Seeing through the Myths by Dale Allen Pfeiffer

by Dale Allen Pfeiffer
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Dale’s blog post
The Mountain Sentinel
Nov 1, 2008

* Introduction
* The War on Terror
* The Surge and Decline of Oil Prices
* The Bailout
* Election 2008


US democracy and free market capitalism are nothing more than myths. These myths were drilled into us in public school, and are constantly reinforced by the mass media. Yet events in the past year make it plain these are myths. If we would be willing to take off our blinders and look around us with our own eyes, we would see quite plainly what a cruel deception we suffer under.

Everything the public believes about this country is at best a myth that long ago diverged from reality. At worst it is a malicious hoax, perpetrated to keep the public from understanding what is really happening. The lies we live with have less real value than the credit bubble and derivatives.

We live in a democracy. The US stands for freedom. The US constitution. Trickle down economics. Free market capitalism. The war on terror. Walmart is a great place to shop.

It is tempting to say the system we live in is broken and needs fixing. But it is not broken. It is working just as intended. The writers of our constitution did not want a working democracy; that is why they gave us a republic. And that is why the public resisted accepting this bill of goods.

The resistance continued right up into the middle of the last century. Recently, while listening to some old ’78s recorded in the 1920s and 30s, I noted a strong antigovernment theme. These were recordings of old time music, fiddle tunes and string bands — the forerunners of bluegrass. Some of these tracks contained dialog, and without exception, the participants had a strong dislike for government and big business, and only a mild tolerance for organized religion. These recordings emulated the distrust of the general population.

Somehow, between the 1930s and the present day, this distrust was converted into blind patriotism. It is interesting that the 1930s marked the true rise of the mass media, with the advent of talking movies and the spread of the radio. By this time, public relations had become an important industry, exceeding the expectations of Edward L. Bernays. One of the major goals of public relations was to transform the US public from informed citizens to hungry consumers. In this it has been wildly successful.

As Neal Stephenson says in his book Snow Crash, in the majority we have become an oral culture. We obtain our information from oral sources, television and movies, recorded music and video games. If you are reading this little essay, then you are among a minority of US citizens that actively reads, and reads for more than simple pleasure.

Every so often, events betray the myths we accept as reality, demonstrating just how false they are. The past year seems to be rife with such events. Yet the mass media has excelled in promoting denial. When the media cannot maintain their willful denial any longer, then they hammer together a very quick analysis, being careful to frame it in such a way that our fundamental myths are not seriously questioned. And then it is on to a commercial break and the next entertaining bit of informational overload.

So let us take a moment to look at just a couple of the events during this past year that put the lie to our most cherished myths. But first a brief word about the War on Terror, which is itself one of the ugliest myths.

The War on Terror

The myth is that we are engaged in a war with terror. When our decision makers discuss this war, their only disagreement concerns how it is conducted. None of them question the basic rationale for a war. So it is up to those of us who see the false premises behind this war to speak up at every chance.

Terrorism cannot be solved by war. War is State terror. War only begets more terrorism. Whenever a military power takes the offensive and invades other lands, it is always pursuing a war of conquest and imperialism. That is the purpose of warfare. There are no exceptions. When one military power invades a foreign country in response to the incursion of another military power, the two powers are engaged in a contest of imperialism. Nothing more.

Waging war on terrorists only exacerbates the problem of terrorism, leading to the birth of more terrorists. In this sense, waging a war on terror is self-perpetuating. We have entered the Orwellian era of war without end. War will never solve the problem of terrorism. Elevating terrorism to a cause for war merely gives the terrorists the platform they desire.

Terrorists are criminals, not soldiers. Even our military and our President understand that, with their refusal to grant detainees prisoner of war status. Terrorists should be captured and prosecuted in courts of law.

Beyond this we need to resolve the root cause of terrorism, which is oppression. Terrorists and suicide bombers may be deluded by religious extremism, but their basic motivation is desperation. People embrace terrorism because they have been oppressed to the extremity and they see no other way to strike back.

To end terrorism, we need to end repression. We need to go into the areas where terrorists are recruited and resolve the oppression from which the local population despairs. Yet this will never happen because the system we live under thrives on the oppression of other people. So to end terrorism, we must reform our system. Or, since I do not believe we can reform a system which is functioning as intended, we must scrap this system and replace it with something more just and egalitarian.

Instead of solving terrorism, it has been used as an excuse to strengthen global imperialism — ostensibly US imperialism, but in actuality corporate imperialism. The big winners in the war on terror are the defense industries, the corporations that are privatizing the logistics of war (Halliburton), and the oil companies. The War on Terror has served as a vehicle for transferring the wealth of this country to the military-industrial complex, when this wealth could have been used to heal the root causes of terrorism and build a more just and egalitarian system for all.

So much for the myth of the War on Terror.

The Surge and Decline of Oil Prices

All year I have been saying the surge in oil prices was not the result of peak oil. It was the result of market speculation. As such, it is a phenomenon of our economic system. As the real estate bubble burst, investors pulled their money out of real estate backed securities and pumped it into commodities. As a result, the price of oil surged to record highs, along with the price of gold, rice, grain and other commodities.

In late summer, we reached a point where investors felt commodity prices could not sustain their skyrocketing values much longer. Consumption was declining and the economy was falling into a recession. At the same time, the market crash promised that once powerful market entities would soon be available for pennies on the dollar. So investors sold off commodities and banked their profits in bonds while they waited for likely victims.

For consumers, we see a market that is gyrating wildly. By midsummer, the public was having trouble making ends meet as skyrocketing gasoline and diesel prices drove everything else up. In some cases, people could not even afford to go to work.

Now gasoline prices have tumbled to half of what they were only a few months ago. Yet there has been no major change in oil production. There is a lot of talk about price gouging among the oil companies and gas stations. And no doubt some gouging has occurred. The oil majors are reporting the biggest profits ever — profit margins have climbed into the stratosphere. But the major factor that doubled oil prices over the summer and that is now causing prices to deflate is market speculation.

This is the way the market works. And as such it betrays a basic myth of the market. Economists, investors and businesspeople like to think the market will provide for everyone. It will not. The market is a mindless machination driven by greed and gluttony. By its very nature, it will enrich a few by impoverishing the multitudes. In this year, the market has mugged the public to transfer the wealth of this country into the hands of the elite. In time, the middle class will find they no longer exist as such.

The problem here is that the market is working just as intended. And if nothing is done about it, then this summer will only be a dress rehearsal for what will happen in a few years, as oil production begins an irreversible decline. Instead of investing in relocalization and mass transportation, money will go to enrich market speculators and oil executives while everyone else suffers.

The rise and fall of oil prices in the past several months have betrayed the myth of market capitalism as the most equitable economic system for all.

The Bailout

The bailout was a give away and a coup. The remaining wealth of the US is being given to a handful of financiers with no strings attached. Instead of using this wealth to help rebuild the economy, these financiers will use it to consolidate their position by buying out smaller banks. The United States government has become an oligarchy, governed by the rich, and the public is being burdened with insurmountable debt.

What I want to focus on here is how the bailout was enacted. But first let me pose a question I have been unable to answer so far. If the federal government will use this bailout to assume the bad debts of our banking system, will the collection of these debts become a federal responsibility? If so, this bailout could constitute an end run around the bankruptcy laws, which do not apply to federal debt. I have been unable to clarify this point in my own research, nor has anyone else been able to answer this question for me: will mortgages and credit cards become federal debts, exempt from bankruptcy?

If anyone can clarify this for me, I would appreciate it.

Anyway, on to the subject at hand. The bailout package was proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson and was passed by Congress after being padded with a lot of pork. The bailout grants Paulson unquestionable powers to take taxpayer funds and pass them out to his rich banking cronies. It constitutes an economic coup, and an open invitation to rob the remaining — and future — wealth of this country.

The public was overwhelmingly against this bailout. The House of Representatives, which held the first vote on this package, was deluged with calls from angry voters. Fearing a backlash in the upcoming election, the Representatives buckled under the outcry and voted down the bailout by a small margin.

The package was then modified before being voted on by the Senate. The basics of the bailout were not changed much. Instead a number of pork barrel projects were tacked onto the bill to provide incentives for Representatives to change their vote. Ignoring the public outcry, the Senate passed the bill and sent it back to the House. Having made a token stand for their constituents, the House changed their vote and passed the measure.

Many view this as a failure of democracy. In actuality, our government functioned just as the framers of the constitution intended. In so doing, it pointed out the lie behind the myth of US democracy.

The framers of the constitution were worried about the voice of the people. They wanted to ensure the elite would be served above all others. And so they designed the famous checks and balances of the US constitution. The checks were largely placed upon the will of the public, while the balance favored the designs of the elite.

The House of Representatives is the branch of federal government in which the general public has the greatest voice. It is also intentionally the weakest branch of government. Representatives must be reelected every two years. Likewise, the number of Representatives allowed to each state is based upon the state’s population. Thus, when the public speaks, the House is more likely to listen.

Unfortunately, the House is weak and generally follows the lead of the Senate — as intended by the framers of the constitution. Senators are well insulated from the voting public; more so even than the President. There are only two Senators for each state, meaning that Senators answer to a larger population base, which gives each of their constituents a smaller voice. Furthermore, Senators serve six year terms, and these terms are staggered so that no more than a third of the Senate is ever up for reelection. Even if there was a popular movement in an election year to replace all incumbents, it would only change a minority of the Senate. And by the time those new faces came up for reelection, they will have been largely inculcated into the system.

This is how the framing fathers insulated our government from the populace. And since that time, our elected officials have become even more insular. Now their primary constituency is the lobbyists, foremost of which is the banking industry, weapons manufacturers, insurance and drug companies, and Aipac, the Israeli lobby.

The United States has never been a functioning democracy. Our government operates just as the framing fathers intended. The voice of the people is restrained, while the voice of the elite is amplified.

We should not be shocked by the passage of the bail out. Instead we should use it as a lesson on the myth of US democracy.

Election 2008

We are having a one party election this year. We have two main candidates, but on most of the major issues they have the same position. Both of them support the War on Terror. Both of them support the bailout. Both of them mouth platitudes about energy independence without seeing any need for regulating the energy market, conservation, or relocalization.

Whichever candidate is elected, our country will continue along the same course. The wealth we could use to build a sustainable, egalitarian and just society, stimulating the economy and solving the problems of terrorism, war, pollution, resource depletion, starvation and poverty, will instead be given to the elite while the rest of us are further burdened with debt.

The upcoming election will resolve none of this. Instead it will serve to perpetuate the myth of US democracy and free market capitalism, while robbing us of any chance to solve these problems and build a real democracy, and bequeathing to us an impoverished future.

That is why I refuse to vote for either of the major candidates. If I vote, I will write in Nader for President, knowing that it is only a protest vote. And that is why I encourage direct action to tear this system down and replace it with something saner.


The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

Ralph Nader & The Two Party Dictatorship + Nader takes questions on C-Span

Ralph Nader Posts & Videos




Sarah Palin Got Pranked + transcript (link)

Updated: Nov 3, 2008 transcript


MONTREAL — A Quebec comedy duo notorious for prank calls to celebrities and heads of state has reached Sarah Palin, convincing the Republican vice-presidential nominee she was speaking with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Sarah Palin Got Pranked“, posted with vodpod

h/t: GlobalPunditOrg


The Daily Show: Goin’ Rogue

Dr. J.’s Short Takes: Negative Advertising v. Negative Advertising, On to ACORN, Kristol v. Kristol

Jane Mayer on “The Insiders: How John McCain Came to Pick Sarah Palin”

Daily Show: Palin was born in a small town, but she doesn’t shop in one




Studs Terkel Interviews Michael Moore in ‘The Big One’

Condolences and sympathies to all of Stud’s family and friends.  ~ DS


Studs Terkel (May 16, 1912 – October 31, 2008):…

While crisscrossing the country during the making of Michael Moore’s ‘The Big One,’ Mike had the honor of sitting down with Studs Terkel for a radio interview on Chicago’s 98.7 WFMT.

Continue to sit down with Studs at

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more about “Studs Terkel Interviews Michael Moore…“, posted with vodpod

The Monster Within…. By John Steppling

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

By John Steppling

I start with the above links. And they really need to be read.

Now, this isn’t about who to vote for so much as it’s about the deteriorating of the American psyche, and the colonizing of consciousness that goes with it.

The absurdity of a Melanie Phillips, and her naked racism should, I would think, be obvious to any sentient being. She cites loony Daniel Pipes, a perfect reflection of her ideology.

The FOX news piece is funny because the implications are that to read something that others find unacceptable is tantamount to a crime.

And so we come to the attacks on Obama as a Muslim. I’ve said before that this election has made race a pivotal idea again in the national ongoing narrative. But it’s not just that Obama is black; it’s that his name is sort of, uh, funny. And this has allowed the Muslim hatred to surface in a new form.

Gary Leupp, always worth reading, makes points about Bill Ayers. These are obvious in a sense, but not to Middle America. The hatred is palpable out there. And the lack of education is stunning……as George Monbiot recently cited. It’s a nation of deeply compromised thinkers. The average American has no curiosity, has no historical perspective, and seems addicted to the most reductive and jingoistic formulaic thought. The contradictions are so extreme that it’s hard to keep up with them. Muslim is now short hand for evil.

But this presidential race — by virtue of Obama’s race — has become about memory. The memory of Indonesian genocide and about the black power movement and about civil rights and about Viet Nam. And it’s, as Monbiot points out, about education. Intellect is seen as weakness. The prototypical American myth is about the man of action. A man of few words and an emotionally dead man. But never mind, as long as he can shoot and hunt and get things done. The point is not to ask what those things are, for that would be weakness. This is a myth created for a young country. The frontiersman, the gunfighter; Daniel Boone and Billy the Kid. And the marketing has intensified this myth over the last forty years. Couple this with the destruction of public education and the growing Pentecostal movement, and it’s a perfect storm of mass ignorance and resentment.

Now there is certainly a backlash against this marketed reality, but it strikes me as a pretty mediated backlash. The suspicion of intellect is deeply rooted in US consciousness. If one examines popular culture, Hollywood for example, one sees villains are often intellectuals. The hero or protagonist is usually a man of action, and hence a man to be trusted. Even in academic circles one gets a feeling of this mythology at work.

Corporate America sells lifestyles. Branding. It’s easier to reinforce the stupid then it is to sell intelligence. Beer commercials are always about how it’s just fine to be half in the bag and dumb. Homer Simpson. It’s the frat boy paradigm, which in the UK is lad culture. Marketing would be self defeating if it demanded you achieve something, demanded rigor in thought and asked for an informed political culture. So it doesn’t. It sells products by virtue of branding, and that means identification. It sells *reaction*.

This brings us back to the political theatre of the US presidential elections. The Christian Right is rallying around Palin and finding a justification for its deep seated resentments and fears. It is a form of McCarthyism. And McCain is a perfect poster boy in many ways for the militaristic hero trope — only his senility and general lack of attractiveness get in the way. There seem to be splits within splits now in the US. Obama is both black and someone who reads. An empire that is clutching at the final few straws of denial cannot tolerate, in addition to a perceived intellect, the fact that he is black. AND that he has that funny international history. For most Americans Indonesia couldn’t be found on a map. Sarah Palin couldn’t find it; I guarantee you. And I wonder if McCain could. Kenya? The same.

To remember civil rights now brings up white America’s sense of being put upon. The destruction of unions and the general loss of jobs and security must seem too much. The marketed promises haven’t been kept. Reagan was wrong, and all this claptrap about the fall of Communism, and a shining light on a hill, or whateverthefuckever that phrase was, has turned out to be the sub-prime crisis and a jillion dollar national debt and maybe a black president. That wasn’t the how the script was supposed to go.

Now this is all being rather simplistic I know. But then the national discourse has become simplistic. When people like Pipes and John Bolton, or Rush Limbaugh or David Brooks are creating the world view, then real analysis and historical awareness won’t happen. Bill Kristol now writes for the biggest paper in the US. BILL KRISTOL? Think about that. A man of such limited intellect and such a jingoistic racism that in a normal universe he would be safely kept out of sight by his family.

For the last fifty years US foreign policy has supported the worst dictators in the world. The US has fought a constant war against the forces of humanity and tolerance. If it wasn’t good for corporate business, then it was to be destroyed. The millions of dead in Viet Nam, in Indonesia, in Africa and the Middle East …. in Central America and South America are simply not mentioned. For an increasingly insular and defensive population the idea that the US installed a monster like Pinochet is impossible to accept. The Shah? Somoza? Rioss Mont? Duvalier? The marketed reality is a Manichean one. Good vs. Bad, and *we* are good. Period. And fuck off if you don’t agree.

Genuine class consciousness still seems a long way off. My ongoing beef with Trotskyist leftists is this fantasy world they promote. Hand out newspapers and explain why you won’t vote for Obama, and etc. The death of the American Empire is at hand, no question about it. It can’t be sustained. Here in Europe there is a general unease coupled to an acceptance that international finance will be changing and those vacations on far flung beaches may now be spent a few hundred kilometers away at a local park.

Change must start with a change in consciousness. The culture must change. The corporate media must be ignored and people must slowly, gradually, look to their community. World revolution isn’t going to happen. Obama is better, on all levels, than McCain. Sure, he’s a Democrat and Biden is scum, but he might be smart enough to stop the collective denial of Empire and because he once listened to guys like Khalidi, he might understand the madness a tiny bit better.

The system is still the system, and it’s predicated on exploitation, and that won’t change tomorrow. But on an environmental precipice stands mankind. McCain and Palin and Bush and Cheney and all the rest will never act at all in response, for they cannot. They are too psychically disfigured and have been too long cut off from reality. Obama might be able to react. A small bit anyway, and maybe later more. I don’t know. The attacks on him as a far left Muslim Marxist are absurd, but maybe such demonic fantasies suggest a truth. Maybe under that corporate DNC veneer is something hibernating, a horrible Marxist monster after all. We can only hope.

Senior Editor of Arts and Culture with Cyrano’s Journal Online, playwright, director, screenwriter and teacher, John Steppling was an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival and has had his plays produced in London, LA, New York, Paris, San Francisco, and Poland. Steppling lives in Lodz with Norwegian director Gunnhild Skrodal, and teaches at the Polish National Film School. He co-edits with Guy Zimmerman Cyrano’s celebrated VOXPOP blog on theater, cinema & politics.

Author’s Postscript:

This link suggests another aspect:

And Richard Seymour brings this:

Perhaps Obama has created something of an awakening in the working class. It may be small, as I said above, and heavily mediated by a number of factors, but it’s fascinating to see the possibilities. I would again raise the issue of race. If class consciousness is starting to appear, it’s starting to appear through the lens of race.


McCain and Israel’s Bombing of the U.S.S. Liberty

The Daily Show: Goin’ Rogue

This Is The Lowest McCain Has Sunk Yet By Juan Cole + video

Dr. J.’s Short Takes: Negative Advertising v. Negative Advertising, On to ACORN, Kristol v. Kristol

Jane Mayer on “The Insiders: How John McCain Came to Pick Sarah Palin”

Don’t tell my mother I work at the White House. She thinks I play the piano in a whore house. by William Blum

Presidential elections: planning for the worst By Roland Michel Tremblay




Mosaic News – 10/31/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad



This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.


Mosaic needs your help! Donate here:

“Museum of Tolerance being built on the bodies of the dead,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“After month-long lull, Gaza militants fire Qassam into W. Negev,” IBA TV, Israel
“Nasrallah, Hariri hold rare meeting,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Iraqi Forces Uncover Bomb Factory,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq
“Iraq’s Provencial Elections Postponed,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Pakistanis Outraged Over Cross-Border Attacks,” Press TV, UAE
“Flash Floods Cause Havoc in Yemen,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Interview With the Prosecutor of the International Court,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“What Happens in Syria Stays in Syria,” Link TV, USA
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani

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What was the real motive of the raid in Syria? + Ron Paul: Obama & McCain AGREE with Bush

A Bombing in Assam By Gary Corseri

McCain and Israel’s Bombing of the U.S.S. Liberty

Dandelion Salad


2008 Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader discusses John McCain and Israel’s bombing in the U.S.S. Liberty. From The Forum Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio, October 30, 2008.

Continue reading

Making Excuses for Obama by Justin Raimondo

by Justin Raimondo
October 31, 2008

The mythology of good intentions

Every time I write about Barack Obama I get a lot of letters, and the most typical goes something like this:

Dear Justin,I read your column regularly, and generally agree with what you have to say, but I think you’ve got Barack Obama all wrong. Yes, I know, he went before AIPAC and kowtowed; he pledged to do “anything – and I mean anything” to stop Iran’s nuclear program. He acts “tough” and says he’s going to invade Pakistan; he gets in Russia’s face. But that’s all a show: you see, he has to do this stuff or else he won’t get elected. Once he’s safely in office, he’ll do the right thing.


As much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, in this instance – because we’ve certainly been through the mill these past eight years, and deserve some relief – I have to say that this attitude is profoundly irrational. After all, why shouldn’t we take Obama at his word? If he says he’s going to “curb Russian aggression” – you know, like one might curb one’s rather-too-aggressive dog – and get up in Putin’s face, is he lying? When he solemnly pledges to go after the Iranians if they insist on deterring Israel’s nukes with an arsenal of their own, is he speaking in Pig-Latin?

The common assumption of these letter-writers is that Obama is just trying to “pass,” so to speak, as a warmonger. Once he’s in office, peace will break out all over. What evidence do we have for this? None whatsoever.


via Making Excuses for Obama- by Justin Raimondo

h/t: Jodda


PunkPatriot: Why I hate Liberals

Adam Kokesh: Vote Your Conscience – Vote Third Party!

Obama: Change You Can Believe In–Not, Part 3: Israel and Iran

Obama the Stalker by Joel S. Hirschhorn

Ralph Nader Posts & Videos