The Healing Power of Sleep – And How To Get Some

Posted in Uncategorized on March 23, 2016 by jtoddring

What a difference good sleep makes. I‘ve had an ongoing battle with insomnia for over thirty years, and when stress is high, it’s at its worst. Last night was the first decent night’s sleep in a month. What a relief! It’s night and day, so to speak. I’ve had insomnia since I was eighteen. So I can definitely speak about the effects of not sleeping well. And sleep is very important.

We live in a tightly-wound, Puritanical society where a feverish rushing and busyness, getting and spending, consumerism, status-seeking, social climbing and productivism reign; so there is generally a great deal of stress, to put it mildly, and we live in a sea of stress, in a culture which is systematically stressed-out as a routine habit – and not only do our health and quality of life suffer for it, but also, often, sleep does not come easy, even though it is essential to our health, our clarity of mind, and also our ability to get things done.

When we don’t sleep well, or enough, then we are likely to feel tired and have less than optimum energy, the mind is less clear, little stresses hit us harder, big stresses can easily overwhelm us, and even very small stresses can overwhelm us, and it is much harder to be at our best. And on top of that, when we don’t sleep well, or don’t get enough sleep, the body, including the brain, can’t properly regenerate itself, as it naturally does, so our health begins to be strained, and that can lead to other serious problems.

Recent studies have shown that people who get less than six and a half hours sleep a night on a regular basis have significantly higher risk of heart attack. And other studies have confirmed the obvious: that when we don’t sleep well, our memory, concentration, mental functioning and learning ability are all greatly impaired. Mood disorders, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other troubles common to our deeply stress-filled and unbalanced society, can also be greatly aggravated simply by a lack of good sleep. So our body and our mind are both at risk, and not nearly at their best, when we don’t sleep well.

So what can we do for good sleep, since it is very important to our health, our peace of mind, our ability to get things done, and our general feeling of happiness and well-being?

There are a lot of things that help with good sleep, fortunately. For those who have difficulties sleeping, or sleeping well, here are a few that have been shown to be very effective, most of which I’ve tried myself; and for most of them, I can confirm that they most definitely help. And yes, they generally involve something more than taking a pill.

 

Habits are number one:

A sane society would value, and be structured to promote, health, well-being, and the fulfillment of our highest potential, as well as justice, freedom, peace, culture and the arts, and the life of the mind. We don’t live in such a society. Modern society is frankly insane, as many people are well aware. But while we strive to create a better world, and a wiser, and more sane society, we can move our own lives in a positive direction. And among the habits we should cultivate in order to do that, and as a result, live with greater peace, health, happiness, fulfillment, and better sleep, are these:

Avoid worry, hurry, blame, resentment, self-recrimination, or dwelling on the past or the future.

Abandon all notions of control and powerlessness – they are both illusions, and they will only bring pain, suffering, stress, and sleepless nights. We always have power. We never have control.

Do the things that are important to you, and don’t put them off – take big leaps, or take baby steps if necessary, but move forward toward your goals and dreams, every day.

Make space every day for quiet, solitude, nature, stillness and reflection.

Rejoice in every victory, be it yours or another’s, no matter how small.

Laugh a lot, and keep a sense of humour, as well as a sense of perspective.

Eat well, and take good care of your health.

Forgive everything and everyone – including yourself.

Do your best, and at the end of the day and all day be at peace with that.

Forget about what other people may think or say – it doesn’t matter. Just be yourself, and be at peace.

Practice gratitude and appreciation.

Take delight in small joys and little things – like a sunrise, or a cup of tea, a flower, or a smile, or a piece of your favourite music.

Cultivate patience. Without patience, little of significance can be accomplished, and much stress and frustration can result. With patience, everything is possible.

Get lots of sunlight and fresh air every day.

Learn to love cooking, and cook wholesome, nourishing foods for you and your family – and take your time cooking, without rush, and enjoy the process, as well as the meal.

Chew your food. This seems simple, maybe even silly, but it is far more important than most people imagine. More broadly, we should take good care of our digestion, because if our digestion is off, if it is poor, and whether or not we know that it is poor, then we will be malnourished no matter how much we eat, or how healthy our diet is, because we are not properly digesting our food, and not properly assimilating the nutrients in our food. So digestion is extremely important. And if our digestion is poor, not only will we be malnourished, and our general health will suffer, and our susceptibility to disease will be high, but our mood, energy, and also our sleep, will suffer for it. So chew your food. Eat slowly. Never watch, read or talk about stressful things during or after meals if you can possibly help it. And eat lots of foods that aid digestion: sauerkraut, pickles, pickled beets and pickled eggs, yogurt, buttermilk, kimchi and kefir, bananas, basil, mint and pesto are a few to include in your diet. Longevity studies repeatedly show that people who regularly eat fermented and digestion-aiding foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut live the longest lives. And it’s not just about living long, of course, but living well. So chew your food! And learn to love pickles! 🙂

Consider taking up gardening. Spending time with green life and plants, caring for plants and working with the soil, is deeply therapeutic, and deeply relaxing, and it will definitely improve sleep as well.

Take regular saunas, sweats or steam baths.

Try meditation. Everyone is capable of doing it, unless they are in a coma, and even just 10 minutes a day of simple meditation on the breath has been shown to have tremendous benefits for health and peace of mind.

Do yoga – 10 minutes to an hour a day (I have difficulty with that one, I must admit) plus one class or more a week. It is life-changing. Only meditation and saunas bring this depth of relaxation and peace as yoga gives. And yes, everyone who is not in a coma can do it. (Modify the practices as needed, and do only the ones you can do comfortably as a start.)

Get lots of exercise of some kind or another on a regular basis – on a daily basis.

Keep your bedroom dark when you sleep – get black-out curtains that block all light, don’t keep any lights on in the room or even in the hall, and maybe try a sleep mask.

Try ear plugs or white noise – a humidifier, air cleaner or fan, or best, a fountain – to help you sleep and to block out noise.

If your partner snores, try ear plugs, white noise, Breathe-Right Strips, a jaw strap for snoring (I have read these work well and are surprisingly comfortable) and/or a sleep clinic for both of you. (Testing at a sleep clinic for sleep apnea may be a good idea if you’ve had sleep problems for a long time, or if you snore or your partner snores, since sleep apnea is very common, and it disturbs sleep, as well as having negative effects on the mind, mood and health.)

Don’t read, work or watch TV in the room where you sleep.

Don’t read, watch or talk about stressful things after 9pm – or after dinner prep starts, if you have serious troubles with sleep.

Do your day-planning during the day – don’t think about schedules or things you have to do tomorrow or in the near future, in the evening before bed: that’s a sure way to have a sleepless night, if you’re prone to that.

Keep regular sleep times as much as possible.

Try to follow the rhythms of the sun and sleep close to the times of darkness, between 9pm and 5am, as much as possible – yes, we are a part of nature, and our sleep cycles still work best when we follow nature’s rhythms (and few of us are true nocturns, by nature, but only by habit).

The ideal sleep cycle for most people, for optimal health and well-being, is to be asleep by 10pm, and to get up at 6am, or 5am; and if need be, take a nap or siesta in the early afternoon. This is not always possible, but we should approximate this sleep cycle as closely as we can.

Naps or siestas are very healthy – and we should not feel guilty about taking them. In fact, we should incorporate them into our lives and our culture. They have been shown to improve energy, mood, mental clarity, productivity, creativity, and general mental and physical performance. If we take 20-30 minutes for a nap, chances are that afterward we will not only feel better, but will get more done than if we hadn’t taken time for a short rest. The more sensible businesses and workplaces already incorporate and allow naps. That may be shocking to some, but it simply works, both in terms of human health, and also in terms of increased productivity, creativity and innovation, as well as employee job satisfaction, employee retention, and lower stress and sick leave. A half hour nap can be very regenerating; or a 90 minute nap can give a full sleep cycle, and deep rest and regeneration. Just remember to keep naps to before 3pm if they are longer than 20-30 minutes, or you may interfere with sleep later that night.

If you can’t sleep after half an hour of laying in bed, get up, leave the room, and go do something very relaxing: like some light reading – emphasis on light; or watch something relaxing; or take a hot bath; listen to some soothing music; do some very gentle yoga; or go for a walk; or have a cup of herbal tea with honey – preferably an herbal tea that will help with sleep, and there are many of them to choose from.

Make sure your home and your bedroom get lots of fresh air.

Keep your living space clean, tidy, uncluttered, harmonious and peaceful, as much as possible.

Learn to love plants, and surround yourself with green.

Natural health care for good sleep:

Try to stick to a plant-based diet high in protein (pulses, legumes, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds), fibre, essential oils, enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Drink lots of clean (non-bottled) water – eight cups a day minimum. Try lemon water, which cleanses the body of toxins, flushes the liver, adds vitamin C, and alkalanizes the body, restoring the body’s natural ph balance. (A Berkey water filter would be a very smart investment, along with a Dyson air purifier, since our water and air are now, sadly, toxic.)

Minimize caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, tobacco, refined and processed foods, meat, dairy, toxins and sugar. In other words, abandon the modern diet – it will make you stressed, sleepless and sick.

Avoid caffeine after 2pm (or noon if you’re very sensitive to it).

Don’t eat in the evening. Eat frequent, small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day; eat your heaviest meal at noon; and finish eating dinner by 6pm, or better, 5:30pm. Any food eaten after 6pm will not be fully digested before 9pm, when your liver goes into a natural rest and regeneration mode, and when our bodies most naturally want to be sleeping. That means eating after 6pm will definitely impair your sleep. Don’t do it. It’s a challenging habit to break, but it’s just not worth it to eat late, or snack in the evening, then have a bad night’s sleep as a result.

Eat lots of greens, and sweet orange vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots and squash – they are naturally soothing and relaxing to the body, as well as nourishing and healing.

Take extra omega-3 essential oils. They can be found in high concentrations in flax, hemp and chia seeds in particular. Put them in or on everything.

And try these naturopathic and herbal medicines for good sleep:

Super Sleep formula: a chewable tablet with 5-HTP, L-theanine and melatonin

(available through Costco – and yes, it’s worth the minimal membership fee, as you will save that amount on your first trip)

Tryptophan

(Naturally found in turkey and bananas, and also available in tablets)

Rescue Remedy Sleep

Holy Basil

Ashwagandha

B-vitamins

(take in the morning and afternoon, as they boost energy as well as lowering stress and bringing relaxation, and might make you too alert to sleep at night if taken in the evening)

~*~

And if all of that doesn’t work, get a brick! Ok, just joking. These things should help immensely.

The habits are the big ones, but the other things will help a great deal in the meantime. Good luck! I wish you peaceful sleep, and a healthy, happy, vibrant life to all.

JTR,
March 23, 2016

The Appeal of Sanders and Trump

Posted in Uncategorized on March 22, 2016 by jtoddring

 

LATEST POLLS SHOW TRUMP WINNING AGAINST CLINTON – BUT SANDERS BEATING TRUMP BY A WIDE MARGIN

News update:

As of the latest poll, by Reuters, which is the benchmark for such polls, as of March 18 (the most recent data) after closing the gap for some time, Trump is now beating Hillary in the polls. In a match-up between the two – and such match-up polls have been generally accurate to within 3% of the final election results – Trump would beat Hillary, and become the next president. Meanwhile, in a match-up between Trump and Sanders, Sanders wins easily, by a huge margin, of nearly 20%. Nearly 50% of people said they would vote for Bernie Sanders, while just over 30% said they would vote for Donald Trump. (So yes, 30% of Americans are stark raving mad, but that is beside the point.)

The conclusion is obvious: if anyone is worried about Trump becoming president – as they should be, since he is a raving lunatic, and certifiably insane, as well as a racist, sexist bigot, and he appears to also be a power-mongering fascist as well – then they should support Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is the safest bet to defeat Trump. Hillary would simply lose.

What is also clear is that if Hillary Clinton is serious about ensuring that the Democratic party defeats Donald Trump, then she should withdraw from the race immediately. She won’t do this, of course, because she is also certifiably insane (being zealously, even maniacally eager for war with Iran, for example, knowing full well this risks nuclear war with Russia), and also power-hungry, like Trump, but she should. In any case, a vote for Hillary has now become a vote for Trump, because she is going to lose to him. Sanders is not only the only decent candidate, but the only one who can defeat the psychopath which is Donald Drumph – er…Trump.

The mass media have been playing cheerleaders for both Trump and Clinton, (Trump received 23 times the media coverage as Sanders in 2015) but they are out of touch with the people, as well as corrupt, due to money interests. Don’t rely on them for information, of course. And do support Bernie Sanders, please – if for no other reason, than to ensure that Donald Trump never sees the inside of the White House, other than by way of photographs, or a guided tour.

Want to defeat Trump? Vote Sanders. It is the only way.

– JTR, March 24, 2016

*

In a nutshell, Donald Trump is a false populist, who is using and manipulating, and misdirecting the people’s anger, and channeling it into hate. Bernie Sanders is an authentic, real populist, who is touching on the people’s legitimate anger and discontent, and directing it where it should be directed, at the root of the problem, which is the Wall Street elite, and the corporate coup which is destroying the nation, the middle class, and the world. But let’s look more deeply, because these are serious issues, and a great deal is at stake.

Donald Trump appeals to the anger and frustration of the people, clearly, but why, exactly, does he hold such appeal for at least a minority of the people of the US? Well, the basic problem is that corporate globalization has meant that factories and jobs have been sent to China and other low-wage countries, with the result that the middle class in the US is being wiped out, as poverty and inequality – and tensions – soar. But instead of addressing the real problems, people like Trump blame immigrants and Muslims, and direct (or misdirect) the people’s anger there. It is a common pattern, and we’ve seen it before, and it is a dangerous pattern as well, of course.

Trump wants to build a wall between the US and Mexico, to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the US. But this will accomplish nothing, other than wasting money and sowing further division, tensions and distraction. You could build the equivalent of the Great Wall of China all around the entire continental US, and it wouldn’t change the fundamental situation. The problem is within the US, and is not coming from outside.

The problem is globalization and de-industrialization, not immigration, be it legal or illegal. The problem is that the corporate elite have become drunk with greed, and are seeking ever greater short-term profits, at the expense of the American people and the world. Wall Street is simply seeking maximum short-term profits, by moving factories and jobs to low-wage countries, and the results have been devastating for the people of the US.

If Donald Trump had any intelligence or honesty, he would be the conservative equivalent of Bernie Sanders, and he would be focusing the people’s anger on the real source of the problem – which is Wall Street, and the off-shoring of jobs through corporate globalization.

But Trump has proven that he has absolutely no honesty, and probably very little intelligence either. He is a snake oil peddler, a scam artist. He is using the people’s anger in dishonest ways, simply to further his own power-lust and greed, and to further inflate his already bloated ego. And unfortunately, millions of people are falling for it, and are deceived by it.

Bernie Sanders is presenting a very honest populism, as opposed to the false populism of people like Trump or Clinton. Sanders is relating to the very real anger of the people, and focusing it where it should be focused – on the Wall Street elite who are devouring the people, the nation, and the world.

Fortunately, I don’t think there is much chance that Donald Trump could be elected in 2016, although we can never know for certain – and the simple reason is that the Bush-Cheney cabal destroyed the credibility of the Republican party.

(We should remember that when Obama won what the media ridiculously called a “populist landslide” in 2012, less than 25% of the American people voted for him – and even fewer voted for the Republican party. Both parties are now train wrecks, after four decades of selling the people down the river to the corporate elite, but the Republicans are in an even worse state of having destroyed their credibility than the Democrats.)

Even if the Republican party was not thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the great majority of the people, which it is, it is unlikely, at present at least, that such a rabid extremist as Donald Trump, could win a presidential election in 2016 – maybe in earlier times, or maybe, if things turn even worse, in a future time, but not in 2016.

Let’s be perfectly clear. Election fraud is still a possibility, and it has happened before, of course, so either Trump or Hillary could win by that means. But otherwise, neither of them is likely to win.

Trump would have difficulty winning, as I say, because he an extremist even by recent Republican standards, which are now abysmally low (Abraham Lincoln would be ashamed of what his party has become), and because the Republican party has disgraced and discredited itself, even with a large percentage of former Republican voters. And even among the small minority of Americans who still support the Republican party, only a minority of them support Donald Trump. Hillary has a negative approval rating, and is being investigated by the FBI, and no presidential candidate has ever been elected who has a negative approval rating, or is under investigation by the FBI. So unless there is widespread fraud or manipulation of the election, neither of these clowns stands much chance of winning.

The corporate media may portray the race as being between Trump and Hillary, but it is Bernie Sanders who actually stands the greatest chance of winning. This flies in the face of common opinion among media pundits, but we should not trust the media for any information, other than maybe the weather report – and they usually get that wrong too.

Bernie Sanders was essentially unknown to the American people, less than a year ago. He has gone from being a complete unknown, to becoming a major contender, virtually overnight. He has also raised more individual donations than any presidential candidate in US history, and with an average donation of under $30 – and has also refused all corporate Super-PAC money. So his support is very strong, and is growing.

Bernie Sanders also has the support of 80% of millennials – youth between the ages of 18 and 30. And we should note that millennials are now the largest voting block in the US, having just surpassed the baby boomers.

Bernie Sanders also has the support for the great majority of political independents. And we should also note that independents now outnumber both Democrats and Republicans in the US.

(Both major parties have disgraced and discredited themselves, as we have said, and more and more people are becoming independents, like Bernie Sanders is, as a result.)

So Bernie Sanders has a very large and passionate, growing number of supporters; and he has the overwhelming support of the two largest voting blocks in the nation, which are the youth and the independents. He has a very real chance of winning – barring election fraud, or the high-jacking of the democratic process by the “super-delegates” or the electoral college, or simple media manipulation of the people (see Amy Goodman’s comments below).

In fact, given the devastation of the Republican party on the one hand, and the facts pertaining to Hillary on the other, I would say that Bernie Sanders may well be the leading contender in the race, despite what the media have to say on the issue – if we are talking about the popular vote, and not about delegates. And this election may well yet come down a question of the democratic vote – stranger things have happened, and democracy just might arise in the United States, if enough people get off of the sidelines, shrug off their apathy and learned cynicism, and get involved.

We should also note two other very important points. One is that either Clinton or Trump would be perfectly acceptable to the corporate elite, and both are strongly backed by the Wall Street elite. Clinton is awash in Wall Street money, and both Clinton and Trump have received extremely favourable and extremely biased coverage and support by the corporate-controlled media on the whole. (Remember also that simple media presence means a tremendous amount – and in 2015 the US media gave Donald Trump 23 times the coverage they gave to Bernie Sanders. From that is is easy to tell who is Wall Street’s man, and who is not.)

Another important point is that in every match-up of candidates, Bernie Sanders would win over Trump in the election, while Hillary Clinton would most likely lose to Trump. And even early match-up polls have been accurate in recent presidential elections to within two percentage points of the final results. So the worst thing the Democratic party could do is to back Hillary Clinton.

Nevertheless, Clinton has the backing of the great majority of the (anti-democratic) super-delegates and the party establishment, precisely because she is Wall Street’s chosen candidate, and they know who butters their bread. So Clinton could win the Democratic nomination, despite the fact that it could prove disastrous to the Democratic party, and despite the grassroots populist uprising in support of Bernie Sanders.

(The party elite follow orders – and the money masters who call the shots care only that a compliant candidate who serves their interests, such as either Clinton or Trump, wins the election, and a candidate who has declared war on Wall Street, Bernie Sanders, does not. They care nothing about whether a Democratic of Republican candidate takes power, because what matters is not the party, but the compliance of the puppet installed.)

But what is most telling, is this. There are still several months left before the election, and in that time, a great deal could change. And one major element which may well be decisive is the fact that the more people learn about either Trump or Hillary, the less they trust them or support them: meanwhile, the opposite is true for Bernie Sanders – the more people find out about him, the more they trust him, and the more they like him, and tend to support him.

Remember also – it’s still early. Presidential elections are historically not decided until the final two months of the campaign, or less.

“Sanders’ campaign was dealt a body blow on March 15, when he lost 4 states to Hillary Clinton (he officially conceded Missouri days later after tying on March 15). However, the Vermont senator is positioned to win a majority, if not all of the coming primaries in Western states. Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Washington, Alaska, Wisconsin, and Wyoming all have caucuses and primaries in the coming two weeks, and Sanders is poised to win in nearly all of them.” – US UnCut, March 21, 2016

The system is corrupted deeply, but not beyond hope. There is always hope so long as there is breath. The people always hold the greater power. When, and if, they decide to make use of it, then everything changes. And that always remains a possibility, at virtually any, and every moment.

The people still have the power, and always have the greater power, as David Hume said. The question is whether they will realize it, and make us of it. Right now, most are asleep, and they seem to prefer it that way; but that can change any time. And more and more people are awakening, so there is definite hope, even though things look very bleak, and very ominous indeed.

As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.” Racists and war-hawks and the servants of the elite may not have the last word in this possibly pivotal election of 2016. Let us hope that is the case.

JTR,

March 22, 2016

Despite massive media manipulation and a flood of money from Wall Street to swing the election results, Bernie Sanders continues to be the strongest candidate in the match-up polls

View story at Medium.com

Amy Goodman calls out CNN: ‘The media manufactures consent’ of Trump

Media Silent As Bernie Sanders Packs Seattle Arena Beyond Capacity, March 21, 2016

Media Silent as Bernie Sanders Packs Seattle Arena Beyond Capacity (LIVE VIDEO)

The Democrats Abroad ‪#‎GlobalPrimary‬ Results are out! Americans abroad cast 34,570 ballots from over 170 countries, giving Senator Bernie Sanders a 69% win to 31% over Secretary Hillary Clinton.

http://www.democratsabroad.org/global_presidential_primary_…

 

This is why millions of people love Bernie Sanders:

Back when Bernie Sanders was the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, C-SPAN asked him what his dream president would talk about.

Sanders, then in his mid-forties, began to speak earnestly about how Americans deserve a presidential candidate who would challenge the corrupt Washington establishment and take on the billionaires who run the political process. His response to the question sounded almost exactly like a Bernie Sanders stump speech in 2016.” (short video attached)

http://usuncut.com/politics/video-of-bernie-sanders-predicting-campaignng-2016/

 

Elizabeth Warren Has the Donald Trump Take-Down America Has Been Waiting For

http://usuncut.com/politics/elizabeth-warren-donald-trump/

 

John Oliver on Donald Drumph

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnpO_RTSNmQ

 

Bill Maher: Donald Trump Is the White Kayne

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTL-M3e6lq0

 

Bill Maher Destroys Donald Trump Again And Again

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYEYFUz-ZT4

 

Who Will Own The Whitehouse – Nafeez Ahmed

View story at Medium.com

 

New Poll Shows Half of America Thinks Donald Trump Is A Fascist

http://usuncut.com/politics/poll-shows-half-america-thinks-donald-trump-fascist/

Means and Ends: Instrumental versus reflective thinking, and the life and death of the human species

Posted in Uncategorized on March 22, 2016 by jtoddring

Means and Ends:

Instrumental versus reflective thinking,
and the life and death of the human species

Stephen Covey said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule; but to schedule your priorities.” This is so extremely important. Most people prioritize their schedules – that’s why they never get anything done. They are too busy being busy to really focus on what matters most to them, and so, what matters most is usually left to the side, and left undone. Decades can go by lived in this way. Don’t do it. Make your priorities a priority by creating space for them, and focusing on them. That is the only way your priorities will ever get fulfilled. Otherwise, they are not really priorities, they are just daydreams. Until we carve out space for them, they will never amount to anything. We have to make time for what is important to us, or life will simply pass us by.

Last night, re-reading Aldous Huxley’s great work, The Perennial Philosophy, I skipped to the last two pages, and found a very thoughtful discussion, extremely lucid, as Huxley always is, on action and contemplation. The reflections in that short passage must have been ruminating in my mind while I slept, because today they seem to have sparked further thoughts, which I would like to share…..

Without reflection, we may devote our lives to things that really mean little to us; because we order our lives by prioritizing our schedules, rather than scheduling our lives around our priorities. And that would mean that we by and large waste our lives. But another problem with a lack of reflection is that we may end up pursuing goals which not only waste our precious years, but which can even prove disastrous.

As Heidegger said, their are (at least) two different kinds of thinking (or that is one way to look at it). One is instrumental, and one is reflective. Instrumental thinking is all the rage in modern society. It asks questions of how to do things. It is purely technocratic and utilitarian, or “practical” and “pragmatic”. This seems sensible enough, but there is a far more important question, and that is, what is worth doing? Instrumental thinking does not ask this question. Reflective thinking asks this question. But reflective thinking is not all the rage in modern society, and very few people engage in it. That is why modern society is in trouble, and is in crisis, and rapidly destroying itself.

We are very good at instrumental thinking, but have forgotten our capacity for reflective thinking. That means we can set goals which we have not reflected upon sufficiently, and which are self-destructive, and we can then execute plans to achieve our ill-considered and self-destructive plans with great panache and skill. But it would have been far better to reflect first, then act, so that we do not simply get to our goal faster and more assuredly, but know whether our goal is worth getting to at all.

If we do not once more embrace and consciously value the act and the habit of reflective thinking, we can be racing toward the edge of a cliff – as we are doing now – and at every moment working hard to increase our speed. And that is precisely what we are doing right now, at this potentially terminal stage of human history. A more reflective life and way of being screams out to us. Let us not be too deaf to listen, or soon we will be too dead to hear (more dead than the majority already are).

Simplify, simplify. It is time to reflect, before we run out of time.

JTR,
March 22, 2016

Justin Trudeau and the Continuing Saga of Canadian Apathy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2016 by jtoddring

A recent poll shows strong support for the Trudeau government in Canada, and I have to think, once again, that it is surprising to see that Canadians can be so uncritical and unquestioning of their government.

Yes, Harper was defeated, and yes, that was a good thing. But the current government under Trudeau Jr. is deeply flawed, and criminally negligent, at best – and that is the best you can say about them.

Trudeau Jr. is still subsidizing big oil and the fossil fuel industry, still pushing for oil pipelines, still blocking serious action on the environment. And we are still waiting on serious action on the lack of safe drinking water for 120 native communities and 1,600 municipalities across the country – in one of the seven richest countries on earth, with the means to provide all Canadians more than a decent standard of living, and certainly vastly more wealth and resources than is needed to simply provide clean, safe water for all. And further, the Trudeau government has so far refused to cancel or reject a plan by Ontario Power Generation to bury radioactive waste in the Great Lakes basin, even though every radioactive waste facility ever built has leaked, and despite the fact that the Great Lakes provide drinking water to 40 million people. And all of this entails what can only be called criminal negligence in the extreme.

Beyond that, the Trudeau Liberals refuse to raise corporate taxes to reasonable levels, say, where they were in 1960, at roughly 40%: and as a result, must work with a self-inflicted short-fall of revenues, meaning that health care, education, social and environmental programs cannot be properly funded.

What this means is that the Liberal Party is no longer a liberal party, as it was up until the government of Pierre Eliot Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, in the late 1970’s. For more than thirty years, the Liberal Party of Canada has been yet another party of neoliberalism, which is to say, another party run by and for big business. And central to the neoliberal, pro-corporate agenda, is austerity for the people, with giant subsidies, bail-outs, “stimulus” packages and tax breaks for the corporations and the rich. This is why we have inadequate funding for health care, education, social programs and environmental programs in Canada, as in the US and Europe, despite the fact that Canada is one of the richest countries on earth: neoliberalism and a corporate agenda have taken over – and the Trudeau Jr. government is just the latest expression of this criminal posse of neo-feudal corporatists, gouging the people to further line the pockets of the rich.

At the same time, the young Trudeau signed the TPP, which effectively spells the final death blow to Canadian sovereignty, and democracy in Canada. Few actions could express a greater or more utter incompetence, or criminality, depending on how you want to view it.

And while talking about “a principled foreign policy,” Trudeau Jr. approved the arms deal signed by Harper to ship more arms to the Saudis – the most brutal regime in the Middle East, and one of the worst human rights abusers in the world.

Saudi Arabia is also the country which is the primary arms provider and source of funds to ISIS and Al Qaeda. Principled foreign policy? This is not only criminally negligent, at best, to be sending more arms to the Saudi dictatorship; it is also a disastrous and extremely foolish policy which is guaranteed to blow back in our faces, as Saudi Arabia continues to fuel terrorism, even while it proclaims it is fighting it.

And along with arming the Saudis, Trudeau continued the bombing in Iraq and Syria, not only breaking his election promises, but violating international law, and thereby committing what are under international law, nothing less than war crimes. Yes, principled foreign policy indeed. Only now has this criminal and foolish behaviour and disastrous policy been halted – one point for which we can be glad in an otherwise dismal reign to date.

(And yes, it is a reign, when 40% of the popular vote can give you 100% of the power in government, and a four year coronation.)

And finally, Justin Trudeau promised to bring in proportional representation, to fix our quasi-democratic electoral system, and bring it into the 21st century, or even the 20th. So far, we have seen no action on this critical issue of democracy, and another Trudeau promise goes either broken, or simply ignored and abandoned.

Those were just election promises, right? Nobody takes those seriously. Well, clearly they shouldn’t when it is either the Liberal or Conservative Party in question.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth May, the only political leader in the country at the federal level who deserves to be called a leader, or who has any clue as to what is going on, apparently, or any spine, or integrity, or vision to bring to bear on the issues we face, is largely ignored by both the media and the people.

Are Canadians clueless, or are we simply a people that cannot seem to shake off a long tradition of public apathy? I think the latter is the case, and I do not know what will rouse them from their slumber, or bring them to their senses.

During the recent federal election, there was a wave of political passion across the country – which is to say, as passionate as Canadians get about anything other than hockey, beer and Tim Horton’s – as we the people decided to remove a much reviled Conservative government from power. Then we all went back to sleep. Or at least the majority seem to have returned to slumber land. What does it take to get Canadians to shake off their long-standing habit of apathy and complacency? I truly do not know.

JTR,
March 2, 2016

 

US Intervention In Syria: The Next Iraq

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2016 by jtoddring

Here is a very brief synopsis of the US role in Syria. We will, for the sake of brevity,  leave aside for the moment the obvious and documented facts of the US arming and supporting of the very terrorist groups they claim to be fighting; as well as the fact that the majority of “rebels” in Syria are associated with either ISIS or Al Queda; and the the third fact, that the reason the US is arming and supporting the very groups it claims to be fighting is in order to overthrow yet another government in the Middle East. We will instead focus on the broader picture.

It is becoming clear to any who are paying attention, and any who remember even recent history, that Syria is rapidly becoming the next Iraq – a country set on fire in an unending cauldron of violence and civil war, with no resolution and no peace in sight, and nothing but a black hole and a quagmire for all involved.

After five years of war and geopolitical battles among rival powers, half a million Syrians have now been killed, the country is in ruins, and there are now over 11 million Syrian refugees, in the biggest humanitarian disaster since the war in Iraq. And we have to ask, who is to blame?

Who is to blame for the bloodbath in Syria? This seems to be the question of the hour. Tomorrow, or soon after, there will be another bloodbath, and there will be other scapegoats, and the grand game of assigning blame will turn once more, and as usual, with all the same repeating patterns. But let us ask that central question of this present moment, at this present moment: who is to blame for the turmoil and war in Syria, and the massive human suffering that is the escalating result of it?

I don’t think there is any question that many players or factions are involved in what is going on in Syria – no one seems to want to respect national sovereignty or the self-determination of peoples, much less international law, and it seems like everyone wants to coerce the Syrian people into accepting their own particular wishes and demands for what kind of government the Syrian people should have.

Among others, there is the Syrian government, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and Iraq involved. ISIS and Al Queda are of course involved, but as very knowledgeable observers have noted, they are more a symptom than the cause of the turmoil, and they are being armed and funded by other, larger powers – particularly Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States.

And we can add to the list of parties who have involved themselves in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation, Canada, Europe, Israel and Russia. But there is also no question that Washington and the CIA are playing a major and pivotal role in the war in Syria, and nobody of any sound mind doubts that, for it is obvious.

And if we look to recent historical precedents in the region, we can see a clear and obvious pattern: in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya….. and that is without going further back, over the past 60 years of US foreign policy, beginning with the Washington/CIA overthrow of the democratically elected Mosaddegh government in Iran in 1957 – an extremely foolish and short-sighted, as well as criminal action, which gave birth to the extremist Islamic movements in the Middle East to begin with; or much longer, from the time of the Mexican-American war in the mid-1800’s, which Thoreau detested and wrote about, and before, from the time of the Indian Wars and the colonization of what was to become the United States of America.

The US has been a rising global super-power since the early 1800’s, until its recent decline, and one with a clear case of infantile grandiosity (the doctrines of Manifest Destiny and the like make this clear) and a self-justifying messianic complex, covering, only thinly, an obvious imperial pursuit of territorial expansion, conquest and hegemony, and of course, simple wealth and power.(See Noam Chomsky, Year 501: The Conquest Continues, for an overview of the past 500 years of Western history.)

To be fair, the US was on the right side, on the side of freedom and democracy, during WWII; and along with Canada, Britain and other nations, and most pivotally Russia, the US helped to defeat the horror of fascism. But before and since, the US has been on the wrong side of history, more often than not. And that is because the US has been ruled, from 1945 until the present, and for the better part of its history before WWII, by a political elite who have been the willing puppets and servants of big business and moneyed interests – exactly as Thomas Jefferson had warned. These are the simple, ugly facts of the matter. This can change, and it will change, when the American people are ready for it, and willing to make it happen, but at present, the US is still a dangerous rogue super-power that is ruled by Wall Street – and with truly disastrous consequences both for the American people and for the world.

And in recent history, who was the major player responsible for the utter devastation of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? The evidence is indisputable. These countries are now basket cases, and have been destroyed, and set aflame in civil wars – and it is the United States and its allies who are primarily responsible for these terrible atrocities, with well over a million dead, and nations laid to waste.

And although Washington had allies, and allies who will be recorded in history as having been actively involved in war crimes, the central player was the US government and the CIA in all three cases. The record speaks for itself.

The US government has been, and continues to be, dedicated to a policy of global hegemony, as its actions clearly and unquestionably show, and as its own internal record plainly speaks. (See documents from NSC-68 to PNAC and beyond.) And such actions are not only abominable, unconscionable, and in violation of international law, and furthermore, war crimes, under the precise definition of international law and the Nuremberg Trials; but furthermore, they create three very clear results: 1) countries are destroyed, and democracies either destroyed or prevented from arising, and with great human suffering and mass murder in every case; 2) there is inevitable blow-back, or negative repercussions, because such violent invasions and “regime changes” – that is, coups, in more honest and less euphemistic terms – create great hatred and fanaticism, and hence, more terrorism, exactly as the US intelligence community had predicted; and 3) the world becomes an ever more dangerous place as a result of such actions.

We cannot white-wash the involvement of Washington or the CIA in the Middle East, or Syria in particular. Their role has been, and continues to be, simply disastrous.

All nations have a duty to respect the sovereignty of other nations, and the right of peoples to self-determination. This basic principle, the principle of non-aggression, is the very foundation and under-pinning of international law, as well as the foundation for real and lasting peace. Currently, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Europe, Russia, and even the traditionally peace-loving Canada, along with the leading actor, the world’s dominant super-power, the United States, are all disregarding and violating these basic principles. And it is complete disaster which is the result, as all can clearly see, as well as a greatly heightened instability and danger – not just in Syria, not just across the entire Middle East, but for the world, as a conflict between super-powers looms, with Russia, China and Iran lining up on one side, and the US and its allies and proxies on the other, in an extraordinarily dangerous, and frankly insane, set of power games.

Let the madness end. The people of Syria can and will find a way to peace, and determine their own future, and what kind of government they want to have – but only if other powers in the region and in the world stop meddling and let them have the space to breath and to settle things for themselves. At present, the involvement of the US and other foreign powers is doing nothing but creating ever greater suffering and chaos, and no good will come from it.

The words of Henry David Thoreau come to mind. “If I knew someone was coming to do me some good, I should like to get as far away as possible.” I think by now, a great many people in Syria and the Middle East would like to be free of the “help” they have been receiving. Such help has been a nightmare and a horror, to say the least.

A basic respect for national sovereignty and the rule of law would be infinitely more helpful, but no one seems to be interested in that. That does not serve the underlying motives of empire fetish, and ego-maniacal, greed-driven power games.

Hands off Syria. This is the most urgent point of the matter.

If we truly want to help the Syrian people, then we should send food, emergency shelter, doctors and medical supplies, and we should take in refugees, and give shelter to those in need. Sending more arms, bullets and bombs is not going to help the situation. Indeed, it has only made the situation a thousand times worse than it already was, before our “help” arrived.

J. Todd Ring,
February 27, 2016

 

For further readings, video commentaries and analysis, see:

Noam Chomsky

Paul Craig Roberts

Michel Chossudovsky

Tulsi Gabbard

John Pilger

CounterPunch

The Real News Network

Global Research

And as a start, here is Noam Chomsky, speaking with his usual lucidity, saying clearly that if we want to halt terrorism, we have to do pretty much the complete opposite of what we’re doing now, which will only increase terrorism, not reduce it, much less end it:

http://www.actvism.org/en/events/noam-chomsky-ueber-die-terroranschlaege-in-paris/

 

 

 

 

 

Experience Counts

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 25, 2016 by jtoddring

Hillary Clinton is campaigning on her having experience. Well, it is true, she does have a lot of experience. She has a great deal of experience in lying, in completely misrepresenting herself, her actions and the facts of the matter, in plotting regime changes and coups, in collaborating with the CIA, in war crimes, and in loyally serving her corporate backers on Wall Street. But that is not the kind of experience we should be looking for in a presidential candidate, of course. Hillary should be charged with war crimes – not considered for presidency of the world’s leading super-power.

Bernie Sanders also has a great deal of experience. He was a civil rights activist in the 1960’s, marched with Martin Luther King Jr., was arrested for civil disobedience in protests against racial segregation at the University of Chicago, was two-term mayor for Vermont’s capital city, then served in Congress, then the Senate, and is now the longest serving member of the Senate. And his experience over four decades is in fighting for justice and equality, and serving all the people, and not just the super-rich plutocrats, who are quite able to serve themselves, and who also get ample support and service from political prostitutes such as Bush, Obama and the Clintons.

So yes, experience counts – but we should be asking what kind of experience the person has; and more importantly, what kind of character they have, and what their record of actions has been. Bernie Sanders’ record is admirable, consistent, and very honourable. Hillary Clinton’s record should have her tried and sent to prison. There is a rather big difference here.

JTR,
February 25, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Obama’s Vision and Legacy: A retrospective look at the Obama presidency – before we lose all sight of recent history, as our culture is wont to do

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2016 by jtoddring

 

Here are three short articles which I wrote between 2011 and 2015 which sum up the Obama presidency, and the Obama vision and legacy. We should remember, those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Let us review now the torturous two terms of “Mister Hope and Change” – the man who escalated and consolidated the Bush-Cheney program of intensified imperial warfare abroad, and the building of a police state at home – and all with a smiling face, and lofty, pious speeches proclaiming noble, lofty things.

I must say, as an aside, that the following articles were written and posted as comments, via Discus, to certain “alternative media” sources; and they present a scathing, and justifiably, fact-based, and much-needed, scathing critique of the alternative media.

In short, the alternative media, so called, and with only a handful of exceptions, provided a gloss to Obama’s presidency, and lent cover to his high crimes and his war crimes, for the first seven years of his presidency. Only recently has a sliver of critical commentary about the Obama administration begun to flow out of these generally hollowly pretentious “news” sources.

And secondly, almost all of them failed completely with regards to honest and thoughtful reporting on the crisis in Ukraine, and instead of serious journalism, simply mouthed the standard narrative, and gave further life and credibility to the lies and propaganda that the mainstream media routinely present as “the news”.

So in short, the alternative media failed utterly and completely, with only rare exceptions on the part of a few writers and a few websites, in regards to two of the biggest geopolitical subjects of the past decade: the US presidency under Obama, and its global and domestic implications; and the growing US-Russian cold war.

Having said that, and having lost most of my trust and confidence in these media sources, The Real News Network has seriously upped its game, and I would say, from what I have seen, that it is now one of the best sources of news and analysis in the Western world.

So there is hope for the alternative media. They simply have to have the courage to admit when they were wrong, and to stand up, and speak the truth, regardless of how popular or unpopular the truth may be.

And it is also helpful here for us to remember – and not just the alternative media, but also the broader public, who were, by and large, also duped by Mister Hope and Change – the words of Emerson:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Let us be willing to admit when we were mistaken, and learn from our mistakes, and let us learn from our history, before we are doomed to repeat it yet again.

*

We should also note that Obama’s legacy includes, not only expanded imperial wars overseas, and an accelerated pace of the Bush-Cheney project of turning America into a police state, but also under Obama, we saw the crash of 2008, from which the US and the world in general have yet to recover. (See Paul Craig Roberts: There Was No Recovery, and There Will Be No Recovery.)

The warm and fuzzy propaganda and spin continues to stream out of the White House and the corporate media, telling us everything is rosy, but the figures speak for themselves, and tell a different story. The middle class is being driven under and is sinking, and shrinking, and as a result, consumer spending is crashing, which means that the global economy continues to sink. It’s not rocket science. A 10 year old could understand it. It just requires a willingness to deal with the facts, and that seems rare these days.

The middle class is being wiped out, while poverty and inequality soar, and only the rich are doing well – extremely well, in fact. This is another part of Obama’s legacy – he presided over the continued and accelerating process of the rich devouring the poor, the middle class and the world. And most critically, he acted as the lead PR man to cover over and hide what is really going on, and tell us that everything is fine, while the people and the planet continue to be eaten alive. I think he should sell snake oil. It would be a more honest job.

“In order to have a thriving middle class, we need good paying middle class jobs.  Unfortunately, our economy has been bleeding those kinds of jobs quite rapidly.  For example, Halliburton just announced that it is eliminating 5,000 more jobs after getting rid of 4,000 workers at the end of last year.

During the Obama years, good paying middle class jobs have been getting replaced by low paying service jobs.  At this point, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

And there is no way that you can support a middle class family with children on $30,000 a year.

We have an economy that is in the process of failing.  We can see it in the explosion of subprime auto loans that are going bad, we can see it in the hundreds of retail stores that are shutting down, and we can see it in the tens of thousands of good paying energy jobs that are being lost.

During the Obama years, interest rates have been pushed to the floor, the Federal Reserve has created trillions of dollars out of thin air, and the size of our national debt is getting close to doubling.  Despite all of those desperate measures, our economy continues to crumble.”

– Economic Recovery? 13 Of The Biggest Retailers In America Are Closing Down Stores
By Michael Snyder, February 25, 2016

Hallelujah. Praise be to the profits.

And let them eat cake.

JTR,
February 25, 2016

 

Obama’s brilliantly successful, and disastrous vision

A recent article by Andrew Bacevitch
which was published by Moyers and Company laments that Obama has
failed to accomplish anything of substance since taking office. This
is not true. Obama has continue the Bush-Cheney war on democracy,
freedom, civil liberties, human rights, the Bill of Rights and
Constitution at home, while carrying on with the noble work begun by
the Bush administration of creating a police state in America; thus,
hopefully, securing the wealth and power of the elite at the expense
of the great suffering and diminished wealth, security, dignity,
rights and freedom of the other 99% of the population. So yes, Obama
has accomplished a great deal. He simply accomplished all the wrong
things. And he did so, because he was working for the wrong people.
He has been working for Wall Street since the beginning. The people
simply failed to see it.

The article is excellent, but for this
point, and one other important point. The author states that Obama
has no foreign policy vision, and never did. That is untrue.

Obama inherited and fully embraced the
foreign policy vision of the neocon Project for a New American
Century and the Bush-Cheney cabal: that is, intensified imperial
warfare abroad for the sake of maintaining global hegemony in a time
of an empire in rapid decline – and, of course, for the ever-present
ultimate objective, which is ever higher corporate profits and wealth
for the super-rich, ruling elite.

So Obama has a vision – it’s just not a
vision which accords with the great majority of Americans, or people
anywhere in the world. But it is a vision which is favoured, and
fiercely, rabidly, aggressively pursued, by the foreign and domestic
elite who rule over Washington and decide its policy choices and
agenda.

Has Obama’s vision succeeded? Well, the
rich are richer, aren’t they? Corporate profits are high. Trillions
of dollars have flowed from Main Street to Wall Street, via the US
government and the US Treasury. And the billionaire class now has an
even more formidable military-industrial-security complex, and police
state apparatus, with which to protect itself from the rabble. Obama
has succeeded brilliantly, at least for the moment – he simply had
the wrong vision: and for that, we should all lament deeply. The
people were duped.

J. Todd Ring,

February 7, 2015

Discussion on Chris Floyd – Empire Burlesque 26 comments

 

And here is my response to another article from the “alternative media” which also helped to give Obama a fresh gloss and a patina of legitimacy:

New Obama Campaign Commercial Is BRUTAL!

prajnaseek

prajnaseek 4 years ago (2012)

The amazing shelf-life of Obamamania:

Half rotted, to say the least; made as appealing as possible by a dedicated PR
machine;
and now highly distasteful to a growing majority –
yet still being hocked by “progressive” media outlets nation-wide.
What gives?!

I am increasingly amazed that otherwise thoughtful, well-informed and
intelligent individuals and media outlets such as AlterNet, who seem to have
both brains and integrity, continue to support Obama. Do we have to recount his
record of actions over and over again? He presented himself – with the aid of a
powerful, multi-million dollar PR machine – as a populist, a democrat, a man of
peace, and a man of the people. I warned people before he was elected in 2008 that he
was none of the above, but merely another shill for Wall Street. His actions since
his election have proven this is in fact the case, and proven it abundantly, beyond
any shadow of a doubt. Shall we at least glance at the record? Do the facts
matter, or are we utterly swayed and won over – deluded – by the mesmerizing
powers of rhetoric, spin and pretty speeches? Do the facts matter or not?

A populist? Obama was put into office through the major backing of Wall Street,
then of course, returned the favour – “donations” from the reigning
plutocratic elite do not come free, nor without strings attached, as David
Sirota said of Obama and his backers: returned the favour by stacking his
government with his Wall Street buddies, and then handed over hundreds of
billions of tax payer dollars to his Wall Street banker friends, as part of the
greatest mass transfer of wealth from the American people to the financial
elite in history. To cap it all off, he aggressively pushed for legislation
that would permanently make his Wall Street criminal friends immune from any
future prosecution or legal action. (See Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibi for an
honest accounting of Obama.) Populist? No, Obama is Wall Street’s man – or one
of them. He is no friend of the people.

Democrat? Obama voted twice for the Constitution-, Bill of Rights- and
civil liberties-shredding Patriot Act; the second time, voting to make 14 of
its provisions permanent. He has done nothing to overturn the quite literally –
by any legal definition – fascist legislation brought in by Bush, and has in
fact greatly extended and increased it. The Military Commissions Act has not
been overturned, and Obama has not even attempted to do so, and this act alone
defines the United States now, in strict legal terms, as a fascist nation. (See
Keith Olbermann on the Military Commissions Act, for an honest and unflinching
assessment – and remember, Obama has continued to support it since Bush left office.)
Under the NDAA, which Obama also signed, the President, or Chief Executive
Officer on hire to the ruling financial elite who own the country, can now
imprison anyone indefinitely, and has sweeping unchecked powers beyond that,
including execution or assassination without trial. (Obama even brags of his
ability to kill anyone with his fleet of killer drones.) These legal undoings
of constitutional democracy, the Constitution, Bill of Rights and civil
liberties, along with the extreme and unchecked powers now aggregated to the
executive, by any reasonable or legal definition constitute fascism, and Obama
has supported and furthered this slow strangulation of democracy, freedom and
civil liberties, every step of the way. He has defended the use of
“extraordinary rendition,” CIA black sites, torture and
disappearances, systemic wire-tapping and a global surveillance state. To call
this man a democrat would be the most insane, or else Orwellian statement
possible. He is a crypto-fascist in populist liberal democratic disguise – and
the disguise is so thin by now that only the wilfully blind cannot yet see
through it.

Peace-lover? Obama made rosy speeches about vague sentiments and even more
vague goals, such as “hope” and “change,” but as the New
York Times said before his election, it was hardly likely he would change
anything in terms of foreign policy, and his foreign policy is, as the Times
predicted, virtually indistinguishable from that of Bush. In fact, his foreign
policy record has been worse than Bush’s, as Chomsky and others have pointed
out. He positioned himself as a man of peace, and then went on to expand the
wars in the Middle East, and to launch new wars in Northern Africa. He is now
sabre-rattling with relation to Iran, and gearing up the propaganda and
rhetoric for an attack on Iran, which would be utterly insane, as well as a war
crime under international law, since Iran is in a military and economic
alliance with China and Russia, two nuclear super-powers, and hence, attacking
Iran literally risks the start of WWIII. Anyone who would attack Iran under
such circumstances must therefore be certifiably insane, as well as criminally
negligent in the highest magnitude describable. But even aside from the
question of Iran, Obama is already, and again, quite literally, guilty of war
crimes, by strict definition of international law, and crimes against humanity,
as well as guilty of simply expanding and perpetuating the obscene and
bankrupting wars of empire, and continuing the multi-decade policy of
subservience and service towards the military-industrial complex. This is no
man of peace. This man is owned almost as much by the industrial-military
complex and the war-profiteers as by Wall Street.

So why are there still articles on AlterNet and other seemingly, and often
genuinely intelligent media outlets, coddling and massaging Obama’s image and
PR face, if not outright supporting him? If someone at AlterNet cares to
answer, I would love to hear the response.

It is 1931 Germany in the USA, as I have been saying for
some time, as a growing minority and possibly by now a majority of Americans
are aware, and as your better writers and commentators have also noted. Why
then does anyone still pretend that Obama is anything but a crypto-fascist
puppet on hire to the ruling corporate and financial elite? Why?!

Enough! End this nonsense now, and let’s get on with real
change, and the healing of this world.

Hope and change will come from the people. The leaders –
so-called – of both major parties have betrayed the people. Let’s face the
facts, and get on with it. Lead yourself, people. It’s time for a revolution.

J. Todd Ring
(prajnaseek on Twitter)

P.S.: AlterNet editors: If you wish to retain any
credibility as a progressive, or even an independent media outlet, then strip
out the references to AlterNet here – I don’t wish to single out AlterNet,
which is excellent in other regards, since the problem is widespread in the “progressive”
media – and publish this article. You
can contact me via Twitter to let me know your response. If it is silence, then
I will know where you stand: and if that is the case, as I hope it will not be,
then I must conclude that either you are blinkered partisan zealots, or else
are owned by the same plutocratic and oligarchic forces who own Obama. I am
sorry to put the matter so bluntly, but democracy in America is being drowned,
and Obama has been, and continues to this day, to be an active and willing
accomplice in that most heinous and grotesque of crimes. The time has long
passed for the mincing of words. I await your response. Please exercise courage
and thoughtfulness. It would be a shame to see your legitimacy and your aid die
along with all former hopes for Mister Hope and Change.

 

And one last response to yet another “alternative media” gloss of Obama:

The GOP’s CIA Playbook: Destabilize Country to Sweep Back Into Power | News & Politics

prajnaseek

prajnaseek mmckinl 5 years ago (2011)

Well put – straight to the point. Here is my response to Parry’s “critique.”

Obama:pseudo-populist, crypto-fascist, corporatist, globalist

A rebuttal to Robert Parry’s glowingly pro-Democrat, slavishly partisan diatribe

Nice story line – for a fantasy novel… Excellent analysis, and totally one-sided: can anyone think critically about both wings of the party of the corporate elite – the Democrats and the Republicans? Some few can, but it seems rare.

Robert Parry’s article, “The GOP’s CIA Playbook: Destabilize Country to Sweep Back Into Power” is a fair enough analysis of the Republican party machine, but it breathes not a peep of criticism of the Democratic party apparatchiks or the Obama administration, and expresses not even a whisper of critical thought with regard to the latter. We are forced to conclude that either he is a completely blinkered partisan, or else a willing tool of the ruling elite, playing the same old game of divide and conquer in order to maintain the hegemony of the ruling class. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume for the moment that his highly counter-productive “critique,” which further divides the people, thus thwarting any possibility of real change, is a product of his being simply out to lunch.

“Pseudo-populist?” What do you think Obama is? He’s also pseudo-democratic, pseudo-progressive, pseudo-anti-war , pseudo-pro-civil liberties and pseudo-constitutional, in case anybody still hadn’t noticed. He’s expanded war in the Middle East, stood up for CIA “extraordinary renditions” and torture, failed utterly to even attempt to repeal the literally fascist and
completely unconstitutional Patriot and Military Commissions Acts, and instead
continued to support them, to name but a few points showing him to be anything
but a democrat – and he backed the biggest transfer of wealth in history from
ordinary people to the super-rich with the Wall St. banker “bail-out.”

Spell it out: this is by definition a crypto-fascist corporatist. (As Mussolini himself defined fascism, it is the merger of the powers of big business with the powers of the state: it is corporatism.) Just
how thick does anyone have to be to still think that Obama is a democrat, a populist, a man of the people, an anti-war activist, or anything other than a whore to the military-industrial complex, the Wall St. Banking elite, and the global corporate empire? Please! This is getting rather tiring.

Nearly 60% of Americans now believe Obama should not be re-elected. Also fortunately, the majority of Americans have also lost faith in the Republican establishment as well. Fortunately, the Republican establishment destroyed its credibility with most Americans under the Bush
administration, and the Democratic (sic) establishment has destroyed its credibility with the majority of the people since taking power in Congress and the White House.

Fortunately, such wilful ignorance – of believing that either the Republicans or the Democrats are the saviours of the nation, or even the friends or allies of the people – is waning in the land. There are a few Democrats and Republicans with integrity, such as Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, but the two big party machines are, by all indications of an overwhelming body of evidence, bought and owned, and run by and for, the corporate elite. Of course there are rival factions among the ruling elite, but the fact is that they share a highly similar corporate agenda – “the vile maxim of the masters,” as Adam Smith called it: “all for us, none for anybody else.”

The hard reality in the United States today is that it is a one-party state: a corporatocracy run by the super-rich and the corporate and banking elite, with the nearly complete complicity and eager
servitude of both wings of the party of the corporate police state. The polls have been showing for some time that there is a deep and growing popular awareness of this fact. The crisis of legitimacy is now nearing critical mass, and will quite likely explode into revolution within a short period of time, as the CIA has also predicted.

Unfortunately, if it is a violent uprising, the ruling elite will use this as a justification for repression, and to dispense with every last remnant of democracy, freedom, human rights and civil liberties. If this happens, the Corporate Police State will have arrived in full, hideous flowering.

People are beginning to realize more and more that the corporatocracy rules both major political parties in the U.S. Real change will happen when more people drop the stunned state of denial, and face the undeniable and overwhelming evidence of this fact. When will this happen? Sooner
than one might think.

Let us hope that awareness grows quickly, the people unite in defence of their country and future against a very Machiavellian corporatist order, and the response of the people is along the lines of Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi, and not unthinking violent reaction.

The future is in our hands. Clarity of mind is the first step to securing a better future however. We must first know where we stand. The battle line is not between Republicans and Democrats, it is between those who value constitutional democracy, justice and freedom – true (small d, small r) democrats and republicans – and an entrenched and power hungry elite who wish for unchecked and unfettered power and hegemony over all. In short, the people must unite, or we are lost. Build bridges now, or kiss your country and your freedom goodbye.

J. Todd Ring,
June 10, 2011