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Category Archives: corporatocracy

The final steps in the Great Taking.

You might not have noticed, especially in light of the relentless drivel put out by the mainstream media in an effort to distract you, but the oligarchs have entered the final stages in their efforts to own and control everything and leave the rest of us living like serfs in some bleak rerun of the feudal ages.  Trump, it turns out, is the perfect vehicle for this purpose and is all too willing to aid the wealthy – of every country, not just the US – to strip the commons bare and set us against each other.  The man is inherently stupid, barely literate, easily manipulated, venal to a remarkable degree, and extraordinarily greedy.  He is also a vicious shit – never discount that part of his makeup.  He and his family are daily making personal profit from his position and it would be laughably simple to show that he is running afoul of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.  In fact, the photogenic new ruling prince of Saudi Arabia is currently making the rounds of American glitterati, boasting that Jared Kushner gave him classified information in exchange for promises of loans, information which let the prince know who his enemies were in the old regime so he could imprison them and snatch leadership for himself.  [See Note 1.]  Now, anyone who thinks the Trump/Kushner family would never use their security clearances for personal gain must not have taken even a passing gander at the members of this grifting lot.  However, neither party in Congress will ever broach the topic of emoluments, as they share the same basic goals as Trump; and these goals happen to be the ones that the oligarchs, the wealthy, and the corporate cartels demand be fulfilled.  Trump is getting them there, hence Trump will not be escorted off stage.  Congress will not stand up for the people because they simply do not see the public as their employers.  They will not serve the best interests of the people, whom they loathe and largely view as a nuisance.  I cannot understand writers who propose the notion that Trump is “being used against his will” (by the military industrial complex/the CIA/the powers behind the curtain who have threatened him and are making him do these things) or that he is not to be blamed because he is “no different” than the last couple of presidents.  While it’s true that he is a continuation of the trajectory, he cannot be held innocent of the results of his actions, which he takes voluntarily.  It is irrational to suggest that he has some fundamental disagreement with his own policies.

All that being said, we must remember that the choice offered to the US in 2016 was between the uncouth imbecile named Trump and the neoliberal, bloodthirsty Hillary Clinton.  The Clinton Foundation, which was allowed to rake in international donations while she was Secretary of State, would no doubt have continued operations had she won the presidency.  Clinton made it clear that she had no interest in public spending, calling reduced college tuition and universal healthcare ‘unreasonable dreams’.  She also constantly beat the war drums, and has long called for direct aggression against Russia, China and Iran.  She was the architect for the invasion and destruction of Libya, a crime that should have taken her and Obama straight to the Hague.  Everything I write about Trump, his family, and his administration could just as easily pertain to a Clinton regime; just swap out a few names.  In rough figures, 25% of the eligible voters chose Trump and 25% chose Clinton.  Half the eligible voters did not vote at all.  I think the 50% who stayed home took the best position.  There was no point in endorsing the electoral farce that was imposed on the public in the last election.

Trump will be the face of the empire for awhile.  It is important to both hold him accountable for his time in office and at the same moment understand that he is just the latest iteration spewed out from the maw of a plutocratic power structure that has no national borders. And so I when I write using particular names, remember that the names are easily interchangeable with others.

We are told by Trump, the media and Congress that we need to bomb Syria even more often, using bigger weapons, because al Assad has supposedly just gassed some of his own people again.  We are expected to believe that immediately after Trump announced he wants the US out of Syria, the cagey Assad staged an assault on civilians in Syrian order to lure us into the perpetual bombing of his country and that what he most desires is eternal US interference with his domestic affairs. The whole story makes no sense.  No investigation has taken place, no proof of blame has been offered, but just as in the lead-up to the Iraq war, we are given a tale where the ending is already assumed.  The media must bear much of the blame for this.  The “reporters” who refuse to investigate the truth, who make a deliberate choice to air whatever bullshit line is fed to them by the oligarchic warmongers, are collaborating with powers that will end up killing us all.  There is no excuse for this – none.  We have communication networks such as the internet and phone systems that allow information to travel globally and that are easily accessed.  It is only the desire for personal gain that prods media personalities to repeat prepared lines rather than ferreting out the truth.

We are told by Trump, the media, and Congress that we should bomb North Korea because they might have nuclear weapons.  No-one can say how it is that the US gets to decide who has nukes or how it happens that the US can arbitrarily take military action against the other countries that are developing them.  Those precepts are just taken as a given.  Trump is going to a) have Kim Jong-un assassinated, b) preemptively nuke North Korea, c) negotiate with North Korea, d) let South Korea negotiate with North Korea, e) let South Korea engage in talks but then scuttle any resulting agreements, or f) do nothing, and hope Kim keeps his fat mouth shut for awhile until we decide which country to bomb next and that may or may not be North Korea.  Most likely answer is f, because Syria, Iran and the dread Russia also need to be taken out and it is unclear at this point in which order we will proceed.  Economic demands require a new blood infusion, however, so some country or another is going to get it.  And any provocation, no matter how obvious a false flag it is, will be used to wag that dog.

In the meantime, our own country is being stripped bare.  Trump and both houses of Congress are racing as swiftly as possible to ruin the environment, pollute the water and air, give tax cuts to the wealthy, use almost all tax monies to bloat the Pentagon while any spending on the actual population is wiped out.  We are told by Trump, the media, and Congress that this is a good thing, a necessary thing.  Barack Obama, we are told, was not pro-military enough and “decimated” our military forces.  Yet Obama shut not a one of those 900+ bases we have around the world, he sent the military into even more countries than we were already interfering with when he took office, he greatly intensified the drone-bombing of multiple other countries, and he consistently increased the Pentagon’s budget year over year.  It was Obama who signed into law the first NDAA that authorized a president to assassinate even American citizens at his personal discretion, and he signed all subsequent NDAAs, each of which included that same clause.  That anyone on the planet believes the crap that Obama was not militant enough is proof that propaganda works and that the cheese has totally slid off our crackers.

Congress managed to pass a tax cut scam that so blatently engorges the coffers of the already wealthy and the biggest corporations that the fact that it didn’t, by itself, lead to a revolt is astonishing.  Those fuckers just openly passed a bill that adds to the “deficit” (a deficit which only exists because the US created the Federal Reserve and dropped the gold standard, choosing to let private banks create money that is loaned to the government at interest).  The same tax bill brazenly doubles down on the now-proven nonsensical trope of trickle-down supply-side economics.  They are already telling us that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will have to be slashed in order to pay for this nasty piece of lobbyist-written work, despite the fact that the bill itself already cuts half a trillion dollars from Medicare over the next ten years.

But the Democrats were too busy talking about the DACA kids at that juncture to spend much time talking about the goodies in the tax scam.  It was a peculiar choice of sticking points, given that the Democrats had ample opportunity to address that issue when they were in the majority under Obama and they had exactly zero interest in addressing it then.  Bringing up the topic of DACA was a ruse to obfuscate the fact that the Democrats really had few objections to the tax bill; in fact, the Democrats enthusiastically supported cutting corporate taxes, as they were quick to point out.  Few details of the tax bill were were discussed publicly by either party.  There can be no doubt that this was done intentionally with bipartisan cooperation; let us not forget that it was under Obama’s first term that he and the Democrats brought into being the “cat food commission”, whose job it was to look into ways to cut the so-called “entitlement” programs.  The commission was disbanded because the public wasn’t quite ripe enough to pluck yet, but the thinking never went away.  Now is the propitious time, obviously; they have managed to brainwash the public into believing, with the sure conviction of the new convert, that any money spent on themselves is money spent foolishly.

One of the overlooked details is this (and this is the only detail I am going to get into right now): there is a clause in the tax bill that switches the way inflation is measured from the current Consumer Price Index (CPI) to a “chained” CPI. The measure of inflation is used as a determinant for figuring tax rates, social security payments to retirees, funding for programs such as Medicaid, Headstart, food stamps, etc. Right now, the government uses a variety of indices in its CPI figures and the official inflation rate is kind of a mixed bag of several of them. By switching to a “chained” CPI, inflation is artificially held to a lower number; for instance, the “chained” CPI carries an assumption that if the price of beef goes up, people might buy chicken instead.  That might be a reasonable assumption, although eventually one runs out of substitutes. I mean, if the price of chicken goes up next, they assume people will buy oatmeal instead. Eventually, they are assuming we are all eating grass. You see how that works. The “chained” CPI even goes so far as to offer this substitution model for dissimilar items: if the price of food goes up, the assumption is that people will cut back on buying heating oil. Presto-change-o, the consumer has not suffered from an increase in inflation!

The government publishes both the traditional and the “chained” CPI numbers every month now, and one can see that the “chained” CPI numbers suspiciously do not include some common household expenses, such as housing costs. I can only assume this is because the price of renting or buying a home has grown so preposterous since ’08 that it would completely wipe out the official mantra that there is no inflation.

By using the “chained” CPI, Congress is already chipping away at retiree income, social programs, and raising the tax rate on lower-income workers. They don’t have to openly attack SS, for example; simply by switching how they measure inflation, they are using a back-door method to reduce benefits.  Not one single Democrat issued any statement, much less any objection, to this clause in the Republican’s tax plan.  Slowing those SS benefit increases would save around $125 billion over a decade, without the political pain of cutting benefits directly or raising the access age.  The Republicans didn’t have to specify they want to cut Social Security or Medicare. They just did so, and with a tool the Democrats won’t ever repeal.  It’s brilliant, if you admire that sort of cynical maneuver.  These misanthropes are ruthless.

The omnibus spending bill that was passed most recently is equally odious, although no objections were raised by anyone except the strange occupants of the farthest right fringe, who are repulsed by having to share even the oxygen in the room with what they consider the underachieving.  The Democrats helped to pass that bill, giving as their excuses the military, which has to be supported at all costs and thank God this bill does that plus some, and that a few little coins were kept in there for some public programs.  Never fear, however; Trump and the Republicans are working on a plan to get rid of some of the ruinous public spending that accidentally got included, and I am sure the Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief that they don’t have to do anything to fight it, as it doesn’t depend on their involvement at all.  Their civic affectations are not bearing up well under scrutiny, anyway; best to lay low for awhile.  And forget any minor Republican insurgency that might serve as opposition against this latest plan – Republicans have no pretense of community responsibility to maintain.

Let’s go back to a month ago when Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic advisor, announced his resignation after Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel, a trade war measure that Cohn opposed.  (By the way, in another example of misuse of office, Ivanka Trump’s clothing line is exempt from the latest batch of tariffs, imposed on China.  The White House explains that this is simply a happy accident of the algorithm they used to decide what items to include or exempt from the tariffs . That right there is what you might call a “lie”. [See Note 2.])   Cohn had gotten what he came for: the tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. Of course, that tax bill will end up ruining the economy and decimating the working class, but what’s that matter to someone like Cohn?  It was interesting to see one of the really big confidence men bailing out at this juncture; one might speculate that Cohn knows there is going to be some bad economic news headed our way and wants to be well out before the stink sticks to him (too late, Goldman Sachs dude).  Cohn was replaced by Larry Kudlow, a CNBC talking head, who is best known as a reformed coke-head and a fool who has the amazing ability to be wrong on everything remotely related to money, yet still manages to find a job in front of a camera opining on economic matters.  Being a blithering idiot, he was the most obvious choice to advise the current administration on financial policies, and has actually been doing so behind the scenes since Trump announced his candidacy.  He hates the “giveaways” to the mere commoners in the budget bill (as does Trump, who almost didn’t sign the thing because of them) and has begun touting a little-known method to weed these repugnant items out of the law post ipso facto.   The Republicans can use something called the Impoundment Act, which was written and passed in 1974.  This Act allows the president to rescind (i.e., retroactively erase) funds that have already been approved by Congress.  I had never heard of this before, although it was used under Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush a couple of times.  Amazing to find out about the voluminous ways Congress has gone about side-stepping the Constitution over the years.  In any case, Trump can target up to $117 billion – the difference between his request for domestic non-defense spending and the level that was actually included in it.  If he chooses to employ it, he would propose the items and amounts he wants cut, and Congress has 45 days after his proposal to approve the package.  The vote would be a simple majority vote, meaning the Republicans don’t need any Democratic support to alter federal spending more to their liking.

Non-defense spending is a relatively small portion of overall spending; the non-defense discretionary budget only accounted for roughly 15% of all federal spending in 2017.  However, this portion of the budget is the part that Trump has the ability to cut through impoundment.  He has suggested many of the programs he would like to eliminate before now, so his list will not surprise anyone if and when he comes out with it.  Since he has objected to the following items before, and has already stated he wants to save money (that was given away with the tax bill, one might note) by cutting them from the 2019 budget, the proposed programs to be rescinded might look something like this, just for starters:

• The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP ($3.4 billion in one-year savings)
• International financial assistance for global climate change initiatives ($160 million)
• Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($480 million)
• Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grants ($3 billion)
He also proposed cutting:
• Amtrak grants by $757 million
• HUD rental Assistance Programs by $4.2 billion
• The Federal Work Study program by $790 million
• State Department Educational and Cultural Exchange programs $475

The above details about the CPI and the Impoundment Act are but small samples of the general trend against the best interests of the people who live here in the US that has been ongoing for a generation now.  Of much wider import are the greatly accelerated attacks on the environment and food systems.  The choices made by the Trump administration are disastrous, but let’s not pretend that the previous administrations were exactly safeguarding the health of the planet, much less that of the people who live on her.  These are issues where the media and Congress again refuse to speak up, and yet, like the relentless drive to more war, will end up killing us.  We are letting the oil companies frack the entire country and the surrounding bodies of water, which is causing oil spills, earthquakes, and a constant infiltration of fracking chemicals into our water.  A four thousand square mile area of Texas is heaving and sinking due to oil extraction activity, and this is in an area of the country where our government decided it would be a good idea to bury nuclear waste.  The Pentagon is working on a plan to genetically alter some forms of sea life so as to use them for military purposes.  One third of all American wildlife species are headed for extinction.  The mega corporations Bayer and Monsanto are seeking to merge into one company, which will make them for all intents and purposes the owner of almost all the seed stock and much of the cropland on the planet.  The EU has already approved the merger, and the Trump administration is expected to do the same.  These two companies have worked in tandem for several decades now and have been allowed to poison the world with pesticides and chemicals, destroy native seed stocks in order to replace them with genetically modified “food” crops, and drive farmers across the globe out of business.  Monsanto, in particular, has been the recipient of financial backing and unceasing efforts to make it the primary food source in every country from people like the Clintons, Bill Gates, and Pierre Omidyar.  [For links to articles on all these topics, see Note 3.]

We have to do better than this.  We have to learn how to turn off the constant propaganda that incites us to hate one another and keeps us cheering for the slaughter of some group or another of strangers across the planet.  We have to take care of this planet and of each other.  It doesn’t matter what name you call it, what “ism” it goes by, but there is a societal system that works better for us all than capitalism.  And there are better people around than the oligarchy that wants to control our every move, spy on our every communication, and drive us to some final dismal destruction of ourselves.  We really are all stardust, and we need to regard each other and our fellow creatures with the respect and admiration that our common origin deserves.  For despite the humble beginnings of life on earth which arose accidentally from the dust of the cosmos, that dust formed a myriad of life-forms, all intrinsically related and yet each wonderfully different.

About two weeks ago, I was thinking about this turning point in our history and realized that it is somewhat comparative to that of Louis XVI of France in a couple of ways.  He (Louis XVI) announced he wanted to do away with serfdom as a “populist” reform measure, an idea which pissed off the nobles; in the end he listened to the wealthy and gave up the notion, thus abandoning the lower classes who had thought he would usher in a new era.  Then he deregulated the grain market, sending bread prices soaring (turns out deregulation has a very long history of being bad for the working class).  Then he decided to support the colonists (in what would become the US) in their fight against Great Britain and this took France into debt and dire financial straits (turns out getting involved in other people’s wars has a very long history of being a bad fiscal idea and bad for the working class).  His indecisiveness and waffling, which always seemed to end up with him supporting the nobility, erased all the popularity he had once enjoyed.  In an effort to bolster support for himself, he considered starting some new invasive wars, but as it happened, the public didn’t particularly find this a compelling sales pitch when they found out about the scheme.

Finally, the people rose up and took his head.

And then France embarked on a decade of wars anyway, which flowed seamlessly into the Napoleonic Wars, which lasted until 1815 – all told, 23 years of continuous warfare with multiple countries on several continents after Louis XVI was beheaded (turns out humans have a very long history of stupidity and apparently a genetic defect that leads them to kill each other with abandon and glee on a constant basis).  So… vive la revolution, etc., but beware what follows?  We better chose more carefully this time.  I will repeat the sentence with which I started this blog so many years ago:  Be a good human.

(I was tickled by the synchronicity, if you will, of hearing Richard Wolff, just five days ago, mention the same bit of history in the following discussion between him and Chris Hedges regarding the coming collapse of the American capitalist system.  The following video is about half an hour long, and certainly worth the time.)

Economist Richard Wolff discusses the coming economic collapse of the United States of America with Chris Hedges.

 

Note 1:

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman bragged of receiving classified US intelligence from Jared Kushner and using it as part of a purge of ‘corrupt’ princes and businessmen, DailyMail.com can disclose. […]

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5575395/amp/Saudi-crown-prince-brags-Jared-Kushner-handed-U-S-intelligence.html?__twitter_impression=true

Note 2: The justification for the tariffs on the grounds of national security is a fiction created by Trump in order to apply the tariffs. US law allows the President to impose tariffs unilaterally for reasons of national security, but the trade arguments going on right now certainly don’t rise to that level.  Furthermore, the areas in which we are accusing China of malfeasance are already being arbitrated in the World Trade Organization; there is no reason for other actions at this point.  Aside from the claim of dire national security issues, tariffs can only be applied by Congress and Trump knows that won’t happen. This is an abrogation of power by the President and should be opposed for that reason alone.

[…] Many of the products branded by Ivanka Trump’s fashion and clothing line are manufactured in China. And China recently approved three new trademarks for Ivanka Trump’s brand there–on the same day she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping in her official capacity as White House advisor.
Exempting clothing from the new round of U.S. tariffs therefore stands to immensely benefit the value of Ivanka Trump’s personal brand. Meanwhile, domestic clothing manufacturers have cried foul.
In a statement reacting to the tariffs and Trump’s noteworthy exemption for Chinese-produced clothing, Rick Helfenbein, chief executive of industry group the American Apparel & Footwear Association said, “This would directly raise costs on domestic manufacturers and impact our ability to grow Made in USA.”
Law&Crime reached out to Ivanka Trump’s press office for comment, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.

https://lawandcrime.com/awkward/ivanka-trumps-chinese-produced-clothing-not-subject-new-tariffs/
——————
And see:

The American Apparel & Footwear Association welcomed the decision by the Trump administration to avoid taxing American consumers by excluding new tariffs on apparel, footwear, travel goods, and related products imported from China.
The association’s President and CEO Rick Helfenbein released the following statement:
“We are pleased with the administration’s decision to avoid adding tariffs to U.S. imports of apparel, footwear, and travel goods from China. Tariffs are a hidden, regressive tax on Americans and such a decision would have had a disastrous impact on American consumers,” said Helfenbein.
“At the same time, we are concerned that the list includes tariffs on machinery used in our domestic manufacturing process. This would directly raise costs on domestic manufacturers and impact our ability to grow Made in USA. We will express these concerns with the administration in the coming days, and look forward to working with them on the core concerns of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer in China.”[…]

https://www.aafaglobal.org/AAFA/AAFA_News/2018_Press_Releases/Apparel_and_Footwear_Industry_Association_Reacts_To_Trump_Administration_Tariff_List.aspx

 

Note 3:  Various articles of interest on the environment, Monsanto, and stardust.

The Pentagon’s Scary Plan to Militarize Ocean Life:

http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/the_pentagons_scary_plan_to_militarize_ocean_life/

****

America’s wildlife crisis; one-third of species are vulnerable to extinction, a crisis ravaging swaths of creatures, conservationists say in call to fund recovery plans:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/29/us-wildlife-extinction-species-report

****

Radar images show large swath of West Texas oil patch is heaving and sinking at alarming rates:

http://blog.smu.edu/research/2018/03/20/radar-images-show-large-swath-of-texas-oil-patch-is-heaving-and-sinking-at-alarming-rates/

****

Bayer and Monsanto have a long history of collusion to poison the ecosystem for profit. The Trump administration should veto their merger not just to protect competitors but to ensure human and planetary survival:

The Bayer-Monsanto Merger Is Bad News for the Planet

****

Joni Mitchell was right, we really are all stardust:

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/150128-big-bang-universe-supernova-astrophysics-health-space-ngbooktalk/

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Stay classy, USA.

Updated below.

Hurricane Irma is battering the north edge of Cuba as a category 5 hurricane as I write this.  The only comment I have heard on the news about Cuba vis a vis Irma has been relief expressing that by hitting Cuba first, some of the force may be drained off before she makes landfall in the US.

Here’s how the state of Florida is preparing for Irma: mandatory evacuations from cities along the projected path of the worst of the storm.  Repeated announcements that you are on your own to either heed the evacuation notices and get out, or to survive as best you can if you stay.  Repeated warnings to potential looters (note: the term “looters” only means desperate people looking for food or shoes or a free TV after their home just got blown away; it does not refer to the bankers, insurers, and real estate speculators who will rape and pillage the entire area for profit after the storm is over.  Those guys will not only be encouraged to loot wholesale, they will be given tax breaks for doing so.).  Warnings to those who may have criminal charges pending against them that if they seek safety in public shelters, they will be taken to jail because the ID check required as one enters the emergency shelters will expose their status.  The gas stations immediately ran out of gas and the roads north immediately filled with congested traffic.  The airlines jacked up their prices and started cancelling flights.  There were no emergency bus or train services offered, aside from the usual scanty routes already available, because we do not invest in public transportation in the US.  All those people heading north in their cars can only hope they don’t run out of gas along the way.  And where, exactly, they are going seems to be a mystery, as the hotels are completely booked for several states above Florida.  So much for trying to heed those evacuation orders.  After the hurricane, you might be able to get a loan to rebuild your house.  (Or maybe not.  See:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/30/business/harvey-aid-sba-disaster-loans.html)

Congress has approved some emergency funding for the victims of both hurricanes (Harvey in Texas, and Irma in Florida), at the same time that the current administration is making sure the agencies charged with emergencies like these are defunded and understaffed.  This is the rugged individualism of the US.  You are on your own, although in a somewhat schizophrenic manner, you will be praised for helping your neighbors after the fact, and we all join in with the feel-good sentiment that in an emergency, we “all come together”.  If you haven’t noticed, what they mean is that we “come together” and “help one another out” by sharing our own meager scraps of what we have left after paying taxes and jacked-up exorbitant prices for necessities, while the government only considers “helping one another” to be some socialist plot.  It’s just kind of a shame that the politicians and the media don’t think that spending US taxpayer money on actual US taxpayers should happen except in the most dire of circumstances, and even then, it is done begrudgingly, and demands will be made that US’ians have to give up social spending elsewhere later to pay for it.  Probably not going to get much infrastructure spending in the next budget for the rest of the country, because Congress gave a little something-something to Texas and Florida now, and you may find that Medicare and Social Security get cut to pay for this, as well.  Note must be made here that the ‘infrastructure spending plan’, such as it is, is mostly a plan to give the common infrastructure over to private companies to run at a profit anyway, but now Congress may decide to do away with any public ownership or investment altogether.  When things are rebuilt in these two states, they will be built in the same way they were built before: defiant of the inexorable demands of nature.  If you pave over the swamps and bury hazardous materials under your homes, you get floods because the water has nowhere to go and you get lethal shit released into the air and water when a bad weather event occurs.  In Houston, it is estimated (this is an early estimate, sure to be calibrated upwards as the weeks go on) that two million pounds of hazardous chemicals had been released into the air during the flood.  Texas took care of the problem by turning off its air monitors in the Houston area during hurricane Harvey.  (Can’t worry about what you don’t know, is the theory behind this.)  30,000 gallons of crude oil flowed into the floodwaters that people were wading in when two oil tanks ruptured.  The current condition of all the Superfund sites in the flood zone is unknown.  [Superfund sites are locations polluted with hazardous and toxic materials that require long-term clean-up responses.]  In Florida, there are 54 Superfund sites at risk of flooding and leeching out of containment during heavy rains and storm surges; the EPA claims that all of them have been secured, although reporters found no-one working at any of them in the past week.  Nonetheless, no lessons will be learned and nothing will change, as we will insist that our way is the best because we are just that exceptional.   This brings to mind the “healthcare” debacle. The US politicians refuse to ask all those other countries how they set up their universal healthcare systems – which apparently work efficiently enough and save enough money that none of them ever want to give them up – and instead simply declare that universal healthcare is “not feasible”.  And when the insurance costs skyrocket this winter, as they will due to the shortfalls of the ACA combined with the deliberate efforts of Trump and the Republicans to sabotage the little bit that works, the public will be told it was inevitable and that they must accept something even worse.

In Cuba, as compared to the US emergency system, there has been a network in place for decades where each family, household or neighborhood is paired with one or more of the same on the opposite side of the island.  Evacuation transportation, by any and all available means, and emergency routes have been planned in advance to cover any contingency, as part of the networks.  Everyone therefore is able to be moved quickly and they already have a place to stay during the emergency.  Despite the fact that Cuba is hit fairly frequently with hurricanes, there is very little death toll thanks to this pre-planning based on the public good.  Of course, this is an example of Dread Socialism at work, so the media in the US simply doesn’t talk about how Cuba manages hurricane preparedness, nor do they talk about Cuba at all, except as I said above, to crow that by running over Cuba first, Irma will be less dangerous to the US.

To add insult to injury, because there is nothing the US likes more than jabbing sharp sticks in the eyes of small nations everywhere, last night at the same exact time that Irma was making landfall along the northern coast of Cuba, the Trump administration announced that the trade embargo against Cuba is going to be extended for another year, until Sept., 2018.  Trump’s presidential memo states that the embargo, which prevents American companies from importing goods from Cuba or exporting goods to the island nation, has been extended under the Trading with the Enemy Act “in the national interest of the United States.”

I guess this presidential memo stands in lieu of any statement of support for, or commonality with, Cuba during an event that is likely to harm both countries severely.

USA, always classy!

Update, 4:30 p.m. 9 Sept., 2018

Earlier today, the weather services announced that they think the track of Irma will run up the west coast of Florida rather than the east coast (which is what they had predicted a couple of days ago).  This led to newly-declared mandatory evacuations of some cities on the western side of Fla.  These places seem very unprepared, which seems rather odd, given that the hurricane is wider than the entire state. No matter which coast it runs up, the entire state will get hurricane force winds, both coasts will get storm surge, rain and possibly tornadoes.  One would think the entire state would have prepared emergency shelters.  Anyway, about two hours ago, I saw a bit on one of the news shows wherein the reporter was walking along a line of people who were waiting to be accepting into a stadium that had just been opened as an emergency shelter in one of the west-coast Fla. cities.  These were people who had not been under mandatory evacuation orders until around noon today.  In other words, they had just been told they had to leave and, gas no longer being available and the storm making landfall by tomorrow morning, they headed for the only place made ready for them as a shelter.  Thousands of them were lined up, some with babies in strollers and old people in wheelchairs, some carrying packages of bottled water, and little satchels of clothes.  The line wasn’t moving at all.  The stadium can hold about 6000 people (without their wheelchairs, strollers and suitcases).  Why is the line not moving?  As the reporter got to the front of the line, he mentioned that he couldn’t get any officials to talk to him.  However, you could see that behind him, the people at the front of the line were filling out multiple sheets of paper clasped on clipboards before they were allowed to present these papers to some official and be let into the stadium.  A stunningly bizarre insistence on some byzantine paperwork while moving people into emergency shelter.  There is no way in hell they are going to get all those people inside before dark.  It will be dark around 7 p.m. here on the east coast of the US, just a few hours from now, and the eye of the storm will make landfall around 8 tomorrow morning.  But the eye wall is rather irrelevant, since the outer bands are already over Fla, and the winds are picking up right now.  Get the people in and settled, assholes.  Asking for papers to be filled out right this minute is just arbitrary bureaucracy.

Something else: last night, in the wee hours, I caught a re-run of some Fox News segment which apparently aired earlier in the evening.  I don’t know the reporter’s name or the name of the show, and it’s Fox News, so who gives a fuck anyway?  The lady reporter was practically shrieking that the “fake news” outlets were trying to use a hurricane to sell the Fake Idea of fake climate change.  Under her angry twisted-up face, there was a banner which read, “Liberal news sites try to promote global warming.”  She and her co-hosts were appalled that a hurricane, of all things, was used as an example of climate change.  And, they pointed out, the projected path of Irma had been changed, like, a lot over the past week, by the incompetent weather people, all of whom, they insisted, work for the government, which is totally run by liberals and whackaloons, except for the parts run by Trump and the Republicans, but they aren’t the ones to blame for the liberal, fake weather people and their sinister global warming hoaxes, and the altered trajectory of the storm proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that climate change is bullshit.  Some people  – maybe a lot of people – watch this crap and believe it.  So let’s consider climate change for a moment, while we are talking about hurricanes and weather.  Imagine you are sitting on your porch on a breezy autumn day.  A leaf falls from a tree and gets caught in the wind.  It swirls and dances around the yard.  Where will it land, you might idly wonder as you watch it flutter about.  Thing is, no matter what you predict, you will probably be wrong; there are too many variables at work, from the air temperature to the ground temperature, to the strength of the breeze, to the air pressure, to obstacles in your yard.  Weather prediction is hard.  It is a science and it is currently enhanced by computers, but it is still hard.  The expected path of Irma changed a little within the past twelve hours because it went over Cuba’s landmass, because the temperature of the ocean below it may have changed a bit, because the prevailing winds shifted a tad, but it is still heading for Florida and it is still a huge storm.  To claim that this slight alteration means climate change as a whole is therefore false is just ignorant.

There are other theories about why we are having massive droughts some places, record-breaking rainfall in others, hurricanes, flooding and wildfires all over the planet aside from man-caused global warming.   You might believe that the weather is always changing and this is just part of a normal cycle of cooling and warming.  You might believe that the government is playing with the weather so as to force us to pay higher taxes to alleviate the bad weather they caused on purpose.  You might think the power companies are hyping a fake story so they can usher in carbon taxes, where they can collect a shit-ton of money from you on top of whatever they rip you off for in normal circumstances.  You might believe that reptile space aliens are screwing with weather patterns as part of their plan to take over the earth.  I’m not sure why Americans are so wedded to their simplistic belief systems that they can only believe in binary truths; everything has to be just one thing or it can only be the exact opposite thing.  We have no nuance in this country and no ability for complex thought.

I think it is proven that the climate is changing due to the burning of fossil fuels.  But it can also, simultaneously, be true that there are normal cycles of the weather in the long term, and the effects of these normal cycles are merely enhanced by our mistaken overuse of coal and oil.  It can also be true that politicians and energy companies want to abuse the science to foist financial misery on everyone for their own profit.  It can also be true that the US government plays with the weather  – hell, they were already doing it during the Vietnam war, and proud of it.  Probably the space alien thing isn’t true, though.  Point is, it doesn’t have to be all one or the other, and claiming the whole shebang is a hoax is dangerously simpleminded and keeps us from doing what we ought to ameliorate the worst of the effects of climate change.  The climate is changing.  And that is a fact.

Another fact is that the US military wants to, or already is, using the weather as a weapon against other countries.  Don’t take my word for it; read this white paper, written in 1996 as a precis for the Pentagon.  This is major fucked-up fuckery, right here:

Title: Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025

Opening disclaimer: “2025 is a study designed to comply with a directive from the chief of staff of the Air Force to examine the concepts, capabilities, and technologies the United States will require to remain the dominant air and space force in the future. Presented on 17 June 1996, this report was produced in the Department of Defense school environment of academic freedom and in the interest of advancing concepts related to national defense. The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Air Force, Department of Defense, or the United States government.  This publication has been reviewed by security and policy review authorities, is unclassified, and is cleared for public release.”

[This is followed by over 40 pages of how the US can manipulate the weather to create adverse conditions for other countries, to use the weather as a weapon of mass destruction, and to weaponize space for the same purposes.]

http://csat.au.af.mil/2025/volume3/vol3ch15.pdf

 

Dakota Access Pipeline.

TYT Politics Reporter Jordan Chariton spoke with Native American activist and executive director of Honor The Earth Winona LaDuke, who explained what the Dakota Access Pipeline is really being used for.

They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it. –  Chief Red Cloud (Mahpiya Luta), Oglala Lakota

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2016 in American Indians, corporatocracy

 

Trump wins. Thank the Democrats.

Donald Trump has won the 2016 election and the Republicans retain control of both the House and the Senate.  

There is no-one to blame but the Democratic party politicians, the DNC, and their big donors. They had a candidate (actually more than one) who could have beat Trump in a landslide, yet they decided they had to do everything in their power, including rigging the primaries and colluding with the media, to give the nomination to a person so universally despised and so obviously corrupt that she couldn’t beat the carnival barker.  Irony of ironies; as the Clinton and DNC emails prove, the Clinton people were pushing for the nomination of Trump as an opponent because they thought he would be easier for her to beat than any other Republican. The fatal flaw of this plan was that the Democratic machine had been rigging everything in favor of the one person who couldn’t beat anyone with enough of a margin to overcome the insurmountable and peculiar electoral college system we use.  [Although they claim she beat Bernie Sanders, running as a fellow Democrat, in the primaries, the evidence of the DNC rigging the primaries is, well, irrefutable at this point and her nomination was cinched by Sanders’ own and finally obvious collusion in merely playing the sheepdog to deliver his innocent flock over to her.]  

Not only that, but the DNC spent all their money – against the party regulations, by the way – on the Hillary Victory Fund instead of spreading it out to the down-ticket Democrats; as a result, they still have a minority in both the House and the Senate. Not to mention that the only down-ticket Democrats that they supported verbally, if not financially, were nothing but ‘Blue Dog’ sell-outs instead of progressives or liberals. Despite losing the hold they had in both houses of Congress and losing state houses all across the country during the 2014 mid-terms, they didn’t bother with getting out the vote, or bother to deal with gerry-mandering issues, or pay any attention whatsoever to what people were telling them – that the economy sucks, people need jobs, Obamacare is really really bad, wealth disparity is dividing the country, Obama didn’t keep any of his promises and people were pissed about it, and everyone is sick of the “bipartisan compromises” that keep making things worse on the ground.  47 million Americans don’t have enough food to eat.  Fully one-third of eligible working-age Americans do not have jobs.  Social Security benefits continue to get cut or remain stagnant despite the fact that people can see with their own two eyes that food, housing and every other expense they routinely have to pay each month continues to increase in price.  Health insurance costs are so high that a family plan now costs more than the average person earns in 6 months.  Wages are effectively lower than they were 20 years ago.  Although the “family income” level was purred over repeatedly by Obama and Clinton on the campaign trail and touted as a sign of how things have improved under Obama, the fact is that according to the reports themselves, family income has not even risen above the level it was in 1999 – 17 years ago.  This is obfuscated by politicians and media pundits who don’t reveal the actual charts, try to equate “household income” with “personal income”, and who never point out the obvious; family income includes the combined incomes of all members of a family living in one household, and we now have the highest number of adult children living with their parents than at any time in our history.  Even if all they have is some measly part-time job at McDonald’s, these young adults contribute to that “household income” number.  Which, despite 1/3 of Americans under the age of 30 having to live with Mommy and Daddy, is still lower than than it was 17 fucking years ago.

I’m just amazed that the political grifters weren’t able to pull off the final fake-out and simply make up the election results like they do the unemployment numbers, economic measurements, or poll numbers and just claim Clinton won; on the other hand, it should occur to everyone that perhaps Trump is just as acceptable to the plutocracy as she is.  Maybe it’s that easy to figure out why they didn’t bother to rig the election – either candidate suffices to get the powers-that-be where they want to be; in total control of all the commons and all the wealth, and so they let the general election play out without interference.   Hell, maybe they did rig it, but didn’t go far enough, underestimating the numbers they needed.  Or – here’s a conspiracy theory for you – maybe Clinton’s health really is so bad that they realized, too late, that they couldn’t let her take office.  It strikes me as odd that she conceded before Trump had officially hit the magic 270 number in the electoral count and well before all the popular votes were in, especially given her determined, bullish, self-righteous pursuit of the office for so many long years.  Or perhaps the investigations into the Clinton Foundation are showing indications that criminal charges are forthcoming; the FBI has not ended those investigations, after all.  However, that will be taken care of by Obama preemptively pardoning Clinton before he leaves the White House so that no charges can ever be filed and the Clinton Foundation’s felonious enterprise will never be publicly exposed.  Perhaps the electoral college will not vote the way it is pledged to, in the end, and Clinton has been told to expect this.  She actually has won the popular vote, after all.  The electoral college does not cast its official vote until Dec. 19.  Supposedly, the electors have to vote the way they are pledged, but they may be convinced to test the system this time on behalf of “DNC primary super-delegate winner” Clinton.  Maybe this election has yet other surprises in store.

The country could have gone either way – more liberal or more conservative – in its presidential decision.  As the results of various ballot measures across the country prove, our societal tendency as a whole is clearly toward the liberal side.  The voters approved measures for legalized marijuana and increased minimum wages in state after state, for example.  It’s the politicians who are trending ever further right.  The Democratic party refused to encourage this social trending and instead offered the most right-wing Democrats they could find.  The voters repudiated that; unfortunately, having been abandoned by the Democrats, voting for Republicans was the only way to voice their discontent.  It wasn’t so much a choice for the conservatives as an un-choosing of the status quo.  In fact, the Republican party can only claim somewhere between 25 and 30% of the voting public as its base.  Clinton, Obama, and her other spokesmen were out there on the campaign trail, however, praising Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, and Madeleine Albright, for God’s sake.  The Republican big-wigs supported Clinton, as did all the neocons and neoliberals.  She talked about the need for more wars (with Iran, China, and Russia, God help us all) and more Pentagon spending, and the only mention made of liberal ideas were to dismiss them as things that might  be “worked out eventually in a bipartisan fashion”.  It all made anything she said about “supporting progressive promises” and “Democratic ideals” look so phony that, in the end, nobody could believe a damn word of it.  I guarantee you, if the Democrats had run seriously progressive candidates and responded to, heeded the message of, the massive support Sanders got and what it implied, this election would have ended differently. It’s too bad, because Trump’s trickle-down economic ideas won’t do a damned thing for any but the wealthiest Americans and corporate cartels, but the people responded at a gut level. They found him to be authentic in his strange, but ultimately Ayn Randian way, and intuitively knew Clinton was a liar, a warmonger and a Wall Street stooge.  Going with their gut feelings was all they had; the billionaires, corporate elites, whorish media, and political parties have finally managed to so dumb down and confuse the population that all the people had left was unfiltered, inchoate anger and primal survival instinct.  They tossed a Hail Mary pass for the one they felt was at least a political outsider, driven by the devil’s bargain that had been foisted on them by party elites.

I think we are going to lose our Social Security, Medicare, unemployment and food stamps benefits no matter who had won, as both parties have been colluding to that end since Bill Clinton was in office.  Obama formed his “catfood commission” as one of the first things he did during his first term, if you’ll recall.  When Obama took office in 2008, he had a Democratic majority in both houses.  And yet he utterly failed to implement any of the progressive platforms he had run on, instead squandering the opportunity (with no objection from the Democrats in either house, mind you) to end torture, take action against the Bush regime, close Guantanamo Bay, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, punish the Wall Street bankers who crashed the economy, or push for universal health-care.  He brought in Timmeh Geithner and other Goldman Sachs men to run the Treasury and immediately assigned Monsanto people to run the FDA and the USDA, granted permits for even more deep-water drilling, and named a charter-schools promoter to run the Dept. of Education.  Within a few years, he had signed the NDAA giving him the ability to assassinate anyone he chose anywhere on the planet (Trump may love that presidential perq), and expanded our illegal “war zone” to seven countries.  Like the Syriza Party in Greece, Obama and the Democrats took office with false promises and immediately handed the country over to everything the people thought they were voting against.  We were given the discipline of austerity measures, a health “reform” that gave exponentially more profits to the private insurers and pharmaceutical companies, and exposed to the quackery of the Federal Reserve programs.  It is guaranteed that now, at this late date and with the Republicans in charge of both houses and the presidency, there will be no re-regulation of Wall Street, all our tax monies will continue to feed the Pentagon, big corporations will still get governmental subsidies while raking in record profits, there will not be an end to the toxic shit dumped into the water and food, every state will be fracked, and every politician in Washington will continue to ignore the wishes of the people who voted them into office.  Here’s the thing: we weren’t going to get anything good out of this election anyway.  You might not have noticed, but neither party talked about actual policies they might implement.  The media never asked questions along those lines, either.  Climate change was never mentioned in the debates, nor the militarization of the police, nor the legality of the US bombing  multiple countries, none of with whom we are legally at war .  Likewise ignored was civil asset forfeiture, NSA spying, and all the other losses of our civil liberties over the years.  Despite Trump’s promises, the House and Senate won’t spend a dime on infrastructure, jobs, or education, and for sure, climate change or environmental issues are completely dead in the water now (those being not even mentioned by Trump), but at least there isn’t going to be any pretense about who both parties of Congress serve any more. And it isn’t the people of the United States; it’s the plutocracy.  Desperate Trump supporters and the die-hard Clinton supporters may not have figured that out yet, and may never; for we are a supremely fact-free and stupid society now.  

[As an aside, I have to mention that Clinton didn’t even bother to address her faithful in person last night.  She phoned in her concession to Trump, had someone announce to the media that she’d speak publicly in the morning, and just left all those Clinton people deserted in the hall where they’d gathered in the assumption that win or lose, she’d at least grace them with her presence.  She didn’t spare a minute for them, however.  All those sad Clinton supporters, mourning the fact that their very own Caligula had lost the election, were left to catch some rest as best they could in their folding chairs until around noon today, when she gave her official concession speech.  I watched that event live when it occurred.  She had the unmitigated nerve to blather on about how the US “treats everyone equally under the law” and about how “the Constitution” and “rule of law” guides us all and makes us such a great country.  Much to my surprise, a bolt of lightening did not come down from the heavens and strike her dead.]

But whatever happens from here on out, put the blame where it belongs: on the Democrats, who insisted that it was the criminal War-pig’s “turn”, no matter what the voters were saying they wanted.  As it turns out, the fact that she pees sitting down wasn’t a big selling point, and that was the only card they had to play.  What’s the old saying?  Democrats stab you in the back, Republicans stab you in the front.  The Democrats sold us out gradually over the years; from Bill Clinton’s time in office onwards, they turned ever more rightward, leaving behind and deserting the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the unions, and the idea that our society and commons should be the primary recipients of taxpayer monies.  We were at a turning point with this election.  We could have gone more toward the right or toward the left in this choice, as I said.  We had candidates who were clearly more to the left of Clinton, candidates who were kept as hidden as possible by the collaboration of the media and the political parties until it was too late, and the left was deserted.  The Democratic power machine deliberately chose to take the rightward lean, they deliberately chose to ignore what their voter base wanted, and in so doing, deliberately threw away a chance to nudge our society ever closer toward true equality and social uplift.  We will pay the price for a long time and the price will be heavy.  

 

 

Notes on the TPP.

The TPP was written in complete secrecy by corporate CEOs and their lawyers, along with official governmental trade negotiators, over a five year period. The trade negotiator for the US is Michael Froman. He served in the Treasury Dept under Bob Rubin within the Clinton administration, during which time the Glass-Steagall Act was overturned, leading directly to the conditions giving rise to the economic meltdown years later.  After that gig, he and Rubin both went to work for Citigroup (big bank and hedge fund a-go-go). In 2013, he became our trade negotiator. I mention this because it’s relevant that our trade negotiator is a big bank guy who worked for one of the banks that helped tank the economy in ’08.

Obama signed the TPP in Feb. this year, as did all the leaders of the 12 signatory nations. None of them, however, has gotten the deal ratified in their countries yet; i.e., the TPP has not been passed through the parliaments or Congresses of any of the 12 nations yet and so has not legally gone into effect.

They have 2 years to ratify the TPP. If it isn’t ratified by Feb 2018, they can put it into force with only 6 countries participating, if the GDP of those 6 countries combined equals 85% of the GDP of the original 12 countries.

The TPP includes an ISDS [investor-state dispute settlement] mechanism. This clause allows a company to sue a treaty-participating country for monetary damages if local laws affect their business. It does not allow them to make changes to local laws, but it does allow them to sue a government for “damages”. The ISDS is run by a tribunal of 3 judges: all of whom are corporate heads, chosen by a panel of big corporations. It has been pointed out that previous trade agreements with an ISDS clause have pushed participating countries to loosen environmental and labor regulations in an effort to preemptively stave off potential lawsuits under ISDS, thus inherently influencing which laws are passed or altered by signatory countries.  It is the ISDS that ensures an end to our national sovereignty, as if the TPP even without it, weren’t bad enough. Any member of Congress that votes yes for this trade agreement and the president that signs it into law is committing treason, in my opinion.

While the ISDS clause cannot forcibly change US laws, some US laws will need to be changed in order to comply with the TPP itself. Obama had the duty (signed into law with the passage of the “Fast-track” bill; aka the Trade Promotion Authority or TPA) of working with the heads of the various US agencies (Dept of Ag, Commerce Dept, Treasury Dept, OSHA, etc.) to create a list of which laws would need to be altered, and to present this list to Congress at the same time the TPP is formally presented to them for vote. Obama signed an executive order in July handing this duty over to Michael Froman (our trade representative). We will find out what laws have been changed if/when Congress votes yes on the TPP. Congress can only vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the TPP and its attached list of regulatory changes; they are not allowed to amend, filibuster, debate, add to, delete from, or alter any text at all.

Which means that any politician (like Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid) who suggests that the TPP can “be improved” by Congress before it is passed is lying through his teeth. Congress cannot change a word of the TPP. Any improvements that Congress might want to suggest before they would pass the damned thing would necessitate the renegotiation of the agreement with the other countries. (Congress cannot amend the text themselves, but they might, behind the scene so to speak, suggest changes that would ensure passage.) In other words, if Congress says they want x,y, or z clauses to be changed, the TPP has to be re-presented to all the countries with the alterations and the whole negotiation started over again, with the leaders of these countries having to sign a new agreement and presenting that new one to their parliaments for ratification. Obama wants this thing done before he leaves office, so it’s unlikely he would consider any recommendations from Congress that would cause the TPP to have to go into renegotiation. And when Clinton makes breezy promises to “improve” it when she is the president, she is eliding the fact that any improvements she might want will likewise send the agreement into renegotiation. (Remember, the countries only have 2 years to ratify the TPP through their parliaments, so there is little time to negotiate a new treaty.)

The “fast-track” bill that Congress wrote and passed and that Obama signed into law last year has its own stipulations that the media has chosen to completely ignore. This bill governs how Congress votes on any trade agreements for the next 6 years. It reads that Congress can only vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on any of these agreements without debate, alterations, or amendments, as I mentioned above. I also mentioned that it made the president responsible for telling Congress of any changes to our existing laws that have to occur to comply to the agreements (a duty that Obama handed off to Froman).

In case you think I am inventing the idea that some of our laws will require alteration or amendment (or, in fact, to be overturned altogether) with passage of the TPP, it is quite obvious that this is the case, as the Fast-track bill includes these paragraphs:

“if changes in existing laws or new statutory authority are required to implement such trade agreement or agreements, only such provisions as are strictly necessary or appropriate to implement such trade agreement or agreements, either repealing or amending existing laws or providing new statutory authority.[…]”

and:

“within 60 days after entering into the agreement, the President submits to Congress a description of those changes to existing laws that the President considers would be required in order to bring the United States into compliance with the agreement.”

But there are further rules imposed by the fast-track law, and these are overarching requirements for any trade agreement for the next 6 years. Fast-track demands that no trade agreement can discourage or prejudice commercial activity between the US and Israel. It stipulates that trade agreements must discourage movements such as BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) against Israel. This “no-BDS” clause includes everyone; the definition is given thusly:

“Definition.–In this paragraph, the term ‘actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel” means actions by states, non-member states of the United Nations, international organizations, or affiliated agencies of international organizations that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories.”

This formal declaration against the BDS movement was included despite the fact that Israel is not a participating country in any of the troika of trade agreements potentially coming up for vote in the near future. [What I call the troika consists of the TTP, the TTIP, and TISA.]

Fast-track also puts an end to any notion that we will ever have the labeling of products like GMOs or nano-technology, as it includes the following, a provision that none of the trade agreements can include:

“unjustified trade restrictions or commercial requirements, such as labeling, that affect new technologies, including biotechnology; […]”

When Obama signed the fast-track bill into law, he also signed the updated TAA (aka the Trade Adjustment Assistance law). This bill acknowledges the fact that trade agreements cost the US millions of jobs and so Congress authorizes funds for the “re-training” of American workers who will need to find new jobs with which to support themselves. The TAA has existed for years, but was set to expire in 2015. Congress reauthorized the bill and increased the funding because they knew that the upcoming TPP would cost jobs. They had to pass the TAA in order to get the fast-track bill passed: Obama demanded both at the same time, as did members of Congress who otherwise opposed the fast-track legislation, specifically because they know the TPP, TTIP, etc. will lead to job losses. Some of them even said so out loud while debating the fast-track and TAA bills – that the TPP will cost the US several million jobs, which is a vast understatement, according to labor experts. In order to pass the TAA re-training bill, Congress scotch-taped it to the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a trade bill supported by the Congressional Black Caucus, to attract more yes votes. In the updated bill, Congress supplied the necessary $950 mm funding (their estimate of the minimum needed for worker re-training if the TPP passes) by cutting Medicare further. They extended the Medicare sequestration reductions – Medicare benefits have been cut repeatedly since Obama took office – through 2024 and reduced reimbursements for Medicare patients who are on dialysis for acute renal failure. If you are one of the Americans qualified to get “re-training” money to help you “upgrade your skills” so you can find a new job at McDonald’s or WalMart after the TPP erases your current job, thank an elderly dialysis patient. Oh, wait, you won’t be able to – they’ll all be dead. And by the way, the amount of money you’ll get from the federal government toward a “re-training” program is $1500. Good luck.

No-one in the media noted that while Congress was talking about how the TPP was a swell idea, so “wonderful” that they wanted (and got) the fast-track bill in order to get the TPP passed as quickly as possible when it comes to a vote, they were admitting within the body of a bill passed at the same exact time as fast-track that the TPP was going to cost US jobs. Obama’s trade-policy advocates say the TPP will create jobs at the same time they say it will cost jobs. Which is it?  According to them (depending on the day of the week and which shill they have talking about it for them that day), it will do both.  Let’s call it the “Vietnam War Theory of Economics and Job Growth”. This new economic theory is that jobs must be lost in order for jobs to be created, and that a “good” trade deal is one that will lead to lost jobs and lower wages, which then must be partially offset by more federal spending for the displaced work force (funded with the tried and true method of simply taking monies from another sector of the public sphere); said pool of “displaced workers” having been created by the government passing the trade agreement in the first place.

And the TPP is what Clinton calls the “gold standard” of trade agreements, at least until she decided she had to lie about her position on it in order to garner votes.  For some reason, we allow our votes to be heavily invested in outright political lies.

The TTIP and TISA, the other two trade agreements currently under negotiation, have the same issues that the TPP does, and while I am not going into the specific details of those two here, if they are signed and brought before Congress, they will also be enacted within the mandates of the fast-track law. Some good information about both can be found on wikipedia, and websites such as publiccitizen.org are doing an outstanding job of reporting on them.

The TPP and the other trade agreements aren’t about trade. Tariffs are already near zero. They are about giving big, multi-national corporations complete control of and power over judicial and legislative decisions in every country, as well as providing unlimited opportunities for corporate cartels to strip money from wages and reduce governmental spending on the commons.

 

Sorry, Hillary. The Constitution doesn’t work that way.

This morning, I had an email in my in-box suggesting that I thank Hillary Clinton for her pledge to introduce, within the first 30 days of taking office, an amendment to the constitution which would overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous 2010 “Citizen’s United” decision.  This decision by the Court declared that money is the same as speech and allowed unlimited corporate spending in elections, releasing a veritable flood of political bribe money into election contests at every level.

The email piqued my interest, as Clinton is vowing here to help overturn a decision that has benefitted her enormously.  It seems obvious political pandering.  Why would she swear to turn off the spigot that has brought her loathsome self so close to winning the White House?

I decided to verify that she had actually made this statement; not because it is such a remarkably risible promise, which it is, but because I immediately realized that as president, Clinton could do no such thing.

She did, in fact, make these remarks to Netroots Nation audience via a video message.  From the transcript:

[…] Now, I know many of the people in this room supported Senator Sanders in the primary. I’m looking forward to hearing from you, learning from you and working with you.

You’ve helped put political and campaign finance reform at the top of the national agenda, and I intend to keep it there.

Today I’m announcing that in my first thirty days as President I will propose a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and give the American people — all of us — the chance to reclaim our democracy.

I will also appoint Supreme Court justices who understand that this decision was a disaster for our democracy, and I will fight for other progressive reforms including small dollar matching and disclosure requirements.

I hope some of the brilliant minds in this room will seek out cases to challenge Citizens United in the courts because I know I can’t do this alone. We need you to keep speaking out keep organizing and keep holding elected officials — including me — accountable.

We know what happens when progressive voices get drowned out by the other side, and we cannot let that happen, so I’m looking forward to fighting alongside you and with Senator Sanders in the weeks months and years to come because you know what we are stronger together. Thank you all very much.

After all the questionable tactics used by the DNC, the voting “irregularities” (ahem), the bizarre and entirely inappropriate, extrajudicial Comey decision [not to recommend indictment for her illegal email system] that shoe-horned Clinton into the position of being the presumptive Democratic nominee, it’s swell to hear that she would like to give the American people ,”all of us – the chance to reclaim our democracy”.  Sure, now that you are a breath away from the Oval Office, you’ll let us have some of that imagined democracy back.  Well, that remains to be seen.  We still have to contend with the Diebold machines, voter ID laws, and gerry-rigged districts in November.  But the thought has to count for something, doesn’t it?  I really like the “we know what happens when progressive voices get drowned out by the other side,” too; she takes a moment here to crow about what she and the DNC just did to Sanders and his progressive supporters. Yeah, Hillary, we know what happens when you drown the progressives.  We just watched you do it.

Most Americans, no matter their political leanings, deplore the Citizen’s United decision.  And so her promise to commit herself to proposing a constitutional amendment to reverse it is being greeted with unabashed enthusiasm.  The website where I found the above transcript is a typical example.  The author closes with this: 

“This is great news. Our thanks to Hillary Clinton for committing to explicitly offer a constitutional amendment to stop the flood of big money in elections unleashed by the most disastrous decision of the Roberts Court.

“However, we do need more than an amendment that merely reverses that decision. We need an amendment that states that corporations are not people and money is not speech. There are other Supreme Court decisions that also need to be overturned, so that our democracy can endure.”
https://www.nwprogressive.org/weblog/2016/07/hillary-clinton-commits-to-introducing-amendment-to-overturn-citizens-united.html

Poor thing actually seems to think that not only can the president offer an amendment, s/he can simply overturn Supreme Court decisions at will.  However, while all such sentiments may be heartfelt and sincere, I have to point out that Clinton cannot really do any such thing as “offer a constitutional amendment” and the progressive community is enabling her continued misinformation when they praise her for a promise she cannot legally fulfill.  She may even be aware of this herself.  Note this part of her remarks: “I hope some of the brilliant minds in this room will seek out cases to challenge Citizens United in the courts because I know I can’t do this alone.”

Damn straight you can’t do it alone.  She was either aware at the time she made “the vow” that she could not as president ever fulfill it, and therefore was simply making another empty political promise or she has no idea what the constitution allows on the matter of amendments.  In any case, one might note that “challenging it in the courts” is not at all the same thing as “proposing a constitutional amendment”, but I guess everyone was so thrilled with the idea that Clinton was going to amend the constitution once she was enthroned that they didn’t catch the nuance there.  Nor can she “appoint” Supreme Court justices, words she uses in her video message; she can only nominate them for Congressional approval.

The president (and the Supreme Court, as well, by the way) has no role in amending the constitution. None whatsoever.  The president cannot propose an amendment, author an amendment, introduce an amendment, ratify an amendment, veto an amendment, or “call for” an amendment, and furthermore, is not even called upon to sign one into law, should it get that far.  A couple of successful amendments have been signed by the sitting president, but that is for ceremonial purposes only.  At most, a president can only kind of politely suggest to members of Congress, behind the scenes, that they accept or decline a particular proposal.  The constitution is clear about the lack of any other role for the president in this instance.

Article V
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution/article-v.html

To put this into very understandable language for the layman, I found this simple explanation of the way it happens:

Given the enormity of the role modern American presidents play in contemporary politics, it may come as a surprise that presidents are not directly involved in amending the U.S. Constitution. While they can use the bully pulpit to lobby for or against a proposed amendment, and while some presidents have played ceremonial roles in signing ratified amendments, they cannot introduce, ratify or veto an amendment. The Constitution leaves that role to the U.S. Congress and the states.[…]

A constitutional amendment may be proposed in two ways: either by a two-thirds-majority vote of both houses of Congress, or through a constitutional conventional called for by three-fourths of state legislatures. The latter has never been used. Congress proposes an amendment through what is called a joint resolution; unlike bills passed by Congress, these resolutions do not require the president’s signature.

The States’ Consideration
After a joint resolution passes Congress, it is sent to the Office of the Federal Register for official publication. Then, it is sent to each state’s governor, who in turn submits it to the legislature for consideration. In one case, the 21st Amendment, state conventions, rather than legislatures, were called upon to approve the amendment. Three-fourths of state legislatures must ratify the amendment for it to go into effect. […]

After three-fourths of the states ratify a constitutional amendment, it is sent to the National Archives for official certification. The certification signing has become a ceremonial event attended by dignitaries, including the president. Presidents may also sign the certifications as witnesses, as President Lyndon Johnson did with the 24th and 25th amendments, and President Richard Nixon did with the 26th Amendment.

http://classroom.synonym.com/can-president-introduce-ratify-veto-constitutional-amendment-21615.html
 

Whatever Clinton does or does not understand about the law, and I submit that her valiant attempts to obfuscate her willful breaking of the law show at least a working knowledge of the laws of the land, the public must inform themselves as well as they can.  Empty, meaningless rhetoric and indulgence of the wishful thinking of the voters should be met with information and skepticism, not praise.  Promises made by Clinton in particular should be treated for their worth: a bucket of warm spit.

The email issue alone should have proved to everyone Clinton’s immense distain for the law.  FBI director James Comey presented an air-tight case for conviction and then declined to recommend indictment, basically offering stupidity as her defense.  He went on at length about her intent, or lack thereof, to break the law, although “intent” is not mentioned in the laws in question and is normally not something considered in seeking indictment.  Her intent is obvious in any case.

She decided to use a private server and a personal email system to circumvent the required State Dept. system.  In fact, it came out in Comey’s hearing before Congress that she had used multiple such systems.  She hid this from officials for years, even after leaving the State Department, and lied to Congress about it.  When caught, she deleted tens of thousands of emails and had the server scrubbed.  She had access to highly classified information and allowed it to be removed from its secure custody (the State Dept. secured system) and sent it to people not authorized to have it.  She knowingly mingled State Dept. business with Clinton Foundation [Clinton Global Initiative] business.  She instructed her aides and employees to protect her emails from FOIA requests.  Clinton didn’t even have her system password-protected, and was warned several times by her IT staff that they thought it had been hacked.  Since then, she has lied repeatedly to the public about all aspects of this criminality.  How is any of this anything but proof of willful intent?

Don’t people realize that she destroyed pretty much the entire record of four years of the Secretary of State?  We will never know how much of what should have been public archive has thus been lost, as the thorough scrubbing of her system means it cannot ever be restored.

Comey tried to play Pontius Pilate and absolve himself of participation in this affair by admitting during the Congressional hearing that he had not personally been present when the FBI questioned her; instead, he had relied on the notes and recommendation of the FBI underlings who had been there to make his decision for him.  His disinterest in personally taking part in what was perhaps the most important and historic interview the FBI ever conducted is as inexplicable as the Bill Clinton/Loretta Lynch serendipitous and “accidental” meeting on the tarmac just days before the interview itself.

I recently read that when asked, Clinton said she would not suspend the activities of the Clinton Foundation while in office (‘should she win’, she did not think to add).  She did promise, however, that there will more “transparency” in its operation. Imagine the coin to be made while she is actually in office; it’s going to make what they’ve taken in bribes so far look like petty cash.  

Well, why not? None of these assholes care if everyone knows what they are doing any more. They know there’s nothing we can do about it.  Too bad it appears that the Clinton Foundation will not be getting the scrutiny it calls for.  That is where a real investigation should be launched and continued for as long as it takes to untangle the pay-to-play scheme that is involved.  In the meantime, she should be ineligible for any public office.  Her engineering the utter destruction of Libya makes her a war criminal and should be sufficient to bar her from the presidency, but we have long since completely ended any pretense of following international norms, much less our own laws.

Oh, and the Goldman Sachs speeches, another minor pimple on her ass – hell, I’m just waiting to hear how much she is going to charge the tax-payers for her State of the Union speeches.

All that is apparently forgotten by the media, and we will soon hear an eager Elizabeth Warren, champion de-jour of all things labeled “progressive”, cheering for this amendment-by-presidential-fiat thing.  

Elizabeth Warren as “progressive” is an entity entirely fabricated by the media, of course. The stances she took on various issues were clearly outlined by her on her website when she was first running for US Senate. Apparently no-one bothered reading the damn thing and instead relied on the media’s “interpretation” of her positions. At the time of her running for Senate, she offered, on every single issue, a policy statement that read as though it had come straight out of the PNAC [Project for a New American Century] playbook.

Her statements about Israel (fiercely Israel-first and anti-Palestinian), Iran (rabidly Iranphobic, even going so far as to say that Iran “must not have an escape hatch”), homeland security (all aspects of which she enthusiastically endorses as “necessary” in the “fight against terror”), etc. are completely in line with every repulsive neoliberal, hawkish, projecting our power abroad, AIPAC-inspired statement made by far-right politicians for years, and now parroted by supposed “democrats” and “liberals” such as Clinton and Obama.

The fact that she has now decided to become Clinton’s purse-pet, the yappy little doggie that rich girls carry around in their over-sized pocketbooks, is not surprising.  She may like to be portrayed as a political naif, but she sure picked up the politician’s unerring ability to kiss the ass of power very quickly.

And there is Sanders.  Despite once ardently stating that Clinton was “not qualified to be president”, Bernie has now officially endorsed her and dropped his campaign.  

Yes, I know he promised long ago to endorse “whomever the eventual Democrat nominee turns out to be”; which should have been a signal that he didn’t think it would be himself.  Bear in mind that Clinton may be the presumptive nominee, but she is not the actual nominee yet, and won’t be until the delegates vote on the convention floor.  He needn’t have endorsed her until the convention.

He promised to “take it to the convention”. His endorsement before the convention may have early fulfilled his promise to Clinton and the DNC (to endorse the nominee), but he reneged on the one he made to the voters.

Then, as some sort of really sucky consolation prize, he promised his supporters he would work to make the DNC platform more “progressive”.  But the Clinton camp voted down all of his planks and what we are left with is basically a Republican platform with some Democratic-sounding civil rights’ platitudes thrown in.  So Sanders got nothing in the way of concessions, but vowed he would fight for more progressive ideals to be added to the platform while he was attending the convention. This is where the platform becomes the Official Platform via delegate voting.  Except – pretend to be surprised – he is not going to do that either.

“Party rules empower Sanders, who endorsed Hillary Clinton Tuesday, to try to force votes at the Philadelphia convention on proposed planks that failed to muster the necessary votes at a Platform Committee meeting last weekend in Orlando.

“But Sanders has decided against using the so-called minority report process, the senator’s top policy aid informed allies Tuesday. […]”


http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/bernie-sanders-rules-out-convention-floor-fights-platform-n608256

Well, clarity is a good thing, isn’t it?  So now at least we know where we stand.  Hint: we got nothin’.  Diebold will handle the race from here on out.

And now Sanders has the “honor” of being “allowed” to speak at the Democratic Convention.  He is scheduled for the first night, no doubt so that everyone will forget what he had to say by the time the event comes to a conclusion.  The message is a clear, “Thanks for coming.  Now, don’t let the door hit your old ass on the way out, you hear?”   His staff remarked, however, that “nothing is set in stone”; what that means is anyone’s guess.   Maybe he won’t speak at all, or maybe he will end up being Clinton’s VP pick and speak on the second-to-last night, the traditional night for the vice presidential pick to give a speech.  That would be the final sellout to Bernie voters; their guy giving up his seat in the Senate to become a useless toadie in the Clinton White House.

On Thursday, the final night of the convention, we get the really big show.  That’s when the (by then official) nominee gets to speak.  This year, not only will Clinton be speaking on Thursday, but we will also be administered the extra-special torture of having to endure a speech from her daughter Chelsea as part of the denouement to the festivities.  I’m sure everyone involved is hoping the teleprompter will scroll slowly enough for her to keep up with it.  I’m hoping it will simply read, “I am the Odious Queen War-pig’s royal offspring, and I will see you in 4 to 8 years if we can keep this con going that long, and thank you for coming.”  And then she will exit the stage.

On the other side, we have Trump.  A cretin and TV reality star, who beat out a couple of football teams’ worth of notably horrible and repugnant candidates to become his party’s nominee.  His belonging to the wealthiest class in America doesn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of his “fans”, as he calls them; they are oblivious to the inherent mockery of his entire campaign.  He should have picked Sarah Palin to be his running mate.  That would have created some jobs; we’d need oracles to interpret the stream-of-consciousness ramblings emanating from the White House. I suspect he is running simply to assure the presidency for Clinton.

Clinton and Trump are rightfully the most reviled candidates ever to run for president.  Clinton is the first candidate in US history to be under active criminal investigation while running for president.  More and more people are coming to the decision to either vote for third-party candidates or to refuse to vote at all.  Two extraordinarily wealthy grifters, at least one of whom willfully broke the law while serving in high office, two idiots, one who wants to nuke ISIS (and thus the entire Middle East) and reinstate torture, and one who wants to expand the current (and illegal) war zones into Russia, Syria, and Iran.  That’s what we have to chose between.  Hope you weren’t planning on having time to spend whatever is left in that retirement account – we aren’t looking at very good odds on your being around to cash it out.  But no matter who wins the election or what happens as a result, they can’t blame the voters for it.  When given this sort of appalling choice and the open rigging of the primaries, the voters cannot be blamed for just walking away.

Hey, on a positive note, if Clinton wins, she’ll get the rap instead of Bernie for the economy continuing to rot, the environmental disasters looming ahead, the treasonous TPP trade agreement, and the next iteration of the Long Wars. Hope she enjoys the hell out of being in the WH again; couldn’t happen to a person who deserves the wrath of the people more.

Fake candidates making false statements, running in a faked election, with totally sham media coverage, in a country falsely claiming to be the face of democracy, while it perpetrates illegal, false wars on fake enemies it created, running its economy on fraudulent paper: nobody should be surprised when this tent folds.

This is not going to end well; no matter who “wins” the election, everyone across the globe loses. This time around, the oligarchs don’t care if the losers include us Americans; surely we all realize by this juncture that we are no longer the ‘exceptional ones’ to the people who run this country.

It’s time to think of your own survival. Time to plant your own garden, flee the system to the extent that you can, tend to yourself and your family.  Don’t add to anyone else’s difficulties.  Be a good human.  

Here is some inspiration for you.  It’s all I have to offer right now.  

[…] You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

[…] And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

[…] Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”

And I have this: “Woodstock”.  Written by Joni Mitchell and included on one of her albums, but the most popular version, as below, was performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

lyrics:
Well, I came upon a child of God.
He was walking along the road.
And I asked him, Tell me, where are you going?
This he told me:

Said, I’m going down to Yasgur’s Farm
Gonna join in a rock and roll band.
Got to get back to the land and set my soul free.

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Well, then can I roam beside you?
I have come to lose the smog,
And I feel myself a cog in somethin’ turning.
And maybe it’s the time of year
Yes, and maybe it’s the time of man
And I don’t know who I am
But life is for learning.

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

By the time we got to Woodstock,
We were half a million strong
And everywhere was a song and a celebration.
And I dreamed I saw the bomber death planes
Riding shotgun in the sky,
Turning into butterflies
Above our nation.

We are stardust, we are golden
We are caught in the devils bargain
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

This video contains footage from the actual Woodstock event and also has a little added verse (from another Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song) at the end.

[Note: this post dedicated to my golden brah, who has fled the system and is showing me by his concrete example how to get back to the garden.]

 

 

This is for posterity.

Now, if this isn’t just the epitome of Current America.  Illegally turn the city over to an unelected “manager” in a replacement coup of their elected mayor.  Privatize the water system. Don’t monitor said water system.  Find out, belatedly, but after being warned several times, that the water is toxic.  Cover up the facts until people are turning up sick, brain-damaged or dead.  Blame it on A) the Democrats, B) the Republicans, C) anyone no longer in office, D) the janitor, E) God, or F) the impoverished poor people who didn’t (i.e., couldn’t) pay their exorbitant water bills from the price-gouging private company and who therefore deserved what they got.  This is just the invisible hand of the market at work, or some such eternal and bright capitalistic truth, right?  Here are a couple of hard and real truths for you: it is unlikely the people who inflicted this on the public in Flint will ever pay any legal price for it.  It is inconceivable that any of them actually care about the matter, although they may mumble some platitudes about how unacceptable it all is, as though they had no idea how this whole thing happened; if they cared about what sort of crap was flowing from the faucets of the city, they would never have made the decisions they did.  And here’s the saddest truth: the people who have been harmed by the water system are utterly dependent on the ones who let it happen in the first place to find a solution.

However, we can now use this as a teaching moment for these poor young ones so they will learn how to use their new free water filters, which they are going to need for the rest of their lives whether they are living in Michigan’s Dead Zone or some other pit of hell carved out specially for them elsewhere in the nation, because they aren’t ever going to get anything better than toxic waste to drink no matter where they are corralled by the assholes in charge, and it is damn near impossible to get out of one of these poverty pockets once you’ve accidentally landed in one.  They can’t even legally sell their homes and try their luck elsewhere, assuming there was an elsewhere to go to; Michigan law is such that a person can’t sell a home knowing that there is no drinkable water running from the taps.  But apparently, yeah, what all God’s children in Flint (and Detroit and elsewhere) need right now is just a little instruction on how to use those fucking water filters and a lesson about the water cycle.  What you never want to talk about – or for them to learn about – is how democracy is supposed to work and how it has been subverted all over the country by corporate interests and toady politicians, or how the EPA, the USDA, and other protective agencies used to be funded and run, or how this shit never had to happen to them in the first damn place.

Oh, and this is an opportunity to collect artifacts from this historic event.  Don’t want to be last in the game of collecting and collating details on how America killed its own.

I wonder how those babies, black and white, will one day feel about being living “artifacts” while they were growing up in the fetid swamp of this new experimental system of governance where privatization and austerity, controlled by corporate interests and imposed by fiat coming from the very officials who are charged with holding the common good in trust, took their futures away from them.   Maybe they should talk to the American Indians about how it feels to be viewed as part of the historical record of artifacts being gathered even as they are struggling to deal with the events, which are still occurring at ground zero.  Maybe the museum holding this event should ask the descendants of the Tuskegee men if their grandfathers might have felt better about the whole thing if only someone had just thought to accumulate and collate the medical artifacts for the public’s perusal while they were still being experimented on.  (Seriously, what the hell is wrong with this country?)

Maybe the curators of this museum event can start some other collections to document life downwind and down-river from one of the 100 nuclear plants around the US – hey, the people living near Hanford and Indian Point have some stories to share.  The museum officials already missed their chance to compile information on what normal human health was prior to the global take-over of the agricultural systems by the companies that are testing their unproven hypotheses about the safety of genetic modification throughout the food chain and saturating everything with toxic chemicals along the way, as well as destroying any nutritional value that was previously available in these foods.  [Here I must give a shout-out to the Clintons and the Gates, the two families who have done more than anyone else, in joint effort with the GMO companies themselves, to inflict this particular form of mass health speculation on the human beings trying to live on this planet.  Well done.  You have now reached what some individuals consider the peak position in the hierarchy of hominids.  You have become, in essence, the world’s apex predators – of your fellow men.  Some people actually admire that.]   I’ll tell you what: neither the museum curators nor the insurance company sponsoring this event will teach the right lessons for posterity to learn in this exercise, and they aren’t collecting the right “artifacts”, because this situation has fuck-all to do with the water cycle and really very little to do with the purity of the water from the nearby lakes and rivers, either.  It has everything to do with poverty, corrupt grifters acting as government officials, the weakening of whatever remains of any useful regulations, and the imposition of the profit-seeking private corporatocracy on a captive population.  The US takes puffy pride in its claim of equality for all, but here’s the thing; no-one whines that he isn’t equal to the poor slob on the bottom rung.  Everyone wants to be equal to the guy above him.  Our current social, political and economic systems reflect that.  So not much will be done to address the root causes of the water problem in Flint.  The best they can hope for is that the free water filters continue to come in and that those filters aren’t made by the same contractor that made the formaldehyde-laden trailers offered to the hurricane Katrina victims. Nothing will be done to ameliorate, much less correct, the grinding and dismal conditions for the poor in this “most equal” of countries. 

And I’m sure it is only moments before some politician or media asshole starts talking about how the people of Flint are getting too much free stuff in the way of those water filters and bottles of potable water.  That just smacks of socialism and the welfare state, after all, doesn’t it?

Children in Flint, Michigan can now visit the Sloan Museum for “Water Works” classes that teach them how to filter their drinking water. The museum is also compiling notes from the community on the lead-contaminated water crisis for future reflection.

As part of the “Water’s Extreme Journey” traveling exhibit, kids experience the water cycle “from the perspective of a water drop trying not to become polluted,” according to the museum’s website.

“One of the takeaways for the public should be that the health of the Flint River is actually quite good,” Exhibit Manager Warren Lehmkuhle said in a museum statement. “It was the lack of corrosion treatment, treatment that even lake water goes through, that caused the problem with our water.”

Students will be given the opportunity to construct and test their own filtration systems, as well as learn the whole history of Flint’s water systems going back as far as 1873. At the end is a comment board where residents can share their stories of how the water crisis impacted them. 

“I think we have a responsibility to document as much as possible now for future generations because, as with any kind of museum collecting, it is much easier to accumulate artifacts pertaining to current events now, rather than waiting 50 years when they are considered historic,” Curator of Collections Jeremy Dimick said in the statement. “If we do a good job collecting items and information now, the community will be better able to look back on the event 50 and 150 years from now.”

The exhibit, sponsored by local health care plan provider HealthPlus, opened on January 23 and ends May 8.

The city’s water source was switched from the Detroit system to the Flint River in 2014 without the proper follow-up of adding anti-corrosive agents, resulting in lead from pipes seeping into the drinking water supply. Research done in September 2015 by the Hurley Medical Center found that the average number of Flint children under the age of 5 with blood-lead levels considered too high by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had doubled since the switch.
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), shortening of attention span, increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment as examples of brain damage children can face when exposed to lead. Other harmful effects include anemia, hypertension, kidney failure, damage to the immune and reproductive systems.

“The neurological and behavioral effects of lead are believed to be irreversible,” according to the WHO.

https://www.rt.com/usa/332569-flint-museum-filter-water/

And when you residents of Flint leave your stories on the museum comment board about how the water crisis has affected you, please remember; this is for posterity. So, be honest. How do you feel?