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Was 9/11 America’s Reichstag Fire?

It’s Not Quite Clear Yet, But It Smells Like It

On September 11, 2001, 19 Muslim activists, ostensibly trained in Afghanistan and at naive American flight schools, hijacked four airliners and flew two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and a third into the Pentagon. The fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, perhaps due to a passenger revolt aboard. The operation left behind almost 3000 dead and a lot of unanswered questions. 

Subsequent deaths related to the 9/11 attacks are about to surpass the number who died on the day. According to Dr. Michael Crane, director of the World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence at the Mount Sinai Hospital, nearly 10,000 first responders and others who were in the World Trade Center area have been diagnosed with cancer. More than 2,000 deaths have been attributed to 9/11 illnesses thus far. And it will get worse.

The Reichstag Precedent

In 1933, the German Reichstag (parliament building) was torched by a supposed left-wing arsonist, just a month after Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor. This event, considered an inside job by some informed observers, set the scene for his total takeover of the German state and, over the next 12 years, the rest of Europe. His first step, immediately after the fire, was to announce the Reichstag Fire Decree, permitting the police to detain people indefinitely without a court order; and then the Enabling Act that gave him broad legal powers over all aspects of German society, powers that he never relenquished and employed to wreak historic havoc in Europe.

If this sounds reminiscent of the Patriot Acts I and II after 9/11, it’s because they have a lot in common:

  • The ongoing doubt regarding who engineered the attack and how
  • The rapid and ongoing promulgation of emergency anti-terrorist legislation that simultaneously curtailed citizens’ civil rights
  • The supposed legitimazation of military action against sovereign countries seemingly chosen at random.
  • The tolerance of armed right-wing militias and commandos on the streets of his own country
  • The affirmation of a policy of belligerence and uber-nationalism in foreign relations

The American Experience

In concrete terms the American response to 9/11 manifested itself in gratuitous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq with disastrous long-term consequences for both of those essentially innocent countries. No cogent evidence was ever produced connecting either of them to the September 11 attacks. Years later the Americans themselves confessed that the weapons-of-mass-destruction justification was false.

Coincidentally, the 9/11 attacks seem eerily to have been predicted by the neocon Project for the New American Century (PNAC) when their Rebuilding America’s Defenses paper, written a year before before the September 11 attacks said: “Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.” The neocons fortuitously got their “new Pearl Harbor” on September 11, 2001. Veteran Australian journalist and documentary film maker, John Pilger, points to this passage when arguing that the Bush administration used the events of September 11 as an opportunity to capitalize on long-desired plans.

Meanwhile, the motivation for the attacks was never made clear, though it seems evident that any ranking Muslim terrorist with a mínimum of geopolitical savvy would have immediately foreseen the untold disasters that would befall his people in the aftermath of a 9/11-style event. By the same token, any neocon would immediately perceive the benefits of that same attack when it came to frightening American citizens, stripping them of their constitutional rights and herding them willy-nilly down the path to perpetual war.  

We had never seen the conspiracy-theory card played so fast and loose as in the case of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Building 7 and the Pentagon, each of which poses its own set of serious anomalies. Congressional proposals in response to the 9/11 attacks were introduced less than a week after the event and President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act bill into law just over a month later, on October 26, 2001. The bill passed with a single dissenter, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.

Is Your Story Leaky? Just Label Your Doubters “Conspiracy Theorists”

The lapses and inconsistencies in the oficial version of the events of 9/11, aggravated by the clumsy investigation, soon gave rise to groups of doubters from around the world, many of them highly qualified, who came to be called the 911 Truth Movement. The architects and engineers among these doubters launched elaborate technical investigations into the anomalous circumstances of the buildings’ collapse. They allege that there is no rational explanation for their straight-down near free fall , especially in the case of the 47-story Building Seven, which was not struck by any airplane yet dropped as true as a plumb bob. Further research on the case is complicated by the fact that the debri was hauled away and exported almost immediately after the attacks and very shortly nothing remainedI of the crime scenes.

The response from the American establishment and media to the questions posed by the doubters was an effective stone wall expressed in one brief phrase: “conspiracy theories.” That was enough to settle the question for the majority of the American people, terrified or ignorant enough to accept simple, flag-wrapped explanations for events that were clearly much more complicated. Who is telling the truth? Who stands to benefit? The oficial investigation forgot even to follow the money. If it had they might have noticed that the big winners were Larry Silverstein’s Silverstein Properties which enjoyed a $4.55 billion insurance settlement and, of course, the military-industrial complex that has been bloated ever since by the sale—all over the world—of ever-more-sophisticated, fabulously-expensive arms and anti-terrorist materiel.

The trouble with “emergency legislation” like Hitler’s Enabling Act and the Patriot Act in the US is the difficulty in revoking it when the emergency has passed. Due mainly to the executive branches’greed for competencies, some of the most repressive aspects of these laws survive as toxic legacies until their most pernicious parts are eventually forgotten.

Enter the USA Patriot Act

The USA Patriot Act, enacted on October 26, 2001, modified many major U.S. intelligence, communications, and privacy laws, including: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act,  the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, and the Communications Act of 1934. (Source: it.ojp.gov) The parts of the Patriot Act that cause most concern have to do with provisions that facilitated the governments right to collect Americans’ communications records.

According to VOX.com:

The Patriot Act covered a lot of ground. Some of its provisions have since been struck down by the courts (the Supreme Court has ruled that it’s illegal to indefinitely detain immigrants who aren’t charged with crimes, for example); others have become part of the mission of the Department of Homeland Security, which didn’t exist when the law was passed. Others have stuck around and aren’t the subject of a lot of controversy: the law created a slew of new federal crimes related to terrorism, created federal funds to assist victims of terrorism, and gave the federal government a range of new powers to track and seize money being used by organizations connected to terrorism.

Though the introductory notes to the USA Patriot Act try to emphasize the protection of the civil rights of Americans, subsequent editions of the act have tightened many of those loopholes:

  • the 2001 Act,
  • the 2005 reauthorizing act,
  • the 2006 amending and reauthorizing act, and
  • the 2011 four-year extension of the “lone wolf” definition, authorization of “roving wiretaps” and “request for production business records” search authority.

The ACLU writes in 2001,

Less than two years after Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, giving new, sweeping powers to the federal government to conduct investigations and surveillance inside the United States, the Justice Department is contemplating another chilling grab of authority and further diminution of constitutional checks and balances on law enforcement. 

With the Domestic Security Enhancement Act the Administration took the Patriot Act’s antiterror powers several steps further.  Dubbed “Patriot Act 2,” the legislation granted additional sweeping powers to the government, eliminating or weakening remaining limits on government surveillance, wiretapping, detention and prosecution. 

In subsequent years the government amended the Patriot Act three more times. The government’s response to allegations of civil rights abuse, published on Justice.gov, reads like a patronizing explanation for the most rigorous provisions of the USA Patriot Act 2, almost as if they were ashamed of it:

The Patriot Act allows investigators to use the tools that were already available to investigate organized crime and drug trafficking. Many of the tools the Act provides to law enforcement to fight terrorism have been used for decades to fight organized crime and drug dealers, and have been reviewed and approved by the courts.

(Congressional Record, 10/25/01)

The Final Link

The final link in the chain of events unleashed by the Reichstag Fire was World War 2. We have yet to see the ultimate results of the events of 9/11, both on the American domestic front and on foreign relations. Will the Patriot Act ultimately enable the US government to treat the Black Lives Matter demonstrators as terrorists? Will they permit Washington chicken hawks to launch unjustified attacks on sovereign countries such as Venezuela and Iran the way they did in Iraq and Afghanistan in early years of this century? Will future American agressions lead to another worldwide conflagration? The 2020 American presidential election is imminent and may be decisive in determining the final link in the series of events initiated by the attacks of September 11, 2001. Which is the candidate who will prevent the worst occurring at home and abroad? Your guess is as good as mine. And we don’t have long to wait.

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American Democracy Cries Out for Revitalization

The Remedies for Their Woes Are Straightforward and Everyone Would Benefit

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, as Aretha so eloquently put it, is everything, between rich and poor, between black, brown and white; between left and right.

I left the States in 1968 when I was 25 years old, recently discharged from the army. That’s more than 50 years ago and I only went back a few times to visit my mother. Yet I’ve never stopped thinking about America. About the wonderful country they have, their abundant resources, their industrial and intellectual potential, their bright and creative people, their authentic bluegrass, blues and soul traditions… I write “they” because ever since I became a Spanish citizen 37 years ago I somehow stopped feeling that I fitted into the American mosaic. My view of the United States has become that of the consummate outsider who was once on the inside, looking out.

These days Americans have to ask, how did everything go so wrong? What might be done to set the country straight?

Frankly, this is something I’ve been ruminating on since before Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, and I think I have some tentative answers. First we have to agree on the necessities of a proper democracy, one that serves its citizens and the world at large. Yesterday I sat down with a pencil and made a list. If you love pencils and lists you’ll understand my elation in that moment at having America’s problems in my hands. Everything is possible. Here’s the list, by the numbers, in the order they came into my head:

The Pillars of a Viable Democracy

  1. Universal mutual respect, regardless of individual differences.
  2. A sense of shared destiny.
  3. Equality before the law, due process.
  4. Free and fair elections.
  5. A mixed economy incorporating the incentives of capitalism and the securities of socialism.
  6. Good will.
  7. Solidarity that trumps opportunism.
  8. Rigorous racial, sexual and social equality. See 7.
  9. Free and equal public education.
  10. Basic decency, tolerance, generosity and honesty.
  11. Acknowledgement of fact-based reality.
  12. A humane foreign policy.
  13. A population capable of critical thinking.
  14. Leadership committed to all of these values.

After all, two of America’s most revered collectives are already thoroughly socialized: the US military and the Congress of the United States.

Here’s What the US Has Today

  1. A polarized society with virulent disrespect of each side for the other.
    R-E-S-P-E-C-T, as Aretha so eloquently put it, is everything, between rich and poor, between black, brown and white; between the left and the right. It’s the lubricant and the shock absorber for everything that takes place in a well-ordered , egalitarian society.
  2. A overriding sense of “every man for himself.” When the acknowledgment that you’re all in this together is the best glue for holding society together.
  3. Massive inequality through law enforcement, courts and penal institutions. This is the infirm American justice system and without reforming it nothing is possible. For gross abuse of separation of powers, look no further than the President’s constitutional right to appoint Supreme Court justices for life, just to mention the most obvious. After a period of renewed democracy a constitutional amendment and other judicial reforms would be in order.
  4. Murky, untrustworthy elections due to the Electoral College, gerrymandering, rigged polling practices, and distrust fomented by a candidate with an eye to manipulating election results by impugning the election and then loosing a Proud-Boys-style army of right-wing goons on the nation. Free and fair elections are the heart of true democracy.
  5. A predatory capitalistic economy. Capitalism is deeply rooted and needs tempering, controlling its excesses. As for socialism, it shouldn’t be too hard to sell European-style socialism to Americans, notwithstanding a century of anti-socialist brainscrubbing. After all, two of America’s most revered collectives are already thoroughly socialized: the US military and the Congress of the United States. Both enjoy socialized medicine, including dentistry. Both are entitled to a living wage–admittedly the latter live better than the former–and a dignified retirement. All that is lacking is to extend those benefits to the whole of American society. Meanwhile, isn’t it a nice irony that those who benefit most from American socialism are the same politicians who most vehemently denounce any collective solution as “Bolshevik.”
  6. Ill will. This is more complicated to remedy but it should come as a result of all the other advances in a renovated American democracy.
  7. Opportunism that trumps solidarity. Also tricky and it won’t be immediate but it will come of its own accord in time, once the conditions are propitious and honesty reigns.
  8. Crushing racial, sexual and social inequality at all levels. This is perhaps the Americans’ most acute problem. Homicidal racism in the US is business as usual. The streets-to-prison conveyor belt for minorities is working flawlessly and private prisons are a growth industry. But the problem is much broader and much more subtle. An entire sector of a country’s population distinguished by skin tone cannot be expected to surivive without respect. African Americans are the second largest racial/ethnic minority in the US, comprising an estimated 13.4% of the population, after Hispanic and Latino Americans’ 18%. (Source: Wikipedia article, “Race and ethnicity in the United States,” figures from 2016.) Can a profound revamping of America’s nominally democratic society rectify these injustices? Only time will tell but the United States will not be a truly civilized country until this issue is faced squarely and dealt with equitably. Again, universal progressive public education will help.
  9. Prohibitively expensive and unequal education, well below the level of more civilized countries. American education through 12th grade is free, but not equal. Since it’s generally financed by property taxes and they vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood and state to state, some schools are lavishly rich and others far too poor. Higher education must also be free or inexpensive. These inequalities between the rich and everyone else should sort themselves out with advances in other aspects of society.
  10. General indecency, intolerance, greed and dishonesty. They could try beginning with effective, Nordic-style schools and pre-schools where decency is taught the same as readin’, writin’ and arithmatic.
  11. Miracle-based reality. This is one of the hardest ills to combat as religious belief, no matter how absurd or commerce based, doesn’t admit of logical arguement or rebuttal. This is an area where the only hope–and it’s not a guaranteed cure–is via a proper lay education of children from an early age.
  12. US foreign policy consists almost entirely of bare-knuckled militarism. Despite not having won a proper war in seven and a half decades (and that one was largely won by the Russians), the Americans still strut their bellicose stuff proudly. They maintain some 800 menacing military bases around the world. Hundreds of foreign bases, besides creating dozens of enemies around the world, also means billions of dollars annually in business just building, stocking and maintaining them. The US military is also the world’s largest polluter.
  13. A large sector of the population is incapable of reasonable thinking on any question. This is about the lamentable “dumbing down” of America in recent–and not so recent–decades. Whether coincidentally or by design, it functioned wonderfully well to create a semi-literate brotherhood with no criteria of its own that thrives on pure toxic ideology and magical religion. This problem will require intensive, long-term cultivation of the American lumpenproletariat. The first requirement is literacy. The second is books that aren’t the Bible.
  14. No leadership whatsoever. The election of an honest, capable, hard-working, Franklin-D.-Roosevelt-style president would work wonders. There is no shortage of such people in the United States, but today they’re too honest to get involved in national politics.

It Might Be a Long Uphill Trudge But It’s Possible, and Necessary

We’re talking here, of course, about hearts and minds. In America they urgently require some serious changing. And that’s not an easy task, as the Americans discovered in Vietnam. The essential first step in any case is for a decent, humanitarian American candidate to win an election, and not just one. This kind of change requires a whole series of disinterested commanders in chief dedicated to healing and rebuilding the country. They don’t need to worry about making it “great” which is just a hollow campaign slogan. It would be enough just to make it a just country where every newborn child had an equal chance in life.

by Mike Booth

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NATO Is a Protection Racket, Among Other Things


Let’s Go Back Over the Story

The rationale for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been based on a genial lie from the beginning: that the United States set up and essentially runs NATO in order to protect Europe from potential Russian aggression. It seems to make perfect sense when interpreted in the context of the Cold War, in which we were obliged by Big Brother to perceive almost everything as a Russian plot. The best defense against this looming danger, the story goes, was a military alliance led by the greatest power in the history of the world, the United States.

In the immediate post-World War II period the US, which took more than its share of the credit for the liberation of Europe from the Nazis, saw an opportunity to consolidate its influence over the continent. Given the poverty and disarray of other countries after the war, the Americans saw an opportunity for the United States to advance their world-domination agenda. Their first step in tutoring their European allies, and it was a masterstroke, was to create NATO in Washington on April 14, 1949, and headquarter it in Brussels. This grouping of the Europeans in a single organization made them much more manageable. Casting the organization as a military mutual defense project with the all-powerful US at the head left Europe as a virtual American protectorate. Any significant deviation from the American agenda entailed the threat of American withdrawl of their protection. Of course, that protection had to be paid for. Does this business model sound familiar? It should. It made Francis Ford Coppola rich making movies about it.

The creation of the National Security Council (NSC) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1949 laid the foundation of the American neo-colonial infrastructure, along with the Bretton Woods agreements founding the World Bank and the IMF, which guaranteed American economic and monetary dominance. Then, in 1952, came the creation of the National Security Agency (NSA), the greatest electronic eavesdropping agency in the world. With these measures in place the deck was nicely stacked to assure three quarters of a century of American world ascendency. That domination was not seriously questioned until the rise of Chinese industrial, economic and military power in the early 21st century. Today the United States has a new set of defense priorities and the prospect of Russian tanks rolling into Poland is not high on that list.

What Benefits Does NATO Contribute to the United States? 

President Donald Trump whinges a lot about European NATO members not contributing enough to the NATO budget. After all, he alleges, NATO exists to protect Europe. It’s only fair that Europeans should pay their fair share. And from his point of view they don’t seem to be doing that.

The President’s point of view, however, doesn’t hold much water. Is the principal mission of NATO really to protect Europe? President  Trump and his peripatetic Secretary of State, Mike (El Pompi) Pompeo, pretend to be unaware of the benefits that NATO provides the United States. Here’s what the Atlantic Council’s Magnus Nordenman and the Center for Transatlantic Relations’ Hans Binnendijk write in their issue brief, NATO’s Value to the United States: By the Numbers:

“NATO promotes peace within Europe and deters major US adversaries from launching large-scale conventional wars.

  • World War II cost the United States more than 400,000 lives and an estimated $4.1 trillion (in 2011 dollars). NATO has been key to preserving peace within the European continent and preventing other adversaries from launching a major conventional war.

  • According to credible sources, a major conventional war today could cost the United States upwards of $2.5 trillion per year.

    NATO is a force multiplier that gives the United States access to military tools in greater numbers than it can achieve by itself.

  • Non-US NATO members have 1,857,000 active duty service members and 1,232,290 reservists. The seven largest non-US NATO member armies have the same number of active duty troops as the United States (1.3 million).

  • Non-US NATO members can deploy 6,983 battle tanks, 34,000 armored vehicles, 2,600 combat aircraft, 382 attack helicopters, 252 major naval craft (including submarines), and 1,582 patrol and surface combatants.

  • France and the United Kingdom alone provide 30 percent of the Alliance’s ballistic-missile-submarine fleet.

  • NATO’s European members are beginning to host the first stages of the Alliance’s new ballistic-missile-defense system aimed at preventing long-range attacks by rogue states on the United States and Europe.

  • NATO members frequently share intelligence across the Alliance, aiding US operations and intelligence-gathering. The United Kingdom, France, and Germany alone add 40,000 intelligence personnel to the Alliance’s intelligence capabilities.

  • Non-US NATO members host twenty-eight US main operating bases in Europe, which cut down on the time needed for the United States to respond to a crisis and are critical for US missions in the Middle East and North Africa.

  • In 2009, for example, Germany contributed $800 million to offset and improve its US bases.

NATO undertakes numerous missions to protect member states and promote security around the globe.

  • NATO has five active missions around the world deploying 18,000 troops.

  • Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has completed thirteen missions including two in the United States (Hurricane Katrina relief and post-9/11 air reconnaissance patrol).

  • NATO allies contributed thousands of troops to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, including 38,000 in 2011, saving the United States an estimated $49 billion that year. The operation in Afghanistan was the first and only time NATO’s mutual defense commitment was invoked.

  • Non-US members sustained more than 1,000 combat deaths in Afghanistan, with an additional one hundred lost by NATO partners.

  • Non-US NATO members contributed more than 60 percent of assets for Operation Unified Protector in Libya.

  • Non-US Coalition members flew one-third of all coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Operation Inherent Resolve.

  • NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield against piracy in the Gulf of Aden has been led at different times by Denmark, Spain, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Portugal.

NATO supports and protects the economies of Europe, which are critical to the health of the US economy.

  • US trade with the European Union reached $699 billion in 2015, only made possible because of the security and stability provided by NATO.

  • US exports to the former Communist NATO member states (not including East Germany) grew from $0.9 billion in 1989 to $9.4 billion in 2016.

  • Troops and Equipment. NATO benefits from being able to draw on the military expertise and capabilities of its members. This includes tanks, submarines and fighter jets.
  • Non-US NATO members contribute massively to the US defense industry to supply their forces. Currently, European members are planning to purchase as many as 500 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters  from the United States.” The life-of-the-product cost of those 500 aircraft and their maintenance is in the trillions of dollars, which drop straight into the US Treasury.

What Else Does the US Gain from NATO?

  1. Collaborative bases all over Europe (in 21 countries) at the expense of the European taxpayer. While it is true that the Department of Defence has to pay more for stationing troops in Europe at a higher cost of living, the host nations pay this back and an extra surplus to the US Treasury (something most American spokespeople forget to mention). On top of that, all infrastructure of these US bases is paid for by the host nation, including maintenance.
  2. Access to European defense technology. A lot of ‘American’ technology originates elsewhere.
  3. The proximity necessary to lobby European politicians to buy American weapons systems. All of this without any firm commitment as the NATO Treaty states that an attack on one member state must be considered to be an attack on all member states … it specifically doesn’t state that military action is required … this at the request of the US back in 1949.
  4. A unified military, political, and economic influence over virtually all of Europe, including constant aerial surveillance.
  5. A ring of bases and missile emplacements around southern and western Russia.
  6. A reinforcement of the myth of the US as “protector” of Europe.
  7. Strategically placed allies prepared to be invited or coerced into joining any American “preemptive”aggression anywhere in the world.

What Are the Benefits for European NATO Members?

On the other side of the ledger, NATO membership also benefits the Europeans. Here’s how one of the NATO websites (nato.int) explains the advantages for European members:

  • An International Security Hub. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a political and military Alliance of 28 member countries from Europe and North America. Member states are committed to individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. These values are at the heart of NATO’s transatlantic bond.
  • Collective Defense. The greatest responsibility of the Alliance is to protect and defend NATO territory and populations. 
  • NATO’s Command Structure. NATO has a permanent, integrated military command structure where military and civilian personnel from all member states work together. 
  • Standing forces. NATO has a number of standing forces on active duty that contribute to the Alliance’s collective defence on a permanent basis. These include NATO’s four standing maritime group fleets, which are ready to act when called upon. Additionally NATO has an integrated air defence system that links national air defence capabilities together and includes the Alliance’s ballistic missile defence capabilities. 
  • Deterrence. The Alliance’s deterrence is based on an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional capabilities, which remain a core element of NATO’s strategy.
  • Crisis Management. The Alliance has frequently acted to uphold international peace and security.

And one frankly frightening disadvantage:

By joining the NATO alliance European countries assume the risk and responsibility of alienating all of the United States’ enemies. In the worst cases, where NATO members permit the emplacement of American nuclear missiles on their territories, they convert their countries into nuclear targets of new enemies they might never before have considered adversaries.

So Who Owes What to Whom?

This quick comparative summary of benefits accruing from NATO membership for both Americans and Europeans  does not indicate a net debt of the Europeans in favor of the Americans, rather the contrary. Most of what the Americans deliver are promises, and American promises are not enjoying a bull market these days.

A quick look at the map below also belies the supposed defensive nature of NATO, especially now that newer NATO members, equipped and trained in part by the United States, have completed the semi-circle of bases and missiles that potentially threaten Russia from the west. So European NATO members become accomplices in the American virtual siege of Russia. One wonders, are those bases really necessary? In fact, the whole raison d’etre of the NATO project hinges upon the possibility of a Russian blitzkrieg stomping across western Europe. Is it probable? How probable, 90%? 10%? Is it reality based or a figment of the traditional American anti-communist neurosis, the same malady that has “legitimized” bloody military interventions around the world from Korea and Vietnam to Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Is the phantasmagoric statistical probability of the dread Russian bear pouncing on Europe kept in penumbra in order to justify the ongoing American “defensive” presence there? A similar strategy worked in the 1950s. Now it is being dusted off and expected to work again in the 21st century.

The Frosting on the Cake: The Americans’ Secret Terrorist Army in Western Europe

It was Winston Churchill’s idea to create secret “stay-behind” military units in European countries as resistance fighters against the possibility of Russian invasion. Never mind that the Russians had just lost more than 20 million citizens while winning the war for the Allies on the eastern front. So Churchill sent MI6 agents all over Europe to recruit experienced, right-minded fighters, equip them and train them in guerilla techniques. The agents were looking for battle-seasoned troops.

As it happened the Germans had also prepared a stay-behind presence in Western Europe and one of their units had just been rounded up and jailed by allied troops. When the OSS (forerunner of the CIA) found them, instead of treating them as particularly nasty prisoners of war, they offered them a job. That’s how “Operation Gladio,” as the project came to be known, became a swarm of extreme right-wing goons.

After six years of warfare the UK wasn’t really in shape to run a Europe-wide paramilitary network, so their sometime collaborators, the American CIA, took over until 1952 when the management of Operation Gladio passed to NATO. The much-touted Marshall Plan notwithstanding, American and British concerns after the war were not so much about reconstruction in Europe as containment of the Russians and their collectivist ideology, especially in countries like Italy, France and Greece where communists were actually being elected to democratic governments, based on their exemplary resistance to the Germans during the war. 

Not to worry, NATO had a plan. They would activate the Gladio units in those countries whose elections needed “correcting” to carry out seemingly random terrorist attacks and blame them on the communists, thus swinging voters to the right. These terrifying false-flag operations–a bomb that killed 85 people and wounded more than 200 in the 1980 Bologna Centrale station, shotgun killings of whole families in supermarkets in Belgium’s Brabant region, and many others–determined the election results against leftist candidates and saved the day for democracy in the Free World. The truth didn’t come out until 1990 when right-wing militant and Gladio operator, Vincenzo Vinciguerra, testified in an Italian court on another case and the whole Gladio story came to light, both in Belgium and across Europe. Vinciguerra is still serving a life sentence for his–and NATO’s– crimes.

This spine-chilling history didn’t receive much coverage nor follow-up in the American press, though the Washington Post did have this to say on Nov. 13, 1990:

 A secret army created by the Central Intelligence Agency during the 1950s to organize resistance in the event of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe has finally come in from the cold, and the disclosures of its past actions are producing a political flap that stretches across the continent.

The existence of a clandestine paramilitary network code-named “Operation Gladio” was disclosed last Thursday by Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti in a speech to his nation’s Senate. Since then, European officials have described similar operations in most of the other NATO countries.

The CIA-backed paramilitary network included units in Belgium, France, Greece, West Germany and the Netherlands, according to European newspaper and news-service reports.

(Source: The Washington Post, November 14, 1990)

Please Accept My Apology

If you were already aware of these sensational events and the outrages perpetrated by NATO and the CIA in Europe in the second half of the 20th century, please accept my apologies for wasting your time. If you weren’t aware, I’m delighted to have introduced you to this ongoing sordid story. NATO is still on the march, still selling its repugnant bulwark-of-democracy bill of goods, still providing troops and infrastructure for American skullduggery around the world. So, the next time you see on the news a seemingly senseless terrorist attack that smells like a false-flag operation, remember NATO and Gladio.

Why do those attacks have to be so senseless? Murdering a whole family of five in the aisles of a supermarket is so unthinkably unreasonable. Vincenzo Vinciguerra has answered this question from his prison cell. He said, “That’s what scares them most.”

by Mike Booth

Author’s note: Here’s a link to a three-part article I wrote on Operation Gladio earlier this year.

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“How Many People Must Die to Get Me Elected President?”

Let’s Look at a Few Examples

All candidates like to be elected, and the presidency of the United States is the ultimate election. They work long and hard at it and sometimes play dirty. And that unfair play can end in the deaths of innocent bystanders, as we shall see.

There’s only one rung on the American election ladder that’s higher than being elected president. That is being re-elected, and all but a few American presidents have made it their top priority while in office. For many of them it has been a permanent fixation and they have gone to extreme lengths to achieve it. And we’re not just talking about the mentally and morally deficient like President Trump. It’s pretty much all of them. One wonders, what are the causes of this deadly–for others–White House infirmity?

If you ask them they will, of course, all allege the same thing: “I need four more years to complete the project I promised the American people when I was elected.” Well, yes, but what else? Power hunger? There’s always a dash of that in the mix. It comes with the territory, and the higher you rise on the totem pole the more acute it becomes. Economic motives? Has there ever been an American president who left the White House poorer than when he went in?

The additional four more years of a second term give him time to distribute more favors among influential people–or better yet, corporations– and prepare himself a nice featherbed for when he leaves office. He can be more effective at this during his second term. First-term presidents must walk on eggshells to some extent, lest they garner powerful enemies, back failing initiatives, misjudge a war, or get reputations as self-interested, do-nothing chief executives.

Since re-election is constitutionally prohibited after their second term, they are free to move fast and loose in pursuit of whatever their hearts desire: some plump defense contracts for the military-industrial-technological-congressional complex, some pardons for their convicted cronies, some lucrative seats on boards of directors, a nice fund for a presidential library… The possibilities are endless, but they require time. Four more years.

“All of that may be true,” you say, “but from there to getting people killed in order to be re-elected is a far cry.”

Not That Far, Here’s Richard Nixon

Perhaps the 20th century’s most egregious instance of –What shall we call it?–“cognizant active or passive homicide for electoral purposes”– was the decision cooked up by candidate Richard Nixon & friends, regarding Nixon’s strategy for sabotaging President Lyndon Johnson’s 1968 election strategy.

Nixon’s Presidental campaign needed the war to continue, since he was running on a platform that opposed the war. According to the BBC:

Nixon feared a breakthrough at the Paris Peace talks designed to find a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam war, and he knew this would derail his campaign. In late October 1968 there were major concessions from Hanoi which promised to allow meaningful talks to get underway in Paris – concessions that would justify Johnson calling for a complete bombing halt of North Vietnam. This was exactly what Nixon feared.

Henry Kissinger, who was working on the Johnson camapaign at the time, alerted Nixon to the Democrats’ imminent peace initiative and Nixon commissioned one of his aids, Anna Chennault, to propose a deal to the South Vietnamese embassy: the South Vietnamese government should withdraw from the talks, refuse to deal with Johnson, and if Nixon was elected, they would get a much better deal.” The Atlantic Wire.

This nifty bit of treason permitted Nixon to win the 1968 presidential election by just 1 percent of the popular vote. “Once in office he escalated the war into Laos and Cambodia, with the loss of an additional 22,000 American (and a million Vietnamese) lives, before finally settling in 1973 for a peace agreement  that had been within grasp in 1968.” (Source: Smithsonianmag.com, 2013)

John F. Kennedy

Six days into the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962, President Kennedy’s first public announcement included this: “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States…” Seymour Hersh comments in his 1997 book, The Dark Side of Camelot, “Kennedy’s audience, of course, was not only Moscow but his political critics in the Republican Party. ‘Who lost Cuba?’ would not be a theme of the 1962 congressional elections.”

As president, John Kennedy was not above dialing party politics into an international crisis. This became more evident in his handling of the early stages of the Vietnam War. Hersh, in the same book, cites Kennedy’s lifelong friend, Charles Bartlett, quoting Kennedy as saying, “Charlie, I can’t let Vietnam go to the Communists and then go and ask these people–the voters of America–to re-elect me. Somehow we’ve got to hold that territory through the 1964 election. We’ve already given up Laos to the communists, and if I give up Vietnam I won’t really be able to go to the people.” Unfortunately Kennedy never got the opportunity to “go to the people.”

In a footnote Hersh describes Bartlett as “distressed,” at Kennedy’s linking the war in South Vietnam to his political fortunes. Kennedy’s old friend adds, “This made me a champion of the single six-year presidential term.”

Donald J. Trump

Trump takes America into a black hole.
Does it look as if President Trump is leading his followers into a black hole, or is it just me?

Sometimes it’s amusing to have a buffoon at the helm, but more often not. The Trump presidency thus far has given us a bit of everything. Now, smitten with classic re-election fever, President Trump is trying to activate his electorate, degrade his opponent, sidestep his court cases and, while he’s at it, defuse America’s greatest-ever passive election homicide: nearly 200,000 Covid-19 deaths. He might have gotten away with it by employing  his usual look-in-your-eyes, lie-and-shrug routine, but Bob Woodward’s revelation–in his new book, Rage, has probably cooked Trump’s election goose. According to Woodward’s account, the President admitted to being fully aware of the grave dangers posed by the epidemic on February 7, 2020, yet Donald Trump neither said nor did anything about it for months. He alleged that he played down the risks of Covid-19 in order not to cause panic across the country. Perhaps he also thought that an admission of that nature would be detrimental to his election hopes.

At this stage in the game President Trump has few mysteries left to unravel, but the most recent one has Trumpologists around the world  losing sleep. (And there’s a bit of amateur Trumpologist in most all of us who can read.) Why on earth did Donald Trump willingly submit himself to a series of 18 recorded interview sessions with Bob Woodward, a reporter with well-earned fame for his part in bringing down one unworthy United States president already?

by Mike Booth

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Educating the USA

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn …and change.” 

Dr. Ken Robinson

Education Is Not Just Your Best Hope, It’s Your Only Hope

Learning begins as soon as we come into the world. And when I say “we” I mean everybody: you, your neighbors, your country, your world. Because we’re all in this together.

The education of babies and young children is critical because it’s the foundation for everything else, and not just reading, writing and arithmetic. The first vital element of the education of small children is socialization, the art of living among other human beings. Why “small” children? Because, according to education specialists, the first three–some say six or seven–years of a child’s life is the most formative period for the adult that he or she will become. Aristotle is credited with saying, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.”

One of the best known and most successful manifestations of this reality is the legacy of the Italian doctor, teacher and educator of educators, Maria Montessori. Like many makers of history, Montessori came from an atypical tradition with an steep path before her. Born in a small town in Italy in 1870, as a woman she was discouraged at every step of the way from studying, becoming a doctor, lecturer, author and worldwide eminence in progressive education. The essence of her approach was to shun the mechanized industrial or rote mode of education in favor of a more agricultural model: plant the seeds and provide them with the necessities to grow.

Today the entire world is planted with Montessori and quasi-Montessori schools that have had a profound influence on their students and educational progress in general. Many innovators of today, like both founders of Google (Sergei Brin and Larry Page), the founder of Amazon (Jeff Bezos), the creator of Wikipedia (Jimmy Wales) and the designer of the ground-breaking video game Sim City (Will Wright) attended Montessori schools.

Parents Are the First Educators 

Before most children meet their first teacher, between the ages of three and six, all of their learning experiences and character formation are dependent upon their parents. And a child’s selection of parents is a lottery. The ideal is loving, supportive parents with sufficient resources, time to devote to their early years and an awareness of early learning necessities, parents who recognize the importance of play, reading, freedom, creativity and animals, and who foment generosity, consideration and empathy. These children are the lucky ones, and they are more likely to live fruitful lives.

Sadly, the parents of underprivileged, off-the-rails young people are, themselves, products of the same self-fulfilling prophesy. They have neither the resources, the knowledge nor the skills to devote to educating their children during the critical early years, and the results are young citizens formed with the same crooked cookie cutter as their parents. This is obvious and demands programs for educating parents and equipping them with the means to raise their children to be constructive, fulfilled citizens and parents. The circle must be broken. But that would be expensive, no? I’ll refer you to Dr. Robinson’s wisdom: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Criteria for a Good Education

“Good education” is public, egalitarian, well-funded, free and complete from elementary school through university or advanced vocational training. In addition, some countries have innovative pre-school programs like the Finnish Forest Schools in which five and six-year-olds spend most of their time outdoors in nature, year round, rain or shine. The experience of leading countries in education indicates that emphasis should be placed on training expert, motivated teachers and remunerating them well. Curiously, the countries that successfully educate their young to be first, good people, and second, good citizens, find that their students also attain academic results among the highest in the world.

We’re talking about benchmark Finland, of course, but also Norway, Japan, Estonia, Canada, New Zealand and South Korea, along with several other countries in Asia and other places. The United States is not among the top 20 countries in this ranking.

What Does a Failing Primary Education System Yield? The American Example

Quality education is expensive but forward-looking countries don’t hesitate to budget all that is needed to provide first-rate teachers and administrators, installations and equipment. Contrast that with education financing in the United States, where it’s usually paid for by local property taxes. This means that zones with high property values have plenty of money for fine schools, whereas those with low property values have far less money, leading to netly inferior schools and education levels. Poor housing goes hand in hand with lower cultural levels, so inner-city kids have two strikes against them–economic and cultural–the day they start kindergarten. Unless they have extraordinary luck, their school experience is destined to be deficient. By the time they are turned out on the street, with or without a high-school diploma, they are fodder for the penal system.

With no further education aspirations nor job skills they turn, in the great American tradition, to fast, easy money. As they don’t have access to the markets of Wall Street, they deal in drugs. This scenario, where black and other minority young people predominate, leads inevitably to the courts, where the deck is stacked against them, and to prison, where they earn master’s degrees in crime and violence. When they eventually leave prison they have children of their own, reproducing the deadly cycle of inequality, hopelessness and bitterness. Add to all of this the reality of being constantly harrassed and occasionally murdered with impunity by white police officers, and you have a volatile cocktail. How much human potential is lost with the marginalization of black and brown America?

This lifestyle of underprivileged young Americans, whether inner city or rural is a tragedy by design, but it needn’t be that way. In a country inspired by the human values that prevail in the rest of the advanced world, education would be free and equal for all. Soft drugs like marijuana, would be legal and controlled, and draconian mandatory sentencing would be a thing of the past. The United States suffers the highest per-capita incarceration rate in the world, along with the most obscene military offense budget. How complicated would it be for the country to invert national priorities and build schools instead of prisons and wage education instead of war? Why isn’t that happening? These are measures that would truly make America great again for all citizens except for the few who are currently profiting obesely from permanent war and private prisons.

American Higher Education Is a Different Story

Where the US does excel is in its higher education. Its elite universities, with their advanced degree programs and elaborate research facilities are the best in the world, attracting select foreign students. Many of these graduates return home to form the mandarin classes in their own countries. Others remain in the US to join the American intellectual and scientific elites.

High costs are the flaw in the American university system, serving to exclude students from humble origins. Even those who manage to finance their university educations with loans are heavily burdened by the obligation to pay them back. Total student loan debt in the US, as of 2020, is about $1.56 trillion. Students pay off that debt at an average of $393/month.

Anthropologist David Graeber, author of Debt: The First 5000 Years, argues that student debt is “destroying the imagination of youth”:

If there’s a way of a society committing mass suicide, what better way than to take all the youngest, most energetic, creative, joyous people in your society and saddle them with, like $50,000 of debt so they have to be slaves? There goes your music. There goes your culture. There goes everything new that would pop out. And in a way, this is what’s happened to our society. We’re a society that has lost any ability to incorporate the interesting, creative and eccentric people.

A nice irony in this uniquely-American scenario is that the current American Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, an enthusiastic promoter of school privatazation, was obliged to admit in her pre-appointment ethics report her investment in LMF WF Portfolio, a company which helped finance a $147 million loan to a debt collection agency, called Performant Financial Co.,  that was a major investor in a student debt collection company. (Source: PRwatch.org, 2017). DeVos, a devotee of charter and religious schools, declared last August that it’s a “good thing” that the coronavirus pandemic will force the nation’s schools to make changes that should have “happened many years ago.”

A Country’s Education System Conditions Its Society and Vice Versa–The Norwegian Example

If you look at leading countries around the world you will find that their levels of prosperity and wellbeing coincide nicely with their educational philosophies and school systems. The first striking factor is that most of them are designed to inculcate human values, intellectual curiosity, creativity and teamwork as opposed to competition and individualism. The exceptions, besides the United States, are Singapore and some other Asian countries where academic achievement is emphasized. Even in those places, achievement is oriented more toward collective than individual objectives.

Norway is a exemplary case. In recent years, it has repeatedly been ranked as ‘the best country to live in’ by the United Nations Human Development Report. This annual ranking is based largely on average levels of education and income, combined with life expectancy, but also factors such as human rights and cultural freedom. (Source: StudyinNorway.no)

This is how Norway started at the beginning of the 20th century.

Norway’s wealth and high standard of living is based in large part, since the 1970s, on its offshore oil wealth, aptly administered to the benefit of the entire society. Clever investment of the excess has made Norway’s soverign wealth one of the highest in the world with an influential presence in international stock markets. Norwegians earn on average more than Americans, which determines their high standard of living and permits them advanced education systems, a complete social security system and universal health care.

According to edsys.in, Norway has the sixth-best elementary education system in the world. (The first five are Finland, Japan, South Korea, Denmark and Russia.) In 2020 Norway jumped ten positions to sixth in this ranking. One of its schools’ underlying tenets is the importance of play. It’s student-to-teacher ration is 10/1. That’s one expert, highly-paid teacher for every 10 students. Education in Norway is free. Public universities in Norway do not charge students tuition fees, regardless of the student’s country of origin.

Norwegian schools maintain the same high standards as everything else in the country.

Granted, Norway Is a Rich Country

But so is the United States, potentially much richer. How is it possible that Norwegian society is so far ahead of the US in most every parameter you want to examine, from personal qualities to national priorities? They are gentler, more other-centered folk, better educated and better citizens. They’re less nationalistic, less militaristic, more altruistic and polite, more generous and more travelled.

This revealing tweet is from Ian Bremmer, posted on the occasion of President Trump’s “shithole countries” remark on January 12, 2018, when Trump also said that he preferred immigrants from Norway :

NORWAY

Most prosperous #1 (US #18)

Happiest country #1 (US #14)

Most gender equality #2 (US #49)

Most political freedom #1 (US #45)

Most press freedom #1 (US #43)

People there must be clamoring to come to America.

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What Sort of Survival Awaits the US, If Any?

Graveyard_thin

I Never Should Have Left Them Alone

Three years ago, when I started writing about the American decline, I was determined to talk straight and to share with the Americans–and the rest of the world–my “native transatlantic” point of view. That is, though I was born and educated, worked and served in the US Army in the States, six months after I was discharged from the army in April of 1968 I gave away all my worldly goods and bought a one-way ticket to Europe, where I have lived ever since. Does that make me an “ex-pat?” No, actually I’m Spanish. In 1983 I renounced my American citizenship before a Spanish judge and was granted Spanish nationality. I never looked back, except to observe the fascinating political and military goings-on in the country of my birth.

I thought the US was on an ill-fated trajectory then with its new clown President and its stale Congress–on both sides of the aisle–though the Republicans, who had signed on to President Trump’s ship of fools, were the ones wielding the institutional wrecking ball. But I did not expect the tailspin that was to ensue over the next three years. Seeing right-wing fervor gathering momentum like a train hurtling down a mountain with a dead engineer, I expected the demise of the Republicans’ reign of ignorance and arrogance to play out over a couple of decades. But no, it’s here, it’s upon the American people right now. It’s over.

Neither the dummy in the White House nor his far-right followers in the Congress and the courts, foresaw the maelstrom of coincidences that was about to fall upon their country with Old Testament virulence. It was beyond their competence even to suspect the possible conflation of the sudden technological and economic superiority of a giant Asian country, a deadly virus pandemia that is taking advantage of optimum conditions in the US to savage mercilessly both the population and the economy, and the sudden widespread citizen reactions to racial injustice in the country. The Trump administrations response to these crises ranged from dead wrong to nil. The Trumpeteers’ negligence was such that they even discarded the pandemic contingency plans that the Obama transition team left them in writing.

US Experiencing a Deadstick Landing on Rough Ground

Led by President Trump’s oafish incompetence and blatant pandering to reactionary big-money interests, the undisputed greatest country in the world has become a laughing stock, more to be pitied than respected. Just as seriously, the world’s most reliable partner nation has become unworthy of anyone’s trust. And President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “arsenal of democracy” became the world’s number one perceived threat to peace. (Sources: https://www.indepthnews.net/, indy100.com, mothership.sg)

world-peace-threat-ranking

It was during this process that the American degradation was so severe that, in order to cloak all the indecency, they had to revive a derogatory coverall phrase popularized in 1964, the year in which the Warren Commission shared its implausible Kennedy assassination findings. Those who questioned the conclusions of the Warren Commision were “conspiracy theorists.” Just sticking that label on them disqualified their opinions immediately and utterly. Subsequently, any questioning of controversial matters such as the 9/11 attacks, Global Warming,  G-5 and electromagnetic pollution, the Moon landings and more was labeled “conspiracy theories” and discarded out of hand. In the end, whom do we credit for America’s landing men on the moon, Werner von Braun and his team of German rocket scientists or Stanley Kubrick?

Exceptional Canadian Takes Down American Exceptionalism

Canadian anthropologist, Wade Davis, in a recent Rolling Stone article titled “The Unraveling of America,” took a concerned look at how Covid-19 signals the end both of the American era and American exceptionalism. He affirms that, of all the disruption provoked by the pandemic, what most stands out is “the absolutely devastating impact” on the reputation and international standing of the United States of America. Davis writes:

In a dark season of pestilence, COVID has reduced to tatters the illusion of American exceptionalism. At the height of the crisis, with more than 2,000 dying each day, Americans found themselves members of a failed state, ruled by a dysfunctional and incompetent government largely responsible for death rates that added a tragic coda to America’s claim to supremacy in the world.

For the first time, the international community felt compelled to send disaster relief to Washington. For more than two centuries, reported the Irish Times, “the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the U.S. until now: pity.” As American doctors and nurses eagerly awaited emergency airlifts of basic supplies from China, the hinge of history opened to the Asian century.

As if America didn’t have enough problems already, the Trump administration’s inept responses to this uniquely dangerous set of circumstances have dragged the US into the definitive status of a rogue country with a dubious future:

  • Slapping senseless tariffs willy nilly on countries around the world, from Canada to China, seemingly oblivious to the inevitable repercussions.
  • Militarizing everything, from the streets of American cities to the waters of the Strait of Hormuz, the Caribbean, and the South China Sea.
  • Dispatching one of the most loutish “diplomats” in living memory to bully America’s allies and adversaries into toeing the arbitrary American line. Under what imaginable legitimacy can the US order Iran not to trade oil with Venezuela, or oblige Russia not to build a gas pipeline to Germany?

What Are the Chances of United States Survival?

Since the end of the Second World War the United States has relied on just a few factors to insure their predominance in world affairs:

  • Their economic and manufacturing superiority… Given recent geostrategic realities, this factor now lacks virtually all reasonable validity.
  • Their overwhelming military might… The Americans have spent themselves into poverty attempting to maintain their highly-touted military superiority. But as long as that favorable balance depends upon nuclear weapons–and lots of countries have them–the most the Pentagon can hope for is not an American victory, rather a lose-lose endgame.
  • Their ability to convince the world that “American democracy” and “the American way of life,” are superior to all others… These myths, doubtful at best for decades, have come tumbling down with a loud crash during the 2020 triple emergency.

So, can the United States survive? That question takes us into a guessing game, of course, but we can speculate to some extent in view of recent history. If “survive” means to amble blissfully on in business-as-usual mode, I think it’s reasonable to predict that they cannot survive. They have lost the script and the ability to sell it.

Can they survive by any stretch of the imagination under the leadership of the Trump administration? I think they clearly cannot. Trump is staring into his own lose-lose abyss. If he wins the election it will be up to him to right the country’s trajectory, something that he has shown us he’s incapable of achieving. If he loses in November and tries to employ truculent or other unscrupulous measures to hang on to power, his imminent political demise and that of his country, as we know it, are assured.

 

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Mail Order Coup d’Etat

Post Office Slowdown

President Trump Blocks Post Office Funding in Order to Foil Mail-in Voting–And Admits It

What could look at first glance like a routine budgetary measure at the United States Postal Service might well be Phase Three–or Four or Seven–depending upon when you start counting–of a fascist-style takeover of the United States government. By the President’s own admission, the object of cutting back funding is to debilitate and slow down the mail service to the point where it is incapable of processing mail-in votes in time to be counted. Insofar as the taproot of American democracy is free and fair elections, any form of tampering with those elections is an attack on the United States as a democratic country as we know it. In greater or lesser decree it’s treason, a coup d’etat.

And Trump’s post-office ploy is just that. What’s left of his White House brain trust suspects that permitting mail-in voting would be detrimental to his re-election, as it would encourage the votes of the the minorities, the disadvantaged, the elderly and other demographics who suspect that he may not be “making American great again.” Trump, or someone who thinks for him, actually prepared the ground for subverting the postal service and, by extension, the 2020 presidential election. In a move that insiders consider contrary to political etiquette–that’s what they have in Washington instead of ethics, “etiquette”–the Trump-inspired USPS Board of Governors appointed one of his substantial campaign contributors/fund raisers (to the tune of $2 million) to run the United States Postal Service. Continue reading “Mail Order Coup d’Etat”

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The Race Is on for Coronavirus Vaccine Profits

Biotech_race_for_vaccine

Health and Business, or Vice Versa

It’s potentially the greatest opportunity ever presented to the world of business. Coincidentally it’s also the greatest opportunity for massive fraud. It’s the elusive Covid-19 vaccine. One wonders what is going through the heads of the pharmaceutical executives competing for the biggest prize ever, a vaccine that every person in the world urgently needs, and for which the producers can virtually name their own price, just as they do with the medicines they sell to the American Social Security administration.

It also presents the greatest opportunity to save lives, reactivate economies, and bring the world back to life. But, given the American pharmaceutical industry’s track record, one suspects that the economic incentive is their first priority. Let’s take a look at how they’re doing thus far.

Operation Warp Speed, the Trump Administration’s Six-Billion-Dollar Vaccine Betting Shop

As of early July this program of massive Trump administration cash handouts extends to eight pharmaceutical companies for expediting development and preparation for the clinical trials necessary for the manufacturing of their respective vaccine candidates: Johnson & Johnson (Janssen Pharmaceutical), AstraZeneca-University of Oxford, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Merck, Vaxart, Inovio, and Novavax. According to Science magazine, Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said a group of vaccine experts his agency convened to work with Warp Speed did a scientific review of 50 candidate COVID-19 vaccines. Members of that group have expressed surprise at some of Warp Speed’s choices. Continue reading “The Race Is on for Coronavirus Vaccine Profits”

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You Can Stop Worrying About a Civil War

Military Takeover2

And Start Thinking about a Military Takeover

Two years ago I posted here a two-part article about the possibility of a second civil war in the US that I called The Next American Civil War. The opinions reflected in that article were not mainly mine. They were expressed by qualified experts whose overall conclusions were that the probability of civil war in the US over the next 10-15 years ranged from 5% to 95%, with an average of 35%. But after seeing recent events in Portland, I’m inclined to think that America’s most imminent threat is not a civil war. Considering the likely distribution of forces in the country it’s more apt to be a quick-and-dirty military takeover.

Most Americans are not radical Trump supporters. Polls reveal that half of them reject President Trump’s ultra-nationalistic, white-supremacist, right-libertarian views and lowbrow stage presence. They don’t want to live in a dog-eat-dog society, nor get too “involved” in politics, much less street altercations. They just want to muddle through, from election to election. They live hoping that the government will somehow sort itself out and life in their country will return to normal, much as President Trump hopes that the coronavirus pandemic will one day just “disappear.”

Can’t we reliably suppose that the country is in the clear when it comes to domestic military melodrama, thanks to the majority of “moderate” voters? No, we cannot, as a majority of moderates is seldom decisive for the very fact of being moderate and having to weigh in against a minority of hard-core militants. That is not to say that civilians can be expected to play a major role in deciding the fate of America if it were to come down to a cataclysmic, anti-democratic situation. Continue reading “You Can Stop Worrying About a Civil War”

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Let’s Talk About Evil, America

American Evil3

We Must Make Some Value Judgments

When I was a sophomore in college we used to sit up all night in the mezzanine lounge at Case Hall (MSU) and talk about life. It was probably because we had time and what the Spanish call “inquietud,” roughly “restlessness,” but more extensive. I thrived on those conversations but also found them frustrating thanks to a smart student from New York who was a bit older than the rest of us and was a folk singer. He commanded some respect.

Whenever I would arrive at what I thought was an acceptable conclusion on any subject he would say, “Ah, Mike, you can’t affirm that. That’s a value judgment.” And he was always right. This went on for the better part of the school year. Then, one night in the spring of 1963, around four in the morning, he had me cornered again and it occurred to me to reply, “Jesus Christ, Harvey, that’s what we’re here for, to learn to make valid value judgments.” Since then I’ve been free.

The dictionary says of evil: “profound immorality and wickedness, especially when regarded as a supernatural force,”citing this example: “his struggle against the forces of evil.” It goes on: “morally reprehensible, bad, wrong, sin, immorality, vice, iniquity, baseness, perversion, corruption, depravity, villainy, atrocity, malevolence…” I would add my own personal flavors of evil: “hypocrisy, aggression, embargos and sanctions, genocide, falsity, dishonesty, opportunism, ruthlessness, greed, dirty tricks, black ops, exceptionalism, lies and euphemisms, false flags, regime change, free world, economic crimes, manifest destiny, militarism, and utter lack of human values…” Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Evil, America”

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Trump Activates Fascist Takeover

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“They speak about the dumbing of America as a foregone thing, already completed, but, duh, it’s a process, and we haven’t seen
anything yet.”–Michael Herr, Kubrick (2000)

Full-Blown Fascism Lifts Off in America

The deployment of President Trumps “federal troops” in Portland–a traditional progressive bastion–and his promises to take similar measures  in Chicago, New York, Albuquerque, Detroit and other Democratic strongholds, forms the edge of the wedge of a truculent new strategy with three obvious objectives:

  • To consolidate his campaign for re-election and rally his followers with theatrical shows of force.
  • To intimidate his opposition all over the country.
  • And this is the most worrying: To rehearse on the street his studied, incremental fascist takeover of America.

    What are they hiding beyond the bread vans, the riot gear and the anonymity?

Disclaimer: When I say “his” troops and “his” strategy, I’m not referring to Trump personally. Nor would I dare to suggest that he “studied” anything. I think it’s clear by now that Donald J. Trump is incapable of the structured thinking required to elaborate a coherent plan, whether it be for a political or a military campaign or both. In normal circumstances the activation of this blatant boots-on-the-street operation would seem premature. The elections are still 13 weeks away. But a series of grave recent events has obliged what’s left of the Trump team to anticipate the program. The exploding coronavirus epidemic and Trump & Company’s extreme incompetence in dealing with it, his alarming descent in the polls–his revered “ratings”–and the corresponding rise of Joe Biden, demanded a high-profile response. Continue reading “Trump Activates Fascist Takeover”

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This United States Will Self Destruct in 90 Days

Trumps_America

American Democracy’s in a Downward Spiral

Is It Terminal?

Freedom House is a Washington-based think tank with an illustrious pedigree dating back to the age of bi-partisan cooperation in the US government. Created in 1941 with the mission of battling isolationism in America and fascism around the world, its two honorary chairs were the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Wendell Willkie, who was the Republican presidential candidate in 1940, before losing to Eleanor Roosevelt’s husband, Franklin. Over the years, Freedom House has studied a broad spectrum of threats to freedom, from McCarthyism to Soviet oppression. Since 1973, it has published “Freedom in the World,” an annual country-by-country report that has been called the “Michelin Guide to democracy’s development.”

This single high-court decision is responsible for converting the US Congress from a truly representative legislative body into a brothel in which most of its members are available in exchange for fees sufficient to reassure their re-election. That sounds crude, but it’s cruder than it sounds.

 

 

 

The 2020 edition recorded the fourteenth straight year of deteriorating freedom around the world; sixty-four countries have lost liberties in the past year, while only thirty-seven registered improvements. Its assessment of the United States is also disturbing. In 2009, the U.S. had a score of ninety-four out of a hundred, which ranked it near the top, just behind Germany, Switzerland, and Estonia. In the decade since, it has slipped eight points; it now ranks behind Greece, Slovakia, and Mauritius. Looking at the United States, Freedom House analysts note the trends that they usually assign to fragile corners of the globe: “pressure on electoral integrity, judicial independence, and safeguards against corruption. Fierce rhetorical attacks on the press, the rule of law, and other pillars of democracy coming from American leaders, including the president himself.” (Source: FreedomHouse.org) Continue reading “This United States Will Self Destruct in 90 Days”

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US Firearms Deaths, So Much Left to Do

Sandy_Hook

So Much Has Been Said; So Little Has Been Done

Perhaps Americans should be reminded that the regular-as-clockwork firearms deaths in their country are unnecessary. How do we know that? We know it because they don’t happen with such monotonous regularity in other advanced countries. Then why do they occur so often in the US? They happen for a lot of reasons but the principal one is that there is a criminal conspiracy under way in the US to perpetuate the so-called gun culture, regardless of the tens of thousands of firearms victims every year.

American citizens want stricter gun control. (See extensive Gallup poll results on “Guns” over the past 20 years and more.) But what Americans want, even in cases as egregious as this one, is irrelevant. Their hands are tied by a cabal of gun manufacturers, right-wing extremists, second-ammendment nuts. outdoorsmen, and terrified white male citizens who fear their homes will be invaded by long-haired guitarists. Continue reading “US Firearms Deaths, So Much Left to Do”

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USS Liberty–Crew Murdered by Israel, Betrayed by Their Commander in Chief 2/2

USS Liberty survivors
US sailors transport the wounded from the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, 1967.

Is Help on the Way?

USS Liberty veteran and author, Jim Ennes, observes, “The attack on the USS Liberty remains the only major maritime incident in all US history that has not been publicly investigated by the United States Congress.”

There was a US aircraft carrier within ten minutes’ flight time of the scene of the attack. Why didn’t they intervene immediately? Planes actually did take off, but they were ordered back to the carrier on direct orders from the highest level in Washington . There is only one plausible explanation for such questionable orders. Someone in Washington wanted to give the Israeli attackers time to finish off the USS Liberty and its crew. It would not be untoward to suggest that it might have been that same highest-level authority who organized the subsequent coverup. Continue reading “USS Liberty–Crew Murdered by Israel, Betrayed by Their Commander in Chief 2/2”

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USS Liberty–Crew Murdered by Israel, Betrayed by Their Commander in Chief 1/2

Never forget

Friend or Foe?

It’s been five decades and a bit since the “US Liberty Incident” and I’ve been living in the dark all this time. I suspect you may have, too. When the Israeli air force and navy launched a devastating unprovoked attack on an American technical research  (electronic spy) ship in international waters just thirteen miles off the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Six Day War, I naturally accepted the US government’s explanation: that it was due to a tragic case of misidentification on the part of the Israelis.

That they should knowingly attack a United States ship for no cogent reason seemed unlikely to me. The Israelis were, after all, friends, allies and massive American aid recipients. It couldn’t happen. Besides, President Lyndon Johnson, himself, declared that it was a tragic accident, putting the whole matter to rest. Johnson was lying, as we shall see.

Liberty_cover
The other night I’m wandering around YouTube when I run across a 2014 documentary called The Day Israel Attacked America, Al Jazerra investigates the shocking truth behind a deadly Israeli attack on a US naval vessel. Al Jazeera is the Qatari online news channel. I’ll listen to anybody if they’ve got reasons. This time they had reasons in spades. What I found most convincing–and most horrifying–was the live testimony of the surviving crew members. One of them, Lt. James Ennes, then age 24, wrote it down in a book 13 years later: Assault on the Liberty–USS Liberty Memorial. Ennes was one of many crew members who continued to work to keep the ship afloat and help the wounded throughout the attack, though wounded himself.

His notes on the dust cover set the scene vividly:

In June, 1967, jet aircraft and motor torpedo boats of Israel brutally assaulted an American naval vessel, USS Liberty, in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea. The attack was preceded by more than six hours of intense low-level surveillance by Israeli photo-reconnaissance aircraft, which buzzed the intelligence ship thirteen times, sometimes flying as low as 200 feet directly overhead. The reconnaissance pilots were heard by intercept operators in Germany and by American airborne intercept operators reporting to their headquarters that they could see an American flag and men sunbathing on deck.

The carefully orchestrated assault that followed was initiated by high-performance jet aircraft, was followed up by slower and more maneuverable jets carrying napalm, and was finally turned over to lethal torpedo boats which fired five torpedoes. Four missed. The one torpedo that hit the ship blasted a forty-foot hole in the ship’s side.

The attack lasted more than two hours — killing 34 Americans and wounding 174 others — and inflicted 821 rocket and machine-gun holes. And when the Liberty stubbornly remained afloat despite her damage, Israeli forces machine-gunned her life rafts and sent troop-carrying helicopters in to finish the job. US Air Force intercept operators heard Israeli jets being vectored to “the American ship” which they were ordered to sink quickly. Those who have seen these transcripts insist that they leave no doubt that the Israelis knew they were attacking an American ship.

Before USS Liberty arrived in the area, U.S. Sixth Fleet Commander Admiral William Martin promised to provide air support within ten minutes if an emergency arose. Yet when the ship did come under attack, the White House blocked any air rescue for more than 90 minutes. Officers on the bridge of the aircraft carrier Saratoga heard Liberty’s radio operators calling for help while bombs burst in the background, but were forbidden to help. When Navy jet aircraft were finally authorized to come to the ship’s aid, the Israeli government suddenly ended the attack and withdrew, claiming that they had mistaken the ship for an Egyptian horse transport named El Quseir. Only then did the identity of the assailants become known.

Details of the attack were hushed up in both countries. Israel claimed that her forces mistook USS Liberty for an Egyptian ship, and our government publicly accepted that excuse despite evidence to the contrary. Meanwhile, in top secret diplomatic mail, US Secretary of State Dean Rusk accused the Israelis of demonstrating “blatant disregard for human life” and said that the attack was no accident. Then our government downplayed the intensity of the surveillance and the severity of the attack and imposed a news blackout to keep the official story under control. The official version is that the Liberty was reconnoitered only three times and then only from great distance. The American people were told that the air attack lasted only five minutes and that it was followed by a single torpedo and an immediate apology and offer of assistance.

Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time of the Liberty incident, said that he, “cannot accept the claim by the Israelis that this was a case of mistaken identity.”

 

Questions Left Pending

No Congressional investigation regarding the USS Liberty Incident was ever carried out, though the surviving crew members have been clamoring for one since the events occurred. (See the USS Liberty Veterans Association website: https://www.usslibertyveterans.org/)

Nevertheless, a 1967 US Naval Court of Inquiry investigation concluded that the testimony record revealed “a shallow investigation, plagued by myriad disagreements between the captain and his crew.” (Although severely wounded. Comdr. W. L. McGonagle, the commanding officer, remained at the conn to guide the ship out of shallow water. He was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for valor. There was no suggestion of a quid pro quo.)

According to the record of proceedings, four days were spent hearing testimony: two days for fourteen survivors of the attack and several U.S. Navy expert witnesses, and two partial days for two expert U.S. Navy witnesses. No testimony was heard from Israeli personnel involved. The conclusion of this somewhat haphazard inquiry, according to Wikipedia, was that:

The official U.S. records of the Liberty incident were designated top-secret and closed to the general public. The U.S. government and Israel jointly stated: “That the Israeli attack upon the USS Liberty had been the result of error, and nothing more.” However, Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time of the Liberty incident, said that he, “cannot accept the claim by the Israelis that this was a case of mistaken identity.”

President Johnson Himself Led the Hasty Coverup

Pentagon officials waited nearly forty minutes to inform Johnson, who was in an important meeting. Then National Security Advisor Walt Rostow telephoned the President to tell him that a U.S. Navy ship was in trouble.

Jim Ennes describes the President’s reaction:

The immediate White House reaction to the attack, I am told
by a former staff member, was to accept Israel’s apology at face
value even though there was considerable skepticism that the 
attack was entirely accidental. The President could ill afford a 
confrontation with Israel.His major concern was to bring about 
an end to the war before the Soviet Union stepped in; a 
confrontation with Israel would likely destroy the leverage he 
needed.

After some discussion, Johnson detailed Clark Clifford to head an 
investigation into the circumstances of the attack, and the White
House resolved to bite its collective tongue until the Clifford report 
came in. By this time, the Israeli government had hastily summoned 
the US naval attache to report that an unidentified “maybe Navy” 
ship had been erroneously attacked. 

When the Clifford report eventually came in, it contained no
evidence that the attack was deliberate, and White House tolerance
of the affair as a “feasible” error of war thus became permanent.

As soon as President Johnson learned of the attack and spoke with the Israelis on the subject, he launched an immediate all-points coverup which included swearing the surviving crew to silence and threatening them with prosecution if they should leak any information regarding the events they lived aboard the Liberty on June 8, 1967.

Three Questions

Three questions immediately arise: Why did the Israelis do it?  Why did the American forces in the area stand off. And why such an urgent coverup on the part of the US President? The vital issues posed by the USS Liberty case are moral questions of the first rank. The Israeli military command knowingly designed and executed an operation the object of which was to sink the Liberty and assure that its crew members were all killed. It was not just to neutralize the Liberty’s offensive capabilities–which were nil insofar as its armament was limited to four merely testimonial 50-caliber machine guns, useless against the array of armament the Israelis turned loose on them. The Israelis knew what they were doing and they were aware of just how irregular it was. What possible justification could they have for the proposed cold-blooded murder of the entire crew of a harmless American ship. Subsequent research suggests two possibilities:

  1. The object of the operation was to sink the ship, eliminate the crew to the last man and blame the outrage on the Egyptians, a classic false-flag operation. In order for it to succeed they had to assure that the ship was at the bottom of the sea and not a single witness was left alive. This is the least convincing explanation.
  2. Aware that the Liberty was monitoring radio messages in the area, the Israeli command feared that, as one of the United States’ most sophisticated National Security Agency’s (NSA) listening operations, it would pick up the chatter regarding the Israeli’s planned land grab in the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights programmed for the following day. This was an illegal operation under international law, one that they had previously renounced, but it was nevertheless carried out and remains in force until today, more than half a century later. This version makes more sense.

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Darwinian Auto Genocide in America 2/2

US_Virus_Map_29062020

Seen from abroad today, as the deadly statistics surge–2.5 million cases and 125,000 deaths to date–it looks as if the Americans are orchestrating their own genocide.

They’ve Got Schisms in their Isms

“But a solution that covers all Americans indistinctly is socialism!” you say. That’s correct. But, call it what you will, some form of socialism is the only possible solution to the Americans’ current crisis. A virus on the rampage doesn’t distinguish between the struggling poor folks and the “better class of people.” It rips through all their houses and schools, their churches and country clubs. That said, the consequences for racial and ethnic minorities are vastly more serious, due to their already tenuous living conditions. (Source: cdc.gov) If the American government were capable of organizing and implementing a country-wide set of measures–testing, contact tracing, social distancing, masks and universal medical care–they certainly wouldn’t call it socialism. But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Such an optimistic eventuality as effective government intervention is far from assured in today’s Washington, because the Trump administration is the least enlightend since Atilla the Hun. Then too, Americans have been inculcated for generations with the notion that collective solutions are un-American and it probably wouldn’t occur to them to demand any. (We might make an exception of Massachusetts which, not for no reason, is called not a “state,” but a “Commonwealth.” Even Mitt Romney was infused with that spirit when he was governor there and instituted the most advanced public health system in the US.) Continue reading “Darwinian Auto Genocide in America 2/2”

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Darwinian Auto Genocide in America 1/2

genocide_definition

The Americans Are Eliminating Themselves

The United States, which has been leading the world in coronavirus cases and deaths for the past few weeks, has turned a corner. While countries around the world have taken effective public health measures to attenuate the effects of the virus on their societies, Americans are doing the opposite. The resurgence of the virus in their country has been the most virulent in the world and their numbers are now significantly above previous levels from the height of the pandemic, and still rising. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently stated, “Forget worrying about the second wave; we’re still in the first wave and we haven’t seen the worst of it.” Observing them from a safe distance–the other side of the Atlantic–people are asking themselves, “How on earth can this be happening? What inconceivable series of events might have caused the greatest country on earth to deteriorate into the leader of the Third World?

There Are Various Reasons

1/ A gravely deficient existing infracture in place when the virus struck. The United States is unique among industrialized countries for its lack of a universal health care system. A significant sector of their population is without health coverage of any sort. Data from the US Census Bureau indicates that a total of 27.5 million Americans had no health insurance during 2018. Faced with a life-threatening accident or illness and lacking the money to pay the hospital they’re obliged to go home and die.

But now Americans are faced with a novel twist in the script. The fate of rich and poor alike is linked like Siamese twins. If one catches it, the other one does, too. In order to save themselves the rich must help save their less-fortunate others. Will the American power elite be capable of perceiving that fact? If they do, will they be able to take the appropriate–and inevitably expensive–measures necessary to give everybody in their country an equal chance of survival? Or will they just slip deeper into denial mode to the detriment of all?

“But a solution that covers all Americans indistinctly is socialism!”

2/ A lack of contingency planning. When Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell’s boldly asserts when discussing pandemic preparedness and COVID-19, that clearly, the Obama administration did not leave any kind of game plan for something like this…” he is either confused or lying. According to Kaiser Health News (khn.org),  this document entitled “Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents” was produced in 2016 under President Obama’s leadership. Unfortunately, President Trump scrapped the plan in one of his eliminate-the-Obama-legacy tantrums. In 2018, he gave the order to shut down the White House pandemic response initiative left in place by the Obama administration.

So when the virus struck there were no contingency plans nor preparations at hand. Could Trump be charged with criminal malfeasance for this action, or at least committed to a mental institution? In any case, the Trump administration entered the fray too late and gravely lacking plans and expertise. The American people continue to pay the penalty in human lives.

The other recent Trump initiative to discredit Obama is his dragging the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court in an effort to get it rescinded, an act so grotesque during a pandemic that it makes him look like an evil Don Quixote.

3/ No unified leadership nor coordinated response country wide. A pandemic does not respect state lines. It was clear from the outset of the coronavirus that a unified all-across-the-country plan and careful implementation would be necessary to deal with it. Instead of taking that elementary step the Trump admnistration entered into a fruitless, time-wasting period of negotiations in competition with the individual states over the procurement of face masks, protective clothing for health workers, etc. In this process the putative author of The Art of the Deal lost more precious time and the penalty was exacted again in American lives. In terms of leadership, Trump’s refusal to wear a mask during his  public appearences, takes us into surrealism. It has been clear for a long time that President Trump and his curious governing team were more interested in making political hay than in protecting American citizens. Trump’s only priority has always been and remains reelection.

4/ An ideology that has predisposed the US to inadequate answers to a threat that begs for a collective response. It is not enough to assure the lives of a select group of citizens and leave the rest to their own devices. This, though atypical in the rest of the world, is the standard American response. In this case, however, it won’t work. As long as there’s a single family living in third-world conditions in the remotest corner of the country, all Americans are at risk. In order to defeat–or even retard–the virus the entire population must be included in the plan of reaccion to the virus, regardless of race, religion, social class, gender or sexual orientation.

This isn’t always easy in the US where the backlash of American individualism frequently rears its head. What is local administration supposed to do when hysterical citizens rally together, sometimes violently, in crowded venues, to denounce the infringement of their first-amendment freedom of assembly? Just telling them that it’s for their own good doesn’t seem to work. Eventually, Darwinism will take care of them, but what about their family, friends and neighbors? Coronavirus is highly contagious.

5/ A confused and ill-prepared population. Wallowing in a hodgepodge of distractions and false values, a significant minority of Americans are largely incapable of confronting any serious threat to their society. Their reactions don’t go much beyond thuggish armed street disorders, the classic magical religious responses, and the sword rattling of semi-illiterate white supremacists, to fuck-it-let’s-have-a-beer frivolity. Taken altogether we might refer to all these “strategies” as Lemmingism.

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Teaching Your Children Solid Lies–2/2

American_Exceptionalism

The American Foundation Lie

One lie rules all the others. It’s the lie of American exceptionalism. American children are nursed on it along with their mothers’ milk. It comes in various guises but they all have to do with the “fact” that Americans are different from the rest of humanity: somehow better, more idealistic, more generous, more industrious,  more advanced, more democratic, cleaner, more godly. And these qualities, of course, entitle Americans to certain inalienable privileges.

Soldiers are trained to kill for their country. The unsuspecting recruits usually don’t discover that it’s a scam until it’s too late.

Branding Patriotism

American_Flag_mfg

Patriotism as big business thrives on the lies that teachers tell American schoolchildren. Americans purchase some 150 million US flags every year, 10-20 million of which are imported from China (and are not subject to President Trumps import tariffs). No other country in the world reveres its flag as the US does. The caskets of their soldiers returning from foreign wars are wrapped in it, making the package look more like a Christmas present than a dead boy. People from other countries consider it an American fetish. It does, however, advance the American ultra-nationalist agenda. Flag enthusiasm is the abracadabra that permits them to justify the unjustifiable on countless occasions and in countless contexts.

American patriotism has also been reduced to selling cars and credit cards. The Brandkeys.com site lists America’s most-patriotic brands. A national sample of 5,862 consumers, 18 to 68 years of age, balanced for gender and political party affiliation, drawn from the nine U.S. Census Regions, evaluated brand resonance for “patriotism.” Here are the top 10:

1 Jeep
2 Disney
3 Ford
4 Coca-Cola
5 Levi Strauss
6 American Express / MSNBC
7 Hershey’s
8 AT&T / The New York Times
9 Walmart
10 FOX News

According to Statista.com 72% of Americans are “Extremely” or “Very” Proud to be American

The Kardashianization of America could turn out to be a prime cause of the country’s ongoing decline.

Not Just Textbooks

It’s not just textbooks that keep the beloved American myths alive. Lots of other factors help to condition the intellectual atmosphere under the American bell jar.

The Military–With all its heroism, terrorism, expensive toys and glorious history of victories declared, the military is the lie personified. Soldiers are educated by semi-literate drill sergeants to kill “for their country” to defend the Constitution. The unsuspecting recruits usually don’t discover it’s a scam until it’s too late. The price they pay is exhorbitant.

The Scouts–The Scouting movement, with its uniforms, marching, saluting, survival skills, and patriotic cant, has been since its inception in 1910 a para-military organization, virtually a children’s army that has had a massive influence on American boys. Until recently it was statutorially bound to churches, another quintessential Americanizing factor for young people to get their heads around. Things are about to changing radically, however, as the scouts and the church are now legally separated and, as this NY Times headline from Feb. 18, 2020 points out: Boy Scouts Seek Bankruptcy to Survive a Deluge of Sex-Abuse Claims. Pederasty has a long history in scouting, starting with its founder, British Lt. General Baden Powell, who revealed his “affection for boys” in his diaries. It’s possible that today’s mix of scandal and economic disaster will mean the end of scouting.

The Media–Television, Hollywood movies, right-wing radio, and the mainstream press don’t require much government control to put out the “correct” ideological messages. Virtually all of these media are owned by conglomerates that benefit from the promotion of tendentious American mythology.  Nine-eleven, of course, opened the floodgates for jingoist content of all sorts.

Who is acknowledged by the American people as the most patriotic American of our time, in answer to the question: “Name anyone – alive or dead – you feel best personifies the value of “patriotism” in the United States'” Originally posted on Brandkeys, as part of a study of consumer values in America, the answer to this question is not hard to guess.  John Wayne’s character and unwavering patriotism still stand the test of time, as consumers answered, unaided, that John Wayne is the most patriotic person in 21st-century America, quite a feat as he died from lung cancer in 1979. 

Pop Culture and Consumerism–The roles of pop culture and consumerism in the nurturing of American lies is indirect but essential. Both of these all-encompassing phenomena occupy and infantilize the nation’s thinking and lifestyle so thoroughly that there remains little room in the collective mind for anything else. The Kardashianization of America could turn out to be a prime cause of the country’s ongoing decline.

The Trouble with Lies Is That They Come Unraveled with Time

The American exceptionalist lies, which were never taken seriously abroad, started to be doubted even by some enlightened Americans themselves in the light of their government’s gratuitously savage foreign wars and economic imperialism. That tide began to turn with the anti-Vietnam-war demonstrations organized by “radical” American students in the sixties. Bearing banners and yelling slogans on the streets of American cities was considered “radical” while indiscriminate mass murder by grid bombing carried out by American B-52 Stratofortress bombers was mere business as usual. Not much has changed in the intervening half century, considering right-wing America’s truculent response to today’s Black Lives Matter marches, which President Donald Trump, the law-and-order candidate, is astutely using as a creepy springboard for his 2020 presidential campaign.

Isn’t It Time to Heal America?

It shouldn’t be too hard to heal America. All they would have to do is face the facts–not the myths–honestly, renounce the lies publicly, repent openly, repeal the noxious textbooks, correct the mendacious institutions and take significant measures to address inequality. Working hard with broad cooperation, dedication, and perseverance that healing shouldn’t take more than three generations. The Germans and the Japanese achieved it in two.

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Teaching Your Children Solid Lies –1/2

Lies_My_Teacher_Told_Me_
This book, published almost 25 years ago and republished twice since, drew the curtain back on how young Americans were–and are–systematically lied to about their country’s history and its role in the world.

American High School History Classes Teach Mythology

In 1995 American sociologist James W. Loewen published Lies My Teacher Told Me, an essential book that illuminates the indoctrination that passes for education in American high school history classes. The book was so important that updated versions have been published twice since then.

Loewen’s methodology was simple enough: buy a dozen of the most popular textbooks of American history for 11th-grade high-school students, meticulously analyse each one of the books, compare them, evaluate them, and place them on the history-mythology continuum.

The results of this analysis reveal that mythology wins. The first priority of all these seminal books in the formation of young American minds is to foment “traditional American values,” not to teach the unvarnished facts of history.

Goodreads.com has this to say:

Marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless optimism, sheer misinformation, and outright lies, these books omit almost all the ambiguity, passion, conflict, and drama from our past.

Racism, for example, is not mentioned in any of them. Slavery, in particular, was the driving force behind major events like the Louisiana Purchase and the Civil War. Loewen points out that, “as long as history textbooks make white racism invisible, neither they nor their students who use them will be able to analyze race relations intelligently.”

No Warts on America

Why do textbooks promote wartless stereotypes?” asks Loewen. “The authors’ omissions and errors can hardly be accidental.” He then chooses two paradigmatic figures from American history to illustrate his point: President  Woodrow Wilson, the 28th US commander in chief, and the remarkable blind and deaf humanitarian, Helen Keller. Wilson is known, and enters into high-school history books, as the altruistic promotor of the post World War I League of Nations and for his 14-points declaration which included  proposals to ensure world peace in the future, open agreements, arms reductions, freedom of the seas, free trade, and self-determination for oppressed minorities. Wilson even suggested that there would be another world war within a generation should the U.S. fail to join the League. Woodrow was quite the statesman and diplomat.

President Wilson’s Sinister Side

What few US high school history books mention is that Wilson was authoritarian and racist at home, having promoted the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition act of 1918, which Loewen refers to as “probably the most serious attacks on the civil liberties of Americans since the short-lived Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.” Wilson, with his persecution of progressive causes–he promoted the notorious Palmer Raids against left-wing unions–and foreign interventions, paved the way for McCarthyism, the Patriot Acts,  and the disastrous invasions of Iraq. Under Wilson the US intervened in Latin America more often than at any other time in American history. Loewen cites an article published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1919, “After World War I, the Wilson administration’s attacks on civil liberties increased, now with anti-communism as the excuse. Neither before nor since these campaigns has the United States come closer to being a police state.” That was in 1919. Much “progress” has been made in the advancement of the American police state since then and we’re seeing the results of that progress on American streets today.

Helen Keller Was Much More

Helen Keller, Loewen’s other example, is portrayed in the history books as an admirable case of individual victory against tremendous odds, an American success story. Her activities recorded for American high-school students are limited to her remarkable educational achievements and her charitable work. But Keller’s life was much more remarkable than that. Loewen recounts:

She was a radical socialist. She joined the Socialist Party of Massachusetts in 1909. She had become a social radical even before she graduated from Radcliffe and not, she emphasized, because of any teachings available there. After the Russian Revolution she sang the praises of the new communist nation. ‘In the East a new star is risen!’ Gradually she moved to the left of the Socialist party and became a Wobbly, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the syndicalist union persecuted by Woodrow Wilson.

Inexplicably, none of this information made it into any history texts for American students.

The Shining City on the Hill,Champions of Self Deception

“The land of the free and the home of the brave…” begins to sound a little shopworn after watching children, forcefully separated from their families, imprisoned in wire cages on the evening news. As for “bravery,” that’s hard to detect in killer operations conceived in the White House, launched from underground bunkers in the Nevada desert by expert computer gamers and destined to take out terrorists, along with their mothers and children, their cousins, neighbors and the milk man on dusty streets of impoverished Middle Eastern countries. Emma Lazarus’ poetic fragment from the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” sounds like empty claptrap in a country that is more concerned with “free” markets than free people. But those distinctions elude most Americans today. To them “fraydom is fraydom,” whether delivered by lies or by drones.

The United States Armed Forces are there to safeguard those fraydoms. But there are some anomalies in that, too. Recently there was some talk inside the Trump administration of renting out American military units to the Saudis. Seen from a shrewd businessman’s point of view the deal would permit the US to recover some of their investments in “national security,” but they might have trouble explaining it to the mothers of American military personnel killed and maimed over there. In former times those deaths could be explained away as “in defense of American democracy” or “protecting the American homeland” but what American mother would sell her son’s or daughter’s life in defense of Saudi oil wells, war on Yemen, and bone saws?

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Which Shithole Country?

Trump_Shithole2

The Day “Shithole Entered the Presidential Lexicon

On January 11, 2018, during an Oval Office meeting with several U.S. senators about a new immigration package for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries, President Donald Trump inadvertanly opened a fresh controversy regarding just what constituted a “shithole country.” He didn’t elaborate on it. In fact, he later denied having said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” (The Atlantic, Jan. 12, 2019)

Someone should ask President Trump what his criteria are for assigning countries to his “shithole” category. They may have to explain what “criteria” means… and that it’s plural because it’s Latin… Oh, never mind.

I think it’s safe to assume that a “shithole country” is a place where people live in a deep, dank hole that they’re not about to escape from any time soon. How did a series of unfortunate little countries get into that ugly situation? Was it just assigned to them by “history?” Not exactly, it’s about imperialism–first Spanish, then American. Those little countries were fine until the white man began to exploit them. And that exploitation–some of the cruelest in history–goes a long way to explain their ending up in dark holes. President Trump mentions specifically the cases of Haiti and El Salvador.

Columbus ravages Haiti
Christopher Columbus takes Christian values to the New World.

They hacked them to pieces, slicing open their bellies with their swords as though they were so many sheep herded into a pen.

The Western Hemisphere’s First White Supremacy

Haiti was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and named by him, “La Isla Espanola.” It was the venue for the Europeans’ first genocide of Native Americans. Because, contrary to American legend, Columbus was not a nice man and neither were his colonists. Within twenty-five years of Columbus’ arrival in Haiti, most of the island’s Taíno people had died from enslavement, massacre, or disease. En route to enslaving the entire population of the island–and exporting some of them to other islands–the Spanish regularly hunted down escaping islanders, murdered them and fed their carcasses to the dogs they had thoughtfully brought along with them from Spain. Today not a chromosome remains of  the DNA of the original inhabitants of what was to become Haiti.

Washington Post writer, Gillian Brockell, elaborates:

Bartolomé de las Casas arrived in Hispaniola in 1502, when he was 18. For decades, he participated in the mistreatment of the Taíno and the introduction of enslaved Africans, before renouncing it all, becoming a Dominican friar and confessing what he had witnessed in “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies.”

“It is worth quoting him at length,” says Brockell, “this excerpt is very graphic:”
They [Spanish explorers] forced their way into native settlements, slaughtering everyone they found there, including small children, old men, pregnant women, and even women who had just given birth. They hacked them to pieces, slicing open their bellies with their swords as though they were so many sheep herded into a pen. They grabbed suckling infants by the feet and, ripping them from their mothers’ breasts, dashed them headlong against the rocks. (The Washington Post, Oct. 14, 2019)

Flash forward 500 years, and the Haitians are again experiencing problems of white supremacy. In 2004 the US State Department was not happy with Haiti’s newly elected–for the second time–president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. So they shipped him out–escorted by American diplomats to an American airplane–in a coup d’etat that cleared the atmosphere for American business as usual.

El Salvador Similarly Razed

More than 75,000 Salvadorans were killed in the fighting, most of them victims of the military and its death squads.

El Salvador is another classic case of brutal imperialism, and its perpetrators are still slithering around Washington. The prime example is the elderly neocon apparatchik, Elliott Abrams, recently recycled as the American envoy to Venezuela.  Abrams will always be remembered for trying to cover up before the American Congress the El Mozote massacre where, in March 1993, the Salvadoran Truth Commission reported that more than 500 civilians were “deliberately and systematically” executed in that village in December 1981 by forces affiliated with the Salvadoran government.

Time magazine says of Abrams:

Abrams, a longstanding neoconservative diplomat, served in the State Department during the Reagan Administration and played a key role in U.S. interventions in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala in the 1980s. He later joined the New York-based think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, as a senior fellow. His appointment to oversee the U.S.’s response to the situation in Venezuela, where Trump has refused to rule out “a military option,” led many to raise concerns over his past dealings in the region, including his entanglement in the notorious Iran-Contra scandal. (Time, Feb. 14, 2019)

In the early 1980s the American clandestine services joined the illegitimate Salvadoran military junta in its struggle against the Farabundo Martí National Liberation front (FMLN)–a coalition of left-wing groups. The Americans financed, trained, equipped and transported the government troops. 

Raymond Bonner writes in The Atlantic, Jan. 20, 2018,

It was a civil war of the 1980s, one that pitted leftist revolutionaries against the alliance of countries, oligarchs, and generals that had ruled the country for decades—with U.S. support—keeping peasants illiterate and impoverished. It was a bloody, brutal, and dirty war. More than 75,000 Salvadorans were killed in the fighting, most of them victims of the military and its death squads. Peasants were shot en masse, often while trying to flee. Student and union leaders had their thumbs tied behind their backs before being shot in the head, their bodies left on roadsides as a warning to others.

This gratuitous “civil war” lasted for more than 12 years. An unknown number of people who were “disappeared” are included in the UN estimates of 75,000 victims between 1979 and 1992. The war ended with the Chapultepec Peace Accords, but in 2016 the El Salvador Supreme Court ruled that the 1993 amnesty law was unconstitutional and that the El Salvador government could prosecute war criminals. (Wikipedia)

Trump’s Dangerous Militarization of US Politics by Ishaan Tharoor 

The world’s sole superpower is starting to look like more fragile countries elsewhere. Trump and his loyalists are only the second camp in the Western Hemisphere this past month to entertain notions of domestic military crackdowns: Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have urged a full-fledged takeover of the administrative state as the president faces a storm of controversies amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Tharoor compares American racist horrror with the events of Tiannanmen Square in 1989. “Only under a dictatorship could such things happen, we say, forgetting OcoeeOpelousasTulsa, or Kent State.”

(The Washington Post, June 5, 2020)

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that the twisted conception of Latin American–and American–history held by American presidents since the promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 is a series of “errors” and abuses that need clearing up. There may be a “shithole country” involved in the tragic stories cited by President Trump, but it’s neither Haiti nor El Salvador. Their roles were relegated, throughout their history, to those of simple victims of colonial savagery .

January 12, 2019 on The Daily Show

Trevor Noah sums it up in one minute, seven seconds:

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Deep State Blues

Mike_Lofgren

Note: This article is mainly based on a 2014 interview with Bill Moyers (The Deep State Hiding in Plain Sight) on his Moyers and Company online program and the essay (Anatomy of the Deep State) that Mike Lofgren wrote for Moyers’ website at the same time. Also worthy of note is the mindset of Moyers, the interviewer. When he retired the first time in December 2004, the AP News Service quoted Moyers as saying, “I’m going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee. We have an ideological press that’s interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that’s interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don’t have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people.”

In the Beginning Was Mike Lofgren

Mike Lofgren has the benign face and mild demeanor of a high-school Latin teacher, but his message is anything but mild. Instead of prying Latin declensions into the heads of reluctant sixteen year olds, Lofgren spent his 28-year working life as a Republican Congressional staffer. So he has a privileged take on what goes on inside Congress, particularly the Republican Party. And he’s smart. Lofgren’s books and articles since retirement make clear that he is not cowed by people in high places. Just the title of his first  book (2013) gives us a hint: The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless and the Middle Class Got Shafted. The Washington Post characterized the book as “forceful, hard-hitting and seductive.” Lofgren said at the time, “I wrote the book because I am a concerned citizen.”

If you read the papers, both mainstream and alternative, though you may have long suspected something along the lines of the Deep State thesis, you could never substantiate it. This interview and Lofgren’s books will permit you do do just that. Even before his books he limbered up with a series of telling essays on Truthout.com. The first one, in September, 2011, was Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult. In it he explains why he retired, affirming that he was “appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country’s future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them.” Mike Lofgren first used the term “Deep State” in his Goodby to All That essay, referring to a “web of entrenched interests in the US government and beyond (most notably Wall Street and Silicon Valley, which controls access to our every click and swipe) that dictate America’s defense decisions, trade policies and priorities with little regard for the actual interests or desires of the American people.”

“… rotton captives to corporate loot…”

He charged there that both major American political parties are “rotten captives to corporate loot,” but that while Democrats are merely weak and out of touch, the Republican Party “is becoming more like an apocalyptic cult.” That was in 2011, nine years ago. In the meantime his “…is becoming…” has evolved. It now would read “has become a fully-fledged apocalyptic cult.” Lofgren describes highly-placed Republicans as caring only about their rich donors; being predisposed toward war; and pandering to the anti-intellectual, science-hostile, religious fundamentalist fringe.

This essay published on BillMoyers.com is so cogent, so knowledgeable and so impervious to the passage of time, that it is still required reading. As usual, I printed it out and started highlighting the most salient paragraphs with a green felt-tipped marker. When I was finished I found page after page of solid green. Want to try it yourself? Here’s the link.

The Whole Point

With Lofgren’s second book, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government (2016), he takes us even deeper into the Potomac swamp which, he affirms, now extends from New York to California. An observant reviewer on Amazon.com puts his finger on one of Lofgren’s most important revelations regarding the Deep State:

The whole point of the Deep State is that it is NON PARTISAN. It transcends democrats and republicans and you simply have to follow the money. Anyone who thinks that Donald Trump is not part of this – after appointing a cabinet of billionaires and generals, de-regulating Wall Street even further, and driving up the military budget while threatening to curtail what little social services we have left, have clearly drunk the Kool-Aid. You don’t get to be President unless you have the tacit support of the Deep State.

Trump’s Two-Headed Deep State

The best explanation of the Deep State is Mike Lofgren’s own in his 2014 Anatomy of the Deep State essay:

“There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol… Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.”

Everything that President Trump says or writes, awakens the same questions: Is he confused or is he trying to confuse me? Or both? The subject of the Deep State is no exception. He frequently sees it–and uses it–as a whipping boy but sometimes, usually when he’s in trouble, he turns to it as an ally. Here’s Business Insider (on the subject:

Rather than referring to a “shadow or parallel system of government” operating outside official channels, for Trump the deep state is the government —
or at least those parts of it that frustrate him in any way.

The HuffPost (Jan. 27, 2020) has compiled some examples:

  • In November 2017, he blamed “deep state authorities” for a failure to continue investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails, calling those authorities “Rigged and corrupt.”
  • That same month, he tweeted that the FBI and the Justice Department were withholding information about “surveillance of associates of Donald Trump.” This was, he said, “Big stuff. Deep State,” and he demanded that someone “Give this information NOW!”
  • In September 2018, he suggested that the deep state does have its extra-governmental allies, “the Left” and “the Fake News Media”: “The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy — & they don’t know what to do. The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices…”

Just a Conspiracy Theory?

Some people withhold that the Deep State is just a fantasy of conspiracy theorists. Who believes that? Like everything else in politics what people believe depends upon what they are presupposed–or paid–to believe. If you google Mike Lofgren’s books and essays and look at the readers’ reviews, you’ll find that the big half of them award him four or five stars and the rest, just one.  My guess is that most of those one-star readers are Republicans who haven’t actually read the book but are embittered by the fact that he let their cat out of the bag.

The Best Alternative Would Look Something Like This

This video might seem out of place here, but look again.  This, I submit, is the exact opposite of the President that the US currently enjoys, and the quintessence of what non-Trumpish Americans are seeking today for the leadership of their country.

J.F. Kennedy’s American University Commencement Speech 1963

Five months later President Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. Not five years later Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis.

Good luck, America.

 

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Why the Morbid Fixation on President Donald Trump?

Trump's iPhone.
President Trump has an iPhone with one ap: Twitter.

Are We Neurotic or Is He Too Much?

My wife wakes me up this morning at a quarter to six.
“Good morning, what is it?”
“Oh, nothing, never mind.”
“What do you mean ‘never mind?’ You woke me up to tell me something.”
“Yes, but it was about Trump, never mind.”

We–you, me, my wife and millions more around the world–are not neurotic regarding the threats posed by President Donald J. Trump. We’re gravely concerned. And we have cause to be worried. For the first time in our lives our fate is in the hands of an apparent megalomaniac sociopath who has stretched the already alarming degree of American executive power to the snapping point. We have seen him arrogate to himself powers that few previous presidents have ever considered: the power to lie obviously and repeatedly; the power to slander and ridicule his political opponents, the press and his own staff; the power to defy normal standards of decency and humanity. Gravest of all, he has in his right forefinger the  power to launch single handedly world history’s sixth great extinction. In reality, the “nuclear button” is not a button. It’s a briefcase. According to the Washington Post, the president is always accompanied by a military aide carrying a “football” with launch codes for America’s nuclear weapons. The football is a metal Zero Halliburton briefcase.

President Donald Trump personifies the quintessentially American saying: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” His public image is deplorable for about half of America, but it could not be more highly esteemed by the other half. Whatever he says, whatever he does, he manages to keep the country–and the world–in thrall, as if we were all watching the evolution in slow motion of the same multi-vehicle car wreck. He has taken the American presidency into the realm of snuff films. It’s too sick, too outrageous to bear. But we can’t resist watching. And when he oversteps even his own limits, instead of apologizing, he doubles down. Nobody has ever seen, nor imagined, this sort of presidential behavior.

Trump’s Communications Strategy

It’s not clear where the idea came from but President Trump employs a novel medium for getting his presidential messages out to his following: the tweet. It’s perfect for his peculiar style of communicating as Twitter messages are limited to 280 characters (raised from 140 in November of 2017) and he rarely needs more space to express his narrow range of boasts, threats, insults, and dismissals. This communications channel is immediate, direct, universal and free. And it’s capable of reaching in real time the entire 81% installed base of smart phones in his country.

This system does, however, have two drawbacks for the president.

  1. It exposes him to ridicule for his fifth-grade spelling.
  2. It gains him criticism for his frequent temper tantrums.

But this is a small price to pay in exchange for direct, unedited access to the American electorate. We must never forget that President Trump has only one objective: reelection. Any other consideration is not even secondary; it’s non existent. His followers don’t seem to object, and the rest of the electorate is irrelevant for President Trump.

What’s more, the recipients of his tweets are not limited to Twitter users, as the American media–both mainstream and alternate– give them viral treatment, passing them on to you whether you like it or not. So the entire US territory–and a great part of the rest of the world–is treated to a permanent warm bath of the president’s smarmy banalities. Before we start feeling too superior in the face of this lowbrow communications campaign, we must remember an overriding fact: It works for him. It probably got him elected in 2016 and may do so again in 2020.

The President’s Act

Perhaps the greatest part of President Trump’s draw is due to the fact that he is unique among the world’s leaders, past and present. The world has never seen anything like him. His oafish part-clown, part-bully persona evokes different levels of shock and awe depending upon which part of the world is watching. In the more open and informal, English-speaking countries like Canada and Australia his messages and their curious presentation leave listeners either laughing or mildly horrified–or more often both. But in more traditional, straight-laced nations like Japan and China the President of the United States looks and sounds as if he were from another planet, which is not to say he’s not fascinating in the way a tornado ripping down Main St. is fascinating. Unfortunately for him, however, fascinating  is not the same as trustworthy.

President Trump’s manners are exaggerated and unusual. His barging, me-first gestures, his stiff, posturing body language and awkward speech patterns have prompted some experts in abnormal behavior to suggest that the president may be entering into senile dementia. An opinion article in USA Today from Dec. 2019 affirms:

If Donald Trump were your father, you would run, not walk, to a neurologist for an evaluation of his cognitive health. You don’t have to be a doctor to see something is very wrong. 

Troll

The Collateral Damage

At the same time that President Trump is mesmerizing the country and winning reactionary, corporate, and Evangelical votes with his grotesque stagecraft, something different is going on the wings. His hand-picked crew of anti-government trolls–picked for their simple-minded ideology and loyalty to Trump, not their expertise–is busy dismounting the American government as we know it. The running of a country as big and complex as the United States requires brilliant managers, specialists trained,  experienced, and dedicated.

These have traditionally been people who could have made more money in the private sector, but have opted for public service. That is to say, some of the best, and most capable and disinterested people in the country. To take them off the job and replace them with unqualified minions dedicated to following orders from a chain of command that leads ultimately to deep-state oligarchs, places the entire country in serious danger. It’s like pulling all the air traffic controllers out of America’s control towers.

Shouldn’t something be done? Obviously. One thing is a riveting spectacle, quite another a mortal danger to the entire world. The obvious solution would be that the American voters were to vote President Trump out of office. Could that happen? Theoretically, yes. But what if he were to lose the election–despite the sophisticated methods of election tuning at his disposal–would Trump go tamely? Or would he precipitate Armageddon? This is just one more fascinating question that holds the world in thrall and to which only the president has the answer.

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Get Out as Fast as You Can

Leaving_Trump

Americans, You’re in a Dangerous Place

Looking back at the essays I’ve written–more than 150 of them–for this blog over the past three years I note that in most of them there’s a tacit subtext for Americans: “Get out of there.” The United States is no longer a safe, healthy place for you to live and raise your children and grandchildren. Before it’s too late you need to get them out of the only country in the world where children wear bullet-proof knapsacks to school. And I’m not talking just about the obvious physical dangers such as police brutality; school shootings; violent racism, and the lack of a proper public health system. This factor alone has contributed to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths of Americans during the  coronavirus emergency.

Even if those obvious dangers were not present the US would still be an unsuitable place to educate children. The reasons are less obvious but more cogent. The United States has a sick, false and ultimately dangerous value system. Americans overvalue things that are frivolous, irrelevant and inhuman and undervalue those that are essential to harmonious human life, things like altruism, civility, tolerance, and generosity.  They’re seeing more than ever now the results of twisted values on their streets and in their institutions. The brutality and inadequacy of President Donald Trump makes it easy for them to pass the blame to him. But President Trump didn’t make America; America made President Trump.

If you discuss the issues sincerely and dispassionately with a thinking person from any other country in the world, most of them will agree that today’s US is far down the road to moral, intellectual and economic ruin. It has been on that track for decades but, since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, the situation has spiraled out of control and the future looks even less promising.

A President for His Times

President Trump is the perfect prototype of what’s wrong with America. Any normalcy  that he might embody is overshadowed by his shady past, his lies, his conflicts of interest, and his unsettling stage presence. His lack of any normal social, intellectual and moral responses prompts people around the world to hold their heads in their hands and ask, “How is it possible for a person so bereft of normal human qualities to be elected president of what we have always considered the greatest country in the world?” This greatness may have been real 40 or 50 years ago, but not today. The only field on which the United  States can claim world leadership is the field of battle, though it’s not clear to what extent that superiority represents an advantage for them.

Despite spending sums that are galloping towards a trillion dollars annually, maintaining more than 800 military installations around the world, and boasting the world’s greatest fleet of killer drones, the Americans are still incapable of winning a war, not even in starving Yemen. They did not win in Irak and they are still grasping for an “honorable” way of backing out of Afghanistan after waging war against that impoverished country for more than a dozen years. Now they are rattling their missiles at Iran and Venezuela. In view of their track record, what do they expect to achieve, beyond lining the pockets of Lockheed Martin, Boeing and the rest of the select mob of American war profiteers? And let’s not forget the tremendous political clout those gentlemen wield.

This insistence on permanent war helps to explain the deficiencies faced by the American people at home: poverty, inequality, crippling racism, crumbling infrastructures and falling standards in public health and education, along with pre-civil-war levels of civil unrest. (I refer not to the last civil war, but to the next one.) These deficiencies and more have brought the people onto the streets and the country to its knees.

Consider How People Live in Other Countries

Comparisons may be odious but in this case I think it’s legitimate to look at the ranking of the United States among other nations and compare their conditions of health and welfare. The data that follow come from reliable international sources, many of them from the United States. Let’s start with overall health. According to the 2019 edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, Spain is the healthiest country in the world, followed by Iceland, Japan, and Switzerland. The US is number 35 in the ranking. Life expectancy is also indicative of overall wellbeing. According to Worldography.info, who average the age for both sexes, the United States clocks in at number 46, with 78.11 years of life expectancy, just below Cuba and 44 other countries. At the top is Hong Kong with 89.29 years.  How does the US do in literacy? Andorra, Greenland, North Korea, and Uzbekistan enjoy 100% literacy rates as of 2015-16, according to the German site, citypopulation.de.  The Washington Post (Mar. 8, 2016) says under the headline Most literate nation in the world? Not the US, that the US has advanced from 11th to seventh place. That js a remarkably positive result for a country whose president refuses to read and is incapable of writing a proper sentence. This president may be a unique case in the entire world.

Other Benchmarks are Equally Telling

What about infant mortality? According to CIA.gov, the US ranks 36th (estimated data 2017) with 5.7 deaths per 1000 live births. These numbers are significantly bettered by countries such as Hungary (4.90), Poland (4.40), Portugal (4.30), Slovenia  (3.90), Spain (3.30) along with a couple of dozen more. Neither do the American results for electoral integrity fare very well in the world. “U.S. ELECTIONS RANK LAST AMONG ALL WESTERN DEMOCRACIES,” reads the headline on the electoralintegrityproject.com site (an electoral monitoring project run by Harvard and Sydney Universities) on January 7, 2017. The only ones, among western democracies, who held freer and fairer elections than the United States were everyone else.

Where the US is out front is in coronavirus deaths, where they y overtook China and Italy and currently lead the world with more than 106,000 fatalities.

That is to say, the US is slipping badly in vitally important areas, and these dismal results are not due to coincidence nor bad luck. They’re deliberately built into the American Way of Life and determine the condition of the majority of its citizens. That has not improved since the 1970s and cannot be expected to do so in the next generation or two. The American working class cannot recover because the deck is stacked against them by design. Before they are even born they are victims, via their parents, of a “constitutional democracy” that is little more than a mirage underpinned by a de facto oligarchy that pays pliable politicians, right up through the United States Congress, to unleash and protect predatory capitalism with all of its cruelest attributes. This includes the removal of economic and environmental regulations, gifts of massive tax cuts to corporations, as well as cynical multi-billion-dollar bailouts that include no corresponding equity for the citizens. At the same time they undermine workers rights at every step of the way. The coronavirus pandemic has only aggravated matters. A working family will be lucky to survive, let alone prosper. The voracious American oligarchy is exporting this slash-and-burn model of economic relations around the world.

Don’t Forget the Bright Side

The prospect of leaving the United States for good is not only about escaping an increasingly insufferable situation there. It’s also about the pleasant surprises that await you in your new country of choice. Yes, you can choose your country. What a revelation. We won’t dwell on that aspect here, but dozens of details of daily life will make you feel as if you’re living in a better, more civilized world–because you are.

Leaving your home country is a long-term project that entails formidable challenges. It’s not something that many people would do under normal circumstances. But these are not normal circumstances. And if you get it right the risks and efforts are more than worth the trouble. Take my word for it. I’ve been there.

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Closing note. I have not touched upon the nuts and bolts of self exile in this post. A few years ago I published a three-part article on my old blog which goes into those subjects. It’s a bit out of date but you will get the drift. You can find it here.

 

 

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For Crissake, General, Think of Your Grandmother

The Forgotten Human Factor in American Geopolitical Thinking

What do we have to do to remind American political and military leaders that all of their favorite bellicose initiatives–mainly wars but also “sanctions,” boycotts, blockades, regime-change ops, etc.–ultimately all fall on the backs of people, not abstractions. Those afflicted are schoolteachers and postal workers, mechanics and nurses, mothers and grandmothers, children and grandchildren. So when the McNamaras and Westmorelands, the Rumsfelds, the Wolfowitzes, the Cheneys, the Albrights, the Boltons and Abramses loose their indiscriminate–and curiously personalized–wrath on one country or another, be it Iraq or Venezuela, those who suffer aren’t politicians nor generals nor the institutions that make up “the country.”  Those who suffer are the grandmothers.

Don’t American politicians, strategists, bankers, industrialists and research scientists have grandmothers, or grandchildren? Or did all of these illustrious Americans just pop out of cyborg vending machines? If not, how can they justify the grief they engender with their perpetual quest for geopolitical advantage, for oil and gas, for arable land and fishable seas, in short, anything that can be “exploited.” When they’re calculating their troop depletion estimates do they also dial in the murdered and the maimed ballet dancers and flower vendors? Do they count the hungry children and the homeless refugees? What prompted Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, to make that spine-chilling comment in 1996 when she said on national TV that 500,000 Iraqi children dead from sanctions were “worth it.”

Merely a Monster?

Had she been smoking allspice or is she just a monster?  A few months later she was confirmed by the US Senate as Secretary of State and nobody even questioned her about this statement. Transporting 500,000 first graders would take 6,667 school buses, making a line more than 50 miles long. Albright’s father, the Czech politician and academic, Josef Korbel, was also the mentor of another hardliner, Condoleeza Rice. (Source: Democracy Now.com)

What’s wrong with these people? What have they got against humanity? What genetic deformation or failure in their upbringing makes them incapable of even considering the human factor? They are, after all, the coddled children of the richest, most advanced country in the world. They have always taken obscene privilege for granted. Can’t they remember their seventh-grade English teachers? Doesn’t it occur to them that the equivalent 50-year-old woman, also a teacher of English, who was carbonized from the air while riding in a collective taxi in Syria, was also a mother and grandmother? They can’t plead ignorance. They have some of the finest “intelligence” services in the world. Or do they consider it “just the cost of doing business?”

Is the wanton killing of innocent civilians really necessary? It may or may not be but it’s counterproductive. For every grandmother, son or daughter you kill, you create a tight-knit group of highly-motivated enemies whose mission–which will extend to coming generations–will be to kill Americans. So who benefits? Only the ghouls who profit from authorizing, creating and selling the Hellfire missiles used to atomize our grandmothers. In a sane country these “businessmen” would be put out to pasture to herd sheep and make cheese.

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How America Might Survive

Human_Values3

Changing the Definition of What Is Valuable

A limo, a Jacuzzi, thousand-dollar shoes, private jets, rich friends, fame for being famous, cash in hand, political power, armed strength, economic growth…? What has value?

Umair Haque, my favorite observer of the American condition, says on Medium.com, March 31, 2020:

Amazon, Inc. is worth a trillion dollars, give or take. But the ongoing survival of the human race is literally worth nothing to capitalism. Nothing but profit has any worth whatsoever to it. That’s all that’s capitalized on stock markets or denominated in bonds. But capitalism is the system of the world… America fought a hidden world war to globalize it — attacking nations from Chile to Iran to Iraq to Vietnam. It was successful. Today, we’re all paying the price of that success. Capitalism has literally eaten through the planet, nature, and life on it. Now it’s beginning to eat away at the human race itself — its health, happiness, longevity. That is what Coronavirus really is.

American Capitalism’s Stately Pleasure Dome

It has taken US corporate capitalism less than a century to erect a seemingly-unassailable edifice of exclusively market values, an American Xanadu. According to these norms everything can be bought and sold. It must be so in order to achieve capitalism’s summum bonum: economic growth. That, of course, is a lie just as egregious as “manifest destiny” or “the war on terror.” Because long-term growth is absolutely limited by the world’s resources, and they are shrinking fast while the appetites of capitalism are insatiable to the point of driving the world’s sixth mass extinction of species. What annual economic growth does assure is vast wealth for the usual suspects: fossil fuel giants, “defense” industries, big pharma and tobacco, flukish online multi-billionaires, and banks and vulture funds of every stripe.

But the long-term effects of unending growth on the country, on other countries, and the planet itself, are fatal. The world is already half dead and if US predatory capitalism is permitted to continue “leading the way,” the extermination is imminent. And there’s no cogent reason to believe that will not be the outcome. Fast-money capitalists now control “the greatest country in the world,” along with massive swaths of the rest of it. Do you see anybody committed and powerful enough to stand in their way? Not the militarists. They have the growth industry of the moment. Not the population at large. They’re anesthetized by irrealities and bling. Not the churches. The protestants are hooked on the “prosperity gospel” and private jets, and the Catholics have their own special problems. Who does that leave? The Icelanders might be a good choice for putting the world right, but there aren’t enough of them to go around.

Enter Coronavirus, There Will Be Some Changes Made

After almost four months of the coronavirus experience in America there are some things we have learned:

  • The virus has impacted lives in all sectors of society, not only in the US, but around the world. Though it’s only fair to point out that, like everything else, the incidence of the virus is much more devastating among poor and minority populations.
  • Given the universality of the pandemic it is not enough to cleanse one city, one state or even one country. The world will not be free of coronavirus until all countries are made healthy again. This will require worldwide solidarity, financing and close collaboration.
  • The countries that took immediate remedial action–masks, distancing, tests and sourcing–greatly limited the number of cases and deaths. And those that didn’t suffered immeasurably more. The United States, for example.
  • The responses of the heads of government of different countries shed light on the priorities of world leaders. Compare, for example, the messages of Donald Trump, President of the Unites States, who oversaw more than 98,000 deaths in his country, with those of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand where the coronavirus impact has been limited to 21 deaths as of 22 May, 2020.
  • It’s not clear how long we’ll be under the dictatorship of the virus, but it’s safe to say that it’s going to be a long haul. That will give governments and populations around the world time to reflect on the necessity of changes of  ideologies and policies. We are already seeing that concerted collective efforts are required to deal with the crisis effectively. It will not respond to military solutions, nor nationalist approaches. It will require sincere concern for others, generosity, and worldwide solidarity.

There are countries around the world where these necessary new collective measures and attitudes sound subversive, unnatural, and outrageous. Principal among these is the United States, the one that currently leads the world in coronavirus cases and deaths. This is not a coincidence. The US is an every-man-for-himself country, and its President is a man who thrives on chaos. But the United States must become a major player in this scenario. Would its leaders be up to it? For them to save themselves, and contribute to saving the rest of the world, they will need to change their national philosophy from top to bottom. Can that happen? If it’s ever going to occur it has to happen soon, while there’s still country and world left to save.

What we’re talking about is an active awareness that we’re all in it together (a sentiment often expressed by former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders). This demands a sincere change of heart, concern for others, a willingness to work towards and help pay for not only local but global solutions. Empathy of this magnitude seems impossible under a Trump presidency. Given Donald Trump’s utter lack feeling for anyone but himself, it’s no suprise that he has turned his country into a giant triage tent with today’s score standing at 98,200 dead. Will the next president be radically different? Will he or she have the courage and conviction to reorient the country’s military budget in favor of the battle against coronavirus? That’s what it would take. We are looking at the highest-stakes game the world has ever seen. Thoughts and prayers will not get the job done.

Really_Smart

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American Hypocrisy Reigns Supreme

American hypocrisy
The ‘Evangelicals for Trump’ campaign event held at the King Jesus International Ministry on January 03, 2020 in Miami, Florida. President Donald Trump appointed televangelist, Paula White (center), as White House faith advisor. In this photo it’s not clear whether the President is praying or calculating  votes.

A Country Solidly Grounded in Hypocrisy

How does a country of 330 million people hold its head high while living in the most abject state of intellectual and moral squalor imaginable? Inequality, injustice, social disorder, racism, ignorance, poverty, militarism, brutality… There’s only one way they feel they can defend such a squalid record: by injecting industrial quantities of hypocrisy into the mix. It’s a cheap trick–just go on razing your country and the world, then make up specious lies to cover up your actions.  Until recently this strategy has worked surprisingly well, at least internally. A majority of American citizens still regard their country as “a city on a hill, a beacon of hope for the world.” How many of them are aware that the city-on-a-hill metaphor was the vision of religious fanatic, John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, a man who sowed the seeds of a religious extremism that still blights American society today?

Lately, however, the hypocrisy machine is getting a bit rusty, and the truth is becoming visible through the cracks. To most impartial observers around the world, American ideals have slipped to sordid levels. They now detain immigrant families, incarcerating parents in one place, children in cages in another and call that justice. Those children–some of the babies–may never see their parents again. The Americans permit armed thugs–Nazis and white supremacists–to invade a state capitol building, proffering intimidating threats and insults, and call that free speech. Then the President himself appears with praise: “These are people expressing their views. They seem to be very responsible people to me.” These are the words of a fascist.

This self-aggrandizing oaf of a President, breaks all records for lies and insults in his press conferences and then strides arrogantly off the stage.  On the subject of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, Health and Human Services Secretary,  Alex Azar, tells members of Congress, “We would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest,”  Two days later he reverses that declaration. (Business Insider.com, February 27, 2020). Most recently the President, having calculated the damage done to his re-election campaign, pulls this out of his sleeve:  “The vaccine will be available free to all Americans.” There seem to be no rational criteria driving the administration, just the whims, hunches and inspirations of a semi-literate President.  Given the fickle changes in his humor, we still don’t know whether the Trump administration is prepared to let people die because they can’t afford the vaccine.

International Opinion Counts

Most Americans may be unaware that the whole world is watching, and it’s not sedated by the platitudes of American mythology. Citizens of the world are acutely aware that the emperor is devoid of clothes. The success of any foreign-relations agenda relies heavily on credibility, trust, and respect, all of which are flagging badly in today’s Washington. At the same time, the countries they consider their enemies are growing as potential candidates for world leadership. Will today’s American politicians pay the price for this gross mismanagement? No, as usual it’s the American people who will pay.

What Abuses Are We Talking About?

  • Wrap-around racism. Now that South Africa has faced up to its institutionally racist past, the United States steps into the spotlight as the current racist capitol of the world. Nowhere else are so many aspects of society tinged by racial hate: law enforcement, judicial and penal politics, education, voting, housing and employment, to name just a few. When is America going to come to grips with this situation once and for all. Or are most Americans happy with the status quo?
  • Election irregularities and interventions. When was the last time the US had a free and fair election? How then do they permit themselves to criticize other countries? As for interfering in elections of other countries, the US is the all-time number one. And if NSA and CIA clandestine fiddle-faddle doesn’t tip the election scales, they simply organize a military coup, as they did in Chile in 1973.
  • Assuming religious airs for electoral purposes. This is a two-way  street of particularly-repugnant hypocrisy: Trump appears to lap up fundamentalist religion and the born-again folks pretend that he’s a decent person, while each advance the sick agenda of the other. Included in the Evangelical agenda, of course, is school prayer. If Jesus Christ were alive in the US today he would be crucified as a Communist immigrant.
  • Unsavory bedfellows. Backing the Saudi war on hapless Yemen. Facilitating the Israeli Likud party’s annexation of Palestinian lands. Pandering dangerously to Fundamentalist Christians and their truculent “Rapture” agenda. If this obscene Apocalyptic policy comes to term it could drag the US into a war in the Middle East.
  • Regime change and internal meddling in other peoples’ governments. There’s a long list: Most of Central America, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos… The United States accusing other coutries of militarism and human rights abuses is the richest and most ironic example of and hypocrisy in modern political history.
  • Levels of aggressive militarism not seen since Attila the Hun. What the US did to Indochina and Iraq, to name just a couple of their victims, is grounds for international war crimes trials.
  • Cloaking their baseless, clandestine political and military interventions as humanitarian aid, or support for democracy while casting countries like Venezuela as “dictatorships,” i.e. any country which resists an American-sponsored takeover. Venezuela has a long-standing elected left-wing government (thus certified by the Carter Center election monitoring team after visiting Venezuelan elections in 1998 and 2000). But having a true democracy is no guarantee against American regime-change operations. Any country with important reserves of natural resources is a target for American greed and aggression. Venezuela has massive–perhaps the world’s largest–petroleum and natural gas reserves, as well as mountains of gold and other precious metals. For that reason alone their government needs toppling and their economy “liberalizing” by American experts.
  • Communications too fuzzy or too clear. The result is that US citizens are kept in the dark, knowing only that they are subject to the President’s follies. Required to defend postures and policies that are clearly indefensible, his communicators are trapped. If they tell the truth they’re sunk. If they try to work around it they’re comically unintelligible. Meanwhile, the very fate of the world depends upon the shifting moods of a textbook sociopath.

The Justification for All This Villany

Attempts by the American amoral political elite to justify their foreign and domestic abuses are grounded in the democracy scam. “Scam” because nobody in Washington gives two hoots about democracy. What they worry about is getting elected, then re-elected, ad infinitum. In addition to their tricked-up election laws and perverted campaign financing, what’s the best way to achieve that? By constantly regurgitating the words “democracy” and “freedom.” Teetering atop the unstable “democracy” pretense they must balance all the rest of the mythological American playbook: the über-patriotism, the exceptionalism, the flag, God’s chosen people, the heroic militarism… They defeated Grenada and Panama, though they were less fortunate against the Asian superpowers, Vietnam and Afghanistan. All along they’re incapable of seeing themselves as bullies.

These cherished American myths are more than enough justification for home consumption, but not for the rest of the world.

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Trump’s Environmental Destruction Agency Is Diligently at Work

Climate_change1

(The source for this post is this May 6, 2020, NY Times article: The Trump Administration Is Reversing Nearly 100 Environmental Rules. Here’s the link to the full story.)

Petulance and Pandering as Government Policy

Faithful to his campaign promises President Donald J. Trump’s team of trolls at the Environmental Protection Agency has made significant advances in their mission of  dismounting, diluting and destroying previous administrations’ measures for preserving the environment. The NY Times article makes this evident in a clearly-presented barrage of data their team of investigative reporters collected from the Harvard and Columbia law schools and other sources.

A summary reading of the 4,000-word article indicates that the driving criteria behind Trump’s monumental environmental wrecking job respond to two factors:

  1. A childish revenge motive to dismount and discredit programs initiated during the Barak Obama presidency.
    President Trump cowers under a dark cloud of his own suspicion that President Obama is the better man. So Trump’s response is to bury the Obama legacy at any cost. And the cost, in terms of the degradation of the American environment and the lives of the American people, is dear.
  2. A determination to benefit big business interests regardless of the price to the interests of American citizens.
    The obvious big winners here are the fossile fuels companies, ironically at a time when the price of a barrel of oil is below zero–they have to pay to stockpile it–and renewable energies are looking like increasingly viable alternatives to coal and oil. One wonders what possible justification there can be for this expensive insistence on fattening a moribund horse.

Who is writing the script for this grotesque clown show, anyway? It’s certainly not President Trump. He has proven to us that he is incapable of reading a script, let alone writing one. And this is not just any old script. It forms part of the master plan to alter the DNA of the erstwhile “greatest country in the world.” Who’s calling the shots? We don’t know, and we won’t know until it’s too late. The best we can do now is to make our best educated guesses and get to work on a provisional opposition strategy. The NY Times, taking advantage of research done by the law schools of Harvard and Columbia  and others, has just advanced a significant first step. They have itemized, quantified and analyzed the measures the Trump administration has taken to dismount and destroy key US government environmental rules.

They are doing this to the detriment of American taxpayers, citizens of other countries around the world and the planet, itself. They’re murdering mother nature: her bees, birds, big cats, elephants, rhinos, orangutans, amphibians, lynx, hawks and eagles, dolphins and whales, coral, the Amazon, Alaska… Soon everything will be extinct–including humankind–except the rats and scorpions. They’re survivors, more adaptable, intelligent and opportunistic than a hedge fund manager, though he has also been able to survive in the sewers of Wall Street.

Iberian lynx kittens
Lynx kittens. The Iberian lynx is the most endangered big cat species in the world.

The Times Article Breaks the Trump Environmental Wrecking Plan Down into Seven Categories

All of them reflect grave danger and the Trumpian know-nothing determination to make matters worse on all fronts. The Trumpeteers’  actions respond more to an affirmation of arbitrary authority than to environmental issues. The message is that they’re doing it because they can and in order to create incremental precedents for ever-more-egregious future abuses. This is just one face of a monster designed to convert the United States into the definitive dystopia for everyone except the rich, Washington’s very own Godzilla.

Here They Are, by the Numbers

1/ Air Pollution and Emissions

According to the Times reporters it’s the Environmental Protection Agency which has spearheaded the repeal of Obama-era emissions rules for power plants and vehicles; weakened protections for the nation’s wetlands; and withdrawn rules for restricting mercury emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, the Interior Department has opened up more land for oil and gas leasing by cutting back protected areas and limiting wildlife protections.

Then the spokesclown for the E.P.A permits herself the luxury of declaring:

“Over the past three years, we have fulfilled President Trump’s promises to provide certainty for states, tribes, and local governments,” adding that the agency was “delivering on President Trump’s commitment to return the agency to its core mission: providing cleaner air, water and land to the American people.”

The NY Times concludes their section on Air Pollution and Emissions:

“All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality each year, according to energy and legal analysts.”

2/ Drilling and extraction

The tenor of Trumpish initiatives to permit mining companies to bespoil more and bigger swaths of land runs to shrinking the land around national monuments, lifting the ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, rescinding water pollution regulations for fracking on federal and Indian lands, approving construction of the Dakota Access pipeline less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, and a lot of other similarly outlandish environmental abuses in benefit of miners and drillers.

3/ Infrastructure and planning

The Trumpeteers have revoked Obama-era flood standards for federal infrastructure projects, along with all other environmental protections dubbed “Obama era,” as well as loosing rejuvenated oil and gas monsters across the country, along with eight more similar cases.

4/ Animals

Trump’s environmental team has watered down the Endangered Species Act, restored the right to use lead ammunition and fishing tackle on federal lands, overturned a ban on the hunting of predators in Alaskan wildlife refuges, proposed revising limits on the number of endangered marine mammals that can be unintentionally killed or injured with sword-fishing nets on the West Coast. Debilitated rules have de-protected everything from tuna fish and sea turtles to migratory birds and grizzley bears.

5/ Toxic substances and safety

Virtually all “Obama-era” rules regarding toxic substances have gone out the window, leaving citizens at the mercy of toxic chemicals in everything from pesticides and cosmetics to dry-cleaning solvents. Safety rules for the use of hazardous chemicals in workplaces have been relaxed, including a program to reduce risks of workers developing the lung disease silicosis.

6/ Water pollution

The Trump environmental team’s efforts to better manage America’s water resources for big business include the usual nullifying of Obama-era initiatives such as pollution protections for tributaries and wetlands, revoking a rule that prevented coal companies from dumping mining debris into local streams, and withdrawing a proposed rule requiring groundwater protections for uranium mines, as well as proposing the opening of 1,500 acres outside the Grand Canyon to nuclear production. Not carried out yet but next on the agenda are a series of measures to facilitate more dumping of waste from power plants into rivers and streams.

7/ Other

Out the Obama-era window go measures to increase the number of energy-efficient light bulbs; to prohibit the use of sand from protected ecosystems for coastal replenishment projects; and to reverse restrictions on the sale of plastic water bottles in national parks, a measure desgined to cut down on litter. And there’s a lot more to come.

Who Wins, Who Pays?

Who is responsible for deciding which environmental protection measures should be thrown out? Industry advisors, perhaps? Who suffers the consequences and pays the bills? The usual suspects.

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Trumpless Fridays, Anyone?

I Propose an International Boycott of Donald Trump

If you are sick to death of seeing President Donald Trump’s scrambled-eggs face and listening to his ever-present voice on whatever device you turn on, raise your hand. You are not alone. The rest of us feel just as frustrated as you do. The bitterest pill is that there seems to be nothing we can do about it. What would you give to enjoy a break from Donald Trump, a rest from his face, his tiresome, lowbrow discourse, his lies, blunders and hollow sales pitches?

Maybe there is something we can do. Though we can’t shut him up nor oblige the media to limit their coverage, permit me to suggest that there is something we’re empowered to enact. We can boycott him. We can dedicate at least one day a week to turning our backs on him, not watching, not listening, not discussing, not mentioning, not even protesting President Donald J. Trump. Admittedly it would be only one day a week and just a testimonial gesture but it would give us–and the world–the feeling that we are aware of his toxic presence and prepared to resist it.

Just Pass on Trump

One day a week without Trump. It would be absolutely therapeutic. We can already breathe a little easier. How to go about it? It needn’t be complicated, nor expensive. We have the Internet and social media on our side. So, there’s no need to form an association, pay dues, nor fill out any forms. We don’t even have to surrender our email addresses nor remember any passwords. We just turn our backs on him collectively. This is not to imply that we can’t print up some T-shirts or leave some comments on social media, but you don’t even have to do that if you don’t want to. And the whole world can play. Just pass on Trump.

To that end I hereby proclaim this Friday, May 8, 2020, and every Friday thereafter as days without Trump–Trumpless Fridays. (Who am I? I’m nobody, just like you.) Care to join me? Just pass on Trump.

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President Trump May Go Down in History as the Savior of America–2/2

The Lowest Low Point

1. Implementing child separation — and lying about it

From April to June 2018, the Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy at the southern border that deliberately separated children and babies — some as young as 4 months old — from their parents. In the span of six weeks, 1,995 kids were torn away from their parents. Some will likely never be reunited. On June 16, 2018, Trump lied about the policy, saying it was “forced” by Democrats. Once his lie was exposed, on Oct. 13, 2018, Trump explicitly advocated his barbaric policy as a deterrent. Those low points sparked international outrage.

These incidents enumerated by Klaas include exclusively those that occurred during the Trump presidency, not the run-up. So they omit such egregious cases as the Colin Kaeperninck disrespect-for-the-flag tweet,  the “Access Hollywood” tape, mocking a disabled reporter, attacking a Gold Star family, calling to ban all Muslims from entering the country or labeling Mexican immigrants as rapists.

How to Scuttle the Ship of State

In order for President Trump to sink the United States government–and the country–irretrievably he only has to continue along his same path. As we have seen in his daily tweets and even mainstream news coverage, he’s done an admirable job of sabotaging the government during his fist term in office, from defunding and dismantling vital agencies to deregulating business and finance, but he still has a way to go. A Democratic-Party-controlled House of Representatives is a hurdle he would have to surmount but there’s a possiblity he could turn the House around in the upcoming elections.  He has won against the odds before–producing apoplexia in the Democratic machine–and the American electorate has been known to deliver other remarkable surprises.

The Immediate Result of a Possible Trump Defeat

But what if he were to lose? How would President Trump’s partisans take the loss? Would they just step aside for the new President elect? Can anyone really foresee President Trump leaving office without kicking and screaming? What is more likely is some sort of coordinated civil unrest, the maximum expression of which is civil war. Is that eventuality being prepared in the White House basement as we speak? Should it come to armed civil disobedience, which side would the nation’s police and armed forces come down on? Is anybody thinking about that? Or are they all just betting the farm on that comforting old saw: “It can’t happen here”

Suppose it were to happen, along with all the other horrific contingencies that President Trump’s administration has made possible. A full-blown American Civil War II would be a giant step towards ground zero.  And we haven’t even considered the role of the Chinese and the Russians. Would they stand idly by? Or would they consider picking up a bargain out of the wreckage? Isn’t the Chinese’s own pictograph for “crisis” composed of two characters, one meaning “danger,” and the other “opportunity.”

Back to the Premise

How could a person like Donald J. Trump become the savior of the United States? It’s time to look at the historical precedents in other countries. In our time, since World War II, there have been two nations that have risen from the ignominy of defeat and total destruction, humiliation and starvation poverty, and worldwide condemnation. And they have achieved it in less than three generations. They have both rebuilt their countries and their economies, but more importantly they have recuperated their moral decency. Both have recognized, abandoned, repented, and apologized repeatedly for their agressive acts of warfare and crimes against humanity, their racism and historic rapaciousness. And their populations have assimilated a whole new set of humanitarian values based on democratic principles, respect and decency at home and abroad,

Those two countries are Germany and Japan. Located on opposite sides of the globe and with widely disparate cultural and social traditions, what did they have in common that permitted them to renew themselves in every conceivable respect? Their cities were systematically razed, their ideologies discredited. Their allies evaporated, along with their credit internationally. The only resources they could count on were humility, intelligence and determination. Granted, the $15 billion Marshall Plan was an important factor in European recovery but it wasn’t enacted until 1948. The first three years of Germany’s lone battle back from the gates of hell started from zero. Today Germany and Japan are two of the most advanced–and more importantly–most civilized countries in the world.

The Road to Rock Bottom

Is it possible that these are the very conditions that the United States requires in order to become great again? Could the current COVID-19 pandemic and President Trump’s characteristically inept handling of it be the detonator? From “We’ve got it under control…” to 55,000 deaths and counting is a long stretch, Mr. President. Will the coronavirus do for the Americans what the Second World War did for the Germans and the Japanese. Will it take them to rock bottom? If so, would the American public be able to muster the intelligence and determination–and most difficult of all–the humility to rebuild their entire world from zero?

It’s important to keep in mind, I think, that it couldn’t be achieved with traditional American values. No amount of self-reliance, dog-eat-dog competition and quick-buck capitalism would get the job done. It would require tremendous levels of selfless collaboration on the part of its citizens, something unknown in today’s highly-polarized United States. It’s not a given that Americans are capable of such a sea change in their hearts and minds. If they were, they might bring it off, just as the Germans and the Japanese did. That would make President Donald J. Trump, the principal agent for taking his country to rock bottom, in effect the savior of America, albeit by an ironically indirect route. If it should turn out that the Americans are not capable of working together intensely and disinterestedly, there are other nations with high levels of preparation waiting in the wings.

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President Donald Trump May Go Down in History as the Savior of America–1/2

Nato_meeting_2018

Trump May Make America Great Again but not in the Way He Had in Mind

There are precedents for the return to prominence of formerly great countries and a thoughtful look at their cases could illuminate the future of Donald Trump’s United States. The country may be recoverable and he might be the man to lead the way. He might require re-election to achieve it, but everything is possible. Before we consider the historical precedents, let’s take a summary look at President Trump’s record since he launched his presidential campaign.

The best–and most amenable–source I have found for pre-campaign Trump is the prologue to Michael Lewis’s 2018 book, The Fifth Risk, which is riveting from the first page. Lewis had access to Chris Cristie, the former New Jersey governor and short-lived candidate in the 2016 presidential pre-campaign, who alerted Donald Trump to the fact that he was legally obliged to appoint a staff to search and select candidates for the 500 federal posts that would have to be filled by presidential appointment, in the case that he were to be elected. Christie, who was at the first orientation meeting with the Obama transition team, found Trump’s delegate “comically underqualified” and he immediately phoned the Trump campaign manager, Cory Lewandowski, and asked him why such a critical job had been left in the hands of an incompetent. Lewandowski replied, “Because whe don’t have anyone.” So Christie got the job himself.

When Trump won the Republican candidacy he received from the federal government a suite of fully equipped offices in downtown Washington, DC, for his transition selection team. This group, in turn, reported weekly to Trump’s “executive committee,” made up of his real-estate-operator son-in-law, Jared Kushner; his daughter, Ivanka, his sons Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump; as well as Paul Manafort, Steve Mnuchin and Jeff Sessions. All candidate Trump had to do was to pay the employees, either from his own pocket or his campaign funds. This detail gave rise to a brouhaha when Christie informed Trump that he was legally obliged to pay the staff. According to Christie, Trump’s reply was characteristically brief and clear: “Fuck the law. I don’t give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money. Shut it down. Shut down the transition.” In the end Christie’s transition team efforts were all in vain. He was fired the day after Trump won the election at the insistence of Jared Kushner, who had not forgiven Christie for prosecuting his father, Charles Kushner in a 2005 corruption case. Today Jared Kushner is a White House magnate and atypical diplomat.

Cross Purposes

The transition team’s problem is that they were working at cross purposes with the candidate. They were looking for clean, trustworthy, and above all qualified people to run the federal government. That was a gross mistake. Cleanliness, trustworthiness and competence were irrelevant as long as they could pass a  confirmation hearing in a Republican-controlled Senate.

The candidate, soon to be the new President, didn’t want his appointees to run the government. He wanted them to wreck it. That’s how he got that colorful Cabinet and White House staff and how all-important federal agencies came to be run by know-nothings. His choices were based not on logic nor even common sense, rather on pure ideology. If you’re hard-core anti government, you’re in.

The rest of Lewis’s book discusses the most glaring examples, from nuclear security and waste disposal to the massively important Department of Energy. The new President, with no knowledge of the critical role the federal government played in myriad questions in the country, set about gaily to destroy it.

A Brief Summary of the Worst of Donald Trump

President  Trump’s tenure has been characterized by an unprecedented mix of incompetence and arrogance. The less he knows on any given subject the more he thinks he knows (a classic case of the Dunning-Kruger effect) and the more he trumpets his supreme knowledge. The essence of the Trump presidency is this imaginary “supreme knowledge” of everything and his utter lack of concern for the country and its people. His first priority is always Donald Trump. Let’s take a look at some of the high points of his low points. Brian Klaas, a Washington Post contributor, listed his top five in a July 16, 2019 opinion article entitled The five lowest points of Trump’s presidency (so far):

5. “Go back” to where you came from

Trump told minority congresswomen to go back to where they came from. Where they came from, with one exception, was America: Cincinnati, the Bronx and Detroit. But Trump revived one of the most well-worn racist statements in American history. It was indefensible racism.

4. Trump “fell in love” with Kim Jong Un

Trump’s absurd, over-the-top praise for dictators lurched into self-parody when he claimed that he “fell in love” with North Korea’s totalitarian dictator, Kim Jong Un, in September 2018. Kim’s regime runs a vast network of concentration camps, conducts campaigns of mass rape and reportedly executes people with antiaircraft guns for sport. The juxtaposition with Trump’s consistent ally-bashing behavior left no room for misinterpretation about Trump’s values, and how at odds they are with America’s founding principles.

3. Implying that Puerto Ricans were lazy as an estimated 2,975 Americans died

In the week after Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, leaving millions without electricity or tap water, Trump tweeted 95 times. Fifteen tweets attacked black National Football League players. Just one was about Puerto Rico, in which Trump chastised the island for its “massive debt.” Then, on Sept. 30, while Puerto Ricans were dying and pleading for additional federal help, Trump responded by implying that they were lazy and wanted “everything to be done for them.” A later study showed that a significant number of the deaths were avoidable and came not from the storm but from an inadequate government response.

2. The “very fine people” in Charlottesville

On Aug. 12, 2017, a man murdered Heather Heyer with his car. He was a neo-Nazi. She was protesting neo-Nazis. Three days later, Trump drew a false equivalence between the groups, insisting that there were “very fine people on both sides.” One of those sides was marching alongside Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The other was protesting those hate groups. Trump tried to conflate the two, and in so doing, stained his presidency forever.

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US Sponsored Terrorism in Western Europe 3/3

Hard_Evidence_Gladio

More Gladio Timeline

  • 1984—In Italy, right-wing terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra reveals in court Operation Gladio and the involvement of NATO’s stay-behind army in acts of terrorism in Italy designed to discredit the Communists. He is sentenced to life and imprisoned.
  • 1985—in Belgium, a secret army attacks and shoots shoppers in supermarkets randomly in the Brabant country killing 28 and leaving many wounded. Investigations link the terror to a conspiracy among the Belgian stay-behind SDRA8, the Belgian Gendarmerie SDRA6, the Belgian right-wing group WNP and the Pentagon secret service, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
  • 1990—In Italy, Judge Felice Casson discoveres documents on Operation Gladio in the archives of the Italian military secret service in Rome and forces Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti to confirm to the parliament the existence of a secret army within the state. As Andreotti insists that Italy had not been the only country involved in the conspiracy, the secret anti-Communist stay-behind armies are discovered across Western Europe. The cat is definitively out of the bag.
  • 1990—In Belgium, on November 5, NATO categorically denies Prime Ministger Andreotti’s allegations concerning NATO’s involvement in Operation Gladio and secret unorthodox warfare in Western Europe. The next day NATO explains that the denial of the previous day had been false while refusing to answer any further questions.
  • 1990—In Belgium, the parliament of the European Union (EU) sharply condemns NATO and the United States in a resolution for having manipulated European politics with stay-behind armies.
  • 1995—In England, the London.based Imperial War Museum in the permanent exhibition “Secret Wars,” reveals next to a big box full of explosives that the MI6 and SAS had set up stay-behind armies across Western Europe.
  • 1995—In Italy, the Senate commission headed by Senator Giovanni Pellegrino researching Operation Gladio and the assassination of former Prime Minister, Aldo Moro, files a FOIA request with the CIA. The CIA rejects the request and replies: “The CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of records responsive to your request.”
  • 2001—The author asks NATO for documents on the stay-behind secret armies and specifically transcripts of the Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) and Clandestine Planning Committee (CPC) meetings. Lee McClenny, head of the NATO press and media service, denies that NATO had been involved with Operation Gladio and claims that neither ACC nor the CPC transcripts exist.
  • 2001—The author files a FOIA request with the CIA which is rejected with the comment: “The CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of records responsive to your request.”

This damning timeline offers a lot of food for thought and leads for further research. The author of NATO’s Secret Armies, Daniele Ganser, is currently a Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland. We can be sure that he and his colleagues continue to think.

Ramifications, Conclusions

The stay-behind/Cladio program was a big success. Its deadly false-flag operations were routinely attributed to left-wing activists who were prosecuted, imprisoned and assassinated en masse for decades.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this years-long operation was the senseless taking of random innocent lives for the hollow cause of anti-communism.

The scale and extension of Operation Gladio was Europe wide and was responsible for massive twists and turns of policy in many European countries. Among the most dramatically affected were Italy, Greece, Belgium and Turkey. The tragic history of Greece since  World War II is largely attributable to British and American betrayal of the Greek resistance forces who had successfully driven the German army out of their country. That victory was reversed when the Alllies, fearing communist influence in the upcoming Greek government, retired their support. This counterfeit anti-communism in Greece led, in the sixties, to the brutal dictatorship of the Greek colonels.

Gladio helped to assure right-wing, anti-communist governments would rule Europe for decades, thus negating European countries the direction of their own democracies, their own sovereignty and the course of history.

Gladio was the test bench for subsequent CIA terrorist operations in the rest of the world. It showed what control was possible with a well-run anti-communist false-flag terrorist organization in place.

Gladio As Black Magic

Gladio permitted the Americans to pitch themselves as paladins of democracy around the world, when the truth was precisely the opposite. In this connection, recent American presidents have done the world a favor by pulling back the curtain of American government methods and motives, from criminal drone assassinations to regime-change operations. Perhaps the greatest irony today is President Trump insisting that NATO is there to “protect” Europe and demanding that they pay for that protection. It’s almost as if he had taken lessons from the Mafia.

Gladio reinforced the US self-image of altruism, exceptionalism and defense of “Western values.” Most Americans today still see their country as the beacon on the hill.

Gladio helped the US to cast the Russians as ruthless aggressors and war mongerers, a plague on the earth, while at the same time constructing an iron ring of military bases surrounding Russia. The Americans retain to this day between 800 and 1,000 bases worldwide while their gargantuan–and ever rising–“defense” budget relegates a large part of their own citizens to crushing, irreversible poverty.

What exactly are the Russians guilty of? Principally, they had the misfortune during the first third of the 20th century, to build a better mousetrap, a model for an egalitarian  society that posed a threat to American laissez-faire capitalism–until the ideals of the Russian revolution were sabotaged by Stalin in the 30s.

Now that the terrible Gladio story has been exposed time and again, we should be able to forget those lamentable times and move on. Well, not quite. Serious research and reliable witnesses have linked recent terrorist events to the offspring of Gladio. They affirm, for example, that Gladio units reappeared in Norway in 2011 with the Anders Breivik slaying of 77 peopleon the island of Utoya. They are also convinced that sons of Gladio have become active across Europe under anti-Islamic and ultra-nationalist banners.

One of the leading proponents of the existence of a Gladio B, is whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds, the ex-FBI contract interpreter/translator who was fired from the FBI for her inconvenient truth telling. In the process she won national whistleblower awards for revealing serious irregularities with wide-ranging implications in the bureau’s translation department. She went on to participate in founding a news agency (Newsbud) and to write an autobiography: Classified Woman – The Sibel Edmonds Story: A Memoir. Edmonds goes so far as to implicate Gladio B in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

What’s next?

When the CIA feels they’re onto a good thing–And why wouldn’t they feel that way about Gladio?–it’s not easy to convince them to change course. We may be plagued by CIA/NATO terrorism for years to come. The current COVID-19 crisis makes attempts at prediction absurd, of course, but time will tell. One thing is certain. It would take tectonic political changes in the United States to halt–or even slow–their strategy of world domination.

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US Sponsored Terrorism in Western Europe 2/3

Gladio False Flag

American Genius Converts Churchill’s Stay-Behind Experiment into a Europe-Wide Terrorist Operation

Ganser’s book takes the reader across Europe country by country tracing the incredible development of Churchill’s serpent’s egg. The American cold warriors soon realized that, though the Russian invasion was not about to happen, the stay-behind infrastructure could be diverted to their own purposes. In fact, it was perfect. The Americans’ initial recruitment criteria demanded that the officials and soldiers of the stay-behind armies be convinced anti-communists. So they started by mining the richest vein, the remnants of German Nazi-ism. According to Ganser’s book it was the same American Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) that rounded up the defendants for the Nurenburg trials that, at the same time, “secretly recruited selected right-wing extremists for the anti-communist army.” Their first important find was Klaus Barbie, the “Butcher of Lyon,” whom they used to root out other hard-core Nazis.

Though one of the most important, General Reinhard Gehlen, fell from the tree like ripe fruit. Perpetrator of some of the worst atrocities of the war, including “the torture, interrogation and murder by starvation of some four million Soviet prisoners of war,” Gehlen turned himself in to the CIC and managed an introduction to US General Edwin Luther Siber (who would promote Gehlen’s career in the stay-behind organization). Not only did Gehlen lead the Americans to a cache of watertight steel drums with microfilmed documentation on the USSR that he had thoughtfully buried in the Austrian Alps, but went on to recruit several hundred other Nazi officers for the American project. This activity was in Germany but similar procedures covered the rest of the European NATO membership, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey, as well as the neutral European countries of Austria, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland.

The Sinister Stay-Behind/Operation Gladio Timeline

Author Daniele Ganser created a timeline for the most significant events in the history of Gladio. Here is an extract complete with places, dates, and names He calls it his “Chronology.” Its contents are all in the public record and they form the backbone of his narrative.

  • 1940—Churchill creates the secret stay-behind armies, Special Operations Executive (SOE).
  • 1944—London and Washington set up first stay behind in Greece.
  • 1947—Truman creates the NSC and the CIA, whose covert action branch sets up stay-behind armies in Western Europe.
  • 1948—Western Union Clandestine Committee (WUCC) created in France to coordinate secret anti-communist unorthodox warfare.
  • 1949—NATO founded with HQ in France. (In US Senator Eugene McCarthy denounces Communists in the US government. He produces no evidence, but the Cold War is tacitly declared.)
  • 1951—CIA agent (and later director) William Colby, based in Stockholm,  supports training of stay-behind armies in neutral Sweden and Finland and NATO member countries Norway and Denmark.
  • 1952—In Germany former SS officer Hans Otto reveals to Frankfurt police the existence of fascist German stay-behind army BDJ-TD. Arrested right-wing extremists found not guilty under mysterious circumstances.
  • 1953—In Sweden right winger Otto Hallberg is arrested and  uncovers the Swedish stay-behind army.  Hallberg is released and the charges against him mysteriously dropped.
  • 1957—In Norway, the director of the secret service NIS, Vilhelm Evang, protests against the domestic subversion of his country by US and NATO and temporarily withdraws Norway from the Clandestine Planning Committee (CPC) meetings.
  • 1958—In France, NATO founds the Alllied Clandestine Committee (ACC) to coordinate secret warfare and the stay-behind armies. When de Gaulle expels NATO from France in 1966, a new NATO headquarters is established in Brussels. The ACC, under the code name SDRA11 is hidden within the Belgian military secret service SGR, with its headquarters next door to NATO.
  • 1964—In Italy, the Gladio secret stay-behind army is involved in a silent coup d’etat when Genejral Giovanni de Lorenzo in Operation Solo forces a group of elected socialist ministers to leave the government.
  • 1966—In Portugal, the CIA sets up Aginter Press under the direction of Captain Yves Guerin Serac, a stay-behind army that trains its members in covert action techniques including hands-on bomb terrorism, silent assassination, subversion techniques, clandestine communication and infiltration and colonial warfare.
  • 1966—In France, President Charles de Gaulle forces NATO to leave French soil. In the move to Brussels secret NATO protocols are revealed that allegedly protect right-wingers in anti-Communist stay-behind armies.
  • 1967—In Greece, the stay-behind army Hellenic Raiding Force takes control of the Greek Defense Ministry and starts a military coup d’etat installing a right-wing dictatorship.
  • 1968—In Sweden, a British MI6 agent closely involved with the stay-behind army betrays the secret network to the Soviet KGB secret service. From here until the outing of the NATO secret armies by the Italian judiciary and press in 1990, the “secret stay-behind armies” are unknown to everybody except the Russians.
  • 1969—In Italy, the Piazza Fontana massacre in Milan kills 16, injures 80 and is blamed on the left.  Thirty years later, during a trial of right-wing extremists General Giandelio Maletti, former head of Italian counterintelligence, alleges that the massacre had been carried out by the Italian stay-behind army and right-wing terrorists on the orders of the CIA in order to discredit the Italian Communists.
  • 1972—In Italy, a bomb explodes in a car near the village of Peteano killing three Carabinieri. The terror, first blamed on the left, is later traced back to right-wing terrorist, Vincenzo Vinciguerra, and leads to the exposure of the Italian stay-behind, code named Gladio.
  • 1974—In Italy, a massacre during an anti-fascist demonstration in Brescia kills eight and injures and maims 102, while a bomb in the Rome-to-Munich train ‘Italicus Express’ kills 12 and injures and maims 48.
  • 1974—In Italy, General Vito Miceli, chief of the military secret service, is arrested on charges of subversive conspiracy against the state and reveals the NATO stay-behind secret army during the trial.
  • 1977—In Spain, the secret stay-behind army with the support of Italian right-wing terrorists carries out the Atocha massacre in Madrid and, in an attack on a lawyers’ office closely linked to the Spanish Communist Party, kills five lawyers.
  • 1978—In Norway, the police discover a stay-behind arms cache and arrests Hans Otto Meyer who reveals the Norwegian secret army.
  • 1978—In Italy, former Prime Minister and leader of the DCI, Aldo Moro, is taken hostage in Rome by a secret unit. His bullet-ridden body appears in the boot of a car 55 days later. Before his death he was about to form a coalition government that included the Italian Communist Party.
  • 1980—In Italy, a bomb expodes in the second-class waiting room of the Bologna railway station, killing 85 and seriously injuring and maiming a further 200. Investigators trace the crime back to right-wing terrorists.
  • 1981—In Germany, a large stay-behind arsenal is discovered near the German village of Uelzen in the Lúneburger Heide. Right-wing extremists are alleged to have used the arsenal in the previous year to carry out a massacre during the Munich Octoberfest killing 13 and wounding 213.
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US Sponsored Terrorism in Western Europe 1/3

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Author’s Note

I wrote a four-part article on Operation Gladio, NATO’s secret stay-behind/terrorists armies in Western Europe in April of 2018. So what’s the point of writing another one? I need to enlarge and improve it. To research the first story I used Daniele Ganser’s book merely as a reference work, picking data out of the index. By limiting myself in that way I missed what I now consider to be the main thrust of Ganser’s excellent work. The stay-behind/terrorist project that was “Operation Gladio” (the Italian code name for the organization which became the generic term for operations in the rest of Europe) was the origin of an ongoing American project of world domination that relied on classic terrorist false-flag strategies and virulent anti-communism to undermine the sovereignty and democracies of Western European countries.

The NATO/CIA playbook for these operations established the modus operandi for later secret wars in other parts of the world, notably Central and South America and the Middle East. A summary analysis of these operations is enough to convince an unbiased observer that the United States will stop at nothing to impose their unjust model of “free-market,” predatory capitalism around the world. The least-valued element in their game plan, as demonstrated in all these places, is the value of human life. I realize these are strong words and I will do my best to support them here with ample evidence.

In short, the supposed objective of Operation Gladio, designed, financed and implemented by NATO and the CIA, was to create an organization to combat communist terrorism in Western Europe. The truth is that Gladio was, itself, an American-run terrorist group set up to simulate supposed communist terrorism in order to discredit the European left wing’s credibility at the polls, where  they were having some success based on their effective opposition to the Nazis in World War II. The ideological motor of the whole operation was the Americans’ hysterically exaggerated fear of communism. As this strategy has worked itself out to this day not much has changed. American Cold War- vintage anti-communism has always been based more on self-interest, hypocrisy and opportunism than anything else. Let’s take a closer look at it.

If you’re interested in seeing my original article, here’s a link.

Swiss Graduate Student’s Book Reveals US Post-WWII Secret Agenda

In July of 1940, 10 months after World War II broke out in Europe and a year and a half before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the American entry into the war, British prime minister Winston Churchill had an idea. It occurred to him to establish secret armies all over Europe against the possibility of a Soviet invasion when the war was over. So he got MI6, Britain’s clandestine intelligence service, to work on it. Thus began the story of a sinister secret operation that got out of hand and lingers on till today.

With his 2005 book, NATO’s Secret Armies, Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, Daniele Ganser, a Swiss doctoral candidate, wrote the inside story of this ill-fated initiative. Almost incidentally he also created the Rosetta Stone for the interpretation of 20th-century American foreign policy. This seemingly inconsequential by-product of a doctoral thesis turned out to be an essential guide of our time for tracing the beginnings in Europe of the United States’s misdirected muscle flexing after the Second World War.

In the early 2000s, when Ganser set out to write his thesis–later to become this book–his humble objective was to elucidate the origins of Europe’s post-World War II stay-behind armies. But his research took him much further, into the sinister Cold War labyrinth. Like Cerberus, the fearsome multi-headed dog of Greek mythology that guarded the gates of Hell to prevent the dead from escaping, Churchill’s stay-behind armies promised to defend Europe from Soviet aggression. It’s not clear what inspired Churchill to concoct an elaborate plan for betraying Britain’s principal ally against the NAZIs (the US didn’t enter the war for another year and a half, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor). Perhaps it had to do with a son of British aristocracy’s aversion to a Russian experiment in collectivism. In any case, this cranky, hard drinking, cigar smoking British prime minister became the grandfather of American Cold War anticommunism.

Churchill Leads the Way into the Dark Labyrinth

Churchill’s plan was to recruit, equip and train secret armies and conceal arms caches all over Western Europe. These clandestine forces would go into action in the event of a Soviet invasion. The theory wasn’t entirely outlandish, but as it  played out it became the nightmare that Daniele Ganser recounts–and lavishly documents–country by country in NATO’s Secret Armies. If you manage to find a copy of the book, published 15 years ago with little resonance, after reading it you will ask yourself, “How is it possible that I have never heard of this massive scandal nor this seminal book on the subject? Why has it been ignored by the American, British, European and world press? Shouldn’t it be the first reference work for anyone seriously interested in the Cold War in Europe?”

Yes, of course it should be, but it isn’t. At best it is a glaring example of how effectively American censorship can bury even the most important information if they consider it to be a threat to their voracious geopolitical agenda. The cold warriors of the American intelligence community were not stupid. They knew that, if Ganser’s information were disseminated in the way it deserved, it would open an iceberg-sized breach in the Americans’ ongoing campaign of world domination, camuflaged until then under the guise of workaday anti-communism.

The stay-behind program didn’t remain British for long, as the Brits had their hands full fighting the war, but the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), was happy to take over the nascent anti-communist project, which dovetailed neatly with their own purposes. It was the pioneering cold warrior, William J. (Wild Bill) Donovan, who suggested to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 the creation of a secret service to carry out covert actions against the communists, socialists and their followers in Europe. Donovan became the director of the OSS which financed and ran the operation from 1942 until 1947 when the CIA–more specifically their covert action department, the Directorate of Operations (DO)–under the leadership of legendary dirty-war operators like William Colby, who went on to become  the CIA director; Frank Wisner, who was so revolted by his CIA missions that he finally shot himself in 1965; and Richard Helms who was to lie to Congress regarding the US role in the September, 1973, Chilean military coup.

In 1949, the recently-created North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) took over the stay-behind program definitively. NATO provided a friendly new face, cast as it was as an allied organization that was going to “protect” Europe. But the CIA and the British MI6, as well as the military secret  services of the countries that hosted stay-behind armies, each had a say in the running of the operation. The way Ganser’s book discredits in a scholarly manner the notion that NATO was a beneficent society, only serves to make it more credible. The content of his book suggests implicitly that the United States has been actively pursuing world domination since the Second World War and they will stop at nothing to achieve it.

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We Can’t Afford It–A Post-Virus Utopian Fantasy

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Yes You Can

The American dereliction of equality and wellbeing for all is based on a lie: “We can’t afford it.” Actually, they can afford it. Their refusal to fund vital services–health, housing, education, welfare, infrastructure–is not for lack of resources. We’re talking about the richest country in the world. That refusal is based on the misguided, ungenerous and belligerent priorities enforced by the American oligarchy. Instead of paid maternal and paternal leave when a baby is born or healthcare for all Americans, the remote-controlled executive, legislative, and judicial arms of the US government opt for waging permanent war and bulldozing tons of money into the coffers of war-mongering “defense” contractors. Instead of granting their students free or inexpensive subsidized education through university, like proper first-world countries–Germany, Norway, Finland, Scotland, Austria, Sweden, France and more–they fritter their wealth away on massive superfluous tax cuts for the rich and building bigger, more inhumane prisons.

Don’t Pretend It’s Complicated

This issue is not complicated. It’s as transparent as mountain water. The interests that run the United States have long since removed the veil and assumed the “leadership” in rigging the country’s institutions or what’s left of them.  Instead of lifting up their own citizens and giving the rest of the world a break, the American nomenklatura is busy lining their own pockets with no regard for the wellbeing of their countrymen nor those of other countries, including their “client” countries. It’s a revolting system run on greed, revolving doors, gross unfairness and both sophisticated (Robert Mercer & Co.) and unsophisticated (Donald Trump) methods of mind control. “Let’s make America great again by further impoverishing and denigrating the poor and lower-middle classes, in particular minorities, and by plundering the natural resources of our country and those we have subjugated,” is the never-declared but clear message.

When a random honest politician proposes something different–healthcare, remission of college debt, environmental action–they are insulted and shouted down as “socialists.” This is not only bad manners but ignorance. The United States is the only “advanced” country in the world where socialism is equated with evil, where the mere mention of “socialists” evokes Pavlovian knee-jerk negative reactions. The truth is all the contrary. The world’s leading countries–all of Europe, led by Scandinavia; great parts of Asia; as well as Australia, Canada, and Iceland–incorporate in their governing mix elements traditionally considered socialist. Most of those that don’t are under the feral capitalist influence of the United States.

Oops

Why Military Spending Is More Than You Think It Is

Kimberly Amadeo writing in The Balance.com, US Miltary Budget, Its Componente, Challenges, and Growth (Updated March 03, 2020)

Estimated U.S. military spending is nearly a trillion dollars ($934 billion). It covers the period October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021.1 Military spending is the second-largest item in the federal budget after Social Security. This figure is more than the $705 billion outlined by the Department of Defense alone. The United States has many departments that support its defense. All these departments must be included to get an accurate picture of how much America spends on its military operations.

Amadeo goes on to itemize and analyze military spending in a medium-long article. If you don’t have a head for columns of numbers (neither do I), I’ll sum it up for you: The United States spends too damned much if its national treasure making war. On the other hand, if you would like to see the breakdown, here’s a link.

At the risk of appearing auto erotic here’s another link, this one to my piece on the greatest military procurement scam of all time.

Cutting Back Military Spending Makes Everything Possible

According to Kimberly Amadeo’s article, to reduce military costs, the DoD  needs to reduce its civilian workforce, pay and benefits of soldiers, and its military bases around the world. She forgets to include cutting back the number of military personnel. That considered, perhaps it wouldn’t be necessary to reduce pay and benefits for those who remain.

As well as trimming military spending, something that is now feasable due to radically-changed geopolitical realities, there is another powerful measure for financing domestic development. It’s the obvious one, sufficient taxation not only to siphon the excess off the top and apply it to deficiencies at the middle and bottom, but to finance badly-needed infrastructure improvements. It’s as simple as that, but until now the American ethos has forbidden such common-sense solutions. That’s “socialism” and Americans have been taught from infancy that socialism and any other collective solutions for society’s ills, is mortal sin. It’s contrary to all of America’s traditional egocenetric values: rugged individualism, the self-made man, “free” markets, American exceptionalism, trickle-down economics, social Darwinism, and the supremacy of bling. Yes, people sleeping on the street are an eyesore and inconvenience, but it’s a small price to pay for the confirmation of the superiority of the American Way of Life.

If that sounds sick to you it’s because you’re not a proper American patriot. After all, if the American government were to attend the homeless and the rest of the country’s freeloaders they wouldn’t have money left to train and equip your sons and daughters and ship them off to be killed or maimed in some far-off, hot, sweaty place. Be reasonable, would you? And if some commie journalist were to suggest that the US is the invader, not the invadee, send him off to one of those conspiracy-theory FEMA camps they have been preparing for years, alleging that they’re for Boy Scouts.

Simple_Pleasures

What Ever Happened to Simple Pleasures?

Can’t you live fulfilling lives without limosines, gold watches, computerized fridges (that transmit digital files of you bickering in the kitchen with your wife to the NSA), private jets, and expensive amusements like buying legislators? And, as much as I admire Elon Musk, do we really need to go to Mars? (Full disclosure: My own vice, which I camouflage as a “simple pleasure,” is a log fire that probably pollutes approximately as much as a small nuclear reactor.)

The good news is that a recent fortuitous circumstance has obliged us all rethink our lives and that of the planet. I’m refering, of course, to COVID-19. Before the pandemic we thought we had dozens or hundreds of priorities but luckily, almost overnight, we’ve realized that we only have three or four, and a new Beemer is not among them. At the top of the list is simple survival, a little detail that might not have occured to us before the shocking COVID-19 reminder. Then family. Then humanity (not “country,” humanity, we’re all in it together). Then civilization. (I’m loath to use the term “culture,” a dirty word in some countries.) Your priorities might be somewhat different. Others might be radically different. They might run to the communist threat, the Rapture, the price of pork bellies and the dilution of the country’s bodily fluids by mongrel races. This would be a small minority, of course, and you can be consoled by the fact that none of these “others” have any specific gravity in the government.

So, aside from fewer than half a dozen serious concerns, and seen through the coronavirus lens, everything else is essentially superfluous:

  • Your cellphone, which day before yesterday was life itself
  • Your mistress. You’ll have to choose between her and your wife, you won’t be able to afford both.
  • Your children’s boarding schools. Your kids will have to attend public schools with the unwashed, and you will have to get to know them (both the kids and the unwashed.)
  • Your weekends in Las Vegas. Buy the DVD of a film called Very Bad Things. That will put you off Vegas for the duration.

Let’s not extend this list of new realities. You can imagine the rest.

Countries Also Have Challenges

So much for personal needs and limitations. What about national priorities? They’re significantly pared down, too, essentially limited to the political and economic measures required to assure national survival. This will be simpler than before. Since all the countries in the world are suffering from the same public health and economic problems, they will all lack the time and resources to meddle in the affairs of other countries. That will obviate the need for gigantic standing armies and hundreds of overseas military bases. All of that treasure and effort can thus be redirected to constructive humanitarian projects both at home and abroad, a long overdue realinement of national priorities that will take into consideration the world’s new realities. It seems logical that the first step would be to redesign and implement improved national health systems to permit them to deal with existing and future crises. This is the most urgent mission, capable of bringing all countries together for the common good. Needless to say, if any country were inclined not to cooperate, they should  be boycotted and banished from the community of nations. The gravity of both present and future contingencies makes half measures unthinkable.

So, counting on the universal awareness that we’re all in this together, our children and grandchildren should be free to create a better world. Thanks in some measure to COVID-19 they will be able to dedicate the wonderful technological resources at hand to that end. By that time Elon Musk should be back from Mars and available to put his prodigious South African shoulder to the wheel.

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America, The Slip Before the Quake

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Like Any Great Change It Started Little by Little

It’s undeniable that the United States is a right-wing country. It has long been the land of the robber baron. Then the issue was complicated by  their relentless tectonic slipping to the right. The geological analogy is apt because it occurred in an imperceptibly slow manner, like the slip fault before the earthquake. After a few brief eons the European continent drifted east, leaving North America stranded on the wrong side of the Atlantic. That’s where the US sits today, both geologically and ideologically, estranged from the civilized world.

After more than a century of ongoing slow creep American society finds itself at the end of its tether, remotely controlled by demented billionaires and reptilian politicians wielding frightening high-tech bludgeons. There is no justice, no equality, no decency, no hope. Giant American companies have more than enough money to go around, and it’s dished out liberally to pliant politicians via lobbyists and septic think tanks. The situation became evident in the seventies with the sinister Nixon/Kissinger regime. (See Seymour Hersh’s 1983 600-page book, Kissinger, the Price of Power which elegantly documents Kissinger’s years as Nixon’s National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. Not for the faint hearted.)  Events were turbocharged by 9/11 and from then on American governments have been busily curtailing citizens’ rights at home and devastating soverign countries abroad. This is especially the case in the Middle East. Though the Americans have yet to win a war there, they have wreaked biblical havoc on the people and set countries like Iraq and Afghanistan back a century. And the end is not in sight. What is in sight is Iran and Venezuela. 

The Benefits of Posturing

From the days of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC, 1997-2006) when the Republican right finally showed its jingoist face, this scorched-earth policy was in the hands of Republicans. Democrats pretended to be different but most of them weren’t very different at all. Today, in a country that reveres wealth, most of them are wealthy. (Here’s the Wikipedia list of United States members of Congress by wealth. It’s headed by Republican representative, Kelly Loeffler who, along with her husband,  chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, Jeffrey Sprecher, is currently under scrutiny for insider trading.) That makes perfect sense. The essence of American professional politics is to be in it for yourself but to pretend convincingly that you’re in it for others.

It’s not an easy assignment. The successful candidates must be bereft of scruples, morality, and simple decency–while projecting all the contrary. Like all liars they must be endowed with rich imaginations and prodigious memories. They must create their stories, live their lies and cover their tracks. Some manage it better than others. We can all recall the ones whose former slipups are coming back to haunt them: sexual harassment, racism, financial fraud, war mongering, gerrymandering, strange bedfellows. Some of the shrewder ones slather themselves in religion like predator species in the African savanna that roll in their would-be victims’ excrement to pass themselves off as friends. Anything goes.

What about the Honest Politicians?

Is this to suggest that there are no honest politicians. Of course not, to affirm that would be silly. There certainly remain some disinterested American politicians but they would all fit in a phone booth. Besides, they’re essentially boycotted by their right-wing colleagues of both parties. We must not forget that those who were once Democratic “moderates” by staying in the same place have been dragged inexorably to the right.

The rest can be bought. And the proof is there for anyone who has eyes to see. Look at the rock-solid support the state of Israel–the world’s smallest colonial country–enjoys in the US Congress. Is that based on solidarity or idealism? Don’t dream. Google it. It’s based on a complex honeycomb of backhanders and campaign donations engineered by the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and others of their ilk. What about the numbingly repetitive re-election of incumbent US Congress members. Sitting members of the House of Representatives, in the congressional elections between the years 1988 and 2018, were re-elected between 80 and 90% of the time. The figures for the Senate are substantially higher. (Source: OpenSecrets.org) Is that due to legislative excellence? Or does it have to do with a bag of electoral shell games and campaign financing generously provided by big-bucks interests?

It wasn’t quite so cut and dried before the Supreme Court’s 2010 finding in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. That landmark decision concerning campaign finance freed corporations and labor unions to spend money on electioneering communications and to directly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates. The inclusion of labor unions in that decision was a public relations masterstroke. It suggests equanimity between owners and workers. But just try imagining the unions’ buying power compared to that of big industry. Now, 10 years later, the results are there for all to see. Big business has taken over the government and sucked it dry.

What little was left of American democracy has been gutted by powerful interests that want it all, without realizing that by impoverishing their base they’re shooting themselves in the foot. Capitalism without customers is doomed. Suddenly the rate of decline in everything starts multiplying by geometric progressions. American politics has been cannibalized. American manufacturing became rust. That left financial services, an inherently incestuous business, destined to reduce the United States to that little country where the citizens manage to eke out meager livings by taking in one another’s laundry.

Along Comes the Quake

The culmination of this fascinating process took almost everyone by surprise and that stupor is growing daily by graceful gazelle leaps. With half the country wondering how to get rid of Trump and trumpism, and the other half revelling in hillbilly heaven, along comes the quake, the coronavirus, “COVID-19.” This microscopic killer that found its happy home in New York, and the Trump administration’s pathetic response to it, may ultimately take trumpism to its end. Just when the country vitally needs a unified, coherent universal health system–anathema to the reigning Republican right–the American people wake up to find any kind of coherence conspicuously lacking.

It occurs to the most perceptive among them that a battle against a highly-contagious virus cannot be waged piecemeal. As long as pockets of the virus remain active among the substantial untreated, uninsured population of the country, no one is safe from contagion. It follows logically that the whole trumpian laissez-faire edifice will come tumbling down. Just as public health emergencies require coordinated public responses so do the rest of the critical issues faced by any American government: education, the environment, climate change, foreign policy, defense, the economy and all the rest. This is laid out in his usual informative and affable fashion by Michael Lewis in his 2018 book, The Fifth Risk. Lewis, after crossing the country interviewing affected high-level public servants from the previous administration, recounts their versions of how the Trump government systematically dismantled vital federal agencies and programs with untold damage to education, the environment, nuclear management, etc.

Does this mean that America is about to abjure President Donald J. Trump and his army of wreckers? After all is said and done it may well mean that. Even if it were to happen it would be a bitter victory for reality-based America. Because it would come at a cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives, according to President Trump’s own most-optimistic estimate. Definitely not one of his best deals.

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Freedom from Religion

Rapture1

Predatory Preachers Lead the Way

True freedom of religion implies freedom from religion. If it doesn’t it’s not freedom. That’s why an authentic democracy cannot exist under the influence of any religious sect. A religion that preaches that born-again believers will be “raptured” up to heaven while the rest of us go straight to hell is more necrophile hate doctrine than religion, and it has no place anywhere near government circles. Yet, these Evangelicals and Pentecostals are President Trump’s people and he has created posts in the White House for them and facilitated their influence on the government of the United States.

This is the President’s recently-appointed “spiritual advisor,” Paula White, an extravagant preacher who was one of six televangelists investigated in 2007 by the Senate Finance Committee in connection with their fortunes (running to private jets and multiple luxury residences) accrued through “prosperity gospel” practices.

Why would the President take such unseemly measures? Has he converted to the born-again persuasion? Does he “speak in tongues” when he’s among friends? Given his trajectory, it seems unlikely. What is more probable is that his affinity for magical religion has to do with political expediency. According to a Pew Research poll the religious right comprises more than a third of Republican voters, enough to swing a presidential election. Draw your own conclusion. (Source: Pewresearch.org)

Pew Research stats

Presidential Pandering to the Religious Right

The serious part of the story is that, in order to lock in their loyalty, President Trump is pandering to them in ways that are dangerous for American citizens at large. The born-again belief system requires a war in the Holy Land in order to precipitate the Apocalypse–and the consequent “Rapture.” This may sound like nonsense to you and me but, according to Pew Research, about 36% of American voters believe it and they are essentially calling the shots. My question is: Do they even remotely realize the implications of another war in the Middle East? It’s the equivalent of opening the door to World War III. That’s not a certainty, mind you, but it’s a very real possibility. Do we really want to confront it? What’s in it for us? I only foresee one benefit and that’s the re-election of President Donald J. Trump. Come to think of it, I’m not sure that’s a benefit. Are you a hard-core optimist? You might console youself by considering that, when the Third World War does come, it won’t last long.

There’s even more horror. The person that President Trump has appointed to guide America’s  foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is one of the born-again Rapture brigade. Does this mean that his–and your–foreign-policy agenda is driven by his sincere Evangelical beliefs regarding biblical end times and how to jump start them? Yes, that’s exactly what it means. Can you live with that?

Consider the Collateral Damage

There’s considerable collateral damage, as well.  What is going on between President Trump and the Evangelicals is a classic symbiotic relationship. Both sides get something they fervently desire. The Rapture sect gets a ticket to heaven. The President gets re-elected. But in order to do so he has to embrace–directly from the highest office in the land–the Evangelical doomsday agenda, to put the United States government’s seal of approval on it. This legitimizing of religious juju as government policy is a terrible step for an American president to take.

Are prayer meetings legitimate responses to the current corona virus emergency? Or are they just fiddling while the country burns? What comes next, ticket sales to the Apocalypse?  The spinoff of the President’s Rapture collaboration is the effect it could have on stability–or more likely instability–in the Middle East. Israel’s extreme-right-wing Likud party and their perrenial President Netanyahu are, of course, milking this geopolitical windfall to advance their own opportunism in the region. Their truculence vis a vis the Palestinians and the Iranians is actually subsidized with donations by Evangelical organizations in the US.

These miracle-religion-tinged policies are especially grave considering the intellectual and ideological vulnerability of America’s young people. Is this the sort of intellectual baggage that American parents want funneling into their children’s heads? Parents in the US are entitled to take that route. It’s a free country and freedom of religion is a laudable principle up to the point where it puts a majority of American citizens in harm’s way. It makes no difference whether that harm comes from a nuclear holocaust radiating from the Holy Land or from a global virus pandemic. Then a sane, responsible lay government must intervene in order to save the very country. The failure to do so would have consequences and they could well be catastrophic.

Are we already beginning to see the onset of that process? It’s March 25, 2020. In just a matter of weeks we should be able to discern the results of President Trump’s recent determination that the country should soon be “open for business.”  How can the President pretend to know at this point what the extension and gravity of the virus will be, even in the short term. Public health professionals and other scientists are admitting that they can’t make predictions without seeing the results of massive testing programs. Clearly, the President can’t, either. And, given his obligation to promote good health and wellbeing for all Americans, to pretend that he can foresee the future is so wittlessly irresponsible that we might consign it to the category of religion. Then it would be up to a second impeachment panel to decide whether the President should be tried for criminal wittless irresponsibility.

Where Do They Go from Here?

If the United States had a sane and responsible governing team with a vision that went beyond their own enrichment and re-election, at this point in contemporary history they would still be in deep trouble. There are just too many life and death issues on the table at this time: COVID-19, their overt and covert wars around the world, their apocalyptic economic situation, their penchant for cultivating enemies around the world and the meteoric rise of some of their adversary countries. Asia is beginning to look quite first world lately while the US is clearly slipping.

But, since the US conspicuously lacks the necessary sanity and responsibility in government where they are destined to go from here is anyone’s guess. The best we can do is just to lie down and enjoy the spectacle. Our current situation can best be summed up by a millenary Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.

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