The target audience

 

Lately I’ve come to the conclusion that the really good propaganda is aimed at a liberal audience, because conservatives already (generally) agree with the message being promulgated by the corporate-media, that of favoring the interests of capital over labor, a robust US empire, and man’s dominion over both woman and nature.

Liberals, on the other hand, need to be reassured that going along with neoliberal economic policies and neoconservative foreign policies is the moral thing to do, and that moreover, our plutocratic owners really do care about homosexuals, or people of color, or feminists, or the environment. Going further, isn’t that a pretty fair description of the liberal propaganda campaign based around the identity politics which have replaced the class-based politics formerly practiced by the Democratic Party?

For the liberal propaganda complex Trump has been a godsend. Liberal hatred of Trump is so extreme that the NPR listening, New York Times reading, liberal is willing to go along with almost anything in opposition to the hated president. Russia-gate is the ultimate example of this phenomenon, where liberal hatred of Trump has intensified a new Cold War against Russia, where one miscalculation could end life on earth.

For me, there’s been a silver lining. Trump and the liberal hatred he’s engendered has confirmed that the liberal mass media acts as powerful supporters of the status quo, while they’ve been forced to drop the pretence that they are impartial, independent and progressive. This process has resulted in the so-called liberal media getting weirder and more desperate by the day. Not since the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq have we seen mainstream media outlets aggressively pushing the conventional wisdom narrative, while relentlessly censoring alternative viewpoints.

Along those lines, “fake news” has come to define any anti-establishment narrative that challenges the pro-neoliberal consensus that favors predatory financial capitalism, privatization of government services, and endless wars of aggression. “Fake news” is now a pejorative being hurled at any of us who are  critical of western governments and media, and who expresses skepticism of establishment narratives around 9/11, Syria, and Russia, Iran, etc. “Fake news” has become a key part of the frantic urgency that we are seeing from the establishment propaganda machine that is nothing other than an attempt to regain control of the narrative.

Today, the ultimate thought crime is doubting the official narrative.

Worst of all for the powers-that-be is that distrust of the official narrative is spreading. In France we’ve been seeing uncontrollable protesters from across the political spectrum, and activists writing “We’ve chopped off heads for less than this” in graffiti on the Arc de Triomphe, which you can be certain has caught the attention of our rulers.

Never forget that the corporate mass media uses the power of narrative to determine what the public believes in order to keep them from rebelling against a elite status quo. Without this propaganda assist the plutocrats that control the US state would not be able to rule.

Once upon a time truth was considered to be the best defense for propaganda. During the Cold War there was little effort to silence Soviet propaganda. Anybody could listen to Radio Moscow, read Soviet newspapers or anything else. We didn’t worry too much: truth was the best defence. But the USSR did worry and it spent enormous efforts jamming Western broadcasts.

The corporate media is losing credibility by the day and the reason is simple–the side that’s blocking the other side is afraid of the truth, it’s afraid of dissent, it’s afraid of freedom.

 

 

 

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Better villains, please

 

If we’re going to be an evil empire, can’t we at least have more competent villains?

Take former Secretary of State, and recent unsuccessful presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. In an interview she bemoaned how the surge of immigrants to Europe was contributing to the popularity of right-wing populism.

What, perchance does Madam Secretary think caused the influx of immigrants to Europe?

Maybe it was the wars and regime-change operations directed by the US against Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, while Clinton was Secretary of State?

And what of American fortunes in the wake of of our decades long Middle-Eastern misadventures?

I think that a complete and utter cluster-fuck would be a generous assessment. U.S. military actions since 9/11 have been poorly conceived, poorly enacted, poorly explained and produced clearly negative results both overseas and domestically. It’s difficult to find a part of the world where an actual American interest is being served by Washington’s foreign and global security policies. Going further, a national security policy that sees enemies everywhere has made nuclear war thinkable once again.

The fact that no one is the media or political class is even talking about that terrible danger suggests that war has become an acceptable foreign policy option for the White House, Congress, and the media. Which brings us to George W. Bush, and how this very same pro-war consensus has succeeded in returning the former president to respectability, while adding him to the pantheon of #Resistance hero’s, all the while airbrushing away the fact that Bush and his gang of neocons are largely responsible for much of the mayhem that we see in the Middle-East today.

And what discussion of incompetent villains would be complete without Donald Trump?

To be fair it wasn’t all Trump fault. He had a lot of help. Going back to the transition period between the outgoing Barack Obama and the incoming Trump, everything imaginable was done to poison Trump’s early days as President. Take Russia-gate. The idea that Trump and Putin could establish normal relations was anathema to the deep state actors that have dogged Trump’s presidency. He’s been bogged down ever since.

Making matters worse, Trump has retained the same crew of neocons who can’t-shoot-straight to mismanage his foreign policy, although at this point it’s become obvious that the neocons only have one move when confronted with failure–double-down. We’re witnessing this doubling-down with the recent adventures of Ukraine attempting, no doubt with ample neocon encouragement, to draw Russia into a shooting war in the Kerch Straight.

Luckily, the Commission on National Defense Strategy for the US has just released to Congress its report “Providing for the Common Defense”. The report’s co-chairs, Eric S. Edelman and Gary Roughead, say in their accompanying letter to Congress, that “the United States will soon face a national security emergency.” It doesn’t describe that emergency, but uses the report to argue that defense spending needs to soar while Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other entitlements need to shrink, so that  this so-called emergency can be dealt with. Essentially, what they’re saying is that the weapons-manufacturers and soldiers need more money, and that this military requirement is an emergency but other federal spending is not.

I’m sure you never saw that coming? I’m also pretty sure the expansion of empire, contra to Trump’s campaign promises won’t  go over well with the MAGA faithful.

For the rest of us the only thing providing any hope at all is the sheer incompetence of Trump’s crazy-train. With a cast of villains featuring John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and Nikki Haley, while starring Donald Trump in the role of a lifetime, this thing can’t go anywhere except down.

 

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The Colossus

 

Amazon has become the most powerful economic actor, a veritable colossus astride our Republic. The recent reports about the ubiquitous online merchant’s search for a new headquarters only reinforce this perception. After a long process, Amazon finally announced that it will locate its new headquarters in New York and Virginia. Moving Amazon closer to America’s political and financial capitals just emphasizes the ongoing co-mingling of state and corporate power. And Amazon wants what all corporations really want from government–protection, tax breaks, loopholes and contracts.

Amazon owner, Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest man, with a net worth of perhaps $130 billion, and most of his money comes from selling to the vast consumer market via the internet. His company also gets direct public subsidy in the form of a sweetheart deal with the U.S. Postal Service, big defense contracts, and most recently, huge bribes from Virginia and New York to locate its new headquarters there.

Americans used to have a strong distrust of concentrated economic power. The Boston Tea Party is a case in point. Dumping the tea overboard was as much an attack against the hated East India Company as it was against the British Government. At the start of the 20th Century the populist uprising against Standard Oil was led by farmers and small business owners who were harmed economically by the firm’s monopolistic practices.

These days, cheap prices, fast delivery, and easy returns seem to trump such concerns about economic fairness. This has been an ongoing process where retailers like Walmart drove local competitors out of business and destroyed regional economies, but Amazon has definitely taken it to a new level.

Matt Stoller, Policy Director at the Open Markets Institute, discusses the costs of Amazon’s power. “Fundamentally, Amazon is simply too powerful. It isn’t just about subsidies. It isn’t just that merchants, or local businesses, or warehouse workers, or communities are being mistreated or misled. It’s that Amazon has so much power over our political economy that it can acquire government-like functions itself. It controls elected officials, acquired the power to tax, and works with government to avoid sunshine laws. It’s time to recognize the truth about this company. Two-day shipping might be really convenient, but at least in its current form, Amazon and democracy are incompatible.”

Amazon’s role as cloud provider for the CIA, and Jeff Bezos ownership of the Washington Post should also provide pause. No population genuinely worried about abuses of power would even countenance placing a single private company in control of securing the data of both the intelligence community and the armed services. Add putting a major media organ or two under the same umbrella and you’re beginning to enter historical territory. In the 1930s the merging of the state and corporations contributed to the rise of fascism. Alarmingly, we are experimenting again with a monopolized economy.

Not only has Amazon’s massive presence corrupted and deformed our representative democracy, but Amazon represents a larger trend that brought about the populist sentiment that has flummoxed our elite. I fully believe that online shopping is an essential part our new gig economy that’s responsible for so much of the despair that’s simultaneously driving the opioid epidemic. Many of Amazon’s products are sourced from China and sometimes assembled by slave labor, shipped to US warehouses where non-unionized workers sort packages, then finally delivered by stressed-out drivers.

Amazon is emblematic of this new economic arrangement where most working-class Americans have not benefited from our booming economy, while the fruits of which have gone almost entirely to the richest 10 percent. For the bottom half of the population, income has scarcely budged since the 1970s, while expenses for necessities like housing, health care, education, and child care have skyrocketed. And the growing awareness of that inequality fed the populist passion that, when twisted and distorted, produced the election of Donald J. Trump.

Sharpening the despair of the working-class, especially as the holidays approach, are the ubiquitous Amazon commercials showing the cornucopia of products that are out of reach to them and their children.

Amazon remains popular with American consumers due to it’s convenience and price. But, like Walmart, much of the cost is hidden, subsidized, or misleading, and as the old saying goes–you get what you pay for.

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Everyone’s a Winner

 

On Veterans Day George W. Bush and his wife Laura were given the $100,000 Liberty Medal by Joe Biden at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center for their work with veterans.

You can’t make this shit up.

Lately I’ve come up with a modified Kubler-Ross model to cope with our fucked-up milieu. In my model: there’s outrage, then anger, then satire, then finally, acceptance.

For instance, if there was scintilla of justice, Bush, along with his neocon flunkies, would have been hauled before a war criminal tribunal, convicted, and be rotting in prison. There is a precedent. After World War II, Nuremberg Chief-Justice Robert Jackson stated that–“the planning, initiating and waging of aggressive war is the supreme crime against humanity.” 

Don’t be silly.

Bush is completely immune from any charge of war crimes. After all, he’s simply carrying out US foreign policy. If you’ll recall, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright informed us about the psychotic nature of these policies, we she stated “we think the price is worth it, when asked about U.S. sanctions against Iraq, which killed over a half million children.

Meanwhile, Trump has caused liberals to lose their minds, so Bush gets a medal.

See how I moved seamlessly from outrage to anger to satire to acceptance? You try it.

Anyway, it appears that Donald Trump has the amazing effect of sanitizing all that came before him. However, even corporate flacks like the NYT’s Maureen Dowd are starting to sound concerned that this is going too far.

“He’s such a menace that it’s tempting to cheer any vituperative critic and grab any handy truncheon. But villainizing Trump should not entail sanitizing other malefactors.

And we should acknowledge that the president is right on one point: For neocons, journalists, authors, political hacks and pundits, there is a financial incentive to demonize the president, not to mention an instant halo effect. Only Trump could get the pussy-hat crowd to fill Times Square to protest Jeff Sessions’s firing.

We make the president the devil spawn and he makes us the enemy of the people and everybody wins. Or do they? To what extent is lucrative Trump hysteria warping our discourse?”

Bush, it should be remembered, was the figurehead of the claque of neoconservatives who directed the military occupation of the oil-rich nations of the Middle-East, starting with Iraq, under the comical justification of spreading democracy. Looking back at the death and destruction, it’s hard to believe just how badly conceived and ineptly implemented their plan was. Indeed, the neocon’s long-term goals are definitely out of reach, and at this point their entire scheme–along with the US military and economic presence in the Middle-East–stands on the brink of catastrophic failure.

For all the disbelief and criticism of Trump’s surprising victory, the factor that seems to have been downplayed is that much of his support came from areas of the country that have suffered from the endless deployments. Trump repeatedly denounced the invasion of Iraq as a disaster and said during a February 2016 debate, “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none.”

After 17 years of endless war in the Middle East, we are mired in more conflicts while the majority of the American population suffers from economic distress. It seems like no matter how much the establishment and the media choose to ignore the endless wars, they seem to go on and on and on, claiming more and more lives. But, here’s the thing. The violence doesn’t stay in the Middle-East. The recent shooting in California, close to where the wildfires erupted, was perpetrated by a veteran suffering from PTSD, thanks to his experience in our never-ending wars.

Lately, I’ve come to think that the conservative critique of political correctness doesn’t go far enough. The real problem is not entitled Gen-X students who get an award because everyone else got one. Instead, it’s our entire sociopathic elite cadre who’ve gotten awards, bonuses and lucrative paydays for fucking-up everything. From Bush and his Liberty Medal, to little-fucking-Timmy getting his big payday for bailing out the banksters, to Purdue Pharma marketing an antidote to their opioids, our feral-elite are the winners, while the rest of us are the losers.

 

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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda…

 

If we had a real opposition party, you know–one with real alternative policy proposals–said party would have won the midterms in a landslide. Recent history has demonstrated that American voters are willing to support any candidate that offers an alternative to the same old neoliberal-economic-bullshit and endless war.

In 2016 President Donald Trump was elected on a platform of dealing with domestic crises raging from economic ruin and impoverishment from corporate off-shoring of US manufacturing to an out of control drug and opioid abuse epidemic brought about by these economic policies. Trump’s surprising victory was also predicated on opposition to the previous US policies of unsuccessful nation-building and government-toppling projects ranging from Iraq to Afghanistan and since extended into such nations as Ukraine, Syria, and Libya.

Unfortunately, as Trump’s proposals– to reform the trade policies that have hollowed out American manufacturing by sending jobs to China; and to change US foreign policies of regime-change, while improving relations with Russia, have foundered, the Democrats have wasted two years screeching about Russia-gate. Domestically the Democrats have failed to provide an alternative for Trump’s trickle-down economic nostrums and counterproductive tariffs. In the midterms the DNC is running a record number of former military and intelligence officers as candidates.

At this point I think it’s safe to conclude that the DNC intends to ignore the enormous popularity of Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign policy proposals, and that this behavior is a feature rather than a bug.

I think it’s also obvious to conclude that both parties support an oligarchic agenda, only that the Democrats have a tougher PR problem. Republicans can be straight up about their wealth-humping, whereas Democrats have to disguise it with opposition towards racism and other forms of bigotry, because their wealthy benefactors could give-a-fuck if gay people can marry as long as Democrats bail out bankers and support more wars.  That both parties support the same oligarchic agendas which absolutely clobber their disadvantaged supporters first and worst goes unmentioned by either side.

Despite the fact of both parties being in the thrall of their wealthy supporters, surveys consistently demonstrate that Americans favor much more progressive policies than our plutocratic political parties offer.

Like ending our forever wars? In the run-up to the “historic midterms” neither party had a thing to say a thing about American foreign policy, the nation’s ongoing wars, or the exploding, record defense budget.

Or, single-payer healthcare? While, Trump is accusing Democrats of wanting to impose socialism, and he uses single-payer healthcare, also known as Medicare for All, Democrats are still stuck defending Obamacare, while most of the developed countries around the world have single-payer systems, offering better healthcare outcomes.

After the elections results, it appears that our future will be a ongoing stalemate between the parties, with the Democrats controlling the House, while the Republicans control the Senate and Presidency.

With the sheer venality of both parties, I think it’s probably the best we can hope for.

Though largely unmentioned in the corporate press, the current impasse and incoherent policies put forth by both parties are hastening the end of the US empire.

The vision of Nero fiddling while Rome burns come to mind.

 

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Told You So

 

As Russia-gate staggers to the finish it’s becoming increasingly clear that what I warned about two years ago has come to pass.

The narrative that our president is controlled by Putin has brought about a new and more dangerous Cold War, that threatens to turn hot any day with NATO war exercises on the doorstep of Russia, the withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and daily confrontations in Syria between the two nuclear-armed superpowers. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists recently reset the doomsday clock to 2 minutes to midnight. 

Meanwhile, none of the investigations arising from the Russia-gate conspiracy theory have turned up a single shred of evidence that Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government to rig the 2016 election.

I still believe that Russia-gate has been used precisely to attack Trump for his peace overtures to Russia while encouraging him to be confrontational as a means of disproving it.

Going further, I told you so, and warned that this is exactly what would happen.

What’s so infuriating is that even though the Russia-gaters were wrong, they’ve done tremendous damage. Thank’s a lot. I survived one Cold War, and this time we may not get so lucky.

In addition, all the shrill, demented screeching about Russia has allowed for a complete lack of accountability for the Democratic Party’s brazen election rigging, a total marginalization of real problems and progressive agendas, and the debasement of our political discourse. For example, liberals need to look in the mirror with their dire warnings of hate speech. You can’t accuse Trump of treason and call for his assassination then sit there as if the dangerous escalation in poisonous rhetoric is all his fault.

Then, there’s the sheer dishonesty of the accusations. For all the talk about Trump being some kind of neo-fascist, Putin-puppet it’s clear at this point that he’s simply continuing the policies of our last two presidents–Bush and Obama.

The establishment elite that instigated Russia-gate have done our nation and the Democratic Party a great disservice with their diversion, while turning liberals into frothing McCarthyites, calling for a Deep State coup.

Indeed, the reasons for Russia-gate were spelled out from the beginning. A journalistic insider’s account of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, Shattered, revealed that “in the days after the election, Hillary declined to take responsibility for her own loss.” Her top advisers were summoned the following day, according to the book, “to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up … Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”

From the moment of Trump’s surprise victory, liberals have been in denial about why Hillary lost. Today they are still cobbling together a narrative of how Russia attacked our democracy despite the ongoing lack of proof. In the process they’ve actively resurrected George W. Bush’s reputation and the neocons who lied us into the invasion of Iraq, all because they can’t admit that Obama was a guardian of elitist interests, and Hillary an atrocious candidate.

Of course, there’s another reason for the durability of Russia-gate. For the corporate media, Trump has been fabulous for the bottom line, and Russia-gate can be understood as the ultimate expression of Trump-hate, which is the corporate media’s business model. Think about it–why has the media’s been relentlessly focused on a made-up story about collusion with Russians, for which a special counsel with unlimited budget and resources hasn’t found any proof after two whole years?

Here’s a prediction–they won’t find any.

If Russia had actually hacked the DNC e-mails then the National Security Agency (NSA) would have had proof of such activity. In fact, the NSA could have tracked such activity. But they did not do that. And, while this eavesdropping may have not been admissible in court, you can bet your bottom dollar that the deep state mavens that hold such antipathy towards Trump would have leaked the proof to their stenographers at the Washington Post.

As signs point to Mueller’s investigation wrapping up in the near future without turning up any evidence that Trump colluded with the Russian government, it’s time for everyone who helped advance this toxic, suicidal anti-Russia narrative to ask themselves a question. Was it worth it to pursue a crusade to oust Trump even at the cost of escalating tensions with a nuclear superpower that could lead to a conflict that would end life on earth?

Or, maybe it’s time to shut-the-fuck-up and rethink your entire worldview?

 

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Return to Sender

 

Crimes committed on the periphery of empire always return to the homeland.

Always.

Following this logic, perhaps the pipe bombs mailed to George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Barak Obama are not from a Trump supporter like the media has been implying but from someone who has been on the receiving end of the drone strikes and regime change operations our ruling class uses to discipline the restless natives?

So far none of the pipe bombs have exploded, but that hasn’t stopped the #Resistance and the corporate media from freaking-the-fuck-out.

In fact, it’s probably a good thing that none of the bombs have exploded like the ordinance we’re happy to lob around in the name of freedom and, of course, peace. Imagine if our elite were targeted by the drones and bombers that we use to attack people in Third World countries every single day?

In the reporting on the targets of the pipe bombs, there’s been no mention of the reasons some malcontent might want to attack Obama, Clinton and Soros, though it’s hardly a secret.

Our Nobel Peace President dropped 26,171 bombs in the final year of his presidency, and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was so overjoyed by Moammar Gaddafi being sodomized by a bayonet that she cackled–“We came we saw, he died,” on national TV. Soros, despite being depicted by the right as some sort of communist-over-lord for his support of Move On and the Democratic Party, is actually little different that the average neocon with his penchant for regime change and hybrid-warfare via his Open Society Foundation.

The pipe bomb story has had a salutary effect for our Middle-East allies Saudi Arabia and Israel, who are thrilled to see the story of  Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered and cut to piece on the direct orders of Saudi ruler Mohammad bin Salman, bumped off the front pages.

The pipe bomb story has also had a salutary effect on military/industrial stalwarts like Boeing, Lockheed-Martin and Raytheon, who’ve been overjoyed to see focus shift away the fact that the US is providing weapons, fuel, and targeting intel for our allies the Saudi’s, who’ve been busy bombing buses filled with children in Yemen.

For instance—

 

 

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