Category Archives: About War

FAKE NEWS: THE UNRAVELLING OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE FROM WITHIN

***This is a re-blogged article*** (see credits below)

My introductory comments: Yes, this is a very long article, and yes, probably few will read it through, or to the end.  But I will say this in its defense, and why I am re-blogging this entire article on my own blog,   ~burning woman~   I may be a nobody, and what I think or say doesn’t amount to a hill of beans as they say, but as an observer of world events, particularly of that part of the world I live in, I found this article right on the money about the many situations we find ourselves embroiled in and helpless to do a thing about it.  Well worth the read.

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The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Prof. John McMurtry, Global Research, 2017
http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/john-mcmurtry

Setting the Stage of the Press-President War

US ruling ideology and Washington power have become unstuck as never before. A war of opposing certitudes and denunciations is waged day to day between the long-ruling US corporate media and the White House. Both continuously proclaim ringing recriminations of the other’s ‘fake news’. Over months they both portray each other as malevolent liars.

US bully pulpits are now beyond show disagreements and successful media inquisitions of the past. Slanderous accusations long confined to vilifying the designated Enemy have crept into accusations of the President himself. ‘The Russians are coming’ is returning as the final recourse of smear to stop deviations from the global program of hugely profitable enemy hate and perpetual preparations for foreign war.

The ruling big lies of the US money party and corporate globalization have divided into opposing camps. The Press and the President denounce each other non-stop on the public stage, while US dark state agents take sides behind the scenes.

Fake news is the medium of battle.

Tracking the Real Fake News Built into Corporate Globalization

Beneath the civil war of official narratives, cognitive space opens for truth long suffocated by ‘the Washington Consensus’. Even the US-led G-20 has recently agreed not to automatically condemn ‘protectionism’ as an economic evil. The battle slogan of transnational corporate rule over 30 years has been quietly withdrawn on the global stage.

Is the big lie of ‘free trade’ finally coming to ground? It has long led the hollowing out of societies and life support systems across the world in a false mass promotion as “freedom and prosperity for all”.  In fact beneath the pervasive fake news, a closed-door transnational corporate command system forces all enterprises across borders into a carbon-multiplying trade regime with thousands of rules to protect the transnational corporate looting and ruin of home economies and environments as the only rights enforced.

Propagandist names and fake freedoms are proclaimed everywhere to conceal the reality. The corporate-investor regime has stripped out almost all evolved protections of workers, ecologies and social infrastructures. Non-stop liquidations and roboticizations of local jobs and enterprises are reversed in meaning to ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ and ‘higher living standards’, the very opposite of the facts. Destabilization and bombing wars attack resource-rich and air-defenceless societies outside the circle of treaty subjugation.

False news allows every step. Even the happy-face Trudeau regime is taken aback by the tidal shift to national priorities. Its ministers scuttle around the US in near panic to find common cause for restoring the unaccountable regime. Multiplying carbon, disemployment and ecological plunder are ignored throughout in the longest standing fake news of all –‘economic growth”.

In fact, there is no real economic growth in universal life necessities or reduction of waste. The only growth is of volumes and velocities of transnational money exchanges, foreign commodities, and private profits to the top.

‘More prosperity for nations and the world’ means, decoded, more transnational corporate-state treaties to deprive nations of their rights to organization and production for citizens’ real needs as well as organically regulated protection of environments and ecosystems.

The consequences covered over by pervasively false cover stories are speeded-up ecocidal extractions, permanent disemployments, and wastes hemorrhaging into cumulatively more polluted oceans, air, atmosphere and life habitats. Corporate-state solutions of carbon markets for pollution rights have nowhere reduced any of these life-and-death crises, but only further and selectively enriched transnational corporations.

As for the Obama solution, “we need more Canadas”, fake news again conceals the reality. Beneath the global celebrity hype covering empty and broken promises, Canada’s Trudeau  regime is essentially a brand change of PM rhetoric to advance transnational corporate dictates as ‘free trade’ and to ensure oil pipelines out of the most polluting oil basin in the world, Alberta’s tar-sands, are built through water basins and indigenous lands across Canada and the US. One cannot help but observe this is Trump’s plan too, and overrides Trudeau’s promises to protect Canada’s first peoples.

I recently sent a letter to my local MP requesting evidence for what PM Trudeau promises over months of repetition that “more free trade” means “a better life for those in the middle class and those wanting to join the middle class”. As always, there is no evidence to support the non-stop false news from the PMO. Revealingly, the “middle class” turns out to be people making $180,000 a year slated to get significant tax cuts.

Trump’s rogue elephant charge on Washington-led lies, war, and dispossession of the working class is no solution to life-blind corporate globalization. Trump in office is a US nationalist oligarch commanding policies even more blindly rapacious in despoliation of the environment and transferring far more public wealth to the rich.

The common ground of all our lives, collective life capital, does not exist for any government in ‘the free world’ or any policy of ‘globalization’.  The lies that must be promulgated to advance the private corporate agenda are built into its transnational command system from the beginning.

Out of the Ruling Memory Hole with the Internet Commons

Joining the dots shows that every step of US money-party ‘globalization’ has, in fact, been driven by fake news.

No corporate media tolerance has been given in a quarter of a century to any voice demanding accountability to the common life-ground of citizens. A new game of numbers has proceeded instead. At most, a euphemistic ‘climate change’ has been endlessly debated while the totalizing destabilization of human and planetary life cycles remains without a name or collective response. Only more profitable market panaceas which do not reduce any pollution continue to divert from the deepest degenerate trends destroying the planetary life host.

On the upside, the big lies of ‘free trade’ and ‘humanitarian wars’ have been called into official question for the first time by the Trump presidential campaign, and he has been elected against the official line. Yet opposing camps are still at each other’s throats. So the perpetual fallback on accusing the long-designated foreign enemy is triggered by the fallen establishment. The fake news chorus of Russia’s aggressions now includes collusion of the Trump administration with its officials to win the US election. This mainspring diversion from reality is called back from the dead witch-hunts of the past. As then tool, facts do not count, only accusations do. The official media line is almost predictable: Russia is behind Trump’s election victory. As always, reverse projection is the mass-psyche operation to blame an official Enemy to divert attention from the life-and-death facts. The Enemy is once again accused of doing what the US has always done worse as the reason for attacking It. Russia is the usual placeholder in this reverse-blame operation. The 2016 US election of Trump is the latest variation.

Meanwhile throughout the election and its aftermath, the new transnational internet commons including Wiki-leaks over a decade has increasingly laid bare the greatest propaganda machine in history now in many-leveled crisis. The long normalized half-truths, one-sided slanting of the facts, and non-stop fallacies of inference are coming out into the open as never before.  The pretexts and lies for US imperial bullying and war are exposed beyond any corporate-media gate.

This time the accusation is “interference and attack on the US presidential election” with no evidence of wrongdoing or vote manipulation whatsoever. Yet as in the long past, the method is smear with no evidence for the accusations. Ever more media repetition and shadowy insinuation does the job. It has always worked before, why not again since all the other media buttons pushed on taking down the Trump peace initiatives with Russia and opposition to globalization of US jobs have failed.

Having wondered during the election campaign whether we could be “friends with Russia” and promoted diplomatic relations into his administration, Trump can be named as the enemy in hiding to be rooted out. The real problem the fake news never mentions is that he threatens the cornerstone of the US war state over 70 years.

So when Trump won the election with his heresy still intact, the ever-ready accusation of evil-Russia connection moves into high gear although the target is the opposite of communist and an epitome of capitalist riches and connections. We see here the historical mind-lock compulsion to blame the Enemy Russia and smear whoever dissents from it, even if it is a bully-capitalist president. There are very big stakes in keeping the game going.

Yet the no-profit and unpaid analyses from the internet commons have no such ulterior motive and interest in false accusations. With more objectively informed analysts than the commercial press and unimpeachable facts like WikiLeaks going to tens of millions of readers across the world, the genie is out of the bottle. The official grand narrative and its normalized big lies are coming apart at the seams.

So blame as usual is diverted onto the accepted Enemy, now conniving with Trump to attack the 2016 US presidential election. Beneath the fake news, the fact is that positive diplomatic relations with Russia not only threaten to stop the highly profitable permanent war against it, but spike the longest pretext for US war and military domination now moving through Ukraine.

The free internet commons cannot be gagged for telling the truth. Freedom of speech in the US cannot be openly stopped without fatal loss of legitimacy of rule.

So the rest follows. All the non-corporate and non-profit messages from the critical sites on the internet commons which are speaking against the US war state inside are now vilified as ‘fake news’. A third, unofficial protagonist has entered the battle with no private profit or career motive or corporate boss to serve and a wealth of proven professional knowledge and talent at work. It has to be denounced to sustain the big lies of the ruling money-war game which is in deepening crises and conflicts all the way to the unprecedented US President-Press civil war.

The Harvard Proclamation of a New Memory Hole

The innermost fount of US ideology and war, Harvard University, has now stepped in. It is officially naming and denouncing US-critical internet sites for ‘fake news’.

Not even the medieval Church went so far in its Index Librorum Prohibitorum of prohibited writings. It was at least innocent of scientific method and openly declared its dogmas. Not Harvard.

Underneath notice, all the sites it attacks are internet commons, and none are financed by private corporate donors and captive institutions while Harvard and the corporate media are. This is the real battle agenda underneath, the long war  to privatize the news for profit as everything else with anti-establishment internet criticism now the target.

In the background, Harvard University has long propagated an unexamined academic method. It normally cuts off any faculty or learned source of opposition to the private corporate rule of America and the wars of aggression to impose it on the world.  Accordingly, the underling grand narrative equations of the US is Good and the designated Enemy is Evil is not questioned. It is presupposed. Malevolent motives are always assumed of the designated Enemy, down to Harvard-produced geostrategic economic and war models. So when a host of internet commons sites challenge the grand narrative framework, Harvard and satellites denounce them to stop people reading them. A long list of critical sites is accused without criteria, proof or evidence as all spreaders of ‘fake news’.

What is not recognised here is that only on the internet commons can the process of truth be free from ruling pressures to control message for external sponsors.

Here there is no commercial-profit condition to speak and write, and no livelihood dependence on private profit. There is no inducement to avoid life-and-death issues in academic obfuscation or ad-vehicle style. Internet authors not on the payroll can be free of the game of all games behind the scenes – enriching the rich further with no life-coherent criterion of truth.

These underlying conditions of the internet commons and free speech itself cannot be recognised by the academy or the corporate press without undercutting their proclaimed status as the only legitimate founts of truth. The internet commons is a new world of competitive capacities to research, understand and disseminate not bound by private money patronage (as over centuries in Harvard University).

When challenged in this way, Harvard (and the official press) are set back on their heels. They cannot think the facts through because their instituted presumptions have long been what they must presuppose and not question to acquire their credentials and pay for public speech. They must attack what calls all this into question if it effectively speaks truth to power to expose or de-legitimate the ruling system narrative as false. Harvard and the US press thus follow the reigning method of reverse projection. They accuse the effective opposition of ‘fake news’.

The most revealing fact here is that Harvard authority as other academic administrations proceed in name-calling without any valid argument or demonstration – the very basis of reasonable conclusion. Yet this is such a long tradition of presumptive accusation allowed against anyone designated as the Enemy, and anyone else exposing the falsehood of the ruling US story of moral superiority over all others and God’s blessing to lead the world by force or money.

This is why only dissenting sites from the official storyline of US freedom and rightness in all things are accused as ‘fake news’. Accusation of opposing positions is so well-worn into conditioned brains that endless repetition locks it in as self-evident. This is why attributions of vile motive are automatic from Harvard or the New York Times for any outside leader opposing US interference in their countries including elections. US hypocrisy here is staggering, but unreported. In fact, Harvard’s life-blind elite of war criminal geo-strategists, economic modellers and so on are fawned upon within the wider corporate rule they serve.

None can engage critical facts and thought challenging the US moral superiority assumptions because they have never been required to consider them. So they denounce them as once the Church denounced apostasy. In the end, US system worship is a war-state religion. It eliminates all enemies to its right to rule. Its globalizing system institutes the market laws of God. War crimes are God-blessed justice.

Freedom of Speech, the Process of Truth, and the US Constitution

Led by senior academics, journalists and technical expertise, the internet commons provide for the first time impartial witness and free speech open to public examination and circulation across borders. They are free from corporate-rank dictate and private copy-right control.

In consequence, the internet commons are liberated from private corporate profit as controlling goal. Those who know what they are talking about can speak truth to dogma and power without words to appease editors, business boards and ad revenues. Truth itself is not defined, but its principle of process is a more inclusively consistent taking into account towards life-coherent conclusion

Despite Google black-holing of radical legal facts, CIA penetration of Wikipedia, and so on, the internet commons’ freedom of speech is far beyond anything guaranteed in the US constitution. In fact, the ‘sacred US Constitution’ that all presidents give oath to “preserve, protect and defend” guarantees in the end only freedom of public speech to private money demand.

Long before the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision reverse-titled as “Citizens United”, the US constitution was structured to one overriding end –  to remove prior limits to private-money right over all else,including to begin, the rule of British law and  the lands of the first nations West of the Appalachians.

This is why no common life interest exists in the US Constitution from the start. People’s universal human life necessities of water, food, protection and liveable environment are ruled out a-priori.  This is why civil rights themselves were first federally enforced by the ‘commerce clause’ protecting freedom of commercial bus passengers including blacks to cross borders.

It is also why the Fourteenth Amendment to protect the equal rights of freed slaves ended up being the legal basis for private-profit corporations and wealthy funds to acquire the constitutional rights of living persons (e.g., to freedom of speech for big money to buy elections and to avoid government access to financial records).

Even the iconic rights of “life, liberty and happiness” turn out to be in fact only private market rightswhich allow corporate ‘fictive persons’ to unlimited money wealth, protection against public redistribution, and the freedom of private wealth alone to  speak to America by buying corporate self promotions and election attack ads.

The US Constitution fix goes all the way back to 1787. As professor of constitutional law at Chicago’s iconic Kent College of Law, Matthew Stanton, explains in personal correspondence:

“[The fix] goes all the way back to the 1787 coup where the 39 signatories to the Constitution sequestered themselves in a Philadelphia meeting house, with locked doors and shuttered windows, to ostensibly make adjustments to the Articles of Confederation, but instead delivered an entirely new document that enabled creating a federal system centralizing control of the economy by  propertied wealth”.

Russia the Enemy: the Deus ex Machina of Fake News

We may recall that the corporate-press and Wall-Street-enriched candidate for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, started the accusation of ‘fake news’ to explain her defeat. As establishment mask of the politically correct masses with the money-war party as her paymaster, Clinton blamed her fall in the 2016 US election on the new enemy she saw arising against the official story and herself. When the ‘glass mirror’ story line did not take, she joined forces with the corporate media on another plane. ‘Fake news’ misled Americans. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the TV Networks, and other establishment tale tellers saw pay-dirt far beyond Clinton’s failed bid for president.

In fact, the corporate mass media were losing marketability by the escalating appeal of free social media. The once all-powerful press propaganda system has been increasingly deserted. The ‘fake news’ story provided a media base to condemn free internet news and commentary as immoral. The 2016 election became the leverage for a big market grab back.

Very soon it was not just ‘fake news’ to spike news cycles and subscriptions. War as peace and corporate globalization as freedom found its long place of rule – the enemy of Russia to blame. Now the news can be that Russia hacked and attacked the lost 2016 election. Russia may be a hollowed-out shell by global corporate and oligarch dispossession. But it can still continue as pretext for US-NATO war crimes and aggression reverse-blamed on it. As the European breadbasket and newly discovered fossil-fuel rich nation, Ukraine is a very big prize. Now in Ukraine’s US-led coup aftermath and ethnic civil war, evil Russia can be an ace card again to accuse for attacking the US election.

Since Russia led by Putin is drawing the line as in Crimea to support the Russia-speaking region against US-led war crimes under international law (documented in previous articles), all roads connect. “Russia’s uncontrolled aggression” is  reverse-projected onto the victim again in  a glorious new use. Reverse blame it  for interference in the US election of Trump and kill Russia-US peace initiatives at the same time. No fact is required to verify the accusation, and no law broken is needed to insinuate treason of whoever relates with Russia’s officials in peace initiative. It can work even against an elected US president.

At the same time, the US’s own record attacking other nations’ elections and societies is thereby erased as well – continually orchestrating mass-murder and dictatorship to sabotage the electoral process from Vietnam and Chile to Ukraine in 2010 and Latin America social democracies since.

If it were a story of reverse projection by a mass-murderous psychopath, it would be too much to believe. Yet it now runs the US news cycle as the big story unfolding with no evidence of US illegality, force, or non-compliance with international law. The accusations run by themselves in US media culture and across the empire. So as 2017 Spring breaks, endless media insinuations of treason seep into the populace from corporate media sites across borders with backrooms and Congress setting up for another presidential inquisition.

It is interesting to observe two precedents. Past inquisitions were unfolded soon after Bill Clinton said in India, “it’s time to level up rather than down in global trade” and Richard Nixon founded the Environmental Protections Agency, stopped corporations from outsourcing US jobs, and made peace with China as Trump sought with Russia.

The ludicrous hypocrisy, factual vacuum, and war-drums of blame-the-enemy go into high-volume operation again, led by an attack-dog media against the elected US president whose only action has been to have business-like relations with Russia. Few observe the immense stakes of the US media and war establishments in this process. Cui bono? – who benefits? – is the question never asked.

What’s new?  The perpetual red herring of ‘Russia aggression’ takes everyone’s eyes off the ball – including the continuing US-drone mass murder and ecological wars built into the Trump agenda. Canada’s oil and mining corps and big banks sneak behind the pervasive fake news with a smiling Trudeau front. NATO demands more money behind Trump now fulsomely praising what he earlier campaigned on as “obsolete”, as he has done with the CIA he also condemned. Those hoping for a new departure under Trump from the big lies and war crimes as normalized operations watch in a combination of horror and hilarity.

Who connects the dots? Beneath official notice, the ruling goal of US empire is blind to its consequences of human and planetary life ruin. It has to cover itself in false news to carry on. This is why fake news is not a temporary phenomenon of the Trump era. It is the necessary veil of illusion of an eco-genocidal system. The symptoms and trends are everywhere. But a US-led prism of false inversions of reality regulates consciousness, perception and reaction to ‘steer the course’.

This is true of both sides of the Trump divide, and also in corporate Canada as the US’s largest trading partner, branch-plant and resource cornucopia. What is new is that the ruling illusions are divided against themselves at the top of the US political and ideological system. The Trump phenomenon reflects the rupture. The US empire is in deep crisis from its cumulative destruction of social and natural life support systems. Its carcinomic multiplication of private money demand with no tie to the production of means of life is the reality beneath all the false news.

Nothing is life secure. The ‘global security system’ protects only money values and sequences through life hosts. Peoples everywhere compete to make it go faster to survive. The ruling concept of ‘economy ‘inverts the systematic depletion, degradation and despoliation of the life capital of organic, social and ecological life. Universal necessities of human and fellow life are stripped, polluted and wasted as ‘efficiencies’.

President Trump has gone into the political ring to fight it out with the political establishment on a nationalist capitalist level. He is losing money in the short term. But his program in office is completely eco-blind, and the opposing mass media follow suit. All they can focus on is demonizing normal relations with the official Enemy Russia. Meanwhile Trump has all but abolished the EPA and cut off all federal funding for restoration of the Great Lakes, the most important source of fresh water heritage on the planet.

These supreme crimes under international law are recognised by none on stage. In Canada, a Nazi progeny and neo-Nazi supporter of the violent coup and civil war in Ukraine is made Foreign Affairs Minister and hustles her connections throughout the US to keep the attack-Russia juggernaut going as in the past under  a continuous barrage of ethnic prejudices and fake news.

The pattern is clear but unspoken. The Enemy Russia is the auto-pilot of fake news to divert from US and client leadership failure on almost every level. Relations of mutual respect with Russia’s ambassador are ‘collusion’ and taboo.

The Reality Beneath the Questions not Asked

How does disclosure of Hillary’s Clinton’s apparatus theft of the Democratic nomination from Bernie Sanders get blamed on Russia? The question is not asked. The Washington mass media and visible Congress focus instead on accused “collusion with Russia” with very big stakes in the new inquisition show. Suspicions without substance run free in the mass media once the designated Enemy is smeared onto the target, even if elected president.

Who knows that the US joined the armed forces of Britain, colonial Canada and Japan to crush the 1917 Russian Revolution on behalf of the Czarist autocracy and Western capitalism? More deeply, who names the governing objective behind all the shows of force and accusation over a century since? To be managed successfully, attention must be diverted from the facts of US-led war crimes and public looting within and without US empire proclaimed as ‘world freedom’.

The new President and his Exxon Secretary of State seek business-like relations with Russia. Very big powers are coming into conflict over business and war within the US empire. Big oil in both leviathan countries are pitted against the US Enemy-and-smear establishment which has long run the show with big oil formerly leading it. Now transnational big oil in the US and Russia are leading out of the blind alley of war against each other which has so totally failed to bring benefits to either side in the long term, and has almost reversed civilization.

The dots again are not joined. The completely counter-productive war against Russia to keep the US money-war state going is deepened by Wall Street. The falling price of oil is driven beneath notice by Wall Street which has successfully short-future-traded oil down to establish its money-printing powers by debt as supreme over its rival substitute, while diverting everybody’s attention from the greatest fraud in history still going. Observe that Wall Street remains untouched even from its multi-trillion dollar heist from public and pension coffers from 2007 on.

Blame Russia is the normal chorus which Wall Street benefits from as the ultimate leader of the ruinously anti-productive money-war system. It pays off so well to the money party in more public dollars appropriated by its control and issue of money debt for everything that exists; the pervasive military-industrial complex which never gets reversed even in the peace after the planned destruction of the ‘Evil Empire’; and the corporate mass media in front turning the fake news system over continuously to promote, idealize and divert from the global empire’s war and occupation powers. The neo-con and neo-liberal war strategists alike are built into the dark state as managers uniquely dependent on Russia as the Enemy.

So it is in all their self-maximizing interests to sustain perpetual accusations of some enemy’s evil as the great cover-up story of US empire and it inherited war-crime system. Joined to despotic local oligarchies, this axis dismantles ever more societies for corporate, bank and military plunder and jackal payoffs everywhere (including the academy). There is no limit or borders to the established system invasion, and all is at the expense of public treasuries and of life support systems across domains.

President Trump does not break the fatal ruling cycle. He demands that vassal states should pay for their US military protection, a new global extortion supporting new NATO oligarchies against change which accompanies his stripping of environmental protections to pay for more war powers. Trump behind his populist bluster is a paradigm example of instituted US capitalist greed and aggression. Yet the fact that hate of the Enemy is smeared even onto him for not hating Russia too reveals the ultimate pretext of the US-NATO war machine. Behind the US-led perpetual arms build-up, border threats and bombings of mostly innocents across the globe while blaming the terrorists for the horrors now built into the global ‘growth’ system is fake news as continuous cover story. The war-criminal drone mass murders continue on unnoticed. The bank looting of public wealth is instituted more broadly. The universities, health systems and public infrastructures are privatized for profit with no life criteria of outcomes.

Trump is dispossessing the American common wealth for big US money in line with the Reagan public-looting machine before him. It drained  public revenues into a black hole of US debt, blamed acid rain on trees, and portrayed orchestrated mass murderers of socialists in Afghanistan and Nicaragua as ‘freedom fighters’. What has changed in the corporate media’s fake-news today?

Trump in office is the opposite of the anti-establishment candidate he promised to be. He wars on the US Environmental Protection Agency (its only collective life protective organization). He fractions corporate taxes in a giveway to the rich beyond Reagan’s $500-billion tax cut. He privatizes the public’s falling infrastructure for speculators and developers’ long-term private tolls, profits and control for private profit at taxpayers’ expense.

Who in the corporate media or Congress questions any of it?

The Trudeau  regime to the north imitates the new massive scheme of privatizing public infrastructure. But it disguises it in terms of public investment in public goods. The big banks and speculators on both sides of the border are the winners whatever the corporate media and state cover story. The common wealth is sold off under pervasive fake news masquerading as responsible and for the public good. But the drive-wheel policy mechanisms for ever more dismantling of the living earth and redistribution of more public wealth upwards to the rich march on beneath conscious comprehension.

Trump does not hide the privatization for profit of America’s public infrastructure and stripping of public health and environmental protection policies once he has rising stockholder support in office. The Trudeau Liberal party masqueraded as the social democrat NDP in promising whopping public investment to win the election, but when in office lets the giant privatization boondoggle trickle out in sunny  avoidance of the facts.

The monumental schemes of robbing the commonwealth at every level are led by slanted and selective reports through every step across ever more domains. But a constant across US empire is Russia the Enemy to justify it all. In the deepening life support crises of this ruling axis, Russia’s projected ‘attacks’ still lead the show.

The Life-Blind Moral DNA of US Rule

With no common ground but belief in God’s blessing over all nations and the greatest killing machine in history to enforce it, US ideology may seem to be a psychopathic rationalization writ large.

Yet the US national morality tale governs perception so that the a-priori life-blindness is not recognised even by philosophers. The US continues to be ruled at home and abroad without life-value ground or compass. So as the US-led global market system multiplies its demands on organic, social and ecological life systems, it moves inexorably towards a few multibillionaires with more wealth than 99% of the population, steering planetary depredation to ruin as freedom and growth.

How else would a global cancer system behave? Yet almost none recognise that this system overrides life requirements at every level. The reformer Trump selects for even more wealth and power to the home rich. He attacks evolved environmental research and regulations with no better alternative. He seeks to repeal Obamacare with no public option considered. His nationalist and cost-cutting program is essentially life-blind.

The baseline of crisis goes all down to the moral DNA of the US project and its evolved economic, political and ideological system. The innermost value driver is long presupposed without question by even US moral philosophers and social scientists as the first principle of their models. Atomic self-maximization towards more private money-value without limit is the meta-program.

In consequence, the ‘global free market’ the US leads and imposes has no feedback loops to protect human or planetary life against hollowing them out for transient commodities, private profit and wastes on every level. The ruling system is structured only to ensure more money demand and commodities to those who have money to pay. Any accountability to universal life necessities is ruled out a-priori from the US Constitution, ruling market doctrine, and received theories.

As I have commented in articles prior to his presidency, “Trump is America come to meet itself”. But the US cover story has not yet been decoded in its master functions of legitimation and idealization. What makes the eco-genocidal system acceptable to human consciousness is an ultimate story line and moral syntax that transforms it into heroic liberty, individualism and moral supremacy.

This moral syntax has been imprinted into US empire since its original revolution against Britain to invade the America West to the Pacific Ocean to appropriate and  destroy all the life and life support systems of the developed first peoples there as ‘freedom’, ‘development’ and ‘self-defense’. What is required for the grand narrative’s success is to hide the reality of continuous eco-genocide by continuous false representations as the virtue and truth others fail to understand.

This first principle the justifying morality tale entails the second – that an alien Enemy must always be blamed for the system’s destructive attacks on barriers and resistance to it. Conversion of all life and life support systems to limitless self-maximization of the US system and its richest citizens then proceeds under cover of fake news with wars of acquisition and control represented as courageous and beneficent for all.

For-profit private corporations are the ever more empowered legal vehicles of this transnational system which is set to select for systematic self-maximization of the rich by all market, state and war means that can be constructed to enable it, starting with the US Constitution (as explained above). This set-point is built into the legislative, judicial and executive branches so that today the system outcome is a constitutionally ordered money-party control of all three branches of government as well as the funding systems of social sciences and philosophy.

Fake news in the widest sense provides a continuous cover story to mask and justify the underlying program which is not seen – the money-war party’s limitless take from life within and without the US that depends on a designated Enemy as perennial pretext to strip the US and global commonwealth against effective opposition or change.

Prof. John McMurtry FRSC is the author of The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Solution  and the three-volume study, Philosophy and World Problems,  UNESCO Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), Paris-Oxford. 

The original source of this article is Global Research

Copyright © Prof. John McMurtry, Global Research, 2017

 

Imperialists’ Contradictory Truths

{ahhhh… a poem.  One that tries to keep pace with the times, as once in a while the girl has to express what she feels inside, what she reads, what she observes.} 

***I was remiss in not stating that the quote, “postage stamp mindset” is not something I made up, but that I read from DAVID ICKE. ***

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~  ]

From discomfort we loudly proclaim our comfort;
Our corruption defines our character strength;
By feeding generic hate we express our love.

Denial of reality is our unshakeable reality;
Our leaders’ lies are beacons for sacred truth.
From endless deceptions we draw certainty.

With guns and prisons we proclaim freedom;
Prejudice and bigotry: these are our banner;
Turpitude measures our standard of excellence.  

Our wars attest it: we stand for world peace,
However many we must kill to attain this.
The world trembles and bleeds at our holy name.

For we are America, bastion of democracy,
Land of the free, home of the brave;
Ever safe inside our postage stamp mindset.

 

 

Tomgram: Ira Chernus, Now Who’s The Enemy?

I think this article is on point, and it’s a great read.  It only takes a few minutes and suddenly one gets a better, if not less confusing, perspective on the politics of Washington, particularly under president Trump.

The question that came to my mind as I read through the following is, “Should the people of the “West” so-called, be legitimately afraid of Islam and Muslim people, or are the “world leaders” of Washington perpetrating a massive scam on American people so they can fleece them, not only of their money and property, but of their democracy, their freedom, their very soul as a people living in 21st Century earth?”

The second question is, “If we cannot clearly identify “the enemy” then do we really have an enemy at all, or is it that the real enemy of the country is ensconced in, ruling from, the White House?”

As you read through, consider this quote from Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn: “we will do whatever it takes to win… If you are victorious, the people will judge whatever means you used to have been appropriate.”

Tomgram: Ira Chernus, Now Who’s The Enemy?

Posted by Ira Chernus at 4:08pm, February 5, 2017.
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Let’s face it: since 9/11 everything in our American world has been wildly out of proportion.  Understandably enough, at the time that attack was experienced as something other than it was.  In the heat of the moment, it would be compared to city-destroying or world-ending Hollywood disaster films (“It was like one of them Godzilla movies”), instantly dubbed “the Pearl Harbor of the twenty-first century,” or simply “A New Day of Infamy,” and experienced by many as nothing short of an apocalyptic event inflicted on this country, the equivalent of a nuclear attack — as NBC’s Tom Brokaw said that day, “like a nuclear winter in lower Manhattan,” or as the Topeka Capital-Journal headlined it in a reference to a 1983 TV movie about nuclear Armageddon, “The Day After.”  It was, of course, none of this.  No imposing imperial challenger had struck the United States without warning, as Japan did on December 7, 1941, in what was essentially a declaration of war.  It was anything but the nuclear strike for which the country had been mentally preparing since August 6, 1945 — as, in the years after World War II, American newspapers regularly drew futuristic concentric circles of destruction around American cities and magazines offered visions of our country as a vaporized wasteland.  And yet the remains of the World Trade Center were regularly referred to as “Ground Zero,” a term previously reserved for the spot where an atomic explosion had occurred. The 9/11 attacks were, in fact, mounted by the most modest of groups at an estimated cost of only $400,000 to $500,000 and committed by 19 hijackers using our own “weapons” (commercial airliners) against us.

However, the response from a Bush administration eager to strike in the Greater Middle East, especially against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, was to act as if the country had indeed been hit by nuclear weapons and as if we were now at war with a new Nazi Germany or Soviet Union. In the process, Bush officials took that first natural urge to go apocalyptic, to see our country as endangered at an existential level, and ran with it.  As a result, from September 12, 2001, on, the confusion, the inability to see things as they actually were, would never end.  The Bush administration, of course, promptly launched its own “global war on terror.” (GWOT was the acronym.)  Its officials then made that “global” quite real by insisting that they were planning to fight terrorism in a mind-boggling 60 or more countries around the planet.

Fifteen disastrous years later, having engaged in wars, occupations, or conflicts in at least seven countries in the Greater Middle East, having left failed or failing states littered in our path and spurred the spread of terror groups throughout that region and beyond, we now find ourselves in the age of Trump, and if it isn’t obvious to you that everything remains dangerously out of whack, it should be. Consider the set of former military men and associated figures the new president has appointed to run the national security state.  As TomDispatch regular and professor of religious studies Ira Chernus points out today, they uniformly believe — shades of GWOT — that our country is in a literal “world war” at this very second, and they seem to believe as well that its fate and the planet’s are at stake, even if none of them can quite decide whom it is we’re actually fighting. This struggle against, well, whomever, is so apocalyptic that, in their opinion, our very “Judeo-Christian” civilization is at stake. (Hence the recent Muslim ban, even if not quite called that.)  On all of this, Chernus offers their own grim, whacked-out words as proof.

Who could deny that, by now, many Americans have lost the ability to see the world as it is, put much of anything in perspective, or sort out genuine threats from fantasy constructs?  As a result, we’re led by delusional officials overseen, as if in some terrible Hollywood flick about the declining Roman Empire, by a mad, driven leader (who may be quite capable, in a matter of months, of turning the whole world against us).  If you don’t believe me, just plunge into Chernus today and into a fantasy war and an apocalyptic fate that supposedly awaits us if we don’t fight to the death against… well…

Perspective, context, proportion? Sorry, we don’t grok you, Earthling. Tom

Field of Fright 
The Terror Inside Trump’s White House
By Ira Chernus

What kind of national security policy will the Trump administration pursue globally? On this issue, as on so many others, the incoming president has offered enough contradictory clues, tweets, and comments that the only definitive answer right now is: Who knows?

During his presidential campaign he more or less promised a non-interventionist foreign policy, even as he offered hints that his might be anything but.  There was, of course, ISIS to destroy and he swore he would “bomb the shit out of them.” He would, he suggested, even consider using nuclear weapons in the Middle East.  And as Dr. Seuss might have said, that was not all, oh no, that was not all.  He has often warned of the dangers of a vague but fearsome “radical Islam” and insisted that “terrorists and their regional and worldwide networks must be eradicated from the face of the Earth, a mission we will carry out.”  (And he’s already ordered his first special ops raid in Yemen, resulting in one dead American and evidently many dead civilians.)

And when it comes to enemies to smite, he’s hardly willing to stop there, not when, as he told CNN, “I think Islam hates us.” He then refused to confine that hatred to “radical Islam,” given that, on the subject of the adherents of that religion, “it’s very hard to define, it’s very hard to separate. Because you don’t know who’s who.”

And when it comes to enemies, why stop with Islam?  Though President Trump has garnered endless headlines for touting a possible rapprochement with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, he also suggested during the election campaign that he would be tougher on the Russian president than Hillary Clinton, might have “a horrible relationship” with him, and might even consider using nukes in Europe, presumably against the Russians. His apparent eagerness to ramp up the American nuclear arsenal in a major way certainly presents another kind of challenge to Russia.

And then, of course, there’s China.  After all, in addition to his own belligerent comments on that country, his prospective secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, have both recently suggested that the U.S. should prevent China from accessing artificial islands that country has created and fortified in the South China Sea — which would be an obvious American act of war.

In sum, don’t take the promise of non-intervention too seriously from a man intent, above all else, on pouring money into the further “rebuilding” of a “depleted” U.S. military.  Just who might be the focus of future Trumpian interventions is, at best, foggy, since his vision of The Enemy — ISIS aside — remains an ever-moving target.

Suppose, though, we judge the new president not by his own statements alone, but by the company he keeps — in this case, those he chooses to advise him on national security. Do that and a strange picture emerges.  On one thing all of Trump’s major national security appointees seem crystal clear.  We are, each one of them insists, in nothing less than a world war in which non-intervention simply isn’t an option. And in that they are hardly kowtowing to the president.  Each of them took such a position before anyone knew that there would be a Donald Trump administration.

There’s only one small catch: none of them can quite agree on just whom we’re fighting in this twenty-first-century global war of ours.  So let’s take a look at this crew, one by one, and see what their records might tell us about intervention, Trump-style.

Michael Flynn’s Field of Fright

The most influential military voice should be that of retired Lieutenant General and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (though his position is already evidently weakening).  He will lead the National Security Council (NSC), which historian David Rothkopf calls the “brain” and “nerve center” of the White House.  Flynn laid out his views in detail in the 2014 book he co-authored with neocon Michael Ledeen, The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies (a volume that Trump, notorious for not reading books, “highly recommended”). To call Flynn’s views frightening would be an understatement.

America, Flynn flatly asserts, is “in a world war” and it could well be a “hundred-year war.” Worse yet, “if we lose this war, [we would live] in a totalitarian state… a Russian KGB or Nazi SS-like state.” So “we will do whatever it takes to win… If you are victorious, the people will judge whatever means you used to have been appropriate.”

But whom exactly must we defeat? It turns out, according to him, that we face an extraordinary network of enemies “that extends from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.”  And that’s not all, not by a long shot.  There’s “also al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, ISIS, and countless other terrorist groups.” And don’t forget “the merging of narcotics traffickers, organized criminals, and terrorists.” (Flynn has claimed that “Mexican drug cartels” actually post signs at the U.S.-Mexican border — in Arabic, no less — marking “lanes of entry” for Islamic terrorists.)

Now, that’s quite a list! Still, “radical Islam” seems to be America’s number one enemy on most pages of the book and Flynn puts the spotlight of fear squarely on one nation-state: “Iran is the linchpin of the alliance, its centerpiece.”

How Shi’ite Iran can be the “linchpin” in what turns out to be a worldwide insurgency of the Sunni Islamic State (aka ISIS) is something of a mystery.  Perhaps it’s not any single version of Islam that threatens us, but the religion in all its many forms, or so Flynn seems to have decided after he published his book. In this spirit, in February 2016 he infamously tweeted “Fear of Islam is RATIONAL” as an endorsement of a video that indicted and vilified that religion of 1.6 billion people. And to this day he evidently remains unsure whether “radical Islam” — or maybe even Islam as a whole — is a religion or a political ideology that we must fight to the death.

In our present world, all of this highlights another glaring contradiction: Why would Vladimir Putin’s Russia, for so long fiercely resisting Muslim insurgencies within its own borders and now fighting in Syria, ally with global radical Islam? In his book, Flynn offers this facile (and farfetched) explanation meant to clarify everything that otherwise makes no sense whatsoever: all the forces arrayed against us around the world are “united in their hatred of the democratic West and their conviction that dictatorship is superior.”

Anti-democratic ideology, if you’ll excuse the choice of words, trumps all. Our enemies are waging war “against the entire Western enterprise.” In response, in his book Flynn ups the ante on the religious nature of our global war, calling on all Americans to “accept what we were founded upon, a Judeo-Christian ideology built on a moral set of rules and ties… The West, and especially America, is far more civilized, far more ethical and moral, than the system our main enemies want to impose on us.”

As it happens, though, Flynn seems to have come to a somewhat different conclusion since his book was published.  “We can’t do what we want to do unless we work with Russia, period,” he’s told the New York Times. “What we both have is a common enemy… radical Islam.” The Russians, it turns out, may be part of that Christian… well, why not use the word… crusade against Islam.  And among other things, Russia might even be able to help “get Iran to back out of the proxy wars they are involved in.” (One of which, however, is against ISIS, a reality Flynn simply ducks.)

Of course, Russia has not significantly changed its policies in this period. It’s Flynn, at a moment when geopolitical strategy trumps (that word again!) ideology, who has apparently changed his tune on just who our enemy is.

“I would want this enemy to be clearly defined by this president,” Flynn said when talking about President Obama. Now that Donald Trump is president, Flynn’s the one who has to do the defining, and what he’s got on his hands is a long list of enemies, some of whom are visibly at each other’s throats, a list evidently open to radical revision at any moment.

All we can say for sure is that Michael Flynn doesn’t like Islam and wants us to be afraid, very afraid, as we wage that “world war” of his. When he chose a title for his book he seems to have forgotten one letter. It should have been The Field of Fright. And his present job title deserves a slight alteration as well: national insecurity adviser.

An Uncertain (In)Security Team

On the national insecurity team Flynn heads, everyone seems to share a single conviction: that we are indeed already in a global war, which we just might lose. But each of them has his or her own favorites among Flynn’s vast array of proffered enemies.

Take his top assistant at the NSC, K.T. McFarland.  For her, the enemy is neither a nation nor a political unit, but a vaguely defined “apocalyptic death cult… the most virulent and lethal in history” called “radical Islam.”  She adds, “If we do not destroy the scourge of radical Islam, it will ultimately destroy Western civilization… and the values we hold dear.” For her, it’s an old story: civilization against the savages.

There’s no way to know whether McFarland will have real influence on decision-making in the Oval Office, but her view of the enemy has been voiced in much the same language by someone who already does have such influence, white nationalist Steve Bannon, whom the president has just given a seat on the National Security Council.  (He reportedly even had a major hand in writing the new president’s Inaugural Address.)  Trump’s senior counselor and key adviser on long-term foreign policy strategy offered rare insight into his national insecurity views in a talk he gave at, of all places, the Vatican.

We’re in “a war that’s already global,” Bannon declared, “an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism.” However, we also face an equally dangerous threat: “an immense secularization of the West,” which “converges” with “radical Islam” in a way he didn’t bother to explain. He did, however, make it very clear that the fight against the “new barbarity” of “radical Islam” is a “crisis of our faith,” a struggle to save the very ideals of “the Judeo-Christian West … a church and a civilization that really is the flower of mankind.”

New CIA Director Mike Pompeo seems to agree wholeheartedly with Bannon that we’re in a global religious war, “the kind of struggle this country has not faced since its great wars.” Part of the key to survival, as he sees it, is for “more politicians of faith to infuse the government with their beliefs and get the nation back on track, instead of bowing to secularism.” In this battle of churches and mosques, he also claims that the line has been drawn between “those who accept modernity and those who are barbarians,” by which he means “the Islamic east.” In such a grandiose tangle, who exactly is who among our enemies remains up for grabs. All Pompeo seems to knows for sure is that  “evil is all around us.”

Retired General and Secretary of Defense James Mattis admits forthrightly just how confusing this all is, but he, too, insists that we have to “take a firm, strategic stance in defense of our values.” And who exactly is threatening those values? “Political Islam?” he asked an audience rhetorically. On that subject, he answered himself this way: “We need to have the discussion.”  After all, he went on, “If we won’t even ask the question, how do we even recognize which is our side in a fight?”

Several years ago, however, when Barack Obama asked him to spell out his top priorities as CENTCOM commander in the Greater Middle East, Mattis was crystal clear. He bluntly replied that he had three priorities: “Number one: Iran. Number two: Iran. Number three: Iran.” Moreover, in his confirmation hearings, he suddenly proclaimed Russia a “principal threat… an adversary in key areas.”

Still another view comes from retired General and Secretary of Homeland Security James Kelly. He, too, is sure that “our country today is in a life-and-death struggle against an evil enemy” that exists “around the globe.” But for him that evil enemy is, above all, the drug cartels and the undocumented immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexican border.  They pose the true “existential” threat to the United States.

Everyone on Trump’s national insecurity team seems to agree on one thing: the United States is in a global war to the death, which we could lose, bringing some quite literal version of apocalyptic ruin down on our nation. Yet there is no consensus on whom or what exactly we are fighting.

Flynn, presumably the key voice on the national insecurity team, offers a vast and shifting array of enemies milling around pugnaciously on Trumpworld’s field of fright. The others each highlight and emphasize one or more groups, movements, or nations in that utterly confused crew of potential adversaries.

We Need an Enemy, Any Enemy

This could, of course, lead to bruising disagreements and a struggle for control over the president’s foreign and military policies.  It’s more likely, though, that Trump and his team don’t see these differences as crucial, as long as they all agree that the threat of destruction really is at our doorstep, whoever the designated deliverer of our apocalyptic fate may be. Starting out with such a terrifying assumption about how our present world works as their unquestioned premise, they then can play fill-in-the-blank, naming a new enemy as often as they wish.

For the last near-century, after all, Americans have been filling in that blank fairly regularly, starting with the Nazis and fascists of World War II, then the Soviet Union and other members of the “communist bloc” (until, like China and Yugoslavia, they weren’t), then Vietnamese, Cubans, Grenadians, Panamanians, so-called narco-terrorists, al-Qaeda (of course!), and more recently ISIS, among others. Trump reminds us of this history when he says things like: “In the twentieth century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. We will defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before.”

The field of fright that Trump and his team are bringing to the White House is, by now, an extreme version of a familiar feature of American life. The specter of apocalypse (in the modern American meaning of the word), the idea that we face some enemy dedicated above all else to destroying us utterly and totally, is buried so deep in our political discourse that we rarely take the time to think about it.

One question: Why is such an apocalyptic approach — even when, as at present, so ludicrously confused and unsupported by basic facts, not to say confusing to its own proponents — convincing for so many Americans?

One answer seems clear enough: it’s hard to rally the public behind interventions and wars explicitly aimed at expanding American power and control (which is why the top officials of the Bush administration worked so hard to locate fantasy weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and bogusly link him to the 9/11 attacks before invading his country in 2003). Americans have assured pollsters for years that they don’t want to be the cops of the world. So, as successful leaders since President Franklin Roosevelt have recognized, any wars or steps toward war must be clothed in the word defense, and if you can add a sense of apocalyptic menace to the package, all the better.

Defense is little short of a sacred term in the American lexicon (right down to the “Defense” Department, once upon a time known far more accurately as the War Department).  It bestows an aura of moral justification on even the most violent and aggressive acts.  As long as the public is convinced that we must defend ourselves at all costs against an enemy that threatens our very world, anything is possible.

Trump and his national insecurity team are blessed with an added benefit in this process: the coming of all-news, all-the-time media, which has a tendency to inflate even the relatively modest (if bloody) acts of “lone wolf” terrorists until they seem to engulf our lives, 24/7, threatening everything we hold dear. Images of terror that might once have been glimpsed for a few minutes on the nightly news are now featured, as with the San Bernardino or the Pulse night club killings, for days, even weeks, at a time.

Certainly, when so many news consumers in the world’s most powerful nation accept such fearsome imagery, and their own supposed vulnerability to it, as reality itself (as pollsters tell us so many Americans indeed do), they do so in part because it makes whatever violence our government inflicts on others seem “regrettable, but necessary” and therefore moral; it absolves us, that is, of responsibility.

In part, too, such collective apocalyptic anxiety gives Americans a perverse common bond in a world in which — as the recent presidential campaign showed — it’s increasingly hard to find a common denominator that defines American identity for all of us. The closest we can come is a shared determination to defend our nation against those who would destroy it. In 2017, if we didn’t have such enemies, would we have any shared idea of what it means to be an American? Since we’ve been sharing that sense of identity for three-quarters of a century now, it’s become, for most of us, a matter of unquestioned habit, offering the peculiar comfort that familiarity typically brings.

At this point, beyond upping the ante against ISIS, no one can predict just what force, set of groups, nation or nations, or even religion the Trump administration might choose as the next great “threat to national security.” However, as long as the government, the media, and so much of the public agree that staving off doom is America’s preeminent mission, the administration will have something close to a blank check to do whatever it likes. When it comes to “defending” the nation, what other choice is there?

Ira Chernus, a TomDispatch regular, is professor emeritus of religious studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of the online MythicAmerica: Essays.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, as well as Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Ira Chernus

Ah well, why not some Fred Reed?

Now don’t go quoting and saying that Sha’Tara indorses (the dictionary claims that’s a variant, but I think it’s an indoor form of endorsement) Fred Reed.  I just think that he’s sometimes a Good Read.  But I do think the following is pretty accurate.  Enjoy, and please, don’t go posting it as if it came from me. It does not, did not, will not.  I just copied and pasted.  Last and final disclaimer.  Ok I did add a couple of comments.  It’s what I do, comment.  I think my entire life is a comment… or a series of comments.   

Also, and for good measure, this was written in 2010, which is like saying, Oh boy, ancient history already!  You think so?  You could write the same article today, about today’s situation wherever in the world and come up with the same conclusions and reactions. Even the tapeworm-brained senator Lindsey Graham is still at it, in fact even worse.  Now he wants the ethics committee done away with.  Well, I’m sure he’s got a good reason, if a tapeworm brain could reason, which it cannot since, as Fred remarks, a tapeworm doesn’t have a brain. Also note that Israel’s “Bibi Nut-and-Yahoo” is also still at it, and much, much worse than in 2010.  His bad everything days are coming closer and closer together.  

Back when in prehistory, my history teacher would say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”  If I were in his class today, I’d venture a correction: “Uh, Mr. Andres?  Shouldn’t it be, ‘The more things change, the worse they get’?”  Predictably he’d give me “the look” and I’d be telling myself why can’t I just shut up, just shut the hell up?  

Brain as an App-start using it-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Let’s Attack Iran!     by Fred Reed

Senator Graham has the brains of a tapeworm, making him eminently qualified for the senate. Tapeworms, I note, do not have brains. It is characteristic of warlike innocents, to include the Pentagon, to believe that if you destroy navies and air forces, you win wars. This worked well in Vietnam, you will recall, and as soon as we destroy the Taliban’s navy, Afghanistan will be a cakewalk.  Oh good. I see that Senator Lindsey Graham wants to attack Iran. The US, he says, should “sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard.”

Now, I understand that practicality and realism are alien concepts in American politics, to be approached with trepidation, but maybe, just once, we should think before sticking our private parts into a wood-chipper. Just once. I do not propose consistent rationality, forethought, or intelligent behavior. I profoundly respect my country’s traditions.

However, folk wisdom from West Virginia: Before you say, “I can whip any man in the bar!” it is well to scout the bar.

Some will find the thought of American martial incapacity outrageous. Can’t beat Iran? Buncha towel monkeys? Among grrr-bowwow-woof patriots, there exists a heady delusion of American potency, that the US has “the greatest military power the world has ever seen.” Ah. And when did it last win a war? In Afghanistan, for ten years the gloriousest military ever known, the expensivist, and whoosh-bangiest, hasn’t managed to defeat a bunch of pissed-off illiterates with AKs and RPGs.  Note that the United States cannot defeat Iran militarily, short of using nuclear weapons. It is easy to start a war. Finishing one is harder. I could punch out Mike Tyson. Things thereafter might not go as well as hoped.

At this point Lindsey of Persia will doubtless allude to the wonders of air power, of “precision-guided weapons,” of smart bombs that presumably read Kant on the way down. Those pitiable Iranians would have no hope of stopping our mighty bombers. True.

Implicit in this Thomistic fantasy (Clancy, I mean, not Aquinas) is that Iran wouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t dare fight back without a navy, etc. Lindsey had better be very sure that Iran couldn’t block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation. Enough of the world’s petroleum comes from the Gulf that the price would rise drastically if the Straits were blocked. Some economies would simply stop.

How many supertankers going up in flames would be tolerated before operators of tankers refused to risk it?

The Air Force, to include Naval Air, may be confident that it can destroy all of Iran’s missiles. The Air Force always believes that air power can do anything and everything – make coffee, win at marbles, everything. After all, don’t its airplanes say “Vrooom!” and “Swoosh!”? Don’t cockpits have lots of portentous buttons and spiffy little screens? Unfortunately the Air Force is regularly wrong. Iran recently began serial production of the Nasr 1, an anti-ship cruise missile. Tankers are thin-skinned and highly flammable. The Nasr 1 can be fired from the back of a truck. Trucks by their nature are mobile. They are easy to hide.

In fact the entire military is regularly wrong about the ease and duration of its adventures. For example, it had no idea that Viet Nam would turn into an endless war ending in defeat (if that makes sense). Iraq notoriously was going to be a walk in the park. That the war on Afghanistan would last ten years with a distinct possibility of defeat…this never occurred to the soldiers.

It is barely conceivable that the Five-Sided Wind Box could do what Field Marshal Graham thinks it could do. The unexpected is always a possibility. But, the stakes being what they would be in Hormuz, hoo-boy….

Another possibility is that Israel will attack Iran, as it has threatened. I would like to think that even Bibi Nut-and-Yahoo has better sense but, if the US can produce gibbering wingnuts, why not Israel? The practical effects of an Israeli attack would be indistinguishable from those of an American attack: America would have to solve the problem. Which it probably couldn’t. Israel can bomb Iran’s nuclear codpieces, but it can’t defeat Iran. And if the Strait were blocked after an Israeli attack, the entire globe would holler, “Israel did it!” which would be true.

The distance from “Israel did it” to “The Jews did it,” though logically great, is emotionally short. People think in collective terms. Remember that after some Saudis dropped the Towers, the alleged war on terror morphed almost instantly into intense hostility for Moslems. It doesn’t make sense, but what has that got to do with anything?

Congress doesn’t support Israel because it likes Israel, but from political expediency. If the wind blows the other way, so will Congress. Gasoline at twelve dollars is a lot of wind in a commuting country.I know a lot of Jews, who are all over the place politically and intellectually. They have in common a complete lack of resemblance to the scheming, hand-rubbing, heh-heh-heh Jews of Neo-nazi imagination. Few sacrifice Christian children (a temptation strongest, I can attest, among Christian parents). But…people think collectively.

Things worsen for America, yet we really don’t know where the country is going or how it will react. The last domestic catastrophe was the Great Depression, when America was a very different place. How bad can things get, economically, politically, internationally? How does a pampered population incapable of planting a garden respond to genuinely hard times? “It can’t happen here,” one hears. What can’t? I suspect that all sorts of things could happen, given sufficiently hard times.

The United States is today an edgy, unhappy country, sliding toward poverty, increasingly dictatorial, inchoately angry, hostile to blacks, the French, Mexicans, Moslems and, creepingly, the Chinese.  (Jews, perhaps to their surprise, don’t make the enemies list.) Americans don’t do cosmopolitan. The federal pressure for diversity exists because otherwise no one would associate with anyone else. The Persian Gulf is one of few places that plausibly might wreck the industrial world. There would have to be someone to blame. And Israel can’t survive without American support.

Maybe I’m crazy. But if I were an Israeli, I’d find a nice café on Diesengoff and enjoy a double cappuccino, watch the girls, and keep my bombs in my pocket. Let somebody else take the fall.

{OK, so he forgot to include the Russians in the list of hostiles but then in 2010 they were relatively quiet, watching the latest Pentagon production in wide screen: “Our Troops Conquer Afghanistan” – a sequel to “Our Troops Conquer Iraq” which was a late sequel to “Our Troops Conquer Grenada” which was a sequel to “Our Troops Conquer Vietnam” which was a sequel to “Our Troops Conquer Korea” … OK, so it’s a bit redundant but as long as the sheeple keep watching and paying, just keep the reels spinning, and keep ’em coming. My comment here}

November 9, 2010

Fred Reed is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well and A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be. His latest book is Curmudgeing Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle. Visit his blog.

Copyright © 2010 Fred Reed

The Best of Fred Reed

What’s Wrong with Today’s Earthians?

I wrote the following article in response to this one:

Over 4,000 Migrants Have Drowned In The Mediterranean This Year

Which can be read at:  https://talesfromtheloublog.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/over-4000-migrants-have-drowned-in-the-mediterranean-this-year/

Although my article is a response, it isn’t addressing the migrant article per se, but the nature of people in today’s world.  (Re-copied from “Tales from the Conspiratorium”)

What’s Wrong with Today’s Earthians?

Posted by Sha’Tara on November 29, 2016

The following can be considered a harsh response to the refugee plight touched upon in the original article but I’m not apologizing for it.  The following point desperately needs to be made.  

Of course my heart goes out to these refugees, and I feel my own frustration, and anger. But deep down, as a student of history I’m reminded of those incredibly brave Russians who stuck it out in Stalingrad against the German onslaught and heroically held on against all odds, suffering unimaginable horrors throughout an unusually harsh winter.  They didn’t run.  So many didn’t run, they stood up to their would be conquerors and fought back by every means the human mind can conjure up.  They died in horrible conditions, of famine, of typhus, or frost bite, of untreated wounds.  They died by the thousands defending their homes and their honor as human beings.  How many people remember these people were offered a chance to escape, to withdraw deep into the wilds of Siberia?  They chose to stand and fight, men, women and children… mostly women and children! 

It happened wherever the war raged.  It happened in Greece, in Italy, basically throughout Europe as it happened throughout the spread of Japanese terror troups, as it had happened in Spain during the Spanish civil war which the Fascists and Nazis won only because of overwhelming force garnered from arms and support received (as in the case of IS and other terror groups now in the Middle East) from the American military industrial complex.  (And let’s not forget it was the same American MIC that had armed the Japanese also.)

My own parents in the French Resistance during WWII didn’t attempt to flee to England though they lived on the coast with a very narrow channel between them and freedom, and they were fisher folk with access to boats, they could have easily done it.  No, they held their ground and they fought back.  For every German that was killed, the Germans retaliated by killing anywhere from ten to a hundred hostages.  Still, they persevered.  That’s how people were “made” in those pre-boomer, pre-entitlement years.

 Isn’t that what you would do if groups of nut jobs invaded your country and began to systematically spread terror among your own people, perhaps even taking your daughters, lovers, wives as sex slaves, burning your homes, forcing your sons into their madness as suicide bombers, torturing and killing your neighbours?  Tell me that you wouldn’t fight back, even if it meant using broken shards of glass, throwing rocks or ripping their faces off with your bare hands!  I certainly know I would, tooth and nail, as there always comes that time when a certain kind of vile violence can only be countered with same because THERE IS NO LONGER A CHOICE.  Either you oppose them, you become like them or you are sheep for the shearing and slaughter, political footballs and hostages to self-serving psychopaths.  

Excuse me, but is the word, “freedom” just another politically correct term now? 

What’s wrong with these people that they can’t stand and fight for themselves but can only think of running to hopefully save their own skins?  I don’t get this.  Has the human race so quickly become dis-empowered, turned into cattle, as were the Jews in Nazi Germany, meekly and silently walking to their slavery and death in concentration camps without making any attempt to help themselves?  When you know you are going to die regardless, why whimper into it?  That’s just not normal, nor natural!  What’s wrong with these people that they can only rely on power groups for their survival? Don’t they have a life, that innate rage to live free?  Are they drugged? 

It isn’t just Syrians.  Look how few people are standing boldly against the DAPL predators and their government armed and legitimized supporters when the entire nation of free individuals should be standing with them, either at Standing Rock or in front of every capitol,  every corporate HQ’s and every bank that funds the “Damn All Pipe Lines” monstrosity.

There is a connection throughout these current events clearly showing that people in general have become mindless cowards, thralls on their way to abysmal slavery to State and Banksterism.  There is no more stand and fight, only run for your life or hunker down and wait for the storms to pass in the hope that they won’t affect you.  Is that THE sign that humanity knows it’s doomed already and has no heart left, sees no point in fighting back against oppression and oppressors everywhere?

Perhaps T.S. Eliot said it best in his poem, The Hollow Men, “This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.” 

 

Tomgram: Mattea Kramer, You Don’t Leave Home Without It

Post election blues, or exhaustion?  May I offer the following then.  No, it isn’t going to make you feel better, particularly if you happen to be American.  The good news in the following Tom Dispatch article by Mattea Kramer is that if you are an EDUCATED American (and an educated anyone else) the following will not be news at all.  You know all of this, but maybe not in this particular configuration, and yes, our news may all have the same source these days, but their interpretations, that staggers the imagination.  So, another independent journalist’s viewpoint about being an American in today’s world at this moment.  Should we, Canadians, feel smug?  Or Brits?  We’re in no way better, nor any less guilty because by and large, exception such as myself noted, we support US foreign policy or do nothing about it, which is probably even worse.  For once I would agree, “We’re all in this together” and it behooves us to find our way out: this is the crisis of our time.

(I would have simply “reblogged” but there’s no such convenience on their site and the times I queried them about that and other things, I got the silence of the lambs in return.)

Tomgram: Mattea Kramer, You Don’t Leave Home Without It

Posted by Mattea Kramer at 7:30am, November 17, 2016.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

Not long before Election Day, but thousands of miles away in the Afghan village of Bouz Kandahari, 30 to 36 civilians died (including a significant number of children and infants).  Those deaths took place in a war Americans had largely filed in the library of forgotten events, though the conflict there is still fiercely underway. In a firefight with the Taliban near the northern provincial city of Kunduz, two U.S. Special Forces advisers died and American air power was called in, evidently killing those innocent Afghans. Within days, there were protests by angry villagers burying their dead.  As Mawlawi Haji Allahdad told a Reuters reporter, “My brother and three of his children were killed. My brother had no connection to any group.  He was a laborer. Did you see which of those infants and children who were killed by the Americans were terrorists?”

Behind this incident lies a 15-year-old pattern evident at least since the U.S. wiped out much of a wedding party, killing more than 100 villagers in Eastern Afghanistan in late December 2001.  It was certainly well documented in those 50 shock-and-awe “decapitation” strikes the Bush administration launched to take out Saddam Hussein and his Baathist Party leadership in March 2003 as the invasion of Iraq began.  Those strikes killed not a single targeted leader, but — according to Human Rights Watch — did kill “dozens of civilians.”  (In the following two months, almost 3,000 Iraqi civilians would die under American bombs and missiles.)

In these years, this American version of “precision bombing” has never ended in the Greater Middle East, which means that it was an ongoing reality of Election 2016, not that you would have known it.  For instance, since September 2014 when the Obama administration sent U.S. air power against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, just as the American primaries were first gearing up, Amnesty International reports that at least 300 Syrian civilians have died (including, of course, children).  Other groups monitoring the situation have put the toll significantly higher — at up to 1,000.  (The Pentagon has acknowledged only “a few dozens” of civilian deaths in both countries in this period.)

More recently, there were the 15 civilians killed in a late September drone strike aimed at ISIS supporters in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, but which evidently struck a celebration of a tribal elder’s return from his pilgrimage to Mecca.  Some weeks later, there were civilians killed or wounded (again including children) in an air attack on what was believed to be the home of a Taliban commander in the same province. There were also the 15 to 20 civilians killed when a funeral procession on the outskirts of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk was hit, evidently by planes from the U.S. coalition.

If none of this crossed your radar screen, don’t beat yourself up for it.  Such stories aren’t significant news in America.  The eight wedding parties reportedly wiped out by U.S. air power between 2001 and 2013 in Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan, to offer but one example, passed almost unnoticed here.  (Just imagine the 24/7 media attention that would be given to a terrorist attack on a single American wedding, no matter the casualties.)  Despite the impressive efforts of groups like the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there is essentially no way of knowing how many civilians in and out of official war zones U.S. air operations have killed across the Greater Middle East and Africa in the last decade and a half.  Not that it matters, since it’s a reality about which Americans could care less — and yet, as with those angry villagers in Bouz Kandahari, the air war on terror has proven to be a powerful recruitment tool for extremist groups spreading across that disintegrating region.

It’s not that we never pay attention to such deaths.  The Russian air attacks in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, for example, have gotten real attention here.  They were even part of the election discussion, as well they should have been.  The Russians entered the Syrian conflict in the American fashion by letting “precision” air power loose against schoolshospitals, and civilian targets of all sorts (with a significant number of children dying).  In the American media, these are often termed “war crimes,” but similar acts by Americans naturally fall into a different category, so no point in dwelling on them.  You can count on one thing, though: this isn’t going to end in the “new” Trump era soon to be upon us.  So it seems appropriate amid the post-election rancor and uproar to offer some space for TomDispatch regular Mattea Kramer to think about what it really means to be an American in such circumstances. Tom

On the Road With Our American Selves 
Or How to Feel Like a Jerk in Mombasa 
By Mattea Kramer

The fluorescent circus of Election 2016 — that spectacle of yellow comb-overs, and orange skin, and predatory pussy-grabbing, and last-minute FBI interventions, and blinking memes hewn by an underground army of self-important Internet trolls — has finally come to its unnatural end.  I had looked forward to this moment, only to find us all instantly embroiled in a new crisis.  And unfortunately, it’s easy to foretell what, or rather who, will move into the bright lights of our collective gaze now: we’re going to (continue to) focus on… well, ourselves.

We are obviously not, for instance, going to redeploy our energies toward examining the embarrassing war that we’re still waging in Afghanistan, now in its 16th year — something that went practically unmentioned during election season, even as fighting heated up there. (You can be sure that Afghans have a somewhat different perspective on the newsworthiness of that war.)  We are also not going to spend our time searching for the names of people like Momina Bibi, whom we’ve… oops… inadvertently annihilated while carrying out our nation’s drone kill program.

For his part, Donald Trump has pledged to “take out” the families of terrorists, a plan that sounds practically ordinary when compared to our actual drone assassination program, conceived by President George W. Bush and maintained and expanded by President Obama.  And while I don’t for a moment pretend that Trump’s electoral victory is anything less than an emergency for our republic — especially for the most vulnerable among us, and for every American who believes in justice, equity, or basic kindness — it’s also true that some things won’t change at all.  In fact, it’s prototypically American that an overlong and inward-looking election spectacle (which will, incidentally, have “big-league” international implications) will be supplanted by still more inward-looking phenomena.

And it jogs my memory in a not very pleasant way.  I can’t help but recall the moment, years ago and 8,000 miles away, when I was introduced to my own American-centered self.  The experience left an ugly mark on my picture of who I am — and who, perhaps, so many of us are, as Americans.

No, Not Us…

Eight years before I heard about a guy in Yemen whose cousins were obliterated by an American drone strike in a procession following his wedding celebration, I gleefully clicked through the travel site Kayak and pressed “confirm purchase” on one-way tickets to Kathmandu.  It was 2008, shortly before Barack Obama would be elected, and my boyfriend and I, a couple of twenty-somethings jonesing to see the world, were about to depart on what we expected to be the adventure of our lives.  Having worked temporary stints and squirreled away some cash, we packed our belongings into my mom’s damp basement and prepared ourselves for a journey meant to last half a year and cross South Asia and East Africa.  What we didn’t know, as we headed for New York’s Kennedy Airport, our passports zippered into our money belts, was that, whatever we had left behind at my mom’s, we were unwittingly carrying something far heftier with us: our American-ness.

Adventures commenced as soon as we stepped off the plane.  We glimpsed ice-capped peaks that rose majestically out of the clouds as we walked the lower Everest trail.  Then — consider this our introduction to the presumptions we hadn’t shed — we ran into a little snafu.  We hadn’t brought along enough cash for our multi-week mountain trek; apparently we’d expected Capital One ATMs to appear miraculously on a Himalayan footpath.  After we dealt with that issue through a service that worked by landline and carbon paper, we took a bumpy Jeep ride south to India and soon found ourselves walking the sloping fields of Darjeeling, the leaves of tea shrubs glinting in the afternoon light.  Then we rode trains west and south, while through the frame of a moving window I looked out at fields and rice paddies where women in red or orange or turquoise saris worked the land, even as the sun set and the sky turned pink and reflected off the water where the rice grew.

Things would, however, soon get significantly less picturesque, as in some strange, twisted way, the farther we traveled, the closer to home we seemed to get.

We arrived in Mombasa, Kenya, in January 2009, on a day when thousands of the city’s residents had flooded its streets to protest a recent, and particularly bloody, Israeli attack on Gaza. Hamas, firing rockets into southern Israel, had killed one Israeli and injured many others.  Israel retaliated in an overwhelming fashion, filling the Gazan sky with aircraft and killing hundreds of Palestinians, including five girls from a single family, ages four to 17, who were unlucky enough to live in a refugee camp adjacent to a mosque that an Israeli plane had leveled.

As I hopped off the matatu, or passenger van, into the scorching Kenyan heat, I was aware that 50,000 angry protesters had gathered not so far away, and certain facts became clear to me.  For one thing, the slaughter of hundreds of civilians, including several dozen children, in what was, to me, a faraway land, was a big effing deal here. That should probably go without saying just about anywhere — except I was suddenly aware that, were I home, the opposite would have been true.  Those deaths in distant Gaza (unlike nearby Israel) would barely have caused a blip in the American news.  What’s more, if I had been at home and the story had somehow caught my eye, I knew that I wouldn’t have paid it much mind. Another war in a foreign country is what I would’ve thought, and that would have been that.

At that moment, though, I didn’t dwell on the point, because — let’s be serious — I was scared poopless. There was a huge, angry protest nearby and we’d just gotten word that the crowd was burning an American flag.  Israel, it turned out, had used a new U.S.-made missile in its assault on Gaza. According to the Jerusalem Post, it was a weapon designed to minimize “collateral damage” (though tell that to the families of the dead). The enraged people who had taken to the streets in Mombasa were decrying my country’s role in the carnage — and I was a skinny American with a backpack who’d arrived in the wrong city on the wrong day.

We got the hell out of there as soon as we could. Early the next morning we climbed aboard a rusty old bus bound for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I felt a wave of relief once I’d settled into my seat. I was looking forward to a different country and a new vista.

That new vista, it turned out, materialized almost at once. Our bus was soon barreling along a rutted dirt road, the scenery whipping by the window in a distinctly less-than-picturesque fashion.  In fact, it passed in such a blur that I realized we were going way too fast.  We already knew that bus accidents were common here; we’d heard about a recent one in which all the passengers died.

When we hit what undoubtedly was a yawning pothole on that none-too-well kept road, the windows shook ominously and I thought: we could die. By then, my slick hands were gripping my shredded vinyl seat.  I could practically feel the heat of the crash-induced flames and had no trouble picturing our charred bodies in the wreckage of the bus.  And then that other thought came to me, the one I wouldn’t forget, the one, thousands of miles from home, that seemed to catch who I really was: No not us, we can’t diewas what I said to myself, pressing my eyes shut.  I meant, of course, my boyfriend and I; I meant, that is, we Americans.

It was then that I felt an electric zap, as the events of the previous day had just melded with the present dangers and forced me to see what I would have preferred to ignore: that there was an unsavory likeness between my outlook and the American credo that thousands had been protesting in Mombasa.  Wecan’t die, was my thought, as if we were somehow different — as if these Africans on the bus with us could die, but not us. Or, just as easily, those Palestinians could die — and thanks to U.S.-supplied arms, no less — and I wouldn’t even tune in for the story.  Clutching my torn bus seat, I was still afraid, but another sensation overwhelmed me. I felt like a colossal jerk.

Of course, as you know because you’re reading this, we made it safely to Dar es Salaam that night. But I was changed.

Apologizing to Ourselves

I’d like to say that my egocentricity about which lives matter most is uncommon among my countrymen and women.  But if you spool through the seven-plus years since I rode that bus, you’ll notice how that very same mindset has meant that Americans go wild with panic over lone wolf terror killings on our soil, but show scant concern when it comes to the White House-directed, CIA-run drone assassination campaigns across the world, and all the civilian casualties that are the bloody result.  The dead innocents include members of a Yemeni family who were riding in a wedding procession when four missiles bore down on them, and Momina Bibi, that Pakistani grandmother who was tending to an okra patch as her grandchildren played nearby when a missile blasted her to smithereens. And don’t forget the 42 staff members, patients, and relatives at a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killed in an attack by a U.S. AC-130 gunship.  Depending on which tally you use, since 2009 we’ve killed an estimated 474 civilians, or perhaps 745, outside of official war zones (and far more civilians, like those dead in that hospital, within those zones), although the horrifying truth is that the real numbers are likely much higher, but unknown and unknowable.

Meanwhile, duh, we would never fire a missile at a suspected terrorist if innocent U.S. civilians were identified in the vicinity. We value American life far too highly for such wantonness.  In 2015, when a drone struck an al-Qaeda compound in Pakistan, it was later discovered that two hostages, one of them an American, were inside. In response, President Obama delivered grave remarks: “I offer our deepest apologies to the families… I directed that this operation be declassified and disclosed… because the families deserve to know the truth.”

But why so sorry that time and not with the other 474 or more deaths?  Of course the difference was that innocent American blood was spilt.  We don’t even try to hide this dubious hierarchy; we celebrate it.  In that same speech, President Obama reflected on why we Americans are so darn special.  “One of the things that makes us exceptional,” he declared, “is our willingness to confront squarely our imperfections and to learn from our mistakes.”

If you hailed from any other country, it might have seemed like an odd, not to say tasteless, time to wax poetic about American exceptionalism.  The president was, after all, confessing that we’d accidentally fired missiles at two captive aid workers.  But I can appreciate the sentiment.  Inadequate though the apology was — “There are hundreds, potentially thousands of others who deserve the same apology,” said an investigator for Amnesty International — he was at least admitting that the United States had erred, and he was pointing out that such admissions are important.  Indeed, they are.  It’s just… what about the rest of the people on the planet?

The Trump administration will probably espouse a philosophy much like President Obama’s when it comes to valuing (or not) the lives of foreign innocents.  And yet there’s part of me that must be as unworldly as that twenty-something who flew into Kathmandu, because I find myself dreaming about a new brand of American exceptionalism in our future.  Not one that gives you that icky feeling when you’re riding a speeding bus in another hemisphere, nor one at whose heart lies the idea that we Americans are different and special and better — which, history tells us, is actually a totally unexceptional notion among powerful nations.  Instead, I imagine what would be truly exceptional: an America that values all human life in the same way.

Of course, I’m also a realist and I know that that’s not the world we live in, especially now — and that it won’t be for, at best, a very long time.

Mattea Kramer, a TomDispatch regular, is at work on a memoir called The Young Person’s Guide to Aging, which inspired this essay. Follow her onTwitter.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2016 Mattea Kramer

“Why worry about what can kill you tomorrow when so many things can kill you tonight?” 

(title is a remembered quote from the movie, “Lord of War”)
[thoughts from  ~burning woman~  through Airin WilloWitch, a.k.a., Sha’Tara]

I’m sure that title and quote is also a paraphrase of something else I’ve read somewhere in my travels.  It is a line however that I have often thought about.  What does that mean to me?  Does it mean, in the hedonistic biblical sense, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!”?  Throw caution to the wind, live for the moment, and the Devil take the hindmost?  (Or the lion if you happen to be a wildebeest?)

While I completely disagree with the common politically correct phrase, “we’re all in this together” (which is obvious bullshit in spades when you think about it seriously for a split second) there is definitely one thing we all have in common: death.  Whatever we do to avoid it, and believe me that the amount of money people spend to try to avoid it is beyond staggering (well, OK, I don’t know how much, I just know it’s a whole lot more than that), we simply can’t.  Death is our constant companion through life.  We’re born to die, with a little lunch break in-between we call life.

No, I’m not trying to cheer you up, but I’m not trying to depress you either as both would defeat my purpose.  I haven’t (yet) said anything you don’t already know so if this feels uncomfortable, think of it as a reality check – and try to make sure it doesn’t bounce.  Hell hath no fury like the Devil holding a bounced check and you could be looking at a fate worse than death – but I’m ahead of myself here and I hate it when I have to keep looking back while writing, it’s so hard on the neck.

Two questions arise from the above: why worry?  And what is death?  And from that let’s extract this gem: is all of our worry concerned with the possibility that we may die, suddenly and inexplicably, or that we may be driven to death by any number of means or reasons: bankrupted into abject poverty; contracting an incurable, terminal disease; arrested for murder and though not guilty convicted of same in a death penalty state; accident?

So, why do we worry?  Why are so many people stressed to the max and depressed today?  What happened to the real, un-faked happiness, the verve, the “joie de vivre”?  What is this terrible darkness that is descending upon the planet and which seems to only increase every time some major man-made event happens?  Why can’t we have at least one major truly joyful man-made event of gargantuan proportions to celebrate ourselves within, as a species?  Why must everything of major import be sad, dreadful, horrible, hopeless, destructive, death-dealing, polluting with no end in sight when we are sick and tired of hearing all about it, or of experiencing it?  Or, why, if we are of the hopeful types, must what we hope for be forever out of reach, more often receding from our grasp than approaching it?  Why does the carrot always turn into a stick?

I think it all goes back to death.  Consciously we may choose to ignore the monster and try to live relatively normal, happy lives among those we love or the society we fit in, but subconsciously “it” is always there, just like *Joe Black, not always recognized for what it is but suspected, distrusted and feared; the entity with its own agenda over which no one has any control.  Death, the great equalizer it’s been called.  Well, I don’t know: I see a lot of death, I don’t see much equality arising from its presence, quite the contrary.  Death is like that bouncing ball that after it’s set a bouncing, every time it’s touched it bounces even more wildly and unpredictably.

In a moment of wild ecstasy I suppose, John Donne wrote “death thou shalt die.”  Literally or figuratively?  It really doesn’t matter how, it matters more when.  Until now man has been the slave of death and the certainty of having to face that executioner has caused man to behave in very irrational and contradictory ways.  For the average Earthian, the way to avoid death is to be the first to deal death to some whose existence is perceived as a threat.  This knee-jerk reaction is called war, man’s most precious invention.  The one he spends the most resources upon by far; his joy, his baby, his heritage.  Makes me want to write an ode to war, or a love poem: “O dear war, how I missed thee in the dark hours of peace and how I praise thee now that thee are back, filling that aching void in my human heart, O dear war promise, O promise me thou shalt never abandon me again, I could not bear it!”  Well, that’s a start.  Dark humour, but how far from the truth of the matter?  So we kill in a vain attempt to save our own life, a life that was forfeit from the moment we were conceived.

OK, so I’m not looking for rationality among the species, I know such a thing is anathema to man’s thinking.  I’m just wondering if there is a cure to worry.  Let’s spread the net.  All animal life dies, sooner than later, here.  Do animals worry about dying?  I don’t think they do, although many animals experience powerful emotions when one of them dies, some more than others.  They know about death; about the end of the body, but they don’t seem to be worried about their own coming death.  It’s only when the predator appears that they resort to their fight or flight mode.  And if they get sick they do not linger.  Either they can heal themselves or they quickly give themselves over to death without any struggle.

For whatever reason, Earthians are very different from the animals in the matter of death.  Animals don’t form armies to attack and decimate their enemies.  They may be territorial for logistical purposes but they don’t try to expand their “empires” outside limits set by the Alpha male of the tribe.  Those outside the limits are safe from attack and free of harassment.  Animals kill to survive, not to enhance their own personal power or “wealth” as the expense of others.  {Oh please God, make me into an animal this minute!  Amen!}  Animals do not cling to life when evidence shows the game is up: they gracefully surrender their bodies to the earth and very quickly no evidence remains of their passage.

It is foolish to worry, even more so to allow oneself to get depressed.  Depression isn’t a disease, it’s the dirty diaper of the spoiled and entitled modern bratty human who wants more than it’s willing to get for itself or share and give to others.  Depression comes from a “I want it, and I want it now” civilization whose technology provided a lot of stupid, unnecessary and polluting toys and that continues to promise even more toys while the natural resources that fueled that technology are being wasted by overuse and war or vanishing from the planet in waves of entropic energy like climate change.  Depression from not getting what one feels entitled to leads to worry about more serious things, like losing one’s home or having no money to buy basic necessities such as food or losing one’s children through violence… Ah yes, the list of things that cause worry is long indeed.

So, I choose to live by my first quote.  I don’t worry about what could kill me tomorrow.  I think about the things lurking in the night of my mind, the things tonight, that can kill me.  I think about the dangers of reverting back to being a common Earthians; of waking up tomorrow morning worrying about food, clothing, shelter, money, what’s been stolen in the night, etc.  I think about spiritual regression and mental devaluation from nightly visitations of “demons” from the darkness of the Matrix.  I think of the horror of discovering I’m no longer immune to the foibles of man but rather fully back in their clutches.  I think about what it would be like to lose my sense of self empowerment, of knowing what I am; of losing sight of my purpose… in the night.  And I shudder.  That would be worse than any conceivable depression.

Ah, but I’m a witch!  I have spells to protect myself from demons who would steal my self-made personhood:  “I think my own thoughts, therefore I am my own person.” And spells also to protect me from well-meaning Earthians who would also destroy me with their verbal weapons of mass distraction: “I Choose Me.”  And then I remember that death is a gift, my doorway out of this place and to another I know about and look forward to – and no, sorry, it’s not heaven!  And when does death die?  It dies for me when I kill it by transcending it every moment of every day.

*Joe Black: reference is to the movie, Meet Joe Black, with Brad Pitt as death.