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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Karski and the Difficulty of Saving Anyone

Karski: How One Man Tried to Stop the Holocaust

I've been slowly reading the book "Karski, How one man tried to stop the Holocaust", by E. Thomas Wood, and the man Karski really impresses me. He did champion the cause of Jews, as well as his own Polish people, and in public and with evidence, from 1942 on. And he did his level best to get the West to do something to stop or slow the exterminations. He carried the message of Jewish leaders back to the West with suggestions such as bombing switching tracks, dropping leaflets, and similar; and the West ignored him.

No evidence is incontrovertible evidence in the hands of skeptics, and bad or doubtful friends, and his observations weren't accepted until 2 years later when Troops started knocking at the doors of the death camps with cameras and newsfilm crews and showing the world what was there. By then it was too late.

People can't say that saving Poland would have required the West to go to war again. But all it would have required would have been for the West to have spine enough to be willing to go to bat for an ally. The Allies didn't want to keep fighting after Hitler was gone beyond what would be necessary to destroy the Japanese Empire. Roosevelt wanted Russia to help him fight the Japanese. Churchill wanted to buy peace by appeasing Stalin and giving him half of Poland. Roosevelt wanted Russias entry into the war with Japan in in return for carving up part of Poland. And so Poland was considered strategically expendible. Karski tried to fight this but his bad luck was to have bad friends for allies and to be facing an almost impossible strategic situation. Poland was on the Russia physical side of Germany, and Poland was lucky that Russia didn't want to directly rule the entire country.

The Enemy of my Enemy is not really my Friend

A former enemy who is the enemy of one's enemy is maybe a temporary friend, but not likely a long term one. Such "friends" are liable to be doubtful and traitorous ones and both the Polish Communists and Russia fell in that category. Karski had an impossible task. While in Poland he gathered messages from all the factions of the Polish underground Government and carried them back to equally fractuous factions in Paris on his first trip and London on his second. Those reports told how the Communist cadres of Poles were perfectly willing to attack the Germans and blame the poles, or turn over Poles to the Germans who weren't among their ranks. The Communist rebels in Poland were more on the side of Russia than Poland. And of course Stalin wanted to regain and make permanent his land grab from when the betrayed Poland in the first place in his Ribbentrop treaty. The Poles were up against a major enemy.

Chess versus Poker

And the difficulty of dealing with this was incredible. Stalin was playing chess, and when his troops murdered Polish officers in Katyn and their other prison camps, they set it up so that they could try to blame the Germans for the Massacres. The true perpetrators of the Katyn Massacres wouldn't be revealed until the 1960's, though the Germans uncovered the bodies in 1942, and in an example of their own stone faced hypocrisy brought in an international team of forensic experts to examine the graves. The Germans claimed a diplomatic coup in accusing the Russians of mass murder (which was true). And as the author notes in the book and Wikipedia confirms:

"In April 1943 the Polish government-in-exile insisted on bringing the matter to the negotiation table with the Soviets and on opening an investigation by the International Red Cross.[48] Stalin, in response, accused the Polish government of collaborating with Nazi Germany, broke off diplomatic relations with it,[49][50] and started a campaign to get the Western Allies to recognize the alternative Polish pro-Soviet government in Moscow led by Wanda Wasilewska."

So Karski's efforts to get the West to champion Poland, only provided Stalin with an excuse to make official his existing war aims (seizing Polish Territory) and also gave an excuse for the West to decapitate the Polish Government in exile (some believe that the death of the Polish leader in exile, Sikorsky, wasn't a complete accident).

Doubtful Allies

And it got worse for Karski. Karski had to work with the American Right to try to convince Roosevelt to back his countries issues. He had to work with Poles who were at each other's throats. And the Polish underground had to work with Polish Communists who took every opportunity to undermine and setup their compatriots rather than working with them. He was trying to convince the USA government to support the Polish cause, and he made friends with Roosevelts advisors on the right such as Elbridge Durbrow and William C. Bullitt. Bullitt was willing to champion his causes, but Bullitt had launched a very personal and public attack on one of Roosevelt's closest advisors, Sumner Welles, for being a Homosexual, and managed to discredit himself around the same time he started to champion Karski's cause. Eventually Bullitt would be a hero among right wing circles, but Bullitt lost all influence on FDR because of this. And Jan Karski met personally with FDR, who was impressed by him, and unfortunately it didn't do much for the Poles. The USA was not going to go to war for Poland against Russia. And nobody was going to save the Jews. One has to be careful with ones friends as much as with ones enemies.

Eventually the Russians came in. Told Warsaw to revolt. Delayed their capture of Warsaw long enough to make sure the Germans crushed them. Killed or imprisoned most of the pro-West Polish Government. Installed a Communist Government. Took the eastern part of the country. Kicked the Germans out of what had been the Eastern Part of Germany, and moved the borders around to what they are now. Karsky had an after the war career as an anti-communist, pro-Jewish, historian and professor at Georgetown. My copy of his biography is autographed, not by the author but him. He died in 2000. I think I stood in line with my wife for that signing, he was a real hero.

Best thing to do is to read the two books; one by him, and the other by E. Thomas Wood.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Crusading to protect the bottom line

Anyone who's been following the money with regard to the Tea Party movement and the Koch brothers, and knows a bit of history, knows that the level of violence and hatred is not particularly unique to them. They aren't that much different from other movements that wanted to "Take Back America" except that they get a lot more attention from our corporate media than they deserve. But that's not new either. During the Great Depression (and before) most people didn't trust the corporate newspapers, they got their news from community Newspapers.

Frank Rich, blogging in the New York times back in 2010 noted that all the sturm and drang of the Tea Party was coming from:

...."the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it, and have been doing so since well before the “death panel” warm-up acts of last summer. Three heavy hitters rule. You’ve heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans. But even those carrying the Kochs’ banner may not know who these brothers are."

All in all Bernie Sanders notes that there are some 22 individuals bankrolling the Tea Party. That doesn't include all the moguls who run corporations and don't want their names in Kleig lights and so give to ostensible "Charitable Organizations" that run ads that start out "Tell Obama" so that they can keep their deductibility with the IRS. These donations are secret because they don't want stockholder or customer revolts and they give to 501(c)3 organizations. And I note that there are 100's of articles on this subject but when I google it, only one comes up. So we are getting what our governors are willing to pay for.

Anyway the columnist notes:

"All three tycoons are the latest incarnation of what the historian Kim Phillips-Fein labeled “Invisible Hands” in her prescient 2009 book of that title: those corporate players who have financed the far right ever since the du Pont brothers spawned the American Liberty League in 1934 to bring down F.D.R. You can draw a straight line from the Liberty League’s crusade against the New Deal “socialism” of Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and child labor laws to the John Birch Society-Barry Goldwater assault on J.F.K. and Medicare to the Koch-Murdoch-backed juggernaut against our “socialist” president."

Even the language is almost the same.

And my latest poem is also from 2010:

Unto Ceasar -

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fukushima meltdown is a misnomer

This article:

TEPCO’s do or die mission to save nuclear reactor may have caused largest radiation leaks during Fukushima disaster

The article explains that during the meltdown of Reactor #2:

"attempts to prevent explosions at the Unit 2 reactor may have in fact caused a substantially large radiation leak. They proved that hypothesis by pairing data of the recorded radiation levels which rose sharply 3 times at Fukushima Daini monitoring posts over a period of 5 hours during the night of March 14th."

Anyone who cares to remember will remember they were dumping sea water on the reactors (3 melted down and one fuel pond seems to have melted too) during the disaster. This was advertised as being done to prevent meltdown, but in fact were intended to prevent explosions, but the reactors had already melted. The report notes that:

by that time, the amount of nuclear fuel which had already melted down in the core was already leaking into the containment vessel, filling it with radioactive materials, prior to the start of seawater injection operations.

So the seawater, instead of cooling reactor rods to prevent meltdown, was actually hitting extremely hot, and in some case burning materials:

"The researchers report shows that workers were unable to get coolant water into the Unit 2 reactor"

... and that this was because the core was so hot and so in meltdown that water coming in contact with the core turned to steam. They had to vent the steam to keep the containment vessel from exploding. Even with that each injection "the pressure in the containment rose as well until it reached over two times the designed limits", which "combined with the extreme heat would threaten to crack or damage the concrete containment vessel." And the researchers theorize that "radioactive materials escaped from cracks in the concrete containment vessel, and were carried south towards the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant." The report notes that:

"TEPCO would later hypothesize due to elevated temperatures, among other factors, that a breach roughly 10 cm wide was created in the reactor’s containment vessel 21 hours after the quake. Tepco also said it believes that parts used to ensure air tightness may have broken from overheating."

Under these conditions the cladding for the fuel rods, which is made of Zirconium alloy would have catalyzed hydrogen gas production and explosions. Also Zirconium is not particularly flammable when it is intact but as it degrades it becomes very flammable and burns like a sparkler.

For these reasons there is every reason to suspect that a good portion of the content of these reactors burned away or corroded away during the meltdown event, and that this event, if it is over, is over because the fuel is mostly gone into the atmosphere, down stream, and out to sea, by sea or in the air.

There is abundant evidence, mostly hidden in articles or the web, that the Fukushima meltdown is even much larger than TEPCO admits.

Sources and further information:

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The One thing all these fools seem to agree on

You'd have thought that after Chernobyl the world would have figured out that Einstein was right when he warned that nuclear power was a hell of a way to boil coffee. Well they didn't. You'd think they'd learn from Fukushima, but the only thing they seem to have learned is that it is a lot more profitable to lie and cover up a disaster than to tackle it head on. Chernobyl killed tens of thousands of people, but heroic people prevented an even worse disaster, many at the expense of their lives. The disaster, nevertheless, brought down the Soviet Union and poisoned vast swaths of the Ukraine and Belarus. Japan seems to have only learned from Chernobyl some pointers on cover ups. Countries like China, Iran, and others have learned nothing from Fukushima or Chernbyl and seem hell bent on killing more people. Even the USA seems hell bent on resurrecting the nuclear nightmare. But the consequences as bad as they are are under-reported, not exaggerated.

Anybody who thinks that atom bombs, or nuclear reactors, are a smart investment is insane.

Scientists in Chernobyl have been studying children of that disaster. Years later they are still sick, and governments, instead of dealing with the effects of these disasters are punishing those who speak out on them.


Israel evacuated Jewish children who lived near the Chernobyl disaster, and is able to study what happened to them. But Doctors living near the area still face censorship and repression. The above article writes:

"The study showed that children aged less than 1 year when the accident happened (April 1986) were the worst affected, but children born after the disaster have suffered more than those who were aged over 1 year at the time. Children born in the year before the disaster had about a 2.2 times higher risk of thyroid disease than older children. But the high risk (about 1.4 times higher) persisted for the children born after 1986. For lymphadenopathy the increased risk was about 1.5 times higher for children born after the disaster than for those aged 1 year or more at the time. The study shows that the longer the children had remained in the contaminated areas, the sicker they became, and the higher was their risk of developing goitre, thyroid cancer, gastrointestinal and lymph disorders, and autoimmune diseases. Over 13% of the children had signs and symptoms of liver and gallbladder disease, and 11% suffered from glandular and lymph disease; chronic tonsillitis was diagnosed in almost 19%. Goitre (commonly a precursor of thyroid cancer and autoimmune thyroid diseases) was diagnosed in 17.6% of the children, with the highest rate (29.4%) in children from the highly contaminated Gomel region. The finding of a strong association between morbidity and not only the levels of contamination in the areas where children lived but also how long they had lived there supports results published by the Gomel State Medical Institute in Belarus."

To make it simple, radioisotopes such as cesium, strontium, iodine, and the others have biological effects from ingestion and a combination of radioactive poisoning and chemical poisoning as they damage the bones, nervous system, musculature, and endocrine children of people poisoned by these substances.

And The government retaliates against researchers:

Last year Bandazhevsky lost his job at the Medical Institute, was imprisoned, and had his computers and research papers confiscated. His offence was to condemn state- funded research into the health effects of Chernobyl. In a report which LLRC has seen he wrote that the Institute of Radiation Medicine (part of the Belarus Ministry of Health) had wasted billions of roubles on projects which are finding nothing new and which will contribute nothing to the overall aim of reducing radiation exposures and their impact on health.
Following his adoption by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience he was released in December, but he is under surveillance and still faces trial.

This sort of thing is not confined to Belarus, all over the world there is evidence of illness and disease (especially cancers) associated with radiation exposure and fallout. These are crimes, but it seems that the one thing our plutocratic governments can agree on world wide -- is that they'd rather be able to kill each other at a touch of a button than provide public goods for their people or protect them from harm. We all face the same enemy, the notion that we are subjects to be ruled instead of people whose governments need our consent to govern well.

Further reading:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Bain of Romney

Romney recently denied he was working for Bain during the times when the Washington Post claims that Bain was going to town on outsourcing and off-shoring. They've tried to maintain he left Bain in 1999. I had researched this before and the article I'd read back then at the time claimed he left for his run for Governor. It was vague about what year that was.  When Romney accused the Washington Post, Obama and the Boston Globe of lying I went back to the Wikipedia article, but it's been edited again, so the stuff that was there last time is gone. The revised article on his bio now refers to an announcement that Romney made in 2001 that he'd not be going back to active service with Bain after he finished with the Olympics;
"Mitt Romney won't return to the business world after the 2002 Winter Games but instead will pursue public service, possibly elected office."
Trouble is, this announcement is from 2001, not 1999. That article also included the following comment:

"No one would run a 3 1/2-year campaign for any office in Utah. I'm surely not, and I imagine Mitt is not either"
Okay, he announces in 2001 that he's not going back to private work at Bain Capital. I suppose we are supposed to take him at his word, though he's still CEO of Bain Capital for at least another 4 years.

Trouble is, even if he was on leave of absence, his SEC filings show him as sole owner and CEO the whole time. From 1999-2001 he's clearly CEO in those filings.

The Boston Globe cites the 2000 SEC filing which shows;
"Bain Capital, Inc., a Delaware corporation ("Bain Capital"), is the sole                       
managing partner of the BCIP entities.  Mr. W. Mitt Romney is the sole
shareholder, sole director, Chief Executive Officer and President of Bain
Capital and thus is the controlling person of Bain Capital.  The executive
officers of Bain Capital are set forth on Schedule B hereto."

And (2001):, there were some minor changes:
Mr. W. Mitt Romney, in his capacity as sole shareholder, sole director, Chief Executive Officer and President of Bain Investors VI, Bain Capital, Brookside Investors Inc. and Sankaty Investors II and in his capacity share voting and dispositive power with respect to the shares held by CLEC members. The filing of this statement by Mr. W. Mitt Romney shall not be construed as an admission that he is, for the purpose of Section 13(d) of the Exchange Act, the beneficial owner of such shares based on their pro-rata share of membership interests in CLEC."
So it's obvious that in 2000/2001 he was still running the company, even if he was also involved with the Olympics, and after the olympics were over, in his Massachusetts financial disclosure, the Boston Globe reports further:
"Also, a Massachusetts financial disclosure form Romney filed in 2003 states that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002. And Romney’s state financial disclosure forms indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings."
From 2002-2004 his record gets murky.
The Wiki article says "He transferred his ownership to other partners and negotiated an agreement that allowed him to receive a passive profit share as a retired partner in some Bain Capital entities, including buyout and investment funds." Supposedly that is similar to a blind trust, except there is nothing blind about it and the Wiki article doesn't say when the transfer occured. Normally a "passive profit share" would indicate no active involvement in business decisions. The article admits that his money wasn't in a blind trust until 2003, so it is that period between 2001 and 2003 where the arguments run right now. Politico claims that:
"Romney did not finalize a severance agreement with Bain until 2002, a 10-year deal with undisclosed terms that was retroactive to 1999. It expired in 2009."[

Trouble is that if Romney stated that he was leaving Bain for private work in 2001, but didn't actually do so until 2002, and shows on the records the whole time as CEO of the company, that really doesn't pass a smell test.
Mitt Romney has repeatedly sought to distance himself from some business dealing...
"Bain Capital and the campaign for the presumptive GOP nominee have suggested the SEC filings that show Romney as the man in charge during those additional three years have little meaning, and are the result of legal technicalities. The campaign declined to comment on the record. It pointed to a footnote in Romney’s most recent financial disclosure form, filed June 1 as a presidential candidate."
Naturally. Fact Checker maintains;
If the Obama campaign were correct, Romney would be guilty of a federal felony by certifying on federal financial disclosure forms that he left active management of Bain Capital in February 1999….
So, it's going to take a little fact checking by real fact checkers to get to the heart of this subject.  Fact is Romney was technically in charge (CEO), owner of Bain Capital, was apprised of many of its decisions, and doesn't announce that he's not going to continue with business until his work at the Olympics is over.  Was he involved in day to day operations? What CEO is? Was he involved in high level decisions? Maybe he can avoid prosecution but he can't pass the smell test.
My own feeling is that even if Romney wasn't involved in day to day operations, he's still responsible for what his company decided to do while he was still technically at the helm, and he's responsible for what Bain does as the owner of that company as well.
The examiner writes:
"Whether Romney lied on the SEC filings and other documents, or whether he is lying now, he lied nevertheless. Either he resigned in 1999 and lied to the SEC, or he didn’t resign then and therefore he is lying about the outsourcing now. Both statements can not be true. Obama and the Washington Post trust the official filings Romney signed at the time, not the statements the campaign is making now."

Also whether Romney left in 1999 or not, his big investment in outsourcing was in 1998.

Examiner -- New Evidence shows outsourcing despite Romney denials
Boston Globe Article

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Attacking Democracy itself

I posted a blog post on July 8 2012 about how Frederick Hayek actually despised Democracy, praised Pinochet's dictatorship (and the bloodshed with it) and how libertarians seem to be morphing into Fascists (Neo-Liberalism already is pretty identical to Fascism outside the USA) and today I get this wonderful gift of a horrible dishonest -- but intensely revealing article that confirms my observations; and I guess my fears about where at least some on the far right are trending.  The friend who sent this to me, based on past history with his governance style has no problems with this thesis. A mutual friend shared this article from the Capitalism Magazine. He seems to agree with it entirely, including its thesis that democracy is evil. Brian Phillips writes:
"Democracy means unlimited majority rule. The majority may do as it pleases simply because it is the majority. Under democracy the individual is subservient to the majority, that is, the collective. Democracy is a form of collectivism."
This article is dishonest, misleading, misdirects people about what democracy is about, and thus shows how Libertarians, probably out of frustration with the fact that most people have trouble seeing the fine quality of the invisible cloth that they spin their ideology from are gradually morphing back to their roots as fascists that we discussed in my last blogpost. For one thing it distorts the subject from the first line to the last.

First, Democracy does not mean "unlimited majority rule."  The word means simply "democracia" -- rule by the "demos" or the people. It has never meant simple majority rule except in the hands of polemicists and demagogues. The ancient Athenians believed that democracy required the people to "step up" (Hoi boulomenos) and volunteer in democratic institutions. Indeed in modern times word democratica in Greece is synonymous with Republic. Democracy: δημοκρατία Republic: δημοκρατία. So when Jefferson is talking about 51% votes and such he is referring to "direct democracy" versus the Republican notion of a Federation or a commonwealth. Even so Jefferson and Madison believed in indirect "Republican Democracy. They saw the danger that democracy can descend into mob rule, where "the individual is subservient to the majority" -- but that is not what democracy is about. They are making a false equivalence between democracy and collectivism. And this is a disturbing development because up until now the majority of libertarians have at least paid lip service to majority rule.

I guess this is illustrative of where the far right is trending.  I guess just because the far right can't seem to convince people that they should vote libertarian, (or neo-liberal as their philosophy is known outside the USA), even though it means poverty and desperation for the many and liberty only for the masters they seem to be giving up on the subject and like always with neo-fascists they cannot  simply make their case without first hijacking, rustling the word "democracy" and then trying to rebrand it as something ugly. I guess that is why they make the false association between the word "democracy" with "collectivism:" Brian Phillips continues:
"Collectivism holds that individuals exist only as a member of a group—whether a race, an economic class, or the State. Individuals per se  do not possess rights, but only in their capacity as a member of a group. Under democracy an individual possesses rights only when he is a member of the majority. Even then those rights are limited and continually threatened, because if the individual finds himself in the minority on any issue, he is required to follow the dictates of the majority. He may be on the winning side on a vote regarding light rail, but be on the losing side on a vote regarding school bonds."
 There are two interesting points about this assertion. The first one is that the only place you see the Supreme Court, or anybody, asserting that a group has rights "only as a member of a group" is in the case of corporate law, where the Citizens United Case built this whole megillah about Corporate Personhood, having the privileges of special speech and that money is privileged speech.  In their Arizona decision the Court claimed that giving public money to competing groups and individuals "burdened" the speech of the privileged and wealthy.  Obviously, for the current court, free speech is a collective right only granted to the privileged and wealthy. The rest of us believe that groups exist to defend our individual rights from other groups or the government itself. We understand that the problem is "faction" versus commonwealth.  In a functioning commonwealth if the majority wants school bonds and one is on the winning side one accepts that the majority with which one disagrees is legitimate to want to invest in "light rail." One can't have commonwealth if one's faction dominates whether it is majority or minority.  If one's faction wins whatever the issue, that is not a functional republic.  Eyler Robert Coates, Sr. quotes Jefferson endorsing the concept of democratic republicanism:
""We may say with truth and meaning that governments are more or less republican as they have more or less of the element of popular election and control in their composition." --Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816. ME 15:23"
The above article examples Federalist 10 in context with Madison's and Jefferson's other writings. And they don't support this next quote from the Demagogue Brian Phillips either. Phillips writes;
"For the most part, the Founders were opposed to democracy. James Madison, for example, wrote “There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current one, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.”
This is not true. Maybe some of the founders, but not James Madison or Jefferson, were opposed to democracy, but Jefferson and Madison were opposed to mob rule, not democracy! What the honest writer  Eyler Robert Coates, Sr.  notes that:
Apparently, Jefferson believed that the enlightened citizenry of a pure republic would not be so inevitably subject to the destructive factions that Madison described in Federalist No. 10 (see above). In fact, Jefferson suggested that a republican form of government without a due degree of popular control was no panacea, and lumped such governments along with monarchies(!) as channels of oppression.
And  Eyler Robert Coates, Sr. quotes Jefferson:
"Societies exist under three forms, sufficiently distinguishable. 1. Without government, as among our Indians. 2. Under governments, wherein the will of everyone has a just influence; as is the case in England, in a slight degree, and in our States, in a great one. 3. Under governments of force; as is the case in all other monarchies, and in most of the other republics. To have an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787.
Phillips continues quoting Jefferson out of context:
Thomas Jefferson stated that “a democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” And perhaps my favorite is a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”"
But the fact is that Jefferson was referring to direct democracy not to democratic republicanism.  It looks like libertarians are abandoning the principles of republicanism along with their despite for democracy.  Jefferson wanted to avoid mob rule, and had definite ideas how to do so, including privileging free education. Jefferson's republican principles dictated:
"Action by the citizens in person, in affairs within their reach and competence, and in all others by representatives, chosen immediately, and removable by themselves, constitutes the essence of a republic... All governments are more or less republican in proportion as this principle enters more or less into their composition." --Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816.
Thus a lot of the misquotes in this article are taken out of the context of the destinction between direct democracy and democracy as government getting it's authority from the people. Read Federalist 10 for more. Coats goes into more detail and explains the subject pretty darn well:
Phillips concludes:
"Democracy forces you to act in accordance with the demands of the “will of the people,” regardless of your own judgment. Democracy compels you to surrender your liberty and your property for the “general welfare.” Democracy forces you to sacrifice your rights."
This is a call to authoritarianism and a pack of lies. Since I know better, I think Jefferson has the right term for it; "dupery.":
"Believing as I do that the mass of the citizens is the safest depository of their own rights, and especially that the evils flowing from the duperies of the people are less injurious than those from the egoism of their agents, I am a friend to that composition of government which has in it the most of this ingredient." --Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816.
I could go into more detail, but that is enough for this post.  I agree with this final quote from Jefferson, which is also my operating principle.
"Lay down true principles and adhere to them inflexibly. Do not be frightened into their surrender by the alarms of the timid, or the croakings of wealth against the ascendency of the people." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816.
And this quote comes from Jefferson's Inaugural address, and also contradicts Phillips lies and spin:
"During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions."

Phillips might have the words, but he has none of the spirit of Jefferson in his writings. He's like an assassin who attacks the very spirit of his target. He's like a kidnapper who cuts the words out of a book and rearranges them into an extortion note. This attitude of hate towards democracy, the 99%, and the people has to be stopped. It has to be defeated. Then maybe we can restore the "harmony and affection" that mark a real commonwealth and a democratic republic, and that were the vision and goal of the real founding fathers rather than the twisted and dark shadows that are invented by these neo-liberals who try to rebrand Jefferson's ideas and the concepts of Democratic Republicanism into something dark and authoritarian.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Starve the Beast Destroy Democracy

Starve the Beast is a conscious long term Strategy

A friend of mine posted an article on David Stockman and Von Hayek that confirmed to me what I'd refused to accept until recently. What that is is the depths of depravity that Reaganomics and it's subsequent manifestations represented. The allegations that Reaganomics was a deliberate effort to "starve the beast" are true. The evidence may be circumstantial, but it is pretty obvious. No less than Frederick Hayek let this slip when he was talking to an Austrian Journalist:

Von Hayek, it appears, boasted about this strategy. Turns out that Hayek was a personal friend of Reagans and Stockman's.

"‘A 1985 interview with von Hayek in the March 25, 1985 issue of Profil 13,....Von Hayek sat for the interview while wearing a set of cuff links Reagan had presented him as a gift.....

Von Hayek continued (referring to David Stockman):

“You see, one of Reagan’s advisers told me why the president has permitted that to happen, which makes the matter partly excusable: Reagan thinks it is impossible to persuade Congress that expenditures must be reduced unless one creates deficits so large that absolutely everyone becomes convinced that no more money can be spent.” Thus, he went on, it was up to Reagan to “persuade Congress of the necessity of spending reductions by means of an immense deficit. Unfortunately, he has not succeeded!!!”’"

Thus Reagan's deficits in the 70's, and the support for them, since then, from movement Republicans (neo-fascists) date back at least to the Reagan years and have been an intentional effort to "starve the beast." This is just one little piece of what all this means. And for someone remembers his comments about saving the "safety net."

Libertarianism as a direct descendant of Fascism

This is just a new piece to add to the direct and circumstantial evidence I've been building up over the years that modern Fascism == Libertarianism. It may seem fantastical, but libertarianism is known as "neo-liberalism" in much of the rest of the world and has been associated with anti-democracy dictatorial regimes everywhere it is popular. Von Hayek, Von Mises, and probably the rest of the so-called "Austrian School" have been pretty open about it that they are more fascist than conservative. In previous blogs I've shown, from Von Mises' defenders own materials that he was the Economic Minister of Dolfuss, [see this entry:] not so much a Hitlerian Fascist as a Mussolini Style Fascist (I revisited this here:, but a fascist none the less. A few years ago I found links that showed that Von Hayek was correlated with Pinochet's brand of fascism. These latest revelations confirm what I discovered then.

But of course you wouldn't know this from the Propagandists

There has been a constant barrage from the right of defamations of liberals and liberal integrity. Starting back in the 1950's (or so) with allegations that they were crypto-communists to modern folks making the ludicrous allegation that fascism was a liberal creed. In retrospect, if they used the word "liberal" the way they use it outside the USA they'd be right.

As Michael Lind noted:

"the American right now routinely accuses the center-left of being fascist. This libel was given currency in Jonah Goldberg’s 2009 book “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.” From the support of a few progressives a century ago for eugenics, and expressions of admiration by a few 1920s liberals for Mussolini’s ability to make the trains run on time, Goldberg and others on the right have crafted the latest in a series of right-wing conspiracy theories about American history, this one claiming that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt deliberately set the U.S. on the road to an American version of Mussolini’s corporate state."

Abusive Projection

It turns out that he's half right. You find this sort of "abusive projection" where the Right accuses their enemies of their own behavior. Here we have numerous quotes from neo-liberals (Libertarians) praising fascists like Mussolini or Dolfuss, and folks like Goldberg would have you believe that the fascists were actually something different. Lind then notes this quote that I saw in my own researches a few years ago. Because the quotes come from folks like Von Mises who said at one point:

"Freedom" over, well,...Freedom

Michael Lind notes, Von Mises praised Fascism in respect to Mussolini:

"It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aimed at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has for the moment saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history."

And Lind notes;

Friedrich von Hayek, who was, along with von Mises, one of the patron saints of modern libertarianism, was as infatuated with the Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet as von Mises was with Mussolini,...

Hayek the Fascist

Then he quotes Greg Grandin::

Friedrich von Hayek, the Austrian émigré and University of Chicago professor whose 1944 Road to Serfdom dared to suggest that state planning would produce not “freedom and prosperity” but “bondage and misery,” visited Pinochet’s Chile a number of times. He was so impressed that he held a meeting of his famed Société Mont Pélérin there. He even recommended Chile to Thatcher as a model to complete her free-market revolution. The Prime Minister, at the nadir of Chile’s 1982 financial collapse, agreed that Chile represented a “remarkable success” but believed that Britain’s “democratic institutions and the need for a high degree of consent” make “some of the measures” taken by Pinochet “quite unacceptable.”

Frederick Hayek, like his mentor Von Mises, had no trouble with dictatorship. Michael Lind continues:

Like Friedman, Hayek glimpsed in Pinochet the avatar of true freedom, who would rule as a dictator only for a “transitional period,” only as long as needed to reverse decades of state regulation. “My personal preference,” he told a Chilean interviewer, “leans toward a liberal [i.e. libertarian] dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism.”

Hayek was ruthless enough to prefer a bloodthirsty, tyrannical and extractive dictatorship to folks having any kind of "collectivism", or "welfare." To him "freedom" was more important than health, or fair pay, or, since he had no trouble with dictatorship and tyranny, actual freedom.

In a letter to the London Times he defended the junta, reporting that he had “not been able to find a single person even in much maligned Chile who did not agree that personal freedom was much greater under Pinochet than it had been under Allende.” Of course, the thousands executed and tens of thousands tortured by Pinochet’s regime weren’t talking.

Pinochet's regime was actually more than just one State misbehaving. I've been following the subject for a while (dirty-war!)It was part of a grander strategy known as "Operation Condor" (for Cono-Sur/Southern Cone), an attack on leftists and centrists, democracy and anti-business notions such as liberalism, by the collusion a number of military factors directed by Pinochet. These people met in Santiago just before the coups started. They were in consultation with Henry Kissinger before the coups, which ran from 1976 to 1984 or so. Pinochet was the darling of the right wing. Collectively these people killed thousands of innocents in their effort to stamp out words like "welfare", "socialism", or "democracy."

Michael Lind continues:

"The Pinochet dictatorship was admired by the right in the U.S. and Britain for turning Chile’s economic policy over to disciples of Milton Friedman and the University of Chicago, who inflicted disastrous social experiments like the privatization of social security on Chile’s repressed population. Following the libertarian reforms, the Chilean economy collapsed in 1982, forcing the nationalization of the banking system and government intervention in industry."

According to Grandin:"

"While he was in Chile Friedman gave a speech titled “The Fragility of Freedom” where he described the “role in the destruction of a free society that was played by the emergence of the welfare state.” Chile’s present difficulties, he argued, “were due almost entirely to the forty-year trend toward collectivism, socialism and the welfare state . . . a course that would lead to coercion rather than freedom.”

It is amazing that people can talk about things like newspeak, freedom, and liberty; or collectivism; while advocating a police state. It is as if the mind is disconnected from reality. As if they think that if a few people have "freedom" or "liberty" that the rest of us don't count. For most of us "what is freedom if we can't eat?" What is "Liberty if we are denied the franchise (vote)?" Either Libertarianism is schizoid, it is an advertizing ploy, Frederick Hayek meant something other than what the rest of us mean by the word liberty, or these people are nuts. A system that kills people is nothing but coercion. Welfare is nothing but a state providing needed services. Deny them and that is a form of coercion. I think Hayek was severely deluded.

Michael Lind gets some of the details wrong but is essentially right here about what was going on under Pinochet's "liberty." And if it stopped with crazy people like Von Hayek, Von Mises or Ayn Rand, that would be one thing, but the article I'm quoting is written by the Grandson of Friedman:

"Friedman politely neglected to mention the lack of political and civil liberty under the Pinochet regime. Many of its victims were drugged and taken in military airplanes to be dropped over the South Atlantic, with their bellies slit open while they were still alive so that their bodies would not float and be discovered."

Actually the dropping of bodies in Chile was over the Pacific, Argentina was where they dropped them in the Atlantic, but the point is that Hayek saw socialism and the welfare state as being so inimical that they justified totalitarian methods to combat them. Hayek was a totalitarian Ideologue. And these modern Libertarians, to the extent that they praise Von Mises and Von Hayek are as pre-totalitarian as she was.

It is amazing that at least one of Pinochet's henchmen wound up at Cato. You can read the rest of the article here: But this becomes less than surprising as we go on, because it turns out that the recklessness and Machiavellianism of these people knows no bounds.

For Current(!) Libertarians Democracy is not the Answer

This is where the subject gets chilling, because in addition to the long pedigree of "Starve the Beast" efforts, these folks are fascists in their ideology. The first article, the Salon article by Lind ( he quotes Piñera:

"Were there abuses? Were there real victims? Without the slightest doubt. A war on terror tends to be a dirty war....Still, in the case of Chile, and contrary to news reports, the number of actual victims was small."

Finally Lind quotes Patri Friedman, Milton Friedman's ideological grandson:

"Democracy is the current industry standard political system, but unfortunately it is ill-suited for a libertarian state. It has substantial systemic flaws, which are well-covered elsewhere,[2] and it poses major problems specifically for libertarians:
1) "Most people are not by nature libertarians. David Nolan reports that surveys show at most 16% of people have libertarian beliefs. Nolan, the man who founded the Libertarian Party back in 1971, now calls for libertarians to give up on the strategy of electing candidates!" …

So what will they do if they don't elect candidates? Are they planning a coup?

So, if we have a coup, who is going to end democracy? Friedman continues:

2) "Democracy is rigged against libertarians. Candidates bid for electoral victory partly by selling future political favors to raise funds and votes for their campaigns. Libertarians (and other honest candidates) who will not abuse their office can’t sell favors, thus have fewer resources to campaign with, and so have a huge intrinsic disadvantage in an election."

Lind concludes

"In his recommendations for further reading, Friedman included the Austrian economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s book “Democracy: The God That Failed,” which appeared in 2001, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, during the greatest wave of global democratization in history. In his Cato Unbound manifesto, Friedman called on his fellow libertarians to give up on the whole idea of the democratic nation-state and join his movement in favor of “seasteading,” or the creation of new, microscopic sovereign states on repurposed oil derricks, where people who think that “Atlas Shrugged” is really cool can be in the majority for a change."

So it looks like Democracy is in trouble, but not from communists or "liberals."

Real Beliefs Come out.

In his article in the New York Times David Stockman wrote []:

Mr. McConnell’s stand puts the lie to the Republican pretense that its new monetarist and supply-side doctrines are rooted in its traditional financial philosophy. Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts — in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses, too. But the new catechism, as practiced by Republican policymakers for decades now, has amounted to little more than money printing and deficit finance — vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes.

Calling this Keynesianism is a defamation, especially in the context of his ancient discussions with Von Hayek; but Stockman is a conservative writer not a complete liar and this sort of warfare faux Keynesianism turns out to have been a strategy that he knows full well the purpose of. Not to improve society -- but to beat down the middle class and the poor. Not a mere paranoid fantasy of a plot, but an actual intentional 'starve the beast strategy.' He of all people knows this well, but even as much an apostate he is from the new orthodoxy he won't hit it head long. The Republicans strategy to take down the welfare state offends him just enough that he dreams of the old conservative idea that a debtless nation and hard money are a way to create immense wealth -- at the expense of our future. After all, it is win win -- they borrow money from the Treasury to buy the treasury notes that fund our money supply. If it brings down the welfare state all the better. We don't figure into their discussion of "liberty." Liberty is for the vons and the vans, the masters and the warriors. If the government is starved there is no need to pay back pension obligations, pay people decent salaries, or engage in any kind of welfare for the common folks.

These fantasies are false

Aside from the fact that these things put the lie to Milton Friedman's or his disciple's fantasies: [Stockman]

"It is also an outcome that Milton Friedman said could never happen when, in 1971, he persuaded President Nixon to unleash on the world paper dollars no longer redeemable in gold or other fixed monetary reserves. Just let the free market set currency exchange rates, he said, and trade deficits will self-correct."

The Friedman's, Von Hayek's, Von Mises, all these men; elevated and raised, funded and praised, still teach voodoo ideas that don't work as advertized and intentionally degrade and destroy democratic process and overall social function. They are strategies that work for their backers. Here is the full quote from earlier:

"‘A 1985 interview with von Hayek in the March 25, 1985 issue of Profil 13, the Austrian journal, was just as revealing. Von Hayek sat for the interview while wearing a set of cuff links Reagan had presented him as a gift. “I really believe Reagan is fundamentally a decent and honest man,” von Hayek told his interviewer. “His politics? When the government of the United States borrows a large part of the savings of the world, the consequence is that capital must become scarce and expensive in the whole world. That’s a problem.” And in reference to [David] Stockman, von Hayek said: “You see, one of Reagan’s advisers told me why the president has permitted that to happen, which makes the matter partly excusable: Reagan thinks it is impossible to persuade Congress that expenditures must be reduced unless one creates deficits so large that absolutely everyone becomes convinced that no more money can be spent.” Thus, he went on, it was up to Reagan to “persuade Congress of the necessity of spending reductions by means of an immense deficit. Unfortunately, he has not succeeded!!!”’"

Now Von Hayek saw no problem with destroying Chile's economy to save it. Von Mises was adviser to Dolfuss (a dictator), an enemy of labor, and an admirer of Mussolini. If Von Mises hadn't fled Austria Hitler would have killed him, but that's not forgiveness for his own support of Fascism. And talking about Freedom while denying it to the majority is talking about something other than what most people think of as Freedom. As long as Republican policies recklessly disregard the likelihood that starving the beast will bring down their fortunes along with the rest of us they are embracing a deluded and diabolical philosophy. There is a pattern here, and it is obvious from Hayek's comments that "Starve the Beast" is not only a Grover Norquist policy but one widely held by leaders in the Republican party dating back to Reagan himself and being brought to fruition in our own political season.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Conservative versus Fascist

There are people one can debate with, and sense that no matter how one wins or loses the debate, that one is arguing with someone with integrity. And then there are folks like Mark Thiessen who don't even understand what scoundrels and serial prevaricators they are. These are folks who've been trained to make a case and will make that case, sans culottes, no matter how immoral or brazenly materially partisan and then claim that they are arguing "principles." That explains why Thiessen can't understand "Why are Republicans so awful at picking Supreme Court justices? Democrats have been virtually flawless in appointing reliable liberals to the court. Yet Republicans, more often than not, appoint justices who vote with the other side on critical decisions."

I'm not even a Republican and I can understand why that whine is just a whine and is not even true, because justices, who have any integrity, vote based on principles, and just because one disagrees with a policy doesn't mean that the principle is unconstitutional. Roberts made a principled argument, and Roberts doesn't get to make law from the bench. That is a conservative principle. Had he sided with the majority, especially Scalias nasty, partisan, and explicitly unjudicial dissent, he'd have been behaving in an unprincipled manner. My complaints about the "Gang of five" aren't with their conservatism but with their unprincipled decisions in giving tyrannical rights to corporations. I can't fault either Roberts or Thiessen for not being conservative enough. This was a case where Roberts actually applied conservative principles for a change. Thiessen doesn't get this.

Republicans may hate Romney-Obama care, but 90% of its ideas are from their side of the aisle. Most of us unabashed Democratic Socialist Rupublicans who believe in the principle of the commonwealth would prefer a simpler single payer system with democratic controls and less private tyranny. That would be consistent with my principles, and both are constitutional; these are policy differences not constitutional issues.

But Thiessen, and other "movement republicans" who can unabashedly argue for the morality of torture after serving a President who attacked the immorality of the practice and who stone-facedly claimed "we don't torture", and who can argue for the prosecution of persons who failed to prosecute him for his role in conspiring to commit war crimes, has trouble understanding the distinction between principled conservatism, and unabashed fascist partisanship. Advocating Torture and authoritarian methods makes him a Fascist, not a conservative. And that is why he's confused. The ability to turn on a dime is one possible tell that a person is fascist rather than principled. Thiessen and the Bush Administration used Saddam's use of torture of his enemies as part of their moral condemnation of Saddam Hussain.

I could become a conservative. I could never be a fascist. The question is a question of consistent principles. Thiessen just doesn't get it. He writes:

"Why is the Democratic record so consistent while the Republican record is so mixed? For one thing, the whole legal and political culture pushes the court to the left. Conservatives are pariahs if they vote against the left on certain issues. But if they cross over to vote with the left, they are hailed as statesmen. There is no penalty for voting left, but there is for voting right."

What penalty for voting right? Justices are supposed to vote on legal principles, not their partisan leanings. The court has frequently split on other than 5/4 basis, and in the past one could never predict the line up because each judge had a unique judicial "flavor" that could be counted on to create different line ups depending on the issue. Kagan's predecessor was famous because her views tended towards liberty, in that she could frequently ally with the more libertarian members of the court. Thiessen wouldn't know a principled decision if it hit him in the arse. He claims that there is no penalty for declaring liberal principles -- but liberal principels are the law of the land and there really ought to be a penalty for lying about ones principles as all four of the Bush appointees did. Not only did Kagan affirm that abortion is the law of the land, so did the conservative judges, because it is the law of the land. Thiessen can't even avoid spinning when whining.

"In her 1993 confirmation hearings, Ginsburg declared the right to abortion “central to a woman’s life, to her dignity” and was confirmed 96 to 3. Breyer declared abortion a “basic right” and was confirmed 87 to 9. Imagine if a conservative nominee said the opposite? His or her confirmation battle would be a nuclear war."

It sure would be a nuclear war, and some of these judges have said these things that Thiessen mentions since confirmation after denying them under oath. Should they be impeached? Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy know sophistry when they see it, but what Roberts, wrote, if it was sophistry, was based on conservative principles:

“To say that the Individual Mandate merely imposes a tax is not to interpret the statute but to rewrite it.” This, they said, “carries verbal wizardry too far, deep into the forbidden land of the sophists.”

That argument is sophistry. The government wrote the mandate, the mandate holds individuals responsible to buy insurance or pay a fine. This power is under the necessary and proper clause and taxation authority. That is just fact, not sophistry. Sophistry is what Thomas, Alito and Scalia were trying to do in shooting down a law on the grounds that they don't like it so it must be unconstitution. All these people are experts at sophistry and that is one problem with our legal system. Our lawyers are trained to be able to argue both sides of any question and so are perfectly willing to forget about core principles when applying the law. Does the Affordable Health Care act deal with commerce? yes. Does it regulate commerce, yes. Is it constitutional, yes. Movement conservatives wanted to impose law through the supreme court, it's they trying to rewrite the law by striking down congresses enactments. It's not their job and Roberts understood this principle that Scalia too often forgets. He understood it this time at least. Maybe he'll figure out that the Supreme Court should not be legislating legalized bribery or the purchase of the Government eventually.

Thiessen doesn't understand principle. That's been obvious since before he left the Bush Administration. The torturers apprentice wants to sound like a conservative, but he's just a wannabe fascist. Some of the most famous Supreme Court justices in history, during the Roosevelt Administration, (such as Justice Douglas) got on the nerves of progressives by voting against their legislation on conservative legal principles. The two subjects overlap, and our current justices are not their caliber, but Thiessen's arguments also lack a grasp of history.