Hack the narrative

 

A new report challenges the conventional narrative of 9/11.

Although you probably didn’t see it or hear about it on corporate media, a research team at the University of Alaska’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, led by Dr. Leroy Hulsey, Dr. Zhili Quan, and Professor Feng Xiao, Department of Civil Engineering, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, released yesterday for public comment their findings from a four-year study of the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on September 11, 2001.  This is the first scientific investigation of the collapse of the building.   

The study, currently available as a draft, concluded that “uncontrolled building fires” did not lead the building to fall into its footprint — tumbling more than 100 feet at the rate of gravity free-fall for 2.5 seconds of its seven-second collapse — as has officially been claimed. Instead, the study — authored by Dr. J. Leroy Hulsey, Dr. Feng Xiao and Dr. Zhili Quan — found that “fire did not cause the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11, contrary to the conclusions of NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology] and private engineering firms that studied the collapse,” while also concluding “that the collapse of WTC 7 was a global [i.e., comprehensive] failure involving the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building.”

Amazing. 18 years after the fateful day and we still don’t know what happened. All we have to go on is the official narrative. You know–Sunni terrorists armed with boxcutters managed to highjack jetliners then fly them through the most heavily guarded airspace on the planet and into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Within hours of the attack, Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network were blamed for conceiving, planning, financing and coordinating the attacks.

Coincidentally, the attacks on 9/11 provided a casus belli for the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative think-tank directed by William Kristol and Robert Kagan. PNAC recommended taking advantage of the defeat of communism to reinforce American hegemony by preventing the emergence of any rival. In its September 2000 report entitled Rebuilding America’s Defenses, PNAC anticipated that US forces must become “able to rapidly deploy and win multiple simultaneous large-scale wars.” Unfortunately, according to the authors of the report, “the process of transformation […] is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.”

What an amazing coincidence. Since the attacks on 9/11, the neoconservatives have been able to wage multiple, simultaneous wars across the Middle-East, turning the region into a caldron of failed states. It’s almost like they were following the Yinon Plan, or something. Which brings us to the elephant in the room–Israel. The neocons are a small group of ideologues. Most are allied with Israel. Some are dual-citizens. Since the late 1970’s the neocons have  created an ideology of American world hegemony, specifying that the chief goal of US foreign policy is to prevent the rise of any other power that could check US unilateralism. A key strategic objective of this policy is to fracture and balkanize the Middle-East.

Mission Accomplished.

Of course to maintain this ongoing narrative of the endless war-on-terror mandated by the attacks of 9/11 requires the aid of the corporate media but with all the investigative reporters holding our elite accountable that would prove impossible, right?

Oh, wait.

The corporate media has already told so many whoppers that anyone who believes them at this point is an idiot.

Still, the propaganda and censorship have only increased since Trump’s surprise election, with the corporate media labeling anything that deviates from their official narrative as “fake news.”

However, as evidence continues to mount that the official narrative is irrational, it becomes ever more clear that the reason for this media campaign is to prevent legitimate questions about 9/11 from receiving the scrutiny they deserve, even smearing victims’ families and ailing first responders to do so. “Never Forget” has become nearly synonymous with “Never question the official narrative.”

Yet, this 9/11 anniversary — with a new study demolishing the official narrative on WTC 7, with a new poll showing that more than half of Americans doubt the government narrative on WTC 7, and with firefighters who responded to 9/11 calling for a new investigation — is it still “crazy” to be skeptical of the official story?

Remember that everything we think we know is simply narrative.

Hack the narrative.

Update: No matter how hard the deep state tries to resurrect Russia-gate with a bullshit story about a spy in Putin’s inner retinue, the reality is that no country meddles more in our affairs that our erstwhile ally–Israel. Going further, there is much evidence that Israel was deeply involved in 9/11. See herehere and here.

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IBDYBD

 

The looming threat of global weirding has made it apparent that both our political parties are death cults and, despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, money is their only true value.

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention ideology, where the Republicans have gone so far down the path of government is the problem and never the solution while the Democrats have embraced neoliberal privatization, but it’s still mostly money with GOP receiving the bulk of their campaign funding from fossil fuel interests and the DNC disallowing debate on the real national security issue so as to not upset their financial backers.

“The DNC Doesn’t Want a Climate Debate for a Reason” [Jacobin]. “While tech money is important, the biggest donors to the DNC in the 2020 cycle are overwhelmingly financial companies, whether hedge funds, private equity, or more traditional investment management. Obviously, most of these firms want to be able to continue to invest in fossil fuels as well as in companies looting the Amazon. Such companies are run by — and depend on the continued existence of — the very rich, our planet’s biggest liability. (Not only do they create immense pollution through private jets and multiple homes, the rich also support such lifestyles through immensely planet-ravaging investments.) The finance class does not want to hear plain talk about solutions to climate change; in many cases, they are getting rich from destroying the planet and do not wish to stop doing this. That’s probably why DNC head Tom Perez called the idea of a climate debate ‘dangerous.’ The DNC also seems to be trying to avoid two likely outcomes of a climate debate: Joe Biden looking bad and Bernie Sanders looking good.”

Last week Bernie Sanders released his version of the Green New Deal—a $16.3 trillion 10-year plan to get down to zero carbon in the power industry and in transportation. Immediately, the Democratic neoliberal establishment and corporate media decried it as “too expensive,” not “realistic” and not “prudent.” Just as they had with other proposals that would have averted the certain physical and fiscal disaster that climate change will cause.

In a sense, these groups are even more dangerous than the deniers in the Republican Party’s camp. As evidence that climate change is happening now piles up, the deniers are increasingly like Ike Turner who says, “Who you gonna believe? Your lying eyes or me?”

Unfortunately, it really is “all about the Benjamins”, with both parties trying to hold onto a system that is literally killing us, even as they and their billionaire backers prosper.

But why do we have to resort to such radical action? Why not a more “realistic” or “prudent” one?

The reason is because “realists” have been aiding and abetting climate deniers with appeals to slow walk the implementation of solutions for decades now. And every year the danger grows while the costs have skyrocketed. What’s become apparent is that most of these “realists”—including the DNC, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the neoliberal Democrats—seem more concerned with campaign contributions than they are with the safety of the American people.

This brings us face to face with the real problem in our society–the moderates. Since the demise of Russia-gate the corporate media has been replete with scary stories of right-wing extremists threatening our precious democracy, but it’s the moderates of both parties that we should fear. Of course, this is nothing new. During the first Cold War, C. Wright Mills wrote of a “crackpot realism”, where bi-partisan US foreign policy mandarins evoked national security to continue policies that posed the real danger of ending life on earth.

Sound familiar?

Indeed, both parties are set up to divert anger while pursuing the very same policies that have gotten us to this point.

Meanwhile, neoliberal policymakers and other elites in the US have developed a language and ideology to justify doing everything and anything possible to avoid any responsibility for the coming collapse and the global chaos it will cause. Among the more jaded of the financial profession they have a saying that really encapsulates this morality. “I’ll be dead, you’ll be dead” (IBDYBD), so don’t worry.

 

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Shameless

 

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Mitt Romney, Mittens as I like to call him, represents everything that’s wrong with our modern day financialized economy.

However, Mittens, who recently spoke out against the “socialist agenda” of the Democratic presidential candidates while touting himself as a different kind of Republican, appears shameless about his contributions.

Mitten’s, as you might remember, made his fortune in the Private Equity (PE) business working for Bain Capital.

PE harkens back to the robber baron days, where financiers deploy unregulated dark-pools of money to make fortunes buying, restructuring and selling companies. They typically seek to recoup gains through dividend pay-outs or later sales of the companies to strategic acquirers or back to the public markets through initial public offerings.

What’s become apparent is that private equity is also a neoliberal-economic/political movement whose goal has been to financialize the American economy to the detriment of the vast majority of Americans who work for a living. In the process private equity has transformed corporations from institutions that utilize workers and capital for the purpose of production into extractive institutions designed solely to shift cash to owners and abandon the rest. Like much of our political economy, the ideas behind it were developed in the early 1970s, blueprinted presciently by the Powell Memo. The key takeaway from this transformation is that it encouraged the wholesale looting of our economy for the benefit of PE firms and ultimately Wall Street.

The takeover of Toys “R” Us offers a good example of how PE goes about looting a company that it has acquired. Bain Capital, KKR, and Vornado Realty Trust bought the public company in 2005, loading it up with debt. By 2007, though Toys “R” Us was still an immensely popular toy store, the company was spending 97% of its operating profit on debt service. Bain, KKR, and Vornado were technically the ‘owners’ of Toys “R” Us, but they were not liable for any of the debts of the company, or the pensions. Periodically, Toys “R” Us would pay fees to Bain and company, roughly $500 million in total. The toy store stopped innovating, stopped taking care of its stores, and cut costs as aggressively as possible so it could continue the payout. In 2017, the company finally went under, liquidating its stores and firing all of its workers without severance. A lot of people assume Amazon or Walmart killed Toys “R” Us, but it was selling massive numbers of toys until the very end. What destroyed the company was private equity, and public policies that allowed the divorcing of ownership from responsibility.

The ownership of corporations by private equity also creates perverse incentives across industries. For instance, if a certain kind of price gouging strategy works in a pharmaceutical company, a PE firm can replicate the strategy, buying up other companies and engaging in monopoly pricing. We can observe this phenomenon in the Military/Industrial/Complex, where Transdigm embodies this role, buying up aerospace spare parts makers with pricing power and jacking up prices, in effect spreading corrupt contracting arbitrage against the Pentagon much more rapidly than it would have spread otherwise.

Indeed, PE firms appear to be the living, breathing embodiment of Gresham’s law, where “bad money drives out good.”

Yet, this is the value we celebrate in America, where financial looters are feted on TV and elected to national positions of power. It’s hardly an accident that we find ourselves in a bad place.

Every economy is a planned one. Our choice going forward is between an extractive economy managed by private equity and Wall Street looters or a productive economy managed by we-the-people through our elected officials.

Update: Both parties are beholden to finance.

“The DNC Doesn’t Want a Climate Debate for a Reason” [Jacobin]. “While tech money is important, the biggest donors to the DNC in the 2020 cycle are overwhelmingly financial companies, whether hedge funds, private equity, or more traditional investment management. Obviously, most of these firms want to be able to continue to invest in fossil fuels as well as in companies looting the Amazon. Such companies are run by — and depend on the continued existence of — the very rich, our planet’s biggest liability. (Not only do they create immense pollution through private jets and multiple homes, the rich also support such lifestyles through immensely planet-ravaging investments.) The finance class does not want to hear plain talk about solutions to climate change; in many cases, they are getting rich from destroying the planet and do not wish to stop doing this. That’s probably why DNC head Tom Perez called the idea of a climate debate ‘dangerous.’ The DNC also seems to be trying to avoid two likely outcomes of a climate debate: Joe Biden looking bad and Bernie Sanders looking good.”

 

 

 

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Unworthy

 

Wow! I leave for a week and everything blows up.

Not only did the stock market crash but Jeffery Epstein committed suicide.

I’m sure that no one saw that coming?

Maybe it was a coincidence for the most valuable prisoner in America to kill himself, or maybe he was murdered to halt an investigation into some of the most wealthy and powerful people on earth. Decide for yourself.

What’s been bizarre is the reaction of the corporate media to any suggestion that there might have been foul play in Epstein’s death. They immediately labeled anyone who doubted the official storyline a conspiracy theorist.

Jeffrey Epstein: How conspiracy theories spread after financier’s death” reads a BBC headline. “Epstein Suicide Conspiracies Show How Our Information System Is Poisoned” reads one from the New York Times. “Conspiracy Theories Fly Online in Wake of Epstein Death” warns The Wall Street Journal. “Financier Epstein’s Death Disappoints Victims, Launches Conspiracy Theories” reads the headline from US government-funded Voice of America.

What’s infuriating is that this term–conspiracy theorist–is reserved for those of us who question the official narrative as promulgated by the corporate media. It seems that conspiracy theory is how they characterizes any narrative that differs from their reporting of the establishment storyline.

But the Epstein story is so sick and twisted that it defies all attempts at narrative control. For instance, for almost two decades, for some unknown reason, whether to do with ties to foreign intelligence, his billions of dollars, or his social connections, Epstein’s alleged sexual perversion and horrific assaults on young girls was an open secret. For instance, Bill Clinton flew dozens of times on Epstein’s private jet, nicknamed the Lolita Express. Yet Epstein remained untouchable.

Historically, all regimes, even so-called democratic/republics have a limited spectrum of authorized opinion, a limited spectrum of what can and cannot be discussed, criticized, or politically represented. And Epstein supposedly was untouchable because he has an intelligence connection to Mossad. Or perhaps Epstein is just the current manifestation of the sordid history of the connection between various factions of the American ruling elites, whose business of sexual exploitation is a fringe benefit of being willing members of the economic and military exploitation of the world.

Yet somehow it’s a conspiracy theory to point any of this out.

Meanwhile, the corporate media has spent the last 3 years flogging the most unbelievable conspiracy theory ever–Russia-gate. Of course, they react with sanctimonious outrage whenever anyone points out that the political and media operatives are engaged in the ultimate conspiracy theory, despite the self-evident fact that that’s exactly what it is: a theory about a band of powerful Russian conspirators conspiring with the highest levels of the US government to elect a Manchurian Candidate as president.

Apparently, to paraphrase Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s Manufacturing Consent, some conspiracy theories are worthy while others are unworthy. The worthy conspiracy theories appear to advance the cause of the deep-state establishment that maintains America’s far flung empire, while the unworthy ones threaten to shine a light on these nefarious workings.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines conspiracy theory as “the theory that an event or phenomenon occurs as a result of a conspiracy between interested parties; spec. a belief that some covert but influential agency (typically political in motivation and oppressive in intent) is responsible for an unexplained event”.

In the past, conspiracy theories were popular mostly amongst fringe circles but they are now becoming commonplace in alternative media and social media. I personally believe that the rapid rise in popularity of alternative explanatory theories is an indication of a growing mistrust of the current feral elite with their policies of austerity and endless war.

The essence of the conspiratorial mindset is that powerful shadowy forces are, first, capable of and engaged in the most dastardly skullduggery imaginable, and, second, collaborating with each other across all levels of power. The Epstein case seems to affirm both of these. Going further, the whole sordid affair makes our elites seem like aliens, of a different culture, a different moral code, a different species. How else could they have allowed this to go on for so long?

A little history of the term conspiracy theory would probably be helpful.

Based on an FOIA disclosure, it turns out that it was that the CIA was very likely responsible for the widespread introduction of “conspiracy theory” as a term of political abuse, having orchestrated that development as a deliberate means of influencing public opinion. During the mid-1960s there had been increasing public skepticism about the Warren Commission findings that a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, had been solely responsible for President Kennedy’s assassination, and growing suspicions that top-ranking American leaders had also been involved. So as a means of damage control, the CIA distributed a secret memo to all its field offices requesting that they enlist their media assets in efforts to ridicule and attack such critics as irrational supporters of “conspiracy theories.”

And it worked too. For awhile.

But when you really think about it, our entire narrative is composed of conspiracy theories. What was 9/11, where supposedly al Qaeda terrorists armed with boxcutters managed to highjack jetliners then fly them through the most heavily guarded airspace on the planet and into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, except an elaborate conspiracy theory?

What I’ve been able to gather from the whole Epstein affair is that you can learn quite a bit about the powerful forces operating behind the scenes in America by noting which conspiracy theories are accepted as worthy and which ones are rejected as unworthy.

 

 

 

 

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Return to Sender

 

In the wake the latest mass shootings I wonder if they’re related to our never-ending wars?

Since the El Paso and Dayton attacks there has been the usual cry for gun control or more mental health screenings, along with blame focused on domestic terrorism and racism but an examination of the violence inherent in the maintenance of the American empire is decidedly absent.

Allow me to explain something our leaders and corporate media never will. Crimes committed on the periphery of empire always return to the homeland. Always.

When you think about it, the only reality these two young shooters, one 21 and the other 24, have known is war. Even though they haven’t been on the receiving end of airstrikes, the reality of America’s endless war on terror is the Predator drone equipped with a Hellfire missile controlled by a young video operator not much older than the killers.

Killers.

One of America’s greatest leaders made this connection between imperial and domestic violence. Perhaps, that’s why he was assassinated? At the Riverside Church, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence, Martin Luther King portrayed the war in Vietnam as an imperial one, prosecuted at the expense of the poor. Vietnam, he said, was “the symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit,” and, if left untreated, if the malady continued to fester, “we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

This speech, which has been dropped from the more conventional memory of King civil-rights activism, was intensely controversial at the time, angering enemies and supporters alike. Many of his close personal aides felt that he shouldn’t have given it.

The reason for the hostility was the same then as it is now. King made the connection between foreign and domestic policies, drawing clear the inexorable ties between domestic policy and unjust aggression abroad.

Until the next mass shooting expect the bi-partisan establishment and their corporate media enablers to focus on domestic terrorism or mental health or violent video games or gun control. What they won’t discuss is the violent US foreign policy that’s inherent in the maintenance of an empire.

Maybe that’s why Americans don’t seem to make the connection between the violence over there and the violence right here in the homeland?

Going further, this lack of interest in international affairs must thus be understood as a crucial weakness of our modern republic. If America has any hope of returning to her roots as a democratic republic Americans will have to start paying attention to foreign policy. Foreign policy is not rocket science. In other countries citizens are well versed on international events and geography. It’s only here in the USA that people are clueless about the rest of the world.

I wonder why?

 

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Scandalous

 

Michelle Obama is making the rounds with a curious claim. In a recent interview with CBS This Morning host Gayle King, she contrasted her husband’s presidency with that of his successor by claiming that unlike Trump, the Obama family had had “no scandal”.

Only in the United States of Amnesia could Mrs. Obama get away with a whopper like that.

Ok, maybe her husband didn’t get captured on video talking about the way in which he would grab woman by their private parts but it takes a lot of stones to claim that there were no scandals.

Only in the make believe world that Michelle Obama inhabits was arming and training al Qaeda to overthrow the Syrian government not scandalous.

Following that logic, I’m pretty sure that arming and training Neo-Nazi’s to overthrow the Ukrainian government wasn’t scandalous one little bit. And certainly not overthrowing the Libyan government and turning the country into a living hell where slavery has made a comeback. Don’t even get me started on the overthrow of the left-wing government of Honduras. Please. The US overthrows Central-American countries since forever. And, what of it? It’s not like the migrant caravans heading to the US are from Honduras or anything.

Those were all criminal deeds perpetrated in countries the average American is clueless about. But what about promising hope and change then bailing out Wall Street by foaming the runway with American homeowners? Was that not equally criminally-scandalous?

A lot of my liberal readers protest that I write about Obama and the Democrats when we should focus our ire exclusively on Trump, who is beyond the pale.

My mission is to move past the tribalism that limits our understanding of the economic/political tyranny that confronts us.

Start with the idea that neither party represents you, they just use your outrage over the misdeed of the opposing party to continue the scam. For example, liberals were rightly outraged over the policies of George W. Bush, yet Obama, by the fact that he was perceived as an articulate liberal, was able to mute the outrage that had arisen in the last years of Bush’s term, while continuing the very same policies that harmed his supporters.

I bring this up because in the process of non-stop Russia-gate, liberals managed to embrace a narrative that empowered the worst parts of the foreign policy establishment while inoculating Trump against the very real criminal-scandals that his administration is engaging in right now.

There is a method to the madness.

The narrative managers want us to focus our attention on scandals that are acceptable to the economic and foreign policy establishment. You know–the ones involving sex, drugs, infidelity, or some sort of personal failing on the part of our leaders. In the process we’re missing the really scandalous behavior that our leaders engage in the course of maintaining the American empire. You know–the ones involving murder and torture and plunder.

The only reason these policies don’t seem scandalous is because the narrative managers have normalized them. Going further, without the filter of propaganda promulgated by the corporate media, we’d see the bi-partisan establishment for who they really are.

Monsters.

That’s pretty fucking scandalous.

 

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Makers and Takers

 

My state elected a looter as its senator.

Only now, a senator from a different state has introduced an anti-looting bill.

What’s a looter to do?

Elizabeth Warren’s Stop Wall Street Looting Act, which is co-sponsored by Tammy Baldwin, Sherrod Brown, Mark Pocan and Pramila Jayapal, seeks to fundamentally alter the way private equity firms operate. While the likely impetus for Warren’s bill was the spate of private-equity-induced retail bankruptcies, with Toys ‘R’ Us particularly prominent, the bill addresses all the areas targeted by critics of private equity: how it hurts workers and investors and avoids paying its fair share of taxes, thus burdening taxpayers generally.

Critics will say that Warren’s bill has no chance of passing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a wasted effort. With this bill, Warren is taking on the “value creator” myth of private equity and seeking to end or restrict their looting. This bill also has the potential to expose the falsehoods that have kept the private-equity industry from being held to account.

Of course, my senator, who became fabulously wealthy through this sort of “financial innovation”, will oppose such measures, and denounce it as socialism, while the corporate media will dissemble. Such is the nature of the financial world we live in where for the last forty years the American economy has transformed from productive to extractive. In a productive economy workers and managers prosper by making everyones life better. But the other kind of getting rich, “taking” rather than “making,” extractive rather than productive, enriching the few at the expense of the many, taking the free out of free markets, is making a mockery of our republican democracy.

Heterodox economist Michael Hudson says that this momentous transformation of the US economy was brought about by neoliberalism. He says that the US economy became the envy of the world by, “using governments’ deficit spending to build up their infrastructure, raise living standards, create housing and promote progressive taxation that would prevent a rentier class, a landlord and financial class from taking over economic management. In the financial field, they wanted governments to create their own money, to promote their own development, just like the United States does. The role of neoliberalism was the opposite: it was to promote the financial and real estate sector and monopolies to take economic management away from government.”

My senator–Mitt Romney (if you haven’t guessed by now)–became fabulously wealthy during this transition, where the financial firm he worked at–Bain Capital–employed the private equity wealth model of loading former profitable companies up with debt, looting the pension fund to pay themselves enormous fees, then walking away as the company went bankrupt and the employees were kicked to the curb.

Gonzo journalist Matt Taibbi, writing about Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012, still has the best description of Mitten’s time at Bain Capital. “And this is where we get to the hypocrisy at the heart of Mitt Romney. Everyone knows that he is fantastically rich, having scored great success, the legend goes, as a “turnaround specialist,” a shrewd financial operator who revived moribund companies as a high-priced consultant for a storied Wall Street private equity firm. But what most voters don’t know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America’s top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth.”

But that’s not how we think about the financialization of the American economy thanks to the corporate media. The business press gushed about this economic transformation and scolded anyone who raised doubts as an old-fashioned Marxist, getting in the way of the creative destruction that makes American capitalism the envy of the world. Remember the Money Honey’s, whose job was to fellate (figuratively and literally) Wall Street? They were emblematic of the looting that accelerated during the 1990’s under the watch of Bill Clinton and his financial guru’s Robert Rubin and Larry Summers.

Going forward, it will be instructive to observe how Warren’s anti-looting bill is received and described by the our political class and their corporate media handmaidens. Will Warren’s anti-looting bill open any space to discuss the financial transformation of America that’s been the leading cause of the massive increase in inequality and concomitant political unrest? Indeed, the election of Trump should put to rest any notions that there have been no consequences from such a transformation. The CIA even developed a term for such a phenomenon–blowback.

I’m pretty sure that Warren’s bill will be roundly ignored by the corporate media who will be too busy either denouncing the racism/fascism of Donald Trump and his supporters, or denouncing the identity politics and political correctness of the vast liberal conspiracy.

 

 

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