Look Around

 

The US has been at war since 9/11. First Bush, then Obama, now Trump, waging forever war.

With all the outrage directed at the Trump Administration’s actions at the border it’s like Americans have developed amnesia about our forever wars and the blowback that’s incurred.

Wake the fuck-up and look around. If you care at all it’s time to be outraged at what our government is doing in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Venezuala, and Honduras.

Yes, Honduras. Where do you think those refugees at the border are coming from? Our Nobel-Peace-Prize president, Barak Obama, with Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, green-lighted a coup in Honduras back in 2009, that brought  a vicious right-wing junta to power. The junta put an end to land reform and efforts to raise living standards, employing death-squads and criminal gangs to drive the process. All this was strongly encouraged by US corporations, who benefit from the low wage hell-hole that Honduras has returned to. The result has been an exodus of Hondurans who are desperately seeking a new life in the US.

So yeah, be outraged at what’s going on at our southern border, but put this outrage into some context.

Perversely, we should be thankful for our schizophrenic president. Under Trump’s watch the contradictions of late stage imperial capitalism, with the emphasis on constant war and financialization, are becoming both much more intense, and more obvious. And that’s scaring the hell out of our sociopathic elite.

Trump’s recent actions include: threatening to withdraw from NAFTA, potentially disrupting US multi-national supply chains; angering European allies with his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and insistence on Russian inclusion in the G7 summit; overturning 70 years of US bellicose foreign policy towards North Korea, in the process trashing the whole neocon Axis of Evil formulation.

Trump’s surprise election threw the corporate media, the military-industrial complex, and the intelligence agencies into a panic as they confronted a crisis of legitimacy. Now firmly aligned with Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, their response was to pre-empt Trump’s threatened rapprochement with Russia with insinuations of treason. In the process they have further delegitimized virtually every U.S. institution, all the while blaming Vladimir Putin.

Furthermore, it’s like our whole country has gone crazy since Trump was elected. For example, we get tweets like this from former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh: “America is the brightest, most benevolent nation on earth. North Korea is the darkest, most horrific regime on Earth. We just gave them equal billing. We just sat at a table with them. There had better be something really, really good coming in return.”

Ha, ha. That’s funny. Ole Joe might believe that shit, but a lot of Americans are starting to ask questions.

For starters, why is America locked into forever war?

In my opinion, the forever war continues because it’s profitable for the the sociopathic elite and corporations that control our country. You know, the deep state, which should be thought of as the military/industrial/complex, the financial sector, Silicon Valley, and the corporate media.

Never forget that a mere 6 companies control 90% of the media in the U.S. Guess who runs these mega media corporations? That’s right. The same sociopathic elite who closely coordinate with government agencies like the NSA, CIA, Pentagon and DHS. Can you say Jeff Bezos?

Our reality is shaped by the corporate media narrative, but what the media presents is often determined by the complex reality of empire rather than by the factual evidence. In fact, there’s a systematic use of lies, plots and conspiracies to maintain our sociopathic elite power.

For example: In Syria, the US accused Damascus of using poisonous gas against its own people in order to justify the US cruise missile attacks. In Libya, Obama and Hillary Clinton claimed President Gaddafi distributed Viagra to his armed forced to rape innocent civilians, precipitating the US-EU bombing of the country and rape and murder of President Gaddafi.

I suspect that many Americans have had this uneasy feeling for decades that despite their voting and petitioning governmental representatives, nothing seems to get better for non-rich people. Social services never get better. Wages never go up. Corporations do whatever they want. Criminals who are wealthy and connected never go to jail.

The wars go on and on.

So, yeah, look around and get mad. The only way to stop the madness is when Americans show up in the streets to demand an end to the forever wars.

 

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Is that all there is?

 

Gazing around our world it’s clear that neoliberalism has narrowed the possibilities.

Is that all there is?

Massive student debts, opioid addiction, homelessness and suicides. An economy based largely on scams and fraud, that leaves the vast majority of Americans poorer. Indeed, thanks to our pay-to-play political process, Wall Street was allowed to create an epidemic of mortgage backed security fraud that foreclosed the American-Dream for millions of our neighbors, while the bankers walked away with billions. In hindsight, it’s obvious that Barak Obama was elected precisely to not prosecute Wall Street.

Despite all the happy-talk by the corporate media about the surging economy, many American workers eke out a precarious existence. Just to make sure that there’s no confusion, CEO’s recently proclaimed that there will never be a raise again.

If you are fortunate to have a good, well paying job, your company could be taken over by Bain Capital and saddled with enormous amounts of debt so that the hedge fund guys can walk away with millions, while you’re kicked to the curb.

And if finding gainful employment with benefits wasn’t torturous enough, Silicon Valley wonder kids are promising a future of robots.

Jesus-fucking-Christ!

I believe that Trump won the 2016 election because of this narrowing of options for average Americans. He also won because of so-called free-trade deals that favor corporations and investors over workers. If you will recall Trump ran to the left of Clinton with his vociferous criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and NAFTA. Now, to give the devil his due, he’s right to demand a sunset clause for NAFTA.

Right now the sociopathic elite that control our country are doubling down on the same neoliberal economic policies while stepping up their censorship of counter narratives. With the loss of their favored candidate–Hillary Clinton–and the general mood of rebellion, epitomized by the teachers strikes, they realize that internet censorship is necessary for their continues domination of American society.

Meanwhile, the political party that’s traditionally represented workers believes that it’s your own fault for not getting enough education or training, or having the right skill set, or maximizing your unique “human capital.”

You’d think that in this “marketplace of ideas,” a political party would arise to meet the demand for an economy that works for the rest of us.

In my opinion, the last two elections we’ve witnessed this demand. With Obama and now Trump, Americans are searching desperately for any alternative. However, instead what they get is more of the same.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

I do not see meaningful reform coming until the status quo in American party politics is repudiated and renewed again with a more democratic focus on people.

Our sociopathic elite will not go easily into the good night. The powerful, those who built and have been fabulously rewarded by the current system, will oppose any threat to their exorbitant privilege, which they see as perfectly justified and fully well-deserved by their education and hard work, never mind the sheer capriciousness of life.

Reading the business press, I’ve come to believe that the end game is autonomous robots, where the sociopathic elite can simply rule by force with no need for the messy manufacture of consent required.

We need to get busy. We don’t have much time.

 

 

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The limits of identity politics

 

I’m pretty sure this will not be a popular post, but I have to ask some uncomfortable questions.

Is US society better now that we have woman torturer as head of the CIA who also happens to be a lesbian?

Were we a more color-blind society when we had a black president who carried out more drone strikes than his white, frat-boy predecessor? Talk about affirmative action.

Are we a more moral society because my ski-client, a bank CEO who gained his millions ripping off Americans with sub-prime mortgages, happens to be openly gay?

What about our almost first female president who wants to blame her loss on everyone and everything, rather than looking in the mirror. Would we have been a better country with a woman president, who as Secretary of State, instigated coups and cackled at the gruesome death of Moamar Ghadafi?

Look, I love my gay friends and relatives and celebrate diversity, but these are the questions that keep me up at night.

As I’ve stated before, I could care less if you’re straight or gay, man or woman, all I care about are universal economic policies that benefit all Americans. I also care about the American empire and how much damage and suffering it causes both to our republic and neighbors.

Presently the policies pursued by our leaders benefit a small cohort of sociopathic elite to the detriment of the rest of us. Our political parties perpetuate this arrangement by dividing us along tribal fault lines.

The Democratic party, the center left, derives its authority from its values, centered on an identity politics version of human rights as a way to differentiate itself from the Republican party. Before the Democratic party was, in the New Deal tradition, much more populist and egalitarian, with a strong cohort of labor. Since the 70’s the Democrats have turned hard right on economic questions like labor, welfare, the regulatory state, anti-trust. A more conservative neoliberal orthodoxy has became the ideology.

Tellingly, the Democrats reject out of hand arguments that Trump’s victory signals a need to reconsider their neoliberal economic policies and continue to insist that redistributive social and economic policies are less meaningful to voters than cultural or racial group identities.

It’s become obvious that identity politics is another way in which our sociopathic elite divide and rule. As the last election demonstrated, Americans are being polarized at a rate rarely seen before, helped in no small measure by social-media algorithms that divide people along the lines of identity and tribe their underlying human connections rendered increasingly irrelevant. We’re being programmed and fed a narrative that keeps us fighting each other rather than the common enemy.

Going further, identity politics encourages us to celebrate diversity even as those diverse Americans promote policies that kill, torture or impoverish.

Diverse evil is still evil.

 

 

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Busy Little Termites

 

I find it perversely amusing that while doing good is so damn hard, doing evil is easy. Doing evil is especially easy in the service of wealth and power.

Take neoliberalism, a shape-shifting ideology so nefarious that its proponents dare not mention its name. Neoliberalism has succeeded as the ultimate evil precisely because it is the ideology that serves the wealthy. Indeed, the ideology of neoliberalism allowed the capitalist elite to overturn the New Deal, freeing them from a republic controlled by the unruly masses–we the people.

The way in which they accomplished their goal makes a fascinating story. It’s almost like there’s a neoliberal playbook, where neoliberals sabotage public policy then claim that government is the problem and the solution is markets. We can observe a familiar pattern of defunding, claiming crisis, then calling for privatization because the private sector is always more efficient than the government.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

To achieve their goals neoliberals will make any argument. This amorphousness of neoliberal ideology is on display with its claim that government fosters an out of control bureaucracy that impedes creativity. It turns out that neoliberals don’t have a problem with bureaucracy, per say, just who gets to control the bureaucracy. While in power, neoliberals may have subcontracted out parts of government, but that rarely makes a dent in bureaucracy. The coercive power of government inexorably grows. Only the neoliberal bureaucracy focuses on herding us into the market rather than solving problems in a democratic manner.

Hence, the stealth, shape-shifting ideology of neoliberalism. Neoliberals believe fervently that markets know best, but they also realize that most Americans don’t share this fervor and would resist having their political franchise restricted rather than broadened. Neoliberals understand that Americans would be enraged if their “freedom to chose” only entailed consumer choices rather than citizens rights.

This brings us the the authoritarian heart of neoliberalism. Neoliberal ideals would always be a hard sell, and the neoliberals realized that. After all, they can’t go around in public saying, “We must seize power and use all the tools of government to get the state to impose the ideal market on a recalcitrant populace.”

I’ve come to the realization that there’s no limit to the weapons in the neoliberal toolbox. As an example, take racism. Most of us would recognize the dark stain of slavery on our republic and be supportive of efforts to ameliorate its pernicious effects. Not neoliberals. Led by neoliberal gurus Milton Friedman and James Buchanan, they sabotaged school desegregation to enable the destruction of public education, all to bring about private charter schools.

“And I discovered that Milton Friedman, the Chicago school free market economist, had issued his first manifesto for such vouchers in 1955 in the full knowledge of how it could be used by the white segregationists of the South. And then I also stumbled onto a report by this James McGill Buchanan that we were discussing earlier, who essentially tried to pull the segregationist chestnuts out of the fire in early 1959, when a massive mobilization of moderate white parents had come together to try to save the schools from these school closures, and the bleeding of these tax monies out to private schools. And after the courts had ruled against school closures of schools that were planning to desegregate in Virginia.

The corporate media plays a special role in this situation. Neoliberal ideology spread through the corporate media from the 1980s, and they have continued to play a prominent role in its persistence through a decade of political and economic turmoil since the 2008 crash. In fact the corporate media plays such a large role in obfuscating what’s really going on that the American public remains clueless to these evil machinations.

We need to be vigilant and educate fellow Americans to the danger.

We must also create community across party lines. In this neoliberal milieu, creating and nourishing community is a revolutionary act.

 

 

 

 

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Making the connection

 

Gina Haspel has been confirmed as America’s new CIA director.

Now that we have a torturer in charge of our premier intelligence agency it’s appropriate to make the connection between the economic and foreign policies of the US empire.

Neoliberalism and torture are connected. Contrary to the cover-story about Laissez-faire, neoliberals absolutely require a strong state to implement their market-centric economic policies. However, as we’ve seen with the recent populist backlash, these economic policies are opposed by the captive populaces who’ve seen their standard of living plummet, while inequality soars.

Hence the need for force. Despite their paeans to “freedom,” neoliberals are down with wielding an authoritarian state in order to subdue an unruly proletariat. The proof is in the history, where the first test case of neoliberalism was Chile.

On September 11, 1973, Chile’s government was overthrown in a bloody, CIA-backed coup, led by General Augusto Pinochet. Neoliberal policies, incubated in the University of Chicago economics department under the tutelage of Milton Friedman, were introduced in Chile after the violent coup. Friedman and his Chicago Boys” advised Pinochet to impose his free market wish list on the country–tax cuts, free trade, privatized services, deregulation and cuts to social spending.

As Naomi Klein makes clear in The Shock Doctrinealthough Chile was described in glowing term as an economic miracle, the reality was that these neoliberal economic policies were imposed by force, including torture. “Pinochet also facilitated the adjustment with his own shock treatments; these were performed in the regimes many torture cells, inflicted on the writhing bodies of those most likely to stand in the way of the capitalist transformation. Many in Latin America saw a direct connection between the the economic shocks that impoverished millions and the epidemic of torture that punished hundreds of thousands of people who believed in a different kind of society. As Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano asked, ‘How can this inequality be maintained if not through jolts of electric shock?'”

The US has always practiced torture, they just kept it on the down-low, using surrogates or cut-outs to maintain plausible deniability. What’s been different since 9/11 is that the US has openly embraced torture.

Both political parties are complicit. Even though the “gloves came off,” under the Bush administration, Obama failed to prosecute the torturers and “looked forward,” allowing Trump the opportunity to nominate Haspel to be head of the CIA. In a touching show of bi-partisanship, the Democrats played a critical role in supplying the votes necessary to confirm Gina Haspel as CIA director earlier this week.

In my opinion, both major parties are beholden to a deep state, dominated by a vast military/intelligence complex, for surveillance, repression and control. Going further, this deep state is allied to the same financial oligarchy that advocates neoliberalism.

It’s not a coincidence that we have a torturer as the head of the CIA. More and more people are recognizing neoliberalism for what it is and protesting this vile economic agenda that has impoverished them and destroyed their communities. Even the happy, chirpy corporate media cannot entirely hide the grim reality.

There have already been warnings. What they’ve done to Greece was akin to a mob boss having his capos kneecap a client who couldn’t pay his vig. And don’t forget Libya. Muammar Gaddafi real crime appears to have been his attempt to create a African currency based on gold that was free from western banks. Can’t have that can we? For his troubles, Gaddafi was tortured to death to the sadistic cackles of Hillary Clinton.

Domestically, we have whole sections of the US that have been impoverished and abandoned. Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water. How’s that for torture?

As the disparity between the 1% and the rest of us grows watch the political climate. The neoliberals have seized the state and will use force to protect their ill-gotten gains. Remember, savage policies carried out on the periphery of empire always return to the center.

Expect the corporate media to obscure these crimes. Time and time again, we’re fed false and deceitful narratives to manufacture support for the agendas of the plutocrats who control the US empire. And, then when we notice that once again we’ve been lied to it’s too late. The news churn moves on and we’re distracted by something else as the old narrative is stuffed down the memory hole.

We must continue to make the connection between torture and neoliberalism obvious.

Spread the word.

 

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No mercy in this land

 

There is no mercy in this land.

We have one political party that makes no bones about its support for plutocratic rule and another that pretends to support democracy while surreptitiously aiding the wealthy and powerful at every opportunity.

Indeed, the Democrats have been cynically using Russia-gate so that they don’t have to talk about policies that give real material benefits to average Americans, while openly sabotaging progressive candidates in the run up to the 2018 mid-terms.

When it comes to foreign policies: both parties unconditionally support Israel, even as it murders Palestinians who have the temerity to protest the theft of their land and savage imprisonment in an open air prison that is Gaza.

First, Democratic minority leader, Chuck Schumer endorsed Trump’s embassy move in Israel, from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem. Now, the second ranking Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer, defends Israel’ s right to gun down protestors in Gaza, and by extension the Trump administration, which supports Israel, slavishly.

Some Resistance. More like McResistance.

When it come to the power relationship between Israel and the US there are two schools of thought. The first posits that US foreign policy is absolutely dictated by the Israeli Lobby, where the tail wags the dog, so to speak. With the Trump administration there is some truth to this theory. Billionaire Sheldon Adelson donated $25 million to Trump’s campaign and provided an additional $5 million for Trump’s inauguration. Adelson is pro-Israel super hawk who advocated dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran. He was the guest of honor at the opening of the US’s new embassy in Jerusalem, getting what he paid for.

The other theory, promulgated by Noam Chomsky, say that this is nonsense, and that US foreign policy wields Israel as its attack dog in the Middle-East to maintain control over the vast oil and natural gas reserves. “In 1967, Israel destroyed the source of secular Arab nationalism — Nasser’s Egypt — which was considered a major threat and enemy by the West…Nasserite secular nationalism was considered a serious threat, because it was recognized that it might seek to take control of the immense resources of the region and use them for regional interest, rather than allow them to be centrally controlled and exploited by the United States and its allies.”

I’m partial to a third view, where it isn’t nations and governments that control an empire, but instead a group of trans-national plutocrats who use the US, Israeli, British, etc., government’s to loot, plunder and control the rest of us.

And, the corporate media is totally cool with this state of affairs. Corporate journalists have abandoned all pretense of objectivity and make it their purpose to afflict the weak and comfort the powerful. This is what happens when the corporate media is more concerned with maximizing revenues than they are in seeking truth.

This corporate media complicity is on display in their coverage over the protests in Gaza. For example, can you imagine the shrill outrage that would follow if Syrian President Assad were using snipers to gun down unarmed protestors? In this manner, the corporate media has created a class of worthy and unworthy victims, depending on their propaganda value and utility.

This dynamic is nowhere more pronounced than when it come to the great lie about Israel, its neighbors and the notion of democracy. Israel, it’s argued, is superior because it’s a democracy while the other countries that makes up the Middle-East are corrupt dictatorships that abuse their citizens. The dirty little secret is that these countries are corrupt and dictatorial precisely because the US and Israel prefer them that way in order to control their resources.

Recently, Israel declared that Gaza was not covered by the laws of war. Now they can target medical personnel and the non-embedded press, all better to wage a terror war against the Palestinian protestors.

The corporate media yawned. Covering unworthy victims is bad for business. It’s better to focus on the Kardashians.

There is no mercy in this land.

 

 

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We the Precariat

 

Here’s an observation from Lambert at Naked Capitalism that perfectly captures the precarious world that’s been created by the advance of neoliberalism.

“So, Walmart spends squillions destroying public education, and then pays low wages because people can’t read or write. It’s beautiful in its own way…”

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