Fighting Terrorism Since 1492

Apt graphics, hard-driving beat and riveting lyrics by Rage Against the Machine. Let Columbus Day stand as a shameful colonial legacy, an affront and insult to the native people of the Americas. Decolonize your mind.

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Mubarak Exits, the People Rejoice

The Financial Crisis: Waiting to Avoid

According to the latest federal inquiry [1], the financial crisis of 2008- still festering unabated- was “an avoidable ‘disaster’ caused by widespread failures in government regulation, corporate mismanagement and heedless risk-taking by Wall Street…,” etc. and, for that reason, “The greatest tragedy would be to accept the refrain that no one could have seen this coming and thus nothing could have been done…” so we are assured. However, if truth were told, the real tragedy lies in the realization that although the majority of the population may have seen it coming, most would not have been politically empowered and ill-suited to avert it or avoid it, for that matter, since these tools would have been essential to effectively thwart its sudden unraveling. As has already been well documented, this casino [2] way of maximizing profits at the expense of the poor and the working class is the main culprit precisely because it emanates from a capitalist culture
embraced, defended, and propagated with adamant zeal and enthusiasm by those in Washington purportedly looking for ways “to stabilize the market”.

Needless to say, the so-called “credit default swaps,” “derivatives,” “collateral debt obligations,” “sub-prime mortgages,” and other obscure and deceptive [3] lending practices in the financial and housing sectors have indeed had such a decidedly negative impact on the day-to-day survival and subsistence of most people. The consequences of such exotic, corrosive and conniving ventures, all tearing at the heart of large segments of the population, have been such that the majority affected has been driven to bankruptcy, foreclosure, unemployment and abject economic despair in general. [4] For obvious reasons, no watchful eyes on the part of the federal government or the agencies in charge of protecting the public from such predatory practices ever screamed foul or even bothered to take notice since it would have interfered with the bottom line, the meat and potato of the ruling elite, their financial brokers and cohorts on Wall Street. [5] The so-called Main Street does not fare the same and must pay for sin of not having been born with enough clout and privilege to game the system to their own benefit.

Insofar as the targeted financial irregularities is concerned, the writing has been on the wall since the early 1970s, [6] as capitalism began its breakneck trajectory from investment in machinery and production into the volatile and exotic outlet yielding the most profit: the financial system, which we’ve consequently inherited and which has ultimately triggered the crisis we find ourselves in today. We’ve been down the road of self accountability and corrections: [7] when the chips are down and votes are needed to secure political positions and appease the people, something has to be done to atone for the sin of letting down the country and its citizenry. The poor and the working class must be made to see that there are individuals responsible enough to look deep into their own wretched past and reach a consensus that yes, something did go wrong but that all the necessary steps are been taken to address the malaise and put in place strict regulations and oversight to help the economy recover and move right along. It was not too far back when Obama himself joined the chorus of the indignant [8] over the immoral and outrageous demeanor assumed by AIG in assigning themselves large bonuses for a job well done. Needless to say, theater has always been part of the bag of tricks utilized by the Washington elite to feign outrage and disbelief at the sight of thievery and corruption, just as Alan Greenspan was ” ‘shocked’ at the breakdown in U.S. credit markets…” [9]

We’ve been foolishly led to believe that what happened was just an aberration and that all will be well and that the proverbial “hidden hand” of late capitalism will take care of things. To the extent that the crisis represents the unmitigated modus operandi of US capitalism, the latest assessment of what went wrong in the financial sector can be seen as mere window dressing, a suspiciously ostentatious display of mea culpa as a way of demonstrating that those in charge are sincerely getting to the root cause of the systemic maladies affecting the economy. Surely the sages and gurus of Wall Street embedded deep in the halls of Washington with their fellow economists-in-chief, and a president who’ll stop at nothing to please his benefactors, will most certainly make certain that the right individuals will benefit from their socialized distribution of wealth, as long as they are able to make everyone believe that bailing out big business [10] and Wall Street is a civil duty. It would be an attribute to all of us if we could start seeing folly for what it is, and not fall for it again.

Notes

  1. The New York Times, January 25, 2011
  2. The Real News Network, November 11, 2009
  3. Bloomberg, November 6, 2008
  4. The Washington Post, May 29, 2009
  5. The Washington Independent, 07.02.09
  6. The Monthly Review, October 2004
  7. Investors.com, September 18, 2008
  8. Youtube, March 16, 2009
  9. Reuters, Thu Oct 23, 2008
  10. The World Socialist Website, July 22, 2009

Francisco
— February 6, 2011

Conservatives and Evil

Whenever tragedy strikes anywhere in the country, or acts of violence are committed in its cities or neighborhoods, it has been the self-appointed duty of most conservatives— those fearless, die-hard, unabashed card-carrying members of either dominant political party— to be as forthright, candid and explicit as only they can possibly be under the circumstances, to unequivocally cast their peculiarly ideological fire and brimstone message on the rest of the population. It is not enough that other pundits have already taken it upon themselves to up the ante for the sake of better ratings and popularity, but we are also subject to constant fear mongering emanating from the brilliant psyche of the so called moral (or religious) majority who seek ostensibly to stand on a self-righteous higher ground spewing out vigorously their nonsensical rhetoric.

Of late, one of the many faithful disciples of the lunatic fringe is Ted Nugent, the rock musician famous for his ear splitting guitar riffs (he suffers from hearing loss, as a consequence no doubt), with record album sales and numerous concert appearances, seems to have developed over the years into a true believer, an advocate and spokesperson of the conservative cause. In a recent Washington Times article penned by him entitled, Be Prepared for evil, the wild-dogs-on-a-leash gun advocate admonishes prophetically that, “There is evil among us. Always has been, always will be;” soldiers on to cite the Tucson, Arizona killings and others where “…victims didn’t make the national news, but they are victims nonetheless;” and proceeds with simplistic but adamant zeal to call attention to the “depth of evil that resides in the soulless monsters who commit these senseless, violent and deadly crimes,” for which reason we owe it to ourselves to “be prepared and ready to respond to evil at a moment’s notice.” Never mind a criminal investigation, psychological tests or judicial and legal due process, the operative word here is vigilantism (a genuine ideology of those who hold such misanthropic views), thus we, as “caring people of good will” should take it upon ourselves to be judges and executioners and “be ready to conquer evil if our society and culture are to progress…” if only because of our “…need for a higher level of awareness and a warrior mindset…” [My emphasis]

Such mindless political vitriol and preoccupation for a citizen’s patrol is cause for worry and concern and no sane argument could redeem such a self-defeating idea. Nugent’s pseudo populistic approach becomes nothing more than a call to arms from a right wing fundamentalist with a reactionary and self-serving conceit in mind. One would have every reason to wonder what the murder rate would be if everyone makes the case for such militaristic tactics in a country ruled by an elite hell bent on oppressing and keeping the citizenry in check on behalf of the rule of law and obediently assisted by a complacent news media forever stoking the flames of fear and crime in the streets, rapists on the lose and other social malaise supposedly ruining the country. Granted, murder is committed for different reasons, albeit with the same catastrophic and tragic results, but should so much misguided efforts be channeled into attributing an evil wicked, sinful, diabolical aberration to humans instead of sifting through for the real social and psychological causes?

The truth is that most of us will never know with certainty what goes through some people’s mind at times, what truly motivates them, preoccupies them, much less predict what could drive them to commit horrible deeds against their fellow human beings. Unfortunately, not enough attention, care and resources are being allocated to better diagnose and treat people suffering from mental illness. What does appear to follow a certain sensible, sober and humanistic logic is the premise that empirical science and criminology should be practiced for the benefit and social well being of society in general by professionals and not by quacks and demagogues who are hardly able to come to terms with their own selfish existence let alone the “evil” plaguing their own little world.

George Carlin – We Like War

Speaking truth to power, a bit “raw” but effective.

Francisco

— December 19, 2010

Post-Elections Syndrome

There’s the all too long-held view embraced by the electorate in general that casting one’s vote will really and truly count for something. To be fair, most people are indeed sincere when taking time off from work or other responsibilities to venture into the political arena every so often to cast their hopes, dreams and aspirations into the ballot box. Voters feel they are exercising their civic and patriotic duty by this act and hope to see positive results for this endeavor some time in future (for obvious reasons, no doubt), believing whole-heartedly in the promises made to them by their soon to be elected officials, who have invested many days and long hours in their eagerness to convince their constituency that what they have in store for the country is the real thing, or at least better than that offered by the other party or candidate…

The hopes and expectations among the public will always run high, but we can afford to be a bit skeptical, and even be forgiven for daring to question the current electoral process— and rightly so, especially if we’re old enough to have experienced this “privilege” all too often— and can hardly be blamed for wondering out loud if we have in fact contributed to a truly democratic process by exercising our rights as citizen in vouching for the best candidate in either party, or if all we’ve done in reality is to have wasted our precious time by depositing our trust in an individual whose chief civic concern is to get elected in order to further his or her political career at our expense. Moreover, narrowing our options by being offered the only two choices available, Democratic and Republican, becomes a travesty of sorts, an incongruity, a sheer farce judging by the outcome of most elections. We’ve reached a stage where regardless of which party is at the helm, we can rest assure that the results will always be the same and the purported differences between the two will be minimum, to say the least.

In the not too distant past, in 2006 to be precise, voters went to the polls to express unequivocally their desire to have theirs sons and daughters returned home from the battlefields of an unjust and catastrophic invasion of a nation and its people. What ensued as a result after the elections was business as usual as the Democrats, after being voted in by the American people as the new majority in Congress, reneged on their promise and soon after capitulated to the bidding of then President Bush’s request for more funding to escalate the war against the Iraqi people and continue the carnage undeterred, with the assistance and full support of the now elected Democratic Congress majority, who are wont to brag about being on the side of the American people, but whose record belies their true political intentions. More recently, this redundancy continues uninterrupted in the Obama administration. The current President, soon after winning the 2008 Presidential elections, allied himself with the hardliners of the Clinton administration through the appointment of the such economic luminaries as, Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner, all three responsible for the corruption and economic malaise plaguing the country ever since; and, for good measure, the appointment of none other than Bush administration’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, so as to pursue by any and all means necessary the war of aggression against Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the end, it becomes all too revealing how all the policies and actions of the Democrats point towards the sole conceit of sustaining the Washington status quo by rubber stamping such fiscally irresponsible and damaging economic initiatives as the all too known “too big to fail” Bail Out of Wall Street and the financial sector, leaving the American taxpayer to foot the bill; passing a health care reform bill with scant improvement over the previous one, except now better suited to fill the coffers of the insurance and health care industries; a disturbing lack of due process against a giant oil conglomerate whose blatant disregard for the well-being of nature and the environment caused it to unleash untold damage in the Gulf region in the most massive oil spill in history, but only after being aided and abetted by the very institution in government responsible for its monitoring and supervision, whose leaders were also benefiting financially by being paid handsomely for turning a blind eye to all violations of rules and regulations; little, if any, redress for the rampant social injustice perpetrated against members of the minority: African-Americans, the muslin community (in fact, always seeking to prosecute and criminalize this group at the first opportunity), the immigrant community (dragging its feet in any meaningful or significant legislation of true reform for the sake of those seeking immigrant asylum and a favorable legal status), paying only lip service to ending the draconian “don’t ask don’t tell” law (despite the fact that most surveys indicate the majority of the American people favor its repeal); keeping virtually intact the Guantanamo prison system in flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention and against national and international public opinion; and its latest efforts to renew and extend the Bush tax cut system favoring the rich and the highest income earners in the country…

The catalog of outright capitalist, market-ridden initiatives undertaken of late by the Obama administration are simply too numerous to list and beyond the purview of this space, and in truth worthy of book-length consideration for more detailed accountability. Be that as it may, this essay in no way represents, by implication, tacit approval or endorsement of the alternate party of “choice.” It just so happens that the Republicans had their turn to run the sociopolitical infrastructure of the country to the ground and did so, paving the way for the new majority occupants at the White House and in Congress, whose turn it is at the moment. The fact remains that is plain to see how the gigantic machinery in Washington has always been better suited to look after their own: the powerful corporations, the financial and insurance interests and capitalist investors, all too eager to take advantage of the system they’ve helped prop up— and that will eventually deliver the goods unconditionally— after propelling to office their candidate(s) of choice. If the pundits in the media and the demagogues in Washington could only foster the illusion that there exist stark differences between the two political parties in their approach to ruling the country, then there is every reason to believe that an unsuspecting voter would always be at hand and ready to believe this logic and acquiesce in kind with little if any protest. Nonetheless, it will indeed be up to the citizenry to become better informed in regard to the policies that affect them, see the outright lie and manipulation of the “two-choice” gospel for what it truly is, and demand alternatives to the monopolistic duopoly eating at the fabric of the political process in the country.

Francisco

— November 27, 2010

Rick Sanchez: Firing One’s Own

Whether or not Sanchez has a point in denouncing the people who supposedly wronged him, put him down, snubbed him or otherwise denigrated him because of his ethnic background seems almost immaterial and flies in the face of logic when we take into consideration his affiliation with CNN as an anchor. The 24-hour news outlet, while not exactly as vociferous and openly fanatical in their ultra right-wing views as an all too famous (or is it infamous?) counterpart, does embrace with open arms the bidding of the ruling elite and their pervasive mainstream ideology. An who better to propagate this gospel, ad nauseam, and on a daily basis than the newscasters and anchors at CNN embodied in such fair and dedicated personalities as Mr.Sanchez, Wolf Blitzer and other colleagues. In fact, Rick Sanchez’s time spent at the channel has only served to better convey to the public the idea of the magnanimity and superiority of the U.S. as an exceptional and fair nation whose leaders are truly at the service of the American working class and the world, while opposite remains true judging by the condition of the world and the average American.

We might be able to commiserate and find it in our hearts to stand shoulder to shoulder in protest with Rick as someone who is sincerely at odds with his views and those of his news media employer; someone singled out and punished, excoriated and ultimately ousted for daring to expose these views as nothing more than plain and simple window dressing for the sole purpose of increasing their TV ratings so as to successfully meet their bottom line. This scenario being hardly the case, forces some of us with a more alternative view to reconsider our unconditional and undivided support on his behalf. A more benevolent and tolerant opinion of the events would reek of sheer mendacity and irresponsibility on our part.

Further scrutiny also reveals the absurdity of feeling remorse at the supposed injustice been meted out at Rick for having been unfairly expelled from the channel for daring to be “a complex human being.” Moreover, his claim at being a “minority” becomes a travesty in light of the connotation of the very word — we would be hard pressed to come up with a single Hispanic minority individual who can boast of being blessed with such meritocracy. Mr. Sanchez can be said to have enjoyed at privileged status at CNN, not that he is unworthy of it, far from it. However one does wish that such an advantageous position could be employed to a more socially productive end and not in the service of the self-serving media establishment and its virtual myriad of pundits and demagogues. Had he assumed a progressive stand with a genuine interest of the public and those at the bottom of the rung in mind, his exit strategy would have been deemed more dignifying, redeemable and courageous. Then again, perhaps this is too much to ask of one who enjoys all the perks and gold membership for serving those at the top.

Francisco

— October 3, 2010