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Posted by robertpaulsen in General Discussion
Tue Aug 23rd 2011, 06:35 PM
As he writes on his homepage:

The Empire Struck Back

It was 40 years ago today on August 23, 1971, that corporate lawyer
(and soon Supreme Court Justice) Louis Powell gave the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce a blueprint to fight back against
the New Deal and the rising middle class

Who You Gonna Call?

One of the first people with whom Powell discussed his memo was
Ross L. Malone, general counsel of GM

Honesty by Accident (PDF)

Because of an apparent typo, the title of Powell's memo was
"Attack of American Free Enterprise System"

'My Class, right or wrong – the Powell Memorandum’s 40th Anniversary'

" issued a clarion call for corporations to mobilize their economic power
to further their economic interests by ensuring that corporations dominated
every influential and powerful American institution. Lewis Powell’s call was
answered by the CEOs who funded the creation of Cato, Heritage, and
hundreds of other movement centers." – Bill Black

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Posted by robertpaulsen in General Discussion
Fri Aug 19th 2011, 04:06 PM
The last time a President stood up against Corporatism was President Kennedy during the Steel Crisis of 1962. Here's how it all went down:

The Steel Crisis of 1962

The "steel crisis" emerged when, just 4 days after ten of eleven major steel producers had signed a new contract with their workers, U.S. Steel, the largest of them with about 25% of the market, announced an across-the-board 3.5% increase in prices. The Kennedy administration had just hailed the pact as "non-inflationary," and indeed Labor Secretary Arthur Goldberg had been personally involved in the months-long negotiations and had used his prestige with labor to secure their agreement to no wage increases and only modest increases in fringe benefits.

Though the Kennedy administration had never directly asked the steel industry to hold prices, regarding that as improper, Kennedy and his advisors clearly felt there was a tacit agreement, and that they had been double-crossed. Coming right on the heels of the signed labor contract, the announcement seemed to be a deliberate attempt to tell the Democratic President that he didn't tell American business what to do. The stakes were higher than a simple personal affront; the importance of steel in the economy meant the high likelihood that the price increase would trigger further price jumps across many sectors, and kick off a new round of inflation. Kennedy was furious, telling advisors:

"My father always told me that all businessmen were sons of bitches, but I never believed it until now." <6>

The Steel Crisis
, written by Roy Hoopes in 1963 before Kennedy's assassination, offers more than a day-by-day account of the three days in which JFK stared down Big Steel. For modern readers, it is also a reminder of how different America has become since 1962. The importance of labor unions in the American economy and political system is taken for granted, something that might puzzle a younger reader of the book. The president speaks openly of ours being a "mixed economy," a term that has gone out of favor as the free market ideology has crowded out all others. Perhaps most anachronistic are Kennedy's repeated references to the "public interest" as a factor to be weighed in the major economic decisions of the day.

Of course, the business sector didn't like such talk any more in the 1960s than it does today. In the aftermath of the crisis, U.S. News stated that "A planned economy, directed from Washington, is what Mr. Kennedy now has in mind." One steel company executive complained "This is a sustained attack on the free enterprise system. It may be all all-out war." <7>

Kennedy Actions During the Steel Crisis

What exactly did this "attack" consist of, then? The actions taken in response to U.S. Steel's price increase, which had been followed within 48 hours by identical price increases by most of the other steel companies, boiled down to these:

1. The Defense Dept. announced plans to review steel contracts and switch to lower-cost suppliers - significantly, not all steel producers had immediately joined the price increase. Within a couple of days, Secretary McNamara placed a steel order for 3 submarines with Lukens Steel, one of the holdouts; this contract would normally have been split among suppliers including U.S. Steel. <8>

2. The Justice Dept. initiated an investigation as to whether the near-simultaneous price increases were the result of monopoly and thus subject to anti-trust laws. Given the almost lockstep manner in which steel companies adjusted prices in 1962 and earlier, a naive observer could be forgiven for assuming that there was at least de facto price-fixing. Attorney General Robert Kennedy in a statement explicitly included the question of whether U.S. Steel "so dominates the industry that it controls prices and should be broken up." <9>

3. The President went on the air to tell the press and the public why he thought the steel companies' actions were not in the public interest.

Additionally, Kennedy administration officials went on a phone-calling spree, in particularly contacting board members of those steel companies who had not yet raised prices. While they didn't specifically demand or ask for any pricing policies, they made the administration's preferences quite clear.

In an episode that inflamed many commentators, FBI agents roused sleeping journalists in the middle of the night, investigating reports that one of U.S. Steel's competitors had said he saw no reason to raise prices, only to turn around and follow U.S. Steel's lead.

These tactics were met with alarm by many business commentators. Kennedy's relationship with big business had been lukewarm from the start, and some saw this as JFK's "true colors" coming out. For his part, Kennedy felt he had been bending over backwards to achieve a sensible economic policy, one which included tax cuts and other policies favored by business.

Big Steel Caves

The court of public opinion, for its part, sided with Kennedy. This included much of the press as well. In part this was because of the ham-handed timing of U.S. Steel's announcement on the heels of the labor contract - the Christian Science Monitor's editorial said that the action "can scarcely be described as anything less dramatic than a throwing down of the gauntlet.....Big Steel has chosen to deliberately antagonize the President." <10>

U.S. Steel's president, Robert Blough, stumbled though a press conference called to respond to Kennedy's outraged press remarks, and hardly rallied opinion to his side. Even steel producers who quickly joined U.S. Steel in raising prices seemed taken aback by the timing.

In typical Kennedy style, the public statements and actions were accompanied by private negotiations. After Labor Secretary Goldberg failed to make headway, JFK selected Clark Clifford to meet personally with Blough. Clifford at one point reminded Blough that "John F. Kennedy might well be in office for several years and that it would be extremely difficult doing business in Washington after such a violent breach with the President." <11> Indeed, some insiders expected Blough to resign as part of any settlement of the crisis.

To the surprise of Kennedy himself, Big Steel caved on April 13, three days after announcing the price increases. In large part this was due to the actions of a few steel producers, most particularly Inland Steel, who publicly decided not to follow along with their own price increases. This was followed by Bethlehem Steel's announcing plans to rescind the price increases they had just announced. That was the last straw. Within hours, U.S. Steel issued a brief statement rescinding its own increase, and gave the following reason: "The price decision was made in the light of the competitive developments today, and all other current circumstances including the removal of a serious obstacle to proper relations between government and business." <12>

It is perhaps one of the great ironies of the crisis that U.S. Steel and its allies, who so vocally denounced government interference in the unfettered workings of the free market, could not sustain the price increase unless all steel producers marched in lockstep.


It would be nice to look at these historical events and think, "...and they all lived happily ever after". But that's not the world we live in. In his brilliant book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, James W. Douglass writes about the Corporatist public response after the Steel Crisis:

The depth of corporate hostility toward Kennedy after the steel crisis can be seen by an unsigned editorial in Fortune, media czar Henry Luce's magazine for the most fortunate. The editors of Fortune knew the decision to raise steel prices had been made by the executive committee of U.S. Steel's board of directors. It included top-level officers from other huge financial institutions, such as the Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, the First National City Bank of New York, the Prudential Insurance Company, the Ford Foundation, and AT&T. When Roger Blough had U.S. Steel's provocative press release to the president, he did so on behalf of not only U.S. Steel but also these other financial giants in the United States. The Fortune editorial therefore posed an intriguing question: Why did the financial interests behind U.S. Steel announce the price increase in such a way as to deliberately "provoke the President of the U.S. into a vitriolic and demagogic assault?"

With the authority of an insider's knowledge that it denied having, Fortune answered its own question: "There is a theory - unsupported by any direct evidence - that Blough was acting as a 'business statesman' rather than as a businessman judging his market". According to "this theory," Kennedy's prior appeal to steel executives not to raise prices, leading to the contract settlement between the company and the union, had "poised over the industry a threat of 'jawbone control' of prices. For the sake of his company, the industry, and the nation, Blough sought a way to break through the bland 'harmony' that has recently prevailed between government and business."

In plainer language, the president was acting too much like a president, instead of another officeholder beholden to the powers that be. U.S. Steel on behalf of still higher financial interests therefor taunted Kennedy so as to present him with a dilemma: he either had to accept the price hike and lose credibility, or react as he did with power to roll back the increase and thereby unite the business world against him. His unswerving activist response then served to confirm the worst fears of corporate America:

"That the threat of 'jawbone control' was no mere bugaboo was borne out by the tone of President Kennedy's reaction and the threats of general business harassment by government that followed the 'affront.'"

Thus the steel crisis, in Fortune's view, threatened to propel an activist, anti-business president toward a fate like that of Julius Caesar. As Shakespeare had it, Caesar was warned of his coming assassination by a soothsayer: "Beware the ides of March". Fortune gave Kennedy a deadly warning of its own by the title of its editorial: "Steel: The Ides of April".

Like I said, one person can't stand up to Corporatism alone.

The people united will never be defeated!
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Posted by robertpaulsen in Editorials & Other Articles
Tue Aug 16th 2011, 05:36 PM
The Liberals’ Tea Party

By Michelle Goldberg | The Daily Beast – Mon, Aug 15, 2011

Van Jones is sitting in an office in Washington, D.C., talking about John McCain when, quite unexpectedly, he starts crying.

He’d been discussing the shock of some in the Obama administration at the furious right-wing backlash that greeted their arrival in Washington, a backlash that hit Jones particularly hard. “We thought John McCain was the representative of the Republican Party,” he says. “John McCain, who we didn’t like and didn’t agree with, but who, at the end of the day, put country first.”

Jones recalled an angry McCain town hall in Minneapolis where attendees voiced their mounting contempt for Obama. At one point, an older women had declared that Obama was an untrustworthy “Arab.” Shaking his head, McCain took the microphone from her and replied, “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man.” That moment moved Jones. “He stood up, two weeks before the election,” he says. “Down in the polls. Needing his base. That’s a big deal.” His voice cracks as he continues. “And it was the people in the audience that disrespect this country. And they’ve taken over this party. And they’re trying to take over America.” He bangs on the table. “And we can’t let them!”

Tears start running down his face and his voice catches in a sob. It could be an act for dramatic emphasis, but it sure doesn’t seem like it. “I’m telling you, this country is better than this,” he says. “This is the low point. Hang on. Help is on the way.”

By “help,” Jones means his new American Dream Movement, which he envisions as a left-wing alternative to the Tea Party. Launched at a July 23 event in New York City that was part rally, party dance party, the American Dream Movement aims to restore the fight for economic justice to the center of progressive politics. On Aug. 9, the movement put out its crowd-sourced “Contract for the American Dream,” a 10-point economic manifesto that called for new investments in education and infrastructure; higher taxes for corporations, Wall Street and the wealthy; and curbs on lobbyists. The next day, it was published as a full-page ad in The New York Times. Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois will soon introduce the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act, legislation based on the document.

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Posted by robertpaulsen in Editorials & Other Articles
Wed Aug 10th 2011, 05:37 PM
Michele Bachmann Was Inspired By My Dad and His Christian Reconstructionist Friends -- Here's Why That's Terrifying

By Frank Schaeffer

Bachmann's radical right-wing influences include the most extremist figures in the history of the religious right.

August 9, 2011

As presidential candidate Michele Bachmann chews up scenery in the GOP primaries, the mainstream media is finally digging into her extremist beliefs in a serious way. In a profile published earlier this week, the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza talked about Bachmann's radical right-wing influences, which include the most extremist figures in the history of the religious right movement.

One of these was my evangelical leader father, Francis Schaeffer. Bachmann says in the New Yorker article that she got into politics because she watched a film series I directed called “How Should We Then Live,” written by and featuring my dad.

What the New Yorker article doesn’t do is explain why people like Bachmann, Sarah Palin, et al. turned to the hard reactionary anti-government right. I explain this in my book Sex, Mom and God. I think it’s important to understand this. So let me add what the New Yorker left out.

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Posted by robertpaulsen in Religion/Theology
Fri May 13th 2011, 05:11 PM
Art of Dying

There'll come a time when all of us must leave here
Then nothing sister Mary can do
Will keep me here with you
As nothing in this life that I've been trying
Could equal or surpass the art of dying
Do you believe me?

-George Harrison "Art of Dying"

Sometimes blogging must take a back seat to real life. That's what happened this April. My father passed away a month ago, on April 12. He fought a valiant three year battle against colon cancer, but recently it spread to his liver. As horrific and tragic as the grieving process has been, I do take comfort in the fact that my three sisters and I got to say goodbye to him. We were able to take him home from the hospital so that, in accordance with his wishes, he was able to spend his last days in the home that he loved surrounded by all his children and his beloved Abyssinian cat, Sophinka.

In the past eight years, Dad and I built a deep friendship together. While we didn't seem to agree over anything politically (I described him to friends as "My Right-Wing Dad"), we bonded over a shared love of many other interests. Both of us loved the Los Angeles Lakers, and I will always treasure the memory of sharing with him the earth-shattering thrill of watching Derek Fisher's buzzer-beating playoff shot against the Spurs with 0.4 seconds on the clock, as well as the final game we watched together, Game 7 beating the Celtics for the NBA Championship in 2010. With his inspiration, I acquired an abiding love for Belgian beer, culminating in a 2004 trip to Bruges where we shared a Leffe Bruin and a Delirium Nocturnum at the Herberg Vlissinghe. (A cafe I plan on visiting again in 2015 when they celebrate their 500th anniversary)

We also enjoyed wine tasting and spent many Sideways trips in the Santa Ynez Valley. During those trips, we would drive from winery to winery, usually with the accompaniment of another shared love: 60's music. Regardless of whether we preferred the syrah or the pinot, we were constantly flying high to the sounds of the Beatles, Chambers Brothers, Charlatans, or the Doors. For those who knew my father as the reverent, conservative, Orthodox Christian deacon, this might be a strange image to process. But one of my funniest memories is watching Dad laugh while listening to Jim Morrison toy with his fans. After waxing rhapsodic about his particular astrological sign, he bellows, "Well I don't believe any of that. I think it's a bunch of bullshit. But I tell you this: I'm gonna get my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames".

Perhaps that was my Dad's secret philosophy during retirement. Despite our political differences, there was one issue in which we were in complete agreement: Peak Oil. We both agreed that because of the way our economy is structured, there is an expiration date to the Happy-Motoring-Continental-Jet-Set-Society we are currently consuming and consumed by. We may have reached our conclusions through different people, Dad through Matthew Simmons and David Goodstein, me through Michael Ruppert and Richard Heinberg, but we both understood the ultimate destination. But I think my father knew intuitively that he would not experience the ultimate destination. So he got his kicks before the whole shithouse went up in flames. How did he accomplish this? During the final weekend we shared together, my older sister asked him, "How many countries did you visit in your life? Fifty three?!" He corrected her gently, "Fifty five".

While the experience of the preparation, immediacy and aftermath of my father's death has pushed politics to the background of my life and brought philosophical and spiritual matters to the forefront, finding out about the death of Osama bin Laden was still a jarring event. Of course, people I work with wanted to know the day after if I thought there was some sort of conspiracy involved with the event. Honestly, I had not given it much thought. I'm sure once the "fog of war" lifts, it will be easier to separate fact from fiction. At this point, from what I know, I sincerely doubt this was the way he wanted to go. As I indicated in a previous blog entry, I don't pretend to know enough about the spiritual realm to define it in any tangible sense. But I find it hard to believe that my Dad and Osama bin Laden are sharing the same spiritual mansion. That's not a moral judgment on my part, it's a consideration from the perspective of the life you live determining the spiritual space you inhabit. I don't see them having enough in common to share that space.

Then again, that sort of assumption undermines one of my most basic spiritual credos: Anyone who claims they comprehend the metaphysical realm is wrong, including myself! It's quite possible my father has some very valuable life lessons to teach Osama bin Laden about the art of dying before he can transition from one mansion to the next.

Perhaps Jim Morrison and George Harrison are teaching in the same room!
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Posted by robertpaulsen in Political Videos
Thu Mar 24th 2011, 04:11 PM
I just found this at The Nation. Here is the accompanying text:

In this eleventh video in the series “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate” from The Nation and On The Earth Productions, analyst, author and founder of the Earth Policy Institute Lester Brown discusses how unprepared the world really is for the growing effects of climate change. "Economists doing supply and demand projections are largely unaware" of the scale of the resource crises facing the world, Brown says, and "food is going to be the weak link for our civilization as it was for so many earlier civilizations."

Most importantly, Brown emphasizes, is that we find a way to stabilize the Earth's population, climate and aquifers, which help provide water to many people in the world. "Many resources are becoming scarce but none more scarce than time," Brown says, and confronting peak oil and climate change demands immediate action. Already, eighteen countries are overpumping their aquifers, and few realize that in the event of a crisis, the US food supply would run out in three days.

"We need a mobilization at wartime speed on a wartime scale. Just fine-tuning this situation is not going to do it," Brown says.

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Posted by robertpaulsen in Latest Breaking News
Thu Mar 10th 2011, 04:10 PM
Source: Associated Press

CAIRO – Saudi police opened fire Thursday to disperse a protest in the mainly Shiite east, leaving at least one man injured, as the government struggled to prevent a wave of unrest sweeping the Arab world from reaching the kingdom.

The rare violence raised concern about a crackdown ahead of more planned protests after Friday prayers in different cities throughout the oil-rich kingdom. The pro-Western monarchy is concerned protests could open footholds for Shiite powerhouse Iran and has accused foreigners of stoking the protests, which are officially forbidden.

Despite the ban and a warning that security forces will act against them, protesters demanding the release of political prisoners took to the streets for a second day in the eastern city of Qatif. Several hundred protesters, some wearing face masks to avoid being identified, marched after dark asking for "Freedom for prisoners."

Police, who were lined up opposite the protesters, fired percussion bombs, followed by gunfire, causing the crowd to scatter, a witness said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of government retaliation.

Read more:
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Posted by robertpaulsen in Editorials & Other Articles
Fri Mar 04th 2011, 08:26 PM
This is a great column dealing with current events, past history and possibilities for the future. The last four paragraphs portend an ominous future for the world oil market. Anyone who understands Jeffrey Brown's Export Land Model knows that this is what Klare is mapping out for us:

The Collapse of the Old Oil Order
How the Petroleum Age Will End
By Michael T. Klare


The critical player is Saudi Arabia, which just increased production to compensate for Libyan losses on the global market. But don’t expect this pattern to hold forever. Assuming the royal family survives the current round of upheavals, it will undoubtedly have to divert more of its daily oil output to satisfy rising domestic consumption levels and fuel local petrochemical industries that could provide a fast-growing, restive population with better-paying jobs.

From 2005 to 2009, Saudis used about 2.3 million barrels daily, leaving about 8.3 million barrels for export. Only if Saudi Arabia continues to provide at least this much oil to international markets could the world even meet its anticipated low-end oil needs. This is not likely to occur. The Saudi royals have expressed reluctance to raise output much above 10 million barrels per day, fearing damage to their remaining fields and so a decline in future income for their many progeny. At the same time, rising domestic demand is expected to consume an ever-increasing share of Saudi Arabia’s net output. In April 2010, the chief executive officer of state-owned Saudi Aramco, Khalid al-Falih, predicted that domestic consumption could reach a staggering 8.3 million barrels per day by 2028, leaving only a few million barrels for export and ensuring that, if the world can’t switch to other energy sources, there will be petroleum starvation.

In other words, if one traces a reasonable trajectory from current developments in the Middle East, the handwriting is already on the wall. Since no other area is capable of replacing the Middle East as the world’s premier oil exporter, the oil economy will shrivel -- and with it, the global economy as a whole.

Consider the recent rise in the price of oil just a faint and early tremor heralding the oilquake to come. Oil won’t disappear from international markets, but in the coming decades it will never reach the volumes needed to satisfy projected world demand, which means that, sooner rather than later, scarcity will become the dominant market condition. Only the rapid development of alternative sources of energy and a dramatic reduction in oil consumption might spare the world the most severe economic repercussions. /

Something tells me some future President may end up invoking the Carter Doctrine before 2028.
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Posted by robertpaulsen in General Discussion
Fri Feb 18th 2011, 08:09 PM
I addressed this satirically on a friend's blog:

My friend wrote:

Dear Union Haters,

How exactly does this work; can you explain it please? You union haters are all for Americans pursuing life, liberty, and happiness – also sometimes known as The American Dream – but you whiny critics take issue with people going after these wonderful things via a “group effort.”

Last time we checked, when Wall Street “got drunk” (well said, W, you tool), you guys didn’t demand it be taken apart. And to this day, dozens of U.S. corporations continue to do business with Communist countries like China and douchy leaders like Gaddafi; all in the name of keeping their profits high and their products cheap. But you ass-clowns aren’t ranting and bitching that those companies be dismantled.

So what gives, union haters? What’s with your absolute lack of sense and logic when it comes to attempting to paint unions as The Great Evil within America’s borders? That mantle already belongs to Corporations who avoid paying their taxes…

Not stupid,

Capitalism & Hypocrisy

I responded:

Dear Capitalism and Hypocrisy,

Stop picking on the Union Haters. We created them to better service you two! You wanna know how we did it? We sold the fools a bill of goods from a fairy tale invented by one of our best propaganda artists named Horatio Alger. He sold all these nitwits on the ridiculous notion that we accumulated all our wealth through hard work instead of theft, graft and corruption! Can you believe that shit? And here’s the best part: we convinced them that THEY could do this themselves if they only pull themselves up by their own bootstraps! THAT’S why this pack of useful idiots hates unions – they’re actually stupid enough to think that looking after the interests of your own class the way we do PREVENTS you from living a better life!

So please, pipe down! Leave these fools to the delusion that if it wasn’t for unions, they would be just as rich as we are.

Yours for maximizing profits,

Bankers, CEOs and other assorted Oligarchs /
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Posted by robertpaulsen in General Discussion
Wed Feb 16th 2011, 03:30 PM
"Peak Oil and a Changing Climate" - Bill McKibben

Last week, I commended The Nation for their ongoing online video series "Peak Oil and a Changing Climate" with the post Hooray for The Nation! Today, they posted the sixth video in the series:

Bill McKibben: Why Climate Change Is the Most Urgent Challenge We Face
The Nation and On The Earth Productions
February 16, 2011

Bill McKibben, author and founder of the international environmental campaign, says that a global campaign to curb climate change, the ecological devastation that will result could make our planet uninhabitable. His appeal to citizens and policy-makers, the sixth video in the series "Peak Oil and a Changing Climate" from The Nation and On The Earth Productions, is a call to action as much as it is a sobering account of the damage we're already doing to our environment.

It’s a “crisis breaking over our heads at this moment,” he says as he points to wildfires in Russia and flooding in Pakistan as examples of the severe weather that will continue, and intensify, if we continue to ignore climate change. Failing to rein in the carbon in our atmosphere will mean more than just inhospitable weather. It also threatens global food production: “If we allow the temperature to increase anything like what people are projecting, we’ll see grain yields fall by a third or more, simply because it will be too hot for things to grow,” he says. “If it rains every day in a row for 30 days, you’re out of luck, you are not growing anything. That’s the kind of world we are building.”

The most important policy change crucial to curbing this crisis, he says, is to force fossil fuel companies to pay the price for the damages they inflict on the environment. If the environmental movement harnesses mass action and civil disobedience tactics to their advantage, there's still a chance, McKibben says, that the earth's citizens can convince policy makers to crack down on big polluters.

Go here to view last week's video, Noam Chomsky explaining how climate change became a "liberal hoax." Go here to learn more about "Peak Oil and a Changing Climate," and to see the other videos in the series.

Sara Jerving
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Posted by robertpaulsen in General Discussion
Mon Feb 14th 2011, 02:35 PM
By coincidence, I'm reading The Secret History of the CIA by Joseph J. Trento. There's quite a bit of revealing info on Frank G. Wisner Sr. prior to the debacles in Iran and Guatemala in the 50's. This is from page 23:

Allen W. Dulles, second in command of the OSS, sent a young colleague, Frank Gardiner Wisner, to accept the surrender of Gehlen and several hundred of his officers and their families.

Through Wisner, Gehlen convinced Dulles that the United States must provide protection for thousands of high-ranking Nazis who would otherwise fall under Soviet control.

Gehlen was of course Reinhard Gehlen, a Nazi general who since 1942 was head of Branch 12 of Foreign Armies East. To continue from page 23:

Gehlen signed an agreement with the Americans that turned his organization into U.S.-controlled intelligence asset. Years later, in 1956, it became the intelligence service for the new West German government. This partnership between the ex-Nazis and the OSS/CIA dominated U.S. activity against the Soviet bloc for the next three decades.

But this was only the beginning of Wisner's trickery. From page 46:

Wisner's bureaucracy within the State Department, the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), was enormous. While officially the OPC was concerned with refugee affairs and worked in conjunction with the International Red Cross, in reality it was authorized by the new National Security Council to conduct sabotage and other covert operations against the Soviets.

By late 1947, Wisner, in an underhanded way, wielded vast power in the State Department bureaucracy. He never asked permission to conduct his operations. Rather, he played a deceptive double game in which he informed either Secretary of State George Marshall or Secretary of Defense James Forrestal that the other secretary had approved his operation. Then he went ahead and carried it out.

With help from the U.S. Army, Wisner's OPC quickly created a U.S. intelligence network manned by anti-Soviet Russian emigres and refugees concentrating on searching Eastern Europe for Nazis to use against the Soviet Union. The OPC supervised Gehlen's operations, now relocated to Munich, and it was engaged in quietly transporting Nazi war criminals, including rocket scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and doctors, into the United States.
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Posted by robertpaulsen in General Discussion
Thu Feb 10th 2011, 08:24 PM
Hooray for The Nation!

Earlier this week, a leaked cable from Wikileaks caused a little stir in the blogosphere. It even got some mainstream media (MSM) coverage, though it was greater in England than the US. Here is the report from The Guardian:

WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices

US diplomat convinced by Saudi expert that reserves of world's biggest oil exporter have been overstated by nearly 40%

* John Vidal, environment editor
*, Tuesday 8 February 2011 22.00 GMT
* Article history

Aerial View of Oil Refinery Saudi oil refinery. WikiLeaks cables suggest the amount of oil that can be retrieved has been overestimated. Photograph: George Steinmetz/Corbis

The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show.

The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom's crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels – nearly 40%.


However, Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, met the US consul general in Riyadh in November 2007 and told the US diplomat that Aramco's 12.5m barrel-a-day capacity needed to keep a lid on prices could not be reached.

According to the cables, which date between 2007-09, Husseini said Saudi Arabia might reach an output of 12m barrels a day in 10 years but before then – possibly as early as 2012 – global oil production would have hit its highest point. This crunch point is known as "peak oil".


On a Democratic Underground thread on the subject started by Newsjock, I added this comment:

I've seen the writing on the wall and it's pretty obscene.
Posted by robertpaulsen in Latest Breaking News
Wed Feb 09th 2011, 09:58 PM
As I detailed in STORY #4 in my UNDER THE RUG report, global production of conventional oil peaked in 2006, according to the International Energy Agency. Now after reading the Guardian's report on the Wikileak cables, if al-Husseini is referring to total reserves in Saudi Arabia, meaning not just conventional oil but natural gas liquids and unconventional oil, I think that the decline is going to be a whole lot steeper than anyone has anticipated if Saudi Arabia has indeed overstated its total reserves by 40 percent. Remember that 25 percent of the total oil reserves in the world are in Saudi Arabia. Once their production is in irreversible decline, $3.50 a gallon will be the good old days. I don't think the issue any longer is when Peak Oil will occur, the issue is how long will the plateau last before the inevitable decline?

Of course, if there's a revolution in Saudi Arabia, which might be in its initial stages, then the point is moot if the people of Saudi Arabia decide that pricing their oil in dollars is not in their best interests. Can you imagine President Obama responding to such an event by voiding the Carter Doctrine? Do you think Dick Cheney was only speaking for neo-cons when he said, "The American way of life is not negotiable"? Are you reading the same writing on the wall that I am?

Recently I discovered that Dick Cheney was not the first White House Republican to say, "The American way of life is not negotiable". At the Earth Summit in 1992, George H.W. Bush forcefully declared, "The American way of life is not negotiable." But both men were talking about the same thing: US oil consumption. What is tragic is that they don't realize how right they really are. You don't negotiate with the Real Primal Forces of Nature. If the American way of life is predicated on an economic infrastructure rooted in infinite growth dependent on non-renewable resources, there's no room to negotiate! You either adapt to the reality that this way of life is no longer sustainable, or you lose that way of life, if not life itself.

Which brings me back to what I think is the most important point in my comment: I don't think the issue any longer is when Peak Oil will occur, the issue is how long will the plateau last before the inevitable decline? If we are going to adapt to the reality that our way of life is no longer sustainable, we must stop debating when and start acting now. That means being aware of the complete ramifications of Peak Oil/Global Climate Change and taking the time to prepare yourself and your loved ones to the best of your ability to adapt to the social/political/economic reactions to this reality as it comes. Think Globally Act Locally should no longer be a sentimental hippie slogan, it should be a mantra for personal sustainability.

While MSM has had a pretty pathetic track record in preparing people for this eventuality, I have to give huge praise to The Nation for their recent attempt to do so. Throughout the months of January, February and March, The Nation is publishing a series of videos on their website to educate people about the twin crises of Peak Oil and Global Climate Change:

Peak Oil and a Changing Climate
The Nation
January 5, 2011

The scientific community has long agreed that our dependence on fossil fuels inflicts massive damage on the environment and our health, while warming the globe in the process. But beyond the damage these fuels cause to us now, what will happen when the world's supply of oil runs out?

Peak Oil is the point at which petroleum production reaches its greatest rate just before going into perpetual decline. In “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate,” a new video series from The Nation and On The Earth productions, radio host Thom Hartmann explains that the world will reach peak oil within the next year if it hasn’t already. As a nation, the United States reached peak oil in 1974, after which it became a net oil importer.

Bill McKibben, Noam Chomsky, Nicole Foss, Richard Heinberg and the other scientists, researchers and writers interviewed throughout “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate” describe the diminishing returns our world can expect as it deals with the consequences of peak oil even as it continues to pretend it doesn’t exist. These experts predict substantially increased transportation costs, decreased industrial production, unemployment, hunger and social chaos as the supplies of the fuels on which we rely dwindle and eventually disappear.

Chomsky urges us to anticipate the official response to peak oil based on how corporations, news organizations and other institutions have responded to global warming: obfuscation, spin and denial. James Howard Kunstler says that we cannot survive peak oil unless we “come up with a consensus about reality that is consistent with the way things really are.” This documentary series hopes to help build that consensus. Click here to watch the introductory video, and check back here for new videos each Wednesday.


They just released the video for Noam Chomsky yesterday, which is excellent. Future interviews to be released include Thom Hartmann, Greg Palast and my favorite, Mike Ruppert. I encourage everyone to watch, learn and prepare!
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Posted by robertpaulsen in Latest Breaking News
Wed Feb 09th 2011, 04:58 PM
As I detailed in STORY #4 in my UNDER THE RUG report, global production of conventional oil peaked in 2006, according to the International Energy Agency. Now after reading the Guardian's report on the Wikileak cables, if al-Husseini is referring to total reserves in Saudi Arabia, meaning not just conventional oil but natural gas liquids and unconventional oil, I think that the decline is going to be a whole lot steeper than anyone has anticipated if Saudi Arabia has indeed overstated its total reserves by 40 percent. Remember that 25 percent of the total oil reserves in the world are in Saudi Arabia. Once their production is in irreversible decline, $3.50 a gallon will be the good old days. I don't think the issue any longer is when Peak Oil will occur, the issue is how long will the plateau last before the inevitable decline?

Of course, if there's a revolution in Saudi Arabia, which might be in its initial stages, then the point is moot if the people of Saudi Arabia decide that pricing their oil in dollars is not in their best interests. Can you imagine President Obama responding to such an event by voiding the Carter Doctrine? Do you think Dick Cheney was only speaking for neo-cons when he said, "The American way of life is not negotiable"? Are you reading the same writing on the wall that I am?
Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by robertpaulsen in General Discussion
Fri Feb 04th 2011, 06:16 PM
Be Careful What You Wish For - You Just Might Get It

Watching the events unfolding in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt, I'm reminded of a moment in Denial Stops Here, the DVD compilation of Michael Ruppert's speaking engagements from 2004-2005. The movie is a fantastic document of his political and economic predictions for the future, many of which came true with startling accuracy. At one point as he is describing the layout of the coming economic collapse (he believed it would occur in 2005, he was off by three years), he predicts that General Motors will have to file for bankruptcy. The crowd bursts out with applause. Ruppert then cautions them, "Hold on! Before you cheer, think about what that means". After then explaining what the worldwide economic ramifications of such an event would mean (General Motors eventually did file for bankruptcy on June 8, 2009), Ruppert concludes saying, "So be careful what you wish for. You just might get it".

We are witnessing a revolution in the Middle East, probably the largest such revolt in a region since the Eastern bloc revolution of 1989. With each passing day, the phenomenon seems to grow. The president of Tunisia flees the country to live in exile in Saudi Arabia. Yemen's president has said he will not run for re-election in the wake of protests there. But of course the largest and bloodiest revolt is happening in Egypt, where the course of history is changing radically on a daily basis.

But this may only be the beginning. This recent article from The Guardian highlights some new developments:

Spirit of Egypt protest spreads to Yemen, Algeria and Syria

Demonstrators gather on streets of Sana'a as Algeria aims to defuse tensions by lifting 19-year state of emergency

* Tom Finn in Sana'a and Mark Tran
*, Thursday 3 February 2011 19.33 GMT
* Article history

Protesters in Yemen Opposition demonstrators wave Yemeni flags as they take part in a ‘day of rage’ in Sana’a. Photograph: Hani Mohammed/AP

Reverberations from the mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt continued to be felt around the Arab world as demonstrators gathered on the streets of Yemen for a "day of rage" and Algeria became the latest country to try to defuse tensions by lifting its 19-year state of emergency.

More protests are expected across the region following Friday prayers, including in Syria, where activists have used Facebook to organise demonstrations in front of parliament in the capital, Damascus, and at Syrian embassies across the world.

But hey, this is all good isn't it? These are all non-democratic, mostly military dictatorships that are the focus of the protests by their respective citizens, so what's wrong with them rising up against their oppressors? You would think the neo-cons of all people would be rejoicing the rise of freedom and democracy in the Middle East! Especially when their pResident George W. Bush had this to say in the aftermath of another "regime change":

"Yet there's a great challenge today in the Middle East. In the words of a recent report by Arab scholars, the global wave of democracy has -- and I quote -- "barely reached the Arab states." They continue: "This freedom deficit undermines human development and is one of the most painful manifestations of lagging political development." The freedom deficit they describe has terrible consequences, of the people of the Middle East and for the world. In many Middle Eastern countries, poverty is deep and it is spreading, women lack rights and are denied schooling. Whole societies remain stagnant while the world moves ahead. These are not the failures of a culture or a religion. These are the failures of political and economic doctrines."


"The great and proud nation of Egypt has shown the way toward peace in the Middle East, and now should show the way toward democracy in the Middle East. (Applause.) Champions of democracy in the region understand that democracy is not perfect, it is not the path to utopia, but it's the only path to national success and dignity.

As we watch and encourage reforms in the region, we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not, and should not, look like us. Democratic nations may be constitutional monarchies, federal republics, or parliamentary systems. And working democracies always need time to develop -- as did our own. We've taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice -- and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey."

These words are from November 6, 2003. Eight years later, Egyptians are doing exactly what the fearless neo-con leader asked for. Yet instead of neo-con ecstasy, the mood from the talking heads around Fox News is one of sheer horror. One of the biggest fraidy-cats is former State Department stooge John Bolton, who came up with this thoughtless strategy:

Bolton: If Mubarak falls in Egypt, Israel should bomb Iran
By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 -- 11:24 am

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said the ouster of embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would speed the timetable for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"Do you think that the Israelis are going to have to strike — they are going to have to take action?" Fox News Republican opinion host Sean Hannity asked the former ambassador on his radio program Monday.

"As you pointed out, ElBaradei ran cover for the Iranians for all those years that he was with the IAEA. And, I just don’t think the Israelis have much longer to wait… they're going to have to act in fairly short order."

"I think that's right," Bolton responded. "I don't think there’s much time to act. And I think the fall of a Egyptian government committed to the peace agreement will almost certainly speed that timetable up."

Bolton chided the protests in Egypt last week, saying that "the real alternative is not Jefferson democracy versus the Mubarak regime, but that it’s the Muslim Brotherhood versus the Mubarak regime, and that has enormous implications for the US, for Israel, and our other friends in the region."

more... /

Why all the fear tactics in regards to the Muslim Brotherhood? True, these are not good guys by any stretch of the imagination. They have documented historical ties with the Nazis and questionable ties with al-Qaeda. But in proportion to the population of Egypt in the event of a democratic government actually occurring, they really are what Chris Matthews described them as: the Tea Party of the Middle East. In a democratic society, both have a right to exist, but as columnist Bob Norman said, "and then be put on the fringes where they belong". Perhaps the real reason for all the commotion in the reich-wing echo chamber is that this is what they want: an Armageddon slugfest between these counterpoint crackpots. It certainly wouldn't be the first time there was an association for their mutual benefit:

Michael Hughes

Foreign Policy Strategist
Posted: September 3, 2010 08:15 AM

When Right-Wing Christians and Neocons Loved Islamic Jihadists

In the mid-1950s, the C.I.A. and the British MI6 had developed a close relationship with an Islamic extremist group called the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and forged a partnership with Saudi Arabia to defeat the secular and nationalist policies of Egyptian President Gamal Abddul Nasser. The C.I.A. enabled the Muslim Brotherhood to return from banishment and infect Afghan society with a radical version of Islam that began to supplant the traditional and more moderate indigenous form. According to Gould and Fitzgerald:

The radical Islam of the Muslim Brothers returning to Afghanistan from exile in the late 1960s and early 1970s shared none of the "celebratory, personalized and ecstatic" traits of Afghan Islam -- nor did it offer itself as a political or economic reform movement. Instead, what reentered Afghanistan following its exile was a violent, antimodernist hybrid (described by French expert Olivier Roy as more akin to the extremist Catholic sect Opus Dei than anything native in Afghanistan) which at first challenged the weakened boundaries of the old patriarchy, then in triumph broke free from traditional limits on violence and clan rivalries.

While Afghanistan's progressive King, Zahir Shah, tried to institute modern reform, how mind-boggling is it that the U.S. backed antimodernist fundamentalist Muslims whose goal was to overthrow the constitutional monarchy and establish an Islamic Caliphate?

Fast forward to the late 1970s when a Pentecostal inhabited the White House while neoconservatives, led by hawkish National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, preyed on Carter's ingrained end times theology. Brzezinski pushed forward the agenda of what became known as "Team B" -- a cabal of neocons such as Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Nitze, Seymour Weiss, Richard Pipes, Richard Perle, Daniel O. Graham and Leo Cherne, who exaggerated Soviet nuclear and military capabilities to force U.S. leaders to take a hard line against communism.


So does this alliance put President Obama between a rock and a hard place? Not quite. As my good friend Octafish pointed out, he's got Frank Wisner from inside the bowels of Washington's power elite. Whether Muburak stays until summer or leaves office today, Wisner is the man with the connections to smooth things over. Whether it's power to the people or sustaining the status quo, we can rest assured American interests will be protected.

I'm sorry, do I sound cynical? Well, in light of this recent find by vanlose kid at Rigorous Intution, I most certainly am. As you read this, think about it in the context of the Carter Doctrine, which I am quite certain President Obama would uphold if push came to shove:

Saudi Hiccup?

As riots raged in Cairo on Friday and dominated the news wires around the globe, Saudi Arabia, it appears, may be getting ready to join the list of Arab nations protesting their governments.

In the port of Jeddah relatively heavy rainfall combined with a non-existent drainage system to wreak havoc on the city and its 4 million inhabitants. The city is literally flooded and the torrential, and very rare, rains have caused around $ 1 Billion USD worth of damages.

So far there are 11 dead and over 100 injured as a result. Incredibly, over 11,000 cars were stranded in floodwaters as water levels were reported to be 4 meters (13.2 feet) deep in some areas. Rescue helicopters have ferried almost 500 people to safety!

Oddly enough, and unfortunately for the government, the same scenario happened in 2009!

Back then it was dubbed Saudi's "Katrina Moment". Over 122 people were killed (some estimate it was more like 500) and hundreds injured as the government fell on its face during the response effort.

That led to widespread discontent and a fury of criticism of the local government mainly via, you guessed it...Facebook. The main theme was "Where are the billions in oil revenue going?".

Back in 2009 and according to the CS Monitor:

Mr. Khair, the lawyer, says he intends to file a class action suit against Jeddah's municipality. He does not think any official will be forced to resign, he adds. "In Saudi Arabia, we didn't hear about someone leaving his office."
The attorney says that the Facebook page was a useful alternative because street protests are illegal in the kingdom. The Internet "is the only way. We don't have another way," he says.

The episode has demonstrated "how technology allows people to shout out loud. I have never seen this before in Saudi," says Asaad, the lecturer. Even if people commenting on Facebook "use pseudonyms, it's a start," she adds. "But nowadays, people are using their real names."

Which brings us to today.

A mass blackberry messenger message has gone out in Jeddah calling for a demonstration on Saturday, the 29th. It says:

On Saturday there will be a demonstration in front of the municipality for Jeddah … gather as many people as you can,” the message ran. “We need brave men and women. We don’t want any more lies … We have to do something.”

Another message also sent via Blackberry urged all government and private sector employees to hold a general strike next week in protest at the authorities’ neglect of the city’s infrastructure.

This is very serious news if it happens. The ruling Saud family's main areas of support are centered around the capitol city, Riyadh. There are long standing historical tensions with the people of the western provice, Hijaz, of which Jeddah is the largest city. Jeddah is also the second largest city in Saudi Arabia overall and is the port of arrival to the more than 2 million Muslims who make the pilgrimage to Mecca every year.

Also, in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia are most of the shunned Shia Muslims of the country. They are regarded as infidels by some hardline Wahhabists and face a glass ceiling when working in public bureaucracies. There have been tensions there also and several protests.

Here is an excellent paper about the ethnic and religious background of Saudi Arabia.

In addition to the religious and social tensions in Saudi, perhaps the economic tensions are the greatest of all. According to a recent report by Booz & Co., unemployment in Saudi Arabia is estimated to be 13-14% in 2008. Additionally, 48% of Saudis between the age of 20-24 are unemployed as well as 31% of Saudis between 25-29.

70% of the population is under the age of 34 and the Median age is 24.9.

In other words, the powder is dry...

Here is a video of the clashes between police and Saudi Shia's (keep in mind the source is Iran's Press TV)

(see link below)

Here is a video of the catastrophic floods in Jeddah this week:

(see link below)

Sometime in the future, there will come a real day of reckoning for the USA. It may happen in the wake of revolution spreading across the Middle East this year or it may not happen until the 20's. But sometime in this generation we will face the day when we face the reality that maintaining an empire of friendly regimes protecting a permanently decreasing supply of non-renewable resources is economically unsustainable. As a result of this, governments in the future will have to focus on relocalization, regardless of whether they are 1st world or 3rd world countries, if they want to serve the interests of their citizens and alleviate the risk of a revolt.

Oh sure, we could get lucky where Saudi Arabia is concerned. Maybe the House of Saud can continue their stranglehold on power like the House of Kim in North Korea, just starve 'em into submission. Or perhaps a democratic uprising will result in a representative government that wants to remain allies with the US. But what if they don't want to? Over 60% of all proven oil supplies in the world are in the Middle East. 25 percent is in Saudi Arabia alone. 100% is currently priced in dollars. What if they decided to price it in another currency? Where is it carved in stone that the indigenous people of countries halfway across the globe must have our best interests at heart, even at the expense of their own? Are we prepared to use the same armed forces currently stretched to the breaking point in Afghanistan and Iraq to enforce our interests at the expense of a population trying to express the freedom for self-determination?

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.
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