Never in our lifetimes have we experienced such vivid previews of what unfettered capitalism is likely to mean in an ever more unequal country, now that its version of 1% politics has elevated to the pinnacle of power a bizarre billionaire and his “basket of deplorables.” I’m referring, of course, not to his followers but to his picks for the highest posts in the land. These include a series of generals ready to lead us into a new set of crusades and a crew of billionaires and multimillionaires prepared to make America theirs again.
It’s already a stunningly depressing moment - and it hasn’t even begun. At the very least, it calls upon the rest of us to rise to the occasion. That means mustering a dystopian imagination that matches the era to come.
. . . It’s April 1, 2017. Donald J. Trump has been in office for less than two and a half months when a nattily dressed “businessman” manages to enter Trump Towers Istanbul, which soars into the skyline of the Turkish capital with the name of the new American president impressively done up in gold letters atop one of its towers. Once in the lobby, that man, a messenger from the Islamic State who made it through the complex's private security screening with a suicide vest strapped to his body, blows himself up, killing a doorman, a security screener, and a number of residents, while wounding a dozen others.
. . . Imagine as well for a moment growing demonstrations, protests, and the like, all aimed at various towers, clubs, resorts, and condominiums in the Trump stable. And consider just what a combination of threatened terror attacks and roiling demonstrations, as well as increasing anger over the Trump name across the Islamic world and elsewhere, might mean to the profitability of the president's brand. Now, think about the Trump towers in Pune, India, or the 75-story tower in Mumbai, or the “six-star” luxury resort in Bali, or the tower going up in Manila’s Century City (each a high-end Trump-labeled project expected to come online in the near future and all, except Pune, at past sites of devastating terror bombings). What will their owners do if prospective buyers, fearing for their comfort, health, or even lives, begin to flee? What happens when the hotels can’t keep their rooms filled, the condominiums lose their bidders, and the Trump brand suddenly begins to empty out?
. . . Don’t for a second doubt that, under such circumstances, American foreign and military policy would end up being focused on saving the Trump brand, which, in turn, would be a nightmare to behold. Speaking of past controversies over presidential appointments - okay, I know we weren’t, but humor me here - in 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower had his own Rex Tillerson-style moment and picked Charles Wilson, the CEO of industrial giant General Motors, to be his secretary of defense. At his confirmation hearings, Wilson infamously offered this formula for success, “I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.” If the State Department and the military were indeed tasked with digging out the Trump brand, you would need to turn that comment upside down and inside out: “I thought what was bad for the Trump brand was bad for America, and vice versa.”
Indeed, if the Trump brand starts to go belly up, knowing what we do about the president-elect, we would be almost certain to see a foreign policy increasingly devoted to saving his brand and under those circumstances - in the words of former State Department official Peter Van Buren - what could possibly go wrong?
. . . Let me add another dystopian fantasy to what obviously could be an endless string of them. For a moment, let’s think about the topic of presidential assassinations. By that I don’t mean assassinated presidents like Lincoln, McKinley, or Kennedy. What I have in mind is the modern presidential urge to assassinate others.
Since at least Dwight Eisenhower, American presidents have been in the camp of the assassins. With Eisenhower, it was the CIA’s plot against Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba; with John Kennedy (and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy), it was Cuba’s Fidel Castro; with Richard Nixon (and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger), it was the killing of Chilean President Salvador Allende in a U.S.-backed military coup, which was also the first 9/11 attack (September 11, 1973).
In 1976, in the wake of Watergate, President Gerald Ford would outlaw political assassination by executive order, a ban reaffirmed by subsequent presidents (although Ronald Reagan did direct U.S. Air Force planes to bomb Libyan autocrat Muammar Gaddafi’s home). As this new century began, however, the sexiest high-tech killer around, the appropriately named Predator drone, would be armed with Hellfire missiles and sent into action in the war on terror, creating the possibility of presidential assassinations on a scale never before imagined. Its subsequent missions threatened to create a Terminator version of our world.
At the behest of two presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, a fleet of such robotic assassins would enter historically unique terrain as global hunter-killers outside official American war zones. They and their successors, Reaper drones (as in the Grim Reaper), would be dispatched on mass assassination sprees that have yet to end and that were largely organized in the White House itself based on a regularly updated, presidentially approved “kill list.”
In this way, the president, his aides, and his advisers became judge, jury, and executioner for “terror suspects” (though often enough any man, woman, or child who happened to be in the vicinity) halfway around the world. As I wrote back in 2012, in the process, the commander-in-chief became a permanent assassin-in-chief. Now, presidents were tasked with overseeing the elimination of hundreds of people in other lands with a sense of “legality” granted them in secret memos by the lawyers of their own Justice Department. Talk about dystopian! George Orwell would have been awed.
So when it comes to assassinations, we were already on dark terrain before Donald Trump ever thought about running for president. But give the man his due. Little noticed by anyone, he may already be developing the potential for a new style of presidential assassination - not in distant lands but right here at home. Start with his remarkable tweeting skills and the staggering 17.2 million followers of whatever he tweets, including numerous members of what’s politely referred to as the alt-right. And believe me, that’s one hell of an audience to stir up, something The Donald has shown that he can do with alacrity.
In a sense, you could already think of him as a kind of Twitter hit man. Certainly, his power to lash out in 140 characters is no small thing. Recently, for instance, he suddenly tweeted a criticism of arms-maker Lockheed-Martin for producing the most expensive weapons system in history, the F-35 fighter jet. (“The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military [and other] purchases after January 20th.”) The company’s stock value promptly took a $4 billion hit - which, I must admit, I found amusing, not dystopian.
He also seems to have been irritated by a Chicago Tribune column that focused on Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s criticisms of his comments on international trade and China, where that company does significant business. Muilenburg suggested, mildly enough, that he “back off from the 2016 anti-trade rhetoric and perceived threats to punish other countries with higher tariffs or fees.” In response, The Donald promptly took out after the company, calling for the cancellation of a Boeing contract for a new high-tech version of Air Force One, the president’s plane. (“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”) That company’s stock similarly took a hit.
But giant military-industrial corporations can, of course, defend themselves. So no pity there. When it comes to regular citizens, however, it’s another matter. Take Chuck Jones, president of an Indiana United Steelworkers local. He disputed Trump on how many jobs the president-elect had recently saved at Carrier Corporation. Significantly less, he insisted (quite accurately), than Trump claimed. That clearly bruised the president-elect’s giant but remarkably fragile ego. Before he knew what hit him, Jones found himself the object of a typical Trumpian twitter barrage. (“Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!”) The next thing he knew, abusive and threatening calls were pouring in - things like “we’re coming for you” or, as Jones explained it, “Nothing that says they’re gonna kill me, but, you know, you better keep your eye on your kids. We know what car you drive. Things along those lines.”
A year ago, an 18-year-old college student had a similar experience after getting up at a campaign event and telling Trump that he was no “friend to women.” The candidate promptly went on the Twitter attack, labeling her “arrogant,” and the next thing she knew, as the "Washington Post" described it, “her phone began ringing with callers leaving threatening messages that were often sexual in nature. Her Facebook and email inboxes filled with similar messages. As her addresses circulated on social media and her photo flashed on the news, she fled home to hide.”
. . . Don’t forget, of course, that, thanks to George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Trump will also have all those CIA drones to use as he wishes to knock off whomever he chooses in distant lands. But as a potential Twitter assassin, rousing his alt-drones to the attack, he would achieve quite another kind of American first.
. . . Take the most dystopian issue of all: climate change. In recent weeks, Trump has mumbled sweet nothings to the assembled "New York Times" staff, swearing that he’s keeping an “open mind” when it comes to the link between humanity and a warming planet. He's also sweet-talked Al Gore right in the heart of Trump Tower. (“I had a lengthy and very productive session with the president-elect,” said Gore afterward. “It was a sincere search for areas of common ground... I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued.”) Whatever else Donald Trump may be, he is, first and foremost, a salesman, which means he knows how to sell anything and charm just about anyone, when needed, and reality be damned.
If, however, you want to gauge his actual feelings on the subject, those outer borough sentiments of his youthful years when he evidently grew up feeling one-down to New York’s elite, then pay no attention to what he’s saying and take a look at what he’s doing. On climate change, it’s screw-you devastating all the way and visible payback to the many greens, liberals, and those simply worried about the fate of the Earth for their grandchildren who didn’t vote for or support him.
. . . The "Guardian" recently did a rundown on his choices for both his transition team and key posts in his administration having anything to do with energy or the warming of the planet. It found climate deniers and so-called skeptics everywhere. In fact, “at least nine senior members” of his transition team, reported Oliver Milman of that paper, “deny basic scientific understanding that the planet is warming due to the burning of carbon and other human activity.”
Combine this with the president-elect’s urge to release American fossil fuels in a way no one previously has and you have a message that couldn’t be clearer or more devastating for the future of a livable planet. Think of it as so dystopian, so potentially post-apocalyptic, that it makes 1984 look like a nursery tale.
Read the entire essay here.
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Pay no attention to the man behind the screen.
Paying attention to him will only benefit you.
So . . . don't . . . do . . it.
Or break some norms?
Go ahead. It's Christmas! (Or just "the holidays.")
We discuss the ‘birthering’ of the Democrats as Keith Olbermann turns xenophobe, and conspiracy theories flourish in the media. We also discuss Russia’s latest gold purchases. In the second half, Max interviews former Assistant Treasury Secretary under Ronald Reagan, Paul Craig Roberts, about the attempted Electoral College coup on Trump, and the differences between the last Cold War and the new one.
Published on Dec 15, 2016
In this episode of the Keiser Report from Austin, Texas, Max and Stacy discuss the healthcare monster no one wants to tame and the Fukushima meltdown devouring trillions of yen. In the second half Max interviews Adam Curry about the hashtag fake news and the rise of alt-media as a competitive challenge to the mainstream media.
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What were the logical outcomes of the neoliberals' plans to destroy the country's infrastructure (for at least 30 years), healthcare (for ever) and hollow out the pension system/personal retirements for the USA! USA! USA!?
Other than Donald Trump as the new President of Hope who will SAVE us?
The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang. The political triumph of Donald Trump shattered the establishments in the Democratic and Republican parties – both wedded to the rule of Big Money and to the reign of meretricious politicians.
The Bush and Clinton dynasties were destroyed by the media-saturated lure of the pseudo-populist billionaire with narcissist sensibilities and ugly, fascist proclivities. The monumental election of Trump was a desperate and xenophobic cry of human hearts for a way out from under the devastation of a disintegrating neoliberal order – a nostalgic return to an imaginary past of greatness.
White working- and middle-class fellow citizens – out of anger and anguish – rejected the economic neglect of neoliberal policies and the self-righteous arrogance of elites. Yet these same citizens also supported a candidate who appeared to blame their social misery on minorities, and who alienated Mexican immigrants, Muslims, black people, Jews, gay people, women and China in the process.
This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy. And since the most explosive fault lines in present-day America are first and foremost racial, then gender, homophobic, ethnic and religious, we gird ourselves for a frightening future.
That sweetheart Richard Woolf gives us quite a bit of insight into the insiders' trafficking below.
Friday, December 23, 2016
By Richard D. Wolff, Truthout | Audio Segment
This week's episode includes updates on politicians lying about economics, fines for big banks, fewer international students coming to the US and a struggle at the Pebble Mine. The show also covers the Christmas spirit and the economic realities of deporting immigrants, rescuing and rebuilding the US "middle class," and raising capital for worker co-ops.
To see more stories like this, visit Economic Update: Your Weekly Dose of Revolutionary Economics
The transfer of wealth to the corporate community, of course, continues apace with the latest game in town:
In the December 2016 Tax Justice Network monthly podcast, the Taxcast: In trusts we trust? We look at the new game in town: beneficial ownership avoidance, the booming industry in alternative escape vehicles from public registers and why we must shine the spotlight on all of them. Plus: we discuss two big stories we think will define 2017: the race to the bottom between nations on tax aka a transfer of wealth to the corporate community, and how the world’s biggest havens are increasingly having to account for the devastating effect their tax and/or financial secrecy policies are having on human rights around the world.
Featuring: Lawyer Paul Beckett of cyber-intelligence agency Synceritas, journalist and financial sleuth Richard Smith of Naked Capitalism, and John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. Produced and presented for the Tax Justice Network by Naomi Fowler.
Now that our world is aware of its ultimate control by the CIA (NSA/Trump's new SS/Men in Black Body Armor/etc./etc.) we are finally at the place where the importation after World War II (and particularly after the Nuremberg Trials) of the German old guard/secret police forces and policing methods arising from such (supposedly to be utilized in the coming fight against Russian Communism) has finally fully flowered.
By Chris Floyd
December 22, 2016
You’re al Qaeda. You’re being supported by the United States in your jihad to impose extremist rule on Syria, but you still have a PR problem; too many people remember all that unpleasant business from so long ago when you blew up a few buildings in the US. What can you do?
Well, first you change the name of your Syrian branch two or three times. You make sure your spokesmen — who actually get respectfully quoted in the US media! — say moderate things in English but speak with genocidal sectarian fury in Arabic. So far, so good. But what if your new US media buddies actually got a peek at how you operate on the ground in Syria — cutting off heads, hoarding food aid, colluding with ISIS, slaughtering religious minorities, oppressing women, etc.?
That’s easy: as Patrick Cockburn noted this week, you simply make the zones you control so dangerous for reporters – killing them, kidnapping them, etc. — that they don’t go there anymore. Instead they “report” on your activities from far away, relying on you to provide their information, telling the story you want told.
And presto chango, that’s how those who murdered Americans have become America’s newest heroes, the brave defenders of freedom in Syria. What’s more, anyone who dares point out the true nature of your organization, and how you operate, are now denounced as apologists for the loathsome Assad regime, or as Putin-lovers, even as traitors! Think of it: just a few years ago, you were the most reviled and hated group Americans had ever known — and now Americans across the media and political spectrum hail you as heroes and defend you from all attacks!
Sure, you’ve lost your foothold in Aleppo, where for years you systematically persecuted people and forcibly prevented them from leaving. But America’s still got your back, AQ! Even when you attack relief convoys in an attempt to scuttle a peace deal that would allow anyone who wants to leave East Aleppo to go free, the American media will fudge the headlines so no one will know that it was you who did the deed.
[And hey, let’s not forget what America’s been doing for you in Yemen! Remember how the Houthis had you on the ropes, nearly ridding the country of your presence — and then the Americans stepped in with their Saudi allies, bombing the holy hell out of the place, choking off food and medicine supplies, destroying the infrastructure for basic survival, killing thousands of civilians and putting millions of people at dire risk of starvation! And suddenly you were back, making great gains, stronger than ever! You simply couldn’t ask for a better friend, could you?]
So buck up, AQ! With the full weight of the American media and political establishment behind you, no doubt there are still great days ahead! In fact, the president has just made it easier for you guys to get even more American weapons so you can carry on your noble quest! It’s just our way of saying Merry Christmas!
(Chris Floyd is a columnist for CounterPunch Magazine. His blog, "Empire Burlesque," can be found at www.chris-floyd.com.)
John Pilger has an informative video on the truth behind the so-called War on Terror.
Save yourself some heart pangs by skipping it if you're only interested in MSM coverage.
And just "hush" about it.
'The War on Democracy' is John Pilger's first major film for the cinema - in a career that has produced more than 55 television documentaries. Set in Latin America and the US, it explores the historic and current relationship of Washington with countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Chile.
"The film tells a universal story," says Pilger, "analysing and revealing, through vivid testimony, the story of great power behind its venerable myths. It allows us to understand the true nature of the so-called war on terror".
Using archive footage sourced by Michael Moore's archivist Carl Deal, the film shows how serial US intervention, overt and covert, has toppled a series of legitimate governments in the Latin American region since the 1950s. The democratically elected Chilean government of Salvador Allende, for example, was ousted by a US backed coup in 1973 and replaced by the military dictatorship of General Pinochet. Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador have all been invaded by the United States.
John Pilger interviews several ex-CIA agents who took part in secret campaigns against democratic countries in the region. He investigates the School of the Americas in the US state of Georgia, where Pinochet’s torture squads were trained along with tyrants and death squad leaders in Haiti, El Salvador, Brazil and Argentina.
The film unearths the real story behind the attempted overthrow of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez in 2002 and how the people of the barrios of Caracas rose up to force his return to power.
It also looks at the wider rise of populist governments across South America lead by indigenous leaders intent on loosening the shackles of Washington and a fairer redistribution of the continent's natural wealth.
John Pilger says: "[The film] is about the struggle of people to free themselves from a modern form of slavery." These people, he says, "describe a world not as American presidents like to see it as useful or expendable, they describe the power of courage and humanity among people with next to nothing. They reclaim noble words like democracy, freedom, liberation, justice, and in doing so they are defending the most basic human rights of all of us in a war being waged against all of us."
(Read John Pilger's article about the making of 'The War On Democracy' which appeared in the "Guardian" in June 2007.)Lee Camp's comedic stylings cross the line between reporting with integrity and that of sublimity.
Max Keiser Report - Episode 1010
Published: 24 Dec, 2016
In this episode of the Keiser Report from a beach in Florida, Max and Stacy review the year that saw the ascention of Donald Trump, as markets rally the most since Herbert Hoover in 1928. But is a 1929-like crash on the cards? In the second half, Max interviews Karl Denninger of Market-Ticker.org about whether or not Trump is, indeed, ‘draining the swamp’? Or is he repopulating it with bigger, more terrifying swamp creatures?
Don't deny yourself this pleasure.