10,000 students and protestors occupied Termini, Rome's main train station.

Then on October 17 the independent, radical unions called a general strike and a huge crowd of demonstrators, including 50,000 students, marched through Rome. Universities throughout the country were occupied: Bologna, Milan, Turin, Naples, Padua, Palermo. This new movement gave itself the name onda anomala (anomalous wave). On 30 October the tide of protesters grew stronger still and the following day a student delegation called for a general strike at the annual conference of the metal workers' union of the CGIL (Italy's main trade union confederation), who immediately called for the day of action on December 12.

The activists, carried along by the onda, gave it an unusual character: in meetings, on blogs and networks on the web, hundreds of texts were composed collectively, teachers gave classes in the street (and debated the crisis), and Wu Ming, a writers' collective from Bologna, packed out an amphitheatre. A new form of collective social conscience was being created.

"What's developing is the self-organization of university students and casual workers," explained Aliocha, a literature student at La Sapienza university who is also a casual in a bank. "Some people combine being casual workers and students or researchers, others are just casual workers. Together with the rank and file unions, we started the October 17 strike, and organized it in workplaces where job insecurity is an everyday reality."

Young people in Italy, where the birthrate is declining, are a source of almost as much anxiety as immigrants. In an interview which inspired many banners and placards, the economics minister in the previous government, Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, referred to young Italians as bamboccioni (big babies) who were incapable of leaving home. "This movement marks the return of a discourse of revolt and a rupture between generations," said Francesco, a postgraduate in Florence. "It's the first general battle against job insecurity, but it's also the rejection of a society organized against the young in which the casualization of the workforce has never been matched with any guarantees. We say: `You've painted us as louts and layabouts and perpetual kids, but we're able to question and to make our presence felt'."

He emphasized another characteristic of the movement: "It appeared just as the far left disappeared from parliament and the reconfiguration of politics on the bipolar American model was completed. It's a new way of doing politics. Let's create a fresh start with all its contradictions and ambivalences."

Riding high on enthusiasm, the onda showed great maturity when the authorities tried to provoke it into violence - not least on October 29 when the police allowed a group of neo-fascists to drive a truck loaded with iron bars into a pedestrian zone near the Senate, and then let them make their getaway when the demonstrators turned aggressive. But the sight of terrified 13- and 14-year-olds running from the blows of skinheads did the government no favors. Berlusconi threatened to send in the police to evacuate occupied university buildings. That prompted a response of "I'm not scared", unfurled on banners throughout Italy. (In an interview with Il Giorno, Milan, October 24, 2008, the former interior minister from the "years of lead", Francesco Cossiga, drew on past experience to advise the prime minister that he should infiltrate the movement, provoke them into acts of violence, let them have their head for 10 days and then - with popular support - "send them all to hospital".)

In a country still marked by memories of the "years of lead", choosing non-violence doesn't necessarily equate with respect for the law. Tania, a politics student at La Sapienza, explained: "The tactic of blocking stations and traffic was part-spontaneous and part result of observing the protest movement in France in 2006. It's a way of avoiding direct confrontation with the authorities, given the reputation of the Italian police. But it's also about getting out of the university, making ourselves visible, speaking to people, in the knowledge that we're not just fighting for the universities but for a whole generation and several strata of society, with a discourse that's relevant to the crisis. That way we were able to gauge how favorably our movement would be viewed."

On November 15 and 16, the day after a huge demonstration, Italy's universities held a meeting in Rome which came up with a plan for self-reform. The working group on social protection, in which a thousand people took part, said at the start of its report: "A growing number of people are going into higher education, but at the price of indebtedness. And the knowledge they gain access to is increasingly devalued. The process of struggle has shifted therefore to the jobs market (where knowledge creation and training have ever greater importance) and social protection."

On the eve of the December 12 general strike, education minister Gelmini began to back-pedal: the reintroduction of the single-teacher system would be optional, schools could remain open all day and the reform of higher education was postponed until 2010. But the budget cuts were not up for discussion. In spite of torrential rain and flooding, an impressive number of people (a million according to the CGIL) from the rank and file unions and the onda anomala took part in demonstrations. Even if this year it takes new forms, it seems unlikely that the wave is going to subside.

The onda has spread its slogan, "We won't pay for your crisis", throughout Italy. It's the first widespread social movement in Europe since the economic downturn, and it's unlikely to be the last. Italian internet surfers have seen their peers in Greece organize themselves in a movement and demonstrations in solidarity with young Greeks punctuated the general strike. Alluding to Alexis Grigoropoulos, the young Greek killed by the Athens police, the onda came out with the slogan "Unarrestable, ungovernable, unrepresentable. From Greece to Italy with Alexis in our hearts."

Serge Quadruppani is a writer and editor of the Bibliothèque italienne published by Editions Métailié, Paris.

Translated by George Miller.

This article appears in the February edition of this excellent monthly, whose English language edition can be found at This full text appears by agreement with Le Monde Diplomatique. CounterPunch features two or three articles from LMD every month.