Guess Who Funds the Climate Denial Industry?

According to the Guardian, a newly released Greenpeace study reveals it’s not just Exxon and the Koch brothers who fund the climate denial industry. In a recent article, they describe how a secretive charity known as Donors Trust enabled anonymous billionaires to donate nearly $120m to more than 100 groups campaigning to cast doubt on the science behind climate change. This money helped to build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups dedicated to redefining climate change as a highly polarizing “wedge issue” for hardcore conservatives – as opposed to a neutral scientific fact. During the same period the oil billionaire Koch brothers, who are usually credited with financing climate change denial, donated only a fraction of this amount.

It’s no mystery why the oil, gas and coal industry wants to stymie efforts by the US and other governments to cut carbon emissions by subsidizing renewable energy, public transportation and other initiatives to cut fossil fuel consumption.

The study sheds new light on the so-called “scientists” Donors Trust pays to produce “research” proving there is absolutely no link between carbon emissions, increasing CO2 concentrations, melting ice caps and the recent rash of catastrophic weather events.

Rafael Correa speaks on ‘Citizen Revolution’

While European governments continue to impose policies aimed at making
working people pay for a crisis they did not cause, the Ecuadorian
government of Rafael Correa has taken a different course.

“Those who are earning too much will be giving more to the poorest of
this country,” a November 1 Reuters dispatch quoted Correa as saying. He
was announcing a new measure to raise taxes on banks to help fund social
security payments.

Ecuador’s banking sector has registered US$349 million in after-tax
profits, a November 8 El Telegrafo article said.

“The time has arrived to redistribute those profits,” said Correa.

Reuters reported that by lifting the tax rate on bank holdings abroad
and applying a new tax on financial services, the government hopes to
raise between $200 million and $300 million a year.

The proceeds will fund a rise in the “human development bonus payment”
from $35 to $50 a month. About 1.2 million Ecuadorians receive the
payment, mainly single mothers and the elderly.

Such a move ? in the opposite direction to the most of the rest of the
world ? is largely explained by the fact the Correa government is a
result of the kind of protests movements now developing in Europe.

Citizen’s revolution

In “an interview published in the September/October issue of New Left
Review, Correa said the backdrop to his rise to power was “a citizens’
revolution, a revolt of indignant citizens” against bankers and
politicians destroying the country.

“In that sense we anticipated the recent indignado movement in Europe by
five or six years,” Correa said.

In 1999, a crisis engulfed Ecuador’s banking sector and the government
of the day tried to make the people carry the cost. Then-president Jamil
Mahuad was toppled by a popular uprising in 2000. The country’s
indigenous movements, spearheading opposition to neoliberalism, played a
leading role.

Ecuador’s economic crisis was soon coupled with a political crisis as
peoples’ illusions in the traditional parties of government collapsed.
“¡Que se vayan todos!” (Out with all of them!) became the rallying cry
of Ecuador’s next popular insurrection, which in 2005 toppled president
Lucio Gutierrez.

It was in this context that a relatively unknown leftist economist,
Correa, was asked to serve as the finance minister for Gutierrez’s
replacement, Alfredo Palacio.

Correa recalled: “In my short time at the Finance Ministry ? around a
hundred days ? we showed that one didn’t have to do the same as always:
submission to the IMF and World Bank, paying off the external debt
irrespective of the social debts still pending.

“This created a high level of expectations on the part of the public.”

Correa’s resignation due to differences with Palacio was greeted by
protests. Perhaps for the first time in history, the protests were not
against a finance minister, but in support.

With a group of close collaborators, Correa decided: “We couldn’t let
the expectations that had been raised, the feeling that things could be
done differently, end in disappointment.

“We travelled across the country and formed a political movement to
secure the presidency. For we saw very clearly that in order to change
Ecuador, we had to win political power.”

In 2006, Correa ran for president on a campaign that, he said, was
“proposing a revolution, understood as a radical and rapid change in the
existing structures of Ecuadorean society, in order to change the
bourgeois state into a truly popular one”.

Correa won in a second round run-off.

Make the bankers pay

One of the first big challenges his government faced was the global
economic crisis that hit in 2008.

The crisis was felt in Ecuador through the loss of foreign markets,
falling oil prices (the country’s chief export), and a sharp drop in
remittances from emigrants, which many Ecuadoreans depended.

Despite this, Ecuador’s economy suffered far less than many others.
Correa said this was due to “a combination of technical know-how and a
vision of the common good ? acting on behalf of our citizens, not
finance capital”.

“For example,” he said, “we used to have an autonomous central bank,
which is one of the great traps of neoliberalism, so that whichever
government is in power, things carry on as before”.

“Thanks to the 2008 Constitution, it is no longer autonomous.”

This meant the government could take back its national reserves that
were held in overseas banks. Together with new loans from China and
obliging private banks to return savings to Ecuador, the government was
able to ramp up public investment.

This helped lift Ecuador out of the crisis quicker than any other Latin
American country.

The government also enacted other measures to ensure peoples’ needs came
before profits. For example, new laws prohibit banks from penalising
low-income, first-time home buyers who default on their loans.

The most ambitious move however, which demonstrate how much had begun to
change in Ecuador, was the government’s decision to renegotiate its
foreign debt.

Correa told NLR: “The cost of the external debt was one of the greatest
obstacles to Ecuador’s development. At one time, servicing the debt
consumed 40 per cent of the budget, three times what was spent on the
social sphere ? education, health and so on.

“The allocation of resources demonstrated who was in charge of the
economy: bankers, creditors, international financial institutions.”

To turn this around, the government initiated the Committee for an
Integral Audit of the Public Debt (CAIC).

“The Commission proved beyond any doubt what we already knew: the
external debt was immoral, a robbery.

“For example, the 2012 and 2030 Global Bonds were sold on the secondary
market at 30 per cent of their value, but we had to pay them at the full
100 per cent. When it looked at the contracts, the Commission also found
a lot of corruption and conflicts of interest.

“So in December 2008 the CAIC ruled that this debt was immoral, and we
declared a unilateral moratorium on those bonds.

This was at a moment when we were in a strong economic position ? oil
prices were high, exports were growing ? which was deliberate. This
meant that the value of the debt dropped, and we forced our creditors to
negotiate and sell back their bonds in a Dutch auction.

“We managed to buy back our debt at 32–33 per cent of its value, which
meant billions of dollars of savings for the Ecuadorean people, both in
capital and in interest payments.

“This freed up a lot of resources which we could dedicate to the social
sphere; now, the situation is reversed from what it was before ? we
spend three times as much on education, health, housing as on debt

Human needs over greed

Correa said: “Now we are reducing inequality, and poverty with it,
through a combination of four things.

Firstly, making the rich pay more taxes. We have instituted a much more
progressive taxation system, and people now actually pay their taxes ?
collection has doubled.

“These resources, together with oil revenues and the money saved by
reducing the debt burden, can be devoted to education, health and so on.”

The second focus is giving people opportunities by providing free
education and healthcare.

“Thirdly, governing the market and improving the labour system.”

Correa said: “The market is a reality that we cannot avoid; but
believing the market should allocate everything is a different matter.
The market needs to be governed by collective action.

“We are putting an end to forms of exploitation such as subcontracting.
We are improving real wages …

“Around 60–65 per cent of families could afford the basic basket at the
start of our mandate, now we’ve reached 93 per cent, the highest in the
country’s history.

“We’ve disproved orthodox economic theory, the idea that to generate
employment one needs to lower real wages: here the real wage has risen
substantially, and we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the
region?just under 5 per cent.

“We’ve also paid attention to the quality of employment, making sure
businesses comply with labour laws. While raising wages for labour,
we’ve reduced the remuneration for capital.”

The fourth measure, Correa explained, is “distributing adequately our
social patrimony”.

Correa said: “We used to give away our oil: before the Palacio
government, transnational companies would take the equivalent of 85 out
of every 100 barrels and leave us with 15; now we have renegotiated the
contracts, the proportions have been reversed.

“Another example: after the economic crisis of 1999–2000, many
enterprises which were used as collateral for loans should have ended up
in state hands; it was we who finally seized them. In the case of the
Isaias Group, owned by the family of the same name, in 2008 we recovered
around 200 enterprises.”

The result of these measures has been a marked lowering of poverty and

This helps explain why, six years after first being elected, Correa
looks set to comfortably win presidential elections next March. Recent
polls show Correa winning with between 55-60% of the vote.

In distant second is a banker, Guillermo Lasso, with about 15% support.

Are we Deserving of a Democracy?

It is often said that we get the government we deserve. So given the fact that the Obama administration has by now clearly demonstrated that they do not do the bidding of the people, but the elites, and given the fact that even with this fact he still has an undeserved large number of supporters, it now becomes compulsory to ask ourselves, not just whether we got the government we deserve, but whether we even deserve democracy today. When people put themselves in compliance to a party, a personality, or a persona, be it Democratic, Republican, or any party or party leader, especially in a party and leadership that has long since demonstrated its hostility to its people (i.e. Democratic and Republican; Bush and Obama), and in the face of that knowledge either ignore or deny it and continue to support the person or party even as “the lesser evil,” then to that extent we deserve what that party or person does to us while they are in power and against which we do not protest simply because of our emotional allegiances; for example, warrantless spying, drones, assassinations, cuts to education and social fabric programs, tax cuts for the wealthy, favoring corporate leaders over the people (e.g. restructuring the auto industry in favor of its executives concerns), etc.

Arguably, there are at least two mental conditions underlying this phenomenon, and they are interrelated. The first is putting emotion over reason in one’s individual motivations; the second is putting a one-sided commitment to party over commitment to the (universally-motivated) common good (I will call the one-sidedness an emotive/ideological commitment to demonstrate its partiality, and will presume that reason plays a subservient role in its motivation). Both of these issues have a common cognitive aspect. It is important to note that the second issue has two facets, both of which are equally threatening to democracy: emotive commitment to party on the basis of self-interest; or emotive commitment to party as a melding of self-interest into group interest—i.e. entering into a group ideology, the implicit intention (or at least direction) of which is to defeat “outsider” ideologies that are not a part of that group’s beliefs. Both cognitive aspects involve a denial of attempting to be rationality objective, in favor of ideologies that are self-serving for that group, and thereby threatening to both a wholesome individual and to a healthy democracy. We will take each of these aspects in turn.

Before doing that, a quick definition is in order. By “rationality,” I mean a consciousness of the unity, structure, and consistency of propositions as well as their relations to each other in the process of justification (normative-guided inferences on the basis of available evidence), and the primary role of these dynamics as necessary conditions for human thought and communication. Along with this comes a focus on both discrimination of discrete concepts and also a universal quantification that comes with certain judgments, such as in ethics. Thus, rationality is the acknowledgement, by use or by conscious recognition, of a set of objective norms for thinking. The emphasis on the normative dimension of rationality here I take to be relatively uncontroversial. The controversy begins with my assertion of both the objectivity of norms (i.e. innate and universal in orientation), and most specifically the primacy of this understanding of human rationality in discourse, ethics, and politics. However, to blunt this potential controversy a bit, I would simply assert that without something resembling this conception of the structure and primacy of human reason, arguments about the best or most proper kind of politics, and the values such assertions are built on, would all be groundless: one metaphor would be just as good as another, and the only difference between them would be subjective taste. Contrary to that, I have met no one who was politically involved who would hold their perspective to be so groundless; reason surely plays an important role in justifying one’s position. Short of that, the only politics available to us is a power contest between ideologies. But this is precisely where my criticism of both desire-based individualism and party politics comes in, so we are now in a position to continue.

First, to self-dismantle the priority of one’s own innate propensity for thinking rationally by opting instead for emotive inspiration for one’s beliefs, and rejecting the rationally required justification for one’s social beliefs and proclamations, is to allow oneself to be led by individual desire and the cognitive and ethical relativism they respectively stand for. Far worse on this score, to have that relativism advocated by academicians and educational institutions (the “no foundational rules” or “no knowledge” approach to either the learning process itself and/or constituting the template for studying a given subject matter) is to automatically make those who embrace it susceptible to the rhetoric and propaganda of the leaders they are only emotionally supporting. Without a strong emphasis on and priority given to rational structures of thought and justification, one has no basis for either for their own views, or for criticism or critique of persons or parties: one has instead only an empty appeal to others having simply “a different metaphor.”

Second, to deliberately limit one’s considerations, knowledge, thinking, and values to the interests of one party pitted against another, or to what one personally feels good about—i.e. to deny the possibility of cognitive equilibrium by refusing to acknowledge, say, the critical importance of the immense gap between the rhetoric of party leaders and their actions, and/or between the interests of the leaders and that of their members, makes one blindly party-allegiant. This in turn entices the followers of a party to surrender to the interests of those rulers and the mechanisms of state the rulers use to pursue their own self-interests under the rhetorical banner of “national interests” or “the safety of the nation.” The reason for this sorry state of affairs is that, in deliberately opting for desire over reason, for relativism over truth, for the power of one party over another, for self-interest over the common good, and even for party over principle, one has surrendered both a rational (i.e. objective; universally-intended) and ethical (i.e. equal justice) ground on which to stand and a grasp of a set of long-term social goods for which to strive, in favor of individual self-aggrandizement, which is inevitably transient, elusive, and short-term.

votePeople who object to this analysis on the basis of a certain form of pragmatism—i.e. who say that the (two) party system is “the only game in town” and/or that “one must work within the party for change”—are not immune from this critique. There are many parties one might work for that more closely aligns with one’s rational sense of universal justice. Thus, the commitment from a pragmatic viewpoint to a single party or institution which has de facto rejected concerns of equality, justice, and universal inclusion, is no objection. Party pragmatists are bourgeois liberals: liberals who have “made it;” that is, they have made their gains within the confines of the institution(s) as it (they) currently exist, and/or have accepted the dogma that the current arrangement is the only foreseeable or workable arrangement to be had. In either case, in refusing to take on the cognitive disequilibrium that would attend it were they to consider otherwise, they are less interested in working for the universal application of the principles of equality, freedom, and justice if it sets their party-based goals back or if it costs them in their personal comfort. With one of those assumptions, they are able to support what the party or party leader does and says without the claims of conscience intruding excessively on their worldview. The perspective of a pragmatist then, is from the viewpoint of an instrumental rationality, a rationality that is geared toward party-based or party-limited ends instead of an objectively-motivated commitment to justice that would break one out of party limitations and into a vision for a new future for American politics.

No one who is drunk on this potion of party-interest, and its one-sided (i.e. party-supporting) information, individual self-interested desire-satisfaction, irrationalism and its emotionally titillating politics—any combination of these intoxicants—will be able to sort out truth from falsehood, rhetoric from reality, or ethical good from pandering to puffed-up feelings encouraged in their leaders’ speeches and corporate commercials. Only those who have made a conscious choice to value reason, logic, and ethical principles, necessarily attuned as they are to the good of the whole as opposed to their own selfish feelings of good and gain, can raise their heads up enough to see that the fox is in the henhouse; that the lies and the liars are in one’s own head as a result of both the self-destructive irrationalism of self-interest supported by the verbal manipulations of elite party leaders, combined with their secret and not-so-secret nefarious deeds.

The primary emphasis on either self or party results in a deflationary view of rationality and with it the recognition of the need for public, rational justification of positions taken and actions engaged—a discursive process that seeks the best, most rational and ethical perspective. On the other hand, blithely supporting a single party results in an inflationary view of one’s emotionally-supported leaders or party. Concretely, that means that one perceives and over-emphasizes only the minor goods done while ignoring far more nefarious deeds and misdeeds done, while at the same time being elated at “great speeches,” rhetorical flourishes, and engaging metaphors that happen to match one’s own feelings. This is the ideology that comes with an over-attachment to party combined with an unspoken because unacknowledged irrational mode of belief subject to the propagandistic manipulation of leadership—both of which reduce human cognition to a function of metaphorical exchange and judging differences between values as simply differences in metaphor. This give no grounding and no telos to human pursuit or exchange, and reduces discourse to exchange of catchy phrases and its resultant score-card of who (i.e. which party or politician) had the more polished turn of phrase instead of who had the position most in accord with both the evidence available and in conjunction with a moral set of principles that one would maintain is more acceptable for human intercourse. Thus, the overall patterns of leadership action and citizen support become the same, when reason and ethics are surrendered to interests of any other sort but the equal and universal concerns expressed by the principle “justice for all.”

The result of such irrationalities that themselves result in party-allegiance over principle: fascism and totalitarianism, in which individual rationality and objective justification is surrendered precisely for what is irrational. Contrary to the claim of relativists, fascism and totalitarianism did not originate in a quest for universal reason and a focus on rationality. Rather, that quest was overcome and put to use by a much deeper—i.e. unconscious—mechanism of the human psyche; one that caused Freud to be so pessimistic about human nature and the future of humanity. That mechanism is the love of control and power over others—be they another political party or another race or another culture—and the masochistic love of inflicting pain on them that is the inevitable concomitant of the pursuit of power. This is the psychological dynamic that put reason to work to achieve its ends in Hitler’s Germany. It still does today in Obama’s corporate America. (Note: I am not analogizing Hitler and Obama. I am simply arguing that the spirit of fascism did not die with Hitler or the Third Reich, and is very much alive in America today, and for the same reasons it was alive in Germany back then.)

By rejecting reason wholesale, and by putting relativism, the groupthink of a “party first” ideology, self-centered desires, and/or the irrational drives of the human psyche as the fundamental guide of human thoughts and action, the culture of the mid-to-late 20th century West guaranteed the decline of democracy and the ongoing dominance of the fascistic spirit we see so prominently today. It inverted the internal, self-ordered rational individual (and how could psyche have an order/cosmos without reason as guide?) with the desiring individual and thus social chaos (the opposite of cosmos) as atomistic, irrational individuals sought their own means of self-aggrandizement without care or concern for the impact they had on local or distant others and the future state of humanity.

The solution advocated here to this problem is what I would call “post party politics.” It is the recognition that the full-throated commitment to the party system has proved to be an utter failure, as has the commitment to individualism and relativism. Thus, the best solution is to find a political place between the Scylla of the party system (i.e. “the party for the party’s sake,” or “the party over and against all other parties”) and the Charybdis of settling for the solipsism of individualism and/or the intellectual complacency of relativism. That will demand two things: first, to put reason and ethical principles back to our deliberation as primary modes of cognition; second, to engage in public discourse on that basis; and third, to give only provisional support, which flexes and changes, to those persons and groups who put these values as primary in their governing methods, even if they are not able to maintain them at all times and all levels. This entails that one is committed to never allying with groups for groups’ sake, or with one’s self-interest alone as the basis of either voting or political involvement.

Is There Really Such Thing As Sustainable Tourism?

For the last 3 years of my life I have been working to create real sustainable tourism around the world. Whether it be in the Peace Corps in Panama working with indigenous cacao farmers for 2 years helping to create a low impact agro-based eco-tour, or the latest project I’m involved in, Keteka, which helps to find small community based tourism projects around the world that feature low impact tourism and bring in cultural exchanges as well as extra money to places that really need it. As our Indiegogo campaign for the project has intensified and become extremely popular, I have had the chance to answer questions from journalists, bloggers, and radio show hosts. The question “Is this really sustainable” comes up frequently and I think it is an important one. I feel that this question is so important that sharing the following recent exchange that I had with a journalist is the best way to for me to present it. Read and discus:

How do you show tourists little seen areas of Panama without irrevocably changing those areas?

The idea is to change these areas believe it or not. At least a small amount. All three of the founders of Keteka worked on tourism in our two years in the Peace Corps and in that time we found the effects of responsible tourism in our community to be much much more on the positive side in terms of impact than the negative. This is especially true in the indigenous communities. I can give you a couple examples of this: In my community (Rio Oeste Arriba ) it is very common for the people not to communicate very well. Because of this, a recent road put into the area, and the many church groups that have come through throughout the years telling the community that they need to “become more civilized” they have lost many of their traditions and language. With the tour that we set up, we literally had to spend a large portion of tourism training getting the very old generation in my community to teach the middle aged and younger generation the old customs, language, dress, and food.

I will never forget seeing community members coming to see the food we were cooking for tourists and wondering what it was not realizing that it was a traditional dish of the area and that it was all from local plants. In the two years that I had to work on the Chocolate tour that we set up I saw new tour guides that we were training learn the language of their grandparents as well as English and how to use a computer. I saw timid women become more confident and start to take leadership roles where there had not been in the not to distant past. And I saw many many many tourists learn about a culture that is on the absolute brink of being no-more. As I mentioned before, change is the idea here. It is just helping these communities change with the time in a way that helps them keep their traditions and offers new opportunities.

How do you balance traveling in an eco-friendly way when airplane transportation is so damaging? Or are there any sustainable (in the green sense) trips?

This is an interesting question and in a world where “green” is thrown out there more often than not it is hard to tell what is really helping our planet and what is not. We don’t pretend to be “green” service. Whenever you are traveling you are using non-renuable energy sources to get there and back and you are probably eating things such as local seafood that is from areas that are from severely fish depleted waters such as most of the areas in Panama. As you probably know, bottled water is one of the biggest energy users and the containers fill our landfills or in Panama, the side of the road. If you are trying to be “green” or earth friendly I would honestly recommend finding a local place you can visit a new culture and have those experiences. Of course this is easier to do in a larger city. You would be amazed at the amount of diversity we have in the states and many of these people keep their traditions. That said, there is a “greener” way of traveling and that is by bus, which is how a great majority of Keteka users travel.

Especially true in Central America, busses are packed and relatively cheap. The more packed the bus, the less damage it is going to do to the environment. Panama in particular has a great bus system and even have newer buses that are energy efficient. If you really need to fly somewhere as your time is limited or you just can’t handle the crowded bus, I would suggest becoming a vegetarian for at least your trip or maybe even the month. This will help offset the amount of pollutants put into air from your plane trip and will keep more of fish in the water to see later when your snorkeling.

See the Drones? Forget the Drones!

Former Obama White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who now works as an MSNBC reporter, revealed yesterday (Sunday, February 24, 2013) on MSNBC that while being prepared in 2008 to assume the Press Secretary job for the incoming Obama Administration, he was specifically told to deny the drone program’s existence:

“When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was you’re not even to acknowledge the drone program,” he explained on MSNBC. “You’re not even to discuss that it exists.”

Gibbs admitted that it was a troubling instruction since the drone program was already known to exist so that his denial of its existence put him in the peculiar position of saying to reporters in effect, “listen to what I’m saying and ignore what you already know to be factually true.”

But then again, isn’t that in fact what the Press Secretary’s job is now?

Here’s how Gibbs specifically put it:

“Here’s what’s inherently crazy about that proposition,” Gibbs continued. “You’re being asked a question based on reporting of a program that exists. So you’re the official government spokesperson acting as if the entire program — pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

What the vast majority of people in this country rely upon, of course, is what the Press Secretary says. He or she is the designated spokesperson for the president to the media who are in turn the conduit to the people about what their president and the White House more generally are doing and thinking. Even those people who know better and recognize that the Press Secretary is more Press Flack than truth teller are still strongly pulled in the direction of what the Press Secretary tells the nation. Moreover, Obama campaigned on an explicit pledge to restore transparency to government. His administration, however, was not even yet in the White House and his incoming Press Secretary was already being told to deny the drone program’s existence.

What makes this even more revealing about how much contempt the governing parties have for the public is that while campaigning for the presidency in 2007, it was none other than Obama who first publicly advocated using drones in Pakistan.

As I wrote in September of 2008:

As reported by the New York Times on September 11, 2008, in July 2008 Bush secretly approved Spec Ops forces to launch ground military attacks inside Pakistan without prior approval from the Pakistani government. The NYT essay notes: “It is unclear precisely what legal authorities the United States has invoked to conduct even limited ground raids in a friendly country.” It’s unclear because such actions are blatantly against international law. (During the Vietnam War when President Nixon announced on April 30, 1970 that he had begun bombing Cambodia and thereby expanding the war, a fury broke out in America. During the widespread protests that followed, four students were famously shot and killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio on May 4.)

“The Times” article continues: “Pakistan’s government has asserted that last week’s raid achieved little except killing civilians and stoking anti-Americanism in the tribal areas.

“Unilateral action by the American forces does not help the war against terror because it only enrages public opinion,” said Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, during a speech on Friday. “In this particular incident, nothing was gained by the action of the troops.”

What gives this story even more resonance is the fact that the Bush regime is now finally embracing the tactics that Obama had called for back in August 2007. At the time, Bush, John McCain and the other Democratic presidential hopefuls including Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton derided Obama for offering such a bellicose proposal. Bush said: “he’s going to attack Pakistan” in disbelief.

As Reuters reported on August 1, 2007: “Obama said if elected in November 2008 he would be willing to attack inside Pakistan with or without approval from the Pakistani government, a move that would likely cause anxiety in the already troubled region.

“If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will,” Obama said.”

So there you have it: the reactionary Bush White House has now adopted a plan that it previously publicly described as overly aggressive – can you imagine this White House thinking anything is too aggressive? – a plan offered up by the Democratic Party’s standard bearer, Obama, the man that many progressives pin their hopes on.

This reminds me of the line from a comic who wondered what the world is coming to when the world’s best golfer is black and the best rapper is white. (Emphasis added).

droneSo there you have it: an ex-Press Secretary feels free today to tell us how he was instructed to lie, now that he is no longer holding the job that required him to lie, instructed by an administration that touts itself as the most transparent in history, led by a president whose credibility rests upon his persona as honest and forthcoming. This ex-Press Secretary was instructed to even to lie about something that at least those in the media knew to be a lie, and those who had been paying attention to the news and the Obama campaign knew to be a lie.

Obama was trying to distinguish himself during the campaign as someone who could be relied upon to be properly aggressive because when you run for the presidency, you are also auditioning for the 1% who actually run things.

So this issue reveals both the Presidential office holders’ duplicity and the very carefully concealed fact that whoever is running for president is also sending out messages while running for the office that the real powers will recognize.

Obama’s Asia Pivot

In late 2011, Obama prioritized reasserting America’s Pacific presence. His Asia pivot was announced.

It involves advancing America’s military footprint. Doing so aggressively is planned. China’s growing economic might and military strength are targeted. So is checking Russia at the same time.

Containment is policy. Cold war politics is back. Unchallenged global dominance is prioritized. Anything goes intends to maintain it.

War in a part of the world hostile to invaders is possible. Vietnam echoes remain audible. So are Afghanistan ones today. China’s a far more formidable adversary. So is Russia.

It’s hard imagining any country challenging them militarily. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. America hasn’t won a war since WW II. Lessons weren’t learned.

Permanent war remains policy. War profiteers demand it. In January 2012, Obama expanded the Bush doctrine. Dick Cheney explained it. In June 2003, he said:

“If there is anyone in the world today who doubts the seriousness of the Bush Doctrine, I would urge that person to consider the fate of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.”

Bush put it his way, saying “You’re either with us or against us.” Neutrality’s not an option. Neither are equity, justice, rule of law principles, democratic values and peace.

Supporters thought Obama was different. He exceeds the worst of Bush. He does so at home and abroad. He hardened homeland tyranny. He asserts America’s right to replace independent governments with client ones.

Doing so prioritizes global aggression. It violates international law. Washington operates with impunity. Its interests matter most.

Obama’s biting off a mouthful targeting China and Russia. He rules out no options. Bush addressed “wars of the 21st century.”

Obama continues them. Tactics include creating instability, chaos and violence. North Africa, the Middle East, and Eurasia are targeted. It’s done to justify America’s intervention and presence.

Obama prioritizes global belligerence. He’s cold-blooded about America’s interests. He’s mindless of whatever it takes to achieve them. Realpolitik continues Washington’s odious tradition.

Waging wars on humanity reflect it. Doing so spurns rule of law principles. Democratic values don’t matter. They never did and don’t now.

Obama’s pivot escalated regional tensions. Challenging China and Russia pose enormous challenges.

Asia’s on the boil. Japan’s a virtual US colony. It serves US imperial interests. Washington treats Asian areas like its own. It has no right to do so.

Administrations and Congress believe America has sovereign rights over East Asian waters and territory. It wants to dominate and exploit them.

Strengthening America’s regional presence is part of its new imperial strategy. It’s going head-to-head with China and Russia. It aims to undermine and isolate Beijing and Moscow regionally. It’s a recipe for heightened tensions and eventual confrontation.

Washington has been rebalancing East Asia for years. Strategy calls for strengthening military, economic, and political ties with Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam.

It involves undermining Chinese and Russian influence, isolating them from neighbors, and asserting Washington’s dominance over territories and waters not its own.

Echoes of WW I and II remain audible. Never again is possible. Flashpoints have a way of igniting them. Small disputes lead to greater ones.

Obama’s Asia pivot encourages them. Military alliances, strategic partnerships, and expanding bases make them more likely.

Cold War politics is back. Soviet Russia’s dissolution reignited old rivalries. Scrambling for vital resources followed. Marginalizing Beijing’s influence is prioritized. So is challenging Moscow the same way.

Both countries are rising world powers. America’s been declining for years. Its military might is used to offset it. Waging war on humanity is a losing game.

Walden Bello calls Obama’s Asia pivot “flawed.” Critics denounce transgressing areas of traditional Chinese influence.

Obama continues the worst of Bush administration policies. His pivot strategy is more than meets the eye.

It’s “a faint,” says Bellow, “a maneuver to cover up a strategic retreat from America’s disastrous two-decades-long engagement in the Middle East and Southwest Asia.”

It’s Washington attempt “to retreat to an area for imperial power projection that it sees as more manageable than a Middle East that is running out of control.”

It’s hard understanding how. It won’t work. Realpolitik won’t let Washington disengage. It’s “condemned to a condition of imperial overreach.”

Increasing America’s Pacific footprint triggers military competition with China. It prioritizes protecting its part of the world. It’s doing so “as it races to become the world’s biggest economy.”

Its politics reflects centuries of contesting Western intervention. Don’t underestimate its capacity to “promot(e) peace, harmony, and respect for sovereignty better than” America’s hegemonic madness.

Washington uses whatever it takes to advance its imperium. Its Asia pivot encircles China and Russia with bases.

With all related categories included, its defense spending exceeds all other nations combined. It wants dominance over both countries. It wants it regionally and globally.

It wants Beijing and Moscow marginalized and subservient. It wants control over vital world resources. It wants challengers eliminated.

China and Russia are formidable competitors. They’re dominant enough to matter.

America’s grand geopolitical strategy prioritizes Eurasian dominance. China’s America’s chief economic rival. It’s dependent on vital resources.

Russia’s military might matters. Both countries represent major Eurasian challengers. Washington tolerates no rivals. No-holds-barred tactics target them.

Obama declared global cyberwar. China, Russia, Iran, and other independent states are targeted. Draconian cybersecurity legislation is prioritized.

CISPA is back. It’s more about destroying personal freedom than online security. It gives government and corporate predators unlimited power.

They’ll take full advantage. They’ll use it to access personal/privileged information online. They’ll claim fake cybersecurity threats to do so.

Constitutional protections don’t matter. Diktat power replaced them. Big Lies substitute for truth. War on terror is America’s national pastime. China is public enemy number one.

On February 19, a New York Times editorial headlined “China’s Cybergames.”

Times editors are paid to lie. They claim Washington “and security experts have long known that China is the main source of cyberattacks on the United States.” A new Mandiant report says so. Claims without corroboration don’t wash.

Mandiant’s a private security firm. Kevin Mandia heads it. He’s a retired military cybercrime investigator. He specializes in computer forensics. His staff includes former intelligence officials and law enforcement agents.

He targets China. He operates like a digital Blackwater. He’s well paid to do so. “We’re security guys,” he says. “We’re not diplomats.”

He claims Chinese hackers are linked to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). US government agencies, corporations and organizations are targeted from a Shanghai area office tower. It’s PLA Unit 61398 headquarters, he says.

China denounced his report. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said:

“Hacking attacks are transnational and anonymous. Determining their origins are extremely difficult. We don’t know how the evidence in this so-called report can be tenable.”

Bet on it having no credibility whatever. Most countries spy on others. They do so for national security reasons. Government hacking is war by other means. Washington does it aggressively. Media scoundrels don’t explain.

Obama stopped short of accusing China. No one’s fooled by who he has in mind. Congressional hardliners say the same thing.

Concerns are discussed privately. Patience is wearing thin, said Times editors. “China-emanated attacks have grown,” they claim.

A more aggressive response is warranted, they say. “Publicizing China’s transgressions and blocking Internet access to hackers should be a warning to Beijing. Washington is right to defend its interests.”

Attorney General Holder weighed in. He warned of “a significant and steadily increasing threat to America’s economy and national security interests.” He lied saying so. He’s paid to lie. So is Obama and likeminded hardliners.

Robert Hormats was Goldman Sachs International chairman. That alone makes him damaged goods. Goldman makes money by stealing it. Hormats was complicit in grand theft.

He’s now Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment. He said Washington “repeatedly raised concerns about trade secret theft by any means at the highest levels with senior Chinese officials.”

Get China is official US policy. Marginalizing, weakening, and isolating it is prioritized. New threats follow earlier ones. Cyberwar opens a new front.

Capability to wage it adds to America’s arsenal. Preemption is prioritized. Diktat authority bypasses Congress. Obama’s word is policy.

He’ll say what he wants without evidence. He’s a serial liar so expect it. He’s waging multiple direct and proxy wars.

Cyber ones are ongoing. They’re aggressive, malicious and lawless. New ones are planned. China is prioritized. Obama’s got other targets in mind. Cyber sabotage is policy. It’s war by other means. Rogue states operate that way. America’s by far the worst.

US Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) has full operational control. It’s a cyber hit squad. It’s part of the US Strategic Command.

It’s based at Fort Meade, MD. General Keith Alexander serves as National Security Agency (NSA) director and US Cyber Command head.

Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive 20 set guidelines for confronting cyberspace threats.

Last fall, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned of a “cyber Pearl Harbor.” It could “cause physical destruction and loss of life,” he said. It could “paralyze and shock the nation and create a new profound sense of vulnerability.”

US officials prioritize hyperbolic fearmongering. Americans are easy marks to deceive. They’re dismissive and don’t think. They let Washington get away with murder and much more.

Obama may have WW III in mind. He prioritizes waging war on humanity. He does so at home and abroad. He’s the worst of rogue leaders.

He risks what no head of state should dare. Despots operate that way. Impeaching him is a national imperative. Doing it in time matters most.

Pension theft: Marie Benedetto, a retired San Francisco math teacher, says CalPERS is increasing teachers’ insurance premium for long-term health care a whopping 85 percent

Long-term care rate hike stuns CALPERS teacher and public worker retirees and they should be stunned.  For the forces of reaction are not just cannibalizing our kids, but they are helping themselves to a hefty plate of senior pensions in their Donner Party dinner that includes all public pensions.  All over the nation, since 2010, as I have reported, teacher pension funds have been the big pinata for investment bankers, banks, politicians, and hedge funds all looking for a free ride in the ‘free market’ and all the other scallywags we call ‘job  creators’, investment specialists and undemocratic representatives.  They are in fact, job destroyers and when they can’t get their hands on jobs to destroy, they look, like the vampires they are, to suck the blood out of public worker pensions and leave workers decimated.  This is the slow incremental drip of austerity, American style.

In a recent article in the San Francisco Gate, online, reporter Victoria Colliver has written about how CALPERS is now being attacked by the demons of despair — the financial class and the ruling elites.  All this while Jerry Brown, capitalism’s ‘handshake’, sits back and makes budget decisions along with his cronies that promise to devastate the public sector and its members.  Brown is part of a long line of neo-liberal politicians who likes to quote Zen sayings while he slashes and burns California.  There was a time he posed as a liberal but that was before ‘neo’ liberalism to which he has taken a fond liking to.  He is little more than a huckster.

From charter schools to budget devastation, from cuts in welfare and childrens’ needs to slashing public pensions, Brown has proved to be the scourge of California, doing what Schwartznegger could never do under a republican administration.  Now he is after seniors and retirees, while he and his wife, founder of the Gap, attend parties with criminal Sandy Weill of Citigroup (remember Weill: he orchestred the destruction of Glass-Seagal, which seperated investment banks from ‘regular’ banks).

Yet Brown, no friend of working people, really is only a minor method actor in the destruction of the public commons.  Meanwhile, while ’the Governor’ and his wife enjoy lofty parties with ruling elites, working people actually die.