Tag Archives: Syria

Putin’s re-election, Bible prophecy, and the impending war in the Middle East

Putin’s Re-election and Bible Prophecy:

Closing In on Armageddon

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

[Ezekiel chapters 38 & 39, part 3]

For better small screen viewing click here 🙂

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Last week as we finished part 2 of this 3 part series on the Biblical significance of Vladimir Putin’s re-election as president of Russia, we left off at Ezekiel chapter 39 and verse 6 (for anyone who missed part one, click here). In the first 6 verses of chapter 39, God declared through his servant Ezekiel that all the military forces that would swoop down from the far north, as well as most of the Islamic nations of the horn of Africa and Libya, will be stopped in their tracks by a series of natural disasters, starting with the troops being pelted by huge hail stones as well as by fire sent from God. The Bible doesn’t specify the origin or nature of this fire. It only says in verse 6, “I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coast lands….” This could be anything from being trapped in a wildfire, or series of wildfires, to a huge fire-fight of some kind or another, all the way up to nuclear warfare. There’s simply no way to tell for sure, but I would not be surprised at all if this war were to go nuclear.

This week as we move on to the third and final part of this series on current events juxtaposed with Biblical prophecy, we’ll be starting at verse 8 of chapter 39. “It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of. Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use their weapons for fuel and burn them up – the large and small shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel. And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign Lord.” (Ezekiel 39, verses 8-10)

This massive war is most assuredly coming, definitely and without question! Although a first-time reader may not believe this, if God says it’s going to occur, then it’s going to occur; it’s only a question of timing. Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq, together with mercenaries from the Russian Islamic republics, will attack Israel from the north and the east in a gigantic pincer attack. But they will be driven back, and Russia will have to come and bail them out since Iran and Syria are Russian allies. It is that precise day that the prophet Ezekiel was writing about! When Russia comes to the aid of Syria and Iran, they will fall back to a mutually agreed upon rendezvous point before mounting a huge counterattack on Israel and her people. Again, as before, they will be defeated, but this time by the forces of nature as described in detail in these passages of Scripture.

Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use their weapons for fuel and burn them up – the large and small shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel.” Now let’s understand right here that this is written from the viewpoint of a man who lived at least 2,600 years ago. So he is writing to his contemporaries as well as for posterity and, most of all, out of obedience to God. Ezekiel is describing weapons as he understood them from his own time frame. Shields, bows and arrows and spears were the weapons of his day. Today, everything is motorized and digitized, so it appears the fuel from all the tanks, amphibious assault vehicles and all kinds of trucks of various sizes and purposes will be used instead. Tires will be burned in big piles to enforce road blocks and in small ones for cooking and burning trash. This is a likely scenario that fits with what Ezekiel wrote, as dictated to him by the “Sovereign Lord”, or Almighty God.

They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel. And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign Lord.” In this verse, I’m fairly sure that Ezekiel is referring to the wooden gun stocks on all the rifles the troops from the Russian confederation carried with them into battle. Since the homes of many will have been destroyed by the war, the wooden gun stocks of the Russian, Syrian, Turkish and Iranian troops will be used for campfires, along with the tires and fuel from their vehicles. In this way, the comfort of the Israeli people will be seen to even during this traumatic time to come, because that is what God will do for his people Israel. Their every need will be met, even in the rubble of an earthquake and a military invasion. And now let’s move on to part 2 of this week’s message, starting at verse 11.

On that day I will give Gog a burial place in Israel, in the valley of those who travel toward the sea. It will block the way of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog. For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. All the people of the land will bury them, and the day I am glorified will be a memorable day for them, declares the Sovereign Lord.” (Ezekiel 39, verses 11-13)

This will be the fate of all the troops from Russia, her allies, and the other countries I mentioned who would presume to attack Israel. “The valley of those who travel towards the sea” is an ancient expression for the Jordan valley that runs between the Sea of Galilee southward towards the Dead Sea. And so according to the Scriptures, this is where the armies of the Gog-Magog War of Ezekiel 38 and 39 will be buried. It will take 7 months to bury all the dead because there will be so many of them, and the entire populace will be pressed into service for this arduous task, presumably to expedite things for health reasons. But what is so understated is that the tiny little nation of Israel, a country the size of New Jersey with a population of 8.4 million people, just defeated the combined armies and air forces of Russia, Iran, Syria, and Turkey, and you may as well include Iraq and Jordan in the fray. Their combined military forces will be decimated by Israel and her ally, the Sovereign Lord!

There is one more thing that needs to be said about this, and that is regarding the country of Israel itself, together with her people. There are many individuals who, frankly, despise the nation of Israel and her people. Some say that this is because of the conflict between the Palestinian and Israeli people, but there is more to it than that, and it has a long history. It was the newly created universal church of King Constantine 1st, from which the modern name ‘Catholic’ originates, that began teaching around the year 300AD that it was the Jews and not the Romans who crucified Christ, when in fact it was the other way around. Nevertheless, this wrong teaching has persisted to this day. While the first reason for hatred of the Jews was religious in origin, the second reason was and still is racial. Antisemitism – the extreme hatred of Jewish people and all things Jewish, including her homeland Israel – is raw racism, pure and simple. But more than that, since Jesus Christ walked the earth as a Jewish man, to express antisemitism is tantamount to having contempt for Jesus Christ. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany is one of the most glaring examples in human history of what happens when antisemitism is carried to its utmost extreme.

This inevitably brings up the debate about what the fate of the Palestinian people should be. Should they get their own homeland? Of course they should, but so should the Kurdish people just a few hundred miles to the north, but they’re not having any luck either. Arbitration is the only fair way to settle both these disputes, that much is certain, and both conflicts must be peacefully resolved. One other thing is certain – the Gog-Magog War of Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 (of which I only used select portions for the sake of brevity and focus) will occur. But more than that, the stage is being set even as I write this for this massive and incredibly deadly war. Russia has forward bases in Syria and Iran, plus a critically important naval port in Syria, and has still more troops – many more – just to the north in Georgia and the Ukraine. I think we’ll have to see what happens once the American embassy moves from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which coincides with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the nation of Israel on May 14th, 1948. I would be quite surprised if this anniversary comes and goes without incident. You know, like a 7-year peace treaty that divides Jerusalem?

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Putin’s re-election ensures war in the Middle East will come soon

Putin’s Re-election and Bible Prophecy:

Closing In on Armageddon

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

[Ezekiel chapters 38 & 39, part 1]

For better small screen viewing (phones, tablets,etc.) click here 🙂

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The re-election of Russian president Vladimir Putin last Sunday was confirmation for the Trump administration that we must either work together for our mutual good, or we will wind up killing each other off in a nuclear war. His re-election was also confirmation for on-their-knees Bible-believing Christians, whether they attend church regularly or not, that the “Gog-Magog War” from Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 is getting close. To explore the significance of this, today I am initiating a 3-part series on this topic to try and better explain this prophecy, since there is so much material to go over. So let me get started by pointing out some related prophecies elsewhere in the Bible that relate to what we’ll be examining today.

First, we have the Psalm 83 war, which describes an unsuccessful invasion of Israel by its neighbors. This appears to have already occurred in the form of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which resulted in the recaptured of Jerusalem by the Israeli Defense Force. Those old enough to remember the Yom Kippur War of 1973 have undoubtedly heard the argument that the Psalm 83 war was actually that war, but that’s just Christians and Jews arguing with other Christians and Jews. Since that prophecy has, either way, already been fulfilled, there is no further point in debating this issue. If those people spent the time they devote to disagreements and spent that on the needs of the people – especially their Spiritual needs – the world would be a much better place. There are at least one and probably two world wars that will occur very closely together (see Ezekiel chapter 7 and Revelation 18, both of which describe America’s coming destruction, and Revelation chapter 9, which describes World War Three in alarming detail), but none of those can be called the ‘Gog-Magog’ war for reasons that I am about to make clear. For my text for today, I will start in Ezekiel chapter 38, commencing at verse 1.

The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of Man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophecy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army – your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords….Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. After many days you will be called to arms. In future years, you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from among the nations, and now all of them live in safety. You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.” (Ezekiel 38, verses 1-4, 7-9)

One thing you will notice right from the start is that there can be no question about who is in charge of things. Sorry to disappoint or offend any atheists who happen to stumble onto this posting, but that’s just the way of the universe that God spoke into being. I can’t force you to believe it, so I’m not going to try. Beyond that, the first new thing we see are the words ‘Gog and Magog’, where Magog is the kingdom and Gog is the king, president, or other head of state. As such, Gog is also a military leader. The text is worded, interestingly enough, “Son of man, set your sights against Gog, of the land of Magog….”. In the four Gospels, Jesus sometimes referred to himself as the “Son of Man”. Ezekiel 38: 2 is the only place in the Bible I can remember right now where the words “the Son of Man” are used to refer to anyone else but Christ. This should give you all a good idea of how esteemed Ezekiel was in God’s sight, something we all should be aspiring to.

I am against you O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army.” ‘Meshech’ is an old Hebrew word for the geographical area around Moscow today, and Hebrew is the original language of the Bible. The second part of that quote, I believe, is currently being put into play, so to speak. What would bring out Moscow’s entire army? Probably not an attack on the US, or at least not at this juncture. As I wrote above, that occurs later in Bible prophecy’s timeline. So what else could Russia be entangled in to the point of having “hooks in (their) jaws”? The one-word answer is, Syria, which is Russia’s only ally that has a Mediterranean seaport. Syria borders Israel, and those two countries have been at each other’s throats for centuries. If Israel were to invade Syria, Russia and Iran would be obligated by treaty to come to Syria’s aid. So we can all clearly see now that the stage has been set for the Gog-Magog War as I write this.

After many days you will be called to arms. In future years, you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from among the nations, and now all of them live in safety.” The words, ‘people gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel’ refers to the United Nations resolution that made Israel a nation back in 1948, followed by the resettlement of the Holy Land in the ensuing years. This part of the world that we now call the Middle East was largely uninhabited back then, particularly the area where Israel is today. But today, with the Israeli Defense Force being one of the most powerful army and air force in the world, and with a rapidly-expanding navy as well, the words, ‘now all of them live in safety’ are the fulfillment of that prophecy. It’s just that the remainder of Ezekiel 38 is still rapidly unfolding. “You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.” Gog of Magog, the prince of Meshech (Moscow) is none other than Vladimir Putin. And, Putin’s Russia, together with her allies and the armies of other nations around Israel (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and Libya, and possibly Somalia), is going to attack Israel! I don’t know when, but we won’t have a long time to wait, I’m certain about that. Now let’s move on to part 2 of this week’s message, beginning at verse 14 of chapter 38.

Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In the days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.’” Ezekiel 38, verses 14-16)

Haven’t you taken notice, Vladimir Putin, of Israel living in relative safety? Israel has beaten back all attempts to attack it militarily and economically to the point that nobody in the Middle East; not Egypt, nor Iran, nor Turkey, and those are the three biggest military powers in the region, with Saudi Arabia also in the running, dare touch Israel. All have attacked Israel in the past except Turkey, and all that their combined military’s could muster was no match for lowly Israel, the smallest country in the whole region. But lately the stakes have gone up considerably. The largest discovery of natural gas ever uncovered has, only in the last year, been found about 60 miles off Israel’s Mediterranean coast – more than Saudi Arabia and Kuwait combined! Putin’s main interest in Syria is two-fold – first, because Russia can add a vitally-important southern seaport, and second for what everybody is fighting over – the oil pipelines that run from Syria north through Turkey and into Europe. That is exactly why Vladimir Putin’s Russia is taking such a long, hard look at Israel.

That’s also why Putin is Gog, Russia is Magog, and why Putin will ultimately strike at Israel. When he does so, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria and eventually several African countries will all join together in confederation to attack Israel. “You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land.” Russia and her allies will attack very quickly and with the utmost decisiveness, like a mob of millions. The next verses tell what the outcome will be. “In the days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.” They will advance and conquer much territory, and at least for a short while, they will be successful.

But God clearly wants to make an example out of Vladimir Putin and Russia’s military might, as he stated in verse 2, “I am against you, O Gog of Magog….”. Again God says in verse 16, “I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me….”, meaning that there will be no one left on the face of the whole earth who will not know exactly who God is and what he can do. Not when he finishes doing what he does to any nation that dares to attack Israel. Israel, you see, is God’s Holy land. For a detailed description of Israel’s true territory – as set forth by Almighty God himself – read Joshua chapters 13-20. For a short version, read Joshua chapter 1, verses 2-4, and you’ll know why God gets so angry whenever any nation attacks Israel. And next week we’ll move on to part 2 of our study of the Gog-Magog War.

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President Obama’s call for a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour falls pitifully short. I would even call it a human rights violation

The Demand For a Realistic Minimum Wage

I am writing this message today to all my readers about a pertinent topic that is right in the middle of current events. I am referring to President Obama’s call for a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour and to the fact that it is grossly inadequate. The first two things of the highest priority concerning worker’s rights is a fair and realistic minimum wage, and more fundamentally, the basic human right to a livelihood. Everyone knows all too well that the era of disposable workers has been upon us for at least the last7 to 8 years, if not longer. But I contend that unemployment as we have known it must now come to an end forever. Companies today will try to be nice about it, saying, “Sorry, but you are not needed around here anymore. Your skills, experience, and your work ethic no longer matter here.” This is tantamount to saying the people don’t matter, and that profit – which for all purposes amounts to the worship of currency – is the only thing that really does. Who do they think they are? Corporate America has outsourced many of our jobs overseas so that they could enrich themselves at the expense of their former employees, leaving middle and working class Americans with no way to earn a respectable living and be self-sufficient. The jobs that could not be outsourced were downsized out of existence. Then this same bunch of corporate “leaders” turned around and, with the cooperation of American academia, raised costs for higher education so high that many of us who wish to go back to school and train for a new career are unable to afford to do so. Numerous persons who urgently wish to improve their standard of living through education or vocational retraining are held back from doing so, and that is a social injustice and a civil rights violation worthy of the loudest protests in every place throughout our country.

There are also a growing number of employed people who, despite having a job, are still living in poverty. There are at least 15 million workers who now fall into this rapidly growing category. The median US income of $32,390 a year [in 2012 dollars] is not going to get you far in today’s economy, and half of the country is making less than that. The reason we struggle with these things is because the top 1% have robbed us all through the systematic confiscation of middle class wealth and prosperity. This tremendous suffering in the United States of America is literally a crime against humanity, and it is the result of the largest single transfer of wealth in all of human history from the middle class to the rich.

The lack of employment and economic opportunities, the lack of access to health care and higher education, plus extreme economic inequality due to a high concentration of American wealth being in the hands of far too few people has turned the USA into a powder-keg. Like the Middle East and parts of Europe, America too has become a ticking time bomb of inequality and lack of opportunity. The rights of US workers have been trampled underfoot by the rich multinational corporations and the top 1% elite who are outsourcing all our jobs overseas as they leave us high and dry. The least common denominator of middle class loss of income due to mass layoffs, the loss of housing due to foreclosure and eviction and the excess of economic inequality due to a disproportional concentration of wealth, is that all three of these comprise the human rights of workers throughout the world, beginning here in America since our country is supposed to be the standard-bearer of the world for freedom and opportunity.

There is entirely too much imbalance and inequity in the distribution of wealth in the US today. Over 90% of all available liquid cash and assets are in the hands of a maximum of 10% of the US population, if that. And so every day it’s steak for them and beans for the rest of us. How much longer are we going to allow this to go on? And so it looks to me like our country is in dire need of some peaceful and orderly wealth redistribution, and I don’t mean collectivized economies such as Socialism or Communism either. One very good way to accomplish this would be to send everybody back to school who wants to go free of charge. Who would pick up the tab for the tuition for all those millions of people? Would it be the government? Absolutely not! The bill should instead be presented to corporate America, since it is corporate America who outsourced or downsized all of our jobs out of existence in the first place. Congress did just that at the end of World War 2 when they passed the G.I. Bill. If it could be done in the 1940’s, then it can be done today. Besides, if we can’t work for these companies anymore then they owe it to us to train us to work somewhere else instead of discarding us like so much trash. Any solution amounting to anything less is a social injustice and a civil rights issue worthy of a national chorus of protests, demonstrations and “occupations”.

This brings me to the point that I wish to make. In today’s world, if the net take-home pay of any given individual does not meet, or just barely meets, that same individuals daily cost of living, then that is tantamount to economic slavery. Let me say that again because this point simply cannot be overemphasized. If your take – home pay won’t even take you home, you are a slave. Oh, you are free to move around and to come and go as you choose and take care of business, that is true. But if after you go to the grocery store, pay the light bill (assuming you are fortunate enough to be able to do that), put gas in your tank (assuming you are lucky enough to still own a car) and set some money aside for next month’s rent or mortgage (if you’re not already on the street or living with relatives) – and then after all that you peek into your wallet and realize that you have $7.00 left to live on for the whole stinkin’ week, that’s when you know you are a slave. What happens to the people whose incomes are at or below minimum wage? They go hungry and are often homeless. Many of these newly homeless, formerly middle class people also have kids who have fallen into poverty along with their parents. And this is happening in the United States of America, supposedly the richest country in the world. This is a moral outrage, a social injustice, and it is economic discrimination of the worst kind. Since it is an issue of discrimination, by extension it also becomes a 21st century civil rights issue generating a demand for fundamental change in the way our economy works and the way our government works.

This too, then, is cause for protests, demonstrations, boycotts, occupations, general strikes and other forms of peaceful civil disobedience. On this point alone, there are enough issues on the collective dinner plate of the American people to foster open revolt throughout the land. Never mind everything else that I have written about. Think about it for a minute. How does it feel to be a slave? Makes you feel kind of angry, doesn’t it? It make us all feel violated because we have all been slaves, often without realizing it. The time to rise up and say, “No more!” has arrived. It’s time for all of us to get out from in front of out TV’s and our computers and to get our backsides out in the street and start protesting and occupying.

But what about those who are long-term unemployed, of which I was one? After all, as of February 2014 there are still three applicants for every available job. What we need is a massive public works project to repair America’s crumbling infrastructure and to rebuild America’s blighted inner cities (and small towns too). I would conservatively estimate that anywhere from 1-3 million people could be employed this way as day laborers, direct employees or subcontractors depending on the need. The fact of the matter is that we need jobs, we need lots of them, and we need them right now! Since our government has failed to act in this regard in spite of an obvious critical need, we will have to do this ourselves. Let’s get this on the ballot for the next general election in every state, and let’s also strike and protest for action on this matter until then. We might as well, because things are going to continue to get worse until we do.

Another human right that goes hand in hand with job creation programs is the right to free vocational retraining for life. Anybody can and should be able to go back to school and get retrained at will, up to and including a 2 year degree free of charge. Large, wealthy corporations with robust cash flows, as well as millionaires and the super-rich, will supply the necessary funding through what I call in my 2011 book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto”, the ‘excess wealth tax’ (to find out the details, which include repealing the federal income tax, you can buy a copy by clicking on this link). Since corporate America made the decision to send their factories and all the jobs those factories provided overseas to lower their labor costs, and since this action has caused the reaction of the obliteration of millions of American careers, it will be corporate America who will shoulder the responsibility of retraining these people whose careers evaporated through no fault of their own. If they take your job away, or if they export or downsize your career out of existence like I experienced myself, then it is those same corporate henchmen who must pay for your reeducation. Higher education and the right to a livelihood are basic, fundamental, and inalienable human rights. The day has come when higher education is no longer only for those who can “afford” the tuition.

Let me add one more tasty ingredient into this mix. Students enrolled in these reeducation programs, or public works project workers who have children, will be given taxpayer-funded day care free of charge so they can get their education without having to worry about their kids. Now I know what some of you are thinking right now – “who’s gonna pay for that?” The same corporate bigwigs who torpedoed the US economy in 2008. They should be required to foot the bill just like they should be forced to pay for the reeducations of all displaced and formerly middle class people I wrote about further above. There’s no way that Wall Street and corporate America can legitimately complain that they can’t afford it. Let me put this into perspective for you.

If your US government took all the money that was spent in a single day on the twin wars (or more accurately occupations) in Iraq and Afghanistan during 2001 – present, plus the clandestine and illegal wars and “black ops” in Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere and set it aside in an enormous savings account, there would be enough money to send every American school age kid from the first grade through high school to any college, public or private, or any state university or vocational school to earn their degree of choice with the tuition fully paid for, plus the cost of all their books and supplies, their meals, Internet access, new computers, and access to public transportation covered as well. So anyone who says we can’t afford to send everyone to college with their expenses fully paid, or that the money to accomplish this just isn’t there, either doesn’t know what they are talking about, or they are elitists and bigots who can’t stand to see middle and working class, and especially minority students, getting ahead. Access to higher education, and looking after the children of those who are retraining, is an American civil right that should be equally available to all without qualification, not just to those who can afford it. Would you like to see test scores improve in our nation’s schools? Tell all those kids that they are all going to college, and watch their grades improve noticeably. Give them an incentive to do better and our kids will rise to the challenge every time. And they can do away with those stupid standardized tests while they’re at it.

Do you want to become a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist or an astronaut (yes, many astronauts and other space workers will be needed within a decade or two)? Never again must any aspiring student be turned away from obtaining a college or vocational degree for purely financial reasons. Every able-bodied homeless person, newly released prisoners, and the long-term unemployed will be able to be placed in the public works program or the reeducation programs that I have just explained, and all without qualification. It should be a crime for somebody to be hungry, homeless or jobless just because he or she wants to work but can’t find employment or pay for training. And that goes double for their children!

American citizens have a patriotic duty to dissent and to speak out when it is apparent their government is creating policies and taking actions that are in conflict with the best interests of the people and the laws of the land. The right of patriotic dissent has been a part of America since those days that brought us our independence. Yes, anyone can and should exercise the right to dissent when the situation requires it, and I certainly have no hesitation about doing so. The solutions being offered by your government, your political and economic system, and your media outlets are for more security by way of less individual freedom and personal liberty. I think it is high time that “we the people” rose up to challenge this erroneous notion that security is preferable to freedom. And I think it’s high damn time to correct the perception of the top 1%, making them understand that people are not expendable, nor are we a commodity to be exploited. We need to take matters into our own hands if we hope to get anything done, and we need to directly confront our terrible economic situation if we hope to get things moving back in our favor. The system is broken, and it’s up to us to either fix it, bypass it, or replace it altogether.

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Reflections on the MLK holiday and rebooting his legacy

The Hijacking of a Dream:

Reclaiming Dr. King’s Legacy

As we approach the Martin Luther King holiday, America needs to perform a re-assessment of what this memorial holiday means to all of us. On August 28, 2011, the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial took place on the National Mall in Washington DC. Having the dedication of this memorial on the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington, was clearly a symbolic gesture — paying homage to one of the many defining moments in the great civil rights leader’s life. However, the corporate contributors of this event, along with many of the politicians that were in attendance, were and are symbolic themselves. They are symbols of everything Dr. King was, and would be opposed to, if he were alive today. These charlatans and hucksters know very well of this fact, which is exactly why they, the mainstream media in America, and an ever-shrinking segment of prejudiced Americans of all colors and races continue to desperately try to reshape the image of Dr. King. If these people have their way, Dr. King and his legacy will stand for nothing more than what I regard as a superficial image. They fervently wish to recreate him into someone they can feel more comfortable with. This is why most children, and adults, can only recite one quote in relationship to Dr. King —“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for much more than what mainstream America has methodically reduced him to. In fact, if he were alive today, many of the corporate war mongering politicians, including President Obama, would be vilifying Dr. King as if he were some crazed angry black man. This is why we will never hear the likes of Barack Obama quote Dr. King when he referred to the US government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”. Dr. King said those powerful and honest words on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York City (exactly a year before he was assassinated). Over four decades later—the US government is still the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. You can bet that the following quote with not be read at the dedication of the King memorial:

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

After reading Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence” speech, anyone still thinking that he would be in approval of what this current administration is doing in places like Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, need to have their heads examined. Dr. King was much more than simply a man who was anti-war; he was a man who stood for peace and social justice. He was truly a man of principles and convictions, which is why he was unafraid of speaking truth to so-called power. Remaining silent, as so many gutless politicians and celebrities do today, was not an option within Dr. King’s conscience. And because of this, he was routinely targeted by the US government, by way of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and devils minions such as FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover.

The American empire’s military-industrial complex has been a prominent issue dating back decades. The military industrial complex is a vastly profitable behemoth that must be fed a steady diet of wars in order to maintain its existence. Those who threaten the existence of this killing machine become expendable. Dr. King’s outspokenness against not only the Vietnam War, but also the military industrial complex, secured his status as a target. Dr. King’s “crime” was that he dared to challenge the conscience of a nation entangled within the web of an imperialist war throughout Southeast Asia. Among other things he said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Which one of the political frauds, or entertainers, in attendance at the dedication to Dr. King’s memorial took such a courageous stance in solidarity with Martin Luther King, Jr.? None, that’s how many. Zero, nada, zip, or zilch, take your pick.

In 2013 the US government has methodically found a way to direct itself into multiple military campaigns of aggression, including dropping missiles indiscriminately upon Libya and arbitrarily using drones to bomb villages in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over a trillion dollars have been used on these campaigns, including Iraq, since 2001—- while people in the US are all losing their homes to foreclosures, school systems are being defunded, and 40,000 Americans die each year due to a lack health insurance. That’s more people than all who died in auto accidents last year. If Dr. King’s statement is true then America’s spirit must be on life support — needing an end to its defense spending as part of a multi-tiered remedy for rehabilitation.

Dr. King knew very well about the US government’s record of going into countries, whose governments refused to be obsequious to their addiction to other nation’s resources, and then destabilizing them by waging war, by assassination of leaders, or both. Dr. King knew that the US played a role in the removal and murder of people like Congo’s Patrice Lumumba in 1961. Today in 2013, very little has changed at all. The US and its gang of European minions (NATO) are currently bombing Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia into the stone age. This is, in fact, the kind of immoral act of war that Martin Luther King, Jr. would be completely opposed to, along with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq before that. His life should give us ample reason to come to this conclusion, and only this conclusion. However, how many children in America know this? Dr. King’s image has been reshaped by some amoral adults as well as by adults who have been purposely mis-educated. When we see ridiculous T-shirts with the face of Dr. King juxtaposed next to that of President Obama we should see this as a blatant assault on the civil rights leader’s work, as well as on his character. These kinds of comparisons further confuse the masses, and not by accident, especially those who have purposely been given little to no historical point of reference in regard to Dr. King and his complete body of work.

 

 The night before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated he was giving a speech in support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. He understood the need for unions and supported their struggle. He passionately supported the economically disenfranchised as evidenced with his organizational work around the Poor People’s Campaign. When we study his work on these issues it should be clearly evident that this man would be completely opposed to the current vicious attacks on labor unions and the poor. The fork tongued Barack Obama campaigned in support of labor unions, saying whatever he needed to, in order to curry favor from them — as a means of gobbling up their valuable votes. However now that he won his second term, he has deliberately distanced himself far away from their struggle, all the while bending over backwards for their nemesis — Wall Street and the gangs of mega-corporations that lurk there. Are we really that foolish to believe that Dr. King would have been in favor of Barack Obama’s multi-trillion dollar bailout for the same “banksters” that are largely responsible for the current economic crisis plaguing the US, and the world?

Dr. King made it quite obvious which side of history he stood on with his actions. He made it even clearer that he stood with the masses of oppressed and poor people riddled throughout the unequal social fabric sewn throughout America, exactly what my own ministry stands for. Serving as the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Dr. King supported SCLC initiated programs like Operation Breadbasket which was aimed at economically empowering black communities. In 1967 Dr. King said, ‘‘Many retail businesses and consumer-goods industries deplete the ghetto by selling to Negroes without returning to the community any of the profits through fair hiring practices.’’ Today numerous members of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as President Barack Obama, appear to have no problem selling out the interests of black communities to the benefit of vulture-like corporations. Whether it is the privatization of public schools, gentrification, or the growing economic disparity between whites and blacks; politicians like Barack Obama could care less about their policies overall negative impact on the very African-Americans who helped vote him into office. It remains perplexing as to why so many black people remain in support of Barack Obama — the absence of historical perspective and critical analysis can have this effect on people. Obama’s actions regarding Black America, including the rapidly vanishing US middle class, are antithetical to those of the late great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Obama has become rather skilled at blaming black people for their plight, whenever he decides to acknowledge their existence at all. He even had the audacity to do this at the NAACP’s 100th anniversary meeting when he said, “We’ve got to say to our children, yes, if you’re African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that somebody in a wealthy suburb does not have to face. But that’s not a reason to get bad grades — that’s not a reason to cut class — that’s not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands — never forget that! That’s what we have to teach all of our children. No excuses. No excuses. You get that education; all those hardships will just make you stronger, better able to compete. Yes we can.”

Obama would never have gone into a poor white community and told the parents of a vastly underfunded school system and marginalized community that they should, in essence, accept those conditions without protesting or fighting to hold the government accountable. However, Obama knows he can slap around the black community in that manner because far too many African-Americans continue to pledge blind obedience him in what I see as a most pathetic manner. Unfortunately, Obama, like many other Democrats, will continue to disrespect the black community until they completely divorce themselves from that party and form/support a truly independent party that actually advocates for their collective interests. In my view as a Caucasian American, it underscores the urgent need for a viable third political party in America that speaks for and addresses the needs of all Americans regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender, economic status and sexual orientation. On further thought, I could end this week’s commentary right here and still have a pretty good article, but I want to go deeper so everyone please stay with me on this, okay?

In regards to people of color, especially poor people, Dr. King had a knack for placing their living conditions within the context of institutional racism and its impact on their communities. In 1968, just months before his assassination, Dr. King said, “It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.” The great civil rights leader said those words within a speech he gave to his staff at a SCLC meeting in Frogmore, South Carolina as he was preparing them for the Poor People’s Campaign. His commitment to black people, and poor people in general, was the polar opposite of a man like Barack Obama who seems to thrive at marginalizing those demographics while catering to his corporate and military bosses.

 

In the same Beyond Vietnam speech, Dr. King gave a prescient warning when he said, “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” Today in 2013 much of the world is suffering from the impact of America’s insatiable hunger for global domination. The US’s runaway military industrial complex continues to take lives away from innocent civilians in places like Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, to name just a few. The American military industrial complex creates carnage abroad while preventing Americans from having things like a world-class single-payer health care system. In 2014 institutional racism remains a disease that destroys the lives of people of color in America by way of ruthless police brutality, enforced economic inequality and intentionally unequal school systems — to name a few. Also in 2014, runaway capitalism is imposing economic terrorism on countless people and their rapidly disintegrating communities. Dr. King’s words are surely more relevant now than ever before.

 

The dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial was assured to be a most superficial event replete with superficial politicians and luminaries when it was held over 2 years ago. The organizers of this event and their corporate cronies were promoting and selling everything from expensive hotel rooms, sponsorship opportunities, to high priced exhibitor space. In essence, they will be “honoring” Dr. King by not embracing his legacy of social justice, but by financially capitalizing on his name. There will be no speeches of ending America’s imperialist wars, like Dr. King did. Anyone with that message trying to get on stage will be swiftly removed by security. There will be no speeches about destroying institutional racism in America. Instead, the lie of America being a post racist country will be bandied about. Don’t expect any talk about waging a war on poverty — after all, some of the sponsors of this event are in fact large multinational corporations (such as Wal-Mart and numerous others) that benefit from destroying local businesses while dissuading their workers from unionizing.

However, what you are sure to see is cameras on disingenuous politicians crying crocodile tears, as if they give a damn about Dr. King’s legacy. Many of these political actors will be men and women who have, at one time or another, voted to finance one or more of America’s current military campaigns. Unfortunately, a few of these frauds will even be members of the Congressional Black Caucus, but I will decline to name names for now. Far too many members of the CBC have become quite comfortable with taking the easy way out and remaining silent about things that matter. The same goes for countless black entertainers riddled throughout Hollywood. They have lost their spine and made the conscious decision to protect their political interests and/or their potential sponsorship from white corporations that could not give a damn about social justice or the well-being of the communities from which many of these black politicians and entertainers come from.

 

Dr. King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” He also famously said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Ending institutional racism in America, eradicating poverty and homelessness, tearing down the US prison-industrial complex by ending the drug wars, and stopping the US’s destructive wars – these are the things that really matter. They matter so much that life and death hinge upon each injustice. It is obvious that we cannot expect Democrats or Republicans to vociferously break their collective silence about the cauldron of social injustices that have been brewing in America for quite some time — that job must be ours, starting with the clergy like myself, since Congress and the President refuse to do any such thing. We must raise our collective voices and speak out against them and stand up for justice. As the 2014 King Holiday comes upon us, this is the greatest way we can honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

 

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Swapping endless wars for perpetual peace is the only thing that will save America

Taking a Stand Against Perpetual War

 

 

Many people are urging the Obama administration to exert more leadership in the struggle to reduce gun violence in the United States. President Obama has spoken to the nation in the past about the need to undertake war while dodging the domestic gun violence issue – first in the surprise drone strikes around the globe, next concerning Libya, more recently in Syria until overwhelming public opinion against another war forced Obama to change his mind, and most recently when he informed Congress and the American people that US troops will be in Afghanistan until as late as 2024. I recently viewed a CNN video where the terrible problem of rape in U.S. prisons was lifted up. Violence surrounds us. It is ingrained into and embraced by U.S. Society. This needs to change.

 

 

More than 50 years ago, President Dwight Eisenhower warned of the growth of the military-industrial complex. He cautioned us about the need to guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, “whether sought or unsought,” by the military industrial complex. “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist,” he said. More than 60 years ago, George Orwell wrote of “perpetual war,” a situation in which war operates as a means of controlling the population by constantly rallying them against a common enemy. It matters not whether a Republican or a Democrat is in the White House; wars go on and on and on, perpetually it seems. World War Two lasted 4 years for the US and six years for Europe, yet US troops have been in Afghanistan since October of 2001.

 

 

Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi was the longest-serving ruler in Africa, having taken power in 1969. He was a strange character, noted for many eccentricities. He also has supported horrible terrorist incidents over the decades. The United States wasn’t really sure who to side with against Gaddafi. Libya is a complicated stew. As the winds of change blew across the Middle East, many in Libya seized the moment to revolt. At first, it appeared the momentum of their rebellion would carry the day. Sadly, Gaddafi unleashed his military forces against the rebels, and the rest is history. Obama administration officials maintained that United States decided to wage war on Libya because of the threat the horrible Gaddafi was to his own people. Then why not attack Bahrain or Yemen or Somalia? Tyrants in those countries are committing similarly repugnant acts against their citizens, maybe even worse.

 

 

It’s a good thing that America decided not to attack Syria. It could easily have started World War Three. Had America bombed Syria from the air, Syria would have called in reinforcements from its ally Russia, and it would have been only a matter of time before the nuclear weapons started flying. For this reason and more, I am excited that ordinary people are rising up, first across the Middle East to cast off autocrats, tyrants, kings and dictators, not to mention the secret police who harass the citizenry daily, and also in America with the formation of the Occupy and “the 99%” Movements. The most damning thing about our federal government is the recent disclosure of an out-of-control foreign and domestic spy network, which proves to me that Obama is morphing from a US president into a tyrant. People want peace and justice, not war and violence. We’re all sick and tired of all the fighting, all we want is some peace and quiet for a change.

 

 

In the United States, including right here in Atlanta, many leaders and members of churches constantly, loudly lament about a shortage of money. There is a reason for that – vast sums of the incomes of their members are being drained off for war, death and destruction. These are people who become enraged over an aborted fetus, but who have no problem going overseas to kill oftentimes innocent strangers. To call this a glaring contradiction would be an understatement. At any rate, and given the near silence of America’s pulpits in the face of the violence and war that surrounds us, the exertions of our theologians in justifying war, the devotion of denominational members to the myth of redemptive violence, it is certain that future historians will view the church as a slave to the vast war machine that engulfs us. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prophesied, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” It looks to me like the USA is already there due to the fact that America spends more money locking people up than is spent on educating them. Will we rise up against this madness of violence and backwards priorities, or are we dead already?

 

 

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I can think of at least seven reasons not to attack Syria

The Insanity of Another Mideast War

 

 

In 1939 and 1940, Hitler conquered the great majority of Europe. You will no doubt recall from your high school history classes that he did very well in his military excursions, or at least at first. Austria and Czechoslovakia fell first, then Poland, followed by Holland, Belgium and France. By that time Spain and Italy were already aligned with Hitler’s Germany. Then, Hitler attacked Great Britain but failed – twice – and things started going downhill from there for Nazi Germany. Failing to conquer the British Isles got Hitler flustered. So, by the summer of 1941, Hitler decided to attack Russia, a country more than ten times the size of Germany, whose military prowess was more than a match for the German armed forces. That December, Japan attacked the US at Pearl Harbor, which got America involved in WW2. Germany then declared war on the US, and vice-versa. So, Germany found itself fighting a war on 2 fronts: one East of Germany with Russia, the other West of Germany with America. Germany ended up getting obliterated when it took on more military opponents than it could handle.

 

 

I find it more than a little disturbing that our country’s military is in the process of making the same mistake Hitler made over 70 years ago. We have troops and so-called “contractors” – a barely concealed pronoun for “black ops” mercenaries – in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, plus the Balkans and Germany in Europe, and that’s not counting more than 100 countries globally. As of this coming week, president Obama is going to take his case – or more accurately that of the US military-industrial complex – to Congress and to the American people. Speaking as a person who is opposed to waging warfare, and having concluded long ago that war is obscenely immoral, I am vehemently opposed to any so-called “limited” engagements with Syria. President Bush and his advisers either didn’t know or didn’t care about the probable consequences of their decision to invade and occupy Iraq back in 2003. This resulted in the following:

 

  • Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and over 4,000 Americans dead;

     

  • Millions of Iraqis and Americans wounded physically and psychologically;

     

  • Legions of young men of the region now experienced in warfare and for hire moving from Iraq to Libya to Syria;

     

  • The Iraqi “democratic” government, which is evidently unable to control the whirlwind of sectarian violence that is now killing and maiming hundreds each week.

 

Although the U.S. invaded and occupied Afghanistan under a different rationale, it is very important to acknowledge the tens of thousands of Afghan citizens who have been killed or wounded in the U.S. war in Afghanistan. The further consequences of the Afghan war was several thousand Americans dead and tens of thousands maimed, wounded or injured. Let’s now fast forward to the present day, where President Obama has not spelled out the possible consequences of a military attack on Syria, but U.S. military leaders are repeatedly warning about the risks. In a letter to the Senate Armed Services committee, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey wrote last month said, “As we weigh our options, we should be able to conclude with some confidence that use of force will move us toward the intended outcome.” “Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid.” General James Mattis, who retired recently as head of the U.S. Central Command, said last month at a security conference that the United States has “no moral obligation to do the impossible” in Syria. “If Americans take ownership of this, this is going to be a full throttle, very, very serious war.” That’s right, general. An all-out brawl in the Middle East which could easily trigger World War Three. We can make some educated guesses of what the “unintended consequences” could be:

 

  1. Syrian anti-aircraft batteries will fire their rockets at incoming U.S. missiles.

  2. Many Syrians on the ground will die and both the U.S. and Syrian governments will say the deaths are the fault of the other.

  3. The U.S. Embassy in Damascus will be attacked and burned, as may other U.S. Embassies and businesses in the Middle East.

     

  4. Syria might also launch rockets toward the U.S. ally in the region—Israel.

     

  5. Israel would launch bombing missions on Syria as it has three times in the past two years and perhaps take the opportunity to launch an attack on Syria’s strongest ally in the region – Iran.

     

  6. Iran, a country with a population of 80 million and having the largest military in the region untouched by war in the past 25 years, might retaliate with missiles aimed toward Israel and toward nearby U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, Turkey, Bahrain and Qatar.

     

  7. Iran could block the Straits of Hormuz and impede the transport of oil out of the Persian Gulf.

 

What is the political end state we’re trying to achieve?” said a retired senior officer involved in Middle East operational planning who said his concerns are widely shared by active-duty military leaders. “I don’t know what it is. We say it’s not regime change. If it’s punishment, there are other ways to punish.”

 

 

Could there be an underlying reason to attack Syria that is being concealed from the American people? There sure is. Let me give you the short version of what’s being done and why. In an August 2013 article titled “Larry Summers and the Secret ‘End-game’ Memo, columnist, journalist and blogger Greg Palast posted evidence of a secret late-1990s plan devised by Wall Street and U.S. Treasury officials to open banking to the lucrative derivatives business. The cynically named “end-game” would require not just coercing support among World Trade Organization members, but taking down those countries refusing to join. Some key countries remained holdouts from the WTO, including Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria. As of this writing, the only one of those four countries still standing is Iran. In most Islamic countries, banks are largely state-owned, and usury – charging rent for the “use” of money, hence the name – is viewed as a sin, if not a crime. That puts them at odds with the Western model of rent extraction by private middlemen. Not all these countries were Islamic. Forty percent of banks globally are publicly-owned. They are largely in the BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — which house forty percent of the global population. To make the world safe for usury, these rogue states had to be silenced by other means. Having failed to succumb to economic coercion, they wound up in the cross-hairs of the powerful US military. In this August 22nd article, Greg Palast posted a screen shot of a 1997 memo from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, then Assistant Secretary of International Affairs under Robert Rubin, to Larry Summers, then Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. Geithner referred in the memo to the “end-game of WTO financial services negotiations”.

 

 

The game then in play was the deregulation of banks so that they could gamble in the lucrative new field of derivatives. But the plan required more than just deregulating US banks. Banking controls had to be eliminated globally so that money would not flee to nations with safer banking laws. The “endgame” was to achieve this global deregulation through an obscure addendum to the international trade agreements policed by the World Trade Organization, called the Financial Services Agreement. Palast wrote:

 

Until the bankers began their play, the WTO agreements dealt simply with trade in goods–that is, my cars for your bananas. The new rules ginned-up by Summers and the banks would force all nations to accept trade in “bads” – toxic assets like financial derivatives. Until the bankers’ re-draft of the FSA, each nation controlled and chartered the banks within their own borders. The new rules of the game would force every nation to open their markets to Citibank, JP Morgan and their derivatives “products.” And all 156 nations in the WTO would have to smash down their own Glass-Steagall divisions between commercial savings banks and the investment banks that gamble with derivatives. WTO members were induced to sign the agreement by threatening their access to global markets if they refused”.

 

That was the fate of countries in the WTO, but Palast did not discuss those that were not in that organization at all, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. These seven countries were named by U.S. General Wesley Clark (Ret.) in a 2007 “Democracy Now” interview as the new ‘rogue states’ being targeted for take down after September 11, 2001. He said that about 10 days after 9-11, he was told by a general that the decision had been made to go to war with Iraq. Later, the same general said they planned to take out seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. What did these countries have in common? Besides being Islamic, they were not members either of the WTO or of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). That left them outside the long regulatory arm of the central bankers’ central bank in Switzerland. Other countries later identified as ‘rogue states’ that were also not members of the BIS included North Korea, Cuba, and Afghanistan. Does everybody else reading this see the pattern that has developed here as clearly as I do? I am sure of it! There was a nonfiction book published a couple of years ago titled, “War Is A Lie”. As you can see from the above facts I have gathered, that is absolutely true.

 

 

This leads to a loaded question, maybe even literally. Having learned what the American public is currently learning about all of the above, the endless wars, the NSA spying, the unauthorized military actions overseas, and the inescapable fact that our entire government has been bought and paid for by corporate America as well as Wall Street (even to the point that our country is becoming dysfunctional?), could opposition by a war-weary American public to US involvement in Syria lead to another series of antiwar protests such as what America experienced from the mid-60’s until the early 70’s? When we add to this mix the multitudes of unemployed, or grossly underemployed, American workers whose jobs have been shipped overseas for pennies on the dollar, the millions of pensioners who got cheated out of their retirement savings when their former employers closed down, and still more multitudes of unemployed young adults, some with Masters degrees, who are stuck living with their parents while trying to pay off student loans costing more than a typical mortgage, then you have a recipe for civil unrest of the highest magnitude. The March on Washington in August 1963 would seem like child’s play by comparison. To those who may disagree, I would only tell you to look around you, and check out what’s been happening since the 2011 Arab Spring. What started in Tunisia spread east to Egypt, and then north across the Mediterranean to Greece, and then west to Spain. During the Movement’s crossing of the Mediterranean, some embers fell over Syria, and that entire country has become engulfed, and it has been burning out of control for quite some time now. The exact same scenario is poised to play out here in the US. All of the identical ingredients are already there. The only remaining question is, what will be the spark that sets it off? If not another war that nobody wants, then it will be something else that is currently not foreseeable. But you can bet the very shoes on our feet that it will.

 

 

Americans will have to decide for themselves who will represent them once they recognize and accept that both major parties are in the employ of the corporate interests that fund their campaigns. We may as well include the possibility that we may start all over again, with just the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights as the framework upon which it will rest. When they do, they will abandon the myth of the two-party system and realize that solving the problems threatening the viability of the American experiment in democracy is more important than ideology. How one wants to describe the system of government will be unimportant if we hand complete control of it to a police state that operates exclusively in the interest of the economic elite.

 

 

Events are conspiring that seem to be leading inevitably to the kind of awakening among average Americans that we have been working towards since it became obvious that the Anglo-American Empire is no longer afraid of public opinion in the US or anywhere else. Just as the power of the banks was revealed by the immunity for the crimes they committed that crashed the US and world economies, the threatened assault on Syria is leading to outrage throughout the majority of the American public. The lies are so transparent that even the Washington Post began to refer to the “alleged” use of chemical weapons by the Syrian military in a story about the decisive defeat in Parliament of a vote to support an illegal, non-UN-sanctioned US attack.

 

 

It is becoming easier to help newly alert citizens to connect the dots that have been obvious to some of us for some time. The furious reaction to the revelations of NSA spying have interrupted the ongoing partisan nonsense of pundits representing the two sides of the corporate duopoly long enough for them to agree that the abridgment of civil liberties has gone on long enough, prompting even Congress to act. The furor resulted in the near-passage on a bipartisan vote of the ‘Amash amendment’ that would have restricted NSA spying. Such resistance to Presidential overreach of authority to strip Americans of basic constitutional rights would have been unthinkable even six months ago. It is only a matter of time before Americans collectively grasp the idea that war abroad, economic disaster, and suspension of civil liberties at home are all symptoms of the same problem: corporate control of the US government. When they do, they will be ready for the solution. The only question remaining here is, will the top 1% give back the huge chunks of America that they have taken over the years, and will governing power be peacefully returned to “we the people”, or will we have to take it by force? Remember the wise words of President John F. Kennedy who once said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”.

 

 

There is no doubt that corruption of the US government by corporations and wealthy individuals is at the root of the problem. There are many proposals to do something about it, but the one with legs is the movement to pass a constitutional amendment to effectively reform campaign finance and abolish corporate person-hood. When America has the discussion about why we need such an amendment and what form it should take, we will be ready to elect representatives who are willing to cosponsor and vote for it. It is not hard to see that the mood of the country is shifting away from helpless acceptance of the theft of what they have assumed is our democracy. Surely a politician as brilliant as Obama can see it. That raises the interesting question. Is it possible that he knows that we will not “be the change” he told us we have to be in 2008 unless things get so bad that we finally have no choice but to act? Is that why he seems to be doing nothing to counter the trend toward fascism in America? We can always hope that those we have accused of blind faith might have been right in claiming that Obama is playing three-dimensional chess with a bunch of checker players. Only time will tell, and only if the movement to take back America for the People continues to grow. For more info visit http://www.sandlministries.org/political_activism and http://www.sandlministries.org/national_strike_movement

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The government treats us like mushrooms, and I’m fed up

Our Leaders and Our Media Keep Us

in the Dark, Living in Fear

 

 

The civil unrest and rioting in Egypt has been in the headlines all week. The Obama administration and the Lame Stream Media are finding themselves in a lose-lose situation. If they choose to back the democratically elected president Morsi, they risk Egypt turning into a Muslim fundamentalist state. In that event, Morsi’s government stands to inherit a stockpile of military weapons like jet fighters, tanks, machine guns and a whole host of advanced hardware like cruise missiles supplied by none other than the United States. So the Obama administration’s next move could be to cut off all aid to Egypt, including military aid, in a frantic effort to keep these American weapons from being used against innocent civilians. Unfortunately for Obama and the US military, the proverbial cat is already out of the bag in this regard. If the Muslim Brotherhood gets their hands on those weapons, it will be civil war for sure. If they don’t, or are prevented from reaching them, then they will be slaughtered by the Egyptian military. Either way, American weapons will be used. Shame on us for not standing up to Congress and the President, and for not voicing our outrage soon enough.

I also watched a video on my computer this past week where the news reporter referred to the Egyptian and Syrian rebels as ‘freedom fighters’. It led me to ponder why so many people were willing to accept at face value the agenda in the current US administration as well as the British government. It also led me to conclude just how easy it has been to manipulate ordinary people into backing imperialist ventures abroad, which are fought on behalf of rich people’s interests. At a time of biting austerity in Europe (or its American code word, ‘sequestration’) and attacks on workers and the middle class, billions of dollars of ordinary people’s money was used to fund the illegal bombing of Libya, the Syrian civil war, and the ongoing drone attacks of America’s clandestine wars.

 

 

The justification sold to people for such militarism is that dictators are bad. The justification sold to people for attacking or destabilizing countries resulting in mass death is that democracy must therefore be forced through by the barrel of a gun. Isn’t it terrible, the politicians and media say, that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is a brutal dictator who is preventing democracy by putting down the rebels? The Assad regime undoubtedly has its faults, but nothing is ever said by the corporate media about the authoritarian ruling clique in Saudi Arabia, which has even given its name to that country (House of Saud). Nothing is ever said about a western backed dictator in Bahrain who has been in power for 52 years. Nothing is ever revealed about the brutal ongoing crackdowns on protestors and dissenters in those countries. When Bahrain used Saudi troops to put down uprisings in 2011, the resultant death toll was proportionally much larger than was the loss of life in Egypt during the uprising there. In fact, if the death toll in Bahrain were taken as a proportion of the population, the equivalent death toll for Egypt would have been 12,000.

 

 

Where was the outrage from the US and its client states? That’s right, there was none. The King of Bahrain was even invited to attend Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee celebrations at Buckingham Palace. As it did in Libya, repressive Saudi Arabia is playing a big role in facilitating the rag-tag rebels in Syria to destabilize a sovereign state that stands in the way of NATO and Israeli interests. And far away, back in Britain and the US, the public is being fed a pack of lies by politicians and the mainstream media about the situation in Syria, just as it has been over other military adventures over the past decade. The majority of westerners don’t have much of a clue about what is really happening. They are unaware that Syria forms part of the greater game in the region. They fail to see the links between Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, which are all part of a Washington-led wider geo-political strategy hell-bent on global domination, controlling the world’s mineral resources, its pipeline routes, and lining the pockets of western financiers and oil, armaments and logistics companies. Too many remain confused or ignorant thanks to duplicitous politicians and the compliant corporate media.

 

 

The public cannot know the reality. They will not be allowed to know, or at least for as long as the powers-that-be can get away with it. We are being kept in fear and in the dark and deceived by politicians and the media that churn out increasingly tired-sounding clichés about a war on terror or humanitarian militarism to justify murderous brutality. And the result is that too many people accept the lie that rag-tag forces made up of vicious, faction-ridden fighters, illegally armed by NATO terror governments and unelected regimes in Saudi and Qatar, are fighting for freedom and democracy. Those forces and nations wouldn’t know about freedom and democracy if they were hit in the face with it. Sorry, my mistake, they would and they do. That’s why they seek to crush it out of existence as soon as it appears. And that applies whether it appears within the borders of the US, Britain or Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere in places that are of strategic importance to them. The US track record of crushing democratic governments is well documented by the likes of Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges and historian William Blum. And look no further to see the attacks on WikiLeaks or the Occupy Movement to see how democratic movements are treated at home. Look no further to see how democratic workers’ movements that took hundreds of years to build in Britain and elsewhere, and for the last 100 years here in the US, and in Europe are under sustained attack. Giving the people the opportunity to vote every four or five years, while in the meantime deceiving, misinforming and lying to them, has no more to do with democracy or freedom than what is happening in Syria right now.

 

 

If more ordinary folk were to turn their attention away from glossy sports events, cheap Sunday morning political debate, reality shows, talent contests or all other forms of comatose infotainment on our TV’s for one minute, they might well realize that the billionaire criminal elites that take their taxes and dictate national and foreign policy are in many cases a good deal worse than any number of the regimes they seek to demonize.

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Economic Inequality and the Possibility of Another Civil War (part 2)

THE TICKING TIME BOMB OF INEQUALITY (part 2)

(excerpt from “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto“, by Paul J. Bern)

Where will all of this inequality lead the American people, or at least the overwhelming majority of the population? What do you get when you add the lack of meaningful employment with the apparent inability for the US economy to create new jobs because they are all being out-sourced overseas? What do you get when you add the rapidly increasing phenomena of middle and working class homelessness with the organized theft of homes and cars due to foreclosure and repossession so they can be resold again and again? And what do you get when you add the economic elimination of retirement pensions and affordable health insurance? What happens when a formerly comfortable – even prosperous – segment of the US population is sent crashing downward into poverty, a poverty from which there is little chance of escape unless you win the lottery or some meaningless game show on TV?

I will tell you exactly what will occur. As more and more people become disaffected and disenfranchised you will see increasing anger, unrest, and overall dissatisfaction until this ticking time bomb of inequality reaches a tipping point. Once this tipping point is reached – and it is almost there right now – you have the perfect recipe for civil unrest, rioting and demonstrating in the streets, wildcat strikes and consumer boycotts, the spontaneous blocking of major highways plus well-to-do subdivisions and wealthy neighborhoods, the burning of government buildings and police stations, and the takeover of radio and television stations and the looting of grocery and big-box stores. Look at the current civil unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Libya and Palestine, and let’s not forget about what happened in London and in Spain last summer and what is happening now in Greece. Anyone who thinks that this kind of social and economic upheaval – this high degree of civil disobedience – can’t happen here in the USA simply hasn’t been paying attention to current events.

Speaking as a minister of the Gospel, human equality is Scriptural. “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written, ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.’” (2 Corinthians 8: verses 13-15 NIV)

If we are going to be successful in our people’s revolution, we will have to do so in a peaceful and orderly but very organized way. I think the best way to accomplish this is to imitate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by employing his tactics of non-violent marches and protests. I would caution all of you to not be confrontational and to never carry weapons, because that is not my way, not is it God’s. But more than just imitating King, who I regard as one of the mentors of my youth, I want to make the lack of jobs, affordable housing, vocational/professional retraining and affordable medical care into 21st century civil rights issues that will take up where Rev. Dr. King left off, reigniting the twin flames of human equality and full employment into the bonfire that this modern civil rights movement is destined to become. If he were alive today, Dr. King would observe an America increasingly divided into two distinct and unequal classes: the rich and powerful, and the rest of us. He’d see bankers prospering as foreclosures increase; insurance executives reaping profits as people die for lack of health care; and the military-industrial-prison complex advocating and perpetuating endless war (and enjoying the spoils) as the underclass fights, suffers, and pays the costs. Rev. Dr. King understood completely that the people must take charge if anything of importance needs to come to pass. He also understood that civil rights issues are really economic issues of enforced inequality. Today in America the working and middle classes are finding themselves relearning these lessons a generation after the King assassination.

Under no circumstances should we fear the inevitable end of the American empire or the demise of free market capitalism, but instead we should regard them as opportunities to build a better world for our kids and grandkids. There are too many people sitting around muttering and complaining about how bad things are, with much pessimism about the future. We need to stop saying to ourselves, “OMG, we’re totally screwed”, and start looking around for ways to take charge of our own situation. The days of waiting around for the government to act are over and done with. It’s time that “we the people” retook the reins of power from the rich, powerful and well-connected who stole them from us. After all, our Constitution says it is our country.

Some may ask if there are any legal implications to this. Can protesting against the system in a peaceful way get us/myself thrown into jail? Let me just say quite plainly that there is no law against lawful assembly, the organizing of workers and peaceful protest, all of which are rights guaranteed under the first amendment to the US Constitution. You have every right to take back your country and to reclaim your former position as a productive member of the middle and working classes provided that you refrain from engaging in acts of violence (excluding matters of self-defense) and vandalism. The US Constitution guarantees this freedom we all share. The truth of the matter is that things here in the US have deteriorated economically and politically to the point where concerned Americans from all walks of life have no choice but to begin protesting, demonstrating and marching for human equality beginning with a twelve dollar per hour minimum wage, free lifetime health care and public education, ending the endless foreign wars that we can’t afford, for ending homelessness, poverty and crime, and for full employment. But it is a sad reality today that we middle and working class Americans, in solidarity with the poor, have none of the above while every other developed country in the world already has all of the above. Well, if our government isn’t doing one freakin’ thing to uphold those whom it governs, then we have a government that has no purpose for existence. And a government that has no useful purpose, or who has abused their authority by oppressing or attacking the citizens instead of governing as is currently the case, must be “altered or abolished” (according to the US Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson) by “we the people”.

We can’t afford to sit by like sheep meekly waiting for slaughter. We must find ways to hinder and obstruct the corporate state at every turn. Nothing will change unless “we the people” begin to organize radical acts of civil disobedience to disrupt our current political system, upping the ante until this massive flim-flam operation known as the US government is thoroughly exposed and replaced. We, the people, must take back our government by peaceful revolution because it will never be given back voluntarily. “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy

Americans of all backgrounds and colors regardless of social, religious, marital or economic status have a right to be angry and dissatisfied about the current sorry state of US affairs both domestically and abroad. Therefore, it is our patriotic responsibility to do something about it, to force the system to change. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence in 1776, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Instead of racial oppression as was the case a generation or more ago, the civil rights issues of today have to do with economic oppression that knows no racial boundaries. But because this is the case, untold multitudes of oppressed, besieged, disenfranchised, disillusioned and exasperated Americans will rise up together as if on cue against the incurably corrupt, basically unfair and irreparably polluted US government. The fundamentally flawed and inherently biased and discriminatory federal tax code must be replaced by any and all means necessary, even if it means calling for an income tax boycott or a general strike. The right to a livelihood and to earn a living wage, to better economic opportunities through free higher education, to low-cost universal health insurance and to home ownership, and to have a life free from hunger, homelessness, violence and crime, and the right to Internet access, are no longer privileges reserved for the most affluent neighborhoods and families, they are basic human rights that can be denied to no one. In fact the entire governmental system, especially at the federal level, has become so decrepit due to crushing debt from without and from deep-seated corruption from within that trying to get anything done within the existing system is a waste of the American people’s time. So considerable civil disobedience, organized protesting, sit-ins and demonstrating, with a tasty touch of peaceful revolution conducted primarily online and in the streets is indeed our responsibility as patriotic Americans.

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Economic Inequality and the Possibility of Another Civil War (part 1)

The Ticking Time Bomb of Inequality

(excerpt from, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto”, by Paul J. Bern)

The purpose of this article is to alert you to the fact that the civil unrest and public protests and demonstrations throughout the Arab world, plus parts of Europe, that you have been made aware of through the Lame Stream Media since early this year have now arrived on our shores. This is a serious development for our country, because economic and political inequality are even worse here in the United States than in Egypt. Like Egypt, its next door neighbor Tunisia, plus Bahrain, Syria, Israel, Libya and most recently Greece, the lack of job opportunities plus extreme economic inequality due to a high concentration of wealth being in the hands of far too few people is turning the entire world into a powder keg. Like the Middle East, America too has become a ticking time bomb of inequality and lack of opportunity.

Let me first say that I began my writing career two years ago not just to warn people, but to pull the fire alarm on your hearts and minds, to snap you out of your daydreams, to shake you awake from your slumber, to shock you out of your apathy, and to light a fire underneath your complacency. The rich, powerful, and politically well-connected, no less than the top 1% of the US economic pie, have taken over 99% of that pie, leaving the rest of us with the crumbs. And so I am here to alert you that a Second American Revolution, a peaceful revolution aspiring to non-violence, has already been launched. This 2nd American Revolution will remain peaceful so long as “we the people” are not attacked by law enforcement, the military, national guard troops or other abusive authoritarians.

The circumstances and situations that the middle and working classes in the US find themselves in today amount to a series of gross social injustices that demands a sharply focused and well-coordinated response from the entire populace, a rebuttal and decisive counterattack designed and intended to right, correct and re-balance US political and economic power back into the hands of the overwhelming majority of American citizens to whom it rightfully belongs. There can be no doubt that class warfare has been declared in the US, perpetrated by the wealthy against the middle and working classes, carried out and implemented by the top 1% as a strategic first strike against the remaining 99%. This has been done for the sole express purpose of eliminating from society the constitutional majority of working Americans, and it has been accomplished by the complete and merciless liquidation of middle and working class wealth due to the loss of our homes and retirement savings, the loss of our standards of living and relative prosperity due to loss of income, and even our health due to loss of health insurance. The end result has been the largest transfer of wealth in all of human history. I learned this through personal experience.

I was an IT professional by trade with well over 20 years experience before being sidelined due to a stroke and a couple of other medical issues in 2008. When I attempted to return to the job market in early 2010 I discovered that it was just not possible, partly because of the absolutely pathetic state of the US job market and partly because I was already in my fifties. And so I found myself forced into early retirement even though I wanted to return to work and be productive again. Next, I tried to go back to school and learn a new trade only to be told that I couldn’t get a student loan because my credit score wasn’t high enough. I found myself temporarily stuck as a result, unable to return to work and unable to retrain myself because of an artificial economic barrier that I could not surmount. I could probably return to the job market in a healthier economy, or get vocational retraining, if the system wasn’t broken. Instead, I find myself depending on a government that I fear and mistrust for my sustanence.

There are tens of millions of formerly middle class people just like me all across the country who find themselves in circumstances similar to mine to varying degrees of severity. Many have not been as fortunate as me. They have lost jobs and even whole careers like I have, been forced out into the street due to the epidemic of foreclosures throughout the land, had their cars repossessed leaving them with no way to get to work assuming that they are lucky enough to still have jobs, and are hounded by collection agencies for debts great and small. They have no access to health care except to show up at the local emergency room with no way to pay the bill, putting them even deeper into debt than they already are. They have watched their pensions and their retirement savings evaporate due to market manipulations by unscrupulous “financial managers” who earn obscene bonuses whether they succeed or fail, and all at the expense of their clients. Either that or they have spent their savings during interminably lengthy periods of unemployment after their jobs were downsized or out-sourced overseas to the third world, never to return again. And their children, the ones lucky enough to be able to go to college, are graduating with crushing student loan debts that will take decades to repay if they can be repaid at all, depending on whether they can find suitable work or not. What good is a four-year degree if you wind up flipping hamburgers, stocking shelves, bagging groceries or digging ditches?

Meanwhile, the best jobs, the best educations, and the best incomes are reserved for the wealthy and their families. The same goes for the best health care, the nicest cars and boats and even airplanes (why bother flying coach?), and the best retirement plans. All of this and more are systematically being procured by the top 1% economic bracket in the US at the expense of everybody else. It’s always steak for them and beans for the rest of us, and that is a great social injustice if there ever was such a thing. And so revolution, a peaceful revolution and a civil rights movement of “WE THE PEOPLE” modeled after that of Rev. Dr. King, Jr., is now underway and gaining momentum, and I am asking each of you to do what you can to get involved in the retaking of our country from the elite 1%.

Social and economic inequality, the symptom of which is rampant class warfare, is a cancer growing within the body politic and social fabric of America. Spearheaded by visionaries such as Mahatma Ghandi in the 1940’s and 1950’s, Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1950’s and 1960’s – and more recently beginning in the 1990’s by the release of Nelson Mandela from incarceration in South Africa – race relations, equal economic opportunity and social parity have come a long way; of that there can be no doubt. But there is the remaining issue of social and economic inequality that has been festering just underneath the surface of the American political landscape, an enforced and entrenched inequality that flows through the bloodstream of the American middle and working classes like an invading disease. This social disease of inequality has penetrated the corporate body of middle America right down to the marrow, becoming so severe that the very existence of the US middle and working classes is now threatened. This same social and economic disease transcends race, and it ranges across nationalities, ethnic groups, and diverse cultures with no preference regarding age, gender, marital status, religion, social or economic status, sexual orientation or anything having to do with the background of the affected individual. The social disease of inequality is not at all peculiar to America, but rather it spans the entire globe and threatens to swallow up any and all chance at opportunity for all peoples, crushing the dreams and aspirations of untold billions.

If people the world over – starting here in the US and later propagating abroad – don’t begin to organize and fight back against the rich, powerful and politically well-connected oppressors who are holding us all down as they squeeze the life out of each of us, we will all find ourselves neutralized at best, and obliterated at worst, while an ever-increasing percentage of the nation’s wealth becomes ever more concentrated into the hand of an elite select few, rendering the remainder of us powerless and penniless. As time goes on, the ticking time bomb of inequality is gradually but inexorably growing worse. As it does, the plight of the American middle and working classes, and especially that of the poor, gets progressively more desperate along with it.

What can we do to reverse our nation’s disastrous course? Obviously, those of us like myself can continue to write about the class war and our battle for survival as we continue to tell the truth about what’s happening to our beloved country and its workers. But a positive message starts with a clear statement of what we are for: A fair economy that works for everyone, not just the rich and powerful. An economy where everyone works and where full employment is more important than record profits. An economy that promotes democracy, not economic and political hostage taking. This is an economy that operates from the moral basis proposed by Thomas Jefferson, who wrote, “The care of human life andhappiness is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”

Based on Internal Revenue Service figures, if middle- and upper-middle-class families had maintained the same share of American productivity that they held in 1980, they would be making an average of $12,500 more per year. That bears repeating: $12,500 of your money every year to the richest 1 percent, and $600 more to pay your share of their tax cuts! Inequality in the U.S. doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Many of us brush it off, thinking, “So the rich get richer – it’s always been that way.” Or we think: “I’m doing OK myself – and I want to be really rich someday, too.” Since our economic system is based on individual freedom, most of us believe in the inalienable right to make unlimited amounts of money. The thought of taking back a greater share from innovative and industrious business leaders is (shudder) “socialism.” But it’s not that at all. Socialism is based on a collective economy similar to communism, and it depends on a large governmental bureaucracy in order to rule over the land and its people. In other words, socialism relies on big government, whereas I am advocating exactly the opposite. Furthermore, I am very much in favor of private ownership and free enterprise whereas socialism excludes both. Enough said.

Fortune magazine reported that the 500 largest U.S. companies cut a record 821,000 jobs in 2009 while their collective profits increased threefold to a record $391 billion. According to Forbes magazine, the top 20 private equity and hedge fund managers took an average of $657.5 million in 2006. The salaries of these 20 people could have paid for 25 police officers, 25 firefighters, and 50 teachers for every one of the 3,000 counties in the United States. Instead we see counties like Ashtabula in Ohio, which cut back its police force from 112 to 49, while a judge advises the residents to “get a gun” to defend themselves. Actually, people have already begun doing just that. As of this writing, there were 5 million handguns, rifles and shotguns sold in April 2012 alone. Millions more have already been purchased by patriotic Americans who love their country but despise their government. We’re in a class war. It’s the corporations and the very wealthiest against all the rest of us.

In 1962 the wealthiest 1 percent of American households had 125 times the wealth of the median household. Now it’s 190 times as much. From 1975 to 2010 median family income rose $42,936 to $49,777. That’s not quite 16 percent over 25 years, less than six-tenths of 1 percent per year. Then came the crashes of 2001 and 2008 and the recessions that followed. The crash hasn’t changed anything. Things have become worse. From 1990 to 2005, adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage is down 9 percent while production workers’ pay is up only 4.3 percent over 15 years. At the same time, the rich get richer: Corporate profits are up 106.7 percent. The S&P 500 is still up 141.4 percent since 1990. CEO compensation is up 282 percent. Call it transfer of wealth. Or call it class warfare. If current trends continue, the United States by 2043 will have the same income inequality as Mexico. Countries with high levels of income inequality are third-world countries. When a country is, or becomes, a third-world country, the other thing people can do is run. To some place richer and freer. Like America. But when America becomes Mexico, where you gonna run to?

Beside loss of income and loss of residence, there are two additional ways that social and economic inequality are being enforced all across middle America. First, for those old enough to retire, their pensions are being systematically looted and/or confiscated by the top 1% tier of US wealth. Simply put, the elderly are superfluous to capitalism. With high rates of joblessness being the “new norm,” more and more people are being made disposable. This leads to an efficient if brutal logic: cutting old-age income and health care will make it easier to scrap old, useless workers. In fact, this reality is already coming to pass. I know all about this from personal experience, as I described earlier.

The final way that social and economic inequality is being maintained and enforced is by an insidious and masterful plan to rob the US middle and working classes of their ability to take care of themselves by taking away their health insurance, or vastly inflating the cost thereof, in the hopes that some of us will have to leave the workforce sooner due to disability, or worse yet to die sooner, consequently leading to a greater concentration of wealth at the top of the economic pyramid at the expense of everyone else. The number of uninsured is now in excess of 56 million as of mid-2012. There are now nearly as many uninsured non-elderly people as those receiving Medicaid or other public insurance such as Medicare and military/veterans coverage.

The gaps in our health care system affect people of all ages, races and ethnicities, and income levels; however, those with the lowest income face the greatest risk of being uninsured. Not having health insurance makes a difference in people’s access to needed medical care and their financial security. The barriers the uninsured face in getting the care that they need means they are less likely to receive preventive care, are more likely to be hospitalized for conditions that could have been prevented, and are more likely to die in the hospital than those with insurance. The financial impact can also be severe. Uninsured families already struggle financially to meet basic needs, and medical bills, even for minor problems, can quickly lead to medical debt.

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