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The Economist from Hell

James Buchanan
James Buchanan (1919-2013)

The Mastermind Behind the Rising American Dystopia

Normal Americans who watch the news and read the paper could easily get the impression that today’s radical political and economic changes in their country are determined by arbitrary–almost random–ideas and events promoted in large part by crazies of different stripes: American Nazis, white supremacists and other assorted hate groups on one hand, and anarchists, socialists and radical feminists on the other. It looks to Mr. and Mrs. America like a lunatic fringe that amuses itself on weekends carrying banners and bashing heads. When all is said and done it’s nothing that can’t be handled by well-trained riot police and a few justices of the peace.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. What Mr. and Mrs. America are unwittingly looking at is, in reality, a sinister, well-organized-and-financed extreme-right-wing campaign to undermine plural American democracy as we have always conceived it. You remember, separation of powers, free and fair elections, majority rule, respect for minorities, the rule of law, due process…

Ironically, none of this ultra-conservative campaign to undermine American democracy is illegal or even secret. Information on its inception, gestation, birth and growth is freely available from public sources. It just takes a few evenings to google it out of Internet. It turns out that what American democracy is up against is a group of reactionary billionaires systematically using their money to finance the creation and operation of think tanks, educational institutions, foundations, public relations firms and big-data concerns that all work together to promote their business-friendly, people-deadly model for American society and institutions. They’re actually quite successful at it, both at home and abroad.

Until recently it wasn’t easy to put together the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to the point where normal people could understand exactly what the billionaires and their teams were up to and how they were going about it. Then Nancy MacLean, a historian from Duke University, wrote a book called Democracy in Chains, The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America; a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction in 2017. MacLean’s book illuminates the movement from its theoretical foundations own to its meticulously-executed strategies. Amazon.com calls it, “An explosive exposé of the right’s relentless campaign to eliminate unions, suppress voting, privatize public education, stop action on climate change, and alter the Constitution.”

According to MacLean it all began with an unlikely political economist from Tennessee. Yes, Tennesse. His name was James Buchanan, a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University who later took a graduate degree at the University of Chicago. He went on to form a school of reactionary economists eventually was awarded a Nobel Prize in economics. Though we usually associate Nobel Prizes with projects that benefit the people of the world, Buchanan’s award was for the exact opposite: elaborating a theory to potentiate the fortunes of a privileged minority and impoverish the rest of the population of the United States–and ultimately the world. Buchanan bases his radical laissez-faire economic system on the premise that human society is motivated uniquely by self-interest. And he takes this notion to its logical extreme. The resulting crushing impoverishment of the rest of the population is absolutely irrelevant.

Buchanan was increasingly concerned about anything that smacked of socialism, or any other form of government that directed resources to the public welfare. He saw no reason that the wealthy should have to pay for programs for ordinary citizens and the poor. Buchanan had written in The Limits of Liberty, a book published in 1975, “Each person seeks mastery over a world of slaves.”

MacLean quotes him as saying in his 2005 book, Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative, that people who failed to foresee and save money for their future needs are to be treated “as subordinate members of the species, akin to…animals who are dependent.” This sounds like a lunatic baying at the moon, fit only to be dismissed out of hand. But there was another factor that was to catalyze a chain reaction. MacLean suspected that Buchanan’s theories were being implemented by obscure forces in the here and now, but she had no way of confirming her suspicions until the economist died in 2013 and she gained access to his archives at George Mason University in Virginia. Perhaps “archives” is not the apt word, as she found his papers strewn willy-nilly through several offices in the wake of a move to a new building at the University of Virginia.

Midst the boxes and drawers of unsorted papers MacLean discovered correspondence between Buchanan and the multi-billionaire industrialist and speculator, Charles Koch. It immediately occurred to MacLean: this could have been the catalyst for the stealthy right-wing revolution then–and now–in progress. Retrograde, anti-social political ideas are just ideas until they are fueled by money and Koch had plenty of that. He also had a penchant for tampering with politics. When he discovered Buchanan and grasped his message, he bought into the Tennessee economist’s demented economic and social theories. This “buying in” went to finance voter suppression, the changing of legislative processes so that a normal majority would no longer prevail, fomenting public distrust of government institutions… Their ultimate goal was to modify the Constitution, to alter it in ways that no democratic politicians could ever challenge.

Lynn Parramore, from the Institute for Free Economic Thinking, wrote in May, 2018:

Research like MacLean’s provides hope that toxic ideas like Buchanan’s may finally begin to face public scrutiny. Yet at this very moment, the Kochs’ State Policy Network and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that connects corporate agents to conservative lawmakers to produce legislation, are involved in projects that the Trump-obsessed media hardly notices, like pumping money into state judicial races. Their aim is to stack the legal deck against Americans in ways that MacLean argues may have even bigger effects than Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling which unleashed unlimited corporate spending on American politics.

MacLean’s book explains how Koch’s money permitted Buchanan to establish a base at George Mason University and partner with reactionary economists, right-wing politicians and lobbyists for companies like Shell Oil, Exxon, Ford, IBM, Chase Manhattan Bank and General Motors. Altogether they formed a cabal capable of promoting their exclusively property-friendly policies via control of the media, through new retrograde curricula for economics education and cultivating politicians. One of their favorite ploys was a program to create legal programs for law professors and federal judges. They calculated that, by 1990, 40% of federal judges had been subjected to a Koch-backed course of study. There were other sinister campaigns designed to combat such affronts to capitalists as environmentalism and public health and welfare, efforts to dismantle Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare as well as to kill public education because it tended to foster community values. Feminism had to go, too: the scholars considered it a socialist project. Their ultimate objective was to “tear down” the notion that elected officials wanted to act in the public interest. The “public” was irrelevant.

Buchanan and his troupe have spread their influence abroad since the early days of their association. They were contracted by the Pinochet government, after the coup d’etat in Chile in 1973, to re-draft the Chilean constitution in order to empower capitalism absolutely, including, of course, foreign investment. Britain is also a longtime benefactor of Buchanan’s twisted thinking. Many of Margaret Thatcher’s public-sector reforms were inspired by the American economist and his followers.

MacLean asserts that Buchanan’s revolution wasn’t just “a new, particularly vicious wave of partisan politics.” It was something “far more disturbing.” She sustains that the United States is “experiencing a hostile takeover that is well on its way to radically, and perhaps permanently, altering the society.” She adds that “shrinking big government is not really the point. The oligarchs require a government with tremendous new powers so they can bypass the will of the people. This requires “greatly expanding police powers to control the resultant popular anger.” One can’t help but think of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.

Perhaps the most terrifying aspect of the machinations of this economist from hell is the fact that Buchanan and his acolytes have been burrowing through the roots of American democracy for almost half a century and, until Nancy MacLean published her book, no one of note seems to have noticed, let alone dealt with the phenomenon.

Andrew Marvell, the 16th-century English poet wrote in To His Coy Mistress:

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow…

It’s not only love that grows vegetatively and slow. Evil does, too.

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
Thanks for commenting and sharing

 

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The Next American Civil War? 2/2

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Straight Up to Heaven

For readers who are fascinated or horrified by this virulent interpretation of the Book of Revelations, here’s more information from the glossary provided by RaptureReady.com:

Rapture:
At an unknown hour and day the Lord Jesus will descend from heaven, while remaining in the air, he will snatch his Bride, the Church, out from among this sinful world. Christ then takes the Church to heaven for the 7 year wedding feast. The earthly reason for the removal of the Church is to make way for the rise of Antichrist and to fulfill Daniel’s final 70th week.

President Trump has many of these radical Christians participating in his White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative which, according to the Religious News Service, “will ensure that the faith-based and community organizations that form the bedrock of our society have strong advocates in the White House and throughout the Federal Government.”

What Are the Chances? Meet Robin Wright

In order to foresee a civil war we have to take a close look at the potential causes. It helps also to examine previous cases. Robin Wright, who has been a contributing writer to The New Yorker since 1988, wrote an insightful article there, published on August 14, 2017. In it she addresses the question of where the United States is headed in these troubled times. “How fragile is the Union, our republic, and a country that has long been considered the world’ most stable democracy? The dangers are now bigger than the collective episodes of violence.” She quotes last year’s report from the Southern Poverty Law Center: “The radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year than in half a century.” Wright adds, “The organization documents more than 900 active (and growing) hate groups in the United States.” Continue reading “The Next American Civil War? 2/2”

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The Next American Civil War? 1/2

White Supremacist Militia

Charlottesville, VA, white supremacist rally

It Couldn’t Happen in America

Americans are living turbulent times, times when the last things you need are half the citizenry armed to the teeth and an unstable, egomaniacal, possibly psychotic at the helm. Is there the possibility of a 21st-century civil war breaking out in the USA? We have always confidently assumed that it couldn’t happen in the world’s greatest democracy. Or could it? The mighty Mississippi doesn’t start out as a great river. It begins as tiny rivulets struggling towards Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, from whose headwaters it flows 2,340 miles southwards, entering the Gulf of Mexico as a triumphant giant. It’s the same with social movements, both benign and malevolent. They start with just a few people concerned enough to do something. Formerly they would die out or grow vegetatively into mass movements. Today, with the Internet, they can propagate like flash fires. This fact, coupled with the hundreds of rivulets of intolerance, racial hatred, inequality, individualistic greed, and armed militants, rife in the country, does not bode well. Could they all join together in a very short time to form a mighty river of civil disobedience and martial solutions? That is to say, a civil war. Continue reading “The Next American Civil War? 1/2”

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Trump’s NATO Ploy in Brussels is Baseless

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Another Foundation Lie Exposed

At the same time the world’s media are expressing outrage at President Donald Trump’s gangster-style presentation at the NATO annual summit meeting in Brussels last Wednesday, they are also missing the point. As usual, Trump’s headline-grabbing antics smoked screened the most important issue. Everything the American President said at the meeting was grounded in a single great lie, that the principal objective of NATO is to “protect Europe.”

In fact, the principal purpose of NATO is first to control Europe and secondly to embroil the European countries in all of the United States’s nefarious military adventures. This involvement also lends a veneer of international legitimacy to any American aggression, no matter how heinous it may be. A third result for NATO members, one that is seldom mentioned, is the fact that NATO’s mutual defense obligations make them nuclear targets for any enemy of the United States. Continue reading “Trump’s NATO Ploy in Brussels is Baseless”

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The Great F-35 Lightning II Boondoggle–3/3

 

The Case of the Half-Million-Dollar Hat

One example of such a revolutionary system is the F-35 pilot’s helmet, for which different sources allege a price tag of between $400 and $600 thousand. It’s a marvel of technology that was created specifically for the F-35. It integrates information from the plane’s many sensors, and even receives, analyzes and creates a visual summary of input from the other planes in the flight, projected on the helmet’s visor. All the information is right in front of the pilot at all times. It even has a rear-view-mirror feature that permits him actually to see to the rear, something that was previously impossible due to the plane’s massive headrest. Continue reading “The Great F-35 Lightning II Boondoggle–3/3”

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The Great F-35 Lightning II Boondoggle–2/3

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International Partners Come and Go

Canada, which has had a checkered relationship with the F-35 program, looked towards Holland, who were ahead of them in the process. This clip from the August 29, 2017 issue of the Ottowa Citizen gives an insight into the incentives the F-35 program offers its partners.

Every F-35 contains components manufactured by Dutch companies, Lockheed Martin has noted. On Aug. 16, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the overseas warehouse and distribution centre for parts for F-35s in Europe would be located in the Netherlands.

Luyt said one of the other main attractions of the F-35 is that it will be constantly upgraded. “It will be state of the art for decades,” he added.

“Constantly upgraded…” does that mean they’ll constantly be tinkering with it in an effort to get it right? That’s the situation currently. Continue reading “The Great F-35 Lightning II Boondoggle–2/3”

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The Great F-35 Lightning II Boondoggle–1/3

 

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This was the F-35 rollout ceremony in Japan. No shortage of razzamatazz.

The Process of Military Purchasing in the Free World–Who Wins, Who Loses?

You may not be a big fan of military procurement scandals, nor even of supersonic fighter jets. But the case of  F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is massive–the largest government defense contract ever signed anywhere by anybody–and massively convoluted. It would be wonderfully amusing if it weren’t so utterly bizarre. By studying its ins and outs we can discover a lot about American government priorities and how their dubious values come into play. You will discover here just how smart they are–and how dumb they think we are. Continue reading “The Great F-35 Lightning II Boondoggle–1/3”

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Is America Headed Towards Fascism?

American_Fascism3

Fascism Is Not Just About Flag Waving and Making the Trains Run on Time

No, America is not “headed towards fascism.” It has been an essentially fascist country since August 6, 1945, when it dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. According to the Wikipedia, between Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which the United States nuked three days later, the death toll in the two cities totaled at least 127,000 people. Historians are in agreement that the war in the Pacific was already won when the atomic bombs were unleashed and that the real purpose for the attacks was to stun the Soviet Union into halting their advance on China and Japan and to lay the cornerstone in the edifice of American world domination. Continue reading “Is America Headed Towards Fascism?”

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American Chicken Hawk Militarists Boldly Lead the Charge–From Behind

President Donald Trump arrives at Newark International airport
Washington’s illustrious company of Chicken Hawk Militarists, war-mongering politicians who didn’t actually do any military service, has a new Chicken Hawk in Chief, President Donald J. Trump. It’s a dubious honor.

The Chicken Hawk, the Most Ignominious Bird of All

The military service records–or lack thereof–of American war-mongering politicians are an excellent place to scrutinize their particular kinds of patriotism. The patriotic sentiments of those lacking in military experience are usually not of the Nathan Hale “I-only-regret-that-I-have-but-one-life-to-give- for-my-country” variety. The most common type of patriotism to be found among your non-combatant militarist politicians is of the vocal variety. Their mouths are admirably patriotic, the rest of their makeup not so much. These reluctant warriors who strongly support military action everywhere, all the time, yet went out of their way to avoid military service when of age are aptly referred to as “Chicken Hawks.” The term has a nice ring to it and an interesting set of connotations. Continue reading “American Chicken Hawk Militarists Boldly Lead the Charge–From Behind”

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American Democracy: The Art of Winning

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By Hook or by Crook

In the mid-seventies, when they started building underground parking lots in Granada, whenever I would drive into town I would have to park on the outskirts and walk into the center. On the walk I would pass the old Pharmacy Faculty, which had been moved to a new building and replaced in the old one by Political Science. So I’m walking up that little-frequented street one day and I notice the sign over the door. It says “Facultad de Sociología y Ciencias Políticas.” That was when it hit me. The prevailing political model, which the United States has exported all over the world, calling it “democracy,” is not about noble ideas and the fight for human rights. It’s about sociology: opinion polls and pandering to lowbrow voters and powerful interests. It’s about opportunism, not idealism, as they would have us believe. Continue reading “American Democracy: The Art of Winning”

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The Bizarre States of America–2/2

 

Korean_Peace_Talks2

Seen from Abroad “Bizarre” Seems to Be the Operative Word

To Europeans the American political milieu seems riddled with semantic manipulation. US politicians love the Pavlovian use of trigger words and phrases to elicit nationalistic citizen responses. If you want to promote a dubious war or a convenient regime change just use the term “our boys” repeatedly, or the word “patriotism” and any of its derivatives. Any reference to “our flag” or the “national anthem” will also work. It’s easy for them to undermine American citizens’ civil rights by citing “national security” or “terrorism.” Never mind that it’s American state terrorism that leads the world in false-flag atrocities and devastating economic deception perpetrated by their clandestine services abroad. (Need examples? See any book by John Perkins or William Blum.) Continue reading “The Bizarre States of America–2/2”

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The Bizarre States of America 1/2

Shooting_report

There’s Weirdness in the Air Over There

Seen from Europe the United States looks pretty strange. In all fairness, different countries have a right to their individual differences, but the direction and degree of American differences are so exaggerated, so unusual that they shock sensibilities in Europe and farther afield, the way a snuff film leaves normal people horrified and unbelieving. We’re not referring to all Americans here, rather about half of them, the abnormal half, those who subscribe to extreme anti-any-sort-of-government political thinking, magical religions, Nazism, white supremacy and other forms of racism present from the cop on the beat to the highest echelons of the American government. Continue reading “The Bizarre States of America 1/2”

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Is the US Democracy on the Critical List?–3/3

SchooloftheAmericas

Jefferson’s “Den of  Vipers and Thieves”

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the US, saw the central bank as an unnecessary consolidation of power. He argued that it benefited investors, banks and businesses above the wider population. President Andrew Jackson, who opposed renewing the charter of the second US central bank, famously referred to it as “a den of vipers and thieves.”

Flash forward almost a century from the Fed’s founding. According to Allan Meltzer, author of The History of the Federal Reserve, “… the Fed’s decision to bail out the banks in 2008 has shaped many Americans’ current distrust of the central banking system more than the prolonged period of low interest rates. ” The public doesn’t think the government should be in the business of bailing out banks,” he says. Mike Collins, writing in Forbes.com in 2015, says: Continue reading “Is the US Democracy on the Critical List?–3/3”

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Is American Democracy on the Critical List? 2/3

Lincoln fallen
If Lincoln Could Raise His Head Today…

Multi-Billionaire Brothers Change the Rules of the Election Game

The twisting of U.S. elections is enough to make a grown man cry unless that man is a lobbyist or an incumbent candidate in a national election. Election finance rules were radically changed with the 2009 Citizens United Supreme Court decision. This case was complicated and controversial, partly because it was brought before the court by an ad hoc Political Action Committee (PAC) financed by the extreme-right-wing Koch Brothers, multi-billionaires with a penchant for dabbling in politics.

The Brookings Institution’s Darrell West devised a ranking to sort out which of the larger-than-life politicized American billionaires are the most powerful, factoring in “campaign expenditures, activism through nonprofit organizations and foundations, holding public office, media ownership, policy thought leadership and behind-the-scenes influence.” At the top of his list were the Koch Brothers. Continue reading “Is American Democracy on the Critical List? 2/3”

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Is American Democracy on the Critical List? 1/3

trump-flag

American Democracy, the Standard of the Industry

The United States has been touting its particular brand of democracy for a couple of centuries now. As time goes by they have convinced us that there is no other valid formula, that their unique corn-fed variety is the default for good government. Myth has morphed into axiom; American democracy has become the only way to go. The world’s greatest marketing department has decreed it. After all, American democracy has two centuries of successful history behind it, it has the sacrosanct “checks and balances,” it invented the “self-made man” and the greatest propaganda machine the world has ever known. It has won every war it ever undertook (by their own reckoning) and has underwritten the creation of the greatest economy in history. It must be good; they’re rich, aren’t they? Continue reading “Is American Democracy on the Critical List? 1/3”

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NATO Has Harbored Active Domestic Terrorist Groups Since at Least 1969—4/4

Gladio4

Who Can Condone Such Actions?

Can any sane human being on the planet condone the random slaying of an innocent and unsuspecting family of five at the supermarket? Who can even conceive of such villainy? Beyond that, there’s the issue of blaming the crime on innocent citizens participating in legitimate democratic processes. This practice was not only not condemned by the government of the land of the free and the home of the brave; it was actually perpetuated in the CIA playbook, as now-almost-daily “false flag” operations continue. Continue reading “NATO Has Harbored Active Domestic Terrorist Groups Since at Least 1969—4/4”

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NATO Has Harbored Active Domestic Terrorist Groups Since at Least 1969—3/4

Gladio7

Can a Case Be Made That NATO Was Sponsoring an Active Terrorist Organization from the Outset?

We have seen how a subject of sufficient specific gravity to unseat governments in other times was quietly shelved until an American documentary filmmaker unveiled the mystery in 1992. Then, seven years later a curious Swiss student decided to dedicate his doctoral thesis to it. Who put Daniele Genser onto NATO’s Secret Armies (the title of his later book)? It was William Blum, our much-admired ex-State Department employee, author of Rogue State and The Secret History of the CIA, who resigned his position at State in 1967 as a protest against the Vietnam War and went on to write a series of important books divulging American foreign-policy boutades around the world. Continue reading “NATO Has Harbored Active Domestic Terrorist Groups Since at Least 1969—3/4”

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NATO Has Harbored Active Domestic Terrorist Groups Since at Least 1969—2/4

Gladio2

Woodrow Wilson Kept the Russophobe Ball Rolling

President Wilson’s relative sympathy for the Russian revolution turned to visceral anti-Bolshevism after labor strikes, race riots, and anarchist attacks broke out across the United States in 1919. Wilson’s iron suppression of these disturbances left “a legacy of repression that lasted for decades;” and his administration’s violation of civil liberties would provide a precedent for McCarthyism in the 1950s.

The enmity between US interests and Russia stiffened in April of 1920 when the Bolsheviks retook Baku and promptly nationalized Standard Oil of New Jersey’s oil fields there. Subsequently the Cold War, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam all contributed to the Americans’ Russophobe brew. Underlying all of this anti-Russian sentiment, I think, is a deep-seated fear of Marxism and any other form of collectivism. Continue reading “NATO Has Harbored Active Domestic Terrorist Groups Since at Least 1969—2/4”

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NATO Has Harbored Active Domestic Terrorist Groups Since at Least 1969—1/4

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A Note on Sources

This four-part article is based largely on two sources, a documentary film by Allan Francovich that was broadcast by BBC2 in 1992, and a book written by Daniele Ganser, a young Swiss doctoral candidate, and published on both sides of the Atlantic in 2005.

Allan Francovich’s documentary, “Gladio,” which convincingly tells the story of Europe’s secret armies and their domestic terrorist activities, is not only long (2:25 hours) and detailed but substantiated by interviews with many primary sources. It is not an easy documentary to refute.

Would this fact be relevant to Francovich’s grotesquely atypical death at the age of 56? According to Wikispooks.com, “Allan Francovich’s death occurred while going through US customs at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas on April 17, 1997. It was ruled as occurring due to “natural causes” (i.e. heart attack) though its remarkable timing raises the clear possibility that it was not so simple. Continue reading “NATO Has Harbored Active Domestic Terrorist Groups Since at Least 1969—1/4”

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The Dastardly Russians Are Tampering with Our Democratic Elections! 2/2

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The US Brings Democracy to the Mediterranean/2

During the Italian election campaign of 1948 the US extended and refined their menu of dirty tricks. They covertly financed the right-wing Christian Democrats and mounted elaborate media campaigns to discredit the left. American corporations spent millions of dollars to keep the Communists and Socialists out of power. This subversion of democratic elections was justified in the name of “saving democracy” in Italy. Eventually the communists made a modest comeback in Italian politics, thanks only to massive popular support. Continue reading “The Dastardly Russians Are Tampering with Our Democratic Elections! 2/2”

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The Dastardly Russians Are Tampering with Our Democratic Elections! 1/2

interventions_map

It’s Them Pesky Russkies Again

The United States is up in arms against Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Council on Foreign Relations affirmed shortly afterward that “foreign power interference” in the election had grave national security implications that touched off multiple federal inquiries questioning the security of the U.S. electoral process. The Council expressed fears that a rival power could influence an election’s results. That “rival power,” they maintained, was Russia. Continue reading “The Dastardly Russians Are Tampering with Our Democratic Elections! 1/2”

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What Is It With the American Flag Fetish?

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Americans’ Extreme Devotion to Their Flag Arouses Curiosity

One of the first thing visitors from other countries notice when they arrive in the United States is the abundance of American flags. They’re hanging all over the place, down to the facades of most houses. They figure in fashion and bric-a-brac, in sporting and cultural events, on bumper stickers, in products and the movies. The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag is recited in American classrooms every day, as well as by all the legislators in the U.S. Congress. The United States is the only country in the world that celebrates a “flag day.”

In fact, the American flag fetish is just one aspect of an ultra-conservative, rabidly nationalistic mindset that has been nurtured in the United States over at least the past century. It goes hand in hand with racism, militarism, and predatory capitalism. The objective of this movement, planted and cultivated by right-wing politicians and fertilized by the usual suspects, is to stifle progressive government and forestall anything that even remotely smacks of  America’s biggest bugbear: “socialism.” Ironically, socialism is considered in the most civilized countries of the world to be a valued element in the democratic mix. It is thanks to socialism, in its different flavors, that Europe has set the world standards for the wellbeing of its citizens. Continue reading “What Is It With the American Flag Fetish?”

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Teach Your Children Well

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Give a Lift to the Future

What’s our greatest resource for the future–a future that you and I will not see and cannot possibly preconceive? Nuclear technology? Solar power? Rich farmland? The abundance of the sea? Low interest rates? No, none of the above, our greatest resource is our children and grandchildren because the future of human society would not be possible without them.

They are our treasure and the legacy that we bequeath to the world. They are the ones obliged to undo all of the damage we have done to the planet and all the living things on it. To some of our descendants will fall the monumental task of dealing with and–within the realm of the possible–undoing the wrongheadedness that 2,000 years of human folly have planted in the heads and hearts of people around the world. Continue reading “Teach Your Children Well”

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The Children’s Crusade–3/3

Parkland School Shooting
Victims from the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida

Recipe for a Well-Balanced Country

High levels of humanity, characterized by empathy, generosity, neighborliness, cooperation and collective solutions to the problems of their society, are essential to all well-balanced countries. These all-encompassing solutions in first-world countries include controls on political corruption, universal health care, restrictions on predatory capitalism, reasonable judicial procedures, humane prisons, etc. As a result, their indexes of violence are lower than those of the United States and they have fewer serious problems in their societies than the Americans. This wellbeing in countries that look after their citizens isn’t due to coincidence. It’s thanks to longstanding, constant and well-thought-out execution of programs for the common good of all their citizens. That is to say: healthy politics.

Are there remedies for this inhumanity plague in the United States? There may be but, given the well-dug-in opposition there to humane collective solutions, they would be neither quick nor easy to implement. Embedded inhumanity has become a jealously-preserved American tradition. Continue reading “The Children’s Crusade–3/3”

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The Children’s Crusade–2/3

Parkland_flower_homage

Nothing New Under the Sun; U.S. Tried to Curb Gun Deaths in the 60s

Attempts at gun-control regulation have quite a long history in the United States. According to an article by Seth Cline, in U.S. News.com on Jan. 16, 2013, there was a major initiative in 1969. A commission formed by President Lyndon Johnson issued its own–admittedly timid–policy recommendations to address gun violence, which was rising amidst the social turmoil of the time. U.S. News and World Report said at the time:

Millions of Americans will be compelled to give up their pistols if Congress passes a law proposed by the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. But Congress, it appears, is not at all likely to pass such a law—in this session, at least.

“Not a chance, none at all,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (Dem.), of Montana, when asked about the prospects of Congress accepting the Commission’s plan this year. Representatives of the Nixon Administration recently told a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee they saw no need for tighter gun laws now.

Continue reading “The Children’s Crusade–2/3”

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The Children’s Crusade–1/3

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Parkland Students Take the Gun-Control Bull by the Horns

After another horrendous mass school shooting followed by the usual limp thoughts-and-prayers condolences from right-wing politicians around the country, students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed on Wednesday, 14 February, decided to address the matter themselves.

On  Feb. 17, three days after the mass shooting, they traveled to Tallahassee, Florida’s state capital, to call for a statewide assault weapons ban. This direct appeal to the state legislature followed protests outside schools, social media activity, and national television appearances. The legislators’ response was short and sweet. The motion to introduce a law to ban assault rifles was defeated, 36 to 71, in a vote along party lines. The procedure lasted 2 minutes and 38 seconds. Most of the 71 state representatives who voted against the ban enjoyed an A rating from the National Rifle Association. Continue reading “The Children’s Crusade–1/3”

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Iceland on Child Circumcision: They’re Against It

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After Locking Up 26 Crooked Bankers and Refusing to “Rescue” the Debts They Incurred, The Icelanders Are Now Considering Banning Child Circumcision

This “row over religious freedom” article in last Sunday’s Guardian was an eye opener:

Iceland law to outlaw male circumcision sparks row over religious freedom

Iceland is poised to become the first European country to outlaw male circumcision amid signs that the ritual common to both Judaism and Islam may be a new battleground over religious freedom.

A bill currently before the Icelandic parliament proposes a penalty of up to six years in prison for anyone carrying out a circumcision other than for medical reasons. Critics say the move, which has sparked alarm among religious leaders across Europe, would make life for Jews and Muslims in Iceland unsustainable.

Continue reading “Iceland on Child Circumcision: They’re Against It”

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What’s Gone Wrong with America? 2/2

Ameagle

Pandering to the Locked-In Electorate

What part of his locked-in electorate would he lose? He’d no doubt lose 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. Continue reading “What’s Gone Wrong with America? 2/2”

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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. Continue reading “What’s Gone Wrong with America? 1/2”

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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 the 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. This is just another case of clear and present bullshit. Continue reading “How Drones Have Made War Fun and Easy–3/3”

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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. Continue reading “How Drones Have Made War Fun and Easy–2/3”

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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. Continue reading “How Armed Drones Have Made War Fun and Easy–1/3”

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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). Continue reading “Washington’s Hollow Men Write Their Own Ticket–and Yours 2/2”

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

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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.

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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.

Go to part 2/2
Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
Thanks for commenting and sharing

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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Just Say Goodbye — 2/3

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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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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… Continue reading “The U.S. American White Trash Values Are Mutating and Migrating”

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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
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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.

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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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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.

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