Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Response to a Political Chain Letter (Part 3)

Here is the third and final part of my response to that chain letter that opened up with... "WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT TO TURN ON THE TV AND HEAR ANY U.S. PRESIDENT, DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN GIVE THE FOLLOWING SPEECH?". Once again; chain letter in red, my responses in black.
I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid parking tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed I don't care about whatever treaty pertains to this. You creeps have tens of thousands of unpaid tickets. Pay those tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world. I love New York.

This is obviously a reflection of the emotional hostility that many Americans have toward the UN, which ironically started as an American idea. The UN was established as an organization based on global democracy, which has always been an American slogan, and it still is. But sometimes the state of the world has the effect of matching our slogans with the true intentions of our leadership and sometimes they don't.

During the time the UN was being created, the rest of the world was reeling in the aftermath of WW2 and America had all the money, surplus and good looks. That made America the voluntary choice for almost everyone. But over the course of the next seventy years many countries have developed greater independence and more alternatives, so naturally, the free will of democracy won't always go our way like it did in the middle of the 20th century. I guess when it doesn't we start whining about their parking tickets. :(

A special note to our neighbors. Canada is on List 2. Since we are likely to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change.

Once again, we show our intolerance for countries that don't always agree with us. Maybe we would feel better if we just put the world in shackles.

Mexico is also on List 2. President Fox and his entire corrupt government really need an attitude adjustment. I will have a couple extra tank and infantry divisions sitting around. Guess where I am going to put em? Yep, border security.

I’m not sure what the rednecks expect the Mexican government to do. Mexicans are free people who can go where they want. If Americans have a hard time with Mexicans crossing the border then they should stop looking for cheap under-the-table labor because that’s what brings them in. And when illegal immigrant workers use U.S. tax-funded services, I don’t think the Americans that pay these workers under the table to avoid paying taxes in the first place have a right to say anything about it.

BTW - I don't know when the chain letter was originally written but Vicente Fox Quesada is not the President of Mexico anymore. Felipe Calderon is.

Oh, by the way, the United States is abrogating the NAFTA treaty - starting now.

Yeah, it was a good idea when we thought the U.S. would get the better end of the deal wasn’t it?

We are tired of the one-way highway. Immediately, we'll be drilling for oil in Alaska - which will take care of this country's oil needs for decades to come. If you're an environmentalist who opposes this decision, I refer you to List 2 above: pick a country and move there. They care.

The highest estimates for how much oil is in the ANWR is about 10 billion barrels, which would be enough to take care of this country’s oil needs for about 18 months.

Proponents of drilling ANWR often play games with this number so they can make statements like... “There’s enough to last for decades.” What they are basically saying is that Alaskan oil can reduce our dependency on foreign oil by 15%... for approximately two decades, enough to use the plural form of the word in a vague indication of a long time. ‘Wanna buy the Brooklyn Bridge?

So then why does the oil industry continue to battle congress on this? While 10 billion barrels would hardly offset the cost of bringing the oil to the market, there is a precedence that the industry hopes to set in which the promises that America made to itself to preserve and protect certain areas of natural land are broken. If the American promise to protect ANWR is broken then from a legal perspective, it will also be much easier to break the promises that America made to protect it’s California shore and it’s Rocky Mountains. So now we see the advantage for the oil industry, what about us? Is a 15% reduction in foreign oil really going to help us avoid the effects of Middle Eastern politics or OPEC price setting? Well, unless we can cut our consumption by 85%, I’d say not. But if you still think that this 15% reduction on foreign oil is really that important you should be happy to know there is another option. It has also been estimated that we can cut 15% of our consumption through achievable conservation efforts. Of course this requires that we go on an energy diet, which not every American has the will-power to do.

So what the dispute over Alaskan oil amounts to is a test of the American character. Will America demonstrate it’s self-control and integrity, or will it demonstrate that an American promise isn’t’ worth much?

It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens. Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, "darn tootin."

Although there are some Republican isolationists out there such as Pat Buchanan, they are really more like isolated Republicans because Republicanism itself claims to be “pro-business”, and anyone with a mind for business understands the commercial advantages of globalism and any business mind with the guts to play dirty understands the advantages of levering foreign policy to insure favorable business environments. Any president that turns his back on global affairs will be denounced by the very same people that encourage isolation once they figure out what idiots they've been.

Nearly a century of trying to help folks live a decent life around the world has only earned us the undying enmity of just about everyone on the planet.

Well, a century ago our westward expansionism had just finished up with one of the largest genocides in human history, where we wiped out entire nations of indigenous people and we were just starting to turn our attention toward the economic enslavement of countries to the south as part of a greedy process that "Big Stick" Teddy Roosevelt himself called "U.S. Imperialism". Our war with the Philippines, which our history books fail to mention, was underway in which the U.S. forced those people to submit to our desires too. We have been smacking other countries with "big sticks" ever since. By mid-century, the only atomic assault on major population centers in human history had become our biggest stick yet, but at that same moment the effect of being the only industrial nation in the world that escaped the war with infrastructure untouched, along with the abundant resources made available from all the land we took from the natives, gave us an even bigger stick. Since then, we've created the IMF, the World Bank and for those who don't go along with the plan, the CIA. We essentially transformed the tools of imperialism from an obvious system of military competition into a shady game of extortion. We offer "to help them" but expect returns and any nation that dares to refuse pays a horrible price.

Maybe that enmity comes from people who don't like to be forced to accept our "help", maybe they want to do things on their own and are tired of us telling them "it's our way or your elected president gets replaced." From the feudal lords to the Mafia, the people with the sticks have always "offered help" so I don't know why it should come as such a surprise to see people flip off their "providers" behind their backs.

It is time to eliminate hunger in America. It is time to eliminate homelessness in America. To the nations on List 1, a final thought. Thank you guys. We owe you and we won't forget.

Actually, we do owe those countries on List 1… a lot of money. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury we currently owe $12 billion to Poland and $145 billion to the U.K. But we owe even more to the countries on List 2: The U.S Treasury owes France $20.4 billion, Germany $47.7 billion and China, a massive $420 billion, not to be outdone by Japan to which we owe $612 billion! We even owe Mexico $35.5 billion! I’m not just talking about trade deficits here, these numbers, reported by the U.S. Treasury, are the debts we owe to foreign lenders.

How did this happen?

Well, despite the Republican claims that the Democrats are the big-government spenders with all their historic references to the "New Deal" days of yore, actual records show that in the last 20 years, the Republicans have been the big-government spenders and as a result have driven our nation deep into debt.

What makes it easy for them to preserve the illusion of being "financially responsible" is their constant foot stomping about taxes. The message is that they are doing more for less. This has been their biggest advantage when looking for votes from consumer-oriented Americans. But what they tend to keep on the "low-down" is that they have an alternate source of funding - foreign investors. Who needs income when you have credit? So after 20 years of Republican control over the government, we have become the #1 debtor country in the world. Our #1 export is debt!

Not only do we owe a lot of money to foreign investors now but our entire economy has actually become dependent on the continued stream of foreign investment, which is why the Federal Reserve has been slowly ratcheting up our rates - to make American debt more attractive. So tell me, how is a president going to turn his back on the world when his country depends so much on foreign loans? Not even our massive military can fix that problem. Sure, we can default on our current debts but that would be like cutting our throats because we still need to borrow more from Peter to pay Paul. Our choice has become simple, sell ourselves to foreign investors so we can continue to fund our economy or go belly up.

To the nations on List 2, a final thought: You might want to learn to speak Arabic.

LOL - As long as they can still communicate to us that we still owe them money.

God bless America. Thank you and good night.

If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier.


Honestly, what does it matter what language I read this in? Besides, I'm a little hard pressed to find a soldier to "thank" for keeping English my primary language. My family came here from England were they were already speaking English and since then there hasn't been a single point where English as a primary language was ever threatened by a military force. Did the Nazis ever force the French, the Dutch or the Poles to speak German? No. Did the Japanese ever force the Chinese or Cambodians to speak Japanese? No. Did the Russians force the Hungarians or the Czechs to speak Russian? No. OK, enough of THAT silliness.

(Please forward this to at least ten friends and see what happens! Let's get this to every USA computer!)

Yes, let’s spread our ignorance. ;)

:End of Chain Letter:
Actually, I understand where this letter is coming from. Simply put, there are a lot of people that are fed up with the way America is being treated in the global community but what is sad is that this disharmony between what I call American chauvinism (not all Americans, but enough of them to be embarrassed) is essentially a lashing out at others for problems that we have created ourselves.

I think that many times Americans have the most distorted perception of what America is. From what I can tell, most of the world truly admires our democracy. They really do. The American Revolution, and the U.S. Constitution are gleaming inspirations for others all around the world but these aren't the things that our leaders are offering them, in fact our leaders have been doing everything possible to prevent other countries from having these things. The British also did what they could in the 18th century to prevent us from having them, but to be more specific, it really didn't have much to do with the British nation, it was the powerful bankers and merchants in London that effectively leveraged the Crown's command of a strong military to force the colonies to comply with unfair economic arrangements. It was the masses versus the powerful that feed upon them. The American Revolution provided a constitutional democracy that gave the American masses a better chance against unfair arrangements but this didn't prevent the powerful bankers and merchants from evolving, finding new hunting grounds and ironically finding a new king for hire in Washington.

Today, it's the powerful transnational corporations leveraging the U.S. Presidency to force people all around the world to comply with unfair economic arrangements. So in one hand, America holds democracy which gives it's own people a chance against the aggressions of the powerful as facilitated by the foreign policy that America holds in the other hand. It's really a matter of where you live as to whether you feel the palm of one hand on your shoulder or the back of the other hand across your face. I suppose it's difficult for those who feel one hand to imagine the effects of the other which would explain why so many Americans with the palm of American democracy on their shoulders can't imagine the reason for anti-American sentiment. Can't they see how good the hand of democracy is? Perhaps a better question is... "Can't we see what the other hand is doing?"
 

Monday, June 04, 2007

Response to a Political Chain Letter (Part 2)

This is part 2 of my response to that chain letter that opened up with... "WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT TO TURN ON THE TV AND HEAR ANY U.S. PRESIDENT, DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN GIVE THE FOLLOWING SPEECH?". Once again; chain letter in red, my responses in black.
We are no longer going to pour money into third world Hellholes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption.

I would love to hear a president say that… I’m tired of the U.S. government spending my tax-dollars on building corrupt governments that abuse populations for the political and economic advantages of transnational corporations.

Need help with a famine? Wrestling with an epidemic? Call France.

Not a bad idea. The U.S. should be familiar with this. After initially refusing help from France during the Katrina disaster, the Bush administration finally decided on September 4, to ask France for help after all. France immediately provided disaster relief stocks, water purification stations, a civil defense team, a 60-man catastrophe intervention detachment, 2 naval ships, several aircraft, emergency medical teams, communication systems, water management teams and over 12 tons of food. Not bad.
source: Response to US Hurricane Disasters

In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home. On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the earth.

In general, I like this idea, but the threat to terrorism added at the end is pretty lame. For the past six years we have been pouring foreign operations and military money into our "war on terror" to the extent where we are leeching the resources previously allocated to domestic social issues and we still haven’t been able to effectively "hunt down and eliminate" the terrorists and their friends. So what makes this imaginary president think that if we retract the money from international affairs and spend it on domestic issues, the international terrorists are going to do anything but laugh at the threat that we will "hunt" them down and "eliminate" them?

I understand the emotional urge to shake our fists at the enemy but that's a habit shared by almost all losers of wars throughout history. If the president simply removed that silly threat at the end, I think his proposal would suddenly take on a much more effective threat to terrorists organizations. Of course, I subscribe to the idea that if the U.S. government redirected enough money from currently supported foreign operations to currently underfunded domestic operations the result would be a reduction in the causes of terrorism. I like to use an analogy where I compare terrorism to a clump of unwanted weeds. Although a war on the weeds in which we shoot them with machine guns may be more exciting and emotionally satisfying, the result is more likely to worsen the situation by shaking the seeds off the weeds resulting in even more weeds. That's what our current war on terror is doing. It would be far less entertaining but much more effective to simply stop watering the weeds and let them die quietly on their own, something that can be done by withdrawing our support for the tyrants and regimes that cause a little something called blow-back.

Of course we will never completely rid the world of terrorism anymore then we will rid the world of crime. But we can at least stop throwing gasoline on the fire.

Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize? Try France, or maybe China.

I know it's not popular for some people to understand the motives of terrorism, but anyone who makes an honest effort will quickly find that neither France nor China have given the Arab people as much grievance as the American-Israeli alliance so this statement is a little bit like 18th century England telling the American colonists to take out there grievances over taxation without representation on Spain.

I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France, Germany, and Russia. Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. Bon chance, mes amis.

It seems to me that the only people that want out of NATO are the Europeans. In the meantime, Washington is still trying to convince them that they still need NATO while stomping their feet in disagreement with every European proposal to operate forces independent of the NATO chain of command. So is it a concern for European safety or a concern for US control?

The most common pro-NATO argument is that the Europeans don't have the same defense budget as the US but I never understood why so many Americans feel that Europe needs our massive defense budget to defend themselves.
A casual glance at this chart which compares defense budgets should make it quite clear that the money the Europeans spend on defense is quite sufficient if in fact "defense" against the Russians or the Chinese is the concern. Of course things are different if your objective is world domination. ;)

Regarding the disrespectful overtone of this imaginary presidential address toward the Europeans; I think it’s sad that we forget that France and Germany were both right there with us fighting Saddam when he really was a real threat to the region back in 1993. They helped us contain Iraq and strip its huge armed forces down to a scant republican guard gripped between no-fly zones and placed under constant surveillance and severe economic sanctions. It’s also sad that we forget that the French and Germans also rushed to Afghanistan to help us fight the Taliban, a regime that the U.S. put there in the first place. It's sadder still, that when we left the French and Germans in Afghanistan to handle the difficult role of peace-keeping so that we could run over to beat up crippled Iraq for commercial advantages, that we got so nasty when they said they didn’t want to join us. I guess we just don't like anyone that doesn't do everything we ask them to do.
Still more antics from the chain letter coming up in part 3.
 

Friday, June 01, 2007

Scientific Advice or Liberal Politics?

Recently, a friend explained to me how he thinks the global warming "scare" is a political argument hoisted by liberals. He insisted that there isn't any proof that global warming is caused by human activity while referring to the evidence that temperatures have always fluctuated naturally. I couldn't help but notice how he was missing the point...

I don't think that the IPCC report that pro-corporate politics is scrambling to discredit is a "liberal argument", I think its professional advice, pure and simple. The scientific argument was over when the vast majority of climatologists reached a consensus, which isn't to say that they found the "truth" - just that they've arrived at a consensus. After all this is science not religion. This consensus never claimed that humans are 100% to blame for global warming either; it was simply a point where they agreed that our impact on the environment is significant enough to where changes in our behavior could reduce the environments reciprocating effect on us.

The political argument came as a political reaction to the scientific advice, which for almost-understandable reasons isn’t welcomed by everyone.

To use an analogy, the IPCC report isn't much different than a doctor advising a patient with a thyroid issue to watch his calorie intake. If the patient screams back at the doctor and says that his thyroid is making him fat, then the doctor can explain that the patient’s thyroid is indeed a contributing factor, but that it’s hard to deny that 7,000 calories/day isn’t also a factor and that by reducing his calorie intake he may be able to reduce the magnitude of his problem. In other words, do what's within your power. Now, if the patient is anything like a pro-corporate politician, he will just scream the same thing back at the doctor – perhaps his macho burritos are more important to him than his health. Well, at that point the doctor has the fortunate option to back off and say – “ok, it’s your body…” Unfortunately, people can’t do that for global warming because we all share the same planet, so now we have a "political argument".

The stupid thing about this political argument is that it’s so focused on “blame” that the point of “action” is completely missed. Global warming, regardless of what caused it is probably the biggest danger we face today. Our supply chains are so sensitive to climate conditions that billions of people will probably starve to death long before the ice, or even the cute furry polar bears disappear. As far as I’m concerned the urgency isn’t about saving the "planet", it’s about saving "us".

And we already know about the natural causes of global warming, you can see that when the scientists roll up their eyes whenever Exxon pays someone to point his finger at 20-year old data or to say that "the sun has solar flares" and for those whom Exxon can’t blind with wool, it’s still plain to see that we are emitting tons of greenhouse gas by the hour – it really doesn’t take a genius to figure out that our carbon emissions have SOME effect, and it shouldn’t take a liberal to understand what the IPCC means when they say we can’t stop global warming, but we can try to at least manage it. The problem is that humans aren’t always willing to take care of themselves, especially when obsessed with macho burritos, SUV’s or profit margins.

At least I get some giggles out of the pro-corporate expressions. My favorite one is that the global warming “alarmists” are conspiring to destroy capitalism. I heard that one on a right-wing radio show. I guess that means that if we’re going to die, at least we can do it laughing.
 

Response to a Political Chain Letter (Part 1)

Time for some fun...
A chain-letter was recently forwarded to me that can best be described as a crass fantasy about a presidential address that hits all the conservative hot buttons. I just had to state my two cents on some of the points brought up and decided to post them here. Of course there isn’t anything particularly difficult about exposing the absurdity of crude political expressions but these expressions seem common enough that most Americans wind up hearing them over and over again. Since the shallow rants of the chain letter covers a wide span of issues, I'm breaking this up into parts. Here's the first part.

The original letter is in inflammatory red and my comments are in casual black. ;)
WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT TO TURN ON THE TV AND HEAR ANY U.S. PRESIDENT, DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN GIVE THE FOLLOWING SPEECH? My Fellow Americans: As you all know, the defeat of Iraq regime has been completed. Since congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete.

Technically, the wishes of Congress reflect the wishes of the American people. Although this is much less the case than most of us want to believe, there is still evidence that Congress retains some qualities of a democracy. The Republican seats that were taken over by Democrats in the last election have been filled by lawmakers that campaigned heavily on the issue of bringing the troops home. Apparently, that's what the American people want because they voted those lawmakers into office. How typical though, that Congress is portrayed as a disconnected and self-interested regime by those who were outvoted by their fellow citizens.

BTW, just in case it wasn't clear, the Democrat-controlled Congress actually voted to continue funding the war twice. The first time with the condition that Bush agree to an exit schedule per the demands of the American people. Bush vetoed that bill, which suggests that the White House places a higher priority on it's foreign operations agenda in Iraq than on providing the troops with sufficient funding OR the demands of the American people at home. The second time Congress voted for funding with no such conditions because they knew that the only way to get money to the troops is to agree with everything Bush demands. So in the end it's clear that Bush is much more willing to starve the troops of funding than Congress is.

This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq. This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning. Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries which have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short. The United Kingdom, Spain, Bulgaria, Australia, and Poland are some of the countries listed there. The other list contains everyone not on the first list. Most of the world's nations are on that list. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening.

zzzzz

Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war.

The annual Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, seen as the most reliable assessment of how much the U.S. spends on foreign aid (for all countries, not just those on List 2), was $20.7 billion for fiscal 2006. So far, the cost of the Iraq War is over $315 billion. Given these numbers, it would take roughly 15 years to pay off the war with the money we would otherwise spend on foreign aid.
Oh yeah, and let's not forget that most of our "foreign aid" since 2004 has gone toward rebuilding Iraq anyway, so we are already spending foreign aid money on the cost of the Iraqi war. I guess the letter writer didn't think about that one.


More silliness to come... in Part 2
 


Archives:




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* Current Post
* Inside the Patriot Act
* Luminosity of a Future City
* Arctic Drilling
* Human Decline
* Wealth Inequality
* Bush Sells Our Forests
* Healthcare and Terrorism
* Chemical Assault
* The Cuban Medical Industry
* The Endless War
* Do the Rich Need Tax Breaks?
* A Collapse of Some Kind
* Guantanimo Bay

* About the Picture
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Books That I am Reading:


The World Is Flat
A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

Thomas Friedman

In this book Thomas Friedman continues his exploration of globalization and how the playing feild is leveling out.

War on the Middle Class
How the Government, Big Business, and Special Interest Groups Are Waging War on the American Dream and How to Fight Back

Lou Dobbs

This book is pretty much a print version of his TV program. This is what I call good investigative journalism


Books That I've Read Lately:


Catcher in the Rye


J.D.Salinger

My daughter is an avid J.D.Salinger fan and turned me on to this book. I'm glad she did. I read the first half on one airplane trip and finished the next half on the return flight. Salinger's naration is wonderful, his vivid style reminds me of Steinbeck.

Crash Proof
How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse

Peter D. Schiff

I've been reading the writing on the wall for some time now about the comming economic collapse and this book is one of those messages. I highly recomend this book for anyone interested in an easy to understand explanation of what is causing the crises and basic strategy for how to weather the storm.

A Peoples History of the United States: 1492 - Present


Howard Zinn

This book seems to draw a lot of criticism from people who point out that Zinn fails to present the complete picture, but I think that's the point. Zinn is simply filling in the gaps intentionally left by "politically correct" historians and in so doing, he sheds light on some of the real American heros who continue the "politically incorrect" American Revolution to this day. These heros are not the celebrated leaders and soldiers of the American Establishment who took the reins of exploitation from the British Establishment but the working class people who continued to stand up to exploitation regardless of what banner they wave. It's these working class people who continue to fight for liberty and justice and it's these unsung heros that we need to thank for our way of life and we can thank Howard Zinn for pointing them out, especially now that patriotism has somehow come to mean loyalty to a flag rather than to a principal.

Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less


Barry Schwartz

An interesting counter-view to the ever-so-popular notion that our vast array of options improves our culture.

Why I Am A Reagan Conservative


Edited By: Michael K. Deaver

I'm reading this book because I don't consider myself to be conservative. I suppose this is because I've been focused for so long on issues around which conservatives hold positions that I disagree with. But recently I've been looking beyond these issues in search of what I might agree are valid conservative positions and it seems the more I look the less I find, which is alarming to me considering the influence that conservatives have over the policies that effect our lives. Hopefully this book will provide me with some insight.

The Ayn Rand Reader


Ayn Rand: Edited by Gary Hull

I know, I know... what is Ayn Rand doing on this booklist? Answer: I read from as many perspectives as possible. Being a free thinker, I refuse to submit myself to a reading diet. Besides, I want to understand what it is that Ayn Rand fans are raving about and what institutes like ARI are pushing into our education systems.

A Thousand Barrels a Second
The Coming Oil Breakpoint and the Challenges Facing an Energy Dependant World

Peter Tertzakian

I've been trying to understand as much as I can about the coming oil crises. The author is Chief Energy Economist of ARC Financial, one of the world's leading private equity firms focused on energy. As far as I can tell so far, his book isn't a crack on politics or doom and gloom but a straightforward analysis of the realities of energy that so many people are ignoring.

TechGnosis
Myth, Magic & Mysticism in the Age of Information

Erik Davis

I've actually been reading the hardback version of this book, on and off, for long time now. The problem I have with this book is it's depth. Davis presents so many interesting ideas and references that I wind up placing a book mark and taking excursions into related materials. It can take me days to digest what Davis is saying in one sentence. Eventually, I always come back to the book, drawn in my Davis' poetic language of intellect. This book represents a true frontier for my mind.

The Moon Is Down


John Steinbeck

Steinbeck is always an easy read for me. His characters and scenes are so vivid. But this book in particular has the added significance of having had an extraordinary impact as Allied propoganda in Nazi-occupied Europe. Despite Axis efforts to supress it (in Fascist Italy, mere possession of a copy of the book was punishable by death) hundreds of thousands of copies were secretly translated into numerous languages, printed on unnaccounted paper and smuggled across borders. This story, a triumph of ideas in the face of cold steel and brute force, offered hope for the "unconquered" people under foreign occupation and celebrated the unbreakable spirit of free people. I feel like I should be sending copies to Iraqis currently under US occupation, but that could easily be construed as an act of terrorism.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman


John Perkins

I've been able to put two and two together for some time, so nothing in this book astounds me but it does bring the workings of the international banks and corporations as well as the US government out of the speculations of so-called conspiracy theories and into the matter-of-fact narration of one man's career path as an economic hitman.

Collapse:
How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed
Jared Diamond

Facinating book. Jared Diamond's name is what caught my attention as I was killing time at the bookstore at the airport. I was very impressed with his documentary "Guns, Germs and Steel" and figured he would make this study of societal destinies equally interesting. I was 100% correct. I especially enjoyed the chapters on the collapse of the Polynesian societies, realizing the scale-relativity with the evolution of our global society.

Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

Of course... the third book in my dystopian trilogy.

The United States of Europe:
The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy
T.R.Reid

An excellent perspective on the power that's rising in Europe as we Americans continue to sleep with visions of our own glory in our heads.

Imperial Ambitions:
Conversations with Noam Chomsky on the Post-9/11 World
Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian

As always, Professor Chomsky presents that calm and collected voice of logic that cuts through all the noisy rhetoric, half-truths, corporate funded media hype and emotionally driven spin sessions. Barsamian's interviews with Chomsky are clear, crisp and sober conversations.

Farenheit 451
Ray Bradbury

Figured I'd continue my journey through "negative-utopia" that I started with 1984. It does seem appropriate given the current state of America from which I found much more connection with Bradbury's vision than I did with Orwell's, especially the way in which the real source of oppression is not the government but the people themselves.

Cuba
A New History

Richard Gott

Just a straight forward history book, but Cuba has a facinating history that reaches back to the days of Columbus and offers everything from pirates to revolutions.

1984
George Orwell

It seemed like a good idea to refresh my memory of a mid-century perspective on where the world is headed. Although I found some relief in knowing that we have not followed the Stalinesque course to the letter, I nevertheless found much of Orwell's larger concepts ringing ever so true in 21st Century America, especially Orwell's concept of continuous war and Big Brother.

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
Greg Palast

Easy read... Palast is a circus ring master showing us unbelievable things. Penetrating investigation with a sense of humor.

One Market Under God
Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy

Thomas Frank

After reading the Lexus and the Olive Tree, I felt I needed a counter-balance view of globalization and how the liberated capitalism that I see everywhere around me, breaking the chains of regulation, is riding the globalization wave.

20:21 Vision
Twentieth-Century Lessons for the Twenty-First Century

Bill Emmott

The author, Economist cheif editor, tends to present very objective and slightly outside views of American economics/politics. I think this renders a more accurate assesment of how we fit in with the rest of the world. The book is a tour of the major forces of the 20th century with emphasis on how they are currently shaping the 21st century.

The Lexus and the Olive Tree


Thomas Freidman

Damned good book! Really opened up my eyes to what globalization is all about. Freidman's style of writing is engaging and his explainations are straightforward. I can see why people regard this book as the essential primer on the subject. I can also see why people think he is "pro-globalization" but I tend to think he's not so much promoting it as just pointing out the inevitability of it. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding globalization.

The Gnostic Gospels


Elain Pagles

I thought it was good. Explains a lot about the gnostic strain of Christain faith.

Consilience


Edward O. Wilson

Facinating. From the moment he starts decribing the Ionian enchantment on the first pages. This book describes the interrelation of seperate bodies of knowledge and how it all comes together.

The History of Money


Jack Weatherford

Human culture is possessed and these are some involving stories about the demon we call money.

Other material of interest:

Origins of the Federal Reserve (PDF) - Murray N. Rothbard

Excellent account of the monetary imperialism that led to the creation of the Federal Reserve.

The Elkhorn Manifesto
R. William Davis

This is an open letter to Americans that provides a historical perspective on the U.S. government's prohibition of Marijuana. Without stating any position on that particular issue, I have nevertheless saved a copy of the letter here because of what I think are some valueable and verifiable references to to what I call the "corporate priority over the better interests of the nation".