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The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. - George Orwell
Official Washington’s rush into an Orwellian future is well underway as political and media bigwigs move to silence Internet voices of independence and dissent.
As an unemployed editor of waaay too many years, the following essay speaks volumes about our current plight.
"This attack signals an open war on the independent press," he says. "Those who do not spew the official line will be increasingly demonized in corporate echo chambers such as the (Washington) Post or CNN as useful idiots or fifth columnists.
. . . The only time politicians like the media is when we're helping them get elected or push through certain policies, like for instance helping spread dubious stories about Iraq's WMD capability. Otherwise, they despise us. So news outlets that get into bed with politicians are usually making a devil's bargain they don't fully understand.
Send your thanks to Jeff Bezos, Jeff Zucker and Carlos Slim's pals at the NYT. And give Amazon ALL of your holiday business out of respect and in gratitude for their selfless service!
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"I'm ashamed I was part of it. Unfortunately I cannot reverse this."
Among the admissions that Ulfkotte makes in the interview are putting his own name to articles completely written by intelligence agencies. He said:
"I ended up publishing articles under my own name written by agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, especially the German secret service."Ulfkotte detailed the pattern of cajolery and outright bribery used by the CIA and other US-allied intelligence agencies, for the purpose of advancing political agendas.
. . . Dr. Ulfkotte is the author of a book currently available only in German, "Bought Journalists" (Kopp 2014.) Aged 55, he was also once an advisor to the government of German Chancellor Helmet Kohl.
(Review of Bought Journalists: This book is a German bestseller since its release a couple of years ago. The author makes damning, explosive revelations about how the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies regularly bribe mainstream German journalists and news anchors to write pro-U.S. propaganda articles in German newspapers such as Frankfurter Allegmeince, where author Udo Ulfkotte was one of the editors. Not only did the CIA bribe him and other German journalists to write American propaganda - often demonizing Russia for example - but the CIA would email the German journalists entire articles, pre-written, to publish! Also, those journalists that do not cooperate with the CIA are then removed from their positions, demoted, etc. If you don't speak German go to YouTube and type in "Journalist Udo Ulfkotte: German Media PsyOps [ENGLISH]" and you can watch Udo Ulfkotte in English totally explain what this book is about, and what is happening. It tells you how good this book is, that even though this has been a German bestseller book for at least a couple years now, it is still not available in English. Why? There must be a lot of pressure on the publisher to not come out with the English version because it makes the U.S. government look bad, very bad indeed. But come on! Get this book out in English already! The public has a right to know about the grotesque degree of corruption, lies, and blatant disinformation that America force feeds on the German public, Europe, and of course at home in the USA.)
And tell me once again how it happened that we got Trumped so easily?
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The "PropOrNot" results* are in.
Economic expert and journalist Dr. Paul Craig Roberts thinks the recent publication of the so-called ‘fake news” list recently published by the "Washington Post" signals a major turning point for all of the mainstream media (MSM). Dr. Roberts explains, “I think this is the death knell for the mainstream media. I think this list essentially kills the credibility of the mainstream media and certainly the 'Washington Post." It has demonstrated it is completely devoid of any integrity. I am a former "Wall Street Journal editor," and if we had done something like that, Warren Phillips would have fired every one of us. We would have been told to get out. You can’t carry on this kind of assault on people. I think this is a sign of desperation.”_ _ _ _ _ _
* The group’s list of Russian disinformation outlets includes WikiLeaks and the Drudge Report, as well as Clinton-critical left-wing websites such as Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig, and Naked Capitalism, as well as libertarian venues such as Antiwar.com and the Ron Paul Institute._ _ _ _ _ _ _
. . . the article is rife with obviously reckless and unproven allegations, and fundamentally shaped by shoddy, slothful journalistic tactics. It was not surprising to learn that, as BuzzFeed’s Sheera Frenkel noted, “a lot of reporters passed on this story.” Its huge flaws are self-evident. But the Post gleefully ran with it and then promoted it aggressively, led by its Executive Editor Marty Baron . . .
In other words, the individuals behind this newly created group are publicly branding journalists and news outlets as tools of Russian propaganda — even calling on the FBI to investigate them for espionage — while cowardly hiding their own identities. The group promoted by the Post thus embodies the toxic essence of Joseph McCarthy, but without the courage to attach individual names to the blacklist. Echoing the Wisconsin senator, the group refers to its lengthy collection of sites spouting Russian propaganda as “The List.”
. . . More troubling still, "PropOrNot" listed numerous organizations on its website as “allied” with it, yet many of these claimed “allies” told "The Intercept," and complained on social media, they have nothing to do with the group and had never even heard of it before the "Post" published its story.
. . . In his article, the Post’s Timberg did not include a link to "PropOrNot" ’s website. If readers had the opportunity to visit the site, it would have become instantly apparent that this group of ostensible experts far more resembles amateur peddlers of primitive, shallow propagandistic clichés than serious, substantive analysis and expertise; that it has a blatant, demonstrable bias in promoting NATO’s narrative about the world; and that it is engaging in extremely dubious McCarthyite tactics about a wide range of critics and dissenters.
The Washington Post should be very proud: It staked a major part of its news story on the unverified, untestable assertions of this laughable organization.
One of the core functions of "PropOrNot" appears to be its compilation of a lengthy blacklist of news and political websites that it smears as peddlers of “Russian propaganda.” Included on this blacklist of supposed propaganda outlets are prominent independent left-wing news sites such as Truthout, Naked Capitalism, Black Agenda Report, Consortium News, and Truthdig.
Also included are popular libertarian hubs such as Zero Hedge, Antiwar.com, and the Ron Paul Institute, along with the hugely influential right-wing website the Drudge Report and the publishing site WikiLeaks. Far-right, virulently anti-Muslim blogs such as Bare Naked Islam are likewise dubbed Kremlin mouthpieces. Basically, everyone who isn’t comfortably within the centrist Hillary Clinton/Jeb Bush spectrum is guilty. On its Twitter account, the group announced a new “plugin” that automatically alerts the user that a visited website has been designated by the group to be a Russian propaganda outlet.
One of the most egregious examples is the group’s inclusion of Naked Capitalism, the widely respected left-wing site run by Wall Street critic Yves Smith. That site was named by Time magazine as one of the best 25 Best Financial Blogs in 2011 and by Wired magazine as a crucial site to follow for finance, and Smith has been featured as a guest on programs such as PBS’s Bill Moyers Show. Yet this cowardly group of anonymous smear artists, promoted by the Washington Post, has now placed them on a blacklist of Russian disinformation.
. . . Even more disturbing than the Post’s shoddy journalism in this instance is the broader trend in which any wild conspiracy theory or McCarthyite attack is now permitted in U.S. discourse as long as it involves Russia and Putin — just as was true in the 1950s when stories of how the Russians were poisoning the U.S. water supply or infiltrating American institutions were commonplace. Any anti-Russia story was — and is — instantly vested with credibility, while anyone questioning its veracity or evidentiary basis is subject to attacks on their loyalties or, at best, vilified as “useful idiots.”
Two of the most discredited reports from the election season illustrate the point: a Slate article claiming that a private server had been located linking the Trump Organization and a Russian bank (which, like the current Post story, had been shopped around and rejected by multiple media outlets) and a completely deranged rant by Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald claiming that Putin had ordered emails in the WikiLeaks release to be doctored — both of which were uncritically shared and tweeted by hundreds of journalists to tens of thousands of people, if not more.
The Post itself — now posing as a warrior against “fake news” — published an article in September that treated with great seriousness the claim that Hillary Clinton collapsed on 9/11 Day because she was poisoned by Putin. And that’s to say nothing of the paper’s disgraceful history of convincing Americans that Saddam was building non-existent nuclear weapons and had cultivated a vibrant alliance with al Qaeda. As is so often the case, those who mostly loudly warn of “fake news” from others are themselves the most aggressive disseminators of it.
Indeed, what happened here is the essence of fake news. The Post story served the agendas of many factions: those who want to believe Putin stole the election from Hillary Clinton; those who want to believe that the internet and social media are a grave menace that needs to be controlled, in contrast to the objective truth that reliable old media outlets once issued; those who want a resurrection of the Cold War. So those who saw tweets and Facebook posts promoting this Post story instantly clicked and shared and promoted the story without an iota of critical thought or examination of whether the claims were true, because they wanted the claims to be true. That behavior included countless journalists.
So the story spread in a flash, like wildfire. Tens of thousands of people, perhaps hundreds of thousands or even millions, consumed it, believing that it was true because of how many journalists and experts told them it was. Virtually none of the people who told them this spent a minute of time or ounce of energy determining if it was true. It pleased them to believe it was, knowing it advanced their interests, and so they endorsed it. That is the essence of how fake news functions, and it is the ultimate irony that this Post story ended up illustrating and spreading far more fake news than it exposed.
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And where were all the economists pointing out the absurdity of the neoliberal ideology that told us that human society should be governed by the dictates of the market — that is, until the market collapsed in an orgy of fraud and corruption and needed the government to bail it out? Why did the political scientists chase after “value-free” data, carry out quantitative projects and seek an unachievable scientific clarity? Why didn’t they and others warn us about the dire consequences of eroding democratic institutions? Why did they stand mute as money replaced the vote and lobbyists authored our laws? Where were they when constitutionally protected statements, beliefs and associations were criminalized? Why didn’t they protest when dissidents, even those who broke no laws, were stripped of their rights and imprisoned without due process? Why did they continue to speak and write as if the fiction of our democracy was real? Why didn’t they illuminate our constitutional crisis? Why did those in academia commit intellectual treason? They traded their intellectual integrity and autonomy for tenure, publishing contracts, lecture fees, research grants and coveted deanships or college presidencies.
Why did the press render the poor and the working poor invisible? Why did it walk away from its role as the investigator of corruption and abuse of power? Why did it become a courtier to the elites? Why did it measure the success of its broadcasts and publications solely by the profits produced? Why did it refuse to give a platform to critics of corporate capitalism and imperial war? Why did it serve as an echo chamber for the arms industry and Wall Street? Why did it hide behind the fiction of neutrality and objectivity? Why did it debase reporting to quoting establishment experts — most of whom lied — in order to stay within the narrow confines of opinion sanctioned by the power elites? Why did the press obscure the truth?
The failure of our capitalist democracy was collective. It was bred by ignorance, indifference, racism, bigotry and the seduction of mass propaganda. It was bred by elites, especially in the press, the courts and academia, who chose careerism over moral and intellectual courage. Our rights as citizens were taken from us one by one. There was hardly a word of protest.
. . . The last constraints will be removed by a crisis. The crisis will be used to create a climate of fear. The pretense of democracy will end.
“A fascism of the future — an emergency response to some still unimagined crisis — need not resemble classical fascism perfectly in its outward signs and symbols,” Robert Paxton writes in “The Anatomy of Fascism.” “Some future movement that would ‘give up free institutions’ in order to perform the same functions of mass mobilization for the reunification, purification, and regeneration of some troubled group would undoubtedly call itself something else and draw on fresh symbols. That would not make it any less dangerous.”
Our ruling mafia will use the crisis much as the Nazis did in 1933 when the Reichstag was burned. It will publish its own version of the “Order of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State.” The U.S. Constitution will be in effect suspended. Personal freedom, including freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom to organize and freedom of assembly, will be abolished. Privacy will be formally eradicated. Search warrants will be unnecessary. America’s emergency decrees will cement into place what largely exists now. When they come, the loss of freedoms will be openly acknowledged and made permanent.
Anyone who is not white or “loyal” will be attacked, first verbally and then physically. Everyone will be constantly watched. The prisons will swell. Militarized police will no longer be confined to operating in marginal communities. Lethal, indiscriminate force by the state will be common. The courts will condemn with little or no evidence. The press will utterly unplug itself from reality and speak to us as if we lived in a functioning democracy. Academics will burrow deeper into their holes of obtuse jargon and quantitative irrelevance. The last remnants of our labor unions will be crushed. Religious institutions, as silent about the evils of corporate capitalism as Goldman Sachs, will take the safe route of spirituality and piety rather than social justice. The lawyers, courts and law schools will serve the law even when the law overturns our constitutional rights by judicial fiat and is a tool of naked repression. Hollywood and the rest of mass entertainment will churn out the usual tawdry fare of sexually explicit and violence-drenched spectacles. The military “virtues” of hyper-masculinity and patriarchy will be celebrated.
I don’t know what the pay scale for Russian agents is, but whatever I have coming to me please deposit in a Russian bank. The Swiss banks are no longer useful as the Swiss government allowed Washington to write its banking laws. Perhaps also you could line me up with a publisher for my memoirs — “My Life As A Putin Stooge.”
We need to get on with this ASAP as the Washington Post has the FBI on my tail. They will be very angry at me for deceiving them all those years when I held top secret and higher security clearances while I was a Russian agent. Any day now the Washington Post might discover that my fellow KGB agent Ronald Reagan and I cut taxes on the rich in order to make capitalism so oppressive that the American people would rise up and overthrow it. Boy did we fool the left-wing!
Better have someone bring me the passport and diplomatic appointment. I would be nabbed by TSA if I fly to Washington to collect the documents. A diplomatic appointment is better than asylum, because Washington, like the old Soviet Union, doesn’t recognize political asylum. Just ask Julian Assange.
Don’t let the Atlanticist Integrationists convince you that my exposure as a Russian agent is just a CIA ruse to plant an agent on you. My criticism of Washington’s policy of raising tensions between nuclear powers and support of your policy of reducing tensions is not spy cover. I really do prefer that the world not be blown up in thermo-nuclear war. This is a suspect view in the US, but I hope it is an acceptable one in Russia.
Looking forward to that passport.
Labor and economic equality used to be at the heart of liberal politics. Rich professionals expunged these concerns – and have reaped the consequences
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But part of the resilient image of Google as “more than just a company” comes from the perception that it does not act like a big, bad corporation. Its penchant for luring people into its services trap with gigabytes of “free storage” produces the perception that Google is giving it away for free, acting directly contrary to the corporate profit motive. Google is perceived as an essentially philanthropic enterprise—a magical engine presided over by otherworldly visionaries—for creating a utopian future.68 The company has at times appeared anxious to cultivate this image, pouring funding into “corporate responsibility” initiatives to produce “social change”—exemplified by Google Ideas. But as Google Ideas shows, the company’s “philanthropic” efforts, too, bring it uncomfortably close to the imperial side of US influence. If Blackwater/Xe Services/Academi was running a program like Google Ideas, it would draw intense critical scrutiny.69 But somehow Google gets a free pass.
Two months later, WikiLeaks’ release of State Department cables was coming to an abrupt end. For three-quarters of a year we had painstakingly managed the publication, pulling in over a hundred global media partners, distributing documents in their regions of influence, and overseeing a worldwide, systematic publication and redaction system, fighting for maximum impact for our sources.
But in an act of gross negligence the Guardian newspaper—our former partner—had published the confidential decryption password to all 251,000 cables in a chapter heading in its book, rushed out hastily in February 2011.10 By mid-August we discovered that a former German employee—whom I had suspended in 2010—was cultivating business relationships with a variety of organizations and individuals by shopping around the location of the encrypted file, paired with the password’s whereabouts in the book. At the rate the information was spreading, we estimated that within two weeks most intelligence agencies, contractors, and middlemen would have all the cables, but the public would not.
I decided it was necessary to bring forward our publication schedule by four months and contact the State Department to get it on record that we had given them advance warning. The situation would then be harder to spin into another legal or political assault. Unable to raise Louis Susman, then US ambassador to the UK, we tried the front door. WikiLeaks investigations editor Sarah Harrison called the State Department front desk and informed the operator that “Julian Assange” wanted to have a conversation with Hillary Clinton. Predictably, this statement was initially greeted with bureaucratic disbelief. We soon found ourselves in a reenactment of that scene in Dr. Strangelove, where Peter Sellers cold-calls the White House to warn of an impending nuclear war and is immediately put on hold. As in the film, we climbed the hierarchy, speaking to incrementally more superior officials until we reached Clinton’s senior legal advisor. He told us he would call us back. We hung up, and waited.
When the phone rang half an hour later, it was not the State Department on the other end of the line. Instead, it was Joseph Farrell, the WikiLeaks staffer who had set up the meeting with Google. He had just received an email from Lisa Shields seeking to confirm that it was indeed WikiLeaks calling the State Department.
It was at this point that I realized Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, DC, including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton’s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel. While WikiLeaks had been deeply involved in publishing the inner archive of the US State Department, the US State Department had, in effect, snuck into the WikiLeaks command center and hit me up for a free lunch. Two years later, in the wake of his early 2013 visits to China, North Korea, and Burma, it would come to be appreciated that the chairman of Google might be conducting, in one way or another, “back-channel diplomacy” for Washington. But at the time it was a novel thought.11
I put it aside until February 2012, when WikiLeaks—along with over thirty of our international media partners—began publishing the Global Intelligence Files: the internal email spool from the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor.12 One of our stronger investigative partners—the Beirut-based newspaper Al Akhbar—scoured the emails for intelligence on Jared Cohen.13 The people at Stratfor, who liked to think of themselves as a sort of corporate CIA, were acutely conscious of other ventures that they perceived as making inroads into their sector. Google had turned up on their radar. In a series of colorful emails they discussed a pattern of activity conducted by Cohen under the Google Ideas aegis, suggesting what the “do” in “think/do tank” actually means.
Cohen’s directorate appeared to cross over from public relations and “corporate responsibility” work into active corporate intervention in foreign affairs at a level that is normally reserved for states. Jared Cohen could be wryly named Google’s “director of regime change.” According to the emails, he was trying to plant his fingerprints on some of the major historical events in the contemporary Middle East. He could be placed in Egypt during the revolution, meeting with Wael Ghonim, the Google employee whose arrest and imprisonment hours later would make him a PR-friendly symbol of the uprising in the Western press. Meetings had been planned in Palestine and Turkey, both of which — claimed Stratfor emails — were killed by the senior Google leadership as too risky. Only a few months before he met with me, Cohen was planning a trip to the edge of Iran in Azerbaijan to “engage the Iranian communities closer to the border,” as part of Google Ideas’ project on “repressive societies.” In internal emails Stratfor’s vice president for intelligence, Fred Burton (himself a former State Department security official), wrote,
Google is getting WH [White House] and State Dept support and air cover. In reality they are doing things the CIA cannot do . . . [Cohen] is going to get himself kidnapped or killed. Might be the best thing to happen to expose Google’s covert role in foaming up-risings, to be blunt. The US Gov’t can then disavow knowledge and Google is left holding the shit-bag.14In further internal communication, Burton said his sources on Cohen’s activities were Marty Lev—Google’s director of security and safety—and Eric Schmidt himself.15 Looking for something more concrete, I began to search in WikiLeaks’ archive for information on Cohen. State Department cables released as part of Cablegate reveal that Cohen had been in Afghanistan in 2009, trying to convince the four major Afghan mobile phone companies to move their antennas onto US military bases.16 In Lebanon he quietly worked to establish an intellectual and clerical rival to Hezbollah, the “Higher Shia League.”17 And in London he offered Bollywood movie executives funds to insert anti-extremist content into their films, and promised to connect them to related networks in Hollywood.18
Three days after he visited me at Ellingham Hall, Jared Cohen flew to Ireland to direct the “Save Summit,” an event cosponsored by Google Ideas and the Council on Foreign Relations. Gathering former inner-city gang members, right-wing militants, violent nationalists, and “religious extremists” from all over the world together in one place, the event aimed to workshop technological solutions to the problem of “violent extremism.”19 What could go wrong?
Cohen’s world seems to be one event like this after another: endless soirees for the cross-fertilization of influence between elites and their vassals, under the pious rubric of “civil society.” The received wisdom in advanced capitalist societies is that there still exists an organic “civil society sector” in which institutions form autonomously and come together to manifest the interests and will of citizens. The fable has it that the boundaries of this sector are respected by actors from government and the “private sector,” leaving a safe space for NGOs and nonprofits to advocate for things like human rights, free speech, and accountable government.
This sounds like a great idea. But if it was ever true, it has not been for decades. Since at least the 1970s, authentic actors like unions and churches have folded under a sustained assault by free-market statism, transforming “civil society” into a buyer’s market for political factions and corporate interests looking to exert influence at arm’s length. The last forty years has seen a huge proliferation of think tanks and political NGOs whose purpose, beneath all the verbiage, is to execute political agendas by proxy.
It is not just obvious neocon front groups like Foreign Policy Initiative.20 It also includes fatuous Western NGOs like Freedom House, where naïve but well-meaning career nonprofit workers are twisted in knots by political funding streams, denouncing non-Western human rights violations while keeping local abuses firmly in their blind spots. The civil society conference circuit—which flies developing-world activists across the globe hundreds of times a year to bless the unholy union between “government and private stakeholders” at geopoliticized events like the “Stockholm Internet Forum” — simply could not exist if it were not blasted with millions of dollars in political funding annually.
Scan the memberships of the biggest US think tanks and institutes and the same names keep cropping up. Cohen’s Save Summit went on to seed AVE, or AgainstViolentExtremism.org, a long-term project whose principal backer besides Google Ideas is the Gen Next Foundation. This foundation’s website says it is an “exclusive membership organization and platform for successful individuals” that aims to bring about “social change” driven by venture capital funding.21 Gen Next’s “private sector and non-profit foundation support avoids some of the potential perceived conflicts of interest faced by initiatives funded by governments.”22 Jared Cohen is an executive member.
Gen Next also backs an NGO, launched by Cohen toward the end of his State Department tenure, for bringing internet-based global “pro-democracy activists” into the US foreign relations patronage network.23 The group originated as the “Alliance of Youth Movements” with an inaugural summit in New York City in 2008 funded by the State Department and encrusted with the logos of corporate sponsors.24 The summit flew in carefully selected social media activists from “problem areas” like Venezuela and Cuba to watch speeches by the Obama campaign’s new-media team and the State Department’s James Glassman, and to network with public relations consultants, “philanthropists,” and US media personalities.25 The outfit held two more invite-only summits in London and Mexico City where the delegates were directly addressed via video link by Hillary Clinton:26
You are the vanguard of a rising generation of citizen activists. . . . And that makes you the kind of leaders we need.27In 2011, the Alliance of Youth Movements rebranded as “Movements.org.” In 2012 Movements.org became a division of “Advancing Human Rights,” a new NGO set up by Robert L. Bernstein after he resigned from Human Rights Watch (which he had originally founded) because he felt it should not cover Israeli and US human rights abuses.
28 Advancing Human Rights aims to right Human Rights Watch’s wrong by focusing exclusively on “dictatorships.”29 Cohen stated that the merger of his Movements.org outfit with Advancing Human Rights was “irresistible,” pointing to the latter’s “phenomenal network of cyberactivists in the Middle East and North Africa.”30 He then joined the Advancing Human Rights board, which also includes Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in occupied Afghanistan.31 In its present guise, Movements.org continues to receive funding from Gen Next, as well as from Google, MSNBC, and PR giant Edelman, which represents General Electric, Boeing, and Shell, among others.32
Google Ideas is bigger, but it follows the same game plan. Glance down the speaker lists of its annual invite-only get-togethers, such as “Crisis in a Connected World” in October 2013. Social network theorists and activists give the event a veneer of authenticity, but in truth it boasts a toxic piñata of attendees: US officials, telecom magnates, security consultants, finance capitalists, and foreign-policy tech vultures like Alec Ross (Cohen’s twin at the State Department).33 At the hard core are the arms contractors and career military: active US Cyber Command chieftains, and even the admiral responsible for all US military operations in Latin America from 2006 to 2009. Tying up the package are Jared Cohen and the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt.34
I began to think of Schmidt as a brilliant but politically hapless Californian tech billionaire who had been exploited by the very US foreign-policy types he had collected to act as translators between himself and official Washington—a West Coast–East Coast illustration of the principal-agent dilemma.35
I was wrong.
Eric Schmidt was born in Washington, DC, where his father had worked as a professor and economist for the Nixon Treasury. He attended high school in Arlington, Virginia, before graduating with a degree in engineering from Princeton. In 1979 Schmidt headed out West to Berkeley, where he received his PhD before joining Stanford/Berkley spin-off Sun Microsystems in 1983. By the time he left Sun, sixteen years later, he had become part of its executive leadership.
Sun had significant contracts with the US government, but it was not until he was in Utah as CEO of Novell that records show Schmidt strategically engaging Washington’s overt political class. Federal campaign finance records show that on January 6, 1999, Schmidt donated two lots of $1,000 to the Republican senator for Utah, Orrin Hatch. On the same day Schmidt’s wife, Wendy, is also listed giving two lots of $1,000 to Senator Hatch. By the start of 2001 over a dozen other politicians and PACs, including Al Gore, George W. Bush, Dianne Feinstein, and Hillary Clinton, were on the Schmidts’ payroll, in one case for $100,000.36 By 2013, Eric Schmidt—who had become publicly over-associated with the Obama White House—was more politic. Eight Republicans and eight Democrats were directly funded, as were two PACs. That April, $32,300 went to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. A month later the same amount, $32,300, headed off to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Why Schmidt was donating exactly the same amount of money to both parties is a $64,600 question. 37
It was also in 1999 that Schmidt joined the board of a Washington, DC–based group: the New America Foundation, a merger of well-connected centrist forces (in DC terms). The foundation and its 100 staff serves as an influence mill, using its network of approved national security, foreign policy, and technology pundits to place hundreds of articles and op-eds per year. By 2008 Schmidt had become chairman of its board of directors. As of 2013 the New America Foundation’s principal funders (each contributing over $1 million) are listed as Eric and Wendy Schmidt, the US State Department, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Secondary funders include Google, USAID, and Radio Free Asia.38
Schmidt’s involvement in the New America Foundation places him firmly in the Washington establishment nexus. The foundation’s other board members, seven of whom also list themselves as members of the Council on Foreign Relations, include Francis Fukuyama, one of the intellectual fathers of the neoconservative movement; Rita Hauser, who served on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board under both Bush and Obama; Jonathan Soros, the son of George Soros; Walter Russell Mead, a US security strategist and editor of the American Interest; Helene Gayle, who sits on the boards of Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, the Rockefeller Foundation, the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Unit, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the White House Fellows program, and Bono’s ONE Campaign; and Daniel Yergin, oil geostrategist, former chair of the US Department of Energy’s Task Force on Strategic Energy Research, and author of The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power.39
The chief executive of the foundation, appointed in 2013, is Jared Cohen’s former boss at the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, Anne-Marie Slaughter, a Princeton law and international relations wonk with an eye for revolving doors.40 She is everywhere at the time of writing, issuing calls for Obama to respond to the Ukraine crisis not only by deploying covert US forces into the country but also by dropping bombs on Syria—on the basis that this will send a message to Russia and China.41 Along with Schmidt, she is a 2013 attendee of the Bilderberg conference and sits on the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board.42
There was nothing politically hapless about Eric Schmidt. I had been too eager to see a politically unambitious Silicon Valley engineer, a relic of the good old days of computer science graduate culture on the West Coast. But that is not the sort of person who attends the Bilderberg conference four years running, who pays regular visits to the White House, or who delivers “fireside chats” at the World Economic Forum in Davos.43 Schmidt’s emergence as Google’s “foreign minister”—making pomp and ceremony state visits across geopolitical fault lines—had not come out of nowhere; it had been presaged by years of assimilation within US establishment networks of reputation and influence.
On a personal level, Schmidt and Cohen are perfectly likable people. But Google's chairman is a classic “head of industry” player, with all of the ideological baggage that comes with that role.44 Schmidt fits exactly where he is: the point where the centrist, liberal, and imperialist tendencies meet in American political life. By all appearances, Google's bosses genuinely believe in the civilizing power of enlightened multinational corporations, and they see this mission as continuous with the shaping of the world according to the better judgment of the “benevolent superpower.” They will tell you that open-mindedness is a virtue, but all perspectives that challenge the exceptionalist drive at the heart of American foreign policy will remain invisible to them. This is the impenetrable banality of “don’t be evil.” They believe that they are doing good. And that is a problem.
Google is "different". Google is "visionary". Google is "the future". Google is "more than just a company". Google "gives back to the community". Google is "a force for good".
Even when Google airs its corporate ambivalence publicly, it does little to dislodge these items of faith.45 The company’s reputation is seemingly unassailable. Google’s colorful, playful logo is imprinted on human retinas just under six billion times each day, 2.1 trillion times a year—an opportunity for respondent conditioning enjoyed by no other company in history.46 Caught red-handed last year making petabytes of personal data available to the US intelligence community through the PRISM program, Google nevertheless continues to coast on the goodwill generated by its “don’t be evil” doublespeak. A few symbolic open letters to the White House later and it seems all is forgiven. Even anti-surveillance campaigners cannot help themselves, at once condemning government spying but trying to alter Google’s invasive surveillance practices using appeasement strategies.47
Nobody wants to acknowledge that Google has grown big and bad. But it has. Schmidt’s tenure as CEO saw Google integrate with the shadiest of US power structures as it expanded into a geographically invasive megacorporation. But Google has always been comfortable with this proximity. Long before company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin hired Schmidt in 2001, their initial research upon which Google was based had been partly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).48 And even as Schmidt’s Google developed an image as the overly friendly giant of global tech, it was building a close relationship with the intelligence community.
In 2003 the US National Security Agency (NSA) had already started systematically violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) under its director General Michael Hayden.49 These were the days of the “Total Information Awareness” program.50 Before PRISM was ever dreamed of, under orders from the Bush White House the NSA was already aiming to “collect it all, sniff it all, know it all, process it all, exploit it all.”51 During the same period, Google—whose publicly declared corporate mission is to collect and “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”52—was accepting NSA money to the tune of $2 million to provide the agency with search tools for its rapidly accreting hoard of stolen knowledge.53
In 2004, after taking over Keyhole, a mapping tech startup cofunded by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the CIA, Google developed the technology into Google Maps, an enterprise version of which it has since shopped to the Pentagon and associated federal and state agencies on multimillion-dollar contracts.54 In 2008, Google helped launch an NGA spy satellite, the GeoEye-1, into space. Google shares the photographs from the satellite with the US military and intelligence communities.55 In 2010, NGA awarded Google a $27 million contract for “geospatial visualization services.”56
In 2010, after the Chinese government was accused of hacking Google, the company entered into a “formal information-sharing” relationship with the NSA, which was said to allow NSA analysts to “evaluate vulnerabilities” in Google’s hardware and software.57 Although the exact contours of the deal have never been disclosed, the NSA brought in other government agencies to help, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.
Around the same time, Google was becoming involved in a program known as the “Enduring Security Framework”58 (ESF), which entailed the sharing of information between Silicon Valley tech companies and Pentagon-affiliated agencies “at network speed.”59 Emails obtained in 2014 under Freedom of Information requests show Schmidt and his fellow Googler Sergey Brin corresponding on first-name terms with NSA chief General Keith Alexander about ESF.60 Reportage on the emails focused on the familiarity in the correspondence: “General Keith . . . so great to see you . . . !” Schmidt wrote. But most reports overlooked a crucial detail. “Your insights as a key member of the Defense Industrial Base,” Alexander wrote to Brin, “are valuable to ensure ESF’s efforts have measurable impact.”
The Department of Homeland Security defines the Defense Industrial Base as “the worldwide industrial complex that enables research and development, as well as design, production, delivery, and maintenance of military weapons systems, subsystems, and components or parts, to meet U.S. military requirements [emphasis added].”61
The Defense Industrial Base provides “products and services that are essential to mobilize, deploy, and sustain military operations.” Does it include regular commercial services purchased by the US military? No. The definition specifically excludes the purchase of regular commercial services. Whatever makes Google a “key member of the Defense Industrial Base,” it is not recruitment campaigns pushed out through Google AdWords or soldiers checking their Gmail.
In 2012, Google arrived on the list of top-spending Washington, DC, lobbyists—a list typically stalked exclusively by the US Chamber of Commerce, military contractors, and the petrocarbon leviathans.62 Google entered the rankings above military aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, with a total of $18.2 million spent in 2012 to Lockheed’s $15.3 million. Boeing, the military contractor that absorbed McDonnell Douglas in 1997, also came below Google, at $15.6 million spent, as did Northrop Grumman at $17.5 million.
In Autumn 2013 the Obama administration was trying to drum up support for US airstrikes against Syria. Despite setbacks, the administration continued to press for military action well into September with speeches and public announcements by both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.63 On September 10, Google lent its front page—the most popular on the internet—to the war effort, inserting a line below the search box reading “Live! Secretary Kerry answers questions on Syria. Today via Hangout at 2pm ET.”64
As the self-described “radical centrist”65 New York Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote in 1999, sometimes it is not enough to leave the global dominance of American tech corporations to something as mercurial as “the free market”:
The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.66
If anything has changed since those words were written, it is that Silicon Valley has grown restless with that passive role, aspiring instead to adorn the "hidden fist" like a velvet glove. Writing in 2013, Schmidt and Cohen stated,
What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century, technology and cyber-security companies will be to the twenty-first.67This was one of many bold assertions made by Schmidt and Cohen in their book, which was eventually published in April 2013. Gone was the working title, “The Empire of the Mind”, replaced with "The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business". By the time it came out, I had formally sought and received political asylum from the government of Ecuador, and taken refuge in its embassy in London. At that point I had already spent nearly a year in the embassy under police surveillance, blocked from safe passage out of the UK. Online I noticed the press hum excitedly about Schmidt and Cohen’s book, giddily ignoring the explicit digital imperialism of the title and the conspicuous string of pre-publication endorsements from famous warmongers like Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger, Bill Hayden and Madeleine Albright on the back.
Google's Chairman Eric Schmidt and Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State and National Security Council head under President Richard Nixon, during a "fireside chat" with Google staff at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, on 30 Sep 2013. In the talk, Kissinger says National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden is "despic(a)ble".
Billed as a visionary forecast of global technological change, the book failed to deliver— failed even to imagine a future, good or bad, substantially different to the present. The book was a simplistic fusion of Fukuyama “end of history” ideology — out of vogue since the 1990s — and faster mobile phones. It was padded out with DC shibboleths, State Department orthodoxies, and fawning grabs from Henry Kissinger. The scholarship was poor — even degenerate. It did not seem to fit the profile of Schmidt, that sharp, quiet man in my living room. But reading on I began to see that the book was not a serious attempt at future history. It was a love song from Google to official Washington. Google, a burgeoning digital superstate, was offering to be Washington’s geopolitical vision.
One way of looking at it is that it’s just business. For an American internet services monopoly to ensure global market dominance it cannot simply keep doing what it is doing, and let politics take care of itself. American strategic and economic hegemony becomes a vital pillar of its market dominance. What’s a megacorp to do? If it wants to straddle the world, it must become part of the original “don’t be evil” empire.
But part of the resilient image of Google as “more than just a company” comes from the perception that it does not act like a big, bad corporation. Its penchant for luring people into its services trap with gigabytes of “free storage” produces the perception that Google is giving it away for free, acting directly contrary to the corporate profit motive. Google is perceived as an essentially philanthropic enterprise—a magical engine presided over by otherworldly visionaries—for creating a utopian future.68 The company has at times appeared anxious to cultivate this image, pouring funding into “corporate responsibility” initiatives to produce “social change” — exemplified by Google Ideas. But as Google Ideas shows, the company’s “philanthropic” efforts, too, bring it uncomfortably close to the imperial side of US influence. If Blackwater/Xe Services/Academi was running a program like Google Ideas, it would draw intense critical scrutiny.69 But somehow Google gets a free pass.
Whether it is being just a company or “more than just a company,” Google’s geopolitical aspirations are firmly enmeshed within the foreign-policy agenda of the world’s largest superpower. As Google’s search and internet service monopoly grows, and as it enlarges its industrial surveillance cone to cover the majority of the world’s population, rapidly dominating the mobile phone market and racing to extend internet access in the global south, Google is steadily becoming the internet for many people.70 Its influence on the choices and behavior of the totality of individual human beings translates to real power to influence the course of history.
If the future of the internet is to be Google, that should be of serious concern to people all over the world — in Latin America, East and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, the former Soviet Union, and even in Europe — for whom the internet embodies the promise of an alternative to US cultural, economic, and strategic hegemony.71
A “don’t be evil” empire is still an empire.
“Good night and good luck.”
– Edward R. Murrow
The Washington Post – I should say, Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post – ran an article last week which featured a report from an organization called “PropOrNot” which claims it used “a combination of manual and automated analysis…in order to identify (“red flag”) [actual quote from the site, verbatim] the following as Russian propaganda outlets.”
Hmmm…”red flag” as in, “Red Scare?” In what is a bona fide rebirth of McCarthyism, "PropOrNot" claims to be “an independent team of concerned American citizens with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise” that is currently “volunteering time and skills to identify propaganda – particularly Russian propaganda…”
Seriously, is this some kind of joke? Is this the same group of “professionals” who devise the “seasonal adjustments” used to brew up Government economic reports? Has anyone vetted this organization? Apparently Jeff Bezos is unable to answer any of those questions or, as a responsible purveyor of “independent” journalism he would have dispelled these questions by disclosing the credibility of this group up front.
You’ll note that I specifically single out Jeff Bezos. Bezos was quietly appointed by the Secretary of Defense to the Defense Innovation Advisory Board in July. The Board was formed in March 2016 to “focus on new technologies and organizational behavior and culture.” The Board has been asked to “identify innovative private-sector practices and technological solutions that the DoD could employ in the future.”
Clearly this is straight out of Orwell’s playbook. It has behavioral modification and thought control seeping from every pore. It is a Deep State operation and Jeff Bezos is now part of the Deep State fabric.
This is Orwell’s Thought Police. The new “advisory board” is headed up by Google’s Eric Schmidt. Recall that right after the primaries if you typed “Presidential election” in a Google search bar the first item that popped up was picture of Hillary Clinton standing in front of the Presidential seal. It was eventually removed.
This blog was listed as one of the 200 websites that “reliably echo Russian propaganda.” I’m quite honored to be listed among many of the well-respected sites on “the list.” Several readers emailed me to say that “you must doing something right” to be included on that ridiculously absurd “Red Scare” list.
The two gentlemen who should be most offended are David Stockman and Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, both of whom stick out prominently on the list. Stockman and Dr. Roberts are former high-level Government officials. Both were, among a long list of prestigious and patriotic accomplishments, members of Reagan’s Cabinet. The accusation that they are conduits for Russian “fake news” is not only absurdly idiotic, it’s libelous terrorism.
This development is yet another move down that slippery-slope to Totalitarianism on which the United States Government is sliding. In the 1950’s a Senator named Joseph McCarthy implemented a raging Congressional witch-hunt for “communists.” The inquisition featured more than a month of televised hearings that began looking for communists in Government. For over two years McCarthy was allowed to conduct inquisitions which extended beyond Washington DC and which eventually pointed the finger at prominent writers and famous Hollywood personalities. He singularly destroyed highly successful people in all areas of society. It was an absolute tragedy and a complete disgrace to this country.
Fortunately, Edward R. Murrow featured a report that undermined McCarthy’s Red Scare witch hunt. McCarthy was eventually censored by the Senate and, even more fortunately, died in 1957.
Unfortunately, American journalism no longer has the likes of an Edward R. Murrow – or even Woodward and Bernstein. Corporatism and the Deep State has succeeded in eradicating unbiased and truthful mainstream journalism. The Alternative Media – like the sites featured on the "PropOrNot" Red Scare list – represent a bona fide attempt to present the truth to the public.
I predict this "PropOrNot" movement, sponsored by the likes of Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt, is going to succeed in shutting down the one ray of hope left for this country.
Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post has taken the lead in this modern version of a McCarthyism “witch hunt” and the WaPo exemplifies the amount of political power and wealth being directed at suffocating the truth. It is Orwell’s playbook unfolding in front of us.
Chris Floyd gives us some precious insight into exactly who (or what) it is we've allowed ourselves to become:
OK, I guess I’d better come clean. It seems that I must be a paid agent of the Kremlin. After all, I write for CounterPunch Magazine — for money! I used to write regularly for Truthout.org — for money! I’ve contributed articles to the Baltimore Gazette. I’ve often quoted and linked to stories from the Black Agenda Report. I’ve regularly quoted and linked to articles by prize-winning AP/Newsweek reporter Robert Parry for years. According to the Washington Post, all of this makes me either a paid Kremlin propagandist or a Kremlin dupe. There is no other alternative.
And who says this? A collection of completely anonymous “experts” from a group no one has ever heard of until it materialized for the Post article. The group, "PropOrNot," put out a list of publications and websites that are “outlets for Russian propaganda,” a list that included all the venues named above, as well as several others which have been long-time critics of various aspects of American foreign policy. These were all mixed in with obvious propaganda mills and clickbait factories (of whatever provenance).
The story is a smear piece just like Tailgunner Joe and Roy Cohn used to make. It makes a direct equation between dissent and treason, using the crudest, stupidest kind of cod-reasoning: if you have criticized a policy or action that Vladimir Putin has also criticized at some point (even if the reasons for your critique might differ wildly from his), then you are automatically a Russian agent or a “useful idiot.” That’s it. That’s the sole binary in our political world, according to new McCarthyism: either you must accept everything the US government says and does at face value, believe it implicitly and support it whole-heartedly, or else you’re a traitor acting on behalf of the Russkies — or you might as well be.
I remember this asinine stance from the old days, when anyone who opposed the Vietnam War was a commie, when Martin Luther King was obviously motivated solely by Kremlin gold to get the darkies all stirred up. You’d think that our modern progressives would be ashamed to push this ugly line — yet they seem to be its greatest enthusiasts. And so here we are again, in the 21st century — after COINTELPRO, the Church Commission, Iran-Contra, the Iraq War lies, etc. etc., etc.: if you dare question Washington’s line, you must be a traitor, or a fool who cannot possibly think for himself or herself without being spoon-fed by Moscow.
Oddly enough, there is only one kind of critic of US foreign policy that is not regarded as a Kremlin agent: those who criticize Washington for not being even more bloodthirsty and aggressive in its foreign policy. Those kind of outlets never land on our new McCarthyite lists. And here’s another odd fact: "PropORNot" ’s list of those who peddle “fake news” doesn't include Breitbart.com, which is one of the master bullshit purveyors of the age.
Oh well, I’m just glad the Washington Post was a bit more skeptical toward state power during the Watergate era. (Today it would be: “Where did you get this fake news crap about the President and a ‘cover-up,’ Bernstein? Russian agents? What are you, some kind of commie?”) And I guess we can take comfort in the fact that in just a few weeks, it’ll be OK for progressives to be critical of American policy again, once it’s in the hands of Donald Trump.
But what’s going to happen to commie traitor pinko nogoodniks like me? If I write just as scathingly of Trump’s drone wars, deaths squads, covert ops, subversions and White House death squads as I have of Obama’s (and Bush’s), will my flow of Kremlin gold be cut off? I mean, it’s not like ANYONE can ever have a consistent, considered opposition to certain policies and actions no matter who commits them, right? And OMG — what if Putin finds about my critiques of his own brutal policies and actions? Whose list will I end up on then? It's all so confusing! But fortunately, we have the Washington Post and its anonymous experts to guide us through the modern McCarthyite morass.
While reading the Washington Post article about Russian Propaganda and Fake news I was sure it was a gag from The Onion or a funny bit from Crooks And Liars or Little Green Footballs but no they tell me it is real.
Hillary had been using this insane back to the McCarthyite era nonsensical narrative. But look at some of her heroes and idols and it makes a little more sense. After all in the 1960s Hillary was a big supporter of the likes of Barry Goldwater and not Martin Luther King Jr. or even LBJ. Hillary has been a friend and admirer of Henry Kissinger .
When Bill and Hillary Clinton were in the White House in the 1990s they adopted and further expanded Richard Nixon's War on Drugs which was really an attack on Blacks and Hispanics and leftist to lessen their influence. Bill and Hillary also went much further expanding and deepening the attack on Welfare, food Stamps , Public Housing etc. while fueling the Militarization of local police and promoting For Profit Prisons and for profit schools .
Meanwhile she and Bill furthered their attacks on FDRs New Deal programs and regulations by destroying Glass Steagle and various laws concerning and preventing to the creation of monopolistic corporate conglomerates including those involved in Telecommunications and news outlets.
Have you heard about the parallel fascist-building scenarios now taking place all across Trump-awaiting America?
Have they been saving this stuff up for an auspicious moment?
Because it's starting to look a lot like Christmas.
It is very convenient to use Amazon.com, and it is practically impossible not to use Google.
But the propriators of both are working (o)n behalf of fascism in America.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post functions as a neocon or CIA asset aimed at shutting down dissent, and Google enables the spy state with its participation and technology.
According to Forbes, Americans have made Bezos rich to the tune of $67.3 billion, a sum larger than the GDP of many countries, and Bezos uses this money in an effort to shut down dissent in America.
And Google appears to be one of the chief architects of the American police state. As Julian Assange tells us, “Google is not what it seems.” https://wikileaks.org/google-is-not-what-it-seems/
Here is Dave Kranzler’s view of mega-billionaires gone bad: http://investmentresearchdynamics.com/the-fake-news-witch-hunt-mccarthys-red-scare-redux/
How does liberty survive when consumer convenience creates the powers that destroy liberty?
David Swanson has also been designated by those brilliant powers-that-be a Russian agent, which used to be quantified as a fascist trick (now it's an American trick?):
Apparently I've written "fake news" on behalf of Russia without ever receiving a dime from Russia or realizing what I was doing. It took the intrepid reporting of the Washington Post to alert me to what I have been engaged in. My "fake news" has been published in at least 18 Russian propaganda outlets included on the Washington Post-endorsed Enemies List.
They are ahtribune.com, off-guardian.org, opednews.com, antiwar.com, beforeitsnews.com, blackagendareport.com, ronpaulinstitute.org, rt.com (that one is actually Russian), consortiumnews.com, countercurrents.org, counterpunch.org, globalresearch.ca, truth-out.org, truthdig.com, informationclearinghouse.info, washingtonsblog.com, mintpressnews.com, and nakedcapitalism.com.
Since everything I write is also at davidswanson.org it's a safe bet that that's a Russian propaganda site as well, even though I hadn't realized it.
In all seriousness, there is very likely Russian propaganda to be found somewhere, since Russia tried to hire me a-year-and-a-half ago to produce it. I turned them down and blogged about their offer. Quite likely not everyone turns them down. But even voter fraud or intelligent Washington Post articles can be found eventually if you look hard enough.
I have also turned down all invitations to conferences in Russia, due to colleagues' fears of false accusations that it turns out arrive anyway. I have also repeatedly gone on Russian media and denounced actions by the Russian government, due to the fact that that was what I thought of those actions.
And yet somehow I've produced a veritable flood of Russian propaganda, most of it not even mentioning Russia at all. I've given some thought to how this has happened. Here's my best explanation:
I sit in front of my computer. I think about the world. I move my fingers in such a manner that words appear on the screen.
Does that help explain it?
Here, I'll demonstrate:
It is my belief that the president of the United States is Barack Obama. If this is true, then blaming a pipeline in North Dakota on Donald Trump is a chronological error. Admitting that bizarre error doesn't make Trump one iota less racist or sexist or authoritarian, since it's a statement about a completely different topic.
It is my belief that any thaw in the new U.S.-Russian Cold War created by the Obama regime will be a good thing, above all because a nuclear holocaust would be horrible. Agreeing with this does not guarantee that Trump will bring it about. Nor does it suggest that Vladimir Putin is a saintly humanitarian. Nor does it constitute a claim that all U.S. presidents should be white males. This is because it is a comment about a completely different topic from those ones.
It is my belief that dozens of things went wrong with the recent U.S. election, none of which eliminate any of the others. Here is a partial list.
I believe that every population that has U.S. troops on or within its borders should have a vote in the U.S. presidential election. When Russians or anyone else in the world are pleased by the outcome, I take that to be a good thing. My taking that to be a good thing does not erase any negative aspects of that outcome, because one thing is not identical to lots of other things.
- The Democratic Party stacked the primary against its politically and morally superior candidate -- in ways that we always knew, ways that we know now, and in other ways that many of us suspect.
- The propaganda-free U.S. Corporate Media of Freedom stacked the Republican primary against anyone other than Donald Trump by giving Trump billions of dollars worth of free air time.
- The Republican governments of several swing states stripped 7 million disproportionately racial minority voters from the voting rolls.
- Donald Trump encouraged voter intimidation.
- States provided too few voting machines in racial minority precincts.
- Prisoners and felons were stripped of their voting rights.
- Residents of U.S. territories were not allowed to vote.
- The popular vote winner was denied the win.
- Congress was determined largely by gerrymandering.
- Winner-take-all systems without ranked-choice voting blocked options.
- Votes were counted on unverifiable machines that produced the usual suspicious red shift away from exit-poll results.
- The media and the presidential debates "commission" shut out candidates, views, and useful questions.
- There was no serious reporting on what the candidates would do if elected about climate change, military spending, wars, or poverty.
- Serious scandals were passed over in favor of obsessing with lesser scandals.
- Among serious scandals that were passed over I would include near the top of the list: Hillary Clinton took money into her family foundation from foreign governments and weapons makers, and then supported weapons sales from those companies to those governments, resulting in massive death and destruction.
- Among serious scandals that were passed over I would also include near the top of the list: Donald Trump encouraged racism, bigotry, hatred, and violence, and threatened to "kill families" in wars aimed at "stealing oil."
- Among the lesser scandals that ate up air time, I would put near the bottom: Without any proof, Trump was accused of being an agent of Russia, and Russia was accused of interfering in the election.
- Tokenism was, once again, promoted as meaningful.
Why did people vote for Trump? For the most part they did not. He got fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, who herself got fewer votes than either of the two candidates in recent U.S. presidential elections. But some voted for Trump for the same reason they backed Bernie Sanders: they wanted to reject the establishment, no matter what form that rejection took. Some voted for him because they bought into his racism, bigotry, and scapegoating. Some simply couldn't stomach any more Clintons. Some wouldn't vote for a woman. Some mistakenly believed that Trump would help them. But these groups overlap, as do these reasons.
Why is it acceptable in the United States to make fun of poor white people, to mock their speech and their dentistry, to condemn them in ways that are simply forbidden with other groups? Why is there no Trailer Park Studies Department? Why does the very idea sound ludicrous, while ethnic studies departments of all non-white varieties are very serious institutions? One justification for this is that poor rural white people are racist, and that it is perfectly fine to be cruel to racists. That is simply false and horribly misguided; it is not simply fine to be cruel to anyone. And that fact does not mean that racism and sexism are acceptable, because that would be a completely different claim.
A vicious cycle can be produced in which people who perceive anti-racist and anti-sexist campaigns as directed against them consequently embrace their racism more strongly, resulting in more opposition to their racism and to them. This can be compounded by the usual delusions to the effect that government assistance hurts people, while tax cuts for billionaires help people. This can be reinforced by systems of government assistance that do not benefit everyone, as would a basic income, or single-payer healthcare, or free college, or free job training, or guaranteed vacation, or sustainable infrastructure, instead of systems designed merely to aid and stigmatize the very poorest.
Recognizing the blind spots of identity politics or the madness of the new McCarthyism do not mean that election results are always all to be blamed on liberals, since that conclusion would require erasing numerous other problems listed above.
Imagining that elections carry as much or more importance than building a nonviolent movement for revolutionary change is a deep mistake made by most people on earth, including in Russia.
From David Swanson:
Please read my response to the Washington Post's labeling non-corporate viewpoints "Russian propaganda":
How I Produce Fake News for Russia
While Russia has, in fact, failed to ever pay me a dime for anything, so -- for the most part -- have all the outlets I've written for that the Washington Post has smeared. I depend for my work on generous support from you. Please donate what you can.
Without your help I can't produce Talk Nation Radio (free to any station, please recommend it to them), or maintain WarIsACrime.org and DavidSwanson.org. Here are three recent TNR shows:
Greg Palast on Stripping 7 Million Voters from Rolls, Swinging Election
Jonathan Simon on How Machines May Have Counted Our Votes Wrong
Sonia Kennebeck on the Drone as National Bird
Without your help I can't keep speaking at events like these:
Dec. 1 David Swanson speaking at the Iraq Tribunal in Washington DC. (Watch the livestream!)
Dec. 7 David Swanson at screening of National Bird at Naro Cinema in Norfolk Va.
Dec. 10 David Swanson speaking at summit on Gun Violence at American University in Washington DC.
Without your help I can't keep doing interviews:
AUDIO: I discussed what else on connect the dots
AUDIO: I discussed elections and other catastrophes with Paulette Spencer on WBAI last night
Video: I debated US election today on Press TV
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To: Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court
People of the U.S. and World Ask ICC to Prosecute U.S. War Crimes: SIGN.
Without your help I can't keep writing:
Top 10 Reasons This Year's Nobel Peace Prize Events Will Feature Henry Kissinger
Solving Abusive International Relationships
James Mattis Is a Secretary of Offense
Dear Mr. Trump, About Your 29 Ideas
Registering Japanese Americans Is Precedent Only for Crime
Born on Home Plate
Michael Flynn Should Remember Truths He Blurted Out Last Year
Another $11.6 Billion for Obama/Trump Wars? Hell No!
John Heuer Was a Tremendous Advocate of Peace
The Skeletons in Keith Ellison's Display Case
Now More Than Ever: Stand for Peace in Charlottesville
Un-Trump the World
Top 10 Election Problems
Armistice Day 98 Years On and the Need for a Peace to End All Wars
A Good Time to Review Bush's War Crimes
Hurricane Donald and the Storms of Changing Climate
Now We Can Finally Get to Work
The US Wars No One is Talking About and Obama's Foreign Policy Legacy
Post-Election To-Do List
How Drone Pilots Talk
What Could Unite a Larger Peace Movement? Oh, This!
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Many of the macro trends playing out now have been decades in the making, like the uncoupling of productivity and higher wages. Since the 1970s, we saw productivity climb, even as wages declined relative to the cost of living. So, even as there was an exponential growth in productivity, workers and American households did not get a piece of the action._ _ _ _ _ _ _
As "WhoWhatWhy" reported for Labor Day, what workers got were ever-higher levels of household debt, which included exotic ways to borrow against the value of their home.
From the outside, it looked like the US was keeping up appearances, but the savings rate slid precipitously lower, and the household balance sheets of Americans more and more resembled the federal government’s — they were encumbered by debt.
The top line unemployment numbers are largely irrelevant to the reality on the ground. What should instead be in center focus is the labor force participation rate — the percentage of Americans working or actively looking for work. That rate has been declining for decades and even now hovers below 63%, hardly a passing grade.
There’s a hidden army of men ages 25 to 54 who are not in the workforce as chronicled in Nicholas Eberstadt’s seminal work “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis.” As Eberstadt recently observed on C-SPAN, Americans have “the most dismal record of the exit of men from the work force.”
And social mobility in the US is in steep decline. Children of wealthy parents have greater economic prospects than kids from more humble beginnings, so wealth concentration, like a centrifugal force, moves away from the center.
While some of the economic numbers could be masked to appear good, the reality looked different for an increasing number of Americans.
For decades a steady growth in workforce participation, along with increased new household formation, lifted the US into its post World War II economic expansion. But years after the Great Recession these twin engines for American prosperity are stalling out.
In 1948, 59.3% of Americans were in the labor force. That number grew, as more women joined, so that by 1997 it peaked at 67.2%. But since then, the rate has declined and is now in the low 60s, something not seen since the 1970s, suggesting that there’s something going on that’s different.
By 2020, BLS predicts the rate will drop even further to 61.6%.
(Click on figure to enlarge.)
Data for average hourly compensation of private sector workers, and net productivity of the total economy. Net productivity is the growth of output of goods and services minus depreciation per hour worked. Source: EPI analysis of data from the BEA and BLS. Photo credit: Economic Policy Institute
What accounts for this? Outsourcing? Automation? One factor, for sure, is the increase in the percentage of young people going to college. In the late 1960s just one in four opted for higher education. These days it’s closer to 40%. There’s also the aging of the population with 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day.
For decades, during the country’s war on drugs, the US came to lead the world in the percentage of people incarcerated. This resulted in over 2 million people in jail and not in the workforce. At the same time, the US population has become increasingly sidelined from work by disability. In 1970 just 1.7% of Americans were on disability. Today it is 5.8%.
Global multinationals figured out ways to dramatically cut their taxes by feigning not being from the United States, while also counting on US military might to keep their transnational marketplace secure. Now, as the bill comes due, they are from nowhere in particular.
And What of Tomorrow
So, what is the status of our youngest workers? In all too many cases, they are idle. Consider that New York City has 170,000 people aged 16 to 24 who are neither in school nor working. This group is described by the Community Service Society as “disconnected youth.” That’s three Yankee Stadiums full of youth wasting and waiting.
New York City’s disconnected youth challenge has to be put in a wider national, and global, crisis context. In the United States, according to Opportunity Nation, a non-profit think tank, close to six million young people between 16 to 24 are not in school or working. With the growing mobility of capital, workers are increasingly on the losing end. The data is clear, the longer young persons remain idle, the more their lifetime potential earning power is diminished. The longer they go without work, the harder it is for them to get the first job.
When Hillary Clinton ran on the Obama legacy, she was running on sand. All she had in her favor was that she was not Donald Trump. She had everything going for her except the arc of history, that included decades of the elites and the media ignoring the deteriorating conditions of America’s middle and lower working class, as well as a war that has no end.
Unfortunately, in our recently concluded presidential campaign, the corporate media made it all about the candidates, and precious little about the actual condition of “we, the people.”
Having so badly missed the mood of the nation, the corporate news media is trying to compensate. Post election, NBC’s Chuck Todd interviewed a journalist who covers agriculture in the heartland. Next, we had Ted Koppel in West Virginia, reporting for CBS Sunday Morning, looking like cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead.
America, meet America.
You can follow Robert Hennelly on Twitter @stucknation
And as for Obama's last pick . . . . Was this to maintain official confidentiality until the new administration takes the secrecy battalion over . . . or was it just to put one last Clintonite into a position of sovereign authority?
So to speak.
MARK BRADLEY NAMED TO BE NEW ISOO DIRECTOR
In what must be one of the very last national security-related posts to be filled in the Obama Administration, national security lawyer and former CIA officer Mark A. Bradley was named as the next director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), which is responsible for oversight of the national security secrecy system government-wide.
He was selected by Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero (ISOO is housed at the National Archives) and his appointment was approved last week by President Obama (the ISOO director reports to the President). Mr. Bradley is an intriguing choice for ISOO director, since he is one of a very small group of individuals who have engaged with government secrecy policy both as an outsider-critic and as an insider-defender.
"We have a broken system that is manufacturing way too many secrets," he told the Wall Street Journal late in the Clinton Administration ("Case of Lost-and-Found Disk Drives Demonstrates Weakness of U.S. Systems for Protecting Secrets" by Neil King, July 5, 2000).
More recently, however, he has been the voice of the secrecy system itself, defending the government from Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU, the New York Times, EPIC, Judicial Watch, and others. He did not simply represent the government's position. Rather, as a Top Secret original classification authority at the Department of Justice National Security Division, he actually made many of the decisions to retain the classification of information that was sought by FOIA requesters in those cases.
If it was a mistake to classify the collection of Americans' telephone metadata records by the National Security Agency (under the "215" program), then Mr. Bradley bears a slice of responsibility for that decision.
In 2013, about two months before the metadata collection program was publicly disclosed (in The Guardian) by Edward Snowden, Mr. Bradley told a court that a request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for information about the program must be denied.
"The withheld material contains specific descriptions of the manner and means by which the United States Government acquires tangible things for certain authorized investigations pursuant to Section 215," Mr. Bradley wrote in an April 2013 declaration. "Disclosure of this information would provide our adversaries and foreign intelligence targets with insight into the United States Government's foreign intelligence collection capabilities, which in turn could be used to develop the means to degrade and evade those collection capabilities."
In retrospect, this proved to be a narrow and incomplete assessment of the issue. While the 215 program information was indeed properly classified under the terms of the executive order, it should have been released anyway. That, at least, was the conclusion that was ultimately reached - long after the question was moot - by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper.
"I probably shouldn't say this, but I will," DNI Clapper told Eli Lake of the Daily Beast in 2014. "Had we been transparent about this from the outset... we wouldn't have had the problem we had."
Importantly for his ISOO role, Mr. Bradley is not "just" a former intelligence officer and national security lawyer. He is also an historian who has done archival research and worked with declassified records to produce a well-regarded volume called A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy and Cold Warrior (Basic Books, 2014). So he will bring multiple relevant dimensions of expertise to his new responsibilities at ISOO.
Mr. Bradley's tenure as ISOO director will begin on December 25. The previous ISOO director, John P. Fitzpatrick, left last January to join the National Security Council staff. William A. Cira has been serving as acting director in the interim.
Among his many other responsibilities, the ISOO director serves as the Executive Secretary of the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB), an official advisory body. The PIDB has scheduled a public meeting at the National Archives on December 8 "to discuss recommendations for improved transparency and open government for the new Presidential Administration."
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said that it will hold a hearing on December 7 to "examine overclassification and other failures of the classification system."