Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ruminations from the garden--revised

Speir Publishing Company has completed editing Ruminations from the Garden. The book is at the printer and Paul should have copies to sell within a couple of weeks. In the meantime, here's a link to the book's web-page. You'll find a video Paul created, excerpts from the book and a bunch of pictures my wife Leah took.

For what it's worth, this is a much better edition than the first.

Lifted from the site, Paul's video:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Paul Craig Roberts signs off

More here.

There was a time when the pen was mightier than the sword. That was a time when people believed in truth and regarded truth as an independent power and not as an auxiliary for government, class, race, ideological, personal, or financial interest.

Today Americans are ruled by propaganda. Americans have little regard for truth, little access to it, and little ability to recognize it.

Truth is an unwelcome entity. It is disturbing. It is off limits. Those who speak it run the risk of being branded “anti-American,” “anti-semite” or “conspiracy theorist.”

Truth is an inconvenience for government and for the interest groups whose campaign contributions control government.

Truth is an inconvenience for prosecutors who want convictions, not the discovery of innocence or guilt.

Truth is inconvenient for ideologues.

Today many whose goal once was the discovery of truth are now paid handsomely to hide it. “Free market economists” are paid to sell offshoring to the American people. High-productivity, high value-added American jobs are denigrated as dirty, old industrial jobs. Relicts from long ago, we are best shed of them. Their place has been taken by “the New Economy,” a mythical economy that allegedly consists of high-tech white collar jobs in which Americans innovate and finance activities that occur offshore. All Americans need in order to participate in this “new economy” are finance degrees from Ivy League universities, and then they will work on Wall Street at million dollar jobs.

Economists who were once respectable took money to contribute to this myth of “the New Economy.”

And not only economists sell their souls for filthy lucre. Recently we have had reports of medical doctors who, for money, have published in peer-reviewed journals concocted “studies” that hype this or that new medicine produced by pharmaceutical companies that paid for the “studies.”

The Council of Europe is investigating the drug companies’ role in hyping a false swine flu pandemic in order to gain billions of dollars in sales of the vaccine.

The media helped the US military hype its recent Marja offensive in Afghanistan, describing Marja as a city of 80,000 under Taliban control. It turns out that Marja is not urban but a collection of village farms.

And there is the global warming scandal, in which NGOs. the UN, and the nuclear industry colluded in concocting a doomsday scenario in order to create profit in pollution.

Wherever one looks, truth has fallen to money.

Wherever money is insufficient to bury the truth, ignorance, propaganda, and short memories finish the job.

I remember when, following CIA director William Colby’s testimony before the Church Committee in the mid-1970s, presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan issued executive orders preventing the CIA and U.S. black-op groups from assassinating foreign leaders. In 2010 the US Congress was told by Dennis Blair, head of national intelligence, that the US now assassinates its own citizens in addition to foreign leaders.

When Blair told the House Intelligence Committee that US citizens no longer needed to be arrested, charged, tried, and convicted of a capital crime, just murdered on suspicion alone of being a “threat,” he wasn’t impeached. No investigation pursued. Nothing happened. There was no Church Committee. In the mid-1970s the CIA got into trouble for plots to kill Castro. Today it is American citizens who are on the hit list. Whatever objections there might be don’t carry any weight. No one in government is in any trouble over the assassination of U.S. citizens by the U.S. government.

As an economist, I am astonished that the American economics profession has no awareness whatsoever that the U.S. economy has been destroyed by the offshoring of U.S. GDP to overseas countries. U.S. corporations, in pursuit of absolute advantage or lowest labor costs and maximum CEO “performance bonuses,” have moved the production of goods and services marketed to Americans to China, India, and elsewhere abroad. When I read economists describe offshoring as free trade based on comparative advantage, I realize that there is no intelligence or integrity in the American economics profession.

Intelligence and integrity have been purchased by money. The transnational or global U.S. corporations pay multi-million dollar compensation packages to top managers, who achieve these “performance awards” by replacing U.S. labor with foreign labor. While Washington worries about “the Muslim threat,” Wall Street, U.S. corporations and “free market” shills destroy the U.S. economy and the prospects of tens of millions of Americans.

Americans, or most of them, have proved to be putty in the hands of the police state.

Americans have bought into the government’s claim that security requires the suspension of civil liberties and accountable government. Astonishingly, Americans, or most of them, believe that civil liberties, such as habeas corpus and due process, protect “terrorists,” and not themselves. Many also believe that the Constitution is a tired old document that prevents government from exercising the kind of police state powers necessary to keep Americans safe and free.

Most Americans are unlikely to hear from anyone who would tell them any different.

I was associate editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal. I was Business Week’s first outside columnist, a position I held for 15 years. I was columnist for a decade for Scripps Howard News Service, carried in 300 newspapers. I was a columnist for the Washington Times and for newspapers in France and Italy and for a magazine in Germany. I was a contributor to the New York Times and a regular feature in the Los Angeles Times. Today I cannot publish in, or appear on, the American “mainstream media.”

For the last six years I have been banned from the “mainstream media.” My last column in the New York Times appeared in January, 2004, coauthored with Democratic U.S. Senator Charles Schumer representing New York. We addressed the offshoring of U.S. jobs. Our op-ed article produced a conference at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. and live coverage by C-Span. A debate was launched. No such thing could happen today.

For years I was a mainstay at the Washington Times, producing credibility for the Moony newspaper as a Business Week columnist, former Wall Street Journal editor, and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. But when I began criticizing Bush’s wars of aggression, the order came down to Mary Lou Forbes to cancel my column.

The American corporate media does not serve the truth. It serves the government and the interest groups that empower the government.

America’s fate was sealed when the public and the anti-war movement bought the government’s 9/11 conspiracy theory. The government’s account of 9/11 is contradicted by much evidence. Nevertheless, this defining event of our time, which has launched the US on interminable wars of aggression and a domestic police state, is a taboo topic for investigation in the media. It is pointless to complain of war and a police state when one accepts the premise upon which they are based.

These trillion dollar wars have created financing problems for Washington’s deficits and threaten the U.S. dollar’s role as world reserve currency. The wars and the pressure that the budget deficits put on the dollar’s value have put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block. Former Goldman Sachs chairman and U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is after these protections for the elderly. Fed chairman Bernanke is also after them. The Republicans are after them as well. These protections are called “entitlements” as if they are some sort of welfare that people have not paid for in payroll taxes all their working lives.

With over 21 per cent unemployment as measured by the methodology of 1980, with American jobs, GDP, and technology having been given to China and India, with war being Washington’s greatest commitment, with the dollar over-burdened with debt, with civil liberty sacrificed to the “war on terror,” the liberty and prosperity of the American people have been thrown into the trash bin of history.

The militarism of the U.S. and Israeli states, and Wall Street and corporate greed, will now run their course. As the pen is censored and its might extinguished, I am signing off.

Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at:

I've been schooled

Charles Bowden's latest book, Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields has been released.

I've ordered the book and read excerpts. More importantly, I have talked with the man. No one understands what's happening in Juarez like Bowden, and no one writes like he does either.

Don't believe me? Well, hit the look inside button on the cover of the book at Amazon and read a few pages.

Post Script on our trip to Mexico

As time goes by I continue to reflect on the situation. The more I think about it, the less convinced I become that the Mexican (and US) plan will work. The Zetas and other groups like them are Mexican versions of Al Qaeda: organic, self-organizing, constantly morphing. Cut off one head, ten more rise up.

I doubt few if any of the original members are alive and in charge of anything.

The body of consumers and addicts that have grown in Mexico over the last 20 years are not just going away. Not even when threatened with death. When you have nothing to lose, you have nothing to lose.

Poverty and inequality of wealth distribution and resources will continue to incubate new and more violent members of the resistance.

Mexico has a plan, not unlike the one I suggested.

The plan will fail.

The blood will continue to flow.

Lord have mercy on us.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The low-down on Mexico and drugs

Last week I took a trip to Mexico with Daniel Pace and Caio Ribiero, the current owners of a film rights option to my book, Contrabando. We visited some of my old haunts and a few survivors from the past. We also got a taste of what’s happening in Mexico.

To begin, the Mexican aduana confiscated two sacks of non-hybrid, non-genetically modified corn seed I wanted to take my Mexican friends at the border. Monsanto can and does flood Mexico with Frankencorn, but I can’t take a sack of good seed into their country. So much for the notion of free trade.

Daniel forgot his passport so we were forced to spend a day in Acuna waiting on a Fed Ex delivery. With a history of problems in Acuna, I didn’t want to be out and about after dark, so we rented rooms in a large upscale hotel. Despite spring break, we were one of perhaps 40 guests in a hotel containing a thousand rooms. Waiters in the restaurant, hotel maids and those that operated nearby businesses that cater to tourists sat around with nothing to do.

The next day we drove to a small town near Musquiz, Coahuila. Caio got out a camera and began filming. As I feared, this activity did not go unnoticed. Shortly after leaving the town, we were pulled over by two young local policemen and questioned. The cops weren’t abusive or threatening in any way; they just wanted to know who we were and what we were doing.

I found out why the cops stopped us later while talking to a Mexican friend in-the-know. Apparently, not too long ago, Chapo Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel allied itself with the Gulf cartel. A few days before we arrived, virtually every jefe of the Zetas was picked up and disappeared if they didn’t flee for their lives. The local cops are in a quandry, trying to figure out who the new owners of the plaza will be.

I think the Zetas, and perhaps also the Juarez cartel have outlived their welcome in Mexico. They’ve strong-armed people and preyed not only on those involved in the drug trade and the smuggling of illegal immigrants, but also legitimate businesses as well, all the way down to the poor woman selling used clothing. They also fed the habits of a rather large body of previously non-existent domestic consumers and addicts.

Mexico’s economy is collapsing as oil production continues its steep decline and as remittances from workers in the United States continue to slow. Income from tourism has crashed as violence scares visitors away. Drugs continue to provide lots of money and therefore, despite the rhetoric, will continue to flow north. But those that choose to sell dope to Mexican citizens are being eliminated. No trial, no jury. A hail of bullets, dead bodies. A knock on the door and a disappearance. What’s happening in Juarez and other areas is government sanctioned social cleansing. That is what your tax money is buying.

I wrestled with myself before writing this piece. I believe this is the plan that “worked” in Colombia and it will probably “work” in Mexico as well. What's happening is immoral as hell.

It is what it is and people should know the truth. The Juarez murders by and large are government sanctioned acts of social cleansing. Small time Mexican drug dealers and addicts are being eliminated. Chapo and his cohorts probably promised not to sell drugs domestically. Once competitors are eliminated, (if this can be done), the violence will be quelled and security will be restored. Chapo, or someone like him, will get the green light to keep American appetites for drugs satiated and the flow of drugs will continue, unabated.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Charles Bowden on Juarez and the "war on drugs"

Here's a ten minute interview of Charles Bowden from yesterday's episode of Democracynow.

Chuck pulls no punches.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Carlos Slim, world's richest man

Apparently, not everyone in Mexico is suffering in the current economic climate. Carlos Slim, a Mexican national, is now the world's richest man.

For those of you that think things are OK here in the United States because stock markets are soaring and you made a ton of money off of your year-end Wall Street bonus check, I'd submit that this country is beginning to look a whole lot like Mexico: protected zones containing small numbers of fabulously rich; another relatively small segment of society that derives modest income tending to the needs of the rich; masses of desperately poor outside the wire-enclosed zones of privilege with little or no voice or hope for a better life; laws designed to protect the rich; cops protect their property and prey on the poor.

We're not quite there, but that's where we're headed.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Calling all rebels

I've gotten to the point that all the fucking political parties and organized movements I'm aware of make me sick. So, under current circumstances, I suppose I have become an anarchist.

However, Chris Hedges has written a piece, supposedly from the left, that has nothing to do with the left and everything to do with what I believe.

Calling all rebels.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cheese and sauerkraut

I spent part of the day cutting cabbage for sauerkraut. I'm not real crazy about the canned stuff, but fresh sauerkraut is good stuff. And canned kraut is decent enough in a pinch and a good way to store excess cabbage from the garden.

I cut into a block of Leah's homemade raw milk chedder cheese today. The first couple of blocks we tried didn't taste good. I had blamed the failure on inconsistent curing room temperatures. But I wasn't sure.

We rigged up a freezer with a probe and an external thermostat. The block we cut today wasn't cured the whole time in the freezer, but it came out pretty good nonetheless. It had cured 70 days and was alreay what I would call semi-sharp. I'm a sharp chesse man myself, so it can't do anything but get better with time.

Both Leah and I breathed a sigh of relief. We have about a hundred pounds made and curing. It takes a minimum of sixty days for raw milk cheese to properly cure so if this hadn't worked we would have had a pile of worthless shit into which we had invested plenty of hours of time and effort, she more than I.


The war next door

A recent glimpse of Juarez, compliments of Chuck Bowden.

High Country News

An excerpt:

If the press reports this sort of thing, it is framed as part of a War on Drugs that must be won. These stories are fables at best. There is no serious War on Drugs. Rather, there is violence, nourished by the money to be made from drugs. And there are U.S. industries whose primary lifeblood comes from fighting a war on drugs. The Department of Homeland Security, for example, has 225,000 employees and a budget of $42 billion, part of which is aimed at making America safe from Mexico and Mexicans. Narcotics officers in the U.S. cost at least $40 billion a year. The world's largest prison industry would collapse without the intake of drug convicts, and, in recent years, of illegal Mexican migrants. And around the republic there are big new federal courthouses rising that would be cobwebbed without the steady flow from drug busts and the Mexican poor coming north.

The border now is a bundle of issues: drugs, terrorists, violence spilling across, illegal aliens, free-trade economists insisting on open borders, humanitarians calling for no more deaths. On the ground, this hardly matters. The giant wall being slowly built across the southern flank of the U.S. hardly matters. In the Altar Valley south of Tucson, the wall was barely in place before gates were cut, the hinges facing the Mexican side.

What is happening is natural. And like some natural things, deadly.


It is early January as I write. This weekend, over 40 people were murdered in Juarez, a city once hailed as the poster child of free trade, the city with the lowest unemployment rate in Mexico. The killings -- three of them women -- had little touches. A double amputee was shot in the head and then left on a dirt road wrapped in a blanket. Another man was found with his severed head on his chest -- the tongue, eyes and nose had been removed. A narco-message was left on yellow cardboard and weighted down with two severed arms. Such slaughter usually goes unnoticed in the U.S. press. Should it actually come to the attention of our newspapers, it simply will be written off as part of a cartel war. This is a fiction. Almost all the dead are poor people, not drug-enriched grandees. And though we give Mexico half a billion dollars a year to encourage its army to fight drug merchants, this alleged war has a curious feature: Almost no soldiers ever die. For example, in Juarez, over 4,200 citizens have been slain in two years. In the same period, with 7,000 to 10,000 soldiers in town, the military has suffered three dead.


Read the rest at the link.