Sacred Cows

 

Immigration has been a divisive force throughout American history, simmering just below the surface before exploding into paroxysm’s of violence where riots, lynching and murder are the order of the day.

In a future shaped by extreme climate disruption immigration is guaranteed to a remain a volatile and disruptive issue in American politics. Indeed, this future is already visible here, with Trump’s anti-immigrant message and actions, and in Europe, where immigration is one of the leading contributors to the rise of right-wing populism.

I’ve largely tried to avoid discussing immigration exactly because it’s such a contentious subject, with few easy solutions. That being said, if there’s any hope we better get started articulating the problems and actors who are responsible for the mess we’re in.

For instance, the liberal position that we should have open borders is nuts.

You know who else would love open borders? The rapacious corporations that desire a reserve army of desperate workers who will work for peanuts. Illegal immigrants often wind up in sweat-shop type work like meatpacking plants which are subject to frequent safety violations. Workers who are afraid of deportation don’t complain about labor abuses. It’s reasonable to assume that a high proportion of illegal immigrants are subject to all sorts of other mistreatment: below minimum wage pay, wage theft, hours violations.

Yet the liberal component of the corporate media constantly argue contradictory positions in defense of both wages and immigration without blinking an eye. Low wages are not a bug but a feature of mass immigration. The immigration-led growth model guarantees wage theft by relying implicitly upon a permanent supply shock that guarantees labour oversupply and by importing more exploitative attitudes to class within ethnic groups.

Meanwhile, liberal tech-bros support for enhanced immigration via H1-B visas is simply more labor arbitrage, where they can get highly skilled software engineers from India at a fraction of the cost of an American engineer.

Don’t gloat conservatives. Your support of a belligerent martial foreign policy has directly contributed to the flood refugees from the countries we’ve destroyed through invasions, coups and support and training of right-wing death squads. For example, the torrent of refugees streaming towards the Mexican border are the direct result of US foreign policies of the conservative saint–Ronald Reagan–who supported right-wing juntas in Guatemala and El Salvador, while funding and training the murderous Contras in their assault on the left-wing Sandinista government of Nicaraugua.

Conservative support for ICE and Homeland Security, two militarized and corrupt bureaucracies, makes a mockery of their claim to value small government and freedom. Since 9/11, they’ve cheered on Republican national security policies which have created for all intents and purposes a police state.

Finally, the racism that animates MAGA is an embarrassment. US presidents, particularly in the period of Cold War struggle between American imperialism and the Soviet Union, once sought to posture as leaders of the “Free World,” representing a country which long identified itself as being “a nation of immigrants.” Indeed, America is made up of immigrants who contribute to and enhance our country.

Unless you look like these guys–

Image result for homeland security since 1492 poster

–you are an immigrant too.

Of course, liberals fully support militarized foreign policy and draconian immigration rules too, as long as it was carried out by their progressive champions–Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton. Their approval and support for the right-wing coup in Hondurous in 2009 directly contributed to the wave of desperate refugees streaming toward our southern border. And, of course, they were all in for the murderous policies of regime change in Libya, Syria and Ukraine, carried out under the auspices of the Nobel-Peace-Prize-President, which have sent millions of desperate refugees to Europe, driving the rise of nationalistic, fascist political parties.

Who’d have thunk it? Liberals and conservatives both responsible for disastrous American policies?

So, I have to ask, in this contentious environment where both political parties are married to extreme proposals, is it possible to craft a sensible and humane immigration policy?

A good place to start, in my opinion, would be to end the disastrous neoconservative foreign and neoliberal economic policies so beloved by our bi-partisan elite.

For example, imagine the influx of desperate immigrants from Venezuela if the neocons had succeeded in overthrowing the Maduro administration? Or the flood of refugees that would overrun Europe if the neocons strong-arm Trump into attacking Iran?

Likewise, it will be impossible to get American workers to welcome immigrants as long as our neoliberal mandarins insist on offshoring American manufacturing jobs.

Meanwhile, the rampant brutality witnessed at the ICE facilities on the border is hardly an accident. I believe that neoliberal economic policies have aided and abetted racism and xenophobia  by offering the former blue-collar industrial workers prison guard positions instead. What we’re seeing at the border is a continuation of this prison guard culture that was responsible for the abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

It would be great if we could direct the hatred of immigrants on to the elites that have crafted these policies that are so disastrous for we-the-people, but oh-so incredibly effective at dividing and ruling.

I can dream.

 

 

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It’s all projection

 

Let’s review what Russia-gate was all about.

And no, it wasn’t about Russia interfering in our precious democracy.

It was in response to Russian actions in the Middle-East and in the Ukraine that thwarted US plans for domination. Indeed, Russia remains the single biggest resistance nation to US hegemony. The US markets itself as an upholder of rules-based liberal democratic values, even though it consistently flouts international law, wages imperialist wars of aggression, imprisons journalists, crushes dissent and uses propaganda just as much as any totalitarian regime. The only difference is that it does so in a way that enables its supporters to ignore what’s actually happening.

Russia-gate is simply projection. Depicting the Russians as the nexus of evil allows liberals to pretend that the US maintains and upholds the rule-based liberal order. Let’s face it, after decrying Bush’s foreign policies for 8 years, liberals turned around and acquiesced to Obama’s foreign policies of empire which were largely indistinguishable. It was drone strikes instead of invasions, and coups rather than occupations, but Obama hit the sweet spot for liberals with his mixed-race, suave, sophisticated style and all the right credentials–Columbia University, Harvard Law School, and constitutional law professor. That conservatives believed that Obama was a Kenyon, Muslim, Socialist only added to the irony.

And, while the quest for supremacy is bi-partisan, since Obama Democrats have become the more warlike political party. And, of course, Trump’s election sent this bellicosity into orbit.

To make sense of this it’s important to understand some history. What we’ve seen since the fall of the Soviet Union is a long series of proxy wars, where the US uses it’s terrorist proxies to undermine and overthrow undesirable regimes. Russia has watched all of this and learned some hard lessons about the US’s concern for human rights and democracy. Since coming to power, Vladimir Putin has reoriented Russian foreign policy back to its traditional role of deterrence. Russia has been reluctant to engage but decisive when it does. Moscow didn’t want to see Syria overrun by Sunni terrorists–the US’s favorite proxy–so they intervened in 2015 to ensure that Bashar Assad remained in power. Syria is Russia’s one single stronghold in the Middle East, and deemed indispensable.

The Saker, a White Russian military and political analyst says that the neocon plan was to “overthrow Assad and replace him with their Sunni terrorist proxies–al Qaeda, al Nusra, ISIS, etc.” 

Doing this would achieve the following goals:

  1. Bring down a strong secular Arab state along with its political structure, armed forces, and security services.
  2. Create total chaos and horror in Syria justifying the creation of a “security zone” by Israel not only in the Golan but further north.
  3. Trigger a civil war in Lebanon by unleashing the Takfiri crazies against Hezbollah.
  4. Let the Takfiris and Hezbollah bleed each other to death, then create a “security zone,” but this time in Lebanon.
  5. Prevent the creation of a Shia axis Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon.
  6. Break up Syria along ethnic and religious lines.
  7. Create a Kurdistan which could then be used against Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
  8. Make it possible for Israel to become the uncontested power broker in the Middle-East and force the KSA, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and all others to have to go to Israel for any gas or oil pipeline project.
  9. Gradually isolate, threaten, subvert, and eventually attack Iran with a broad regional coalition of forces.
  10. Eliminate all centers of Shia power in the Middle-East.

Now this entire plan has collapsed due to the very high effectiveness of an informal but yet formidable alliance between Russia, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.

To say the US national security state was unhappy would be an understatement. Not only that but they’ve reacted with horror to Trump’s surprise election victory and concomitant  talk of easing tensions with Russia.

Does Russia-gate make more sense now?

And, this brings us to the historical projection I alluded to earlier. The Cold War has been described in glowing terms as the US containment of the USSR leading to a glorious triumph of liberal values, but the recent history of US foreign policies would seem to belie this account. I’ve said this before but the evidence grows by the day that it was the Soviets who were deterring us.

Like Russia-gate, it’s more projection to avoid having to face some unpleasant truths about the warlike nature of our bi-partisan foreign policy.

The reason I keep pointing out all the flaws and disinformation in Russia-gate is that this time the national security state’s propaganda campaign was so audacious and clumsy–where the U.S.’s own signature wrongdoings were displaced onto its chief rival, while simultaneously driving liberals into a war frenzy–that it became visible. For any of us paying attention, Russia-gate is like the scene in the Wizard of Oz, where Toto pulls back the curtain and exposes the wizard as the old crank he’s always been.

Update: More evidence that Russia-gate is all projection.

“Bottom line: Russiagate is going up in smoke.  The claim that Russian military intelligence fed thousands of emails to WikiLeaks doesn’t stand up to scrutiny while Mueller is not only unable to a prove a connection between the Internet Research Agency and the Kremlin but is barred from even discussing it, according to Friedrich’s ruling, without risking a charge of contempt.  After 22 months of investigating the ins and outs of Russian interference, Mueller seems to have finally come up dry.”

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Independence Day

 

As we head into Independence Day, I think it’s time for another revolution.

Not from England, silly, but from the feral elite who might as well be living in another country for all the ways in which their interests have diverged.

Our corporate media, which slavishly promotes the interests of the feral elite, will never state this obvious truth but it’s unmistakable.

Even our current villain de-jour, Vladimir Putin, has stated so in an unnoticed interview.

“What is happening in the West? What is the reason for the Trump phenomenon, as you said, in the US? What is happening in Europe as well? The ruling elites have broken away from the people. The obvious problem is the gap between the interests of the elites and the overwhelming majority of the people.

…We must never to forget that the purpose of the operation and existence of any government is to create a stable, normal, safe and predictable life for the people and to work towards a better future.”

Of course the wily Putin could be interfering in our precious democracy again but he makes an obvious point.

What’s amazing is that these used to be self-evident truths but we’ve gone so far down the rabbit-hole that now it sounds cray-cray.

It’s worth remembering the declaration that kicked the whole thing into gear.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Pretty radical stuff.

In this day and age we could certainly use more of that.

On that note, here’s a task for all the iconoclasts out there. While we celebrate with friends and fireworks and barbecue, contemplate how we can bring about another revolution by spreading radical notions like the Declaration of Independence.

Rogue journalist, Caitlin Johnstone, has a primer.

“If you want to pour your energy into making real change, and you want to make sure that your energy is as efficient and efficacious as possible, there is an easy target for you to fix your gaze on. Simply put all of your energy into getting dissident ideas into mainstream attention.

Stand in the public square and shove as many revolutionary ideas as far into the public spotlight as possible. Do it even if it means people you used to spend your time opposing start picking them up and using them. Do it with the goal of having your healthy anti-establishment ideas become the norm throughout your society. Do it with the goal of your worldview becoming conventional and boring. Do it with the intention of your activism becoming obsolete. Crave the absence of your own cool revolutionary self-image.

The goal of revolutionary political activism is to make revolutionary ideas so common that they become the new normal.”

Happy Independence Day!

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Perpetual Motion Machine

 

Most American assume that the US is involved in multiple Middle-East wars because of oil but it’s actually about the dollar as the worlds reserve currency.

Allow me to explain.

In 1971 President Nixon took the US off the gold exchange standard. The dollar became a fiat currency whose value could float. However, to maintain the dollars value relative to other currencies the US manipulates the value through financial engineering and by ensuring that all commodities, especially oil, are priced in dollars. This scheme helps explain why the US has been able to run up large trade deficits year after year and still maintain the dollar as the worlds reserve currency.

This dynamic also explains why it is that the US maintains a global garrison, engages in constant warfare, and is allies with the autocratic kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi’s role as the leading producer of fossil fuels is not the only reason we turn a blind eye to their horrible human right record as well as their ongoing support of terrorism. The Kingdom also recycles the billions of dollars it earns from the sale of oil back into US Treasuries and Wall Street investments and spends record amounts on US weapon purchases. Essentially, the Saudi’s are one of the key cogs in a perpetual motion machine.

Does this picture make more sense now?

The ongoing efforts to prop up the dollar also helps explain why it is that the US has been on a regime-change tear in the Middle-East since the fall of the Soviet Union. If I were cynical, it might appear that the financial engineers that control our country immediately started taking out the uncooperative countries throughout the Middle-East and the so-called policy blunders the US made in Iraq and Libya were anything but.

As The Guardian reported near the beginning of the Iraq War, “In October 2000, Iraq insisted on dumping the U.S. dollar—the currency of the enemy—for the more multilateral euro.”

Can’t have that, now can we.

Then, there’s Libya. Soon after Libya began moving toward an African gold-based currency we destroyed it as well, with the help of NATO. Author Ellen Brown pointed this out at the time of the bombing.”Gadhafi initiated a movement to refuse the dollar and the euro, and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar.”

John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman, also has said that the true reason for the attack on Libya was Gadhafi’s move away from the dollar and the euro.

The financial engineering that drives America imperialism should also provide some insight into what the current kerfuffle with Iran is really about. For example, Iran is determined to sell its prodigious amounts of oil in Euro’s or Yuan’s instead of dollars.

The importance of this cannot be understated. Mohamed Bin Salman, as the absolute ruler of Saudi Arabia, is playing a central role in escalating the confrontation between the US, backed by Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE on one side, and Iran and its allies on the other. President Trump is giving full support to Saudi Arabia and accusing Iran of acts of sabotage against shipping in the Gulf, but he will have difficulty in dispelling international suspicions that the whole affair is about maintaining the dollar as the worlds reserve currency.

This dollar recycling system is another reason why, even as the US produces record amounts of domestic oil and gas, the US military maintains numerous bases and is ready to intervene in the Middle-East at a moments notice. An interruption of oil will not only cause industrial disruptions, it will make untenable the financial system on which US fiscal and monetary policy is dependent upon.

Here in the US the damage wrought by decades of financial engineering are becoming harder to ignore. The destruction of America’s once vibrant military and commercial industrial capacity in many sectors has become the single biggest unacknowledged threat to our national security. Because of public policies focused on finance instead of production, the United States increasingly cannot produce or maintain vital systems upon which our economy, our military, and our allies rely.

Maintaining the dollar as the worlds reserve currency has also come at a steep cost for the American people since it allows policy makers to neglect domestic manufacturing and ignore the consequent steady erosion of wages for hourly workers. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this dynamic is responsible for the massive inequality we’ve witnessed in recent years.

I’m also cynical enough to believe that the financial engineering that’s a key component of US foreign policy is the reason why the banks were saved rather than the American people in the wake of the Wall Street Crash and why none of the architects spent a day in jail.

Still, nothing goes on forever not even the US perpetual motion machine. Perversely, US foreign policy elite are hastening the dollars demise as the world reserve currency through their aggressive financial warfare against Iran, Russia and China.

Naturally, Trump’s ham-fisted approach has set in motion a much needed global rebalancing. The potential use of the US dollar as a financial weapon of mass-destruction has been evident for some time now for Russians, Chinese and Iranians. For this reason, they have been exchanging their dollars for other currencies and stockpiling gold for years.

And, now the US, as a declining empire, is lashing out, employing every weapon available to try and arrest its diminishing status as the world’s sole superpower.

 

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Unlikely Savior

 

Trump came into office critical of the bi-partisan foreign policy establishment while promising to end America’s endless wars.

Since then he’s been under relentless pressure, like Obama before him, to follow the “Washington Playbook.” Whether, North Korea or Syria or Venezuela, Trump’s coterie of neocons that includes Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Advisor John Bolton, have been clamoring for war, war, war.

And now it’s Iran, where the neocons are joined with Saudi Arabia and Israel in a maximum push for another Middle-East conflagration.

However, there appears to be an unlikely savior in Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, who’s emerged as a leading media voice against American intervention. Since Trump’s election, Carlson has been a rare, outspoken non-interventionist voice on prime time network news, aggressively questioning US military presence and past regime change actions in places like Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, as well as Washington’s long-time weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. For that he’s faced a barrage of flak for hosting foreign policy skeptics like Tulsi Gabbard, Glenn Greenwald, Rand Paul, and others.

And now, a surprising figure is paying attention. The Daily Beast headline claims that  “Tucker Carlson Is Privately Advising Trump On Iran”. The report says “there’s been another, far different voice in the president’s ear: that of Fox News host Tucker Carlson.”

Apparently the president is relying on Carlson as a dissenting voice in the ongoing dispute with Iran. A source familiar with the conversations told The Daily Beast that, in recent weeks, the Fox News host has privately advised Trump against taking military action against Iran. And a senior administration official said that during the president’s recent conversations with the Fox primetime host, Carlson has bashed the more “hawkish members” of his administration.

The popular Fox host has publicly pushed back against the march to war against Iran in recent weeks, saying an escalation and war scenario would likely not be “in anyone’s interest,” while also being a persistent critic of Bolton for his well-known bellicosity towards Iran.

Bashing the neocons is nothing new for Carlson who wrote a book explaining why Trump won the Republican primary by going against them.

“It is possible to isolate the precise moment that Trump permanently alienated the Republican establishment in Washington: February 13, 2016. There was a GOP primary debate that night in Greenville, South Carolina, so every Republican in Washington was watching. Seemingly out of nowhere, Trump articulated something that no party leader had ever said out loud. “We should never have been in Iraq,” Trump announced, his voice rising. “We have destabilized the Middle East.”

Many in the crowd booed, but Trump kept going: “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none.”

Pandemonium seemed to erupt in the hall, and on television. Shocked political analysts declared that the Trump presidential effort had just euthanized itself. Republican voters, they said with certainty, would never accept attacks on policies their party had espoused and carried out.

Republican voters had a different reaction. They understood that adults sometimes change their minds based on evidence. They themselves had come to understand that the Iraq war was a mistake. They appreciated hearing something verboten but true.

Rival Republicans denounced Trump as an apostate. Voters considered him brave.

Trump won the South Carolina primary, and shortly after that, the Republican nomination.

Republicans in Washington never recovered. When Trump attacked the Iraq War and questioned the integrity of the people who planned and promoted it, he was attacking them. They hated him for that.”

With Trump, who appears to have the attention span of a 3 year old distracted by bright shiny objects, it’s hard to tell if heed Carlson’s advice or be pressured into another disastrous war by the neocons. He did, after all, appoint them into his administration.

Let’s hope he listens to Carlson.

Update: This is getting interesting.

Yesterday evening Tucker Carlson, a FOX News host with a direct line to the White House, had two strong anti-war segments on his show (vid). In the second segment Carlson talks with retired army Colonel Douglas McGregor. Both argue for pulling back on sanctions. This was likely a preplanned exchange (at 9:56 min) designed to give Trump cover for his decision:

Carlson: Is there some good reason to maintain this level of sanctions against Iran? Are we getting something out of that?McGregor: Well, I think the idea was to destroy the Iranian economy to bring the nation to its knees. That is really not what we should be trying to do at this point. I think the president senses that there is now an opportunity for diplomacy, for a new approach to Iran that could deescalate this set of conditions and produce a positive outcome.

Look, this will ruin our economy if we engage Iran in a war. Iran will have instantly have support from around the world. They will be the victim of this “limited strike” that is being discussed. The limited strike idea is sheer insanity. It will provoke a war. Everyone, China, Russia, India, many European states will come to the aid of Iran. We will end up with a larger coalition of the willing against us, than we have seen in decades.

I think the president has figured this out. He’s got good instincts. But he needs to get rid of the warmongers. He needs to throw these geniuses and their limited strikes out of the Oval Office. The last thing the America First agenda needs is a stupid pointless unnecessary war with Iran and he knows that and he needs to act.

[Tucker Carlson agrees]

 

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The Blob

 

Perhaps–The Blob–is a better description of America’s permanent national security bureaucracy than–Deep State.

Former President Obama certainly thought so. The moniker comes from Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes who nicknamed the US foreign policy establishment as “The Blob” in a New York Times Magazine profile. Obama also talked about breaking with “the Washington Playbook” when he decided not to declare a no-fly zone in Syria in response to the disputed use of chemical weapons.

Of course, Obama did initiate Timber Sycamore, a covert CIA program to train and utilize al Qaeda terrorists to overthrow the Syrian government of Bashar Assad. So in reality, Obama didn’t actually break with the Washington Playbook, he just followed the Democratic method of utilizing terrorist proxies and drone strikes rather than the Republican style of violent invasions to affect regime change. It was a matter of style, really.

Otherwise those $400,000 speaking payments wouldn’t be on offer, now would they? Or all the millions of dollars that corporate supporters plowed into his Chicago presidential museum?

This state of affairs is starting to become problematic for a so-called democratic republic. Despite all the power that has flowed to the modern executive branch, apparently every president is still beholden to The Blob and by extension, the Washington Playbook.

It’s always been obvious that Russia-gate was about making this relationship clear to Trump, the interloper.

It’s an open secret that the so-called foreign policy establishment did not think Donald Trump was qualified to become US president. While it is not too surprising that Democratic foreign policy experts would oppose a Trump presidency, there was enormous push back from the Republican side of the foreign policy establishment.

Indeed, the most obvious obstacle between any noninterventionist candidate and mainstream success is D.C.’s foreign-policy Establishment. The establishment is made up of politicians and foreign policy intellectuals and media personalities and intelligence professionals and defense-company contractors who determine the bounds of acceptable thinking on war and peace. This foreign policy establishment will acknowledge that past American wars of regime change, for which it enthusiastically advocated, have been disastrous, but it somehow maintains faith in the power of America hegemony, which in practice means overthrowing governments that The Blob doesn’t care for, like Cuba or Venezuala or Iran, or Russia, or China.

If you’ll recall, The Blob went into a hysterical hissy fit when Trump lambasted the invasion of Iraq and the regime-change-happy foreign polices of recent years, while promising a reset with Russia.

The Blob then responded to Trump’s 2016 election win with a fantastic story of Trump being a Russian agent under the express control of Vladimir Putin, rather than examining the disastrous neoliberal/neoconservative policies of the last 40 years. In doing so they deployed every aspect of the liberal corporate media to disseminate and relentlessly promote this story on a daily basis for nearly three years, and appointing a special prosecutor to conduct an official investigation in order to lend it the appearance of legitimacy. Every component of the ruling establishment (i.e., the government, the media, the intelligence agencies, that make up The Blob colluded in a soft coup to neuter or remove an American president from office on the basis of an invented conspiracy.

While not driving Trump from office it appears that Russia-gate has managed to block Trump from efforts at detente with Russia, to initiate Cold War 2.0, and to turn liberals into bloodthirsty war mongers.

Like a recent president, who we’ll not mention, declared–Mission Accomplished.

Still, things are not all hunky dory inside The Blob. What truly worries the foreign policy establishment  is that America’s unipolar moment is coming to an end, thanks in large part to the sheer incompetence of the elites that make up the very same foreign policy establishment. The problem is compounded by the emergence of a multipolar world led by the alliance between Russia and China, a strategic partnership, that’s thrown these elites into a hysterical overreaction.

If we’re honest, that’s what’s driving US foreign and domestic policies. From Russia-gate to the trade war with China to the threatened attack on Iran to the use of al Qaeda terrorists in Syria, it’s apparent that The Blob will stop at nothing to maintain their empire.

Update: Jesus! It’s worse than I could have imagined.

“For all the outrage that liberals display whenever a high-profile Republican utters the phrase “deep state”, it sure is interesting that the Commander-in-Chief has found himself in a situation where he is at the whim of a collective of warmongers who are advancing pre-existing agendas against a nation they perceive as a geostrategic threat to US hegemony. It begs the question, who is really in charge?”

 

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Better policies, please

 

Why is right-wing populism surging while left-wing populism lies moribund?

Historically, we know how right-wing populism advances. Economic malaise coupled with liberal paralysis. When the economy sucks, workers are ripe for appeals against scapegoats. Immigrants, minorities, woman and queers are all fair game when times are hard. Witness Europe’s experience since the 2008 financial crisis, when the EU’s turn towards austerity has led to the reemergence of home-grown fascism across the continent.

In this milieu, right-wing populism is the flip-side of neoliberal market freedoms that our elite have embraced for 40 odd years. For the political class and corporate media, however, this racism or sexism or xenophobia is simply the result of “deplorable’s” being deplorable as if the bi-partisan governance that fronts for the oligarchs, bears no responsibility for the consequences of four decades of neoliberal rule.

Here in the US, the Democrats co-invented identity politics to defer blame for the consequences of their policies. If they cared about combatting racism and xenophobia, none of the Democratic Party establishment would be considered for public office. Watching the DNC move heaven and earth to squash Bernie’s campaign while promoting Biden’s, it’s apparent that Talleyrand was on to something when he remarked about the Bourbons, “they have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.”

If the Democrats truly wanted to defeat Trump, they have a clear path to victory via Bernie Sanders. But placating their corporate donors is their first priority, not carrying out the will of the people. As far as the DNC is concerned, it’s more important to squelch the Progressive wing of their own party than to oust the current administration.

Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — e.g. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism’s ills, rather than capitalists — will win back those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate.

Why hasn’t the Democratic Party heeded this truism? In, Listen Liberal, Thomas Frank demonstrated that the Democratic Party has transformed into the party of wealthy professionals who prefer the Democratic Party to be left on social issues but right on economic issues. The party elite see these wealthy folks as part of the party, and don’t want to nominate a candidate who accurately sees them as class enemies.

The party’s leaders see themselves as the left wing of capital — supporting social policies that liberal rich people can get behind, never daring to enact economic reforms that might cause rich liberals to have to pay more taxes. Hence, the establishment seems intent on anointing the centrist Democrats of capital, who push liberal social policies and neoliberal economic policies.

This is why identity politics are all the rage with wealthy liberals.

With identity politics, there is no such thing as collective action. By shifting the burden of responsibility to individuals for their own power and wellbeing, identity politics has been able to disenfranchise huge segments of the electorate and sell us on a political action that’s harmless to the ruling elite. Identity politics shift the burden of change to the individual, just like the advertising industry uses manufactured problems, like bad breath, or body odor, to sell us products. We can celebrate our identity all we want, there’s even a product they’ll sell us to magnify our differences. Or to herd us into our own self reinforcing enclosure of highly-individualized feeds, where market-approved talking points are slipped through paid ads and recommended content.

I could care less if a leader is a man or a woman, black or white, straight or gay, or a transexual. All I care about are policies that aid the vast majority of Americans and make our lives better. Ultimately, it’s the policies and incentives behind them that shape our leaders rather than their skin color or sexual orientation. For instance, liberals thrilled at the election of Barak Obama, a brilliant and charismatic African-American senator, who promised Hope and Change. Of course, he provided neither and his election appears now to have been one big con, propelled by marketing.

At the time, many Americans were anticipating that Obama would initiate a crackdown on the “banksters” who had knowingly rigged the economy out of short-sighted greed. However, Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, believed that foaming the runway with American homeowners for Wall Street’s crash landing was the proper response. Meanwhile, it was clean getaway for the “banksters”, who’ve been made whole due the Fed’s quantitative easing policies and are now more powerful than ever. The whole exercise was the opposite of FDR’s Pecora Commission, which investigated the causes of the 1929 Wall Street crash and subpoenaed high profile bankers to testify.

Well-run societies don’t need heroes, and the way to keep terrible impulses in check isn’t to dethrone antiheros and replace them with good people. As we’ve seen, replacing George W. Bush with Barak Obama did not suddenly transform America. Nor did the election of Donald Trump suddenly make America great again.

It’s all about the policies.

Better policies, please.

 

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