Monday, April 22, 2013
Can't decide if you want a soda sweetened by obesity-causing high fructose corn syrup or poisonous Nutrasweet? Well, now with the Ten soda label, you don't have to choose!!! It's the best of both worlds!!!
Pizza Hut Debuts 'Crazy Cheesy Crust'
APR 3, 2013
Remember how jealous you were when Pizza Hut Middle East launched the Cheeseburger Crown Crust? Or when a photo from China, of the Hot dog-encrusted shrimp tempura pizza, began to circulate earlier this year? Well, worry not! America just got one step closer to crazy pizza land, with Pizza Hut's latest stuffed crust invention.
The limited release Crazy Cheesy Crust ($12.99 with 1 topping) features 16 detachable "pockets" of bread filled with a five-cheese blend. Disappointed? Execs sure hope so! Spokesman Doug Terfehr explains that "by not making it an over-the-top indulgence... people would buy the pies repeatedly rather than just trying them once as a novelty." Needless to say, we'll be Chain Reacting all over this thing.
Pizza Hut introduced its first stuffed crust back in 1995, and they've been riffing off it ever since. There was the Stuffed Crust Pan Pizza of 2009, followed just a couple of years later by the release of The Ultimate Stuffed Crust.
So, if you've ever wondered what ontological category comes after "Ultimate," lesson learned. It's "Crazy Cheesy," of course!
Even the NY Times is now rejecting Monsanto GMO science
April 9, 2013
This isn’t a leak. It isn’t a timid flow. It’s a flood.
I’m talking about about the criticism of Monsanto’s so-called science of genetically-engineered food.
For the past 20 years, independent researchers have been attacking Monsanto science in various ways, and finally the NY Times has joined the crowd.
But it’s the way Mark Bittman, lead food columnist for the Times magazine, does it that really crashes the whole GMO delusion. Writing in his April 2 column, “Why Do G.M.O.’s Need Protection?”, Bittman leads with this:
“Genetic engineering in agriculture has disappointed many people who once had hopes for it.”
As in: the party’s over, turn out the lights.
Bittman explains: “…genetic engineering, or, more properly, transgenic engineering – in which a gene, usually from another species of plant, bacterium or animal, is inserted into a plant in the hope of positively changing its nature – has been disappointing.”
As if this weren’t enough, Bittman spells it out more specifically: “In the nearly 20 years of applied use of G.E. in agriculture there have been two notable ‘successes,’ along with a few less notable ones. These are crops resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (Monsanto develops both the seeds and the herbicide to which they’re resistant) and crops that contain their own insecticide. The first have already failed, as so-called superweeds have developed resistance to Roundup, and the second are showing signs of failing, as insects are able to develop resistance to the inserted Bt toxin — originally a bacterial toxin — faster than new crop variations can be generated.”
Bittman goes on to write that superweed resistance was a foregone conclusion; scientists understood, from the earliest days of GMOs, that spraying generations of these weeds with Roundup would give us exactly what we have today: failure of the technology to prevent what it was designed to prevent. The weeds wouldn’t die out. They would retool and thrive.
“The result is that the biggest crisis in monocrop agriculture – something like 90 percent of all soybeans and 70 percent of corn is grown using Roundup Ready seed – lies in glyphosate’s inability to any longer provide total or even predictable control, because around a dozen weed species have developed resistance to it.” Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup.
Just as the weeds developed resistance and immunity to the herbicide, insects that were supposed to be killed by the toxin engineered into Monsanto’s BT crops are also surviving.
Five years ago, it would have been unthinkable that the NY Times would print such a complete rejection of GMO plant technology. Now, it’s “well, everybody knows.”
The Times sees no point in holding back any longer.
Of course, if it were a newspaper with any real courage, it would launch a whole series of front-page pieces on this enormous failure, and the gigantic fraud that lies behind it. Then the Times might actually see its readership improve.
Momentum is something its editors understand well enough. You set your hounds loose on a story, you send them out with a mandate to expose failure, fraud, and crime down to their roots, and you know that, in the ensuing months, formerly reticent researchers and corporate employees and government officials will appear out of the woodwork confessing their insider knowledge.
The story will deepen. It will take on new branches. The revelations will indict the corporation (Monsanto), its government partners, and the scientists who falsified and hid data.
In this case, the FDA and the USDA will come in for major hits. They will backtrack and lie and mis-explain, for a while, and then, like buds in the spring, agency employees will emerge and admit the truth. These agencies were co-conspirators.
And once the story unravels far enough, the human health hazards and destruction wreaked by GMOs will take center stage. All the bland pronouncements about “nobody has gotten sick from GMOs” will evaporate in the wind.
It won’t simply be, “Well, we never tested health dangers adequately,” it’ll be, “We knew there was trouble from the get-go.”
Yes, the Times could make all this happen. But it won’t. There are two basic reasons. First, it considers Big Ag too big to fail. There is now so much acreage in America tied up in GMO crops that to reject the whole show would cause titanic eruptions on many levels.
And second, the Times is part of the very establishment that views the GMO industry as a way of bringing Globalism to fruition for the whole planet.
Centralizing the food supply in a few hands means the population of the world, in the near future, will eat or not eat according to the dictates of a few unelected men. Redistribution of basic resources to the people of Earth, from such a control point, is what Globalism is all about:
“Naturally, we love you all, but decisions must be made. You people over here will live well, you people over there will live not so well, and you people back there will live not at all.
“This is our best judgment. Don’t worry, be happy.”
The author of two explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED and EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at:
Beef Stew with Bacon and Butternut Squash
3 pounds beef chuck
Kosher salt and black pepper
Olive or vegetable oil
6 slices good quality, lean, smoky bacon, chopped 1-inch pieces
2 carrots, chopped
2 to 3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped, divided
2 fresh bay leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 12-ounce bottle hard cider or 1 cup sweet vermouth
2 fat strips orange rind
1 quart beef stock
1 medium-large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
A little freshly grated nutmeg
About 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
About 2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
Warm crusty bread and butter, to pass at table
Bring meat to room temperature and pat dry. Cut into 2-inch pieces. Just before cooking, season with Kosher salt and black pepper.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Heat oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and stir until crisp; remove to a plate. Cook meat in batches, caramelizing on all sides. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining meat, adding additional oil if necessary.
To meat drippings, add chopped carrot, celery, onion, sliced garlic, marjoram, half the thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Partially cover pot and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato paste, cook for 1 minute, then stir in hard cider or vermouth and a few fat strips of orange rind; deglaze and reduce liquid by half. Add stock then slide meat and bacon back into the pot, bring to bubble, cover and transfer to oven. Roast 2 1/2 hours.
Remove the stew and let it stand, covered, while you roast squash.
Raise heat to 425°F. Coat squash with oil and toss with remaining thyme, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Roast 30-35 minutes, turning once, until brown at edges.
Once the squash is done, remove bay leaf and orange rind from the stew. Skim fat with a spoon or paper towels.
Place meat in a large shallow bowl or serving dish and stir honey and mustard into sauce. Stir in squash and serve in bowls. Pass crusty bread at table for mopping.
Strawberry Honey Butter
1 pint strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
In a food processor purée the strawberries and force the purée through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Add the honey and the lemon juice and boil the mixture, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until it is thickened. Let the strawberry mixture cool to room temperature. In a bowl cream together the butter and the strawberry mixture. Let the butter stand, covered, in a cool place for 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop.
This butter is delicious, especially on whole grain bagels!
Baked Eggs in Avocados
1 Avocado cut in half, pitted
Salt and pepper, to taste
Topping of choice (some suggestions: parmesan, chili flakes, balsamic, oregano, basil, turkey bacon, etc.)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Using a small piece of aluminum foil, create a 'bowl' or 'boat' in which to bake your Egg in avocado. Scoop out a small amount of the avocado to create a larger hollow. This will prevent your egg from overflowing completely (a small amount of overflow is normal). Place avocado in your foil 'bowl' and crack the egg into the hollow. Top egg with salt and pepper, and add toppings of your choice. Bake until egg reaches desired doneness (about 15 minutes should give you a tender yolk without runny whites). Serve warm.
GROW, ENJOY, SHARE.... the beauty and the bounty
1 tube (8 oz.) refrigerated crescent rolls
2 cups (1 lb.) cubed ham
2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 cup milk
Dash of salt and pepper
1-1/2 cups Sargento Shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese
Arrange rolls on bottom of 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top rolls with ham and potatoes. Beat together eggs, milk, salt and pepper in medium bowl. Pour egg mixture over potatoes. Top with cheese. Bake in preheated 375°F oven 30 minutes or until eggs are set.
Italian Grilled Cube Steak Sandwich
Yield 2 servings
1 pound Black Angus Cube Steak
1/2 cup Italian Salad Dressing
4 slices Fresh Sourdough Bread
2 dashes Worcester Sauce
2 pieces Swiss Cheese
Place cube steaks in a large sandwich bag along with the Italian Dressing and allow to marinate for at least one hour. Four hours would be best.
Grill steaks about 4-5 minutes on one side, 2-3 minutes on the other.
Place between two slices of fresh buttered sourdough bread. Add cheese (optional). Slather with worcester sauce for extra spice (optional).
Potato, Asparagus & Mushroom Hash
WebMD Recipe from EatingWell.com
Made with asparagus, roasted red pepper and mushrooms, this hash has a fresh and light, springtime taste. Serve with hearty whole-grain toast and an egg or two on top.
Prep: 40 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes
1 pound new or baby potatoes, scrubbed, halved if large
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 bunch asparagus, (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut in 1/2-inch pieces
4 ounces shiitake mushroom caps, or other mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Fresh chives, for garnish
Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Put potatoes in the basket and steam until barely tender when pierced with a skewer, 12 to 15 minutes, depending on size. When cool enough to handle, chop into 1/2-inch pieces.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large (not nonstick) skillet over medium heat. Add asparagus, mushrooms, shallot and garlic and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to a plate.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Add onion and the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up the browned bits with a metal spatula, until the potatoes are browned, 4 to 8 minutes. Return the asparagus mixture to the pan along with roasted red pepper, sage, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute more. Serve sprinkled with chives, if desired.
CREAM CHEESE CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
5 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup light sour cream
10 oz. can of enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (canned corn works just fine, but drain it first)
4 oz. can diced green chiles
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
4 scallions, thinly sliced
8 (8-inch) whole wheat tortillas
1.Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9×13 dish with cooking spray.
2.In the bowl of your mixer cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, and 1/2 of the enchilada sauce. Stir in 1/2 cup of each type of cheese.
3.In a second bowl toss together the chicken, corn, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper, green chiles, and half of the scallions. Add the chicken mixture to the cheese mixture and combine well.
4.Spread about half of the remaining enchilada sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.
5.Spoon the filling into each tortilla, roll the tortilla up, and place in the baking dish with the seam down. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the filled tortillas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with the remaining scallions and serve.
Vietnamese Noodle Soup
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
3 cups organic reduced sodium chicken stock.
1 clove garlic, minced.
1 tsp minced ginger.
1/4 tsp cardamom.
1- 7oz bag of Miracle Noodle Angel Hair Noodles.
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast sliced crosswise into 1/8 slices.
1 cup bean sprouts.
2 scallions, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces.
1 tsp chili sauce(optional).
1/2 lime, cut in half.
1/4 cup chopped cilantro.
1/3 cup of mushrooms-any variety (optional).
1 thinly slice chili pepper with seeds removed (optional).
In a 3 quart saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger and cardamom and let simmer for 10 minutes.
In a colander rinse noodles with warm water for a couple of minutes, pat dry with a small hand towel or paper towel to remove excess water. Divide noodles into two bowls.
Add chicken to stock and let cook for 5 minutes(until completely cooked)
Pour soup into bowls over the noodles. Divide bean sprouts between 2 soup bowls then top each serving with half the scallions and chili sauce. Garnish bowls with a slice of lime and pieces of cilantro.
I could swear I was at the Vietnamese restaurant, but without the calories!
Nutritional Info: 2 Servings
Total Fat 3.6g
Saturated Fat 1.0g
Total Carbohydrates 6.2g
Dietary Fiber 1.7g
McBitty's Bean Burgers
Originally published with Eat: Recipes for the Semi-Vegan
MARK BITTMAN, April 7, 2013
TOTAL TIME 35 to 45 minutes with cooked beans
1/4 cup dried stemless porcini mushrooms
2 cups cooked or drained canned black beans
1 teaspoon roughly chopped garlic
3/4 cup rolled oats, or more if needed
2 teaspoons smoked paprika or chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and black pepper
Bean-cooking liquid, porcini soaking liquid or water
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes; roughly chop.
Put the mushrooms, beans, garlic, oats, spices and soy sauce in a food processor with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Let the machine run until the mixture is combined, not puréed, about 30 seconds. (Or use a potato masher.) Add oats to thicken, or liquid to thin, as needed.
Stir in the cilantro, and let sit for 5 minutes.
Shape into 4 large or 8 small patties; let them sit for 5 minutes.
Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until crisp on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the burgers are crisp on the other side, another 5 minutes or so. Serve with the usual fixings.
YIELD 8 small burgers, 4 supersize
Chicken Chipotle Burger
These burgers are a good alternative to your usual beef burgers as this uses chicken dressed in creamy chipotle sauce which gives this dish a different dimension in terms of taste. If you love things spicy then this is for you, a simple chicken burger with tomatoes, cheese and chopped lettuce infused by smoked Mexican chillies.
Ingredients (Chicken Cutlet Patties)
2 pcs large chicken breasts
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients (Chipotle Sauce)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 tsp pureed chipotle chilli in adobo
juice from 1/2 lime
1 clove garlic, minced
8 burger buns
1/2 head lettuce, chopped
1 large white onion chopped
2 large tomatoes, sliced
8 slices smoked cheddar cheese
Method (Chicken Cutlet Patties)
1. Cut chicken breast into two then thinly slice each side into 2 pieces yielding 4 pieces for each breast. Using a meat pounder, lightly pound each piece until they are flat. Place in a container that can be covered then set aside.
2. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper chicken breasts then set aside.
3. Mix together flour and corn starch, place in a flat container.
4. Place eggs in another container.
5. Place bread crumbs in another flat container.
6. Lightly dip chicken pieces into the flour mixture, then dip it on the beaten eggs then into the bread crumbs. Set aside and do it with the remaining chicken breast.
7. Prepare a deep fryer or a wok with enough oil for deep frying, heat oil until hot but not smoking (ideally 180C) then deep fry each chicken piece until golden brown, this will take around 5 minutes.
8. Once cooked place in a dripping container to remove excess oil.
Method (Chipotle Sauce)
1. Combine all ingredients then place in the refrigerator, chill before using.
1. Place chicken, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onions and a generous amount of Chipotle in between your burger buns then serve.
Cheeseburger Macaroni and Cheese
J. Kenji López-Alt
APR 4, 2013
Note: Ro*Tel tomatoes can be found in most supermarkets in the tomato section, or ordered online from Amazon. If you can't find them, substitute 1 (14-ounce) can of diced tomatoes and 1 (3 1/2-ounce) can of diced chilies.
Every recipe we publish is tested, tasted, and Serious Eats-approved by our staff. Never miss a recipe again by following @SeriousRecipes on Twitter!
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1 pound ground chuck
4 scallions, finely sliced, whites and greens reserved separately
1 (14-ounce) can Ro*Tel tomatoes (see note above)
Freshly ground black pepper
Half pound dry elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces grated American cheese
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
Combine cornstarch, evaporated milk, and eggs in a small bowl and whisk until homogenous. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add beef and cook, breaking it up, until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add scallion whites and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add Ro*Tel tomaotes, stir to combine, season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Cook pasta in a large stock pot in salted water according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water. Return to stock pot and add cooking water, butter, evaporated milk mixture, and both cheeses. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese is melted and pasta is creamy and smooth. Stir in beef mixture. Transfer to a serving bowl, top with scallion greens, and serve immediately.
Mad Men has returned for Season Six. Celebrate the Roger Sterling way: with a Dirty Martini...
2½ oz gin
1½ oz dry vermouth
½ oz olive juice
3-4 green olives stuffed with blue cheese
Add dry vermouth to the martini glass, rinse, and pour out. Pour gin, olive juice and ice into mixing glass and shake until chilled. Strain in the martini glass and drop the 3 to 4 olives as garnish.
Comedian Jonathan Winters; Mouseketeer (and Beach Blanket Bingo star) Annette Funicello; UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; Arcosanti founder Paolo Soleri; Native American ballerina Maria Tallchief; Frank Bank, aka Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford; John Madden's most noted broadcasting sidekick Pat Summerall, the Ed McMahon of football announcers; Pink Floyd & Led Zeppelin album artwork designer Storm Thorgerson; USA Today media mogul Al Neuharth; Chrissy Amphlett, Divinyls lead singer best known for the song "I Touch Myself"; folk singer Richie Havens; and character actor Richard LeParmentier, best known for playing an Imperial general in Star Wars who mocks The Force, leading to Darth Vader psychic-choking him, complemented with the authoritative retort: "I find your lack of faith disturbing."
It appears suggesting Matthew Warren may have been gay, and his suicide may have been motivated by his father's relentless gay-bashing, is being cruel and insensitive to his father. Meanwhile, Rick Warren's promotion of homophobia and gay "conversion" therapy is something to merely gloss over. But the elephant in the room surrounding Matthew's suicide won't be ignored for long: I suspect the truth will come out sooner rather later, even with all the money and power that the Saddleback Megachurch has. I'll repeat what I said in 2008 when Warren was quasi-legitimized in the establishment via Barack Obama's craven bootlicking: Rick Warren is Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson with better PR.
And last but not least, Roger Ebert:
Roger Ebert ultimately was all about film. Here, in alphabetical order, are Ebert's final picks for the best films in history and the directors who made them.
"Aguirre, Wrath of God" (Werner Herzog): The 1972 story of the travels of a Spanish soldier is "one of the great haunting visions of cinema."
"Apocalypse Now" (Francis Ford Coppola): The 1979 Vietnam War film is "a grand and grave and insanely inspired gesture of filmmaking."
"Citizen Kane" (Orson Welles): Said Ebert of the 1941 epic: "Its surface is as much fun as any movie ever made; its depths surpass understanding."
"La Dolce Vita" (Federico Fellini): Made with "boundless energy," the 1960 film about a journalist in Rome was first reviewed by Ebert when he was a student at the University of Illinois.
"The General" (Buster Keaton): This 1927 movie starring Buster Keaton is "an epic of silent comedy."
"Raging Bull" (Martin Scorsese): Released in 1980, the tale of a fighter is "not a film about boxing but about a man with paralyzing jealousy and sexual insecurity."
"2001: A Space Odyssey" (Stanley Kubrick): The 1968 sci-fi flick "is not concerned with thrilling us, but with inspiring our awe."
"Tokyo Story" (Yasujiro Ozu): Released in 1953, the story of an aging couple who travel to visit their grown children is a "as simple and universal as life itself."
"The Tree of Life" (Terrence Malick): The 2011 film, which follows a father, his wife and two sons, is a movie "of vast ambition and deep humility."
"Vertigo" (Alfred Hitchcock): Ebert thought this 1958 movie, about a private investigator hired to follow a woman, was Hitchcock's most confessional.
‘I Know What The Shining Is Really About’: Inside the Crowded Cult at the Overlook Hotel
In the ensuing years, more than most movies, The Shining has deeply, inexorably embedded itself into the pop-culture mindscape. No one thinks much about naming a mid-range cop show Redrum, after the film’s backward “murder” riff. The identically dressed murdered little girls who roam the ghostways of the Overlook Hotel have far exceeded the recognizability of the Diane Arbus photo they are based on. Still, I remained in the dark. I had no notion that a DVD-based cult had risen up around The Shining, that the movie was studied by cine-psychonauts with a fine-tooth intensity usually reserved for the Zapruder film. I had no knowledge of the plethora of Internet sites like theoverlookhotel.com, which refers to itself as a clearinghouse for “ephemera related to Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece of modern horror, The Shining.”
This would change, however, when I happened upon a screening of Room 237, an epic of Shining fixation that critic Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter described as “nutty, arcane, and jaw-dropping … a head-first plunge down the rabbit hole of Kubrickiana from which, for some, there is evidently no return.”
Named for the forbidden Overlook room where the hapless, sexually frustrated Jack Torrance embraces a beautiful naked woman only to have her body decay at his tainted touch, Room 237 presents a compendium of Shining fans and scholars offering various readings on what the film is really “about.” These include: a metaphor for the extermination of the Native Americans; a retelling of the aforementioned Minotaur story channeled through an M. C. Escher–like maze of “impossible” architecture; a meditation on the nature of the Holocaust; as well as an encoded apologia by the director for his alleged role in faking the footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. It is to the everlasting credit of Room 237 and its director, Rodney Ascher, that this apparent claptrap soon uncoils in the gray matter like a tapeworm.
Immediately upon returning home from seeing Room 237, I streamed The Shining. Over the next 36 hours, I streamed the film three more times. Three decades past that desultory Times Square evening, fourteen years after Kubrick’s death in 1999, scales clanked from mine eyes like rain. In 1980, at age 32, The Shining seemed a trifle, made by a fading talent. In 2013, on the verge of Medicare, I saw a completely different movie, a Faustian saga of errant humanity, a sick, sick, sick, black-humored Kafka take on horror-movie conventions, marital relations, and the way synthetic realities tend to drive you crazy.
In other words, The Shining became emblematic of everything I had ever loved in Stanley Kubrick movies, a rewrapped gift from across time and tide from a once wrongly shunned, now thankfully resurrected idol.
It was certainly not unusual for people who disliked The Shining at first to change their mind about the film, said Bill Blakemore as we ate dinner at Cafe Fiorello on Broadway, not far from the offices of ABC News, where Blakemore started working more than four decades ago, covering the Vatican and numerous Middle Eastern wars. In Room 237, Blakemore is the one who believes the thematic subtext of The Shining is the murder of Native Americans by “the genocidal armies, the white men with their ax,” who came to build the Overlook Hotel in 1907.
Blakemore said he was clued to the larger message of the film by the presence of cans of Calumet baking powder on the shelves of the Overlook pantry. “He gives you a little key to the film’s larger meaning. This was how Kubrick worked,” Blakemore said. “He places something that catches your eye” that guides you through the confluence of false leads, misremembered memories, elliptical dialogue.
Asked why the significance of the baking-powder cans was clear to him but not everyone else, Blakemore said, “I grew up in Chicago, just north of the Calumet Harbor. I knew the word meant peace pipe, the symbol of an honest treaty, but so little of what happens in The Shining is on the level. Still, for me, the cans point a direction. With Kubrick, however long the journey takes, by whatever route you get there, you eventually come face-to-face with the truth.”
The mystery resided in the film’s central image, the repeated sequence of blood cascading from behind the hotel’s elevator doors, Blakemore continued over a plate of Fiorello’s hearty antipasto. “When the Overlook manager, Stuart Ullman, tells Nicholson and Shelley Duvall that the hotel is built on an Indian burial ground, that’s a dead giveaway, because the line isn’t in the Stephen King novel. That elevator shaft drives a stake into the body and soul of a murdered people.”
This was how Blakemore saw it. “For years I’ve covered these terrible events. War after war. Dispossession after dispossession. Murder after murder. Where do you think all that blood comes from?”
What a marvelous semiological scavenger hunt Room 237 was! To accept that Kubrick was a genius, an unerring god of a filmmaker, a man so meticulous and precise that nothing could possibly appear in his frames through unpremeditated accident, opened the floodgates of potential meaning. Geoffrey Cocks, interviewed in the documentary, was positive that the presence of a German-made typewriter and the number 42 on Danny’s sweatshirt signified, among other uses of the number, that the film was a commentary on the Holocaust, “42” referencing 1942. (Danny also says redrum 42 times.) Juli Kearns, a devotee of the Cretan-labyrinth theory, knew instinctively that the window in Ullman’s office was somehow “wrong,” a deliberately placed, architecturally “impossible” portal of doom (suggesting the supernatural lair of the Minotaur), which she refers to as “powerful” and “sinister.” John Fell Ryan, with no specific theory except awe at Kubrick’s infinite, engulfing talent, delighted in running the film forward and backward at the same time to study the synchronicity of the superimpositions, such as when the image of the murdered little girls is overlaid by a headshot of Jack Nicholson, looking “like a clown” with “blood on his lips.” If Susan Sontag feared that “interpretation” had become a matter of dry-rot “hermeneutics” rather than passionate “erotics,” she would find no reason to fret here.
It wasn’t that so much of what was being said about The Shining was so blindingly new. What mattered was the DIY methodology, the way the meme moved, the collectivity. When Bill Blakemore first saw Room 237, he thought, “Well, maybe two of us are sane, and the other three are nuts.” This “40 percent rationality” quotient was irksome, but Blakemore soon came to appreciate director Rodney Ascher’s method. Since there are no talking heads, only voices heard over images from the films of Kubrick and others, the opinions seem to blend together into what Blakemore called “a giant conversation.” The result is “you might always have three people who are crazy, and two people are sane, but who’s who keeps changing.”
The Entire Run Of Omni Magazine Is Available Online For Free
JAN 2, 2013 | AUTHOR: DAVID WHARTON | CATEGORY: SCI-FI
The age of the internet has been rough on traditional printed publications. Even major magazines such as People and Time have occasionally struggled as they adapted to the digital age that has more and more people absorbing most of their content digitally. While that ongoing transition has seen the demise of many smaller publications, the magazines that have adapted well, like Wired, are better than ever. There’s another nice perk of the online era when it comes to the magazine world: you can preserve publications and make them available to more people with a scanner and some patience. Case in point: the entire run of Omni magazine is online and readable for free:
Focusing on both science and science fiction, Omni enjoyed a long and venerable run, first published in October 1978. The print version lasted until Winter 1995, and while a digital version continued through 1997, eventually that, too, folded. That’s a damn shame, but what an amazingly cool treat that the entire run of the magazine is available for our perusal at the Internet Archive. Some days I really love the internet...
Supreme Court On Gay Marriage: 'Sure, Who Cares'
ISSUE 49•13 • Mar 26, 2013
WASHINGTON — Ten minutes into oral arguments over whether or not homosexuals should be allowed to marry one another, a visibly confounded Supreme Court stopped legal proceedings Tuesday and ruled that gay marriage was “perfectly fine” and that the court could “care less who marries whom.”
“Yeah, of course gay men and women can get married. Who gives a shit?” said Chief Justice John Roberts, who interrupted attorney Charles Cooper’s opening statement defending Proposition 8, which rescinded same-sex couples’ right to marry in California. “Why are we even seriously discussing this?”
“Does anyone else up here care about this?” Roberts added as his eight colleagues began shaking their heads and saying, “No,” “Nah,” and “I also don’t care about this.” “Great. Same-sex marriage is legal in the United States of America. Do we have anything of actual import on the docket, or are we done for the day?”
Before Roberts officially ended proceedings, sources confirmed that all nine justices were reportedly dumbfounded, asking why the case was even coming before them and wondering aloud if some sort of mistake had been made. Calling marriage equality a “no-brainer,” members of the High Court appeared not just confused but irritated when Proposition 8 defenders argued that gay marriage was not a national issue but a state matter.
Moreover, when Attorney Cooper said that gay marriage could harm the moral fabric of the country and hurt the institution of marriage, Associate Justice Sotomayor asked, “What are you even talking about?” while Justice Anthony Kennedy reportedly muttered, “You got to be fucking kidding me,” under his breath.
“I have to interject, Mr. Cooper,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said as the attorney argued that the government has legitimate reasons to discourage same-sex couples from getting married. “Do you honestly care this much about this issue? Because if you do, you’re a real goddamn idiot. Actually, you sound as dumb as dog shit, and you are wasting our time.”
“Should gay marriage be legal?” Ginsburg continued. “Yes. Done. Case closed. Goodbye. Christ, were we seriously scheduled to spend the next few months debating this?”
Even the typically conservative wing of the court maintained that, despite their personal views, it would be “downright silly” for them to rule that same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
“I’m a strict Originalist, Mr. Cooper, and I’m looking at a 14th Amendment that forbids any state from denying any person equal protection of the law,” Associate Justice Antonin Scalia said. “So, unless we are the most uncivilized society on the face of God’s green earth, I think we can all agree that a gay person is in fact a person. So what I’m saying is, who the fuck are we to tell a person who he or she can get married to? This is dumb. Can we talk about a real case now, please?”
Before adjourning the court, Roberts said there would be no official opinion on the case because it’s just “common goddamn sense,” and then addressed gay men and women directly.
“Get married, don’t get married, do whatever you want,” Roberts said. “It’s the opinion of this court that we don’t give two shits what you do.”
“C’mon, let’s go get some food,” added Roberts, as the eight other justices followed him out the door.
Are “Farmscrapers” the Future of Sustainable Architecture?
One of the advantages of living in a city is that the urban environment is in many ways more sustainable than suburbia — mass transit provides easy access to different areas without cars or highways, and dense planning efficiently fits more people into less space. But the quintessential architectural unit of the city, the skyscraper, isn’t always the greenest method of building. Enter “farmscrapers,” a new creation by the France and Belgium-based firm Vincent Callebaut Architects.
“Farmscraper” is the term they invented for a plan of six skyscrapers, deemed “Asian Cairns,” created for Shenzhen province in China. The towering structures are divided into ovular, blob-like sections that look like rocks smoothed by years in running water. Each blob plays host to a miniature forest of trees and grass, along with wind turbines and solar cells. Each farmscraper measures 1,300 feet high and has 111 floors, reports New York Daily News.
The farmscrapers are designed to act as self-contained ecosystems: The water created and collected by the planted farms will be recycled for use within the building. The farms will not necessarily produce food to sustain the community, but they will improve the city’s legendarily bad air quality. Each pebble unit will also contain a mixture of office, residential, and recreational space. By mingling efficient density with green design strategies, Callebaut is developing an architectural solution for China’s booming urban expansion. “In this context of hyper growth and accelerated urbanism, the Asian Cairns project fights for the construction of an urban multifunctional, multicultural and ecological pole,” the firm explained on World Architecture News.
Brad Pitt: America's war on drugs is a charade, and a failure
The actor and executive producer of the documentary The House I Live In says US drugs policy needs a radical rethink
The Observer, Saturday 30 March 2013
Today, with very little effort, anyone can land in virtually any city in this country, and within a day or two, procure their drug of choice. Since declaring a war on drugs 40 years ago, the United States has spent more than a trillion dollars, arrested more than 45 million people, and racked up the highest incarceration rate in the world. Yet it remains laughably easy to obtain illegal drugs. So why do we continue down this same path? Why do we talk about the drug war as if it's a success? It's a charade.
The drug war continues because it is a system that perpetuates itself. On a local level, any time a bust is made, scarcity drives up prices and, of course, the profit potential. History has taught us that there is no shortage of opportunists willing to fill the void and so the cycle continues and rates of drug use and dealing remain unchanged while incarceration skyrockets.
As long as we concentrate on staunching the supply, we create an artificially inflated market that is appealing enough to outweigh the risks of punishment. But if we focus our efforts on the flipside of the coin, and ask why there seems to be such an insatiable demand for recreational drugs, while investing in education, treatment and harm reduction, we might be able to break that cycle. The United States needs to fix the structures in our society that leave people desperate enough that addiction or drug dealing seems like a viable alternative.
The practical failure of the war on drugs is just part of the problem. The same policies that have had so little effect on the country's drug use have deeply and disparately impacted poor and minority communities in the United States. The burdens of over-incarceration and targeted policing have been borne overwhelmingly by the country's marginalised, making it harder than ever for large swathes of the population to enjoy the American dream. This is not because those communities use narcotics at a greater rate than the rest of us. In fact they don't. They are just more vulnerable to the war on drugs. It has to stop. It's one thing to abide by policies that don't make things better; it's another to continue with those that actually make things worse.
Wesley Snipes Leaves Pa. Prison After Tax Sentence
April 05, 2013
Wesley Snipes has been released from a federal prison in Pennsylvania.
Snipes was convicted in 2008 on tax charges. He was released Tuesday and placed under home confinement. A Bureau of Corrections spokeswoman said Friday he'll be overseen by the New York Community Corrections Office until July 19.
Snipes has appeared in dozens of films, from "White Men Can't Jump" and "Demolition Man" in the early 1990s to the "Blade" trilogy. He entered the McKean prison in December 2010 to begin a three-year sentence for failure to file income tax returns.
Snipes belonged to a group that challenged the government's right to collect taxes. Prosecutors say he failed to file returns for at least a decade and owed millions of dollars in back taxes.
Snipes had appealed in an Atlanta court, saying he didn't get a fair trial.
“Spiritual Economics” is a cross-disciplinary study combining psychology, economics and the spiritual science of the Vedas to explain why there is vulture capitalism, cut-throat competition, unending economic hardship, exploitation, inequity, and struggle in this world. Spiritual Economics explains why present economic methods can do nothing to solve these problems, reveals the actual source of our economic problems, and explains the only factual solution that can create an economy that serves everyone. Spiritual Economics also explains the origin and solution of our ecological problems.
There is a link between economic activity and human consciousness. Economics is not a physical science like electromagnetism that works according to natural laws. It is a set of ideas entirely created by human beings. The most important side of the economic equation therefore, is the human side, but this side is totally neglected in all discussions of economics. Since economics is a man-made creation, if we want to understand the economic problem and its solution we must understand how and why human beings act in this world. That will give us the insight needed to properly adjust all of the parameters of the economic calculus to get the desired result. Employing the spiritual wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita, Spiritual Economics explains the behavior of spiritual beings living in a material world. This has everything to do with economic activity.
Spiritual Economics also traces out, and explains, the historical drift from the gift economy found in many indigenous cultures to the economic exploitation taking place today.
Spiritual Economics analyzes economic behavior as a function of human consciousness, and explains the development of consciousness using concepts from the Vedic worldview. As such it offers a perspective that is entirely absent from all other economic analyses. The serious reader of this website is encouraged to acquaint themselves with the Vedic worldview as a first step to understanding Spiritual Economics.
From the Center of Your Heart, Emanates a Field. It's The Portal To True Power:
Creating From the Heart
This Toroidal Energetic Field Can Reach As Far As 5 Miles From Your Heart. It's 5,000 Times More Powerful Than the Brain, and Affects Everything In Your Life, There Is a Way To Access It...
Gunther White German Shepherds
Beautiful pure white German shepherd puppies available. Bred for intelligence and white color, our dogs are highly intelligent and want to learn. Capable for any purpose - police, seeing eye dog, search and rescue.
They are very loyal with steadfast allegiance. They are excellent with children (herding instinct, fearless protector) and make great family security dogs.
All of our puppies are UKCI registered as purebred German shepherds and come with registration app., are vet checked, and are guaranteed as strong, healthy pups.
All they want is to be with you and to please you, this is the nature of the pack. You will have a constant companion who will connect with you, and be your sure friend and consort.
March 30, 2013
In the fabled 1960s, the cops were called pigs, and anybody on the political Left who wanted a ticket to the show knew that and mouthed it often.
At rallies, protests, and riots, people said: are the pigs here yet? I heard they were three blocks away. Wonder how many pigs they’re sending today? There! There they are! The pigs!
Now, on the Left, that tradition has morphed into: repeal the 2nd Amendment; turn in your guns; citizens with guns are satanic; the police will protect us; a private citizen with a gun is a killer and needs psychiatric lockdown; suspend that five-year old with the gun screen-saver.
In 1968, if you asked a leftie college student whether a black man living in the inner city had a right to own a gun to protect himself against the cops, the answer, ten out of ten times, would have been yes.
Now, that leftie kid will be talking about the insanity of anybody owning a gun. Except for the cops.
Well, three things have happened since the 1960s. The end of the military draft, and the end of anybody caring who smokes pot or who has sex with who. Those changes melted away the whole “movement.”
A professor friend taught at UCLA during the turbulent 60s and early 70s. He told me as soon as the Vietnam war was over, the campus transformed in a flash. Students were suddenly all about finding a niche in the job market after graduation. Boom. Switch on, switch off.
The titanic idealism was put away in a drawer and filed under “crazy shit I did.”
The one remaining piece from the 60s that has endured is hatred of big corporations. But gradually, a parallel mindset has developed. First, grudging acceptance of big government; then toleration; then admiration.
Now, the Left is all about big government and the “positive changes” it can make.
And when I say the Left, I also mean the center, and a great deal of the right, because they’ve come along for the ride, too. They are the Left now.
In 1968, a big-time liberal presidential candidate, Hubert Humphrey, was the target of riots, by the Left, at the Democratic National Convention. Those riots tore apart half the city. Two years earlier, a march, by the Left, on the Century Plaza Hotel in LA, where Democratic President Lyndon Johnson was staying, sealed his fate. It was the last stone. Johnson, who had presided over the war on poverty and the creation of “The Great Society,” the biggest federal program since FDR’s New Deal, was mangled into oblivion.
Johnson announced he wouldn’t run for office again in 1968.
If Pelosi, Reid, Frank, and Obama had been around then, they would have been hammered in the same way by the Left. If they were for the war in Vietnam.
That was the big key, the war. Or to be precise, the military draft.
“Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?!”
Meaning: “I won’t risk my neck going to Nam!”
The elite Left has become the personification of the soccer mom now. Worries about everything. Danger everywhere. Needs more helmets. Schedules more play dates. Wants more state surveillance. “If you’re against intrusion on your privacy, maybe you have something to hide.” “Keep the poor bottled up in inner cities, give them anything they want, just don’t let them into my neighborhood.”
The Left has also become the promise of a vague fairyland new age. “We’re all in this together.” “We can raise up the lowest among us (by printing more money).”
And the police are part of that fantasy. They’re the centurions at the gate. “Arm them to the teeth.” “Render the rest of us powerless.” That’s the grand solution to all our social ills. Naked, hairless, unarmed, watched around the clock, we’ll be beautifully safe, under the machine of a national police force.
You think I’m attacking a straw man here? You think I’m devising a distorted picture of the collectivist Left and their allies? You think there’s some still-powerful rebellion, on the political Left, against the State, that can put a million people on the street to protest a specific fascist program of that big power? Where is it?
What was it, really, even in 1968? If the Vietnam war had been fought with no draft, with a volunteer army, a large part of the 1960s wouldn’t have happened at all.
As the 1970s droned on into the 80s, a rapprochement was achieved between the citizens and the police. More and more, the Left came to believe the whole idea of rebellion against the State was an old delusion. It was something people like Camus and Sartre had written about. It was really a European thing, an abstract philosophical pose.
Once the dust and the smelly underwear of the 1960s had been cleared away, the real State Op came into being. Encourage, in every way possible, crime and criminals; and then come in behind that with an answer to the horrific threat: cops.
Irresistible. On the streets, in the newspapers, on television, enact crime after crime after crime…and then promote the only answer: cops. More cops. More cops with bigger and better weapons.
Disarm everybody and leave the police and the FBI and the military and numerous other government agencies with the only guns.
Does this excuse the actual perpetrators of street crimes? No, of course not. In fact, it makes them more guilty, because they’re aiding and abetting a much larger plan. I’m not here to excuse a man who picks up a gun and shoots somebody. I’m spelling out context:
Seed the whole country with violence-inducing toxic psychiatric drugs and you will get plenty of crime. Which is exactly what has happened. All the way from Ritalin (cheep speed) to the SSRI antidepressants, to the brain-hammer anti-psychotics, the drug companies and their allied psychiatrists have been creating killings.
Allow American street gangs to work for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, while providing those cartels with US government protection as they sell tons of heroin and cocaine and crack all over the country, and you will get plenty of crime.
Pour billions of dollars into “rehabilitating” inner cities and stand by while the money disappears and is stolen, dedicate funds to programs that have no chance of working, stop genuine grass roots movements to build vast urban farms and provide free food and a sense of community, and you will get plenty of crime.
These and other strategies are the actions of a war to expand crime, to necessitate massive intervention by the State. This is an Op.
Our current leader, after similar mouthpieces like Bush and Clinton, is the one man who couldn’t possibly be on board with the Op. Barack Obama. He couldn’t possibly be doing his part to destabilize the whole society. He couldn’t. Which is exactly why he is the president of the United States now. Because he seems to stand for something better. But he doesn’t. He is definitely part of the Op.
But if he really did stand for something better, he could do several things, by executive order, that would detonate a real revolution in this country. Three crazy wild out-of-left field things, just for starters.
Declare and wage an all-out war on drug cartels and their sub-contracted domestic gangs.
Kick off a huge—and I mean huge—genuine urban farming program in every city in America. Free, clean, non-GMO food for the poor, grown by the poor, shared by the poor. The ramifications of such a program, carried out swiftly, would be astonishing on every level.
And attack, with a vengeance, Big Pharma and their psychiatric drugs.
The baffled response to such a program illustrates just how deep the brainwashing in this country goes.
And some people would say, “If Obama stood up and did those things, he’d be killed tomorrow.”
That’s getting us closer to the truth. But it would be senseless to stand up alone. He would need allies. Lots of them. Where would he find them? (Assuming he would launch this three-pronged program…a ludicrous assumption.)
Would he meet with Pelosi, Frank, Reid, Hillary, Boehner, Paul Ryan, Rubio, Rachel Maddow, Rush Limbaugh….
Where in the familiar circles of power would any president find allies to turn things around?
And that’s exactly why rebellion against the State isn’t just some old crusty abstract idea.
That’s why decentralization of power in America, at all levels, is THE counter-agenda. Intentional communities, nullification of unconstitutional federal laws, boycotts against corporations like Monsanto, alternative news sources, growing your own food, local parents threatening school boards to back off forcing psychiatric drugs down the throats of their children, home schooling, etc., etc.
Rendering every citizen weaponless, while at the same time giving the police every possible weapon and surveillance tool, is a solution in the same way that closing your eyes and jumping into a big barrel and pulling down the lid over your head is a solution.
300 million barrels with TV sets and smart phones is exactly what the State Corporatists are pushing.
The political Left promoted rebellion against the State as long as they saw themselves outside in the cold. But when they began to realize that they were, in fact, becoming the State, with all the power of the federal government, they dropped the idea of genuine rebellion like a hot potato. They praised big government, they assured everybody it was the solution, not the problem.
They shed bottom-up revolution because they were top-down.
There are lots of old Lefties who have been working to stop GMOs. When Obama signed the Monsanto Protection Act the other day, they paused and pondered. They began to realize they’ve been caught in a squeeze play. Their man, the president, isn’t who they thought he was. Not at all.
This disaffection is a familiar theme: outsiders feel solidarity in their revolution; then their leaders become insiders; then the ideals vanish, leaving the foot soldiers in the lurch.
Down through history, this scenario has played out countless times, in every conceivable organization that became big, bigger, and biggest. But history isn’t our strong suit. If a teacher really wanted to educate his college students, he’d put together a course on this very subject: The Carrot and the Stick.
The promise of something better, announced from a perch or pulpit of leadership; and what eventually happened to that promise.
What happens is a grand reversal. The very force that is being fought against eventually becomes the “guardian of the Good” and the supreme ruler.
The cadre who once railed against the rise of the police state is now dealing, not pot, but the surveillance of every phone call, email, text, computer keystroke, and purchase in this country. They’re dealing the TSA and the war in Afghanistan. They’re dealing covert ops in the Middle East and executing regime change, using thugs and terrorists. They’re bailing out mega-corporations and banks. They’re buying billions of rounds of ammo. They’re appointing people to hold the door open for Monsanto. They’re using psychiatry to drug the population. They’re spraying heavy metals in the sky. They’re presiding over and sustaining the economic disaster. They’re funding the transhuman future.
They’re doing all this while continuing to mouth the ideals they once swore to uphold.
In the words of the 1960s, they’re working for the Man.
The Man is the group of elite Globalists who have always followed the same plan: put the management of the planet under one roof.
To accomplish this Globalist aim, every honest cop and effective cop and idealistic cop and indifferent cop and corrupt cop will have to be turned into a faceless pig with a weapon pointed against his own people.
These “former rebels” who now rule the roost are saying, “Today, the pigs work for us. We tell them what to do. Just love the pigs and everything will be okay. You don’t need to own a gun. It’s all good. Just keep your eyes straight ahead and march into the future.”
Who would have thought rebels of bygone days would be staging their own version of neocon glory?
Anyone with a grain of sense.
The author of two explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED and EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at:
Dr. Webster G. Tarpley
To the extent that the modern world thinks at all about the problem of fascism, there is a tendency to regard this form of bankers’ totalitarian dictatorship as something which happens suddenly and all at once.
Historians can remember Mussolini’s march on Rome in October 1922, and Hitler’s seizure of power in January 1933. But we must also recall that the definitive seizure of power by fascism in these two countries was preceded by dress rehearsals and pilot projects of fascist rule on a more limited scale.
Mussolini’s dictatorship had its precursor in the dictatorship of the fascist literary man Gabriele d’Annunzio in the city of Fiume, bordering Yugoslavia, in 1919-1920. Here many of the rituals, methods, slogans, and other paraphernalia of fascism originated. The stalking horse for Hitler was the coup d’état by Chancellor von Papen in the state of Prussia in July 1932, which ousted the Social Democratic government there, ending government by elected leaders and replacing them with Reichskommissars sent by von Papen from Berlin as Prussia went into receivership.
Von Papen’s Prussian coup gets us uncomfortably close to what has just happened this past week in the great American city of Detroit, Michigan, well-known as the capital of the automobile industry but now especially hard hit by the world economic depression. The Republican governor, Rick Snyder, has just ousted the Mayor and City Council of Detroit, replacing them with a single outside overseer who will combine both executive and legislative functions to enforce austerity.
The lawyer Kevyn Orr took power as dictator of Detroit on Monday, March 25, 2013. He is expected to begin voiding labor contracts, imposing unilateral sacrifices on city workers, autocratically cutting the Detroit city budget, selling off city assets to Governor Snyder’s cronies and backers at bargain basement prices, and privatizing or simply terminating city services. Orr has signaled that one of his priorities will be to renege on Detroit’s pension and healthcare commitments to retired policemen, firemen, teachers, and other municipal workers. He does not rule out a haircut for the bondholders, but this must be considered window dressing unless and until it occurs.
Orr has boasted: “I’m prepared to be the most hated man for a period of time.” Here is one promise on which he can be expected to deliver. Orr has announced that, although Detroit Mayor David Bing and the City Council have no more authority to decide anything, he will keep paying their salaries in an attempt to buy the passivity of the local Democratic Party machine. Snyder’s goal is to maintain debt service payments on Detroit’s $8.6 billion in bonded debt. A year ago, Moody’s Investors Service, one of the notoriously mendacious ratings agencies, reduced its rating for Detroit’s general obligation bonds to B2, which is five notches below investment grade. In November 2012, Moody’s downgraded Detroit by two notches to Caa1, meaning junk bonds with a significant risk of default.
During 2012, the city utility agency for water and sewage borrowed money to pay off $300 million in toxic derivative swaps on which it wanted to cut its losses. This came at the same time that Mayor Bing and the Detroit Water Board (sic) announced a plan to cut 81% of city workers in this sector, reducing jobs from 1,978 to 374 over the next five years. Bing and the city council were attempting to implement austerity cuts so brutal that they could convince Snyder that an outside commissar was not necessary, thus hoping to keep their jobs. It was during this phase that Bing first hired Jones Day as a restructuring consultant.
Detroit the victim of toxic derivatives
Detroit is also facing a payment of between $350 million and $400 million on toxic derivatives contracts which were sold to the city over recent years as the mayor and council struggled to avoid bankruptcy. Detroit had issued floating-rate bonds, but then with great folly decided to swap these for fixed rate instruments. When interest rates declined, the city did not reap the benefit of having to pay less debt service. Many US municipalities, ranging from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts have had to pay billions of dollars to zombie banks to get out of interest rate swaps gone sour.
It is estimated that Wall Street firms including UBS, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and J.P. Morgan Chase have since 2005 (when Detroit began running large yearly deficits) collected more than $474 million from Detroit in fees for floating $3.7 billion of bonds. One of those backing these deals was the former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was just convicted on corruption charges. The banks told Detroit that these interest rate swaps would offer protection against higher interest rates which failed to materialize. (Darrell Preston and Chris Christoff, “Only Wall Street Wins in Detroit Crisis Reaping $474 Million Fee,” Bloomberg, March 13, 2013)
Snyder’s emergency manager law also poses the problem of conflicts of interest. The city of Detroit is presently saddled with a toxic credit swap arrangement in which Bank of America/Merrill Lynch is a counterparty. Bank of America is a former client of Jones Day. This derivatives trap could force the city to pay $400 million to the zombie banks under certain circumstances, one of which is the imposition of an emergency manager - which is what has just happened. Detroit’s financial position is further complicated by the deliberate policy of the Snyder administration to delay and withhold tens of millions of dollars of payments owed to the city by the state.
Detroit, the capital of the US automobile industry, has been cynically driven into deep financial crisis. The 700,000 residents are currently suffering shortages of streetlights, buses, and street repairs, and many homes are now abandoned. In 2012, the Detroit Police Department was cut by almost 12% of its officers, leading to a 9% rise in the number of homicides in the city. The policy of Governor Snyder is to force Detroit to make debt service payments to the banks a top priority, even as he sends in a financial commissar to impose additional measures of savage austerity.
November 2012: Michigan voters reject dictators, but Snyder installs them anyway
In November 2012, a broad coalition of community forces with strong representation from the black community gathered almost a quarter of a million signatures to get the repeal of the existing emergency manager law (Public Act 4) onto the state’s November election ballot in the form of Proposal 1. Incredibly, the United Auto Workers dragged its feet in this process, and preferred to focus its energies on efforts to get out the vote for Obama, who has never lifted a finger to defend the rights of Michigan citizens under attack. In the November 2012 election, Michigan voters nevertheless voted by 52% to 48% to strike down Snyder’s Public Act Four of 2011. Unfortunately, an attempt to write collective bargaining into the state constitution failed, most likely due to union efforts siphoned off for the benefit of Obama.
At this point, the GOP State Attorney General invoked the older and weaker emergency manager law, Public Act 72 of 1990, to keep the existing commissars in power. Snyder’s minions in the state legislature then quickly rubberstamped Public Act for 36 of 2012, a measure practically identical to the law which Michigan voters had just rejected. This new enabling legislation for city dictators has just gone into effect on March 28, 2013.
Who is governor Rick Snyder?
What kind of governor imposes dictatorial rule on a large part of his state? Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder represents Schachtian economics in a business suit for the United States in the 21st century. His outward demeanor seems reasonable, measured, moderate, even affable. Snyder wears button-down oxfords, with no black shirt or brown shirt, no Roman salute, no screaming (at least in public), no speeches from balconies. He uses the direct apologetic, arguing that his oppressive measures are rational and practical responses to the problems of Michigan and its cities. This is known as Snyder’s “positive” style - wildly ideological in content, muted in packaging.
Rick Snyder, like Bill Gates, Gianroberto Casaleggio, and Peter Thiel is a reactionary operative from the modern computer and information technology industry. Snyder was at various times chairman of the board (2005-2007), CEO, and cofounder of Gateway 2000, a computer hardware firm originally based in Iowa and South Dakota which later moved to California. Gateway’s stock price averaged about four dollars per share in the mid-1990s, and peaked at $84 in 1999 thanks to the dotcom bubble. Gateway at one time had a network of hundreds of its own retail computer shops, but this fell apart in 2004 after the dotcom bubble burst. The brand was damaged by shoddy customer service due to the overseas outsourcing of call centers. In October 2007, Gateway was sold to Acer of Taiwan for about $1.90 per share. The Gateway name is now in the process of being phased out. Gateway appears as a company which was decimated by unwise acquisitions, the reckless quest for short-term profit, outsourcing, and the desire to cash in by selling out to a foreign buyer.
Trained as a certified public accountant, Snyder was also a venture capitalist. In 1997, he founded Avalon investments Inc. of Ann Arbor. In 2000, he was cofounder of Ardesta, an investment firm which reportedly put money into 20 startup companies over the subsequent years.
Hear a word of clarification is in order. It would be misleading to expect fascism in the United States in the second decade of the 21st century to imitate each and every feature of historical fascism as it existed in Europe between the two world wars. Fascism today means first of all a commitment to destroy all remaining forms of trade unionism and other labor organization. It includes efforts to impose brutal austerity policies, such as the lowering of real wages, and a shifting of the tax burden from the super rich to the middle class and the underclass - in other words, tax cuts for the rich and tax hikes for working people. Modern-day fascists seek to destroy the social safety net, including food stamps, unemployment benefits, and child nutrition programs. They demand the radical deregulation of the entire economy, including in such savage directions as abolishing the child labor laws. Modern fascist economics also includes the vehement refusal to use public funds for building vital infrastructure.
Snyder was elected governor in 2010, the year of the hysterical tea party revolt against Obama as the first black president and as a Wall Street puppet. He campaigned as pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-family while touting his business experience. Unlike many less clever reactionaries, Snyder supported the federal rescue of General Motors and Chrysler, which make up a huge part of the Michigan economy. Upon taking power in Lansing in early 2011, Snyder rammed through a policy of balancing the budget by cutting spending on vital services to the disadvantaged while lowering taxes on corporate profits and increasing the burden on the middle class and the poor. Snyder claimed to be asking for “shared sacrifice,” but Democrats accused him of balancing his budget on the backs of children, working families, and seniors, brutally harming certain groups to get the result they wanted.
Snyder’s push for austerity dictatorship went into high gear in March 2011, when he signed a law increasing the powers of “emergency managers” whom the governor could appoint to take over the government of cities and other entities declared in receivership because of alleged financial insolvency. The new law also made easier for Snyder to oust existing mayors and city council members, replacing them with local budget dictators. To make it easier to implement these takeovers under bipartisan cover, Snyder had appointed as State Treasurer Democrat Andy Dillon, a former speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives who had lost the 2010 Democratic primary to choose an opponent for Snyder. Dillon had worked in Washington as an aide to the former right-wing Democratic Senator and basketball star Bill Bradley of New Jersey, who later went to work on Wall Street.
Snyder uses “right to work” law to bust unions
In December 2012, Snyder - ignoring vehement protests by the United Auto Workers (UAW) and other unions who have large memberships and deep historical roots in Michigan - ordered his rubberstamp state legislature to ram through a bill making Michigan a “Right to Work” state. This bill outlawed the union shop by forbidding employers to collect dues on behalf of the labor union representing a bargaining unit. Henceforth only the open shop is allowed, with workers free to enjoy the benefits of union bargaining without paying any of the costs. Such an arrangement usually leads to the collapse of the union, which is Snyder’s goal. Snyder’s cited motivation was to make Michigan more business friendly. Michigan is thus walking in the footsteps of Mussolini’s fascism and Hitler’s Nazi regime, both of which had the total destruction of labor unions as the leading point on their agenda. This Michigan union-busting offensive came at the same time that other Midwestern Republican governors, including Walker of Wisconsin, Kasich of Ohio, and Daniels of Indiana, were pushing programs to wipe out public sector unions and/or all labor organizations.
Democrats and Republicans serve the bondholders
The installation of local dictators tasked with defending the interests of the bondholders and derivatives mongers at the expense of the people was already gathering momentum under Snyder’s predecessor, former two-term Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm, whose brief attempt to host a cable television news program on Current TV ended in failure in February 2013 after a year’s run. Granholm imposed dictatorial rule on Ecorse in October 2009, Highland Park from 2005 to 2009, Benton Harbor in April 2010, Pontiac in August 2010, and on the Detroit public schools. Snyder kept most of these dictators in place, increased their powers, and appointed new ones for the Highland Park schools in January 2012 and for Flint in August of 2012.
Emergency manager Kevyn Orr now rules Detroit
Kevyn Orr, Snyder’s choice as resident enforcer for the bondholders in Detroit, is a professional bankruptcy administrator. Representing Chrysler for $700 an hour during its 2009 bankruptcy and reorganization, Orr was instrumental in the asset-stripping of the number three automaker even as he further weakened the UAW to the point where Snyder could attempt to destroy this union with a frontal attack a few years later. One of Orr’s bright ideas was convincing a federal judge to allow Chrysler to suddenly close 800 dealerships -- one quarter its US total -- almost all of which represented not just showrooms but also repair and maintenance capabilities and skilled jobs important for local communities. Orr was a backer of John Kerry in 2004 and of Obama in 2008. He was therefore a logical choice for the Obama policy of forcing General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy, eliminating scores of factories and tens of thousands of jobs, cutting retirement and health benefits, and lowering the pay of new hires to the level of non-union Mississippi sweatshops. At his current assignment, Orr will be getting $270,000 per year.
Orr lives in a $1 million mansion in tony Chevy Chase, Maryland. Between 2009 and 2012, the state of Maryland’s Office of Unemployment Insurance filed four separate tax liens on the Orr residence seeking to recover unpaid taxes Orr owed the state from hiring childcare providers to look after his two children and then not paying state taxes related to this household help. At the time that Orr was named Detroit commissar by Snyder, two tax liens totaling almost $16,000 were still pending back in Maryland. Orr described in this situation as “remarkably embarrassing” and “something that fell through the cracks.” (Matt Helms and John Gallagher, “Kevyn Orr Pays On Two Maryland Liens: Snyder Says He Overlooked Taxes, Detroit Free Press, March 18, 2013)
This looks like a typical nannygate problem. One of the surest ways to identify an oligarch from the top 1% in the United States today is that the individual in question can afford domestic servants, something the vast majority of the population cannot even dream of. These elitists, who are lawyers, often hire undocumented foreign workers as domestic help, or else fail to pay state or federal taxes for the servants they employ. Nanny problems have terminated a number of elitist careers, but Orr is likely to remain in power regardless.
Federal lawsuit, constitutional challenge, and protest march against emergency rule
There have been numerous political protests and legal actions against Snyder’s oppressive law. On March 27, 2013, a group of lawyers and civil rights leaders filed suit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, naming Snyder and Dillon as defendants. The lawsuit seeks to establish the unconstitutionality of Snyder’s emergency manager procedures as applied under the current Public Act 436. The suit argues that Snyder’s emergency manager law violates the voting rights of Michigan citizens by depriving them of the chance to elect local officials for the purpose of self-government. Supporters of the lawsuit point out is that Snyder’s methods violate the equal protection of the laws which the XIV Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires every state to provide. The vote of the Detroit resident is worth less than the vote of an inhabitant of the nearby upscale Grosse Pointe because the Detroit resident no longer can elect a mayor and city council. The fact that majority black communities totaling over 50% of Michigan’s Afro-Americans are being singled out for finance dictators also means that civil rights laws are being violated. Public employees in the cities now under dictatorship are having their collective bargaining rights eroded even more than workers in the rest of Michigan.
On the day after this lawsuit was filed, a group of protesters featuring the Reverend Al Sharpton of the National Action Network and MSNBC staged a protest march in downtown Detroit from the headquarters of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) - which is the largest public employee union in the city - to the federal courthouse. Sharpton correctly noted that “There will be a threat to everyone in this nation if the emergency management in Detroit stands.” Sharpton’s intervention is of course welcome, but it should not be forgotten that he and his associates had contributed relatively little to the struggle against Snyder’s program over the previous two years, and remain subordinated to Obama. Snyder blandly commented that lawsuits like this are “part of democracy” and boasted of his high success rate in getting judges to reject legal challenges to his dictatorial measures.
In effect, Public Act 436 creates a new form of dictatorial government under which cities and municipal corporations are subjected to the arbitrary rule of one unelected and unaccountable official who combines executive and legislative powers, and whose decisions, decrees, appointments, expenditures, and sales cannot be influenced by local voters. (Matt Helms and Joe Guillen,”Lawsuit Challenges Michigan Emergency Manager Law,” Detroit Free Press, March 28, 2013) There is a strong prima facie case that this new form of government is in blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Article IV of the U.S. Constitution guarantees to every state a “republican form of government.” When mayors and city councils in so much of a state are ousted from power and replaced by dictatorial rule, it is clear that republican government has ended.
The XIV Amendment of this same Constitution orders that “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” Each state is further forbidden to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” As noted, if you live in Ann Arbor you can elect your own local government, but if you live in Benton Harbor or Detroit you cannot, meaning that Snyder has thrown the U.S. Constitution out the window. Obama is charged by the Constitution to “take care” that the laws be faithfully enforced, but so far he and his Attorney General Eric Holder have done nothing in favor of Michigan.
Secrecy and graft under the emergency manager law
The local organization Citizens United against Government Corruption has filed suit in state court claiming that the Michigan Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board violated the Michigan Open Meetings Law because of excessive secrecy in the way Orr was appointed. This group is also suing Snyder for usurping the authority of the Loan Board by picking out Orr by himself.
One of the perks of being a Michigan emergency management commissar is that you can pay yourself large sums of money without any check or balance. The Michigan Court of Appeals has just upheld a judgment of $333,000 against the former dictator of Highland Park, who had paid himself a handsome $264,000 on his own authority -- something the courts have found illegal. This particular commissar is also under federal indictment for stealing money from the Highland Park school system when he served on their board - indicating that kind of person who gets appointed as emergency manager.
In Detroit, a major focus of resistance to Snyder’s dictatorship policy is the group For a Moratorium on Detroit’s Public Debt: Make the Banks Pay! There is also the Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions, and Utility Shutoffs, where David Sole is one spokesman. This organization demands that Wayne County and other Michigan counties immediately stop all foreclosures due to unpaid back real estate taxes. This includes a demand that Fannie Mae, a privatized agency which was seized by the federal government in September 2008, stop participating in these foreclosures. These actions are key to maintaining the Detroit real estate tax base.
One of the mass leaders of the resistance to Snyder’s commissars in Benton Harbor, on the western edge of the mitten, is the Reverend Edward Pinckney. Pinckney is a leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO). This past week, Pinckney organized protest motorcades on the I-94 Interstate near Benton Harbor.
Program to save Detroit and other cities
The most immediate remedy necessary for Detroit and other cash-strapped cities is to declare an immediate and unilateral debt moratorium freezing all payments of interest and principal for at least five years or for the duration of the world economic depression, which ever lasts longer. The survival needs of the Michigan population and economy must take precedence over the demands of the bondholders, which can be sorted out later on. The debt freeze is all the more justified since in large part of Detroit’s debt is represented by toxic credit derivatives which were sold to city officials through fraud, misrepresentation, and other corruption, with the investment bankers blatantly lying about future prospects. This hemorrhaging of cash must come to an end now.
As the website For a Moratorium on Detroit’s Public Debt sums up the case: “Why should the same banks who destroyed the tax base of our city, who drove over 200,000 people out of the city of Detroit with their criminal, fraudulent foreclosures and evictions, who were bailed out by taxpayers and the Federal Reserve with trillions of our dollars, get paid first? The banks owe Detroit billions in reparations for the destruction they have caused. A suspension in debt service payments would immediately resolve the city’s fiscal crisis and allow for the restoration of city services and the recall of laid-off workers.”
1% federal wall street sales tax with revenue sharing for states and cities
Detroit and other Michigan cities would also benefit from the enactment of a 1% Wall Street Sales Tax on speculative turnover in financial markets. As of now, most Wall Street banks and hedge funds pay little to nothing in the way of federal corporate income taxes, and not a dime on their quadrillions of trading. A 1% Wall Street Sales Tax might produce as much as $1 trillion of revenue for the United States. Half of this should go to the federal government, but the other half should be apportioned to the states and localities through revenue sharing. This is where of Michigan and Detroit could find more needed liquidity to maintain police, fire, health, highway, education, and other vital services during the process of economic reconstruction and recovery.
Outlaw credit swaps and other derivatives
The role of toxic credit derivatives in destroying Detroit’s financial position reminds us of the need for outright bans -bright line prohibitions backed up by criminal penalties - on the sale of Credit Default Swaps, Collateralized Debt Obligations, and other types of derivatives. The CDS and CDOs just mentioned played the central role in the 2008 collapse of the US banking system, and outlawing them is long overdue. The US economy did much better when these instruments were unheard of. Credit default swaps are inherently illegal. If they are gambling, that violates the law. If they are insurance, those who issue them are not properly registered an issue policies. All payments on credit derivatives must cease.
Fed must provide $3.6 trillion credit stimulus to build infrastructure
Finally, Detroit is now a city in urgent need of having its entire infrastructure rebuilt. The pressures on the federal and state budget to maintain the social safety net are already considerable, so it is not advisable to attempt to finance an infrastructure program through on-budget spending. At the same time, the principal money center banks have earned their title of zombie banks because of their inability to engage in normal commercial banking through their insolvency due to derivatives. The only available source of large-scale liquidity to finance the economic reconstruction and recovery of the US economy is therefore the Federal Reserve. Political forces must now force Bernanke to open an infrastructure window empowered to purchase $3.6 trillion of 0% century bonds issued by US states, municipalities, and regional authorities for modern superhighways, bridges, high speed rail, water and canal projects, modern energy production and distribution, public housing, schools, hospitals, public buildings, and telecommunications. (The $3.6 trillion corresponds to the most recent estimate by the American Society of Civil Engineers of the expenditures necessary to restore an adequate infrastructure in this country over the next few years.) This credit stimulus is indispensable to restart the US economy. Detroit would benefit from such a program by receiving a 21st-century infrastructure. At the same time, much of the construction equipment and transportation rolling stock would be produced in Detroit’s factories. The target is full employment, which will require at least 30 million new productive jobs over the years ahead.
Dr. Webster Griffin Tarpley was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 1946. A philosopher of history, Tarpley seeks to provide the strategies needed to overcome the current world crisis. He first became widely known for his book George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography (1992), a masterpiece of research which is still a must read. During 2008, he warned of the dangers of an Obama presidency controlled by Wall Street with Obama: The Postmodern Coup, The Making of a Manchurian Candidate and Barack H. Obama: The Unauthorized Biography. His interest in economics is reflected in Surviving the Cataclysm: Your Guide Through the Worst Financial Crisis in Human History Against Oligarchy. His books have appeared in Japanese, German, Italian, French, and Spanish. Tarpley holds a Ph.D. in early modern history from the Catholic University of America.
Fri April 5, 2013
A federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, has ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make the morning-after birth control pill available to people of any age without a prescription.
The order overturned a 2011 decision by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to require a prescription for girls under 17.
The FDA said it couldn't comment on an ongoing legal matter. But the U.S. Justice Department indicated an appeal of the ruling was under consideration. "The Department of Justice is reviewing the appellate options and expects to act promptly," department spokeswoman Allison Price said.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended last year that oral contraceptives be sold over the counter in an effort to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in the United States. Opponents of prescription requirements say prescriptions can delay access to the drug.
In 2011, Teva Women's Health Inc., maker of Plan B One-Step, had asked the FDA to make the drug available without prescription to all sexually active girls and women. Sebelius overruled the FDA's recommendation, saying, "I do not believe enough data were presented to support the application."
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman said in his order, "The decisions of the Secretary with respect to Plan B One-Step and that of the FDA with respect to the Citizen Petition, which it had no choice but to deny, were arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable."
Friday's order came in response to a lawsuit launched by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The group was seeking to expand access to all brands of the morning-after pill over the counter, such as Plan B One-Step and Next Choice, so that women of all ages would be able to purchase them without a prescription.
"Today science has finally prevailed over politics," Nancy Northup, the center's president and CEO, said in a statement. "This landmark court decision has struck a huge blow to the deep-seated discrimination that has for too long denied women access to a full range of safe and effective birth control methods."
In a press briefing, Northup said that according to the order, within 30 days, the pill would be available over the counter without "point of sale restrictions," such as needing to show identification or being a certain age.
There may be other settings besides drugstores where the morning-after pill will be sold, Susan Wood, associate professor at the George Washington University's School of Public Health and Health Services, told reporters.
"We no longer have to find, on a Sunday morning or a Saturday night, an open pharmacy counter with a pharmacist on duty," she said.
If you thought it was "Blood for Oil"--you're wrong. It was far, far worse.
By Greg Palast for Vice Magazine
Friday, 29. March 2013
Because it was marked "confidential" on each page, the oil industry stooge couldn't believe the US State Department had given me a complete copy of their secret plans for the oil fields of Iraq. Actually, the State Department had done no such thing. But my line of bullshit had been so well-practiced and the set-up on my mark had so thoroughly established my fake identity, that I almost began to believe my own lies.
I closed in. I said I wanted to make sure she and I were working from the same State Department draft. Could she tell me the official name, date and number of pages? She did.
Bingo! I'd just beaten the Military-Petroleum Complex in a lying contest, so I had a right to be stoked.
After phoning numbers from California to Kazakhstan to trick my mark, my next calls were to the State Department and Pentagon. Now that I had the specs on the scheme for Iraq's oil – that State and Defense Department swore, in writing, did not exist – I told them I'd appreciate their handing over a copy (no expurgations, please) or there would be a very embarrassing story on BBC Newsnight.
Within days, our chief of investigations, Ms Badpenny, delivered to my shack in the woods outside New York a 323-page, three-volume programme for Iraq's oil crafted by George Bush's State Department and petroleum insiders meeting secretly in Houston, Texas.
I cracked open the pile of paper – and I was blown away.
Like most lefty journalists, I assumed that George Bush and Tony Blair invaded Iraq to buy up its oil fields, cheap and at gun-point, and cart off the oil. We thought we knew the neo-cons true casus belli: Blood for oil.
But the truth in the confidential Options for Iraqi Oil Industry was worse than "Blood for Oil". Much, much worse.
The key was in the flow chart on page 15, Iraq Oil Regime Timeline & Scenario Analysis:
"...A single state-owned company ...enhances a government's relationship with OPEC."
Let me explain why these words rocked my casbah.
I'd already had in my hands a 101-page document, another State Department secret scheme, first uncovered by Wall Street Journal reporter Neil King, that called for the privatisation, the complete sell-off of every single government-owned asset and industry. And in case anyone missed the point, the sales would include every derrick, pipe and barrel of oil, or, as the document put it, "especially the oil".
That plan was created by a gaggle of corporate lobbyists and neo-cons working for the Heritage Foundation. In 2004, the plan's authenticity was confirmed by Washington power player Grover Norquist. (It's hard to erase the ill memory of Grover excitedly waving around his soft little hands as he boasted about turning Iraq into a free-market Disneyland, recreating Chile in Mesopotamia, complete with the Pinochet-style dictatorship necessary to lock up the assets – while behind Norquist, Richard Nixon snarled at me from a gargantuan portrait.)
The neo-con idea was to break up and sell off Iraq's oil fields, ramp up production, flood the world oil market – and thereby smash OPEC and with it, the political dominance of Saudi Arabia.
General Jay Garner also confirmed the plan to grab the oil. Indeed, Garner told me that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld fired him, when the General, who had lived in Iraq, complained the neo-con grab would set off a civil war. It did. Nevertheless, Rumsfeld replaced Garner with a new American viceroy, Paul Bremer, a partner in Henry Kissinger's firm, to complete the corporate takeover of Iraq's assets – "especially the oil".
But that was not to be. While Bremer oversaw the wall-to-wall transfer of Iraqi industries to foreign corporations, he was stopped cold at the edge of the oil fields.
How? I knew there was only one man who could swat away the entire neo-con army: James Baker, former Secretary of State, Bush family consiglieri and most important, counsel to Exxon-Mobil Corporation and the House of Saud.
(One unwitting source was industry oil-trading maven Edward Morse of Lehman/Credit Suisse, who threatened to sue Harper's Magazine for my quoting him. Morse denied I ever spoke with him. But when I played the tape from my hidden recorder, his memory cleared and he scampered away.)
Weirdly, I was uncovering that the US oil industry was using its full political mojo to prevent their being handed ownership of Iraq's oil fields. That's right: The oil companies did NOT want to own the oil fields – and they sure as hell did not want the oil. Just the opposite. They wanted to make sure there would be a limit on the amount of oil that would come out of Iraq.
There was no way in hell that Baker's clients, from Exxon to Abdullah, were going to let a gaggle of neo-con freaks smash up Iraq's oil industry, break OPEC production quotas, flood the market with six million barrels of Iraqi oil a day and thereby knock its price back down to $13 a barrel where it was in 1998.
Big Oil simply could not allow Iraq's oil fields to be privatised and taken from state control. That would make it impossible to keep Iraq within OPEC (an avowed goal of the neo-cons) as the state could no longer limit production in accordance with the cartel's quota system..
The problem with Saddam was not the threat that he'd stop the flow of oil – he was trying to sell more. The price of oil had been boosted 300 percent by sanctions and an embargo cutting Iraq's sales to two million barrels a day from four. With Saddam gone, the only way to keep the damn oil in the ground was to leave it locked up inside the busted state oil company which would remain under OPEC (i.e. Saudi) quotas.
The James Baker Institute quickly and secretly started in on drafting the 323-page plan for the State Department. In May 2003, with authority granted from the top (i.e. Dick Cheney), ex-Shell Oil USA CEO Phil Carroll was rushed to Baghdad to take charge of Iraq's oil. He told Bremer, "There will be no privatisation of oil – END OF STATEMENT." Carroll then passed off control of Iraq's oil to Bob McKee of Halliburton, Cheney's old oil-services company, who implemented the Baker "enhance OPEC" option anchored in state ownership.
Some oil could be released, mainly to China, through limited, but lucrative, "production sharing agreements".
And that's how George Bush won the war in Iraq. The invasion was not about "blood for oil", but something far more sinister: blood for no oil. War to keep supply tight and send prices skyward.
Oil men, whether James Baker or George Bush or Dick Cheney, are not in the business of producing oil. They are in the business of producing profits.
And they've succeeded. Iraq, capable of producing six to 12 million barrels of oil a day, still exports well under its old OPEC quota of three million barrels.
The result: As we mark the tenth anniversary of the invasion this month, we also mark the fifth year of crude at $100 a barrel.
As George Bush could proudly say to James Baker: Mission Accomplished!
Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.