Todd Walton: Propaganda of Childhood



From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com

Mendocino

“What we remember from childhood we remember forever—permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen.” Cynthia Ozick

The propaganda of my childhood said that Santa Claus rewards children for being good by giving them what they want. And long after I figured out that my parents were Santa Claus, I continued to believe that the reason I never got what I wanted was because I was not good. Every year I was given clothing I did not want, books I did not want, and things my father wanted, so that as I unwrapped those gifts he would chortle, “What a coincidence. Just what I needed.”

However, when I was ten-years-old, my parents gave me a real bow and arrows with steel tips, something I had been asking for since I was old enough to ask for something. And when I went outside to shoot that bow and arrows, and found that my father had also bought a bale of hay to which he had affixed a beautiful target, I was more than happy; I was filled to bursting with the sense of being good.

I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.” Shirley Temple

In response to the depressing fact that the latest tax bill signed into law by President Obama actually increases taxes on the poorest 150 million Americans while allowing the super wealthy to pay no taxes at all, a friend remarked, “That doesn’t fit with the propaganda of our childhood.” And her comment struck me as a cogent explanation for why my peers and I continue to be so deeply disappointed by the machinations of the corporate overlords as carried out by their trusty puppets. And her comment also explained why we, the people,

Herb Ruhs: Looting The Country


From HERB RUHS
Anderson Valley

“…ensuring that government of the banks, by the banks, for the banks shall not perish from the Earth.” – from: In Money-Changers We Trust by Robert Scheer

This otherwise great article by Scheer is still pussy footing around the fact of a blatant, and not too concealed, financial conspiracy to loot the country and reinvest overseas by the wealthy of this country led by the banking industry.  The article does come close enough in its analysis and list of perpetrators for folks without blinders to see the general plan and conduct of the greatest looting in history.  US corporations are adding jobs faster than ever, only just not in the US. Looted money seeks a home to invest in and it is not here. I wonder if, a little down the road, it won’t be in the banks interest to just cut the umbilical and collapse the US dollar and do business in other currencies.

For the time being the only thing preventing a total financial abandonment of the nation that is the need for the Military to recruit soldiers in the US. With the current high unemployment of military aged individuals in the US that problem is temporarily solved. However, with its rampant contracting the US military is coming to depend on US recruitment less.  Lots of ruthless mercenaries looking for work out there, and the support services, always a large proportion of any force as compared to combat units, are already filled by non-US citizens.  So, if you count effectiveness in the way that was done throughout history to include support units, the US Army is ALREADY not a majority native US force.

Historically, when empires reach this point where foreign mercenaries outnumber citizens – in the case of Rome the “barbarian” legions, British the sepoys, Hessians, Gurkas, etc. –  the empire is overextended and doomed. The book Sorrows of Empire

WikiLeaks does what journalists are supposed to do — piss off powerful people.


From THE DAILY UNCENSORED
Thanks to Anna Taylor

Truth Telling and the End of Democracy

[…] Put simply, Wikileaks is a journalistic organization. They serve as a clearinghouse for whistleblowers from public and private organizations around the world to leak documents into the public domain. Unlike more traditional news organizations, however, Wikileaks collects, categorizes, and releases raw data, unprocessed by spin. By skipping the value-laden contextualization we commonly associate with, and recognize as, journalism, Wikileaks is as close as it gets to being an unbiased source of news—with their only biases coming in the form of what they chose to release…

Wikileaks isn’t particularly about government documents. It’s about raw data. Their sourcing and verification of raw data has earned them awards for investigative reporting—a reporting that often leaves its analysis to readers or other reporters. Much of what they’ve reported since their 2007 launch has focused on corporate crime. For example, they’ve taken on the private entity that collects highway tolls in Germany and that country’s private health insurance providers. They’ve exposed labor problems at a private, for-profit education corporation in the US. They’ve exposed illegal, immoral, or reckless dealings by banks in Britain, Switzerland, Iceland, the Cayman Islands, and the US. They’ve exposed illegal toxic dumping, suppressed details on a leaky Japanese nuclear reactor, and the so-called “climate-gate” emails that were embraced by Republican climate-change deniers.

Wikileaks has also exposed government corruption in Kenya, East Timor, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, to name a few examples. They laid bare the nuts and bolts of Internet censorship in China and Thailand. They released documents investigating alleged corruption in Shriners hospitals,

**Greater Ukiah Transition Meeting


LOCAL FOOD. LOCAL POWER. LOCAL MONEY.

The time has come for those of us in the Ukiah area to join together and begin the work of transitioning to a future beyond fossil fuels.  This is a grassroots movement that seeks to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis.  It empowers people in the community to work together to strengthen it against the effects of these challenges, resulting in a life that is more sustainable, equitable and socially connected.  This meeting is for those who would like to learn more about the Transition Movement and who are interested in becoming part of the core group to help lead this effort.

Meeting time, Tuesday, January 11th, 5:15 – 6:45 PM, Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse, 107 S. Oak St., Ukiah.  Optional potluck.

Contact, Debora, 462-9392, if you plan to attend.

Bring your vision, passion, and commitment to help create the change we know is possible.
~~

Will Parrish: California — Epicenter of the Great Unraveling


From WILL PARRISH
Laytonville

When the Great Unraveling of the world financial system began in earnest three years ago, the the term “Wall Street” instantly emerged as the main shorthand for big business interests that pull the strings of global politics and the economy. In the US’ increasingly impoverished political discourse, the phrase is often used interchangeably with “Corporate America” now.

Politicians from both major parties have recently issued forth countless verbal blusters about the undue economic influence wielded by “Wall Street” mega-firms — all the while helping enrich those same firms with nearly every figurative stroke of their legislative pens, as with the “tax cut” compromise measure just passed by the US Congress.

To the extent that this overriding focus on the activities of Wall Street bankers reflects some sort of new class struggle in the US, it is a fine and righteous tendency. In recent decades, America’s class war has been almost entirely one-sided. Two-thirds of the income gains made between 2002 and 2007 went to the top one percent of U.S. households. By contrast, real wealth among the bottom half shrank in that same period, having stagnated since the mid-1970s. To say that most people would benefit from a renaissance of American working class militancy, ala the massive upheavals in the fields and factories of the 1930s, would be a gross understatement — particularly with Medicare and Social Security now inching ever closer to the chopping block.

But the popular narrative that suggests “Wall Street” as the source of all global economic woes obscures more compelling explanations for the financial crisis. It also serves to disempower those who might otherwise strive to combat the ongoing

William Greider’s critique of the traditional media’s Social Security failure


From digby

Nyhan Prize winner and political reporter William Greider discusses why the traditional media has failed so drastically on reporting Social Security with CJR’s Trudy Lieberman.

Trudy Lieberman: What are we to make of this consensus on fixes to Social Security that some in the media tell us has been reached?

William Greider: This is a staggering scandal for the media. I have yet to see a straightforward, non-ideological, non-argumentative piece in any major paper that describes the actual condition of Social Security. The core fact is that Social Security has not contributed a dime to the deficit, but has piled up trillions in surpluses, which the government has borrowed and spent. Social Security’s surpluses have actually offset the impact of the deficit, beginning with Reagan.

TL: Why don’t reporters report this?

WG: They identify with the wisdom of the elites who don’t want to talk about this—because if people understand that Social Security has a $2.5 trillion surplus, building toward more than $4 trillion, people will ask why are politicians trying to cut Social Security benefits?

TL: Is that why coverage has been so one-sided?

WG: Most reporters, with few exceptions, assume the respectables are telling the truth about Social Security, when it is really propaganda. What elites are saying is deeply misleading, and they deliberately are distorting the story. But reporters think they are smart people and must know what they are talking about….

WG: Most reporters who cover difficult areas typically develop sources, and they write for those sources. They don’t want to offend them

10 Great MoJo Long Reads


From MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE

Conventional wisdom is that people don’t read long magazine stories online, but Mother Jones readers regularly prove otherwise. Every time we run a compelling, multipage article on our website, we find that many of you read all the way to the end…and comment, tweet, Facebook, and Tumble enthusiastically about details deep into the story. And what better time to curl up with a great read than over a long weekend (including you lucky ones with new iPads)? Below, a selection of our (and our readers’) best-loved MoJo long reads from 2010.

What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?
A nighttime raid. A reality TV crew. A sleeping seven-year-old. What one tragedy can teach us about the unraveling of America’s middle class.
By Charlie LeDuff

Oath Keepers and the Age of Treason
Glenn Beck loves them. Tea Partiers court them. Congressmen listen to them. Meet the fast-growing “patriot” group that’s recruiting soldiers to resist the Obama administration.
By Justine Sharrock

The Ongoing Mysteries of the Elizabeth Smart Case
The verdict is in. But questions—about polygamy, prophecy, and insanity—remain.
By Scott Carrier

The Deadly Corruption of Clinical Trials
When you risk life and limb to help test a drug, are you helping science—or Big Pharma? One patient’s tragic, and telling, story.
By Carl Elliott

Glenn Beck’s Golden Fleece
How Beck and other right-wing talkers turned paranoia into a pitch for Goldline, the gold dealer one congressman says is conspiring to “cheat consumers.”
By Stephanie Mencimer

What Does It Matter?


From SHARON ASTYK

We are living in the most destructive and, hence, the most stupid period of the history of our species. The list of its undeniable abominations is long and hardly bearable. And these abominations are not balanced or compensated or atoned for by the list, endlessly reiterated, of our scientific achievements. Some people are moved, now and again, to deplore one abomination or another. Others – and Hayden Carruth is one – deplore the whole list and its causes. Much protest is naive; it expects quick, visible improvement and despairs and gives up when such improvement does not come. Protesters who hold out longer have perhaps understood that success is not the proper goal. If protest depended on success, there would be little protest of any durability or significance. History simply affords too little evidence that anyone’s individual protest is of any use. Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one’s own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence. – Wendell Berry “A Poem of Difficult Hope”

In the circles I run and write in, it is a common device to claim that other thinkers and writers have failed to understand the real, deepest cause of our problems, and have instead embarked upon too superficial a narrative. What’s fascinating about this is that the thinkers doing so are almost always correct – that is, they nearly always right that someone has missed a deep underlying cause. The reason for this is that causes are nearly as ample as effects. Thus, the person who laments America’s dependence on foreign oil sources can be usefully corrected by someone who observes that the problem is everyone’s dependence on a finite resource, rather than a geopolitical error of resource development. The same person, speaking of finite resources can be accurately corrected by someone who observes that a growing population is the “real problem”

Book Review: The Witch of Hebron


From PEAK OIL BLUES BLOG

A good novel is one that conjures images that linger. It creates characters that you feel a variety of emotions toward. The person stands in front of you and you can imagine interacting with them. You know whether you’d invite them to dinner or bar the door when they come knocking. A good novel does more than have a plot, an adventure, a tale. It brings you into the lives and times of the characters and gives you a chance to feel what they must feel, share their wishes and dreams, and hope along with them for the best (or the worst) as you move through the story. You sympathize, feel anger toward, want to comfort or hold your breath saying to yourself “No, don’t do that!” knowing quite well that the character will in fact do that very thing.

And you understand why.

For me then, as a clinical psychologist, a good novel is all about character development, even more so than it is about the demographics, diversity, or employment opportunities of those characters. Like a good meal, it leaves you satisfied after you finish it and haunts your thoughts. It may also bring lively debate…

The Witch of Hebron

Let me state for the record that I love the last two novels by James Howard Kunstler, and I’ll read every upcoming one eagerly. The characters have stayed with me, like friends I know, and I care about. I find no misstep in Kunstler’s novel for his lack of full-blown, in-depth female characters. Okay, so Jim’s women are courtesans, mystics/magicians, or wives, but I look at it this way: If you want vivid female characters, write your own novel. Or wait for his next installment. I don’t slam people for what they don’t write, I prefer to look at the stories they do tell, and this is a great continuing tale. Both books are a very entertaining

The merger of journalists and government officials


From GLENN GREENWALD

[…] (1) Over the last month, I’ve done many television and radio segments about WikiLeaks and what always strikes me is how indistinguishable — identical — are the political figures and the journalists. There’s just no difference in how they think, what their values and priorities are, how completely they’ve ingested and how eagerly they recite the same anti-WikiLeaks, “Assange = Saddam” script.  So absolute is the WikiLeaks-is-Evil bipartisan orthodoxy among the Beltway political and media class (forever cemented by the joint Biden/McConnell decree that Assange is a “high-tech Terrorist,”) that you’re viewed as being from another planet if you don’t spout it.  It’s the equivalent of questioning Saddam’s WMD stockpile in early 2003.

It’s not news that establishment journalists identify with, are merged into, serve as spokespeople for, the political class:  that’s what makes them establishment journalists.  But even knowing that, it’s just amazing, to me at least, how so many of these “debates” I’ve done involving one anti-WikiLeaks political figure and one ostensibly “neutral” journalist — on MSNBC with The Washington Post‘s Jonathan Capehart and former GOP Congresswoman Susan Molinari, on NPR with The New York Times‘ John Burns and former Clinton State Department official James Rubin, and last night on CNN with Yellin and Townsend — entail no daylight at all between the “journalists” and the political figures.  They don’t even bother any longer with the pretense that they’re distinct or play different assigned roles.  I’m not complaining here — Yellin was perfectly fair and gave me ample time — but merely observing how inseparable are most American journalists from the political officials they “cover.”

Peak Oil Association: Predictions for 2011


Click on Post Title to expand cartoon

From ASPO USA
Via Energy Bulletin

Everyone in the Peak Oil Community knows the danger of making predictions. As the poet Burns framed it, “The best-laid schemes o’Mice an’ Men / Gang aft agley.” What gang aft agley more often than our energy and environmental situation these days? Trying to call the future is a challenging project. But ASPO-USA and Peak Oil Review have combined to pull together predictions about what we can expect in 2011 from a wide range of thinkers, writers, scholars and experts, who graciously agreed to risk being wrong so that you can have the inside scoop!

I believe that oil prices in the US will average $88-92 a barrel in 2011 but may climb toward $100 by the end of the year, while natural gas prices in the US will average $4.00-4.25 in 2011 but may climb toward $5.00 by the end of the year. I believe that much of the “shale gale” euphoria will begin to unravel in 2011 and there may be some important distress situations or even bankruptcies that will underscore the risk of these ventures. I suspect that the rush to “liquids-rich” gas plays in the US will be exposed as low-resource potential ventures rather than another Saudi Arabia of crude oil. I imagine that the miracle of Chinese growth will begin to show some weakness in 2011 as state-directed economics becomes unstable. The PBC has been artificially keeping inflation low by buying dollars and creating bonds to keep the money supply low. The loans for big infrastructure projects will not uniformly perform. This cannot last. True inflation is higher than revealed and, when it is known, will show the vulnerability of the economy because the rural sector is not sharing prosperity with the urban sector. Sovereign debt problems in Europe

Rebooting the American Dream — Chapter Seven: Cool Our Fever


From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout
Article with footnotes here

We live in a democracy and policies represent our collective will. We cannot blame others. If we allow the planet to pass tipping points…it will be hard to explain our role to our children. We cannot claim…that “we didn’t know.”

- Jim Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

I have taken the four-hour train ride from the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, to the Bavarian town of Stadtsteinach in the Frankenwald often enough to know it by heart. I look out the window and see the familiar sights – the towns, the rivers, the houses.

I have visited Stadtsteinach many times over the past 30 years, working with Salem International, a relief organization headquartered in that town. The community for abused kids that Louise and I founded in New Hampshire is based on its family-oriented model, and we have helped start Salem programs in Australia, Colombia, India, Israel, Peru, Russia, and Uganda, among others. So at least once a year I’ve made it back to Germany, and we lived there for a year in the mid-1980s.

But during the past decade, as the train rolls along eastward from Frankfurt, I’ve seen a dramatic change in the scenery and the landscape. First there were just a few: purplish-blue reflections, almost like deep, still water, covering large parts of the south-facing roofs as I looked north out the window of the train. Solar panels.

Then, over the next few years, the purplish-blue chunks began to spread all over, so now when I travel that route it seems like about a third—and in many towns even more—of all the roofs

Reading Archaeologically


From TWYLA THARP
Author, The Creative Habit

I read for a lot of reasons, pleasure being the least of them.

I read competitively, remembering Mark Twain’s admonition that “the man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read.

Mostly, I read for inspiration. But what inspires me is probably not the same as what inspires or pleases the general populace. Although I’m interested in characters and story line and sheer information, I usually read with a specific purpose. I’m searching for patterns and archetypes, concepts and situations that are so basic to the human condition that they’ll connect with an audience in a fundamental way, whether or not the audience is aware of the connection.

I tend to read “archaeologically.” Meaning, I read backwards in time. I’ll start with a contemporary book and then move on to a text that predates that book, and so on until I’m reading the most ancient texts and the most primitive ideas. For example, when I was casting about for the project that ultimately became the Bacche piece, I began by reading Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. That hooked me on Dionysus, and led me back to Carl Kerenyi’s study of Dionysos, which explained the place of goats as part of the worship of Dionysus, and the connection to the development of Greek tragedy. From there it was back to Euripides, and the text of The Baccae, at last turning to a source that Jerome Robbins had suggested to me years earlier.

I don’t know if many people read archaeologically. A lot of people I know read chronologically: if they’re tackling all of Dostoyevsky, they start with his earliest works and plow through to his last writings, in much the same fashion as they did in school.

What is a Feasible Living Situation for Future Humans?


From  GEORGE MOBUS
Question Everything
Via Our Finite World

How Do We Establish Feasible Sustainable Living?

The peaking of oil extraction and refining appears to be upon humanity. The evidence is quite strong (if you want to follow this story I recommend you regularly read The Oil Drum for news and updates as well as technical reports). Because the cost of oil reflects to a large degree the imbalance between supply and demand, and has been pushing higher for the last several years, this has had a dampening effect on demand and a depressing effect on the economy. Thus, instead of an actual peak due to geophysical issues alone (the basis of the original peak oil theories) and subsequent decline, we are witnessing a bumpy plateau. Demand destruction leads to lower production in response and that means some oil is not being pumped out of the ground that would have been otherwise. But the overall trend is basically the same. Oil production will go down leading to upward pressure on the price we pay for each unit that is pumped. The feedback between the economy and oil production will mean that the process of decline will be stretched out a bit longer.

Nevertheless, oil is now on a depleting slope and however long it takes there is only one direction it can go. Just as problematic for civilization is that oil is the “king pin” energy source for modern industrial society. It takes oil to produce diesel fuel and gasoline, both needed to drive the equipment required for the extraction of other fossil fuels and all other natural resources. Oil is required for agriculture, transportation, and some heating. Natural gas, methane, comes closest to oil in terms of being able to replace oil derivatives for these purposes, but not without extensive retrofitting of the prime movers. That probably isn’t going to happen overnight simply because it will take a significant amount of oil-based energy and materials (lubricants and plastics) to produce the retrofits.

Courage is Contagious: David Frost Interviews Julian Assange


From DAVID FROST
~~

10 most hopeful stories of 2010


From YES! MAGAZINE

There was plenty of disappointment and hardship this year. But the year also brought opportunities for transformation.

It was a tough year. The economy continued its so-called jobless recovery with Wall Street anticipating another year of record bonuses while most Americans struggle to get work and hold on to their homes. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continued, and spilled over into Pakistan and Yemen, and more American soldiers died by suicide than fighting in Afghanistan. And it was a year of big disasters, some of them indicators of the growing climate crisis.

World leaders, under the sway of powerful corporations and banks, have been unable to confront our most pressing challenges, and one crisis follows another.

Nonetheless, events from 2010 also contain the seeds of transformation. None of the following stories is enough on its own to change the momentum. But if we the people build and strengthen social movements, each of of these stories points to a piece of the solution.

1. Climate Crisis Response Takes a New Direction. After the failure of Copenhagen, Bolivia hosted a gathering of indigenous people, climate activists, and grassroots leaders from the global South—those left out of the UN-sponsored talks. Their solution to the climate crisis is based on a new recognition of the rights of Mother Earth. Gone are notions of trading the right to pollute (which gives a whole new meaning to the term “toxic assets”). Instead, life has rights, and we can learn ways to live a good life that doesn’t require degrading our home.

The official climate agreement that came out of Cancún was weak and disappointing, although it did represent a continued commitment to work to address the challenge.

How much further will Mendo home prices fall?



Zillow.com: Ukiah 10-Year Drop

From THE AUTOMATIC EARTH

[You won’t see the above graph in our local Friday Real Estate supplements… -DS]

[…] Our economies run on credit, it’s their lifeblood. Take it away, and they will stop running. Not altogether, but to a very large extent. Shipping letters of credit are getting harder to procure; the Baltic Dry Index is once more tumbling as we speak. Nearly everything you find in your stores is bought with credit; if storeowners would have to pay in advance for what they haven’t sold yet, they wouldn’t be able to.

Now imagine that coming to a grinding halt.

Similarly, real estate purchases practically all involve the use of credit. For anyone to be able to afford a home with the cash they have, home prices will have to come down a lot. Which is precisely what they will do. However, by that time, those among us who do have the cash will think twice before using it to buy a home. Home purchases will never go down to zero, but they can come down a lot. Like prices, purchases can also fall by 90%. There’s a solid link between the two. What we have been predicting for the past five-odd years is first and foremost a credit crunch and collapse, across the western world. That is, available credit will decrease ever more, until there’s hardly any of it left. And that in turn will have grave consequences across economies, including real estate markets…

In the US, the picture is deliberately kept as murky as possible. Official U3 unemployment is at 9.8%, but when tens if not hundreds of thousands of workers every single month are moved into the “no longer in the workforce” category, following the U6 number, which is 17-18%, might paint a more truthful picture.

The problem that emerges form this is that even if the banks would be willing and able to lend, which they’re not

Will Parrish: The North Coast Wine Industry’s Latest Coup De Grace — Draining Our Rivers Dry


From WILL PARRISH
Laytonville

The latest in the North Coast wine oligarchy’s long series of legislative coups de grace occurs on December 14th. In what will surely be a 5-0 vote, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will rubber-stamp new regulations on frost protection in the Russian River water basin, now in its death throes after having been continuously ravaged by several generations of extractive enterprise.

In recent decades, the once-simple act of protecting new bud growth on grape vines from frigid temperatures has become tantamount to a war on rivers. The predominantly corporate alcohol farmers who wield executive authority over the North Coast’s land and politics almost universally combat frost damage via systems of overhead sprinklers that sprawl out across each row of grapes, dowsing them with a continuous coat of water on spring nights when local temperatures drop into the 20s.

Due to the sheer volume of water this advanced industrial system of frost management requires, the growers opt not to draw their water from wells — which would be harmful enough to the level of the water table — but instead pump straight from streams, creeks, and rivers. According to an estimate by David Koball of Fetzer Vineyards, a subsidiary of the multi-billion dollar multi-national alcohol conglomerate Brown-Forman, a 20-acre vineyard requires 1,000 gallons per minute for frost protection.

There are more than 3,000 of these 20-acre swaths of wine-grapes in the Russian River basin alone (60,000 acres). In other words,

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