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Offline K-Dog

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Re: 🤴 America’s new aristocracy lives in an accountability-free zone
« Reply #660 on: October 07, 2018, 02:34:59 AM »

America’s new aristocracy lives in an accountability-free zone
October 6, 2018 Patrice de Bergeracpas


We find the UK’s Guardian an equivocal and often downright treacherous platform for progressives, but, as is the case with many things in the media, and life itself, there are no absolutes, so this platform sometimes still publishes things that seem to flow against the global aristocracy. This is one of them. Maybe they do that maintain some of their eroding credibility.  Sirota is more of an establishment liberal than we would like (that’s why the Guardian publishes him), but here he is making an important point that should be heeded by the public. In general, his work is estiable.

By David Sirota
Accountability is for the little people, immunity is for the ruling class. If this ethos seems familiar, that is because it has preceded some of the darkest moments in human history.

‘If there are no legal consequences for profiteers who defrauded the global economy into a collapse, what will deter those profiteers from doing that again?’ Illustration: Mark Long/Mark Long for Guardian US
When the former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling was released from prison a few weeks ago, the news conjured memories of a corporate scandal that now seems almost quaint – and it was also a reminder that Enron executives were among the last politically connected criminals to face any serious consequences for institutionalized fraud.

Since Skilling’s conviction 12 years ago, our society has been fundamentally altered by a powerful political movement whose goal is not merely another court seat, tax cut or election victory. This movement’s objective is far more revolutionary: the creation of an accountability-free zone for an ennobled aristocracy, even as the rest of the population is treated to law-and-order rhetoric and painfully punitive policy.

Let’s remember that in less than two decades, America has experienced the Iraq war, the financial crisis, intensifying economic stratification, an opioid plague, persistent gender and racial inequality and now seemingly unending climate change-intensified disasters. While the victims have been ravaged by these crime sprees, crises and calamities, the perpetrators have largely avoided arrest, inquisition, incarceration, resignation, public shaming and ruined careers.

That is because the United States has been turned into a safe space for a permanent ruling class. Inside the rarefied refuge, the key players who created this era’s catastrophes and who embody the most pernicious pathologies have not just eschewed punishment – many of them have actually maintained or even increased their social, financial and political status.

The effort to construct this elite haven has tied together so many seemingly disparate news events, suggesting that there is a method in the madness. Consider this past month that culminated with the dramatic battle over the judicial nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

September began with John McCain’s funeral – a memorial billed as an apolitical celebration of the Arizona lawmaker, but which served as a made-for-TV spectacle letting America know that everyone who engineered the Iraq war is doing just fine.

Once again, the message was unavoidable: in the new accountability-free zone, companies shouldn’t be bothered to even explain – much less face punishment for – their role in a crisis that threatens the survival of the human species. Now comes the latest stage of the immunity project: the installation of Kavanaugh as the sentinel standing watch over this sprawling accountability-free zone from a lifetime perch on America’s very own star chamber.

The event was attended by Iraq war proponents of both parties, from Dick Cheney to Lindsey Graham to Hillary Clinton. The funeral featured a saccharine eulogy from the key Democratic proponent of the invasion, Joe Lieberman, as well the resurrection of George W Bush. The codpiece-flaunting war president who piloted America into the cataclysm with “bring ’em on” bravado, “shock and awe” bloodlust and “uranium from Africa” dishonesty was suddenly portrayed as an icon of warmth and civility when he passed a lozenge to Michelle Obama. The scene was depicted not as the gathering of a rogues gallery fit for a war crimes tribunal, but as a venerable bipartisan reunion evoking nostalgia for the supposed halcyon days – and Bush promptly used his newly revived image to campaign for Republican congressional candidates and lobby for Kavanaugh’s appointment.

The underlying message was clear: nobody other than the dead, the injured and the taxpayer will face any real penalty for the Iraq debacle.

Next up came the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis – a meltdown that laid waste to the global economy, while providing lucrative taxpayer-funded bailouts to Wall Street firms.

To mark the occasion, the three men on whose watch it occurred – Fed chair Ben Bernanke, Bush treasury secretary Hank Paulson and Obama treasury secretary Tim Geithner – did not offer an apology, but instead promised that another financial crisis will eventually occur, and they demanded lawmakers give public officials more power to bail out big banks in the future.

In a similar bipartisan show of unity, former Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn gave an interview in which he asked “Who broke the law?” – the implication being that no Wall Street executives were prosecuted for their role in the meltdown because no statutes had been violated. That suggestion, of course, is undermined by banks’ own admissions that they defrauded investors (that includes admissions of fraud from Goldman Sachs – the very bank that Cohn himself ran during the crisis). Nonetheless, Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder – who has now rejoined his old corporate defense law firm – subsequently backed Cohn up by arguing that nobody on Wall Street committed an offense that could have been successfully prosecuted in a court of law.

Meanwhile, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon garnered non-Onion headlines by floating the idea of running for president – a reminder that a decade after his firm played a central role in destroying countless Americans’ economic lives, he remains not only unincarcerated and gainfully employed, but so reputationally unscathed that he is seen as a serious White House candidate.

Again, the message came through: nobody who engineered the financial crisis will pay any real price for wreaking so much havoc.
Ironically, it is only mother nature that flogs insouciant Americans for their legendary indifferentism to global afffairs. But, as we might expect, it makes the poor pay a far heavier price.

Then as Hurricane Florence provided the latest illustration of climate change’s devastation, ExxonMobil marched into the supreme court to demand an end to a state investigation of its role denying and suppressing climate science. Backed by 11 Republican attorneys general, the fossil fuel giant had reason to feel emboldened in its appeal for immunity: despite investigative reporting detailing the company’s prior knowledge of fossil fuel’s role in climate change, its executives had already convinced the Securities and Exchange Commission to shut down a similar investigation.

Once again, the message was unavoidable: in the new accountability-free zone, companies shouldn’t be bothered to even explain – much less face punishment for – their role in a crisis that threatens the survival of the human species.

Now comes the latest stage of the immunity project: the installation of Kavanaugh as the sentinel standing watch over this sprawling accountability-free zone from a lifetime perch on America’s very own star chamber.

Kavanaugh is the nominee of Donald Trump, who as a businessman helped set the legal precedent protecting corporate titans from fraud charges, and who as president has appointed a cabinet of accountability evaders – from the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, who escaped prosecution during the financial crisis, to the transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, who avoided consequences for her role at Wells Fargo during that company’s mass fraud. Kavanaugh is also the nominee of an accountability-free party whose last House speaker was deemed “a serial child molester” by a judge, whose potential next House speaker is named in a college sexual abuse scandal, and whose White House occupant was caught on camera bragging about sexually accosting women.

To the delight of the Republican party, Kavanaugh is not backing down in the face of multiple credible accusations of sexual misconduct. On the contrary, in a snarling refrain that must seem all-too-familiar to victims of sexual assault, Kavanaugh is angrily insisting that “you’ll never get me to quit”.

In the context of this political moment, Kavanaugh’s defiance is more than merely a plea of innocence. It is more than just an ideological warrior’s yearning to serve on a court that has been making it ever-harder for commoners to hold the aristocracy accountable. It is a grand edict detailing the entire culture of entitlement and immunity inside the accountability-free zone.

Here is a corporate lobbyist’s son armed with a prep school education, a diploma from his grandaddy’s Ivy League alma mater, a writing credit on Ken Starr’s Clinton-Lewinsky report, a law review article arguing that Congress should consider exempting presidents from indictments, and a sheaf of judicial opinions that consistently side with power.

Kavanaugh has precisely the pedigree that is the ticket into the accountability-free zone. His braying at senators, his laughably obvious dissembling, his refusal to explicitly support an FBI review of his accusers’ allegations – this is the behavior of someone who seems to believe a supreme court seat is his to arrogate.

Indeed, Kavanaugh has been inside the aristocracy’s hermetically sealed bubble for so long that he is genuinely surprised and outraged that anyone would dare get in his way – as are his biggest boosters such as the Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Promising a forceful defense of the accountability-free zone, McConnell explicitly lashed out at sexual assault survivors who are now begging Republicans to vote down Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“I want to make it clear to these people chasing my members around the hall here, or harassing them at the airports, or going to their homes. We’ll not be intimidated by these people,” McConnell declared.

To be sure, you could write this last month off if it was an anomaly – but it is the norm, not the exception.

Over the last decade, we saw presidential administrations of both parties decrease white-collar prosecutions and grant telecom companies retroactive legal immunity for their role in the government’s mass surveillance system. We witnessed the director of national intelligence, James Clapper brazenly mislead Congress about that surveillance, then face no charges of perjury – and then be rewarded with a CNN contributor gig.

We watched the Trump White House grant “waivers” – another word for immunity – to its own employees who violate seemingly strict ethics rules, and we watched the Obama labor department waive punishment for a politically influential financial firm after it had been convicted of operating what law enforcement officials said was a scheme that “knowingly and willfully aided” tax fraud.

We saw congressional Republicans so utterly eviscerate the Internal Revenue Service’s budget that “there may never be a better time to be a tax cheat”, according to a recent ProPublica report.

We have seen no consequences for a pharmaceutical company that made big money off peddling opioids – and now we see the same company turn the crisis into another prospective profit opportunity by patenting a treatment to help wean people off opioids.

Taken together, all of it evinces the same underlying message echoing throughout the country: to paraphrase Leona Helmsley, accountability is for the little people, immunity is for the ruling class.

If this ethos seems familiar, that is because it has preceded some of the darkest moments in human history – the eras of violent purges, authoritarian dictators and sharpened guillotines. There is no guarantee that is our future – and let’s hope it isn’t our destiny. Whether or not things proceed in that terrifying direction, though, the moral question remains: what can be done to restore some basic sense of fairness and justice?

Of late, one proffered answer is hard-hitting journalism – and there is no doubt that righteous media vigilantes such as Ronan Farrow have occasionally sparked some much-needed paroxysms of accountability. However, for every investigative reporter doing the hard work to break open a much-needed story of corruption and criminality, there is an entire machine that continues to provide platforms to those who are firmly ensconced in the accountability-free zone.

Turn on CNN, and you will see Iraq war cheerleaders like David Frum and Bill Kristol as honored guests depicted as the new vanguard of democracy.

Flip on MSNBC, and it is much the same thing. In the morning you get economic analysis from Steve Rattner, who was given his media platform even after securities regulators charged him “with participating in a widespread kickback scheme” and he was banned from the securities industry. In the afternoon you get Nicole Wallace, who helped run the Bush administration’s PR operation during the Iraq war. And in the evening you get the news from Brian Williams, who was bequeathed a new show after he was busted for serially lying about his war reporting.

Meanwhile, if you take a peek at the business press, you will behold an entire corner of the journalism world that saw few mea culpas or firings after it missed almost all of the warning signs in the lead-up to the financial crisis.

No, if there is an answer, it will not originate from media (at least not until there’s radical change in that industry). To wedge open the gates of the accountability-free zone, everyday citizens will have to be organized enough to overcome already well-organized money.

In the political arena, that means electing pro-accountability candidates of both parties, and then forcing them to follow through on prosecuting wrongdoers and voting down aristocracy-approved nominees who represent the accountability-free zone.

In the consumer economy, it will require boycotts, pressure campaigns, union drives, #MeToo movements, shareholder resolutions and other direct actions to hold companies and executives accountable (and as the recent minimum wage campaign against Amazon proves, those efforts can succeed). It will require support for companies that offer different models of corporate behavior, and it will require swarms of cable-news-addled dittoheads to shut off the TV and instead support other forms of media that are serious about questioning, scrutinizing and challenging power.

In the job market, it will require employers to actually fire executives when they lie, cheat, steal, harass and otherwise mistreat their workers.

And at a cultural level, it will require any and all efforts to rescind and deny social status to those who have committed egregious war, financial and sexual crimes – and it will require doing that even if those miscreants wear nice suits and have gilded credentials.

This is no easy way forward and there are no shortcuts – but if we avoid this path, then the accountability-free zone will fortify itself and we will probably see the rise of an institutionalized form of moral hazard that dooms us to a tragic repetition of history.

Why are so few US politicians from the working class? Gute frage!

After all, if there are no social or professional consequences for those who lied a country into a trillion-dollar war that amassed hundreds of thousands of casualties – if that war’s architects can remain in good standing and in high-prestige jobs – what will deter any politician or pundit from supporting a similar military conflict when it is politically opportune?

If there are no legal consequences for profiteers who defrauded the global economy into a collapse, what will deter those profiteers from doing that again?

If there are no financial consequences for fossil fuel moguls who knowingly created an ecological crisis, what will deter them from continuing to try to profit off that crisis as the planet burns?

And if a petulant zealot like Kavanaugh can be credibly accused of sexual harassment, repeatedly distort the facts during his confirmation, temper-tantrum his way through congressional hearings and still get catapulted on to the nation’s highest court – what will deter any other power-hungry child of privilege from behaving in exactly the same way?

The answer is nothing – which is exactly the point for the aristocracy. But that cannot be considered acceptable for the rest of us outside the accountability-free zone.

David Sirota is a Guardian US columnist and an investigative journalist at Capital & Main. His latest book is Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now.

What movement?

This movement’s objective is far more revolutionary: the creation of an accountability-free zone for an ennobled aristocracy, even as the rest of the population is treated to law-and-order rhetoric and painfully punitive policy.

What movement where?  Saying does not make it so.

Let’s remember that in less than two decades, America has experienced the Iraq war, the financial crisis, intensifying economic stratification, an opioid plague, persistent gender and racial inequality and now seemingly unending climate change-intensified disasters

Play that fiddle!  Make a false argument because.

That is because the United States has been turned into a safe space for a permanent ruling class. Inside the rarefied refuge, the key players who created this era’s catastrophes and who embody the most pernicious pathologies have not just eschewed punishment – many of them have actually maintained or even increased their social, financial and political status.

Correlation is not causation.  In this case there is a linkage I'll agree, but it is weak and reversed.

To wedge open the gates of the accountability-free zone, everyday citizens will have to be organized enough to overcome already well-organized money.

But at the end of this pie in the sky pontification at the very end there is a return to reality.

And if a petulant zealot like Kavanaugh can be credibly accused of sexual harassment, repeatedly distort the facts during his confirmation, temper-tantrum his way through congressional hearings and still get catapulted on to the nation’s highest court – what will deter any other power-hungry child of privilege from behaving in exactly the same way?

The answer is nothing
– which is exactly the point for the aristocracy. But that cannot be considered acceptable for the rest of us outside the accountability-free zone.

Kavanaugh is confirmed and so
The answer is nothing

 and we are doomed.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2018, 02:37:36 AM by K-Dog »
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

Offline RE

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Re: 🤴 America’s new aristocracy lives in an accountability-free zone
« Reply #661 on: October 07, 2018, 04:30:34 AM »

Kavanaugh is confirmed and so
The answer is nothing

 and we are doomed.

We were doomed anyhow.  Kav is just icing on the cake.


Offline azozeo

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Goodbye Capitalism? How Collaboration Outperforms Competition
« Reply #662 on: October 11, 2018, 01:45:13 PM »

October 8, 2018

By Floris Koot

    The Facts:We live in a society that teaches competition at every level, from school all the way up into our adult lives. But are we missing something? It’s clear that a society based on cooperation rather than individual success and competition will help us.
    Reflect On:Why are we always taught to compete? Why is cooperation not taught at every aspect as society like it is encouraged between individuals at a young age?

There are two very big reasons the “Competition leads to Better” myth is harming business, society and politics. Especially right wing politics which keeps on selling us the need for competition. Big business also glamorizes it. Yet reality shows us two very big reasons why this misconception needs to end. Just for starters, consider this: there are currently more and more regulations and laws put in place protecting big business than there are protecting individuals. And in the current USA, it’s even getting worse by the day. In large international economic treaties, the dangers are the same.
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

Offline azozeo

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Re: Goodbye Capitalism? How Collaboration Outperforms Competition
« Reply #663 on: October 11, 2018, 01:48:58 PM »

October 8, 2018

By Floris Koot

    The Facts:We live in a society that teaches competition at every level, from school all the way up into our adult lives. But are we missing something? It’s clear that a society based on cooperation rather than individual success and competition will help us.
    Reflect On:Why are we always taught to compete? Why is cooperation not taught at every aspect as society like it is encouraged between individuals at a young age?

There are two very big reasons the “Competition leads to Better” myth is harming business, society and politics. Especially right wing politics which keeps on selling us the need for competition. Big business also glamorizes it. Yet reality shows us two very big reasons why this misconception needs to end. Just for starters, consider this: there are currently more and more regulations and laws put in place protecting big business than there are protecting individuals. And in the current USA, it’s even getting worse by the day. In large international economic treaties, the dangers are the same.

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

Offline RE

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🌎 What is the United States of America?
« Reply #664 on: October 12, 2018, 12:26:52 AM »

October 11, 2018
What is the United States of America?
by Sameer Dossani

Photo Source Bruce Berrien | CC BY 2.0

Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court despite being creditably accused of multiple sexual assaults and appearing to commit perjury. He will almost definitely make a number of decisions that serve to erode the accountability of big business in general and our Molester-In-Chief in particular.

All of this is deeply troubling and it’s been reassuring to see the level of outrage across the country. But there’s a deeper conflict going on here, one over a simple question: What is the United States of America?

Is the USA the home of the free? A settler colonial state? A country of equality? Or a place where Latina women earn only 54% of what white men do, where the state smiles on police killings of black people, and where a handful of billionaires control the majority of resources and poor people scrounge to survive?

Socialist organizers like myself have a set of answers to these questions. The USA is a patriarchal, colonial, oligarchic state built on dispossession of native peoples, on slavery, continuing exclusion of people of color, and on undervaluing, objectifying and profiting from women’s bodies. Gender privilege, race privilege and class privilege are the remnants of systems that were designed to enrich the very few. In meaningful ways, those systems have not ended.

Up until now, those answers were in opposition to the answers of the people in charge. Those people (almost all of them rich white men of both major political parties) looked at the same set of data and came to different conclusions.

“Colonialism committed many crimes, but that’s all in the past,” they might say. “And besides, Native people and the descendants of slaves have access to modern comforts now, that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Capitalist economics may not be great, but it’s doing much better than the Soviet Union did. Yes there are problems, but things are in general trending up. We have equality of opportunity if not outcome. Yes there are centuries of discrimination to overcome but we’re moving towards a more just and multicultural future. Maybe not as fast as you socialists would like.” (At this point in the discussion I’d usually feel a little condescending pat on the head.) “Women are already in the boardroom and other places of power. Free trade and globalization will make these divisions meaningless in the log run.”

My debates with neoliberal elites are not about values. We all agree (or pretend to agree) that liberty, equality and justice are worthy ideals. We also agree on the data – they are intent on spinning the facts, not denying them. But where I see a need for radical social transformation, they at most see a need for minor adjustments to a status quo that works pretty well. (For them at least.)

The Trump era – and this Kavanaugh moment – is in some ways similar. We don’t disagree on the facts. No one who saw Kavanaugh’s performance on October 4 should doubt that this person is capable of belligerence and using violence to get what he wants. In addition to the allegations of sexual assault, his own friends and colleagues say that this guy should not be anywhere near the Supreme Court. And Trump himself has bragged about sexual assault. Lindsey Graham,  Susan Collins and others are simply lying when they say that there’s no credible evidence against Kavanaugh. And they know it.

And therein lies the difference between Trumpist leaders and those of an earlier era. We don’t disagree on the facts and we don’t even disagree on the spin. Kavanaugh got away with it; they believe he has the right to. As does Trump. The USA means rich white men in charge – they should be; it’s their birthright. History has winners and losers. They are the winners. Trump avoided or evaded taxes? Of course he did, taxes are for chumps. What are you gonna do about it?

The arrogance and bravado is the same whether they are talking about sexual assault, tax avoidance or global warming.

When faced with this attitude, it is tempting to join the chorus from the centre decrying the evil men who don’t even aspire to democracy and equality. But did we really have more democracy and equality when those in the political center paid lip service to it?

Instead of joining the mainstream, the socialist left should be following grassroots movements who have long been calling for transformational change. That means challenging the system where it matters – minimum wages, maximum wages, worker-owned businesses, universal good quality free healthcare and education, cracking down on the tax avoiders who should be paying for these policies, and ending mass incarceration, the military-industrial complex, and corporate welfare. There’s no shortage of transformative policy proposals; there is a shortage of political will on all sides to take these projects forward.

Politics in the age of Trump means supporting movements that are building a new set of institutions within which transparency, accountability, democracy and justice are more important than the “rights” of the few to rule over the many. Those institutions need to be asshole-proof. Over-privileged men should not be able to co-opt and control those new institutions. Those working within and outside of the left of the Democratic party – like the Democratic Socialists of America – have their work cut out for them. Transformation needs to go mainstream and fast. As does accountability for the rich and powerful.

If other Democrats – those who occupy the current mainstream and see themselves as guardians of the status quo – are willing to be allies in that process they are more than welcome to pick up a picket sign, send emails to their lists and make phone calls like the rest of us.

Offline RE

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🤴 Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh, and the Rule of Pampered Princelings
« Reply #665 on: October 13, 2018, 04:30:13 AM »

Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh, and the Rule of Pampered Princelings
Naomi Klein
October 10 2018, 10:40 a.m.

“Boring.” That was Donald Trump’s instant verdict on the New York Times’s blockbuster investigation into the rampant tax fraud and nepotism that undergirds his fortune. Sarah Huckabee Sanders heartily concurred, informing the White House press corps that she refused to “go through every line of a very boring, 14,000-word story.”

Welcome to a new political PR strategy premised on the shredding of the American mind — you don’t want to even try to read that interminable article; check out my Twitter feed instead, and this viral video of me saying rabid things.

The Times investigation, published as a standalone supplement on Sunday, is about as boring as a car accident. It shows in lavish detail that Trump’s creation myth is and always has been a work of fiction. No, he did not take a “very, very small” million-dollar loan from his father and use his deal-making acumen to parlay it into a $10-billion global empire, while paying the original loan back with interest.

NEW YORK CITY - DECEMBER 12: Donald Trump and Fred Trump attend "The Art of the Deal" Book Party on December 12, 1987 at Trump Tower in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Trump has been sucking on a spigot of his father’s cash nonstop since he was in diapers, becoming a millionaire by middle school. According to the Times, when all was said and done, “Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.” Moreover, “much of it was never repaid.” As for the rest of the mythology, not only was he spending his father’s money, he blew much of it on disastrous deal after disastrous deal. Only to be bailed out by his father’s millions time and time again.

Rather than bothering to deny any of this, Trump and his surrogates have simply spun a new creation myth. No longer the scrappy, self-made man, Trump is being reincarnated in real time as the chosen son, with he and his father acting as partners in wealth creation. “One thing the article did get right,” Sanders said, clearly reading from notes, “is it showed that the president’s father actually had a great deal of confidence in him. In fact, the president brought his father into a lot of deals and made a lot of money together. So much so that his father went on to say that ‘everything [Trump] touched turned to gold.’”

This shift is more significant than it first appears. After a couple of years of hobnobbing with Saudi monarchs and Queen Elizabeth II, the president appears ready to embrace his true identity as a scion of a dynasty who did not build his fortune by himself, but who is, instead, the product of an especially blessed family that passes a magic touch through the generations.

What makes the Times’ revelations more important is that they are a rare window into an even larger story about the growing political and economic role of inherited money in the United States — the culmination of decades in which a handful of sons and daughters of bequeathed wealth waged a fierce and relentless battle of ideas against the very concept of equality and majority rule, all based on the same corrupting belief in their own inherent superiority.

Trump may be the highest profile of such heirs to wield political power, but he never would have gotten where he is without the ideological scaffolding carefully put in place by other scions of dynastic families — from the late John M. Olin and Richard Mellon Scaife in the ’80s and ’90s to Charles and David Koch and Rebekah Mercer today. These are the key figures who bankrolled the think tanks, financed the extreme free-market university programs, and funded the tea party shock troops that moved the Republican Party so far to the right that Trump could stomp in and grab it.

It was their project that created a fake consensus about the need for the radical deregulating of markets and dismantling of environmental protections, for lowering corporate taxes and eliminating the “death tax” — and paying for it all by dismantling so-called entitlements. It was an effort that always required harnessing the emotional power of racism (think “welfare queens”), as well as the parallel construction of a highly racialized system of mass incarceration to warehouse the poor (and profit from them, of course). The Trump presidency — never mind the economic populism he bellowed on the election trail— is the near-perfect embodiment of this agenda.

A great deal of excellent investigative journalism has gone into tracking the money behind this sprawling class war, most notably by Jane Mayer in her indispensable “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.” Mayer showed that though figures like the Kochs are highly ideological, the policies pushed by these wealthy families also happen to directly benefit their bottom lines. Laxer regulations, lower taxes, weaker unions, and unfettered access to international markets tend to do that.

Much less attention, however, has been paid to the implications of so much of this financing coming not just from unfathomably rich people, but people born that way. And yet it is striking that the figures at the dead center of this campaign were not Chicago school economists, nor were most of them self-made business leaders who had pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. They were, like Trump, pampered princelings whose fortunes had been handed to them by their parents.

The Koch brothers were raised in luxury and inherited Koch Industries from their father (who built his fortune constructing refineries under Stalin and Hitler). Scaife was an heir to the Gulf Oil, Alcoa Aluminum, and Mellon Banks fortunes and grew up in an estate so lavish it was populated with pet penguins. Olin took over his father’s weapons and chemicals company.

And so it goes, right down to Betsy DeVos, who was raised by billionaire Edgar Prince and married into the Amway fortune — and who has devoted her life to dismantling public education, now from inside the Trump administration. And let’s not forget Rupert Murdoch, who inherited a chain of newspapers from his father and is in the process of handing over his media empire to his sons. Or relative newcomer Rebekah Mercer, who has chipped off a chunk of her father Robert’s hedge fund fortune to bankroll Breitbart News, among other pet projects. In short, these people are Downton Abbey lords and masters, playacting as Ayn Rand heroes.

Of course, there are some self-made billionaires, like Sheldon Adelson, who have helped bankroll the revolution on the right. But when it comes to the battle of ideas — the careful investments in pro-business academic programs at elite universities, the extreme right-wing think tanks, the strident media outlets, and now the harnessing of big data and “machine learning” in Republican political campaigns — the role of inherited wealth cannot be overstated.

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 06: Donald Trump and father Fred Trump at opening of Wollman Rink. (Photo by Dennis Caruso/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Self-Made Scions

It is worth pausing over this fact, because in a country with as powerful a meritocratic mythology as the United States, the heirs to great wealth often have a rather complicated relationship with their fortunes. Some blow it on yachts and vanity projects. Some become determined to show their fathers up by expanding their empires. Some give almost all of their wealth to charity. Some hide it from everyone they know. An all-too-rare few try to use their wealth to build a fairer economy and less toxic ecology.

But what must it take to pour large parts of a fortune that came to you by accident of birth into a relentless campaign of further affirmative action for the rich?

How exactly do you rationalize being lifted up by an intricate latticework of familial and social supports (tutors, prep schools, connections at the best universities, entry-level executive jobs, capital to play with), and then setting about shredding the meager safety net available to those without your good luck? How do you convince yourself that, despite having been handed so much, you are not just right but righteous in attacking the “handouts” received by single mothers working two jobs? How, when you know your own family fortune has benefited from enormous government subsidies (cheap housing loans for the Trumps, oil subsidies for the Kochs and Scaifes, direct weapons contracts for the Olins) do you begrudge paying the same tax rate as your employees?

What is the theory, the worldview, that makes all this OK? And how has it shaped the broader “free market” revolution paid for by these men — a crusade that has just achieved a new level of impunity with the ascent of Brett Kavanaugh, a product of this same world of unchecked privilege, to the Supreme Court?

You can claim to be a wealth-creator, sure. But because you didn’t actually create the wealth yourself — you inherited it — other rationales are required for why you deserve still more, while others should get far less. That’s where uglier ideas come in, about one’s inherent superiority, about a greater deservedness that apparently flows from being a member of a particularly good family, with better values, better breeding, a better religion, or as Trump so often claims, “good genes.”

And of course the even darker side is the often unspoken conviction that the people who do not share in this kind of good fortune must possess the opposite traits — they must be defective in both body and mind. This is where the Republican Party’s increasingly savage racial and gender politics merge seamlessly with its radical wealth-stratifying economic project. Convinced that people belong where they are on the economic and social ladder, the party can keep redistributing wealth upward to the dynastic families that fund their movement, while kicking the ladder out of the way for those reaching for the lower rungs.

In this context, the “losers” (Trump’s favorite insult, aimed disproportionately at the nonwhite and non-male), can not only be stripped of food stamps and health care and left for more than a year without roofs in Puerto Rico, but are also acceptable targets for all kinds of degradations, whether having their children caged in desert internment camps, or having their experiences of sexual assault mocked in open arenas.

The latter part of this equation is what Trump is offering to his base: Their birth will never reward them with anything like the hundreds of millions showered on the Trumps. But they are being invited to share in their own, albeit more modest, birthright entitlements as white, middle-class Americans. They are being invited to be on the winning team, “taking our country back” from any and all invaders and threats, from immigrants taking “our” jobs to women bearing damaging stories against “our” sons.

That is the grand bargain: Trump gets to fully claim his inheritance as a scion of wealth and his base gets to claim their inheritance as white citizens of a Christian, patriarchal nation. Oh, and like the royal families with whom he is so enamored, Trump will reward his loyal subjects by putting on an endless stream of entertaining shows and performances. He hasn’t gotten his military parade yet, but think of Trump’s ritualistic rallies and never-off reality show as crasser versions of royal pomp and palace intrigues. The divine right of kings has been replaced by the divine right of wealth — and it looks almost exactly the same.

None of this should be surprising. Any system marked by sharp inequality and injustice requires a narrative of justification. Colonial savagery and land theft required the doctrine of discovery, manifest destiny, terra nullius, and other expressions of Christian and European supremacy. The transatlantic slave trade, similarly, demanded an intellectual and legal system built on white supremacy and “scientific” racism. Patriarchy and the subjugation of women required an architecture of yet more pseudoscientific theories about female intellectual inferiority and emotionality.

Without these theories — and the lawyers, scientists, and other experts who stepped forward to give them credence — the injustices of all these systems would have been untenable. Our current system of ever more grotesque inequalities is no different. The mythology of the self-made elite once did the trick of justifying the United States’ wealth gap and threadbare safety net.

The ultrarich in the United States have long insisted that they built their empires with sweat and smarts, unlike their aristocratic brethren in Britain and France, and therefore deserve them more. Central to this story was the idea that anyone with smarts and drive could do the same, since there was no entrenched class system stopping them. (In the Trumpian version of this story, you could be just like him if you paid up for his how-to-get-rich books and fraudulent “university” while studying back episodes of “The Apprentice”).

“We like to pretend that no such thing as a ruling class has ever darkened an American shore or danced by the light of an American moon,” former Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham once remarked.

This was never true. The American political system began as a protection racket for propertied white men, granting inalienable rights to a minority at the direct expense of enslaved Africans and women. Serious proposals to level the playing field — from a truly integrated public school system to fair wages for domestic work — were squashed again and again.

Meanwhile, like Trump himself, many of the hypersuccessful men who proudly wear the mantle of being “self-made” are in profound denial about how much help they received from their family and social networks. Kavanaugh, a member of the American elite, if not the ultrarich, is a case in point. During the Senate hearings, he snarled that he got into Yale Law School by “busting my tail,” insisting “I had no connections there.” No connections except that his grandfather went to Yale, which means that Kavanaugh very likely didn’t get in only because he managed to do his homework with a piercing hangover, but also because he was a prime candidate for a “legacy” admittance.

An excerpt from Brett Kavanaugh’s Yale yearbook. Some personal information has been redacted for privacy.
Image: White House released

The truth is that many children of elite families enjoy all kinds of unacknowledged protections that make failure a herculean effort. In childhood, bad grades are fixed with expensive tutoring (and, if necessarily, remedial boarding or military schools.) At top Ivy League universities, rampant grade inflation is a poorly kept secret, with wealthy students frequently lodging successful grievances against professors and graduate students who dare give them anything less than an “A,” no matter how mediocre their work. In adulthood, bad business bets are backstopped with family money and connections. On Wall Street, it’s the government that steps in to bail out reckless bets since chances are that your workplace is too big to fail.

None of this is to say that the very wealthy are lazy or lead lives free of pain. Many work nonstop (as do the working poor, under unimaginably harder conditions). Moreover, elite institutions — prep schools, fraternities, secret societies — tend to build in their own brutal hazing rituals. Top corporate law firms and investment banks put new recruits through grueling hours and ruthlessly pit them against one another for bonuses and promotions.

Inside families with great fortunes at stake, siblings are similarly pitted against each other for control of the greatest prizes. So Trump fashioned himself as a “killer” to beat out his older brother Fred for his father’s favor. And, as Mayer reported, the three younger Koch brothers staged a mock trial accusing their oldest brother (also named Fred) of being gay so that he would relinquish his claim to the family fortune.

All of this is part of a time-tested process of training and indoctrination designed to toughen up the soft sons of privilege so they are ready to be as cutthroat as their fathers. But surviving such elite trials often convinces people like Donald Trump, Charles Koch, and Brett Kavanaugh that they are where they are solely because they worked their respective tails off.

Citadel Investment Group President and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Griffin testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, before the House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on "Hedge Funds and the Financial Market". (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Failure Is for Other People

It reminds me of a talk I once heard by Kenneth Griffin, a billionaire hedge fund manager in Chicago, who at the time was in a state of distress about an Obama plan to increase taxes. Speaking to a group of elite college students about his rise to enormous wealth, he told a story about how his family had given him some capital to start a hedge fund in his Harvard dorm room (where so many rags-to-riches stories seem to begin), complete with a satellite hook-up to receive real-time market data. He confessed to the students that this first foray into trading had not gone well, that he had in fact lost a lot of other people’s money. Fortunately, however, he was entrusted with still more start-up capital, was able to start again, and that’s where he began his rise to being what he is today: the richest man in Illinois.

Asked by a student how he got through the tough times, this “self-made” billionaire replied: “America is incredibly forgiving of failure.”

What struck me most at the time was that Griffin seemed to genuinely believe what he was saying — that a country in which millions are one illness away from homelessness, and which at that time imprisoned 2.3 million people, “is incredibly forgiving of failure.” He was convinced that his personal experience of being repeatedly caught by his own personal family safety net was a universal American experience — and that let him fight to lower his tax bill and further shred the safety net with what appeared to be a clear conscience.

Chuck Collins, an heir to a family fortune who gave it up in order to fight entrenched inequality, recently wrote about the moral risks that accrue when so many powerful people, from Trump to Kavanaugh, deceive themselves about how much they were helped. “If I believe that success is based entirely on personal grit,” he wrote for CNN, “then why should I pay taxes so that someone else can have a comparable head start to mine — with early childhood education, access to quality health care and mental health services, and low-cost higher education?”

Why indeed? And why support any form of affirmative action when you are in denial about all the extra support that landed you where you are today?

There are other moral hazards that result from this denial as well — perils that put whole societies at risk when these overconfident men assume power. Because if your experience is that every time you stumble, you recover as if by magic, then you will be much more prone to upping the ante next time, convinced that you and yours will surely be alright in the end, as you have always been.

So why not refuse to regulate derivatives? The market will self-correct. Why not pour that toxic waste into a river? The solution to pollution is dilution, right? And why not invade Iraq? It will surely be a “cakewalk.” And while we’re at it, why not ignore decade after decade of warnings from climate scientists telling us that if we didn’t get emissions under control, we will run out of time? Come on, don’t be so negative, surely technology will save us, it certainly has been great for Uber.

I gave a TED talk about this mentality a decade ago called “Addicted to Risk,” and if you want to know where it all leads, have a glance at the harrowing new U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, released earlier this week.

Because now the whole thing is unraveling. The reckless bets are coming due — economically and ecologically. And the self-made mythology is unraveling too. That’s why Trump isn’t bothering to defend himself — it’s all gotten too obvious to deny. Too much money is pooling at the highest economic echelons. Single families — like the Waltons and the Cargills — are hogging too many spots on the Forbes 400 list.

Back in 2012, United for a Fair Economy published a report on the role of inherited wealth on that list. It found that “40 percent of the Forbes 400 list inherited a sizable asset from a family member or spouse, and over 20 percent inherited sufficient wealth to make the list. In addition, 17 percent of the Forbes 400 have family members on the list.”

There are signs that the role of inherited wealth has only increased since then. That’s because the assets held by the already rich — in real estate, the stock market, and in direct corporate profits — are growing at a significantly higher rate than the overall economy and the salaries of working people, which are stagnating.

This was one of the key insights of Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”:

    Whenever the rate of return on capital is significantly and durably higher than the growth rate of the economy, it is all but inevitable that inheritance (of fortunes accumulated in the past) predominates over saving (wealth accumulated in the present). … Wealth originating in the past automatically grows more rapidly, even without labour, than wealth stemming from work, which can be saved.

This is compounded by the successful crusade by the scions of the ultrarich to lower corporate and income taxes and chip away at the “death tax,” which once significantly shrunk the fortunes passed from one generation to the next. And then, as Collins points out, there is the complicity and creativity of tax lawyers and accounting firms who have grown ever more adept at hiding trillions in wealth from a scandalously complicit IRS. (Collins calls it the “dynasty protection racket.”)

Under Trump, who has profited so handsomely from all of these rackets, the pots of wealth being passed down within families are set to overflow even further. Among the many handouts in Trump’s tax law, the first $22.4 million gifted from parents to children is exempt from the estate tax. (“Final Tax Bill Includes Huge Estate Tax Win for the Rich,” announced a euphoric Forbes headline last December.)

Is it any surprise that, as the economy changes — with the very idea of meritocracy under sustained assault both by the new tech monopolies that quash competition and the increasing power of dynastic wealth — those uglier stories that rationalize untenable levels of inequality are roaring to the surface?

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 11: 60 MINUTES Correspondent Lesley Stahl interviews President-elect Donald J. Trump and his family shown here from left: Tiffany Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Donald Trump, Eric Trump, Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump at his Manhattan home Friday afternoon (November 11, 2016). The sit-down was his first post-election interview for television and will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Nov. 13 (7;00-8:00PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Image is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Wealth and Destiny

These are the theories that hold that the wealthy and powerful deserve their lopsided share not primarily because of their hard work but because of their identity — the family they were born into, their (imagined) superior genetics, their supposedly elevated values, and of course, their race, religion, and gender. Inside the logic of this story, success does not come because you were showered with privileges. You were showered with privileges because you are better.

A few years back, Jamie Johnson, one of the heirs to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, interviewed other members of his wealthy cohort for the film “Born Rich” and its sequel, “The One Percent.” He observed that while he was struggling to understand why he deserved to be handed so much money just because he had managed to turn 21, “For some people I talked to, inequality is easy to understand. It’s preordained.”

People like Roy O. Martin III, president and CEO of the Louisiana-based Roy O. Martin Lumber Company, which was previously headed by his father and grandfather. Martin told Johnson, “If you inherit money, you feel ‘why did I get all this and somebody else is poor?’ Well, God has a reason for it. God’s never going to give you something you can’t handle.” Being rich, he went on, means that “God has given you a lot of assets to be stewards of.”

Collins told me that he has encountered these supremacist theories frequently in the moneyed circles he grew up in and in conversations around the estate tax — “and it’s happening more as we become more unequal.” In some cases, people are still genuinely convinced that they worked for all the money they have. But where this is obviously not the case, different justifications are emerging. “They responded that ‘our family is deserving. We have better values that we have passed on or a different work ethic.’” And sometimes, Collins told me, this self-justification slips into more dangerous territory. “You hear that this is all genetics. Or that ‘our health is better’ or ‘we have more energy.’”

Only ideas like these can help justify a passion to avoid taxes on a pile of wealth that has been passed through four generations. You have to believe there is something inherently superior about your family. And even if it is left unsaid, you also have to believe the corollary — that there is something inherently inferior about the people who would benefit from those taxes. Just as you deserve your unearned place at the top, so others must deserve theirs at the bottom — they are “bad hombres,” come from “shit-hole countries,” and so on.  All the easier to abuse, deport, even torture.

Indeed, if you have been raised on a narrative of your own specialness and exceptionality, you may well be prone to believe that all kinds of things are your divine right. You might believe that you have a right to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court despite never having tried a case. You might believe you have a right to become president despite having a closet full of skeletons and no history of public service.

And, in some cases, you may well feel entitled to do things to people against their will who are not in your rarefied club — whether forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy she does not choose, or grabbing women’s bodies without their consent. Or to do whatever it takes to shut her up — be it a hand over her mouth or a “catch and kill” story in the National Inquirer.

Trump’s sense of entitlement to massive amounts of inherited wealth and political power is not something his mostly middle- and working-class followers have the privilege of sharing. But that misses an important point: In boiling times like ours, supremacist thinking is contagious. When elites indulge their ugliest beliefs about their divine right to keep winning, it trickles down, giving their supporters license to assume their own imagined superior status — over anyone who seems sufficiently undefended.

This is an intensely hierarchical worldview that is completely comfortable with a minority making decisions for a majority in a rigged electoral system, just as it feels no need to reconcile two totally different visions of justice — “innocent until proven guilty” when it comes to Brett Kavanaugh’s job application and, as Trump told a gathering of police chiefs on Monday, “stop and frisk” for anyone seen as a possible criminal in Chicago (obvious code for a black person walking down the street). This is not seen as a contradiction: There are simply two classes of people — us and them, winners and losers, people deserving of rights and everyone else.

By abandoning his Horatio Alger schtick and embracing his new identity as a chosen son, the one with the golden touch, Trump is signaling that he thinks his base is ready to abandon the whole idea not just of meritocracy, but equality itself — and we should definitely pay attention.

You can see the effects of this moral degeneration at work in the president’s own family: Trump at least felt some shame about his silver spoon, which is why he built his identity, however laughably, on being a self-made man. He knew his wealth would be less impressive if he admitted how much he had inherited.

But his children feel no such compunction to lie and, much like the crown princes of oil emirates and the “princeling” spawns of top Chinese party officials, they seem to revel in their status as heirs to a throne. All came to notoriety as bit players on “The Apprentice,” and all have built their reputations solely around being “a Trump,” as if the name alone bestowed some magical powers, and they were part of their father’s capacity to turn everything he touches into gold.

So Ivanka and Jared blithely take control over large parts of the U.S. government, despite having no relevant experience and never having been elected to anything. And when Eric and Don Jr. announced last year that they would be opening a chain of boutique hotels, the name they selected was telling indeed. It would be called “Scion,” a defiant celebration of the idle heirs to dynastic families if ever there was one. It seems that the trust fund set is tired of pretending that they have earned their good fortune and are instead ready to claim it openly for what it is: a birthright.

As more and more inherited wealth is passed, tax-free, from one generation to the next, we can expect to see much more of such shamelessness.

All of this was foretold. Almost two years ago, Trump held his first television interview after the 2016 elections. It was for “60 Minutes,” and he lined up the entire family on golden, throne-like chairs. That should have been our first clue that American capitalism was entering a new stage: the Age of the Pampered Princeling.

Offline azozeo

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Jamie Dimon sounds warning about 'geopolitical issues bursting
« Reply #666 on: October 13, 2018, 04:23:42 PM »

Jamie Dimon sounds warning about 'geopolitical issues bursting all over the place' 
 Fri, 12 Oct 2018

J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon raised concerns Friday that rising interest rates and geopolitical flareups could derail U.S. economic growth.

"The economy is still very strong, and that's across wages, job creation, capital expenditure, consumer credit; it's pretty broad-based and it's not going to be diminished immediately," Dimon said in a media conference call following his bank's earnings report. "I was pointing out the probabilities that I thought were higher that rates would go up. I still believe that. I do think you're going to see higher rates."
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

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⚖️ Before the Law
« Reply #667 on: October 18, 2018, 12:11:15 AM »

Before the Law
October 17, 2018 Patrice de Bergeracpas


by John Steppling

The Verdict: flawed hero Newman battles the corrupt establishment (including James Mason), and wins. Hollywood’s ode to a false reality.

    The limited formal and negative generality of law under liberalism not only makes possible capitalist calculability but also guarantees a minimum of liberty since formal liberty has two aspects and makes available at least legal chances to the weak. For this reason there develops a conflict between the law and the liberties based thereon on the one side, and the requirements of a monopolistic economy on the other side. Under monopolistic capitalism private property in the means of production as the characteristic institution of the entire bourgeois epoch is preserved but general law and contract disappear and are replaced by individual measures on the part of the sovereign.

    – Franz Neumann, The Change in the Function of Law in Modern Society, 1937

    Large Capitalist firms — banks as well as monopoly concerns — long ago ceased to depend on court proceedings to conduct their affairs with members of other social groups.

    – Otto Kircheimer, State Structure and Law in the Third Reich, 1935 pamphlet

    What is legalism? It is the ethical attitude that holds moral conduct to be a matter of rule following, and moral relationships to consist of duties and rights determined by rules.

    – Judith Shklar, Legalism

    Do not the bourgeois assert that the present-day distribution is ‘fair’? And is it not, in fact, the only ‘fair’ distribution on the basis of the present-day mode of production? Are economic relations regulated by legal conceptions or do not, on the contrary, legal relations arise from economic ones?

    – Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program

Watching the Kavanaugh circus the last few weeks I kept thinking about the way in which the general public now views law and justice. I suspect most Americans think of law and legality in terms they have learned from Hollywood TV. Perhaps there is no other area in which the general public relies so extensively on assumptions and cliche as the judicial system. But it also raises questions about the law that I suspect even relatively well-educated people never ask themselves.

The entire narrative that is manufactured each time a justice is nominated to the Supreme Court is among the more overblown and hysterical versions of political theatre we are granted but also the most opaque. For the vast majority of people have no real legal knowledge, nor do they understand the intricacies of the entire appellate courts system. Like most things that pass for politics in America, the nomination is treated as a form of American Idol or a beauty pageant.

But there is another issue attached to the spectacle that accompanies Supreme Court nominations and that has to do with a more philosophical set of questions about both class, and about psychology. And the most obvious and most forgotten (and intentionally obscured) truth about the rule of law is that it is not impartial or in any way democratic.

Mass incarceration shows no sign of slowing down despite the very tireless and relentless work of prison critics and death penalty activists. ICE continues to round up people and separate children from their parents. All legal of course. Children are sentenced as adults. Men are given life terms for drug offenses. The criminalization of life continues to expand. Criminal codes increase. And that increase and expansion mirrors the German criminal law system under National Socialism.

    The first period after the downfall of the Weimar Republic was marked by the rise of authoritarian ideology. An authoritarian criminal theory mingled with elements of the old classical school, dominated the academic field. In the criminal courts the transition was immediately reflected by the imposition of harsher punishments, and by a weakening of the status of the defendant.

    – Otto Kircheimer, Criminal Law in National Socialist Germany

The second shift Kircheimer notes was a shift from the objective facts of the case to the subjective. It was the Nietzschian theory being appropriated. The subjective took the form of a focus on intent, and served thereby to obscure the distinction between act and intention. Id argue one sees a version of this logic today in the valorizing of remorse. It has become a singularly elevated component in evaluating the appropriate punishment, and more, in how to *feel* about the criminal. The unrepentant are the lowest rung on the ladder of guilt. Remorse and confession eclipse the actual commissioned criminal act. In the Germany of the thirties the law allowed for vagueness in the service of expansion. And in a sense today, victim’s rights and a new subjectivity of remorse and confession are in the service of widening the definition of crime itself. And all correctives (#metoo for example) are quickly absorbed within a trend that strips away presumptions of innocence and the rights of the accused. For denying accusations sounds perilously close to unapologetic and lacking in the qualities of penitence.

    Another instance of professional attitudes may be seen in the way in which such a citadel of conservative lawyerdom as the American Bar Association addresses itself to social issues. Matters are taken up one by one, in isolation from the social context and without discussion of the basic issue. Precisely because the A.B.A. regards itself as the official spokesman of the bar it must present its views in a formal manner that gives the appearance of being supra-political and almost without concrete content. It is the independence of the judiciary, the separation of powers, the preservation of fundamental rights, or just fairness, the policy of justice-never the specific social interests or purposes of policies-that is discussed.

    – Judith Shklar, Legalism

Shklar wrote Legalism in 1964. She presciently articulated the front edges of that neo Nietzschian fascist sensibility at work in the intentional vagueness that allowed for its use in traversing any theoretical problems with mass warehousing of the poor, cruel and unusual punishments, torture, and executions.

The men who reach candidacy for appointments to positions of authority in the legal apparatus are, these days certainly, uniformly guided by a belief in retaining the status quo, and a devotion to the societal direction of control and oppressive social forms. There are no radicals available even if a President, in a fit of madness, wanted to appoint one.

    On balance and over the span of American history, the court has in fact done far more to retard progress than to advance it. Most horribly, the court upheld in its decision in Dred Scott the sanctity of slavers’ property interest in other humans. The court likewise approved in its Korematsu decision the World War II–era imprisonment of Japanese Americans based on nothing more than fear and paranoia. The court recently claimed to overturn Korematsu, but in the context of the Trump v. Hawaii decision in which the court upheld the constitutionality of Trump’s Muslim travel ban. In the Citizens United case, meanwhile, the court turned back legislative efforts to rein in the corruption of our politics that follows inevitably from our First Amendment–sponsored orgy of special interest contributions.

    – Christopher Jon Sprigman

    In fact, through most of its history the Supreme Court has engaged in the wildest conservative judicial activism in defense of privileged groups. ( ) Right-wing judicial activism reached a frenzy point in George W. Bush v. Al Gore. In a 5-to-4 decision, the conservatives overruled the Florida Supreme Court’s order for a recount in the 2000 presidential election. The justices argued with breathtaking contrivance that since different Florida counties might use different modes of tabulating ballots, a hand recount would violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. By preventing a recount, the Supreme Court gave the presidency to Bush.

    In recent years these same conservative justices have held that the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause could not be used to stop violence against women, or provide a more equitable mode of property taxes, or a more equitable distribution of funds between rich and poor school districts.

    – Michael Parenti

Michael Mandel pointed out that “When dealing in their writings with legality, Marx and Engels sought to discredit completely any notion of an autonomous or egalitarian legal realm capable of transcending or resolving the discord, unfulfillment and subjugation of everyday life or (most importantly) of restraining the oppressive social power of class society.” And it was Marx who formulated the concept of base/superstructure. For the total reality (base) of life is found in the total of its relations of production — on top of which a superstructure of political and legal institutions is built.

Here again, however, one sees the overall dumbing down of the American public. And I’m honestly not sure how much of a journey that was. The TV staple ‘lawyer show’ is almost always prosecutorial, and rarely about defense lawyers. There was one, The Divide, but it was cancelled after one season due to low ratings. This is the culture (and here I’m speaking of the white bourgeoisie) that thrives on and embraces racist rhetoric like ‘super predator’ and who fail to see the dogged xenophobia and racism of all lawyer shows. In fact the single most predominant theme or plot is that of white saviour; the idealistic DA (sic) working to help the “good” black or hispanic kid from the clutches of gangs and drug dealers (the vast majority of the residents of the *ghetto*). White paternalism has always been a hallmark of Hollywood drama. But I digress.

    These are difficulties which the man from the country has not expected to meet, the Law, he thinks, should be accessible to every man and at all times, but when he looks more closely at the doorkeeper in his furred robe, with his huge pointed nose and long, thin, Tartar beard, he decides that he had better wait until he gets permission to enter. The doorkeeper gives him a stool and lets him sit down at the side of the door. There he sits waiting for days and years.

    – Kafka, “Before the Law,” from The Trial

What is important to recognize is the hegemonic nature of the legal system, and of laws. There is a consensus which grows out of an atmosphere, or backdrop that is society wide, and which is manufactured and presented by media and entertainment over and over again. And today these assumptions and consensus travel across various economic trans-national blocs. The paradox, if that is what it, of a growing nationalist frenzy in Europe and the U.S. serves to mask the greater cooperation of these global economic blocs. And such blocs are also rather fluid, though not completely. And while cynical regarding Nationalistic interests, they also often fall prey themselves to such jingoism. This is the global reality and it shadows domestic institutions, and that most certainly includes the courts. For these economic blocs are immune to judicial or legal interference or sanction.

    “The idea that the law plays a central role in the American imagination and political imagination is well- trodden ground; noticed early on by Tocqueville and today provocatively framed by some as a form of religious observance for the foundational document that is the U.S. Constitution, the idea of law looms large in the American liberal imagination. One is hard pressed to find an account of liberalism — be it by its proponents or by its critics — that does not feature the rule of law as one of its main tenets, if not as its central normative feature.”

    – Tiphaine Dickson, Shklar’s Legalism and the Liberal Paradox

The courts are reflective, on several levels, of life in the U.S. It is racist firstly. Profoundly so. In death penalty cases, 97% of DA’s were white. And not just that…

    [A]n investigation of all murder cases prosecuted . . . from 1973 to 1990 revealed that in cases involving the murder of a white person, prosecutors often met with the victim’s family and discussed whether to seek the death penalty. In a case involving the murder of the daughter of a prominent white contractor, the prosecutor contacted the contractor and asked him if he wanted to seek the death penalty. When the contractor replied in the affirmative, the prosecutor said that was all he needed to know. He obtained the death penalty at trial. He was rewarded with a contribution of $5,000 from the contractor when he successfully ran for judge in the next election. The contribution was the largest received by the District Attorney. There were other cases in which the District Attorney issued press releases announcing that he was seeking the death penalty after meeting with the family of a white victim. But prosecutors failed to meet with African-Americans whose family members had been murdered to determine what sentence they wanted. Most were not even notified that the case had been resolved. As a result of these practices, although African-Americans were the victims of 65% of the homicides in the Chattahoochee Judicial District, 85% of the capital cases were white victim cases.

    – Steven Bright, Santa Clara Law Review, “Death and Denial: The Tolerance of Racial Discrimination in Infliction of the Death Penalty,” 1995

One could continue citing statistics for a few hundred pages. The courts express American intolerance and inequality as if under a magnifying glass. And remember that that religious adulation reserved for the *Founding Fathers* (sic) usually conveniently omits that most of them owned slaves. Judith Shklar wrote of the Supreme Court…“…this is an institution obviously irreconcilable with democracy, but results from the conjunction of the three following facts: legal traditions inherited from the colonial and Revolutionary period, distrust of any government, and a democracy which had little confidence in itself.”

The courts are factories to process surplus humanity, in the eyes of the ruling class anyway.

    “The laws of history were dictated by the proprietorial class organized in the state. “

    – Gramsci, The Conquest of the State

So, returning to the Brett Kavanaugh circus. (side bar note: Brett boy is a Catholic, which may account for his deficiencies as a public weeper. Evangelicals are far superior at crying. See: Swaggert, Jimmy. Weber, Rep. Randy. Baker, Jim.) The fact is that Obama’s last nominee Merrick Garland was almost a cookie cutter cutout ideologically from Kavanaugh, and John Roberts seems of no interest to most liberals. And it again a part of this ‘American Idolization’ of the political that no major media outlet ever addresses the fact that even Ginsburg, the erstwhile liberal on the court, is eons removed from William O.Douglas or Brennan. In fact…per the N.Y. Times (circa 1997 it should be noted):

    A recent survey by the libertarian Institute for Justice examined Supreme Court opinions between 1993 and 1996. The survey lamented the fact that the Justices least likely to strike down laws infringing civil and economic liberties were President Clinton’s appointees, Justices Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, who voted to uphold Government power in two-thirds of the cases examined.

Ginsburg is also tight with Antonin Scalia. Go figure, huh.
Law & Order —a long-running franchise—used pseudo verisimilitude in its claim to dramatic neorealism. The investigations might have been closer to fact than the judicial outcomes.

So it is hard to muster much outrage over another uptight white guy becoming a supreme court justice. The higher courts are the expression of an illusory coherence and imaginary neutrality that it is alleged, stands above the merely political. But in fact it is at its core political. The courts adaptation of a rarified positivist grammar, one that carries with it a kind of scientific precision (and it is precise, if one allows it to frame itself. Precise and even beautiful) are in fact neither neutral nor precise. But this distance, this hermetic emotionless rationality is really in the service of removing social trauma and human suffering from the rulings, and to hide the class mediated selectivity at work.

In the arena of international law, the first problem has to do with tribunals created by members of the U.N. security council. For such tribunals (The ICTY, at the Hague and the ICTR at Arusha, et al) are trying individuals whose countries of origin are not members of the security council and hence cannot create ad hoc tribunals. Nor can these individuals refuse to participate. Milosevic, who was kidnapped by the U.S. and taken to the Hague, opened his defense by declaring the tribunal illegitimate. Of course the trial went ahead and he died in custody. A decade later he was acquitted.

It is interesting to note that nobody involved in the killing of Osama bin Ladin was ever thought to be put on trial. Nor whatever drone pilot hit the sixteen year old American Anwar al-Awlaki. The father did bring a suit but it was dismissed out of hand. Or is it possible for the nation of Honduras to form an ad hoc tribunal to consider the role of the U.S. in the recent coup that unleashed massive violence. Could Venezuela form an ad hoc tribunal? No.

Tiphaine Dickson, in her remarkably comprehensive examination of the evolution of international criminal law, notes, the ascendency of human rights as a foreign policy principle took place as an arm of neoliberalism, and came out of a variety of factors that included corporatism, Vietnam and American shame, and in theory the failure of political utopias — this last was really the argument of Samuel Moyn. And failure is certainly a relative term.

    By all accounts, human rights organizations made the conscious choice to scuttle socio-economic rights in order to streamline and mainstream their message; in today’s cynical marketing parlance, we would speak of clarifying their brand. This certainly contradicts the idea that these movements stood like deer in the headlights before an unexpected neoliberal ten-ton truck: they had already known it best to dash away to the safe-haven of the atrocity and the war crime.

    – Tiphaine Dickson, On the Poverty, Rise, and Demise of International Criminal Law

Moyn described the *spectacular atrocity as the organizational fulcrum* of international moral conscience. Now there was also a decided colonial flavor to this marketing parlance. And to its choices. The *dark continent* was the perfect backdrop for the association of primitive bestial violence. A violence that far exceeded what was possible in the advanced West. It is that super predator theme again. And it is again white paternalism. There was another factor in the rise of this specific human rights consciousness and that was what is termed “Holocaust Memory”. The Holocaust industry. So neoliberalism, inequality, and the Holocaust memory idea roughly came to prominence at the same time. And it is interesting, perhaps, to observe the rise of ‘victim’s rights’ in domestic criminal law and practice, a short while later. The role of American guilt, then, is tied into this, or at least the shaping of and control of how guilt is viewed and experienced.

    After its defeat in Vietnam, and Richard Nixon’s normalization of relations with China, the United States engaged in a major ideological shift. In the early 1970s, the United States used the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe to redefine its enemy. Under the cover of détente with Moscow, this East-West conference agreed on measures supposedly designed to promote lasting peace. The Helsinki Final Act, signed in 1975, endorsed the inviolability of frontiers, territorial integrity of states, and non-intervention in internal affairs of other states (measures designed to reassure Moscow, still fearful of German revanchism). However, that last principle was subtly challenged by Washington’s new cherished “value”: respect for human rights. While seemingly affirming the status quo, this initiated a new phase of indirect U.S. interference in the internal affairs of other nations, no longer in the name of anti-communism, but rather as defense of human rights. In 1978, the Helsinki Watch group was founded to monitor human rights in Soviet bloc countries. Ten years later, Helsinki Watch evolved into Human Rights Watch, whose watchfulness continues to focus on countries where the United States is likely to favor regime change.

    – Diana Johnstone, Monthly Review 2017

I am writing an almost shorthand simplified overview here of what is a complex history. But there is enough material, I think, to arrive at a few conclusions. The US court system is not going to ever do other than it always has. It is going to protect those who own the wealth and property of the country, and the Supreme Court is the final voice of the Imperialist ruling elite and its role is to tidy up matters in a way that protects the status quo.

Michael Mandel (in How America Gets Away with Murder) summarizes international criminal courts thus…

    So here is the problem with international criminal law: it lets the Americans get away, not only with murder, but with the supreme international crime, and it punishes only the individual evils of the Americans’ enemies – even though these are but the inevitable result of this supreme crime that ‘contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.’ It does this so regularly that it cannot be regarded as some minor kink that has to be worked out of the system. Despite international criminal law’s banner commitment to ‘ending impunity,’ its operating principle is really one of ‘selective impunity.

The supreme international crime is, of course, a reference to Robert Jackson’s opening speech at Nuremberg, where he described aggressive war, not in self defense, as the supreme international crime. Which, by my reckoning, means the U.S. is guilty of that crime about 7 or 8 times in just the last twenty years.

This is an era of massive organized disinformation, historical revisionism, and outright propaganda. Massive. One of the problems associated with pointing this out is that one is liable to be called a conspiracy theorist. Its the definitive fear inducing appellation. And even when obvious campaigns of disinformation are being implemented, there is a reluctance on the part of many to point it out. Hollywood, let alone the media news giants and telecoms, are directly tied to the US government, to the Pentagon, CIA, and state department. In Hollywood today CIA advisors sit in on story meetings for any show or film that even indirectly touches on the subject of the military or government or law enforcement. The result has been twenty five years of direct propaganda. Most americans learn of the court system from TV. Dick Wolf, as an example, as several hugely successful franchises that have legal and courtroom, or law enforcement backdrops and locations. In fact his latest show is titled FBI. But there are a dozen other show runners and show creators who peddle the same kitsch versions of a cartoon legal world. Most americans learn most everything from mass corporate entertainment and news. The normalizing of outright executions and coups is experienced as nothing out of the ordinary, and far away anyway. The public is told when to be outraged and when not to be. And they are instructed that class doesn’t exist and that military service is the most noble form or patriotism. And never ever is American exceptionalism to be questioned.

In the legal system there are only ‘individual’ stories, de-linked from social reality and from history. Liberal pieties about the ‘rule of law’ and the reactionaries devotion to morality (others, not their own) again speaks to parallels with National Socialism in the thirties. Kircheimer ends his essay on law under the Third Reich this way…

    In effect it is difficult to see how the goal of improving public morality could be obtained by a state that not only operates at such a low level satisfaction of needs, but rests on a supervision and direction of all spheres of life by an oppressive political organization.

So, I’d say the Supreme Court is actually pretty much as its always been. Founded by slavers and the rich colonial proprietorial class, it has served the interests of the wealthy, of business and privilege, and has done it without interruption since its inception. There is the additional psychological conditioning today that encourages agreement, encourages consensus and a valorizing of the familiar. Words such as *revolutionary* or *dissent* are considered bad, lumped into an amorphous category labled *fake news*. *Radical* is a bad word, too. And the business of the courts, all courts, really, is too conform to and reinforce the values of a class system and a privileged wealthy elite.


John Steppling is an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, a two-time NEA recipient, Rockefeller Fellow in theatre, and PEN-West winner for playwriting. Plays produced in LA, NYC, SF, Louisville, and at universities across the US, as well in Warsaw, Lodz, Paris, London and Krakow. Taught screenwriting and curated the cinematheque for five years at the Polish National Film School in Lodz, Poland. A collection of plays, Sea of Cortez & Other Plays was published in 1999, and his book on aesthetics, Aesthetic Resistance and Dis-Interest was published this year by Mimesis International.

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🌍 Economic and Judicial War Tools to Subvert Democracy
« Reply #668 on: October 20, 2018, 12:53:38 AM »

Economic and Judicial War Tools to Subvert Democracy
By Nino Pagliccia
Global Research, October 18, 2018
Region: Latin America & Caribbean, USA
Theme: Law and Justice

This is the edited version of a panel presentation by the same title that took place in Toronto, Canada on October 13, 2018 The Event was sponsored by a number of progressive organizations


I think this is a very important and timely topic to cover in order to have a broad context and hopefully contribute some useful thinking to the topic.

We live in times of dramatic changes, as I see it.

I am sure many are noticing that we are moving from a unipolar to a multipolar geopolitical world where important new players have something to offer.

If we are noticing this, I am sure that the United States is also paying attention.  The U.S. knows that it is losing its hegemony to other powers like China and Russia. Many other countries are taking notice. Venezuela is certainly one of them.

The U.S. is showing a reaction to that inevitable occurrence and what we are seeing are the struggling gasps of a dying empire that is imminent when measured in historical time.

This will not be a peaceful death, unfortunately. The dying empire will not die in peace.

I think this image might help us understand what is happening today.

Warfare tools

There was a time – say, last century – when we used to call conflictive relationships among nations by their direct descriptive name.

We had wars that countries declared to each other and sent soldiers to kill each other. They would even “announce” their wars. They had, and still do, what is called “rules of engagement”… but this was no engagement to be married… It was truly an “engagement to be destroyed”.

Then we had invasions where one nation would attack another nation to kill their people – a kind of war that was not announced.

We even had the so-called Cold War that was nothing else than a permanent threat of war.

Today we have quite a wide range of “conflictive relationships” among countries. But it’s interesting to see the corresponding proliferation of terminology that we have come to use in describing those conflicts.

We have:

    Undeclared wars. And here we have to be careful how we use the term “war”. For example, there is no war in Syria. There is a war on Syria. Semantic is important here.
    New Cold War. I don’t know what’s new about it. It’s still a permanent threat of war.
    Infowar. The production of false news with media participation in order to undermine the legitimacy and credibility of a government.
    Economic war. This is the one that is caused through sanctions, and I’ll come back to that.
    Incitation to commit political crimes. For example, the life attempt against president Nicolas Maduro and other high officials last August 4.
    Incitation to mutiny. Repeated calls to the military to overthrow a government.
    Coups. We still have those…with a soft touch now.
    We have Soft Coups. These are the ones that have been at play in Latin America in the last few years. They oppress and kill people all the same.
    Terrorism. The ultimate destructive tool to be used against another nation. And it is being used by the U.S. widely, not only in the Middle East but also in Latin America and other regions.
    Finally, we have the most contradictory of all aggressions: Lawfare.

This is quite a repertoire of warfare tools that can be used in any combination with the single goal of imposing a regime change.

I recognize some of these tools were also used in the last century, but maybe not to the extent they are used today. Certainly, today they have become part of the new narrative about conflicts. They have achieved a level of recognition and acceptance that makes those actions extremely dangerous.

That is why it is important to be aware of them.

All of these actions are a form of warfare, and all have embedded an element of illegality. They are not used as legitimate self-defense. They are used to subvert democracy.

They extend the notion of weapons to situations where everything can be “weaponized” (notice the new terminology) with total disregard to legality, morality, humanity and ethical considerations.

As someone who is anti-war, I reject all implications of warfare especially when a war is carried out by a bully entity against smaller and weaker contenders.

Let’s take a closer look at lawfare and sanctions.


Wikipedia gives the following definition of the term:

    “Lawfare is a form of war consisting of the use of the legal system against an enemy, such as by damaging or delegitimizing them.” [1]

It is believed that a U.S. General by the name of Charles Dunlap used the term for the first time in 2001. He defined “lawfare” as the “use of law as a weapon of war,” which he described as “the newest feature of 21st century combat.” [2]

Another similar definition of lawfare says that it is “the abuse of Western laws and judicial systems to achieve strategic military or political ends”.

A law expert said,

    “lawfare is about more than just delegitimizing a state’s right to defend itself; it is about the abuse of the law and our judicial systems to undermine the very principles they stands for: the rule of law, the sanctity of innocent human life, and the right to free speech.”

All these definitions seem to have a consensus on the blatant contradiction: lawfare is not for the pursuit of justice; it is not the application of the law. It is just the opposite. It is the breaking down of the legal and constitutional order of another state for political gain.

Reportedly, the majority of U.S. laws that have come out after 9/11 constitute today the new tools used to repress any resistance in the name of national security, not only in the U.S., but also in other countries.

The United States’ Disregard for International Law Is a Menace to Venezuela and Latin America

But we know that other countries are also misusing their own laws in a cruel copycat fashion to repress any internal resistance. We all think of the cases against Cristina Kirchner, Dilma Rousseff, Luiz Inácio Lula, Rafael Correa, and others.

Sanctions as economic war

Something we need to know about sanctions is that the United Nations can also impose and apply sanctions on countries. And it does.

At last count, 12 countries are sanctioned by the UN. More than half are African countries. Sanctions include asset freezes; travel bans, and arms embargoes.

No Latin American country is currently being sanctioned by the UN; certainly not Venezuela.

Imposing sanctions seems to be the assumed privilege of the U.S. based on its doctrine of exceptionalism. And the UN allows this to happen in spite of its own stated principles such as:

    The principle that States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. [Remember, the purpose is to pursue peace]
    The principle that States shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered. [Remember, Venezuela has persistently asked to dialogue, even to meet with Donald Trump]
    The principle concerning the duty not to intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any State.

I believe that the UN is a dysfunctional institution. We have seen many times the ineffective work of the UN. Despite the purpose of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security, we see a proliferation of wars, conflicts, and interventions every day.

Despite the intention, the United Nations is not a democratic institution by design from inception.

The UN is definitely not a democratic institution when we have a body like the Security Council – with such an important responsibility as to apply sanctions according to Article 41 of the Charter – which is ruled by a handful of self-appointed permanent members that have a veto power. Security Council permanent members are: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

In addition, Article 25 says: The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council…

The misuse of the veto, the lack of accountability and the unfair representation at the UNSC – for example, not a single African or Latin American country is a permanent member – have all emasculated an organization that is meant, at least on paper, to uphold international law and achieve peace and global security.

If this was a country we lived in, we would have a Junta of five people – never elected; they or their successors are there in perpetuity – ruling our country, and we would have to agree to let that happen and would have to obey their decisions against the will of the majority.

This is the model of democracy that the United Nations gives to other nations.

Right now, in this kind of UN chaos, nothing prevents any country to impose sanctions unilaterally on another country if they so decide.

I have proposed an idea that all sanctioned States should start an international movement similar to the Non Aligned Movement founded in 1961. This could be called the Block of Sanctioned States Movement – the BoSS movement. I hope it catches on.

Are sanctions illegal?

Simply put, yes they are. They are against international law. Of course some disagree.

In spite of what I said about the United Nations, many States accept that only the UN has the legal right to impose sanctions. Mind you, it would have to be a drastically reformed UN.

At least there would be more eyes supervising the legal application of sanctions. And hopefully – emphasis on hopefully – there would be stronger accountability to provide evidence of any accusation against a legitimate government.

Currently there is no evidence that there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela!

The UN knows that, by the way, and does nothing. In the meantime, the U.S. is using infowar to create false evidence. Sanctions imposed by the U.S. are unilateral and are only based on domestic U.S. laws. The U.S. can legislate all they want within their jurisdiction but that does not make sanctions on another country legal when they break international law.

Sanctions are a form of intervention to pursue national goals.

Let me quote a paragraph from the Venezuela Report of last July:

    “The policy of imposing unilateral coercive measures, known as “sanctions” … violates the Charter of the United Nations, and conceals an aggressive model of intervention…  Beyond the rhetoric that justifies it in the name of “democracy”, sanctions are an instrument of war, designed to make people suffer in order to bend sovereign States.” [3]

Notice that Venezuela is calling sanctions by its full name: “Unilateral coercive measures”. That’s what they are.

It is important to know that Venezuela has responded with the most advanced economic strategy to this economic war by sanctions and the parallel foreign-induced inflation.

Venezuela has targeted the essence of the damaging effect of sanctions: the U.S. financial system itself that imposes the U.S. dollar as the world reference currency. The latest Venezuelan monetary reconversion has set an economic recovery path by which the Venezuelan economic system is not measured in terms the U.S. dollar but by the value of its own oil resources linked to a crypto currency, the Petro.

I called this a monetary revolution within the Bolivarian Revolution. It minimizes the impact of the U.S. sanctions, but most importantly it has already set an example to other nations. [4] [5]

Legal Trojan horses

It is often the case in international agreements; legislation or charters that “exceptions” are introduced, which invalidate the main thrust of the agreement or charter. I have already referred to the UN that establishes a Security Council with powers over the whole assembly of nations as such an exception.

This is what I call a legal Trojan horse that facilitates the lawfare.

I want to give an example of a legal Trojan horse in international legislation that is closer to home in Latin America, in relation to the OAS.

Image result for lima group

Lima Group

Last February the illegitimate Lima Group, with no OAS authority, used Article 19 in Chapter 4 of the 2001 Inter-American Democratic Charter to prevent Venezuela from participating at the OAS Summit in Lima, Peru. They quoted the following bit from the article:

    “…any unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order in a state of the Hemisphere constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to the participation of that state’s government in the Summit of the Americas process.”

But they conveniently omitted in that quote of Article 19 the very relevant beginning of the article that says,

    “Based on the principles of the Charter of the OAS and subject to its norms…”

Therefore the 2001 Inter-American Democratic Charter does not supersede, does not invalidate or cancel out the 1948 OAS Charter. It recognizes it explicitly.

If we read the principles of the 1948 OAS Charter, the relevant article – Article 19 of Chapter 4 (not to be confused by the coincidence of the same article numbers in the two different pieces of documents) – says:

    “No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.”

In my view the 2001 Inter-American Democratic Charter is the Trojan horse introduced to weaken the OAS Charter of 1948.

I do not believe that the team of international lawyers in 2001 would have made such a gross error to have missed the most relevant article of the OAS Charter that prevents precisely what’s at the essence of all U.S. actions: Intervention!

I am inclined to believe that this was an intentional planting of confusion and attack. A true Trojan horse.

What to do?

I know what not to do. I don’t think we should all become international lawyers or experts to fight back lawfare and illegal sanctions. But we must be sufficiently aware to have a working knowledge of the implications of those interventions in Latin America.

Today we cannot lose Venezuela. We need to maintain the Bolivarian Revolution alive. I don’t say this because I am a Venezuelan and a Chavista. I say this for the sake of democracy and the rule of law in Latin America.

We have worked hard to keep the Cuban Revolution alive. We can do it. Tomorrow it might be Bolivia’s turn needing our solidarity.

Once we understand that interventions in internal affairs of another country are illegal – by tribunal decision or by people’s majority decision – we may use those arguments in our solidarity work wherever and whenever necessary.

I think that the “Canada-U.S. campaign to end sanctions against Venezuela” underway now is a great action that can bring us all together. [6] Venezuela and Latin America need us.

We only have a decaying U.S. empire to take on. We can do it if we stick together.


Note to readers: please click the share buttons above. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This is the edited version of a panel presentation by the same title that took place in Toronto, Canada on October 13, 2018 The Event was sponsored by:

    The Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle
    Venezuela Solidarity Committee Toronto
    Colombian Action Solidarity Alliance (CASA)
    Socialist Action
    NDP Socialist Caucus
    Casa Salvador Allende
    Toronto Association for Peace and Solidarity (TAPS)
    Victor Jara Cultural Group
    Communist Party of Canada (Ontario)
    Hugo Chavez Peoples Defense Front (HCPDF)
    Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association Toronto
    Canadian Latin American and Caribbean Policy Centre (CAL&C) Common Frontiers
    Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN)


Nino Pagliccia is an activist and writer based in Vancouver, Canada. He is a Venezuelan-Canadian who writes about international relations with a focus on the Americas. He is editor of the book “Cuba Solidarity in Canada – Five Decades of People-to-People Foreign Relations” He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.







The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Nino Pagliccia, Global Research, 2018

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🚀 The War on Terror is the Reign of Terror
« Reply #669 on: October 24, 2018, 12:12:49 AM »

October 23, 2018
The War on Terror is the Reign of Terror
by Mary Troy Johnston

Photo Source POMED | CC BY 2.0

So, does an accidental killing lead to dismemberment of the body and hiding of all the evidence and waiting days before admitting to the killing?  If the United States accepts this version of events for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, we are really living in a world of fake news and, worse, a conspiracy against the truth about our relationship with Saudi Arabia. An embassy is a heavily controlled area where nothing happens against the will of the of the powers that be who conduct business on the part of the foreign country. There is no such thing as rogue elements or uninstructed elements in the embassy unless it produces a crisis in terms of terrorism or invasion of the embassy.

Let’s be clear about it.  When a national cannot enter an embassy without having a fistfight to obtain a marriage license (or passport or redeeming stolen travelers checks) without having to lose his or her life, an embassy has become a “safe” place for terrorizing its citizens.  Saudis who are dissidents around the world know better than to go the Saudi embassy (a safe place in international law for several hundreds of years) because they fear for their lives.

There is a thin line between terrorism and unjust wars.  There is brazenness on the part of terrorist nations who declare their wars are against terrorists and then visit their destruction on civilians as the Saudis using arms from the United States and the UK have done in Yemen.  The last count is that millions of Yemenis are facing displacement and lack of food. And, there is a total fiction on the part of those assistant powers who remotely frame their participation in terms of some strategic concept and jobs.

It did not matter how many women activists faced incarceration and a possible death penalty on the part of the oil kingdom.  It did not matter in the United States whether the Clinton foundation accepted contributions from a regime that was authoritarian, now seen as barbaric by any standards, and that the Obama Administration prosecuted the war against Yemen.  Really, it did not matter that children in Yemen died in the cause of the War on Terror. It does not matter that presidents inherit these wars in service to the military industrial complex. None of it matters until a grisly story breaks forth of the most ruthless disregard of human life of someone we can relate to because he was a writer and warrior for the truth and not an unnamed passive and hapless victim.

If we are really to face the truth, the political assassination of Jamal Khashoggi is not really the tip of the iceberg.  It is standard operating procedure on the part of powers prosecuting the War on Terror, the United States most forward, and from the standpoint of our present leadership, maybe we can still get jobs out of the arms contracts dedicated to such indiscriminate violence while the horrific details of rampant assault on humanity get mostly buried, until someone we admire (or know a little about) gets ripped apart.
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Mary Troy Johnston, retired political science professor, Loyola University New Orleans.


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🌎 The Fascist Threat Our Political Establishment Won't Acknowledge
« Reply #670 on: October 24, 2018, 12:36:57 AM »

Oct 23, 2018
The Fascist Threat Our Political Establishment Won't Acknowledge

"Proud Boys" co-founder Gavin McInnes is surrounded by supporters at a rally in Berkeley, Calif. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)

Marx was certainly right in arguing that the point is not to understand the world but to change it, but what he underemphasized was that the world cannot be transformed if one does not understand what is to be changed. As Terry Eagleton rightly notes “Nobody can change a world they didn’t understand.”[1] Moreover, the lack of mass resistance to oppression signals more than apathy or indifference, it also suggests that we don’t have an informed and energizing vision of the world for which we want to struggle.[2] Political struggle is dependent on the political will to change, which is central to any notion of informed agency willing to address the radical and pragmatic issues of our time. In addition to understanding the world, an informed public must connect what they know and learn to the central task of bringing their ideas to bear on society as a whole. This means that a critical consciousness must be matched by a fervent willingness to take risks, and challenge the destructive narratives that are seeping into the public realm and becoming normalized.

Any dissatisfaction with injustice necessitates combining the demands of moral witnessing with the pedagogical power of persuasion and the call to address the tasks of emancipation. We need individuals and social movements willing to disturb the normalization of a fascist politics, oppose racist, sexist, and neoliberal orthodoxy.

As Robin D. G. Kelley observes we cannot confuse catharsis and momentary outrage for revolution.[3] In a time of increasing tyranny, resistance in many quarters appears to have lost its usefulness as a call to action.  At the same time, the pedagogical force of civic ignorance and illiteracy has morphed into a national ideal. Tyranny and ignorance feed each other in a theater of corporate controlled media ecosystems and function more as a tool of domination than as a pedagogical outlet in pursuit of justice and the practice of freedom. Under such circumstances, when education is not viewed as central to politics itself, resistance withers in the faux language of privatized struggles and fashionable slogans. [4]

For instance the novelist Teju Cole has argued that “‘resistance’ is back in vogue, and it describes something rather different now. The holy word has become unexceptional. Faced with a vulgar, manic and cruel regime, birds of many different feathers are eager to proclaim themselves members of the Resistance. It is the most popular game in town.”[5] Cole’s critique appears to be born out by the fact that the most unscrupulous of liberal and conservative politicians such as Madeline Albright, Hilary Clinton, and even James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, are now claiming that they have joined the resistance against Trump’s fascist politics. Even Michael Hayden, the former NSA chief and CIA director under George W. Bush, has joined the ranks of Albright and Clinton in condemning Trump as a proto-fascist. Writing in the New York Times, Hayden, ironically, chastised Trump as a serial liar and in doing so quoted the renowned historian Timothy Snyder, who stated in reference to the Trump regime that “Post-Truth is pre-fascism.”[6]The irony here is hard to miss. Not only did Hayden head Bush’s illegal National Security Agency warrantless wiretapping program while the head of the NSA, he also lied repeatedly about his role in Bush’s sanction and implementation of state torture in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This tsunami of banal resistance and its pedagogical architecture was on full display when an anonymous member of the Trump’s inner circle published an op-ed in the New York Times claiming that he/she and other senior officials were part of “the resistance within the Trump administration.”[7] The author was quick to qualify the statement by insisting such resistance had nothing to do with “the popular ‘resistance’ of the left.” To prove the point, it was noted by the author that the members of this insider resistance liked some of Trump’s policies such as “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.”[8]  Combining resistance with the endorsements of such reactionary policies reads like fodder for late-night comics.

The Democratic Party now defines itself as the most powerful political force opposing Trump’s fascist politics. What it has forgotten is the role it has played under the Clinton and Obama presidencies in creating the economic, political, and social conditions for Trump’s election in 2016. Such historical and political amnesia allows them to make the specious claim that they are now the party of resistance. Resistance in these instances has little to do with civic courage, a defense of human dignity, and the willingness to not just bear witness to the current injustices but to struggle to overcome them. Of course, the issue is not to disavow resistance as much as to redefine it as inseparable from fundamental change that calls for the overthrow of capitalism itself. Neoliberalism has now adopted unapologetically the language of racial cleansing, white supremacy, white nationalism, and fascist politics. Unapologetic for the widespread horrors, gaping inequality, destruction of public goods, and re-energizing of the discourse of hate and culture of cruelty, neoliberalism has joined hands with a toxic fascist politics painted in the hyper-patriotic colors of red, white, and blue. As I have noted elsewhere:

    Neoliberalism’s hatred of democracy, the common good, and the social contract has unleashed generic elements of a fascist past in which white supremacy, ultra-nationalism,  rabid misogyny and immigrant fervor come together in a toxic mix of militarism, state violence, and a politics of disposability. Modes of fascist expression adapt variously to different political historical contexts assuring racial apartheid-like forms in the post-bellum U.S. and overt encampments and extermination in Nazi Germany.  Fascism with   its unquestioning belief in obedience to a powerful strongman, violence as a form of political purification, hatred as an act of patriotism, racial and ethnic cleansing, and th superiority of a select ethnic or national group has resurfaced in the United States. In this mix of economic barbarism, political nihilism, racial purity, economic orthodoxy, and  ethical somnambulance a distinctive economic-political formation has been produced that I term neoliberal fascism.

While the call to resist neoliberal fascism is to be welcomed, it has to be interrogated rather than aligned with individuals and ideological forces that helped put in place the racist, economic, religious, and educational forces that helped produce it. What many liberals and conservative calls to resistance have in common is an opposition to Trump rather than to the conditions that created him. In some cases, liberal critics such as Christopher R. Browning, Yascha Mounk,  and Cass R. Sunstein document insightfully America’s descent into fascism but are too cautious in refusing to conclude that we are living under a fascist political regime.[9] This is more than a retreat from political courage, it is a refusal to name how liberalism itself with its addiction to the financial elite has helped create the conditions that make a fascist politics possible.[10]

Trump’s election and the Kavanaugh affair make clear that what is needed is not only a resistance to the established order of neoliberal capitalism but a radical restructuring of society itself. That is not about resisting oppression in its diverse forms but overcoming it—in short, changing it.[11] The Kavanaugh hearings and the liberal response was a telling example of what might be called a politics of disconnection.

While it is crucial to condemn the Kavanaugh hearings for its blatant disregard for the Constitution, expressed hatred of women, and its symbolic expression and embrace of white privilege and power, it is necessary to enlarge our criticism to include the system that made the Kavanaugh appointment possible. Kavanaugh represents not only the deep seated rot of misogyny but also as Grace Lee Boggs, has stated “a government of, by, and for corporate power.”[12] We need to see beyond the white nationalists and neo-Nazis demonstrating in the streets in order to recognize the terror of the unforeseen, the terror that is state sanctioned, and hides in the shadows of power. Such a struggle means more than engaging material relations of power or the economic architecture of neoliberal fascism, it also means taking on the challenge producing the tools and tactics necessary to rethink and create the conditions for a new kind of subjectivity as the basis for a new kind of democratic socialist politics. We need a comprehensive politics that brings together various single interest movements so that the threads that connect them become equally as important as the particular forms of oppression that define their singularity.  In addition, we need intellectuals willing to combine intellectual complexity with clarity and accessibility, embrace the high stakes investment in persuasion, and cross disciplinary borders in order to theorize and speak with what Rob Nixon calls the “cunning of lightness” and a “methodological promiscuity” that keeps language attuned to the pressing the claims for justice. [13]

Outside of those intellectuals who write for CounterPunch, Truthout, Truthdig, Rise Up Times, Salon, and a number of other critical media outlets, there are too few intellectuals, artists, journalists willing to challenge the rise of an American version of neoliberal fascism. It is not enough to report in an alleged “balanced fashion” on Trump’s endorsement  of violence against journalists, the massive levels of inequality produced under neoliberalism, the enactment by the Trump administration of savage policies of racial cleansing aimed at undocumented immigrants, and the emergence of a police state armed terrifying new technologies aimed at predictive policing. The real challenge is to tie these elements of oppression together and to recognize the threads of state violence, white supremacy, and fascist politics that suggest the emergence of a distinctive new political order.

Shock and outrage in the midst of a fascist politics is now undermined by the mainstream press which is always on the hunt for higher ratings and increasing their bottom line. Rather than talk about fascism, they focus on the threat to liberal institutions. Rather than talk about the mounting state violence and the increased violence of neo-fascist thugs such as the Proud Boys, they talk about violence coming from the left and right. Rather than raise questions about the conditions and a society in which more and more people seem to prefer authoritarian rule over democracy, they talk about Trump’s eccentric behavior or keep tabs on his endless lying. This is not unhelpful, but it misses the nature of the true threat, its genesis, and the power of a corporate elite who are now comfortable with the fascist politics that Trump embodies.

An iPsos poll found that “a surprising 26 percent of all Americans, and 43 percent of Republicans, agree with the statement that the president “should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.”[14] In addition, a majority of Americans across the ideological spectrum— 72 percent — think “it should be easier to sue reporters who knowingly publish false information.” [15]  Couple this with the fact that Trump has recently stated privately to his aids that he regrets reversing his policy of separating children from their parents at the border and you have a mix of fascist principles coupled with a dangerous demagogue who cannot bring the country fast enough to the fascist abyss.[16] While it is true that the United States under Trump is not Hitler’s Germany, Trump has tapped into America’s worst impulses and as Jason Stanley and others remind us his ultra-nationalism, white supremacist views, and racist diatribes coupled with his attack on immigrants, the media, African-Americans, and Muslims are indicative of a politics right out the fascist playbook. [17]  If the public and media keep denying this reality, the endpoint is too horrible to imagine. If we are to understand the current resurgence of right-wing populist movements across the globe, economic factors alone do not account for the current mobilizations of fascist passions.

As Pierre Bourdieu once put it, it is crucial to recognize that “the most important forms of domination are not only economic but also intellectual and pedagogical, and lie on the side of belief and persuasion.”[18] He goes on to state that left intellectuals have underestimated the symbolic and pedagogical dimensions of struggle and have not always forged appropriate weapons to fight on this front.”[19] In part, this means that the left and others must make matters of culture and pedagogy central to politics in order to address people’s needs and struggles. And they should do so in a language that is both rigorous and accessible. Matters of culture and consciousness in the Gramscian sense are central to politics and only when the left can address that issue will there be any hope for massive collective resistance in the form of a broad-based movement.

Trump has emboldened and legitimated the dire anti-democratic threats that have been expanding under an economic system stripped of any political, social, and ethical responsibility. This is a form of neoliberal fascism that has redrawn and expanded the parameters of the genocidal practices and hate filled politics of the 1930s and 40s in Europe in which it was once thought impossible to happen again. The threat has returned and is now on our doorsteps, and it needs to be named, exposed, and overcome by those who believe that the stakes are much too high to look away and not engage in organized political and pedagogical struggles against a fascist state and an omniscient fascist politics. We live in an age when the horrors of the past are providing the language and politics of illiberal democracies all over the globe. This is a world where dystopian versions of a catastrophic, misery producing neoliberalism merge with unapologetic death dealing visions of a fascist politics. We live in an era that testifies to the horrors of a past struggling to reinvent itself in the present, and which should place more than a sense of ethical and political responsibility on those of us bearing witness to it. As my friend, Brad Evans, notes under such circumstances, we live in a time “that asks us all to continually question our own shameful compromises with power,” and to act with others to overcome our differences in order to dismantle this assault on human rights, human dignity, economic justice, equality, and democracy itself. [20]


[1] Terry Eagleton, “The ambition of advanced capitalism is not simply to combat radical ideas-it is to abolish the very notion that there could be a serious alternative to the present,” Red Pepper(October 13, 2013). Online:

[2] Brad Evans, “A World Without Books,” Atrocity Exhibition: Life in the Age of Total Violence,(Los Angeles: Los Angeles Review of Books, 2019). P. 177

[3] Robin DG Kelley, “Sorry, Not Sorry,” Boston Review,[September 13, 2018] Online:

[4] Anthony DiMaggio and Paul Street have addressed this issue in a number of brilliant books and articles.

[5] Teju Cole, “Resist, Refuse,” The New York Times,[September 8, 2018] Online:

[6] Michael Hayden, “The End of Intelligence,” New York Times (April 28, 2018). Online:

[7] Anonymous, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” New York Times (September 5, 2018). Online:

[8] Ibid. Anonymous.

[9] Christopher R. Browning, “The Suffocation of Democracy”, The New York Review,(October25, 2018 | Vol. 65, No 16). Online at:

Cass R. Sunstein, “It Can Happen Here,” The New York Books Review, [June 28, 2018] Online:

[10] See, for instance, Jason Hirthler, “The Pieties of the Liberal Class,” Counterpunch (October 19, 2018). Online:

[11] Michelle Alexander, “We Are Not the Resistance,” The New York Times,[September 21, 2018]. Online:

[12] Grace Lee Boggs with Scott Kurashige, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century (Oakland: University of California Press, 2012), p. 36.

[13] Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011), p. X.

[14] Christal Hayes, “Nearly half of Republicans think Trump should be able to close news outlets: Poll,” USA Today(Aug 7, 2018). Online:

[15] Editorial, “As Lincoln advised, this, too, shall pass,” Herald Tribune (August 16, 2018). Online:

[16] Kevin Liptak, “Trump says he doesn’t regret signing immigration order,” CNN Politics (June 25, 2018). Online:

[17] See, for example, Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them(New York: Random House, 2018); Henry A. Giroux, American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism(San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2018); Timothy Snyder, The Road to Unfreedom(New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2018);Brian Klaas, The Despot’s Apprentice: Donald Trump’s Attack on Democracy(New York: Hot Books, 2017).

[18] Pierre Bourdieu and Gunter Grass, “The ‘Progressive’ Restoration: A Franco-German Dialogue,” New Left Review14 (March-April, 2002), P. 2

[19] Pierre Bourdieu, Acts of Resistance (New York: Free Press, 1998), p. 11.

[20] Brad Evans, The Atrocity Exhibition (Los Angeles, LARB, in press).

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🤯 Mike Pompeo, Psychopath
« Reply #671 on: November 11, 2018, 12:47:25 AM »

Mike Pompeo, Psychopath

During an interview with BBC Persia, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States will starve millions of Iranians to death if the country’s leadership doesn’t bend to its will.

A collection of articles on the
Bush/neocon administration
 and the wars they created.

Pompeo said Iran’s “leadership has to make a decision that they want their people to eat.”

This is siege warfare. It is illegal under the Geneva Conventions, in particular the protocol relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Article 53: Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited).

But then neocons don’t do international law.

John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser and a neocon’s neocon, recently said the US will “use any means necessary” to push back against the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its commitment to punish war crimes. Bolton warned the US will sanction and arrest individuals investigating war crimes and the torture of detainees, the latter conducted by “patriots,” according to Bolton. He added that frustrating prosecution of war crimes “remains one of my proudest achievements.”

In 2002, the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and China refused to sign the ICC’s founding document, thus indicating they would continue to use siege warfare, famine, torture, ethnic cleansing, rape, and wholesale murder of innocent civilians.

For more than 70 years, Israel has shot, bombed, and ethnically cleansed Palestinian Arabs. Saudi Arabia has produced the worst humanitarian crisis in recent memory as it continues to viciously attack Yemen with the help of the United States. China continues its “strike hard” campaign against Uyghur opposition, the ethnic cleansing of Tibetan monastics, and the expansion of its laogai forced labor camps (where consumer goods are manufactured and then sold to Walmart shopping Americans).

A normal, non-psychopathic person would undoubtedly recoil at the thought of Iranian children starving, but then we’re talking about neocons responsible for the engineered murder of 1.5 million Iraqis, including 500,000 children under the Bush-Clinton sanctions regime.

Hillary Clinton isn’t considered a card-carrying neocon, yet she stands shoulder to shoulder with Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and John Bolton when it comes to killing recalcitrant Arabs, Muslims, and other enemies of Israel and Saudi Arabia, and prevent what the late Zbigniew Brzezinski described as vassals and barbarians coming together in organized resistance to neoliberal geostrategy of domination and exploitation.

Mike Pompeo’s psychopathic ultimatum was not widely covered by the corporate media. The apathy and intellectual laziness of the American people make genocide, siege warfare, starvation, and other crimes against humanity possible, mostly due to incessant lies and distortions produced by a corporate media acting as a propaganda ministry for the war state. 

There has not been a viable—or even visible—antiwar movement since the days of George W. Bush, thanks in large part of the political voodoo of Barack Obama and his CFR, Trilateral Commission, and Bilderberg insiders, basically the same folks now calling the shots for the geopolitical ignoramus, Donald Trump.

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😒 Liar Liar
« Reply #672 on: November 22, 2018, 01:40:47 AM »

Liar Liar
November 21, 2018 Patrice de Bergeracpas



“In spite of the wildly speculative and false stories of arms for hostages and alleged ransom payments, we did not, repeat, did not, trade weapons or anything else for hostages. Nor will we.” —President Ronald Reagan, November 13, 1986

    “The dictatorship’s mistake was to torture but not kill.”
    – Jair Bolsonaro (Radio interview, 2016)

    “I don’t get voted out of office”.
    – Bill Gates

    “I hate the indifferent. I believe that living means taking sides. Those who really live cannot help being a citizen and a partisan. Indifference and apathy are parasitism, perversion, not life.”
    – Antonio Gramsci (Prison Notebooks)

    “The sadist needs the person over whom he rules, he needs him very badly, since his own feeling of strength is rooted in the fact that he is the master over someone.”
    – Erich Fromm (Escape from Freedom)

Years ago Robert Bly talked about Ronald Reagan’s capacity for lying. He said Reagan grew up lying about his father, an alcoholic, and his dysfunctional childhood which he routinely described as happy. How the enormity of that lie, and all the attendant pressures of such intimate dishonesty made lying about the Iran/Contra deal much easier. And I recently heard Gabor Mate say the same sort of thing about Donald Trump. How Trump grew up with an abusive authoritarian father, one who humiliated and belittled the boy Trump, and the world of that boy was one of cruelty and abuse. And if that is the only world you know growing up, that is the world you will see everywhere around you later. And the only way to navigate a world of abasement and lying was to be better at it than those who had abused you. The grandiose aggressiveness and paranoia of Trump is the product, in part, and probably in large part, of a family that operated on strict hierarchies of power, a punitive and sadistic family dynamic. Trump’s brother, of course, drank himself to death.

Countless Presidents came out of dysfunctional families, ones often with authoritarian and alcoholic fathers: Gerald Ford, or Bill Clinton with his stepfather. The list is quite long. British Prime Ministers are also disproportionately the product of similar childhoods. But the point is really about a system that rewards men and women who have developed pathological coping mechanisms that include an ability to lie, an inability to feel empathy or remorse, and who are adept at cheating and taking credit for the accomplishments of others. The deformed character that comes out of such dynamics seems perfectly suited for the public spectacle of political life. Probably for carny barkers, too.

All hierarchical systems are to some degree systems that encourage winning and punish losing.

Before the last Presidential election I wrote this about the two leading candidates…

    For that is it, a rich white anti intellectual with openly self embraced bad taste, Trump valorizes half the white men in America for their seeming failures. He is saying, ok, you are not rich like me, but the rest, yeah we are one. But Trump has no role without his co-star, Hillary Clinton. Hillary is the cliche woman who is overbearing, petty, resentful and spiteful, but also functions as a female destroyer. And that role is complex, here. Hillary is not the purifying force of Kali, she is not the forest fire that brings regeneration. No she is simply the electric chair with a short, a sadistic contraption of flawed construction that terrorizes and disseminates suffering and cruelty. And while I have thought it impossible that Hillary doesn’t win this dog and pony show, it is now becoming apparent that Trump is the candidate of masculine revenge. Every misogynist looks to Mr Orange Hair to get even. And that misogyny is interlaced with race and colonial memory. And this is where the importance of Heidegger and Schmitt looms. And it is where the rising tide of left liberal antisemitism appears alongside peak Islamaphobia. It is all of a piece, in a sense. (Cunning of Unreason, May 8, 2016 )

Hillary, too, came from a dysfunctional family environment.

The message here is, I think, most of America is made up of dysfunctional families. Perhaps all families under capitalism are dysfunctional. Most learn to lie about their families. Only today, one form of lying [is] to confess about it and advertise one’s own self improvement program as a response. The therapeutic often, it seems in my experience anyway, to simply be another form of lying. Or self delusion. Americans love to “work on themselves”. It’s a bit like working on your car, or those DIY projects to convert the garage into a ‘rec room’. Of course fewer and fewer people own their own homes anymore. Maybe they need a show for those living out of their cars. DIY for building portable sidewalk showers without risking police persecution.

Dysfunction is the cost of capitalism. ‘Wrong life cannot be lived rightly’, as Adorno put it. So one part of the fall out from this prolonged exposure to the irrationality of life in neoliberal america has been to normalize lying. When Alexandria Ocasio Cortez praises Nancy Pelosi…I have found many people, maybe the majority, expressing something along the lines of, well ‘she has to say that sort of thing’. Or she is only kissing the ring so she can later create possibilities for real change. The fact she was lying is excused. It is excused because America itself lies. And deep down those saying this stuff know full well Ocasio Cortez will become Nancy Pelosi, not fight against her.

In Brazil, the new fascist in power praised his father for the beatings his dad gave him. Young Jair Boslonaro said it helped make him a man. Jair is now out to destroy the rain forest of the Amazon basin. Which might well kill off the planet. We can all partly thank dad for that.

Capitalism is an emotional plague on the planet. Wilhelm Reich said that. Bertell Ollman wrote of Reich’s ideas…

    “If the desire to accumulate property lies at the origins of sexual repression, its chief function today is to produce submissive beings of both sexes. In our treatment of character structure, the diminution of critical faculties, general passivity, resignation, and other negative effects of repression were identified. The work of sexual suppression is carried on primarily by the family. In his Marxist period Reich believed the suppression that was most decisive in determining character occurred between the ages of four to six in the ways parents respond to sexual play and questions. So important is the role of the family in these early years that Reich refers to it as the “factory of submissive beings.” To him, it is no coincidence that “the lack of victorious spirit, the outlawry of protest, the absence of personal opinions characterizes the relations of faithful children to their parents just as they do the relations of devoted bureaucrats to the state authorities and that of non-class conscious workers to the owner of the factory.”

    – Bertell Ollman, Social and Sexual Revolution, 1979

For the first time (last census) more Americans are living alone than in families. The loss of jobs, the onerous economic burden of child rearing, and gender inequality were all tied into an impossible model for any but the most affluent classes.

    Millions of men who have been denied their family wages find refuge for male domination in right-wing anti-woman politics and fundamentalist and Catholic religions with their emphasis on denying women’s independence through anti-abortion and anti-birth control movements, opposing equal wages for women and denying support for raped and battered women.

    Other men seek to take back their male power through guns. (None of the explosion of mass killings have been committed by women.) Millions more seek power in heterosexual pornography in which women are portrayed as inviting sexual degradation.

    – Harriet Fraad, Truthout, 2012

    “Families propagate violence. Sons of violent parents are 1,000 times more likely to batter their adult partners, and daughters of violent parents are 600 times more likely to batter their partners. Children who are bullied at home are more likely to bully and to be bullied at school. Child abuse is rampant in the capitalist family system. We cannot know how rampant, because it goes on behind closed doors, most is never reported, and adults tend to normalise what they experienced as children. When neglected, they conclude that they did not deserve better. When physically terrorised, they will rationalise: “Sure, I was hit. But I deserved it.” According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, more than one in four American adults lived with alcohol or drug addiction in their childhood homes, 28 percent were physically abused as children and 21 percent suffered sexual abuse. ( ) Capitalism promotes sympathy for child victims and prosecutes adult perpetrators. But today’s perpetrators are yesterday’s victims. While only a small minority of child victims become adult perpetrators, studies of those who do perpetrate reveal that almost all were traumatised as children. Capitalism cannot acknowledge that most perpetrators are former victims, because it cannot admit that families transmit trauma from one generation to the next.”

    Susan Rosenthal “Capitalism, alienation and the family,” Socialist Review, 2015

Rosenthal notes something else, and that is that capitalism in the transition from agricultural production to industrial removed labor from the family. It created this amorphous social sphere of leisure time or free time. But as Adorno noted sixty years ago, there is nothing free about it and leisure had already begun to resemble alienated work.

Rosenthal also adds:

    “Impossible gender expectations create crushing disappointment. The woman is raised to see the man as a champion and a prince who will make her dreams come true. When she discovers that he cannot do this, she expresses her disapproval or withdraws in despair. The man gets the message that he is not measuring up. How could he? The man is raised to expect a warm attentive partner who is always ready for sex. What he gets is an overworked, exhausted and frequently irritated partner. Both of them blame themselves, and both of them blame each other.”

The American political drama, or electoral theatre, is reinforced so aggressively because it is the most basic and effective distraction people have for their social malaise and misery. Voting is a reflection of binary models, it is really just exchange value. And voting makes everyone equal. And Americans have even taken to wearing little stickers that proclaim they voted. So electoral theatre as a shaming device. But voting becomes even more than just a threadbare symbol of equality, it takes on almost occult significance for many. It is one of the few rituals in bourgeois society that seems to encompass something almost magical. Voting is an affirmation of one’s existence, of one’s autonomy and even freedom. I can vote for whoever I choose. Well, off a menu of two.

But I have seen leftist writers proclaim lesser evilism is not to be debated. This is, apparently, because Trump is some sort of special category of evil. This is a hugely regressive and politically immature position. Firstly, voting is not going to solve shit. Full stop. No, the entire apparatus of elections and voting machines and voter suppression or corrupt counts is part of this grand theatre. And this emphasis also promotes a popular idea with the ruling class, that of individualism.

I wrote this several years back:

    Voting is the constant reinforcement of the idea of equality. Everyone has a vote, therefore everyone is equal. This is of course not true, however. But the expanding of campaign season ( a bit like the expanding of Christmas shopping season) is serving to keep this illusion foremost in the minds of citizens. The act of voting is then a sort of magic elixir for conveying a sense of equality, and it is coupled with the idea of ‘responsibility.”

    – “Dentistry as Art,”, Sept 2015

It is no doubt true that America is a full blown open fascist society today. But it was already. It’s hard to decide what was the starting point, but it certainly could be Bill Clinton’s second term. Or after 9/11. By Obama it was most certainly fascistic in operation. Gabor Mate noted that the ruling class was not fooled by Obama and all that hope and change stuff. Wall Street backed and funded his candidacy. They knew he was one of them. He rewarded them the second he was elected. No, only the mass public believes ANYTHING of what the political class tells them.

The Democratic Party has taken positions actually to the right of Trump on many issues (here is an issue Democrats fell in line with).  And does anyone believe real action would take place if Dems controlled the government? I mean they have, and not that long ago, and what happened? But none of these things are as significant as the wholesale swath of destruction that US and NATO military action has caused in Africa and west Asia. And nobody asks this during election season. Unless I missed something, no candidate or news talking head brought up why NATO even exists anymore. Nobody asked why the US needed to upgrade its nuclear arsenal, or why it occupies a third of Syria. Or why there are military bases in almost every country in Africa. Why there are 900 worldwide.

But more hidden, in a sense, and therefore more insidious is the role of giant foundations and non-military uses of coercion and control. Jacob Levich writes:

    For the ruling classes do not rule by guns and laws alone. Rather, they need to be able to do so without the constant resort to force. So, [Joan Roelofs] argues, they manufacture the consent of the ruled through the activities of a broad range of institutions, activities and persons (not necessarily themselves members of the ruling class) who disseminate the ideology of the ruling class as if it were merely common sense. 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.

    – Jacob Levich, “The Real Goal of the Gates Foundation,”Aspects of India’s Economy, May 2014

The role of foundations is, to most Americans, opaque and almost inexplicable. Nobody in political/Electoral theatre mentions this ‘third sector’. Neither business nor government, these foundations operate with budgets in the multi billions of dollars. This is the stuff discussed at Bilderberg Meetings, and other summits of the worlds richest people.

    The fall of the Soviet Union ushered in the present phase of public health philanthropy, characterized by the Western demand for “global health governance” – purportedly as a response to the spread of communicable diseases accelerated by globalization. Health has been redefined as a security concern; the developing world is portrayed as a teeming petri dish of SARS, AIDS, and tropical infections, spreading “disease and death” across the globe and requiring Western powers to establish centralized health systems designed to “overcome the constraints of state sovereignty.” Imperial interventions in the health field are justified in the same terms as recent “humanitarian” military interventions: “[N]ational interests now mandate that countries engage internationally as a responsibility to protect against imported health threats or to help stabilize conflicts abroad so that they do not disrupt global security or commerce.

    – Jacob Levich, “The Real Goal of the Gates Foundation,” Aspects of India’s Economy, May 2014.

I mention this only as a sort of corrective to these naive notions about voting. Voting is not the issue. Not in an absolutely controlled system of perception management. Back in 2014 Gates warned about overpopulation in places “we don’t want it” (sic) and he mentioned Pakistan and Yemen. Huh. Yemen you say? Yeah, well, I guess that’s not an issue anymore. The U.S. Imperialist agenda is about control. It is adaptive and flexible.

    Malthus’s heirs continue to wish us to believe that people are responsible for their own misery; that there is simply not enough to go around; and to ameliorate that state of wretchedness we must not attempt to alter the ownership of social wealth and redistribute the social product, but instead focus on reducing the number of people.

    – Manali Chakrabarti, “Are There Just Too Many of Us?,” Aspects of India’s Economy no. 55, March, 2014.

I digress a moment to add on here that the overpopulation mythology has taken on a green cover of late. Suddenly the same old Malthusian eugenics is sprinkled with Gaia jargon and sensitivity to global ecologies. But the thrust and engine driving the idea remains the same.

    Most non-profits do the dirty work of what a society is looking more and more to not provide for – mental health care for a bigger and bigger share of the USA population; disability services for a larger and larger swath of Americans mentally, psychologically, intellectually, socially, physically, and spiritually broken or disabled; financial, employment, education, housing assistance for an ever-growing population of humans who are not able to work and live and transport and find health care for themselves in this New Gilded Age.

    The non-profits I have worked for are top-heavy, have very little money put aside or earmarked or grant-provided for the workers; many of the non-profits hire development associates, upper management shills, PR folk, marketing and events coordinators; many are in shining and remodeled digs while casting shadows on the street people they supposedly care about.

    – Paul Haeder, Dissident Voice, Jan 15th, 2018

In the 1950s came the development of the first psychiatric drug, the antipsychotic drug Chlorpromazine. This marked the beginning of what has come to be a mammoth and powerful industry in chemical warehousing of an unwanted population.

    This industry was founded on a single ideology—the “mental illness” theory, or “medical model” (which I’ll refer to simply as the medical model)—an ideology that gave this industry tremendous power and influence. The medical model essentially states that distressing states of mind can, for the most part, be categorized into discrete “mental illnesses,” and that although these mental illnesses continue to the present day to be rampant and even growing within our society, we must rest assured that the great medical advances of this industry have already developed powerful drugs that can generally contain them, and that it is just a matter of time before our medical technology will eliminate these illnesses altogether.

    – Paris Williams, Madness and the Family: Exploring the Links between Family Dynamics and Psychosis.

As Williams has pointed out, the very term mental illness is something of a self fulfilling prophecy. The profits from all psychotropic drugs is almost incalculable — Xanax (alprazolam), Zoloft (sertraline), Celexa (citalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), Ativan (lorazepam), Desyrel (trazodone HCL), Lexapro (escitalopram). Exact numbers are hard to know but the best guess by the government itself is that over 35 million people took psychotropics between 2013 and 2014.

    A common side effect of psychotropic medication is difficulty feeling certain emotions once the drug accumulates in a person’s system. For example, many people complain of losing the feelings they used to have, report a reduction in their ability to laugh or cry, or experience a decrease in libido. Side effects of SSRIs that might affect one’s sexuality and love relationships, such as diminished sexual interest, are discussed in a chapter from Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience.


    Psychiatrists claim their drugs save lives, but according to their own studies, psychotropic drugs can double the risk of suicide. And long-term use has been proven to create a lifetime of physical and mental damage, a fact ignored by psychiatrists. Common and well-documented side effects of psychiatric drugs include mania, psychosis, hallucinations, depersonalization, suicidal ideation, heart attack, stroke and sudden death. Not only that, but The US Food and Drug Administration admits that probably one to ten percent of all the adverse drug effects are actually reported by patients or physicians.

    – The Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights

It is no different in the U.K. The Council for Evidence Based Psychiatry states…

    The latest prescription figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that the UK is in the midst of a psychiatric drug epidemic. Over 57m prescriptions for antidepressants were issued in England in 2014, enough for one for every man, woman and child. This represents a 7.5% increase since 2013, and over 500% since 1992.

Now there is a kind of psychological blindness affecting Americans, today. A perhaps banal example, but still useful, is the popularity of American football. Since the incontrovertible proof that collisions on the field cause brain damage, acute irreversible damage, the sports popularity has actually increased. Never mind the jingoism attached this sports-tainment empire, the fact that players are literally risking their lives and mental health to play is one thing, and there is an economic coercion involved, but how is it people want to watch this? Hollywood even made a film about the man who researched the phenomenon of Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). A very popular film starring Will Smith. But more and more people tune in each week. Nobody talks about it. Sitting on the couch, a slice in one hand, Bud light in the other, the question is, I’m guessing, never broached…’Hey bro, so, these guys, you think they’re aware their brains are turning to mush?’ But then the league is 70% black, so, for many it’s a kind of unconscious de-facto solution. Racism in America is indelible and deep. Even animal shelters acknowledge black dogs are harder to place than white. (this is a fact, not the Onion).

Michelle Obama hugging war criminal Bush2:
eloquent proof of the bankruptcy of liberals
 and the phony progressive creds of the Obama clan.
(But we knew that already). Saturated with idiocy,
the US is now liable to see a Michelle candidacy in 2020.

This blindness is the product of decades, now, of electronic media indoctrination. People even admit this, accept that it’s true. But they still remain habituated to their various screens. They still wear buttons saying ‘I voted’. They still become shrill and near hysterical at the idea YOU voted for a third party candidate, or worse, didn’t vote at all. How does that work? The presidency of Obama is revealing, both as it happened, and now as an object of near history. If you tell people Obama was the president who signed off on (and presumably helped design) the joint US/Saudi assault on Yemen, you will get denial or blank stares. If you say, well, ICE deported people under Obama, and at a record clip. You get denial. Or that Obama was notorious for persecuting whistle blowers and for narrowing press freedoms as much as possible. Denial. Blankness. Obama was the fulcrum for a very late onset of amnesia. Collectively speaking. He has taken the role of mental black hole. History began and stopped with Obama. (I actually think Michelle might run for President in 2020).

Americans collectively cannot grasp their own family relations. They are not sure, most of them I would wager, on even how to define *family*. But, the idea is past its sell by date I suspect. People are living alone, they have no choice. Often alone and on the street. A recent typhus outbreak on the mean streets of skid row Los Angeles suggests the U.S. is inching or hurtling toward 3rd world status.

    This social morality, anchored in all individuals and reproducing itself permanently, has in this manner a reciprocal effect on the economic base in a conservative direction. The exploited person affirms the economic order which guarantees his exploitation; the sexually repressed person affirms even the sexual order which restricts his gratification and makes him ill, and he wards off any system that might correspond to his need. In this manner morality carries out its socio-economic assignment.

    – Wilhelm Reich, Mass Psychology of Fascism.

The drastic increase in economic inequality has also generated the need for official explanations and justifications. I am reminded of Otto Fenichel, that most neglected of early psychoanalysts who complained in his 1938 book The Drive to Amass Wealth (and quoted by the worthy Russell Jacoby, whose own work Social Amnesia should be required reading today) of what he saw as Ferenczi’s psychologism….

    The instincts represent the general tendency, while matters of money and the desire to become wealthy represent a specific form which the general tendency can assume only in the presence of certain definite social conditions. ( ) The existence of the erogenous pleasure in collection causes Ferenczi to overlook the fact that when the capitalist strives to increase his capital he does this on very rational grounds: he is forced to it by competitors who produce on a larger scale …. A social system of this kind makes use of and strengthens erogenous drives that serve the necessity for accumulating. Of this there can be no doubt. There is considerable doubt, however, as to whether the existing economic conditions of production were created by the biological instinct.

At the end Fenichel suggested sometime in the future such conditions would no longer exist. And perhaps somewhere in the distant past they also did not. Capitalism is not inevitable nor is it some kind of natural law. It’s a fact that Google and Facebook censor socialist sites. Why would they do that if they were not afraid? The authority structure, the proprietor class, they want you asleep. That’s the idea.

We are at the tail end of a kind of Ayn Randian period of simplistic one dimensional and crude capitalist cheerleading — and it began in its current form under Reagan. He of the happy childhood. The president who no doubt suffered from Alzheimers even BEFORE he became the commander in chief. And this has led to the marketing industry to double down on certain tropes of american happiness. We are still within a Norman Rockwell cocoon in terms of propaganda. Each holiday season Hollywood churns out one after another fairy tale of the American family — Thanksgiving fables or Christmas. Oh heck, families can be complex, but gull darn it, we always overcome and celebrate together. But a fairy tale is all it is. And a pernicious one. Most families I know struggle through the Holidays, buffeted by guilt and resentment. And depression. It is the cruelest season.

Anti depressants, and all those millions and millions of prescriptions written in the U.S. and U.K. may (!) alleviate symptoms in some or even many patients, but even at their most effective (and I reserve acceptance they actually do any real good for anyone) they do nothing to change the conditions that created this depression. When mass shooters appear, especially white ones, they are *mentally ill*. If non-white they are likely terrorists. The system is not indicted either way. Only the victims of that system. The U.S. is a remarkably unwell place and it has created a political system that rewards the most pathological people in this unwell place. Donald Trump is the perfect man to be President of this asylum. He is ignorant, and proud of it, a narcissist and pathological liar. A racist and misogynist. He often seems to be made up of the worst qualities of his predecessors. Bush, Clinton and Obama were all in various ways pathological. But who is President really is not the point. The point is class hierarchies. Until Americans learn to talk politics in terms of class, nothing will change.
The U.S. is reaching an economic/social singularity; there are no jobs, there is no health care, and no education. There is a throughly debased culture and much of the country is in the hands of Evangelical Christians. And Evangelicals, especially Dominionists like Pence and Pompeo and Kudlow and DeVos would have, in an earlier time, been shipped off by their family to some discreet asylum or hospital. We are sort of living a Marat/Sade nightmare. The American fairy tale isn’t working anymore. People may cling to its remnants but at their most lucid I suspect most people know it’s all bullshit. The cultural landscape is so depressing most can only intermittently engage with it. The ruling elite are further distanced from the rest of the populace. The educated liberal bourgeoisie is in crises. All the myriad identity based systems of belief are less and less convincing. The violence of the military complex finds expression domestically in a militarized sadistic and racist police apparatus. A nation where mass shootings are now routine is a kind of movable hell. Mass incarceration is growing still. It is my experience that people can no longer easily read facial expressions or hear the pitch or intonation of speech — they mimic autistic symptoms in fact. And sociopathy is everywhere. From the wholesale killing of wildlife, to bald faced lies about food ingredients, contaminants in factory farmed meats. But drinking water might be the worst. Across the rust belt and through the southwest, mostly from abandoned mining sites. In Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and on across to Georgia. Detergents, solvents, pesticides, and things such as vinyl chloride and PCEs, paint sludge and boron. A recent report detailed by the Center for Public Integrity noted….

    Across the country, in Albany, Georgia, three separate areas of groundwater are polluted with cyanide and chloroform from various industries. One of the contaminated areas came from a landfill on the Marine Corps’ Logistics Base. The U.S. Navy has taken responsibility for the base and is providing residents in the majority African-American town with an alternative water supply due to the health risks associated with the pollution. Politicians and researchers say industrial sites are more likely to be located near low-income and minority communities.’ More heavily polluting industries were located near communities of color or minority communities or poor communities because they didn’t have the political clout to fight back.

The EPA estimates, now, that since 1987, various industries have dumped about 600 million pounds of toxic substances, including ammonia and nitrates into the Ohio river. Six hundred MILLION pounds of poisonous crap into the once pristine Ohio River. Cue Doc Watson singing “On the Banks of the Ohio.”

No, don’t.

In 2015, the top 1% of Americans made almost thirty times as much income as the bottom 99 percent — an increase from 2013, when they earned twenty five times as much. This from the Economic Policy Institute in DC. There is a racial divide, too. The billionaires who make up the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans now have as much wealth as ALL African-American households, plus one-third of America’s Latino population, combined. In other words, just 400 extremely wealthy individuals have as much wealth as 16 million African-American households and 5 million Latino households. (from Forbes own statistics)

That is America today. And everyone knows it. But they can’t say it. They can’t look at it soberly and honestly. It is too much to bear.

And America is exporting its misery at an accelerated clip. The far right fascist sensibility is growing across Europe. There are few NATO countries without a powerful fascist party participating in government, and in several places — Hungary, Italy, Poland, they ARE the government. And now Brazil. One might think the recent summer of apocalyptic fires in the U.S. would be a wake up call, but it’s not. The horror cannot be faced by most. Lying, family or household dysfunction, and chemical numbing are the ground floor reality today. When the ruling class own everything, people must find ways to cope. Once you have mastered lying to yourself, lying to others is easy.

    “I almost do not exist now and I know it; God knows what lives in me in place of me.”

    – Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot.


John Steppling is an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, a two-time NEA recipient, Rockefeller Fellow in theatre, and PEN-West winner for playwriting. Plays produced in LA, NYC, SF, Louisville, and at universities across the US, as well in Warsaw, Lodz, Paris, London and Krakow. Taught screenwriting and curated the cinematheque for five years at the Polish National Film School in Lodz, Poland. A collection of plays, Sea of Cortez & Other Plays was published in 1999, and his book on aesthetics, Aesthetic Resistance and Dis-Interest was published this year by Mimesis International.

Offline K-Dog

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Re: Global Systemic Geopolitical Crisis
« Reply #673 on: November 22, 2018, 12:03:12 PM »
I'm not going to quote 'liar liar' here since it is huge.  It is better read at the Greanville Post and discussed here because it is so damn big.

Interesting, brain droppings from an Award Winning Playwright.  Some of his writing is actually pretty bad and worth looking at for what not to do.  He does not make the transition from stage to prose as well as he should yet.
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

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Re: Global Systemic Geopolitical Crisis
« Reply #674 on: November 22, 2018, 02:53:24 PM »
I'm not going to quote 'liar liar' here since it is huge.  It is better read at the Greanville Post and discussed here because it is so damn big.

Interesting, brain droppings from an Award Winning Playwright.  Some of his writing is actually pretty bad and worth looking at for what not to do.  He does not make the transition from stage to prose as well as he should yet.

Why do Diners need to go offsite?  I reproduced the entire article here.  It's right above your post.



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