Our country is no longer controlled by, and for, We the People, but instead by, and on behalf of, international banking and multinational corporate interests. While the gradual, almost imperceptible takeover of our government by this corporate fascism has been evolving by design for many decades, it is a coup d'etat nonetheless and has been disastrous for the vast majority of Americans. This blog is an exploration and discussion of how this occurred, and the damage it has done to our democratic processes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What Does "Accelerated Free-Fall" Mean? You're About to Find Out.

Millions of Americans don't know, although I'd venture a guess that most people in industrial or first-world nations around the globe do, that a third tower fell in New York City eleven years ago today. The first two towers of the World Trade Center Complex fell in mid-morning, soon after being struck by aircraft that we're told were commercial airliners flying under the American and United Airlines colors. 

But a third World Trade Center skyscraper, commonly known as World Trade Center Building #7, was a 47-story building that also came tumbling to the ground that day. This structure was never hit by an airplane, although it did sustain collateral damage mostly on the southwest side from the other buildings, and had scattered interior fires throughout. Despite the relatively limited external damage, and despite the fires that could never burn hot enough to melt structural steel -- much less weaken the steel support columns and cause them to fail simultaneously -- this building came tumbling to the ground in an accelerating free-fall, at approximately 5:20 p.m. EDT.

Following is a video that explains what happened. More accurately, it explains what didn't happen. The people interviewed are all experts in their respective fields; structural engineers, physicists, chemists, mechanical engineers, and highrise architects. They are agree what didn't happen. And what didn't happen is this: It didn't fall due to fire alone, and it didn't fall due to exterior damage alone. As a matter of fact, it didn't fall because of both reasons combined. But let's cut to the chase and tell you why it fell.

It was a controlled demolition.
 

Period. 

End of Story.

Here's the video. Get your popcorn. Grab your Big Gulp. Learn how you've been duped.


 



(1)  If fire caused Building 7 to collapse, it would be the first ever fire-induced collapse of a steel-frame high-rise.

(2)  Building 7’s collapse was not mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report.

(3)  According to a Zogby poll in 2006, 43% of Americans did not know about Building 7.

(4)  It took the federal government seven years to conduct an investigation and issue a report for Building 7.

(5)  1,700+ architects and engineers have signed a petition calling for a new investigation into the destruction of Building 7, specifying that it should include a full inquiry into the possible use of explosives.

(6)  Numerous witnesses say the possibility of demolishing Building 7 was widely discussed by emergency personnel at the scene and advocated by the building’s owner.

(7)  Building 7 housed several intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and the NYC Office of Emergency Management’s Emergency Operations Center, more commonly known as “Giuliani’s Bunker”.
    

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Class Warfare...Against You

It's time to break my silence and continue railing against the biggest, most dangerous enemy our democracy faces. It's the indelible threat of authoritarianism, masquerading in the form of democracy and liberty. 

It's a threat as dangerous to freedom and democratic values as the medieval system of feudalism was a thousand years ago. It's a threat borne of "too big to fail" capitalism; not the capitalism envisioned by Adam Smith -- of small producers and divisions of labor, where rational self-interest and competition collaborated to increase economic prosperity. 

The capitalism that exists today is nothing of the sort. It's a rogue form of capitalism, a monopolistic and financial capitalism that has contributed to even greater accumulations of capital, which have spawned corporatism within our government institutions and our political parties. In other words, the control of our government[s] by large interest groups with large sums of money -- government by the wealthy and for the wealthy.

The following article by Rob Kall, the executive editor and publisher of OpEdNews.com, speaks exactly of this grave threat to the America as we've known it.
  
Corporatism is Killing America

There's a reason college costs are going through the roof and Students are going into massive debt... education is facing the same enemy that the middle class faces.  That's the message Debra Leigh Scott offers in her article,  How The American University was Killed, in Five Easy Steps. Scott offers a new perspective on one more way that corporatism is waging war on the middle class, on the American dream and on most Americans. 

There is a massive difference between mega-corporations and small businesses. The big ones and their obscenely wealthy CEOs, owners and top execs are waging an all out war on the middle class. They are pushing for laws, legislation, regulations and de-regulations that will kill people. KILL PEOPLE.

They have already killed people. They have already put millions of people, millions of family into havoc, chaos, misery and ruin. 

They are our enemies. The people who advocate for them are our enemies. To be sure, not all corporate heads are evil or our enemies. But most of them are. 

Read the rest here. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

In His Own Words

For some reason conservatives are under the impression that those at the lower end of the economic spectrum "don't pay taxes", and thus don't contribute to what they perceive as an unfair federal tax structure -- one that's progressive. 

Conservatives hate the progressive tax structure, one where people with more income pay a higher percentage of that income in tax -- on that last earned dollar -- than do those with less income. It can also be applied to a system where tax exemptions and tax credits are used to adjust the tax base, giving those who earn very little a reduction in their taxable income and, consequently, their tax burden. This is why low-income households pay relatively low, or in some cases little, federal income taxes. It is very similar, in effect, to the mortgage deduction homeowners are still able to use to reduce their overall tax burden (and is one of the few middle-America still retains).

Most tax systems around the world are progressive in nature, or at least contain progressive aspects. In the United States there are six "tax brackets" in our federal tax structure, ranging from 10% to 35%. These are used to calculate the percentage of taxable income for individuals. If an individual's taxable income falls within a particular tax bracket, the person pays the listed percentage of income on each dollar that falls within that monetary range. Once a transfer payment is made (in the United States, a payment made to individuals by the federal government through various social benefit programs; e.g., social security, financial aid, etc.), the tax code categorizes it as to whether it is a tax exemption or tax credit, lowering the taxable income of its recipients.

Last week, Alan Grayson made some very valid and poignant points regarding taxation in this country, making it clear that even one of the principal founders of this nation, Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to General Thaddeus Kosciuszko, expressed his preference for a progressive tax rate -- one that places the greater burden of taxation on those who can more afford it. He wrote this letter in 1811, a few years after leaving the presidency. I found another document, where Jefferson expressed similar sentiments, in a letter he wrote twenty-six years earlier while living in France and serving as the United States Minister to France. This letter was written to Bishop James Madison (not to be confused with his statesman cousin of the same name), who was the president of the College of William and Mary and the first Bishop of the Protestant-Episcopal Church in Virginia. Read his own words (highlighted portions are my own).

REVEREND JAMES MADISON

Fontainebleau, Oct. 28, 1785
Dear Sir -- Seven o'clock and retired to my bedside, I have determined to enter into conversation with you. This is a village of about 15,000 inhabitants when the court is not here, and about 20,000 when they are, occupying a valley through which runs a brook and on each side of it a ridge of small mountains, most of which are naked rock. The King comes here, in the fall always, to hunt. His court attends him, as do also the foreign diplomatic corps; but as this is not indispensably required and my finances do not admit the expense of a continued residence here, I propose to come occasionally to attend the King's levees, returning again to Paris, distant forty miles. This being the first trip, I set out yesterday morning to take a view of the place. For this purpose I shaped my course towards the highest of the mountains in sight, to the top of which was about a league.

As soon as I had got clear of the town I fell in with a poor woman walking at the same rate with myself and going the same course. Wishing to know the condition of the laboring poor I entered into conversation with her, which I began by enquiries for the path which would lead me to the mountain: and thence proceeded to enquiries into her vocation, condition and circumstances. She told me she was a day laborer at 8 sous or 4d. sterling the day: that she had two children to maintain, and to pay a rent of 30 livres for her house (which would consume the hire of 75 days), that often she could get no employment and of course was without bread. as we had walked together near a mile and she had so far served me as a guide, I gave her, on parting, 24 sous. She burst into tears of gratitude which I could perceive was unfeigned because she was unable to utter a word. She had probably never before received so great an aid. This little attendrissement, with the solitude of my walk, led me into a train of reflections on that unequal division of property which occasions the numberless instances of wretchedness which I had observed in this country and is to be observed all over Europe.
The property of this country is absolutely concentrated in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards. These employ the flower of the country as servants, some of them having as many as 200 domestics, not laboring. They employ also a great number of manufacturers and tradesman, and lastly the class of laboring husbandmen. But after all these comes the most numerous of all classes, that is, the poor who cannot find work. I asked myself what could be the reason so many should be permitted to beg who are willing to work, in a country where there is a very considerable proportion of uncultivated lands? These lands are undisturbed only for the sake of game. It should seem then that it must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors which places them above attention to the increase of their revenues by permitting these lands not to be labored. I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable, but the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. The descent of property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers and sisters, or other relations in equal degree, is a politic measure and a practicable one. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on. If for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be provided to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not, the fundamental right to labor the earth returns to the unemployed. It is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment, but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state...

From: The life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, edited and with an Introduction by Adrienne Koch and William Peden (Pages 360-362); 2004 Modern Library Paperback  Edition, Copyright: 1944, 1972, 1993 by Random House, Inc. 

Afterthought:
It's worth noting that The French Revolution occurred during the years of 1789–1799, officially starting just four years after this letter was written. When Mr. Jefferson speaks of "enormous inequality", "unequal division of property", or "property...concentrated in a very few hands", does this remind you of the injustices that the Occupy Movement spoke about soon after its initial protests began last September? It should...

 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Monopolies Over Life Itself

When I picked-up the latest free issue of Pathways while leaving yoga class the other evening, my attention was immediately drawn to an interview of Harriet Washington, a noted medical ethicist and author of several books related to the subject. (Her latest, titled Deadly Monopolies: The Shocking Corporate takeover of Life Itself -- And the Consequences for Your Health and Our medical Future, published late last year, is the basis and focus of the interview.)

Later, as I read the interview, it became clear to me how changes in medical patent law, going back to 1980 with the Bayh-Dole Government Patent Policy Act, created a market for patentable living things and allowed researchers to use the information, subsidized and paid with our taxes, to sell the information to private corporations (i.e., Big Pharma) for their own gain and profit. As Ms. Washington notes: "Bayh-Dole was basically a golden key for corporations who could now profit from patents that they previously were unable to hold." It gets worse (which shouldn't be a surprise under our current corporatocracy governmental structure). 

Once Big Pharma patents a gene, for example, it literally stifles innovation, so that product innovation slows to a crawl with resultant soaring prices. I learned about the corporatization of universities, the shelving of unprofitable research, the corporate funding of the FDA and medical journals, and why we're inundated with tons of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertisements in the United States -- which are banned and illegal in Europe, Canada, and almost everywhere else in the world. Nowhere else in the world (except for New Zealand), are corporations allowed to do this. In a nutshell, I learned how corporations have now been given license to patent, and own, the very basis of life itself. Here is the interview in its entirety, conducted by Dr. Daniel Redwood:

"Two events took place in the United States in 1980 that, in retrospect, have dramatically changed the nature and direction of health sciences research. These were the Supreme Court decision in Diamond v. Chakrabarty that allowed the patenting of living things and the passage of the Bayh-Dole Government Patent Policy Act. To begin, could you please give us a broad-brush summary of these policy changes?"
"Their import is that Diamond v. Chakrabarty removed the ambiguity about whether one could take out a patent on a product of nature. And specifically for our purposes, whether one is able to take out a patent on a living thing. Living things had occasionally been patented in the past. For example, when adrenalin was patented, there were objections that this was actually a discovery rather than an invention. Even Louis Pasteur faced questions when he patented a strain of yeast. Some said, 'You didn’t invent this yeast; you just discovered it'
So now we have a law that stipulates unambiguously that if something is living, that’s not a bar to its being patented. In addition, we have a second law saying that when a university holds a patent, it is legal for the university to license or sell that patent to a corporate entity. Previously, universities were not allowed to do that, the rationale being that these patents arose from research that was subsidized by the government—that is, by you and me. Our tax dollars paid for the development of these molecules, and the feeling was that a private corporation should not be allowed to profit from it. The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, supplemented by other laws, changed all that, making it feasible and, in fact, making it desirable for the first time, for researchers to take out patents on living things, based on research performed in universities, and to sell and license them to corporations. Bayh-Dole was basically a golden key for corporations who could now profit from patents that they previously were unable to hold."

Read the rest here.


 Here's another interview from last December, by Thom Hartmann, on the same subject.




Sunday, February 19, 2012

Regulation? Hardly! Try Speculation!

Deep Speculation -- from Harper's Weekly 2/11/1865
Market manipulation describes a deliberate attempt to interfere with the free and fair operation of the market and create artificial, false or misleading appearances with respect to the price of, or market for, a security, commodity or currency. Market manipulation is prohibited in the United States under Section 9(a)(2) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934...The Act defines market manipulation as transactions which create an artificial price or maintain an artificial price for a tradeable security. --- from Wikipedia

Advocates of free markets like to point out that government regulation strangles and upsets the equilibrium that laissez-faire capitalism provides and requires in order to maintain pricing that reflects the true value of goods and services. Libertarians are staunch believers of totally unfettered capitalism, although the majority of conservatives are its primary cheerleaders also. Or so it seems.

Certainly all the saber-rattling from the United States, and Israel (the tail-that-wags-the-dog), against Iran is having an unnerving affect on the oil commodity markets around the world. Add to this the declining value of the U.S. Dollar, which dominates and is linked to the value of each barrel of crude, and not to mention manipulation by unscrupulous producers that invokes shortages and drives prices upward. Of course, as would be expected, Republicans are jumping on the bandwagon and are more than happy to blame this on the Obama AdministrationBut there are definitely other factors involved -- factors that have had a long-term influence on steadily rising gasoline prices over the last few years. These are factors that are unrelated to consumer demand, since demand is currently at its lowest mark in the United States since 1997.

Many people are only vaguely aware that oil prices are set by commodities traders -- speculators -- who buy and sell futures contracts on the world's commodities exchanges. These are agreements to buy or sell oil at a specific date in the future at a specific price. Buyers will use these to avoid the risks associated with the price fluctuations of oil, while sellers will attempt to lock in a price for their products. As with all financial markets, speculators use such contracts to gamble on price movements. Commodities traders can create a self-fulfilling prophecy by bidding up oil futures prices (or bidding down, selling short, and still getting rewarded handsomely). This practice adds up to 30% to the cost of a barrel of oil without adding any value to the barrel. Once this starts, it can create an asset bubble. (Sound familiar?) Unfortunately, the one who pays for this bubble -- the artificially-created pricing -- is the consumer. That's you...and that's me!

The other night Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks had a segment on his nightly cable television show about the fluctuating pricing of oil and gasoline, which raised a ton of questions (and answered a ton more) about how speculators in oil have been able to manipulate market pricing to the detriment of us all. Here's the reason for it all: In 2004, commodity investment in oil speculation was a hefty $13 billion. By 2009, only five years later, that investment skyrocketed to $300 billion! Coincidentally, or not, in July of 2004 the market price for crude oil was around $31/barrel; by July of 2008 the price escalated to over $137/barrel. In the United States, that translated to $1.93/gallon (in 2004) and $4.09 (in 2008) at the pump. Granted, pricing dropped after those high-marks, but have since steadily increased and now approach those record levels -- with higher levels expected as we move deeper into the year.

"The cost of gas is expected to rise this spring and summer — but no matter how hard conservative pundits try to blame a potential threat of an oil cutoff from Iran, it’s just not the whole story. Speculation on oil futures — by big banks such as Golden Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and others — contributes to the rising cost. 'They make money if the price zooms up,' Cenk says. In 2011, the average American household paid $600 more out of pocket as a result of that speculation. 'It isn’t supply and demand. It isn’t the free market. It’s because these guys are playing with the market — so that they can make more money. They have got to love what is happening with Iran.' "


As Uyger points out, last year each family in America paid an extra $600 in fuel costs due to oil speculation -- an extra $600 that isn't related to supply and demand market forces or because of free-market competition. It was, pure and simple, just another example of how monopolistic capitalism manipulates market pricing, creating bubbles of artificially high pricing for the benefit of a few and to the detriment of the many. It is, by no other definition, market manipulation -- despite the Dodd-Frank Bill passed by the Democratic Congress that was supposedly designed to limit such abuses.


Here's an older video from last year, again by Cenk Uygur, that explains this subject even more thoroughly. It's happening again.