Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Taking a Bill Hicks Break: What It Means to Be Free

Every now and then I take a little Bill Hicks break to remind myself of what it means to be free. It’s that time again.

Just to give you an introduction, one of my personal enlightening moments from Hicks came when I first heard him ask why there was never any positive drug stories on the news. If the news were truly impartial then there would have to be positive stories, but there never is. This took me weeks to really digest.
“You know what’s wild? You never see a positive drug story on the news, do you? You ever seen one? Isn’t that weird; don’t you think that’s strange? I mean, the news is supposed to be objective. Isn’t it supposed to be The News? But every drug story is Negative?!? Well, hold it! I've had some killer times on drugs! I'm not promoting it, but I'm not denying it. Let’s hear the whole fucking story!” Bill Hicks, “Sane man”, 1989, 25:06.

Bill Hicks ★ Sane Man ★ 1989

If you’re unfamiliar with Hicks’ work, below you will find “Revelations”, his 1993 live performance at the Dominion Theater in London, UK, as well as an excellent essay from 1997 that I came across a few years ago which you might enjoy.

I’ll be back in a few days, until then; here is Bill Hicks, one of my greatest teachers:

Bill Hicks ★Revelations ★ 1993


Copyright 1997 The Irish Times
The Irish Times
March 1, 1997, CITY EDITION
SECTION: WEEKEND; Pg. Supplement Page 2
LENGTH: 1427 words
HEADLINE: Life after death

WHEN he sloped on, grabbed the mike and said "folks, this is my final live performance" the audience gasped. He passed it off as a gag: "The reason I'm quitting is that I finally got my own show on TV - it's called Let's Hunt And Kill Billy Ray Cyrus." Over the next hour-and-a-half of what really was to be his last performance, the part-poet/ part-preacher/part-comic set out his philosophy, touched all the bases and left us with his own personalised view on life and death and the whole damn thing.

That was October 1993. Five months, later at the age of 32, Bill Hicks died of cancer. If in life he was known as the best comic of his generation, possessing as he did the social satire of Lenny Bruce combined with the refined wit of John Updike, in death he became known, and strangely enough in this most secular of times, as a prophet.

On this, the third anniversary of his death, that last performance has been released on CD for the first time (along with three more CDs). It is one of the most astonishing live performances by anybody. He knew his time was running out and he wanted to get it all down. He did. Beginning by tearing into the pro-life movement and ending by calling Bill Clinton "a murderer and a liar" this is his final will and testimony. And in many ways, it's the end of comedy.

Bill Hicks was not widely known during his life. From Houston, Texas, he was initially just a wild, anarchic figure on the American comedy scene, a performer who once had his legs broken by a member of the audience who felt he was being unpatriotic. Because of his sustained attack on American society and culture, he was marginalised in his native country, except by David Letterman who had him on his show a record 12 times. He fared slightly better in Britain, where his shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival are now the stuff of legend. In London, he could fill the 2,000-seater Dominion Theatre: Channel 4 filmed two of his live shows and when he died, The South Bank Show devoted a whole programme to his life and times.

In the years since his death he has attracted a massive "celebrity" following: his fellow comics spew out superlatives about him and rock bands such as Radiohead and The Bluetones dedicate albums to him. With the increased profile arising from the release of his last performance, people will soon be used to seeing his name mentioned in the same company as Charlie Chaplin and Lenny Bruce.

In an interview with this journalist, he spoke fondly of his early days as a stand-up, a career he began at the age of 12. "I came from a very ordinary, middle-class Houston background, and when my parents thought I was upstairs in my room doing my homework, I had actually slid out the window, got on my bike and cycled into the local comedy club to do a routine." As some measure of his precocious ability and burgeoning genius, consider one of his first gags (and remember he's only 12): "My dad's very lazy. He once worked in a mortuary measuring bodies for tuxedos. But he was fired. He was accused of having an intimate relationship with a corpse. The family was shocked ... we all knew it was a purely platonic relationship."

A few years later he moved to Los Angeles where he became a regular at its Comedy Store. Here he decided that if he wanted to become a real genius of comedy, like his heroes Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and Sam Kinison, he would have to do what they did and consume large amounts of drink and drugs. "I would drink my own body weight in whiskey and snort my own body weight in cocaine," he remembered. Somebody who saw his act got Lenny Bruce's close friend and producer, John Magnusson, down to see him.

"Bill Hicks was the only performer in 30 years who has truly reminded me of Lenny," says Magnusson. "Both have the very important qualities of savage, in-your-face, straight-to-the-gut satire. Each also has the moral courage to deal with the important issues of their time without fear of media, corporate, political or quasi-religious censorship or disapproval."

Hicks soon became known as the most important, confrontational, controversial and extravagantly talented performer on the circuit. "I want to expose the lies and deflate the hypocrisy," he said. "I am appalled at the anti-drug movement in my country, I am appalled by the fact that they can transmit a 'Just Say No' anti-drugs advertisement on our television screens and then follow it up with an advertisement for Budweiser beer. I am equally appalled by the arbitrary value system that deems one thing as pornography and another thing as 'erotica', I am appalled by our totalitarian government which has consistently lied to us about everything from the JFK assassination to selling arms to Iraq. And there's also pro-lifers and antismokers .. . there's a lot of people out there."

ALTHOUGH he grew up in the Reagan/Bush era, he was not as enthused as many by the arrival of a Democrat in the White House: "Clinton's just a puppet, they've all just been puppets. Whenever a new American president is elected they are brought into a small dark room in which the 12 biggest industrial/corporate/military/economic heads are sitting. One of them pulls down a film screen and shows the new president a video of the JFK assassination from an angle never seen before. They then turn to the president band say 'Any questions?'"

On a tour of Australia in 1993 he began to feel unwell, getting sharp pains down the left side of his body. It was diagnosed as pancreatic cancer. How much time did he have? The doctors didn't know. He told nobody about his illness and hence there were more than a few raised eyebrows watching him perform during this time - he was neither drinking nor smoking. "Yes, I'm drinking water tonight," is how he opened one of his shows. "It's really amazing how things can change. Tonight: water. Four years ago: opium."

After performing his last gig, he readied himself for death. In February 1994 he telephoned all his friends and told them the news and died on the 26th of that month.

"Here is my final point," he once said, "about drugs, about alcohol, about pornography and smoking and everything else. What business is it of yours what I do, read, buy, see, say, think, who I fuck, what I take into my body - as long as I do not harm another human being on this planet. I'm basically just a joke-blower, a fairly harmless guy, a believer in love and truth, anti-war, a believer in the values under which this country was originally founded: freedom of expression. And for those of you out there who are having a little moral dilemma in your head about this, I'll answer it for you: It's None Of Your Fuckin' Business. Take that to the bank, cash it and take it on a vacation out of everybody's life ...

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Dominoes Are Falling, the Tides Are Turning, the War on Drugs Is Ending, but Prohibitionists Just Won’t Give up the Ghost: How to End Prohibition

  1. The Dominoes Are Falling

  2. The Tides Are Turning

  3. The War on Drugs Is Ending

  4. Prohibitionists Won’t Give Up the Ghost

  5. How to End Prohibition

I. The Dominoes Are Falling

Now that Uruguay has become the first country in the world to legalize the production and sale of cannabis (2), let’s take a look at an updated map of Wikipedia’s legality of cannabis by country. In addition to the beautiful blue speck representing Uruguay in South America, please pay close attention to the two areas shown in the United States of America, expect there to be more (2).
The President of Uruguay, José Mujica, "dismissed the criticism as a double standard, pointing out that the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington have already legalized weed and that both of the states’ populations individually exceed Uruguay’s 3.4 million inhabitants.

"'Do they have two discourses, one for Uruguay and another for those who are strong?' Mujica asked."
click to enlarge - Source: “Legality of cannabis by country”

UPDATE: "Pot in the Air: Marijuana Legalized in Oregon, Alaska and DC"

II. The Tides Are Turning

With the federal government stating that they will not interfere with the legalization of cannabis in Washington State and Colorado, and corporate shills like John McCain and mainstream pundits like Dr. Sanjay Gupta favoring legalization of cannabis, we might well be on our way towards an age of enlightenment.

In Historic Move, Feds Won't Prosecute States That Legalize Pot

III. The War on Drugs Is Ending

What we know for sure is that we’re moving in the right direction and our transformation is reverberating across the globe, to the dismay of some (2).

So while dinosaurs like Canada’s Stephen Harper spew garbage trying to justify their stance on prohibition by getting lost in their own circular argument, some of the greatest thinkers of our time are pointing out the obvious, that the war on drugs is a War on Consciousness:
“I stand here invoking the hard-won right of freedom of speech to call for and demand another right to be recognised and that is the right of adult sovereignty over consciousness. There’s a war on consciousness in our society, and if we as adults are not allowed to make sovereign decisions about what to experience with our own consciousness while doing no harm to others, including the decision to use responsibly ancient and sacred visionary plants, then we cannot claim to be free in any way and it’s useless for our society to go around the world imposing our form of democracy on others while we nourish this rot at the heart of society and we do not allow individual freedom over consciousness.” - Graham Hancock, 12 January 2013, TEDx conference in Whitechapel, London

The War on Consciousness - Graham Hancock (Removed TED Talk)

IV. Prohibitionists Just Won’t Give Up the Ghost

Even though many positive changes have taken place on the global landscape in response to the complete madness of the continuation of America’s War on Drugs, we have been unsuccessful in eliminating the control that prohibitionists and prison profiteers have over our governments.

In short, law enforcement agencies and their affiliates are profiting from the war on drugs, so in their mindset, damn be the public interest. They have proven that they are willing to do anything, including threatening and coercing defendants to forging signatures and tampering with evidence, to continue this war, destroying countless lives in the process.

A Marijuana Arrest

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.” - C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

The irony is that this war and the destruction that it unleashes can be brought to an end within an instant, if it was so desired. All that is required is to end prohibition, to repeal one law.

We know that the end to prohibition will have positive effects because precedent for this has already been set. When prohibition of alcohol ended, so did most of the violence associated with gang warfare, as did much of the corruption in government. When prohibition ended, precious resources were made available again and a major source of revenue and employment was established.

These same findings have also been observed in Portugal’s experiment with drug decriminalization.

Video - Policy Forum, Full Report by Glenn Greenwald

The United Nations has also confirmed these findings in its annual report on the state of global drug policy, and many countries have been paying-heed. Drug liberalization is sweeping through major parts of Europe, Latin America, as well as numerous municipalities and States within the United States of America.

The only reason that the war on drugs continues to this day is because certain sectors of government, criminal organizations, and powerful corporation don’t want it to end since its continuation guarantees them flow of funds.

Judge Jim Gray on The Six Groups Who Benefit From Drug Prohibition

All of the above is common knowledge to anyone who has remotely researched this topic, or for that matter, even thought about it.

On the behest of a select minority that profit from prohibition, we have been waging a multi-decade war on cannabis that spans the globe, costs trillions of dollars, destroys millions of lives, and consumes precious resources. Stupid.

Retired Police Captain demolishes the War on Drugs

V. How to End Prohibition

As for what we, personally, can do to help end America’s war on drugs? Our best option is to support grassroots organizations that are working towards repealing prohibition, they did, after all, get the ball rolling on this.
In 1973 Oregon became the first state to modify its law and decriminalize marijuana use, which meant possession became a civil offense punishable by a fine. A key reason for this legislative change was pressure exerted by the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML), a private citizens group founded in 1971 that believed drug laws were unfair to recreational users."
Below you will find the names and websites of some of the more prominent groups spearheading the battle to end prohibition in the United States and Canada. They are trying to bring sanity back into our lives and I’m sure they would appreciate our support as much as we appreciate their efforts.

Organizations Working Towards Ending Prohibition

  • Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)

  • Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)

  • Erowid

  • Moms for Marijuana

  • Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

  • Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)

  • DrugSense

  • Educators For Sensible Drug Policy (EFSDP)

  • National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (USA) and NORML Canada

  • The November Coalition

  • Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER)

  • Drug Policy Alliance (DPA Network)

  • Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    Some Not-so-random Information, News, and Videos: Seymour Hersh on Obama and Syria, Canada’s Corporate Power and Inequality, Our Invisible Revolution, and David Simon on the Two Americas

    Further information at: Not-so-Random Information: Introduction and Table of Contents
    1. Seymour Hersh on Obama and Syria

    2. Canada’s Corporate Power and Inequality

    3. Our Invisible Revolution

    4. David Simon on the Two Americas

    I. Seymour Hersh on Obama and Syria

    “Whose sarin?” by Seymour M. Hersh - “Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.”

    Seymour Hersh: Obama "Cherry Picked" Intelligence on Syrian Chemical Attack to Justify U.S. Strike

    II. Canada’s Economy, Corporate Power and Inequality

    Canada’s sluggish labour market and the myth of the skills - “Canada’s federal politicians are fond of trumpeting that Canada’s economy has performed better than almost any other jurisdiction, and that we should be thankful for their ‘prudent economic management.’ In actual fact, however, the hard numbers indicate that Canada’s jobs performance has been ho-hum at best—and isn’t getting any better.

    “Part of the confusion stems from how labour market performance is measured. The government emphasizes absolute growth (or growth rates) in total employment. They boast that Canada has created over a million net new jobs since the worst of the recession: a statement that is correct, but misleading. Remember, any economy with a growing population must create many jobs each year just to keep up with population growth. In Canada’s case, our working-age population grows relatively rapidly: by over 350,000 persons per year (one of the fastest growth rates in the OECD). In other countries (like Germany or Japan), population is stable; hence the labour market can attain a much stronger balance between demand and supply with little or no absolute growth in the total number of jobs. Any increase in absolute employment levels must be considered relative to the supply of available potential workers.”

    A Shrinking Universe: How Corporate Power Shapes Inequality
    “‘Economic inequality’ has recently appeared on the public radar in North America, but much of the attention has been confined to its ominously high level and its socially corrosive impact. The long-term drivers of inequality, by contrast, have attracted less attention. This presentation will explore the linkages between corporate power and inequality, arguing that both the level and pattern of inequality in Canada closely shadow the differential power of capital.”

    III. Our Invisible Revolution

    “Our Invisible Revolution” by Chris Hedges - “‘Did you ever ask yourself how it happens that government and capitalism continue to exist in spite of all the evil and trouble they are causing in the world?’ the anarchist Alexander Berkman wrote in his essay ‘The Idea Is the Thing.’ ‘If you did, then your answer must have been that it is because the people support those institutions, and that they support them because they believe in them.’

    “Berkman was right. As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties, and live under the gaze of the most intrusive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. Half the country lives in poverty. Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are no longer hidden.”

    Credibility of the Ruling Elite is Being Shredded -- Chris Hedges on Reality Asserts Itself (Part 2)
    Part 1: The Pathology of the Rich

    IV. David Simon on the Two Americas

    David Simon: 'There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show' - “America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It's astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.

    “There's no barbed wire around West Baltimore or around East Baltimore, around Pimlico, the areas in my city that have been utterly divorced from the American experience that I know. But there might as well be. We've somehow managed to march on to two separate futures and I think you're seeing this more and more in the west. I don't think it's unique to America.”

    Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2013: David Simon - Some People are More Equal than Others

    Monday, December 9, 2013

    1997 Address by Nelson Mandela at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, plus 5 videos

    Below you will find Nelson Mandela’s 1997 address at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, as well as five relevant videos:
    Address by President Nelson Mandela at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

    4 December 1997, Pretoria

    Mr. Chairman;
    Mr. Suleyman al-Najab,
    Special Emissary of President Yasser Arafat;
    Members of the diplomatic corps;
    Distinguished Guests,

    “We have assembled once again as South Africans, our Palestinian guests and as humanists to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine.

    “I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the organisers of the event, particularly the United Nations Information Centre and the UNISA Centre for Arabic and Islamic Studies for this magnificent act of compassion, to keep the flames of solidarity, justice and freedom burning.

    “The temptation in our situation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine to a state of their own. We can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others face.

    “Yet we would be less than human if we did so.”
    Nelson Mandela comments on death of Yasser Arafat on 11 Nov 2004
    ”Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned with polonium, tests show”
    “It behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice.

    “Even during the days of negotiations, our own experience taught us that the pursuit of human fraternity and equality - irrespective of race or religion - should stand at the centre of our peaceful endeavours. The choice is not between freedom and justice, on the one hand, and their opposite, on the other. Peace and prosperity; tranquility and security are only possible if these are enjoyed by all without discrimination.

    “It is in this spirit that I have come to join you today to add our own voice to the universal call for Palestinian self-determination and statehood.

    “We would be beneath our own reason for existence as government and as a nation, if the resolution of the problems of the Middle East did not feature prominently on our agenda.

    “When in 1977, the United Nations passed the resolution inaugurating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, it was asserting the recognition that injustice and gross human rights violations were being perpetrated in Palestine. In the same period, the UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system.”
    Desmond Tutu at the Russell Tribunal on Israel's apartheid (excerpt)
    “But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians; without the resolution of conflicts in East Timor, the Sudan and other parts of the world.

    “We are proud as a government, and as the overwhelming majority of South Africans to be part of an international consensus taking root that the time has come to resolve the problems of Palestine.

    “Indeed, all of us marvelled at the progress made a few years ago, with the adoption of the Oslo Agreements. Leaders of vision, who saw problems not merely from the point of view of their own narrow constituency, had at least found a workable approach towards friendship and peaceful co-existence in the Middle East.

    “I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to these Palestinian and Israeli leaders. In particular, we pay homage to the memory of Yitshak Rabin who paid the supreme sacrifice in pursuit of peace.”
    Gideon Levy - Toronto- 1 of 7- The Punishment of Gaza
    Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7
    “We are proud as humanists, that the international consensus on the need for the implementation of the Oslo Agreements is finding expression in the efforts of the multitude of Israeli and Palestinian citizens of goodwill who are marching together, campaigning together, for an end to prevarication. These soldiers of peace are indeed sending a message to us all, that the day is not far off, when Palestinian and Jewish children will enjoy the gay abandon of children of God in a peaceful and prosperous region.

    “These soldiers of peace recognise that the world we live in is rising above the trappings of religious and racial hatred and conflict. They recognise that the spurning of agreements reached in good faith and the forceful occupation of land can only fan the flames of conflict. They know from their own experience that, it is in a situation such as this, that extremists on all sides thrive, fed by the blood lust of centuries gone by.

    “These Palestinian and Israeli campaigners for peace know that security for any nation is not abstract; neither is it exclusive. It depends on the security of others; it depends on mutual respect and trust. Indeed, these soldiers of peace know that their destiny is bound together, and that none can be at peace while others wallow in poverty and insecurity.”
    Differences between Israel/Palestine and apartheid South Africa
    “Thus, in extending our hands across the miles to the people of Palestine, we do so in the full knowledge that we are part of a humanity that is at one, that the time has come for progress in the implementation of agreements. The majority of the world community; the majority of the people of the Middle East; the majority of Israelis and Palestinians are suing for peace.

    “But we know, Mr. Chairman, that all of us need to do much much more to ensure that this noble ideal is realised.

    “As early as February 1995, our government formalised its relations with the State of Palestine when we established full diplomatic relations. We are proud of the modest technical assistance that our government is offering Palestine in such areas as Disaster Management, women`s empowerment and assistance to handicapped children. But the various discussions with our counterparts in Palestine are an indication that we can do more.”
    Architect of Apartheid in Israel: "If we don't kill, we will cease to exist" - Blumenthal Pt4
    “We need to do more as government, as the ANC and other parties, as South Africans of all religious and political persuasions to spur on the peace process. All of us should be as vocal in condemning violence and the violation of human rights in this part of the world as we do with regard to other areas. We need to send a strong message to all concerned that an attempt by anyone to isolate partners in negotiations from their own mass base; and attempt to co-opt tes is bound to hurt the peace process as a whole.

    “We must make our voices heard calling for stronger action by world bodies as well as those states that have the power, to act with the same enthusiasm in dealing with this deadlock as they do on other problems in the Middle East.

    “Yes, all of us need to do more in supporting the struggle of the people of Palestine for self-determination; in supporting the quest for peace, security and friendship in this region.

    “But at least we can draw comfort from the fact that, our meeting today is yet another small expression of our empathy.

    “We hope that, by this humble act, we are strengthening the voice of peace and friendship in Israel and Palestine; so that, as we enter the new millennium, we shall all have taken a giant stride towards a world in which our humanity will be the hallmark of our relations across colour, religious and other divides.

    “I thank you.”

    Friday, December 6, 2013

    America: Afraid of Shadows in the Dark While Ignoring the Elephants in the Room

    What baffles the mind about the United States of America is that many of its citizens have been conditioned to fear shadows in the dark while ignoring the elephants in the room.

    1. Homelessness and Bankruptcies

    2. Economic Warfare and Wall Street

    3. NSA and NDAA

    I. Homelessness and Bankruptcies

    For example, in the last few years anti-homelessness laws have been passed across the United States, some going as far as making it illegal to feed the homeless. As if that wasn’t enough, to deal with America’s homelessness problem (2), some government representatives have turned to violence:
    “Remarkably, this vigilante isn’t just some random Hawaiian, but five-term State Rep. Tom Brower (D).

    “Noting that he’s ‘disgusted’ with homeless people, Brower told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about his own personal brand of ‘justice’: ‘If I see shopping carts that I can’t identify, I will destroy them so they can’t be pushed on the streets.’ Brower has waged this campaign for two weeks, estimating that he’s smashed about 30 shopping carts in the process.

    “‘I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets,’ he explained to Hawaii News Now as he showed off his property destruction skills:”

    The ignorance and ruthlessness of those in office should be considered a crime since they do not seem to realize that recession-induced homelessness skyrocketed after the 2008 economic crisis. Something that they are directly responsible for considering that it was our government representatives that passed the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill - its passing coinciding with the largest economic crisis in contemporary history. The reforms that were introduced made it much harder and more costly for Americans to file for bankruptcy protection.

    Report Shows Bankruptcy Reforms Raised Costs For Consumers and Creditors

    “According to Professor Lupica the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) has resulted in higher costs for consumers who wish to file for bankruptcy and, consequently, lower returns for creditors.”

    After years of lobbying, the “dream bill for credit card and financial service companies” finally came into effect. The bill was “the biggest rewrite of U.S. bankruptcy law in a quarter century”. It was also conveniently or inconveniently, depending on your perspective, introduced at a time when U.S. household debt was at an all-time high.

    click to enlarge - source - additional data

    Further information on the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill and its implications at:

    II. Economic Warfare and Wall Street

    “It's the economy, stupid” is a catchphrase used by politicians and those in the business of manipulation to try and garner support for their cause. Its purpose is to emphasize that the health of the economy trumps all other concerns. A strategy from the playbook of Inverted Totalitarian States:
    “In Inverted Totalitarianism economics trumps politics, which is different from classical Totalitarianism where politics trumps economics.” - Chris Hedges

    Chris Hedges on the 'inverted totalitarian' corporate state that is the US

    For example, in the following segment from a panel discussion presented by The American Center for Democracy and its Economic Warfare Institute – an organization “dedicated to exposing and monitoring threats to the national security of the United States and other Western democracies” – the speaker states that one of the biggest threats to the economic health of the United States is terrorism through “wildland arson”.
    “Perhaps the most simple form of economic warfare is wildland arson. That’s just setting fires in U.S. forests, grasslands. So, for any terrorists that are determined to inflict significant damage with very little investment or risk, fire is an extremely high leveraged weapon of mass effect….

    “There is reason to believe that the U.S. is under attack. The bad guys are waging fire wars right now, but we as a people aren’t fighting back, and that’s primarily due to an ingrained out of date mindset where we still treat fires as a land management issue and we should be treating it as a national security issue….

    “So America, I think, is under attack by terrorist waging economic warfare by fire….”

    Economic Warfare Super Panel - William Scott

    The absurdity of the above is absolutely mind boggling considering that indefinite Federal Reserve stimulus has allowed the markets to rise to historic levels during times of austerity economics. Quantitative Easing by centralized banks – “fundamentally a regressive redistribution program that has been boosting wealth for those already engaged in the financial sector or those who already own homes, but passing little along to the rest of the economy” – has caused economic disparity across the United States.

    Economist: Record High Stock Prices Driven by Squeezing Workers' Wages

    Affluent households typically have their assets concentrated in stocks”, so indefinite stimulus is basically the transfer of wealth from Main Street to Wall Street:
    “In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 35% of all privately held stock, 64.4% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. The top ten percent have 81% to 94% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and almost 80% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America.”
    click to enlarge - source

    As Chris Hedges has pointed out, they have “reduce(d) roughly two-thirds of this country to subsistence level” and turned America into a tinderbox.

    Chris Hedges: "America is a Tinderbox"

    Full episode list of “Reality Asserts Itself - Chris Hedges”

    Further information on the economic demise of the citizens of the United States at:

    III. NSA and NDAA

    So what are citizens of the United States doing about this disparity? The poor are getting poorer and closer to revolting while the rich are spending millions hunkering down:
    “Paranoid? Perhaps. But also increasingly commonplace. Futuristic security technologies–many developed for the military but sounding as though they came straight from James Bond’s Q–have made their way into the home, available to deep-pocketed owners whose peace of mind comes from knowing that their sensors can detect and adjust for, say, a person lurking in the bushes a half-mile away.”

    Private Armies for the One Percent

    Citizens of the United States should not fear each other - shadows in the dark. They should be concerned with the loss of their civil liberties and their privacy, the destructive nature of their foreign policy, their emerging police state and the prison profiteers (2, 3), how their government has been using brute force to quash peaceful protests and criminalize democratic dissent, and their government’s secrecy and its unprecedented attack on whistleblowers.

    Americans should not fear homeless people “lurking in the bushes a half-mile away”, but the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) - just two of the elephants in the room.

    "I'm Just a Mom!" Daphne Lee Gives Powerful Speech Against NDAA in Clark County, Nevada

    People Against the NDAA (P.A.N.D.A.)

    Chris Hedges: NDAA Lawsuit Update

    Guardian's Alan Rusbridger Home Affairs Committee Testimony Re: Snowden/NSA Leaks

    The End of Internet Privacy? Glenn Greenwald On Secret NSA Program to Crack Online Encryption

    click to enlarge - original artist unknown (if you know who it is please let me know so I can source it, thank you)

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    Chris Hedges' Introduction to Inverted Totalitarianism from “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt”

    As Chris Hedges has pointed out on numerous occasions, referring to Sheldon Wolin’s work in ‘Democracy Incorporated’ (article, book), the system that best describes the ideology that the government of the United States functions as is inverted totalitarianism - a system where economics trumps politics. In his book “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt”, which Hedges co-authored with Joe Sacco, he describes this system as:
    “The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin uses the term inverted totalitarianism in his book Democracy Incorporated to describe our political system. In inverted totalitarianism, the sophisticated technologies of corporate control, intimidation, and mass manipulation, which far surpass those employed by previous totalitarian states, are effectively masked by the glitter, noise, and abundance of a consumer society. Political participation and civil liberties are gradually surrendered. Corporations, hiding behind this smokescreen, devour us from the inside out….

    “Corporations, who hire attractive and eloquent spokespeople like Barack Obama, control the uses of science, technology, education, and mass communication…. We busy ourselves buying products that promise to change our lives, make us more beautiful, confident, or successful, as we are steadily stripped of rights, money, and influence…. Civil liberties, once guaranteed under our Constitution, have been stripped away….

    “They build ever more elaborate walls and security systems to protect themselves, including the vast internal security apparatus of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with some one million employees. The elites are lashing out with such disproportionate force, fury, and viciousness againt peaceful protestors, many of whom come out of the middle class, as well as Muslims in the Middle East, that they are turning ever greater numbers of an alienated mass, at home and abroad, against them….

    “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 that era of naked force. The internal security and surveillance state, justified in the name of the war on terror, will be the instrument used against us….

    “Fear is the psychological weapon of choice for totalitarian system of power. Make people afraid. Get them to surrender their rights in the name of national security. Demonize all who dissent. And then finish off the few who aren’t afraid enough.

    “The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed into law on December 31, 2011, authorizes the military, for the first time in more than two hundred years, to carry out domestic policing. The military can detain, without trial, any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay until ‘the end of hostilities.’ It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.”

    “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt”, p. 238-240, 263

    Chris Hedges on the 'inverted totalitarian' corporate state