Category Archives: Democracy

America, what is going on?

I “apologize” to those who follow this blog for periodically “going political” on you but some things need be shown and said. There is a growing problem in America today, and as a Canadian living within a few miles of the longest “friendly” and undefended border on earth, what happens in America concerns me. It should concern the entire world but many are those who, like the German people in the 1930’s simply choose not to believe what is right before their eyes.  Our problem today is, as America increasingly goes rogue and out of control, do we really want Russia and China to be our “Allied” saviours? Wouldn’t that be jumping from the frying pan into the fire? Food for thought as you read the following. I post the entire blog, there is no “re-blog” on Tom Dispatch, but all the links are there.  I’ve also left the bottom of the blog post advertising the books and all that.

If you care or are concerned, take a few minutes to read, then a few more to ponder the consequences.  We’re not in a good place right now.  I’m 71 years old, so I’m not concerned about myself, but what about the children? What about their future? Where will the spend that time between “now” and eternity?

Tomgram: Nate Terani, Being Demonized in Your Own Country

Who could possibly keep up with the discordant version of musical chairs now being played out in Washington? When it comes to Donald Trump’s White House, the old sports phrase about needing a scorecard to keep track of the players pops to mind (though you would need a new one every day or maybe every few hours). The turnover rate of top White House staffers was already at 43%, a record for any administration in little more than its first year in office, before the latest round of exits even began.

Recently, the president nominated Gina Haspel (“Bloody Gina”) to head the CIA.  She had, in fact, been responsible for running one of the Bush administration’s earliest and most brutal “black sites” and had a significant hand as well in destroying evidence of what CIA torturers had done there and elsewhere. Meanwhile, he tapped the Agency’s previous director, Mike Pompeo, a notorious Tea Party Islamophobe and Iranophobe, to replace Twitter-fired Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. Now, another key post is evidently about to be up for grabs. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is reportedly almost out the door as the president openly considers a replacement for him, possibly former Bush-era ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton. He’s another major Iranophobe, who has called for launching military operations against that country for years. Like the recent replacement of economic adviser Gary Cohn by conservative CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow, all of the president’s new appointments or possible ones seem to have something in common: each is to the right of and significantly more extreme than the person he or she is replacing. Whether it’s the tearing up of the Iran nuclear deal and a possible future war with that country or yet more plutocratic economic policies, Donald Trump now seems intent on creating an ever more extreme administration.

In the context of that growing extremity, including the potential return of torture, the possible refilling of Guantanamo with new prisoners, the intensification of war across the Greater Middle East with a new focus on Iran, and the entrenchment of particularly extreme forms of Islamophobia, let U.S. Navy veteran Nate Terani take you into his own personal hell as a Muslim-American. It’s a hell that remains largely private at the moment, but for how long? Tom

Donald Trump’s America
Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
By Nate Terani

Understand this: I’m an American veteran. I’m also a Muslim-American in a country in which, in these years, that hasn’t exactly been the happiest category to fall into. Now, let me tell you a little story.

Recently, I had an ominous dream. It was noon on a grey, cold January 20th, 2020, and Donald Trump was being sworn in for his second term as president. Massive inaugural crowds cheered him exuberantly as a gentle snow fell upon a sea of MAGA red-hats and TRUMP banners waving in front of the Capitol.

In my dream, however, the Capitol wasn’t quite the same as I remembered it from my days stationed there as a young Navy sailor. It seemed almost war-torn as clouds of dark smoke billowed up on the horizon and the sound of gunfire could be heard somewhere in the distance. In my dream — don’t ask me how — I could also hear the terror-filled voices of people screaming or crying out for help as ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents, clad in black uniforms, stormed local Washington homes and businesses, arresting people and loading them onto large unmarked cargo trucks.

Meanwhile, those inaugural crowds — I have no idea if they were the largest in the history of dreams — were flanked by military Humvees as heavily armed soldiers in unfamiliar camouflage uniforms stood behind the president while he delivered his second inaugural address. I could even hear his words eerily reverberating through the Capitol. “The enemy,” he exclaimed, “has infiltrated our great nation because of weak immigration laws allowed by treasonous politicians!”

At that very moment, he told the exuberant crowd, he was already singlehandedly purging “those terrorists and their enablers from our ranks.” The MAGA banners waved ever more frantically and the crowd roared as he declared, “Law and order are now being restored to our great nation once again!”

I awoke in a cold sweat. Unlike the sort of nightmare I’d normally shake off as a fantasy of slumber, the result perhaps of that late night dose of Ben and Jerry’s I had meant to resist, this one stuck with me and, I’m sorry to say, recurred.

American Fear-scapes

Worse yet, these days I no longer have to drop into some deep, unnerving dream state to experience it. Though few of us are likely to admit it, some version of that dream of mine is, in fact, the secret daily nightmare of millions of my fellow Muslim-Americans. In a moment, when immigrants in this country live in a fear-scape all their own, believe me, so do we. In our living nightmare, an administration that can seem not just ineffective but hapless beyond imagining, plagued by scandal, and stocked with staff members heading for the exits (or being escorted off White House grounds) might nonetheless transform itself into something even more deeply threatening to Americans like us. It might sooner or later consolidate power and, eager to distract the public from its actual plutocratic and other grim policies, turn on us “bigly.” Without dropping into another dream state, I can easily enough imagine how, with the tacit endorsement of Trump’s base, that administration might prepare itself to use a future devastating terror attack, the next Orlando or San Bernardino, to skewer American Muslims or the immigrant community and so pave the way for a true living nightmare.

Such a crisis could take many forms, but imagine, for instance, a “dirty bomb” attack (the use of conventional explosives to spread radioactive nuclear waste materials across a wide area of some urban neighborhood). Just such an attack has certainly been a focus of concern in the U.S. intelligence community for years now. In fact, in 1999, while on active duty as a new member of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the first interagency briefing I attended at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, focused on that very issue.

Should that happen or anything like it, it’s easy enough to imagine how the Trump administration might use it to enhance its own power at our expense. With the public cowering in fear, martial law might be declared. Meanwhile, a Congress that, in the face of the imperial presidency, has already abdicated its constitutional duty to declare war, might grant Donald Trump far greater authority than he already possesses, thanks to the unprecedented post-9/11 powers any president now wields — and the American people (or enough of them, at least) would “rally ’round the chief.”

And then, or so I imagine (and, at least among American Muslims I know, I’m not alone in this), so much worse would begin to unfold and my recurring nightmare would become a nightmarish reality. In the aftermath of such an attack, so much in our world, from the Women’s March to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, would become distant and forgotten memories. Dissent would be denounced as unpatriotic, perhaps ultimately illegal, and basic human rights might be suspended.

By now, I’m sure you see where I’m going. In my nightmare at least — and I’m talking about the waking one now, the one I live with every day — countless immigrants and American Muslims are in camps awaiting who knows what. It’s not as if there is no precedent for anything like that in America, given the experience of Japanese-Americans rounded up and kept in just such camps during World War II.

In this moment of growing Islamophobia, at a time when a president has a desire to simply ban foreign Muslims and cast American ones as the worst of the worst, it’s just one more step into my fears of the future for me to imagine myself, an American veteran, as well as my family and other members of the Muslim community, sitting inside darkened train cars on our way to internment camps, while we desperately try to convince ourselves that surely the Supreme Court will overturn such an injustice.

And given our world, given the history of racism in this country, it’s not that hard to imagine scores of broken men, women, and children already at our destination as we hurtle down the tracks to join them. Nor is it that hard to imagine the Trump administration dismissing those who protest such treatment as disloyal co-conspirators, and then using militarized police raiders to hunt some of them down, too. I can even imagine mosques being set ablaze and synagogues and churches that attempted to protect citizens fleeing all of this being raided at the government’s orders.

Heading for a Dark Destination

In some dark corner of my mind, given what we know about what we human beings are capable of, I can almost imagine some kind of Muslim-American version of the Holocaust, the ultimate nightmare that immigrants and Muslim-Americans have dreaded since Donald Trump’s election victory in November 2016, but dare not whisper. There’s nothing sadder to say than that such fears do not completely lack historical precedent: the world has, of course, been here before.

If the fate of the millions who perished during World War II, thanks to Adolf Hitler and his minions, doesn’t seem real enough to you, just pay a visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. There, you can witness the haunting images of our human brethren who, by virtue of their faith or background, were destroyed, some by their own countrymen.

Now, I know perfectly well that those of you who aren’t Muslim-Americans are likely to find such fantasies at best extreme; at worst, beyond conception. The reason isn’t hard to imagine, because of course Donald Trump isn’t Adolf Hitler; White House adviser Stephen Miller isn’t Joseph Goebbels; White House Chief of Staff John Kelly isn’t Hermann Göring; and former CIA Director and next Secretary of State Mike Pompeo isn’t Heinrich Himmler.  Yes — but Pompeo, a major Islamophobe in an administration filled with them, has insisted that all Muslims are potentially complicit in terrorism and that “people who deeply believe that Islam is the way” are a “threat to America.”  He has also received the “National Security Eagle Award” from a noted anti-Muslim hate group, ACT for America, and has been interviewed more than 20 times by Frank Gaffney, “the country’s most influential Islamophobe,” on his radio show.  And when it comes to Islamophobia (and Iranophobia as well), in this administration Pompeo is hardly alone.

Still, not even bans, insults, and a visible loathing for those of us who don’t look like and pray like the president and his men, not even torchlight parades by Trump-supporting American neo-Nazis, get you easily to anything like an American Holocaust.  But know, when you read this, that there are those of us out here who, in the dark of night, are indeed haunted by such thoughts anyway and by thoughts as well of those in the 1930s who dismissed the fears of the worst to come as so much hyperbole.

Speaking just for myself, I can’t help but believe that, in our 241-year history that includes a bitter civil war, two world wars, and the Great Depression, this could turn out to be the most crucial moment of all. I can’t help but wonder, at least in my bleaker moments, whether there will be any coming back from the dark destination, whatever it turns out to be, that we, as a nation, now seem headed for. And if not, just remember that no one will be able to say that we didn’t know what we were doing, that there were no warnings as people like me were demonized in our own country.

Whatever hell might still come, for this veteran at least, Donald Trump’s America is already hell enough.

Nate Terani is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and served in military intelligence with the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is currently a spokesperson for Common Defense PAC and regional campaign organizer with Veterans Challenge Islamophobia. He is a featured columnist with the Arizona Muslim Voice newspaper. This is his second TomDispatch piece.  Follow him on Twitter at @NateTerani.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, as well as John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2018 Nate Terani

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Violent American Dower bookThe Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II

World War II marked the apogee of industrialized “total war.” Great powers savaged one another. Hostilities engulfed the globe. Mobilization extended to virtually every sector of every nation. Air war, including the terror bombing of civilians, emerged as a central strategy of the victorious Anglo-American powers. The devastation was catastrophic almost everywhere, with the notable exception of the United States, which exited the strife unscathed and unmatched in power and influence. The death toll of fighting forces plus civilians worldwide was staggering.

The Violent American Century addresses the U.S.-led transformations in war conduct and strategizing that followed 1945—beginning with brutal localized hostilities, proxy wars, and the nuclear terror of the Cold War, and ending with the asymmetrical conflicts of the present day. The military playbook now meshes brute force with a focus on non-state terrorism, counterinsurgency, clandestine operations, a vast web of overseas American military bases, and—most touted of all—a revolutionary new era of computerized “precision” warfare. In contrast to World War II, postwar death and destruction has been comparatively small. By any other measure, it has been appalling—and shows no sign of abating.


Splinterlands FefferSplinterlands

Julian West, looking backwards from 2050, tries to understand why the world and his family have fallen apart.

Part Field Notes from a Catastrophe, part 1984, part World War Z, John Feffer’s striking new dystopian novel, takes us deep into the battered, shattered world of 2050. The European Union has broken apart. Multiethnic great powers like Russia and China have shriveled. America’s global military footprint has virtually disappeared and the United States remains united in name only. Nationalism has proven the century’s most enduring force as ever-rising global temperatures have supercharged each-against-all competition and conflict among the now 300-plus members of an increasingly feeble United Nations.

As he navigates the world of 2050, Julian West offers a roadmap for the path we’re already on, a chronicle of impending disaster, and a faint light of hope. He may be humanity’s last best chance to explain how the world unraveled—if he can survive the savage beauty of the Splinterlands.


Tomorrow's BattlefieldTomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa

You won’t see segments about it on the nightly news or read about it on the front page of America’s newspapers, but the Pentagon is fighting a new shadow war in Africa, helping to destabilize whole countries and preparing the ground for future blowback. Behind closed doors, U.S. officers now claim that “Africa is the battlefield of tomorrow, today.” In Tomorrow’s Battlefield, award-winning journalist and bestselling author Nick Turse exposes the shocking true story of the U.S. military’s spreading secret wars in Africa.

Shadow Government EngelhardtShadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single Superpower World

In 1964, a book entitled The Invisible Government shocked Americans with its revelations of a growing world of intelligence agencies playing fast and loose around the planet, a secret government lodged inside the one they knew that even the president didn’t fully control. Almost half a century later, everything about that “invisible government” has grown vastly larger, more disturbing, and far more visible.

They Were SoldiersThey Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars: The Untold Story

At 73, having spent years focusing on the civilian toll from Washington’s Afghan War, Ann Jones embedded on an American forward operating base to experience what that war was like for the U.S. troops in the field. The next year, she began following grievously wounded American soldiers from the moment they came off the battlefield all the way back home.  Her journey proved to be nothing short of an odyssey. Despite all the talk in this country about our “wounded warriors,” no other book gives us a more powerful sense of the genuine cost of war to Americans.



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Who are the “Aryans” and what are they considered to be?

The 19th and 20th centuries in Europe and the United States were awash in racial and racist propaganda. Today’s rising racial problems, which some would like to belittle and push under the proverbial rug, have long and deep roots.

Although education has had a tampering effect on blatant racism, it did not change the mindset created by the old propaganda. In essence, racism is rooted in, and part of the makeup of European and American societies.

With the gradual downfall and glaring failures of public education, that makeup, like a rotting corpse filled with putrid gases, is rising to the surface of the social swamp for all to see and smell.

Is it any wonder Donald Trump chose not to drain the swamp after all?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:


The Nordic race was one of the putative sub-races into which some late 19th to mid 20th century anthropologists divided the Caucasian race. People of the Nordic type were to be mostly found in the Nordic countries. The psychological traits of Nordics were described as truthful, equitable, competitive, naïve, reserved, and individualistic.[1] Other supposed sub-races were the Alpine race, Dinaric race, East Baltic race, and the Mediterranean race.

Nordicism was an ideology of racial separatism which viewed Nordics as an endangered racial group, most notably in Madison Grant‘s book The Passing of the Great Race. This ideology was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in some Northwestern, Central, and Northern European countries as well as in North America and Australia.[citation needed] The Nazis claimed that the Nordic race was the most superior of the “Aryan race” and constituted a master race (Herrenvolk).[2]

In the United States

Note: the image simply refused to be posted here!

President Coolidge signs the 1924 immigration act, restricting non-Northern European immigration. John J. Pershing is on the President’s right.

In the United States, the primary spokesman for Nordicism was the eugenicist Madison Grant. His 1916 book, The Passing of the Great Race, or the Racial Basis of European History about Nordicism was highly influential among racial thinking and government policy making.[42]

Grant used the theory as justification for immigration policies of the 1920s, arguing that the immigrants from certain areas of Europe, such as Italians and other Southern Europeans and Eastern Europeans, represented a lesser type of European and their numbers in the United States should not be increased. Grant and others urged this as well as the complete restriction of non-Europeans, such as the Chinese and Japanese.

Grant argued the Nordic race had been responsible for most of humanity’s great achievements, and admixture was “race suicide” and unless eugenic policies were enacted, the Nordic race would be supplanted by inferior races. Future president Calvin Coolidge agreed, stating “Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend. The Nordics propagate themselves successfully. With other races, the outcome shows deterioration on both sides.”[43]

The Immigration Act of 1924 was signed into law by President Coolidge. This was designed to reduce the number of immigrants from Southern Europe, Southeast Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia, exclude Asian immigrants altogether, and favor immigration from the British Isles, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

The spread of these ideas also affected popular culture. F. Scott Fitzgerald invokes Grant’s ideas through a character in part of The Great Gatsby, and Hilaire Belloc jokingly rhapsodied the “Nordic man” in a poem and essay in which he satirised the stereotypes of Nordics, Alpines and Mediterraneans.[44]

We the Sheeple: the Blind Reading the Blind

I came across the following article on a blog I follow – Tales from the Conspiratum.  I thought of simply re-blogging, but I don’t like the “Tales” background which makes it difficult to read articles, so I went to the source blog, “Counter punch” and simply copied the entire article and pasted it here with all relevant links.

It’s a bit long but it makes points that some of us have known since we went to grade school about the power that is imperialism.  How do we know whether we are living in a “free” world, or enmeshed in an imperial, world-dominating military dictatorship?  To decide, we need access to certain facts, not myths, legends, hearsay or the hum-drum BS of bought-and-paid-for commercial mainstream media.  We need to read what thinkers have to say.  Here is one such article.  May you find the time to ponder.  _________________________________________________________________________________________

We the Sheeple: the Blind Reading the Blind

Shortly after the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, made a candid confession to the Army Times, “I’m running out of demons, I’m running out of villains. I’m down to Castro and Kim Il Sung.” Amid the general bonhomie of the military interview, Powell nicely encapsulated a central truth of empire: it doesn’t want peace. Never did. Imperialism, the monopoly stage of capitalism, is based on conquest. Peace is little more than an aftermath in the imperialist vision. It is the dusty rubble-strewn silence that descends on Aleppo when the jihadists have been bussed out. It is the silent pollution of the Danube when the NATO jets have flown. It is the quiet that settles on the Libyan square once the slave auction has concluded. Peace is an interlude between the birth of avarice and the advent of aggression. Little else.

If Powell confessed empire’s disinterest in peace, he also expressed the need of the imperials state for a steady supply of new enemies. Conflict is the lifeblood of imperial capitalism. It is how the ruling class further enriches itself. It is how the global elite expand their dominion over the planet. Those who will not pay tribute under threat of menace, must ultimately face the menace. But this truth, that the imperial state is the carmine tip of elite expropriation, must not be aired among the hoi polloi. It is the unseemly underbelly of power and if it were widely understood it would hack away the legitimacy of the state, which is only justified by its nominal commitment to the welfare of the nation. That claim only appears legitimate in the face of some grim and ghastly threat. Powell understood that with the nasty specter of the evil empire crumbling to ash on an Asian plain, a spine-chilling new antagonist would have to be invented to replace it.

Enter the specter of Islamic terror. Islamic terrorism is largely the product of American terror. It is wittingly conjured into being through our wanton destruction of Muslim societies. We did not attack Muslim nations in order to produce a new enemy. We attacked them to extend our control of natural resources, shape the trade routes of the future, and expand the reach of global capital. But the epiphenomenon of terrorism was both predictable and embraced as a casus belli. It is the hobgoblin used by ruling class media to frighten western populations into acquiescence with the west’s warlike vision for global hegemony.

But western populations have of late grown weary of the terrorist scourge and the endless storylines of restive migrants doing the dirty work of mysterious jihadists on the Disneyfied streets of western capitals. Jets into skyscrapers. Cars into crowds. Backpacks in corners of concert halls. High-rise shotgunners spraying bullets into public squares. Terror fatigue is spreading across a western world that could only sustain permanent stress levels for so long. Thankfully, for the managers of empire and its media flacks, a reborn Russian state, rising from the ashes of a capitalist looting spree, has provided a second narrative front in the war for the mind of the west. A different visage emerges. Not the bearded votary narrating a death wish to a shaky cam. But a Muscovite in a bespoke suit with a supercilious grin on his sly poker face. The optics are different, but in a media environment of constant overexposure, that is a good thing.

Both terrorism and a revanchist Russia represent figments of horror in the minds of western citizens. They are the bête noire with which we can shape our worldview and pepper our cocktail conversations. We do not realize that Islamic terror is largely a product of American terror. We do not see that American aggression provokes Russian self-defense. As such, these orientalist caricatures represent the hypocrisy of imperial neoliberalism, which is forever flying the false flag of economic justice and democratic freedom over its just-conquered capitals. Inhabitants of those broken cities know better, as their standard of living plummets and their dictators are replaced by juntas. They know the west is like Joseph Conrad’s sepulchral city, where an alabaster exterior hides a crypt of rotting flesh. That is the real vision that western media works so feverishly to disguise, one no sane person could stomach. That’s why the media must craft fresh Frankensteins at such a feverish pace. Fairy tales of secular missionaries bringing the gift of free-market democracy to the benighted tribes of the east.

Globalization and Its Discontents

The terminology of that fairy tale is telling. The term ‘globalization’ has been used as a portmanteau containing all of the sly nuance of neoliberalism. Globalization is the rush of capital into every conceivable crevice of the planet in search of profitable new ventures. Unfortunately, markets must be pried open with war when rhetorical picklocks don’t suffice. The term ‘humanitarian’ is the masque we now affix to the gruesome face of war whenever we must attack some recalcitrant socialist backwater. What we used to call a ‘civilising mission’ in Africa, we now call a ‘humanitarian intervention’ in the Middle East. Historians call that ‘progress.’

The effect of this noble-minded fustian is to pacify a population and to marginalize anyone who attempts to reveal the true character of imperial action. Who would oppose a globalizing force of open markets that promise to bring ‘developing’ and ‘emerging’ nations online and on par with our post-industrial west? Those who do can hardly explain the extractive nature of neoliberal globalization or its deindustrializing effect on developing economies before they are skewered by the flagbearers of humanitarianism. Who would deny the righteous cause of intervening to halt imminent genocide? One has barely called into question whether genocide is actually imminent before being fleeced by the rhetorical guardians of the west’s civilizing mission. The righteous R2P. One has hardly breathed a word of how the ‘war on terror’ is largely generated by the state terror we inflict on other nations before being rubber-stamped a traitor and told to leave the country (if you don’t like it).

The fable must be accepted. We are spreading freedom and equality. Simple as that. End of story. Say that the United States is the greatest counter-revolutionary force in the world, and be branded a traitor–by the counter-revolutionaries. Wherever democratic freedom rears its ugly head, you can be sure that U.S. media flacks, as well as special forces, drones, proxy terrorists, and battalions are on hand to crush what they claim to defend.

Softening the Blow

The fairy tales are told by the mainstream media, shamelessly so. The Wolf Blitzers of the world devote themselves to the slavish production of fresh threats. The liberal MSM is represented today by outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. These ciphers take the crude evasions of the White House, State Department, Pentagon, and intelligence agencies, and camouflage them. They dress them in muted tones that dampen the drama of blast craters. They massage the story to elide the facts that might produce introspection or taint the purity of our self-image. Self-criticism is inappropriate, but the righteous condemnation of other nations is a moral mandate. Print everything in classic fonts, with well-designed column widths, and add in world-class photography that turns ruination into artistic representation. This is the manna consumed by the acolytes of exceptionalism.

Nothing better embodies the empty ruse of liberalism than the bulky deadwood of the Times. There is of course the elitist coverage of mini-breaks in distant villas, where war-torn peasant societies repair their communities round a communal table. There are the heady profiles of the latest restaurant trends, where the bearded Brooklyn chef with neck tats touts his vegan currywurst to the gentrified hood. There is the fastidious theater review and the effusive real estate forecast. Filler aside, readers will be reminded that war is necessary when America wages it; globalization is inevitable when it means free markets, and free markets mean individual freedom; multiculturalism and mass immigration are desirable to all, irreversible, and a moral imperative; and inscrutable new alien threats are profiled with an Orientalist’s hopeful but ultimately worrisome and mystified gaze. Little mention is made of the fact that our conflicts are provably imperial resource wars; that in nearly every port of call our country wages counter-revolutionary battles that stifle liberation and independence; that globalization has wrecked the American standard of living through labor arbitrage and offshoring; that immigration ought not to be coupled with austerity unless the objective is race wars; that the lives of women, LGBTQ, and people of color are collateral damage in the crosshairs of empire; or that American capitalism has no interest in delivering jobs, living wages, or upward mobility to its extant population, let alone its newest members.

When these mostly taboo subjects are noted, they are presented as a perplexing side effects of a noble project of laissez faire globalization. They are unfortunate but must not be rashly addressed. Better to endlessly maintain the status quo as one wrestles with the philosophic implications of global capitalism. This was Obama’s favorite tactic. Open a dialogue, but don’t change anything important. This dissembling attitude was beautifully expressed in a recent Twitter thread which detailed seventy years of Times articles proclaiming a dizzying succession of reform-minded princes in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the patriarchy’s misogynist grip on power is as firm as ever, as is Washington’s backing. The last post in that thread noted Thomas Friedman’s sycophantic paean to the new idol of Saudi imperialism, Mohammed Bin Salman, or ‘MBS’ to his fawning admirers. Friedman’s article was printed last week.

When not absorbing the high culture of the Times literary supplement, one finds the corporate liberal Democrat happily digesting bite-sized reports from the National Public Radio (NPR). Here the adherence to the state view is no less vigilant than in print. Thus when NPR interviews a CIA psychologist who tells us that whistleblowers are either psychopaths, narcissists, or lingering in some irresponsible adolescence, the “national security correspondent” fails to challenge these claims. And when Australian broadcasting interviews Hillary Clinton, it allows the venal egotist to smear WikiLeaks as a Kremlin tool and call Julian Assange a narcissistic opportunist without the slightest resistance. Questions about the shady dealings of the Clinton Foundation are feebly set aside at the merest sign of discomfort by Madame Secretary. And Times op-ed writers like Friedman can happily call for support of al Qaeda, destroying target societies, and cheerlead more global wage leveling by chastising workers for not falling in lockstep with the elitist program.

These are the signs of a dead discipline. The mainstream media is no longer adversarial. It takes the official story at face value. It has abdicated its proper role in a democratic society, which is partly why we are no longer a democratic society. As Princeton University has explained, we are effectively a plutocracy. Thanks to the MSM, though, most of us continue to believe the rhetorical platitudes of our corrupt leaders. Media is one of our numberless emasculated institutions, which are now authoritarian and warlike. (See liberal faith in the Mueller investigation, led by a neoliberal imperialist who fought to crush Vietnamese socialism and led the FBI, one of the most regressive and criminal organizations in the world.) Like readers who still place a naive faith in the government, MSM writers continue to believe they are doing independent journalism in the service of truth (“Democracy dies in darkness,” the Post implores us). But real journalism accepts nothing at face value. It is the Socratic voice that unsettles the consensus.

Bot Bylines

Instead of incisive journalism that digs, defies, and holds power to account, we get self-censoring media automatons pampering oligarchs and pretending that all good-thinking people care deeply about the state of the state. Listen to the soothing language of the New York Times on the supposedly earth-shaking Russian influence campaign on social media. It hits all the right notes without seriously challenging the narrative. Note how it bleeds concern. This kind of journalism is a palliative for the conscience of a liberal. Ah, the “thorny debates” inside Facebook, no doubt had “in good faith,” and subject to “fateful misunderstandings,” if Ken Burns were documenting it. “Executives worry” and there is considerable “hand-wringing” afoot in good faith efforts to wipe out “fake news.”

Even the protagonists of the story are usefully quoted. Facebook lawyers, commenting on the miniscule purchase of ads over a two-year period from accounts with even the most tenuous Russian connection, much of it after the election, much of it not even mentioning presidential candidates, and the creation of bots to grow click farms, recoiled in horror and called the knowledge “deeply disturbing” and “an insidious attempt to drive people apart.” This is theater for the masses. Cue the organ grinder.

The goal of this domestic conditioning is to remove the democracy from democracy. The objective is to create a hollow shell of a democratic society, representative on the outside, plutocratic on the inside. The marble tomb inhabited by necrosis. This is deliberate. Read Alex Carey’s Taking the Risk Out of Democracy for a nice overview of how America’s collective conscience has been shaped by corporate forces. Why? Because we are the enemy. The enemy is our freedom of thought and speech, because that is what inevitably leads to democratic, socialist, or communist change that benefit the people as a whole, not just the vanishingly small margin of corporate elites who promote and profit from war, conquest, and rule. The problem with democracy is that it isn’t very profitable for capital. Socialist countries tend to emphasize social services. It is extremely hard to make money delivering quality social services to the poor. Really, the only way to make money off of social services is to deliver inadequate social services to the middle class for extravagant fees. See Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act for a master class in this technique. Monopoly capitalism is incompatible with actual democracy. To the degree that a truly democratic society can have free markets, they must be strictly regulated, prevented from reaching monopoly status, and completely walled off from public institutions. Otherwise, they will cannibalize those institutions, reshaping them as rubberstamp organs of elite profit.

As it is, democracy is merely the mask that disguises the engines of imperialism. It is useful in this regard because, unlike socialism, democracy makes no serious claims on the means of production. It depoliticizes the most political issue of all: economics. Thus the manufacture of enemies, job one for the ruling class media, always targets socialist-leaning nations that sense the need for economic justice alongside social justice. Even if they are mixed economies that provide space for open markets, like Venezuela. It makes no difference. We mustn’t tolerate the slightest majoritarian impulse in the economic arena. All such beliefs must be terminated. We must be refashioned as foot soldiers of exploitation. To this end, western propaganda outlets have made psychologist Erich Fromm’s warning sound less like prophecy than predestination, “The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that men may become robots.”

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Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry and author of The Sins of Empire: Unmasking American Imperialism. He lives in New York City and can be reached at

         A short “report” upon returning from another MDS (Mennonite Disaster Service) volunteer stint, this time near Lone Butte (100 Mile House) in the Caribou country of British Columbia, Canada.
This was MDS’ first “contract” in the area.  The reason we were so late starting was due to the roads having been closed because of the fires and it took a while to get the “all clear.”

Thanks to precautions by the owner, such as spreading fire retardant around the buildings and having a sprinkler system going fed by the solar panel array as the power grid was down, some of the buildings and animals survived the fires.  The dogs and horses did not survive.  Though many buildings throughout the fire area were saved that way, the ranchers lost over 30,000 heads of cattle, many of whom had to be put down having their hoofs and legs burned from running through the wildfires trying to escape.
Wildlife, especially the smaller rodent populations that provide food for the larger carnivores, was decimated.  Hungry cougars and other large predators are now roaming ever closer to remaining winter feed lots and even homes.   Children have to be driven inside vehicles to school bus pick-up points though you can see some daring lonely souls, who probably do not have the luxury of a parent at home able to drive them, walking along the roads.  One does not have to wonder long what would happen if they were attacked.
The goal of our 5-man crew was to get as much of the replacement house covered, laying up of trusses, sheathing and if possible, installation of the metal roofing.  We got as far as the tar paper and strapping, which will ensure the building stays relatively free of snow and rain on the inside, barring whatever blows in through doors and windows as yet not installed.  With the onset of winter up there, about 300 miles north of the border, or from Chilliwack which is where I live (practically on the 49th parallel) we probably will not be returning until after spring breakup.  By then there should be several more projects identified and contracted for by our project managers.

Following are some pictures I took the time to snap as the work progressed.  Couldn’t waste much time off the job as the days are short up there – it reminded me of the Peace River country in northern Alberta where I was raised, if a bit warmer and wetter and the mud not quite as sticky as our great plains gumbo.  If the pictures appear fuzzy, it’s because they are greatly reduced from their original format.

Images and captions:  This is the house we worked on.  It may seem large but it has to accommodate a large family.  IMG_0169

House againIMG_0170

… house…IMG_0154

Solar panels and power house.  Behind is the log cabin the family is now using as temporary abode. IMG_0166

…angle consultation.  The man in the black cap is the owner. IMG_0184

This is part of the area the family calls “Elizabeth’s Pond” IMG_0175

A bit more of “the pond” and the “floating fence” which sits on several feet of soft peat and is often under water. IMG_0180

Close up of “floating fence” and edge of pond.  I was told that if someone ventured here they’d sink over their head in peat and mud. IMG_0164

Children’s play area (one of several!) IMG_0153

Log playhouse. IMG_0152

Burned area near the homestead/ranch, and a small lake.IMG_0194

More of burned area – close up.IMG_0189

… and more… IMG_0200

My faithful companion van and mobile tool box,  properly “decorated” with high country mud.  Individual patiently looking out and waiting for me to take my pictures along the forest road is my friend, Vic Janzen, one of MDS’ project managers and project leaders.  We rode up together on this particular project.


A month ago, this is what our sun looked like at high noon here, 300 miles south of the raging wild fires. IMG_0006

I must say that, as much as I enjoy giving away time and resources to help others it never ceases to amaze me that as a nation people willingly let their pathocratic leaders blow off tax dollars on destroying people and the planet and fail to find it offensive that there is “no money” to help the very people who pay the taxes used to build the military hardware; the military machine and to pay the inflated “salaries” of rich, elitist rulers.  How can a supposed intelligent species be this dumb?  This uncaring?  This unfeeling?  This crass?  This ignorant?  This stupid?  How many of “us” is there for every one of “them”?  Yet we claim to be democratic societies.  Is this what we really want?  If not then why is it that those who propose change are always spurned, scorned, distrusted or even “elimitated” so the sharks can continue to have free range over the planet?  Surpasses my understanding.

As a final note, I saw the full glory of the Milky Way for the first time since leaving the Peace River country in 1964!  Prevailing winds must have “miraculously” blown the smoke away from the area where we bunked.  We seldom realize how much city environments create horribly polluted conditions until we find ourselves far enough up in the mountains, or far enough north that city smogs can’t reach there… yet.

The Fly in the Ointment

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

There are “bad” people in the world, and there are “good” people. For the sake of argument, we’ll say that for every “good” person, there are on average, say, 100,000 “bad” people (I’m sure it’s way higher than that but let’s be generous). When I say “bad” people I’m not saying “criminally bad people” per se, I’m talking about people who simply don’t care, being self-centered and selfishly motivated, whereas “good” people are those who care about things other than as they affect them, or as they may harm or benefit them personally, i.e., “good” people are relatively selfless.

That said, there is a third, tiny minority of people who exist, it seems, strictly to throw the proverbial monkey wrench in the gears: the fly in the societal ointment. In ancient times they were known as prophets and these “naysayers” were always at odds with the propagandists (the false prophets – today’s main stream media and priesthood of that always popular self-help and positive thinking church) and with society’s leadership and society at large (the Establishment). Their end was often quite violent.

I happen to fit the label of the latter, whether I like it or not. Although the areas where such as myself can speak freely are rapidly diminishing I am thankful that I can still do it, for people with the prophetic curse/gift must speak or die. Remember Cassandra’s curse! As Lord Byron wrote: “If I do not write to empty my mind, I go mad.” We speak “the truth” not only as we see it, but as we are driven to see it and speak it. That more than anything else, is what really irritates people; not just those who stand to lose greatly if we are listened to, but basically everybody. And here’s why.

In a world such as man has made of this earth, the truth is neither pleasant nor painless for anyone confronted with it. It is civilization’s scalpel, and the more diseased civilization, the deeper the scalpel must cut in order to attempt removal of diseased parts and allow for re-construction. Once convinced of the seriousness of a particular disease and the need to amputate, a patient may finally accept the fact and come to rely on the surgeon to save her life. Here’s the rub: a prophet is not the surgeon who’s going to amputate the cancerous parts of the body politic and help activate healing and possible re-growth of missing parts. The prophet does two things: s/he will tell you what your problem is based on your symptoms, and s/he will also tell you whether any surgery can fix the problem or whether it’s too deep, too endemic, to be arrested and a healthy recovery possible.

The prophet does not wield the scalpel: you, as a member of that body, are the surgeon.

You, with full cooperation and participation of all other parts of the body politic must perform the surgery, must endure to pain, accept the prophet’s “prescriptions and diet” if there’s to be any hope of recovery.

If the prophet says the disease has delved too deeply and greedily inside the body for the body to recover, that is not the end of the matter either. If (that’s a huge “if”) all the parts of the entire body still insist they want to live as a body, nothing is ever impossible, nothing is written in stone. Recovery remains possible, but the costs of attempting such a recovery may be way higher than most are willing to undertake. Since the majority “share holders” of the body are endemically “bad” people, i.e., bad stewards and managers, the prophet, taking that into account, will say (to the “good” people), “Honestly Pete, it ain’t happenin.”

This little essay is a warning to all the “good” and certainly well-meaning people I’ve encountered, whose efforts on behalf of the world, the animals, the environment, the poor, the oppressed, the war-torn refugees are beyond stalwart, to not expect those efforts to actually change to body politic for the better. They are band aids, nothing more, because they will never be allowed to be more than that. Success would mean loss of privilege, profit and comfort for that overwhelming majority of “bad” people. As a prophet I’m not advocating the “good” people stop their selfless efforts on behalf of what they perceive as needy, including the global environment, far from it. But to avoid burn out, disappointment and worst-case scenario, despair, make it a purpose, not a goal. Be there, without expectations. Be there because that’s where you belong; because that’s who and what you are. Then come hell or high water, all will be well, even when you are drowning in tears of sorrow and the tiny beachheads you’ve created though a lifetime of effort are wiped out overnight by the men in jackboots.

We are daily made aware that we are awash in the blood of martyrs. That blood is not a healing balm upon the earth, but an acid burning Earthian civilization to its bones and to its very marrow. So much blood has been shed in the last century and the first decade and a half of this one that nothing but a complete wipe out of man’s current civilization can begin to expunge man’s grossest-ever crimes committed against helpless and peace-seeking innocence. As a species, man has plunged (and continues to plunge) lower than even hell can imagine. That’s not the worst part. The worst part is, that for the vast majority it’s just more “business as usual.”  The day belongs to the “bad” people. 

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” A quote not to be used lightly in these, the last days of this civilization. Yes, the last days, for the necessary will to change does not exist and will not be allowed to come to pass.

I’ve got Questions: You got Answers?

[more troubling thoughts from   ~burning woman~  ]

Are there questions that need asking, but are unfair to ask?  I suppose, but then I suppose it depends who (or is it whom?) you ask.  What does it mean when you claim to be a human being?  What sort of creature, character, invention, mistake of nature, is a human, or at least, a human of earth in particular?  How do you define a generic human being, for the sake of argument agreeing for the moment that “we are not alone” and there are lots and lots of “other” humans out there among the fiery stars?

Maybe I should approach it from the opposite end: what isn’t a human being?  Is it everything else that exists that isn’t Homo Sapiens, or very similar in shape and deportment as HS?  And is it pushing the envelope to notice that HS also stands for Homeland Security?  Why does Homo Sapiens require “security” from something or someone, all the time?  Why does the character always feels threatened; always needs some sort of safety net around her/him?  Family, tribe, clan, separate group, government, a god, a police, a military, insurance, guarantees… knowing it’s born to die and there are no life guarantees worth the paper they might be printed on? 

Here’s one that tends to make a lot of people uncomfortable, but fits in with the need to hide, to be protected: the wearing of clothes.  I’ve never been able to understand why earth humans feel this instantaneous and deep shame if caught naked, exceptions being lovers at a certain level of their ephemeral steamy relationships and of course little children in their short-lived age of innocence.  Why the shame?  Why the fear?  Why the shamers?  And why the laws against public nudity? Come on, Why?  What’s really behind this control?   

OK, I’ve brought that up: we can’t go naked, it’s shameful.  Wow.  How come it isn’t shameful to condemn millions to death in order to spend zillions on war?  Tell me that!  Why isn’t it shameful to kill innocents in war?  Why isn’t war a collectively felt ultimate shameful act?  War is not just about monetary profits; millions support war, and cheer on the warmongers even when such wars are dispossessing them and their families; even when such wars bring the dragon closer and closer to home.  We’re in it right now; we can all see it happening.  Join up, go to Pakistan, to Libya, to wherever, doesn’t matter, just be ready to kill innocents in their own countries because… the point being?  The point being that the shame of such acts simply does not register on the human conscience, at least not in any significant level that could raise some doubt.  The point being that Earthians love war – they can’t have enough of the violence and if they can’t get it as the real thing, they’ll seek it in various aspects of their entertainment.  Watch the movies, read the books, play the games…

There’s a truly great word that describes man’s acts on this world: dysfunctionality.  Dysfunctionality increases exponentially, following the population curve.  The more people, the more dysfunction; the less thinking; the more knee-jerk reactions and knee-jerk reactions to reactions.  The world, it seems, is on the verge of turning into mob rule – as if that wasn’t already the case!  What are rogue states that ignore and routinely violate international agreements on aggression, such as the United States, but mob rule legitimizing itself with a thinning veneer of civilized government control?  What makes that work?  Collective denial.  Another example of a rogue state?  Britain.  What makes that collapsing fake democracy function?  Same thing: collective denial and some remaining pathetic belief that a change of party rule can make a difference, when all that is, is the carrot on the stick, while the stick is getting longer and the carrot smaller.  Speaking of rogue states, why don’t I mention China and Russia?  I probably would, if I knew more of their internal politics.  Not mentioning them doesn’t mean I’m ignoring them. 

These pseudo-countries, these mobs, well, they’re made up of people, aren’t they.  Look at how so many Americans are now vociferously blaming Trump, or those other potuses’ for the mess they are in.  Hello, who voted them in and cheered them on, deliberately or willy nilly?  If you live in a democracy, or if you at least believe you do and at the very least vote, then you’re admitting that you’re the one to “blame” for the state of the union, or the nation.  That’s how it is, unless you choose not to participate and walk to a different drummer.

War, murder, killing: tell me, Is there ever a morally defensible reason for someone who considers himself a member of the human race, to kill a child

Do you have an answer to that?  This isn’t an “ethical” question or a debatable one.  Before you answer, consider whether you are a member of a “democracy” which means that through participation in the process you are equally accountable for the death of a child if such death resulted from your “democracy’s” exploitative, oppressive, illegal, martial activities.  Remember that every nation, in one form or another, is involved in these murderous activities.  Where are the clean, the bloodless hands, in today’s world?  Every Earthian human (or pseudo-human) being has innocent blood dripping from hands, teeth and lips. 

Based on the above, are Earthians, human beings?  Let’s see: what are some particular character traits that define a human being?

First and foremost, to mean anything at all, a human being must have a compassionate nature, that’s a given. 

More character traits of a real human, as given to me by my Teacher, Phaelon, some years ago:

A human is innately self-sacrificing. 

A human never takes another’s life but would give its own to save another, regardless of who that other is.  For the human, such a sacrifice could never be for personal gain or recognition. 

A human never needs, or experience the need, to protect itself: it is not a predator, nor ever a victim. 

A human being doesn’t recognize any other as an enemy.  (It takes a higher level mind to grasp what that means.)

By those basic descriptions, how many human beings are you personally acquainted with and how does this acquaintance affect the way you think, speak and act?      

What’s the good of Freedom to the Ignorant?

                     [thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

“What’s the good of freedom to the ignorant?” (Ursula K. LeGuin, “Powers”)

A critical question that should be endlessly considered by those who claim to live in freedom; who claim to live within democracies.  Are these people intelligently educated, and are they, in fact, free?  To the intelligently educated, the word “freedom” conveys an endless number of meanings, and shades of meaning, constantly being internally debated.

But what does it mean to an ignorant lout?  A redneck?  A “fool” who lives at the beck and call of guts and brawn?  To the consummate shopper?  To the assembly line worker mind-numbed and beaten by endless, meaningless labour? To the denizen of the computerized cube farm? 

Raised in “relative poverty” (Canadian style, meaning we almost always had enough to eat, and enough clothing and housing to survive the harsh elements of a northern clime – nobody froze to death) I remember only too well having to interact with braggart, illiterate ignorance in grade school.  Later, standing alongside never stopping feed belts in canneries, numbed by the repetitiveness and clanking, hissing noise, checking, adjusting, clearing, stacking… I remember my quickly fading choices.  Was this back-breaking, brain-numbing work going to be my life?

To the ignorant, such situations call for camaraderie: misery loves company, and there was a lot of company; too much company.  These are also great opportunities for ass-kissers and bullies to rise quickly to their own levels of incompetence, loved by higher levels of managers because they consider this loyalty to the company, hence to themselves.  These are the people who snitch and prevent rebellions and talk of unionization, or who management encourages in seditious talk against unions to other employees in hopes of de-certification.  

And so, the ignorant are the great base, the pedestal upon which the masters wine and dine themselves, taking, taking and taking, never having to give any account to anyone because they have their ignorant base to walk over; to dance on. 

In America, the world just witnessed the “election” of a thorough boor, elected and to this moment, supported, by the ignorant masses who fear freedom above anything else, because they know that freedom entails responsibility and responsibility demands the kind of commitment they aren’t willing to put their minds into.  The chains worn by the consumer society do not seem so onerous to bear.

“The wall of forgetting was down.  I was able to think, to speak, to remember.  I was free.  Freedom was unspeakable anguish.” (Ursula K. LeGuin, “Powers”)

In such a morally depraved civilization as this, if “it” is making you feel safe, comfortable, happy, “it” isn’t freedom.  If it is making you rich, with power over others, “it” isn’t freedom.  If if demands that you arm yourselves to the teeth to go and oppress and exploit others in their own countries, to force them to your ways and to take their resources and labour, “it” certainly isn’t freedom.  Conversely, if “it” is dispossessing you; pushing you into deeper debt; into poverty; unto the street to survive by begging or crime, then obviously “it” isn’t freedom. 

Freedom neither gives, nor requires, any of those things.  Freedom can only be given, and shared, freely between willing participants.  This is what the promoters of “freedom and democracy” western style fear anyone learning about. 

To forestall such a thing becoming too common knowledge they invented the now practically global public school system, unofficially known as Official Brainwashing.  At the end of twelve years, give or take, of this waste of youthful years ooze the drones: workers, believers, consumers, hoarders, spectators, whiners, bitchers, complainers, addicts, gamblers, inmates and voters: the entitled to freedom, western style. 

For those who continue seeking after greater official ignorance comes Academic Higher Ignorance.  At the end of that, degrees indicating successful completion of various courses in Official Master Ignorance are handed out.  Having proved themselves adept at rising to their own level of State Approve Ignorance,  these may then be able to go into various channels of rip-off industry, including banking, politics, drugs, medical business, law, corporate engineering, technology and scientific research and through it all, the military, or Official Murder Industry.  Less prevalent today, but always eager to make a sudden come-back is Religion.  It too demands its slate of Officially Mandated leadership in Statutory Ignorance. 

To ensure only a minimal number ever wake up long enough to realize the massive scam they’ve been led into,  the System saddles their Worthy Ignorant with tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of “student debt”, another euphemism for the slave collar. 

You can’t be rebellious when you need a position to repay your debts, buy a house, and try to match the lifestyle of other Officially Ignorant in your line of pretend expertise.  And if you are not rebelling, you are acquiescing, and if you are acquiescing, you are supporting, and if you are supporting, you are a slave along with the others in your slave quarters.  And your greatest curse is that a part of you is always aware of this fact; a fact that can only be borne by an endless stream of distractions.  Enter the entertainment, news and social Media, organized Sports and spectator politics.  And war.  Ultimately, was is the greatest distraction of them all.  That’s why it’s unofficial title is The Endless War.

Freedom?  Of course I’m free.  I’m free to be an ignorant slave.  No anguish; no moral issues; no agonizing conundrums; no worries.  The “House” will take care of us and all our needs, for the “House” owns us all, amen!