Politics isn’t enough

Pain and Conscience, by Charles Sullivan

It is evident that a substantial majority of U.S. citizens are, in principle, opposed to the most destructive governmental policies stemming from the nation’s capital. These include, but are not limited to—the continuing war and occupation of Iraq, as well as the pervasive consumer fraud that preys upon the innocent and the unwary and causes them undue hardship. These charges are born out by the abysmal approval rating of Congress and the president. It is equally evident that the government, while pretending to be sympathetic to these views, continues to carry forth those same policies both at home and abroad. It does so without the consent of the people and, therefore, it has abrogated its responsibility to them.

These destructive policies are formulated in the various branches of government and in the corporate board rooms of America.


In some respects the presidency serves as a distraction from the machinations that are operating behind the scenes to spew forth one disastrous policy after another.

Military Inflation

The character of US media that annoys me most is while so many parade their opinion so few peer over the shoulders of the sources. The web helps, making it possible to discover more than the rank of toothless populism.

New Zealand’s Toni Solo noticed that for every cent the dollar has fallen against the Euro, the cost of oil increased $2. In fact, there’s that word, this correlation is managed policy. Why? It pays for war.

Western Bloc central banks and financial and investment corporations are locked into an inflationary dynamic in order to sustain their system’s militarist imperialism. The Bloc’s European and Pacific components offer supportive economic collaboration. In exchange, the US serves as the Bloc’s global enforcer.

The US Treasury, Federal Reserve and corporate financial houses work together boosting dollar zone money supply, devaluing the dollar. Their partners take compensatory steps, intervening in G7 financial markets. They seek to keep their currencies in some kind of sustainable relationship for purposes of mutual trade and finance equilibrium so as to support US budget and current account deficits.


The US Federal Reserve and the US Treasury will carry on increasing the money supply, devaluing the dollar. They do so to fund US government military spending, other components of the US budget deficit and to prevent insolvent banks and financial corporations from going under. The European Central Bank will continue to set its money supply and accompanying policies to sustain recent trends in the Euro’s relationship to the US dollar and bolster its own shaky corporate financial markets.

John Barrie of Ann Arbor brings it to ‘the citizen’ in us:

We can do incredible things with fossil fuels. Just a handful of people can grind mountains down to nothing in the Canadian north with just a few of the right tools and enough diesel fuel. We can move entire cities halfway around the globe and keep them humming along as long as we can input billions of BTUs of heavy fuel every day. We build sky scrapers, take the kids to soccer games and drive through our favorite fast food joints all by burning dead dinosaurs. It’s really a miracle, too bad there has to be a downside.

And the downside is this: (ok these) pollution, global warming, increasingly scarce resources, oil spills, acid rain, water pollution, thermal pollution… What most of us don’t consider is the cost of securing our oil supply from the Persian Gulf. A quick look at US Energy Information Agency data on oil output from the Gulf, about 23 million barrels per day, and the cost of maintaining our military presence in the area, estimated to be from 40- 50 billion per year, plus adding the cost of our wars in the area, 61 billion for Desert Storm and 3 trillion total for the current Iraq war, plus add in the cost of health claims for Gulf War Syndrome at 263,000 claims as of 2000, and 20,000 severely wounded in battle who will need care and prosthetics and it looks like we spend about $20 to $40 per barrel just for providing “security”.

So, when oil prices go above $120.00 per barrel, remember that doesn’t include an additional $20 – $40 security tax, and this still doesn’t account for the human cost taken in people’s lives. The human cost is in my mind the greatest of all and I can’t begin to express it in any terms that could possibly make sense.

While ‘wingers’ on the left or the right wail about American values, is our leadership doing something tremendously different? Are we at war not only for oil, but for mere business too?

Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued a set of thinly veiled warnings to China on Saturday, cautioning that it could risk its share of further gains in Asia’s economic prosperity if it bullied its neighbors over natural resources in contested areas like the South China Sea.

“We should not forget that globalization has permitted our shared rise in wealth over recent decades,” he said. “This achievement rests above all on openness: openness of trade, openness of ideas, and openness of what I would call the ‘common areas,’ whether in the maritime, space or cyber domains.” [story]

“The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America”

The Pornography of Power—why pornography?

Because it’s not the real thing. It’s a trick. It’s like—I liken it to a lap dance. You know, you’re promising something that doesn’t exist. They’re promising security. These defense contractors, lobbyists, politicians, they pretend they’re dealing with real issues in the world, and they’re not. They’re just getting your money, and they’re deceiving you. And at the end of the day, you wonder, how did I end up in this grimy, dangerous place, and forking over ever more money, and it has nothing to do with making me happy. So I use the pornography symbol as example of what they’re doing.

And that’s really what this hijacking of 9/11 is all about. These guys who did the hijacking, what we do know about it is they used $3 implements that you could buy at Home Depot. They didn’t use F-22s, F-35s. They didn’t use subs or anything else. So there’s no enemy in sight. The military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about was in big trouble. George Bush’s father had cut the defense budget by 30 percent. It was going way down. We were finally going to get a peace dividend. And then they jumped over 9/11. They said, “Wow! This is our new opportunity. Let’s dust off all the ships and planes that are no longer needed, and we’ll build them now.” And we are going deeply into debt to building these things that have absolutely no use.


To study how we see

Penance for the title of previous post, here’s imomus with things to say “about structural narcissism (“men dream of women, women dream of themselves being dreamt of”), the difference between nakedness and nudity, and the institutionalised misogyny deep in our culture — the tendency of men to desire women and simultaneously blame them for provoking that desire.”

We can be seen by others; there are Lost Ways of Looking.

I actually find it rather disturbing that — despite our claims to be a culture that’s increasing freedom of choice all the time — we haven’t come up with anything quite as astute, subversive or beautiful as Ways of Seeing since. Not on the BBC, and not even — especially not — on the internet. Download it while you still can.

Episode 1 Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Episode 2 Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Episode 3 Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Episode 4 Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Douche the Press!

On Wednesday night, CNN’s Jessica Yellin talked to Anderson Cooper:

“The press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings,” Yellin said.

“And my own experience at the White House was that the higher the president’s approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives — and I was not at this network at the time — but the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the president, I think over time….”

But then a shocked Cooper jumped in, asking, “You had pressure from news executives to put on positive stories about the president?”


“[T]hey would edit my pieces,” Yellin said. “They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical, and try to put on pieces that were more positive.”

Big Media is chinked. Posts, threads, comments and rants are appearing all across the web. Maybe a few heads will roll, but maybe too late to ‘get’ Bush & Cheney. More very likely, the media will be forced to toughen up and these same “corporate execs”, as they too often are hidden, will pile onto Obama to destroy our next President.

Start here: Michael Calderone.

A good rant here too:

Currently, our mainstream media is so dreadfully bad, so corrupt, that it’s actually starting to border on criminal. And today, it appears some in the media are starting to sheepishly come out of hiding to let the world know that their corporate overlords have been using them as puppets for some time.

Gawd! What a sexist title on this post. I would change it but I think invoking vinegar is better.

So get on with us

“One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.” — Franklin Thomas

Gee Whiz. Why not?

World’s first Vibrating Braille cell phone developed in Japan:

A former teacher at a school for the blind and a professor from Tsukuba University of Technology have developed a cell phone that sends out vibrations representing Braille symbols to enable people with sight and hearing difficulties to communicate.

The phone, reportedly the first of its kind in the world, was created by 73-year-old former teacher Sadao Hasegawa, Tsukuba University of Technology professor Nobuyuki Sasaki and other developers. When a caller pushes numbers on the keypad corresponding to Braille symbols, two terminals attached to the receiver’s phone vibrate at a specific rate to create a message.

Bark Analysis

Innovation.
That’s what it is.

DogGuard systemBased on the premise, “When your dog barks, it may be trying to tell you something”, the DogGuard program has been created by Bio-Sense Technologies.

The system uses a sensor in a 15-yard radius of the dog to determine a dog’s stress based on the sound of its bark. If an emergency is detected by a bark, an alarm sounds.

“It collects the dogs’ barks through microphones… and sorts and grades them,” explained Noam Tavor, head of the Israel Prisons Service canine unit. “It relays only the barks that are significant in terms of security—barks that reveal stress or aggression in the dog.”

The first DogGuard system was developed in 2005, and three more have been installed in Israeli prisons.

From New Launches

Dumb US Department

Depleted Uranium is a waste product of uranium enrichment, containing approximately one-third the radioactive isotopes of naturally occurring uranium. Because of its high density it is used armor and tank piercing ammunition.

Depleted Uranium (DU) has been classified as an illegal weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations and DU particles are highly toxic when inhaled or ingested.

The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority has estimated that around 50 tons of DU dust from the first gulf war will lead to 500,000 cancer related deaths. Compare this to the 250,000 deaths caused by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

To date over 2000 tons of DU dust has been generated in the Middle East alone. DU has a half life of 4.5 billion years so Middle East will be radioactive for almost Eternity.

More…

Change, Currency, and China

Year GDP(yuan) GDP growth Yuan per USD China GDP China+HK/Ma US GDP
2007 24.66 11.9% 7.3 3.38 3.7 13.8
2008 27.3 10.2% 6.35 4.3 4.5 14.0 Pass Germany
2009 30.1 9.8% 5.62 5.4 5.6 14.2 Pass Japan
2010 33.7 9.5% 5.11 6.6 6.8 14.6
2011 37.0 9.5% 4.64 8.0 8.2 15.0
2012 40.6 9.5% 4.26 9.5 9.8 15.4
2013 44.2 9.0% 3.91 11.3 11.6 15.9
2014 48.2 9.0% 3.72 13.0 13.2 16.4
2015 52.0 8.0% 3.54 14.7 15.0 16.9
2016 56.2 8.0% 3.53 16.7 17.0 17.4 Passing USA
2017 60.4 7.5% 3.38 18.8 19.1 17.9 Past USA
2018 64.2 7.0% 3.20 20.9 21.3 18.4
2019 69.2 7.0% 3.09 23.0 23.4 19.0
2020 74.0 7.0% 3.0 25.2 25.5 19.6
2021 78.4 6.0% 2.9 27.2 27.6 20.2
2022 83.1 6.0% 2.9 29.4 29.8 20.8
2023 87.3 5.0% 2.8 31.5 31.9 21.4
2024 91.7 5.0% 2.8 33.7 34.2 22.0
2025 96.3 5.0% 2.7 36.1 36.6 22.7
2026 101.1 5.0% 2.6 38.7 39.2 23.4
2027 106.1 5.0% 2.6 41.4 42.0 24.1
2028 111.4 5.0% 2.5 44.4 44.9 24.8
2029 117.0 5.0% 2.5 47.5 48.1 25.5
2030 122.8 5.0% 2.4 50.9 51.5 26.3 Close to double USA

Projecting recession, depression, and other tomorrow, here.

Changing it

There may be said to be two classes of people in the world; those who constantly divide the people of the world into two classes, and those who do not. – Robert Benchley

Backyard Airport

Great little movie of a small plane that takes off and lands in less than 100 feet. Small crowd elated. Though private aviation is hampered by extremely high liability insurance coverage, many dedicated experimenters continue to innovate.

http://www.flixxy.com/short-field-takeoff-landing-airplane.htm


thumbnail, STOL airplaneWanting to reduce remote and tribal poverty without huge industrial cost or impact, more than 15 years ago I set up a program to fabricate 10,000 Short Take Off & Landing (STOL) airplanes in the Philippines. Some components were European, some American, with fabrication planned near Manila.

Because of isolation due to a lack of roads or other access to income, indigenous and artisan regions are hampered, youth run to city slums and locals become suspicious and angry – a permanent challenge for island nations.

Even with a cargo of only 500-1000lbs, for many regions a STOL freight infrastructure is a smart policy.

(But o’ woe, it seemed that somebody big in PI was against the idea. There’s always somebody big in PI. We learned the containerized shipment of our sample plane was held in Philippine Customs and we were unable to release it after more than two years….!

fair as Roger Williams

U.S. Soldiers Launch Campaign to Convert Iraqis to Christianity

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080609/sharlet

as broad-minded, rigorous and fair as Roger Williams

liberty of conscience–the term she prefers to religion–as Locke and all the founders who followed. “We should not focus only on the eighteenth-century arguments of the framers,” she writes, “ignoring this prior, and distinctly American, tradition, quintessentially embodied in Williams’ The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution,” a 1644 text that was remarkable for the empathy it extended to persecutors and persecuted alike and its call for government to refrain from enforcing orthodoxy. Recognition of good-faith differences of conviction, he believed, revealed a surer path to civil peace and liberty of conscience. The two values, so often seen as pitted against each other, were in Williams’s account intertwined.

Williams, Nussbaum argues, is not only undervalued but also misunderstood, remembered, if at all, for “one (uncharacteristic) phrase he used once in a letter, the ‘wall of separation’ between religion and state.” He’s hardly remembered for even that; the phrase is most commonly attributed to Jefferson, who deployed it a century and a half later in his famous 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, a text that is such a scourge of Christian nationalism that a group of fundamentalist pastors from around the country recently sought to exorcise the spirit of Jefferson from the church’s foundation stones. It was Williams, as devout as Jefferson was skeptical but just as heretical according to the standards of his time, who coined the phrase along with another still in use, and far more important to understanding his thought: “soule rape.”

By this, Williams meant the imposition of beliefs or practices on another’s conscience, another’s ability to seek truth. Seeking truth, he believed, mattered as much–more, for the purposes of governance–than finding it.

Holy warriors in the US Armed Forces Separation of church and state being dissolved within the military, May 18, 2008

Active-duty military personnel are prohibited from taking part in partisan politics.

“The U.S. military must remain apolitical at all times,” wrote Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “It is and must always be a neutral instrument of the state, no matter which party holds sway.”

Mullen’s essay appears in the coming issue of Joint Force Quarterly. Veteran officers said they could not remember when a similar “all-hands” letter had been issued to remind military personnel to remain outside, if not above, contentious political debate.eteran officers said they could not remember when a similar “all-hands” letter had been issued to remind military personnel to remain outside, if not above, contentious political debate.

“As the nation prepares to elect a new president,” Mullen wrote, “we would all do well to remember the promises we made: to obey civilian authority, to support and defend the Constitution and to do our duty at all times.”

“Keeping our politics private is a good first step,” he added. “The only things we should be wearing on our sleeves are our military insignia.” [story at IHT]

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff noted that “part of the deal we made when we joined up was to willingly subordinate our individual interests to the greater good of protecting vital national interests.”

Judge any King

Bill Moyers ponders judicial activism, better called a red herring methinks to fold the RNC into local electioneering. He asks, “How Strictly Should The Constitution Be Followed?

Although I’m not sure strict or followed are words to attach to The Constitution, I answered with my tiny bit,

I have come to treasure any activism: All Activism. Noise so loud may better us. Inactivism? Now that’s annoying.

I like Judith’s view:

The constitution is open to interpretation – ALL judges are political activists – that’s why we need judges who interpret the constitution’s original purpose – to protect the people from KINGS – Today’s KINGS wear corporate dress and flag pins.

And then Jaden reminds us we are merely a cacophony we call human:

Judges must base all their decisions on the exact wording of the law. That’s the law. The problem is people have different interpretations of exact words. Remember Bill Clinton saying that it depends on what the meaning of “is” is.

Now and Next

Of course it would benefit us to win a future without agony. With more than 70% of us soon only living in coastal cities, it’s hard to see a world ahead of greenish communities, organic harvests and sustainable fuel.

If the future is vague, the present is clear. Jim Kunstler struck a fitting phrase in his essay on Localism. He reports our leaders are offering only “a terrible grandiose inertia”.

Salute to Journalism

It’s good to be good, important to separate right from wrong and if the world makes it so, kick ass. It’s better to bring love to the mundane, break its reluctance with all your effort.

I caught a comment sent to Bill Moyers you’ll enjoy too, because it says,

Dear friend,
I feel we’ve grown old together so forgive me if I use the familiar form of communication. Your programs have always been a blithe light in the otherwise drear gloom of broadcast TV. I’ve experienced so many emotions while watching and listening. I’ve often been angry, frustrated and disappointed with my government, myself and my fellow Americans. But, never have I been indifferent. Tonight, as I listened to Melody Petersen I found an inconsolable sense of sadness sweep over me. What has become of the land of my forebears that we have allowed ourselves to devolve to such a state? I do not enjoy the emotions you have caused me to experience over the years but I thank you from the depth of my being for each and every one of them.

Good night and be well, my friend.

To join our splendid mystery…

Hitchhoping

A steering heart can give novice citizens their break & their talent.

Young ago, I was picked up by a silver lady because she saw me sweating up a hill with a steel toolbox. Turns out she was a top architect smart enough to see a good young man. A bit later I was fixing planter boxes for politicians and peeling wallpaper for lawyers and erecting museum exhibits for all to see. A little trust made me real.

Years go by, and 50 times I take a stranger, but 40 times I’ve been stupid and wrong and hurt and cheated, choosing idiots I couldn’t imagine were so horrid.

Nevertheless, I am not here to please me, but better every chance.

Not Knotted Phosphorous

[As I cannot stand celebrity, I cannot bear ideology.]

When I told my father, who was a lawyer, that I was thinking of studying philosophy, he responded with an ironic, “Now, that’s really something. I see you’re not going to be happy with any kind of work that isn’t in direct connection with the truth.”

I was discomfited by his observation. He knew what he was talking about. Then again, there was my enthusiasm for football.

In the early 1970s you were taught at the universities of Harvard and Berkeley. Could you tell us what the atmosphere was like?

Yes

Voice never television…

“Then, all of a sudden, events were occurring that were very real but which we hadn’t dared to imagine.’

“…social-democratic goodwill in search of a credible-pragmatic formulation”.

“As if values were something that might exist or not!”

“I’m imagining a son, who has his own family, visiting his elderly mother in hospital where she lies in an irreversible coma. The doctor asks if he’d prefer them to pull out the plugs before or after the holidays. Here, the traditional response of “we’ll abide by the judgement of science” doesn’t hold. We are the ones who have to make the decision. If somebody has to kill her it must be us, the people who love her most.”

“…there are no pure facts that are independent of values.”

Struggling bright

What I don’t like is four dollars on the way to seven.

What turns me on is finding a way to live here.

What I don’t like is silly men with nothing to do but applause.

What I do like is wherever Jefferson turns up others.

[link]

Sense & civility

“Strong arms and strongmen cannot mask America’s relative decline, since they are the chief symbols of it.” – Parag Khanna

Khanna also says we’re not very smart at using the power we still have.

From New World Order at the Washington Post,

America’s impact is less in evidence almost everywhere, partly because our foreign aid budget is relatively small; as a result, the United States can still punish adversaries militarily, but its ability or willingness to reward allies and thus shape their behavior is rather limited. Our main flaw, however, is that we have not adjusted our mindset to the post-Cold War era. While we pursue a “global war” on terror, for example, the leaders of many other nations think we face a terrorist “challenge” that calls for a carefully calibrated economic and diplomatic — as well as military — response.

Relentless advertising

Americans buy much more medicine per person than any other country.

At PBS’ Bill Moyers Journal, Melody Petersen says:

“A very powerful technique that the drug companies spend millions and millions of dollars on is hiring physicians to give lectures to other physicians on their drugs. It looks like the physician is up there giving his independent position on this drug, but often he’s been trained by an advertising agency. His slide presentation has been created by an ad agency. It looks like independent science, but it’s not….”

As a result of this corruption, more than 50% of insured Americans are buying prescriptions for chronic conditions.

Medco’s data show that last year, 51 percent of American children and adults were taking one or more prescription drugs for a chronic condition, up from 50 percent the previous four years and 47 percent in 2001. Most of the drugs are taken daily, although some are needed less often.

The company examined prescription records from 2001 to 2007 of a representative sample of 2.5 million customers, from newborns to the elderly.

Medication use for chronic problems was seen in all demographic groups:

– Almost two-thirds of women 20 and older.

– One in four children and teenagers.

– 52 percent of adult men.

– Three out of four people 65 or older.

“Unless we do things to change the way we’re managing health in this country … things will get worse instead of getting better,” predicted Jones, a heart specialist and dean of the University of Mississippi’s medical school. [story]