Pacific Free Press

Opinion

  • Written by Frank Pitz

American Idolized

by Frank Pitz

So, the Democrats won, Rummy quit, why am I not jumping for joy and getting out here in cyberspace with more rah, rah postings?  Perhaps a psychological impediment has grabbed hold; or could it just be plain old skepticism?   But then again, it may just be a case of the blahs, caused by the daily bombardment of “stuff.”

I’m generally “the glass is half full” kind of person, and meditate on a semi-regular basis, which tends to help through most down episodes.    But, sometimes you want to just chuck it all and scream, “stop the world, I want to get off.”   Read a piece recently on AlterNet titled “The Clownification of America” by Stephen Pizzo.  He wrapped an article around that particular quote by James Howard Kunstler.  It summed up for me-in a small way- just why I am feeling a bit of disquiet right now.

We’ve been American Idolized damn near to the point of no return.  It is, after all, Orwell personified; up to and including the ubiquitous electronic eyes and ears of Big Brother surrounding us completely.
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Green Farm Truck — “For Sale.” — Used: A running 1948 Studebaker.

by Art James

“For Sale.” The Classified Advertisement Column.

Isn’t it a sorrowful day reading the front page news? It’s also filled with absurdity for me to have decided to put-up my farm truck For Sale. About the best occupation, IMHO, is to be in the organic farm business. To be out of harmony with multi-millions of people I can’t manage to live without, (we all need to eat) joins me to them in fate and destiny to offer up for sale, my used 1948 Studebaker farm truck. Or, and I question, if trying to sell something, in a worse sense a potential vanity symbol, offering it to my fellow human kin, something, I am not supposed to get? What is the monetary worth of a running farm truck soul? I’m the worst one alive to give others financial advice. The answer is beyond my ken.

Money is not important. When we have been robbed and become broke money is very important. People have declined offers to sell the soul and have witnessed a Black Friday procession of crows’ line up to haul-off loads of material objects post-thanksgiving which will just possess and benumb them. To ask, “How to keep” things which can imperceptibly ruin ‘us’ is like buying worry-wrinkles for our forehead. Taking advice from me about financial investments and “how to keep” things is to try to learn if maybe I can sell my version of a status SUV. Who wants to gain status? A progress in life when we were born was learning to place foot in front of foot. We learned how to walk. Yet come what may, ‘we people’ all march along to finish life’s journey some way or another. In other words, as we grow with age, it’s best not to horde corn in our barn that may mildew.
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  • Written by Shahid Alam

Zionism: Pitting the West Against Islam

by M. Shahid Alam

It is tempting to celebrate the creation of Israel as a great triumph, perhaps the greatest in Jewish history. Indeed, the history of Israel has often been read as the heroic saga of a people marked for extinction, who emerged from Nazi death camps – from Auschwitz, Belzec and Treblinka – to establish their own state in 1948, a Jewish haven and a democracy that has prospered even as it has defended itself valiantly against unceasing Arab threats and aggression. Without taking away anything from the sufferings of European Jews, I will insist that this way of thinking about Israel – apart from its mythologizing – has merit only as a partisan narrative. It seeks to insulate Israel against the charge of a devastating colonization by falsifying history, by camouflaging the imperialist dynamics that brought it into existence, and denying the perilous future with which it now confronts the Jews, the West and the Islamic world.

 



When we examine the consequences that have flowed from the creation of Israel, when we contemplate the greater horrors that may yet flow from the logic of Zionism, Israel triumphs appear in a different light. We are forced to examine these triumphs with growing dread and incredulity. Israel’s early triumphs, though real from a narrow Zionist standpoint, have slowly mutated by a fateful process into ever-widening circles of conflict that now threaten to escalate into major wars between the West and Islam. Although this conflict has its source in colonial ambitions, the dialectics of this conflict have slowly endowed it with the force and rhetoric of a civilizational war: and perhaps worse, a religious war. This is the tragedy of Israel. It is not a fortuitous tragedy. Driven by history, chance and cunning, the Zionists wedged themselves between two historical adversaries, the West and Islam, and by harnessing the strength of the first against the second, it has produced the conditions of a conflict that has grown deeper over time. 

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  • Written by Seth Sandronsky

The Washington Post's War Against Social Security - Editorializing while reporting

By Seth Sandronsky

Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post reporter has a problem with Social Security. 

She writes:
"the rising costs of Social Security and government health-care programs by offering to open talks with no preconditions."
They are on tap as subject for debate in future talks between the GOP and Democrats in Congress.

Medicare and Medicaid are at-risk financially.  In brief, the reason for the financial fragility of Medicare and Medicaid is the affordability crisis of the U.S. health-care system.

Against this backdrop of the national health-care crisis, Social Security is the most successful insurance program going.  The key to its success is the social pooling of risk.  Social Security is not an investment. Add a comment

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  • Written by Jason Miller

Blind Obedience to the Canons of Capitalism: Sick Societies, American Dalits, a Nation of Lady Macbeths

By Jason Miller


[Author’s Note to Establish Context: I composed this on 11/24/06, the day after Thanksgiving]

 

“Tell me where do I belong in this sick society?


….Look at yourself instead of looking at me. With accusation in your eyes. Do you want me crucified for my profanity?


….Tell me the truth and I’ll admit to my guilt if you’ll try to understand. But is that blood that’s on your hand from your democracy?”

-Ozzy Osbourne, You’re no Different, 1983




Bow your heads and drop to your knees, brothers and sisters! Feel the power of the Holy Dollar coursing through your being as you humbly offer your prayers, exaltations and gratitude to Mighty Mammon!

Lay the perpetual argument to rest. There is no separation of church and state.

It is indisputable that the United States is one nation, under God. Our nation worships the unholy trinity of the Dollar, Acquisitiveness, and Opulence with the fanaticism of the Inquisitors.

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  • Written by Aseem Shrivastava

India on 20 cents a day - The fine print in the reporting of global poverty estimates

by Aseem Shrivastava

The World Bank — which has to be applauded for having made the first such attempt — started making international comparisons of poverty only about two decades back. For obvious reasons of convenience it developed two simple notions of poverty. The US Treasury being the power behind the institution, and the dollar being the reserve currency by design, the lower poverty line was set at $1 a day per capita. Those below it were considered to be “the poorest of the poor”. The upper poverty line was set at $2 a day. Those living on $1—2 a day were still poor, but not as badly off. The updated numbers today, corrected for inflation, are $1.08 and $2.15.

The vagaries of purchasing power (dis)parities

However, there was a problem. It was realized that $1 goes much farther in purchasing necessary items of consumption in a poor country compared to a rich one. (Moreover, exchange rates do not take into account non—traded goods.) Using prevailing exchange rates, Rs.45 can buy more in India than $1 can in America. So unless it was corrected for the lower cost of living in poor countries — enabling access to a bigger amount of real goods for the same amount of money — this measure of poverty was likely to give an overestimate of the number of poor people living in absolute poverty. To make purchasing power across countries comparable, economists developed what is known as the PPP (purchasing power parity) index. Taking into account the lower cost of living in impoverished countries, a conversion factor is now applied to market exchange rates to calculate what is minimally necessary to survive there.
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  • Written by Stephen Lendman

Hugo Chavez Holds Commanding Lead Eight Days Before Election

by Stephen Lendman

Hugo Chavez holds an insurmountable lead in two late November polls - one by Ipsos Venezuela/the AP-Ipsos Poll and the other by Zogby International-University of Miami. Both were released on November 24 and are the most current and reliable data available and are consistent with most independent poll results for months. This is in stark contrast to several fraudulent US National Endowment of Democracy (NED)-financed oligarch-run ones published to create a false perception of public sentiment in preparation for cries of fraud once the election results are in.

This is now standard US operating practice in all developing countries when Washington fears an unacceptable electoral outcome, so it tries to subvert the democratic process by engineering one in its favor. That's how it's playing out in Venezuela now where things are in place to create the myth of what's impossible to achieve in fact to help Washington pull off its scheme to remove the main "threat" to its hegemony in the hemisphere. It's not likely to work any better now than in the failed 2002 coup attempt, but there will be mass-staged street protests that may get violent before it's over proving it.
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Toronto's Dead Multitudes

by Chris Cook

A couple of weeks past, a small group of Toronto's citizens observed a grim milestone in Canada's richest city; the marking of a memorial for the 500th Canadian to die homeless on Toronto's cold streets.


Out the windows of my cosy apartment, the first snows of winter fall on famously tepid Victoria. Early in the year to be sure, for a city these last years that rarely sees snow at all. It reminds; we are Canadians afterall, living in a cold country whose climate is not always friendly to human survival. It's a fact easy to forget living here on the mild Pacific coast, and living easy, with a job and the bills paid.

But my happy situation is one not shared by all living here. Unemployment, under employment, and low pay is common here, as everywhere in Canada today;  common here as elsewhere too is high rent, and a lack of affordable rental housing. Combined with the abrogation of their duty to the welfare of the people by all levels of government, the current economic environment is the "perfect storm" for the poor.  

Years ago, during the "good times" in the Eighties, I lived in Toronto, where winter is winter, and the working ethos is roughly summed up as: Sink or Swim! Living downtown, the homeless were a common sight; I would see them, bundles of rags, curled up fetal-like over the ventilation grates of the highrise office towers. The tower's, deserted and ablaze with light, heaters mind the comfort of the machines inside, while its excess warmth helps keep some anonymous indigent alive another night.
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  • Written by Linda Milazzo

"Americans Can't Handle Another Impeachment" Is Republican Propaganda. Don't Be Deceived.

by Linda Milazzo

"Americans can't handle another impeachment."  So say the supporters of George W. Bush in their anti-impeachment propaganda.

The truth is Americans CAN handle another impeachment. They CAN handle the truth. In fact, if Americans don't bring Bush and Cheney to justice after the atrocities they've committed, this nation will never reclaim its moral authority. And the people of this nation will be despised for unleashing these dangerous men on the world.

"Americans can't handle another impeachment" isn't a truth. It's a device. Like 'weapons of mass destruction.' 'A mushroom cloud.' 'Gassed his own people.' 'Sought significant quantities of uranium from A-f-r-i-c-a.' These are the sound bytes, the parroted propaganda, which brought us to war. Each is a proven lie, told time and again by well-rehearsed pundits. Verbatim delivery. Robotic form. Repeated ad nauseam by grown-up children of the damned. It sounded good for Nicholson in "A Few Good Men," but rings pretty hollow here. Americans CAN handle and probe for the truth.

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  • Written by Mike Whitney

“America’s moment in the Middle East is about to end”

by Mike Whitney

There are no “accidents” in Middle East politics. This week’s assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister, Pierre Gemayel can only be understood in the context of the ongoing struggle between the competing political forces in the region. Presently, the United States is the big loser in this regard due to its failed campaign in Iraq. The war has severely damaged the perception of US military invincibility and triggered a stunning rejection of Bush’s policies in the in the midterm elections. Now, the political-paradigm in America has shifted and a phased withdrawal of American troops could begin in a matter of months. Needless to say, this is not the outcome that the hawks in Washington or Tel Aviv had in mind.

Could the assassination of Gemayel be an attempt to forestall the impending withdrawal of American forces?

Yes.

America’s effort in Iraq has failed miserably. It has created a security vacuum that is now being filled by armed-militias and resistance movements. The Middle East hasn’t been this volatile since 1948. It has descended into a semi-permanent state of flux in which all the main players are battling for a greater share of regional power. The assassination of Gemayel is just another chapter in this regrettable power-struggle. It puts Lebanon squarely in the gun-sights of regional rivals and increases the probability of another civil war.
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Barking for War in Canada

by Chris Cook


They came to this country a few years ago, representatives of a foreign philosophy, proponents of race hatred, and ethnic cleansing, and genocide. Their warped religion is not new, it is the surviving spawn of the seed thought destroyed, the dead kernels believed buried in the ashes of the Third Reich, but its heart is beating still, alive right here in our Canada.
Though true, what we've witnessed these last years, these decades of pain and horror since the fall of the Reich, with as many and more being killed by Hitler's successors in the jungles of Vietnam, and the killing fields of Cambodia, Indonesia, South America, the Middle-East, and Africa as ever were by the Nazis, was no recess from the project, the recent ascendance of the neo-cons, the new tellers of the old lie, is different; different because we have changed.

Hiding behind the suffering, the monumental and hideous destruction of European Jewry in the "Good War," today's sophists of the holocaust, buoyed by the same monied interests that lit the fire beneath that awful conflagration, have rallied to accelerate the task of mega-murder. They are organized, respectable, and their message, as odious and terrible as it is, has so far failed to illicit revulsion from the general public.

This past Spring, while Israel, its [sic] citizens safely removed from their outposts in Gaza, began a massive blitzkrieg against Palestinian civilians, barely a mutter of protest was heard in either the halls of power in Ottawa, au contrare, or over the public airwaves. Not surprising perhaps, considering the concentrated nature of Canadian media and constricted nature of Stephen Harper's ruling party, but what is shocking is the mum reaction Israel's ongoing atrocity in Palestine has evoked from the Canadian public.

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Mafia Hit On The Media

by John Weaver

If I simply stood anywhere near Boris Berezovsky, I’m sure my hair would fall out and my skin would turn yellow.

Alexander Litvinenko is simply the last in a long line of stiffs associated with Boris, a line of corpses that stretches back to the mid-nineties. One died from a mysterious nerve toxin applied to the rim of his coffee cup.

If you want to know about Boris Berezovsky, ask former Forbes editor Paul Klebnikov. Except you can’t, because he was blown away in 2004, shortly after writing up Berezovsky’s bullet-ridden bio, ‘Godfather Of Crime’.

The Litvinenko case is notable for the disinformation spread by the UK’s press, where the ‘facts’ have changed daily. Who makes this stuff up? Why, story and pictures supplied by The Godfather’s PR Firm - one with the sole aim of naming the killer as the Kremlin. Or might that just be a smokescreen for a mafia hit? At the very least, it’s a case of Pottinger calling the kettle black.

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  • Written by Ramzy Baroud

Reclaiming America: Democrats Must Truly Change Course

By Ramzy Baroud

The Democrats' ascendancy within the US Congress could signal the regaining by the public, of its country's direction.

The astounding results of the US Congressional elections of 7 November were undoubtedly a welcome sign of change, not in the American political apparatus, inasmuch as it is in the unmistakable reclamation by the public of its role as the driving force which shapes the nation's political posture.

This having been said, one must not confuse the redefining of the public relevance to political discourse and processes, with the political machination and platforms entrusted with translating the people's will, grievances or aspirations into action. The early signs are not promising however, and suggest that for any practical change to be achieved and consolidated, public awareness and engagement must, for their part, be neither marginalised nor relegated.

Most analyses agree that Iraq was indeed the decisive factor that helped turn the tide against the Republicans and their president, with their tired mantras and slogan-based foreign policy. The decisive outcome of the elections was a resounding message that Americans can no longer operate on the basis of fear alone, and that the people of the United States are no longer self-absorbed and incapable of shaping their overall political outlook on the basis of exterior factors. This time, it was not the economy, but war that wrought an end, even if temporarily, to President George W Bush's administration's expansionist and even imperialist view of the world.
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  • Written by William Blum

Would Jesus get out of Iraq?

by William Blum


The good news is that the Republicans lost.

The bad news is that the Democrats won.

The burning issue — US withdrawal from Iraq — remains as far from resolution as before.

 



A clear majority of Americans are opposed to the war and almost all of them would be very happy if the US military began the process of leaving Iraq tomorrow, if not today. The rest of the world would breathe a great sigh of relief and their long-running love affair with the storybook place called "America" could begin to come back to life.

A State Department poll conducted in Iraq this past summer dealt with the population's attitude toward the American occupation. Apart from the Kurds — who assisted the US military before, during, and after the invasion and occupation, and don't think of themselves as Iraqis — most people favored an immediate withdrawal, ranging from 56% to 80% depending on the area.


The State Department report added that majorities in all regions except Kurdish areas said that the departure of coalition forces would make them feel safer and decrease violence.[1]


George W. is on record declaring that if the people of Iraq ask the United States to leave, the US will leave. He also has declared that the Iraqis are "not happy they're occupied. I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either."[2]

Yet, despite all this, and much more, the United States remains, with predictions from Pentagon officials that American forces will be in Iraq for years. Large US military bases are being constructed there; they're not designed as temporary structures. Remember that 61 years after the end of World War II the United States still has major bases in Germany. Fifty-three years after the end of the Korean War the US has tens of thousands of troops in South Korea.

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  • Written by Paul William Roberts

Decline and Fall - America in Retreat

by Paul William Roberts
{snippet print}

According to the Iraqi newspaper Al- Quds al-Arabi, James Baker, the Bush family’s Mr. Fixit , recently met with one of Saddam Hussein’s lawyers in Amman, Jordan, and told him that the former deputy prime minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz, would be released from detention by December in order to negotiate with the US on behalf of factions of the Iraqi resistance movement still controlled by old Ba’ath Party leaders. Sources in Jordan tell me that the first stage of such negotiations has indeed already taken place. Two weeks ago, Aziz was whisked from his jail cell and, along with other representatives of Iraq’s Sunni Resistance, taken for three days’ of secret discussions in Amman with senior US officials. It is heartening to note that this course of action was advised by the Atlantic Free Press three weeks ago. Aziz and his colleagues are currently discussing America’s proposals with the divisional resistance leadership, whose response and counter-offers they will present to Washington early next month.

Jordan’s Crown Prince Hassan tells me, furthermore, that Condoleeza Rice made a personal appeal to the Gulf Cooperation Council last month to act as intermediaries between the US and the armed Sunni resistance, not including Iraqi al-Qaeda leaders. Rice evidently joked during the closed-door meeting that “if Donald Rumsfeld could hear me now he would wage war against me fiercer and hotter than he waged in Iraq.”

The official wing of US Government was represented in Gulf War 2: Retreat from Iraq by George W. Bush’s security adviser, Stephen Hadley, who presented the following proposals regarding the future to Iraqi officials during his recent trip to Baghdad:

  • Any initiative towards national reconciliation must now include Iraqi resistance and opposition leaders
  • There must be a general amnesty for armed resistance fighters
  • There must be a disbanding of militias and death squads
  • Any federalist proposals dividing Iraq into three states must be abandoned in favor of a strong centralist authority combined with greater self-rule for local governors
  • That oil revenues must be distributed more equitably for the benefit of all Iraqis, including the Sunnis whose region contains little of the resource
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  • Written by Winter Patriot

Foiled German Terror Plot Was A Joke?

by Winter Patriot

According to the BBC, the NYT, CNN, and many other sources, German officials announced on Monday that they had foiled a terrorist plot to blow up a passenger plane.

The story was widely reported, even though nobody was charged in connection with their investigation; in fact five of the six so-called "suspects" were quickly released, and the other is being held on an unrelated matter. Hmmm.

German police questioned six suspects on Friday over the alleged plot, but five were released on Saturday, the federal prosecutor's office said.
...

One of those arrested on Friday remains in custody in connection with another investigation, the officials said. Nine apartments were searched on Friday in Rhineland-Palatinate state and Hessen, they added.

You'd have to think if they had evidence implicating any of the "suspects", they would have kept them around... Wouldn't you? 

 

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Giving Thanks in the Shadow of the Terror War

The "War on Terror" represents a horribly, monstrously wrong turn for the United States, Britain, and the world. Like its offshoot, the aggression in Iraq, the Terror War is a strategic disaster of mind-boggling proportions, a moral, political and cultural failure so immense as to be almost unfathomable, an all-corrupting, counterproductive policy of resounding stupidity. We have not even begun to comprehend the scope and depth -- and duration -- of the harm that this reckless, witless, ignorant campaign has wrought. Tyranny, bankruptcy, decay, division, murder, cowardice and deceit -- these have been the hallmarks and the products of the Terror War launched by George W. Bush and Tony Blair, in supposed reaction to the criminal acts of a small gang of cranks.


Short of an all-out nuclear attack, no enemy of the United States today could have ever damaged the nation as badly as Bush has done with his Terror War. No enemy could have deranged America's core constitutional system as badly as Bush has done, turning the government into a lurid perversion of its founding principles. No enemy could have bled America's treasury as dry has Bush has done; not even World War II or the half-century of Cold War left the nation as bankrupt and debt-ridden as it is today, its economy left completely at the mercy of foreign bondholders. No enemy could have devised a better program for undermining the security, solvency and liberty of the United States than Bush's "War on Terror" has proved to be.

So what should be we thankful for today? (In the public sphere that is; I'm not talking here of personal matters.) Perhaps only this: that we have not yet seen the worst of what Bush's Terror War will inflict upon us, and the world.

***
Below, Simon Jenkins has more on this theme in the Guardian, taking  down Tony Blair's ignorance-riddled fearmongering -- with insights that also apply, in spades, to our own pig-ignorant fear merchants in the White House (and the media, academia, the "think tanks," the politicized churches, etc.).

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