Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How To Create A Culture of Rape (The NeoLibs Have Got It Solid) This Is What Revolution Looks Like! (Down with the Eurozone?)

How To Create A Culture of Rape

Widespread greed and lack of empathy facilitated the cover-up of child rape at Penn State University.
15 Nov 2011

In May of 2009, as President Barack Obama prepared to replace retiring Justice Anthony Souter on the US supreme court, he let something terrible slip - something that could threaten the very fabric of our civilisation! He said he would try to pick a new judge for our highest court who possessed "empathy", or the ability to identify “with people’s hopes and struggles” when making decisions that would intimately affect their lives.

In other words, slightly different than how Justice Clarence Thomas does it, which generally involves applying lessons learned from all-expenses-paid, first-class corporate speaking gigs and serial viewing of the wacky antics of Long Dong Silver.

Predictably, right-wingers from Senator Orrin Hatch to former Republican National Committee Chair (and lobbyist for every destructive interest in existence) Ed Gillespie were just beside themselves, hissy-fitting at the outrageous notion that someone who actually cares about people might become a sitting justice on the High Court.

It is this degradation of American culture since the Reagan years - on steroids in our current Citizens United era as corporations have become people - that says the only healthy emotions are the ones that highlight one's personal greed and lack of compassion for others. This is the cultural sickness that has been on full display for all its misanthropy this past week.

The most egregious example occurred in State College, Pennsylvania, with the growing and nausea-inducing scandal engulfing Penn State University. No, our culture didn't create the paedophilia of former Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Sadly, this has been with us since the dawn of time.

But the greed of a big college football programme and the fortune and fame it creates allowed it to go on for years.
This certainly played a defining role to decisions made by everyone from an assistant coach, who witnessed Sandusky's anally raping a 10-year old in the shower; to the lack of action by the university's president; to the post-2002 Rick-Perry-memory hole of the sainted (now) former coach Joe Paterno.

All of them spent at least a decade, perhaps closer to 15 years, covering up the behaviour of a serial-child rapist, who used the football programme's reputation and facilities to both locate his victims and commit his crimes.

For these men in positions of power, "greed was good", a lesson learned by the lunkheaded Penn State students who chose to "riot" Wednesday evening upon news of Paterno's firing by the Penn State University Board by turning over a car, breaking windows and performing other acts of mass stupidity. For them, being able to party hardy post-victory and continue the cult of Paterno was more important than the lives of potential peers violently victimised by a beast.

The personal responsibility touted by these protectors, and in particular Joe Paterno - rock-ribbed Republican friend of the Bushs and former Pennsylvania senator turned presidential candidate Rick Santorum - was no match for the avarice their politics and personal-belief system would seem to espouse. Santorum, who sponsored the Republican-registered Sandusky for the "Congressional Angels in Adoption" award, based on the non-profit Sandusky founded to provide care for foster children, was still defending Paterno, last we heard.

So in case you're scoring at home, to Santorum being gay is terrible, because homosexuality is just like "paedophilia". But if the person performing or covering up child rape is a friend, paedophilia's A-ok. So does that mean Santorum supports gay rights - as long as the non-straight in question is a friend of his?

This has been an another edition of Deep Thoughts with Rick Santorum.

Speaking of deep thoughts, the same big money created Santorum's debate mate Herman Cain, avatar of the right-wing greed culture and a man who thinks "right of return" has something to do with sending back a pizza because it took longer than 30 minutes to arrive. Cain's existence in the presidential race is courtesy of those libertarian Iran investors affectionately known as the Koch Brothers.

The fact that Cain has been accused of being a sexual predator is of no particular importance, because what he has done to women pales in comparison to what he could do for them and their big-money buddies with tax cuts, subsidies, deregulation and other items in the Norquist goody bag.

A philosopher that conservatives once believed in, Edmund Burke, famously said that "all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing". For too many at Penn State and among the Herman Cain express train, just doing nothing would be a step up.

Cliff Schecter is the President of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm, the author of the 2008 bestseller The Real McCain, and a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.

Follow Cliff Schecter On Twitter: @CliffSchecter

by Chris Hedges
"Occupy Wall Street protesters react and wave copies of the court order allowing them back into Zuccotti Park as police block them from re-entering, in New York, November 15, 2011. Hundreds of police officers arrested about 200 demonstrators early Tuesday in an operation to clear the nearly two-month-old camp. (Photo: Todd Heisler / The New York Times)

"Welcome to the revolution. Our elites have exposed their hand. They have nothing to offer. They can destroy but they cannot build. They can repress but they cannot lead. They can steal but they cannot share. They can talk but they cannot speak. They are as dead and useless to us as the water-soaked books, tents, sleeping bags, suitcases, food boxes and clothes that were tossed by sanitation workers Tuesday morning into garbage trucks in New York City. They have no ideas, no plans and no vision for the future.

Our decaying corporate regime has strutted in Portland, Oakland and New York with their baton-wielding cops into a fool’s paradise. They think they can clean up “the mess”—always employing the language of personal hygiene and public security — by making us disappear. They think we will all go home and accept their corporate nation, a nation where crime and government policy have become indistinguishable, where nothing in America, including the ordinary citizen, is deemed by those in power worth protecting or preserving, where corporate oligarchs awash in hundreds of millions of dollars are permitted to loot and pillage the last shreds of collective wealth, human capital and natural resources, a nation where the poor do not eat and workers do not work, a nation where the sick die and children go hungry, a nation where the consent of the governed and the voice of the people is a cruel joke.

Get back into your cages, they are telling us. Return to watching the lies, absurdities, trivia and celebrity gossip we feed you in 24-hour cycles on television.
Invest your emotional energy in the vast system of popular entertainment. Run up your credit card debt. Pay your loans. Be thankful for the scraps we toss. Chant back to us our phrases about democracy, greatness and freedom. Vote in our rigged political theater. Send your young men and women to fight and die in useless, unwinnable wars that provide corporations with huge profits. 

Stand by mutely as our bipartisan congressional Super Committee, either through consensus or cynical dysfunction, plunges you into a society without basic social services including unemployment benefits. Pay for the crimes of Wall Street.

The rogues’ gallery of Wall Street crooks, such as Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman Sachs, Howard Milstein at New York Private Bank & Trust, the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers and Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase & Co., no doubt think it’s over. They think it is back to the business of harvesting what is left of America to swell their personal and corporate fortunes. But they no longer have any concept of what is happening around them.

They are as mystified and clueless about these uprisings as the courtiers at Versailles or in the Forbidden City who never understood until the very end that their world was collapsing. The billionaire mayor of New York, enriched by a deregulated Wall Street, is unable to grasp why people would spend two months sleeping in an open park and marching on banks.

He says he understands that the Occupy protests are “cathartic” and “entertaining,” as if demonstrating against the pain of being homeless and unemployed is a form of therapy or diversion
, but that it is time to let the adults handle the affairs of state. Democratic and Republican mayors, along with their parties, have sold us out. But for them this is the beginning of the end.

The historian Crane Brinton in his book “Anatomy of a Revolution” laid out the common route to revolution. The preconditions for successful revolution, Brinton argued, are discontent that affects nearly all social classes, widespread feelings of entrapment and despair, unfulfilled expectations, a unified solidarity in opposition to a tiny power elite, a refusal by scholars and thinkers to continue to defend the actions of the ruling class, an inability of government to respond to the basic needs of citizens, a steady loss of will within the power elite itself and defections from the inner circle, a crippling isolation that leaves the power elite without any allies or outside support and, finally, a financial crisis.

Our corporate elite, as far as Brinton was concerned, has amply fulfilled these preconditions. But it is Brinton’s next observation that is most worth remembering. Revolutions always begin, he wrote, by making impossible demands that if the government met would mean the end of the old configurations of power. The second stage, the one we have entered now, is the unsuccessful attempt by the power elite to quell the unrest and discontent through physical acts of repression.

I have seen my share of revolts, insurgencies and revolutions, from the guerrilla conflicts in the 1980s in Central America to the civil wars in Algeria, the Sudan and Yemen, to the Palestinian uprising to the revolutions in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania as well as the wars in the former Yugoslavia. George Orwell wrote that all tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but that once the fraud is exposed they must rely exclusively on force. We have now entered the era of naked force. The vast million-person bureaucracy of the internal security and surveillance state will not be used to stop terrorism but to try and stop us.

Despotic regimes in the end collapse internally. Once the foot soldiers who are ordered to carry out acts of repression, such as the clearing of parks or arresting or even shooting demonstrators, no longer obey orders, the old regime swiftly crumbles. When the aging East German dictator Erich Honecker was unable to get paratroopers to fire on protesting crowds in Leipzig, the regime was finished. The same refusal to employ violence doomed the communist governments in Prague and Bucharest.

I watched in December 1989 as the army general that the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had depended on to crush protests condemned him to death on Christmas Day. Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak lost power once they could no longer count on the security forces to fire into crowds.

The process of defection among the ruling class and security forces is slow and often imperceptible. These defections are advanced through a rigid adherence to nonviolence, a refusal to respond to police provocation and a verbal respect for the blue-uniformed police, no matter how awful they can be while wading into a crowd and using batons as battering rams against human bodies.

The resignations of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s deputy, Sharon Cornu, and the mayor’s legal adviser and longtime friend, Dan Siegel, in protest over the clearing of the Oakland encampment are some of the first cracks in the edifice. “Support Occupy Oakland, not the 1% and its government facilitators,” Siegel tweeted after his resignation.

There were times when I entered the ring as a boxer and knew, as did the spectators, that I was woefully mismatched. Ringers, experienced boxers in need of a tuneup or a little practice, would go to the clubs where semi-pros fought, lie about their long professional fight records, and toy with us.

Those fights became about something other than winning. They became about dignity and self-respect. You fought to say something about who you were as a human being. These bouts were punishing, physically brutal and demoralizing. You would get knocked down and stagger back up. You would reel backwards from a blow that felt like a cement block. You would taste the saltiness of your blood on your lips. Your vision would blur. Your ribs, the back of your neck and your abdomen would ache. Your legs would feel like lead. 

But the longer you held on, the more the crowd in the club turned in your favor. No one, even you, thought you could win. But then, every once in a while, the ringer would get overconfident. He would get careless. He would become a victim of his own hubris. And you would find deep within yourself some new burst of energy, some untapped strength and, with the fury of the dispossessed, bring him down. I have not put on a pair of boxing gloves for 30 years. But I felt this twinge of euphoria again in my stomach this morning, this utter certainty that the impossible is possible, this realization that the mighty will fall.”

Down with the Eurozone

Choosing austerity measures means a deeper recession in the short term, a blow the periphery may not be able to handle.

Nouriel Roubini

16 Nov 2011

The eurozone crisis seems to be reaching its climax, with Greece on the verge of default and an inglorious exit from the monetary union, and now Italy on the verge of losing market access. But the eurozone's problems are much deeper. They are structural, and they severely affect at least four other economies: Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus and Spain.

For the last decade, the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) were the eurozone's consumers of first and last resort, spending more than their income and running ever-larger current-account deficits. Meanwhile, the eurozone core (Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and France) comprised the producers of first and last resort, spending below their incomes and running ever-larger current-account surpluses.

These external imbalances were also driven by the euro’s strength since 2002, and by the divergence in real exchange rates and competitiveness within the eurozone. Unit labour costs fell in Germany and other parts of the core (as wage growth lagged that of productivity), leading to a real depreciation and rising current-account surpluses, while the reverse occurred in the PIIGS (and Cyprus), leading to real appreciation and widening current-account deficits. In Ireland and Spain, private savings collapsed, and a housing bubble fuelled excessive consumption, while in Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Italy, it was excessive fiscal deficits that exacerbated external imbalances.

The resulting build-up of private and public debt in over-spending countries became unmanageable when housing bubbles burst (Ireland and Spain) and current-account deficits, fiscal gaps, or both became unsustainable throughout the eurozone's periphery. Moreover, the peripheral countries’ large current-account deficits, fuelled as they were by excessive consumption, were accompanied by economic stagnation and loss of competitiveness.

So, now what?

Symmetrical reflation is the best option for restoring growth and competitiveness on the eurozone's periphery while undertaking necessary austerity measures and structural reforms. This implies significant easing of monetary policy by the European Central Bank; provision of unlimited lender-of-last-resort support to illiquid but potentially solvent economies; a sharp depreciation of the euro, which would turn current-account deficits into surpluses; and fiscal stimulus in the core if the periphery is forced into austerity.

Bitter Medicine

Unfortunately, Germany and the ECB oppose this option, owing to the prospect of a temporary dose of modestly higher inflation in the core relative to the periphery.

The bitter medicine that Germany and the ECB want to impose on the periphery - the second option - is recessionary deflation: Fiscal austerity, structural reforms to boost productivity growth and reduce unit labour costs and real depreciation via price adjustment, as opposed to nominal exchange-rate adjustment.

The problems with this option are many. Fiscal austerity, while necessary, means a deeper recession in the short term. Even structural reform reduces output in the short run, because it requires firing workers, shutting down money-losing firms and gradually reallocating labour and capital to emerging new industries.

So, to prevent a spiral of ever-deepening recession, the periphery needs real depreciation to improve its external deficit. But even if prices and wages were to fall by 30 per cent over the next few years (which would most likely be socially and politically unsustainable), the real value of debt would increase sharply, worsening the insolvency of governments and private debtors.
In short, the eurozone's periphery is now subject to the paradox of thrift: Increasing savings too much, too fast leads to renewed recession and makes debts even more unsustainable. And that paradox is now affecting even the core. If the peripheral countries remain mired in a deflationary trap of high debt, falling output, weak competitiveness and structural external deficits, eventually they will be tempted by a third option: Default and exit from the eurozone. This would enable them to revive economic growth and competitiveness through a depreciation of new national currencies.

Of course, such a disorderly eurozone break-up would be as severe a shock as the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, if not worse. Avoiding it would compel the eurozone's core economies to embrace the fourth and final option: Bribing the periphery to remain in a low-growth uncompetitive state. This would require accepting massive losses on public and private debt, as well as enormous transfer payments that boost the periphery’s income while its output stagnates. Italy has done something similar for decades, with its northern regions subsidising the poorer Mezzogiorno. But such permanent fiscal transfers are politically impossible in the eurozone, where Germans are Germans and Greeks are Greeks.

Abandon Austerity or Else

That also means that Germany and the ECB have less power than they seem to believe. Unless they abandon asymmetric adjustment (recessionary deflation), which concentrates all of the pain in the periphery, in favour of a more symmetrical approach (austerity and structural reforms on the periphery, combined with eurozone-wide reflation), the monetary union's slow-developing train wreck will accelerate as peripheral countries default and exit.

The recent chaos in Greece and Italy may be the first step in this process. Clearly, the eurozone’s muddle-through approach no longer works. Unless the eurozone moves toward greater economic, fiscal and political integration (on a path consistent with short-term restoration of growth, competitiveness and debt sustainability, which are needed to resolve unsustainable debt and reduce chronic fiscal and external deficits), recessionary deflation will certainly lead to a disorderly break-up.
With Italy too big to fail, too big to save and now at the point of no return, the endgame for the eurozone has begun. Sequential, coercive restructurings of debt will come first, and then exits from the monetary union that will eventually lead to the eurozone’s disintegration.

(Nouriel Roubini is Chairman of Roubini Global Economics, Professor of Economics at the Stern School of Business, New York University, and co-author of the book, Crisis Economics.)

A version of this article was first published on
Project Syndicate.


TONY said...

If the Eurozone goes down, the resulting tsunami will swamp Obama along with a lot of other people. It might not seem like it but the US recession could be worse. That deterioration would be swift in the wake of the demise of the Eurozone and the Euro. O. would go into the election on the back of an economic nightmare = welcome, President Romney.

Suzan said...

Or Perry.

Or, hell, even Palin.