Siver Lining

 

I like to read books twice. Not all books but certainly the good ones.

It’s amazing the things that you miss the first time.

Take Douglas Valentine’s–The CIA As Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World. It blew me away the first time I read it, but the second time was more fruitful. I realized that I’d missed one of Valentine’s most provocative points–That while the US might have lost the Vietnam War, the CIA’s Phoenix Program provided a silver lining by demonstrating how the US could control enemy populations during a conflict.

Subsequently, Phoenix changed how America fights its ongoing wars and how the public views this new type of political and psychological warfare, in which civilian casualties are an explicit objective.

Valentine has been researching the CIA for over 30 years and has interviewed over 100 CIA officers during that period. (Read the book to find out how he gained their confidence) What he learned about our country in the process is sobering.

“The ruling class within the National Security Establishment, represented most perfectly by Hillary Clinton, know that its enemies, foreign and domestic, must be suppressed ideologically as well as militarily. Thus they have embraced the Phoenix concept of employing implicit and explicit terror to control, organize and pacify societies. Phoenix was always understood as the silver lining in the Vietnam debacle. The aforementioned CIA officer, Warren Milberg, wrote a thesis in 1974 titled, “The Future Applicability of the Phoenix Program.” Many of the CIA and military officers I interviewed wrote similar papers extolling Phoenix.”

Phoenix holds the key to understanding US foreign policies. Like regime-change. Or, the deployment of Al Qaeda and Nazis as terrorists proxies. Or, the Salvador Option.

Not only foreign policies but domestic ones as well.

The creation of the Homeland Security Department in the wake of 9/11 was based on the Phoenix model, leading to the creation of  anti-terror strategies and tactics to use against the American people. The government has enacted administrative detention laws, which are the legal basis for Phoenix-style operations, so that civilians can be arrested on suspicion of being a threat to national security. Phoenix was a bureaucratic method of coordinating agencies involved in intelligence gathering with those conducting anti-terror operations, and the Department of Homeland Security has established fusion centers based on this model around the nation. Psychological operations against the American people have also proliferated since 9-11.

For instance, Jade Helm, the controversial military training exercise carried out in Texas, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Utah, was modeled after Phoenix, where military and local officials set up Phoenix-style coordination centers as a way of giving the military Special Operations and Civil Affairs units experience working together with local police forces in a realistic domestic counterinsurgency operation.

Valentine argues that: “Just as as Phoenix Intelligence Operations and Coordination Centers were established in every province and district in South Vietnam, the Department of Homeland Security has now established fusion centers, and the FBI has established Joint Terrorism Task Forces, to coordinate representatives from every police, security, military and civic organization in every state and major city.”

For most Americans the notion that our premier intelligence agency is akin to organized crime is rejected with prejudice.

Valentine acquired his initial inkling as a young man, thanks to his father, a WWII veteran who survived a Japanese POW camp.

“My father stepped into the street and I followed him. He stood behind the delivery truck. Wondering what the hell was going on, I watched while he threw open the doors. The guy who took down names and numbers was sitting in the front passenger seat beside the delivery truck driver; three village cops were sitting on boxes in the back of the truck. Cash and slips of paper were being exchanged.

“Take a good look”, my father said. “This is the true relationship between crime and law enforcement.”’

Valentine offers some good advice to make sense of a world where the cops work with criminals.

“Most people never make that rite of passage. The entire academic world is clueless, and most of the middle class as well. They think the cops are there to protect them, and if they’re white and keep their mouths shut and do what they’re told, the cops might make an effort, if there’s something in it for them. Otherwise they make sure that crime is properly organized, and that the rich and powerful are happy. To think of the cops otherwise is crazy.”

Valentine says that the corporate media is essential to the public’s positive perception of the CIA.

“The media prevents you from knowing how you’re being dominated, by keeping the CIA’s secrets. The media and the CIA are same thing. Any domestic Phoenix-style organization or operation depends on double-speak and deniability, as well as official secrecy and media self-censorship. The CIA’s overarching need for total control of information requires media complicity.”

The most salient thing about how the CIA is organized as a criminal conspiracy is the reason for it. And, no it’s not about intelligence gathering or keeping America safe from the bad guys.

It’s about the control the US elite maintain over our country and the world.

Valentine opens The CIA As Organized Crime, with a quotation from Johan Galtung that explains how the elite maintain this control.

“Personal violence is for the amateur in dominance, structural violence is the tool of the professional. The amateur who wants to dominate uses guns; the professional uses social structure.”

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It’s all about the Benjamin’s

 

Ever wonder why the US regime-changes this country but not that country?

Wonder no more.

It’s all about the Benjamin’s.

The US maintains its hegemony thanks to the power of the US dollar—the worlds reserve currency–and the reality of the petrodollar, where countries that wish to purchase oil must purchase dollars first. The essence of the 1970’s deal following the oil-shock was that the US would agree to the defense of Saudi Arabia as well as arms sales in return for all oil trades being denominated in US dollars. 
“As a result of this agreement, the dollar then became the only medium in which energy exchange could be transacted. This underpinned its reserve currency status through the need for foreign governments to hold dollars; recirculated the dollar costs of oil back into the U.S. financial system and — crucially — made the dollar effectively convertible into barrels of oil. The dollar was moved from a gold standard onto a crude oil standard.”

 

The petrodollar has lasted for over 41 years, and has been the driving force behind America’s economic, political and military power.

Presently this arrangement is threatened by the move by Russia and China to create an alternative to the dollar.

This would subsequently allow Russia and Iran to both effectively mitigate US and UN sanctions by facilitating the establishment of an energy market completely apart from the US.

Understanding this reality puts the protests that have erupted in Iran, and the sudden US concern for human rights there in a completely different light.

Going further, the idea that the US is concerned about human rights is laughable.

I believe that America’s renewed desire to escalate military tensions – this time directed at Iran – is a front for America’s continual financial war against countries that fail to conform to the Washington Consensus.

Commentator Alastair Crooke lays out what’s at stake in a must read article.

“China, Russia and Iran share a common strategic interest to establish a currency zone, with the depth of markets and infrastructure, to operate independently of the dollar sphere.  These states have made it very clear that they are committed to a long-term strategy to stop using the US dollar, as their primary currency, in global trade.  

Trump’s Security Strategy – if prosecuted seriously – precisely risks an upset to the precarious balance to this ongoing, (and until now) slowly unfolding, financial war.  Pursuing aggressive financial sanctions against any of these three states risks now precipitating a premature triggering of substantive monetary change in retaliation (and, a concomitant risk of financial chaos).  It is possibly this latter outcome to which Herman Gref was hinting when he told the Financial Times that blocking international clearing for Russian banks would have such a devastating effect, that it would “make the Cold War look like child’s play”.

Crooked also explains how the US domestic economy became financialized along the way.

“The U.S. avoided high inflation by letting the dollar circulate globally. It also needs to restrain the printing of dollars to avoid a dollar devaluation. Then what should it do when it runs out of dollars? 

The Americans came up with a solution: issuing debt to bring the dollar back to the U.S. The Americans started to play a game of printing money with one hand and borrowing money with the other hand. Printing money can make money. Borrowing money can also make money. This financial economy (using money to make money) is much easier than the real (industry-based) economy. Why will it bother with manufacturing industries that have only low value-adding capabilities?

Since August 15, 1971, the U.S. has gradually stopped its real economy and moved into a virtual economy. It has become an “empty” economy state. Today’s U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has reached US$18 trillion, but only $5 trillion is from the real economy.

U.S. brings a large amount of dollars from overseas, back to the U.S.’s three big markets: the commodity market, the Treasury Bills market, and the stock market. The U.S. repeats this cycle to make money: printing money, exporting money overseas, and bringing money back. The U.S. has thus become a financial empire.”

However, the financial arrangement that undergirds US hegemony is precarious, as Crooke makes clear.

“The operational launch of the Chinese Yuan denominated oil futures option in time — depending how quickly contracts can be adjusted – holds the prospect for displacing the petro-dollar system, especially if Saudi Arabia agrees to sell crude to China in Yuan (perhaps as part of China buying a stake in the Aramco offering).” 

This article goes a long way towards explaining why our elite are freaking out about Russia and China, and why the US military is deployed world-wide in a never ending series of wars.

The financialization that the US elite have used to maintain worldwide hegemony has had disastrous consequences for the average American.

If one quarter of the American working population in the 1960s was in manufacturing and one tenth is now, and the lost employment went into low-paying services while the income went into finance, then no wonder there has been an increase in inequality. The part of the economy that was producing material wealth, and that supported the middle class, was ripped out and thrown away. The society became poorer, and with it most of its people, except the top 1%.

Once again, the surest way to understand policy is to follow the money.

Remember–It’s all about the Benjamin’s

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Permanent emergency in the liberal imagination

 

Over the weekend, Russia-gate took an even more surreal turn when former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was accused of being a Russian-stooge because she shared a table with Vladimir Putin and former General Michael Flynn in 2015 at an RT dinner celebrating their 10th anniversary.

Rogue-blogger Caitlin Johnstone asks the obvious questions. “How fucking stupid do you have to be to believe that a party which has out of necessity run a candidate every presidential election since 1996 only ran one in 2016 because of some kind of nefarious Kremlin plot, and how fucking stupid must your echo chamber be to have fostered such a belief? How fucking stupid do you have to be to believe that a candidate who received one percent of the popular vote (less than half of what Ralph Nader received in 2000) despite running against the two least popular mainstream candidates ever was only able to achieve this via Kremlin collusion? How fucking stupid do you have to be to never bother to research the perfectly reasonable explanation that Jill Stein has given for the picture in question?”

Here’s one of the tweets to demonstrate just how far down the rabbit-hole the Russia-gaters have gone.

Here is the photo of the infamous dinner where Flynn began to coordinate on behalf of trump with Putin in Russia and was paid to be there. Question – why is Jill Stein here? She has never given a reasonable answer.
She was paid to run as part of their conspiracy.

FILE- In this file photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center right, with retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, center left, and Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica, obscured second right, attend an exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of RT (Russia Today) 24-hour English-language TV news channel in Moscow, Russia. The Kremlin said Monday Dec. 4, 2017 that conversations between the Trump administration and the Russian ambassador to the United States could not have possibly swayed Putin's decision on U.S. sanctions imposed by the outgoing administration. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, file)

And another from someone in the “Resistance”, (who’s obviously off her meds).

Yesterday, Russia-gate got local, when the Salt Lake Tribune ran a story entitled–Ex-SLC mayor found a seat at Russian dinnerRocky Anderson, our radical ex-mayor who famously protested President George W. Bush when he came to SLC, was at the 10th anniversary RT gala as well. While not at the same table as Putin, he was in the company of “noted communist” Peter Kusnik, who with director Oliver Stone made the controversial documentary–The Untold History of the US, (probably at Putin’s express direction).

If all this sounds like an episode of South Park, you’re not alone.

History professor Jackson Lears recaps the sheer idiocy of Russia-gate in the London Review of BooksWhat We Don’t Talk about when We Talk about Russian Hacking.

“A story that had circulated during the campaign without much effect resurfaced: it involved the charge that Russian operatives had hacked into the servers of the Democratic National Committee, revealing embarrassing emails that damaged Clinton’s chances. With stunning speed, a new centrist-liberal orthodoxy came into being, enveloping the major media and the bipartisan Washington establishment. This secular religion has attracted hordes of converts in the first year of the Trump presidency. In its capacity to exclude dissent, it is like no other formation of mass opinion in my adult life, though it recalls a few dim childhood memories of anti-communist hysteria during the early 1950s.

The centrepiece of the faith, based on the hacking charge, is the belief that Vladimir Putin orchestrated an attack on American democracy by ordering his minions to interfere in the election on behalf of Trump. The story became gospel with breathtaking suddenness and completeness. Doubters are perceived as heretics and as apologists for Trump and Putin, the evil twins and co-conspirators behind this attack on American democracy. Responsibility for the absence of debate lies in large part with the major media outlets. Their uncritical embrace and endless repetition of the Russian hack story have made it seem a fait accompli in the public mind. It is hard to estimate popular belief in this new orthodoxy, but it does not seem to be merely a creed of Washington insiders. If you question the received narrative in casual conversations, you run the risk of provoking blank stares or overt hostility – even from old friends. This has all been baffling and troubling to me; there have been moments when pop-culture fantasies (body snatchers, Kool-Aid) have come to mind.”

In my opinion Russia-gate is less about Russian meddling in our sacred elections than with the Democratic party using the constant drumbeat of charges and accusations as a means to avoid addressing the issues that average Americans care about. The Russia-gate scandal has been driven by the well-educated professionals that writer Thomas Frank castigates in his latest–Listen Liberal. For example–last summer, according to the Washington political journal The Hill:

Frustrated Democrats hoping to elevate their election fortunes have a resounding message for party leaders: Stop talking so much about Russia. … Rank-and-file Democrats say the Russia-Trump narrative is simply a non-issue with district voters, who are much more worried about bread-and-butter economic concerns like jobs, wages and the cost of education and healthcare.

Russia-gate is also about the corporate media freaking out about their loss of credibility and respect. If you look around you’ll notice that there are a myriad of corporate media stories that have one thing in common–they all paint anti-establishment speakers, writers, film-makers and even comedians as “Russian propagandists” simply because they advance opinions that run counter to US establishment interests.

George Orwell would surely appreciate this moment or two.

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The Trump Diversion

 

Many liberals would love to depose Trump and return to a normalcy where such a monster could never be elected. If only Hillary would’ve won, the thinking goes, things would have been so much better.

I beg to disagree.

As a radical writer, I believe we face a generational crisis due to decades of elite mismanagement.

In this way, Trump is the perfect president for this milieu. He’s a tawdry, reality-TV pitch-man, putting a monster face on all that is fucked-up in America. Because Trump is from the same class, he’s also a living, breathing embodiment of the plutocracy that has looted the country under the rubric of neoliberalism.

In the Political Economy of Obama/Trump, Richard Wolff, argues that US capitalism, under the thrall of neoliberalism, has brought about the generational crisis due to its inability to manage the economy for most Americans.

“When the second major crash in 75 years hit in 2008, it exposed the debt-dependent reality of those decades. It also sent capitalism careening through a new depression followed by a devastating austerity regime. The economic careening provokes the political: its establishment center cannot hold.

Among leading capitalist circles there was immediate fear that the 2008 crash might well revive the 1930s’ coalition of labor unions (CIO), socialist and communist parties that forced the New Deal from below. True, the sustained post-1945 persecutions of communists and socialists plus the persistent attacks on labor unions had destroyed the New Deal coalition, but no one could be certain that it might not rematerialize from a new generation. What could and did help to prevent that was inserting Barack Obama into the presidency. He was the quintessential liberal, urbane, counterpoint to the Bush-led GOP that presided over the Crash’s arrival. Hillary Clinton might have done the job but Bill Clinton’s enthusiastic embrace of all that had crashed in 2008 gave the job instead to Obama.

And Obama performed as needed. Strictly trickle-down economics was how his administration “handled” the 2008-09 crisis. Nothing remotely like the New Deal’s taxing the rich to fund programs for the poor and middle was proposed or debated, let alone adopted as policy. Roosevelt in the 1930s had created and filled many millions of federal jobs. Yet the deep unemployment problem of 2008-09 prompted no serious consideration or even discussion of a federal jobs program from the White House or congressional leaderships.

Obama in the White House could temporarily calm and deflect mounting anger and resentment. His words and symbolic gestures effectively blocked many labor unions, students, white liberals and African-Americans from mobilizing against his administration’s economic policies. And when real opposition did arise in 2011, he suppressed it (as with the nationally coordinated forced removals of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s municipal encampments).

However, the powers that be paid a heavy price for the social quiet they purchased with Obama’s presidency. Sections of the white working class plus broad swaths of right-wing and conservative populations recoiled from the Obama administration. The 2008 crash had hurt them too. The trickle down recovery likewise largely bypassed them. Badly needing help, they resented “others” who seemed to have captured the government and would use it exclusively to help themselves. Indeed, those “others” included people they had long feared and/or hated: major parts of old party establishments coalescing with non-whites and “liberals.”

US capitalism used up the Obama diversion to get through most of the first decade after the 2008 crash. 

It is fast using up the Trump diversion. The social groups kept from system critique by Obama have become noticeably more interested in it since he departed the White House. Trump only accelerates that process. Meanwhile, Trump’s followers keep waiting for the promised protection from decline, but it does not appear. They get lots of symbolism but little substance. He and they blame their usual others, but their frustrations may soon open them too to system critiques.

Meanwhile, those critiques proliferate and mature across the society.”

In a perverse manner, Trump just by being Trump, might help shine a light on the  catastrophic failures of neoliberal/capitalism and our corrupt political and economic elite who’ve made his presidency possible and a generational crisis absolutely certain.

After that, it’s up to us.

Update: I’m in good company.

“…we dodged a bullet with Trump because he is incompetent. A competent right-wing ideologue who actually made the economy better (and it can be done), can change the US and own it–in a perverse reversal of FDR.

It is not enough to be for civility and decorum. Democrats must also truly be against Republican policies and for positive policies of their own which are radical enough to turn the United States away from its current economic trajectory towards further and further oligarchy. Policies which create and spread wealth, and which end monopolies and oligopolies, and break corruption.

These policies are well known and understood: high marginal tax rates, breaking up large companies and real universal health care, along with effective stimulus and investment. What is lacking isn’t knowledge of how to implement them, what is lacking is will: The Democrats don’t want such policies any more than Republicans do. What they want is kinder, gentler neoliberalism. A slow descent into oligarchy, with a few more cushions for the homeless.”

 

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Junk Economics

 

Over the weekend, the US Senate passed the most drastic rewrite of America’s tax system since the Reagan administration, which is expected to mostly benefit the wealthiest Americans.

This new tax cut legislation should provide further proof that the United States is hardly a republic and is instead ruled by a tiny number of the super-rich, against the concerns and interests and needs of everyone else.

Which leads to a question–After 40 years of tax cuts enacted by Republicans with the promise of trickle-down economics, how is it in this day-and-age of runaway inequality that anyone believes this shit?

In my opinion, Americans do not take seriously enough the influence of propaganda upon their lives. The elite that rule our country have created an entire economic language that’s designed to deceive. In order to manufacture consent for the retrograde economic policies that favor bankers and financial interests, they need Americans to internalize the logic that if they aren’t rich it’s their own damn fault. There is no fact-based reason to believe this whatsoever, but because America is saturated in these propaganda narratives, they believe it.

In his new book, J is for Junk Economics, heterodox economist Michael Hudson provides support for this argument and claims that junk economics provide the justification for the rich to loot and pillage the rest of us. He  says this has happened because the wealthy and the think tanks and economists that work for them have seized the language of economics, in the process deceiving millions of Americans who expected the new economy — the global economy, the digital economy, the service economy, the sharing economy — to produce new jobs, better jobs.  And it did generate enormous wealth, but mostly for a narrow, highly urbanized slice of the population. Income inequality has increased so dramatically that the American world now resembles the nineteenth-century

We can watch junk economics in real time with the recent tax cut legislation, with Republican lawmakers arguing that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations they control will result in a torrent of new investment, in the process creating jobs.

However, corporations are not investing nor planning on investing because shareholders pressure managers to deliver immediate returns and because industries are so consolidated that dominant firms don’t actually need to invest or innovate to remain competitive. Private investors are not putting their money into productive new enterprises, but rather are earning their returns from the sky-rocketing value of assets—stocks, financial products, real estate, art—that can be passed down to future generations.

For the rest of us, wages haven’t kept up with the cost of living and debt has been substituted.

Hudson goes further and says that our economy has become financialized and that debt is used as a method of control. He draws a clear distinction between productive and extractive economies, and says that the bought and paid for corporate economists have succeeded in blurring the two together. This has helped bring about a financial oligarchy in the US that extracts payments, in the form of rents, interest and dividends. Most of the cost of living of average Americans is made up housing (rising rents and mortgage debt service), healthcare costs, monopoly products such as pharmaceuticals, and bank debt (including exploding student loans which can’t be discharged in bankruptcy). Hudson describes this arrangement as–neofeudalism.

Looking ahead, consider Hudson and J is for Junk Economics an inoculation against the oncoming swarm of bullshit.

As the tax cut legislation goes to reconciliation and Republicans threaten a government shutdown over the budget, there is no doubt in my mind that you will be confronted with junk economic theories promulgated by politicians and the corporate media.

One of the most pernicious of the junk economic falsehoods out there is the one that goes like this:“Our government is just like your household and the most important thing we can do to bring about economic growth is to balance our budget.” 

It will be only a matter of time before this whopper will be trotted out.

Shortly after that that the Democrats will decry the deficit (created by the tax cuts) and agree, reluctantly, to join with the Republicans in a bi-partisan gesture to cut “entitlements” for the good of the country.

Count on it.

Update: That didn’t take long.

Republicans Plan to Cut Food Stamps as Homelessness Rises in the US

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Yay Resistance!

 

Members of the Trump Resistance are turning handsprings over the guilty plea of President Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI about pre-inauguration conversations with the Russian ambassador.

But, this case and its ramifications should trouble anyone who believes in the rule of law.

“What is arguably most disturbing about this case is that then-National Security Adviser Flynn was pushed into a perjury trap by Obama administration holdovers at the Justice Department who concocted an unorthodox legal rationale for subjecting Flynn to an FBI interrogation four days after he took office, testing Flynn’s recollection of the conversations while the FBI agents had transcripts of the calls intercepted by the National Security Agency,” says long time investigative reporter Robert Parry. 

“While Flynn’s humiliation has brought some palpable joy to the anti-Trump “Resistance” – one more Trump aide being taken down amid renewed hope that this investigation will somehow lead to Trump’s resignation or impeachment – many of the same people would be howling about trampled civil liberties if a Republican bureaucracy were playing this game on a Democratic president and his staff.

But the inclusion of this Israeli element shows how far afield the criminal Russia-gate investigation, headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, has gone. Though the original point of the inquiry was whether the Trump team colluded with Russians to use “hacked” emails to defeat Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the criminal charge against Flynn has nothing to do with election “collusion” but rather President-elect Trump’s aides weighing in on foreign policy controversies during the transition. And, the first initiative was undertaken at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, not Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The second item, cited by Mueller’s prosecutors, referenced a Dec. 29 Flynn-Kislyak conversation, which received public attention at the time of Flynn’s Feb. 13 resignation after only 24 days on the job. That phone call touched on Russia’s response to President Obama’s decision to issue new sanctions against the Kremlin for the alleged election interference.

The complaint alleges that Flynn didn’t mention to the FBI that he had urged Kislyak “to refrain from escalating the situation” and that Kislyak had subsequently told him that “Russia had chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of his request.”

The Dec. 29 phone call occurred while Flynn was vacationing in the Dominican Republic and thus he would have been without the usual support staff for memorializing or transcribing official conversations. So, the FBI agents, with the NSA’s transcripts, would have had a clearer account of what was said than Flynn likely had from memory. The content of Flynn’s request to Kislyak also appears rather uncontroversial, asking the Russians not to overreact to a punitive policy from the outgoing Obama administration.

In other words, both of the Flynn-Kislyak conversations appear rather unsurprising, if not inconsequential. One was taken at the behest of Israel (which proved ineffective) and the other urged the Kremlin to show restraint in its response to a last-minute slap from President Obama (which simply delayed Russian retaliation by several months).”

What I have heard from many liberals in recent months is that they don’t care about the unfairness of the Russia-gate process or the dangerous precedents that such politicized prosecutions might set. They simply view Trump as such a danger that he must be destroyed at whatever the cost.

Not only that but lately I’m noticing more and more liberals jumping on the Russia-gate bandwagon as a result of the non-stop corporate media coverage. Every time a new bombshell report, like the Flynn guilty plea, is released liberals go crazy, pointing excitedly to the new evidence and screaming–we told you so. Join us and help us impeach the orange menace.

Sorry. That’s not how I roll.

I’ll never tell my readers what they need to believe, but I will strongly encourage you to think for yourselves.

For me, it’s become clear that the Russia-gate scandal was planned by Democratic Party insiders from the moment Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton as a way to avoid examining the rot in the Democratic Party.

According to the book ‘Shattered’, which describes the Clinton campaign, the decision to blame Russia for her loss was made a day after Trump’s victory: “That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”

Actions have consequences. While liberals and Hillary supporters in the Democratic Party focus relentlessly on Russia-gate, the Republicans in congress took another step towards outright plutocracy.

Late last night, the US Senate passed the most drastic rewrite of America’s tax system since the Reagan administration, which is expected to mostly benefit the wealthiest Americans while further crippling the nation’s already broken healthcare system. It even includes a late addendum to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

This horrible tax bill passed while everyone was distracted by the bogus Russia-gate story. Indeed, this morning, “Trump and Flynn” is still trending on Twitter in the US.

The Republicans are handing the Democrats one of those golden opportunities to actually run on an issue that benefits them in every way. The Republicans passed an enormously unpopular tax bill that hurts the vast majority of Americans while benefiting the Republican donor class. The Democrats, while posing as an opposition party, have refused to take the gift, instead amplifying the Russia-gate story and in the process empowering the deep state intelligence agencies and Military/Industrial/Complex that is salivating over a new Cold-War with Russia.

The Democratic response to Donald Trump is not surprising.

American political system, since at least 1968, has been operating like a ratchet, and both parties — Republicans and Democrats — play crucial, mutually reinforcing roles in its operation. The electoral ratchet permits movement only in the rightward direction. The Republican role is fairly clear; the Republicans apply the torque that rotates the thing rightward. The Democrats’ role is a little less obvious. The Democrats are the pawl. They don’t resist the rightward movement — they let it happen — but whenever the rightward force slackens momentarily, for whatever reason, the Democrats click into place and keep the machine from rotating back to the left.”

(Picture of a mechanical ratchet)

 

This is why what now passes for the liberal in the United States is considered right-wing in most first world countries.

Yay Resistance!

 

 

 

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The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush

 

Nothing says United States of Amnesia quite like the rehabilitation of George W. Bush.

Articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and even the Guardian eagerly reported Bush’s recent speech with its implicit criticisms of Trump as a hopeful sign of resistance from the responsible Republican right.

There’s a big problem with this analysis.

Trump isn’t an aberration. He represents a distinguishable line of continuity with all previous American presidents since WWII, where the chief-executive has been granted extraordinary powers over a vast corporate empire.

The corporate media cannot and will not go there. US history must be Disney-fied and any deviation censored in the ongoing campaign to bathe it in the soft, warm glow of American exceptionalism.

For instance, the New York Times article allowed Bush to state, without correction, this whopper–“Since World War II, America has encouraged and benefited from the global advance of free markets, from the strength of democratic alliances, and from the advance of free societies.”

As Alfred McCoy demonstrates in his recent book, In the Shadows of the American Century, this is a remarkable case of projection. Instead of advancing free societies and promoting democracy, the US has a 70 year history of destroying free-societies and deterring democracy.

“A list of examples would perhaps begin with the 1953 British and U.S.-backed coup against the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh that would install the despotic Shah in power in that country.  It would certainly continue with the 1954 U.S. and United Fruit Company coup against Jacobo Arbenz, the democratically elected president of Guatemala (an early instance of Washington’s post-World War II “encouragement” of anything-but-free-trade); the 1960 CIA-backed coup against, and the murder of, Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba; and the 1973 military coup in Chile. An honest history would also include the active “encouragement” of societies that were anything but free, including those run by juntas, dictators, or military governments in Greece, Brazil, Argentina, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Uruguay, Iraq, and South Korea, to name just a few.”

The rehabilitation of W. and for all US presidents, is serious business.

All American presidents must be rehabilitated. Going further, not just rehabilitated but absolved of all the blood they spill in our name.

We have to absolve them to absolve us.

If we want to change our country for the better we need to acknowledge these uncomfortable truths about US presidents.

Otherwise, in a few years we’ll be rehabilitating Trump too

 

 

 

 

 

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