Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Veteran's Administration cover up of PTSD

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By Vic Lee

There is new evidence suggesting the Veteran's Administration is covering-up sub-standard mental health care given to vets. There's evidence a federal judge in San Francisco accepted on Tuesday, even though the case has already been tried.

There was email was written in March by Norma Perez, Ph.D., a V.A. psychologist who coordinates post-traumatic stress disorder cases.
She wrote, "Given that we are having more and more compensation-seeking veterans, I'd like to suggest that you refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out. Consider a diagnosis of adjustment disorder."

The email was discovered by accident through a Freedom of Information request by a veterans group.

"It is a very damning email. Cut off the money, disguise them with adjustment disorders so they don't get V.A. benefits," said Gordon Erspamer, a Veterans Groups' Lawyer.

Attorneys for Veteran's groups suing the V.A. say the email supports their case that the dept has failed to diagnose and treat PTSD and other mental health problems.
Their lawsuit asks the court to force the V.A. to treat veterans who show signs of PTSD and are at risk of suicide.
The V.A. says the email's author admits it was poorly worded and has no bearing on the lawsuit.

"I think she made it clear she had mistakes. The secretary has disciplined her and also said she doesn't reflect any V.A. policies," said Kerri Childress, a Veterans Administration spokesperson.
This is the second email that the veterans say the V.A. has tried to conceal from the public.

The first surfaced during the trial that ended last month. The V.A.'s Mental Health Director Dr. Ira Katz, M.D. wrote that there were 1,000 suicide attempts a month among veterans.

Katz said, "Is this something we should address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?"
"The first one says lets cover the 1,000 suicide attempts per month and the second one says lets deny benefits," said Sid Wolinsky, a Veterans Groups' Lawyer.
Federal Judge Samuel Conti granted the veterans groups request to enter the email as evidence even though the non-jury trial ended last month. He's expected to rule on the lawsuit any day now.

The world food crisis and the capitalist market

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By Alex Lantier

This is the third and concluding part of a series of articles on the world food crisis. Part one was posted June 7. Part two appeared on June 9.

The current food crisis reflects not only financial events of recent years, but longer-term policies of world imperialism. Instead of allowing for a planned improvement of infrastructure and farming techniques, globalization on a capitalist basis has resulted in a restriction in many parts of the world of farm production. This has been carried out in order to lessen competition and prevent market gluts from harming the profit interests of the major powers.

One major aspect of imperialist policy was to limit farm production in the so-called “First World” to prevent sudden falls in world prices. In the US, this policy took the form of the federal government’s Conservation Reserve Program, first passed as part of the 1985 Food Security Act.

The program allows farmers to apply for payments of $50 per acre of land on which they do not plant crops. A nationwide limit of 180,000 square kilometers (about 10 percent of US arable land) was imposed on the program, later decreased to 130,000 square kilometers in 2007.

Though the bill was presented as a means of limiting soil erosion due to overplanting of ecologically vulnerable land, much of the fallow land registered under the project was not, in fact, vulnerable to erosion, but rather chosen by farmers on the basis of the price of the crops that could be grown on it. This was in line with the law’s stated objectives, which were “acreage reduction” and the maintenance of “target prices and price-support loans.”

Similar payments to farmers for farmland kept out of cultivation were adopted on a country-by-country basis, after the 1992 reform of Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy.

Production collapsed in the former Soviet bloc after the 1991 dissolution of the USSR, as planned Soviet industries were shut down and sold off by the Stalinist rulers and their Western economic advisers. According to UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics, agricultural production in the former USSR fell 38 percent in the first four years after its dissolution and per capita food production fell 40 percent. Today, even after a partial economic recovery starting around 2000, largely fueled by oil and gas sales, total planted area in the former USSR is 12 percent less than in Soviet times.

The collapse of the Soviet agricultural machinery industry and the disappearance of Soviet subsidies tore into the farm sectors of Soviet-aligned states. According to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures, Cuban agricultural production fell 54 percent and food consumption fell 36 percent from 1989 to 1994, and North Korean grain production fell 40 percent from 1990 to 1999.

In developing countries, agriculture and infrastructure were devastated by export surges from wealthy countries and the programs of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which largely dictated state policy in exchange for loans to help with the states’ debt. As agriculture was converted away from regulated subsistence farming and toward free-market cash crops produced for export, developing countries were opened up as export destinations and had more export revenue siphoned off to service debts to “First World” banks.

Liberalization of “Third World” markets and their opening to imperialist power exports devastated local farmers, whose products were forced to compete with highly subsidized exports. The US spends approximately $20 billion and the EU €45 billion per year on export subsidies to keep their farm prices low in foreign markets. In Haiti, liberalization of agricultural markets from 1985 to 1999 resulted in a 40 percent fall in domestic rice production, from 163 kilotons to 100 kilotons, while US imports grew from 4 percent to 63 percent of the Haitian rice market.

IMF programs eliminated state regulation of the food supply and provision of subsidies for fertilizer, irrigation and vaccines, which the IMF declared an unacceptable drain on state funds. World production of cash crops such as coffee, tobacco and cocoa soared, but entire populations became more vulnerable to famine. In the 1980s, Africa’s per capita grain production fell from 150 to 125 kilograms, while its grain imports went from 3.72 megatons (Mt) in 1974 to 8.47 Mt in 1993.

In Somalia, the IMF-mandated 1981 devaluation of the Somali shilling led to massive price hikes for imported fertilizer and livestock vaccines, and the government progressively slashed subsidies for farmers and nomadic herders. A 1991 collapse in livestock herds due to disease and a resulting fall in farm production were important factors leading to the 1992 famine, which was then used to justify a US invasion of the country.

In Kenya, long a major African food exporter, the IMF-mandated 1996 reform of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) devastated the economy and transformed Kenya into a net importer of food. Under pressure to function as a commercial, for-profit enterprise, the NCPB charged more for farm inputs and allowed middlemen to take over much of the storage and distribution of the harvest to cut distribution costs. By 2001, farmers were receiving 400 shillings from private traders for a 90-kg bag of rice costing 719 shillings to produce.

In Malawi, IMF-mandated deregulation of the state grain market led to an explosion in the number of private traders. When flooding hit the country’s maize crop in 2001, the state, under pressure to raise funds as international donors such as the US and UK refused to give aid, sold off its strategic grain reserve to traders at one third of the world market price. Prices rose through the end of 2001 as traders hoarded the grain, and the country experienced a major famine in 2002.

The poor state of much of “Third World” agricultural infrastructure after decades of such treatment is common knowledge, though rarely discussed in the mass media. In a March 2004 address, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf noted: “Africa is the only region in the world in which average per-capita food production has been constantly falling for the past 40 years.... There are many causes for this. There is, for example, the insignificant use of modern inputs, with only 22 kg of fertilizer applied to each hectare of arable land, compared to 144 kg in Asia. The level is even lower in sub-Saharan Africa, which uses 10 kg per hectare.

“The selected seeds that spurred the success of the Green Revolution [the increase in crop productivity during the 1960s and 1970s] in Asia and in Latin America are barely used in Africa. There is also a profound shortage of rural roads and storage and processing facilities.

“Another factor strongly influencing [Africa’s] poor agricultural performance is water. It only uses 1.6 percent of its available water reserves for irrigation, as compared to 14 percent in Asia. Only 7 percent of Africa’s cropland is irrigated against 40 percent in Asia, and if we exclude the five most developed countries in this regard—Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, Madagascar and South Africa—the proportion for the remaining 48 countries drops to 3 percent. Yields from irrigated crops are three times higher than yields from rain-fed crops, but agricultural activity on 93 percent of Africa’s arable land is dependent on extremely erratic rainfall, and therefore seriously exposed to the risk of drought. Eighty percent of food emergencies are linked to water, especially water stress.”

Nor are infrastructure difficulties limited to Africa. In Asia, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) noted reduced research investment, the lack of new irrigation projects, and “inadequate maintenance” of existing irrigation infrastructure as major problems. It added that an “unexploited yield gap of 1-2 tons per hectare currently exists in most farmers’ fields in rice-growing areas of Asia,” citing lack of proper irrigation and fertilizer, pest and disease control, post-harvest storage and transport facilities.

According to the India Times, spring harvest yields for rice are 3.12 tons per hectare (t/ha) in India, as opposed to 4.17 t/ha on average in Asia and 6.26 t/ha in China. In wheat, India produces 2.6 t/ha, below China’s 4.1 t/ha and Europe’s 5.0 t/ha. The Times noted that rural development expenditure averaged 14.5 percent in 1986-1990, but after the 1991 liberalization and opening to international capital, this fell to 6 percent. Agricultural productivity growth fell from 2.62 percent to 0.5 percent.

While agriculture in China is more productive than in India, it faces its own challenges. Uncoordinated industrialization has decreased land available for farming from 127.6 to 121.7 million hectares, according to figures from the Ministry of Land and Resources. This is despite the passage of repeated measures by the central government to limit land sales by farmers to local officials aiming to set up factories or businesses on prime farmland. Land near factories, many of which are operated with little regard for environmental standards, is often severely polluted.

As the crisis of world agriculture pushes supply downward, population growth and rising demand for more complex foods in industrializing countries are pushing demand upward. This dichotomy between powerful objective developments in world capitalism gives the crisis a particularly intractable and explosive character.

The increased food demand caused by population growth does not in general pose a major problem. Population growth in this decade (roughly 1.2 percent per year) has been less than growth in the 1960s, which averaged 2 percent per year—a time when, thanks to crop productivity and infrastructure improvements, world grain production per capita rose from 275 to 300 kg.

As a result of lower agricultural and research investment, however, crop yield growth has fallen precipitously and is now barely keeping up with population growth. The Washington, D.C.-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) comments: “The neglect of agriculture in public investment, research, and service policies over the past decades has undermined its key role for economic growth. As a result, agricultural productivity growth has declined and is too low to meet the present challenges.” From 1980 to 2004, it fell from a high of 4.5 percent to 2.0 percent for wheat, 3.3 percent to 1.0 percent for maize, and 3.2 percent to 1.5 percent for rice, according to UN figures.

To the social and industrial problems underlying slow growth of the food supply, one must add rising demand tied to substantial shifts in the global economy—notably the increase in oil revenues in oil-producing countries and industrialization in a number of developing countries, especially in Asia.

Available data does not suggest that major oil producers that are traditional importers of grain (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Nigeria) have contributed to price rises by importing more grain. The tonnage of their rice and wheat imports have, in fact, shrunk in the last few years, according to USDA figures—in part because grain importers refused to buy from high-priced world grain markets as the state fixed low bread prices.

However, these countries’ surging oil revenues—oil prices in US dollars have gone up by a factor of more than 6 from 2002 to 2008—have greatly increased market expectations that grain importers will be able to afford to pay large sums for rice, wheat and other foods.

Rising living standards and more meat- and dairy-intensive diets in certain developing countries have increased demand for grain—not only for food, but particularly for feed. According to the International Feed Industry Federation, world use of grain in compound animal feeds passed from 290 Mt in 1975 to 537 Mt in 1994 and 626 Mt in 2005. The FAO forecasts a 60 percent growth in grain use for feed from 1996 to 2030, compared to 45 percent growth in grain use for food.

Compared to 1990 per capita levels, China in 2005 consumed 2.4 times as much meat, 3.0 times as much milk and 2.3 times as much fish. India consumed 1.2 times as much per capita in all categories in 2005 as in 1990. Brazil consumed 1.7 times more meat, 1.2 times as much milk, and 0.9 times as much fish per capita in 2005 as in 1990.

These increases are important in absolute as well as comparative terms. For instance, meat consumption in China in 2007 was 50 kg per person, versus 20 kg in 1980. By comparison, US per capita consumption in 2004 was 98 kg.

The increasingly unstable balance of production and consumption is further threatened by global warming. In a February 2007 article, the Toronto-based Globe and Mail described a Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) report painting a dire picture of its effect on grain yields.

It wrote: “A rough rule of thumb developed by crop scientists is that, for every 1-degree Celsius increase in temperatures above the mid-30s during key stages in the growing season, such as pollination, yields fall about 10 per cent.” It added that, “Average global temperatures will likely rise between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees over the next century, according to the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggesting that, over most of the range of future temperatures, crops will suffer problematic declines.”

The CGIAR report described computer models analyzing crop yields in regions—the northern half of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and the Sahel (the part of Africa just south of the Sahara desert)—where temperatures often reach 35 degrees Celsius or higher during crop-growing seasons.

The Globe and Mail concluded, “Cereals and corn production in Africa are at risk, as is the rice crop in much of India and Southeast Asia.... The best wheat-growing land in the wide arc of fertile farmland stretching from Pakistan through Northern India and Nepal to Bangladesh would be decimated. Much of the area would become too hot and dry for the crop, placing the food supply of 200 million people at risk.”

An advance look at global warming’s possible effects is provided in Australia by two straight years of droughts, which the Australian press has widely noted are exacerbated by global warming. Wheat yields have fallen from a normal level of 25 Mt to 10.6 Mt in 2007 and an anticipated yield of 13 Mt in 2008.


The scale of the challenges posed to world agriculture, and the dimensions of the inflationary crisis that has already been unleashed on the world’s population despite the plentiful supply of food, underscore the irrationality of world capitalism.

Divided as they are between the competing profit interests of different corporations and states, capitalist policymakers are unable to rationally and coherently plan world economy and agriculture to face these challenges. Instead, they have overseen the destruction or degradation of immense productive resources.

These basic contradictions are now exacerbated and brought to a crisis point by the bursting of the US credit bubble and the rise in oil prices. Despite humanity’s elementary need for affordable food, the response of the world bourgeoisie has been to use the price crisis as a source of profits through speculation, smuggling or organizing nationally based price cartels.

The wave of strikes and demonstrations with which the international working class has responded to the explosion of food prices testifies to its objective unity, in opposition to the forces of the world market.

To the perplexity and token measures of capitalist governments and imperialist-dominated agencies such as the UN, the working class must counterpose the revolutionary perspective of international socialism. The social force that is uniquely capable of resolving the crisis on a humane and progressive basis is the international working class, uniting behind it the peasantry and all other oppressed social layers.

The historic task posed to the working class is the reorganization of world economy on an international basis, overcoming the conflict between globalized production and the nation state system, and the replacement of the profit principle by scientifically planned production for the social good, on the basis of public ownership of the means of production under the democratic control of the working population.


Paxil Babies: The Dangers of Antidepressants

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By Bruce E. Levine

Today in the United States, 11 percent of women take antidepressants, the use of antidepressants by pregnant women has dramatically increased, and postpartum depression -- rare in those cultures in which women receive high levels of social support following childbirth -- has become so staggeringly common among U.S. women that Congress is legislating increased medical treatment.

Increasing Use of Antidepressants by Pregnant Mothers

Receiving little attention in 2007 was the study "Increasing Use of Antidepressants in Pregnancy," published by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Medical records of 105,335 pregnant women enrolled in Tennessee Medicaid from 1999-2003 revealed that antidepressant use during pregnancy increased from 5.7 percent in 1999 to 13.4 percent in 2003.

Among Tennessee Medicaid-treated women in 2003, 10 percent took antidepressants during the first trimester, 6.4 percent used antidepressants during the second trimester, and 5.9 percent used them during the third. White women were four times more likely than nonwhite women to have used antidepressants during pregnancy, and older women and those with greater schooling were also more likely to have used antidepressants while pregnant.

In another study of pregnant women treated at seven health maintenance organizations (HMOs), American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported in February 2008 that "antidepressant use in pregnancy nearly quadrupled from 1996 to 2005" and that nearly 8 percent of pregnant women used antidepressants in 2005.

Effect of Antidepressant on Newborns

To the delight of antidepressant manufacturers, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently told Americans that we need not worry about the effects of Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft and other antidepressants on newborns. In June 2007, the CDC issued a press release stating "New Study Finds Few Risks of Birth Defects from Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy." CDC epidemiologist Jennita Reefhuis concluded, "Overall, our results are generally reassuring with respect to the use of antidepressants during pregnancy."

This CDC press release was trumpeted by many U.S. newspapers with headlines such as "Antidepressants Not Big Risk for Defects" (Associated Press) and "Reassurance on Antidepressants in Pregnancy" (The Wall Street Journal). However, the actual research findings are the opposite of reassuring.

We have all heard about "crack babies" (newborns addicted to crack cocaine because their mothers were using it during pregnancy). What about "Paxil babies"? In 2006 the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine reported that 30 percent of infants who had prenatal exposure to antidepressants experience some withdrawal symptoms, with 13 percent of them experiencing severe ones, most notably tremors, respiratory distress, gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbances, and high-pitched crying. Other withdrawal symptoms include rapid heart beat, irritability, feeding difficulties, and profuse sweating.

There are several other serious problems that newborns are more likely to suffer when exposed in utero to antidepressants. A 2006 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alert stated, "A recently published case-control study has shown that infants born to mothers who took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) after the 20th week of pregnancy were 6 times more likely to have persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) than infants born to mothers who did not take antidepressants during pregnancy." In persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, the newborn’s arteries to the lungs are constricted, this limiting the amount of blood flow to the lungs and therefore the amount of oxygen into the bloodstream. The FDA alert also noted, "Neonatal PPHN is associated with significant morbidity and mortality."

It turns out that the CDC based its approval of antidepressant use during pregnancy on studies in which women were taking antidepressants the month before they became pregnant or in the first three months of pregnancy. But is it even in fact safe for newborns if mothers use antidepressants only in the first trimester?

Antidepressant use in first trimester, according to The New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, is associated with more than double the risk of anencephaly (birth without forebrain), omphalocele (the child’s abdomen does not close properly allowing intestines and other organs to protrude outside the body), and craniosynostosis (premature closure of the connections between the bones of the skull before brain growth is complete).

The Rationale for Antidepressants for Pregnant Mothers

What then is the rationale of those medical authorities who encourage antidepressant use among depressed pregnant mothers? Their claim is that while antidepressants might present some risks, the stress of not receiving medication for depression is more risky for the newborn and mother. However, the research simply does not back up this claim.

Two major studies comparing the health of newborns from depressed mothers who took antidepressants versus newborns of depressed mothers who did not take antidepressants show that newborns are better off with mothers not taking antidepressants. In 2007 the American Journal of Psychiatry reported that the preterm birth rate of antidepressant exposed newborns was 14.3 percent as compared to 0 percent for newborns of depressed mothers who did not use antidepressants; and the rate of admission to the special-care nursery is more than double for antidepressant exposed infants compared to infants of depressed mothers who did not use antidepressants. These findings echo those reported in a 2006 Archives of General Psychiatry study using health data from a large sample of infants in British Columbia, Canada during a 39-month period.

Moreover, there is no evidence that antidepressant use by depressed pregnant mothers lowers their likelihood of suicide, and there is a great deal of evidence that antidepressant use can make some people manic, agitated, and violent. And while millions of people swear by their antidepressants, there is increasing evidence that antidepressants do not work much better than placebos. In 2002 Prevention & Treatment reported an analysis of forty-seven studies that had been sponsored by drug companies on Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor, Celexa, and Serzone. Many of these studies had not been published but all had been submitted to the FDA, so researchers used the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to the data. They discovered that in the majority of the trials, the antidepressant failed to outperform a sugar pill placebo.

Postpartum Depression and the Mothers Act

For politicians, a much safer issue than pushing antidepressants for pregnant mothers is promoting the expansion of medical treatment for postpartum depression. In 2007 the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the "Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act" and sent it to the U.S. Senate, which renamed it the Mothers Act. The stated goal of The Mothers Act, currently in committee, is to "ensure that new mothers and their families are educated about postpartum depression, screened for symptoms, provided with essential services, and to increase research at the National Institutes of Health on postpartum depression."

But will the Mothers Act merely ensure that federal dollars are used to identify more pregnant and postpartum women as depressed and then convince them that antidepressants are safe and effective? After all, while psychiatry authorities and antidepressant manufacturers admit that antidepressants used by nursing mothers do in fact enter breast milk, they maintain that antidepressant concentration in breast milk is too low to be terribly concerned about (though they do acknowledge that there are no long-term studies to confirm this).

In the "Findings" section of the Mothers Act we are told that postpartum depression is a "devastating mood disorder" and that "postpartum depression is a treatable disorder if promptly diagnosed by a trained provider." But inconvenient truths about postpartum depression are omitted. Not many in Congress would vote for legislation that stated the following: The U.S. could eliminate much of postpartum depression by transforming American values, culture, and economics.

The Mother Act states that "postpartum depression occurs in 10 to 20 percent of new mothers." It should state that postpartum depression occurs in 10 to 20 percent of American mothers. A 2004 BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal) cross-cultural review reported that postpartum depression is rare in Fiji and in traditional African and Chinese populations. The BMJ authors concluded that "structured social supports after childbirth are described in groups of women with low rates of postpartum depression." Structured social supports for women after childbirth are decidedly missing from American culture.

The Mothers Act findings also neglects the 1996 British Journal of Psychiatry finding that postpartum depression is associated with unemployment of the mother (no job to return to), unemployment of the head of the household, unplanned pregnancies, and not breast-feeding.

And the Mothers Act omits relevant truths about Melanie Blocker-Stokes, the woman for whom the initial House bill was named for. Blocker-Stokes was a pharmaceutical sales manager who began suffering severe symptoms of depression after the birth of her child, and she did in fact receive extensive psychiatric treatment. She was hospitalized three times in seven weeks, given four combinations of anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety, and antidepressant medications, and underwent electroconvulsive therapy (electroshock). But despite her psychiatric treatment -- or because of it -- Melanie Blocker-Stokes jumped to her death from the twelfth floor of a Chicago hotel.

Postpartum depression could be dramatically reduced in the United States with a political will to transform American society from one that is dominated by money, productivity, and consumption to one that has vital communities which put energy into caring about the well being of new mothers -- as do cultures where postpartum depression is rare.

The rate of U.S. depression has increased more than tenfold in the last fifty years. During that same time, Americans have received increasing medical treatment for depression, especially antidepressants, which currently gross more than $13 billion annually in the U.S. Nowadays, drug companies, psychiatry officialdom, and U.S. governmental authorities recommend antidepressants even for pregnant women, and an increasing number of American newborns discover that their first worldly challenge is withdrawing from Zoloft.

When exactly will be the appropriate time to challenge mental health professional pretensions and rebel from cultural craziness?

Leaders With No Conscience

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By Rand Clifford

As Osama bin Laden lay dying, December of 2001...might he have imagined that seven years later he would be on bogeyman life-support, still officially issuing messages as ruling poster boy for America’s mindless, force-fed terror obsession? The hammerlock on thoughts of Americans by psychopathic leadership still depends on fairytale power of Osama to help fuel the pathological War On Terror—could he have foreseen this, Americans being so propagandized as to let the lifeblood of their nation drip through their fingers, for lies? Whatever Osama knew he’d accomplished surely pales in light of what he has done since dying; if he had any inkling of this he must have died smiling.

With characteristic deception our pathocracy implies that Osama has somehow gotten vital dialysis treatments all these years at his hideout in never-never (mind) land. Definition: pathocracy (n). A system of government created by a small pathological minority that takes control over a society of normal people (from Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes, by Andrew Lobaczewski).

The dialysis reality...a pesky detail easily smothered when reality is yours for the creating. Scott McClellan used the phrase "Culture of Deception" in the title of his new book. In recent articles by Robert Parry, including, Surprise, Surprise: Bush Lied, and, Losing the War for Reality, there is much about the CIA’s "perception management" really taking off under Reagan, delivering more and more "politically desirable" data to policy makers. Parry notes with usual incisive wisdom that a crucial thing America’s Founders did not anticipate: In an age of overwhelming government secrecy combined with the sophisticated big-money media we have today, that manipulation of information...disconnect between policies founded on politically desirable data (fully-cooked), and those rooted in the real world, could kill the republic.

With lies getting up to our eyes, how much time remains to wake up...?

Waffles of top-level Osama deception keep flopping from CIA Director Michael Hayden; less than a year since warning of new threats from resurgent al-Qaida, a recent Washington Post article by Joby Warrick titled: CIA chief says al-Qaida’s defeat looms, has Hayden proclaiming that, "Osama bin Laden is losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Islamic world and has largely forfeited his ability to exploit the Iraq war to recruit adherents."

Seriously, Director Hayden, don’t you think bin Laden’s death in 2001 is a main factor in his recruitment drop-off? Death remains a powerful inhibitor, no matter the official cooking. The entire Osama bin Laden deception is a paradigm of our pathocracy’s relationship with truth.

Even more seriously, People, how can the CIA Director keep spewing such outrageous, official deception without batting an eye? This is our Central Intelligence Agency! If the entire agency were not privy to bin Laden’s death within weeks, same as everyone else in the world involved in high-level intelligence...sounds akin to 19 Arab boys with box cutters routing the defenses of the world’s Superpower.... And how can The People, more and more of whom are finally seeing through the Osama Bogeyman fabrications, as well as the false flag reality of 9-11, and the diabolical War On Terror (war on truth?) not feel powerful compulsion to do more about it all than simply voting—which has over and over again proved...SO? The same answer satisfies these questions—at least regarding America’s deepening nadir, where every day the reigns of psychopathic control at highest levels of government stretch tighter.

It’s not so much that power corrupts; but that the corrupt seek power....

What about hope, a better future?

The forenamed book, Lobaczewski’s seminal, Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes is finally getting traction as a polestar of crucial truth. Articles recently published that further cast illumination toward the shadowy dominance of psychopaths—people without conscience—within architectures of power, include Dr. Kevin Barrett’s Twilight of the Psychopaths. There’s also Silvia Cattori’s The Trick of the Psychopath’s Trade, with its exceptional interview of the editors of Political Ponerology, Laura Knight-Jadcyck, and, Henry See. Then there’s Clinton Callahan’s, Beware the Psychpaths, My Son, which splendidly draws from both Barrett’s and Cattori’s articles. Also essential reading for those seeking truth about the core problem plaguing "civilization" from the beginning: Carolyn Baker’s review of Political Ponerology

An advantage of psychopaths over people with conscience...people with a "soul", is that lying is little different than breathing. Psychopaths skate without remorse through behavior from which people with conscience recoil, protecting their humanity with the comforting blanket of, Oh! They’d never do THAT! Well, they do that, as naturally as breathing. Recognition of psychopaths, the misery they dump on everyone else, and on everything—and especially the knowledge that they can easily be revealed—might be the most important advance of all time regarding civilization more fitting of the name. Developments in brain scanning technologies leave psychopaths with nowhere to hide. One might think of it as X-ray vision regarding a person’s soul....

Of all the damage Cheney and BushCo have wreaked upon humanity, there could be a redeeming quality in that people with conscience are having their souls rubbed in levels of carnage that can only be achieved by psychopaths reaching epitomes of power. Nothing new, except the sheer scale of the lesson.

WARNING: Nothing is more dangerous than psychopaths in power being revealed for what they are. Though genetic psychopaths are still a small percentage of humanity, at all costs, they must be exposed, and kept from power. However enormous those costs, they mean little compared to what humanity will pay with continued psychopathic rule.

War, Inc.

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By Mike Ferner

Note to the revised version: This article was first written for publication in December, 2001, weeks after the U.S. started bombing Afghanistan. It appeared in the April 2002 issue of “Wild Matters,” a national environmental journal Michael Colby published in Vermont.

"So what is our mistake? We are also human beings. Treat us like human beings," Gulalae, a 37 year-old Afghan mother, told the Toledo Blade from the dust, hunger and fear of the Shamshatoo refugee camp in Pakistan. She calls Osama bin Laden an “outsider” and says that because of him, “Afghanistan is made into a hell for others.”

Grim does not begin to describe the conditions Gulalae and her family endure. In one three-month period, in just one portion of Shamshatoo, bacteria-related dehydration killed a child nearly every day. The misery in this refugee city is like a grain of sand on the beach of suffering that is Afghanistan. But Americans know little of it.

If you only watch mainstream press accounts you’d never know that within the first three months of “America’s New War,” civilian deaths from U.S. bombing in Afghanistan surpassed 3,700—more than were killed in the attacks of September 11. The toll from unexploded cluster bombs, land mines, destroyed water and sewer systems and depleted uranium shells will no doubt reach into the hundreds of thousands. Add the additional innocents sure to die as the international cycle of violence continues, and our war to end terrorism seems calculated to do just the opposite – which points to a disturbing but plausible reason why we chose war: our government needs Osama bin Laden, just like we needed the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union.

For a year and a decade after the USSR dissolved in 1990, it looked like we would have to settle for homosexuals as the national boogeymen, but al Qaeda serves to crank up the armament budget much better than do homosexuals. We fool ourselves if we deny there was considerable behind-closed-doors celebrating in the board rooms of some of the biggest U.S. corporations when a distinctly unpopular president decided to become a War President and invade Afghanistan; then through the bloody logic of empire, Iraq.

Before the Evil Empire we had the Hun, the despicable Spaniards bombing the Maine before that, and the murderous Mexicans were in the way when we wanted Texas. Similar frights can be traced back through the British Empire and earlier than that to the Gauls up in France whom Caesar had to put to the sword to keep Rome safe.

These days government has much more sophisticated means of monitoring and spying on citizens, so the two plums of power and control now sway temptingly before those who would be our servants. How likely is it that without sufficient fright citizens would abide a PATRIOT Act, or partially disrobe to board a plane, or shrug off wiretaps or multitudes of surveillance cameras now invading city landscapes?

But returning for a moment to the economic incentives for war, the following explains as well as any and better than most: “War is a racket. It always has been…A racket is best described as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many.”

Words of a radical peacenik? Only if a Marine Corps Major General qualifies as one. In his twilight years General Smedley Butler unburdened his soul as did other career militarists, such as Admiral Hyman Rickover, who admitted that fathering the nuclear Navy was a mistake and Robert McNamara, who almost found the words to apologize for overseeing the Viet Nam war. Though unlike Rickover and McNamara, Butler named names and exposed for whom the system works.

“I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914” Butler wrote in 1933. “I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.” Butler acknowledged that he’d spent most of his 33 years in the Marines as “a high class muscle man for Big Business, Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

Thus did Butler simply and effectively expose a largely unknown truth—how the military serves the interests of the propertied elite and their wealth-gathering machines, the corporations.

Perhaps more commonly known is the corrupting practice of war profiteering.

“...Only twenty-four at the (Civil) war’s beginning, (J. Pierpont) Morgan perceived from the first that wars were for the shrewd to profit from and poor to die in,” wrote Robert Boyer and Herbert Morais in Labor’s Untold Story. “He received a tip that a store of government-owned rifles had been condemned as defective and with the simplicity of genius he bought them from the government for $17,500 on one day and sold them back to the government on the next for $110,000...A Congressional committee investigating his little deal said of him and other hijacking profiteers, ‘Worse than traitors are the men who, pretending loyalty to the flag, feast and fatten on the misfortunes of the nation.’”

Lest we think such traditions are no longer observed, consider the case of Eagle-Picher Technologies Corp., producer of sophisticated batteries to power the guidance systems of “smart” bombs. Workers claim they were ordered to cover up defects on millions of batteries – defects that would ultimately cause guidance systems to fail. How many innocent civilians were killed by bombs guided by defective Eagle-Picher Corp. batteries?

Ignoring the indictable war profiteers like J.P. Morgan, consider just one instance of legal war profits and how they allow the few “inside the racket” to benefit economically and politically – for generations – at the expense of the many. The du Pont Corporation will suffice.

Compared to some of its fellow racketeers, the du Pont Corporation’s profits during WWI look downright patriotic. The company whose gunpowder saved the world for democracy saw its average annual pre-war profit jump from $6,000,000 to nearly 10 times that amount during the war.

With this wealth the du Pont family was able to buy nearly a quarter of all General Motors Corporation stock by the mid-1920’s. Not only would that become a shrewd investment during GM’s successful campaign to destroy urban mass transit systems, but who better than a du Pont to run President Eisenhower’s Bureau of Public Roads and develop the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways along with Eisenhower Defense Secretary (and former GM President), Charles Wilson?

If war profits provide such a good return on investment, imagine how much planning goes into winning the geostrategic spoils of war? For a peek inside this game there are few better tour guides than President Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Having also served on President Reagan’s Defense Department Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy, Brzezinski was well-qualified to write his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives. It’s one of those books that beg the question, “why would anybody actually put this stuff in writing?” It also provides useful documentation for those who find it more than a little odd that “Zbiggy” has more recently joined critics of the war in Iraq.

Brzezinski describes the Europe-Asia landmass as the key to global dominance. He asserts that the fall of the Soviet Union cleared the way for the U.S. to become the first non-Eurasian power to dominate this critical area, “…and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained...”

In 1977 he named the Central Asian “stans” as the next center of conflict for world domination, and in light of expected Asian economic growth, he called this area around the Caspian Sea “…infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves…dwarf(ing) those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea…in addition to important minerals, including gold.”

The former Reagan National Security Council member reasoned: “It follows that America’s primary interest is to help ensure that no single power comes to control this geopolitical space and that the global community has unhindered financial and economic access to it.”

He further deduced: “That puts a premium on maneuver and manipulation in order to prevent the emergence of a hostile coalition that could eventually seek to challenge America’s primacy.” Leaving nothing to doubt, he clarified “…To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep (satellites) pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.”

For those foolish enough to imagine planet Earth not being ruled by the U.S., he warns that "America’s withdrawal from the world—or because of the sudden emergence of a successful rival—would produce massive international instability. It would prompt global anarchy.”

Brzezinski advises to “keep the barbarians from coming together,” and predicts “global anarchy” if U.S. dominance is threatened. The cold warrior’s language, while picturesque, is not as precise as that used by Thomas Friedman, yet another acolyte of empire who now wants to distance himself from a badly mismanaged adventure in Iraq.

The foreign affairs columnist for the NY Times in his much-hyped book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization, wrote: “Markets function and flourish only when property rights are secure and can be enforced…And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”

With a Silicon Valley reference, Friedman updates General Butler’s statement that “I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests.” Notwithstanding Friedman’s update, oil retains its century-old rating as the imperial standard – now with Afghanistan and Iraq at center stage. UNOCAL Corp. for one does not hesitate to demand that Afghanistan be made safe for American oil interests. “From the outset,” a corporate executive testified to Congress in 1998, “we have made it clear that construction of our proposed ($2.5 billion Afghanistan) pipeline cannot begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, lenders and our company. UNOCAL envisions the creation of a Central Asian Oil Pipeline Consortium…that will utilize and gather oil from existing pipeline infrastructure in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia.”

Smedley Butler learned that in war “nations acquire additional territory if they are victorious. They just take it.” With leasing more in vogue than ever, getting the use of additional territory – call it property –can be more profitable than actually acquiring it. But the end result is the same. “This newly acquired territory is promptly exploited by the few,” Butler explained, “the self-same few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.”

A small measure of historical perspective makes America’s latest war much less surprising. Yes, this time it’s oil. But as important as that commodity is, it’s not oil alone for which we are killing. It’s to insure that human rights are subjugated to property rights. Sometimes we call property “oil,” sometimes we call it “land,” sometimes we call it “human beings.” The names change, but the song remains the same throughout history.

For example, it is illuminating to read a few lines from our Constitution, such as Article 4, Section 2. Imbedded in the most fundamental law of our land was the duty to return property in the form of runaway slaves and indentured servants to the owners. The Commerce Clause and the Supreme Court’s interpretation of it has insured that property rights trump citizens’ rights to govern themselves as described in the new expose, “Gaveling Down the Rabble.” And nobody who works for a living needs a source citation to tell them that corporations have more free speech rights than human beings.

That’s why the United States government didn’t choose to seek justice through a criminal prosecution after September 11. Our government wasn’t interested in justice. It was interested in empire and property. Some things never do change.


This article was first written for publication in December, 2001, weeks after the U.S. started bombing Afghanistan. It appeared in the April 2002 issue of “Wild Matters,” a national environmental journal Michael Colby published in Vermont.

The initial purpose of War, Inc. was to question why the U.S. chose to go to war after the attacks of September 11, 2001. One could argue that other kinds of responses were possible, such as treating the attacks as a criminal act instead of an act of war which, in any sense of how we understand the word, they were not. Pursuing a criminal response would bring to bear the intelligence-gathering forces of virtually the entire world, then in universal sympathy with the United States, to arrest and try those responsible for the attacks. Leaving aside for a moment the argument that a criminal investigation into the September 11 attacks would never have been allowed since the federal government at the very least looked the other way before the attacks took place, I think we can safely say the last seven years prove that the path we chose – war – has generated far more innocent victims, grieving families, ruined lives and overall problems for the U.S. than had we sought justice without resorting to war.

Which leaves open the question, why did our government choose to respond by invasion and war?

The Greatest Purveyor of Violence On the Planet.

Go to Original
By Cynthia McKinney

Statement by Cynthia McKinney, Power to the People Candidate for U.S. President, on the nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic Party's Presidential Candidate in 2008 - statement issued June 9, 2008

On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Hillary Clinton announced that her 2008 presidential bid is over, making Barack Obama the first-ever Black presidential nominee of a major party in the history of the United States.

Congratulations to Senator Obama for achieving such a feat!

When I was growing up in the U.S. South in the racially turbulent 1960s, it would have been impossible for a Black politician to become a viable Presidential contender. Nothing a Black candidate could have done or said would have prevented him (or her) from being excluded on the basis of skin color alone. Many of us never thought we would see in our lifetime a Black person with a real possibility of becoming President of the United States.

The fact that this is now possible is a sign of some racial progress in this country, more than 40 years after the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. But it is also a sign of the deep discontent among the American people, and particularly among African Americans, with the corporate-dominated, business-as-usual politics that has prevailed in Washington for too many years.

Coming from Barack Obama, the word "change" did not appear as just another empty campaign slogan. It galvanized millions of people --mostly young people--to register to vote and to get active in the political system. The U.S. political system needs the energy and vision of all is citizens participating in the political process. Citizen participation is always the answer.

Senator Obama called for healing the wounds inflicted on working people and the poor in our country after eights years of a corrupt and criminal Bush-Cheney Administration. Just as in November 2006, people full of an expectation for change, including those the system has purposefully left out and left behind, flocked to the polls to vote for Senator Obama. Across a broad swath of the people of this country, and from those who are impacted by U.S. foreign policy, there is a real expectation, a real desire, for change.

While congratulating Senator Obama for a feat well done, I would also like to bring home the very real need for change and a few of the issues that must be addressed for the change needed in this country to be real. First of all, a few of the more obvious facts:

United for a Fair Economy (UFE) produces studies each year on the anniversary of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entitled, State of the Dream reports. UFE has found that on some indices the racial disparities that exist today are worse than at the time of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For example, infant mortality, where the overall U.S. world ranking falls below Cuba, Israel, and Canada. They also have found that, without a public policy intervention, it would take over 5,000 years to close the home ownership gap between blacks and whites in this country, especially exacerbated because of the foreclosure crisis disproportionately facing Blacks and Latinos today. They have found that it would take 581 years, without a public policy intervention, to close the racial gap in income in this country. UFE has found unacceptable racial disparities extant on economic, justice, and security issues. After analyzing the impact of the Democratic Party's "First 100 Hours" agenda upon taking the Congressional majority, UFE concluded in its 2007 report that Blacks vote in the Blue (meaning, they support Democrats in the voting booth), but live in the Red (they do not get the public policy results that those votes merit). And UFE noted that Hurricane Katrina was not even mentioned at all in the Congressional Democratic majority's 2007 First 100 hours agenda.

United for a Fair Economy is not the only organization to find such dismal statistics, reflecting life for far too many in this country. In a study not too long ago, Dr. David Satcher found that over 83,000 blacks died unnecessarily, due to racial disparities in access to health care and because of the disparate treatment blacks receive after access. A Hull House study found that the racial disparity in the quality of life of black Chicagoans and white Chicagoans would take 200 years to be eliminated without a public policy intervention. The National Urban League in its annual "State of Black America" publication basically concludes that the United States has not done enough to close long-existing and unacceptable racial disparities. The United Nations Rapporteur for Special Forms of Racism, Mr. Doudou Diene of Senegal, just left this country in an unprecedented fact-finding mission to monitor human rights violations in the United States. Dr. Jared Ball submitted to Diene on my behalf, my statement after the Sean Bell police verdict. The United Nations has already cited its concern for the treatment of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors and the extrajudicial killings taking place across our country, that especially target Black and Latino males, and especially at the hands of law enforcement authorities.

I hope it is clear that the desire for change is so deeply felt because it is deeply needed. Politics, through public policy, can address all these issues and more in the favor of the people. We do not have to accept or tolerate such glaring disparities in our society. We do not have to accept or tolerate bloated Pentagon spending, unfair tax cuts, attacks on our civil liberties, and on workers' rights to unionize. We don't have to accept or tolerate our children dropping out of high school, college education unreachable because tuition is so high, or our country steeped in debt.

The 21st Century statistics for our country reflect a country that can still be characterized as Dr. King did so many years ago: the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet.

It doesn't have to be that way. And the people know it.

I have accepted as the platform of the Power to the People Campaign, the 10-Point Draft Manifesto of the Reconstruction Movement, a grouping of Black activists who came together in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to advocate for public policy initiatives that address the plight of Blacks and other oppressed peoples in this country.

Among its many specific public policy planks, the Draft Manifesto calls for:

* election integrity, if our vote is to mean anything at all, all political parties must defend the integrity of the votes cast by the American people, something neither of the major parties has done effectively in the past two Presidential elections;

* funding a massive infrastructure improvement program that is also a jobs program that greens our economy and puts people to work, and especially in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, Hurricane survivors, treated as internally displaced persons whose right to vote and right of return are protected, play a meaningful role in the rebuilding of their communities;

* recognizing affordable housing as a fundamental human right, and putting a halt to the senseless destruction of public housing in New Orleans;

* enacting Reparations for African Americans, so that the enduring racial disparities which reflect the U.S. government's failure to address the reality and the vestiges of slavery and unjust laws enacted can be ended and recognition of the plight of Black Farmers whose issues are still not being adequately addressed by USDA and court-appointed mediators despite a US government admission of guilt for systematic discrimination;

* acknowledging COINTELPRO and other government spying and destabilization programs from the 1960s to today and disclosing the role of the US government in the harassment and false imprisonment of political activists in this country, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, the San Francisco 8, Leonard Peltier, including restitution to victims of government abuse and their families for the suffering they have long endured;

* ending prisons for profit and the "war on drugs," which fuels the criminalization of Black and Latino youth at home and provides cover for U.S. military intervention in foreign countries, particularly to our south, which is used to put down all social protest movements in countries like Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and elsewhere;

* creating a universal access, single-payer, health care system and enacting a livable wage, equal pay for equal work, repealing the Bush tax cuts, and making corporations and the rich pay their fair share of taxes;

* establishing public funding for higher education--no student should graduate from college or university tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt;

* ensuring workers' rights by 1) repealing Taft-Hartley to stop the unjust firing of union organizers, ban scabbing, and enable workers to exercise their voices at work and 2) enacting laws for U.S. corporations that keep labor standards high at home and raise them abroad, which would require the repeal of NAFTA, CAFTA, the Caribbean FTA, and the U.S.-Peru FTA;

* justice for immigrant workers, including real immigration reform that provides amnesty for all undocumented immigrants;

* creating a Department of Peace that would put forward projects for peace all over the world, deploying our diplomats to help resolve conflicts through peaceful means and overseeing the orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from the more than 100 countries around the world where they are stationed, and an immediate end to all wars and occupations by U.S. forces, beginning in Iraq and Afghanistan, and slashing the budget for the Pentagon.

The Power to the People Campaign has visited 24 states and I believe there is already broad support across our country for these policy positions. The people deserve an open and honest debate on these issues and more. I encourage the Democratic Party and its new presumptive nominee, Senator Obama, to embrace these important suggestions for policy initiatives.

Why the Oil Price Is High

Go to Original
By Paul Craig Roberts

How to explain the oil price? Why is it so high? Are we running out? Are supplies disrupted, or is the high price a reflection of oil company greed or OPEC greed. Are Chavez and the Saudis conspiring against us?

In my opinion, the two biggest factors in oil’s high price are the weakness in the US dollar’s exchange value and the liquidity that the Federal Reserve is pumping out.

The dollar is weak because of large trade and budget deficits, the closing of which is beyond American political will. As abuse wears out the US dollar’s reserve currency role, sellers demand more dollars as a hedge against its declining exchange value and ultimate loss of reserve currency status.

In an effort to forestall a serious recession and further crises in derivative instruments, the Federal Reserve is pouring out liquidity that is financing speculation in oil futures contracts. Hedge funds and investment banks are restoring their impaired capital structures with profits made by speculating in highly leveraged oil future contracts, just as real estate speculators flipping contracts pushed up home prices. The oil futures bubble, too, will pop, hopefully before new derivatives are created on the basis of high oil prices.

There are other factors affecting the price of oil. The prospect of an Israeli/US attack on Iran has increased current demand in order to build stocks against disruption. No one knows the consequence of such an ill-conceived act of aggression, and the uncertainty pushes up the price of oil as the entire Middle East could be engulfed in conflagration. However, storage facilities are limited, and the impact on price of larger inventories has a limit.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi recently stated, “There is no justification for the current rise in prices.” What the minister means is that there are no shortages or supply disruptions. He means no real reasons as distinct from speculative or psychological reasons.

The run up in oil price coincides with a period of heightened US and Israeli military aggression in the Middle East. However, the biggest jump has been in the last 18 months.

When Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, the average price of oil that year was about $27 per barrel, or about $31 in inflation adjusted 2007 dollars. The price rose another $10 in 2004 to an average annual price of $42 (in 2007 dollars), another $12 in 2005, $7 in 2006, and $4 in 2007 to $65. But in the last few months the price has more than doubled to about $135. It is difficult to explain a $70 jump in price in terms other than speculation.

Oil prices have been high in the past. Until 2008, the record monthly oil price was $104 in December 1979 (measured in December 2007 dollars). As recently as 1998 the real price of oil was lower than in 1946 when the nominal price of oil was $1.63 per barrel. During the Bush regime, the price of oil in 2007 dollars has risen from $27 to approximately $135. (see )

Possibly, the rise in the oil price was held down, prior to the recent jump, by expectations that Democrats would eventually end the conflict and restrain Israel in the interest of Middle East peace and justice for the Palestinians. Now that Obama has pledged allegiance to AIPAC and adopted Bush’s position toward Iran, the high oil price could be a forecast that US/Israeli policy is likely to result in substantial supply disruptions. Still, the recent Israeli statements that an attack on Iran was “inevitable” only jumped the oil price about $8.

Perhaps more difficult to understand than the high price of oil is the low US long term interest rates. US interest rates are actually below the rate of inflation, to say nothing of the imperiled exchange value of the dollar. Economists who assume rational participants in rational markets cannot explain why lenders would indefinitely accept interest rates below the rate of inflation.

Of course, Americans don’t get real inflation numbers from their government and have not since the Consumer Price Index was rigged during the Clinton administration to hold down Social Security payments by denying retirees their full cost of living adjustments. According to statistician John Williams ( ), using the pre-Clinton era measure of the CPI produces a current CPI of about 7.5%.

Understating inflation makes real GDP growth appear higher. If inflation were properly measured, the US has probably experienced no real GDP growth in the 21st century.

Williams reports that for decades political administrations have fiddled with the inflation and employment numbers to make themselves look slightly better. The cumulative effect has been to deprive these measurements of veracity. If I understand Williams, today both inflation and unemployment rates, as originally measured, are around 12%.

By pumping out money in an effort to forestall recession and paper over balance sheet problems, the Federal Reserve is driving up commodity and food prices in general. Yet American real incomes are not growing. Even without jobs offshoring, US economic policy has put the bulk of the population on a path to lower living standards.

The crisis that looms for the US is the loss of world currency role. Once the dollar loses that role, the US government will not be able to finance its operations by borrowing abroad, and foreigners will cease to finance the massive US trade deficit. This crisis will eliminate the US as a world power.