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What’s Gone Wrong with America? 2/2

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Pandering to the Locked-In Electorate

What part of his locked-in electorate would he lose? He’d lose the fascists, the men and women who give more importance to their guns than to their children. Among the hundreds of victims of school shootings in recent years there must have been some sons and daughters of hard-core gun activists? How did they feel about losing their children? Has anybody interviewed them? What did they say? Did they notice there were guns involved in the shootings of their children? What do they propose to do about it? If President Trump did a U-turn on his gun policies he would probably lose the Nazis and the white supremacists, the sociopaths and psychotics, the bombers of pre-school toddlers, the military maniacs, and a lot of desperate, ignorant people who have been drafted into the ranks of the alt-right in recent years.

President Trump expresses concern about the country’s mental health, a concern that seems to support his contention that the gun-death problems are due to crazies, not guns. He’s half right. The United States has a mental health problem that is so vast that the authorities there dare not even acknowledge it in its entirety: the country is half crazy–or half the country is crazy, my estimate. Either way, a huge proportion of the population is mentally deranged. Some of them are medicated, others run loose, untreated. Still others are treated with drugs that make them dangerous. What’s wrong with them? It’s simple: they have been born and raised in a dangerous, schizophrenogenic society (a society that fosters insanity) and they’re doing their best to swim in those fetid waters. They live in a world in which one must adopt some degree of insanity in order merely to survive. If not, how do you explain to a citizen that the carrying of lethal firearms is essential in a well-ordered society and that the remedy for the tragic abuse of those firearms is more firearms? In order for a citizen to believe that, he has to be totally detached from reality. I believe that’s an excellent definition of insanity.

President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge a logical connection between guns and gun deaths is his own personal mental health problem. Either he’s in deep denial (one form of mental illness) or he’s adhering blindly to an insane gun-lobby agenda. Either way, he represents a grave danger for his country. The mere fact of seeing the leader of the Free World willfully ignoring a clear and imminent danger to the citizens of his own country is profoundly disturbing. People around the world are asking themselves, “What comes next?”

The Business of America is Business

The United States is in the business (and never doubt that it is a business) of permanent war, not only around the world but within their own country, against their own citizens. If you’re a hammer all you can see is nails, and the Trump administration is a huge bag of war hammers. (The Spanish have a charming saying: “Más tonto que un saco de martillos…” “Stupider than a bag of hammers…”) The US Americans have got the war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on sin and the war on science, and now the war on mental health is in the offing. After years of starting wars, the Pentagon (and the CIA, which we will discuss in another post) still haven’t realized that there are problems that don’t respond to bellicose solutions. They haven’t noticed that the principal result of their devotion to wars has been the creation of ever more enemies. Do they really think they can launch Hellfire missiles from Predator drones into weddings without creating some ill will? That’s insane.

The Problem is Profit; Some Suggestions

The solutions to the United States’ principal problems wouldn’t be so complicated and utterly insoluble if the power structure there were capable of relaxing their blind, wrap-your-head-in-a- blanket ideology of predatory market policies; implacable persecution of any foreign political system with even the slightest aroma of collectivism, down to agricultural cooperatives; their rampant racism and disdain for any solution that doesn’t turn a profit.

After years of trying to apply martial and penal solutions to the massive problem of substance abuse in the United States, it should be clear that it’s not only not working, rather creating a whole new set of problems. A saner, more effective solution would be to regulate drugs by law, dispense them according to medical criteria and generally treat drug users as patients, not criminals. That would take the heat off the streets, eliminate in one fell swoop drug dealing and gangsterism (no profit, no dealing), save untold lives and improve untold others.

It would also eliminate most of the profit from the private-prison business. I cannot conceive of someone so cynical that they would prefer drug death and destruction to a peaceful non-violent solution, just to guarantee prison profits. I see in an article in yesterday’s Guardian that a Michigan court has just sequestered the payment that a convict serving a life sentence received as payment for a successful book. They allege that this money is owned the prison for keeping him. This is just one clamorous example of the cruel and unusual tendency of prisons charging inmates for their room and board.

The War on Terror is Off the Rails

As for defusing jihadi terror, the targeted drone strikes are probably a bad idea. Their tendency to take out whole families–or neighborhoods–just creates more enemies. A first constructive measure would be for the Americans to ease the pressure on Muslims around the world, including those within their own borders and those of Middle East hot spots. The latter have their own fish to fry. Members of Sunni and Shiite sects have been at loggerheads since Mohammed’s son-in-law (and cousin), the Caliph Ali ibn Abi Tálib,  was assassinated by one of a group of puritanical Muslims called Kharijites in 661 AD, according to History Today. This was the origin of the Sunni-Shiite split, which still persists. No amount of American militarism is going to change that reality. The Americans might consider pulling back and talking. They have nothing to lose except arms sales.

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
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What’s Gone Wrong with America? 1/2

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The recent school shootings (in Parkland, Florida; by the time you read this there may have been another one) reminded me once again that there’s something gravely amiss in the U.S.A. So many abnormal actions and reactions are taking place over there that it can no longer be considered an even remotely normal country. What went wrong? I think it’s clear what went wrong: the nation’s values got grotesquely twisted. The real question is, “Why?”

The Problems Originated With the Authoritarian Revealed Religion That Perpetuated Itself in the U.S.A. Down to Our Own Times

In the modern world where religion is losing traction dramatically in most industrial countries, why does revealed miracle religion still prevail in the United States? We can only guess, but let’s take a stab at it. I think the answer is principally historical. I think it’s relevant that the country was colonized by religious fanatics. The Pilgrims landed in the New World in 1620 and founded the Plymouth Colony. These Puritans (The name says it all.) felt persecuted in Britain and fled to North America where they could practice their reactionary, authoritarian, intolerant religion. They adopted a theocratical form of government that burned “witches,” ruled minds and left an indelible stamp on the subsequent development of the United States. Freshmen American university students still study their writings. You may remember Jonathan Edwards and his memorable sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

The hangover from the fear and confusion of 17th-century theology was such that the young country was never able to shed the belief in the revealed truth. This is a serious state of affairs, as it makes meaningful debate–an essential necessity for the functioning of an authentic democracy–impossible. No amount of reasoning can convince adversaries who already possess the absolute, God-given truth. So, when rational America, which never took the religious right very seriously, dropped its guard little by little over the past 50 years, the old-time-religion folks took complete control of the country. And they’re not about to change their minds. As you can understand, the arrival of President Donald Trump, with his skill in pandering to them, was manna from heaven for the religious right.

That said, religion in the U.S.A. is a porous and elastic smorgasborg. They take away what they want and leave the rest. Most of them retain the belief in “God’s chosen people.” That’s where their chauvinism, jingoism and, ultimately, predatory nationalism spring from. They keep the concept of “God the father.” That’s why they respond so well to paternalism, which might explain why machismo has had such a long run. They are ruled by the concept of original sin and the notion that things of this earth are not important; the only really important events occur after one dies. That’s why the U.S.A. is fertile ground for peddlers of the afterlife. None of them has figured out how to deliver it yet, but that doesn’t matter. Their clients are already unconditional believers. It’s no wonder that no candidate who has not proclaimed him or herself a Christian can ever hope to win a presidential election there.

This disdain for the things of this earth also has unsettling implications regarding the sensitivity of the nuclear button. There is a large swath of the American Evangelical Christian population that is desiring that Israel start a war with Iran in order to precipitate the Apocalypse so they can ascend directly into Heaven. That’s why President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is so ominous. In the minds of most Evangelicals it opens the door to this eventuality. A Pew Research Center study carried out during the American general election found that 80 percent of self-identified white, born-again and evangelical Christians claimed they had voted for Trump, while just 16 percent voted for Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, What Is Happening in the Rest of the World?

According to a BBC documentary aired on June 26, 2015, Prime Minister Cameron “leads a country where religious faith, in particular as expressed through the established Church, is in precipitous decline.” It gets better: “The Spectator recently published a cover story about what it called ‘the death rattle’ of Christianity in Britain, in which the Catholic journalist Damian Thompson speculated that ‘Anglicanism will disappear from Britain by 2033.”

A 2015 article in The Telegraph, based on a study done by the Washington-based Pew Foundation, discusses with maps and graphs the projected future of world religions in 2050. They found that a quarter of all Christians – 25.5 percent to be exact – lived in Europe in 2010. By 2050, this is set to drop to 15.6 percent and Africa is set to be the continent with the most Christians. In 2010, nearly 24 percent of the world’s Christians lived in sub-Saharan Africa, by 2050, it will be more than 38 percent, according to Pew.

For Europe, it will not just be the percentage share but the “absolute number” as well that will fall. As the authors of the Pew report explained:

QuoteEurope is the only region where the absolute number of Christians is expected to decline by 2050. Europe’s Christian population is projected to fall from 553 million in 2010 to 454 million in 2050.”

And worldwide, this means a change in the countries with the highest number of Christians.

QuoteBy 2050, the list of the 10 countries with the largest Christian populations is anticipated to change considerably. The United States and Brazil are expected to remain atop the list, but Mexico is projected to fall from third to sixth and Russia is expected to drop from fourth to eighth. Germany and China are not expected to appear on the 2050 list.”

Is the United States immune to this kind of secularization? We used to think so, but the Pew survey found that the percentage of Americans who described themselves as Christian had dropped from 78.4% to 70.6% between 2007 and 2014. Even so, they have a long way to go before reaching European levels of belief in miracles.

Today’s Problem in the U.S.A. Is One of Fascist Priorities

The principal problem of the United States is not economic, nor is it about the mental health of (quite) a few deranged citizens. It’s fascism and cynicism mixed with denial, fascism from the top of the totem pole to the bottom, cynicism beyond the pale. The powerful interests that run the country–big oil, pharmaceutical, insurance, military interests, and politicians who want to eternalize themselves in office–aren’t really concerned about the Amerian people, particularly the underprivileged and the immigrants, nor the blacks and the browns, nor the school children nor the churchgoers.

They care about iron-clad adherence to their own diabolical agenda. They care about keeping the American people off balance, intimidated, in short, defenseless in the face of the permanent-war cult. Not only do they not bother to apologize for the gun deaths—in schools, in churches, in fast-food outlets, and all the rest. They—including the President himself—don’t even acknowledge that the gun deaths are due, at least in large part, to guns. This isn’t because of ignorance. President Trump himself may not be a beacon of intelligence, but he’s not so stupid that he doesn’t notice that there’s an inexorable connection between guns and gun deaths.What drives him on this issue is cynicism. He’s so cynical he would rather see school kids die than step down from his pro-gun policies. For that he would have to kiss goodbye to a large part of his electorate and, as you can understand, he’s not about to do that.

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How Drones Have Made War Fun and Easy–3/3

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The Abuse of Power Is a Downward Spiral

What we have seen in the transition from the Obama to the Trump administrations is that he abuse of power under one administration leads to the abuse of power under another. Trump may be driving it more recklessly, but he’s still operating a machine the Obama administration built.

During his last year in office, responding to increasing criticism, Obama gave a speech attempting to clarify the boundaries of his drone target selection and his “signature killings,” based exclusively on behaviors observed on the ground considered indicative of possible terrorist activity, whatever that means.

“America’s actions are legal,” the president asserted of the drone war, which he claimed was being “waged proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defense.” Self defense? Obama might be able to claim the self-defense justification if he were killing enemies in the heat of battle in Ohio or Utah, but Iraq or Somalia? Not quite.

Virtual New-Age Pilots

According to Military.com in March of 2017, perhaps the single most telling indicator of just how dramatically armed drones are changing the nature of American air power is the impact they’ve had on Air Force pilot allotment. The Air Force now ha­s more pilot positions for operating Predator-series drones than any other type of pilot position. The Department of Defense projects that by 2035 unmanned or optionally manned vehicles will make up 70 percent of its entire fleet.

What are these new-age pilots like? Where do they come from? How are they selected and how are they formed in their craft? In the early days of the Predator at the outset of the 2000s, drone pilots were selected from among Air Force flyers. These pilots controlled everything, actually piloted the drone aircraft as if they were sitting in it. When the commanders saw the results of these first real-life experiments it became clear to them that they would soon need many more drone pilots that the Air Force could turn out. It occurred to someone to re-design the pilots’ interface to video-game mode and introduce AI into the mix. The change brought immediate results and changed recruitment procedures. The Air Force officers responsible for the program found that kids who had misspent their teens in darkened rooms playing video games already dominated the star-wars skills necessary to fly armed drones on combat missions, more so than experienced fighter pilots. The recruiting rush was on and parents were delighted to find that their previously unemployable adolescents could get well-paid jobs flying killer drones.

Then There’s the Down Side

There were, however, a couple of hitches in this joyous panorama. The kids were not only severely overworked, but the business of killing strangers anonymously from the sky was taking a toll on their mental health. An Air Force study done in 2013, the first of its kind, found that drone pilots experience the same problems as pilots of manned aircraft deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan: depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress.

“Air Force officials and independent experts” have suggested several potential causes, among them “witnessing combat violence on live video feeds, working in isolation or under inflexible schedules, juggling the simultaneous demands of home life with combat operations, and dealing with intense stress because of crew shortages.” For some reason the”experts” forgot to cite killing people (often wholly innocent) on the ground as a potential cause of stress for the drone pilots. One wonders if they’re paid to forget.

In response to the video pilots’ mental problems the Pentagon “began taking steps to keep pace with the rapid expansion of drone operations.” It created a new medal to honor troops involved in both drone and cyber warfare. To deal with the serious mental health issues, including a heightened propensity for suicide, the Air Force has expanded the drone operators’ access to chaplains.

The young drone pilots have their own psychotherapy for job-related mental health problems: humor. They don’t refer to “killing suspected insurgents,” rather, “cutting the grass before it grows out of control” or “pulling the weeds before they overrun the lawn.”  When they were flying Predators over villages and smaller figures appeared on their screens, indicating children on the scene, they would refer to them as “fun-sized terrorists.”

Who Else is in the Game?

In 2001 the United States became the first country to use an AI armed drone in combat. Now there are at least 28 countries using armed drones , and we know at least nine (the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan) have actually used them in operations. Six of those countries used their first armed drone in just the last two years.

There appear to be three leading countries in the drone-development race, the U.S. Israel and China. We’ve discussed the U.S. Let’s take a look at the competition.

Israel is Selling Them

Israel is believed to be the largest military drone exporter in the world. A 2013 report from Frost & Sullivan estimates that Israel’s unmanned-aircraft export revenue was around $4.5 billion between 2005 to 2012. Israel owes this dominant position to a few  factors. First, Israel had some of the earliest uses of UAVs for surveillance. Second, it has a highly developed defense industry which focuses on technology as a force multiplier. Third, the longtime reluctance of the United States to share its drone technology has created a clear market opportunity for the Israelis. Reliable reports indicate that the Israeli military has more than 100 drones, and they account for around 70 percent of the Air Force’s flying time.

Then There’s the Dragon in the Room

China has become a major drone user in its own military and an exporter of these systems to other countries. It has found a lucrative market for drones among countries that would prefer not to buying from Israel and don’t meet the United States’ tight requirements for export. For example, early in 2017 the Saudis announced they had reached a deal with China to build a military UAV factory in Saudi Arabia. While details are limited, it could be one of the largest international drone deals to date. China is a major source of drones for countries in Africa and the Middle East.

The Chinese recently announced that the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation is ready to start mass producing the Cai Hong 5 (CH-5), the country’s most advanced publicly-acknowledged drone. They claim the CH-5 is equal to the MQ-9 Reaper in technology. It is said to be able to operate for 60 hours and fly at 30,000 ft.

The Chinese government is rather tight-lipped about plans to use Artificial Intelligence for its military, but it has made clear that it sees heavy investment in AI as critical to the country’s future. The Chinese have a leg up in AI thanks to its use in their civilian sector. Last year the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation claimed to have launched a record-breaking intelligent drone swarm with 119 UAVs. They claim the drones were flown with ad hoc networks and under autonomous group control. Chinese companies have been making large investments in American AI companies, and the United States government is weighing whether to further restrict these investments to prevent technological transfer.

The Very Real Possibility of Being on the Receiving End

As we have learned from a couple of millennia of world history, what goes around comes around. Today the US and Israel are allegedly in the lead in drone technology but it may not always be that way. Other countries have drones and we can safely assume they are constantly improving them. So, we’re already seeing a “drone race.”

There’s another fascinating possibility. Imagine for a moment that there’s a Yemeni undergraduate at MIT or Stanford at this very moment who is destined to get PhDs in physics and aeronautics and will, in time, design a drone that will dethrone Uncle Sam. Stranger things have happened. Einstein was a refugee from Nazi Germany.

 Questions of Ethics

Ethics? What ethics?

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
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How Drones Have Made War Fun and Easy–2/3

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A History of Targets and Toys

Ironically some of the first drones were target vehicles used in the training of anti-aircraft crews. One of the earliest of these was the British DH.82 Queen Bee, a variant of the Tiger Moth trainer aircraft operational from 1935. Its apicultural name led to the present term “drone.” In the 1940s, the mass production of the American actor and inventor, Reginald Denny, and the engineer Walter Righter’s “Radioplane” target drone led to the widespread adoption of radio controlled aircraft by the military for not only training AAA gunners but also combat roles from the Pacific Theatre in WW2 through to the present day. The “Dennyplane”, a mid-1930s pre-cursor to the “Radioplane,” brought model airplanes to the masses in a post-depression, pre-war U.S. and was an important forerunner to modern drone technology.

The Drone’s Presence in Vietnam

During the Vietnam War (1964- 75) the U.S. Army flew the little-known BQM-34A drone, which racked up some 3,500 missions, at a cost of more than 550 drones lost. The BQM-34A launched AGM-65 Maverick missiles and GBU-8 Stubby Hobo glide bomb. The drone was flown by a ground operator in a remote control van using a nose TV camera: since the weapons were electro-optically guided the operator could switch screen from the “drone view” to the “weapon view” to guide it to the target.

In the 1980’s the world’s armies began to consider further updating of unmanned aircraft in a serious light. The Israeli victory over the Syrian Air Force in 1982 was thanks, in part, to the use of armed drones in destroying a dozen Syrian aircraft on the ground. Then, in 1986 the U.S. and Israel collaborated on the creation of the RQ2 Pioneer, a medium-sized reconnaissance unmanned aircraft.

Fifteen years later, near the end of the first year of the George W. Bush presidency, a small, remote-control airplane called a Predator left a base in Uzbekistan, crossed the border into Afghanistan and started tracking a convoy of vehicles believed to be carrying jihadi leaders along a road in Kabul. A group of officers and spies, monitoring the streamed images from inside a trailer in a parking lot at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, watched the convoy stop outside a building. With the push of a button in Langley, the Predator fired a Hellfire missile at the building, the back half of which exploded. Seven survivors of the blast were seen fleeing to another nearby structure. A second Hellfire destroyed that shelter, too. Among the dead was Mohammed Atef, al-Qaida’s military chief and Osama Bin Laden’s son-in-law. Now, after the Atef killing, the modern era of the armed drone had begun.

This Brings Us up to Obama

When President Obama settled into the White House on January 20, 2009 he found that President Bush had left him a legacy, a thriving drone assassination program operating in various Middle-East countries. Obama was fascinated with his gift and in the first year of his presidency launched more of these lethal drone strikes than Bush had done during his full two terms of office, concretely 563 strikes, as compared to Bush’s 57. (When I say “Obama launched” I am not referring merely to his authoritative, responsible position in the government organization chart. I’m talking about President Obama’s hands-on role in the selection of drone assassination candidates. The nominations, pre-selected by longtime CIA dirty-tricks specialist, John Brennan, went to the White House where the President signed off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia and also on the more complex and risky strikes in Pakistan — about a third of the total. Brennan was not left unrewarded; President Obama later appointed him director of the CIA. The most reliable information we have regarding the victims of these attacks during Obama’s two terms in office indicates that between 384 and 9807 civilians were killed by U.S. American drones in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

These statistics do not include deaths on active battlefields including Afghanistan – where US air attacks shot up after Obama withdrew the majority of U.S. troops at the end of 2014. Afghanistan has subsequently come under frequent US bombardment, in an unreported war that saw 1,337 pieces of ordnance dropped in 2016 alone – a 40% rise on 2015. The Obama administration insisted consistently that drone strikes are so “exceptionally surgical and precise” that they eliminate terrorists without putting “innocent men, women and children in danger.” There is more than a little doubt as to the veracity of this claim, which has been contested by various human rights groups.

The controversy over drones during the Obama administration reached an early flashpoint in 2011, when a U.S. citizen in Yemen by the name of Anwar Al-Awlaki was assassinated by a drone, followed two weeks later by the U.S. killing of his 16-year-old son. It was another two years before Obama’s Department of Justice released a white paper that detailed its legal argument sanctioning Al-Awlaki’s murder. As the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer explained, the paper said the government would only target “imminent” threats, and only when “capture was unfeasible.” But in practice, Jaffer noted, the administration used an extremely expansive definition of “imminent” that “deprives the word of its ordinary meaning.” “Without saying so explicitly,” Jaffer worried, the government was effectively claiming “the authority to kill American terrorism suspects in secret,” virtually anywhere in the world.

President Trump’s Leap Forward

The New York Times reported in late September that the Trump administration is relaxing Obama-era restrictions on who can be targeted and removing a requirement that strikes receive high-level vetting before they’re carried out. According to the paper, the new rules would also “ease the way to expanding such gray-zone acts of sporadic warfare” into new countries, expanding the program’s already global footprint.

In addition to increasing the pace of these operations, the Trump administration has also loosened guidelines designed to protect civilians in areas like Yemen and Somalia, and overseen a notable increase in civilian casualties in war zones like Iraq and Syria.

In this environment, rescinding the Obama administration’s already lax restrictions on drone attacks — coupled with Trump’s overt and express disregard for human rights and the rule of law — is clearly cause for concern.

Where Is Trump Taking the Drone Wars?

While the United States is the dominant user and developer of military drones, its role as an exporter of these systems is limited due to laws restricting their sales. An August 2017 article on Defense News.com announced, “For months, rumors have floated among both the defense industry and arms control communities that the Trump administration plans to change the 2015 export law that controls what unmanned aerial vehicles can be sold to allies.”

How Drones Have Made War Fun and Easy, 3/3 coming soon

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
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How Armed Drones Have Made War Fun and Easy–1/3

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Sky Death Has Never Been So Effective, So Economical, So Safe Nor So Sinister

My first experience of death from the sky (admittedly second hand) was when I saw the video leaked by Bradley Manning and Wikileaks of the massacre of a dozen innocents, including a two-man Reuters news team, on the streets of Baghdad in 2007 by U.S. army Apache helicopters armed with 50-caliber machine guns. It was heart shrinking. And the most dramatic part was when the choppers did another pass to kill the people in a van that arrived to try to rescue the survivors.

Two children wounded in the van were evacuated by U.S. ground forces arriving at the scene as the helicopters continued to circle overhead. “Well it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle,” one of the U.S. fliers was heard to remark over the audio track of the helicopter gun-sight video.

Yes, as you can understand, clearly it was their fault.

That was 11 years ago. Since then helicopters and planes have given way progressively to armed drones. Now the victims do not see their killers hovering overhead or hear the jets rush in on their strafing and bombing runs. The drones are 20 or 30 thousand feet up and, from that distance, silent to the people on the ground. The targets are dead before they know it.

A series of technological miracles makes it possible for this process to be carried out from cozy bunkers in places like Nevada and New Jersey, thousands of miles from the scene of the action. These tactics constitute a first in the annals of warfare and they bring with them a long tail. To begin with, the day of air forces as we conceive them is over.  Drones rule. (In their tradition of innocuous-sounding euphemisms military authorities prefer the term “UAV,” for “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle,” instead of “drone.” Here we shall refer to them as “drones.”

N.B. Something to keep in mind whenever talking about military technology development is that almost all countries have top secret programs. While it is possible to get a good sense of where things stand based on public data, the picture will always be incomplete.

The Central Question

The central question we shall be dealing with here is this: is there any plausible ethical justification for targeted drone killings, particularly of civilians? Beyond that, are drone killings legitimate under any circumstances, even warfare?

There is plenty of room for controversy here. Armed drones operate under a dubious legal umbrella and secret legal criteria. Their obscure process of target selection has been denounced both by the UN and the American Civil Liberties Union. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, asks in a recent Guardian video: Are targeted drone killings warfare or murder? U.N. official Christof Heyns goes even further. He suggests that use of drones in targeted killings may constitute a war crime.

Nevertheless, U.S. American administrations going back to George W. Bush have defended drone killings unconditionally and cite what seem to them to be “plausible reasons.” But then, as Shakespeare reminded us, “The devil cites scripture for his purpose.” The truth is that we’re not sure that ethical considerations even figure on the Bush, Obama, or Trump agendas. Or should we take President Obama off this list, as he was a sane, liberal, humane person? He may very well have been all of that, but farther along in this chapter we’re going to take a close look at his record on drone killings.

Why This Fascination with Armed Drones?

The armed drone is a dream come true for some of the most important people in Washington: politicians, generals and accountants. (Our history books have always been filled with kings and generals. History books of the future will be full of accountants.) How much weight (and cost) can be saved in building a fighter plane without the necessity of life support and safety systems for the pilot? In fighting drones there are no pilots. Weight saved in a combat aircraft is performance and economy gained. Today military drones are cannibalizing air forces as we know them. They are cheaper to build and fly, with less risk of pilot injury and death. They are smaller and thus harder to detect. Pentagon sources affirm that the F35 joint strike fighter is the last traditional piloted fighter plane the United States will ever build.

The Top of the Line

As of 2017 the top-of-the-line MO-9 Reaper drones cost around $14.5 million each, admittedly a lot of money. But the cost of the cheapest F-35 Joint Strike Fighter plane was $94.6 million, and that was before they charged you for the windshield wipers. (And that’s an incredible amount of money for an airplane that doesn’t actually work very well.) Armed drones are not only less expensive to buy than conventional piloted fighter planes but are cheaper to operate, can stay aloft much longer and will soon (if not already) be better dog fighters. According to Techemergence.com, Psibernetix, an Ohio-based artificial intelligence company, has developed a fuzzy-logic artificial intelligence they named ALPHA. They claim their AI now easily bests highly-trained pilots in simulated aerial combat where opposing planes try to shoot each other down. This AI has not officially been incorporated into any military system yet, but it indicates what can be theoretically done and it may be deployed in the near future.

The Reaper is built by General Atomic Aeronautical Systems, with headquarters in San Diego, California. The company was founded in 1955 as the atomic division of General Dynamics “for harnessing the power of nuclear technologies for the benefit of mankind.” It has come a long way since then. The latest in their Predator series, this drone has a top speed of 240 KTAS (“KnotsTrue Airspeed” of an aircraft is its speed relative to the air mass in which it is flying), and a maximum altitude of 50,000 ft. It can carry a 3,750- pound payload, and operate for 27 hours non stop. Each is equipped with advanced infrared sensors, cameras, laser range finders, and several possible ordinances. They can be controlled remotely or fly autonomously. According to General Atomics, as of 2017 its Predator-series vehicles had clocked a total of four million flight hours.

Early Development of Drone Technology

Pre-drone folklore dates back to an Austrian attack on Venice in 1849 with bomb-carrying balloons, but real remote-control or self-controlled artificial intelligence (AI) drones are more recent. Curiously, it was Nicola Tesla who registered the first patent on a technology that was to become a foundation stone in modern drone development. On November 8, 1898, he was granted U.S. Patent Number 613809 for what was likely the first remote control and unmanned vehicle ever envisioned. The patent, entitled “Method of and Apparatus for Controlling Mechanism of Moving Vessels or Vehicles,” covered “any type of vessel or vehicle which is capable of being propelled and directed, such as a boat, a balloon, or a carriage.”

By 1915 drone technology made it possible for the British to use aerial photography in the Battle of Neue Chapelle, where they shot more than 1,500 overhead maps of German trench fortifications. The following year the U.S. Americans had their own pilotless aircraft and shortly thereafter created the Kettering Bug, an experimental, unmanned aerial torpedo, a forerunner of present-day cruise missiles. The Bug, built by the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company with Orville Wright acting as aeronautical consultant on the project, was capable of striking ground targets up to 75 miles away while traveling at speeds of 50 miles per hour.

Part 2/3 coming soon

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Featured

Washington’s Hollow Men Write Their Own Ticket–and Yours 2/2

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to media mogul Rupert Murdoch as they walk out of Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen

Where the money is, billionaire media mogul, Rupert Murdoch with Donald Trump.

Does President Donald Trump Even Exist?

Does he even exist? Or is he just an empty shell, selected for his flashiness and impropriety, traits guaranteed to take our eye off the ball while his handlers re-stack all the decks. There’s an exact word in the dictionary for this kind of cheap distraction with worthless nonsense. It’s called “trumpery.” Samuel Johnson, in his  dictionary of 1755, assigned three meanings to trumpery:

(1) Something fallaciously splendid; something of less value than it seems
(2) Falsehood, empty talk
(3) Something of no value; trifles

(See the Merriam-Webster definition here.)

If we look behind the advisors at the President’s backers and influencers, the panorama is even more depressing. What are President Trump’s principal influencers are made of? I’ll give you a hint. It’s mainly money. One of the earliest of these wise men is Rupert Murdoch, a superannuated nationalized American media mogul born in Australia who has always been associated with yellow journalism and right-wing causes in all places where he has substantial media holdings: among others Australia (Leader Newspaper Group, Quest Community Newspapers), the U.K. (Sky  UK) and the United States (Fox News, News Corporation. 21st Century Fox).

Since Donald Trump became the U.S. president, Murdoch’s opinion of him has done a 180-degree handbrake turn. Where he formerly referred to Trump as “a fucking idiot,” quoted in Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury, Inside the Trump White House, Murdoch has become a loyal Trump fan, albeit one who holds his nose. His Fox News now defends everything Trumpish with slavish fervor.

Another Trump backer, who came on board in a big way with cash and expert staff midway through the presidential election campaign, is Robert Mercer, who was an artificial intelligence whizkid in the late 60s and early 70s and went on to turn Renaissance Technologies into a fabulous money spinner. Today he is one of US America’s principal donors to right-wing projects, not only with cash but with strategically valuable information from his big-data operations.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Mercer is currently ranked the number one donor to federal candidates in the 2016 election cycle. By June 2016, Mercer had donated $2 million to John R. Bolton’s super PAC and $668,000 to the Republican National Committee. Mercer was also a major financial supporter of the 2016 presidential campaign of Ted Cruz, contributing $11 million to a super PAC associated with the candidate. Inside sources have affirmed that Trump could not have won the presidency without Mercer’s support.

Mercer’s activities are multinational, also extending to the UK. Andy Wigmore, communications director of Leave.EU, has said that Mercer donated the services of data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica to Nigel Farage, the head of the United Kingdom Independence Party. The firm was able to advise Leave.EU through its ability to harvest data from people’s  Facebook profiles in order to target them with individualized persuasive messages to vote for Brexit.

Whom Do You Walk With?

A Spanish saying goes, “Dime con quien andas y te diré quien eres.” “Tell me whom you walk with and I’ll tell you who you are.” For a more complete list of Donald Trump’s walking, talking handlers and influencers I refer you to Paradise Papers, Secrets of the Global Elite, published online by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The United States Has Been Invaded

The United States has been invaded, not by Communist Russia nor Red China, not even by Mexico, rather by homegrown undesirables “led” by an infantile, deranged president. If the country is going to recover any measure of its former greatness these invaders must be expelled from power, preferably through legal, constitutional means. The US has no need for low men in high places who are systematically dismantling key programs that are essential for the maintenance of a just and equal democracy in favor of an unequal and unfair society that is unfolding on a playing field tilted in favor of the super-rich. Money talks. The recent tax-reduction-for-big-business bill that was ramrodded through Congress by night is an eloquent example of this governmental insanity.

How can the richest country in the world be so gravely lacking in infrastructures; equality for minorities, women and LGBT citizens; a Congress free of outside control; a sane and balanced judiciary; universal health care and elemental environmental protection? Axing these services is not only possible, the Trumpeteers would affirm, it’s absolutely necessary in order to divert financing and resources to the permanent war effort. Ongoing war is essential to establishing US American suzerainty across the world, in short, “world domination.” Besides, it’s where the big money is to be made.

Here’s what you’re up against. This is a quote from United States senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton:

We should triple the amount we spend on defense and quadruple what we spend on prisons. Why do we pay for food stamps? Welfare? Medicare? They don’t keep us safe. If anything they nurture the most dangerous elements of society.

These words were pronounced on the floor of the United States Senate on March 16, 2015.

The grotesque neo-con agenda shouldn’t surprise anyone. Its playbook was laid out clearly by the 1997 Project for the New American Century, drafted by two Republican tank thinkers, William Kristol and Robert Kagan. This is the Wikipedia introductory paragraph on the PNAC:

PNAC’s first public act was to release a “Statement of Principles” on June 3, 1997. The statement had 25 signers, including project members and outside supporters. It described the United States as the “world’s pre-eminent power,” and said that the nation faced a challenge to “shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests.” In order to achieve this goal, the statement’s signers called for significant increases in defense spending, and for the promotion of “political and economic freedom abroad.” It said the United States should strengthen ties with its democratic allies, “challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values,” and preserve and extend “an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.” Calling for a “Reaganite” policy of “military strength and moral clarity,” it concluded that PNAC’s principles were necessary “if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.”

I’m reminded of the wonderful old think-tank euphemism, “anticipatory retaliation.” Here’s what one of the most interesting books I’ve read recently has to say on the subject: Twenty-first Century Confronts Its Gods, Globalization, Technology and War, edited by David J. Hawkin and written by a collection of Christian writers (2004).

Today U.S. forces and their coalition partners mask aggression by speaking of “anticipatory retaliation” and “sanitizing” enemy-held territory. Reports of their using “smart weapons” and “brilliant weapons” to effect “surgical strikes” are meant to persuade us of intelligently applied clinical accuracy under sterile conditions. They speak of “regime change” when referring to their plans to overthrow foreign governments through unilateral military intervention and covert operations…

Definition of “lycanthrope:”

  1. a werewolf
  2. a person who believes that he is a wolf

.

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Washington’s Hollow Men Write Their Own Ticket–and Yours 1/2

Trump_Cabinet_Categorized

The “experts” in President Donald Trump’s first cabinet.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

T.S. Eliot
(Full text here.)

Beware the Lycanthropic Superpower

There’s a prima facie case for believing that President Donald Trump’s dubious curriculum and limited intellectual and moral capacities are sufficient justification for asserting that he exercises very little power in the White House. What, after all, can a man who doesn’t read contribute to decision making at the world’s highest level?  That leaves us to believe he’s just a straw man, a placeholder for the oligarchs that really run the United States in every significant respect. The obligatory next question is: Do the oligarchs themselves embody the necessary intellectual and moral capacities?

Since the only values recognized by the USA’s neo-con ruling class are economic in nature they are the only values the Trump administration proposes and promotes. They give no credit to human, nor historical, nor esthetic nor ethical considerations. The mythical “market” rules: just the bucks and the bling, and the faster the better. They know this scenario is essentially based on lies but they will continue to employ it as long as it works.

In matters of international politics the values of the American strategists of permanent war are equally bleak, just brutal smash-and-grab tactics, applied around the world, their aim to consolidate the United States as the world’s pre-eminent lycanthropic superpower.

What Ever Happened to the Free and Fair Election?

Just over two centuries ago the United States of America was cast in the Constitution as a democracy, albeit limited and imperfect. Women and slaves couldn’t vote, for example, and the election of the President was indirect, via an “electoral college” created by the Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Founding Fathers didn’t trust the unwashed masses; neither has any US American administration since. Even so, it was a step forward over Europe’s absolute monarchies.

Then, as now, the authenticity of a democracy depended upon free and fair elections. Without elections free of fraud and outside influence a “democracy” is a democracy in name only. Flash forward 231 years. How is the United States doing today in matters of preserving democracy? Not terribly well, it seems. Today the great election influencer is money. According to the Wikipedia, in 2009 the Washington Post estimated that there were 13,700 registered lobbyists and described the nation’s Capitol as “teeming with lobbyists.” The ratio of lobbyists employed by the healthcare industry, compared with every elected politician, was six to one, according to one account. (Could this be why the United States doesn’t have proper universal health care, like nearly every other country in the industrialized world?) This is just healthcare lobbyists; the ratio of the total is more like 16 to one. Someone has to pay all these lobbyists. Who pays and what do they get in return?

According to Tom Murse, writing on the ThoughtCo.com website,

Lobbyists are hired and paid by special interest groups, companies, nonprofits and even school districts to exert influence over elected officials at all levels of government. Lobbyists work at the federal level by meeting with members of Congress to introduce legislation and encourage them to vote certain ways that benefit their clients. But they also work at the local and state levels as well.

What does a lobbyist do, then, that makes him so unpopular? It comes down to money. Most Americans don’t have the money to spend on trying to influence their members of Congress, so they view special interests and their lobbyists as having an unfair advantage in creating policy that benefits them rather than the good of the people. 

Lobbyists, however, say they simply want to make sure your elected officials “hear and understand both sides of an issue before making a decision,” as one lobbying firm puts it. Together they spend more than $3 billion trying to influence members of Congress every year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C.

PACs and Super PACs Thicken the Plot

The “political action committee” (PAC) dates from a 1943 CIO union initiative, but it has come a long way since then. Its latest iteration, from, 2010, is the Super PAC, thanks to two judicial decisions that revolutionized campaign financing in the United States. A Super PAC may not make contributions directly to candidate campaigns or parties but may engage in unlimited political spending independently of the campaigns. Unlike traditional PACs, they can raise funds from individuals, corporations, unions, and other groups without any legal limit on donation size. (Emphasis mine.)

That is to say, they can exert massive influence the outcome of elections. The bottom line is that big money, whether individual billionaires, companies, trade associations or unions, can now virtually buy legislators. The process is admittedly indirect but mortally effective. The United States government has become a commodity in their much-vaunted free-market economy. It has passed from democracy to “democracy.” There is only one limit on the power of the Super PAC: how much money are they willing to spend?

Add to the lobbyists and the Super PACs, the legislators’ self-arrogated right to redesign their congressional districts to assure their own re-election (gerrymandering), a grotesque and anti-democratic practice that is also legal.

gerrymandering1

The Spanish philosopher and essayist, José Ortega y Gasset, wrote in his Meditaciones del Quijote, “Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia y si no la salvo a ella no me salvo yo.” (I am myself and my circumstances and if I don’t save them I don’t save myself.) President Donald Trump is himself and his advisors, and he doesn’t seem capable of saving either them nor himself. Without personal resources, without civilized criteria, nor advisors who are more than neophytes, party hacks and generals, the President is a hollow man.

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
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Playing the U.S. American Game of Rogue States/Regime Change–2/2

regime_change2

Sowing Chaos for Fun and Profit

It doesn’t take a lot of resources or imagination to wreak massive social and political chaos in someone else’s country. Washington operatives just have to pay off a few crooked local politicians—there’s no shortage of those–and call upon the CIA to put its coup techniques to work. After more than half a century of running these operations the CIA has got it down to a sinister routine. Just organize and finance a right-wing “opposition,” put pressure on the media, and encourage (organize and finance) anti-government demonstrations. Bingo! Another impertinent little country (with a democratically elected government or not; that’s irrelevant) privatizes its sovereign wealth and joins NATO.

“Privatize?” That means selling off their mines and oil fields, farms and forests, industries and even housing to US American banks and vulture funds at market prices. You can imagine how the “market” looks after a couple of decades of CIA black ops. The first stages of this process are currently underway in Venezuela and Iran. If all goes well they will soon join the long list of U.S. “client states.”

They Don’t Always Win

It’s only fair to point out that these US American regime-change programs don’t always work out as planned. When they fail it’s usually thanks to the sheer bloody-mindedness of local populations that resent being invaded and—above all—humiliated by invaders from “advanced countries.” The history of these failed regime-change attempts goes back at least to the Russian revolution. According to William Blum, “By the summer of 1918 some 13,000 American troops could be found active in the newly-born Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Two years and thousands of casualties later, the American troops left, having failed in their mission to ‘strangle at its birth’ the Bolshevik state, as Winston Churchill put it. Aside from the strangler’s fantasies, was the British-American invasion of Russia in any way justifiable? Not really.

Flash forward to 1954. Iran was another egregious example of US American regime-change treachery, one that has left a bitter legacy and wounds that are still not closed. Iran’s democratically-elected president, Mohammed Mossadegh, came under siege in part because of his nationalization of British oil interests. The British-engineered international boycott of Iran failed and in 1952 they turned to the Americans for help. Using a possible but highly-improbable “Soviet threat” as a pretext, President Truman encouraged Iran’s former monarch, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, to issue decrees dismissing Mossadegh and replacing him with a general who had been imprisoned by the British during World War II for his collaboration with the Nazis.

It was a simple matter for the American ambassador, Henderson, the CIA, and the American military mission in Iran to cobble together an anti-Mossadegh mob marching in the streets of Tehran, while at the same time a Long-Live-the-Shah demonstration was pouring out of the city’s ancient bazaar. The clash between the two precipitated a nine-hour street battle that caused some 300 dead and many more wounded before Mossadegh’s defenders were finally defeated. The coup d’etat was a fait accompli. Was there any objective reason for the American overthrow of Mossadegh? We’re talking about toppling the elected government of a sovereign nation with which the United States was not at war. Of course, there wasn’t, beyond high-handed US American delusions of grandeur.

The Iranian Dragon’s Egg Hatches

It was only 25 years later, in 1979, when a group of Iranian students, who had apparently not forgotten the U.S. role in overthrowing Mossadegh nor its longstanding support of the (recently ousted) Shah, took 52 American hostages in the American embassy and held them for 444 days. The incident was complicated by a botched rescue attempt, known as Operation Eagle Claw, which resulted in the accidental deaths of eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian, as well as the destruction of two helicopters.

Given these antecedents, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to understand the profoundly resentful and belligerent attitude of the United States today vis a vis Iran, the outcome of which remains to be seen.

To whom do you turn when your backward little banana republic comes under bombardment from CIA planes? Guatemala tried everybody—the U.N., the Organization of American States, neighboring countries, the world press…” but no help was forthcoming. Dwight Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles, and Alan Dulles had decided that Jacobo Arbenz, the only democratically-elected president of Central America, was “communist” and had to be neutralized. He was ousted in June of 1954. What does it take to brand a country’s leader “communist.” Nothing much, really, just stick a label on him.

Do You Remember Vietnam?

Then there’s Vietnam, whose victory after 14 years of war against the most powerful military machine in the world, should have been a once-and-for-all lesson for ambitious US American policymakers but, unfortunately, they never learned. I can still see the television images of sailors tipping Huey helicopters off the deck of an aircraft carrier to make room for the choppers evacuating American personnel and Vietnamese collaborators from Saigon in 1975.

Here’s Newsweek reminiscing about the event 40 years later:

Just over 40 years ago, on April 23, 1975, President Gerald Ford announced the Vietnam War was “finished as far as America is concerned.” Military involvement had come to an end, but the U.S. still faced a crucial task: the safe evacuation of Americans who remained in Saigon, including the then-U.S. ambassador, Graham Martin.

After Tan Son Nhut Airport was bombed heavily on April 29, and the last two Americans were killed in action, the evacuation had to continue with helicopters. “It was an absolute mess,” Colin Broussard, a marine assigned to Martin’s personal security detail, told the Chicago Tribune in 2005. “We knew immediately when we saw the airfield that the fixed-wing operation was done.”

Over the course of April 29 and into the following morning, Operation Frequent Wind transported more than 1,000 Americans and more than 5,000 Vietnamese out of the city. The 19-hour operation involved 81 helicopters and is often called the largest helicopter evacuation on record.

helicopter_tip

U.S. Navy personnel aboard the U.S.S. Blue Ridge push a helicopter into the sea off the coast of Vietnam in order to make room for more evacuation flights from Saigon on April 29, 1975. The helicopter had carried Vietnamese fleeing Saigon as North Vietnamese forces closed in on the capital.

What about Iraq and Afghanistan?

Then there are the Iraq and Afghanistan experiences. The gratuitous Iraq adventure was only “successful” in terms of massive destruction and human suffering including wholesale infant mortality. The Afghan mission was justified by an American-sponsored Muslim guerilla fighter hiding in a cave. Imagine that. Uncle Sam certainly never expected still to be fighting in Afghanistan 17 years on. The jauntily-named “Operation Enduring Freedom” may be enduring but it’s surely not freedom; who writes this dreck, anyway?)

We don’t have time or space here to discuss the cases of Cuba (Cuba, a rogue state?!) nor Chile, perhaps the most egregious of all. So I won’t bore you with more regime-change operations fathered (or mothered, if you prefer) by the world’s premier rogue state. I trust you get the picture. The question that remains is: How will it end? I can answer that. It will end with eventual world domination. Unless someone comes up with a better idea.

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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Playing the U.S. American Game of Rogue States/Regime Change–1/2

Rogue_States_Regime_Change1

What’s a “Rogue State?”

“Rogue state” is a term applied by some theorists to states they consider threatening to world peace. That is, countries ruled by authoritarian governments that severely restrict human rights, sponsor terrorism and seek to extend weapons of mass destruction. The term is used primarily by the United States (though the US State Department officially stopped using it in 2000). In a speech to the UN in 2017, President Donald Trump reiterated the phrase.

The US Americans have established themselves as the world authority on “rogue states.” They decide which are the countries that function outside of the constrictions of international order and reject the rule of law. In fact, it was President Clinton’s National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake, who coined the term “rogue state” in a 1994 issue of Foreign Affairs. He categorized five countries as rogue states: North Korea, Cuba, Iraq, Iran and Libya. One nation was conspicuously missing from this list but it would have been unseemly for Mr. Lake to name his own country.

In was in June of 2000 when U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, swapped the term for “States of Concern.” Other euphemisms have been employed since then–“Axis of Evil,” “Outposts of Tyranny,” and “State Sponsors of Terrorism.” I recently discovered that two excellent books were published on the subject of rogue states some time ago, by Noam Chomsky and William Blum. Both included the term “rogue state” in the title, and the United States was the protagonist of both of them. Interestingly, both of these prestigious commentator/activists also included Israel in the category of rogue state, principally for their treatment of the Palestinians since 1948.

They Decide Who the Devil Is

Once the rogue states are named and shamed there begins a process of demonization by sophisticated propaganda techniques that may last decades. This process is entirely arbitrary though it usually coincides with US American political and military objectives or the acquisition/control of natural resources. The following step inevitably is “regime change,” and Washington takes charge of that process, too, making use of the carrot-and-stick techniques that have become familiar to us over the years.

The carrots can be loans to purchase U.S. arms or bribes to pliant politicians either in country or in exile who can be refinanced and recycled under US American “guidance.” Needless to say, all of these “assets” are required to present impeccable anti-communist, pro “free-market” credentials. Massive, expert-run disinformation campaigns in existing and expressly-created media might also fall under the category of  (somewhat bitter) “carrots.”

If the carrots don’t get the job done, they bring out the sticks, which are wielded by C.I.A. operatives and their hired hands, and run the gamut from low-level political and industrial sabotage to either the assassination of key political figures or the organizing equipping and training of entire mercenary armies and air forces. Many of these terrorist actions are “false flag” operations, staged to look as if they were perpetrated by someone else, “communists or “outside agitators.” The most authoritative information I’ve seen on this policy is in the 2004 book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by whistleblower, John Perkins, who worked as a US agent during the 1970s.

The List of Those “Neutralized” is a Long One

Actual assassinations organized and/or executed in recent years by the CIA include Ngo Dinh Diem of Vietnam (a dictator installed in his position by the CIA itself); Che Guevara; Patrice Lumumba the Congo’s first prime minister; René Schneider, Commander and Chief of the Chilean Army, loyal to Salvador Allende’s democratically-elected government; Allende himself; Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia and Sukarno in Indonesia, among many others. And it’s not clear yet whether the name of President John F. Kennedy should be added to this list. The operation that culminated in Dallas on November 22, 1962, certainly precipitated an immediate regime change.

My source for the majority of these cases is, The CIA: A Forgotten History, a book published in 1986 by author and investigative journalist, William Blum. It’s out of print but available second hand on the Web and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a thoughtful, straightforward and authoritative glossary of CIA clandestine operations around the world between the end of World War II and the mid-1980s. It confirms with hard data a lot suspicions we’ve harbored for a long time.

Regime Change Is Easy

It doesn’t take a lot of resources or imagination to wreak massive social and political chaos in someone else’s country. Washington operatives just have to pay off a few crooked local politicians and call upon the CIA to put its coup techniques in motion. After more than half a century of running these operations, the CIA has got it down to a sinister routine. Bingo! Another impertinent little country (with a democratically elected government or not; that’s irrelevant) has privatized its sovereign wealth and joined NATO.

“Privatize?” That means selling off their mines and oil fields, fields and forests, industries and even housing to US American banks and vulture funds at market prices. You can imagine how the “market” looks after a couple of decades of CIA black ops. The first stages of this process are currently underway in Venezuela and Iran. If all goes well they will soon join the long list of U.S. “client states.”

Chomsky Puts Us Straight

The other book that penetrates the murk on these subjects is Noam Chomsky’s Rogue States—The Rule of Force in World Affairs, published in 2000. Chomsky, who has spent his life building a reputation for seriousness, honesty and calm level-headedness, affirms in his book that, contrary to the versions in the mainstream media the real “rogue states” today are not totalitarian nations run by wacky dictators (neither Kim-Jong-un of North Korea, Maduro of Venezuela, nor Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran, for example), rather the United States and its allies.

Chomsky, who defines “radical nationalism” as the unwillingness to submit to the will of the powerful, discards the specious reasons given for the US American (& Co.) unilateral intervention around the world in favor of one simple explanation: the willful use of force to impose the bare-fisted power of the United States. He cites many examples, including Kosovo, East Timor, and U.S. destabilizing operations in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and South America. His scholarship is impeccable, as he elaborates the historical contexts and declassified documents that explain how simple self-interest and economic and political opportunism fuel US American sponsorship of violent regional conflicts around the world, reducing the rule of law to a grotesque farce. They see no need to respect neither the United Nations’ guidelines nor international legal precedents to justify their actions. Today, more than ever, it’s diaphanously clear that they do whatever they please.

25 Pages to Whet Your Appetite

Here’s a link to a 25-page article that Chomsky published in Z Magazine a couple of years before his Rogue States book came out. I want to quote just a couple of paragraphs here, but his piece merits a full reading for its lucidity and well-documented revelations. Chomsky starts his article:

Quote: The concept of “rogue state” plays a pre-eminent role today in policy planning and analysis. The current Iraq crisis is only the latest example. Washington and London declared Iraq a “rogue state,” a threat to its neighbors and to the entire world, an “outlaw nation” led by a reincarnation of Hitler who must be contained by the guardians of world order, the United States and its British “junior partner,” to adopt the term ruefully employed by the British foreign office half a century ago.

Was there any objective justification for the two Iraq wars? There was none, especially in the light of the later acknowledgment that the weapons of mass destruction justification was a whole-cloth American-fabricated lie.

In another paragraph Professor Chomsky quotes a serving United States Secretary of State on the rationale of his country’s arbitrary use of its awesome military power anywhere in the world at any time. My ears are pretty calloused but I find this Hitlerian pronouncement alarming.

Secretary of State George Shultz meanwhile explained (April 14, 1986) that “Negotiations are a euphemism for capitulation if the shadow of power is not cast across the bargaining table.” He condemned those who advocate “utopian, legalistic means like outside mediation, the United Nations, and the World Court, while ignoring the power element of the equation”—sentiments not without precedent in modern history.

Coming soon: Playing the U.S. American Game of Rogue States/Regime Change–2/2

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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Just Say Goodbye — 3/3

Lisbon2
by Mike Booth

Making a Living Abroad

cover-turncoat-final1_187Let’s consider your possibilities for making a living. Obviously, if you’re a writer or a visual artist, you’re in business.  You can do your work (almost) anywhere.  Or, if you have money to invest you might get into rental property or a business. This is trickier and, having failed in a couple of businesses myself, I wouldn’t recommend it. The European bureaucratic obstacles can be formidable, and doing business here requires a lengthy, expensive learning process. Can your work be done over Internet?  A lot of jobs can these days.  If that’s your case, then you’re home free.

We recently met a couple from Oxford, U.K. They are both IT consultants who worked in London. They said they used to spend five hours a day on the train getting to work and back.  I couldn’t believe it.  “It must be one of those great trains with desks for working, Internet connections, a great bar and all that, no?” Continue reading “Just Say Goodbye — 3/3”

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Just Say Goodbye — 2/3

Brazil2

by Mike Booth

How to Begin

You need to start out with a mission statement. That’s your North Star; it has to do with the essence of your project and your objectives. That is to say, what are your priorities and where do you want to go, not only geographically, but philosophically? Think hard about it and get it right. Again, you’re not in a hurry. This is the genetic code of your expatriation project, and if you get it wrong at the outset when the cells of the embryo are just beginning to divide, you may run into trouble down the line.

If you’ll forgive me stretching the metaphor a bit, you’ll also need some market research. You’ll need to investigate what is possible, and where.  You’ll need to look into the economic situations and the labor laws in your possible destinations. Don’t be put off by seemingly stifling regulations, though.  Rules are made to be broken. You’re a creative person; if you weren’t you wouldn’t be reading this.  Don’t be afraid to trust your luck.  So many good things happen by serendipity if you’ll let them. Continue reading “Just Say Goodbye — 2/3”

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Just Say Goodbye — 1/3

senegal2
by Mike Booth

 Fed Up?

So, you’re finally fed up with the seemingly endless string of cynical,  self-serving, and ruthless  magnates, politicians, and generals, and the infirm society they have created for you and your fellow Americans.  You’re frustrated, ashamed and depressed. You really want out.  You’re convinced, ready to make your move.

Would you like to hear a few suggestions from someone who’s been through it, and who has met a lot of people over the years who have achieved the goal that you aspire to? Maybe I can help you out. Expatriating one’s self is like any other worthwhile project; it requires some planning. You don’t just pack your bags. First you think the whole thing through, consider your alternatives, make preparations, and cultivate contacts, both in your home and destination countries—you’re going to need all the friends and business contacts you can get.

Heady Stuff

This is one of the most exciting and rewarding times in the process of leaving. You’re actually beginning to act, to make choices, to savor the taste of change. This is the stage of active dreaming, and it’s heady stuff. Everything is possible. You get to choose your destination, make work plans, marshall your resources and do endless research on the Web. During this stage you can permit yourself the luxury of taking it easy and making careful plans.  Now that your mind is made up, there’s no urgency. More-careful preparation will save you surprises down the road. And you’re lucky, because leaving your country is not a cataclysmic, all-or-nothing act.  You get to test the water before diving in.

Be Discreet

First of all, be discreet. Do your best not to publicize your move as a protest or  flight from an insufferable situation.  That will only complicate matters.  The fewer explanations you have to give, the better. And don’t worry about the legal aspects; they will sort themselves out in time.  This is, after all, a long-term project.  I arrived in Spain to stay at the end of 1968, but I didn’t renounce my American citizenship and take Spanish nationality till the early 1980’s. It was a 15-year process.  If they had asked me in the beginning if I wanted to become Spanish, I would have said no. I wasn’t ready yet. But, little by little, the country and I began to understand and appreciate one another, and over time—a matter of years—a bond was created which I wouldn’t trade for anything. So don’t be impetuous.  Don’t try to renounce your citizenship.  Under current American policy they won’t let you, anyway.  Don’t burn your passport. Don’t burn your bridges. You’re an idealist, but you’re not stupid.

Shall I give it to you straight

, in two words?  Just leave. Come up with a project which will take you abroad. Do your homework. Make a plan. Then do your best to carry it out. It doesn’t even have to be long term or definitive. Make your first goal something feasible: “I’d like to spend a year teaching English in Italy.”  Why not? Go for it! As my old boss, Charlie Craig, used to say, “What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll have to go back home and get a job.” When I came to Spain I had no idea that I would spend the rest of my life here.  My initial goal was to stay out of the U.S. for five years, an objective which seemed to me wildly extravagant at the time. That was almost 50 years ago. One thing led to another and the next thing I knew I had a wife and family, a house and garden, dozens of Spanish friends, then a whole clan in Spain, and enough animals to fill the Ark.

The “Business Plan”

A candidate for expatriation needs something very like a business plan, and if you’ve ever written one, you’ll recognize the similarities immediately.  Though you’re not primarily interested in profit, you’ve got a project and you’ve got a product.  Your project is expatriation and your product is you. You’ve got some resources and a timetable. You may be surprised to hear that your most important resource probably isn’t economic. It’s probably moral; call it conviction, desire, or aspiration. Mere money won’t get you where you want to go. You need vision, heart and a sound value system.

Though it’s a spiritual endeavor you’re embarking on, your expatriation project lends itself perfectly to a businesslike SWOT analysis. You’ve got Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities

cover-turncoat-final1_187and Threats, and they can be written down and analyzed on a four-square matrix. This simple exercise is not only fun, but it will permit you to get a clearer idea of what you’re about to do, what your chances are of success, and maybe even how to head off disaster. How to go about it? Look it up in Google.

Next, in Part II, How to Get Started

Read the full story in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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The U.S. American White Trash Values Are Mutating and Migrating

America, Your Deodorant Is Letting You Down

“Poor White Trash,” was originally a despective term for impoverished,  landless sharecroppers who differed from black slaves only in their skin color. They were white, and that whiteness spared them from being considered–and considering themselves–the lowest scum on the earth.

They were unwashed, undernourished and unlettered. But, by God, they were white. That gave them an ascendency over black people: they could kill them with impunity. The name for that time-honored southern tradition is lynching, and its legacy lives on in various forms, in police forces, in the penal system, in education and employment…

Black author, Ida B.Wells, writes in Lynch Law in America:

From 1889 to 1918, more than 2,400 African Americans were hanged or burned at the stake. Many lynching victims were accused of little more than making “boastful remarks,” “insulting a white man” or seeking employment “out of place.”

She adds some local color:

Sam Holt…was burned at the stake in a public road…. Before the torch was applied to the pyre, the Negro was deprived of his ears, fingers, and other portions of his body…. Before the body was cool, it was cut to pieces, the bones were crushed into small bits, and even the tree upon which the wretch met his fate were torn up and disposed of as souvenirs.

 

It’s this brand of white trash inhumanity that shows up again and again throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, both within US American borders and abroad on both the micro and macro scale, from single lynchings in the US American deep south to the full-blown genocide of Guatemalan Indians orchestrated by the CIA in the 1950’s. The rudimentary philosophical underpinnings were well established: “We’re Americans and we do what the fuck we please.” The native Americans were the first to learn this lesson, then the Mexicans, then the Spanish and the Cubans, then, little by little, the rest of the world.

They’re Selling You Garbage

Once a country like the United States is thoroughly riddled with inequality, racism, violence, poverty, ignorance and fear, when many citizens are desperate and see no possible solution in sight, that country is ripe for charlatans peddling political and religious miracles and scores of cures for celulitis.

They’re going to sell you a ticket to an America that’s great again, and eternal bliss sitting on a cloud at the left hand of God himself. All you have to do is to pay your tithe and do what they tell you. What a dismal state of affairs. Your government chooses not to take your tax money and provide you (all of you) with a first-world standard of living. Every other government in the industrialized world can and does do just that, but yours doesn’t. It’s not that your government can’t afford it, because they can. It’s not that they haven’t noticed the homelessness, poverty,  hunger and infant mortality rife in US American society, because they have. But the health, education and welfare of Americans is way down on their list of priorities. At the top they have:

  • Tax cuts for the super rich, including the billionaire President and Commander in Chief, himself.
  • Military installations, wars, subversion and unprovoked aggression all over the world.
  • Utterly useless multi-billion-dollar pork-barrel “defense projects” like the F22 Raptor, the F35 Joint Strike Fighter, the B-2 Bomber and oodles more, programs designed to enrich congressional districts all over the country and insure re-election for their slimy incumbents. Then there’s congressional lobbying by big business, military and otherwise. More of the same.

I’m not making this up. Here’s an informative article from Forbes from December 1, 2016.

A friend asked me the other day, “What exactly do you mean by “White Trash Values?”

I mean the values of a downtrodden, and morally impoverished–people whose only way of affirming themselves was through the systematic humiliation and abuse of people they placed arbitrarily in the category of sub-human. The motors of poor white trash attitudes in the Old South were poverty, ignorance and a wholly fictional racial superiority, which inevitably created brutal and cruel lives. The only sector the poor white trash could turn their bitterness loose on were black slaves. A century of this putrid ferment yielded a heady brew. After so much cruelty and brutality over so much time the white trash values became common coin, with spillover into the North.

Flash forward to the 1980’s. This mean, unforgiving world view had mutated and migrated north. It was an easy job for the sycophant, running-dog mainstream US communications media to re-orient the poor white trash “ethic” converting it into a formula for world domination based on indiscriminate brutality, willful ignorance and a willingness to find Arms of Mass Destruction under anybody’s bed. This recast “product” found a warm welcome in investment banks, vulture funds and multinational companiess, whose offshore operations looked not unlike Louisiana plantations. The laborers were, after all, defenseless brown people with few rights and fewer pretensions to equality. These practices are still going on in places like Mexico, India, Indonesia, Viet Nam… I could go on and on.

The effect this neo-slavery had on bottom lines was spectacular. By paying wages 10 or 20 times lower than those that US American workers earned, the giant mutinationals, virtually all based in the USA, could suddenly pay even-bigger dividends to their stockholders with money left over to bribe politicians and win them over to their companies’ agendas. At first these bribes were risky semi-clandestine affairs run through lobbyists but in time the companies had bought so many legislators that they had the voting majorities necessary to legalize big company donations to political campaigns. It was a win-win proposition for legislators and businesses, if not for the US American people.

By the way, what happens to those US American workers whose jobs were exported? Don’t worry about them; they’ve always got the American Dream.

This is the point where we have to stop referring to “poor” white trash, as this northern strain of the virus is obviously not poor. They’re fabulously rich, but still dedicated to the pitiless white-trash code of conduct.

The Banks Lead the Way

The great innovators in the business to bleeding the poor were–and are–the financial services companies, who began to contrive fraudulent products, the crookedness of which was hidden so far down in the deck that it was invisible to the naked eye. Conveniently pliant legislators were key players in this super-scam as they were easily convinced to revoke regulations and controls on dishonest dealings. They proved their worth many times over when the gargantuan house of financial cards collapsed utterly when the sub-prime mortgage “crisis” struck in late 2008.

The banks and mortgage companies had gravely multiplied their risk by securitizing carefully disguised packages of mostly worthless mortgages. When the excrement hit the ventilator Congress rushed in one weekend, and appropriated $700 billion (that is two thirds of a trillion dollars) to bail out the big mortgage operators. And that was only the beginning. The total cost of the fiasco is incalculable but the most reliable sources (the foxes who guard the henhouse) put it around $16 trillion (with a “T”).

It’s Only Government Money

Was this “government money” that Congress gave so freely to the banks, without even demanding any equity for the US government (i.e. the people of the United States)? Well, yes and no. It belonged to the government insofar as it was the government that was authorized (rather, authorized itself) to spend it so frivolously. But, as always, the buck stopped at the front door of the US American taxpayers. That is, those who still had front doors, as many of those taxpayers had been evicted forcefully from their homes for not keeping up the payments on those selfsame mortgages that the banks were speculating with. Now, besides losing their homes, they’re obliged to pay, in the form of taxes, for their share of the Big Bank Bailout. Jesus Weeps.

Forbes contributor, Mike Collins, writes:

Most people think that the big bank bailout was the $700 billion that the Treasury Department used to save the banks during the financial crash in September of 2008. But this is a long way from the truth because the bailout is still ongoing. The Special Inspector General for TARP summary of the bailout says that the total commitment of government is $16.8 trillion dollars with the $4.6 trillion already paid out. Yes, it was trillions not billions and the banks are now larger and still too big to fail. But it isn’t just the government bailout money that tells the story of the bailout. This is a story about lies, cheating, and a multi-faceted corruption which was often criminal.

These big time predator/scavenger/opportunists can no longer hide behind the excuse of poverty-induced ignorance to justify the killer capitalist lives they lead, regardless of whether or not they espouse these values openly. If you’re walking the walk you don’t have to bother talking the talk.

Here’s just the tip of the big-bucks White Trash iceberg. They are the trolls who are forging ahead aggressively to drag the country backwards.

White_Trash8

Merry Everything!

Read more ranting in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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USA Driven by a Familiar Fear: The Russians Are Coming!–2/2

It’s a 100-Year-and-Counting Fear Campaign

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It was during the troubled times of the early 1920s that the sinister tendrils of the fear of Red Peril were planted. They were to put down deep roots over the following hundred years, which brings us up to our own time. This century-long fear campaign has been tremendously successful and the results are rich and varied and spread over many fronts, starting with the largest military budget in the world, 824.6 billion dollars for fiscal year 2018, and allegedly between 800 and 1,000 military installations abroad.

David Vine writes in a 2015 article in The Nation:

“To the extent that Americans think about these bases at all, we generally assume they’re essential to national security and global peace. Our leaders have claimed as much since most of them were established during World War II and the early days of the Cold War. As a result, we consider the situation normal and accept that US military installations exist in staggering numbers in other countries, on other peoples’ land. On the other hand, the idea that there would be foreign bases on US soil is unthinkable.

“While there are no freestanding foreign bases permanently located in the United States, there are now around 800 US bases in foreign countries. Seventy years after World War II and 62 years after the Korean War, there are still 174 US “base sites” in Germany, 113 in Japan, and 83 in South Korea, according to the Pentagon. Hundreds more dot the planet in around 80 countries, including Aruba and Australia, Bahrain and Bulgaria, Colombia, Kenya, and Qatar, among many other places. Although few Americans realize it, the United States likely has more bases in foreign lands than any other people, nation, or empire in history.”

For more information on this subject see Global Research’s extensive dossier on American Military Bases and/or Military Installations abroad.

The Bases Are Indicators

All of that spending and all of those American bases abroad are the underlying indicators of the level of fear that reigns in the United States power elite. What other possible motivation (aside from the profit motive) can there be for mounting such a grotesque—and expensive–network of death and destruction around the world?

The other face of the military spending/bases coin is the backing it gives the Americans for their commitment to permanent war. To quote a great American, “…they got a lot of forks ‘n knives. And they got to cut something.” (Bob Dylan, Talkin’ New York 1962).

 Another result of the great American fear campaign is the number of American citizens programmed to hate and fear not only the Russians but any sort of collective social or political solutions anywhere in the world. This includes anything that smacks of socialism or even “liberalism,”e.g. Canadian and European universal health care. Canada poses a particularly dangerous threat, sitting as it does right up against the United States’s northern border. American refugees are already starting to filter across that porous border. Is another great wall in the offing? Or perhaps a pre-emptive strike?

Do You Remember “Manifest Destiny?”

Add to these nefarious results a vicious jingoism and a predisposition to intervene militarily in any country in the world in order to co-opt its natural resources, notably but not exclusively oil. (Afghanistan allegedly sits on top of a trillion dollars’ worth of strategic mineral deposits. See U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan in the New York Times, June 13, 2010. This was followed last summer in the same newspaper by Trump Finds Reason for the U.S. to Remain in Afghanistan: Minerals.)

All of this fear on the heights, unlike the wealth of the rich, trickles down to every nook and cranny of underling America, forming the base of the ideological pyramid. For some unknown reason this toxic Kool Aid seems to get stronger as it penetrates into the unlettered heads of the central and southern United States, fueling waves of nationalistic fanaticism. I won’t bother you with examples. You know what I’m talking about.

What’s to Be Done?

So, with all these fears generating 57 varieties of imminent danger in the United States and all over the world, what’s to be done? There are a lot of solutions flying around Facebook. One of my favorites is the solution propounded by a wacky Evangelical group, a branch of dispensationalism, a belief system embraced by Christian fundamentalists as a defense of the literal Bible against liberalism.

They are a group with some 15,000,000 members whose well-funded Rapturist plan is to provoke a war between Israel and the Muslims in the Middle East. The inevitable victory of the God’s chosen people will then precipitate the Apocalypse which will propel all of us infidels (including the Jews who don’t convert to Christianity; take note Bibi) directly into hell. At the same time certain highly-qualified Christians will be ascended  into Heaven where they will sit at the right hand of God from where they will watch the Apocalypse as if it were the Super Bowl.

Good night and good luck, America.

Read more rant in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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USA Driven by a Familiar Fear: The Russians Are Coming!–1/2

100  Years of Using Fear of Russians to Keep American Citizens in Line

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My opinion—and I think I can sustain it with evidence–is that fear is the principal factor that has given rise to the United States’s world view since the early 20th century, and that fear still underlies much of what official America thinks and does both at home and—especially–abroad.

First a word about linguistcs. It’s neither fair nor correct to use the term “Americans” carelessly and all inclusively, as if the United States were made up of a homogenized, monolithic population. No, there are many flavors of Americans, each with its own political philosophy, from semi-literate, gun-toting  white supremacists and Nazis to dedicated radical leftists and, in the middle, a great grey mass of well-meaning, faith-driven folks who just believe what they’re told to believe. And that’s the problem—what they’re told to believe.

It’s a Pyramid

At the top of this tutti-frutti pyramid are the Americans in Charge (AiC): big businessmen (including a surprising number of psychotic billionaires with extravagant political agendas), a truculent, predatory military-industrial complex bent on world domination (euphemistically, in their own words, “full spectrum dominance”) and a political class the likes of which we have never seen before in terms of cynicism, opportunism and utter lack of human values. At the top of the pyramid reigns a louche, narcissistic and infantiloid maniac, the paradigm of ignorance and arrogance in a world endowed today with a surfeit of maniacs.

So, what exactly do the Americans fear? The answer to this question comes in pyramid form, too. Let’s start from the top down. The Americans in Charge (AiC, see above) since the early 20th century all fear the power of a better idea. (Americans used to be fond of saying, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” That was when they built better mousetraps. Now that Slovakia builds better mousetraps that old saying has fallen somewhat into disuse.)

The Better Idea Looked Dangerous

That better idea reared its head in 1917, after centuries of tyrannical Tsarist rule in Russia, with the socialist October Revolution led by Vladimir Lenin. There followed a civil war between Lenin’s Bolsheviks and a coalition of monarchists, capitalists and Menchevik socialists. Eight foreign countries, including Britain, France and half a dozen other countries belonging to the World War I Allied armies, also intervened against Lenin’s forces, but to no avail. The war was resolved in 1923 in favor of the Bolsheviks after six years and a toll of between seven and twelve million casualties, mostly civilians.

At that crucial point in the early 20th century the world was weary of rule by European royal autocrats and American robber barons. It was ripe for more egalitarian governments. In those days, before Soviet communism had revealed its dark side, many world citizens aspired to imitate the solutions of the recently-created Soviet Union for a fairer distribution of the wealth of nations.

Institutional Fear Triggers Overwhelming Responses

In America there was a short history of labor activism before the 1920s. The ultimate response to these inconveniences to business as usual was the Haymarket Square Massacre at a rally of leftist demonstrators in Chicago who were demanding an eight-hour day. Someone threw a bomb that killed seven police officers and at least four civilians and, though it was never made clear who was responsible for the bomb, of the eight defendants one committed suicide and four were hanged. Six years later in 1893 Illinois’s new governor, John Peter Altgeld, pardoned the remaining defendants and criticized the trial.

It was events like this and the deadly stalking of the International Workers of the World (IWW, the Wobblies) that set the scene for the enhanced persecution of the left, then in the context of the post-World-War-I nationalist hysteria and the Russian Revolution. These events were referred to subsequently as “the first Red Scare” (1917-1920). The IWW, founded as an industrial union in 1905 in Chicago, grew to 150,000 members by 1917. Its founders included some of the great names in the history of progressive America: William D. (“Big Bill”) HaywoodJames ConnollyDaniel De LeonEugene V. DebsThomas HagertyLucy ParsonsMary Harris “Mother” JonesFrank BohnWilliam TrautmannVincent Saint JohnRalph Chaplin, and many others. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

More Gratuitous Repression: The Palmer Raids

American big business, which had enjoyed a free hand (and wielded it) against workers and unions before 1917, was quick to perceive the threat of losing control and responded in panic mode. The Attorney General, A. Mitchell Palmer (with the inestimable help of his promising protégé, 24-year-old J. Edgar Hoover), carried out in November of 1919 and January of 1920 the so-called Palmer Raids to capture, arrest and deport suspected radical leftists and anarchists. Palmer’s attempt to suppress left-wing organizations was characterized by inflammatory rhetoric, illegal searches and seizures, unwarranted arrests and detentions, and the deportation of some 500 “alleged” radicals and anarchists.  There would have been many more deportations if the U.S. Secretary of Labor, William B. Wilson, had not intervened on behalf of workers, who had neither been tried nor convicted of anything.

Coming soon Chapter 2/2

Read more rants in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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The United States of America Is the Only Country in the World That Sentences Children to Die in Prison

 

Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Goddamn, boys and girls live precarious lives in the U.S.A today. If they don’t fall victims to regularly scheduled school shootings or pederast clergymen, they are processed into commercially valuable commododities by corrupt juvenile judges and sold to private prisons. The shooting deaths at school might be attributed to crazies with constitutionally-sanctioned access to guns, and perverted priests are old hat, but the sale of children to private prisons is uniquely sinister. This cynical practice is perpetrated by subjects–we’re talking about judges–who are bound by public trust to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of their country’s young people.

The betrayal of that obligation in order to ruin young lives is, I submit, a crime as serious as homicide. Violation of public trust, like election tampering, is an issue that touches the very DNA of a democratic society. A country without honest and trustworthy judicial authorities and free and fair elections has no right to call itself a democracy.

Kids for Cash

I refer to the 2008 Kids for Cash case in which two Pennsylvania juvenile court judges were convicted of accepting kickbacks from a “prominent” real estate developer for unfairly sentencing children to imprisonment in his two for-profit juvenile prisons. The  judges, Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, not only provided the new prisons with some 2,400 children for profit, but were instrumental in using their influence to have the existing juvenile facility discredited and the new ones constructed.

The “crimes” for which children as young as 13, first offenders, were accused of by the corrupt judges were as trivial as making fun of a school principal on Myspace.com, entering a vacant building or shoplifting DVDs from Wal-Mart. And thanks to a judicial twist called “indefinite probation” the young inmates were subject to periodic behavior reviews which could extend their sentences up to seven years. Probation officers actually had their own offices in the district’s schools to monitor students.

In the end, after a class-action suit filed by the Philadelfia-based Juvenile Law Center, it was established that the two judges received some $2.6 million in “finders’ fees” for providing children for the private prisons. When the trial was over all the children had their convictions overturned and expunged from their records, which is not to say they got off easy. After their years of harrowing incarceration 66% of them never went back to school. As for the crooked judges, they are currently in prison themselves. Ciavarella was additionally indicted for racketeering, a crime in which prosecutors said the former judge used children “as pawns to enrich himself.” Ciavarella was imprisoned for 28 years. Conahan got 17 and a half.

Corrupt Judge as Civic Hero

Ironically, before the scandal broke, “President Judge Ciavarella” was lionized in the community both by school authorities and parents whose children were not imprisoned  for his “zero tolerance” policy and dispensation of virtually automatic prison sentences for petty crimes committed by children. (Everybody wants zero tolerance for other people’s children.) Ciavarella was a popular speaker every year for two decades at school assemblies all over the district, where he promised unabashedly that the students would be subject to rough justice.

Even without the payment-for-children aspect of the Kids for Cash case, the popularity of “zero-tolerance” is still responsible for exaggeratedly severe prison sentences for young people all over the country. Zero tolerance is the name for a policy that sprang from the rich compost of authoritarianism prevalent in post-911 America. It holds no regard for human rights nor extenuating circumstances such as poverty or childhood abuse. In most cases it prohibits judges from exercising discretion. The sentences are blindly mandated by law.

The Damage Done

The damage done to children, families, schools and the society at large is incalculable. The permanent presence of parole officers, with offices inside schools, is an ominous
precedent in the schools of a democratic society, just one more Orwellian oppressive measure that Americans are learning to accept as normal. What’s next, political
commisars to prevent deviant thinking in schools? Mercenary army recruiters? Gun shows?

For more than a century the United States was the world leader in lynchings. It’s not a coincidence that the majority of these kids who receive life no-parole sentences are African Americans. The well-oiled school-to-prison pipeline affects young black men with an overall incarceration risk that is six to eight times higher than young whites.

Kids for Cash is Just the Tip of the America’s Injustice Iceberg

The Kids for Cash case is just one example of  the ill treatment of young people under United States law. The U.S. is, in fact, the only country in the world whose legislation forsees the possibility of defendants under the age of 18 being incarcerated on a life-no-parole basis. They will stay in prison until they die. Today there approximately 2,500 of them in this situation in American prisons. How is this abuse of power possible in “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” unless that moniker is just a publicity slogan not subject to the laws of truth in advertising.

We shouldn’t be surprised though. Of the 193 United Nations member countries there are only two that have not ratified the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child: Somalia and the United States of America.

More information:

The Kids for Cash case gave rise to some excellent documentaries. The first of these cited here is a fascinating 50-minute interview with the documentary film maker, Robert May: https://youtu.be/mVzSe2TQ3d0

 

And this one is his Kids for Cash documentary: https://youtu.be/vxpNynnYwC0

Kids Serve LIFE in Prison, the story of Kenneth Young. This one will shake you: https://youtu.be/4_RSz_Rq3cg
.

Read more ranting in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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We’re All Victims of the Lies They Told us as Children

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Lying to Children Is to Do Them–and the World–a Terrible Disservice

Lying to children has been a universal phenomenon since time immemorial. Parents, consciously or unconsciously, raise their offspring dishonestly, perpetuating the same lies they were told by their own parents. Children are innocent blank slates. Anything imprinted on them during infancy is virtually indelible. If you teach your children that a fat bearded man in a red suit and a funny hat flies around the globe in a reindeer-drawn sleigh and  slips down chimneys to deliver gifts to all the children in the world, you’re planting the seed of a venemous creeping vine. Any child who will believe that preposterous story because a trusted loved one told it, will grow up to believe that a Jewish carpenter’s son who died 2,000 years ago will raise that child into heaven.

Lies have been and remain fundamental pieces in the strategy of all repressive regimes, whether political or religious, at all times. Power hungry rulers around the world need to form—and deform—their populaces as virtual masses of livestock that serve mainly to be herded and milked–and bled–and the best place to start is with children.

Where Are You From? That Explains It

We are who we are because of where we come from. You can’t blame an Indian for being Hindu. His mother’s milk was Hindu along with all the rest of the world in which he grew up. Nor can you blame an American from the bible belt for being a Christian. Or a New Yorker for loving asphalt and having trouble understanding Texans. Or Texans for being Texans.

What I would like to blame young Americans for here is taking on bovinely all that self-aggrandizing nationalistic and religious claptrap that their country’s con men thrive on. But, in all fairness, I’m not sure I can do that either. American young people are just as conditioned from birth as the Hindus, though they may not realize it. And those who get rich are convinced they’re another of those fraudulent American inventions, the “self-made (wo)man.”

To children—and their parents who were raised on the same kibble—the early lies seem innocuous, even charming: Santa Claus, the baby Jesus, the tooth fairy… But this soon becomes seriously sinister. It opens the floodgates to all the rest: racism, patriotism, entitlement, militarism… Since virtually everybody in that sponge child’s universe is on the same wavelength, he’s trapped in an ideological dead end. In the case of the United States that explains the fearful homogenization of thought in which there’s no room for anything but hard-core Americanism and old-time religion. There’s no room for solidarity with people who are different, no empathy, no mercy for children with the ill luck to be born outside the boundaries of the 50 states, and very little for those inside. “We’re all white, Christian, free-market believers in American-style democracy,  and those who ain’t is in deep trouble.”

Does this sound familiar?

  • You’re the best.
  • Your country is the most beautiful from sea to shining sea.
  • Your religion is also the best. All others are heresy, possibly diabolical.
  • You can get rich. Just work hard.
  • Your government is blessed by God. It is wise and beneficent.
  • Your way of life is heavenly ordained. Be true to your school.
  • We are unique, special, people of God, entitled to take other people’s countries, natural resources—oil, gold, arable land, fishing rights… If they resist we are entitled to kill them.

Even though all the world’s great religions have been twisted to fit the sick agendas of priests, generals, emperors and dictators, they still expect us to revere them. Have you taken a look at the 10 commandments lately? How many of them are observed religiously by any modern government today? Don’t make me laugh trying to figure that one out. Does the Koran sanction suicide bombings and the wholesale slaughter of innocents? Or the extreme repression of women, for that matter? Does the Bible sanction the precision bombing of civilians, or the capricious invasion of soverign nations? No they don’t.  But never mind, all religions have their inconvenient technicalities, but they can be ignored in special cases.

How Do You Create a Killer?

How do you get a healthy, well-educated young person to strap an explosive vest on his body and detonate it in the midst of a crowd of innocent bus passengers? It’s not complicated. You appeal to his sense of patriotism, righteousness and the promise of eternal life. That’s the best bait, eternal life. Nobody who promises it knows how to deliver it but there are lots of ingenuous marks who don’t seem to mind.

By the same token, how do you get a bright young computer-games whizbang to sit in an underground bunker in the desert and kill remotely at distances of thousands of miles not only his country’s presumed enemies, who are unknown to him, but everyone else on the bus or at the wedding. The bride and groom, the best man and the maid of honor, the altar boys, parents and grandparents…

That’s not too complicated, either.  You just double his pay and tell him he’s a patriot. That—patriotism—is the great killer, not only of “the enemy’s” young people but of your own. What is more heroic, nay glamorous, than dying for your country? Would someone please explain to me exactly what that means: “dying for one’s country.” Who benefits from the death of an American soldier abroad these days? His parents, his friends, his wife and children? Yes, I’m being ridiculous. Who benefits are arms manufacturers and dealers, bankers, politicians, media magnates, speculators, right-wing radio talk-show geniuses… all patriots, to be sure. I find this game cheap and nasty, absolutely abhorrent. Why can’t American mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers understand that? It’s beyond me. As for the old “Support our troops” trope, it’s patently sick and sordid, another massive lie that still prevails. The best way to support the troops is to bring them home.

The Road to Hell Is Paved with False Promises

As far as I can see 100% of the wars the US engages in are motivated by crass short-term self interest, to export arms, not democracy, to humiliate the weak, to twist their minds and grab their resources. That’s government policy, not coincidence. We must never forget that in all first-world countries it’s the citizens (us!) who elect the decision makers and pay their bills. If this doesn’t constitute a sacred trust on their part—and ours–I don’t know what does. Yet, as you know, seldom is this trust honored by politicians who, once elected, dedicate themselves heart and soul to feathering their own nests and those of their corporate “sponsors.” Do you doubt it? OK then, name two or three rigorously scrupulous politicians of your own. Having trouble? You’re not alone.

There May Be an Escape Route

There is one possible escape route through which perhaps 1% of children could obviate the inevitability of inherited brain death. It is, of course, education. Little people who are taught to think for themselves from an early age, to question everything, to leave no basic belief unverified in the light of science and simple common sense, just might have a chance of escaping the inevitable. But those fortunate children better hurry, because the few remaining teachers who are prepared to teach those values are fast disappearing. And there aren’t many more like them in the pipeline, not when the very Secretary of Education of the United States is a self-proclaimed proponent of privatized religious education.

Is it already too late? Probably.

Read more rants in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

Thanks for commenting and sharing.

 

 

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U.S. Private Prisons Have Failed — 3/3

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Minorities are Cheaper

A 2014 study by a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley shows that minorities make up a greater percentage of inmates in private prisons than in their public counterparts, largely because minorities are cheaper to incarcerate. (It doesn’t say why. Are they more docile?) According to the study, for-profit prison operators accumulate these low-cost inmates “through explicit and implicit exemptions written into contracts between these private prison management companies and state departments of correction.”

An example of private prisons’ inadequate staff training leading to jail violence was reported by two Bloomberg News journalists, Margaret Newkirk and William Selway in Mississippi at the now-closed Walnut Grove Correctional Facility (WGCF). According to the journalists, the ratio of staff to prisoners in this prison was at times as low as 1 to 120. In a bloody riot in this prison, six inmates were rushed to the hospital, including one with permanent brain damage. During the riot, the staff of the prison did not respond but waited until the melee ended, because prisoners outnumbered staff at the time by a ratio of 60-1.

 Why Does the United States Have Millions of Prisoners?

Why do so many Americans deserve prison? Are they genetically determined for crime and mayhem? Is it something in the water? Are they just the worst people on earth? I’m reluctant to believe that. Something is causing them to be the way they are and preventing them from being honest productive citizens instead of misfits and social pariahs.

Could it have to do with being born and raised in a dystopian (as opposed to utopian) society? The United States is, after all, number one in the world in school shootings (and all firearms deaths, for that matter). It worships get-rich-quick entrepreneurs, speculators and deal makers, people who would rather grab than create.  (And what faster way to get rich quick than dope peddling?) Some of its citizens actually feel threatened by collective solutions whether it be environmental protection or universal health care–or even public schools–solutions that have immensely elevated people’s wellbeing all over the rest of the known world.

The United States is the world leader in home repossessions, in homelessness and people who live–and try to raise their families–in their cars. It’s a country run by an unenlightened conservative majority that prefers castigation to education, self-interest to solidarity. It’s every man for himself. It’s no wonder it gets lonely out there. People get desperate and inevitably get into trouble. And, thanks to mandatory sentences and other inhuman judicial and business practices many of them find themselves incarcerated for a long time, if not forever. Especially if they’re black.

The “natural” habitat of young American black men–the majority of the inmates in all U.S. penal institutions–is mean streets, inequality, penury, unfairness, violence and hopelessness. Could it be any other way? If the current President of the United States is a sociopath, how are the impoverished, uncultured black kids in the neighborhoods supposed to be models of sanity and civility?

It’a not clear how many Americans are aware of the extent to which President Obama was disrespected and boycotted by the Washington good ol’ boys for the mere fact of being black, but from this side of the Atlantic the disdain looked blatantly evident. Considering the treatment accorded the President of the United States, one can only imagine that  dispensed to young black drug offenders in the prison system, whether public or private.

Jill Filopivic Writes in The Guardian

I’d like to cite here a couple of paragraphs from Jill Filopivic writing for The Guardian, examples of how the American private-prison situation is seen by many people in the rest of the world.

“The privatization of traditional government functions – and big government payments to private contractors – isn’t limited to international intelligence operations like the National Security Agency. It’s happening with little oversight in dozens of areas once the province of government, from schools to airports to the military. The shifting of government responsibilities to private actors isn’t without consequence, as privatization often comes with a lack of oversight and a series of abuses. One particularly stunning example is the American prison system, the realities of which should be a national disgrace.

Some of those realities are highlighted in a recent lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF). The ACLU contends the facility, which is operated by private contractors, is rife with horrific abuses.

The complaint lists a litany of such horrors: rampant rapes and placing prisoners in solitary confinement for weeks, months or even years at a time, where the only way to get a guard’s attention in an emergency is to set a fire. Rat infestations are so bad that vermin crawl over prisoners; sometimes, the rats are captured, put on leashes and sold as pets to the most severely mentally ill inmates.

There are many suicide attempts, some successful. The untreated mentally ill throw feces, scream, start fires, electrocute themselves and self-mutilate. The prison authorities deny or delay treatment for infections and even cancer. Stabbings, beatings and other acts of violence are common. Juveniles are housed with adults, including one 16-year-old who was sexually assaulted by his adult cell mate. Malnourishment and chronic hunger abound. Officers deal with prisoners by using physical violence…”

So don’t think that nobody’s looking.

Is There a Solution?

If there is a way out, it’s not in plain view. Because in order to solve the prison problem you have to start by solving everything else, as all of the United States’s critical issues are interrelated: health, education, militarization, white supremacy, social programs, corruption in business and government (including legal corruption like gerrymandering and hard-cash lobbying, that legislators have legalized in order to write their own tickets), unregulated killer capitalism, guns uncontrolled, inequality on all fronts… That is to say, virtually all of the sick values that underlie a terminally ill society.

Just imagine yourself sitting on the tip of a massive iceberg with a paddle, paddling like crazy trying to turn it around 180 degrees. Are you optimistic? Neither am I.

Back to Part 1

Read more rants in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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U.S. Private Prisons Have Failed — 2/3

 

Kids for Cash

U.S. Drug Issues Were Perverted for Many Decades by One Man

Please note: “Richard Nixon simply presented his stance in terms that appealed specifically to his conservative base.” Therein lies an eternal problem with right-wing politics. In order to appeal specifically to a conservative collective you have to simplify your message so that it can be understood by simple citizens, simple legislators and simple Presidents. This inevitably leads to simple solutions to complex problems. And it doesn’t always work.

If we follow the historical record back to the 1930s we find a man called Harry J. Anslinger, the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics, given carte blanche by fanatical F.B.I. director, J. Edgar Hoover, to criminalize drugs that, until then, had been considered medical and social issues. Anslinger remained in office for 32 years and perverted drug issues in the United States until the very end. It was Anslinger who turned cannabis into a crime–and big business–and helped to export the Americans’ puritan conception of drug problems and retrograde solutions around the world. This was the moment to regulate drugs, to help addicts (though marijuana is not clinically addictive) and to clean up American society, not to criminalize drug users and give rise to the illicit drug trade behemoth and the largest prison population in the world,

Coincidentally, It’s Also about Profit

The most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice cite 133,000 state and federal prisoners in private facilities, 8.4% of the total U.S. prison population. Over the past 20 years the Correction Corporation of America, the largest private-prison company in the country has seen its profits rise by more than 500% with the overall prison industry’s revenue topping five billion dollars in revenue in 2011.

Such handsome sums attracted the attention of big investors like investment banks and vulture funds. The appearence of big money also gave rise to large-scale corruption and morally repugnant practices. The most egregious of these was the Pennsylvania “Kids for Cash” scandal, in which two judges accepted million-dollar cash commissions from a private reformatory for sending juveniles to their facility, often on trivial charges. Many of these children, some as young as 13, were  subjected to successively extended sentences  under “indefinite probation” laws, winding up spending six or seven years in prison for schoolyard shenanigans. The heinousness of this practice merits more extensive treatment in another post which I will get to as soon as I can.

Market Forces Create Sleazy Prison Industry Interest Groups

Less theatrical but also outrageous is the lobbying carried out by the prison business. The influence of the private prison industry on the government has been described as the “prison–industrial complex.” The term reflects the rapid expansion of the US inmate population due to the political influence of private prison companies and prison supply businesses. The most common agents of the prison-industrial complex are corporations that contract cheap prison labor, such as construction companies, surveillance technology vendors, companies that operate prison food services and medical facilities, private probation companies, lawyers, and the lobby groups that represent them.

Before these programs, prison labor for the private sector had been outlawed for decades in order to avoid competition with conventional businesses. The introduction of prison labor in the private sector contributed to the cultivation of  the prison-industrial complex. Between the years 1980 and 1994, prison industry profits jumped from $392 million to $1.31 billion.

Private prison companies have been members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a public policy organization that develops model legislation that advances free-market principles such as privatization. Under their Criminal Justice Task Force, ALEC has developed model (just fill in the blanks) bills which State legislators can then use when proposing “tough on crime” initiatives. By funding and participating in ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Forces, critics argue, private prison companies influence legislation for tougher, longer sentences. Writing in Governing magazine in 2003, Alan Greenblatt states:

“ALEC has been a major force behind both privatizing state prison space and keeping prisons filled. It puts forward bills providing for mandatory minimum sentences and three-strikes sentencing requirements. About 40 states passed versions of ALEC’s Truth in Sentencing model bill, which requires prisoners convicted of violent crimes to serve most of their sentences without chance of parole.”

In 2016 the U.S. Department of Justice pronounced privately-operated federal detention facilities less safe, less secure and more punitive than other federal prisons and announced the department’s intention to stop using them. Then Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election and on February 25, 2017 the Justice Department, under the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, overturned the ban on using private prisons. It was another of the Trump administration’s grotesque steps backwards.

Private Prisons Are Not a Bargain

A 2001 study concluded that a pattern of sending less-expensive-to-keep inmates to privately run facilities artificially inflated their cost savings. A 2005 study found that Arizona’s public facilities were seven times more likely than private prisons to house violent offenders and three times more likely to house those convicted of more serious offenses. A 2011 report by the American Civil Liberties Union point out that private prisons are more costly, more violent and less accountable than public prisons, and are actually a major contributor to increased mass incarceration.

This is most apparent in Louisiana, which is finally number one in something. It has the highest incarceration rate in the world. And it houses the majority of its inmates in for-profit facilities. Marie Gottschalk, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that the prison industry “engages in a lot of cherry-picking and cost-shifting to maintain the illusion that the private sector does it better for less.” She notes that studies generally show that private facilities are more dangerous for both correctional officers and inmates than their public counterparts as a result of cost-cutting measures, such as spending less on training for correctional officers (and paying them lower wages) and providing only the most basic medical care for inmates.

Go to: U.S. Private Prisons Have Failed, Part 3

Read more rant in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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U.S. Private Prisons Have Failed — 1/3

.And That’s Not the Worst News

From the very beginning of the rise of private prisons in the United States in the 1980s it seemed to me that something was inherently wrong with mixing prisons and profit.  It reeked of exploitation of the most defenseless members of society, people who are imprisoned, especially when those people are children. It seems only natural to me that the degree of success of the prison business is a function of how much profit can be increased by shaving important factors like staff numbers and training, medical and food services, education programs, job training, etc.

My suspicions proved to be right. Despite the legal requirement to match the standards of public prisons, private facilities have failed to maintain the same level of safety and security, according to declarations by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates on August 18, 2016. This statement provided fuel for an ongoing effort to have private prisons banned, or at least discontinued. Yates was later named Acting Attorney General of the United States by President Donald Trump and subsequently dismissed by him on January 30, 2017, after his team had decided to give priority to investors in the lucrative incarceration business. Continue reading “U.S. Private Prisons Have Failed — 1/3”

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Ford Foundation/CIA: Two-Headed Philanthropy – 2/3

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Three-Day-Old Fish

So when my conversation with the South American Gentleman turned to my old classmate, I asked him, “What’s Old Friend up to these days? Is he still at the Ford Foundation?”

“No,” said SAG, “he reached a very high position in the Ford Foundation, but then left them and went to work for a Washington think tank.” He seemed impressed with OF’s near-miraculous ascent.

“I’m not surprised,” I said, “I always suspected the Ford Foundation was a CIA front organization. It seems logical to me that he should go from there to a ‘Washington think tank’. Doesn’t that smell to you a bit like three-day-old fish?” Continue reading “Ford Foundation/CIA: Two-Headed Philanthropy – 2/3”

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Ford Foundation/CIA: Two-Headed Philanthropy – 3/3

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American academic, Joan Roelofs, in Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (State University of New York Press, 2003) argues that Ford and similar foundations play a key role in co-opting opposition movements:

While dissent from ruling class ideas is labeled ‘extremism’ and is isolated, individual dissenters may be welcomed and transformed. Indeed, ruling class hegemony is more durable if it is not rigid and narrow, but is able dynamically to incorporate emergent trends. Roelofs reports that John J. McCloy, while chairman of the Foundation’s board of trustees, ‘…thought of the Foundation as a quasi-extension of the U.S. government. It was his habit, for instance, to drop by the National Security Council (NSC) in Washington every couple of months and casually ask whether there were any overseas projects the NSC would like to see funded.’ Roelofs also charges that the Ford Foundation financed counter-insurgency programs in Indonesia and other countries.

Bob Feldman’s long article, Alternative Media Censorship: Sponsored by CIA’s Ford Foundation? offers more spine-chilling details of how these two “philanthropic institutions” work together to advance the gringo agenda in the alternative news media. Feldman’s article explains in part why haven’t we read about this FF-CIA collusion before, even in the freak press. He writes on the Questions Questions website:

The multi-billion dollar Ford Foundation’s historic relationship to the Central Intelligence Agency is rarely mentioned on Pacifica’s Democracy Now / Deep Dish TV show, on Fair’s Counterspin show, on the Working Assets radio show, on The Nation Institute’s Radio Nation show, on David Barsamian’s Alternative Radio show or in the pages of Progressive, Mother Jones and Z Magazine. One reason may be because the Ford Foundation and other establishment philanthropic organizations subsidize the Establishment Left’s alternative media gatekeepers/censors.

See a fascinating diagram of this insidious “gatekeepers” phenomenon at the bottom of this page.

It’s a Pleasure and a Privilege to See Through You, Ford Foundation/CIA

Back to OF and SAG: Is it even remotely possible that SAG, an ongoing recipient of Ford Foundation funds for his human-rights work around the world, is unaware of the half-century-long carnal relationship between FF and CIA? If he is aware of it, why does he deny it so emphatically? If he isn’t, what’s wrong with him? Is he one of the individual dissenters who was welcomed and transformed, in Roelofs’ words, by the Ford Foundation and the CIA?

In any case, it has been a privilege to observe even marginally the machinations of the formidable Ford Foundation-CIA two-headed Orthrus, the philanthropic dog, and to confirm my suspicions regarding OF’s true colors, which explain, at least in part, his rapturous ascension to a high position in a septic think tank, to sit at the right hand of Power.

.Read more rant in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

Thanks for commenting and sharing.

Continue reading “Ford Foundation/CIA: Two-Headed Philanthropy – 3/3”

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Ford Foundation/CIA: Two-Headed Philanthropy – 1/3

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The Sin, Not the Sinner

A few years ago I received an email from a South American gentleman I had never met. He said that he and his wife were coming to Spain on vacation and that an old friend of mine had recommended that they stop by Granada to visit us. I was bemused because more than 30 years ago we decided that this “old friend,” admittedly a guy I had grown up and gone to college with, was probably a CIA agent, and we haven’t had any contact with him since. I won’t tell you the names of the South American gentleman (SAG) nor the old friend (OF), as I’m not so much interested in discrediting them personally as describing the intricately devious world they operate in. The Spanish say, “You name the sin, not the sinner…” (“Se dice el pecado, no el pecador…”) Continue reading “Ford Foundation/CIA: Two-Headed Philanthropy – 1/3”

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Permanent War Is Bad for You

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But It’s So Good for Business; What Can We Do?

I wonder if the American dedication to permanent war over the past quarter-century worries you as much as it does me. And it’s looking more permanent every day as if the country had developed a bellicose addiction. It comes in colors: black ops, pre-emptive strikes, war by false flags, war by proxies, mercenary wars. What to do about it? I’ll do what I normally do, write it up, in the vain hope that someone will at least notice the absurdity and injustice of the situation.

I’ve got some specific concerns regarding this “Permawar” business.  Permanent war means victims every day, victims of all flavors, young and old, saints and sinners, almost every type of person in fact, except politicians and war profiteers. I do want to include soldiers in this list of victims. They are, after all, human beings, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, all with families, dreams and ambitions to lose in a war. And most of them don’t want to be there in the first place. Continue reading “Permanent War Is Bad for You”

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What America Learned from the Germans — 2/2

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(Continued from Part 1)

More on the Propaganda Techniques Employed by the Nazis

  • Glittering Generalities, which Yourman characterizes as “the use of “virtue words” to appeal to emotions of love, generosity and brotherhood. This phenomenon extends to references to German traditions dating back to the Middle Ages, especially the word “volk,” pronounced “folk.” German farmers were seduced to back the Third Reich with constant associations with “Blut und Boden,” (Blood and Soil) and bound by oaths of “Bauer honor” to tie them to the land and prevent them from changing their occupation or residence. The Nazis needed every sector of their economy dominated and running smoothly if they were going to win the upcoming war.
    .

Every country has its own benevolent myths regarding their own folks but the Nazis milked them dry. The Americans did something similar after the war. The myths of the “self-made man,” the “hardy frontiersman” and other old saws were elevated to such heights of nincompoopery that they gave rise to a full-blown axiomatic truth called “American Exeptionalism,” a truth just as true as “Manifest Destiny” and The Tooth Fairy. Continue reading “What America Learned from the Germans — 2/2”

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What America Learned from the Germans — 1/2

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Mind-Bending in the U.S.A

Do you find yourself asking lately, “What’s happened to America?” How did their society get from there to here without anybody shouting out, “Whoa, what’s going on here?!” What happened to neighborliness, to altruism and humanism? Where’s the kind of activism that brought an end to the Vietnam War? What happened to academic freedom, free of classrooms monitored by right-wing informers? It’s as if a toxic fog of egoism, cynicism and arrogant ignorance had descended on the country. Continue reading “What America Learned from the Germans — 1/2”

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It’s Far Worse Than You Realize

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Trump, Trump, Trump…

It’s not only about Trump. He’s just the token tip of the American iceberg. Look beneath, that’s where all the serious–and seriously scary–stuff is to be found. Ironically, most of the players and issues that affect your lives in meaningful ways–both positive and negative–don’t make the papers much and, even if they did, Americans don’t read the papers as much as they used to.

So, what are the American people up against? They (you?) are facing a systematic undoing of laws and institutions, regulations and rights that have protected American citizens for many years. The following are just a few examples. Suddenly the Secretary of the Interior becomes the Secretary of Wrecking the Interior. How is this demolition operation going on? See this clip from the NY Times: 52 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump. Continue reading “It’s Far Worse Than You Realize”

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The Godzilla Flag Is Loosed on the U.S.A.–2/2

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The Pledge of Allegiance is a Socialist Invention

The Wikipedia has an excellent article on the Pledge of Allegiance and I want to cite a couple of  quotes from it. I’m sure they won’t mind:

“The Pledge of Allegiance, as it exists in its current form, was composed in August 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), who was a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist, and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (1850–1898).

“In 1892, Francis Bellamy created what was known as the Bellamy salute. It started with the hand outstretched toward the flag, palm down, and ended with the palm up. Because of the similarity between the Bellamy salute and the Nazi salute, which was adopted in Germany later, the US Congress stipulated that the hand-over-the-heart gesture as the salute to be rendered by civilians during the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem in the US would be the salute to replace the Bellamy salute. Removal of the Bellamy salute occurred on December 22, 1942, when Congress amended the Flag Code language first passed into law on June 22, 1942.”

Continue reading “The Godzilla Flag Is Loosed on the U.S.A.–2/2”

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The Godzilla Flag Is Loosed on the U.S.A.–1/2

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Uncle Sam Wants You

A flag is just a rag but throughout history flags have been used to encourage and justify mankind’s most heinous crimes. And in the U.S.A. nothing has changed in this respect. Whenever an American government—of any stripe—wants to recruit cannon fodder for any of their foreign adventures the first thing they haul out is the flag, “Old Glory.” Time after time young Americans respond in true Pavlovian style. And it’s not just any old bone they’re drooling after. It’s a death lottery.

What possible explanation can there be for young people to put so little value on their very lives? The answer is simpler than you might think. Just as collies are bred for herding sheep, Americans are bred to go to war. But why? That’s not too complicated, either. Because if the United States runs out of soldiers their policy of permanent war falls apart. And they can’t have that. Without war what’s left of the American economy—technology and arms sales—falters, along with the myth of American invincibility and their militarists’ dream of “full spectrum dominance.” They’re almost there. They have already conquered Grenada and Panama, though they found some unexpected resistance in Irak and Afghanistan. Now all they have left to dominate are North Korea and Iran. Oh, I almost forgot. There are Russia and China, too. Continue reading “The Godzilla Flag Is Loosed on the U.S.A.–1/2”

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Is the Trump Tail Wagging the American Dog?–2/2

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In the Meantime What Was Happening at Home?

On the home front a set of similar phenomena was set in motion that led to a sea change in American values—induced, not natural. Little by little, principally but not exclusively under Republican administrations, priceless American values have been eroded beyond recognition.  Where they once had a measure of solidarity—“…unity of a group or class that produces or is based on a community of interests, objectives and standards…” Merriam Webster dictionary—the Americans now subscribe to the “every man for himself,” or “dog eat dog” philosophy. Where they once respected the hard-earned dollar they now lust after easy money. A majority of Americans used to believe in equality. Their racial politics are now turning increasingly racist or white supremacist. As for economic equality, that is a thing of the past. They have exchanged generosity for greed.

Remember open-mindedness? You might have noticed that it has largely given way to adherence to one orthodoxy or another. Simple kindness and good manners are yielding to bare-fisted rudeness and trumpulence. Truth-telling, especially telling truth to power, is on the way out. It can actually be dangerous. As for the “official truths,” they are products of the most sophisticated systems of lying ever foisted upon the human race. Continue reading “Is the Trump Tail Wagging the American Dog?–2/2”

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Is the Trump Tail Wagging the American Dog?–1/2

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No, Like Everything Else It’s More Complicated Than That

It’s a long story but the brief answer is no, the tail is not wagging the dog. Donald Trump did not give rise to sordid, amoral America. As much as right-thinking Americans would like to pretend otherwise, Donald Trump is not responsible for white-trash America. That happened much earlier. Trump was just a semi-literate opportunist, a billionaire’s proxy who grabbed the brass ring and rode his merry-go-round pony into the White House.

It was the wave of ignorance, greed and pitch-to-the-lowest-common-denominator opportunism that had been growing lustily since World War II that permitted a person like Trump to run for president and actually win. At the same time this grimy ideological mix provided those right-thinking-Americans with the scapegoat they needed to evade responsibility for the mess their country is in. “Just blame it on Trump and his barbarian horde.” Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not that simple.

A Little History

After World War II—and even before, at the 1944 Bretton Wood Conference–while other countries of the world were struggling to create decent lives for their people, including health care for their underclasses, the war-glutted American oligarchies were busy turning their backs on their own citizens and laying the groundwork for the Cold War and eventual unique superpower status. We’re talking about the creation of institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, NATO, SEATO, the CIA, the NSA, the multinationals, the oil-and-gas cartel, the suffocating American worldwide information regime, and let’s not forget their favorite bugbear, their all-pervading anti-communism (…blame it on the Russkies…).

Though this preparation for world domination wasn’t quite so evident in the beginning, the Neocons appeared at the end of the nineties and jerked the blanket off the seamy bed where all the promiscuous American powers-that-be were cavorting. It was their Project for a New American Century which in 1997 described the United States as the “world’s pre-eminent power,” and affirmed that the nation faced a challenge to “shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests.” In order to achieve this goal, the statement’s signers prescribed the usual bromides: “significant increases in defense spending, and the promotion of the “political and economic freedom abroad.”

Calling for a Reaganite policy of “military strength and moral clarity,” they concluded that PNAC’s principles were necessary “if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.” This declaration of principles, adopted by succeeding Republican governments, clearly revealed their sinister medium-and-long-term geopolitical intentions for all who had eyes to see. (That said, how many of us have eyes to see, eyes that have not been occluded by the myths and lies about the United States as a hilltop beacon of democracy, illuminating the way for less-fortunate peoples around the world?)

That shopworn set of lies about the United States exporting democracy no longer washes anywhere except, ironically, inside their own country where it’s still being fed like toxic kibble to their ingenuous choir of methodically-dumbed-down true believers.

“We Will Nuke You”

Then, in a document released in 2000 as DOD Joint Vision 2020, came “full-spectrum dominance,” a term coined by the gaily-decorated uniforms at the Pentagon. It called for “full spectrum dominance” over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems with enough overwhelming power to fight and win global wars against any adversary, including with nuclear weapons preemptively. (Emphasis mine. Translation: We reserve the right to nuke anyone and everyone, anywhere in the world, at any time.)

Harold Pinter referred to the term in his 2005 Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

“I have said earlier that the United States is now totally frank about putting its cards on the table. That is the case. Its official declared policy is now defined as “full spectrum dominance”. That is not my term, it is theirs. “Full spectrum dominance” means control of land, sea, air and space and all attendant resources.”

Not since Hitler’s Germany has any country in the world arrogated to itself such an awesome prerogative: the right to kill everybody, everywhere, indiscriminately, this from a country that spends more on arms than the following 18 countries combined, a country that vociferously declares itself a bastion of democracy worldwide. Lincoln once said to an office seeker, “What you are speaks to me so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”

The Bizarre Billionaire Card

Another factor in the creation of American policy that doesn’t get discussed as much is the influence of right-wing billionaires on U.S. policy both at home and abroad. Here’s a link to an enlightening half-hour documentary that discusses the billionaire card in American politics: The Bizarre Billionaire that Backed Bannon and Made Trump President.

 Nor is this American policy limited to rhetoric. Throughout the past century they have materialized it in the form of gratuitous, unprovoked war-making on a series of sovereign nations in total disregard for international law. These attacks formed part of a rich American tradition dating from Colonial times: the wars against Native Americans on their own lands, the failed attempt to annex Canada, the 1848 “Mexican Cession” land grab…

In our own time the Americans’ omnivorous taste for other people’s countries has manifested itself in Vietnam and Iraq, to name just the most egregious cases. Vietnam was doubly cursed, both by the history of French colonialism there and the facile Cold War perception of that little Southeast Asian country as a catalyst for a “domino effect” of Communist expansion. That gossamer theory was the “justification” for 20 years of total (including chemical) warfare against and utter destruction of that tiny storybook country.

The end of the Vietnam War took the Americans by surprise. They lost. A combination of General Giap’s military and President Ho Chi Minh’s political genius, and the incredible capacity of the Vietnamese people for sacrifice, coupled with the influence of American anti-war activists, forced the United States armed forces and their running-dog allies out of Vietnam on April 30, 1975.

Coming hard on the heels of the 9/11 terror attack, the Iraq invasion was somewhat different, though it shared the use of lies and false pretenses the Americans employ regularly. How could we ever forget the pot-calling-the-kettle-black “arms of mass destruction” claims? Those assertions aside, the Iraq War was a straight American attempt to grab the country’s natural resources. The Iraqui oil fields are some of the most important in the world. Combine that fact with their geostrategic position in the Middle East and Iraq was an irresistible candidate for a dose of American democracy delivered from the air.

“Mission Accomplished!” Really?

According to President George W. Bush, nattily dressed in a U.S. Air Force costume-party getup for his “Mission Accomplished” speech to the troops of the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, the Americans won that one. As it turned out, however, the issue was somewhat more complicated than President Bush could have conceived. Up there on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, surrounded by unconditional admirers, he was either whistling irresponsibly in the dark or malevolently twisting the truth to his own belligerent purposes. In any case today, 14 years later, the fate of Iraq is still up in the air and the Americans are no closer to grabbing the Iraqi oil than they were on day one.

Go to the second part of this post

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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Whom Can We Trust?–3/3

Here’s some more honest reporters that I think we can trust. See what you think.

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Tom Engelhardt

Tom Engelhardt created and runs the Tomdispatch.com website, a project of The Nation Institute where he is a Fellow. He is the author of a highly praised history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture, and of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing, as well as a collection of his Tomdispatch interviews, Mission Unaccomplished. Each spring he is a Teaching Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

Tomdispatch.com is the sideline that ate his life. Before that he worked as an editor at Pacific News Service in the early 1970s, and, these last three decades, as an editor in book publishing. For 15 years, he was Senior Editor at Pantheon Books where he edited and published award-winning works ranging from Art Spiegelman’s Maus and John Dower’s War Without Mercy to Eduardo Galeano’s Memory of Fire trilogy. He is now Consulting Editor at Metropolitan Books, as well as co-founder and co-editor of Metropolitan’s The American Empire Project. Many of the authors whose books he has edited and published over the years now write for Tomdispatch.com. He is married to Nancy J. Garrity, a therapist, and has two children, Maggie and Will.

To find out more about Engelhardt check out:

Harry Kreisler’s interview, “Taking Back the Word”, on the Conversations with History website.

More on Tom Englehardt: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Engelhardt Continue reading “Whom Can We Trust?–3/3”

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Whom Can We Trust?–2/3

More Honest Journalists Whose Word We Can Trust

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Patrick Cockburn

From The Independent--Patrick Cockburn is an award-winning writer on The Cockburn3Independent who specializes in analysis of Iraq, Syria and wars in the Middle East. In 2014 he forecast the rise of Isis before it was well known, and has written extensively about it and other players in the region. He was born in Cork in 1950, went to school there and in Scotland, took his first degree at Trinity College, Oxford and did graduate work at the Institute of Irish Studies, Queens University Belfast before shifting to journalism in 1978. He joined the Financial Times, covering the Middle East, and was later Moscow correspondent. He joined The Independent in 1990, reporting on the First Gulf War from Baghdad, and has written largely on the Middle East ever since.

Read more on Patrick Cockburn Continue reading “Whom Can We Trust?–2/3”

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Whom Can We Trust?–1/3

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How to Find the Trustworthy Sources

You find them the way you find everything else, by doing your homework thoroughly and unhurriedly. There are a lot of sources out there who want to convince you to sign on to their agenda. How do you distinguish them from dispassionate, objective reporters?

A word of warning: The brief paragraph above is filled with quicksand and rip currents and the odd toothy beastie. It gives the impression of neutrality, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The first source who wants to convert you to his progressive, socialist agenda is me. As for “dispassionate, objective reporters,” being on the front lines of international war and political reporting, seeing death, destruction and injustice day after day does not tend to make a person “dispassionate.”  If they’re proper human beings it makes them passionate. Continue reading “Whom Can We Trust?–1/3”

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Así se quedaron los estadounidenses con el gentilicio “americano”.

gentilicios

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Puestos a acaparar…

¿Por qué los estadounidenses se auto-denominan “americanos como si fueran los únicos”?

Gracias por comentar y compartir.

 

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Old Man Takes on the World

Lifelong Friend Asks Hard Questions

Bart Sedgebear, an old friend of ours, dropped by recently and, after the greetings, asked the question he always asks: “What are you up to?” I told him I was launching a new blog on the state of the world and explained a little bit about it. His first response was, “Wait a minute, let me find a pencil.” Bart knows what questions to ask and he quickly turned an informal chat into an interview. He called it, “Old man takes on the world.” Here it is.

an interview by Bart Sedgebear

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Mike, you’re primarily known as a creator of fine-art-print sites. But in your current blogs there’s not a print to be seen. What happened?

I started publishing printmaking sites because my wife, Maureen, was–and is–a printmaker. She’s now well established so I have less work to do there, so a couple of years ago I started casting about for something else to do. Continue reading “Old Man Takes on the World”

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“…a nice group of people…”

Bush

“Hey, Jim: I really enjoyed the conference,” begins an email to Mitchell after a gathering of “a nice group of people” that included interrogators, psychologists, and psychiatrists from Guantánamo.

September 9, 2017–I ran across this blood-chilling article on The Guardian website this morning. I think it deserves to be disseminated. My guess is that it’s just the tip of a very large pyramid populated by the cream of CIA ghouls. See what you think.

Inside the CIA’s Black Site Torture Room

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Here’s Benjamin Franklin on the American Eagle

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Why a Bald Eagle? How about a Bold Turkey?

Here are Benjamin Franklin’s remarks to his daughter, Sarah Bache, in 1784, in which he criticizes a veterans’ organization (the American Order of the Cincinnati) for choosing the bald eagle as their emblem.

Turkey“For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly like those among men who live by sharping and robbing… He is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank coward; the little king-bird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district… I am, on this account, not displeased that the figure [i.e., the Cincinnati’s drawing] is not known as a bald eagle, but looks more like a turkey. For in truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.

Eagles have been found in all countries, but the turkey was peculiar to ours… He is, besides, (though a little vain and silly, it is true, but not the worse emblem for that), a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on.”

Source: Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

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How to Produce a Disoriented Citizen

Oriented or Disoriented?

by Mike Booth

In case you were wondering, here’s how to produce a thoroughly disoriented citizen:

  • Tell him he’s superior to people from other countries, colors, religions, ideas.
  • Put a gun in his hand.
  • Flag-wave him to death.
  • Repeat more, louder lies.
  • Distract him with hard-core consumption.
  • Make money his measure of all things.
  • Make false promises.
  • Bribe him.
  • Frighten him.
  • Stuff him full of nationalism and patriotism.
  • Jail him.
  • Shoot him.
  • Isolate him.
  • Sanctify his greed.
  • Banalize him.
  • Send his children to war.
  • Re-engineer the electoral process so as to install low men in high places.
  • Tell him torture is necessary.
  • Feed him false philosophy, white-trash values.
  • Offer him venal role models.
  • Convince him that speculation is “business.”
  • Convince him that if he’s not rich there’s something wrong with him.
  • Fill him up with that old-time religion.
  • Imprison him.
  • Under educate him.
  • Steal his constitutional rights.

That should do it.

Read the whole story in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

 

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Who Are the Bad Guys?

bad-guysby Mike Booth

What If We Got It All Backwards?

The most illustrious, most powerful men and women of the U.S. political classes have always been fond of telling us who the Bad Guys were. According to them we’re surrounded by them, have been for a long time. In the 50’s and 60’s it was the Russians. Remember them? They had recently contributed 20 million dead to help us win the Second World War, but we immediately felt we had to be their enemies. Churchill, who was miffed for being sidelined by Roosevelt and Stalin at Yalta, actually advocated “neutralizing” the Russians as soon as the war was over.

The Russian Communists were our pretext for a lot of vile and truculent shenanigans in the name of national security: the cold war, the McCarthy witch hunt, the nuclear arms race, and the tragic destruction of a minuscule South Asian country which was about to push over the first piece in a series of deadly “dominoes” which would take the Red Menace to the American heartland via the port of San Francisco. Continue reading “Who Are the Bad Guys?”

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What Can We Know?

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The Bottom Line

With all the news, counter news, fake news and post-truth flying around out there, what can we know for sure? For sure? Very little, we have to rely on educated guesses. But what do you base your guesses on? Where do you start? One thing is certainly true. You have to figure it out for yourself.

A Disclaimer

I realize that it’s practically impossible to change people’s minds. Our basic values and criteria are etched, if not on our DNA, at least on our brains. We’re all victims of the lies we were told when we were children. Almost nobody escapes, perhaps a few who are lucky enough to be influenced by a great teacher when their minds are still malleable. Continue reading “What Can We Know?”

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NATO is Scraping the Bottom of the Tank

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Septic think tank diagram.

Can We Properly Call This “Thinking?”

Scraping the bottom of the think tank, that is. According to an article published in The Guardian on January 22, 2008, five of the West’s most senior military officers and strategists got together to affirm that “the west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the ‘imminent’ spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.”They recommend this extreme measure in order to “tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world.”

One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Continue reading “NATO is Scraping the Bottom of the Tank”

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Yo, United Statesians, Listen Up!

by Mike Booth.

A Lesson in Linguistic Geography for the People of the United States

Map of North and South AmericaThe land mass properly called “America” extends from the northern tip of Greenland to Cape Horn (properly Cabo de Hornos) at the southern tip of Chile and covers two continents. Besides the United States and its territories, Greenland, and Chile, it includes Anguilla, Antigua and BarbudaAruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Clipperton Island, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, The Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Continue reading “Yo, United Statesians, Listen Up!”

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With All Due Respect–2/2

by Mike Booth
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Petroleum Money Changes Everything

Petroleum was discovered on the Arabian peninsula by the California Arabian Standard Oil Company in early 1938 and the Mideast plot thickened considerably. The 1938 strike turned out to be the first in what were to become the richest oil fields in the world. Oil meant money, both for oil companies and for Ibn Saud, the warlord who had proclaimed himself king of Arabia just six years earlier.

It is that Saudi windfall that has permitted us to see just how abject is the Western World’s slavish reverence for money. The Saudi regime, clearly the most retrograde in the Muslim world, has carte blanche in any Western capital, thanks exclusively to its gargantuan economic presence. Their egregious domestic human rights abuses are the least of it. What is more serious is how they sponsor Islamic terrorism so universally and so blatantly with every Western government looking bovinely the other way while giving top priority to their “defense” contracts. Continue reading “With All Due Respect–2/2”

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With All Due Respect—1/2

by Mike Booth

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There Was a Time…

There was a time—though nobody’s quite sure of when that was—when the culture clash between Christians and Muslims might have been avoided through mutually respectful conversations and compromises. But that time has passed and no amount of talking now will yield a quick solution. The issues are too encysted, the offenses too damaging, the retributions too exaggerated, the players too polarized. That said, something has to be done at least to try to begin some sort of détente with the Muslim world. The only alternative—an upward spiraling permanent war—would be infinitely worse.

Could some concessions to the Muslims, starting with an acknowledgment of and apology for the high-handed treatment the Christian West has always dispensed to them, serve to improve relations, if only marginally? President Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo looked like a tentative step in that direction but was soon buried under the pressure of military expediency. Continue reading “With All Due Respect—1/2”

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Sex, Money, Power, Nonsense and Killer Euphemisms

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It doesn’t have to make sense, unleash the dogs of war!

Many things in this world, some of them of great consequence, don’t make sense. That’s because the world doesn’t run on sense. It runs on greed and lust. It runs on envy and revenge. It runs on ambition. And let’s not forget cynicism and falsehood.  That said, a minuscule part of the world is actually driven by love and loyalty, truth and sincerity, altruism and generosity. Say Iceland…

For most of the rest it’s half-truths and false appearances, vested interests, bribery and chicanery. (Want to know how it works? Read John Perkins’s book in PDF here.) Cravings for fame abound, along with hidden agendas and false-flag operations. Pride and obstinance coexist at the highest levels. Good God, I can’t believe I almost forgot sex, money and power, the aristocrats in this senseless world. I was tempted to include examples of all these sins, but I decided not to. It’s not necessary. Examples abound. Choose your own. Continue reading “Sex, Money, Power, Nonsense and Killer Euphemisms”

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I Was Surprised by Visions of the “Old”

Study the Art of Ageing

I wanted to write a piece on aging and the first thing I did was go to Google to check out images of old age. I was dazzled by what I found. More of the old people in the photographs looked more vital, interesting, engaging and actually beautiful than miserable for being old.

See if you don’t agree.
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Read the full story in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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Thanks for commenting and sharing.