Woodchip Select is a selection of reprints from our chipstack and abbreviated articles or features, the full versions of which can be accessed by clicking on the link at the end of the article or by returning to the Gazette's home page.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Obamination in Syria

It is difficult to believe that anyone would fall for the razzle dazzle that the Obama Administration is serving up in support of its desired intervention in Syria.

The Government's case that "Assad" used chemical weapons against civilians does not amount to anything more than alleging he had the capacity and opportunity to do so.   That is certainly the case, but any moron ought to understand that opportunity does not equate with commission.  The Administration has proffered no evidence (far less proof) that Syrian forces deployed the weapons on the dates in question.

That some kind of chemical attack took place appears to be undeniable.  The question of who mounted it depends on an antecedent issue; namely, the capacity and opportunity of the rebels to deploy such an attack themselves.  Curiously enough, the Administration did not argue that the rebels were incapable of mounting such an attack, although the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, did.  Still, as Cameron stated to the House of Commons, the evidence that the Syrian Government deployed chemical weapons was a "judgement."

In the absence of objective factual evidence going beyond circumstances of opportunity, one is left with arguments over motives.  On this plane, it is clear that the argument tips in favour of the Syrian Government, which could have had no reasonable motive for triggering international outrage by mounting a chemical attack.  That the rebels would wish to mount a false flag operation is equally obvious on the other side.

At best, there is simply no reliable evidence or credible argument that the Syrian Government is responsible for the attack.    But the issue of who smoked out whom is a red-herring in any event.

Assuming for the sake of argument that there was a government use of chemical weapons, the question becomes whether there is any legal basis for doing anything about it.  Given this assumption (that the Syrian Government is guilty as charged), there are three modes of reaction: political, economic and military. 

There is no question but that any and all nations have a right to shun Syria on whatever grounds and to the extent they deem expedient.  They may refuse to trade with Syria, they may exclude it from reciprocal treaties and engagements.  They need not even proffer a reason for doing so, but if they wish to assert  a  moral aversion to the use of gas, that would provide ample justification for responsive conduct which is in all events within national prerogative.

However, once a state proposes invasive measures, the question passes as to its legal authority under conventional international law to proceed in a violent manner.   Here, the premise for all further discussion is that no state has the right to intervene in the internal affairs of another.  The entire structure of international law is built on the premise of sovereign autonomy which accords to each and every nation a right not to be attacked by any other state.   This axiom ought not to be discarded with jejune cynicism because the alternative is simply ongoing chaos and war.

Clearly, all states reserve the right of self-defence and this includes retaliation after an attack.   The right arguably includes pre-emptive self-defence at least in cases where there is clear and convincing intelligence of an imminent attack.  To this extent the allowed conduct of states is analogous to the law of self-defence among individuals.

However, the extension of pre-emptive defence to include attacks aimed at degrading or destroying a potential enemy's capacity to attack is nothing but a polemical perversion put forward by those whose secret aim is to undermine the entire structure of international law.

It is important to penetrate the sophistries underlying this perversion.  An adversary is a state which has opposed interests of one sort or another and which may harbour hostile designs.  An enemy is an actor who has declared or embarked on acts of war.  The competitive and adversarial nature of international relations is both undeniable and contemplated.  But the entire point of international law is to keep the competition pacific and on this side of aggressive acts.  A potential enemy is merely an adversary  -- a state which is not subservient to, or aligned with the interests of the potential aggressor.  To argue for preemptive defence against "potential enemies" or mere adversaries is none other than to assert a "right" to make war at will.

Equally vague is the asserted right to defend against a "capacity" to attack.  International lawyers are currently quibbling over the distinction between "capacity" and "capability."  The quibble is beside the point.  All states have some capacity to make some kind of war, even if only with bows and arrows.  Most states have varying degrees of capability to make effective modern war.  Any state with a modern industrial base has a significant capability to make effective war.   Defence against a capacity or capability is another word for destroying an adversary's civil, economic and military infrastructure.   This was why, in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, fertiliser factories  were alleged to be weapons sites. 

When a U.S. administration speaks of deterring "potential threats" (that is, a  potential, possible harm) it is not referring to any imminent aggression or actual harm but rather to using "forward presence operations" to "preclude the development of any potentially hostile entity" and for the sake of "deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role," as Dick Cheney's  Defense Planning Guide put it. (Ibid,  Cover Letter, 18 Feb. 1992, I 91/28291, pp. 2, 26   [1].)

This double conditional phraseology has become entrenched in Washington's strategic lingo which routinely casts geopolitical issues in terms of "maintaining U.S. preeminence" by means of "power projection operations" aimed at "precluding" and "deterring" "potential rivals" or "potential enemies" or "potentially powerful states" which might seek to "expand their own  influence" or "that may threaten America's ability to exercise its dominant military power." (See e.g., P.N.A.C's  September 2000 White Paper, entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses [2] ).

While the public's general indifference to English grammar might make it tone deaf to what is being said, Government statements and memoranda invariably conceive national defence in terms of ongoing "power projection" or, in plain Anglo-Saxon, bullying.

With this summary in mind, it can be seen that the neocon doctrine of preemptive defence against the capacity of potential enemies to present a threat (i.e. a possible harm) to the United States in unspecified ways is nothing less than advocacy of ongoing chaos and destruction.   To label such policy, "satanic" is hardly an exaggeration, for that is what Satan is about.

There is, in the present situation, no assertion, yet, that the use of gas in Syria constituted an attack or presented a true and imminent threat to the United States.  In the world of phantasmagorical (or pathological) abstractions, Syria might possibly attempt a gas attack on some United States installation or craft.  The likelihood of her doing so, without provocation is, zero.   There is simply no basis for asserting national self-defence on the assumed basis that the Syrian Government deployed chemical weapons against its own domestic insurgents. 

President Obama might intone that Syria's use of chemical weapons implicates "core national security interests" but he does not even attempt to explain how other than to fall back on the neocon doctrine that the potential of any state to possibly present a threat qualifies as a "clear and present danger" which justifies a pre-emptive attack.   Within a more rational construct of reality, it suffices to say that a U.S. attack on Syria simply cannot be justified as self-defence.

Nevertheless,  the use of chemical weapons against domestic insurgents or a civil population does give rise to a conundrum in international law.  For, while the resort to such weapons, as a substantive fact, may be universally condemned, there is no universally agreed upon or satisfactory procedure for responding to their use.

After the Great War, virtually all nations signed a convention against the use of chemical weapons during war.  The idea was that, by whatever means nations might obliterate their young men, the use of gas was not one of them.  Since no attack at all against civilian populations is permitted, it went without saying that the use of gas against an enemy's non-combatants was also prohibited. 

If such an attack takes place, during war, the aggrieved belligerent party is entitled to take such proportionate retaliatory measures it deems fit.  In this context, "proportionate" typically means a tooth for a tooth, and maybe one more for good measure.

What happens, however, when a country uses chemical weapons against its own population, or "gasses" them in large numbers by other means?   This was the conundrum which presented itself at the Nuremberg Trials after the World War.  Germany and Germans could be tried and convicted for war-crimes against nations with whom it had been at war and against civilian populations under occupation.  But there was no basis for prosecuting anyone for crimes Germany committed against its own citizens, in particular against German Jews.  Horrendous as it might have been, it was not a war crime but rather a moral outrage which had occurred within the temporal framework of a war.

It was the Victors' determination to punish such conduct which gave rise to the newly-minted doctrine of "Crimes against Humanity." Accordingly, the Nuremberg Tribunal did the legal equivalent of a skip-and-shuffle, ruling that "insofar as the inhumane acts charged in the Indictment, and committed after the beginning of the war, did not constitute war crimes, they were all committed in execution of, or in connection with, the aggressive war, and therefore constituted crimes against humanity." [3]   In other words, non-prosecutable crimes against a belligerent's own citizens were piggy-backed onto the war-in-general.

As it evolved after Nuremberg, the doctrine of "Crimes Against Humanity" applies without more to any country's own civilian population, but the conduct in question must be  part either of a government policy or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority.  Isolated or sporadic events simply do not qualify. (Article 7, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, (2002).) [4]   Sporadic events may be violative (and prosecutable) as violations of the traditional laws of war but absent systematic practice they do not constitute crimes against humanity.  

Historically speaking, the requirement of  a "widespread or systematic"  practice had its genesis in the fact that the concept of  "crimes against humanity"  arose in reaction to ongoing practices such as the slave-trade, the reduction of entire populations to slavery and genocide.   The practical purpose of the systemic requirement, was to set a fairly high threshold for responsive action.  

The limitations of the concept are implicit from the circumstances out of which it evolved.  They presuppose an ongoing practice of multiple, successive horrors and they envision after the fact prosecution by some victorious agency.  In other words, the deterrence lies principally in the fact that if the perpetrator(s) loose the conflict they will be punished.

Recognising the weakness of the beer, the United Nations Charter did provide a mechanism for intervention against presently ongoing atrocities, provided the intervention was authorised by the international community as  represented by the Security Council.  The obvious and practical purpose of this requirement was to preclude the chaos which would ensue from individual states unilaterally assuming the prerogatives of Lord Protector of the World. 

The problem with this mechanism was that the Security Council itself was merely the formalisation of rival world hegemonies.  Unanimity among the major powers in the Council was unattainable with respect to any country in which a major power had a protective interest.  

This deadlock is a reflection of the actual scepticism countries harbour with respect to humanitarian crimes.  The deadlock not only reflects one major power's venal desire to shield crimes by its own, it also reflects the rival power's equally venal desire to promote its own interests under the pretext of a humanitarian intervention.

The U.S. media is prone to harping on Soviet vetoes of Council resolutions.  But the United States has not been laggard itself.  It has consistently vetoed resolutions adversely impacting on its own interests and in 2011 both the Obama Administration and the House of Representatives signalled a U.S. veto of any resolution condemning Israel for "systematic and deliberate" war crimes against the civilian population of Gaza (including the use of white phosphorous) which were determined to have occurred by  United Nation's independent Goldstone Commission. [5]

Removing the requisite authorisation for intervention from the Security Council to the General Assembly would constitute an obvious and actual democratisation of the ideal of "international consensus."  However, the United States has been the principal opponent of any such improvement.

The ineffectiveness of existing mechanisms to interrupt and put a stop to "crimes against humanity" has recently given rise to the related doctrines of "humanitarian intervention" and "responsibility to protect" aggrieved populations ("R2P").   Generally speaking, these doctrines expand the scope of crimes against humanity so as to include various forms of civil discrimination and, at the same time lower the authorisation required for intervention.  [6]  [7]   [8]

Despite the veneer of politically correct moralising, the purpose of  these doctrines is simply to provide a supposedly "objective" set of standards for unilateral state action.  But legality is always less a matter of substance than a question of procedure.  The issue is not "what" but who determines "when". 

Humanitarian Intervention is simply the canard which accompanies the chaos of unilateralism.  In the 19th century, it was routinely invoked as a cover for  European colonial enterprises launched under the banner of the White Man's Burden to protect the native from his own. 

It is important to grasp that the concept of humanitarian intervention presupposes that national self-defence is not at issue.  There is no threat whatsoever to the intervening nation which supposedly acts solely for the good of others.

With this in mind, it can be seen that the doctrine is far older than modern colonialism.  It has its genesis in the christian doctrine of "just war" which was first explicitly put forth in 851 by St. Cyril of Constantine who argued  that while a Christian was affirmatively forbidden to resort to violence in order to defend himself it was laudable and requisite for him to come to the defence of others.  

This convenient doctrine was enthusiastically taken up by Pope Urban II in defence of the First Crusade, launched he said, to defend the helpless Christians of Jerusalem and to avenge the barbarities and sacrileges committed upon them,

They circumcise the Christians, and the blood of the circumcision they either spread upon the altars or pour into the vases of the baptismal font. When they wish to torture people by a base death, they perforate their navels, and dragging forth the extremity of the intestines, bind it to a stake; then with flogging they lead the victim around until the viscera having gushed forth the victim falls prostrate upon the ground. Others they bind to a post and pierce with arrows. Others they compel to extend their necks and then, attacking them with naked swords, attempt to cut through the neck with a single blow. What shall I say of the abominable rape of the women? To speak of it is worse than to be silent."  (Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History, Vol 1:2, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1895), 5-8.)  [9]

The modern, enlightened age has been no less ornate in its rhetoric.  During the Great War, British soldiers were urged to their own slaughter with fabricated stories of the Huns roasting babies on bayonets and of the Kaiser's infernal  Kadaververwertungsanstalten or corpse-rendering factories, where bodies of the battle-slain were allegedly turned into soap.  [10]

The most recent incarnation of the interventionist doctrine was the  Canadian R2P  proposal put forward in 2001 which sought to establish a set of clear guidelines for determining when intervention is appropriate  and how the intervention itself should be carried out.  The proposal recommends a conceptual shift from a "right to intervene" to thinking in terms of "a duty to protect." 

The proposal is correct in its understanding that "a non-defensive right to intervene" is to all intents and purposes a contradiction in terms.  But casting the issue in terms of a duty to protect is simply a modern day resurrection of St. Cyril's doctrine -- although the authors of the report were undoubtedly ignorant of first millennium orthodox moral theology. 

The critical question is not what constitutes a humanitarian violation nor how the intervention is to be carried out.  The only way to provide a truly disinterested procedure for determining when intervention is necessary and appropriate is to put the matter before the international community as a whole.

Unfortunately, any present-day discussion of humanitarian intervention gets burdened with what lawyers call "a parade of horribles" or an invocation of "The Holocaust" which, supposedly, trumps all argument and serves as a trumpet for any  intervention.   Argumentum ab horibilis is a species of rhetoric that passes into dramatic spectacle the purpose of which (as Aristotle pointed out) is to suspend credulity and to equate caution with acquiescence. The spectre conjured up is  that of babies being tossed into the flames or a reburnished  Kadaververwertungsanstalten  in which millions were lined up for gassing, incineration and recycling into soap, slippers and lamp shades.  "How," it is asked, "how can one do nothing in face of such unspeakable horrors?!?!?"

The flaw in the rhetoric is that, by definition, "widespread and systemic" crimes do not take place as they are unitarily depicted after the fact.  There is, as it were, no there, there.  This is illustrated by the  genocide of European Jews itself, which, as the most serious "non-revisionist" historians concede,  was the result of a confluence of often separate and unrelated actions always taken under cover of war or cover of production.  Two impeccable sources provide examples of what was known:  Rafael Lemkin, the Polish Jew, who analysed Nazi Occupation policies and who coined the word "genocide" which until then did not exist ( [11] [12] ) and Pope Pius XII who, in 1942, denounced the "progressive extermination" of the Jews which, he said, was taking place. [13

Both men saw the situation up close;  Lemkin from a first row seat and Pius through the thousand eyes of clerical reports.  At the same time, neither man saw the whole phenomenon but rather myriad pieces only some of which involved mass "executions." What both came to understand was that the Nazis had deployed policies the cumulative and ultimate effect of which would be the erasure of Jews from society as an intellectual, social, and physical phenomenon. 

But the fact that distinct and dispersed policies might unite in a common result does unify those policies in their actual execution.  The singularity of the term "holocaust" misleadingly suggests a singularity of event -- that a genocide took place, like a murder.  However, genocides and systematic crimes against humanity do not take place in the unitary singular but through a multiplicity of instances. They may be united conceptually by plan, purpose or confluent effect, but "the crime"  occurs severally and distinctly. 
Thus, against what precisely were the Allies supposed to intervene and how were they to do so?  At the time, alleged "gas chambers" were little more than a rumour and even if accepted as true left open the question of where exactly they might be located.  When President Roosevelt stated that the best way to stop the depredations then being committed against Jews and others was to win the war, he was not making excuses but rather an completely correct assessment based on what was reliably known. A pervasive crime could only be stopped by an equally pervasive solution.

This brief digression into a particular historical issue has been necessitated by the polemical arguments of those who advocate "humanitarian intervention" and who cite The Holocaust  as a trump card  to shame and silence any and all opposition.  But when the facts are objectively analysed the argument is void of substance. 

The conceptual defect of "humanitarian intervention" to prevent "crimes against humanity" is that it is not possible to take "tailored"  action against a "system" or to  target something that is widespread. Analyzed with practical logic,  the doctrine of humanitarian intervention is simply a pretext for general war. 

If on the other hand, the crime in question is some isolated non-systemic horror, then there is no legal authority for one state to violate the sovereignty of another in order to act as a prosecutor ad litem for what is, essentially, a discrete criminal act.

The attempt to fashion a doctrine of "responsibility to protect" simply wipes aside the difficulties with a moral bromide that  subjectively gratifies our inner sense of righteousness without providing any check, either substantive or procedural, against the abuse of morality in pursuit of nefarious national interests.

The intervention into Syria contemplated by the United States suffers from all the defects of the R2P protocol.  Even assuming that the Government of Syria is responsible for an incident of gassing its own civilians and assuming further that this incident constitutes a systemic crime against humanity or a violation of accepted humanitarian modes of conduct, there is simply no international consensus warranting an intervention. 

Instead, President Obama falls back entirely and fully on Cheney's neocon doctrine of preventive power projection.  In his request to Congress, Obama scores "Syria's acquisition of weapons of mass destruction" which he declaims, "threatens the security of the Middle East and the national security interests of the United States."   Accordingly he, requests authority "to deter disrupt, prevent and degrade the potential for future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction"  in order " to protect the United States and its allies and partners against the threat posed by such weapons."  [14]

The game is given away by the "or."  Obama does not limit the request to destroying existing arsenals of chemical weapons but wants approval to destroy any weapon of mass destruction on the ground that their mere existence is a "threat" to the United States "or" Israel.  Dick Cheney could not have said it more bluntly.

In his previous statement on 31 August, President Obama sought to sharpen the bluntness by a rhetorical pitch worthy of Urban II, in which he spoke of "young girls and boys gassed to death by their own government" which constituted "an assault on human dignity" and which made "a mockery" of international law.  "What message will we send," he asked, "if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight... What does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules?  To governments who would choose to build nuclear arms? To terrorist who would spread biological weapons? To armies who carry out genocide?"  [15]

The statement bespoke its own hypocrisy.  International norms require international approval for an "intervening" attack on a sovereign nation.  The Administration has presented no pretence of a claim that the Syrian "rebels" constitute anything like a recognisable de facto rival belligerent and government.  The only state in the region who has chosen to build nuclear arms is Israel.  If any party has a record of "spreading" biological weapons in the region it has been the United States which supplied them to Iraq, condoned their use in the 1980's and deployed white phosphorous  in Fallujah in 2004.

The Administration has obliquely referred to the fact that dastardly Syria has refused to sign the protocol against biological weapons.  What the Administration omits to note is that Israel has refused to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.  When the two facts are viewed together what is more than obvious is that Syria's refusal is made to counter-balance the hegemony of the Israeli nuclear threat. 

In 2004, Obama loftily intoned his hope for an emergence from the "long political darkness" into which the Bush Administration had plunged the country.  In 2013, with a "righteous wind" coming from his mouth, Obama  seeks to extend the long night of darkness even further.  

©Woodchipgazette, 2013



[3] http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/judlawre.asp



[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanitarian_intervention 


[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsibility_to_protect

[9] http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/urban2-5vers.html)


[11]http://www.preventgenocide.org/lemkin/americanscholar1946.htm (links to original works)

[12] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphael_Lemkin




Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Obama's Poisoned Condolence

On the occasion of Hugo Chavez's death, President Obama's condolences are a stunning example of his country's imperialist hypocrisy and arrogance. "At this challenging time of President Hugo Chávez's passing,"  Obama said, "the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government. As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the US remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law and respect for human rights."

Most stunning in this poisoned condolence is the absence of any recognition of Chavez's role in bringing a measure of structural relief to the masses of Venezuela's poor. If the streets of Caracas are filled with mourners it is only because Chavez brought them the food, the housing, the medical care, the educational opportunities and the employment denied to them since the country's founding. 

Chavez's socialistic reforms were far from perfect or complete but they were leaps forward from what had been.  But not a word of this in Obama's condolence.  Why not?  Because Obama and the regime he leads couldn't give a shit.  People talk about what is important to them and if they don't talk about something it is because it is either shameful or not important.

We say "regime" because, in truth, Obama is not the head of a country but of a global apparatus that uses countries for its own selfish and destructive ends.  He is simply the Chief Toady of a gaggle of official toadies who scurry, palaver and machinate on behalf of hedge funds, banks and global corporations.  Their vision for the world is a two-tier society comprised of Owners and their retainers of managers, technocrats and thugs, insulated from and lording over masses of desperate worker-drones and still greater masses of people left to be starved and stepped over.

To put it simply, Obama's vision of America in the future is of what Venezuela used to be.  Of course, neither he nor the corporate mudia want to acknowledge that Chavez put the lie to their regime. And of course, the rest of what Obama says is a stinking lie. 

For those who might not see it, let us provide a translation.

"The United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people..."  Translation:  "We don't recognise the political legitimacy of the government in power." Normally, nation states deal government to government.  By drawing a distinction between the government and the people it represents, Obama sought to by-pass and marginalise the former.

"... and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government."  Translation: "The United States is ready to re-model Venezuela's government."  Obama's self-evident platitude has to be read in light of what preceded and what follows.  All governments seek to develop "constructive" relationships with others and the fact that Obama restated the obvious constituted an implicit statement that such a relationship does not exist at present, which is why Obama supported the people of Venezuela and stands ready to bring about change in  "As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history...." 

And what kind of change might that be?  

"The US remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law and respect for human rights."  Translation: the United States remains committed to free-trade on terms beneficial to  the U.S. corporatocracy, to the laws which protect those economic privileges and property rights.

When a creature like Obama or Clinton use the word "democracy" they are referring to the America's long standing policy of creating "zones of democratic freedom" -- a diplomatic term of art meaning a country or region subserviently coupled to American economic interests and adhering to such political and juridical norms as will protect and promote those interests.  Simply put, "zones of democratic freedom" are to the United States what "client states" and "colonnae" were to Rome.

Of course the pax americana is drecked out in the happy-talk of Jeffersonian Liberalism.  "Respect for human rights" means "respect for free speech" which in turns effectively means "respect for the power of corporate media to flood the airwaves with its mono-culture of thought."  Oh yes, to be sure, every poor, hungry, descalzado, on the street has just as much right as anyone else to speak his mind; but in a free democratic society it is not for us to make sure that everyone's voice gets an equal airing.  

Chavez saw through this despicable charade and how U.S. dominated corporate media were pursuing a regime of infotainment aimed at turning Venezuelans (as they have turned Americans) into self-alienated, acquiescent morons.  The historical narrative these media pursue is, of course, the one that most justifies their past and benefits their future.  The cultural ideal held up by this media, of course, promotes their economic interests and political entrenchment. 

Ten years ago, while in Oaxaca, Mexico, we saw a stunning example of how this  propaganda works.  Oaxaca is a state with a high concentration of Mixtec and Zapotec indians who, as a rule, have copper coloured skin and vaguely oriental features. But hanging in the clothing sections of Walmarts, Sears and other outposts of American consumer goods and junk, were big posters of skinny, white, pouting, Calvin Klein French boys and girls to match.  What kind of message does this convey to a young Mixtec, other than: you should aspire to what you can never be?

This is what I mean by "self-alienation" and what Chavez and Che and others on the Ibero-American left refer to as U.S. cultural imperialism.   Global capitalism carries with it a global culture that serves its interests and ipso fact represses the true popular interests of others.  It has already destroyed Mexico.  Why not Venezuela.

Obama has made clear the extent to which the United States is prepared to "constructively" go.  It was obvious as of last year that Chavez was not long for this world, and that an "opportunity for change" would soon open up in Venezuela.  So what did Obama say?  He "warned" that the United States would not tolerate Iranian interference in South America.

Seriously, Iran needed to be reminded of the Monroe Doctrine?  Struggling as it is under a U.S. and Israeli engineered economic blockade, Iran is hardly in a position to invade the Americas.  But as a member of the oil producing block with some independent technological expertise of her own, Iran is in a position to help form and to strengthen regional retaining walls against U.S. and  Western European domination.  Obama's warning was a signal to Iran, to back off from  America's upcoming opportunity to develop a "(re)constructed relationship" with Venezuela. 

While the Venezuelan people mourn, the drones in Albrecht's Cave are hammering overtime.  Ahh, the allure of the ring!


Monday, March 4, 2013

The 1% and the 25%

A report over the weekend in the New York Times, described how pay-day lenders were circumventing New York's "strict" usury laws by charging up to 800% interest and, with bank connivance, repeatedly debiting a borrower's overdrawn checking account thereby running up over-draft fees in hundreds and even thousands of dollars to the banks' delight.

New York's "strict" anti-usury laws limited interest to 25%. 


There was a time when most states in the Union limited interest to 6 or 7 percent.  The California Constitution limited it to 10 percent per annum; ancient Roman law to 12 percent yearly.

There was a time when virtually every religion considered the charging of any interest to be morally wrong.  Jews were forbidden to charge interest among themselves.  Christianity denied the Sacraments to anyone who charged interest to anyone.  Most people regarded usury as repugnant.  Said Cato

"And what do you think of usury?" — "What do you think of murder?"

And it is a form of murder, as much as it was murder to force concentration camp inmates to work for under 1000 calories a day.    Usury is the equivalent of a starvation wage.

It is the generally accepted view that government borrowing at rates in excess of 7 percent is unsustainable in the long run.  In other words, when a government is forced to pay more than 7 percent interest will be unable to to meet its domestic obligations and the country will go into starvation mode or, as it is called these days, "austerity".

If 7 percent interest is unsustainable for a sovereign state, how in the world is 20 percent sustainable by a working stiff?  It isn't.  It is a prescription for homelessness and starvation.  Cato was right: usury is murder.

The point here is not to provide a comprehensive analysis of interest, opportunity costs, usury and the various calculations of debt to income or gross domestic product. The basic fact is that credit has become an essential lubricant to world economies and charging for the borrowed use of money is regarded as an equally necessary aspect of credit.  In a complex global finance-economy, the types of interest, their modes of calculation and their short or long term sustainability are subject to hundreds of permutations.

But the fact also remains, that over the historical long term, interest rates in excess of 7 to 12 percent have been regarded as usurious because they are not sustainable, even when regarded in isolation and without regard to a borrower's other costs of living and obligations. 

New York's "strict" usury law of 25% already allows for the progressive extermination of the working class. Charges of 800% and overdraft penalties at equivalent rates are murder. This is the blood that feeds the 1%

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Look Ma, No Hands!!

As reported by the BBC "outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US has played an indispensable role in working to establish a credible opposition coalition in Syria."'

Translation:  See all that death and destruction over there...? That's US!!!  Look Ma,  we did it!!!!  No hands!!!

It is truly amazing.  Counting on Americans' unsurpassed ability to swallow both sides of a fish at once, Clinton now brags about what she once hotly denied.\

Monday, January 28, 2013

National Capitalism & Obama's Second Epiphany

President Obama began his second term with an address that was a resounding rehash of his commencement address in 2004.  Addressing the Democratic Party in his maiden national speech, the young Senator from Illinois intoned,

    "I stand here knowing... that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.  ... 

    “Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation not because of [our power and wealth but because]  "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    “That is the true genius of America, a faith...  a faith in simple dream"
 Eight years later, the simple dream rings on.

    "We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

        “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    “Today we continue a never-ending journey, ..."
 It is perhaps true that all nations need a binding continuity; but the advantage of monarchy is that the unity can be expressed silently in the flesh without the clanging of clichéd concepts. Alas, since the founding of the Republic, American oratory has felt obliged to make up for lost pomp with parades of hortatorical pomposity.

Apart from invocations of National Conceptual Unity, equally clichéd were Obama's policies for implementing the Idea.  Back in 2004, Obama declaimed,

    “People don't expect -- people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But ...  with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all.”

And eight years on,

    “We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  ... We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm.”
How is it that this most exceptional of nations is still trying to give every child a "decent shot at life" and a "basic measure of security" 80 years on from Franklin Roosevelt's call to assure economic security for all?

The basic reason is that for the past 40 years, the United States has renounced Social Justice in favor of Social Darwinism.  Obama's political economy is more in tune with Calvin Coolidge than with either of the Roosevelts.

The key to Obama's "exceptionalism" is precisely the fact that he limits Government responsibility to exceptional situations in which through no fault of their own people "encounter" a sudden illness or job loss.  This is simply a restatement of the Calvinist doctrine of charity for the deserving poor -- those wretched poor, who may be deemed worthy enough, having committed no fault on their own, of our more fortunate gracious charity.

Obama graduated from Harvard where he was imbued with a simple faith in the political virtues of the free market. He truly believes that the individual pursuit of private selfish interests will best insure the public common good. How the sum of zeroes produces a one is “demonstrated” with a miasma of complicated graphs and mathematical formulae, all of which fly in the face of simple reason.

But within this Millsian-Calvinist construct, the role of government is to help those “unfortunate few” -- now numbering around 40 million -- who manage to fall through the cracks, somehow, through no fault of their own.  However, if the fall was not their fault, then whose?  The question is not asked. Rather than focus on the systemic economic faults which produce predictable misfortune (the fetish of the commodity), attention is misdirected toward personal psychological issues (the fetish of sin). 

At the bottom of Obama’s exceptionalism lies the exceptionalism of self-righteousness covering an absence of social-solidarity. To see where Obama is truly coming from, it is helpful to contrast his address with Franklin Roosevelt’s first inaugural in 1933.

Within the feel good wrapping of Guiding Principles, which all political oratory must inevitably invoke, FDR's inaugural was surprisingly specific. 

After decrying the "mad chase of evanescent profits" and holding forth that "our true destiny" was to "minister" to our fellow men, Roosevelt descended unto a more prosaic politic, stating that national "restoration" called "not for changes in ethics alone" but "for action and action now."

Under Roosevelt's action plan the "greatest primary task is to put people to work" through "direct recruiting" by Government, if necessary.  He called for a national "redistribution" of people back to government-supported family farms. He promised an end to the "tragedy" of home and farm foreclosures and stated his intent to replace uncoordinated, local half measures with "national planning" for those "utilities which have a definitely public character."  Lastly he called for "a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments" and "an end to speculation with other people's money" which had been responsible for the great catastrophe in the first place."

Roosevelt's plan was at once comprehensive and specific. It was much the same economic plan as Germany's and it rested on the fundamentally fascist (sic) premise that "If we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline." 

Roosevelt "frankly and boldly" spoke the truth about capitalism: it does not produce commonwealth.  This truth was recognized even by the most conservative Bismarck at the end of the 19th century.  It is an empirical fact, not an opinion, denied only by economic "creationists" whose protestations are the product of either incalculable stupidity or cunning hypocrisy. 

Given that the free market does not reliably generate  collateral benefits for the greater part of the people; and given the fact that capitalism has always received a cornucopia of government licenses, privileges and protections in return for its own social and economic irresponsibility, what then is the solution? 

The socialist answer was to abolish private ownership of the means of production.  The “third” way alternative by whatever name it was called (fascism, state paternalism, national syndicalism, progressivism, national socialism, social democracy, Peronism, etc., etc.) was that private enterprise could be made to work if it was harnessed, regulated and controlled by government. 

Being a middle ground, “fascism et al.” gets pummelled  from both ends.  Socialist types accuse fascism of entrenching corporate interests under a dispensary populism. Capitalist types accuse it of infringing individual rights in favor of lazy-fair collectivism.   But these are ideological polemics. The functional metapolitical facts are more straightforward.

State intervention in the economy is nothing new under the sun.  It has been the default condition of virtually all political systems, the sole exception being the 18th century canard of economic liberalism -- and even then the exception was frequently honored in the breach.

Of necessity, economic "intervention" entails cooperation between Government and Capital as well as a regulation of Labor.  The success of the regulatory economic model, in any given instance, depends on the ability to modulate cycles of economic sowing and economic harvesting and to balance the needs of different economic sectors comprising the overall (national) economy.  It is a complicated task which requires transparency to preclude corruption and an effective (not formal) democracy to insure that it continues to serve the common good as perceived by the common man.

Historically speaking and depending on their temperaments, socialists either deplored or welcomed this "third way." Those who welcomed it accepted the premise of socialist gradualism; and, in truth, Bismarck's watershed adoption of social insurance policies within the framework of capitalism (1880) was cribbed entirely from economic platform of Germany's democratic (i.e. non-revolutionary) Socialists.

Those on the Left who deplored the economic hybrid saw it as a mere contrivance of Capital.  Lenin scathingly dismissed the German Socialists as "social chauvinists" whose socialism, being tied to the nation state, would die on the battle-fields of nationalism.

However, most great statesmen from Augustus to Bismarck are pragmatists.  When accused by outraged National Liberals and Conservatives of being a socialist, Bismarck famously shrugged "Call it socialism or what you will, it's all the same to me."

Franklin Roosevelt was equally indifferent and pragmatic. He waved away ideological labels as unnecessarily strange and complex....

and feigned astonishment at being accused of  feasting on a breakfast of "grilled millionaire."  He was, he assured his college audience, a "devotée" of capitalism whose breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs.

A straight and pragmatic line ran from Bismarck, through Herbert Croley's  "New Nationalism" and Uncle Teddy's Bull Moose Progresivism to Roosevelt's New Deal

"Why should not the labor soldier receive a pension as much as the veteran?"  asked Bismarck.  Why not? answered Roosevelt, "Americans are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to [soldier-like]  discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good."  What Leader could have said it better?

Too many Americans have been turned into political illiterates by a propaganda which intentionally confuses geo-political issues and matters of racio-cultural policy with questions of political-economy.  Although these three areas are functionally inter-related  they remain analytically distinct.  No one in his right mind would confuse FDR's New Deal with those policies of juridical segregation and disenfranchisement which were intentionally left in place by a political coalition that was one third Dixiecrat. 

The point here is not to excuse racist policies or to rehabilitate the "fascist" brand mark but rather to get a clear and sure footing within the political spectrum so that Obama's policies may be correctly assessed.

Between the canard of liberal capitalism and the allure of pure anarcho-socialism there lies a middle ground in which government assumes levels of overall economic control in order to bring about a harmonious and equitable social result.  "Call it what you will," by the middle of the last century, those policies had been adopted by almost every advanced country in the world.  Astonishingly, in 1980, the United States did an about face and has since then doggedly marched back into the 19th century. 

The volte face was the work of capitalist reactionaries who wanted to make money for themselves freed from the irksome restraints of social responsibility.  They argued that economic regulation was counterproductive and that only "the war" brought us out of the Depression.

The argument was despicably contrived. Let us cut to the chase by assuming the truth of what is stated: only "war" got us out of the depression.  The question then is, why?  The answer is that "the war" got us out of the Depression because at that point the Government took near total control over the economy. It promoted productive stimulus, set the terms of exchange and regulated conditions of employment.

The "war" did not get us out of the Depression because somehow -- magically -- we started shooting and bombing.  It revived the economy because what had been Roosevelt's half measures now became a full measure of stimulus and control.  The neo-liberal deceptionists substitute the situational circumstance of war for the underlying economic substance of economic stimulus and regulation.  It is an intentional confusion, aimed at getting people to except war as "productive of good times."

However, “regulation” alone is not a sufficient panacea.  As stated, all governments at all times have regulated trade and production in some manner according to the circumstances of the times.  Pure capitalism, as pure socialism, are mythical endpoints on the ideological spectrum.  The real question concerns the degree of regulation and the distribution of economic product. 

The virtue of mid-century fascist models -- including FDR’s “fascism lite” --  was that they aimed at a populist distribution of economic product. The defect of end century American National Capitalism is that its highly regulated economy is calibrated to protect corporate monopolies and privileges at the expense of the working class.

Put another way, the two variables at issue are degree of regulation and direction of economic flow.  Regulation of itself is a two edged sword. Milton Friedman, the great prophet of Neo-Liberalism, pointed out that regulation could be used and perverted by the very corporate economic interests the regulations were intended to control.  This is indeed the essential feature of National Capitalism.  However, Friedman’s argument that the solution was to do away with all regulation and redirection of wealth was a return to the “pure” liberal capitalism which had been historically shown to systematically produces national poverty.  Friedman’s polemic was simply “heads I win; tails you loose.”

Another polemic used by the hawkers of liberal capitalism is to push the correlation between economic and political freedom.  However, this is but a shell game that switches the topic from government as economic regulator to government as social arbiter. As France, Germany and the Scandinavian countries have demonstrated economic regulation and political freedom are entirely compatible.

With these considerations in mind we are able to assess the differences between Roosevelt’s gradualist social democracy (i.e. faux, faux-socialism) and Obama’s National Capitalist Security State. 

In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt pinpointed the failure of capitalism: "a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return." 

A more trenchant summary was hardly possible. A majority of Americans faced starvation or austerity.  The solution was not to provide soup kitchens for the ‘unfortunate’  while calling for ‘sacrifices’ from the rest -- an America where the great number of people were left scrambling for scraps, while avoiding the inconvenience and scandal of watching people shiver and starve on street corners. 

No. His aim was to demand sacrifices from the banks and corporations so that all people could have both economic security and opportunity, including a decent education “remunerative employment,” health care, recreation and retirement. 

Roosevelt's simple casting of the problem was far removed from Obama's characterization of the problem as one of "falling on hard times."   What Obama simply refuses to acknowledge is that, without redistributive economic regulation, the free market system is in the business of producing hard times; i.e. a consistent, unabated decline in real wages and an existence now blithely labelled austerity.  

To the extent Obama acknowledges the problem his solution is to make a pretence of ‘progressive’ solutions, either through give-aways to Big Bucks Inc., disguised as popular entitlements (the Obamacare fiasco), or by taking away with one hand what is given with the other in the name of “fairness (as in raising the taxes - a tiny bit - on ‘the rich’ while seeking to cut social security benefits - a lot - for the aged poor).

Not only did Obama's inagugural speech refuse to properly frame the problem, not only did it fail to propose nuts and bolts specifics, it fell back instead on another false substitution: the substitution of cultural validations for economic security.

    As he neared the summit of his hortatorical heap, Obama intoned that “our journey” was not complete,

    1) until our daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts;

    2) until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law;

    3) until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.

    4) until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants

    5) until all our children, and always safe from harm.

Imagine if Roosevelt had assumed office in 1933 vowing to protect school children and shortening waits at the ballot box.  

None of Obama’s “untils” addressed what income security any of these precious cognized groups were entitled to “under the law.” 

Buried within the muck of irrelevancies was Obama's true promise to "make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit."  Why is the choice "hard"? Would Roosevelt have spoken of the "hard choice" to provide a "measure of social security" to the aged?  Are we to assume that Big Pharma, Big Sure and Big Med are going to be hit hard by the choices "we" must make?  Nonsense.  This is simply WashTalk for cutting back on benefits for the old and sick.

Incredibly, the mudia pundits have palavered insipidly about Obama's Second Epiphany -- his political turn-around and his recovery of courage in a second term free from the constraints of getting elected to another. 

There was nothing "progressive" about Obama's address.  It was a rehash of the same old neo-liberalism assuaged by a minimalist Social Calvinism.

If Obama’s exceptionalism were nothing more than a retrograde insistence on marching back into the early 19th century, one might laugh as "The Shining Bacon on the Hill made a global ass of itself. But the neo-liberal sludge generated by places like Harvard is in fact toxic to everything natural and moral. 

The real Obamagenda is the institution of a global regime of full-spectrum repression and plunder, which degrades both the environment and civil society while it debases the vast bulk of mankind into an illiterate insecure and desperate lumpen mass of de facto sub-humans.  This is the Orwellian reality behind “austerity” and the “war on terrorism” and behind Obama’s inaugural double-talk.

“A decade of war is now ending,” he intoned, “An economic recovery has begun.” 

I.e,  A decade of war in Afghanistan is ending as we get ready to pursue new strategic initiatives in Ibero-America, Africa and Syria. Banks, investment funds and global corporations have had their chestnuts pulled from the fire and are back to reaping profits. 

“We will support democracy  from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests  and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of (take advantage of) of those who long for freedom.”

I.e we will continue to promote zones of free market capitalism in Africa and against Russia and China because that’s what we are about and we are shamelessly willing to take advantage of those who hope (that word again!) for a better life.

“We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”  BUT   “We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law.” 

I.e., malgré nous, we will reluctantly and against our loftier hopes continue to pursue our interests through military means.   

And lastly with a toss-away bone, to the environmen talists: “We will respond to the threat of climate change.” Although “the path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult” we must protect our “national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snow-capped peaks....”

All that was lacking was a swelling chorale to Amurrka’s Purple Mountained Majesty. But nothing Obama said can be read as an even half-hearted acknowledgement that endless capitalist “growth” and environmental sustainability are simply not reconcilable.

In so singing, Obama merely rounded the sharp edges of America’s neo-liberal strategy as postulated by Cheney and his gang of neo-cons in academe and think tanks around the world.

Among those tanks was the Project for the New American Century founded in 1997 (with money from Raytheon)whose stated aim was to polemicize “a new century favorable to American principles and interests?  (PNAC charter 1997)

In its now infamous September 2000 paper (Rebuilding America’s Defenses) PNAC argued that “America should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership by maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military forces” in order to promote “American interests and ideals.” through “U.S. power projection around the world.” (Op.cit. pp. iv & v.)

The tasks of this “American-led security order,” the PNAC argued, was  “to secure and expand the ‘zones of democratic peace;’ to deter the rise of a new great power competitor; defend key regions of Europe, East Asia and the Middle East, and to preserve American preeminence through the coming transformation of war....”  (Op cit. pg. 2.)

A couple of tips are needed to parse this garbage. The first concerns the use of what chipsters call the "Conjunctive Confusion” which takes place when someone speak of a dual object, as in “principles and interests” or “preserve and extend” or “communists and jews.”

Yoking two objects together as if they were one, beguiles the listener into assuming that they are in fact one and that there is no tension or contradiction between the two.  The two elements become a single piece which can -- magically!! -- march in any and opposite directions.  At the same time, the more sordid aspect of the conjoined elements becomes softened by the loftier.

Thus, “interests” looses it’s sharper character as the pursuit of filthy lucre at the expense of others, and acquires a feel good glowiness from the ideal of “principles.”  Likewise “extend” looses it aggressive character and acquires a sub-silentio defensive justification from the word “preserve”

The second tip concerns “democracy” and "zones of democratic freedom”  The latter is a geo-political term of art and refers to America’s post war policy of containment.  This policy was pursued by two correlative strategies, viz: (a) the geographic and defensive cordon sanitaire around Russia and China and (b) the establishment of pro-American “outposts” in regions that were contested and up for grabs.  These “outposts” -- like Pinochet’s Chile -- shared our “values” (anti-communism, most importantly) and were coupled to our “interests” (free-trade, capitalist economies, American corporate mining or farming or entertainment.)  Functionally, these zones of democratic freedom were no different than “outposts” in Injun Territory or Roman colonae in Gaul.

Thus, when Obama intones that our “conscience” and “interests” require us to promote “democracy” from “Asia to Africa” and from “the Americas to the Middle East” he is simply restating the neo-con PNAC doctrine in somewhat softer, fuzzy-wuzzy terms.  As we have said before, a neo con is simply a neo-liberal gone punk.  But the two are minted from the same alloy.

The last tip concerns “our.”  Who we?  Obama’s use of a collective singular pronoun necessarily implied that, at some level and with respect to something, each of the separate all of us are one.

To be sure, in all societies, divergent classes find unity on some points or issues.  In terms of economy, however, the unity does not concern cultural or racial or other “personal issue” issues but economic ones. ( One would think it was obvious.)  The question, in this context, is: how are “we” an “us” with respect to commonwealth.  

To recapitulate our previous summary, the strict socialist answer is that the abolition of private property makes all wealth common and to the extent the State exists it exists to protect the equality of sharing.  The strict capitalist answer was just the inverse: the State exists to protect private property and common wealth is simply the sum total of privately owned wealths.  The “middling” answer is that the State does both, protecting private ownership but also redistributing wealth among and down.

Thus, in the regulatory state, it is assumed that the “our” inheres in a balanced stimulative-distribution as determined by an overarching “referee” known as “government.”  But in the National Capitalist state, stimulating the "economy" without accompanying distribution of wealth is regarded as a sufficient policy so that, in the end, the state becomes a mere agency of Capital, and  exists to use the political, juridical, fiscal and military means at its disposal to promote the interests and maximize the profits of corporations and banks. 

The difference between theoretically pure Liberalism and National Capitalism is one of maturation and degree. In the former government assumes the relatively simple role of protector of private property and constabulary of public peace.  In the latter, government becomes the aggressive promoter of private wealth and the repressor of public unrest.

By way of example.  Under classical liberal policy, the state will protect Mozart’s work by allowing him to maintain a private suit against Salieri for copying a symphony and peddling it as his own work. Under National Capitalism, however, “copyright” is interpreted to mean a “guaranteed lock on a market” and a legally protected entitlement to maximum profit share.  The government becomes the enforcer of a future and maximum profit stream even if this entails violation national surveillance, dipolmatic interventions, and government initiated prosecution as if the private infringement were a public crime.  The ambit of private and public are confused in favor of private capital. At the same time, public services are privatized so that the State’s role as as servant of public conveniences and goods becomes progressively restricted.  What is left of the State as “third party referee” of overall, collective wellbeing is simply an argument that by making the wheels of private profit spin fast and furious, enough collateral grist will be kicked up to benefit the remainder.  

Once parsed, Obama’s “Second Epiphany” boiled itself down to a regime of domestic austerity coupled with ongoing war abroad and “securitization” at home on behalf of corporations and financial institutions which are no longer even “American” in any meaningul sense of the word.  Obama’s regime is in fact, as it always has been, nothing more than the dystopian Orwellian state, operating on behalf of corporate interests.

Unfortunately, 1984’s dramatic devices -- everpresent video screens and Winston’s mind-breaking torture -- have tended to obscure the softer, self-executing delusions of hell.  Simply put, Orwell’s state could not exist if it had to torture and terrorize everyone.  Rather, as the iPhone aptly illustrates, people can be happily lulled into the necessary habits and mind-set.  The image of 1984, is indeed as Orwell wrote, “a boot in the face” but it is also sustained by a self-executing institutionalism feeding off its own rhetoric and bad grammar.

The structural result is a society managed by an inner circle of elite bureaucrats overseeing a relatively small outer circle of techies, technocrats and enforcement thugs living content in their illusions and secure in their zones and “supervising” a mass of lumpen work-drones and an even larger mass of “unemployed no-longer-counted”.

As at all times, society will be divided into three classes, but rather than lifting the “bottom” into the benefit-level of the middle, the upper two will be severely shrinked and controlled, whereas the lower third will be brutally repressed.

President Clinton was quite candid about it.  The whole thrust of his “new economy” was to export the grunt-work to yellow, brown and black countries, leaving America to take care of the “high tech” and managerial white collar jobs.  The “homeland” would become the core of the inner and outer party, while the rest of the world was consigned to the drudgeries of manual labor broken down into ever smaller, mind-numbing components.  

The lie of Clinton’s new economy was that America’s blue collar workers would be “retooled” for “new, well paying jobs” in our “new economy.  Refooled would be more like it.  There was simply no realistic prospect of retraining a generation of industrial workers to become office managers and computer geeks.

In fact, there is no realistic prospect that anything close to a substantial majority of the so-called “middle class” could be trained and employed as office managers and silitechs. What the Clinton economy really assumed was that masses of Americans (and in fact masses of people around the world) would simply be written off as “service sector” workers or simply consigned to official oblivion as “homeless.”

Nothing in Obama’s progressive epiphany indicates the least deviation from the dystopia of these domestic and geo-political goals.  Rather, it is a cautionary script, to be read more like a car-sale sticker, while ignoring the huckstering puff talk.

Alas, America was built on puff talk as was Obama’s career.  In 2004, as was catapulted in the Nation’s Limelight, Obama intoned,

“We have a righteous wind at our backs  ... We can make the right choices and meet the challenges that face us.  ... And out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come”
And Eight years on,

 "America’s possibilities are limitless ... Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom."

America is beyond ridiculous.  After reaching a crescendo laden with all the pomposity and hubris of Ozymandias, Obamba and Michelle, took to walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, pied a terre, like or'dnary folk.... surrounded by a triple phalanx of armed security thugs.

Orwell himself could not have described the scene as progressives tearfully, joyously lapped it up.