Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Category Archives: Capitalism

End the Banking Monopoly: Support the Banxodus

If you have a bank account in the United States, the odds are pretty good it’s with one of the big boys shown in the graph above – the very institutions which created the financial crisis and are even now still contributing to the demise of America’s working and middle classes.  I used to have an account with Washington Mutual but pulled my money out after it became JP Morgan Chase, when I started noticing mysterious chunks of change disappearing here and there in various new “service fees.”  The level of blatant thievery that the big banks engage in on a daily basis is remarkable, yet their influence in America is such that the very notion of holding them accountable for their actions is unthinkable.  If I removed $20 from my neighbor’s wallet and called it a “service fee,” I would be arrested.  Yet if Bank of America does the same thing, it is simply the cost one pays for the pleasure of having a bank account in America.

BoldProgressives.org is championing a movement to organize a mass withdrawal of funds from the major corporate banks – a movement they affectionately refer to as the Banxodus.  These institutions derive their wealth and power from the resources of ordinary Americans, and there is no reason to think that with an organized, concerted effort we couldn’t bring them to their knees in a single day.

Spread the word, and do your part to help bring down the banksters once and for all.

Occupy Wall Street Takes Times Square

Truly a beautiful sight.  Let’s hope this is only the beginning – and all indications suggest that it is.

Occupy Wall Street at Times Square

To Protect and Serve…

…the corporate elite.  If this is genuine, and there is no reason to believe it isn’t, things could be about to take a dramatic turn for the worse:

Rumsfeld Confirms Obama is Bush III

creepy Donald Rumsfeld

Rumsfeld knows a fellow Corporatist when he sees one:

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says President Barack Obama has come to accept much of the Bush Doctrine out of necessity, despite what he campaigned on in 2008.

Rumsfeld said that Obama needed to keep the Guantanamo Bay detention center open because of national security concerns, and it was the best solution among a host of bad options.

“They ended up keeping Guantanamo open not because they like it – we didn’t like it either – but they couldn’t think of a better solution,” Rumsfeld told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday.

Rumsfeld then listed a handful of other Bush administration policies that have continued into the Obama administration, something that he sees as vindication of the policies.

“The same is true with the Patriot Act, and military commissions, and indefinite detention. All of those things were criticized but today are still in place two-and-a-half years later because they are the best alternative to the other choices – and they are in fact successful in keeping America safer,” he says.

As usual, of course, Rumsfeld and his ilk are incapable of refraining from twisting the truth in some way or another.  For Rumsfeld to suggest that Obama campaigned against the Bush Doctrine is disingenuous, as Obama’s campaign was little more than a collection of vacuous platitudes.  “Yes, we can” continue our multiple wars of terror; “Yes, we can” ignore the rule of law and illegally detain people without charge or recognition of basic human rights; “Yes we can” continue a 30+ year streak of government policies that strongly favor the rich while decapitating America’s middle class.

And then we have Rumsfeld’s bogus assertion that the Bush Doctrine and its associated tenets – Guantanamo Bay, indefinite detention, the Patriot Act – are somehow the “best alternative to other choices.”  Of course, the vagueness of the term “other choices” leaves open the slimy possibility for a sliver of truth; but to what other choices are we referring?  Mass genocide?  Mandatory castration?  Government-imposed lobotomies?  (Actually, a form of nationalized lobotomy already exists; we call it public school.)

Obama never campaigned against the policies of the Bush administration, because he never had any intention of implementing anything different.  We have been living under a One-Party State since at least the Reagan administration, but that single Party has been becoming more and more brazen in its attempts to enslave the masses for the benefit of the Elite.  The Obama administration represents perhaps the most blatantly corporatist regime in the history of our nation – which says a lot, considering the notoriety of its predecessors.

U.S. elections are now and have long been a sham, and they will only continue to degenerate thanks to the preposterous Citizens United Supreme Court decision.  There is no meaningful difference between the Republicans and Democrats and has not been at any time in the modern era; to vote Democrat is merely to enable to the continuance of our long, dark slide into the depths of the dismal Right, where corporations hold more rights than humans, and the common good is sacrificed for the ever-growing profits of the Elite.  Any person who willingly identifies himself as a Democrat or Republican, and votes accordingly, is a part of the problem, and should be held accountable.

Boycott the One Party State.

Dennis Kucinich and the Reality of Class Warfare in America

Dennis Kucinich speaks out

A lonely voice of reason in the wilderness of our corrupt single-party Corporate State:

The rancorous debate over the debt belies a fundamental truth of our economy — that it is run for the few at the expense of the many, that our entire government has been turned into a machine which takes the wealth of a mass of Americans and accelerates it into the hands of the few. Let me give you some examples.

Take war. War takes the money from the American people and puts it into the hands of arms manufacturers, war profiteers, and private armies. The war in Iraq, based on lies: $3 trillion will be the cost of that war. The war in Afghanistan; based on a misreading of history; half a trillion dollars in expenses already. The war against Libya will be $1 billion by September.

We have to realize what this country’s economy has become. Our monetary policy, through the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, privatized the money supply, gathers the wealth, puts it in the hands of the few while the Federal Reserve can create money out of nothing, give it to banks to park at the Fed while our small businesses are starving for capital.

 Mark my words — Wall Street cashes in whether we have a default or not. And the same type of thinking that created billions in bailouts for Wall Street and more than $1 trillion in giveaways by the Federal Reserve today leaves 26 million Americans either underemployed or unemployed. And nine out of ten Americans over the age of 65 are facing cuts in their Social Security in order to pay for a debt which grew from tax cuts for the rich and for endless wars.

Sadly, Kucinich stands little chance of having any impact from within the rotting heart of the corporatocracy he despises.  In a nation where the flow of virtually all information is controlled by a vast corporate media machine, where style perpetually trumps substance and political debate is always relegated to the realm of the 10-second sound byte, Kucinich’s passionate and reasoned diatribe will be drowned out in the maddening din of propaganda, pushed to the fringes of our extreme-right corporate-controlled society.

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House Approves $649 Billion Military Budget as Austerity Measures Loom

tomahawk factory

Forget the sick and elderly, we have wars to fight:

The US House of Representatives has approved a 649-billion-dollar military spending bill, increasing the Pentagon budget while the country is facing austerity measures and huge debt crisis.

The bill, passed with an overwhelming vote of 336-87 on Friday, boosts the Pentagon budget for the 2012 fiscal year beginning on October 1 by some $17 billion compared with the current spending, Reuters reported.

The measure, which was about $8 billion less than what President Barack Obama had sought, would provide $530 billion for the Pentagon’s primary budget and $119 to cover the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The approved bill excludes funds for US nuclear programs or military construction which will add another $33 billion to military spending in later bills.

The increase in military spending comes while huge budget reductions are expected in other agencies, affecting food aid for low-income women, health research and energy efficiency.

And while Barney Frank is a bit of a tool, he really nailed it on this one:

“The military budget is not on the table. The military is at the table, and it is eating everybody else’s lunch, “Frank said.

There’s not much more for me to say about this, folks.  This is a theme I have pounded into the ground over and over again, but nothing ever seems to change.  It’s a bit nauseating to observe the American public fervently buying into the fabricated budget crisis, arguing about arbitrary debt ceilings and deciding which important social services should be cut, but the military machine churns on unhindered all the while.

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Latest Exxon Mobile Spill Indicative of Urgent Need for Change

exhaust spewing gas guzzler

More collateral damage in our insatiable love affair with oil:

 EPA to Probe Air Quality Near Montana Exxon Mobil Oil Spill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced plans to collect indoor air samples from homes downstream of an Exxon Mobil oil spill that’s leaked as much as 42,000 gallons of crude oil beneath Montana’s Yellowstone River. The Exxon Mobil Pipeline Company initially downplayed the incident saying it would only affect 10 miles of the river, but state officials say the spill has already stretched more than 240 miles to near the North Dakota border. Local residents have raised concerns over health risks and reported symptoms including nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath.

Burst pipes, exploding wells, and wrecked tankers are all-too-common occurrences in our incessant quest to produce greater and greater quantities of oil.  Such events reek havoc on ecosystems and the health of local residents, but the underlying issue — our undying addiction to oil — seems beyond the bounds of public debate.

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Independence Day: A Time for Celebration or Mourning?

patriotic genius

Years ago, I spent a couple of summers working in a salmon cannery in Naknek, Alaska.  On the base of the Alleutian Peninsula, surrounded by the bleak, brown landscape of the summer tundra, it was a dreary job of 16-hour days spent gutting fish, in a tiny town in one of the most desolate regions on earth.

Among some of my stranger workmates were a handful of proud skinheads from Washington state, including a giant, 6′ 4″ weirdo with a shaved head, scraggly ginger beard, and oversized horn-rimmed glasses.   We were often situated side-by-side on the “slime line,” as it was termed, and engaged in conversation on a wide variety of topics whilst ripping fistfuls of guts from the insides of unfortunate salmon.

He was, not surprisingly, an ultra-conservative Republican who loved capitalism, worshiped the mythical free market, and adored the writings of Ayn Rand.  As a long-haired hippie fresh from the streets of Portland, we obviously didn’t quite see eye to eye on many – most – issues.

When the 4th of July came and, during one of our paltry 30-minute meal breaks, we were served revoltingly dry barbecued chicken in celebration of our nation’s independence, he looked at me snidely and asked whether or not I considered Independence Day to be a day of mourning.

And it was a fair question.   Read more of this post

Vatican Inc.: The Profitability of Religion and Politics

Pedo Pope, CEO

If anyone required further proof of the parasitic nature of religion,  this sums it up quite nicely:

The Vatican says it was profitable in 2010, after three years of being financially in the red.

The Vatican said Saturday that it made a profit of more than $14 million last year on revenue of about $356 million. That contrasts with a loss of nearly $6 million in 2009 and losses in 2007 and 2008 as well.

The separately administered Vatican City State also was profitable in 2010, with earnings of more than $30 million on strong ticket sales at Vatican museums.

Despite the 2010 profit, the church said that donations from churches worldwide – the so-called Peter’s Pence – fell nearly $15 million to just under $68 million. The Vatican offered no reason for the decline in donations, but sexual abuse allegations against parish priests emerged last year in Europe, traditionally a top region for donations.

At least the Vatican is being open about the fact that their crumbling religion is little more than a giant, multinational corporation with hundreds of millions of customers.   Other religions are not quite so honest, but at its core religion is little more than a rather transparent gambit to acquire ever greater wealth and power.

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400,000 Brain-Injured Veterans a Fair Price for American Empire

Bush and veteran burn victim

In addition to the trillion dollar price tag, 600,000+ dead civilians, 1 million orphans and 6,100 dead American soldiers, we can now add 400,000 brain-injured veterans to the cost of our latest wars of aggression:

 Independent experts suggest that more than 400,000 American service members will return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries that could lead to severe personality disorders, and little is being done to help them.

Having wasted countless billions – trillions, in all likelihood – on our five concurrent wars and exposed hundreds of thousands of American soldiers to the dangers of the battlefield, our gifted military leaders have identified the true culprit behind our reckless spending:  health care for soldiers.

Afflicted veterans have every reason to expect their government to continue to treat them as expendable waste, as the Pentagon actively opposes formal diagnoses of the condition, known as mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and denies the validity of treatment that its own researchers have said could help. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for a cut in the military’s $50-billion-a-year health budget, saying “health care costs are eating the Defense Department alive,” according to a Huffington Post article in January.

And that in a nutshell is the very essence of American empire.  Exploit the little guys for all they’re worth, using them in any way necessary to reap maximum profits.  Because war is, after all, little more than a business venture for the giant corporate entities within the military-industrial complex.  Just as the private sector throughout America has little interest in providing health care for the workers it underpays and overworks, so too does our for-profit military increase it profits for its shareholders by cutting corners on such luxuries as medical care for the severely wounded.

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