The Evening Blues - 2-9-18



eb1pt12



The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Odds and ends



Hey! Good Evening!


This evening's music features an assortment of things that I ran across on Youtube while looking for other things. Enjoy!



The Spotnicks - The Rocket Man

"Nations and governments don’t exist anymore. Not in the sense that they used to, anyway. The notion of meaningfully separate, sovereign governments is at this time a fairy tale told to the masses to keep us from realizing that we’re all being thrown into the gears of an exploitative threshing machine that only exists to feed the avaricious agendas of a few ruling elites.

This has all been made possible by an ongoing war on the societal concept of sovereignty. Our concept of sovereignty is now so weakened that a powerful government can get away with invading another country and claiming “self defense” when it kills the people there, so weakened that constant domestic surveillance by secretive and unaccountable intelligence agencies is now considered normal, so weakened that the public will ferociously defend a police officer that guns down a civilian who reached for his wallet a little too fast."

-- Caitlin Johnstone


News and Opinion


On The Syria Occupation And The New Face Of Imperialism

US forces have attacked the Syrian military, reporting over a hundred deaths.The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is calling the air strike a massacre, a war crime, and a crime against humanity. The US is an invading, occupying force that is in Syria without the permission of its government, yet it is claiming that the air strike was an act of “self-defense” against an “unprovoked attack” upon the US-backed SDF, a mostly Kurdish militia which had occupied an area of Syrian land. No Americans suffered any injuries or deaths in the attack. The SDF suffered a single reported injury.

It’s a bit like saying you broke into someone’s house and strangled them from behind with a garotte in self-defense.

Believe it or not, it appears very likely that the US military’s latest act of butchery waged upon Middle Easterners on their own land was not about self-defense at all, but about oil. The always insightful Moon of Alabama makes a compelling case that not only is America’s version of events full of plot holes, but that the whole thing could very well have been “a trap” to sabotage a local deal that had been made for the SDF to turn over an oil and gas field to the Syrian government in the near future.

This would fit in perfectly with comments Professor Joshua Landis made about the attack, saying that America’s plan is to keep Syria weak, poor and divided in order to disadvantage US/Israel/Saudi rivals Iran and Russia. It would also clarify US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s assertion a few weeks ago that thousands of American troops are being kept in Syria to prevent Assad from regaining control of areas that have been liberated from ISIS.

This is what the new imperialism looks like.

Syria - U.S. May Have Arranged "Self Defense" Attack On Syrian Government Forces

Last night the U.S. military announced that it had "self defended" against an attack by Syrian government troops on Syrian ground:

Syrian pro-regime forces initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters Feb. 7.

Coalition service members in an advise, assist, and accompany capacity were co-located with SDF partners during the attack eight kilometers east of the agreed-upon Euphrates River de-confliction line.

In defense of Coalition and partner forces, the Coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression against partners engaged in the Global Coalition's defeat-Daesh mission.

Might this whole operation have been a trap? The U.S. military clearly knew that something was going to happen in the area. Local deals were made between the Syrian government side and locals Arabs holding the oil fields. The U.S. told the SDF to move out of the way. When the government aligned groups started to take over the field, as presumably agreed upon, the U.S. bombed them.

The "attack on coalition forces" the U.S. claimed as justification for its bombing seems not to have taken place at all. How else does one explain that sole casualty of the claimed battalion size attack with strong artillery support is "one wounded SDF" fighter? A later U.S. military statement to a journalist seems to be vague about the reality of an attack:

After 20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 meters of the SDF headquarters location, Syrian Democratic Forces supported by the Coalition targeted the aggressors with a combination of air and artillery strikes.

Is the U.S. military emphasizing the "SDF headquarters location" because the headquarter was no longer there as the SDF had already withdrawn from it? And why is a tank round landing some 500 meters away seen as a direct attack? Tanks rounds may deviate from the targeted point by a meter or two. There is no chance that rounds landing some 500 meters away were intended to hit the headquarter location. Whatever the Syrian forces have been hitting at, if they hit at all, was not the SDF headquarter location.

The story the U.S. military is trying to sell here stinks.

Unhappy anniversary:

Exactly 16 Years Ago, George W. Bush Opened the Floodgates to Torture at Guantánamo

Today, February 7, is the 16th anniversary of one particularly sinister and misguided development in Bush’s “war on terror” — a memorandum, entitled, “Humane Treatment of Taliban and al Qaeda Detainees,” which was sent to just a handful of recipients including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Attorney General John Ashcroft, CIA director George Tenet, and General Richard B. Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

As I explained in an article marking the 10th anniversary of the issuing of the memorandum, in February 2012, on the day itself the only mention of it came from Andrew Cohen in the Atlantic, who reminded readers that the heading of the memo “was a cruel irony, an Orwellian bit of business, because what the memo authorized and directed was the formal abandonment of America’s commitment to key provisions of the Geneva Convention. This was the day, a milestone on the road to Abu Ghraib, that marked our descent into torture — the day, many would still say, that we lost part of our soul.”

Turkey may have unwittingly supplied missiles to its Kurdish opponents

Turkey has long accused the United States of supporting terrorism by providing arms to a Kurdish militia in northern Syria. But the group says many of its weapons - including anti-tank missiles - have come from other sources, Turkey among them.

That militia, the People's Protection Units (YPG), has proven a formidable enemy for the Turkish military, which launched an operation against it near the Syrian city of Afrin three weeks ago.

One of the most effective weapons in the YPG’s arsenal has been anti-tank missiles, which they have employed in hit-and-run attacks.

"Most of the weapons that we have, came originally as support from the Turkish army to these groups of mercenaries," YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud told The National, referring to Syrian Arab rebel groups that receive support from Turkey.

"We got the majority of the missiles we have from the black market in Idlib, Azaz, Al Bab and Jarablus," Mr Mahmoud said, naming areas of Syria under the control of those groups.

"We got these weapons even though Afrin is besieged by Turkey from three directions."

The United States and South Korea now openly disagree on North Korea

The behind-the-scenes break between Washington and Seoul over North Korea has now spilled into public view. One day ahead of the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies, the two governments are sending out contradictory messages about whether the Games are the beginning or the end of engagement with Pyongyang.

Speaking before his bilateral meeting with Vice President Pence on Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in stated his clear desire for the upcoming meetings between South and North Korean officials to serve as a path to real negotiations over Pyongyang’s nuclear program and ultimately a deal to end the tensions that have roiled the Korean peninsula for decades.

“We certainly hope to utilize this opportunity to the maximum so that the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games can become a venue that leads to dialogue for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula as well as to establishing peace on the Korean peninsula,” Moon said. Pence, speaking after Moon, said nothing about the senior-level North-South interactions scheduled for Friday in Pyeongchang. Rather, the vice president reiterated his desire to continue the American-led campaign of “maximum pressure” on the Kim Jong Un regime. ...

Earlier Thursday, at Yokota Air Base in Japan, I asked Pence directly how he planned to deal with Moon’s public desire to build off of the North-South Olympic engagement. Pence said the Trump administration wants the warming of relations with North Korea to end when the Olympic flame is extinguished.

“We also reaffirm our commitment to continue well beyond the Olympics — when the Olympics are long a distant memory — to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically,” Pence said. It’s the message Pence has been repeating at every stop on his Asia trip; the Trump administration does not support a diplomatic breakthrough at this time.

Lawrence Wilkerson: I Helped Sell the False Choice of War with Iraq; It’s Happening Again with Iran

EU could impose blocking regulations if U.S. pulls out of Iran deal

The European Union could put in place regulations to protect its firms doing business in Iran if the United States withdraws from the 2015 nuclear deal and restores extraterritorial sanctions, a senior EU official said on Thursday. European countries have been looking to increase trade with Iran since Paris, Washington and other world powers agreed to lift most economic sanctions in 2016 in exchange for limitations on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

But U.S. President Donald Trump on Jan. 12 vowed to restore U.S. sanctions unless France, Britain and Germany change what he calls the “worst deal ever” to his liking, effectively putting it on life support until mid-May. While European nations have been adamant that they would stick to the deal should Washington pull out, Europe would need to find ways to limit any impact from possible U.S. sanctions to ensure their firms continue to do business with Tehran.

Denis Chaibi, head of the Iranian taskforce at the EU’s external action service, said one of the options would be to restore “blocking regulations”, a system from 1996 that would protect its firms. ... The regulations were agreed in 1996 as a countermeasure to the U.S. extraterritorial economic sanctions against Cuba, which EU governments argued benefited U.S. foreign policy interests at the expense of European sovereignty.

The U.S. is propping up a dictatorship in Honduras

The inauguration ceremony for Juan Orlando Hernández's second term as president of Honduras was held in a sparsely attended stadium guarded by hundreds of soldiers and police officers decked out in riot gear. Outside, in the streets of Tegucigalpa, protesters did what they've been doing since November, when Hernández went against the country’s constitution to run for a second term: They blocked roads, burned tires, and chanted, using the president's initials, "Out with JOH!" ...

Honduras's constitution explicitly forbids a president from running for a second term, but Hernández ran anyway. Then, after international observers found multiple signs of fraud in the election, the electoral tribunal controlled by Hernández's party declared him the victor. The country erupted in protest, and the government responded with force, at times firing live rounds into crowds of demonstrators. Some 30 people have died in the violence thus far.

Today's crisis has roots going back almost a decade, and has been consistently enabled by the United States. In 2009, President José Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military coup engineered by the National Party, which remains in power today. The justification for the coup was that Zelaya was setting himself up for re-election — which is precisely what Hernández went on to do last year, except successfully. After initially condemning the coup in 2009, the United States then reversed course: Hillary Clinton's State Department endorsed the coup regime by allowing it to hold new elections without restoring Zelaya to power.

Since then, the U.S. has given more than $111 million in security assistance to Honduras's military and police, even after the Honduran government was implicated in massive corruption scandals and high-profile political assassinations.

Duterte’s brutal drug war finally gets the International Criminal Court’s attention

President Rodrigo Duterte stands accused of killing thousands of people in his years-long campaign to rid the Philippines of drugs. Now those accusations have drawn the attention of the International Criminal Court, which announced Thursday it would examine deaths tied to Duterte's drug war.

“While some of such killings have reportedly occurred in the context of clashes between or within gangs, it is alleged that many of the reported incidents involved extrajudicial killings in the course of police anti-drug operations,” ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement. The ICC's preliminary investigation could put Duterte on course to face charges of crimes against humanity at the Hague. ...

Duterte’s drawn widespread criticism and scrutiny from human rights advocates and diplomats, who say his forces, which reportedly include paid hitmen, frequently kill or intimidate suspects with impunity. But that hasn’t stopped Duterte from being unabashedly proud of the bloodshed. He once described an operation that killed 32 people as “beautiful,” and he has jailed and threatened opponents who don’t agree. ...

The ICC was careful to stress it is not currently investigating Duterte, but examining evidence from within the country to see whether it has a possible case against him for the future. If it chooses to go forward, it could examine Duterte’s entire career, including when he first launched his drug war as mayor of Davao City.

FBI Spying On You Via Social Media

California police worked with neo-Nazis to pursue 'anti-racist' activists, documents show

California police investigating a violent white nationalist event worked with white supremacists in an effort to identify counter-protesters and sought the prosecution of activists with “anti-racist” beliefs, court documents show.

The records, which also showed officers expressing sympathy with white supremacists and trying to protect a neo-Nazi organizer’s identity, were included in a court briefing from three anti-fascist activists who were charged with felonies after protesting at a Sacramento rally. The defendants were urging a judge to dismiss their case and accused California police and prosecutors of a “cover-up and collusion with the fascists”.

Defense lawyers said the case at the state capital offers the latest example of US law enforcement appearing to align with neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups while targeting anti-fascist activists and Donald Trump protesters after violent clashes.

“It is shocking and really angering to see the level of collusion and the amount to which the police covered up for the Nazis,” said Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley teacher and anti-fascist organizer charged with assault and rioting after participating in the June 2016 Sacramento rally, where she said she was stabbed and bludgeoned in the head. “The people who were victimized by the Nazis were then victimized by the police and the district attorneys.” ...

Felarca’s attorneys obtained numerous examples of CHP officers working directly with the TWP [Traditionalist Workers Party], often treating the white nationalist group as victims and the anti-fascists as suspects.

Scores of Democratic Lawmakers Join GOP to Back Budget Bill with No Protection for DREAMers

Paul Ryan holds all the cards on DACA following budget deal

Democrats are no longer in a position to make demands. And undocumented immigrants may be the ones who suffer as a result.

In a bipartisan budget deal passed in the wee hours of the morning Thursday, Congress managed to increase the debt ceiling, pass a two-year budget, and funnel disaster aid to states and territories hit by hurricanes, floods, and fires.

All of those issues had one thing in common: Republicans likely needed Democratic votes to get them done. And by taking them off the table until at least 2019, some Democrats fear they can no longer push Republicans to act by giving citizenship to undocumented immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

All the leverage is gone,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois told reporters Wednesday night. He opposed the budget deal because it didn’t protect Dreamers and because he didn’t trust House Speaker Paul Ryan’s vague commitment to fix DACA. ...

“This squandered opportunity is not only another failure to deliver on their word; it’s a choice to be complicit in the detention and deportation of Dreamers,” wrote immigrant advocates United We Dream, National Immigration Law Center, and the progressive grassroots group Indivisible before the vote. “Any member of Congress who votes for a budget deal without securing protections for immigrant youth — Republicans and Democrats alike — will be voting to advance Trump’s white supremacist agenda.”


Democrats Pessimistic on Tax Cut: “We’ve Got What We’ve Got for the Next 30 Years”

In December, Republicans achieved their long-held dream of lowering taxes for the wealthy and corporations and increasing taxes for pretty much everyone else. Democrats were universal in their hostility toward the project, but as the Trump administration has pulled off a PR coup — with companies announcing “Trump bonuses” and workers seeing bumps to their take-home pay — the party has not yet formulated its response nor have they suggested what they’ll do when and if they return to power.

In interviews with The Intercept, a range of Democratic senators either said they have not yet thought about what repeal and replace would look like, or offered broad guidelines for a policy, rather than specific plans. ... Republicans began promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act before it had even been signed into law, but devoted no serious effort to developing a replacement, a failure that contributed to their inability to repeal it once they took power.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester didn’t have any specific ideas in mind, but offered some principles the party should look at. “It wouldn’t increase the debt on our kids by a trillion-four, and the middle-class tax breaks — what we have would be permanent,” he said. He was, however, fairly pessimistic about any changes happening in the near future. “There are a lot of things that could be changed in that, but I don’t see any effort to do any of those things,” he conceded. “I think we’ve got what we’ve got for the next 30 years.”



the horse race



‘This is Nuts’: Liberals Launch ‘Largest Mobilization in History’ in Defense of Russiagate Probe

With Democrats and self-styled #Resistance activists placing their hopes for taking down Donald Trump’s presidency in the investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, online groups such as MoveOn and Avaaz are launching campaigns to come to the Special Counsel’s defense in the event of him being removed by the president. In an action alert to supporters on Wednesday, Avaaz announced plans to hold some 600 events around the country to defend Mueller in case Trump tries to fire him. “This is nuts,” Avaaz writes. “Trump is clearly gearing up to fire the independent official investigating Russia’s influence over the election — if he does, he’ll have delivered a death blow to one of the fundamental pillars of our democracy.” Avaaz claims that hundreds of thousands of supporters have signed up for actions protesting Mueller’s possible removal, and that more than 25 national organizations support the protests. The group calls it potentially “the largest national mobilization in history.”

Considering all of the threats to democracy posed by unconstitutional overreach, unfair elections, corruption, and voter suppression – not to mention environmental challenges, economic inequality, an out-of-control U.S. foreign policy, numerous foreign conflicts that the U.S. is engaged in, and the ever-present threat of nuclear war – it is telling that the liberal establishment is mobilizing on this particular issue.

Social psychologists have long talked about how emotional manipulation can work effectively to snooker a large percentage of the population, to get them, at least temporarily, to believe the exact opposite of the facts. These techniques are known in the intelligence community as “perception management,” and have been refined since the 1980s “to keep the American people compliant and confused,” as the late Robert Parry has reported. We saw this in action last decade, when after months of disinformation, about 70% of Americans came to falsely believe that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 when the truth was the opposite – Saddam was actually an enemy of the Al Qaeda perpetrators.

Such emotional manipulation is the likely explanation for the fact that so many people are now gearing up to defend someone like Mueller, while largely ignoring other important topics of far greater consequence. With no demonstrations being organized to stop a possible war with North Korea – or an escalation in Syria – hundreds of thousands of Americans are apparently all too eager to go to the mat in defense of an investigation into the president’s possible “collusion” with Russia in its alleged meddling in election 2016.

Ranked Choice Voting Under Attack In Maine





the evening greens


Federal penalties against polluters at lowest level in a decade under Trump

The Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement activity against polluters has fallen to its lowest level in a decade, with the first year of the Trump administration seeing a sharp drop in fines for companies that break environmental rules.

Figures released by the EPA show that 115 environmental crime cases were opened in the 2017 financial year, down from a peak of nearly 400 in the 2009 financial year, which was largely under the Obama administration.

A total of $1.6bn in new penalties were levied against polluters in 2017, in the fiscal year that ended 30 September. This was around a fifth of the $5.9bn instigated by the Obama administration in 2016 but still higher than any other year stretching back to 2007.

The EPA pointed to the $1.2bn it secured from private entities to clean up superfund sites, toxic areas that have been abandoned by polluting industries, and said that a total of $2.98bn had been levied in criminal fines, restitution and court-ordered projects. These cases, the EPA said, reduced or eliminated 217m pounds of air pollution and 412m cubic yards of contaminated water. ...

However, the bulk of the $2.98bn received in penalties in 2017 is made up of the pursuit of Volkswagen for cheating on its emissions tests. The settlement, struck under the Obama administration, included a $2.8bn criminal fine for VW that was paid out in the 2017 financial year.

‘Get out of bed with Monsanto’: WHO report linking weed killer to cancer sparks debate

Revealed: Trudeau government welcomed oil lobby help for US pipeline push

The Trudeau government treated Donald Trump’s election as “positive news” for Canada’s energy industry and welcomed the help of Canada’s main corporate oil group in lobbying the US administration, documents show. Meetings conducted by senior government officials with TransCanada and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) reveal an one-sided approach more reminiscent of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s secret oil advocacy than Justin Trudeau’s green electoral promises.

The Liberal government has strongly backed the export of Alberta tar sands via the Keystone XL pipeline, which was initially rejected by the Obama administration on climate grounds but approved by Trump in March 2017.

The documents, obtained through access-to-information, show the Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister met around the same time with TransCanada’s CEO Russ Girling and CAPP to discuss the continued promotion of the pipeline and oil exports. The briefing note states that the oil lobby group “specifically will be interested to hear the outcomes of the recent visits by Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Freeland to the United States, as well as volunteering their services (or those of members) in the Government’s U.S. engagement efforts.” The Parliamentary Secretary was advised to respond by saying “we welcome your engagement offer and would like to stay in touch.”



Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

The U.S. Military's Drug of Choice

hat tip, snoopy:

The Empire’s Horrifying Plot To Franchise The White Helmets Worldwide


A Little Night Music


Billy Miranda & Group - Run Rose

Johnny Mc Coy and The Cyclones - Scrub Bucket

Them - Baby Please Don't Go

The Bop Kats - Here Comes The Fuzz

Ace Holder - Wabba Suzy Q

Les Jaguars - Guitare Jet

Sanford Clark - Modern Romance

THE RONDELS - SATAN'S THEME

Willie B - Bad Mouthin'

Mel McGonnigle - Rattle Shakin Mama

The Hi-Tombs - Sweet Rockin' Mama

Johnny and The Cyclones - Twisted Fender

The Duals - Stick Shift



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21 users have voted.

Comments

Pricknick's picture

I never cared for Bozo the Clown but at least he admitted to being a clown.

“I think we’ve got what we’ve got for the next 30 years.”

We, as a nation, will not survive 30 years you ratfucker.

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17 users have voted.

Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

joe shikspack's picture

@Pricknick

heh, i remember back when jon tester was first running for senate. at the time, i was hanging out at top and many liberals were very excited about his candidacy there.

pffftttt!

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Pricknick's picture

@joe shikspack
they're still saying that it's more important to get a majority.
I've seen a lot of shit and a majority of it I can do without.

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5 users have voted.

Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

joe shikspack's picture

@Pricknick

maybe it's just me, but i fail to see the utility of having the most players on the field wearing your jersey if enough of them actually play for the other team to consistently throw the game to the other team.

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@joe shikspack

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Meteor Man's picture

The conclusion of the article:

And, at the end of the day, there are far more important issues to be concerned about than the “integrity” of the Mueller investigation – one being the need to fix FISA court abuses and restoring constitutional rights.

And maybe repeal The Patriot Act? How about an Anti-war protest?

Here's The Consortium link again:

https://consortiumnews.com/2018/02/09/this-is-nuts-liberals-launch-large...

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17 users have voted.

Cali Kush: a bowl a day keeps the doctor away.

joe shikspack's picture

@Meteor Man

did you ever wake up in the morning, yawn, scratch that itchy spot, stumble into the kitchen, make coffee and as you sit mulling over what you might do with your day, you say to yourself, "i'd like to do something entirely pointless today! yes, that's exactly it."

did you ever wake up with bullfrogs on your mind?

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Azazello's picture

Throw 'em in the Gulag!

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joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

heh, the funny thing is, the video was made in 1962 and watching it, i was thinking that maybe devo should go to the gulag. Smile

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Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack @joe shikspack
that I know. It's a song about the Russian Civil War called Polyushko-polye. The Wiki article says that the Spotnicks were Swedes, so they're safe from the NKVD.
Devo should not be sent to the camps at all, in fact, they should be awarded a Stalin Prize for having recorded a Jagger/Richards tune.

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joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

i greatly enjoy devo and would not want them in a gulag, either. i did however note a great deal of similarity in devo's video/film style and the spotnicks.

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snoopydawg's picture

She ripped the mask off of what a happening globally. The march of global capitalism and everything that comes with it is being ramped up in my opinion. From the removal of our civil rights during the Bush administration, not addressing the warning signs of the upcoming economic crash and expansion of the military on the war of terror pretenses to bailing out the banks during Obama's and watching as income inequality went up and more, to the tax bill and the upcoming cuts to social programs under Trump, to the increasing fascism with ICE and what they are doing to immigrants and finally the police who have been de-leashed, we are in an all out assault by the ruling authorities.

Chris Hedges as usual is speaking out about this.

There will be no economic or political justice for the poor, people of color, women or workers within the framework of global, corporate capitalism. Corporate capitalism, which uses identity politics, multiculturalism and racial justice to masquerade as politics, will never halt the rising social inequality, unchecked militarism, evisceration of civil liberties and omnipotence of the organs of security and surveillance. Corporate capitalism cannot be reformed, despite its continually rebranding itself. The longer the self-identified left and liberal class seek to work within a system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism,” the more the noose will be tightened around our necks. If we do not rise up to bring government and financial systems under public control—which includes nationalizing banks, the fossil fuel industry and the arms industry—we will continue to be victims.

It is no accident that Donald Trump followed the Obama presidency because it was his and the democrats worked to further the capitalist system and by being in lockstep with the republicans instead of being a real opposing party.

Resistance to this global cabal of corporate oligarchs must also be supranational. It must build alliances with workers around the globe. It must defy the liberal institutions, including the Democratic Party, which betray workers. It is this betrayal that has given rise to fascist and protofascist movements in Europe and other countries. Donald Trump would never have been elected but for this betrayal.

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Meanwhile, the damage done among America’s former thinking class essentially leaves this polity like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz: without a brain - J. Kunstler

@snoopydawg They can look to the middle east and see what destruction the US brings

Trump wants to drop the biggest bomb ever, again.

Ellsberg says any nuclear war would kill at least 1 million, and North Korea could strike back by sending a bomb to the US in a ship. If that happened, it would be the end of our "democracy" and a state of marshal law.

There were about 60 million dead in WW II. In a week, nuclear war could kill 60 million in the world, and if it set off nuclear winter, billions would die.

Is it time to take Trump seriously?

It looks like he has scared the Koreans

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snoopydawg's picture

@DonMidwest

This country is determined to play with its nuclear weapons and it doesn't matter how many people are killed by them. And for what? To put pressure on Russia and China because they want to have their own piece of the earth.

The ICC is looking to bring Duerte to The Hague for killing thousands while this country has killed hundreds of millions, possibly billions since the end of WWII. The rest of the world is complicit in our war crimes.

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10 users have voted.

Meanwhile, the damage done among America’s former thinking class essentially leaves this polity like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz: without a brain - J. Kunstler

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

It is no accident that Donald Trump followed the Obama presidency because it was his and the democrats worked to further the capitalist system and by being in lockstep with the republicans instead of being a real opposing party.

there are no accidents.

A close reading of early American history reveals that in fact, the anti-democratic tendency of our current government is consistent with the intentions of the founders and predicted by those who were opposed to the ratification of the Constitution, and that institutions were put in place as a means of inhibiting the growth of democracy, not fostering it.

Although the United States at the end of the eighteenth century was an agrarian society – eighty to ninety percent of the population were small farmers – the men who wrote the Constitution and ran the government once it was in place were lawyers, men of finance, speculators, businessmen, large land holders. Thus, as it is today, the country was run by a relative handful of wealthy men who structured the government to suit their own needs at the expense of the rest of the population.

The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed. This has come about, not through a Leader's imposing his will or the state's forcibly eliminating opposition, but through certaind developments, notably in the economy, that promoted integration, rationalization, concentrated wealth, and a faith that virtually any problem - from health care to political crises, even faith itself - could be managed, that is, subjected to control, predictability, and cost-effectiveness in the delivery of the product. Voters are made as predictable as consumers; a university is nearly as rationalized in its structure as a corporation; a corporate structure is as hierarchichal in its chain of command as the military. The regime ideology is capitalism, which is virtually as undisputed as Nazi doctrine was in 1930s Germany. The political challenge has been to harness these various dynamics: a military that wants ever more futuristic technology and more deadly weaponry; a corporate economy that is continually searching for new markets and outlets; churches that are on the prowl for converts; news and entertainment media as eager to expand their market share as they are to pay court to the political establishment; and an intelligentsia avid to secure a measure of status by cozying up with executives, politicos, and generals, and, no doubt, "speaking truth to power."

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snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

This reminds me of how FDR saved capitalism.

Thus, as it is today, the country was run by a relative handful of wealthy men who structured the government to suit their own needs at the expense of the rest of the population.

And now their successors are structuring the government to suit their donor class. The point that Caitlyn and Hedges made really opened my eyes to what has been happening since Reagan, but looking back at JFKs policies, I think that this has gone on for way longer than we knew about.

Have a great weekend.

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4 users have voted.

Meanwhile, the damage done among America’s former thinking class essentially leaves this polity like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz: without a brain - J. Kunstler

QMS's picture

@snoopydawg Caitlyns' comments of the illusions of pencilled-in boundaries with contrasting colors on a plastic globe brings into focus how our "education" is politicized. My 25 year old Rand McNally world atlas has almost comical distinctions around Israeli territories. It is a lesson in shifting versions of political landscapes, scripted by period propaganda.

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3 users have voted.

changing the world, one thought at a time

Yesterday, Mimi commented on how hard it is to get back into the swing of things to understand politics in Germany.

I have been following a twitter feed for The Great Regression and much of it is in German so I thought that it might be of use to her. I found out about it from Bruno Latour's twitter feed.

Well, I looked at it last night and again today.

This is an effort that just started with a kickoff of a book by 15 experts and I had only heard of 3 of them. The book was published simultaneously in 14 languages and they have a web page and are setting up events. I find these days to spent most of my time with foreign authors.

The Great Regression -- is our world going in reverse.

The Great Regression

On the home page you can get this introduction

An International Debate

The world seems out of joint. Current socio-political conjuncture has brought forth a series of alarming developments thought impossible only several years prior: the spectacular rise of nationalist parties, a degradation and vulgarisation of public discourse, and growing audiences for xenophobic and racist sentiments. The speed at which we seem to be falling behind once entrenched social standards is frightening.

Against the »Nationalist International«, the book The Great Regression builds on the power of a transnational public sphere.

About the Project

The world seems out of joint. Current socio-political conjuncture has brought forth a series of alarming developments thought impossible in our modern age only several years prior: the spectacular rise of nationalist and anti-liberal parties like the Front National and the Alternative für Deutschland, a degradation and vulgarisation of public discourse by the likes of demagogues like Donald Trump, widespread mistrust of the mainstream press, and growing audiences for xenophobic and racist sentiments. Politicians are callously denounced as »traitors to the Fatherland« and Muslim citizens placed under general suspicion, while conspiracy theories of the crudest variety spread like wildfire on the Internet. The speed at which our societies seem to be falling behind once entrenched social standards is frightening. Has the world gone off the rails?

The Great Regression collects contributions from fifteen international authors, taking a closer look at the root causes behind these developments, locating them in their respective historical contexts, and discussing strategies for fighting back. In clear and unambiguous opposition to the »Nationalist International«, this volume responds to our current state of global turbulence by building on the power and potential of a transnational public sphere, appears in 14 languages. Read here the preface of the book.

Volume editor Heinrich Geiselberger on the project’s background and goals:

On the time line is a sequence of images and dates starting with Margaret Thatcher saying in 1987 that there is no such thing as society. One can flip trough the greatest hits of neo liberalism and the turbulence of politics around the world.

There are excerpts for all the writers of the volume.

One new voice to me is Paul Mason from the UK. He has done many things in journalism, movies, plays, including a series of movies about the coup in Greece by the IMF. His piece is titled "Overcoming The Fear of Freedom."

» The fatal attraction neoliberalism exerted on the elite, and on two generations of professional economists, was rooted in its apparent perfection. «
Paul Mason

It has been clear since 2008 that, unless we abandon neoliberalism, globalization will fall apart. With Brexit and the election of Donald Trump that process has now begun.

The fatal attraction neoliberalism exerted on the elite, and on two generations of professional economists, was rooted in its apparent perfection. In its economic content it confirmed the notion that capitalism is essentially the market, survival of the fittest, and the small state. In its political form it fitted perfectly the core liberal-democratic assumption: that we are all merely citizens, not workers or bosses, and that all our rights are primarily individual, not collective. Even now – with Renzi fallen, Hollande stumbling to the end of his presidency, Schäuble demanding yet more austerity in Greece – the social and political elite of neoliberalism has barely begun to question this essentialist mindset. Instead a break has begun in the opposite direction. The authoritarian populism that is mobilizing a minority of working-class voters across Europe is, essentially, a demand for de-globalization. Its reactionary nature lies not only in its preference for racism, Islamophobia and social conservatism but in its complete ignorance of the complexity of the task.

And then there is Marina Graces from Spain.

Her article is available in a pdf from the web site. Here is the first paragraph

Ours is a time in which everything is coming to an end. We have witnessed the end of modernity, history, ideologies, and revolutions. We have seen how progress has come to an end: the future as a time of promise, development and growth. Now we are seeing how resources are used up – water, oil and clean air – and ecosystems and their diversity are extinguished. Our time is definitively one in which everything is ending, even time itself. We are in regression. Some say we are in a process of asphyxiation or extinction. Perhaps not as a species, but as a civilization based on development, progress and expansion.

I have not spent near enough time on the web site. Another person many of you may know is Slavoj Zizek.

Bruno Latour's article was published earlier in Harpers.

The New Climate

If there is no planet, no earth, no soil, no territory for the globalization to which all countries at COP21 claim to be heading, what should we do? Either we deny the existence of the problem or we seek to come down to earth. This choice is what now divides people, much more than being politically on the right or the left.

The United States had two options after the election. It could recognize the extent of the change in global circumstances, and the enormousness of its responsibility, and finally become realistic, leading the free world out of the abyss; or it could sink into denial. Trump seems to have decided to let America dream on for a few more years, and to drag other countries into the abyss along the way.

This is a huge comment but I don't have the time even to read each of the 15 short notes about their articles in the book. You can follow the effort on twitter #greatregression

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joe shikspack's picture

@DonMidwest

thanks for all of the cool links! just in time for the weekend. Smile

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here is a link to the 77 slides

Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right:

Here is the entire title of the power point presentation

Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Rising Inequality
and the Changing Structure of Political Conflict
Evidence from France & the US, 1948-2017
Thomas Piketty
EHESS and Paris School of Economics
January 2018

Piketty is well known for his work on income inequality. His work lays out the changes in economics and political alignment. This is a technical work based on his study of the data.

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snoopydawg's picture

and the republicans are going to need the democrats help with it. I'm sure that they will be only to happy to. Austerity is coming for all of us and instead of people trying to stop it, they are being pawns of Russia Gate. How can they not see that? One of the biggest reasons for it is to have people give their permission for war with Russia that has already been planned out and is being readied. Of course the media hasn't breathed a word on it.

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Meanwhile, the damage done among America’s former thinking class essentially leaves this polity like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz: without a brain - J. Kunstler

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

they will get, with the loyal assistance of the democrats, who are, after all, a neoliberal party.

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snoopydawg's picture

I think that this person makes a good point.

What has happened in America is eerily similar to the color revolutions in targeted countries which leads me to believe the organizers of such revolutions looked at the biggest prize of all and said “Why not.’.

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Meanwhile, the damage done among America’s former thinking class essentially leaves this polity like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz: without a brain - J. Kunstler

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

having the u.s. internally destabilized would certainly serve the interests of a certain class of people. i would imagine that by now a lot of people have read and internalized the work of gene sharp and are more than capable of orchestrating the birth of such a conflagration without leaving too many fingerprints.

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MarilynW's picture

The article above might make it look like the Kurds are invading or usurping Syrian territory. It's more complicated since the Kurds are indigenous people who were left out of the the Treaty of Lausanne, which set the boundaries of modern Turkey. Left out of maps that created Syria and Iraq as well.

I agree that the US has ulterior motives for "helping" the Kurds. They are also aware that the Kurds have never been defeated militarily. In other words, do they really need US military assistance?

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joe shikspack's picture

@MarilynW

you're right. history (well, really the "great powers") have not been kind (or just) to the kurds. they have been consistently been screwed out of what is by rights, theirs - a place where they can express their own culture in peace and dignity.

sadly, it seems a great likelihood that history will once again repeat itself and after a heated struggle, the kurds will find themselves oppressed in an assortment of territories claimed by other countries. if i were the kurds, i would not expect any help from the u.s.

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Shahryar's picture

thanks. My kind of music.

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joe shikspack's picture

@Shahryar

glad you dig it. often as i put together music that's "on the list" i run across stuff in the right hand youtube column that tickles my ear. i've taken to putting it into an odds and ends file for later use.

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