Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Shock Doctrine" Troops Hit U.S. Capitol (Can We Force Obama to Act Before It's Too Late and the Whole Country Goes Down the Drain?)

I watched Glenn Greenwald and Jay Rosen on "Politics, the Press and the Public" on Bill Moyers' Journal last night talk about the cognitive dissonance between what the media reports and what is really happening to regular people. Glenn said that Obama's supporters are going to have to show him how angry they are that he is diverging from his promises . . . that they are disgusted with the status quo in D.C. if they are to elicit any real change (especially before the coming catastrophic deluge). (Emphasis marks are added - Ed.)

Greenwald argued that the establishment media may be an impediment to political change:
“If you were to say to normal Americans . . . that members of Congress leave office and make millions of dollars doing nothing other than essentially peddling influence to wealthy individuals who can have their way with Congress, most people consider that to be corruption. That's what Barack Obama called it when he ran. Yet, to members of the media, who have spent their lives in Washington, who are friends and colleagues of the people who are engorging themselves on this corrupt system, that is just the way of life. It's like breathing air or drinking water. It's not anything that's noteworthy, let alone controversial. . . . What's going to have to happen is his supporters, on whom he relies for his political power, are going to have to be the ones holding him accountable, by being angry and dissatisfied when he seems to be off the course that he promised he would stay on.”
Did you wonder why the Rethugs were in heavy battle armor in full media view fighting loudly against the Obama-designated "necessary stimulus" on Capitol Hill this week? It's getting more obvious every day that what seems necessary to some for a full and quick recovery from the last theft bout is more of another opportunity to raid the pantry for those involved in its prior assault. Did it occur to you previously just how easy it was for Paulson and Bernanke to sell the wrong story to enable the stealing of the first $750 billion? A few threats, a little theatrics and money disappeared even more into the pockets of the people bringing you the economic tragedy that Naomi Klein had already warned you about in her book Shock Doctrine, which I as well as many others have reviewed previously. Did you notice that not only did the vandals not apologize, but that they are now infesting the top ranks of Obama's advisers, and figuring out how to steal the next installments of your children's money even more effectively? And for one final jab (sharp stick in the eye), speaking of the much-billed upcoming Social Security payout nightmare, did you ever wonder why you, the viewing patrons of this disUnited States of America, allowed the bought-and-paid-for media to make such easy fun of Al Gore ("The Schmuck!") and his silly "lockbox" idea during the first occasion the citizenry had to not elect Cheney/Bush Dictator(s) for Life? The reason I mention this is that you will be hearing a lot more about this soon because there is no Social Security trust fund left to put in that "locked box" now. It actually resides in the same type of IOU virtual state that funds the wars the U.S. decided to fight, including the Global War on Anyone, and the further bailouts that your representatives will decide they have to fund. This group is not finished yet, people! For my money (and what's left is only a few pennies, having been out of the workforce for years due to my type of highly-skilled labor being done more cheaply abroad (or by H1-B hires in country) and no one in country interested in hiring people like me anymore), Naomi deserves a Nobel prize. Now you're ready to read the following essay from Chicago's Urban Coaster (emphasis marks were added and some editing was necessary - Ed.): Matthew Hoffman reports that in her January 29, 2009, speech at Loyola University, Naomi Klein:
made the case that America's current economic crisis is just another "big bang moment" in this evolution. . . . In her best-selling book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein outlines the disturbing trend of governments using crisis as a means for corporate profit-advancement. She cites Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, and Pinochet's Chile as examples of the practice.
From a review of Klein's book in The Urban Coaster (some editing was necessary - Ed.):
Klein points to a combination of factors that were used to force economic reform onto reluctant populations. She argues that natural and man-made disasters, monetary policy pressures from the IMF and the World Bank, and systematic suppression of political dissent through terror and often torture have been accepted by proponents of “The Chicago School.” (The term “Chicago School” refers to the economic policies formulated by University of Chicago Economist Milton Friedman, and the thousands of students trained there in the supposed infallibility of free markets, reduced regulations, and unfettered capitalism.) The book shows through meticulously cited research how Friedman’s theories came to dominate world economic policy. Klein vigorously challenges the claim by proponents of the Chicago School that it’s a story of the best philosophy winning out in the end. Rather, Klein takes us through the first on-the-ground trials of Chicago School policy, starting with Chile under the infamous Pinochet regime. Its use of torture, disappearances, secret prisons, and murder became the template for implementation of economic change throughout Latin America. Documenting the inclusion of a deliberate plan to knock whole populations off their feet politically long enough to blast through massive changes in economic policy is the core of Klein’s thesis. Klein winds her way around the globe, showing how movements in Russia, South Africa, Poland, Sri Lanka and other places succumbed to the free marketeers, often through the systematic elimination of social programs and, in places like Latin America, much of its middle class. Klein examines New Orleans, where under the cover of Hurricane Katrina much of the public school system was privatized. She also looks at Iraq, and the orchestrated process that led to L. Paul Bremer declaring that the country was “open for business,” (meaning that its national assets were up for sale to international corporations), shortly after Saddam’s regime ended. Klein certainly has her critics, most of whom stick to attacking her research rather than confronting her conclusions. She clearly anticipated that tactic, and included eighty-three pages of end notes and acknowledgments to avoid being pigeon-holed as a conspiracy theorist or practicer of poor science. While it is true that reasonable people can differ about a piece of data and its relation to other phenomena, and certainly even economists disagree regularly on how complex systems are interpreted, such criticisms of this book largely (and in my view intentionally) miss the point. Alan Greenspan recently wrote in his book The Age of Turbulence that Latin America has a stubborn and problematic belief in “economic populism.” He glosses over the fact that his cherished views of a market-driven economy have usually required extreme chaos and/or repression to be implemented. (Turbulence is an interesting foil to Shock Doctrine because like Klein, Greenspan surveys different nations’ economies in successive chapters.) Greenspan’s view touts the wisdom of the Chicago School, where Klein argues that the forced elimination of social programs, wanton human-rights abuses, general corruption, and the destruction of the middle class undermine the perceived theoretical value of those policies. Klein persuasively asserts that any legitimate evaluation of Free Market policy, which has often been dangled in carrot-and-stick fashion by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, must include analysis of the tactics required to force those policies on nearly always dis-empowered populations. Far from being a crazy leftist manifesto, this book will anger you, make you cringe at its accounts of torture and long for the chance to revisit enormous missed opportunities. Perhaps most useful of all, Shock Doctrine shows that in today’s lightning fast and sophisticated world there is real potential for the vulnerable and unprepared to be exploited in times of upheaval under the cover of returning things to a more normal, comfortable state. In this sense, understanding the process is also Klein’s call to action. Since this is The Urban Coaster, I’ll point out that the lack of mainstream media coverage is what provided Klein with the opportunity to tell this story. Had the true cost of Chicago School policies been openly debated, it is unlikely they would have avoided the scrutiny Klein gives them here. Read this book. Just know that when you pick up The Shock Doctrine you’re going to hear a very different perspective. And that it might make you wonder why you're hearing much of it for the first time.
Returning to Hoffman's original essay we learn that
. . . Klein cautioned listeners at the packed 750-seat Mundelein Auditorium against cheerily consenting to the wave of Obama-fueled optimism. Throughout his campaign, Obama rejected the "worn out dogmas" and suggested it was time for an ideological sea change. Klein isn't ready, however, to embrace the recent market interventions as a shift in American policy, and instead implored her audience to work for a deepening, rather than deadening, of democracy in these tense economic times. The concept of an American version of The Shock Doctrine is predicated upon two basic principles: panic forces the electorate to search out paternalistic political policy; and the resulting distraction stifles public debate. These conditions nudge the collective American eye off the ball, allowing politicians to "override the will of the electorate." Disillusionment creates what Klein called a "temporary democracy free zone." She argued that the recent economic panic is an explicit example of The Shock Doctrine and she termed the $700 billion bailout the "greatest heist in modern history." . . . With a total of more than $7 trillion in estimated corporate handouts so far, the world is witnessing the largest transfer of wealth in history. Congress has opened the federal wallet to the financial and automotive sectors, justifying unregulated corporate welfare with warnings of economic collapse, frozen credit markets, and rampant unemployment. This "no-strings-attached" federal policy, orchestrated by former Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson, offers a disturbing illustration of domestic shock doctrine in action. Klein said that the recent actions of Paulson and company fly in the face of democracy. She revealed that Paulson began working on the bailout in secret six months prior to its sudden announcement just before the election. She added that a federal willingness to hand out taxpayer funds to banks with no prerequisite lending requirements has not only failed to unfreeze the credit markets, it has put massive pressures on public "entitlements." In her speech, Klein quoted bank CEO's who referred to the bailout as a "cushion" and an "insurance policy," clearly defining their intent for use of the funds. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's successful enforcement of lending increases in the U.K. version of the bailout clearly shows that it is possible to use built-in regulation to thaw credit markets. While federal bureaucrats exhibit an obvious aversion for corporate micromanagement, they have eagerly restricted the rights of workers. During negotiations for the auto industry bailout, Congress forced the United Auto Workers to roll back its members' pay to non-union levels prior to releasing funds. Klein remarked that it was odd that they "got this one in writing" after failing to do so with the lending increases from banks. . . . The author's democracy-reclamation project begins with campaign finance reform. She framed the current economic atmosphere as a dichotomy of people power versus the corporate lobby, with the business set holding a stated advantage until election financing is made more equitable. Klein's next step is the nationalization of America's banks. Her argument is simple: These private entities have already proved themselves failures within the market. If the banks are not viable, don't throw money at them - nationalize. After bailouts, Klein pointed out, both Citigroup and Bank of America actually received more in federal gifts than their total market value. The U.S. financial industry has been effectively nationalized by the bailout, but Klein said the banks are "encouraged to pretend they're still private" because, otherwise, shareholders would lose their stakes. She posed the rhetorical question, if private banks knew how to effectively conduct business would this economic crisis exist in the first place? She also pointed out that U.S. taxpayers failed to receive even one seat on the Boards of Directors of any of the banks that have been aided by bailout funds. Klein advocates green investment in industrial infrastructure as the follow-up to the nationalization of banks. As factories go under in today's economic maelstrom, she argued that government-directed "green audits" should take place to discern the cost of environmental retrofitting the failing shops. If entrepreneurs are unwilling to take on these costs, Klein suggests that the federal government divert wasteful corporate subsidies and make a national investment in environmentally friendly production. She identifies this as the kind of bold action that would bolster employment and have positive ecological impacts. She posited a local case, the recently shuttered Republic Windows and Doors, as an exemplary instance of need for this "green-audit" policy.
Please read the rest of this fine essay here. So let's get started, people! Suzan __________________________________________


Serving Patriot said...


Besides reenacting our own "storming of the Bastille" upon Capitol Hill, what methods do you think "we the losers" can employ to take back our government and purge it of the interlocked political-business-media class that continue to pillage our national wealth?

Shame does not seem to work (witness the hue and cry over capping executive pay at slightly over the President's salary).

Nor does boycott - as evidenced in the current consumer demand destruction being wreaked upon the citizen/consumers themselves while the wealthiest still fly to Sundance in their private jets.

Taking it to the street? Well, seems to be a problem too (see Denver & St Paul) where the police forces get to whup a** and no one else (even withing those cities!) really notices.

I simply don't know anymore. I think that our citizenry has become so fragmented/atomized in the past 40-50 yrs, and so dumbed-downed & ill-informed about their real "rights" and "duties," that the pain upon them must become much, much greater before sufficient numbers organize and agitate for change. If we keep putting half-million people out of work each month though, it won't be much longer before the millions of scared, hungry and angry people will be out there to organize and agitate.

So, how does it get done? How do we make our republic responsive again to the general will of its citizens? Here are some of my thoughts (for when the agitation leads to control of lawmaking):
* enormous taxes (90%+) on the superwealthy (those with net worth > $100M)
* substantial taxes (50-75%+) on the wealthy (those with net worth > $10M)
* re-imposition of inheritance taxes on wealth transfers > $10M
* strict enforcement of anti-lobbying and conflict-of-interest laws and ethics regulations on congresscritters, their staffs and executive branch servants (including retired military) - simply put, these classes of people cannot take jobs in the lobbying industry;
* equitable return of federal tax dollars to the states; no more 75 cents on the fed tax dollar to MI while AL receives $1.50 for each dollar it sends to DC;
* re-regulation of financial sector including New Deal rules on separation of investment & commercial banking and strengthened enforcement by SEC;
* undoing of Bush/Cheney expansion of executive powers and degradation of civil rights inherent in the federal surveillance powers over citizens;
* anti-trust breakup of media corporations and return of fairness doctrines;
* elimination of access fees for internet;
* dramatic downsizing of police paramilitary forces and imposition of strict accountability in their use (local, state, and federal watchdogs)

I could probably go on but you get the drift. But I remain concerned that while some isolated and scattered efforts might exist to bring our government back to the People, there is nothing at the national level. And without one, the aftermath of the crash will leave the nation isolated and shattered - or worse, forcibly unified behind the wrong side.


Suzan said...


It seems to me that Bastille storming would be a reasonable response, but sheeple aren't really interested in putting themselves out now are they?

If enough people took to the streets (and I'm thinking they WILL once the actual depths of the coming Greater Depression are known), the paid cops wouldn't be able to hold back an enraged, informed citizenry.

As if. We are doomed to see very bad times soon I fear.

And it's not like they don't have proper warnings to get behind the stimulus bill NOW before we lose the window of opportunity which will at least minimize a little bit the suffering to come.

I love your solutions! Try getting anyone else to think that increasing taxes (even if just on the wealthiest top 1%) is any type of reasonable response. Ha!

Heck, we're having trouble just stopping Congress from giving more tax cuts to people who will pocket them or use them to buy out their competitors (and lay off their staffs) for a song and then wait until a recovery starts years hence before actually hiring anyone again.

Good luck to us. We're up against it again.

And without one, the aftermath of the crash will leave the nation isolated and shattered - or worse, forcibly unified behind the wrong side.

And then there's always that to look forward to.

Thanks for your wisdom. It's always needed.


Ironhead said...

Dear Friends,
For many years now our 'government ' has been actively preparing for the 'storming' of government buildings.

Note that an elementary school is well within the range of this one. Note the expressions on the faces of the operators who would gleefully mow down 'domestic terrorists'

As one who chucked my TV into the road several years ago, I can see the effects of TV programming and conditioning on the 'average Joe'
Please consider this and its implications, keeping in mind that much research and energy has gone into these programs...,506,148.htm

In the abstract of this patent it states that neuro stimulation can be done by :
1. Modulations of the video stream.
2. Embedding subliminal messages within the program material.
3. Modulations of the audio stream (two if in stereo)

Thus 4 seperate channels that can simultaneously used to instill subliminal suggestions to anyone within a range of the magnetic fields in TVs and computer monitors.

I have noticed that the most rabid supporters of the Evil that has come upon us watch an incredible amount of TV.

I met a woman who worked at UNC CH who put a Bush sticker on her vehicle because she was afraid that if she didn't conform to the wishes of her superiors (where's my barf bucket) that she may lose her job.

Whoops, I gotta go for now...thanks for all you do.

Love and Peace...