Cultural Revolution

It appears that the Chinese have exported their Cultural Revolution to the US in return for US corporations exporting American manufacturing jobs to China. This Cultural Revolution has been enormously beneficial to our feral elite in dividing and ruling, by using group antagonism to distract from the problems created by globalized markets while blaming individuals for social problems to prevent those problems from becoming political questions. This means that the conversation is always focused on race, gender, sexuality, religion, and other cultural touchstones. These “identity politics” have produced the cancel culture in which individuals face social and political sanction if they refuse to fight the Cultural Revolution, fight for the wrong side, or fight with insufficient fervor.

Mao would be so proud.

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The Last Taboo

It will be interesting to see if Ghislaine Maxwell survives her incarceration to give testimony about Jeffery Epstein and his child-sex blackmail ring.

I’ve always thought the story to be fascinating in that it’s a window into how the deep state operates, and the fact that opaque and unaccountable intelligence agencies use child sex slavery to blackmail powerful world leaders and manipulate our society. Indeed, the real story of Epstein and Maxwell is the systematic entrapment and blackmailing of major political and economic figures the world over.

Maxwell, like Epstein, was never the lead player in the sexual blackmail op. However, she does know where the bodies where buried, so to speak. Her father Robert Maxwell was a British media tycoon with close ties and connections to British and Israeli intelligence, who died under mysterious circumstances, and was given a state burial in Israel, where the Prime Minister, Ehud Barak. and no less than six serving and former heads of Israeli intelligence attended.

This is by far the most sensational aspect of the Jeffery Epstein/Ghislaine Maxwell story. Israeli intelligence agencies and especially Mossad appear to be running pedophile rings that blackmail Western political, business and scientific leaders. Philip Giraldi, a highly-regarded former CIA officer, suggested that Epstein had probably been working for Mossad, operating “honey traps” to obtain blackmail information on all the wealthy and powerful individuals whom he regularly plied with underage girls.

It seems that Ghislaine was not only a madame to Epstein but also to the ruling elite. This would both explain her popularity and the fact that the corporate media treats her with kid gloves.

If you peruse the corporate media for details there’s plenty of salacious gossip but any mention of Israeli intelligence gathering is strictly off-limits. Thanks to internet sleuths much of the story has been speculated on. After it was revealed that Epstein had evaded stricter sentencing in 2008 due to his links to “intelligence,” it was the Mossad ties of Ghislaine Maxwell’s father that have led many to wonder if Epstein’s sexual blackmail operation was sharing incriminating information with the Mossad. Whitney Webb from Mintpress has found many of the stories related to Epstein and Maxwell. Some of them mention the Mossad connection and others note the orgies.

Of course, for Mossad to be running this sort of honey-trap, blackmail operation on American soil the CIA, FBI and other US spy agencies would have to be aware, wouldn’t they?

I’ve come to believe that this all is connected to the US deep state but also global politics involving sex trafficking, drug and arms trade, money laundering, Ponzi schemes, spy networks and blackmailing for Mossad. Sexual blackmail – especially involving little children – can be an extremely efficient way to influence key politicians and even military officials. Epstein’s victims were caught in a web of international spy network that used them as pawns for blackmail operations. The younger the girls were, the more leverage Israel would have over politicians, billionaires and scientists. Thus Epstein and Ghislaine tried to also recruit girls who were well under the age of 16

The decades have certainly softened the effectiveness of many forms of blackmail. I’m not sure that the old adage about a politician ending his career by being caught in bed with either a live boy or dead girl applies in the age of Trump. But pedophilia still ranks as an extremely powerful taboo. Career ending.

And, this brings us to the heart of the matter. Given that intelligence agencies in the U.S. often conduct covert operations for the benefit of oligarchs and large corporations as opposed to national security, the use of child-sex blackmail to control politicians should make us seriously question our representative form of democracy.

The Clinton’s are a good example of this dynamic. Despite the Clinton’s willingness to embrace corrupt dealings during the span of their political careers, their mostly friendly relationship with this network still saw them use the power of sexual blackmail to obtain certain policy decisions that were favorable to their personal and financial interests but not to their political reputation or agendas.

And certainly not favorable to we the people.

Maybe what this case really represents is that any politician who makes it to the national stage is compromised, a puppet being wielded by unseen actors?

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State Media

Despite the myth about a vaunted Forth Estate that holds power accountable, the press in the US operates with all of the conformity of a state run media, censoring alternative narratives and ensuring that the neoliberal/neoconservative party line is dominant.

But, of course, that’s not what the elite broadcasters and journalists believe. They believe that what they report is the “truth”. That nobody tells them what to write or say, yet will then report exactly what unnamed Western intelligence operatives tell them, and then turn around and tell you without a hint of embarrassment that Russia and China are evil because they have state media.

These trends of media conformity and propaganda have long been visible but since the election of Trump they’ve gone into overdrive. It’s been clear since Russia-gate that our feral elite had settled on a more aggressive form of social control via nonstop disinformation presented as headline news based on spurious accusations from anonymous sources, none of who were were ever identified, and none of whose claims could ever be verified. During the last 4 years the media has continued this propaganda campaign without pause and without ever acknowledging that its central claims have been exposed as lies.

The way mainstream news outlets consistently refuse to account for a fact so obvious and indisputable as intelligence agencies being known liars should by itself be enough to discredit the entire institution of mass news reporting. I mean, seriously, Mike Pompeo boasted that the CIA lies as a key part of its job, and crickets.

Going further, after the lies used to drive the invasion of Iraq any journalist who relies on the word of an off the record intelligence operative should be considered a propagandist.

Yet here we are with the latest New York Times bombshell about shadowy Russian intelligence outfits providing bounties to the Taliban to kill US soldiers being treated as established fact throughout the entire political/media class and down through the entire population of propagandized rank-and-file citizenry.

These flimsy, poorly-sourced allegations are being hammered into mainstream liberal consciousness on a daily basis now in the exact same way that Russia-gate was, and just like with Russia-gate the narrative they are being used to shape helps advance military expansionism and new cold war escalations which just so happen to fit perfectly into pre-existing geostrategic agendas of empire. The reason for this is because the propagandists who manufacture consent for imperialist agendas understand that truth and facts matter far less than does mindless repetition and emotion.

Even with the Covid-19 pandemic and unrest in American cities over police violence our reality remains forever war with a state media to make it so.

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It Works

I was ready to write another post equivocating the two political parties when I saw that John Bolton had released his memoirs, where he claims Trump is a danger to the republic. Well that did it. I’ve been on the fence but if John Bolton says that Trump is a danger to the republic then it’s time I joined the resistance.

Hah, hah, hah!

In his memoir Bolton also informs us that President Trump is erratic. Who knew? Bolton, the former National Security Advisor who once threatened the children of a UN official, joins former president George W. Bush as the latest hero of the resistance. Maybe Ellen will have him on her show for a hug?

Anyway, lately I’ve been getting a lot of push-back about being a Trump supporter. Let me reiterate something longtime readers know. I despise Trump and the Republicans just as I despise Biden and the Democrats. What can I say? I’m an equal opportunity hater.

America is a violent empire that rules the world while pretending to be a beacon for peace and democracy. Only people who are willing to keep these psychopathic mechanisms in place are permitted to ascend to the highest political office. While the corporate media focuses on the relatively minor differences between candidates, you can learn a lot more about our political process and what drives it by looking at their similarities.

But that’s not what most Americans believe. They’ve been propagandized to embrace the tribalism that the billionaires that control both political parties use to divide and rule.

You know–Team Red vs Team Blue.

For instance, I’m supposed to mindlessly support Team Blue Team even as they perpetuate their lesser evil shtick. For decades the Democrats have offered solutions that don’t work, and have exhausted the number of times they can tell people, vote for us now and we will deliver for you later. However, for 2020 election they’ve selected Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee. Joe-fucking-Biden? His whole record is one of monstrous policies and decisions. If you thought Hillary was bad, you haven’t seen anything.

And this is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it’s quite simply that the billionaires have bought the government, and it no longer works for us. Biden won’t really do anything different, he’ll just have better PR, and the corporate media will signal that everything is now “normal”. This is hardly a surprise. We are currently living in the failed-state that Biden has worked his whole career to create.

But he’s the Team Blue product and that’s what they are selling.

Political messaging is similar to product advertising. Economic theories of rationality posit that consumers are rational but everyday this theory is disproved by advertising designed to make consumers irrational. It’s the same with political messaging and propaganda.

Regarding the vast U.S. media propaganda machine, Chomsky famously said long ago that propaganda was even more crucial in democratic societies. In a totalitarian regime, the government can control the population with force and violence, imprisoning or executing dissidents. But in a democratic society, citizens have the power to vote and change the government. Therefore, it is more necessary in a democratic society to control how the public thinks using advertising and propaganda.

The ad men in politics who are able to capture the imaginations of these lied-to, thwarted people rely upon tropes that were first promulgated in selling used cars. Call it what you like—relativism, postmodernism, deconstruction. The lesson is one and the same: The truth is not out there waiting to be objectively uncovered. The truth is made. Facts are fabricated as seen fit by the powers that be, and then consent for those facts is manufactured, enforced.

Thus we are bombarded by advertising for shitty products, and propaganda for shitty candidates and policies because it works.

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Color Revolution

The recent Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests have got my spider sense tingling.

After studying regime-change operations for decades I know one when I see one. Going further, this looks to be a continuation of the deep state coup that began the moment Donald Trump was elected. It appears that the US which has been enthusiastically promoting “color revolutions” around the world is now experiencing one.

Remember, at CK we: follow where the money is going; follow where the resources and weapons are going; follow what our feral elite are doing; and ignore all the narrative.

Using this formula the riots take on a much different look. By following the money, resources and weapons, actors, and examining the propaganda it’s apparent that the Democrats and corporate media are using these riots against Trump’s bid for reelection. For instance, through the non-profit industrial complex, the Democratic Party has mastered bringing various social movements under its management on behalf of Wall Street in order to funnel public funds into private control through various foundations.

It’s humerous that many who correctly identify right-wing groups such as the Tea Party as the work of astro-turfing by the Koch Brothers seldom apply the same scrutiny to seemingly authentic progressive movements assimilated by the Democrats.

There’s a lot of truth to the loony right-wing ravings about the nefarious activities of Geoge Soros and his Open Society Foundation (OSF), although not in the way they imagine. Soros is hardly the vanguard of socialist revolution of their fevered dreams. Rather he and his foundation, similarly to other NGO’s like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), operate as cut-outs for the CIA to disguise its regime-change operations. The spy agency operates this way thanks to the exposure of its illicit activities in previous decades by the Rockefeller Commission and Church Committee in the 1970s.

Corporate America also appears to be backing these riots to the hilt. When we look at who’s supporting Black Lives Matter – and Antifa – we find, among others, Adidas, Amazon, Airbnb, American Express, Bank of America, BMW, Burger King, Citigroup, Coca Cola, DHL, Disney, eBay, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, IBM, Mastercard, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Netflix, Nike, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Sony, Starbucks, Twitter, Verizon, WalMart, Warner Brothers and YouTube.

However, like Soros, I somehow doubt that corporate America is supporting the protests out of some new sense of community spirit. Instead, corporate anti-racism is the perfect response to decades of neoliberal austerity. Black lives matter to corporate America, as long as workers don’t demand a living wage, personal protective equipment and quality health care.

Then there’s the strange role of the corporate media in relation to the protests. Why have they fanned the flames of social unrest from the very beginning, ignoring the ruin and devastation while cheerleading the demonstrations as a heroic struggle for racial justice? Is this is the same media that supported every bloody war, every foreign intervention, and every color-revolution for the last 5 decades? Are we really expected to believe that they’ve transformed into an energized proponent of social justice?

I call bullshit. The media’s role in concealing the damage should only convince skeptics that the protests are just one part of a much larger operation. What we’re seeing play out across the US, has more to do with toppling Trump and sowing racial division than it does with the killing of George Floyd. The scale and coordination alone suggests that elements in the deep state are probably involved. For instance, who positioned pallets of bricks close to protests? Furthermore, we know from evidence uncovered during the Russia-gate probe, that the media works hand-in-glove with the Intel agencies and FBI while–at the same time– serving as a mouthpiece for elites.

Since the election of Trump there has been a war within the deep state for supremacy, with various factions jockeying for power. To this analyst it appears that rather than a real popular protest movement, the BLM movement is a tool in the hands of one faction of the US deep state against another faction. Maybe these protests, like the color revolutions our elite sponsor in countries they want to overthrow, are managed? Maybe the protests are merely a disguise for a “color revolution” that bears a striking resemblance to the more than 50 CIA-backed coups since the end of WWII?

It’s ironic that many of the same ideas about revolutionary action have come home. In the last decade, the United States has experienced protests and demonstrations that have happened previously in 3rd World countries the US wanted to overthrow. Instead, domestically the CIA cutouts in the non-profit industrial complex have played a pivotal counterrevolutionary role, such as sabotaging Occupy Wall Street, in co-opting and ultimately derailing such uprisings meant to bring systemic change to the U.S. political system.

So while the protests over the killing of George Floyd and police brutality are real and legitimate there’s also a good chance that they’ve been hijacked.

Since 2016, the liberal wing of the deep state has diverted all opposition to Trump into a new cold-war against Russia and soft-coup attempt in the interests of the military- intelligence community, a shared agenda with Soros. When the Democrats, corporate media and NGO’s like the OSF and the NED have declared their support for protests like Black Lives Matter, it is no longer just about its original cause of getting justice for Mr. Floyd, whose funeral became a virtual campaign rally for Biden.

If it quacks like a duck it’s probably a duck.

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Political Codependency

Both of our political parties use race to take advantage of their constituents. The GOP scares lower-class white people to vote against their class interests by invoking the specter of “big-black-bucks purchasing T-bone steaks with food stamps”, or something. The Democrats snooker their black supporters into sticking with a party that has betrayed them for decades, culminating in a black president–Barack Obama– who presided over the destruction of a generation of black wealth.

Talk about codependency. It’s like watching a pair of abusive relationships play out.

As a result of this cynical abuse of race, America has the most flimsiest of social welfare programs of any western democracy, which suits our feral elite just fine.

It’s ironic that 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated while attempting to united whites and blacks with his Poor Peoples Campaign, race is still dividing America culture, resulting in the horrendous inequality and lousy public services producing mass despair and severe social dysfunction. King understood that much of the animosity between races was stoked deliberately as a way to fracture class unity. When he was assassinated King had shifted his focus to economic issues after observing that gains in civil rights had not improved the material conditions of life for many African-Americans.

I firmly believe that King was assassinated precisely because he had moved beyond simply talking about civil-rights for African-Americans and had trained his focus on the economic and militarized forces that marginalized black and white working-class Americans.

Since King’s assassination both parties have contributed to the structural policies that have seen racism continue. In the 1968 Presidential election Republicans launched their “southern strategy” to win over resentful white Democrats after the civil rights revolution, while Democrats have abandoned workers for the Professional/Management/Class (PMC’s) and substituted Identity Politics for meaningful economic policies. Indeed, the social and economic bargain between labor and capital that brought prosperity for half a century ended suspiciously close to when African-Americans gained civil-rights. The 1940s through the 1970s was a time when Wall Street had lost its power and relevance, and the American economic order was a diversified mix of manufacturing, agriculture, services, social welfare, military equipment, research, and high-technology. Since then there’s been a vicious counter-attack, with race playing a central role. Economic uncertainty is now the order of the day for the vast majority of Americans thanks to the greed of our putative leaders.

Growing economic uncertainty for larger numbers of people puts further stress on already stressed marriage and family and community relationships. White people are encouraged to blame black people for the loss of their jobs rather than the white corporate executives who sent their jobs to China. This was most evident in the deindustrialization of unionized heavy industry. Offshoring steel and automobile production had a special role in fueling racial tensions. White workers usually had a longer tenure of work, and according to union rules would be the last laid off because of this tenure. So offshoring would cause black layoffs first, and then white layoffs. Civil rights groups rightfully understood that as racist, but few recognized the largest context that racial tension was a result of white and black workers feuding over a smaller and smaller pie.

For both political parties, divide and rule are the order of the day. Both parties, controlled by predatory financial elites, have worked aggressive to break our public institutions so that we can’t collectively do politics.

Going forward we have two paths. Restoring a stable social contract broadly will mean restoring the ability to do politics, to rearrange our productive capacity in ways that are safer, more efficient, and more fair, which will necessarily mean a reorganization of power. Or it will require a far more authoritarian society, one in which we accept a much higher level of security spending to protect a narrow elite from a disempowered and angry populace.

The riots are a start in that they got our feral elites attention. Americans are showing the rich and powerful the limits of their power and that of their violent militarized police, and our elite are making concessions. However, while police and social reform are long overdue, calls for abolishment or defunding the police are crazy and will play into the strength of Trump and the “law and order” crowd. Not only that but it’s dangerous. It poses a real threat to working class neighborhoods that would be disproportionately impacted by such a radical action. Defunding the police would put every American at greater risk of bodily injury from individual or gang violence. The rich can pay for their own security, but that’s not a luxury working people can afford. Going further, privatizing the police would be a neoliberal wet dream, something our Ayn Rand loving, tech-libertarians have wanted for ages. They would be perfectly happy to use these protests to make it happen.

If history is a guide these protests are more of our dysfunctional political codependency and represent the triumph of  “woke” neoliberalism that has subsumed the Democratic Party. Instead of uniting us in a fierce battle against Wall Street and its broad daylight robbery of what is left of American wealth, “woke” neoliberals are promoting a race war. Their silence on Wall Street looting is hardly an accident. They are supported financially and by Wall Street and global financiers. This funding means that, in practice, they operate as a controlled opposition. They maintain their relevance by sustaining social and racial tensions that draw attention away from Wall Street and its crimes.

Combating America’s police brutality and racial discrimination are vitally important but fueling a race conflict is the worst possible path toward eliminating both racism and discrimination. Such a tactic will only deepen the divide that already splits the American working class.

Instead the focus should be on inequality and the massive looting operation that Wall Street is conducting. The focus should be on universal economic policies that unite all Americans without regard to race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Dr. King showed us the way 50 years ago.

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Corporate Control Area

 

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.

The election of Trump has always been useful in exposing the contradictions between the narrative of a “bright shining city on the hill” and the brutal reality.

That is what we are witnessing here. We are witnessing cognitive dissonance on a national level, where all the narratives about our political, media and cultural institutions are shown to be ephemeral. Our country teeters on the edge of stability.

No one who’s payed attention should be surprised. Our neoliberal elite have spent the last decades hollowing out government to the point that I’ve come to believe that we are instead inhabiting a series of competitive control areas or CCA’s. A CCA is an area where criminal organizations or extremists exert greater control over the territory than any government. Typically this formulation is reserved for failed-states in the Third World. But in our case instead of drug gangs or warlords the countervailing powers that exert the control are corporations.

And, this is starting to be a problem. Nowadays, the state’s political processes and its structures have been almost completely captured by corporations. As a result, the maintenance of internal and external security is less about ensuring an orderly and safe existence for citizens than about creating a space for globalized businesses to plunder local resources, exploit local labor while paying little or no taxes and taking no responsibility.

In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbs argues for a social contract and rule by an absolute sovereign. Hobbes wrote that civil war and the brute situation of a state of nature (“the war of all against all”) could only be avoided by strong, undivided government.

But, government rests on the consent of those it governs for its monopoly of violence. As citizens, we give up our right to commit violence ourselves and replaced it with a social contract in which our representatives legislate just laws on our behalf. Unfortunately, our government has been teaching us that we, increasingly, don’t matter. Instead, the state has become a hollowed-out vessel through which corporations order their business agendas. States function primarily now to compete with each other in a competition to reduce the obstacles facing global corporations as they seek to maximize their wealth and profits in each others territory. The state’s role is to avoid getting in the way of corporations as they extract resources (deregulation), or, when this capitalist model regularly collapses, come to the aid of the corporations and banks with generous bailouts.

A healthy state–one that genuinely cared for its citizens–would be capable of finding ways to accommodate discontent before it reaches the level of popular revolt. The scenes playing out across the US are evidence that state institutions, captured by corporate money, are increasingly unable of responding to demands for change. The hollowed-out state represents not its citizens, who are capable of compromise, but the interests of global forces of capital that care little what takes place on the streets of Minneapolis or New York so long as the corporations can continue to accumulate wealth and power.

And our police, in case you’ve ever wondered, don’t serve you. They mostly serve them.

The timing of this very public act of murder could not have been worse. There were already rumblings of discontent over federal and state authorities’ handling of the new virus; fears over the catastrophic consequences for the US economy; outrage at the massive bailouts for the biggest corporations but $1200 for ordinary workers; and the social and personal frustrations caused by the Covid-19 lock-down.

There is also a growing sense that both Republicans and Democrats could care less about the plight of average Americans and only do the bidding of their rich campaign donors. The response to the pandemic has only deepened this suspicion.

The protests against police violence are just the latest sign that our feral elite are losing their legitimacy, slowly but surely.

Even if these protests are crushed, or die down, I’m pretty sure it isn’t the last of them.

Like I’ve said before, this looks to be a long, hot summer.

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The Method

 

Vincent Bevins has written a new book that goes a long way towards explaining the election of Donald Trump. In The Jakarta Method, a riveting new exploration of America’s mass murder program in the twentieth century, journalist Vincent Bevins contends that the sadistic campaigns in Indonesia and Brazil in the 1960’s are still shaping our world for the worse.  I’ve been pointing out for a while that crimes committed on the periphery of empire always return. The election of Trump is just the latest manifestation of this dynamic.

The Jakarta Method examines the actions taken by the CIA in Indonesia and Brazil that was used as the template for social control around the world. Indeed, the actions carried out in both countries led to the creation of a “monstrous international network of extermination” of civilians in numerous countries, which played a fundamental role in building the world we all live in today. It’s clear what “Jakarta” meant: anticommunist mass murder and the state-organized extermination of civilians who opposed the construction of capitalist authoritarian regimes loyal to the United States. It meant forced disappearances and unrepentant state terror. And it would be employed far and wide over the decades that followed.

It’s not an easy read and most Americans will be baffled by the history. What happened contradicts so forcefully our common ideas of what it means to be an American and our naive ideas about freedom and democracy. But the United States is a corporate empire that with its international financial appendages pushed neoliberal reforms in Indonesia, Brazil and across the world, wrenching these countries even further open to transnational capital through deregulation, privatization, and free-trade agreements. State sponsored terror was the cudgel wielded to achieve these goals.

Bevins says, “The prime responsibility for the massacres and concentration camps lies with the Indonesian military. But Washington shares guilt for every death.” In all, right-wing forces slaughtered upwards of a million communists, alleged communists, and ethnic Chinese, many by way of machete — a weapon that Bevins notes arrived on the island of Bali contemporaneously with the military’s anticommunist propaganda campaign.

And in the end, US officials got what they wanted. It was a huge victory. As historian John Roosa puts it, “Almost overnight the Indonesian government went from being a fierce voice for cold war neutrality and anti-imperialism to a quiet, compliant partner of the US world order.”

This method of control was exported around the world, with Central and South America becoming the empire’s workshop. These counterinsurgency practices were a key part of the US-backed anti-communist doctrine that devastated the region during the civil wars of the 1970s and 1980s. The US, with its School of the Americas, torture manuals and death squads, turned Central American armies into counterinsurgency killing machines, who targeted so-called subversives: from guerrilla combatants to social-justice-minded nuns, priests, and nuns; union organizers; student radicals; and peasants who happened to be living on top of valuable minerals.

In one of the more horrifying segments of the book, Bevins writes that after the election of democratic-socialist Salvador Allende in Chile, graffiti began appearing in the more upscale neighborhoods of Santiago: “Jakarta se acerca” — Jakarta is coming. Anticommunist terrorist groups including Pátria y Libertad (Country and Freedom) threatened nothing less than the extermination of the Chilean left, “of people organizing for a better world,” while “Jakarta” would become a code word for US-sponsored mass killings throughout the region.

And it was all done to make these countries safe for US investment, something that elites in both US political parties agree should be the principle aim of US foreign policy.

I served in an elite military unit at the time and was aware of the insurgency/counterinsurgency attacks on workers and leftist movements in Central America. What burns me up is that many of my fellow paratroopers came from working-class homes, brought into the US military initially through an economic draft and kept there by crude patriotic propaganda with its appeals to country and duty and honor. What’s deeply ironic is that the US corporate empire has since turned its sights on the homeland. Many of these soldiers returned to cities and small towns ravaged by plant closures, corporate offshoring of middle-class jobs, boarded up homes, opioid addictions and deaths of despair.

Trump campaigned against all of this but since taking office has turned out to be another sociopathic monster. As I’ve talked about before, I believe the elite antipathy towards him is largely because he’s not a high functioning sociopath. He’s simply a more obvious monster.

Far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro was elected President of Brazil in 2018. Since the election he’s been described as the Brazilian Trump, but I don’t think that’s quite right. After reading Bevins book I’m convinced that Trump is the American Suharto, or Pinochet, or Bolsonaro.

Update: Bevins has a new article in the Times discussing his book.

“No reasonable person denies the great things the United States did in the 20th century, or that many countries enjoyed prosperity while in happy alliances with Washington. But as we move deeper into the 21st century, Americans are going to need to confront the darker side of American hegemony — because much of the rest of the world already has. Part of the reason the current order is so fragile is because so many people around the world know, indeed can physically feel in their bodies, that Washington used brutality to construct it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The political aspects of unemployment payments

 

Trump could coast to a win in November if he would embrace his inner Keynes.

Unfortunately he’s constrained by Republican orthodoxy, and right-wing think-tank ideologues who reject government interference in the so-called “free market”.

This ideological opposition is nothing new and was spelled out in 1943 by Polish economist Michael Kalecki in Political Aspects of Full-Employment. “…There is a political background in the opposition to the full employment doctrine, even though the arguments advanced are economic…. The reasons for the opposition of the ‘industrial leaders’ to full employment achieved by government spending… [are]: (i) dislike of government interference in the problem of employment as such; (ii) dislike of… public investment and subsidizing consumption… (iii) dislike of the social and political changes resulting from the maintenance of full employment….

Capitalists [have] a powerful indirect control over government policy: everything which may shake the state of confidence… [might] cause an economic crisis…. The social function of the doctrine of ‘sound finance’ is to make the level of employment dependent on the state of confidence…. The dislike of business leaders for a government spending policy grows even more acute when they come to consider the objects on which the money would be spent…. Public investment… be confined to objects which do not compete with the equipment of private business… suits the businessmen very well. But the scope for public investment of this type is rather narrow….

The maintenance of full employment would cause social and political changes which would give a new impetus to the opposition of the business leaders. The ‘sack’ would cease to play its role as a disciplinary measure. The social position of the boss would be undermined, and the self-assurance and class-consciousness of the working class would grow…. ‘Discipline in the factories’ and ‘political stability’ are more appreciated than profits by business leaders. Their class instinct tells them that lasting full employment is unsound from their point of view, and that unemployment is an integral part of the ‘normal’ capitalist system…”

Presently millions of laid-off American workers are receiving generous unemployment payments, with quite a few a lot more than their shit-jobs, but as Kalecki noted, this state of affairs is anathema to the capitalists and their political lackeys. Governors in red states are already moving to reopen their economies in the teeth of the pandemic in order to end such payments. Make no mistake, the arguments about “freedom” are simply cover for their opposition to government largess.

Trump actually ran as a populist Republican, voicing critique of many of the neoliberal shibboleths embraced by politicians on team red and team blue to the dismay of Beltway pundits. However, since his surprise election he’s governed like a typical Republican, with tax-cuts and extreme opposition to workplace regulations and environmental protections. In the process he’s kowtowed to the “free market” ideologues who populate our nations capital.

It’s darkly humorous to see Trump in the bind he’s in, where he could beat the despicable Biden like a gong if only he were to commit economic heresy.

In this environment, where millions of laid-off Americans stand to lose their jobs, insurance and now unemployment benefits, Trump could gain enormous support by simply doing the right thing.

Crazy, I know.

 

 

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Cry Wolf

 

Our technocratic elite are upset because Americans no longer trust “official news” and are instead relying on conspiracy theories.

But whose fucking fault is that?

Since the first Gulf War we’ve been fed a steady diet of unadulterated bull-shit by “official news”. Babies ripped from incubators. Weapons of mass destruction. Crop dusters filled with poison gas. Saddam palling around with al-Qaeda. Gaddafi feeding his mercenaries Viagra. Assad gassing heroic Syrian “rebels”. Etc.

And the biggest whopper of all–that Trump is a secret Russian agent, only elected through the nefarious machinations of Vladimir Putin.

Last week brought confirmation for what many of us out here on the periphery have known all along. That all of the Russia-gate nonsense was exactly that. Nonsense.

“House Intelligence Committee documents released Thursday reveal that the committee was told two and half years ago that the FBI had no concrete evidence that Russia hacked Democratic National Committee computers to filch the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks in July 2016″

Meanwhile, the Justice Department made public documents showing that when, in January 2017, prosecutors wanted to close the collusion case against Michael Flynn, who briefly served as President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, because they found “no derogatory information” against him, Peter Strzok, the philandering F.B.I. agent later found to be shaping an “insurance policy” against a Trump victory in the 2016 election, cajoled them into keeping it open — absence of evidence be damned.

It gets worse. “It looks like President Obama ordered up phony Russia-gate scandal” [New York Post]. “It’s now clear the Obama-Comey FBI and Justice Department never had anything more substantial than the laughable fiction of the Steele dossier to justify the “counterintelligence” investigation of the Trump campaign. Yet incessant leaks from that supposedly confidential probe wound up consuming the Trump administration’s first months in office — followed by the Bob Mueller-led special counsel investigation that proved nearly the “total witch hunt” that President Trump dubbed it.”

What has been the response to this “official” conspiracy theory coming undone?

Crickets.

That’s right. Move on now. Nothing to see here.

But here’s what I have to say to that sentiment. Move on? Fuck no! I can’t stand Trump, but liberals celebrated and venerated the CIA, FBI and national security state during a massive 4 year witch-hunt that destroyed the progressive momentum from Bernie’s 2016 campaign and brought us to the brink of a nuclear conflict with Russia.

They’ll probably get away with it. The American public, thanks to decades of 24 hour cable TV “news churn”, has the attention span of a gnat. And there’s always another bright, shiny object.

Plus, they have the power of the Mighty-Wurlitzer in the corporate media who has been beating the Russia-gate narrative from the start, and now appear to be doubling down with their lies and obfuscation, if the New York Times is any indication. The paper’s report on the dismissal of the Flynn case marked the judgment down as “the latest example of Attorney General William P. Barr’s efforts to chisel away at the results of the Russia investigation.” The Times ran two further pieces attacking Flynn and Barr in Saturday’s editions, here and here, and a straight-out character assassination of Flynn on Sunday.

Unlike the fairy tale where the little boy cries wolf so often that no one believes him and the wolf eats him, the corporate media has come to understand that if they dress up their lies in partisan garb they can retail them endlessly. Thus Obama became a Kenyon/Muslim who lacked a birth certificate on Fox News, while Trump became a secret Russian agent who was Putin’s gay lover in the Times and on MSNBC. They’re just feeding their audience what they want.

Gonzo journalist Matt Taibbi well describes this phenomenon in his book Hate Inc., where he describes how “each consumer had an outlet somewhere to match his or her political beliefs. …We sold anger, and we did it mainly by feeding audiences what they wanted to hear. Mostly, this involved cranking out stories about people our viewers loved to hate.”

 This is not a good sign. Our republic is based at a fundamental level on compromise, on being able to come together based on the same shared reality. In this environment of weaponized, partisan “news” I’m not sure that is possible anymore. This is why America in the age of Trump cannot self-correct.

It is why another Russia-gate is guaranteed.

In  the meantime, get ready for lots of moral scoldings from “experts” about our lack of trust in “experts”.

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