Posted by: quiscus | May 29, 2010

May 29, 2010

1.  “Recovering from controlled demolition of our economy: structural solutions are easy, removing the demolition criminals is hard

Attorney and author of the brilliant Web of Debt, Ellen Brown, is among the leading US advocates of monetary reform and state-owned banks. Among Ellen’s articles is one worth highlighting for how quickly a national economy can turn from ruin to astounding productivity: Nazi Germany’s direct creation of money to pay for public goods and services.

This fundamental shift allows central government to create debt-free money to pay for full-employment and renewed infrastructure. In addition, if the infrastructure investment causes greater overall productivity than its cost (historically true), then society has the included benefit of decreasing prices. The monetary system we still have today doesn’t create debt-free money; it allows privately-owned banks to create loans (credit, not money) that along with its interest cost causes societal ever-increasing and unpayable debt. The US national debt is ever-increasing; no political “leader” speaks of the obvious and only solution: stop having and increasing a national debt-supply rather than a money-supply and create a money-supply to pay the debt (details here).
As Ellen explains in detail below, Germany suffered from tragic-comic hyperinflation caused by a privately-owned central bank and short-selling of the nation’s currency, and high unemployment; three central features of our “modern” economic system today. As soon as Germany created a form of money in exchange for productive goods and services, the government could respond to the market failure of unemployment while addressing the nation’s public service needs.”

2.  “Did an American Mine Sink South Korean Ship?

Thus, the mystery centers on the USNS Salvor, which happened to be yet right near Byeongyang Island at the time of the Cheonan sinking and far from its home base, Pearl Harbor. The inquiry board in Seoul has not questioned the officers and divers of the Salvor, which oddly is not under the command of the 7th Fleet but controlled by the innocuous-sounding Military Sealift Command. Diving-support ships like the Salvor are closely connected with the Office of Naval Intelligence since their duties include secret operations such as retrieving weapons from sunken foreign ships, scouting harbor channels and laying mines, as when the Salvor trained Royal Thai Marine divers in mine-laying in the Gulf of Thailand in 2006, for example.

The Salvor’s presence points to an inadvertent release of a rising mine, perhaps because its activation system was not switched off. A human error or technical glitch is very much within the realm of possibility due to the swift current and strong tides that race through the Byeongnyeong Channel. The arduous task of mooring the launch platforms to the sea floor allows the divers precious little time for double-checking the electronic systems.

If indeed it was an American rising mine that sank the Cheonan, it would constitute a friendly-fire accident. That in itself is not grounds for a criminal investigation against the presidential office and, at worst, amounts only to negligence by the military. However, any attempt to falsify evidence and engage in a media cover-up for political purposes constitutes tampering, fraud, perjury and possibly treason. ”

3.  “Global Undemocratic Revolution

Freedom for Sale: Why the World Is Trading Democracy for Security

Freedom for Sale places much of the blame for democracy’s decline on the pursuit of wealth at any price. Politicians who praise free markets often receive carte blanche to abuse constitutions. But free markets by themselves are not inherently depraving. Democracy is floundering in part because politicians gorged on power for decades.

This is the age of Leviathan Democracy. The bigger government grows, the more clueless citizens become. The contract between rulers and ruled is replaced by a blank check. Government becomes an elective dictatorship, and elections merely signify whose turn it is to trample the Constitution. Because people have been taught to expect their rulers to save them from all perils, they cheer any action that either boosts their benefits or assuages their fears. Because the media relies on government “news” handouts, it ignores most official abuses and instead whines about the perils of citizens distrusting their masters.

Kampfner complains about the collapse of “redistributive democracy” in recent years. But politicians are buying more votes than ever before. At the state and local level in the U.S., government employees and pensioners often have a death grip on everyone else’s paychecks. Government entitlement spending is pushing nation after nation towards insolvency.

He also contends that politicians have “opted out of economic rule-making.” Maybe in Singapore, but not in the United States. It was politicians and political appointees who poured far too much credit into the housing sector, causing one of the biggest boom-and-busts in American history. It was politicians who created a new ad hoc “rule” that entitled them to bail out Wall Street and a host of financial institutions that richly deserved bankruptcy. It is politicians who empower and shield the Federal Reserve, permitting it to manipulate everyone’s finances according to secret rules that provide the greatest benefit to insiders.

The ultimate threat to democracy’s survival may be the fact that many people simply do not value their own freedom. When elections degenerate into a search for benevolent caretakers and cage-keepers, authoritarianism is almost guaranteed to win on Election Day. Freedom for Sale is a powerful wake-up call for anyone who still believes in the inevitable global triumph of democracy.”

4.  “Rumor: Secretary of the Navy Wants to Sink a Battleship On Top of the Oil Spill”

5.  “Immigration: Don’t Let “Reform “Be an Excuse for Increased Repression


Spiritual progressives take seriously the moments in the Torah where God responds to the “realists” who warn that the elimination of debts every seven years, and the return to the original equal distribution of land every fifty years called for by the Jubilee, can’t possibly work. God’s response: “The land belongs to me.” Which is another way of saying the land doesn’t belong to us and we have an obligation to share what we have. It belongs neither to the humans who were first there, nor to the people who took the land by conquest, nor to the people who later bought it, an understanding shared by many indigenous people who found it difficult indeed to wrap their minds around concepts of “ownership” brought by Western colonialists. Spiritual people need to teach this message: we humans don’t have a “right” to any part of the earth, but only an obligation to care for it and share it with all other human beings and with the animals and plant life.

Take that seriously and you can immediately see what a crime it is against God, spirit, Gaia, the unity of all being, the consciousness of the universe, or what our ethical commitments ought to be when people stand on the borders with guns and kill, wound, torture, imprison, or deport others who want to come to live with us.

“Well,” you may argue, “that position is so utopian for the current period we’d better not even put that into public discourse.” And our response is this: It’s no more utopian than to think that you can get people to treat undocumented immigrants with respect and decency in a society that believes that: 1) we have an absolute right to the earth or the part of it called the United States, 2) we have the right to use violence against those who want to come here illegally, and 3) that if we don’t use that violence but instead treat undocumented immigrants humanely we will be overrun by even more who will abuse our “generosity” by using our health care, social services, and educational systems, which are already under-financed, over-used, and requiring more and more of our tax dollars to keep running.

So, take your pick about which utopian fantasy you want to go with. For spiritual progressives, it ought to be the one that reflects our fundamental commitment to generosity and caring for others, and that means that we should be insisting that anyone who talks about immigration reform should simultaneously be talking about the goals of the Global Marshall Plan, even as we fully embrace the proposal of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, remembering the love that the Bible instructs us to show toward not only our neighbors but also to “the stranger.”

6.  “Ten Things You Need (But Don’t Want) To Know About the BP Oil Spill”

7.  “Pure Kafka

They can’t even be prosecuted in the due-process-abridging military commissions we invented out of whole cloth for those who can’t be convicted in a real court.  In other words:  of course we’ll provide a fair tribunal for proving your guilt — as long as we’re certain we can convict you — otherwise, we’ll just imprison you indefinitely without charges. All this even though 72% of Guantanamo detainees have been found to be wrongfully held since the Supreme Court compelled habeas hearings in 2008.  And then there are the numerous Yemeni prisoners who have been cleared for release but who will be kept in a cage anyway because we arbitrarily decreed that we’re not going to release even innocent prisoners back to Yemen.

Yes, I also vaguely recall the days when Democrats criticized the policy of imprisoning people indefinitely without charges.  Harper‘s Scott Horton has more on all of this:

The Obama Administration came to Washington promising to clean up the Bush-era detentions policy and make it conform to the clear requirements of law. Then it seems to have decided that the law wasn’t so convenient and that simply providing for unbridled executive authority à la Bush-Cheney wasn’t such a bad idea after all. In terms of Washington power politics, that decision seems to have taken the form of letting Robert Gates make the call on all these issues. The two figures in the Administration who took the most credible stance for implementing the Obama campaign-era promises on detentions policy — Greg Craig and Phil Carter — resigned within a few weeks of one another, offering no believable reasons for departing. Then press reports began to appear about secret prisons, operated by JSOC and DIA and applying rules different from those applied in the “normal” DOD prisons, including plenty of torture-lite techniques under Appendix M of the Army Field Manual (PDF).

This passage in the National Security Strategy makes clear that Barack Obama and his team have abandoned the promises they made to reform detentions policy in the 2008 campaign. Even the commitment to stop torture does not appear to have been fully implemented, given the unaccountable practices of JSOC and the DIA in Afghanistan. Barack Obama’s belief in the rule of law apparently takes the back seat to Barack Obama’s belief in his own ability to make the right call as executive. History will judge whether his confidence in his own abilities is warranted, but the distortion of the constitutional system presents a continuing challenge for those who believe in the older and more fundamental principle of accountability under the law.

Yes — being as sentimental as I am — I, too, harbor nostalgia for that “older principle of accountability under the law”:  you know, that idealized time when everyone was entitled to be charged with crimes before being imprisoned forever (rather than only those for whom prosecution was “feasible”) and when Presidents weren’t actually allowed to target American citizens for murder without at least some due process being granted.  Anyway, did Sarah Palin post something to her Facebook page today?  And isn’t that Glenn Beck crazy?”


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