Friday, August 11, 2017

WAR – IS THAT ALL YOU GOT AMERICA?

Button pusher trump is waxing poetic about “fire and fury,” talking tough (but apparently “not tough enough”), stealing lines from Harry S. Truman following the US bombing of Hiroshima. Privatizer in chief’s commentary comes practically 72 years to the day after Truman’s address.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening, beyond a normal statement. And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before. Thank you.”

– trump, August 8th, 2017 

“If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this Earth.”

– Truman, August 6, 1945

  
It’s simultaneously horrifying and absurd, like so much of the garbage that has come out of this administration and trump’s mouth. Is this a big game for trump, watching file tapes of former famous and infamous president’s, mimicking their moves so as to seem presidential? Is this administration really so completely devoid of direction that all they can do is dismantle and destroy?

I’ve found it challenging to discuss republican policy over the years. When I would say that they have none, I was often met with a quick rebuttal, citing all the damage republican policies had wrought. True enough, but underneath it all, there was never really any intention on the part of republicans to do anything in the interest of the people. They had no plan for the common good. And I always felt that this was the place to hit them, not to continuously indulge them by discussing the merits of their non-existant “plans.”

The bluster and nonsense we have seen with the recent republican health care debacle shows this plainly enough. By any measure, their health care plan really isn’t a health care plan at all. To be clear, it is NOT a plan to provide health care – it is another codification of tax breaks for the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us, another package of privatization giveaways to trump’s crony capitalist cabinet pals.





Certainly, the republican (or democrat, neo-liberal, neo-conservative, take your pick) free market solves everything gang, has a playbook that they follow. But it is the same play EVERY TIME. One could call this a plan, but it really is more of a scheme isn’t it? With an avowed snake oil salesman in the white house, shouldn’t we expect to be taken for a ride every single time? Why would anyone give this guy the benefit of the doubt – ever? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice...





Back in 2003, Condi got us all going (well, not all of us) with that proof in the shape of a mushroom cloud thing. Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to jump on the bandwagon this time? Lest we forget, it was the bush administration that branded North Korea along with Iraq and Iran as the “Axis of Evil.”

So what about war? Well it really is the only thing we have going for us right now isn’t it? I mean, what other American export even comes close? Weapons are big business (JOBS JOBS JOBS!), and trump is the perfect instrument to tout our weapons superiority. We got nukes, and they are the best nukes. Sure North Korea has nukes now too (I’m sure Condi can verify this for us), but we have the BEST of the best!


 


Of course the weapons deals didn’t start with trump, but he sure knows how to close doesn’t he? Saudi Arabia escapes trump’s muslim ban list to the tune of $110 billion. He’s well on his way to beating the previous $115 billion record set during the Obama administration!





Cooler heads must prevail, the foxes are in the henhouse, where’s the revolution?



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Related:

Forget Russia. Is Provoking a Nuclear War with North Korea Grounds for Impeachment? – Democracy Now!

Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Urges Trump to Privatize Afghan War & Install Viceroy to Run Nation – Democracy Now!

Atlas Golfed — U.S.-Backed Think Tanks Target Latin America – The Intercept

Friday, May 26, 2017

WAR IS PEACE or WHO IS READING 1984 TO TRUMP AT BEDTIME?

I saw a brilliant segment on Democracy Now! yesterday – Scahill & Greenwald: What If All Victims of War Received the Media Attention of Manchester Victims? Today DN! posted a related article by Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan – Let the Media Coverage of Manchester Victims Be a Model for All Young Victims of War. Both pieces point to the disturbing way our media disappears the fundamental role of US intervention in wars around the world. Watching trump visiting the Pope, days after sealing a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, had me once again thinking about how this administration deploys the Nineteen Eighty-Four concept of DOUBLETHINK, on a grand scale, and on an international stage.

Been a while since you last read Nineteen Eighty-Four? Now would be a good time.

DOUBLETHINK means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of DOUBLETHINK he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. DOUBLETHINK lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word DOUBLETHINK it is necessary to exercise DOUBLETHINK. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of DOUBLETHINK one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. 

Upon leaving the Vatican trump tweeted:

Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.

trump presented the Pope with a set of Martin Luther King’s writings. Cause, you know, this Jesuit Pope needs to bone up on the evils of militarism, capitalism, and racism. Actually, it’s more likely just a cynical reference to the Pope’s 2015 address to the United States Congress: 

Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.

And here is the Pope so eloquently sticking it to all the war profiteers in Congress during that same address:

Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.

The Pope presented trump with a copy of his 2017 World Day of Peace message on nonviolence, commenting “I signed it personally for you.”

I was pretty amazed when the Pope got to come to the US Congress and talk shit about America’s #1 export – WAR. Seems like the Vatican had no choice but to allow trump the same courtesy. Sticking it to the Pope like only a snake oil salesman can. Just look at that smile!

“That was a tremendous day. Tremendous investments in the United States. Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs.” WAR IS PEACE.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

POTUS: PRIVATIZER OF THE UNITED STATES three steps to undermining the trump agenda

You know things are bad when people are willing to get their medicine from the snake oil salesman. Huckster, hustler, button pusher, scammer, scoundrel, swindler. Whatever you want to call this guy, there is one single word that should be inextricably linked to his name and his brand of snake oil:

Privatization.

Say it with me now: pri-vat-iz-a-tion (prī-və-tə-ˈzā-shən). Get used to saying it. Every time he tweets – #privatization. Every time he has a rally – privatization. Every time he signs another baby’s first executive order – privatization.



The basic is this: neoliberals were chomping at the bit to privatize every government program they could get their greedy hands on long before this guy entered the race. And in classic Newspeak fashion they’ve provided an out of control anti-establishment champion for everyone to hate as cover for the installation of an entirely corporate cabinet. Doubleplusungood.



Let’s be clear here, this is no longer simply the fox guarding the henhouse. This is not about lobbyists writing legislation, or corporate kickbacks, or pay for play – this is about putting corporate executives directly in control of our government.

Sure, they’ll continue to tow the party line: smaller government, lower taxes, reduce the deficit, government corruption and reform (“drain the swamp”), but keep your eye on the ball. Will this administration really use their power to do away with all of those “bloated bureaucratic agencies” or will they simply use the existing infrastructure to reroute all those tax payer dollars into their own pockets?

So why are so many willing to accept this clear conflict of interest?

Well, you see, we’ve got this thing in the States, a straight up hard on for guys in suits that can put one over on everyone around them, take advantage of every poor sucker along the way. We put these folks on the cover of Fortune and Forbes and call them “the smartest guys in the room.”

This guy may not look like them, you may not even think he’s smart enough to be them, but that’s the genius of it. This snake oil salesman is selling the appearance of wealth. He’s been pushing his get rich quick schemes on late night TV for decades. His string of bankruptcies might give the impression that he’s been a failure at this game, but nobody called Jamie Dimon a failure when we bailed his ass out.

Everyone else in the world – yeah, pretty much everyone, calls this thing they are doing “austerity.” In a nutshell – those in power engineer a crisis, financial or otherwise, and then blame some other folks in power for doing an inadequate job handling the crisis.

Here’s where it gets fun – they’ll claim that the crisis, and the inadequate response, is proof of a systemic failure and call for reform. This reform is always the privitization of the existing system. This privatization involves tax payer money being allocated to them and their private companies in place of the public institutions that normally handle the job. They claim that privatization will be more efficient and yield a greater return on taxpayer investment.

Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Problem is, once they get that fat government check, they’re free to welsh on the job or do it in such a substandard manner as to escalate the crisis, leading to further privatization...

Of course, blowing all this tax payer money on nothing means that every time the people want something for their taxes, the powers that be can claim that there just isn’t enough to go around, salaries are too high, benefits must be cut, we all have to make sacrifices. All smiles across the aisle.

There is one more essential step in the neoliberal crisis capitalism playbook – they’re going to offer you, your city, your country, a loan. A loan to make up for all that revenue they just swindled you out of, all those resources they gobbled up, and all that public land they privatized. And with a smile and a handshake they’ll snap on the shackles of debt, turning you into a product they can buy and sell on the market. That’s austerity, and it’s right here in the good ole US of A, even if we’re all too cranked up on conflict narrative culture to see it.

So if the snake oil salesman is respected by the people specifically for his ability to get over on the people, how does one mobilize the people in their own best interest? Well, if exposing his duplicity only serves to further validate his prowess, then perhaps a less direct, less confrontational approach is needed. The anti-globalization movement’s “¡Basta!” and a phrase I often heard repeated at OWS, “I would prefer not to,” come to mind. I recall messaging discussions concerning the framing of 2003 The World Says No To War demonstrations as a rejection of business as usual, a principled stand, a withdrawal of consent.



With this in mind I’d like to propose a basic three step outline for undermining the strategy of domination through privatization. I am hoping that it provides a simple starting point for other organizers and media folks to build upon, a focus beyond the fractured reactionary response being scripted for us.

1 ) Take a closer look at the government agencies under threat of privatization. Start with the cabinet level offices and work out from there. What do these agencies actually do? Who are the appointees that will lead these agencies in this administration? How will their positions benefit them and their corporate interests? How will the agency infrastructure be used to redirect tax payer money?

2 ) Given that these agencies may now be used to oppress rather than to protect, what alternatives can we come up with in light of this privatization? This is a tricky thing to propose, because the administration would like nothing better than for us to cede complete authority to them in all these areas. But if they have taken control of the government, we really need to start coming up with alternatives that are insulated from their influence.

3 ) Make these alternatives viable, accessible, and desirable. This may involve the redirection of public funds toward alternatives to privatized government programs, a mass mobilization involving divestment and reinvestment focused on a withdrawal of consent. Not just boycotts and strikes, but the work of building viable alternatives to replace the existing dependencies.

Move Your Money is an example of one such alternative mobilization. The campaign was pretty successful, with individuals, unions, and whole municipalities moving their money from predatory big banks and financial institutions into local credit unions and community banks. Just recently, the Seattle City Council voted to divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo over the bank’s backing of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Most notably, the campaign wasn’t presented simply as an ethical imperative, but as a practical benefit. Moving one’s money from a bank that charges outrageous fees with no interest to one that offers free checking with interest is obviously attractive. The key then is accessibility. Is there a local credit union office in the neighborhood? Is one’s money accessible through ATM’s in the neighborhood? Could that vacant building next to the check cashing place be secured to house a new credit union office, providing an obvious visible alternative at the point of interaction? These are the kinds of details that must be addressed to encourage people to withdraw their consent, while simultaneously helping themselves.

There is enormous opportunity to mobilize the people through a desire for what they want, rather than simply controlling them through fear and desperation. This is, at its core, about replacing a narrative of scarcity and strife, with one of agency and empowerment. If this (s)election told us anything, it is that the people would rather vote for something than for nothing at all. The snake oil salesman only has power if we keep buying what he is selling. And privatization really is about selling you what was yours to begin with. Withdraw your consent and take it back.
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Related articles:
Is Your Bank Funding DAPL? Here’s How to Find One That Isn’t – Gerald Mitchell
Trump’s Crony Cabinet May Look Strong, but They Are Scared – Naomi Klein
Donald Trump’s Executive Order Will Let Private Equity Funds Drain Your 401(k) – David Dayen

Here's How We Prepare to Be Ungovernable in 2017 – Sarah Lazare 
Intercepted Podcast: The Clock Strikes 13, and Donald Trump Is President – The Intercept