Monday, December 29, 2014

The future "former" USA: Just another former Soviet Union?

    I just finished reading an article by a guy who had accurately predicted the fall of the former USSR two whole years before it actually happened.  However, nobody back then even believed him.  "The USSR has over-extended itself and is going to collapse!" he kept telling people.  But everyone who heard him just laughed.

    Well.  At this point in time, the USA has totally over-extended itself too.  Like some addicted shopaholic set loose with questionable plastic at a shopping mall, the USA has over-charged every single one of its credit cards by at least eleven trillion dollars in order to buy its very favorite consumer product -- endless war.  And, in addition, the USA has also spent another ungodly number of trillions on making its uber-rich 1% even richer, and keeping its corrupt bankers happy as clams.

     And so, like the former USSR back in 1991, now the USA also has nowhere to go but down either -- due to its total over-extension.  And you don't even have to be a genius to do the math here.  Anyone with a calculator app. on their iPhone can figure this one out.  A couple hundred trillion $$$$ subtracted from zero equals what?  Total collapse.  This is pretty much a given at the rate that our "fearless leaders" on Wall Street and War Street are currently spreading their phony credit-card moolah around.

    But what I really want to talk about here is what will actually happen to America (and to you and me) when our country suddenly does become referred to as "The Former USA".   To know that, all we have to do is look at a model already set before us -- what had happened to the Former USSR after it had over-extended itself.

     First, you gotta remember that ten percent of all citizens of the Soviet Union actually DIED after the USSR collapsed.  Ten percent!  One in ten.  The old people went first.  And the working poor.  And the kids.  That would be like having about 30 million Americans dead as a doornail because Wall Street and War Street didn't behave themselves.

     Second, a huge number of Soviet public buildings throughout Europe and Asia suddenly became "privatized" and were happily handed over to the lowest bidders -- the oligarchs.  But then that is happening here in the USA already.  Let's take my own downtown Berkeley post office for instance.  It's being practically given away to oligarchs even as we speak.  And American schools, national parks, mineral-rich lands, public buildings and all kinds of other property that used to be held in the common interest is now not being held in the common interest any more.  And when the USA becomes "Former," this process will be speeded up even faster.  Say goodbye to Yellowstone, the Statue of Liberty and your local city hall.

     Third, after the former Soviet Union fell, people's teeth began to rot for lack of dental care there.  Suddenly there were no affordable doctors and dentists in Russia, a trend that has also gotten a big head-start here in the soon-to-be Former USA already.  If you don't take care of your citizens, this is what you get.  Sick people and rotten teeth.

     Fourth?  Unemployment in Russia.  Of course we already have a head-start on that one as well.  But it will be getting worse.  Much worse.

     Fifth, the USSR's status as a world super-power suddenly collapsed as its wounded warriors painfully wound their way back home from places like Afghanistan.  The same will happen in the former USA too.

    Sixth:  Before its collapse, the USSR used to be a "communist" state -- in the sense that only a few people at the very top made all the decisions.  And now, thanks to Citizens United, the USA has already gotten that way too.  We are no longer a democracy either.  So in that respect too we have already started to become like the Soviets right before their big fall.  And it will get even worse here after the fall of the USA as well.  Our current "deep state" shadow governments will be coming out of the shadows and cesspools for sure.  Can you say "President-for-Life Cheney," boys and girls?

     But actually, back during the 1950s, it was America that had been the true communist state -- after WW II had reshuffled the cards, dealt new hands to working folks, given our middle class a leg up and redistributed our wealth more equally by taking it from the uber-rich and giving it to the middle class.  But Reagan's tricky re-stacking of the deck in favor of Wall Street, and Bush's ace-up-his-sleeve gifts to War Street and sleight-of-hand tax redistribution act of 2003 soon changed all that -- and our wealth was then redistributed upwards to the uber-rich once again, ending "communism" in America forever.  No, they don't call it "capitalism" without reason.  The uber-rich now own all the "capital".  We don't.

     In order to return to America's former "communistic" economic glory of the 1950s, three things need to happen.  We need to go back to giving America's middle and working classes their former leg-up tax breaks -- instead of only giving a huge tax leg-up to our 1% "Soviet Commissars" only.  And we need to stop stacking the deck in favor of Wall Street's
insane profit margins.  And we need to shut down War Street completely.  Otherwise, after the USA falls too, we also are gonna have oligarchs coming out of our ears -- even more than they are now.

     Seventh, the USSR ruble collapsed back then -- just like the dollar is now collapsing already.  It's gonna be rather tough around here when the US dollar also becomes worth diddly-squat.

     Eighth, consider that wise Biblical saying, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you".  And then become very afraid.  From Hiroshima, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Africa and Latin America to the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Ukraine, etc., the first thing that the USA and/or its surrogates do when they attack a country is to bomb its civilian population, take out the water supply, power plants and hospitals, and/or install a ruthless dictator.  Let us just hope that the former USA will not fall into a position to be vulnerable to retaliation, that our former victims will show mercy and that "Do unto others..." will not apply to us like it did to the USSR.

    And, ninth, the huge Soviet Union began to break up into smaller states and groups as it fell.  That will definitely happen here too.  Can't exactly say that I will miss any of the Red States when they leave -- but they will sorely miss not being part of the new American Blue States, their current life-line to prosperity.  I can tell you that right now.  

     All the signs of the eminent collapse of the USA are already here right now, just like they were for the USSR back before 1991.  Go ahead and laugh if you will, but hard times really are coming here too.  The Former USA is practically upon us.  We have already over-extended ourselves too deeply to rationally expect any other result.  Sigh.

     Let us just hope that America somehow manages to find another chess master like Putin to lead us After the Fall, and doesn't get stuck with another drunk like Yeltsin!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Obama got run over by a red-nosed reindeer

     We may be in the Christmas season right now -- but what the freak has happened to all our "Tidings of Comfort and Joy"?  There only seems to be coals in our stockings these days.  And there only seems to be versions of "You'd better watch out" hanging around too.

      For instance, right now the American economy seems about to stop jingling its bells, give just one last futile gasp and collapse like Santa Claus falling off a roof.  Only the Christmas Miracle of our economy's former strength keeps it from not crying and pouting under the load of [war] toys and [corporate-lobby] gifts that the top 1% have loaded our sleigh down with in the past several decades.

     And not only that but our "Holy Nights" have now become a hecka lot less Holy -- ever since we've heard the sad tidings of what actually goes on in CIA black sites and torture camps.  "Do you hear what I hear?"  Victims of torture, screaming through the night.  Not exactly joy to the world, if you ask me. 

     I myself have been in a great deal of pain lately due to an operation on my left arm -- and have learned the hard way that pain is definitely not fun.  "Do you know what I know?"  Just exactly how long would any of us last under the pain of American-made torture when those black sites come to America too?  Let's just hope that we never have to find out.

     America, like Nazi Germany, is now a country that embraces torture -- no matter what our 9-11 excuses are (I'm sure that Hitler had lots of Reichstag fire excuses too). 

     Regarding America's foreign policy, "O Holy Night" has now been replaced with "O Holy Crap!"

     And in the Middle East, Jesus' very own "Little Town of Bethlehem" is once again under a Herod-like, child-slaughtering, grim occupation -- as Bibi Netanyahu happily sings "Born is the King of Israel" to himself while visions of also being King of Egypt, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq now dance in his head as well, thanks to his generous support from American taxpayers' money and his own strategic support of ISIS and Sisi (Sisi is ISIS spelled backwards, BTW).

     But what about "Hark the Herald Angel sing"?  Can we at least hear some herald angels singing out in Christmas joy these days, please?  Nope, not at all.  Those particular angels are completely silent this year -- on the subject of racism in America.  How can they possibly sing about equality and hope -- when the average African-American elf makes 15 times less than the average white Santa's helper here in the USA; almost as unequal as back in the day when African-Americans were bound into slavery like Moses in Egypt or in the antebellum South. 

     Baby Jesus would have hated slavery -- but apparently America's Red-Nosed States still really like it a lot.

     Then there's always "The [last] Noel the angels did say...."  And of course that would be climate change they are singing about.  "On a cold winter's night that was so deep."  Ho Ho Ho.

     Not to mention the on-going and escalating threat of Fukushima.  No one hears anything about that any more -- but that doesn't mean that it still isn't going on.  "Silent Night".

     And of course "Away in a manger, no crib for a bed..." is still very popular these days.  40% of America's children are being raised in poverty -- plus most of their schools are crumbling, their chances for a college education is prancing away from them and their future job market looks as bleak as Tiny Tim's before Scrooge got set right.  "The little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay."

     And not only that, but the President of the United States himself seems to have got run over by a reindeer as well -- or at least he's been run over by the Republican party.  Of course we all know that this has happened -- but exactly why did it?  "WHY don't Republicans like Obama?" I keep asking myself.  Perhaps Republicans, like grandma, have been drinking too much eggnog?

      This complete distaste for Obama is a total mystery to me.  Just exactly why does Obama have all those Tea Party footprints on his forehead?  He has done every single thing that Bush and Cheney did back when they occupied the White House -- only, like Ginger Rogers, Obama has practically done it backwards and in high heels!

     Torture?  Check.

     War-mongering?  Check.

     Supporting corrupt bankers, criminal Wall Street deregulation and the evil Federal Reserve?  Check.

    Encouraging tax evasion for the wealthy?  Check.

    Signing unconstitutional executive orders?  Check.

    Lying to the American public about causes for war?  Check.

    Standing back while militarized police attack peaceful protesters?  Check.

    Hell, even Obama's new Cuba policy and healthcare system benefits large corporations instead of the rest of us.

   About the only thing Obama hasn't done that Bush and Cheney easily got away with is to participate in election malfeasance -- that is, that I am aware of.  So WHY don't the Republicans like him?  Obama was even educated in an Ivy League college and has big ears and a smirk like George W. Bush!  Have the Repubs forgotten their medication?  I just don't understand.

     But, in any case, and despite all the disastrous "bah-humbug" that we now receive from our so-called leaders, I would still like to wish a Merry Christmas to all Americans -- and a happy birthday to the Prince of Peace as well.  

Photo is of U. Utah Phillips, the Golden Voice of the Great Southwest, playing Santa Claus at the Freight & Salvage Coffee House back in 1973.  Don't even try to guess who Santa's helper was! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Diaspora: People all over the world are now on the move

   We are currently in a totally unique period in the history of the human race.  Seven billion people inhabit the planet right now -- and a good many of those are now on the move -- bumping around our world like glittering particles in a snow globe, shaken not stirred.

     Back in paleolithic times, humans migrated out of Africa to every habitable corner of the world, sure, and of course for many centuries after 1492 there were boatloads of Europeans migrating off to the New World -- but this current worldwide migration is happening on steroids compared to what happened back then. 

     Now, instead of a few hundred Homo sapiens taking centuries to move from Point A to Point B or thousands of Europeans sailing off over a span of centuries, we now have hundreds of millions of human beings packing their bags and moving across oceans and continents within the span of mere decades -- or even within a few days.

    It used to be that people lived in small communities of around 150 inhabitants -- and almost none of them traveled further than 20 miles from their homes in the course of their entire lives.  But now you find massive and disruptive diasporas happening everywhere you look.

    In Berkeley, California, for instance, I recently went to a neighborhood potluck dinner -- and there were at least six different languages spoken there (not counting English) by people from all over the world.

     Check this out:

    The African diaspora:  Not caused this time by a forced migration of slaves but by the forced migration of natural resources.  For instance, hundreds of residents from other parts of Africa stream over the border into South Africa daily from even as far away as Congo and Sudan, looking for safety.  What drives this huge diaspora?  The looting of Africa's diamonds and oil by huge corporations.

     The Middle Eastern diaspora:  These days, all of Europe is being flooded with people from Yemen, Iraq, Palestine, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, etc., mainly as a result of wars being started in their home countries by the American military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about.

    The new Israeli diaspora:  Thousands of Israelis are now ending up in America (and Germany, Ukraine and Russia of all places too), desperately escaping from their so-called "land without people for a people without land".

     These displaced Israelis left because they resented being victims of the old bait-and-switch con game.  They thought they were going off to live in a small safe haven on the peaceful shores of the Mediterranean -- only to discover that their new country had been taken over by uber-fanatic settlers, hard-core neo-nazi military extremists and Likud's dream of establishing a Netanyahu Caliphate from the Euphrates to the Nile.  "Not what I signed up for," these refugees lament.

    The Latin American diaspora: Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador?  Whole populations are now on the move from there -- thanks to Reagan's wars on Central America, Clinton's NAFTA and the Bush-Obama "war on drugs".  And America's support for the cruel junta now in power in Honduras has imitated a sad and tragic latter-day Children's Crusade.

    The Asian diaspora:  As a result of decades of American wars on Asia.  In California alone we now have Little Cambodia, Little Vietnam, Little Laos and Little Seoul.  I rest my case. 

     The Japanese diaspora:  Fukushima happened and now suddenly all of Japan has become radioactive and folks there are constantly looking for a safe way out.

          The Tibetan diaspora:  When 1,200,000 of your closest friends and neighbors have been slaughtered by roving bands of Chinese Communist gangs, who could possibly blame you for thinking it might be time to move on to a safer 'hood.

     Then there's the Iranian and Russian diasporas -- but those ones have been slowly drying up to a trickle as Russians and Iranians suddenly begin to realize there is no longer any better place to go.

     But one of the strangest international migrations these days is the migration of the members of ISIS.  These blood-thirsty pirates are now deliberately migrating toward danger spots, not away from them.  And in large numbers too.  Why?  Who the freak knows.  Like horses that refuse to leave a burning barn?  Or like psychopaths driven mad by being tortured and held in captivity for too long?  Or, more than likely, like mercenaries being paid big bucks by America, Turkey and the Saudis to wreck havoc on places containing natural resources and oil.

     "But why exactly are there suddenly so many diaspora start-ups happening in this new 21st century?  Why suddenly now?" you might ask. 

     Two reasons.

    The first reason is that no matter where you go on earth today, the "haves" are busy stripping the "have-nots" of their treasures as fast as humanly possible -- and so the "have-nots" are simply following the trail of their stolen treasures back to the lands of the "haves".

     The second reason can be explained in just one three-letter word:  W-A-R.  Brutal, heartless and unnecessary war.  Neo-colonial wars for profit.  Murderous wars based on shameless greed or racism or power.  And the American military-industrial complex is clearly responsible for most of these wars, either overtly or covertly.

     People all over the world are now running away from American war planes, American weapons, American "boots on the ground" and American drones.  And, most recently, American paramilitary police.  Sucks to be a powerless weaponless peon these days, right?

     "But what's your point, Jane?" 

     I have several points to make.  First, that the whole world has been agitated and shaken up -- and like ants in an ant colony, people are running every which-way to get away from all the threats.  Second, that all of this forced migration is not good -- not good for children or any other living thing.  Third:  That, sadly, we Americans will also have to pay the price for all this destabilization someday soon too.  And, fourth, that Americans should stop bitching about "illegal aliens" coming here following their treasures.  If the American military-industrial complex hadn't shaken our snow-globe, there wouldn't be such a huge immigration problem in the first place.

PS:  And then there's always the ongoing diaspora to California.  Sure, a few people do go off to live in the Red States -- but who the freak wants to live in Mississippi when they can be living in San Francisco!  And who would ever want to live in the frozen northern states under ten feet of climate-change-caused snow when the electricity goes off?

PPS:  Now let's talk about happiness -- what most of these global refugees are pursuing.  Happiness is a good thing, right?  And what makes us happy?  Kittens, puppies, money, new cars?  Sex and love?  Organic vegetables and Vitamin D?  Friends?

     Or is it war that makes us happy?  With the American military-industrial complex's incredibly strong record of starting and maintaining wars, one would think that, if war truly made us happy, Americans today would be the happiest people on earth!  But we are not.

      No matter how many "positive psychology" motivational speakers we worship or anti-depressants we take -- or "wars" we start, Americans are just not all that happy.   Take for instance all those nation-wide protests against Wall Street and police brutality.  If Americans were really all that happy, would they be marching in the streets -- for no matter what reason?  And why aren't all our homeless children and unemployed former members of our formerly-great middle class wearing smiles on their faces either?

PPPS:  Economist Thomas Piketty states that, "The value of human capital is much higher than any other form of capital."  If this is true, then why is the American military-industrial complex happily engaged in killing off our most valuable and important form of capital both at home and abroad?  That just doesn't make sense.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Grateful that I'm not a wealthy widow in Chicago (and not a Ukrainian or Syrian either)

Author's note:  I haven't had much to be grateful for this past Thanksgiving because I spent that time recovering from an operation that involved re-breaking my arm, realigning the bones in my left hand and having nine pins, a bone graft and a titanium plate installed.  Ouch!  So now I'm all busy trying to make up for lost time and dreaming up things to be thankful for.  Here are a couple of items I've come up with (besides my wonderful family of course). 

     To paraphrase that song by Kermit the Frog, "It's not easy being old." There just aren't that many perks involved.  Your teeth fall out.  Your joints freeze up.  Say goodbye to your sex life, no matter what they claim about Viagra.  Plus no one ever invites you to parties any more and you can no longer Twerk. 

     However, having enough money to make yourself comfortable in your old age can surely help alleviate all those various aches and pains associated with old age -- unless of course you are an elderly widow living in Chicago and have 100K or more in your savings account.  Because if that is you, then getting old is really really gonna to suck eggs.

     "But, Jane," you might ask, "why is that?"  Let me tell you. 

     You've heard of ambulance-chasing lawyers before, right?  Well, in Chicago they also have rich-widow-chasing lawyers.  These heartless scoundrels actually go out and scour through various tax and real estate records until they find clues to locating financially-solvent yet vulnerable senior citizens, preferably rich widows.  And then they move in for the kill.

     The first thing they do is have their target victims declared incompetent -- which is not all that hard to do when you have Chicago's probate courts helping you out.  Then they get themselves appointed Guardian ad Litems for these vulnerable wealthy elders.  And then the fun part begins.

     "First they pop these poor souls into rest homes where they are warehoused, starved, fed tranquilizers and ignored," said one family member whose mother had been victimized in Chicago.  "Then they sell their victim's home, empty her bank accounts and pocket the profits -- calling all these ill-begotten gains their 'fees' for services rendered.  And then, when the victim has no more money left, they then throw her unceremoniously out of the rest home and onto the cold streets of Chicago -- that is, if she is still alive."

    But there is hope.  Some relatives of the victims and other conscientious local attorneys are starting to fight back.  For instance, Joanne Denison, an honest Chicago attorney with a conscience, stumbled onto this racket about three years ago by accident and tried to do something to stop these malfesiants.  "So what did she do?" you might ask.  Denison started a blog.  That's all she did.  She started a blog to try to expose some of these worst practices and blow the whistle on said legal vultures.

      According to Denison's blog, "40% of all psychotropic drugs are sold to nursing homes as illegal chemical restraints, and no one ever seems to do anything about it, even though they are deadly dangerous to most elders and the FDA says they are contra-indicated or not recommended for those under 20 or over 60."

     "So what happened to attorney Denison as a result?" you might ask next.  What do you think happened to her?  This is Chicago -- not Utopia.  Her attorney's license has just been suspended for three years.

    Now we all know that Rush Limbaugh and Fox News can tell any lie that they want over public airwaves and/or on the internet and get away with it, right?  But if you ever dare to tell the truth and expose corruption in Chicago, you had better watch out.

     And if you are a wealthy widow in Chicago, you had better really watch out!

     So during this week after Thanksgiving I'm gonna be super-grateful for a lot of things -- and one of those things is going to be that I'm not a widow, am not wealthy and don't live in Chicago!

    "What else are you going to be grateful for?" might be your next question.

     "That I don't live in Ukraine or Syria or any other foreign country that the US or NATO or BIBI has its eyes on."  If there's just one take-away that I've learned after enduring all this pain in my left arm, it's that injuries to our bodies can really really hurt, really hurt a lot.  And that a human body will probably hurt even a hecka lot more if you are hit by a NATO smart-bomb in Ukraine or if an American-made cruise missile lands on you in Gaza or if you get gang-raped by American-funded ISIS in Syria -- and have no pain-killers or hospitals or doctors to help you out like I did.

     Do I think that the rich widows of Chicago have it bad?  Yeah.  But this sad injustice is almost minimal compared to having the vultures of Wall Street and War Street eying your assets and trying to steal them by torturing, raping and blowing up yourself and your kids. 

     At least the rich widows of Chicago don't have to worry about getting hit with NATO smart bombs or having their heads chopped off!

PS:  Not really sure why I'm worried about getting old.  It's probably not gonna happen to any of us anyway -- at least not while the deep-state neo-cons who now control America, Israel and NATO are all so bound and determined to try to pick a fight with Russia, China and Iran (one that they truly can't win).

     And if all this current saber-rattling foolishness doesn't kill us all off in a mass wave of war-induced grim reaping, then don't forget that climate-change-run-a-muck will be sending us off to the happy hunting ground soon too.

     Have the oligarchs of DC and NATO and BIBI totally lost their minds -- or do they just have a death wish for peons like you and me?  Either way, these malfesiants now hold all the power and the rest of us are all screwed.

     But here is the good news. 

     Perhaps facing WW III and/or the coming climate apocalypse might end up being a good thing.  "But how?"  Because now we're all going to have an air-tight excuse to run down to the mall, max out our credit cards and buy all kinds of new gear to wear to the show.  How's that for positive thinking!

    And here's another positive thought.  Extinction of the entire human race will surely mean that we won't have to worry about who is gonna pay for our funeral -- because there will be no one left alive to attend it!  Sorry, guys, but there won't be any "handsome corpses" on display at the local funeral chapel any more.  Rats.  I was really looking forward to that.

PPS:  I am so freaking bored from sitting around doing nothing while waiting for my arm to heal that I actually checked Thomas Piketty's new book, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," out from the library.  If I'm going to be bored, I might as well be really bored.

     "The main driver of inequality today [which appears to be wanky pseudo-capitalism run amuck] threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values," sez the dust jacket.  Just one more reason why I won't have to worry about paying for my own funeral -- I won't be able to afford it.  And neither will you.

     "But if you're so bored, then why don't you just go see the film 'Interstellar' instead," suggested one of my kids.  Good idea.  Now I can go watch our planet die on the big screen instead of having to wait to watch it die in real life.