In last weeks post I presented evidence that the US attacked China with Covid 19.

My evidence is largely sourced from the Unz Review, where Ron Unz has written a series of articles arguing that COVID-19 is the result of a US biological warfare strike against China and Iran. Much of the evidence he cites is circumstantial. But his circumstantial evidence is very convincing. What are the odds that COVID-19 would appear at the worst possible place and time for China (Wuhan on Chinese New Year) and then miraculously traveled to Iran to kill a sizable number of their government elite? What are the odds that this would randomly happen when the neocons are waging a hybrid war against China, Russia and Iran? What are the odds that this virus would turn out to be a perfect anti-economy bioweapon, combining super-contagiousness with .5% to 1% lethality? What are the odds that a US military games team would have shown up in Wuhan when COVID was first unleashed? And above all, what are the odds that the US Defense Intelligence Agency would just happen to issue a strongly-worded warning to guard against an impending pandemic in Wuhan more than one month before anyone knew of any such outbreak?

What’s worse, in retrospect, is that the US has a deep state that is capable and willing to carry out such a nefarious plan. Furthermore, the fact that this deep state would carry out such a plan when the chances for global blowback are so great is more evidence of their psychopathy. Unz gives them credit for imagining that the US healthcare system would rise to the occasion and minimize any outbreak here but I’m not so generous.

It’s obvious to see how the people who want a war with China would use the new reports of the Coronavirus emerging from a lab in Wuhan to make it happen. It fully fits into the logic of the global hybrid war, unleashed by the American financial oligarchy in order to maintain world domination in the confrontation with the rapidly growing China. Presently, they feel emboldened enough to go on the offensive, blaming China for the Wuhan lab leak.

At a recent appearance on Sunday Night in America with Trey Gowdy, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, made crystal clear their game plan going forward. “I think the American people deserve to know what caused the worst pandemic in a century,” Cotton told the show’s host. “Look, China should be made to pay for their negligence and their deceitfulness at the outset of this pandemic: covering up its origins, not being open about what was happening in that lab in Wuhan.”

Cotton continued. “But if it turns out that the Chinese Communist Party and their labs were responsible for a lab leak that caused this pandemic, just imagine what the American people would demand in terms of accountability; what I said would just scratch the surface,” the senator said. “And the American people would be right to demand that kind of accountability.”

Thanks to the oligarchic propaganda bubble that envelopes the American people, there will probably never be accountability for the true villain even if all of this leads to a nuclear exchange. There is no reason to believe any investigation into the Wuhan lab would not be heavily biased toward a pro-US narrative and used to manufacture international agendas to attack China, while it’s probable to believe it would be.

The corporate media nowadays often show more opposition to peace than to war. The Trump administration faced hysterical media backlash for its attempts to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, Syria, and even Germany. Columnists from the New York Times and Washington Post openly championed the deep state because the CIA, FBI, and other intelligence agencies opposed President Trump.

After last weeks post it’s probably time to reiterate that I’m not a Trump supporter even though I spend a fair amount of time criticizing liberals. Instead, I find our whole political system to be kayfabe, in that both tribes pretend to have substantial differences even when the same economic and foreign policies of empire are implemented.

The election of Donald Trump made all of this crystal clear.

In 2008 the American public was sick of George W Bush and his crew of neocons, so they elected a progressive candidate who campaigned on hope and change to replace him.

But it didn’t happen; the hope and change never came. Barack Obama continued and expanded all of his predecessor’s most depraved policies at home and abroad, and it wasn’t long before Americans became disillusioned. It was as if Obama served Bush’s third and forth term, even though many of my liberal friends and family won’t admit it.

Worn out and disgusted by crushing neoliberal policies at home and murderous neoconservative policies abroad, Americans elected a reality TV star who ran on a populist platform which criticized both Bush and Obama. Trump promised to “drain the swamp”, end the wars, and fight the establishment in the interests of ordinary people. Americans thought this time for sure there would be change.

But the wars kept going, and the swamp got even fuller, and the US empire maintained the same destructive policies of the Bush administration and the Obama administration. Despite all this, the Democratic Party and the corporate media acted as though a coup had taken place, insisting that the United States had transformed from a free democracy respected around the world into a fascist dystopia.

And now that we’ve replaced the fascist with Joe Biden we will finally–“Make America Kind Again”.

Or not.

It’s become obvious that no matter who is president the US empire will continue to carry out unspeakable acts for the benefit of the tiny group of oligarchs who actually call the shots. As Gore Vidal once said. “It doesn’t actually make any difference whether the President is Republican or Democrat. The genius of the American ruling class is that it has been able to make the people think that they have had something to do with the electing of presidents for 200 years when they’ve had absolutely nothing to say about the candidates or the policies or the way the country is run. A very small group controls just about everything.”

We get the theatre of change because of the reality of empire. Politicians cannot change the status quo to one which benefits ordinary people instead of their oligarchic owners, because the oligarchic empire is built upon the need for endless war, poverty, and oppression. You cannot have a unipolar global empire without using violent force (and the threat of it) to uphold that world order, and you cannot have a plutocracy without ensuring that a few rulers have far more wealth control than the rank-and-file citizenry.

A little blowback now and then is just another cost of empire.

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Science and the Unspeakable

Ever since the election of Donald Trump science has become a shibboleth for the liberal, professional/managerial/class (PMC’s), and–trust the science–has became their rallying cry.

But science is an abstract concept. Trust what science? Science has been responsible for clean water, space travel, solar power and vaccines but it’s also been responsible for eugenics, Zyklon-B, the atomic bomb and Agent Orange. There has been Dr. Salk but also Dr. Mengele. Indeed, any cursory appraisal of history makes it quite apparent that science and its cousin technology have raced ahead of the morality of their applications far too often. Going further, it’s no accident that science in the US is tied to either war or the logic of capitalism. This has been especially true during the present pandemic when we find that a large number of vaccines are for-profit, even if they have been funded by public money.

It’s also apparent that since the beginnings of the pandemic and Trump’s response, liberals have politicized the science behind its origins, spread and implications. Liberals were quick to dismiss any and everything Trump proclaimed with snide remarks about–trust the science. The origins of Covid was no exception. When Trump suggested that Covid originated in a lab in Wuhan he was ridiculed by the the PMC’s and the corporate media, with only MAGA supporters believing his reports. This official party-line was often harshly enforced by our leading social media monopolies, with Facebook summarily banning all posts suggesting otherwise. In other words, our understanding of the origins of Covid has been narratively managed over the past 15 months and is still being narratively managed. We are being told only what suits powerful political, scientific and commercial interests. There were a lot of noble lies told.

My how times have changed.

As it turns out, the coronavirus origin story may be another noble lie. A year ago, the idea that Covid-19 leaked from a lab in Wuhan–was dismissed as a crackpot theory, supported only by Donald Trump, QAnon and hawks on the right looking to escalate tensions dangerously with China.

Now, after what has been effectively a year-long blackout of the lab-leak theory by the corporate media and the scientific establishment, President Joe Biden has announced an investigation to assess its credibility. And as a consequence, what was treated until a few weeks ago as an unhinged, rightwing conspiracy is suddenly being widely aired and seriously considered by liberals.

The triggering event for this remarkable reversal in American elite sentiment was a closely reasoned and persuasive 11,000 word article by journalist Nicholas Wade, entitled, Origin of Covid — Following the CluesDid people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan? Wade began his long article by explaining that from February 2020 onward a huge ideological bubble had been inflated by political propaganda masquerading as science, a bubble that was afterwards maintained through a combination of journalistic cowardice and incompetence. President Donald Trump had proclaimed that the virus was artificial, so our media therefore insisted that it must be natural, even if all the evidence seemed to suggest otherwise.

Meanwhile, there’s another theory out there, (one that I’ve given a lot of thought to), that asks–Was Coronavirus a Biowarfare Attack Against China?

I know this sounds even crazier than anything found on QAnon but the logic behind it is straight forward. The US is a global hegemon in free fall, desperately attempting to hold onto its empire. The deep state actors behind the plot have already proven that they are psychopaths willing to commit any atrocity to maintain the power of the US empire (The invasion of Iraq and utilizing Al Qaeda to overthrow the Syrian government spring to mind).

Also, this would not be the first time that the US attacked China with biological weapons. During the Korea war U.S. pilots, captured by China, admitted to dropping biological weapons on China. The U.S. long denied the use of biological weapons and claimed that the pilots had been tortured and made false confessions. Decades later secret files were released which proved that the claims the pilots had made had been correct.

During the Cold War the US engaged in a massive build up of nuclear/biological/chemical weapons. On the biological front, US scientists have long been working on offensive applications while claiming it’s all about defending the American people. Researchers at a BSL-3 lab tied to the post-9/11 biodefense industrial complex are genetically modifying anthrax to express Covid-19 components, according to FOIA documents.

Moreover, there have been a number of training exercises, like the 2001 Dark Winter simulation, that have occurred in recent years that imagine the very type of pandemic outbreak we’ve experienced.

Read the articles, there are a number of them and they make a very persuasive case.

Breaking the Silence on the Origins of Covid-19

American Pravda: George Orwell’s Virus Lab-Leak

American Pravda: “The Truth” and “The Whole Truth” About the Origins of Covid-19

Next week I’ll discuss this unspeakable subject in more detail.

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Buying Immortality

I’ve come to realize that philanthropy, at least for the feral elite, is more about public relations and ultimately buying immortality than about doing good for other people.

That’s certainly my takeaway from reading Empire of Pain–The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty.

The Sackler’s philanthropy was also a way in which to burnish their reputation and obscure the manner in which they made their fortune as legal drug dealers. Rather than marijuana or cocaine, OxyContin was their gateway drug. The Sackler’s marketed it relentlessly as safer and less addictive than morphine. (It was twice as strong and insidiously addictive.) They maintained that it couldn’t be abused because of the buffered coating and timed release. (From its introduction, OxyContin was immediately the drug of choice for black-market drugs dealers, while addicts were grinding it up and injecting it.) Since the Sackler’s introduced OxyContin in the late 1990’s, opioid-related deaths have risen more than fivefold. By the numbers, opioids have killed more than 450,000 in the US in two decades.

Polite American society recoiled in horror when Trump bragged that he could shoot someone on the streets of New York City and get away with it. But the Sackler’s whacked hundreds of thousands of Americans and did get away with it, possibly because they had a wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art named after them.

Or maybe it’s because much of polite American society is composed of sociopaths with little or no regard for their fellow Americans. Maybe because money is power and money rewards sociopathy, we wind up ruled by greedy sociopaths. Indeed, it’s more evidence that the people who rule this country–conservatives or liberals–have no desire to reform any aspect of this country. The bipartisan consensus is that the only role of government should be to ensure that the wealthy and banks and corporations they own continue to prosper. They are uniform in their dedication to austerity and privatization of public resources. No one is any position of influence appears to have more than the passing regard for human life. They all believe, regardless of their partisan differences, that American citizens should accept brutalization as the baseline of existence. This vision of an ideal America is uniform among our ruling class. The Sackler’s are not outliers. Biden spent his career helping build it. Trump was created by it, and he strengthened many of its most malignant aspects. Obama, Bush, Clinton, and Reagan all worked toward the same general goals. 

A society in which precarity is the norm and decency is nonexistent is going to give rise to violence, drug abuse and widespread discontentment. In such a society there’s no shortage of pain. Indeed, the Sackler’s always maintained that the impetus for marketing and selling OxyContin was the heartfelt concern they felt for their fellow Americans who were in such pain.

In a way the Sackler’s are fulfilling the promise of neoliberalism with its celebration of individualism and entrepreneurship by providing a marketable commodity. If you abuse OxyContin in a desperate quest to dull the pain of modern day America it’s your own damn fault and you are a junkie lacking self-control. Meanwhile, the Sackler’s, through their bankruptcy machinations and legions of high-powered lawyers, have been able to squirrel away billions in off-shore accounts, leaving Purdue Pharma an empty corporate husk.

Philanthropy is simply used as a way to whitewash all of this. It’s not just the Sackler’s, either. The outing of Bill Gates as a monster is more of the same dynamic.

There are larger questions that we need to deal with as a society. I mean, do we really believe that these individuals deserve the political privilege that billionaire philanthropy affords—to remake the world according to their own worldview, with no checks or balances—because they’ve managed to become so obscenely wealthy? No matter how well-meaning or virtuous we fantasize such individuals to be, what can these outrageously rich people know about the lives of the poor people they claim to help?

Fully reckoning with the Sackler’s or Gates means confronting our own deep-seated worship of wealth and hard-wired belief in hero narratives. If we really want to fix the world—eliminating inequities in how we educate, medicate, feed, house, pay, and otherwise treat people—we can’t rely on billionaires with big ideas.

Especially when they’re killing us.

Update: The Sackler’s are asking a federal court to grant sweeping legal immunity to their family and to more than a thousand parties linked to the family and the scandal, including one of their companies peddling opioids across the globe, according to new court records.

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A Great Crime

“Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.” 

I’m reading The Empire Of Pain, the new book that chronicles the Sackler dynasty, an extended family who marketed and sold OxyContin, the opioid that has ravaged the United States. And yes, behind their great fortune lies a great crime.

Unfortunately, like other criminals who became wealthy through predation, the Sackler’s will probably get away with it.

Next week I will be doing a much deeper dive into the family and their decades long crime spree but for now one of the paragraphs in the book jumped out at me. The author, Patrick Radden Keefe, describes their sociopathy, and how the Sacklers, unlike other human beings, didn’t seem to learn from what they saw transpiring around them. “They could produce a rehearsed simulacrum of human empathy, but they seemed incapable of comprehending their own role in the story, and impervious to any moral epiphany. They resented being cast as villains in the drama, but it was their own stunted, stubborn blindness that made them so suited to the role.”

The larger problem is that our culture, with its relentless focus on money as the ultimate signifier of meritocracy, promotes the type of sociopathy exemplified by the Sacklers.

Going further, the uncomfortable truth is that many of our “feral elite” are similar to the Sackler’s, in that they too are monsters who’ve managed to perpetuate great crimes (the invasion of Iraq, for starters) then make a clean get-away, and if we don’t want these great crimes to continue we need a way in which to punish the perpetrators rather than reward them.

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The Medical/Industrial/Complex

Back when President Obama was proposing health care reform I, naively, thought that the way to overhaul health care was to ask why Americans were so unhealthy to begin with and that question would inevitably lead back to our industrial method of food production.

Silly, silly boy.

What I hadn’t quite figured out back then was that Americans were unhealthy for a reason. If the industrial food production system, which is highly profitable for monopoly, big-agriculture corporations, makes Americans unhealthy, all the better. Unhealthy people don’t generally have the wherewithal to protest or revolt, plus as a bonus they make excellent customers for the medical/industrial/complex.

It’s a feature of our system rather than a bug.

Meanwhile, this is how the medical/industrial/complex, approaches public health.

On an investor call last month, the CEO of Pfizer, Frank D’Amelio, discussed what would happen to revenue from his vaccine product as the Covid pandemic ends, what he called the “durability of the franchise.” He told analysts not to worry. People in rich countries will need annual booster shots, and that is where Pfizer will make real money.

For these annual treatments, Pfizer will be able to charge much more than it does now. The current price for a covid vaccine, D’Amelio noted, is $19.50 per dose. He told analysts of his hope Pfizer could get to a more normal price, “$150, $175 per dose,” instead of what he called “pandemic pricing.”

That sounds like a real business opportunity to a guy like me. If Covid is not brought under control, then Pfizer and Moderna can charge everyone who can afford it $150 per year (and maybe twice a year) for the rest of their lives. Pretty good cash flow based on simple medical/industrial/complex economics where selling a palliative which patients have to keep buying is a lot more profitable than selling a cure. Pharma doesn’t want cures: they want you on their pills or shots for the rest of your life.

It gets worse. The part that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that our world is run by sociopaths is why there will need to be annual boosters. It’s not because the vaccine strength wanes over time, though there’s a distant possibility that might happen. It’s because, as D’Amelio told Wall Street, there will be new variants emerging from abroad that can evade the vaccine. And how will variants emerge abroad? Well as outbreaks occur in non-vaccinated parts of the world, new strains will naturally occur as the virus mutates. If the rest of the world gets vaccinated, however, new variants won’t arise.

It’s a good bet that Pfizer is hoping that there won’t be a global effective vaccination campaign because while their main goal is to keep prices high it is actually against Pfizer’s financial interest to have the rest of the world vaccinated. If the world gets vaccinated, Pfizer won’t necessarily be able to sell expensive booster shots in rich countries who can afford them.

The unstated part in all of this is that D’Amelio, Pfizer and Wall Street could give a rats ass about anyone in the Third World, but if you’ve been paying attention you already know that.

This is also the logical result of a system that relies on a profit-driven pharmaceutical industry to produce lifesaving drugs. These companies’ business models are predicated on high prices and weak regulation, not altruism and the common good. Can we really be surprised when for-profit companies attempt to profit off their products even as people die?

It’s the same thing with the rest of the medical/industrial/complex. In a for-profit healthcare system can we really be surprised that we have a lot of sick people who are drugged to the gills yet don’t seem to get better?

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The political/economy of evil

I have stated it before and will go on saying it–evil is easy, while good is incredibly difficult.

Nowhere are these truths more obvious than in the way in which neoliberalism has hollowed out our republican method of governance.

Just as an example, the rich, through the use of think-tanks in order to intellectually propagandize have sold the public a bill of goods on how taxation is theft, reducing their taxes dramatically in the process. However, there is a vital reason to tax the rich besides funding government services. The idea behind civic republicanism, which has been deliberately obfuscated, is that taxation is a means to prevent the rise of oligarchs. In a republic, citizens can be rich. But being ungovernably rich is a dire threat to the republic, as we can observe in our own milieu.

Then there’s the parallel tactic–the way in which neoliberal ideologues have defunded government over the last half century then turned around and ran against government dysfunction. It’s worked like a charm. Government has been degraded at every level while services have been privatized. In the process, our civic culture has coarsened while everything has gotten way more expensive.

Like I said–evil is dead easy.

Probably the main way in which this happened historically was when movement conservatives, like Murray Rothbard, deployed race as a cultural wedge issue in order to fracture the New Deal consensus. The Civil Right Act, the Federal attempt to integrate housing and busing, as a way to ameliorate segregated schools, were all attacked by white racism and supremacy as a means to animate their monopoly-tolerant, union-busting economic policy agenda.

Professor emeritus of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, Adolf Reed Jr. makes some excellent points about how this process has unfolded.

“The cycle of strategic pillaging of public goods that produced the Katrina disaster is by now well documented: Free-market ideologues neglect the public welfare for decades; they then privatize and starve out funding for public goods and services; and finally point to the resulting shortfalls in public-sector performance created by their handiwork as a rationale for cutting funding and neglecting these critical services and infrastructures even more…. The yearlong-and-counting Covid catastrophe bears similarly painful witness to the entirely predictable results of four decades’ worth of leaders blatantly and cynically discrediting government while also hollowing out the country’s social and physical infrastructure—very much including the anemic public health systems that prolonged and worsened the pandemic’s course…. The orchestrated mass forgetting of the idea of the public good reinforces the broader suspicion of government as a knee-jerk principle. And this distrust in turn ratchets up rampant vulnerability to the frighteningly solipsistic—if not nihilistic—notion of “rights” as unqualified individual entitlement expressed in anti-masking propaganda and gun rights absolutism. The long-running atrophy of the public good as a framework for governance also creates an enormous opening for malevolent conspiracy theories that at least offer internally consistent accounts of the sources of people’s anxieties and concerns and promise to resolve them—even if through a mass purge of the political opposition or an apocalyptic reckoning. That, indeed, is the big punch line here. The neoliberal regime of intensifying economic inequality may be exhausting its capacities—in this country and elsewhere—for delivering sufficient benefits to enough of the population to sustain a nominally democratic order.”

I saw a billboard the other day that got me thinking about how there’s even a political/economy of evil. It depicted a young African-American girl and extorted the value of Head Start as a way in which to make our society better. A noble sentiment but good rather than evil. However, the reality far too often is that instead of early education the young girl is shunted onto the prison pipeline. Now she becomes fodder for the prison/industrial/complex where working-class white men have job opportunities after their former manufacturing ones were off-shored to China. For the evil architects it’s win-win. Give these former factory workers employment while pitting blacks against whites like crabs in a bucket to preclude any sort of bi-racial class struggle.

Of course if we had a political party that actually believed in republican governance instead of one that played one on TV the present moment would be a marvelous opportunity to show that government can and should work for the American people. For the Democrats, stimulating the economy to create jobs building stuff would mean a better political environment in the 2022 and 2024 elections, while raising taxes on the rich and corporations that offshore jobs and profits would make it way more popular.

Just saying.

If we want a better world we need a way in which good can be a force-multiplier rather than evil. A good start would be to reimagine our early republican form of government. One of the great tragedies of American history is that we have allowed liberal capitalism to supplant civic republicanism as the primary driver of governance. 

It is not until people are reintegrated into the society, not until corporate and oligarchic control over our educational, political and media systems are removed, not until we recover the ethic of the common good, that we have any hope of rebuilding the positive social bonds that foster a healthy society. 

I have seen what can be done. My neighbor was elected to the school board where he’s become an advocate for poor and marginalized students and teachers. My other friend helps deliver food while his wife organizes to keep elderly pensioners in their homes.

It will not be easy. The most necessary organizing is difficult, unpaid, and largely unheralded. Working people are busy and tired and stressed out; why should they spend their free time doing something that will leave them even more drained as often as it energizes and restores them?

Unfortunately, we have no choice.

Update: That didn’t take long to find an example of my theory. It’s even more evil than I imagined.

“For example: “60% of Illinois’ prisoners are from Cook County (Chicago), yet 99% of them are counted outside the county.”

Pretty slick shit right? First you arrest predominantly Black people from large population centers that tend to vote Democrat. Next you cage them in more rural places where the prisons are thereby inflating that district’s raw representational power. Now areas who rely on prisons for jobs and power and wealth can have a leg up on passing legislation that will send more Black people into those same prisons in a massive feedback loop of disenfranchisement.”

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Why is it that we are led by sociopaths?

If we’re honest about our milieu it’s apparent that the commanding heights of business, politics and media are filled with sociopaths. It’s really not that hard to see and understand; there’s more than enough evidence to make it abundantly clear to anyone with the time and willingness to look. Especially after the sordidness of the Epstein saga where we learned that powerful intelligence agencies have been using child sex slaves to manipulate our society via blackmail.

I’ve been exploring this phenomenon with my focus on our feral elite and was hoping for improvement after the disaster of the Trump years. But watching the Biden crew lurch towards nuclear war with Russia and, or China it’s clear that this remains a major, if largely undiscussed, problem.

The corollary is why are there so few in power with a conscience?

Maybe it’s the way in which we organize our economy via neoliberal capitalism and the way in which we reward leaders of the dominant corporate actors? Though it’s more than just perverse incentives.

For example, it’s illegal for corporate executives to do the right thing, even if they wanted to: “The law forbids any motivation for their actions, whether to assist workers, improve the environment, or help consumers save money. They can do these things with their own money, as private citizens. As corporate officials, however, stewards of other people’s money, they have no legal authority to pursue such goals as ends in themselves – only as means to serve the corporations own interests, which generally means to maximise the wealth of its shareholders. Corporate social responsibility is thus illegal – at least when it’s genuine.”

Or, maybe it’s that instead of a peace-loving democracy the US is a violent world-wide empire who requires sociopaths to manage its affairs the same way in which McDonalds requires fry cooks?

Let’s look at one of the most egregious examples. Former National Security Advisor and literal psychopath John Bolton has a new opinion piece out in Foreign Policy titled “‘Bring the Troops Home’ Is a Dream, Not a Strategy“.

The fact that after all of the disastrously wrong policies he’s been responsible for Bolton still is afforded a platform to spew more of his foreign-policy “wisdom” says a lot about our true values. Rogue journalist, Caitlin Johnstone notes, “In an even remotely sane civilization, such a creature would be driven from every town he entered until he is forced to crawl into a cave for the rest of his miserable life eating bats alone in the darkness.” 

Unfortunately, Bolton is hardly an exception. Our country is led by a series of monsters. It’s not a bug but a feature. We are ruled by bad people. Simply replacing “bad people” with “good people” does not have a record of success, since the “good” quickly become “bad”.

If genuine social responsibility is illegal, it makes perfect sense that conscience is a threat to be stifled at every turn. In the 1930s, political analyst Rudolf Rocker wrote: ‘It is certainly dangerous for a state when its citizens have a conscience; what it needs is men without conscience… men in whom the feeling of personal responsibility has been replaced by the automatic impulse to act in the interests of the state.”

Rocker was writing about the Nazi’s, of course, but the same dynamic applies here.

Even those with a conscience have to continue to tolerate an increasingly dysfunctional, stagnant, yet predatory society. “Insecure people are much more willing to engage in desperate and crooked behavior than those who think they have less to lose. Increasingly, if you want to get and hang on to a middle class job, that job will involve dishonesty or exploitation of others in some way. It means tolerating or turning a blind eye to the deaths of despair of fellow Americans, even as they hustle desperately to try to ensure that they are not their deaths, or their children’s. Even for its current beneficiaries, the present system is a game of musical chairs. As time goes on, with each round, yet more chairs are yanked from the game.”

Meanwhile, because of the loss of unionized jobs, the real decline of wages, de-industrialization, chronic underemployment and unemployment, and punishing austerity programs, the country is plagued by a plethora of diseases of despair including opioid addictions, alcoholism, suicides, gambling, depression, morbid obesity and mass shootings.

For those of us who are increasingly appalled by the moral decay exhibited by some of our most powerful private sector operators which, naturally, lack any sort of democratic oversight, we quickly learn that attempting to effect change from within is usually a futile gesture.

It’s a sure bet that much of the mental illness in this country is borne by the the people who discovered, to their horror, that they work in the belly of the beast. I’ll bet there’s a lot of alcohol and substance abuse.

Anything to quiet or, better yet, disappear that pesky conscience.

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Tribal Narrative

I was joking about our putative leaders substituting PR for policy, but only slightly.

This is important because our whole worldview is constructed from narratives that we’ve decided are true.

The only problem for the powers that be is that after Trump the whole narrative thingy is wobbly. Americans have gotten to the point where their trust in the corporate media is at an all time low. The majority of people get that the news is at least somewhat bullshit; the problem is there’s no consensus on why. Is it incompetence? A liberal conspiracy? Or is it simply he plutocratic class, which owns the media, protecting its interests?

If you answered C give yourself a cookie.

As I’ve mentioned before my MO is to ignore the narrative and follow the money, weapons, resources and what our feral elite are really doing. Jeffrey Epstein, anyone?

However, I do seem to be an exception with most Americans lacking the time and diligence to make any sense of the world without their trusty tribal narratives to guide them. For instance, conservatives believe the narrative promulgated on FOX News, while liberals take their cues from CNN, MSNBC and the New York Times.

The Biden administration certainly appears to be following the tribal script, with the corporate media playing along.

Rouge journalist Matt Taibbi, has this to say about the efforts of the corporate media to massage the message. “With a partisan divide wedded to a hyper-concentrated landscape, commercial media companies can now sell almost any narrative they want. They can disappear the past with relative ease, and the present can be pushed whichever way a handful of key decision-makers thinks will sell best with audiences.”

The fact that the Biden administration is doing it rather than Trump seems to make all the difference in the world. This has so much been the story of Biden’s presidency, which is certainly less chaotic than Trump’s and does have some clearly different ambitions, but in many ways represents continuity with both his predecessor and his predecessor’s predecessor.

Unfortunately, we are entering an extremely dangerous period of world history, where the US, as the dominant world hegemon, is losing primacy and threatening war with Russia and China. In this super-charged atmosphere tribal narratives are extremely dangerous, emboldening the bi-partisan National Security State to play chicken with nuclear armed rivals, where any misunderstanding has the potential to end life on earth.

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The enemy within

I wonder why there’s an upsurge in anti-Asian bias, hatred and violence?

Maybe it has something to do with the demonization campaign against China that began in the Trump administration and carried into the Biden one?

I’m asking, because the corporate media won’t connect the dots, especially when they’ve been playing along.

Going further, this is another of those events that the elite political and media Poobah’s won’t discuss forthrightly because it casts them in a very unfavorable light.

The dirty little secret, which should be apparent to anyone with more of an attention span than a gnat, is that our corporate and political elite made a deal with the devil. They assured us that offshoring all of our manufacturing to China would be a win for everyone. It would lift millions of Chinese out of poverty, help democratize China’s autocratic government, and bring low, low prices to the American consumer. Besides, it was the inevitable fruits of “globalization”, so get over it hippy.

President Bill Clinton well described the elite view of the policy. “If the Senate votes as the House has just done, to extend permanent normal trade relations with China, it will open new doors of trade for America and new hope for change in China. Seven years ago, when I became president, I charted a new course for a new economy—a course of fiscal discipline, investment in our people and open trade. I have always believed that by opening markets abroad we open opportunities at home.”

To say “blowback” would seriously understate the affects of this Faustian bargain.

This “free trade” policy decimated America manufacturing in all kinds of critical areas, but, strangely enough, not banking or financial consulting. The geniuses that make policy gave away the key component of economic prosperity—manufacturing capacity. This “offshoring” of US manufacturing turned former prosperous areas into desolate “Rust Belts” and plunged the residents into a crisis of opioid addiction, spousal abuse, crime, and “deaths of despair”. It’s not too much to say that these policies helped bring about the election of Donald Trump, who campaigned against these ruinous “free trade” policies on his way to the White House.

But it did make Wall Street and corporate America fabulously wealthy by drastically reducing wages, so there’s that. In fact, the cynical part of me has come to believe that this wage arbitrage was the true reason for offshoring.

Only now, this short term, get rich scheme is really starting to bite. In all kinds of ways, but crucially in that whole empire–force projection ability. The US has seen its capacity to manufacture advanced weapon systems take a nose dive, as the performance of the vaunted F-35 fighter suggest. While still being able to produce some state-of-the-art platforms and enablers, such as signal processing, combat computer and communications networks, recon assets, in terms of actual weapons the United States has begun to lag behind Russia and China not just in years but in generations. As recent, February 2021, Congressional Budget Office report on missile defense admitted, the United States is defenseless against salvo of combination of new Russia’s cruise missiles and that there is nothing to stop them. 

Meanwhile, it has suddenly dawned on the leading lights of our defense and foreign policy “thinkers” that China is our number one peer competitor. Even worse, due to more of that all-America foreign policy acumen, the US has managed to unite the former enemies, with China’s immense manufacturing capacity and Russia’s advanced military might.

Great job, one and all.

We are endlessly exhorted to hate the Russians or the Chinese or the Iranians but the real enemy, when we stop and look past the propaganda, is our very own feral elite. These rapacious oligarchs are imposing more and more severe domestic austerity measures and relying on a racist, violent and increasingly militarized police force to bash its most impoverished populations into line rather than simply helping them. Instead of healthcare and spending on infrastructure to help our nation prosper they fund a nonstop propaganda campaign against evil foreigners so that they can wage endless wars for empire.

It’s not like this is a new concept. George Orwell wrote in 1984 that war’s purpose is to perpetuate hysteria, ignite anger and hatred, and control the population. Fear of a foreign enemy keeps the masses in control. By whipping up the hatred, the government keeps people’s focus outward.

It’s so much better for them that the American people focus on a foreign enemy rather than the enemy within.

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Build Back Better

We’ve been instructed for 40 odd years that there’s no alternative to neoliberalism when it comes to how we organize our economy, but the attempt by the Biden administration to enact an infrastructure spending program looks to challenge this sentiment.

It’s not like an infrastructure spending program isn’t desperately needed after decades of neglect, it’s just that we’ve advanced the neoliberal project of hollowing out government to such a degree that it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

For instance, how will the policy makers describe–intellectually–what they are trying to do?

It will be tempting to turn to US history with the New Deal and Great Society programs as a template. But any such gaze backwards will need to be tempered with a clear-eyed assessment of the shortcomings and historical anomalies of such programs. In other words, it’s not the 1930’s or even the 1960’s when the US was a much more rich, productive and blessed with an overabundance of natural resources.

We will also have to be cognizant of the actual political/economy of our present day country with its penchant for a permanent warfare state dominated by the military/industrial/complex and Wall Street. The notion that our government that’s waging nonstop disastrous wars and circling the planet with hundreds of military bases can spend money on “we the people” seems ludicrous.

We know, of course, where the Republicans stand on government after 40 odd years of describing it as the problem. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) told reporters that the $2.2 trillion plan that the White House unveiled Wednesday — which features major investments in infrastructure, climate measures and proposals to tackle inequality — “is not going to get support from our side.” He also reiterated his intention to oppose the broader Democratic agenda under Biden. “I’m going to fight them every step of the way because I think this is the wrong prescription for America.”

Republicans are also predictably opposed to the tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy that are included to pay for the plan. But, without the tax hikes to pay for the plan, the plan would likely be paid for by adding to the federal deficit, which Republicans have renewed their concerns about with Democrats in charge.

At this point it’s obvious that Republicans aren’t opposed to socialism per se but only socialism that benefits poor people and minoritiesSocialism for farmers and industrialists is just fine as far as they are concerned.

Sadly to say the Republican view has become the norm. Like I stated at the the beginning, we’ve been so far down the road of neoliberalism, with it’s penchant for privatization and financialization of infrastructure to even envision an alternative. Which sucks because the way in which government funded infrastructure before is what made America the envy of the world. It was a mode of economic development that represented the notion that any rent-yielding resource – banking, land, natural resources and natural infrastructure monopolies – should be in the public domain to provide basic needs to everybody – freely.

The impulse goes back to economists like Simon Patten who believe that to have a true free market the state needs to subsidize infrastructure to keep costs down, rather than having powerful monopolies enacting tollbooths at critical chokepoints. Patten said that public infrastructure is a fourth factor of production. But its role isn’t to make a profit. It’s to lower the cost of public services and basic inputs to lower the cost of living and lower the cost of doing business to make the economy more competitive.

The alternative way simply is to privatise these ‘public goods’ (as in the US), where they are provided at a financialized maximum cost – including interest rates, dividends, management fees, and corporate manipulations for financial gain. Presently our economy has become debt-driven, hyper-financialised, yet stagnant, making it hard to create a new business or spend money into the economy.

Debt eats us alive. Think about it: the biggest element in anyone’s budget today is housing at 40%, which simply reflects high house prices, based on a debt-fuelled market. Suppose too, you have low-cost public education. Well then, you are rid of education-led debt, and its interest cost. Suppose you have public healthcare, and low priced transport infrastructure. Then you would have the capacity to spend – It becomes a low-cost economy, and consequently it would grow.

Crazy talk, I know.

Going further, it’s been a long time since the U.S. was even a capitalist economy; it’s hardly even a market economy today. It has become, more and more, a rentier economy, dominated by financial interests controlled by the 1%.

Which brings us to the crux of the issue with the infrastructure proposal. Any such plan must be coordinated within an industrial policy that all advanced economies operate by. Critics of US economic policies lament that the country doesn’t have an industrial policy but they are missing the obvious. Every economy is planned it’s just that ours is planned by Wall Street, with its short term focus on next quarter’s bonuses.

Even if it was only up to the Democrat’s it appears that we are fucked. Because they’ve transitioned from a party that represented and wide panoply of American workers to one that represents the professional/managerial/class, there are serious problems with Biden’s infrastructure program, which ultimately doesn’t offer a realistic framework to upgrade America’s decaying infrastructure, revitalize U.S. manufacturing, and create the kinds of high-quality jobs that Biden promised to provide during his campaign. 

Instead, economist Marshall Aurerback, says that the new plan is a dog’s breakfast of neoliberalism and “woke” placebo reforms that avoid a lot of hard choices that might offend the party’s main constituencies. The historic, broadly based New Deal majoritarian coalition is no more. Today the Democratic Party exists to expand employment opportunities for college-educated, socially “woke” professionals, while adding new goodies for the personal needs of the professional managerial class. 

From the slogan that they have chosen it seems that Biden and the members of his team learned a valuable lesson from their time in the Obama administration. Don’t do better policy when you can do better PR.

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