Donald Trump: Warmonger-in-Chief!

[SOURCE: Antonius Aquinas]

If a world conflagration, God forbid, should break out during the Trump Administration, its genesis will not be too hard to discover: the thin-skinned, immature, shallow, doofus which currently resides in the Oval Office!

This past week, the Donald has continued his bellicose talk with both veiled and explicit threats against purported American adversaries throughout the world. In a cryptic exchange with reporters during a dinner with military leaders, he quipped:

You guys know what this represents? Maybe it's the calm before the storm. It could be the calm. . . before. . . the storm.

A reporter asked if he meant Iran or Isis which the POTUS responded, "you'll find out." Instead of threatening supposed overseas foes with nuclear annihilation, none of whom have taken any concrete military action against the US, why not go after someone who has actually compromised the country's security, namely Hillary Rodham Clinton!

While some dismissed the comments as typical Trumpian bluster, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders added further ominous overtones when questioned saying they were "extremely serious."

Later in the week, Trump continued to threaten tiny North Korea, this time in not so veiled terms:

Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid hasn't worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, making fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work.

If war erupts either on the Korean Peninsula or in any other part of the globe that the U.S has wantonly poked its nose into, it can be safely assured that neither Trump nor any of the other "military leaders," with which he recently had dinner with, will be in the midst of hostilities as the bombs and bullets are being cast about. No, these laptop bombers will be in safe quarters far away from enemy lines, giving orders, making speeches, and praising the troops while Congress will be hurriedly passing more "defense" funding legislation further lining the pockets of the military industrial complex.

The Warmonger-in-Chief, who has repeatedly bragged about America's military prowess, had a chance to become a part of the organization he constantly gushes over during his youth at the time of the Vietnam War. Yet, he escaped military service, due to the machinations of his father, because of a mysterious foot/toe malady.

For all those who avoided being conscripted into America's disastrous imperial exercise in Southeast Asia during those years, whether it was from phony medical conditions, escaping to Canada or beyond, or going to jail, they did so for justifiable reasons. The war was immoral, since Vietnam had taken no hostile action against the US and what made it worse, the government drafted thousands of America's youth to fight it. It is reprehensible that those who got out of military service then are now at the forefront in advocating mass murder (war).

One resolution that would certainly curtail warmongering in the future would be that any legislator, president, cabinet officer, or ambassador that promotes military intervention abroad should be required to directly participate in field operations. This would quickly put the brakes on threatening talk from the likes of Trump and his crazed UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley.

A country's leadership personally conducting military operations has had a long tradition in Western history. During the crusading era, princes and kings led their retinues and forces into battle risking life and limb such as the great Norman prince, Bohemond, whose courage, tenacity, and military acumen won the day for Christian forces at the battle of Antioch.

This venerable ideal can still be seen in Russia when recently one of its generals and two colonels lost their lives in the Syrian quagmire. When was the last time a US general has perished in active combat?

It is apparent that the current POTUS does not understand the catastrophic consequences of what his threats, if carried out, would lead to – death to millions, unimaginable destruction, and the end of civilization. Maybe, had he actually suffered through the horrors of combat or had been the victim of US aggression as the peoples of North Korea, Vietnam and Iraq have witnessed, he might refrain from such bellicose language.

Hopefully, cooler heads in the Administration will prevail, however, a more peaceful world is unlikely with the likes of Donald John Trump at the command of the greatest destructive force in human history.

>> Original source

Don’t Become a Right-Wing Snowflake

[SOURCE: Liberty Blitzkrieg]

by Michael Krieger

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg…Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error. Give a loose rein to them, they will support the true religion by bringing every false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation.

– Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia

Here's a prediction. Right-wing snowflake culture will expand exponentially in the coming years, and its rise will be cynically and intentionally fueled by Donald Trump himself. Having proved himself a fake populist on most issues that actually matter, Trump has no choice but to move more enthusiastically into the culture war to deflect away from his obvious betrayal on economic populism and keep his diehard supporters in heat. In other words, he'll do exactly what mainstream Democrats and Republicans have been doing for decades, which is distract the public and keep it fighting while oligarchs grab what little is left. This works out just fine for billionaire Trump and the Goldman Sachs guys running his administration.

If I'm correct, how should we respond? How do those of us who see a creeping right-wing snowflake culture emerging push back? Rule number one is don't act like a snowflake in response. Exposing hypocrisy with incisive rational arguments and humor is the best way to push back against right-wing authoritarianism, just like it's the best way to push back against left-wing authoritarianism. The authoritarian mindset is the enemy of freedom loving people everywhere irrespective of your specific views on health care, taxes, etc. There are far bigger things at risk to us as a people if we allow ourselves to be divided into two separate authoritarian gangs fighting for power.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what seems to be happening with far too many people, and I ask that you not play this dangerous game. People are vulnerable to autocratic cults when they lack real principles based on freedom; when they know what they're against, but don't really know what they're for. Standing for something as empowering and ethical as liberty is what keeps you grounded and sane in the midst of a society-wide mental breakdown.

A perfect example of the emergent right-wing snowflake mindset comes courtesy of Donald Trump himself. In his commentary on NFL protests last Friday in Alabama, the president showed a degree of thin skinned outrage quite reminiscent of the hordes of college cry bullies I've criticized so harshly over the years. Let's revisit that comment, which is what sparked everything that followed.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired!' You know, some owner is going to do that. He's gonna say, 'That guy disrespects our flag, he's fired.' And that owner, they don't know it. They don't know it. They're friends of mine, many of them. They don't know it. They'll be the most popular person, for a week. They'll be the most popular person in the country."

If you take a step back and honestly analyze the emotional sentiment at play in the above rant, you'll see it's quite similar to that of a 19 year old Berkley leftist dressed like a ninja hyperventilating about Milo Yiannopoulos giving a speech. For left-wing snowflakes, right-wing trolls is where they draw the line, while for right-wing snowflakes it's the act of refusing to stand for a song or salute a flag. It's one thing to have a strong opinion on your own personal behavior, but it's quite another to demand your fellow citizens behave in the same way you see fit. The mindset of someone obsessed with telling you how to live or behave in your everyday life is the mindset of an authoritarian.

It doesn't matter if that person is marching with antifa, wearing a MAGA hat or draped in the American flag. The true enemy of freedom is, and always has been, the authoritarian personality. A left-wing snowflake gets triggered by Milo or Ben Shapiro, while a right-wing snowflake gets triggered by a millionaire athlete kneeling during the national anthem. Each side will argue their position is more enlightened, patriotic or whatever, but at the end of the day, if you feel emotionally harmed by a fellow citizen exercising free speeches rights, you should probably start by examining your own demons.

When examining the authoritarian personality one thing becomes clear. Authoritarian types can typically be divided into two camps, leaders and followers. The leaders tend to be opportunistic, power hungry and manipulative. In many cases these people are highly intelligent when it comes to the ways of human nature, which is how they were able to propel themselves into a position of leadership in the first place. Such people typically aren't even genuinely offended by the taboo act they demonize, but they are instinctive enough to know it can be used to corral and manipulate a certain segment of the population. They only care to express outrage over the action in question to bolster their own power. Donald Trump and his high profile cheerleaders tend to fall into this camp. Creating outrage boosts their careers.

Importantly, it's the followers of authoritarian leaders who ultimately hold the real power. Without followers, leaders would fail to exist since the power and social capital of the leader depends on a willingness to follow that person. Most people who fall for authoritarian signaling do so out of deep insecurity, which the authoritarian leader instinctively grasps. It is the insecure and ungrounded person who most easily falls prey to the authoritarian leader.

Take the national anthem for example. Why does someone not standing for it bother you so much? If you feel standing is a patriotic gesture that's your right, but why do you care so much if a fellow citizen fails to see it the exact same way you do? Moreover, what does a patriotic gesture mean if it isn't voluntary? If Americans are cowered into standing for the anthem out of fear of being deemed unpatriotic, then the gesture itself no longer has any meaning. It merely becomes a ritual act of symbolic dogma, more appropriate for a society like Nazi Germany than the U.S. Republic. The fact so many Americans stand for the national anthem voluntarily is precisely what makes it a powerful gesture.

In this sense, right-wing snowflake culture employs the same tactics as left-wing snowflake culture. Left-wing snowflakes are quick to categorize anyone with a different political opinion as a Nazi in an attempt to shut down political debate via intimidation. Right-wing snowflakes do the same thing with superficial patriotic gestures, and then call those who won't stand or salute "un-American." Both tactics are destructive, wrong and the antithesis of a freedom loving person.

Our culture is one of extreme superficiality. This is exactly why so many people lose their minds over NFL players taking a knee, but could never be driven to such burning outrage over a war launched based on falsehoods that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Politicians and oligarchs encourage such superficiality, because if the public can be kept extremely ignorant and stupid then those who actually call the shots and craft the legislation can be left alone to steer society in the way they deem fit without the general public interfering. The end result is the rabble fights about the national anthem, flags and Milo, while the country continues to get looted.

Going forward, I expect Trump to pull many more stunts like the one he did this past Friday. He knows he's a fraud on the populist issues so many of his voters cared about, so his only option is to rally the troops by further inflaming the culture war. A culture war between right-wing and left-wing snowflakes, each promoting their own brand of authoritarianism. This works just fine for a politician like Trump. His Goldman Sachs advisors can do as they please as a distracted public shrieks over the cultural supremacy of their particular brand of self-indulgent, self-rightous outrage.

So what's my advice? First of all, don't become a snowflake. As Martin Luther King, Jr. noted, hate doesn't drive out hate. Similarly, snowflakes don't drive out snowflakes. You don't battle back against left-wing snowflake culture by becoming a right-wing snowflake, or vice versa. If you truly believe in freedom, don't compromise that core principle just because you got triggered.

Are you a proponent of liberty, or do you want a society based upon whatever type of conformity makes you feel most comfortable? Don't react based upon emotion, or simply because you want to give the other team a black eye. If you believe in liberty, act like it, and please do not become a snowflake.

If you liked this article and enjoy my work, consider becoming a monthly Patron, or visit our Support Page to show your appreciation for independent content creators.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

>> Original source

Freedom of Conscience Is the Foundation of All Freedom


by Jeffrey A. Tucker

I was at a church service Sunday and, during one part, the program instructed people to "stand or kneel." People did one or the other. I don't know why people chose to stand or kneel. But no one was upset either way. It was all peaceful and beautiful.

I like to think of this diversity of expression as protective of the freedom of conscience. To be sure, any private organization that wants to impose one way or the other is within its rights. The NFL can let players stand or kneel or impose one way.

But let us never give up on the idea of the freedom of conscience. It is the foundation of all freedoms. It's the idea that gave rise to everything we today call human rights.

The Bad Old Days

The ancient world knew only the ideal of unity. The same beliefs. The same religion. The same laws to enforce the one hegemonic will. The military was the model by which the rest of society was organized. Tribes were tolerated so long as they never mixed and never challenged the ruling class.

That new idea was freedom. Its core was the freedom of conscience. Compliance was the way, because the only means by which that idea can be realized was through the state, which presumed total power to enforce unity.

And with that idea came social stagnation. You stay in the station in which you are born: ruler, citizen, servant, merchant, slave.

That system eventually broke down because thinking men and women cannot forever live in cages. New religions came along that defied the notion that Caesar was a proxy for god. Foreigners tired of living under occupation. The central state proved itself unable to fulfill its promises, and the people revolted. The state lost its power.

One way broke down, but it took another 1,500 years before a different ideal came to replace the idea of unity. That new idea was freedom. Its core was the freedom of conscience. This notion was first tried in Europe due to exhaustion from the religious wars that had lasted centuries. It's not worth it.

Try Toleration

What if we let people believe what they want? What if the individual conscience can prevail as the motive force so long as no one is harmed? It could work. Not only that, maybe we can find value in a diversity of religious expression even if we regard the expression as false or contrary to what our own conscience dictates.

Voltaire in 1762 stated of Holland and Germany: "The Jew, the Catholic, the Greek, the Lutheran, the Calvinist, the Anabaptist, the Socinian, the Memnonist, the Moravian, and so many others, live like brothers in these countries, and contribute alike to the good of the social body."

Thomas Jefferson echoed the same: "it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg…. But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature. "

The good of everyone is served by letting everyone exercise their freedom of belief in nonviolent ways. Remarkable. This one idea flipped all known history on its head and forged a new way to think about the individual and society.

The new system worked. It turned out that unity was not necessary. Toleration improved life for everyone. A new wall was erected between the will of the leader and the rights of the people. And this wall thickened and grew higher over the centuries.

The freedom of conscience necessarily and eventually led humanity to new ways of thinking and living. The idea of human rights began to be applied to other areas. Freedom of speech. Freedom of the press. Freedom of association. Freedom to trade, create, buy and sell, travel and move. The root was the same in every case: the core governing unit of society is located within the individual. The conscience. This, and not the will of the leader, is the guide.

The theory behind this idea grew ever clearer into focus during the Enlightenment. So persuasive was the idea that served as the core founding idea behind the United States. Religions that once aspired to build spiritual empires came around too and placed the rights of conscience at the core of even doctrine (where it remains today in, for example. Catholicism).

Blessed Commerce

The economic stagnation began to give way to something new and spectacular: rising wealth. With that came technology, better lives for more people, the end of plagues, the movement of populations to the city.

Deirdre McCloskey, in her three-volume work, demonstrates the cause: it was the unleashing of the creativity of the human mind. The freedom to think new thoughts, dream new ideas, and put them into practice–guaranteed by law–gave the world these gifts.

The freedom of conscience necessarily and eventually led humanity to new ways of thinking and living. We learned to cooperate through commerce.

Benjamin Constant wrote in 1819 that this was the crucial difference between the liberty of the ancients and the liberty of the moderns:

As a result, individual existence is less absorbed in political existence. Individuals carry their treasures far away; they take with them all the enjoyments of private life. Commerce has brought nations closer, it has given them customs and habits which are almost identical; the heads of states may be enemies: the peoples are compatriots. Let power therefore resign itself: we must have liberty and we shall have it. But since the liberty we need is different from that of the ancients, it needs a different organization from the one which would suit ancient liberty. In the latter, the more time and energy man dedicated to the exercise of his political rights, the freer he thought himself; on the other hand, in the kind of liberty of which we are capable, the more the exercise of political rights leaves us the time for our private interests, the more precious will liberty be to us.

We literally owe the whole of our material lives to this one institution, the freedom of conscience. It was the great insight to locate the juridical center of social, political, and economic life in the individual. That was the switch that changed everything.

We have a shared interest in regarding the conscience as sacred and inviolable. And it will continue to do so. Stepping back from that principle, forcing adults to speak or act contrary to what the heart and soul desires, even when no one would be hurt through their actions, and to do so in the name of God or country or the collective will of any sort, is contrary to everything we've learned and everything we've sought to achieve as humans for the last half millennium.

In the contest between the will of the mob, especially when fed by a popular head of state, and the conscience of one, the individual must always win, even if we do not agree. We have a shared interest in regarding the conscience as sacred and inviolable. It's the basis of everything we truly love.

Stand or kneel: it's your choice.

>> Original source

NFL Players Have A First Amendment Right To Act Like Little Bitches

[SOURCE: Alt-Market]

by Brandon Smith

Frankly, in my view, the sporting world should be a politics free zone, and the fact that I am compelled to write about politics in sports in America today is bewildering beyond belief. That said, to be clear, I am not a fan of the NFL. I think the sport, like most professional sports, is overrun with whiny, juiced-up morons paid millions of dollars for providing nothing to the public except sub-par entertainment and little-to-no loyalty to the state or city in which they happen to be employed. NFL players are not legitimate role models for society anymore that costumed television wrestlers are role models for society.

Add to this the rampant politicization of the NFL over the past several years with social justice undertones and overtones, and I can't think of a single redeeming quality to the arena. The best thing that could possibly happen to U.S. athletics would be if the entire system was scrapped and rebuilt from the ashes with truly local teams composed of local players driven purely by the desire for athletic excellence and healthy competition.

To me, it seems the appeal of sports, at least for spectators, is the possibility that anything could happen according to the merit of the players and the teams. In a society in which so much is restricted and controlled and dictated by political correctness and appeals to artificial "fairness," the idea that, at least on a football field, baseball diamond or hockey rink, all of that garbage goes out the window for a few hours is enticing to say the least. Spontaneous moments of greatness are what people want to see, not blithe displays of ideological ignorance.

There is no social justice in real sports. There is no affirmative action. There are no safe spaces. The best men or women rise to the top and the losers go home with nothing. That is the way it should be. Champions soar to the heights as easily as they fall to the depths, and underdogs can shock the world through sheer determination. You cannot lie or steal your way to athletic superiority. You cannot use victim-group status to win trophies and medals. You have to work hard. You have to earn it. If you are a fraud you will be found out eventually. This is a philosophy which has been lost in modern athletics. Leftists in our culture are also oblivious to the notion.

When I see one of the last fields of American heritage and meritocracy being destroyed by cultural Marxism, I do feel what I'm sure many people feel — enraged. However, the situation is more complex than surface conflicts suggest.

NFL players refusing to stand for the national anthem is not really the issue here. Donald Trump admonishing them for their actions is also not the issue here. It is the motivations behind both sides that concerns me.

For activist NFL players and owners the motivation is rather clear; social justice cultism has seeped into their profession and some of them have decided to use the platform they have been given to pontificate rather than play the game they are paid to play. Protests attacking non-existent racism and "patriarchy" against a system that has made these men multi-millionaire celebrities regardless of their skin color would be relegated to the idiocy of college campuses if any of these people had any sense of judgment.

For Donald Trump, the motivation is far more foggy. I would prefer if the president of the United States spent his energies on fulfilling his campaign promise of "draining the swamp" of banking elites and neo-con warmongers instead of loading his cabinet with them and spouting off on Twitter about forcing a few football players to stand for a national anthem that praises the freedom of rebellion.

My readers are well aware that I view Trump as a pied piper, leading conservatives down a path back to neo-con totalitarianism rather than towards libertarian virtues of individual sovereignty. In other words, I am not seeing much difference between Trump and Obama so far. Perhaps in rhetoric, but certainly not in action.

The circus surrounding Trump's latest feud with the NFL is just another distraction away from the fact that this administration is following a very similar policy path to every other corrupt administration before it. And conservatives are so tired of the trespasses of the social justice cult, many of them are eating up every minute of the farce. Though, this is not what a bunch of football players are concerned about.

Let's summarize the actual problem...

If NFL players refused to stand for the national anthem because they believed in the ideals it represents but felt that our government no longer represented those ideals, then I would be in full support of their motives. Obviously, this is not why they are protesting. If their motivation was about speaking against corrupt government, then they would have refused to stand for the anthem back when Barack Obama, a Constitution-wrecking cabana boy for the elites, was in office. [BA: To be fair, Colin Kaepernick did in fact begin his protest while Obama was in office.]

If Trump's attacks on the NFL were motivated by a love of liberty as the anthem inspires, then he would not demand that players be forced to stand, which is indeed a violation of their First Amendment rights. Instead, he would have dropped that concept completely and stuck with the rational side of his position, which was for spectators to vote with their wallets and stop supporting the league with their dollars.

The bottom line is, whether or not you or I support their motives, constitutionally, legal precedence is on the side of the players. They have every right to act like bitches on an SJW plantation, kneeling and virtue signaling to their heart's content. And, the public has every right to stop watching the NFL, drop their ESPN subscriptions, throw their overpriced sports jerseys in the trash and move on to more important issues... like what the hell is all this nonsense with North Korea? And why do we keep hearing about economic recovery when the average American can't make it from month-to-month without running up their credit cards? And why are so many of us so damn fat and unhealthy?

Hell, here's an idea — how about more people stop watching sports and start playing sports instead? Why not simply let the NFL die out along with every other venture poisoned by social justice?

The point is, the NFL battle with Trump is irrelevant compared to the greater battle of ideals behind it. It is not for Trump to fight this battle; it is for the spectators and consumers to fight this battle. The solution is not Trump's Twitter account or his interference. The solution is for Americans to walk away and take their money with them.

The solution is also not to attempt legislation or government force to strike fear into those who might disagree with us. I have seen far too many so-called "liberty minded" people repeat the fanatically stupid mantra of "stomp my flag and I'll stomp your ass!" The great sacrifice of living in a free country is that you have to support the individual rights of EVERYONE, even people who don't believe in individual rights.

Some might argue that this is not a path that is being pursued so we should not be concerned. I say the social undercurrent today is ripe for zealotry on both sides, and conservatives need to take the high road even if it means things will be more difficult for us in the short term.

Finally, to the players that have so far jumped on the Colin Kaepernick bandwagon; understand that you have delusions of grandeur. You are NOT Jesse Owens proving your worth in the face of Hitler's Aryan dystopia. You are not important or effective activists in the grand scheme of things because your political and philosophical views are ill informed and generally incompetent. In fact, your views work in FAVOR of the corrupt system, not against it.

While you do have the right to sit during the national anthem, knowing why you are sitting is more important than the action itself. If you are sitting because you have bought into a cultural Marxist con game that is using you as fodder for political division, then perhaps you should rethink your little protest and try working towards concrete solutions.

If you are going to use race and social inequality as a crux for your theatrical displays of "defiance" as you are cashing checks for millions in sponsorship deals paid for primarily by white people, then I think you will find most of America laughing at you in the end. Show us your true resolve and refuse that dirty imperialist money. Otherwise, you are just another over-privileged punk pretending to be under-privileged in order to gain notoriety at the expense of reason.

>> Original source

The Silencing of Dissent

[SOURCE: truthdig]

by Chris Hedges

The ruling elites, who grasp that the reigning ideology of global corporate capitalism and imperial expansion no longer has moral or intellectual credibility, have mounted a campaign to shut down the platforms given to their critics. The attacks within this campaign include blacklisting, censorship and slandering dissidents as foreign agents for Russia and purveyors of "fake news."

No dominant class can long retain control when the credibility of the ideas that justify its existence evaporates. It is forced, at that point, to resort to crude forms of coercion, intimidation and censorship. This ideological collapse in the United States has transformed those of us who attack the corporate state into a potent threat, not because we reach large numbers of people, and certainly not because we spread Russian propaganda, but because the elites no longer have a plausible counterargument.

The elites face an unpleasant choice. They could impose harsh controls to protect the status quo or veer leftward toward socialism to ameliorate the mounting economic and political injustices endured by most of the population. But a move leftward, essentially reinstating and expanding the New Deal programs they have destroyed, would impede corporate power and corporate profits. So instead the elites, including the Democratic Party leadership, have decided to quash public debate. The tactic they are using is as old as the nation-state—smearing critics as traitors who are in the service of a hostile foreign power. Tens of thousands of people of conscience were blacklisted in this way during the Red Scares of the 1920s and 1950s. The current hyperbolic and relentless focus on Russia, embraced with gusto by "liberal" media outlets such as The New York Times and MSNBC, has unleashed what some have called a virulent "New McCarthyism."

The corporate elites do not fear Russia. There is no publicly disclosed evidence that Russia swung the election to Donald Trump. Nor does Russia appear to be intent on a military confrontation with the United States. I am certain Russia tries to meddle in U.S. affairs to its advantage, as we do and did in Russia—including our clandestine bankrolling of Boris Yeltsin, whose successful 1996 campaign for re-election as president is estimated to have cost up to $2.5 billion, much of that money coming indirectly from the American government. In today's media environment Russia is the foil. The corporate state is unnerved by the media outlets that give a voice to critics of corporate capitalism, the security and surveillance state and imperialism, including the network RT America.

My show on RT America, "On Contact," like my columns at Truthdig, amplifies the voices of these dissidents—Tariq Ali, Kshama Sawant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Medea Benjamin, Ajamu Baraka, Noam Chomsky, Dr. Margaret Flowers, Rania Khalek, Amira Hass, Miko Peled, Abby Martin, Glen Ford, Max Blumenthal, Pam Africa, Linh Dinh, Ben Norton, Eugene Puryear, Allan Nairn, Jill Stein, Kevin Zeese and others. These dissidents, if we had a functioning public broadcasting system or a commercial press free of corporate control, would be included in the mainstream discourse. They are not bought and paid for. They have integrity, courage and often brilliance. They are honest. For these reasons, in the eyes of the corporate state, they are very dangerous.

The first and deadliest salvo in the war on dissent came in 1971 when Lewis Powell, a corporate attorney and later a Supreme Court justice, wrote and circulated a memo among business leaders called "Attack on American Free Enterprise System." It became the blueprint for the corporate coup d'état. Corporations, as Powell recommended in the document, poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the assault, financing pro-business political candidates, mounting campaigns against the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and the press and creating institutions such as the Business Roundtable, The Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Federalist Society and Accuracy in Academia. The memo argued that corporations had to fund sustained campaigns to marginalize or silence those who in "the college campus, the pulpit, the media, and the intellectual and literary journals" were hostile to corporate interests.

Powell attacked Ralph Nader by name. Lobbyists flooded Washington and state capitals. Regulatory controls were abolished. Massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy were implemented, culminating in a de facto tax boycott. Trade barriers were lifted and the country's manufacturing base was destroyed. Social programs were slashed and funds for infrastructure, from roads and bridges to public libraries and schools, were cut. Protections for workers were gutted. Wages declined or stagnated. The military budget, along with the organs of internal security, became ever more bloated. A de facto blacklist, especially in universities and the press, was used to discredit intellectuals, radicals and activists who decried the idea of the nation prostrating itself before the dictates of the marketplace and condemned the crimes of imperialism, some of the best known being Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Sheldon Wolin, Ward Churchill, Nader, Angela Davis and Edward Said. These critics were permitted to exist only on the margins of society, often outside of institutions, and many had trouble making a living.

The financial meltdown of 2008 not only devastated the global economy, it exposed the lies propagated by those advocating globalization. Among these lies: that salaries of workers would rise, democracy would spread across the globe, the tech industry would replace manufacturing as a source of worker income, the middle class would flourish, and global communities would prosper. After 2008 it became clear that the "free market" is a scam, a zombie ideology by which workers and communities are ravaged by predatory capitalists and assets are funneled upward into the hands of the global 1 percent. The endless wars, fought largely to enrich the arms industry and swell the power of the military, are futile and counterproductive to national interests. Deindustrialization and austerity programs have impoverished the working class and fatally damaged the economy.

The establishment politicians in the two leading parties, each in service to corporate power and responsible for the assault on civil liberties and impoverishment of the country, are no longer able to use identity politics and the culture wars to whip up support. This led in the last presidential campaign to an insurgency by Bernie Sanders, which the Democratic Party crushed, and the election of Donald Trump.

Barack Obama rode a wave of bipartisan resentment into office in 2008, then spent eight years betraying the public. Obama's assault on civil liberties, including his use of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers, was worse than those carried out by George W. Bush. He accelerated the war on public education by privatizing schools, expanded the wars in the Middle East, including the use of militarized drone attacks, provided little meaningful environmental reform, ignored the plight of the working class, deported more undocumented people than any other president, imposed a corporate-sponsored health care program that was the brainchild of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, and prohibited the Justice Department from prosecuting the bankers and financial firms that carried out derivatives scams and inflated the housing and real estate market, a condition that led to the 2008 financial meltdown. He epitomized, like Bill Clinton, the bankruptcy of the Democratic Party. Clinton, outdoing Obama's later actions, gave us the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the dismantling of the welfare system, the deregulation of the financial services industry and the huge expansion of mass incarceration. Clinton also oversaw deregulation of the Federal Communications Commission, a change that allowed a handful of corporations to buy up the airwaves.

The corporate state was in crisis at the end of the Obama presidency. It was widely hated. It became vulnerable to attacks by the critics it had pushed to the fringes. Most vulnerable was the Democratic Party establishment, which claims to defend the rights of working men and women and protect civil liberties. This is why the Democratic Party is so zealous in its efforts to discredit its critics as stooges for Moscow and to charge that Russian interference caused its election defeat.

In January there was a report on Russia by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The report devoted seven of its 25 pages to RT America and its influence on the presidential election. It claimed "Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President-elect Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary [Hillary] Clinton." This might seem true if you did not watch my RT broadcasts, which relentlessly attacked Trump as well as Clinton, or watch Ed Schultz, who now has a program on RT after having been the host of an MSNBC commentary program. The report also attempted to present RT America as having a vast media footprint and influence it does not possess.

"In an effort to highlight the alleged 'lack of democracy' in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates," the report read, correctly summing up themes on my show. "The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a 'sham.' "

It went on:

RT's reports often characterize the United States as a 'surveillance state' and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use.

RT has also focused on criticism of the US economic system, US currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the US national debt. Some of RT's hosts have compared the United States to Imperial Rome and have predicted that government corruption and "corporate greed" will lead to US financial collapse.

Is the corporate state so obtuse it thinks the American public has not, on its own, reached these conclusions about the condition of the nation? Is this what it defines as "fake news"? But most important, isn't this the truth that the courtiers in the mainstream press and public broadcasting, dependent on their funding from sources such as the Koch brothers, refuse to present? And isn't it, in the end, the truth that frightens them the most? Abby Martin and Ben Norton ripped apart the mendacity of the report and the complicity of the corporate media in my "On Contact" show titled "Real purpose of intel report on Russian hacking with Abby Martin & Ben Norton."

In November 2016, The Washington Post reported on a blacklist published by the shadowy and anonymous site PropOrNot. The blacklist was composed of 199 sites PropOrNot alleged, with no evidence, "reliably echo Russian propaganda." More than half of those sites were far-right, conspiracy-driven ones. But about 20 of the sites were major left-wing outlets including AlterNet, Black Agenda Report, Democracy Now!, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Truthout, CounterPunch and the World Socialist Web Site. The blacklist and the spurious accusations that these sites disseminated "fake news" on behalf of Russia were given prominent play in the Post in a story headlined "Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during the election, experts say." The reporter, Craig Timberg, wrote that the goal of the Russian propaganda effort, according to "independent researchers who have tracked the operation," was "punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy." Last December, Truthdig columnist Bill Boyarsky wrote a good piece about PropOrNot, which to this day remains essentially a secret organization.

The owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, also the founder and CEO of Amazon, has a $600 million contract with the CIA. Google, likewise, is deeply embedded within the security and surveillance state and aligned with the ruling elites. Amazon recently purged over 1,000 negative reviews of Hillary Clinton's new book, "What Happened." The effect was that the book's Amazon rating jumped from 2 1/2 stars to five stars. Do corporations such as Google and Amazon carry out such censorship on behalf of the U.S. government? Or is this censorship their independent contribution to protect the corporate state?

In the name of combating Russia-inspired "fake news," Google, Facebook, Twitter, The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, Agence France-Presse and CNN in April imposed algorithms or filters, overseen by "evaluators," that hunt for key words such as "U.S. military," "inequality" and "socialism," along with personal names such as Julian Assange and Laura Poitras, the filmmaker. Ben Gomes, Google's vice president for search engineering, says Google has amassed some 10,000 "evaluators" to determine the "quality" and veracity of websites. Internet users doing searches on Google, since the algorithms were put in place, are diverted from sites such as Truthdig and directed to mainstream publications such as The New York Times. The news organizations and corporations that are imposing this censorship have strong links to the Democratic Party. They are cheerleaders for American imperial projects and global capitalism. Because they are struggling in the new media environment for profitability, they have an economic incentive to be part of the witch hunt.

The World Socialist Web Site reported in July that its aggregate volume, or "impressions"—links displayed by Google in response to search requests—fell dramatically over a short period after the new algorithms were imposed. It also wrote that a number of sites "declared to be 'fake news' by the Washington Post's discredited [PropOrNot] blacklist … had their global ranking fall. The average decline of the global reach of all of these sites is 25 percent. …"

Another article, "Google rigs searches to block access to World Socialist Web Site," by the same website that month said:

During the month of May, Google searches including the word "war" produced 61,795 WSWS impressions. In July, WSWS impressions fell by approximately 90 percent, to 6,613.

Searches for the term "Korean war" produced 20,392 impressions in May. In July, searches using the same words produced zero WSWS impressions. Searches for "North Korea war" produced 4,626 impressions in May. In July, the result of the same search produced zero WSWS impressions. "India Pakistan war" produced 4,394 impressions in May. In July, the result, again, was zero. And "Nuclear war 2017" produced 2,319 impressions in May, and zero in July.

To cite some other searches: "WikiLeaks," fell from 6,576 impressions to zero, "Julian Assange" fell from 3,701 impressions to zero, and "Laura Poitras" fell from 4,499 impressions to zero. A search for "Michael Hastings"—the reporter who died in 2013 under suspicious circumstances—produced 33,464 impressions in May, but only 5,227 impressions in July.

In addition to geopolitics, the WSWS regularly covers a broad range of social issues, many of which have seen precipitous drops in search results. Searches for "food stamps," "Ford layoffs," "Amazon warehouse," and "secretary of education" all went down from more than 5,000 impressions in May to zero impressions in July.

The accusation that left-wing sites collude with Russia has made them theoretically subject, along with those who write for them, to the Espionage Act and the Foreign Agent Registration Act, which requires Americans who work on behalf of a foreign party to register as foreign agents.

The latest salvo came last week. It is the most ominous. The Department of Justice called on RT America and its "associates"—which may mean people like me—to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. No doubt, the corporate state knows that most of us will not register as foreign agents, meaning we will be banished from the airwaves. This, I expect, is the intent. The government will not stop with RT. The FBI has been handed the authority to determine who is a "legitimate" journalist and who is not. It will use this authority to decimate the left.

This is a war of ideas. The corporate state cannot compete honestly in this contest. It will do what all despotic regimes do—govern through wholesale surveillance, lies, blacklists, false accusations of treason, heavy-handed censorship and, eventually, violence.

>> Original source

The Sandcastle

[BA:] See also: Fuck Safety

[SOURCE: International Man]

by Jeff Thomas

The decline from democracy to tyranny is both a natural and inevitable one.

That's not a pleasant thought to have to consider, but it's a fact, nonetheless. In every case, a democracy will deteriorate as the result of the electorate accepting the loss of freedom in trade for largesse from their government. This process may be fascism, socialism, communism, or a basket of "isms," but tyranny is the inevitable endgame of democracy. Like the destruction of a sandcastle by the incoming tide, it requires time to transpire, but in time, the democracy, like the sandcastle, will be washed away in its entirety.

Why should this be so? Well, as I commented some years ago,

The concept of government is that the people grant to a small group of individuals the ability to establish and maintain controls over them. The inherent flaw in such a concept is that any government will invariably and continually expand upon its controls, resulting in the ever-diminishing freedom of those who granted them the power.

Unfortunately, there will always be those who wish to rule, and there will always be a majority of voters who are complacent enough and naïve enough to allow their freedoms to be slowly removed. This adverb "slowly" is the key by which the removal of freedoms is achieved.

The old adage of "boiling a frog" is that the frog will jump out of the pot if it's filled with hot water, but if the water is lukewarm and the temperature is slowly raised, he'll grow accustomed to the temperature change and will inadvertently allow himself to be boiled.

Let's have a look at Thomas Jefferson's assessment of this technique:

Even under the best forms of Government, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

Mister Jefferson was a true visionary. He knew, even as he was penning the Declaration of Independence and portions of the Constitution, that his proclamations, even if they were accepted by his fellow founding fathers, would not last. He recommended repeated revolutions to counter the inevitable tendency by political leaders to continually vie for the removal of the freedoms from their constituents.

Around the same time that Mister Jefferson made the above comment, Alexander Tytler, a Scottish economist and historian, commented on the new American experiment in democracy. He's credited as saying,

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

So, was each of the above gentlemen throwing a dart at a board, or did they each have some kind of crystal ball? Well, actually, neither. Each was a keen student of history. Each knew that the pattern, by the end of the 18th century, had already repeated itself time and time again. In fact, as early as the fourth century BC, Plato had quoted Socrates as having stated to Adeimantus,

Tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery comes out of the most extreme form of liberty.

Today, much of what was called the "free world" only half a century ago has deteriorated into a combination of residual capitalism, which has been largely and increasingly buried by socialism and fascism. (It should be mentioned that the oft-misinterpreted definition of "fascism" is the joint rule by corporate and state—a condition that's now manifestly in place in much of the former "free" world.)

Today, many people perceive fascism as a tyrannical condition that's suddenly imposed by a dictator, but this is rarely the case. Fascism is in fact a logical step. Just as voters succumb over time to the promises of socialism, so a parallel decline occurs as fascism slowly replaces capitalism. Fascism may appear to be capitalism, but it's the antithesis of a free market. As Vladimir Lenin rightly stated,

Fascism is capitalism in decline.

Comrade Lenin understood the value of fascism for political leaders. Whilst he retained a close relationship with New York and London bankers, and a healthy capitalist market was tapped into for Soviet-era imports, he was aware that his power base depended largely on denying capitalism to his minions.

So, from the above quotations, we may see that there's been a fairly erudite group of folks out there who have commented on this topic over the last 2,500 years. They agree that democracies, like sandcastles, never last. They generally begin promisingly, but, given enough time, any government will erode democracy as quickly as the political leaders can get away with it, and the progression always ends in tyranny.

We're presently at a major historical juncture—a time in which much of the former free world is in the final stages of decay and approaching the tyranny stage.

At this point, the process tends to speed up. We can observe this as we see an increase in the laws being passed to control the population—increased taxation, increased regulation, and increased promises of largesse from the government that they don't have the funding to deliver.

When any government reaches this stage, it knows only too well that it will not deliver and that, when the lie is exposed, the populace will be hopping mad. Therefore, just before the endgame, any government can be expected to ramp up its police state. The demonstrations by governments that they're doing so are now seen regularly—raids by SWAT teams in situations where just a small number of authorities could handle the situation just as well. Displays of armed forces in the street, including armoured vehicles, in instances of disruption.

In London, Ferguson, Paris, Boston, etc., the authoritarian displays have become ever-more frequent. All that's now necessary is a series of events (whether staged or real) to suggest domestic terrorism in several locations at roughly the same time. A state of national emergency may then be declared "for the safety of the people."

It's this justification that will assure the success of tyranny. Historically, the majority of people in any county, in any era, choose the illusion of safety over freedom. As John Adams was fond of saying,

Those who would trade freedom for safety will have neither.

From this point on, it would be wise for anyone who lives in the EU, US, UK, etc. to watch events closely. If a rash of "domestic terrorism" appears suddenly, it could well be the harbinger that the government has reached the tipping point—when tyranny under the guise of "protecting the safety of the people" is inaugurated.

The most essential takeaway here is that, although some may object (even violently), the majority of the people will trade their freedom for the promise of safety.


Jeff Thomas

>> Original source

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