The Problem Isn’t the Oil Companies…

Whenever corporate executives are summoned to testify on Capitol Hill, you can bet it’s for the wrong reason.

The recent testimony of Big Oil executives is a classic case-in-point. Marketed to the public as a stern interrogation of those mainly responsible for the nation’s rapidly deepening energy crisis, the whole thing was utterly faux, a true dog-and-pony show.

Here’s why:

Read moreThe Problem Isn’t the Oil Companies…

Empire of the Uninformed: Market Totalitarianism’s Real Basis

Under the dual assault of big business marketing and the pro-business psy-ops that have long passed for “politics” here, ordinary Americans are the most deeply, intensively propagandized people in human history.

The extremely long list of basic things we don’t know is mostly inscribed by the ever-expanding dominance of marketing-friendly televisual media and televisual mental habits over print media and print literacy skills.

But we also have our own very extensive “Black Book of Corporate Capitalism.” Unless we somehow overthrow our corporate overclass — which, despite the times, remains the richest and most powerful in human history — we will never get to see the full version of that book.

Nonetheless, if you keep your eyes peeled, every so often a page slips out.

One just has. For those disgusted by the huge gulf between reality and the continuing ability of the system’s overseers and mouthpieces to paint the United States as some exceptional angel of goodness, here’s the story:

AP IMPACT: At least 100,000 said executed by US’s Korean ally in 1950 summer of terror

CHARLES J. HANLEY and JAE-SOON CHANG

AP News May 18, 2008 12:17 EST

Grave by mass grave, South Korea is unearthing the skeletons and buried truths of a cold-blooded slaughter from early in the Korean War, when this nation’s U.S.-backed regime killed untold thousands of leftists and hapless peasants in a summer of terror in 1950.

With U.S. military officers sometimes present, and as North Korean invaders pushed down the peninsula, the southern army and police emptied South Korean prisons, lined up detainees and shot them in the head, dumping the bodies into hastily dug trenches. Others were thrown into abandoned mines or into the sea. Women and children were among those killed. Many victims never faced charges or trial.

The mass executions — intended to keep possible southern leftists from reinforcing the northerners — were carried out over mere weeks and were largely hidden from history for a half-century. They were “the most tragic and brutal chapter of the Korean War,” said historian Kim Dong-choon, a member of a 2-year-old government commission investigating the killings.

Hundreds of sets of remains have been uncovered so far, but researchers say they are only a tiny fraction of the deaths. The commission estimates at least 100,000 people were executed, in a South Korean population of 20 million.

That estimate is based on projections from local surveys and is “very conservative,” said Kim. The true toll may be twice that or more, he told The Associated Press.

Through the postwar decades of South Korean right-wing dictatorships, victims’ fearful families kept silent about that blood-soaked summer. American military reports of the South Korean slaughter were stamped “secret” and filed away in Washington. Communist accounts were dismissed as lies.

Only since the 1990s, and South Korea’s democratization, has the truth begun to seep out.

In 2002, a typhoon’s fury uncovered one mass grave. Another was found by a television news team that broke into a sealed mine. Further corroboration comes from a trickle of declassified U.S. military documents, including U.S. Army photographs of a mass killing outside this central South Korean city.

Now Kim’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has added government authority to the work of scattered researchers, family members and journalists trying to peel away the long-running cover-up. The commissioners have the help of a handful of remorseful old men.

“Even now, I feel guilty that I pulled the trigger,” said Lee Joon-young, 83, one of the executioners in a secluded valley near Daejeon in early July 1950.

The Bonfire of the Literacies

American political leaders, being deeply indoctrinated actual or aspiring millionaires/billionaires, have long equated capitalism and democracy. In reality, capitalism places very strong limits on democracy. Basic economic policy, the allocation of government spending, transportation policy, global governance, serious restriction of wealth and income polarization (income floors and salary caps for everybody!) — all these things and more are very emphatically “off the table” in capitalist democracy, simply and consistently verboten to voting.

Yet that’s only half the story. Consider, meanwhile, what the normal operation of the system does to the very roots of egalitarian self-governance.

Read moreThe Bonfire of the Literacies

Who Says Capitalism Can’t Solve the Big Problems?

The “free market” will solve all our problems. Such is the faith of the age.

And behold, so it is! As reported on starbucksgossip.com:

Splash sticks — plastic plugs for sip holes with tops in the shape of the Starbucks siren — should be at all Starbucks stores by the end of the week. The blogger at Visions and Revisions Blog writes:

‘All I have to say is WOW. Another excellent use of our natural resources. Instead of encouraging people to stop driving around with their goddam coffee, or (still more unthinkable) sitting in the cafe to drink it, we’re creating a whole new line of useless plastic toys that we’ll find littered in the street along with the already-too-prevalent cups, sleeves, and lids.’

Medical Quiz

Q: Where does a person have to wait 13 months to obtain a physical exam by a medical doctor, if that person can even get into that doctor’s closed-to-new-patients practice?

A: Massachusetts, home of the “market” version of universal health insurance.

Q: What percentage of the previously uninsured are now insured under Massachusetts’ “market” version of “universal” health insurance?

A: 57%

Q: Why does this fraudulent train wreck in Massachusetts matter?

A: It’s what the “major” candibots are promising to “deliver” to us nationally.

Source: The New York Times, April 5, 2008

VEED #2: Bottled “Vitamin Water” For Dogs/Puddles for People

Advertising Age‘s February 25 issue reports that the Cott Corporation, “the world’s largest retailer brand soft drink provider,” has just begun marketing Fortifido, a bottled “vitamin water” for dogs!

One could comment on how the whole “vitamin water” marketing scam preys on people’s old-fashioned ignorance about vitamins and human (and now canine) health. One could also comment on the ecological disaster of ever-expanding plastic bottle production, as well as on its deep connections to the human race’s oncoming hydrocarbon supply crisis.

But the largest point is simply more Visual Evidence of Extreme Depravity.

Obviously, the idea of bottling water for dogs is not nearly enough to disturb the corporate capitalist conscience. Indeed, you can tell just how sensitive to human needs the renowned entrepreneurial soul really is by taking a gander at another photo from the self-same February 25 issue of Advertising Age:

What product is that woman using? Why, it’s the LifeStraw, of course! This winner of AdAge’s “Work of the Week” honor is:

the Vestergaard Frandsen Group’s mobile personal filtration system, otherwise known as LifeStraw. It is a powder-blue plastic tube—much thicker than an ordinary straw—containing filters that make water teeming with typhoid-, cholera- and diarrhea-causing microorganisms drinkable.

In other words, it is a specially filtered straw manufactured and sold at a profit by a Danish “humanitarian entreneurialism” corporation. It allows residents of the drought-plagued Third World, where daily household incomes are usually less than the price of a single bottle of “Fortifido,” to minimize the risk of drinking warm, fetid water from puddles.

If only Dr. Pangloss were here to witness this proof that capitalism really has put the best of all possible worlds beneath our very feet!

Drink it up, you lucky, lucky people!