| Palpable hypocrisy: Vultures feed off Mandela’s memory!

The vultures feeding off Mandela’s memory ~ Nureddin Sabir, Editor, Redress Information & Analysis. 

The death of Nelson Mandela, the world’s most revered fighter for freedom, justice and dignity, has been met with genuine, spontaneous sadness all over the world.

Whether it is because of Mandela’s selfless sacrifice for his people, his 27 years of perseverance in the face of adversity or his willingness to forgive his wicked incarcerators, millions of people in all corners of the world are genuinely grief stricken at the passing of this giant of giants. They mourn not only the huge gap he leaves behind, but also the fact that the standards of decency he had set are unlikely to be met by any living politician. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu says,

…he will go down in history as South Africa’s George Washington, a person who within a single five-year presidency became the principal icon of both liberation and reconciliation, loved by those of all political persuasions as the founder of modern, democratic South Africa…

[T]he crucible of excruciating suffering which he had endured purged the dross, the anger, the temptation to any desire for revenge, honing his spirit and transforming him into an icon of magnanimity. He used his enormous moral stature to good effect in persuading his party and many in the black community, especially young people, that accommodation and compromise were the way to achieve our goal of democracy and justice for all.

The hypocrites and vultures

But there are also the hypocrites and vultures seeking to feed off the outpouring of emotion unleashed by Mandela’s death. At the top of the list of these scoundrels are, as one would expect, Israeli, US and British politicians. As Ami Kaufman says in +972 Magazine, “Israeli politicians have begun updating their Facebook pages with eulogies for the late Nelson Mandela,” and, he asks: “What do statesmen of the Jewish state – one of the last Western countries to support the South African apartheid state and which today practises apartheid-like policies between the [Jordan] river and the [Mediterranean] sea – have to say about the man who brought racism to its knees? (You can read what these despicable bigots have to say in Kaufman’s article here.)

Indeed, as Juan Cole points out,

The attempt to make Nelson Mandela respectable is an ongoing effort of Western government spokesmen and the Western media.

He wasn’t respectable in the business circles of 20th-century New York or Atlanta, or inside the Beltway of Washington, DC. He wasn’t respectable for many of the allies of the United States in the Cold War, including Britain and Israel.

Cole reminds us of the facts which the forked-tongued hypocrites in the US and among its Israeli and European allies would rather we forget:

The US considered the African National Congress to be a form of communism, and sided with the racist prime ministers Hendrik Verwoerd and P.W. Botha against Mandela.

Decades later, in the 1980s, the United States was still supporting the white apartheid government of South Africa, where a tiny minority of Afrikaners dominated the economy and refused to allow black Africans to shop in their shops or fraternize with them, though they were happy to employ them in the mines. Ronald Reagan declared Nelson Mandela, then still in jail, a terrorist, and the US did not get around to removing him from the list until 2008! Reagan, while delivering pro forma denunciations of apartheid or enforced black separation and subjugation, nevertheless opposed sanctions with teeth on Pretoria. Reagan let the racist authoritarian P.W. Botha come to Washington and met with him.

Likewise British PM Margaret Thatcher befriended Botha and castigated Mandela’s ANC [African National Congress] as terrorists. As if the Afrikaners weren’t terrorizing the black majority!…

The Israeli government had extremely warm relations with apartheid South Africa, to the point where Tel Aviv offered the Afrikaners a nuclear weapon(presumably for brandishing at the leftist states of black Africa). That the Israelis accuse Iran of being a nuclear proliferator is actually hilarious if you know the history. Iran doesn’t appear ever to have attempted to construct a nuclear weapon, whereas Israel has hundreds and seems entirely willing to share.

In the US, the vehemently anti-Palestinian Anti-Defamation League in San Francisco spied on American anti-apartheid activists on behalf of the apartheid state. If the ADL ever calls you a racist, you can revel in the irony.

Ronald Reagan imagined that there were “moderates” in the Botha government. There weren’t. He wanted “constructive engagement” with them. It failed.

Principles vs unscrupulousness

Mandela subscribed to a value system a world apart from that of the Western and Israeli vultures now seeking to make political capital by heaping praise on him,postmortem. He, as Cole says, “was a socialist who believed in the ideal of economic equality or at least of a decent life for everyone in society. He was also a believer in parliamentary government. So, he was a democratic socialist.” They, on the other hard, are out and out capitalists, the spokesmen and slaves of global corporations and, in the case of the Israelis quoted by Kaufman, racists, bigots, land thieves and squatters.

Mandela, to quote Cole,

is a pioneer to be emulated. We honour him by standing up for justice even in the face of enormous opposition from the rich and powerful, by taking risks for high ideals. We won’t meet his standards. But if all of us tried, we’d make the world better. As he did.

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| It’s time to bury not just Thatcher – but Thatcherism!

It’s time to bury not just Thatcher – but Thatcherism ~ The Guardian.

She didn’t save Britain or turn the economy round. We need to break with her failed model to escape its baleful consequences.

They have only themselves to blame. Protests were always likely at any official sendoff for the most socially destructive prime minister in modern British history. But by turning Margaret Thatcher’s funeral into a state-funded Tory jamboree, puffed up with pomp and bombast, David Cameron and his acolytes have made them a certainty – and fuelled a political backlash into the bargain.

As the bishop of Grantham, Thatcher’s home town, put it, spending £10m of public money to “glorify” her legacy in the month benefits are slashed and tax cuts handed to the rich is “asking for trouble”. What’s planned today isn’t a national commemoration, but a military-backed party spectacle.

It’s a state funeral in all but name, laid on for none of the last seven prime ministers. Nothing of the kind has been seen since the death of Winston Churchill, who really did unite the country for a time against the mortal threat from Nazi Germany. Thatcher did the opposite, of course, though every effort will be made today to milk her short but bloody colonial conflict in the south Atlantic for all its jingoistic worth.

It’s hardly a surprise that 60% of the population oppose the public subsidy, or that Buckingham Palace is alarmed at the funeral’s regal dimensions. Now the decision to silence Big Ben has tipped the whole saga into the realm of offensive absurdity.

There’s been much talk about a need for dignity and respect. But the prospect of the leader of a class war government being treated like a respected head of state is itself an insult to the half of Britain that recoils from her memory and the millions of people whose communities were devastated by her policies.

From the moment the former prime minister died there has been a determined drive by the Tories and their media allies to rewrite history and rehabilitate a deeply damaged brand. For a few days of fawning wall-to-wall coverage it seemed like that might be working, as happened in the US after Ronald Reagan’s death in 2004.

But a week on, it’s clear the revisionists have overplayed their hand. Anger and revulsion keep bursting into the open. Simply raising her record reminds people of the price paid for unrelenting deregulation, privatisation and tax handouts to the rich; why she was so unpopular across Britain when she was in power; and the striking similarity with what’s being done by today’s Tory-led coalition.

So there’s been no polling bounce for Cameron, even as he claimed that Thatcher “saved our country”. And while people recognise her strength, polls show clear opposition to many of her flagship policies, including privatisation (only a quarter think it’s delivered a better service). Most don’t believe she “put the ‘Great’ back into Great Britain” at all, her economic policies are seen to have done “more harm than good”, and her legacy is regarded as one of division and inequality.

Which is what the facts show. Far from saving Britain, Thatcher’s government delivered rampant inequality, social breakdown, disastrous financial deregulation, pulverising deindustrialisation and mass unemployment. A North Sea oil bonanza was frittered away on tax cuts for the wealthy and a swollen benefits bill as public services were run down, child poverty escalated and social mobility ground to a halt.

But for all that, her apologists insist, Thatcher did what was necessary to turn Britain’s economy round. But she didn’t. Growth during the 1980s, at 2.4%, was exactly the same as during the turbulent 1970s and lower again in the post-Thatcher 1990s, at 2.2% — while in the corporatist 1960s it averaged over 3%.

And despite claims of a Thatcher “productivity miracle”, productivity growth was also higher in the 60s (and it’s gone into reverse under Cameron). What her government did do was redistribute growth from the poor to the rich, driving up profits and slashing employees’ share of national income through her assault on trade unions. That’s why it felt like a boom in better-off Britain, as the top rate of tax was more than halved, while real incomes fell for the poorest 40% in her first decade in power.

You only have to rehearse what Thatcher’s government unleashed a generation ago to recognise the continuity with what’s been happening ever since: first under John Major, then under New Labour, and now under Cameron: privatisation, liberalisation, low taxes for the wealthy and rising inequality. Thatcher was Britain’s first woman prime minister, but her policies hit women hardest, just as Cameron’s are doing today, while Tony Blair says he saw his job as “to build on some of the things she had done rather than reverse them”.

But Thatcherism was only an early variant (following her friend GeneralPinochet, the Chilean dictator) of what became the neoliberal capitalism adopted or imposed across the world for the next generation. And it’s that model which imploded in the crash of 2008. As even the free-market Economist conceded last week, while demanding “more Thatcherism, not less”, her reforms could be said to have “sowed the seeds” of the current crisis.

Like other true believers, the magazine’s editors fret that the pendulum is now swinging away from the neoliberal model. So does Blair, who remains locked in the politics of the boom years and whose comfort zone remains attacking his own party. So he’s launched a coded assault on Labour’s leader, Ed Miliband, for supposedly thinking a crisis caused by under-regulated markets will lead to a shift to the left.

There’s certainly no automatic basis for such a shift. As history shows, the right can also take advantage of economic breakdowns – and often has. But more than 20 years after Thatcher was forced out of office, the evidence is that most British people remain stubbornly resistant to her individualistic small-state philosophy, believing for example that it’s the government’s job to redistribute income across the spectrum and guarantee a decent minimum income for all.

And crucially, the economic model that underpinned the policies of Thatcher and her successors is broken. As the Labour frontbencher Jon Trickett arguedthis week, we need a “rupture” with the “existing economic settlement” – the Thatcher settlement. That’s the challenge of the politics of our time, not only in Britain. As we remember blighted lives and communities today, it’s time not just to bury Thatcher, but Thatcherism itself.

Link to video: Margaret Thatcher’s coffin arrives at Westminster

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RIP Thatcher

| Top 5 Ryan Lies + Top 5 Ryan Dodges!

Top 5 Ryan Dodges.

During Thursday night’s vice presidential debate, there were plenty of allegations, lies and Joe Biden smiles. If anything defined the debate, however, it was Paul Ryan’s truly impressive ability to avoid answering questions specifically.

Whether he was changing the subject, filibustering or completely avoiding the stated question, Ryan found a way to not answer when an answer was demanded. Like dodgeball legend Patches O’Houlihan, Ryan truly knew the “five D’s” of dodging — and whether he was dodging, ducking, dipping, diving or dodging Paul Ryan performed masterfully on Thursday. Here are Ryan’s top five dodges of the night.

1. The Blame Game

BIDEN: And I love my friend here. I — I’m not allowed to show letters but go on our website, he sent me two letters saying, “By the way, can you send me some stimulus money for companies here in the state of Wisconsin?” We sent millions of dollars. You know…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: You did ask for stimulus money, correct?

BIDEN: Sure he did. By the way…

RYAN: On two occasions we — we — we advocated for constituents who were applying for grants. That’s what we do. We do that for all constituents who are…

(CROSSTALK) BIDEN: I love that. I love that. This was such a bad program and he writes me a letter saying — writes the Department of Energy a letter saying, “The reason we need this stimulus, it will create growth and jobs.” His words. And now he’s sitting here looking at me.

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Paul Ryan has been resolute in declaring the 2009 stimulus a miserable failure, which makes it rather inconvenient that Ryan asked the Obama administration to send stimulus money to his district in order to create jobs.

When this came to light back in August, Ryan lied, then blamed his staff. Of course, lying again might work, but Vice President Joe Biden was in a feisty mood, and probably would have called him out, so instead he went for a new approach. It was just constituent service, you see — Paul Ryan will ask for government money for anyone in his district who asks. So if you’re out of work, you might want to give Ryan’s office a call.

All right, Paul Ryan probably won’t secure you any stimulus money, but at least he managed to come up with an artful dodge. If he hadn’t, he might have been forced to admit that not all government spending is bad. Some — like stimulus spending during a near-depression — is downright good.

2. The Boogeyman Move

BIDEN: Look, folks, use your common sense. Who do you trust on this — a man who introduced a bill that would raise it 40 — $6,400 a year; knowing it and passing it, and Romney saying he’d sign it, or me and the president?

RYAN: That statistic was completely misleading. But more importantly…

BIDEN: That’s — there are the facts right…

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: This is what politicians do when they don’t have a record to run on: try to scare people from voting for you.

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This was a favorite tactic of Ryan’s. Whenever the heat got a bit too much for the lad from Janesville, he would accuse Biden and President Barack Obama of trying to scare people.

This is, of course, fertile territory for Ryan. The Obama-Biden campaign has been highlighting a number of Romney-Ryan plans, simply because they are incredibly scary. Voucherizing Medicare? War in Iran? Raising taxes on the middle class so the wealthy get a tax cut? That’s legitimately terrifying!

Ryan therefore is at a huge advantage. Any time Biden talked about what Ryan wanted to do, Ryan could turn around and proclaim that Biden was just trying to scare people. Of course, Ryan neglected to mention that Biden was scaring people by saying things that were true.

3. The Denial

RADDATZ: Well, let’s talk about this 20 percent [tax cut]. You have refused — and, again — to offer specifics on how you pay for that 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Do you actually have the specifics? Or are you still working on it, and that’s why you won’t tell voters?

RYAN: Different than this administration, we actually want to have big bipartisan agreements. You see, I understand the…

RADDATZ: Do you have the specifics? Do you have the…

(CROSSTALK) BIDEN: That would — that would be a first for the Republican Congress.

RADDATZ: Do you know exactly what you’re doing?

RYAN: Look — look at what Mitt Romney — look at what Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill did. They worked together out of a framework to lower tax rates and broaden the base, and they worked together to fix that.

What we’re saying is, here’s our framework. Lower tax rates 20 percent. We raised about $1.2 trillion through income taxes. We forego about $1.1 trillion in loopholes and deductions. And so what we’re saying is, deny those loopholes and deductions to higher-income taxpayers so that more of their income is taxed, which has a broader base of taxation…

——————————

This was a truly exceptional dodge, worthy of its own column. When the history of dodging debate questions is written, this moment will figure prominently in it.

Ryan is in a very bad spot. Mitt Romney has proposed a tax cut for everyone that is paid for by the elimination of deductions, which leaves everyone with the same taxes in the end, which is kind of impossible and begs the question of why Mitt’s bothering in the first place. (The answer is simple: he’s lying about the rich paying the same amount of taxes.)

If you start talking about the deductions, you realize quickly that in order to stay revenue-neutral, you have to eliminate a lot of deductions people like, such as mortgage deductions and student loan deductions and charitable giving deductions. This is, to say the least, politically untenable. So the Romney campaign has hit upon a strategy — never admit to anything.

Ryan took this up to eleven here. Pressed for specifics, Ryan flatly refused to give them, talking about a “framework” instead. I mean, sure, that makes sense — President Romney can just wander over to Congress, say, “Hey, cut taxes — but keep it revenue-neutral.” I’m sure Mitt won’t have any ideas beyond that.

4. The Pivot

RYAN: That’s why — those are the reasons why I’m pro-life. Now I understand this is a difficult issue, and I respect people who don’t agree with me on this, but the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortions with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. What troubles me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. Look at what they’re doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They’re infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals.

————————————-

Remember before when Paul Ryan said that politicians try to scare people when they don’t have a record to run on? Well, Paul Ryan has a long and detailed record on abortion…and he doesn’t particularly want to run on it. So he did what he had to do — he quickly pivoted off abortion and onto the birth control debate, because every American knows how much women hate getting birth control covered by insurance.

Ryan had an extra reason to dodge here. Not only is the GOP’s hardline anti-abortion and anti-contraception position anathema to women the Romney-Ryan campaign must win, but Mitt Romney’s willingness not to imprison women who seek an abortion after they’re raped is anathema to Paul Ryan, who has sought to ban abortion in all cases, and undoubtedly would if he became president. Ryan, you may recall, sponsored a bill that would have limited federal funding of abortion to cases of “forcible rape,” because evidently, if there’s no force involved, it’s not really rape.

Given the unpopular nature of Ryan’s abortion position, I guess it isn’t a surprise that he’d do anything to avoid answering the question completely.

5. Attaaaaaaaaaack!

RADDATZ: I’m — I’m going to move on to this closing question because we are running out of time.

Certainly (inaudible) and you’ve said it here tonight, that the two of you respect our troops enormously. Your son has served and perhaps someday your children will serve as well.

I recently spoke to a highly decorated soldier who said that this presidential campaign has left him dismayed. He told me, quote, “the ads are so negative and they are all tearing down each other rather than building up the country.”

What would you say to that American hero about this campaign? And at the end of the day, are you ever embarrassed by the tone?

[…]

RYAN: First of all, I’d thank him to his service to our country.

Second of all, I’d say we are not going to impose these devastating cuts on our military which compromises their mission and their safety.

And then I would say, you have a president who ran for president four years ago promising hope and change, who has now turned his campaign into attack, blame and defame.

You see, if you don’t have a good record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone to run from. That was what President Obama said in 2008. It’s what he’s doing right now.

Look at all the string of broken promises….

——————————-

This was perhaps Ryan’s most brilliant dodge of the night. He took a question — “Don’t you think negative campaigning is bad?” — and managed to answer by making a series of attacks on President Barack Obama.

It was masterful. Ryan regurgitated every talking point he could think of about how awful Barack Obama is, and how we have to get rid of him in November. He never stopped for a second even to acknowledge that sure, he could understand why negative campaigning rankles people.

But why would he? For all Ryan’s assertion that the Obama-Biden campaign is running a campaign of fear, Ryan himself is hamstrung. If the Romney-Ryan campaign actually had to be specific about what they wanted to do, they’d lose. Badly. Given the choices on the table, Ryan could not possibly even acknowledge that negative campaigning is off-putting. The Romney campaign can’t make a positive case for itself. Going negative is all they have — and it was all Ryan could do to avoid having to admit it.

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Top 5 Worst Lies Paul Ryan Told

 

GOP Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s speech at the RNC was an exercise in dishonesty. The speech by the Wisconsin congressman ran the full gamut, from lies of omission, to half-truths, to complete fabrications. Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter told MSNBC, simply, “He blatantly lied, and brazenly.” Even Fox News was forced to concede that Ryan’s speech was deceitful.

This isn’t a surprise — the Romney campaign has already announced that it does not care about facts. Still, the number of prevarications in Ryan’s speech were so breathtaking that the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein said Ryan is more deceitful than Sarah Palin.

Here’s a look at the worst lies uttered by Ryan while accepting the Republican nomination. This is not a comprehensive list — you don’t have all day. It is, however, a look at the biggest whoppers used by Ryan to introduce himself to America.

“It began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.”

It’s true that America’s credit rating was downgraded by one of the three major credit rating agencies during Obama’s term. While Moody’s and Fitch both rate America’s debt at “AAA,” or “outstanding,” Standard & Poor’s dropped the US rating to “AA+,” or “excellent,” in 2011.

However, Ryan is being dishonest when he lays the blame for the downgrade at President Barack Obama’s feet. After all, S&P said why they were downgrading U.S. debt, and they didn’t blame Obama. Instead, S&P blamed the “brinksmanship” of the 2011 debt ceiling crisis, in which House Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling without significant cuts to the budget. S&P also lamented a refusal to consider higher taxes, saying, “It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options.”

Who was leading the House charge against Obama? Well, the House leadership team, including their budget committee chair, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Ryan himself was instrumental in forcing the brinksmanship that led the U.S. to have its debt downgraded; Ryan was right about a downgraded America, but the culprit isn’t Barack Obama, but rather the guy Ryan sees in the mirror each morning.

 

“Yet by his own decisions, President Obama has added more debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined.  One president, one term, $5 trillion in new debt.”

“He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report.  He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.”

This is a two-fer. The first part is technically true — the debt has gone up significantly during the term of President Obama. Ryan failed to mention, however, that the increase in debt is primarily due to two policies — the Bush Tax Cuts and the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Simply, those were all policies Obama inherited — all policies started by President George W. Bush, and supported by the vote of Paul Ryan.

It’s the second part, though, where Ryan really outdoes himself. It’s true, Obama did appoint the Simpson-Bowles Commission, which was tasked with looking for ways to reduce the debt. Commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson did issue a report. That report was not endorsed by the full commission, however, which rejected the report.

Among the members of the commission who voted against the report? The chair of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan.

Yes, Paul Ryan was a member of the Simpson-Bowles commission, the “bipartisan debt commission” he references, as if they were a group he was vaguely familiar with. “‘They’ came back with an urgent report,” except “they” didn’t — the commission didn’t issue a report. And while Obama didn’t push the recommendations of the commission, Paul Ryan actively opposed them, voting against them, and preventing the report from being officially adopted.

So while Barack Obama may have decided to pass on the recommendations of some members of a commission, Paul Ryan, a member of that commission, opposed those recommendations. And yet Ryan tells America that we should be outraged at Obama for not adopting the proposals Ryan himself opposed. Truly, the man has a dizzying intellect.

“A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: ‘I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.’  That’s what he said in 2008.”

“Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year.  It is locked up and empty to this day.  And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.”

Of all the brazen lies told by Paul Ryan during his Wednesday speech, this is the most blatant. Oh, yes, there was a GM plant in Jansesville, Wis., that shut down. Barack Obama did say he wanted the plant to be around for a hundred years. Obama never got a chance to do anything to support that, though, because the plant shut down before Obama was president, in December of 2008.

It’s not as if Ryan was unaware of the timing. Ryan himself protested the plant closure, writing a letter to General Motors in June of 2008. Obama did bail out GM, and while the Janesville plant didn’t reopen, the bailout did help GM reopen a plant in Spring Hill, Tenn.

This is a pure lie. There’s no hedging, no debate — the plant shut down during the Bush Administration, as did others. Blaming Obama for closing it is like blaming Obama for failing to respond during Hurricane Katrina — he wasn’t president then. Unless Paul Ryan thinks Obama owns a time machine, the charge is a flat-out lie. It is not, however, the worst lie Ryan told.

 

“We have responsibilities, one to another.  We do not each face the world alone.  And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak. The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.”

That’s not a lie, of course — it’s one of the most fundamental of all truths. But while it is unquestionably true that we must help each other out, it is also unquestionably true that Paul Ryan does not believe this.

Ryan’s budget was condemned by the Catholic Bishops, who said Ryan’s willingness to slash aid to the poor fails a “basic moral test.” Far from demonstrating a fealty to the tradition of protecting the weak, Ryan instead would throw the poor, the sick and the elderly out onto the street, and demand that they stop mooching off of the producers.

Indeed, Ryan’s budget completely ignores the needs of the weak, and plans to trample on those who cannot defend themselves. Its heritage stems directly from Ryan’s greatest influence, Ayn Rand, whose political philosophy elevated selfishness to the highest ideal. Indeed, in “Atlas Shrugged,” which Ryan once made his new staffers read, Rand writes, “I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

Now, Ryan has renounced Rand, saying he was unaware that she was an atheist — but as we’ve seen, Ryan has no problem with lying. And certainly, this is a far more accurate summation of Ryan’s worldview — that we are not called to protect our fellow citizens, but rather that if you’ve got yours, to heck with anyone else.

So while Ryan told a lot of lies about Barack Obama on Wednesday, this is the worst lie he told — because Ryan knows full well that his real beliefs are anathema to the beliefs of Americans. Ryan knows that we do believe in helping the downtrodden, and caring for the meek. He also knows that if he admitted that he has no problem throwing the poor to the wolves, Americans would turn on him and on Mitt Romney. So he lies — because he dare not tell the truth.

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| Simple Truth: A Culture of Delusion!

A Culture of Delusion ~ Paul Craig Roberts.

A writer’s greatest disappointments are readers who have knee-jerk responses. Not all readers, of course. Some readers are thoughtful and supportive. Others express thanks for opening their eyes. But the majority are happy when a writer tells them what they want to hear and are unhappy when he writes what they don’t want to hear.


For the left-wing, Ronald Reagan is the great bogeyman. Those on the left don’t understand supply-side economics as a macroeconomic innovation that cured stagflation by utilizing the impact of fiscal policy on aggregate supply. Instead, they see “trickle-down economics” and tax cuts for the rich. Leftists don’t understand that the Reagan administration intervened in Grenada and Nicaragua in order to signal to the Soviets that there would be no more Soviet expansion or client states and that it was time to negotiate the end of the cold war. Instead, leftists see in Reagan the origin of rule by the one percent and the neoconservatives’ wars for US hegemony.

In 1981 curtailing inflation meant collapsing nominal GNP and tax revenues. The result would be budget deficits–anathema to Republicans– during the period of readjustment. Ending the cold war meant curtailing the military/security complex and raised the specter in conservative circles of “the anti-Christ” Gorbachev deceiving Reagan and taking over the world.

In pursuing his two main goals, Reagan was up against his own constituency and relied on rhetoric to keep his constituency on board with his agenda. The left wing heard the rhetoric but failed to comprehend the agenda.

When I explain these facts, easily and abundantly documented, some of leftish persuasion send in condescending and insulting emails telling me that they look forward to the day that I stop lying about Reagan and tell the truth about Reagan like I do about everything else.

“Knee-jerk liberal” is a favorite term of conservatives. But conservatives can be just as knee-jerk. When I object to Washington’s wars, the mistreatment of detainees and the suspension of civil liberties, some on the right tell me that if I hate America so much I should move to Cuba. Many Republicans cannot get their minds around the fact that if civil liberties are subject to the government’s arbitrary discretion, then civil liberties do not exist. The flag-waving element of the population is prone to confuse loyalty to the country with loyalty to the government, unless, of course, there’s a Democrat in the White House.

Rationally, it makes no sense for readers to think that a writer who would lie to them about one thing would tell them the truth about another. But as long as they hear what they want to hear, it is the truth. If they don’t want to hear it, it is a lie.

Both left and right also confuse explanations with justifications.

When a writer writes about the perils that we as a society face and the implications, it is very discouraging for the writer to know that many readers will not listen unless it is what they want to hear. This discouragement is precisely what every truth-teller faces, which is why there are so few of them.

This is one reason I stopped writing a couple of years ago. I found that solid facts and sound analysis could not penetrate brainwashed and closed minds seeking vindication to keep the mind locked tightly against unsettling truths. Americans want to have their beliefs vindicated more than they want the truth. The success of print and TV pundits is based on allying with a prominent point of view or interest group and serving it. Those served make the writer or talking head successful. I never thought much of that kind of success.

But success as a whore is about the only kind of success that can occur in Washington or in the media these days. Those who refuse to prostitute themselves arouse pity and denunciation, not admiration. A couple of years ago an acquaintance from a university in the northeast called me to say he had recently had lunch with some of my former associates in Washington. When he inquired about me, he said the response was, “Poor Craig, if he hadn’t turned critic, he would be worth tens of millions of dollars like us.”

I replied that my former associates were undoubtedly correct. My acquaintance said that he hadn’t realized that he was having lunch with a bunch of prostitutes.

The incentive to speak the truth and the reward for doing so are very weak. And not just for a writer, but also for academics and experts who can make far more money by lying than by telling the truth. How else would we have got GMOs, jobs offshoring, the “unitary executive,” and a deregulated financial system? It is a very lucrative career to testify as an expert in civil lawsuits. It is part of America’s romance with the lie that experts purchased by the opposing sides in a lawsuit battle it out as gladiators seeking the jury’s thumbs-up.

And look at Congress. The two members of the House who stood up for the Constitution and truth in government will soon be gone. Ron Paul is stepping down, and Dennis Kucinich was redistricted out of his seat. As for the Senate, these thoughtful personages recently voted 90-1 to declare war on Iran, as the sole dissenter, Rand Paul, pointed out. The Senate is very much aware, although only a few will publicly admit it, that the US has been totally frustrated and held to a standoff, if not a defeat, in Afghanistan and is unable to subdue the Taliban. Despite this, the Senate wants a war with Iran, a war which could easily turn out to be even less successful. Obviously, the Senate not only lies to the public but also to itself.

Last week the Pentagon chief, Panetta, told China that the new US naval, air, and troop bases surrounding China are not directed at China. What else could be the purpose of the new bases? Washington is so accustomed to lying and to being believed that Panetta actually thinks China will believe his completely transparent lie. Panetta has confused China with the American people: tell them what they want to hear, and they will believe it.

Americans live in a matrix of lies. They seldom encounter a truthful statement.There is no evidence that Americans can any longer tell the difference between the truth and a lie. Americans fell for all of these lies and more: Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda connections. Saddam Hussein’s troops seized Kuwaiti babies from incubators and threw them on the floor. Gaddafi fed his troops Viagra to help them rape Libyan women. Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Change–yes we can! The US is “the indispensable country.” America is broke because of food stamps and Social Security, not because of wars, bankster bailouts, and a failing economy. Russia is America’s number one enemy. China is America’s number one enemy. Iran is a terrorist state. Jobs offshoring is free trade and good for the US economy. Israel is America’s most loyal ally. The US missile shield surrounding Russia is not directed at Russia. The South China sea is an area of US national interest. Financial markets are self-regulating.

The list is endless. Lies dominate every policy discussion, every political decision. The most successful people in America are liars.

The endless lies have created a culture of delusion. And this is why America is lost. The beliefs of many Americans, perhaps a majority, are comprised of lies. These beliefs have become emotional crutches, and Americans will fight to defend the lies that they believe. The inability of Americans to accept facts that are contrary to their beliefs is the reason the country is leaderless and will remain so. Unless scales fall from Americans’ eyes, Americans are doomed.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following.

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| Unabating hubris: USA to continue its wars as long as dollar remains reserve currency!

USA to continue its wars as long as dollar remains reserve currency ~ Paul Craig Roberts.


Pravda.Ru interviewed Paul Craig Roberts, an American economist, who served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and became a co-founder of Reaganomics – the economic policies promoted by the U.S. President Ronald Reagan during the 1980s. We asked Mr. Roberts to share his views about the current state of affairs inside and outside the United States. 

Pravda.Ru: Mr. Roberts, you are known in Russia as the creator of Reaganomics, which helped the country overcome stagflation. What were the key aspects of that policy and how would you estimate its results today? Do you think your faith in free market has shattered?

Paul Craig Roberts: Free market means the freedom of price to adjust to supply and demand. It does not mean the absence of regulation of human behavior. 

Reaganomics was a political word for supply-side economics, a new development in economic theory. In the post World War 2 western world, governments used Keynesian demand management economic policy to control inflation and to boost employment. John Maynard Keynes was the British economist who explained the Great Depression in the West as a consequence of insufficient aggregate demand to maintain full employment and stable prices.

Keynesian demand management relied on government budget deficits and easy monetary policy (money creation) to stimulate demand for goods and services.  To control inflation from too much demand for goods and services, high tax rates were used to reduce disposable income. 

The problem that developed is that the high tax rates on income made leisure inexpensive in terms of lost current earnings from not working, and made current consumption inexpensive in terms of lost future income from not saving and investing.  In other words, high tax rates on income made leisure and current consumption cheap in terms of foregone present and future income. Thus, high tax rates on income depressed the supply of labor and capital.

Using the UK’s 98% tax rate on investment income (pre-Thatcher), the Nobel economist Milton Friedman illustrated the problem with this example. You are an Englishman with $100,000. Shall you invest it for future income, or shall you purchase a Rolls Royce and enjoy life?  The true price of the Rolls Royce (or Bentley, or Ferrari or Maserati) is not the purchase price.  The price of the exotic car is the foregone future income from not investing the $100,000. 

Suppose you could earn 10% on the $100,000.  That would be $10,000 per year as the cost of purchasing the luxury car. But after tax (98%) the car would only cost $200 per year, a very cheap price.

The same example works for labor and salary income. Because of the high marginal tax rates, many professionals such as medical doctors closed their practices on Fridays and went to the golf course.

By changing the policy mix, that is by tightening monetary policy and reducing marginal tax rates (the tax rate on increases in income), the supply-side economic policy of the Reagan administration caused aggregate supply to increase. Thus output expanded relative to demand, and inflation declined.

This supply-side policy was instrumental as Reagan’s first step toward ending the cold war with the Soviet Union. As long as the US economy was afflicted with stagflation–the simultaneous rise in both inflation and unemployment, the Soviet government saw capitalism failing along with communism. But when Reagan corrected the economic problem, it made the Soviet government unsure that it could withstand an arms race.

Reagan’s next step was to bring the Soviet government to the negotiating table to end the cold war. The cold war was an economic drain on both societies and always had the risk of a miscalculation that would result in nuclear war, wiping out life on earth. Gorbachev, an intelligent person aware of the risk, came to agreement with Reagan.

This was a great accomplishment for the Americans and for the Russians.  Friendship and cooperation was now possible. 

But it was not to last. Reagan’s successors took advantage of the good will between the countries that Reagan and Gorbachev had created to achieve American hegemony over the world. 

Q: During the 80s, relying on the revived economic power of the United States, Ronald Reagan managed to convince the Soviet government to end the Cold War. All those agreements, as you believe, were destroyed by Reagan’s successors. Russia shares a completely different opinion about Reagan. The Russians think of him as the man, who resumed the arms race, designed the space shield and “cut out the cancer of communism” having won (or maybe bribed) Gorbachev over to his side for cooperation. Maybe one shouldn’t strike him out of the list of the authors of today’s American “idiotism?”

A: Reagan was not a member of the Republican Establishment. He defeated the Establishment’s candidate, George H. W. Bush (father of George W. Bush) for the Republican presidential nomination.  By appealing to Democratic as well as Republican voters, Reagan had a great electoral victory. Reagan had two goals: one was to end stagflation, the other was to end the cold war. Hewas not much interested in anything else. The “arms race” and the “anti-ballistic missile defense–star wars” were never real. They were threats used to bring Gorbachev to negotiate the end of the cold war. Unlike the present Republican Party, Reagan wanted peace, not war.

I know this because when I succeeded in establishing the new economic policy that cured stagflation, President Reagan appointed me to a super-secret presidential committee that had subpoena power over the CIA. 

The CIA opposed Reagan’s effort to end the cold war, as did the powerful military-security complex, about which President Dwight Eisenhower warned the American people in his last address to the American nation. The end of the cold war threatened the profits of the powerful military industries and the power of the CIA.

The CIA said that the Soviet Union would win an arms race, because the Soviet Union could control investment, unlike the US, and could allocate the entire Gross Domestic Product of the Soviet Empire to the military. Reagan’s secret committee over-ruled the CIA.

I had been a member of the US-USSR student exchange program to the Soviet Union in 1961 and had observed the situation. My first book (1971) said that the Soviet economy had failed.  When decades later I addressed the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow in 1989 and 1990, members of the Economic Institute brought me copies of my book to be autographed. And I had thought that censorship existed in the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union collapsed three years after Reagan left office. It came as a surprise to those of us who had helped Reagan to end the cold war and dispose of the nuclear war threat.

Myself and many other Reagan supporters opposed the extension of NATO to Russia’s reduced borders. What the world seems to be unaware of is that the Soviet collapse unleashed a new, highly dangerous ideology in the US known as neoconservatism.

Q: You wrote that the insane and criminal government in Washington, no matter Democratic of Republicans, no matter the outcome of the next elections, is the biggest threat to life on Earth ever. How would you describe this threat, what is it made of and who represents it in the US?

A: The threat is the neoconservative ideology, unleashed by the Soviet collapse. It is a form of Marxism in which American “democratic capitalism” instead of the proletariat has won history’s verdict–“the end of history.”  Americans are the “indispensable people,” and the US is the “indispensable nation” with the right and responsibility to establish its hegemony over the world.  Adolf Hitler called the same thing “Aryan Superiority.” Now Washington asserts the superiority. The neoconservative ideology threatens the world with nuclear war.

Q: What would you say about the Russian law, according to which political parties funded from abroad should be registered as foreign agents?

A:  The US has laws that require foreign interests to register as foreign agents. This law does not always apply to all Israeli lobby groups, such as AIPAC.

There are no political parties in the US that are funded by foreign interests. No such thing would be permitted. It would be regarded as high treason.  What is surprising is that the Russian government permitted for 20 years its political opposition to be funded by Washington and still permits that today as long as the opposition registers as an American agent. The ability of Washington to fund the Russian government’s political opposition and also protest groups, perhaps including Pussy Riot, allows Washington free access to destabilize Russia.

Q: What role do so-called non-governmental organizations play in the US? The National Endowment for Democracy, for example?

A: NGOs play no role inside the US.  NGOs are Washington’s means of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, such as funding and organizing “color revolutions” in Georgia and Ukraine. The National Endowment for Democracy is a principle funder of political opposition and protest groups in countries with governments to which Washington is opposed. Despite its original purpose, the National Endowment for Democracy has been converted into an agent for US hegemony.

Q: You wrote a lot about the fate of Pussy Riot. As you said, “they were brutally deceived and used by the Washington-financed NGOs that have infiltrated Russia.” What is the goal of such stunts?

A: It might be the case that Pussy Riot’s assaults on Russian probity are independent protests. On the other hand, the offending stunts could be provoked and funded by NGOs that are funded from Washington. Regardless, it is the result that is important. The result is that the controversy over Pussy Riot has shifted criticism from Washington’s destruction of Syria to Putin, “the suppressor of free speech.”  It is folly for Russians to ally with Washington’s propaganda against their own government. If this folly continues, Russia will end up as another American puppet state.

Q: If an act like that of Pussy Riot took place in America, in a location of national significance, how would the general public and the government react? What do common people say about the Pussy Riot scandal in Russia?

A: Ordinary Americans know nothing about Pussy Riot. Despite the propaganda from Washington, most Americans have never heard of the incident. The importance of Washington’s propaganda about Pussy Riot is to send the signal to Washington’s European puppet states that Russia is to be demonized for opposing Washington’s destruction of Syria and Iran. It was the Russian and Chinese governments that blocked Washington’s UN resolution that would have allowed an opening for NATO to bomb Syria as it did Libya. Instead of being praised for its concern with life, human rights, and international law, Russia has been damned.

The consequence in the US of an act like those performed by Pussy Riot would vary depending on state and local laws. Also, depending on where the act takes place–a Jewish synagog for instance–the US Department of Justice could declare the act a hate crime or a form of discrimination against a “preferred minority” and bring a federal case.

Q: You wrote that the US government was full of determination to have the war on three fronts: Syria, Lebanon and Iran – in the Middle East, China – in the Far East and Russia – in Europe. Does the country have financial possibilities for that?

A: The US is bankrupt. However, the US dollar remains the world reserve currency. This means that the US can print money to pay its bills. As long as the world accepts the dollar as world reserve currency, the US will be able to continue its wars.

Q: Being in the insular situation, the USA experiments on other countries hoping that war will never come to the US territory. The US spends a lot more on defense of its forward-based forces in Europe and in the Middle East than it does on defense of its own borders. Maybe Russia should be more active and put the threat closer to the US borders by deploying a sea-based missile defense system near the shores of a friendly Latin American country?

A: Like President Reagan, I am in favor of peace.  I believe that Americans, Russians, Chinese, Iranians, and everyone else should spend their resources in getting along with one another, not in trying to dominate one another. I believe that Washington is forcing Russia and China to spend resources on military preparedness that the countries could better use in economic development and in protecting the environment. It is my belief that Washington’s drive for world hegemony is driving the world toward nuclear war. I have no way of knowing how the Russian and Chinese governments might respond to Washington’s drive for hegemony.

Q: What stops Russia and China from uniting to oppose the USA?

A: This question is outside my knowledge. Perhaps suspicion of one another, like the suspicion between Sunni and Shia that allows the US to dominate the Middle East.

Q: You said that the US is a police state, which was set up in the name of mystification of the “war on terror.” Can you give a clear explanation as to what the American Big Brother is doing?

A: The Bush/Cheney regime rammed through the PATRIOT Act, which assaulted the US Constitution and took away US civil liberties. The Bush regime established that the president did not have to obey either statutory US law, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which requires a court warrant for spying on US citizens. President Bush violated the law, a felony, and was not held accountable.

Bush asserted and established by assertion, the power to negate Constitutional protections, such as habeas corpus, and confined US citizens to indefinite detainment (life in prison) without any evidence or court proceedings. Nothing was done about this violation of constitutional order. President Obama has declared that he has the power to execute US citizens on suspicion alone without evidence or due process of law. These are the most extreme police state measures of modern times.

The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it has shifted its focus from Muslim terrorism to “domestic extremists,” an undefined term. Recently the Department of Homeland Security has purchased more than one billion rounds of deadly ammunition, such as hollow point bullets, enough to shoot the entire US population several times. There are also reports that detainment camps have been constructed, allegedly for such events as hurricane evacuation. Congress and the media are not asking questions about these developments.

Q:  President Barack Obama said that one of the principles to resume peace talks between Israel and Palestine was about the retrieval of 1967 borders. How could the Jewish lobby let him say that?

A: President Obama has been declared by Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and the Israel Lobby to be a lackluster friend of Israel, because Obama has not yet launched a military attack on Iran. Obama, perhaps believing himself to be the president of the world’s only superpower, and not a puppet of the Israeli prime minister, has taken offense at the public bullying to which he has been subjected by the far right-wing Israeli government. Obama’s statement referring to the 1967 borders was Obama’s way of letting the Israeli government know that it was going too far and pushing too hard.

Q: You see the basic problems of the US economy in moving production to China. If you were invited to serve as an advisor to the president, what would be your plan for taking America out of the crisis?

A: I will never again be permitted to serve as an advisor to the president of the US. Since the Clinton presidency, the only permitted advisors are those who lie for the government.  I will not do that. 

I an unsure that America can be taken out of economic crisis. Much of the most productive part of the US economy has been moved offshore in order to increase corporate profits, the performance-based bonuses for executive compensation and capital gains to equity owners. The US has lost critical supply chains, industrial infrastructure, and the knowledge of skilled workers. 

Theoretically, the US could bring its corporations back to America by taxing their profits according to the geographical location in which value is added to their product. If value is added abroad, in China or India, for example, the tax rate would be high. If value was added domestically in the US, the tax rate would be low. 

The US could also resort to the protective tariffs that were responsible for its rise as an economic power.

These changes would be difficult to enact as the changes are contrary to the material interests of the one percent. 

The US today is ruled by an oligarchy of private interests. The US government is not very independent of the powerful interest groups that fund political campaigns. The US ceased being a democracy during the Clinton administration.

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Identifying the illness is the first step to curing it, which means root and branch REFORM of the American political system. 

This must include ALL lobby groups BAR NONE with transparency and NO undue influence OR conflicts of interest with the electorate or Constitution.

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