By Robert Parry, the investigative reporter who many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. Originally published at Parry’s Consortium News (republished with permission).
In discussing President Trump, there is always the soft prejudice of low expectations – people praise him for reading from a Teleprompter even if his words make little sense – but there is no getting around the reality that his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly must rank as one of the most embarrassing moments in America’s relations with the global community.
Trump offered a crude patchwork of propaganda and bluster, partly delivered as a campaign speech praising his own leadership – boasting about the relatively strong U.S. economy that he mostly inherited from President Obama – and partly reflecting his continued subservience to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
However, perhaps most importantly, Trump’s speech may have extinguished any flickering hope that his presidency might achieve some valuable course corrections in how the United States deals with the world, i.e., shifting away from the disastrous war/interventionist policies of his two predecessors.
Before the speech, there was at least some thinking that his visceral disdain for the neoconservatives, who mostly opposed his nomination and election, might lead him to a realization that their policies toward Iran, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere were at the core of America’s repeated and costly failures in recent decades. ⇒ Keep Reading
This is not to single out President Obama as a special case; politicos across the spectrum depend on the engines of financialization to fund their campaigns and make them multi-millionaires, and corporate managers and financiers have skimmed billions of dollars in gains not from producing new, better and more affordable goods and services but by playing financialization games such as borrowing billions to buy back stocks, leveraged buyouts, and so on–all of which have reaped the insiders gargantuan fortunes while hollowing out the real economy.
The key dynamic is that financialization creates irresistible incentives to ramp up debt and leverage at the expense of the real economy. Those who fail to exploit financialization will underperform the market and be fired.
As Gordon explains, if a CEO refuses to load a company up with debt, a private-equity financier with access to cheap Federal Reserve credit will scoop up the company in a private buyout, fire the management, extract immense profits by loading the company with debt, then take the hollowed-out shell public again, reaping another windfall of financialized gains. ⇒ Keep Reading
A Gallup poll headlined on September 17th, “Seven in 10 Dissatisfied With Way U.S. Is Being Governed”, and reported that 71% said they were “Dissatisfied” and that 28% said they were “Satisfied,” with the U.S. Government. The question, as it had been posed, was “On the whole, would you say you are satisfied or dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed?”
At the height of Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, when this question was asked during 21-24 September 1973, the until-then all-time-lowest level of satisfaction with the Government was recorded, 26% (compared with 28% who are “Satisfied” today); but, at that time, only 66% said they were outright “Dissatisfied”; so, at that time, a larger percentage than now, were on the fence, about this question. (Thus, 71% are “Dissatisfied” today, whereas only 66% were, back in 1973.) Subsequently, the figure of only 26% who were “Satisfied,” wasn’t reached again until the very end of George W. Bush’s Presidency and the peak of the 2008 economic crash, when, yet again, 26% were “Satisfied”; but, in that instance, an until-then all-time-record high 72% declared themselves “Dissatisfied” with their Government. So, that was the all-time-worst finding, up to that moment in time. But, then, things got even worse:
What is real wealth? Money, right? Currency, gold, quatloos, you name it.Money is real wealth because you can use it to buy whatever you want.
I would argue money in any form is only the means to acquire real wealth, which is the agency, opportunity and time to pursue your life’s work.
The conventional view that wealth is money and leisure has it all wrong. Let’s imagine the owner of a vault of conventional treasure: jewels, gold coins, etc.
If the “wealth” stays in the vault, what’s the point of owning this “wealth”? The secret satisfaction of being “wealthy”?
If “wealth” is only an internal state, then let’s measure friendship and being needed/wanted as the metrics of “wealth.” You see the point; if “wealth” is merely an internal state of satisfaction, then a vault full of “money” is a poor metric.
What money buys that is real wealth is freedom and control of one’s life. This control over one’s life is called agency. Agency is defined as “the capacity of an actor to act in a given environment.” This may not seem like a profound concept, but another way to describe agency is that agency is the opposite of powerlessness.
People with agency define themselves and their identity; they shape the world they inhabit rather than passively await whatever circumstances deliver up. ⇒ Keep Reading
In planning an upcoming conference aimed at challenging the institution of war, to be held at American University September 22-24, I can’t help but be drawn to the speech a U.S. president gave at American University a little more than 50 years ago. Whether or not you agree with me that this is the best speech ever given by a U.S. president, there should be little dispute that it is the speech most out of step with what anyone will say on Capitol Hill or in the White House today. Here’s a video of the best portion of the speech:
President John F. Kennedy was speaking at a time when, like now, Russia and the United States had enough nuclear weapons ready to fire at each other on a moment’s notice to destroy the earth for human life many times over. At that time, however, in 1963, there were only three nations, not the current nine, with nuclear weapons, and many fewer than now with nuclear energy. NATO was far removed from Russia’s borders. The United States had not just facilitated a coup in Ukraine. The United States wasn’t organizing military exercises in Poland or placing missiles in Poland and Romania. Nor was it manufacturing smaller nukes that it described as “more usable.” Nor was it threating to use them on North Korea. The work of managing U.S. nuclear weapons was then deemed prestigious in the U.S. military, not the dumping ground for drunks and misfits that it has become. Hostility between Russia and the United States was high in 1963, but the problem was widely known about in the United States, in contrast to the current vast ignorance. Some voices of sanity and restraint were permitted in the U.S. media and even in the White House. Kennedy was using peace activist Norman Cousins as a messenger to Nikita Khrushchev, whom he never described, as Hillary Clinton has described Vladimir Putin, as “Hitler.” Even the U.S. and Soviet militaries were communicating with each other. Not anymore. ⇒ Keep Reading
First broadcast in Great Britain 50 years ago, The Prisoner—a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka”—confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.
Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned, monitored by militarized drones, and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village. The Village is an idyllic setting with parks and green fields, recreational activities and even a butler. ⇒ Keep Reading
By Kristen Breitweiser, one of the four 9/11 widows – known as the “Jersey Girls” – instrumental in forcing the government to form the 9/11 Commission to investigate the 2001 attacks. Follow Kristen Breitweiser on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kdbreitweiser.
The 9/11 Commission Report, on page 8 of its Staff Statement #2: Three 9/11 Hijackers: Identification, Watchlisting, and Tracking, states: Ahmed al Ghamdi transited Dubai on May 2, 2001; Fayaz Banihammad transited on June 27, 2001; Hamza al Ghamdi transited on May 28, 2001; Mohand al Sheri transited on May 28, 2001; Majed Moqed transited on May 2, 2001; Salem al Hazmi on June 29, 2001; Ahmed al Haznawi transited on June 8, 2001; Ahmed al Nami transited on May 28, 2001; Ziad Jarrah transited on January 30, 2001; Saeed al Ghamdi transited on June 27, 2001; Abdulaziz al Omari transited on June 29, 2001; Satam al Suqami transited on April 23, 2001; Wail al Shehri transited on June 8, 2001; Waleed al Shehri transited on April 23, 2001; Hani Hanjour transited on December 8, 2000; Khalid al Midhar transited on January 5, 2000; and Marwan al Shehhi transited on January 18, 2000. ⇒ Keep Reading
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