Saturday, September 29, 2012

A New United Nations

Spottswoode: Remember, there is no "I" in "Team America".

Intelligence: Yes, there is.


- from Team America: World Police

The Charter of the United Nations is an enlightened and uplifting document. Signed in San Francisco in June 1945 and ratified later the same year, it is the foundation treaty of the United Nations, a document which sets out a laudable vision of peace, harmony, equality and prosperity for all nations, large and small, and for every citizen on the planet.

Naturally, everyone understood that this vision would not come to pass overnight - that such a just world may take decades or even centuries to realize - but as with all incremental processes toward an ideal, progress and improvements must be seen to continuously occurring. In the post-war era as the world rebuilt, progress was certainly seen in all areas and, despite setbacks along the way, a general move towards a better world could be seen with the introductions in many nations of bills of rights based on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

This, however, is no longer the case. We are now seeing a clear reversal of the ideals enshrined in the Charter and for this reason alone, the alarm must be raised. In a variety of ways, the world now is very different to that after the war, and the authority of the UN has been tarnished by actions of certain member states. The inescapable conclusion is that the United Nations in its current form is no longer either effective or relevant.

The preamble to the UN Charter is a broad summary of the aims of the organization:

We the peoples of the united nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind...

There are numerous ongoing conflicts around the world at this time, many of them seemingly intractable.

The most damning indictment of the impotence of the UN, however, derives from the fact that the nature of warfare has changed fundamentally since 1945. The US alone is involved in more than seventy covert conflicts and NATO forces now cross the borders of sovereign nations with impunity to carry out drone strikes, ignoring the protests of the governments of those countries.

Even worse, the authority of the UN was crucially tarnished when the US invaded Iraq without Security Council approval. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has since stated his conviction that the invasion was an illegal act.

With the US and NATO now acting as a de facto world police and the dangerous Iraq War precedent set, what is to stop other nations which are currently growing in military power like China invading, drone bombing and 'policing' anywhere at will? Well, the US and NATO would stop them, you cry, but that is precisely the scenario the UN exists to prevent: World War 3.

Therefore, with regard to its peacekeeping role, the UN has proved impotent and has been bypassed by nation states and other organisations.

In 1945 nations attacked each other with conventional forces; warfare is now a far more subtle affair, taking place in multiple arenas: economically, diplomatically, covertly, and with pseudo legitimacy via bodies like the IMF and the World Bank, not to mention the trans-national corporations. Direct actions like drone strikes are also a major step away from convention, as the only risk to the attacker is the loss of the aircraft - no great loss as there are thousands more being built and already operational.

From article 1 of the UN Charter:

The Purposes of the United Nations are:

To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace


Every single sentence of this paragraph is breached daily thanks to NATO drone strikes and covert US operations. The element of the UN Charter that deals with warfare and peacekeeping, written for a different world, is therefore a sham, a worthless piece of paper.

More from the preamble:

We the people of the united nations determined to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small

There have been great advances in some nations with regard to discrimination of people for their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and gender and so on. This is most certainly a work in progress and one can envision many more successes to come. However, in the twenty-first century it is clear that there is still a clear hierarchy within the masses of humanity, and that this narrative is mechanically recited by the corporate establishment media.

Glenn Greenwald writes in this fine article on the recent killing of the US Ambassador, Chris Stevens, in Libya:

It is understandable that the senseless killing of an ambassador is bigger news than the senseless killing of an unknown, obscure Yemeni or Pakistani child. But it's anything but understandable to regard the former as more tragic than the latter. Yet there's no denying that the same people today most vocally condemning the Benghazi killings are quick and eager to find justification when the killing of innocents is done by their government, rather than aimed at it.

It's as though there are two types of crimes: killing, and then the killing of Americans. The way in which that latter phrase is so often invoked, with such intensity, emotion and scorn, reveals that it is viewed as the supreme crime: this is not just the tragic deaths of individuals, but a blow against the Empire; it therefore sparks particular offense. It is redolent of those in conquered lands being told they will be severely punished because they have raised their hand against a citizen of Rome.

Just compare the way in which the deaths of Americans on 9/11, even more than a decade later, are commemorated with borderline religious solemnity, as opposed to the deaths of the hundreds of thousands of foreign Muslims caused by the US, which are barely ever acknowledged. There is a clear hierarchy of human life being constantly reinforced by this mentality, and it is deeply consequential.


Here Greenwald states as his opinions the very views enshrined in the UN Charter, views which he demonstrates are clearly not shared by the majority of media stenographers, editors and owners. As the general public greatly takes its cues with regard to their view of the world from the stories they read, this is indeed, as Greenwald states, deeply consequential. Ironically, when asked directly which life has more value: that of an ambassador or that of a nameless Pakistani child, many of these media people would be likely to state that they are equal, and yet this is simply not borne out in the language used in media stories.

All humans are not seen as equal. As a result of this mass media bias, billions of people subconsciously still believe that some are more valuable than others, be it on the basis of nationality or otherwise. As a direct consequence, those regarded as lower class are treated with less respect or urgency.

My free book on human rights and direct democracy deals with the UN issue in detail in the excerpt below and also suggests a solution:

BEGINNING OF EXCERPT

The United Nations itself is a considerable problem. Dogged by scandals such as allegations of funds from the Iraq Oil-for Food Program being diverted to UN officials and the government of Iraq, as well as a series of sexual abuse scandals involving UN peacekeepers, the reputation and credibility of the UN has been tarnished.

In addition, the fact that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) have the power to veto any resolution has severely limited the ability of the UN to carry out its primary mandates, namely to ‘maintain international peace and security, and if necessary to enforce peace by taking preventive or enforcement action'.

This veto in particular, wielded by five powers whose interests are often in direct conflict, or which are motivated by self-interest, has crippled the effectiveness of the UN in vital areas. It is noteworthy also that one of the countries with this power of veto (which can affect democratic nations) fails to itself practice any form of democracy at home.

For these reasons, despite the great good achieved by most UN operations and the dedication and bravery of the majority of its staff, the UN has lost some relevance in the geopolitical realities of the twenty-first century in comparison to the dominant nations and, increasingly, corporations.

Imagine for one moment – horror of horrors – a United Nations in which each member nation has equal standing and no veto power is possible, one which itself can democratically veto the self-interest-driven desires of any single nation or corporation. For the sake of argument, call it the New United Nations (NUN).

As it is extremely unlikely that the five veto-wielding nations would permit such an organ, the only means of achieving it would entail a concerted breaking away of the non-veto-wielding countries.

In order to establish how this hypothetical New United Nations could fulfill its charter, it would be necessary to define clearly the roles and responsibilities, with clear laws and restrictions, on all members. These laws would necessarily correspond with the ideals set down in the UDHR. Nations which currently flout these laws, such as those with poor human rights records, or dictatorships, could be offered powerful incentives (economic or otherwise) to join the rest of the world in embracing freedom and democracy.

This would and could not be a global government. Such a government could not function efficiently, not least because societies and cultures are so varied. However, the nature of civilization is changing rapidly and fundamentally in the information age, where billions of people are interconnected anytime at any distance.

The increasingly influential phenomena of trans-national corporations, which have little or no need to recognize boundaries, as well as international ‘think tanks’ must also be taken into consideration.

Multiple issues are arising from this fundamental change in the ways societies operate. In order to cope, a paradigm shift in conventional thinking is required; simply put, the old ways are simply no longer effective or appropriate.

Aims for a New United Nations could include:

The creation of an international NUN committee to regulate trans-national corporations, enforce regulations, and severely punish unethical behavior. This would essentially give large corporations a legal status similar to that of sovereign nations. The largest corporations are richer than most countries: currently, 53 of the 100 largest economies in the world are corporations. With this level of financial power comes massive influence, which could be (and already is) used nefariously. Such a committee would represent a powerful means of ensuring strict observance of international law and reining in any destructive, undemocratic and illegal behavior.

In the sensitive areas of humanitarian intervention or peacekeeping, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has acted unilaterally in recent years, and even the US itself (with its ‘Coalition of the Willing’) invaded a sovereign country (Iraq) without the backing of the United Nations Security Council. A typical justification cited is the need to remove a ‘brutal dictator’. All such interventions would be the domain of the NUN alone in order to allay suspicions of NATO or individual nations intervening for economic reasons (oil etc.) or strategic ones (important supply routes etc.) Nations eager to remove dictators could fund the NUN directly along with all other members for required interventions, which would be decided upon democratically, and also provide logistical support with their own qualified citizens. All such interventions would take place with strict adherence to international law.

All members would also necessarily agree to work together on international justice with no exceptions. The illegal human trafficking, arms and drug trades are all huge international operations. In order to cope with these growing issues, a clearer international code of laws, designed to be as efficient as possible, and requiring all members to cooperate, could be put in place.

The right to work enshrined in Article 23 of the UDHR could be enforced fully. Unemployment is a scourge that leads to all manner of societal ills. Those looking for work or without skills could be offered work on a state minimum wage (one large enough to permit them to live an existence ‘worthy of human dignity’), while at the same time being given training in skills which could enable them to find jobs by themselves, or to set up their own enterprises.

Looking around at any society one can see countless jobs that need to be done, from maintaining parks and cleaning dirty neighborhoods to supplementing non-professional staff at public facilities like schools or hospitals. More obviously, with the existential dangers of climate change now apparent, thousands of people could be put to work on state initiatives to convert existing infrastructures to green ones, killing two birds with one stone and providing a generation of people with skills and experience.

Considering the International Energy Agency said in November 2011 that any new fossil-fuel based infrastructure built will lead to irreversible climate change within five years, switching immediately to a green infrastructure would not only be wise, but essential, and there are vast numbers of unemployed young people desperate to work, waiting to be taught useful skills.

A New United Nations could make military action for any other reason than self-defense an illegal act, punishable by the harshest measures available. This could be achieved by requiring all members to make a constitutional amendment banning any military action except in the case of self-defense. This may seem like an alien concept, but Japan currently has such an article enshrined in its constitution, while at the same time maintaining a modern professional self-defense force. Japan has not been involved in any military action since the end of World War 2 beyond peacekeeping and supply missions, and has contributed only when asked to by its allies, but is nonetheless a strong and safe society.

Outlawing military operations to all except the NUN in the case of humane interventions and peacekeeping would save literally trillions of dollars in suddenly obsolete arms and defense contracts, money which could be spent on humanitarian needs. Although it is currently a crime under international law for one country to invade another sovereign nation without the consent of the UNSC, the Iraq War (and others) have shown us that there are nations willing to overrule international law in the name of furthering their own perceived national security interests.
Members of a New United Nations could sign a collective defense pact, meaning that all members, if attacked, would be obliged to provide troops and logistical support, via the NUN, in the event of an attack. This, incidentally, is the founding principle of NATO with regard to its member nations.

If a significant number of nations joined this hypothetical New United Nations, each would be unable to engage in military action by law, and would simultaneously enjoy guaranteed protection from every other member if attacked. For peace-loving people, this would be an attractive proposition to say the least, not to mention a powerful incentive to join.

Retired US Marine Major General Smedley D. Butler, who died in 1940, had these recommendations for warfare:

1 War should be made unprofitable: Owners of capital should be ‘conscripted’ before soldiers: “It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war. The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nation's manhood can be conscripted.…Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our steel companies and our munitions makers and our ship-builders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted — to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get”.

2 Acts of war should be decided by those who fight it: Butler suggested a limited plebiscite to determine if a war is to be fought, and the voters eligible would be those who risk death on the front lines.

3 Limitation of militaries to self-defense: Butler recommended that the US navy be limited, by law, to within 200 miles of the coastline, and the army restricted to the territorial limits of the country, ensuring that a war, if fought, can never be one of aggression.

Interesting words from (at the time of his death) the most decorated marine in US history. This is the man who also famously said: war is a racket.

To satisfy the demands of democracy, an equality doctrine is required and should be enforced: the idea that everyone has an equal vote and say over world society, meaning that all societies, and by extension, their citizens, are given equal importance, with not a single veto in sight. The definition of democracy itself includes this concept. How is that possible if five nations arbitrarily hold vastly greater power (in the form of veto) than the others?

A New United Nations could be a powerful force in unifying the nations of the world despite their disparate cultures, while at the same time acting as a powerful restraining influence on any rogue nations or leaders.

Many readers will, consciously or unconsciously, dismiss such an NUN charter as unrealistic, naïve even. However, it may come as a surprise that many of these principles are nothing new - they already exist as the stated aims of the current United Nations. A New United Nations would simply be the existing body freed of unreasonable constraints like the power of veto for only five member nations. The only serious additions, as suggested here, would be a policy of collective defense and a pact of non-aggression. Who, apart from those who crave or profit from violence and war, would argue against that?

It would require foresight and bravery from enlightened nations willing to stand up to the wrath and even possible retaliation of the current veto-wielding nations, but if a significant number of countries around the world stood together, they could take a giant step towards realizing a world whose priorities are peace, health, education, solidarity, humanitarianism and freedom.

And democracy. All member nations would necessarily be democratic, with the added proviso that the people have at the very minimum the ability to wield veto power (via referenda or direct democracy) over their governments against unpopular or immoral laws passed in their names, as well as the ability to directly put up for debate the creation of new laws and constitutional amendments if necessary.

END OF EXCERPT

The UN Charter was written on the assumption that humans are noble creatures who would naturally, after vanquishing evil in World War II, seek to better themselves and their world and work for the common good. Memories are very short, however, and the post-war optimism is long dead and buried, replaced by voracious consumerism, a new form of global fascism.

Any NUN charter would have to be written with the proviso in mind that there are those among us who will always seek to circumvent, tarnish, corrupt and break every rule in order to enrich themselves regardless of the cost to others who may suffer from such breaking of law.

To counter these entities, every possible safeguard would have to be put in place for member nations of an NUN, with, for example, money taken completely out of politics (with campaigns funded by the taxpayer alone); the profit motive removed as much as possible from the media; and fundamental education reforms that alter the purpose of education: from simply being a means to finding a decent job to actually making someone a well-rounded, educated and constructive citizen, whose resulting lack of ignorance will make it difficult for propagandists and other shysters to work their deceptions. Further, the need for citizen watchdog committees at every level of governance and in every area of society would be vital, with the members of these committees changed regularly to prevent corruption from gaining a foothold.

To achieve these ends, all decent, enlightened nations ought to join together to work towards eventually forming this New United Nations, a powerful gesture that would signify the desire to leave behind the failed policies of corrupt governments legitimized by illusory democracies.

Scandinavian and enlightened Western nations like Spain and Greece etc., whose people are sick to the back teeth of their lives and societies being destroyed by greedy and incompetent officials who are in thrall to and paid for by the banks and other elements of the financial industry (their creditors), would be sure to view this as an attractive proposition. The emerging economies of South America who no longer wish to be bullied by their aggressive neighbor to the north would also surely be eager to be part of such a brotherhood.

To bring this about it will take efforts by ordinary people (you!) to bring it to the attention of the few sane people left in power and other influential public figures and journalists.

The United Nations as a force for peace and equality is redundant, open to and a victim of abuse and manipulation at the hands of a few of its most powerful member nations and other entities like trans-national corporations which do not need to follow democratic principles. The deep-seated inequality, injustice and war-related misery gripping the world are at their root societal issues, ones which can only be tackled via fundamental reforms and a brand new commitment to the absolute authority of the rule of law (including retroactive justice). The world we now inhabit is far from that, a place where might is right and law is arbitrarily applied to the advantage of the rich and powerful, and to the great disadvantage of the weak and the poor.

Is that the kind of world you want?

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Lesser of Two Evils

"All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth" - Friedrich Nietzche

Humans have a long and lamentable history of simplifying complex realities into something easily digested by the masses. IQ, for instance, was for a long time considered a realistic measure of intelligence, and we were all supposed to accept that the vast complexities of human intelligence could be compressed into a single number. Worse, at one time many schools used IQ as a means of deciding worthiness of entry into their august establishments.

That such codswallop is readily accepted by vast swathes of the world's population speaks to more than one tragedy; not least that so many uncritically accept theories advocated by bespectacled men in white coats.

Another disastrous example of conventional wisdom is the idea that somehow the worth of a nation is measured first by its economic strength, most commonly via its gross domestic product. Are we really to measure our worth by economic strength? Is material value really so pre-eminent?

It would certainly seem so, and this lazy, shallow, and indeed inaccurate view is gleefully propagated by establishment media, with billionaires idolized for their 'success' while ordinary members of the public protesting against inequality in society are smeared and ridiculed as lazy, pot-smoking hippies who should 'get a job' and 'stop bothering hard-working tax-payers'; and if you're homeless, you're a bum, a worthless failure, something rather at odds with the fact that many homeless people are in fact veterans (officially revered by the establishment) of wars who could not deal with coming home and fitting back in (among many other reasons).

No, the moment we state that material wealth is the prime measure of success, we must also accept, to cite an extreme example, that the CEO of Goldman Sachs is somehow a more successful human being than, say, Mother Teresa or Mohandas Gandhi. Is the ultra-rich CEO of a bank responsible for the criminal manipulation of the stock market that led to the 2008 global crisis 'better' than a person who selflessly worked to aid the poor, the sick, and the discarded?

Faced with this question, most would probably respond in the negative, but they nonetheless have this nonsense reinforced endlessly throughout the narrow, tightly controlled prism of the establishment media. The result is that while many would reject the premise when challenged directly, they subconsciously 'believe' the opposite.

With the madness of the US presidential election season upon us, however, one particular nonsensical yet widely prevailing concept needs to be put to sleep. How many times do we hear the following from people identifying themselves (read astonishingly blinkered self-compartmentalization) as Democrats: "Obama might not be great, but Romney is much worse, so we have to vote for Obama to keep Romney out."

As with the people who say that if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear from the authorities with regard to the pervasive surveillance state, find the nearest sharp object and stick it in their eyeball, as it is one of the dumbest things one can say.

And here's why...

An extended analogy may be useful here: imagine that all the people with power in a state are fish in a lake. Before they enter the lake, some (certainly not all) may be good and principled, but after they start swimming around, they notice that the water is bad - not enough to kill them, but enough to make them uncomfortable.

What is a fish to do? They notice after a time that there are little pellets floating around, and that some are red, while others are blue. If they eat the red pellets, the discomfort becomes worse, but ingesting the blue pills suddenly makes living in the lake a pain-free, rewarding, even pleasurable experience.

The red pills, of course, signify attempts to change the status quo in a way that does not benefit the elites, while the blue ones symbolize donations and other rewards from rich lobbyists and other supporters, namely the very people who desire to keep things exactly as they are.

The two biggest fish are currently fighting for dominance and their battle will end in November. Some of the policies of the two main US parties are indeed different, on issues like abortion for instance, and one party may aim to help the poor a little more than the other one, but these differences are cosmetic. The core problems plaguing societies will never be solved because they are fundamental - education and media reforms are absolutely essential, not to mention electoral reform (along with donation rules) to ensure that there is more choice than either 'Wall Street stooge who kills hundreds of civilians in drone strikes' or 'Wall Street stooge who kills thousands of civilians in drone strikes'.

Choosing the lesser evil still means choosing evil. By voting for evil, that makes you a party to it. There is a choice, however: until a viable grassroots movement toward true democracy forms, you can exercise your power to not vote for any candidate who keeps big money in politics, the real cancer to democracy as it enables the rich (and other beneficiaries of war and the arms trade) to have overwhelmingly more influence over society than the voiceless poor.

Forget progressive luminaries like Michael Moore and Bill Maher - they've both said great things in the past and have many laudable views but Maher has given an Obama-supporting 'super PAC' $1 million of his own money, and Moore is still obsessed with the inconsequential news tidbits surrounding the campaign, bizarre behavior for a man who has made movies slamming the political system he is tacitly endorsing.

This is where the poisoned lake comes in. Anyone joining a corrupted system is doomed to become one with it via the punishments and rewards that make actually trying to make a difference too painful to attempt for long. The only option for the fish is to go along with it or they'll be hounded out, or their opponents will be rewarded with mountains of campaign cash, and there will no nice revolving-door rewards at the end of it. The same goes for establishment journalists, those pathetic specimens swimming desperately around the big fish, agreeing to any compromise or abdication of their professional responsibility and even dignity in return for 'access' to the corridors of power.

This is a global issue. While tabloids in the UK focus on the issue of benefits fraud and sway public opinion to help the government deny legitimate benefits to the disabled and other people in need, the disgusting fact that 200 million dollars per hour is spent on arms worldwide is nigh on ignored.

The fact that people are distracted by minor issues like benefits fraud, along of course with old tabloid favorites like celebrity scandals, while the true issues facing us are ignored is a clear indicator not only of the dangers inherent in the profit motive in the media, but also that the establishment media is in bed with the elites to keep people from becoming outraged about the things they actually should be outraged about. If you read the story about Kate Middleton taking her top off and being 'snapped' by an enterprising paparazzi, congratulations: you've been distracted!

The only way to end this hopelessly corrupted system is from the outside. A grassroots movement is quite simply the only possible viable method to bring about the deep societal reform that can tackle the hopelessly corrupt society we see in the US and, to varying extents, many other so-called democracies. Work with all your energy toward direct democracy, a system which can be installed effortlessly and painlessly (see short FREE book linked below), and which already exists in Switzerland, a famously safe, peaceful, clean and prosperous society. The alternative is poisoned fish by the thousand. Worse, as you, the voter, drink water from the lake, you will be sickened, too, if you haven't been already.

This writer stopped drinking the water long ago. When will you?

'The 99.99998271% - Why the Time is Right for Direct Democracy’ by Simon Wood is available for free download. In this 70-page book, the current state of human rights and democracy is discussed, and a simple method of implementing direct democracy is suggested.
Simon Wood on twitter (@simonwood11) and Facebook or at his blog. The Direct Democracy Alliance, a group dedicated to creating national/global direct democracy, is now also on twitter: (@DDA4586)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Peace Force

"If you want a future of shared prosperity, where the middle class is growing and poverty is declining, where the American Dream is alive and well, and where the United States remains the leading force for peace and prosperity in a highly competitive world, you should vote for Barack Obama" - Bill Clinton at the 2012 Democratic Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina

Any informed US citizen, whatever their vocation, should avoid party politics at all costs, armed with the certain knowledge that the hostility the parties hold toward each other is fake, manufactured drama for the cameras, and that in reality the two parties that dominate US politics share broad bipartisan consensus on every single issue of key importance to justice, civil liberties, democracy and human rights. Not only that, it should by now be crystal clear to anyone not brainwashed by the establishment media that the US election is simply a show, one designed to project the illusion that the US is a democracy, something it manifestly is not.

At no time is it more vital that we avoid the media altogether than during the insane final stretch of the US presidential election. It is profoundly depressing to read endless comments from even intelligent and respected commentators in the chattering classes about, for example, Michelle Obama's speech, as if it matters one jot whatsoever what she thinks and as if the whole thing has not been crafted by scriptwriters armed with reams of polling data and PR strategies to make sure that she says all the things the faithful want to hear...platitudes and sound bites.

As for the pitiful, brainwashed sheep holding up the signs and cheering inanely at the conventions, the cognitive bias of system justification makes it next to impossible for them to wake up to reality.

Never have they needed the red pill more than now.

However, sometimes things are said that need to challenged and highlighted for purposes far beyond the ludicrous carnival and media fest AKA the US election. The quote at the top of this post attributed to former US President Bill Clinton is one of them. It is a crystal clear example of an extremely influential public figure standing up at a high-profile event and lying though his teeth.

Let us take this apart one piece at a time.

The 'future of shared prosperity' presumably refers to the future that will be shared by Clinton and his rich friends, because, as this graph makes clear, it most certainly does not refer to the future of the American people, or indeed that of ordinary civilians around the world.

As for the mysteriously 'growing' middle class, this is shot to pieces rather comprehensively by Pew. From Pew's press release:

"Fully 85% of self-described middle-class adults say it is more difficult now than it was a decade ago for middle-class people to maintain their standard of living. Of those who feel this way, 62% say "a lot" of the blame lies with Congress, while 54% say the same about banks and financial institutions, 47% about large corporations, 44% about the Bush administration, 39% about foreign competition and 34% about the Obama administration. Just 8% blame the middle class itself a lot."

So old Slick Willy is going to form so far. What about his take on poverty? The New York Times reported last year that 'the number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been publishing figures on it' and continues to soar.

Oops.

Surely the American Dream is alive and well? Pew's research suggests a decline, and as their research data is based on figures up to 2008, the results reflect society before the 2008 economic crash, which caused untold damage to millions, meaning that the current state of affairs is likely to be far worse.

Clinton saves the best for last: '...the United States remains the leading force for peace and prosperity in a highly competitive world.' This is such a laughable claim that I am surprised he did not collapse in a fit of evil laughter a la Doctor Evil. As with his comment about 'shared prosperity', perhaps he is referring to the peace and prosperity enjoyed by him and his draft-dodging rich pals, who are quite happy to see other people's kids sent off to die in wars.

However, the claim that the US is a force for peace bears closer examination for the simple reason that readers need to see the facts of the matter and perhaps are not aware of the scale of US warmongering.

The United States has been involved in a great number of conflicts, in many cases being the belligerent party. It is difficult to read the exhaustive list without grimacing. William Blum, the author of a comprehensive book ('Killing Hope') on this topic, provides an admirable summary of post-WWII interventions here. And let us not forget the CIA-sponsored coups in numerous nations, many of them democracies. Mother Jones also reported last year that the US currently has covert operations in 75 countries, a rise from 60 at the end of the Bush administration for the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama.

A force for peace? Only eternal peace.

A major politician spouting the diametric opposite of the truth is no big scoop. However, it highlights yet again the utter pointlessness of the establishment media's blanket coverage of events like these, not to mention the vacuous devotion of almost every major journalist, which comes at the expense of real news which could in fact inform citizens of the reality of how their tax dollars are spent:

On wars and interventions executed for the rapacious desires of the trans-national corporations and the arms industry; on a massive sweeping surveillance state; on a worldwide torture and rendition network; on drone aircraft that kill untold numbers of civilians, including children, and which target funerals and rescuers. Imagine if they showed footage of such drone attacks on establishment media networks or at party conventions.

The majority of politicians are now fronts for the corporations, the banks, and the extremely rich. They are paid very handsomely and rewarded with guaranteed boardroom or lobbying jobs after their political careers end all for two things: to ensure the status quo continues, and to further ensure that nothing can ever threaten said status quo. They are doing pretty well with the first task, but the second one is not completed yet - and this is why it is not too late to act.

What is needed is a massive grassroots movement towards a more direct democracy which places executive power in the hands of the people, along with sweeping media, education and electoral reforms to ensure that the people are educated and informed. These are attainable goals if enough put their minds and will to the task, and a method of implementation is discussed in my FREE book linked below. The alternative is societies in which the financial elites will be untouchable and will reign supreme into the distant future, and if that occurs, the only purpose of civilians will be to serve and sustain the elites while sacrificing an ever increasing number of civil liberties and human rights and suffering crushing inequality.

'The 99.99998271% - Why the Time is Right for Direct Democracy’ by Simon Wood is available for free download. In this 70-page book, the current state of human rights and democracy is discussed, and a simple method of implementing direct democracy is suggested.
Simon Wood on twitter (@simonwood11) and Facebook or at his blog. The Direct Democracy Alliance, a group dedicated to creating national/global direct democracy, is now also on twitter: (@DDA4586)