Baby Boomers for Biden Recant Left Legacy

Former members of the leading Vietnam War-era peace organization in the US, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), recently circulated an open letter warning today’s young activists to – as the adage goes – do as I say and not as I did. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, these former leaders led the way in opposing the ravages of US imperialism and exposing what they called the “death culture.” Today, they are admonishing the new generation not to follow in their footsteps, but to go all out for what they call the “capitalist democrat” Joe Biden.

The big chill

When I was first becoming politically aware, these SDS folks were my heroes and mentors. They helped me break from the illusion that the USA was fighting for democracy and freedom, rather than imposing an empire where the US controlled 50% of the world’s wealth for only 6.3% of its population.

They were the ones – chanting, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” – who pulled no punches, criticizing Democrats and Republicans alike for genocidal injustices. And they especially warned about “selling out to the establishment.” That was then.

Today, they are variously tenured professors, attorneys, or working at comfortable NGOs. Who would have known that they would change to raising money for multi-billion-dollar Democratic Party PACs? While I don’t for a moment begrudge them financial or social achievement, the shift from independent direct action to boosterism within the Democratic Party is unfortunate.

It should be noted that SDS originated as the student branch of the League for Industrial Democracy (LID), a nominally socialist but more accurately liberal anti-communist organization. In 1965, the LID elders told their youth counterparts to include an anti-communist clause in their manifesto. Those rising SDS youth told their seniors to take a hike back then.

In bed with the Democratic Party

Bernardine Dorn, herself an SDS leader and subsequently with the Weather Underground, comments that the open letter “has all the wrong content and tone of the elders lecturing young activists…[I]t is finally too pompous and pretentious, too in-bed with the Democratic Party.” And that is a sympathetic comment to “comrades I love and respect.”

The Democratic Party is not like a labor union, or like what a labor union is supposed to be with dues paying members democratically electing a leadership that serves their interests. Rather the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which is the governing body of the US Democratic Party, is, in fact, a private corporation. The DNC has more in common with a for-profit sports team. You are free to wear their paraphernalia and attend their games, but the team owners are the ones that make the decisions and reap the profits.

When the DNC was taken to court for violating its own rules treating voters unfairly, the DNC brazenly argued that they are a private corporation with no obligation to be fair, and won. As the court transcript shows, the DNC’s attorney said that cheating Bernie Sanders in 2016 out of the nomination was “the business of the party, and it’s not justiciable.”

This same DNC again undermined Bernie Sanders’ candidacy in 2020, preferring to run a corporate Democrat favorable to their super rich donors and risk losing again to Trump. Now the authors of the open letter are preaching to the young activists that they have no choice but to fall in with those who screwed them. Or as the open letter states, to join with “solemn determination” their “high moral and political responsibility.”

Wrong historical lessons 

Peter Drucker, another former member of SDS, points out in his critique of the open letter that the letter’s favorable reference to early nineteenth century German sociologist Wax Weber is at best odd, but telling, for a letter addressing people who consider themselves socialists. Weber’s view was that revolutionary socialists were engaged in “dirt, muck, dung, and horse-play—nothing else.”

A favorite trope of anti-leftists, reflected in the open letter, is to blame the rise of Hitler on the failure of communists to unite with the socialists against a common enemy. In fact, what happened was that the socialists likewise would not unite with the communists against the fascists and instead chose to support the “lesser evil” of Paul von Hindenburg. In the 1932 German presidential race, Hindenburg ran against Hitler, won, and then turned around to appoint Hitler as chancellor in 1933. The rest, as they say, is history.

If we were to accept the open letter’s hyperbolic meme of Trump as a stand-in for Hitler, the historical analogy would be that today’s Democratic Party is not the socialists and certainly not the communists but would be Hindenburg’s party as the lesser evil to the Nazis. Once elected, Hindenburg dissolved the German parliament twice, approved the Reichstag Fire Decree suspending civil liberties, and signed the Enablg Act giving Hitler arbitrary powers.

For those worried about fascism being enabled in the US, recall that the Democrats militantly support the national security apparatus (e.g., CIA, FBI) and the Patriot Act. Even so-called progressive Elizabeth Warren calls of government censorship of social media.

Citing the lessons of Germany, the open letter summons an “all-hands-on-deck” effort to elect Joe Biden to prevent the “protofascist” Trump from winning. The situation, they exclaim, is dire for we may all end up in jail if Trump were to win.

In a follow-up to publishing the April 16 open letter, The Nation again plays the fear of fascism card if one strays from the confines of the Democratic Party. An April 28 article – “WTF Is Jacobin’s Editor Thinking in Voting Green?” – cries, “in a second term, Trump will double down on his fascist instincts.”

The Nation lectures the youth that you are “old enough to know better” than disregard the wisdom of your elders because, under a Republican, “progressives will spend the next four years fighting defensive battles.” The youth in their naiveite might ask, how would it be any different if the former Senator from MBNA wins?

In the real world, as Stan Smith notes, Trump “can’t even shut down Saturday Night Live.  Trump is a billionaire racist, sexist war-monger out to salvage the US corporate empire, nothing more, nothing less.” Joe Biden diverges mainly in having a smaller bank account and better table manners.

Politics for the pandemic

A more fitting lesson from the historical example of the rise of German fascism suggests the opposite of what the open letter advocates. The best strategy to combat the rightward trajectory of the two corporate parties is not to go all out and vote for the lesser evil. Especially with the COVID-19 crisis and the mechanisms of disaster capitalism, Naomi Klein warns their shared course to the right might well accelerate.

In 2016, the corporate Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton advocated lowering the Medicare qualifying age to 50 or 55. Yet Biden is to the right of Clinton’s position of four years ago, only conceding to lower the eligibility age to 60.

We are now in the midst of a pandemic, which demonstrates as never before the need for Medicare for All (M4A). The latest polls indicate a 69% overall approval rating with 88% of the Democrats supporting M4A. This support is despite the millions of “dark money” spent by the insurance industry against M4A. Biden, who had campaigned to cut Medicare and Social Security, vows he would veto M4A were it to come before him as president.

Voting for the lesser evil is encouraging a march to the right by making a step in the wrong direction. At a time when an independent progressive movement is needed more than ever, the sheepdogs of the open letter are trying to herd the new generation of activists into the Democratic Party.

Harvard’s Fossil Fuels Formula: Engagement before Withdrawal

“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it,” urged the Earl of Chesterfield in a letter of advice to his son penned in 1749.  “No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”  This has not tended to be the view of university governors the world over, notably in the field of ethical investments.  The elite heavy weights have shown their flabbiness in the area, dragging in their approach to matters of environment and the climate.  Money is just that; where it goes, in terms of investment, is of little moral consequence, lacking smell and ethical baggage.  Industry is there to be, and here, the word is essential, engaged.

Harvard University, one of the wealthiest teaching and research institutions on the planet with an endowment of $41 billion, is something of a specialist in this.  In 2013, the university’s President Drew Gilpin Faust adopted the position of “engagement over withdrawal” on the subject of fossil fuel divestments.  At the time, Faust considered any full divestment measure as unwarranted and unwise: the endowment fund was to be seen in purely self-beneficial terms, “a resource, not an instrument to impel social or political change.”

Playing the fiddle of an amoral politician, Faust attempted different measures of dismissiveness and reassurance: climate change did pose “a serious threat to our future – and increasingly our present”, and the university would be incorporating “environmental, social and governance” into its investments, thereby aligning with “investors’ fiduciary duties”.  Such an approach guaranteed an indefinite series of postponements on the matter.

By April 2017, the Harvard Management Company, the entity responsible for managing the finances of the corporation, felt that some move was required.  Colin Butterfield, heading the natural resources section at the HMC, accepted that climate change was a “huge problem” and that a “pause” in fossil fuel investments would take place.  Slyly, Butterfield shifted the focus, distinguishing between direct and indirect investments in the industry.  “What I can tell you is, from my area, I could honestly say that I doubt – I can’t say never, because never say never – but I doubt that we would ever make a direct investment with fossil fuels.”

In 2019, Harvard’s new broom, Lawrence Bacow still preferred “engaging with industry”.  In a surprise appearance at a forum hosted by Divest Harvard and the Harvard Political Union in April that year, he gave a model lesson on intellectual skiving: Teach, research and convince, and the industry itself will change.  Till that was done, the fossil fuel matter could be postponed.  “We need to engage with those whose behaviour we need to change.  We need to engage with industry.  We do that through scholarship; we do that through our teaching.”

Donning his weighty business hat, Bacow played the role of cold realist, warning against any policy coitus interruptus.  Divesting from fossil fuels was not the same as tobacco, where a full-scale enterprise of withdrawal through the university from research to labs could be implemented.  “The day after, if we were to divest, we’re going to turn on the lights.  We would still be dependent on fossil fuels.”

It has been a long, acrimonious battle.  The Harvard President and Fellows have tended to swat the claims away, regarding them as callow and unrealistic.  The students, in turn, have sought to have their case taken seriously, engaging in their own little bit of climate change lawfare.  In 2014, a lawsuit was lodged in Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts, featuring an 11-page complaint and 167 pages of supporting exhibits asking the court to force divestment on the students’ behalf.  The measure failed at first instance and on appeal, though campaign managed, along the way, to gather support from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, climate change scientist James Hansen and the Cambridge City Council.

The central problem in such climate change litigation remains one of conviction.  Courts refuse to cast a distant eye upon the future, expecting evidence to be as immediate, clear and incontestable as possible.  The argument by the students was precisely one of current action to prevent environmental dystopia, a case for future, potentially imperiled generations.  Instead, the students failed to show they had legal standing to challenge fossil fuel investments for their negative impacts on academic freedom and education at Harvard.  Their interests were “widely shared” with thousands of their peers at Harvard; their connection with the subject matter was not sufficiently “specific” or “personal”; and their allegations on financial mismanagement were too speculative to be accepted.

Both the Massachusetts Appellate Court and the lower court also came to the same conclusion on rejecting the merits of a new civil wrong on the “intentional investment in abnormally dangerous activities”.  The students had, in the higher court’s assessment, “brought their advocacy, fervent and articulate and admirable as it is, to a forum that cannot grant the relief they seek.”

The Bacow formula of engagement has been tinkered with, if ever so slightly.  As a tentative nod to the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, and in response to a resolution adopted by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in February, the endowment was instructed to develop an approach to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its investment portfolio by 2050.  Full Postponement Bacow had now transitioned to Partial Postponement Bacow.  “Harvard’s endowment should be a leader in shaping pathways to a sustainable future,” he wrote to members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “With this in mind, the corporation has directed the Harvard Management Company (HMC) to set itself on a path to decarbonize the overall endowment portfolio.”

In doing so, few toes will be tread upon in this new approach, as it “considers the investment portfolio as a whole, rather than simply targeting the suppliers and producers of fossil fuels.”  Possible partners, he warned, would not be demonised, as they had “committed to transitioning to carbon neutrality and to funding research on alternative fuels and on strategies to decarbonize the economy.”

The reaction from Divest Harvard showed an expected mixture of “I told you so” satisfaction tinged with regret.  “Until today, the administration has claimed that the endowment should not be used for political purposes.”  Finally, due to the pressure of student, faculty and alumni, Harvard had “acknowledged its duty to mitigate the emissions its endowment has been fuelling for decades.”  Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard was less complimentary: the university had taken “a step in the right direction”, but the plan was “insufficient”, making fossil fuel companies “cooperative partners”.

Former college president James L. Powell assessed the nature of managing an endowment sternly in a recent letter to the New York Times.  “The fundamental principle of endowment management is that future student generations should benefit to the same extent as the current generation.  By investing in the very companies whose products cause dangerous global warming, Harvard violates that principle and bets that it can profit from the success of those companies.” Such betting is set to continue – at least till 2050.

Food Crisis Coming – Should We Blame Coronavirus?

Food industry leaders are warning that a huge food crisis is coming, with slaughterhouses closing across the country and the food supply chain badly damaged. Politicians will blame this coming crisis on the coronavirus, but their unprecedented "lockdown" policies have disrupted every aspect of the economy. Plus - now the World Health Organization is holding Sweden up as a model on how to handle the coronavirus? Flip flop? Watch today's Liberty Report:

How Trump and His Media Allies Push the Conspiracy against China

Over 50,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. and the momentum is not letting down. This comes as President Trump and his allies are elevating their anti-China rhetoric to a new level. Their newest tactic: legitimize a conspiracy theory and blame a Chinese lab for “creating” the deadly virus.

But exactly how are they trying to spin the narrative?

Bloated

The Bloated Defense Department

The so-called Defense Department does not live up to its name; instead, the acronym and word Bloated describe this behemoth and its budget. We the people need defense, but the trillion tax dollars we spend a year do not provide it. Instead they pay for:

Some 800 US overseas military bases

Endless wars

The Nuclear Arsenal

Billions for Bombers and Battleships

These do nothing to make us secure.  They have benefited few people in the US or the world, apart from bloated arms manufacturers and merchants, bloated military contractors, bloated generals, bloated politicians, and those in the high echelons of bloated corporate power.

The Defense We Need

We need a strong, universal free-of-charge public health system to help defend us against COVID-19 and other health problems; the bloated Department steals resources that could provide the true security for a healthy population.

We need defense against climate disruption and heating of the planet. The bloated Department aggravates these problems by emitting more greenhouse gases than any other institution in the world and more than many entire nations.

We needed defense against Wall Street predators when they stole home ownership from millions of people – especially people of color and other working class people – during the 2008 economic meltdown. The bloated Department offered no defense.

Women especially need defense against sexual harassment, assault and domestic violence. The bloated Department exacerbates these problems: military culture promotes sexism, Military Sexual Trauma is rampant; the military protects sexual perpetrators of women and men within its ranks .

Veterans who have survived the endless and earlier wars need to heal from physical, emotional and moral injury.  The resources offered are inadequate and often inappropriate.  The bloated Department’s promotion of war and hyper-masculinity tends to aggravate veterans’ trauma.

The bloated Department did not even defend against a military attack on its own headquarters on September 11, 2001.  Nobody in the Pentagon lost their job over that “failure”.

Truth in Language

Toward the goal of ending war and militarism, let us have truth in language.  Bloated is an accurate word and acronym for the Department that oversees the enormously wasteful and destructive military. As the COVID pandemic makes painfully clear, funds now squandered on the military are urgently needed to meet the real security needs of US people – for healthcare, housing, infrastructure, and food security.

Let us also stop using the term defense expenditures when referring to costs that do not defend human beings from real problems that we face.  Military or war expenditures are accurate terms.

Changes in language in our writings, speeches, conversations and on social media can help change thinking and help lead to right action.

Covid-19 gives cover for US-led coalition to keep up pressure on Syria

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On April 27, at around five in the morning, Israel targeted residential areas of southern Damascus, killing three civilians, injuring four and causing significant material damage to homes.

The attack was carried out by Israeli warplanes unlawfully hijacking Lebanese airspace to fire their missiles into Damascus suburbs. It is the fourth such attack in the past month, two having taken place in the same week. Israeli media used the typical “self-defence-mission” arguments to justify the aggression. The EU-funded, UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) announced, in lock-step with Israeli media statements, that the missiles had hit positions “controlled by Iran and their proxies”, and that four “unknown-nationality” gunmen had been killed in the raid.

Israel exploits Covid-19 disruption to further its regional agenda

Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett, bellicose as ever, warned that Israel would not “allow the establishment of an advanced Iranian base in Syria.” Images that were circulated immediately after the attack depicted scenes of civilians returning to inspect the damage, not of Iranian militia. These called into doubt the familiar Israeli claims of self-preservation while attacking a sovereign nation from airspace it does not control and where it is not welcome.

A recent article written for the Brookings Institution, funded by Qatar and Bill Gates, among other US corporate heavyweights, outlines “Israel’s changing regional landscape in light of Covid19.” Effectively, Israel will attempt to seize the opportunity to double down on an already expanding collaboration with the Gulf States to combat the perceived threat of Iran they both face. One interpretation of the article is that Covid-19 offers Israel the opportunity to capitalize on Hezbollah/Syrian/Iranian distraction and the reshuffling of resources towards Covid-19 to strike at the heart of its alliance in Syria. This is being borne out by the uptick in aggression.

These violations of international law committed by Israel are not the only ones being conducted by the US-led alliance, which has, for almost 10 years, maintained a military and economic campaign to topple the Syrian government.

The entire region is reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic that has swept the globe, fuelled by an unprecedented media fear campaign that has driven multiple states into lockdown and isolation, with borders closed and movement curtailed. Yet the US alliance has militarily ignored its own domestic-policy diktats, which have effectively put the majority of the American population under house arrest.

US troop deployment and increased military footprint in north-east Syria

Veteran journalist Abdel Bari Atwan has reported that US intelligence agencies and Washington’s regional allies are exploiting the Covid-19 diversion to consolidate control over Syrian oil resources east of the Euphrates, with the help of their Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) proxies in the province.

According to locals in the area, the US is not only plundering Syrian oil wealth, but also profiting from the regional agricultural abundance – or rather it is relying on its mercenaries to self-sustain economically through the looting and resale of Syrian resources. In the long run, this saves it the trouble of paying the militia acting under its jurisdiction.

A steady stream of US military-vehicle convoys, loaded with military and logistical equipment have been reinforcing US military presence in the north-east, in particular Qamishli, converging on the illegal US base in Qassrak Tel Baidar.

According to SOHR, a Turkish military convoy of an estimated 20 military vehicles has entered Idlib province, in north-west Syria, in the past two days. This brings the number of vehicles that have entered Syria since the new Russia/Damascus/Turkey-brokered ceasefire in March to 2,830. All these convoys also generate an increase in troop presence – despite the restrictions on movement imposed by Covid-19 health recommendations, which appear not to apply to military personnel.

Such disrespect to Syria’s borders is effectively increasing the risks of spreading Covid-19 in a country that has endured almost 10 years of an externally sponsored war and decades of punishing economic sanctions. These conditions put Syria at high risk, if the virus is irresponsibly introduced into already war-debilitated and displaced communities.

Raqqa is also apparently on the US road map for re-occupation. Syrian war analyst Ibrahim Mohammad has informed me that terrorist media outlets sympathetic to the SDF have reported the arrival of an international team of military experts in a base west of Raqqa. The aim of this team is to assess the possibility of a redeployment of US troops to the area they militarily pulverised, allegedly to “liberate” it from ISIS, in 2018.

Simultaneously, a team of US coalition military personnel has been dispatched to the Khrab A’shq base in the countryside of Ain-Al-Arab, north-east of Aleppo. Observers report the arrival of trucks carrying concrete blocks to fortify the former US base in preparation for the return of US troops.

It is worth noting that Syria is not the destabilized nation it was when the US initiated its base-building campaign on Syrian sovereign territory – an act of banditry that went largely unremarked on by Western media. The local Syrian pushback against Washington’s re-occupation policy has been given impetus by the Syrian Arab Army’s allied victories against the extremist armed groups in the past five years.

The looting of Syrian resources is not confined to US-backed militant structures. Turkish proxies are also exploiting the Covid-19 lull to strip the Al-Ghab area in north-west Hama, bordering Idlib, of its water and irrigation pipes for resale in Turkey. The Al-Nusra Front is accused of dismantling the remains of Zayzoun power plant and Idlib textile factories for sale to Turkish scrap-metal dealers – presumably, to fund Al-Qaeda’s military occupation of Idlib.

Even ISIS has been emboldened by the Covid-19 shutdown. ISIS terrorists, afforded protection from government pursuit by the proximity of the US military base at Al-Tanf, on the border with Jordan, swarmed to attack the eastern countryside of Homs during April 2020. Although the attack was repelled by the Syrian Arab Army, it is indicative of the spoiler role the US will now play to maintain pressure on the Syrian government and military, unaffected by the expectation that a more “humanitarian” response would be appropriate while the world is battling Covid-19.

Sanctions: Ramped-up hybrid war to bring Syria to her knees

The Syrian government has been effective in its handling of the Covid-19 situation. Pragmatic precautions have been taken, and medical institutions, ministries, hospitals and industrial sectors have combined forces and resources to protect the Syrian population with excellent results. Syria has 43 official cases of coronavirus, 19 recoveries and three deaths – a remarkably low number for a country that the West expected (or hoped) would buckle under the strain.

Rather than respond positively to the “humanitarian” crisis generated by Covid-19 – a crisis that impacts most severely upon the Syrian people – the US has effectively maintained its “maximum pressure” campaign, tightening the sanction screws, rather than releasing them.

According to local reports, the Syrian economy is losing 1 trillion Syrian pounds (SYP) per month – that’s around 33.3 billion SYP per day – after the suspension of activity in most economic sectors as part of the measures adopted to fight Covid-19. According to Syrian economist, Ali Kan’an, losses amounted to 2 trillion SYP in March and April, and will rise to an estimated 4 trillion SYP if the lockdown extends until June 2020.

The Syrian government is responding proactively to the dramatic economic downturn, allocating, for example, 1.5 billion SYP to the agricultural sector, in an attempt to support and protect the Syrian economy during these extraordinary times. However, the timing of the Covid-19 media and UN agency hype is turning out to be very convenient for the US coalition, which was about to have to concede the humiliating defeat of its regime-change campaign, as a final military victory was in sight for the Syrian state and its allies.

The former French ambassador to Damascus, Professor Michel Raimbaud, argues, rightly, that sanctions are “more barbaric than military confrontation, which is nearing an end [...] it is illegal and immoral. It is a stain on humanity.” For Washington and its allies in the UK and EU to maintain sanctions during the Covid-19 crisis is nothing more than deliberate economic savagery. The situation is apparently being intentionally exploited to push Syria over the edge and into an economic abyss, which serves only the far-from-humanitarian agenda of the US-dominated globalist nations that are jockeying for hegemony in the region.

Covid-19 has brought into sharp relief the US-alliance “humanitarian” fig leaf that is enabling perpetual war across the world. It is nothing more than barbaric that its sadistic economic policies remain firmly in place during an unprecedented global crisis. Whether this crisis is real, exaggerated or orchestrated, it is the people who are suffering, and the US coalition is exploiting their suffering for its own ends.

Reprinted with permission from RT.

The Massive Inflatable Crisis That is COVID-19

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By all accounts and from the very beginning it was clear to some that Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) was at the very most a little more dangerous than the seasonal flu – but was being deliberately hyped to stampede the public into an increasingly tangled web of bad policies.

As early as last month, cooler-headed experts had warned that hyped death rates spread by politicians, the Western corporate media, other various panic-mongers, and even World Health Organization (WHO) officials would give way to much, much lower death rates as more people were tested and were found to have had the virus, most of whom showed little to no symptoms.

The numbers of infections versus deaths in Iceland (where no ‘lockdown’ took place) where testing has been the most widespread shows a death rate of about 0.5 percent, though only 5 percent of the population has been tested. Roughly 50 percent of those tested showed no symptoms at all – meaning that many, many more Icelanders likely had the virus, overcame it with ease without ever visiting a doctor or hospital to avail themselves for testing or to make into national Covid-19 statistics.

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Another study conducted in the United States by Stanford University found that the infection rate was likely 50 to 85 times higher than reported – meaning the death rate was astronomically lower than previously reported, and really sat at around 0.2 percent to as low as 0.12 percent – certainly nothing near the 3-4 percent claimed by the World Health Organization.

In other words: in terms of fatalities rates, Covid-19 is no more dangerous or deadly than the annual flu. But it has been hyped as such by Western politicians, the Western corporate media, and even international institutions like WHO – a deliberate deception accompanied by coordinated theater including government briefings with reporters comically spaced out in “fear” of contracting Covid-19.

Other props used to panic the public into imprisoning themselves at home and accepting the immense socioeconomic damage “lockdowns” are causing included showing misleading exponential graphs of infections seemingly rising straight up with no end in sight.

If responsible journalists put these graphs in context – say, perhaps next to annual flu infection curves – the public would notice they are virtually identical and simply represent the way the flu, colds, and Covid-19 which is related to both – work their way through populations.

The same goes for total deaths. Should the media present Covid-19 deaths in the context of and in comparison to annual deaths from the flu, Americans – for example – would see that versus the 2019 flu season, Covid-19 is actually 30,000-40,000 deaths short of just matching the common flu – saying nothing of living up to the hype and hysteria that the government and media have deliberately created around Covid-19 to justify its ‘lockdown’ policies.

So why have governments around the globe crippled their economies, put millions out of work, and placed draconian measures in place to, in essence, imprison their populations at home?

Those with power and money seek to keep what they have and to take what little is left in the hands of others. During the manufactured “War on Terror,” similar hysteria was deliberately spread across society to justify draconian police powers at home and endless wars abroad – pouring ultimately trillions into the accounts of defense contractors and the financial institutions invested in them.

During a manufactured health crisis like the 2009 H1N1 “Swine Flu” outbreak, the unfounded fear of an uncontrollable pathogen ravaging the population helped justify the centralizing of control over people’s health and lifestyle while pumping billions in pubic funding into the coffers of Big Pharma.

And here we are again with the very same interests who lied to us about all of the above, doing it again, but on a much larger and more destructive scale and creating socioeconomic havoc virtually no one will escape completely.

If the Covid-19 hoax (indeed, there are so many aspects of this which are by definition a hoax) doesn’t convince you to divest from the politicians and the corporations they serve – including divesting from big-business’ goods and services – nothing will.

Special interests have just beta-tested turning entire nations into virtual prisons.

If people allow it this time, their ability to do it again and to an even greater and more disruptive degree is all but guaranteed.

Reprinted with permission from 21st Century Wire.

Who Answers When a National Crisis Comes Calling?

I define a “national crisis” as a calamitous event that imperils the overall well-being of the nation’s citizenry. For America, I suppose there could be several answers depending on the crisis: The President, the National Guard, the military, the Department of Homeland Security. In this article I am going to focus on some instances where the President’s answer was not the right one, and end with a President giving the right answer.

Take the case of FDR, for instance, and his answering the nation’s call with his New Deal policies and programs after the First Great Depression. The popular belief and the opinion of some scholarly economists is that the New Deal rescued America. Not so at all, writes Jim Powell, in his 2003 book, FDR’s Folly, How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression. Mr. Powell is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian “think tank.” What helped relieve the depressed economy was America’s involvement in WWII, a war that FDR contrived to arrange U.S. involvement by deliberately provoking Japan with embargoes and other hostile actions.

Abraham Lincoln did not answer the call over the Civil War, probably the most disastrous crisis ever within America’s boundaries. Indeed, he was a racist who started the war to preserve the Union so that it would be imperialistically strong enough to exploit the nation’s resources.

Woodrow Wilson did not answer the call during the Spanish flu pandemic that infected 500 million people around the world and that killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people. He downplayed the pandemic and forced America’s soldiers to continue fighting his unnecessary war.

George W. Bush answered the call when hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, but his answer was not on behalf of the devastated residents. He sent in the bungling Department of Homeland Security, the fast growing bureaucratic and incompetent Federal agency, and, to add insult to injury, let the public-school system be privatized and ripped off along with leaving thousands of teachers suddenly without jobs. The hurricane washed away many homes in vulnerable areas, leaving thousands of suddenly homeless and impoverished citizens sequestered in the Superdome that quickly became a cesspool.

And did George W. Bush answer the call during America’s Second Great Depression of 2008? It was caused solely by the avarice and wrongdoing of the financial industry that plummeted millions of Americans into financial distress, His answer was hugely discriminatory. He played favorites. So, his sole priority was to bail out the financial industry and he ignored the plight of Mr. and Ms. America. Well, after all, he did descend from banksters.

Let’s now consider an exception, one in which the U.S. president actually did answer the call on behalf of Mr. and Ms. America, Donald J. Trump. Consider what he has done for the American people in response to the current pandemic crisis. His response is in stark contrast to his predecessors. I received a check from the U.S. Treasury entitled, “Economic Income Payment.” I never got anything from President George W. Bush, nor did any other ordinary Americans. They mostly got economic misery of personal indebtedness and burdened with holding down two jobs.

As for his handling of the pandemic crisis, despite much criticism and many jokes about it, he certainly is less irresponsible and incompetent than the overly funded, bureaucratic World Health Organization that fumbled the call. And his much maligned and derided comments about injecting disinfectants was off the cuff and followed the comments made by a Mr. Bryan, acting undersecretary for science and technology at the swamp, Department of Homeland Security, who told about tests purportedly showing that sunlight and disinfectants like bleach can kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces.” Perhaps most ire and derision ought to be directed at Bryan.

Obviously, Trump haters are going to hate my choice of Trump as a rare exemplar. One already has by telling me this:

You’ve got to be kidding, Gary. What has Trump done about the Covid-19 pandemic? First of all, he ignored warnings that it was coming by several months. As he has done throughout his presidency, he has lied and is unwilling to admit his mistakes.

He gives out false information and bogus cures that have led to the deaths of people that believe he knows what he is talking about. He has encouraged defying of governors who are trying to protect their constituents.

He has fired top scientists with knowledge about the coronavirus. He has been wrong every step of the way, claiming the virus would be over soon and that Democrats were making it up to discredit him. He has failed to supply test kits and other useful medical supplies.

I can go on and on, but why bother? It is obvious that Trump is way over his head with this crisis and has been wrong every step of the way. All this is obvious, Gary. What happened to your critical thinking skills?

End of scurrilous quote. And here was my rebuttal:

It’s good to hear from you, my friend, despite your rather insulting question at the end about my critical thinking skills. But rather than be offended, I will simply respond relying on my critical thinking skills, which are as sharp as ever even at my advanced age.

Rabid Trump haters are so blinded emotionally they cannot see or refuse to see the positive side of the man. Here are three positives as I appreciate them. 1. He has killed far fewer people on foreign lands than any of his predecessors. 2 His immigration policy is absolutely the correct one, because, as I have written about, immigration was instituted for two malevolent reasons, to get cheap labor and to keep the nation divided culturally. 3. He shredded NAFTA that was choking our friends south of the border.

End of quote. And end of article with this closing remark: Thank you, Dissident Voice, for allowing me to be so dissident here!

Economic Epidemic

Dynamic duo:  Same bat virus, same fat profits

From Havana to Helmstedt

The major reason for Cuba’s travel restrictions — always used as grounds for slandering the Cuban state — is the extreme difficulty Cuba has maintaining foreign exchange reserves essential for international trade,  especially since the end of trade-in-kind with the COMECON. Every traveller from Cuba spends pesos that have to be covered by Cuba’s USD or EUR reserves. Since there are already more than enough obstacles imposed by the US embargo, every forex transaction is critical for Cuba’s balance of payments — for its ability to buy what it cannot produce. In fact, those who can still recall crossing from West Berlin to East Berlin will also remember that it was necessary to exchange DM 30 for M 30 for every day one spent in the GDR. This was heavily criticised in the West, especially by travellers who would complain that it was impossible to spend the M 30 in a day since everything was so inexpensive. Of course, the GDR was trying to compensate for the discriminatory exchange rates that made trade with the West a drain on its foreign currency reserves.

While many ordinary visitors complained and the Western media encouraged Germans in the East to complain about the buying power of the GDR mark, the fact is that throughout the world national economies only survived the Bretton Woods regime as long as they maintained currency controls. A major element in the economic warfare waged by the US Empire since 1945 has been to abolish fixed exchange rates. Having rigged the post-war international monetary regime to replace the British pound with the US dollar as the benchmark currency, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were deployed to stabilise the US dollar with advantage over the old European currencies.

Although officially these were international institutions, they were organised like private corporations. The decisions were to be made by the majority of shares held in the IMF or World Bank. Since the US held the majority of capital in both, it was endowed with the most votes over any Fund or Bank decision. The quasi-currency of the Fund and the Bank was called special drawing rights (SDR). These units of account were based on a weighted value of the underlying “reserve” currencies, mainly the USD. SDRs could be used to resolve balance of payments discrepancies. Members of the IMF were extended SDRs according to the relative strengths of their economy. Based on the SDRs allocated to a country it could draw dollars or another reserve currency in amounts sufficient to pay temporary imbalances between imports and exports, transactions that after WWII were almost all USD business.

As the late Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley once pointed out — when the Bretton Woods agreements were signed most of the countries, like Jamaica, were still colonies or protectorates of some European or North American power. Hence no provision was made for them to even have independent economies or national currencies. As a result most of the world’s population and any of the newly independent countries that did not adopt a version of a Euro-American currency had no way to monetize their economic activity in international trade. They were left entirely dependent upon the USD, GBP, and FF for foreign trade of any kind. In order to limit USD hegemony in Africa, the French invented the CFA-Franc. This African franc tied its former African colonies to France by giving the CFA-franc a favourable exchange rate with French franc, although not parity. Overall, however, the post-war independence movements were all faced with the inherent dependence of their currency systems from the machinations of US and European banks with their control over the two major foreign exchange markets, the City and Wall Street. The exceptions to this regime were the Soviet Union and COMECON as and after 1959 Cuba.

When the US economy faced possible financial collapse toward the end of its war in Vietnam (it had been fairly successful in transferring the costs of the Korean War to the “United Nations”), secret negotiations by the Nixon administration with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had, through their offices within OPEC, saved the USD by abolishing the gold fixing and establishing the USD as the sole currency for the world oil trade. At one fell swoop any country that did not have domestic oil supplies or had to trade oil on the world market was forced to use US dollars. To prove the point the US regime has never hesitated to wage war against any OPEC member that does not comply with this iron rule. Of course, the US is the only country which can issue US dollars and its banks are the only ones who can sell USD denominated debt, directly or indirectly, hence the central role of the Federal Reserve System — the private banking cartel chartered to issue dollars and control US monetary policy. The US regime has also pursued rigorous policies, even if not always entirely successful, to draw all those dollars back into US assets or to permit US entities to acquire foreign assets through the unlimited capacity to generate USD and to monetize private business (while on the other hand prohibiting the monetizing of public debt for social services, infrastructure etc.)

This is the context in which the current economic war with China and to a lesser extent with Russia has to be seen. This economic war entered a new phase with the Wuhan attack.

Lucrative lockdown

Fast-forward: European and US authorities order various degrees of “lockdown” and international travel, even within the EU itself, comes to a virtual halt. Airlines, hotels, and the rest of the travel sector have practically no more than essential business. The transport sector is also substantially restricted. The everyday economy is almost in coronary arrest.

What are the benefits of the general lockdown in the West? Is it really possible that the corona virus was so shocking that the economy as a whole was only an afterthought? Are we to believe that it was merely an oversight on the part of government to contemplate contingencies for epidemics but not for economics? It would be nice to think that Western governments care so much about the health of their citizens but that is rubbish. What is really very important — in fact, it is the only important issue for those who own our governments is MONEY and, of course, the power that goes with it.

What are the immediate consequences of the lockdown in economic terms?

  1. a) restriction of travel by masses of a generally mobile and consuming population (at least in the EU)
  2. b) restriction — soon to reach extinction of a substantial percentage of SMEs
  3. c) obstruction of supply chain transactions, not least of which with China
  4. d) increased unemployment beyond the already deliberately understated figures
  5. e) inevitable price increases, whether scarcity induced or because of added “safety” costs
  6. f) the creation of potential for a layer of corruption and contraband traffic that will not only raise the prices of everyday life but partly criminalise it.

At the same time we have heard more than a few reports of new QE (aka giving trillions to so-called banks). *

In the Western media one finds accusations that China caused the “corona crisis” to benefit from a fall in asset prices (not only stock markets but also for businesses damaged by the lockdown) to buy them up on the cheap. Personally I follow a golden rule when reading Western official statements, whether directly from regime mouthpieces or through their Great Wurlitzer: what they accuse is what they are hiding. It is like that classic scene in many a classroom: the bully slaps another pupil. Pupil slaps back and bully screams. The teacher only sees the return slap and never the first strike. The slapped pupil is punished and the bully rewarded.

If we ask critically what the new QE is supposed to do — is it to protect all these banks from another 2008 failure? No, not really. Instead it is to fill the “banks” with cash for pre-emptive buying following the price crashes so that China can be blocked out of any further investment in the West’s critical sectors.

It is also survival money so that all the defaults and bankruptcies in the SME sector can be written off without damaging the overall profit line.

In other words a) and b) can be directly linked not only to strategic population control objectives, linked also to the now infamous universal vaccination programme, but also to the imposition of currency controls. In Europe, fewer euros will flow to China and in the US obviously the USD flows will be reduced.

  1. c) The disruption of supply chains is mainly an organisational measure. This will reduce the number of channels by which China can trade in the West. In the first stage it will also facilitate the consolidation of the economy in fewer hands so that those supply chains can be better managed from the top.
  2. d) As argued elsewhere, purchasing power has declined steadily over the past thirty to forty years for most of the working population on both sides of the Atlantic. There is a need for a fundamental demographic adjustment. Germany, for instance, has used imported labour since its reestablishment in 1949. First it was a substitution for labour shortages immediately after its defeat by the Soviet Union.  The so-called Economic Miracle — the reconstruction period — in large part funded by orders from the US war machine in Korea — quickly absorbed its available German labour force. Hence it started to suck workers from impoverished Italy and Greece. If the German government is to be believed, then the domestic labour force is too old or too small to meet current demands, hence while domestic workers are under house arrest, the flow of persons displaced by NATO wars; e.g., in Syria, continues uninterrupted. Thus the new generation of industrial and technical labourers at the bottom of the German social hierarchy will not be Turkish but Arabic speaking. There is no reason that they will be able to return to their homes any time soon since NATO is not finished destroying them.

At the same time the crushing of the domestic small and medium-sized sector will — as it always has — have a positive effect by forcing wages down even more. If the virus is really as effective as some claim at killing people aged 60 and above, then the state pension funds will be able to declare surpluses soon, net revenues from immigrants and a sudden decline in beneficiaries. This sounds cynical but the insurance model for social security installed under Bismarck anticipated much shorter lifespans and fewer eligible retirees than today. The government’s plan to raise the retirement age to 70 cannot solve the problem because there are no jobs for these 65+ citizens. Hence they have to live from savings or the dole. Better just let them die.

If there is an economic meltdown in the West, then these assets have to remain denominated in USD/EUR in order to prop up these currencies and preserve the fortunes of dollar/euro/or sterling billionaires.

Now add to this the lockdown and recall the case of CUBA.

The lockdown makes good economic sense from the commanding heights of the Western economy! By more or less crushing the SME sector with its increasing exposure to China; e.g., import of components and finished goods for resale, a substantial foreign exchange gap is closed. China is deprived of these payments. Thus foreign trade with China becomes ever more concentrated in the few cartels that share control over the monetary policies of the FED, Bank of England and ECB.

For normal mortals this is insane.  Why would the West want to crush the lower third of its economy? For years people have been whining about the 1% but otherwise not doing very much about it. In fact, the 1% can live very well without most of the normal economy as long as they have currency stability for their stores of wealth in the world.

Not only travellers, like for Cuba, but much of the real economy, constitute a genuine risk to the monetary system the great Western private banks created in the BoE, in 1913 with the FED, and later with the ECB. The ECB and the euro can be sacrificed as long as the USD and GBP remain world standards.

  1. e) One of the virtues of the system which could emerge as a short-term or medium-term result of the lockdown and its associated policies and practices is the creation of a new class of criminal activity — the real economy. Since it is unlikely that the West can suborn China and together with Russia impossible, the West has an obvious potential as far as I can see that has hardly been mentioned. Perhaps it is worth recalling from mainstream history the narrative of feudalism: the peasants were tied to the land. The aristocracy and royalty fought over land plus the chattel (the people occupying and working the land). Movement from the land was forbidden without permission by the feudal lord (a prohibition also enforced by the Churc; e.g., through the Inquisition). Pursuing a craft or trade was almost only possible in cities, which may or may not have been “free”. The details can be found in most standard history books about this period.

Casino royale and camino real

However, we have almost no peasantry left — something that can be detected in the abysmal quality of food found in countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain. Instead there are only “free labourers” some of whom imagine they own their homes. Immediately after the collapse of the GDR any traveller could see an explosion in the number of hairdressers and small restaurants or similar personal service enterprises. Much of this business was the desperate attempt to recover earning capacity after West German government and business closed GDR factories and other employing institutions causing an explosion in unemployment that is still vastly understated and concealed by half-hearted social policies. These businesses are vulnerable to taxation and other cost-intensive regulations that are characteristic of modern bureaucratic states like Germany. It is also no wonder that they offer little more than a marginal income that often has to be compensated by some other job or social benefit.

At present that is all very exhausting and frustrating for the vast majority of people in this low-income sector. Yet it is still legal. The first step toward terrorizing the bulk of the soon to be even more under- or unemployed is to restrict or effectively prohibit the personal service sector — for health reasons. Now it is almost impossible to get a haircut or a manicure anywhere because these businesses have been forced to close as part of the policy of “social distancing”. Reality, however, knows no such prohibitions. Those people who have no other means of earning a living except personal services and those who need those services will find a way to meet and transact business.

This is where the spirit of Mr Gates is especially pernicious — but not simply because of some billions more that he may steal. What Mr Gates, as the poster boy, and the whole public health paramilitary/civil affairs regime that is nascent as I write offer us — or may well force upon us — is spiritually and socially akin to the Prohibition regime created by the Volstead Act in the US. Prohibition was introduced ostensibly to control alcohol abuse. However, it failed to get substantial legislative support until people like Henry Ford — then along with Rockefeller one of the world’s richest men — insisted that Prohibition would give them the power to destroy the meeting places of immigrants, especially those from Eastern and Southern Europe where beer and wine were integral to social life. Forbidding alcohol to people who for centuries considered wine and beer part of their diets was a serious attack on their private and family lives. However, since this was a “health” issue the Volstead Act did not violate any constitutional rights. Any place could be closed for serving alcohol of any kind. The meeting venues for almost all immigrants could be shut by armed police wholly within the law.

Although this was a draconian law, it was not really enforceable. In fact, the famous Kennedy political dynasty was only one family whose wealth came from breaking the law. At no time during the period of Prohibition in the US was the ruling class deprived of intoxicating drink. Moreover the covert sale of alcohol, the bribery of police and other officials, the payment of protection money to gangsters, created an entire corporate structure, which survives today although its product range is based mainly on opiates. The illegal and legal drug businesses constitute one of the main pillars of USD supremacy, along with oil and weapons, but that is just a detail here.

The important point here is that the culture of prohibition has clearly mutated into the field of “communicable disease”; i.e., highly infectious viruses. Whether or not Mr Gates and his friends will succeed in their ID2020 scheme — vaccine or subcutaneous identity chips — is certainly a very serious question. But even if this particular model does not get forced under our skin, the struggle in the lower half or third of the population to survive through personal services and hospitality will become a target for the same kind of parasitical class that developed and enriched itself under the Prohibition regime, and in the environment of permanent war (which was what 1984 most nauseatingly described) scarcity and corruption are designer processes — intended to punish and discipline the majority of the population while extracting every bit of surplus from their already meagre incomes. This artificially created illegality will empower a class of people who profit from serving it and have no interest whatsoever in return to normal human relations. The already immanent price increases and due to increased unemployment parallel decline in wages — with the risk that one can be excluded from work or income for “health” reasons — will further enrich those at the top while undermining solidarity downward as people become caught in the net of this policing regime.

Therefore, it is absolutely essential to resist any further imposition of this state of siege. In this matter, I cannot help paraphrasing some otherwise noxious colonial from the 18th century: we must all be sick together, or each of us will be sick separately — in isolation.

There are some people who read George Orwell’s books as prescriptions; after all he spent his last years working for an office in the British “Ministry of Truth”. Then there are those who completely misread his books as attacks on the Soviet Union and communism. However, those who read his books carefully will see that he understood the spirit and actions of his employers very well. Orwell’s fiction is ambivalent, like his entire career and his nonfiction works as well. Perhaps the best way to understand them is as the diaries of a colonial police officer, who knew his duty and no matter how disagreeable did it. That duty was to hold down the hands and feet of the ruled while the rulers emptied their pockets. Orwell knew he was working for gangsters, but he needed the job. That was the price he paid.

AND yes, if Madeleine Albright was ready to see half a million Iraqi children dead for the policies she was appointed to represent, you can bet that some 60 million, dead or enslaved, is also a price the 1%  find worth paying to keep their privilege on this planet intact.

*QE = quantitative easing: a term of financial jargon used by the US Federal Reserve System to denote privileged financial support to the top tier “banks” to prevent them from suffering (or collapsing) under the weight of their own elaborate extractive operations; e.g., debt siphons and gambling rackets. The mechanism involves the quasi-governmental (but actually privately owned and managed) Federal Reserve System purchasing the “bad” or uncollectible debts or gambling chits of these top tier “banks” by issuing Treasury obligations (e.g. so-called T-notes), basically certified claims that these “banks” may then assert against the US government to siphon tax receipts and other public income into their coffers. These claims are negotiable too, meaning they are traded on financial markets and can be used like money to buy non-financial assets.