A Note from the Ministry of Staple Guns

The City of Portland, Oregon, and Multnomah County, are doing the best job in the country at kicking the can down the road.  Now is the time to push for a real solution to the housing crisis, here and across the USA.

Since the pandemic hit, I have joined the ranks of the unemployed, like so many others have.  Dozens of gigs planned in nine countries on three continents canceled.  I’m doing better than many of my fellow musicians, because I have been moving more towards the modern, crowdfunded patronage model of artistic existence for years now, in the wake of the collapse of the music industry, which has never come close to recovering from the transition from physical merch to “free.”  I was expecting to suddenly start losing my supporters on Patreon one by one, as my supporters also were losing their own jobs, but so far that hasn’t happened.  Listening to interview after interview with other artists from around Portland on local radio, though, it’s very hard times.  As anyone knows by now if they listen to NPR, many performing artists have to do other things to pay the rent, which usually involves service sector work of some kind, which, of course, disappeared along with their gigs, when the cafes, bars, restaurants, convention centers, schools, libraries and theaters all closed, and festivals were, of course, canceled.

For the first time in my 53 years as a US citizen, I qualified for unemployment insurance.  For any of you better-off foreigners who aren’t familiar with the dog-eat-dog barbarity that underlies the principles on which most US states run their unemployment insurance programs:  if you didn’t pay into the program with a traditional kind of job involving payroll and payroll taxes, you don’t qualify to benefit from it if you find yourself jobless.  So this leaves out increasing numbers of the workforce, what we now call “gig economy” workers, such as, obviously, touring musicians, but also so-called “contract workers” such as Uber drivers and all kinds of other people who appear to be working for a large corporation but are actually “self-employed,” through some kind of capitalist magician’s sleight of hand.  Maybe even an invisible hand, now suddenly very visible, slick with the sticky blood of its multitude of victims.

But, just in time to prevent who knows what from happening (I was definitely smelling smoke), the Congress acted, and expanded unemployment to include something closer to the actual number of unemployed workers — not counting the estimated 11 million undocumented, or the unpaid homemakers, and so many others, but still much better than it had been before they passed the PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance).  I applied for it, soon after it became possible for people like me to do so.  I received a confirmation from a bot that my application was received, and that’s all I’ve heard from the government since early April, aside from the one check signed by Donald Trump himself, that did arrive, now a long time ago.

What we’re clearly seeing in terms of the overall national response to the situation here in the US exposes the dire flaws within both the anemic public health sector and within the capitalist economy, which, in the US, is a kind of house of cards constructed on top of a ponzi scheme called the real estate market.  In other countries, it seems, with highly functional governments, and economies that aren’t mainly based on speculation on, and investment in, the real estate market, it’s possible to temporarily freeze the economy — defer mortgages, cancel rents, maintain industries and jobs with government support so they’re all still there when the crisis is over, etc.  But in the US, it seems even the idea of deferring mortgages and canceling rent during the crisis would cause the ponzi scheme to collapse, this whole industry which is based on a constant stream of profits that far, far exceed any actual rise in wages or spending power of the average person.  Here in Portland, rents typically go up close to 10% each year, which has resulted in the ethnic cleansing of this city, which lost more than half of its African-American population between the last two censuses, and also lost most of its artists, and so many others.  The city is unrecognizable, compared to twenty years ago — like so many other cities in the US, but worse.  Portland is the most expensive city to live in in the entire United States, when you consider the cost of housing relative to the income of the average resident.

Although we aren’t seeing any systematic deferment of mortgages or canceling of rents in the US, what we are seeing are lots of temporary bans on evictions.  It’s a confusing, patchwork affair, that will probably see waves of evictions happening in some places long before other places, depending on the initiatives of city, county and state governments.  Here in Portland, where the housing crisis was a crisis before the pandemic crisis — possibly the worst-hit city in the United States in terms of homeless residents, people living in cars or extremely overcrowded apartments — there has also been the clearest temporary ban on evictions of anywhere in the country.

What this means, to be clear, is the city of Portland — and Multnomah County, which includes Portland and some Portland suburbs — has done the best job of kicking the can down the road.  The ordinance passed almost definitely applies to anyone who used to make a living as an artist of any kind, along with lots of others.  If your income was dramatically impacted by the pandemic and associated lockdown, you can defer your rent payments until six months after the county has determined that the crisis is over.  At that point, you may owe your landlord tens of thousands of dollars, all of a sudden, and thus, the main waves of evictions will happen then, rather than this summer, where it will happen in many other places.

There is a lot of chatter on social media.  I say this not to denigrate the chatterers, but to denigrate the platforms on which they are chattering.  Not that we can avoid these platforms, but Facebook and YouTube feed on conflict and feed us conflict.  So whatever chatter is going on on such platforms is best either ignored, or understood in that context.

There’s also some real organizing going on, with tenants unions in Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere really talking to their neighbors and systematically withholding rent in order to get real demands met.  Nothing on that scale is happening yet here in the most heavily rent-burdened city in the country, and at least one of the main efforts on social media taking place currently seems to be led by someone motivated primarily by a personal grudge against one of the most effective rent control advocates in the city — perfect for Facebook, where this sad excuse for organizing seems mainly to be taking place, where such grudges can be exploited by Zuckerberg’s favorite conflict algorithms.

But real rent strike organizing here in Portland is very desperately called for right now.  And I don’t say this just because I’m an anarchist who is generally in favor of rent strikes, although I am most definitely guilty of both charges.  A rent strike is called for in Portland not only because many people are currently unable to pay their rents, although that itself would be plenty of reason for one.  A rent strike is called for now in particular specifically because we have the best chance of winning such a struggle right now, because we have one of the most progressive local city and county governments in the country right now.

If this seems contradictory, it shouldn’t.  The most widespread labor organizing in the United States over the past two centuries of the labor movement did not just take place during a period of extreme inequality and exploitation of workers.  Inequality and exploitation was absolutely massive across the US throughout the nineteenth century and early twentieth century.  Radical labor unionism was at its peak with the Industrial Workers of the World in the early twentieth century.  Yet the lion’s share of unions that were successfully organized were organized when there was not only massive inequality, during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, but also during a period when there was a sympathetic government that had been elected to power — the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  For all Roosevelt’s many flaws, his administration included a whole lot of bona fide socialists, from top to bottom.  When workers went on strike after 1932 things were not easy, by any means, but they did not face the same kind of opposition from federal authorities that they faced on so many key moments in the history of the labor movement prior to 1932, and success after success in labor organizing is what followed.

Now here we are again, in a new depression, and with fairly sympathetic city and county governments here and elsewhere, depending on where.  If we want to stop the wave of evictions that will come, we must now start organizing against them.  We have to stop the evictions before they start.  Some of the biggest and most successful unions during the 1930’s were both formal and informal in nature, both organized by familiar structures with presidents and treasurers and such, and also organized through the widespread idea that this world did not belong exclusively to those who could afford it.  Ideas that were spread on the street, through means of guerrilla theater, songs, posters, newspapers, and through a myriad of other platforms, became commonplace.  Chief among them:  that humans have rights.  Rights not only to free speech and assembly — which millions of people were exercising daily — but rights never mentioned in the much-vaunted foundational document of the nation:  the right to sufficient food, and the right to housing.

When police and landlords attempted to evict tenants during the Depression, oftentimes gatherings of organized unemployed people would prevent the evictions from taking place at all.  Other times, the eviction would happen, but then an unemployed locksmith would come and change the lock, and other unemployed workers would carry the tenant’s belongings back into their apartment, thus un-evicting them.  There were many successful rent strikes during this period, as well as at other times and places in history.  They resulted in buildings being bought by occupants, or given to occupants with government intervention or government loans (as just happened last week in Minneapolis), or by rents being lowered drastically, or by new rent control laws of all kinds being passed, giving tenants rights they never had before.

Artists for Rent Control is, admittedly, a small and disparate handful of anarchist or socialist musicians, graphic artists and other folks based here in Portland, Oregon and around the world.  We believe that while there is a dire need for door-to-door neighborhood organizing, there is an equally dire need for popular education.  Rent strike organizing will not become widespread just because people are desperate.  These material circumstances need to be joined by the understanding that another world is possible.  That things don’t have to be like this.  That there are other, real, functional and functioning alternatives to be found in many other countries, right now today, that work much, much better than our collapsing house of cards ponzi scheme economy, administered by a kleptocratic government controlled by real estate industry lobbyists who have systematically engineered the whole ponzi scheme to be a ponzi scheme in the first place.  One of the many things the developer lobby has accomplished over the course of the past forty years or so has been to completely eliminate, or at least totally eviscerate, rent control laws in all fifty states.

People need to know about this.  People need to know that there are alternatives to this cutthroat, profit-over-people economic model that has recently been dramatically exposed as a completely failed model, in terms of sustaining human life, the most vulnerable of which we are losing daily, in vastly disproportionate numbers, to the ravages of the housing market that has been exposed by this pandemic, with those dying the most being the ones living in the shittiest housing in the most neglected, decaying, rat-infested, overcrowded apartment blocks of New York and Detroit, along with all those living without running water or electricity in places like the Navajo reservation, or the farm workers of the Yakima Valley, currently on strike.  Or again, in Detroit.

People need to know that most wealth is inherited.  That the landlord class has created this situation of inequality through a legalized system of bribery called lobbying.  That they make their record profits not by doing anything useful, but by sitting on money and property that has been passed down in wealthy families from the US and other countries for generations.  That they raise the rents according to a formula they come up with, as wages rise, to make sure there’s that “sweet spot” between evictions and those who are just barely able to pay, so they can maximize their profits as they maximize our misery.  This is systemic, it is intentional, it is feudalistic, and it is so very wrong.

And it doesn’t have to be this way.  Another world is possible — whether your landlord is a big corporation like mine is, owning hundreds of properties up and down the coast, or a so-called “mom-and-pop” landlord (a rich peasant, to use a Chinese analogy) who has taken advantage of the pro-landlord housing market to live off of your labor through charging you a “market rate” rent, despite the fact that their mortgage may have been paid off decades ago.  Society can and must be restructured.  This will inevitably involve a lot of government intervention, which government will do to save itself and to save capitalism, just like with FDR.  But that won’t happen until we make it happen, through rent strikes and general strikes, among other vital tactics.

And that won’t happen until people believe that this kind of change is right.  In the US, in particular, this presents what I would call our biggest obstacle.  A far bigger obstacle than the circumstances of the pandemic presents, and a far bigger obstacle than that of actually organizing people to work together.  The biggest obstacle is our minds — our American minds, which have been force-fed so-called “free market” values from birth.

So, this is a call to arms.  My personal weapon of choice is a staple gun.  We can all do our best to spread ideas — through music, art, photography, videos, essays, etc. — on the internet.  But physical space is the space we’re talking about having control over — housing.  And we have to be in those physical spaces, too.  This is why we have been plastering many neighborhoods of Portland with informational (and rhyming) posters, questioning the failed values of capitalism, encouraging people to think about how society could be done differently, and encouraging people here in Multnomah County not to pay the rent, which is the first step in this inevitably jagged and tumultuous transformational process that must be undertaken if our species is to ultimately survive in any recognizable form.

While we have very limited resources in every possible sense as a network, Artists for Rent Control has two main aims, and your participation, in whatever form possible, is wanted.  One, we aim to keep our messages visible on the telephone poles of Portland.  You can print out posters and put them up yourself, ask for a shipment of them from us, or donate for printing press costs.  The other main aim of the network, in the tradition of similar networks of unemployed workers in the past, will be to react quickly to any attempted evictions going on in the area, once they start happening.  To that aim, we’ll soon have our website set up so that anyone with a phone can sign up to receive a push notification when there is an eviction attempt taking place, so that they can drop everything and rush to wherever this is happening, and hopefully prevent the eviction from occurring.  For this to be effective, we’ll need thousands of Portlanders to sign up.  For that to happen, we’ll need thousands of Portlanders who believe that another Portland, and another world, is possible.  And we’ll need to convince them of this fact.

I have personally been roving the streets of Portland for weeks now, spending hours most days putting up posters, close to a thousand altogether so far.  This, itself, has been a fascinating experience.  The lockdown of society has been serious around here, and very few members of the public are generally in the streets, but the reactions I have gotten from people as I’ve been putting up posters have been overwhelmingly positive.  Many, many people are unaware that there is a suspension on evictions.  Their landlords, in most cases, have not told them anything.  If they opened a piece of mail they may have received from a neighborhood association about it, then maybe they know.  Or if they listen to NPR on a daily basis, they may have been listening on the right day, so they heard about the ordinance.  But it’s not getting a whole lot of press, for some reason.  So by putting up these posters, we’re providing a basic and needed public service.

Other reactions have been less positive, and generally comes in the form of posters being quietly taken down — never when I’m looking, and, as far as I can tell, almost always in the dark of night.  If you look up the laws in Portland on this kind of postering activity, you’ll find it’s illegal, but very mildly so.  It’s not considered a real crime, but more on the level of a nuisance.  People who are bothered by things on telephone poles in their neighborhood have the option of complaining to the city authorities, which say on their website that they will send someone to take down the offending items within 72 hours.  Whether it is city workers or employees of a property management company, posters that are nearby really shitty-looking apartment complexes full of oppressed-looking renters get taken down fast.  Posters put up in almost any other neighborhood, even on very busy streets, have often been staying up for weeks.  For the record, the cardstock that Minuteman Press uses will still look good after several serious downpours, and the ink won’t start running for at least a month.

What is especially notable to me is the postering I was doing for progressive city council candidates, also during the lockdown, resulted in those posters getting ripped down in every neighborhood I put them up in, presumably by passersby who either don’t like progressive politicians, or, I suspect, by people who just don’t like any politicians, and are annoyed by the claims any politician might make about doing anything useful, since many people just assume they’re lying in order to get votes.  An assumption that I’m convinced does not apply to, say, City Councilor Chloe Eudaly, but certainly does apply to most politicians, so it’s an understandable and even perhaps laudable reaction to such a poster, generally.

Not so with the informational posters we’ve been putting up that feature the phrase “don’t pay the rent” in the center.  Whether people are paying the rent or not, very few people seem to be bothered by the idea of not doing so.  That, all by itself, is a good sign.

I get a lot of raised fists and shouts of encouragement from renters of all ages and in all neighborhoods, wherever I put up these posters — as well as, of course, people who are minding their own business and moping down the sidewalk without stopping to read them.  But the one negative reaction I got from someone who actually stopped to say something to me other than “yeah” or “right on,” was a middle-aged woman who was out walking her dog, who read the central line of the poem (not bothering to read any of the rest) and repeated it in horror.

“Don’t pay the rent?” she asked.  “Why not?”

I gave her the one-sentence version of my speech.

“Many people can’t pay the rent right now, and so while there is a suspension in evictions, if the rest of us also don’t pay the rent, we may have a window of opportunity now to force the government to do what many governments have already done in European countries — defer mortgages and cancel rents for the duration of the crisis.”

She responded.

“I own a duplex down the street, and I don’t know what I’d do if my renters stopped paying the rent.  Deferring my mortgage wouldn’t really help me.  I don’t have a mortgage.”

In other words, she makes a living mostly or entirely by exploiting the fact that she owns a duplex, which she may or may not have inherited, but which is entirely paid off.  Without needing to charge so much rent, she makes enough money from renting one house to make a living herself.  She is a professional rich peasant.

I didn’t respond directly to her situation, not wanting to make any inaccurate assumptions, and not wanting to appear unsympathetic.  I started talking about my own landlord, to put the situation into a context that is especially relevant for most renters these days on the west coast.

“My landlord is a corporation that owns hundreds of buildings.  They’ve been raising the rent so much every year that my rent is now more than twice what it was when we moved in in 2007.”

Her response then was so telling, and summed up the problem — and the solution — fairly neatly.

“That’s just how it goes,” she said.

No, rich peasant.  No, “mom-and-pop.”  No, corporate investor.  No, house-flipper.  No, real estate developer, banker, financier, corrupt politician, and everyone else — no.  It’s not “just how it goes.”  It’s not how it goes in civilized countries, and it doesn’t need to be how it goes in this one.  Real rent control is possible, and we can do it here, too.  It starts with a rent strike.  It ends with victory.  Join us.

Is the THAAD Missile Crisis in South Korea Escalating?  

Why are thousands of South Korean Riot Police Bashing Anti-THAAD Protestors?

Illustration: Shen Lan/GT

According to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, on May 28th, 2020,  “The Ministry of National Defense and the USFK (United States Forces in Korea) engaged in a transportation operation in the middle of the night to bring equipment to the Seongju THAAD [missile defense] system in Gyeong sang buk do [Province]. The Ministry of National Defense said that it supported the land transportation operation by the USFK from the night of the 28th to the morning of the 29th.  The work was said to have ended at 6 am.”

This stealth operation in the middle of the night was nevertheless challenged by the residents of the area.  3700 South Korean riot police had to be deployed as a phalanx to cordon off the roads to enable the operation and to prevent obstruction of the transport.  Several residents were reported to have been injured during the clash between local residents and the police.

Routine Operation?  Not likely.

Although the South Korean government has been taking pains to characterize this as a “routine” maintenance/replacement operation–like an oil change for a WMD-related missile system– what is striking and surprising about this recent action is that it is the first land transport operation for THAAD since September 2017 (when the remaining 4 out of 6 missile batteries were installed, also against mass protest).   Since then, the USFK and Blackwater operators of the THAAD system have been like the French foreign legion at Dien Bien Phu—completely besieged on top of a hill, with all supplies airlifted in, and operating troops leaving or entering only by helicopter.  This is due to the constant protest and surveillance of the base by anti-THAAD protestors encamped all around it.

That this risky, costly, high manpower ground transport operation was undertaken signifies several things:

1) It’s not a routine “replacement”–it’s possibly a significant upgrade in systems, arsenal, or firepower: a one-time operation.
2) The claim by officials is that the operation was to “replace older missiles, a power generator, electronic devices”, and that “the new missiles are of the same type that the U.S. Forces Korea (UFSK) currently operates. As the mission was to replace expired ones, the number of updated ones is exactly the same as those to be taken out of the base,”

This claim is hardly credible.  It stretches credibility that the lifespan of a 1.3 billion dollar missile system is only 3 years, or that unused missiles “wear out” like cheap fashion or “expire” like bad yogurt.  Even a well-maintained urn of Kimchi can last longer than that.  (The poster boy for the built-in-obsolescence racket known as Microsoft only forces replacement of its systems every 5-10 years).

3) There has been no clear South Korean Ministry of Defense declaration or accounting to South Korea’s National Assembly on what was transported in or “replaced”–at least 4 trucks were covered up with black shrouds–most likely new missile batteries, launch units, possibly radar modules (see here for component pictures)   Is it a complete soup-to-nuts THAAD system?  This is unclear.  However, it definitely not like the brake pad change or cat-6 cable switch-out to replace “worn out” parts at the “end of their operating cycle” as is claimed by the government.

4) Nothing has been taken out (yet), so whatever this is at this point, it’s unlikely to be a simple “replacement”, but an augmentation or increase in equipment, systems, armaments, firepower.

5) The government also claims it was “to improve living conditions of troops at the base”.  It’s unclear how one would improve living conditions on a site that has access to an elite country club on top of a hill with sweeping views surrounded by lush nature.   Perhaps they need a golf course?  (see below)

6) The official also said “the operation has nothing to do with the U.S. move to improve its seven THAAD batteries in the region, including the one in Seongju.” Never believe something until it’s been officially denied, especially if the denial seems unnecessary or responds to a concern that has yet to be raised.

The withdrawal of the US from the ABM treaty–which subsequently allowed the development and deployment of THAAD at seven sites around the world, including Korea, and the 2019 disavowal of the INF treaty–permitting the emplacement of nuclear cruise missiles around China’s periphery are all ominous, threatening maneuvers that increase US firepower “overmatch” against China , and thus increase the risk of war.

As US-China relations were degrading, and frictions escalating, in mid February of this year, there was talk of “upgrading” the missile launchers and radar at the Seongju THAAD site–separating out components for more flexible firepower, as well as increasing the number of missiles.  That discussion was tabled, but the stealth–and misconduct–employed in the initial THAAD development and deployment in 2016-17, combined with the odd denial that this is currently happening should lead people to suspect that this may be actually happening.

In fact, in light of those plans, this is an ominous maneuver in terms of all the other military buildup and maneuvers going on in the South China Sea, along the Taiwan strait, and elsewhere.

Unsurprisingly, China has officially condemned this maneuver. 

This maneuver by the US also forces Moon into unwanted foreign relations friction with China after his party’s landslide legislative victory, at a time when the Trump administration is escalating on all fronts against China.

Fearful Assymetry: How THAAD Came to Korea

Although the US has wartime operational control of South Korean forces—nearly 5 million troops, and massive firepower arrayed in Korea, Okinawa, and Japan.  Despite this massive force projection platform, it is effectively in a stalemate with North Korea and China in East Asia and along the peninsula, due to the rough strategic parity of the forces deployed—and it has always sought to find a way to redress this state of affairs.

The THAAD—Terminal (Theater) High Altitude Area Defense system–a high tech anti-ballistic missile defense system built by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon–is an integral component/weapons platform of the Pivot to Asia, the US plan to encircle and contain China.

The US has wanted to place a THAAD system in Korea since at least 2013, and possibly since the declaration of the Pivot in 2011, as part of the military and geostrategic design of its encirclement:  THAAD destabilizes the existing balance of power in the region because it creates the possibility of neutralizing Chinese nuclear deterrence, i.e. China’s nuclear shield, and potentially enables a cost-free nuclear first strike by the US. While it’s sold as an anti-missile system against North Korean missile threats, everyone knows that it’s targeted against China, in particular the AN/TPY X-band radar, which renders China’s inland interior–up to 3000 km inland–transparent to US surveillance and attacks.  It also renders early warning of any Chinese missile launches.  Because of this, the Chinese consider THAAD to be a threat that cannot be tolerated, and has to be removed.

The system itself was initially placed in South Korea, under highly secretive and controversial circumstances, during the transitional period during the ouster of Park Geun Hye regime in 2016-2017.  Despite massive opposition of the Korean people-to THAAD system–it was announced, and then forcefully deployed: this was Park’s final ugly insult to the Koreans and her last sycophantic act of fealty to the US, a troubled legacy that Koreans are still struggling with.

Deceitful Deployment: Melons, Missiles, and Country Clubs
Park’s administration played 4 years of footsie under the table with the US: the US and South Korean governments assured  both Korea citizens and China that ”no decisions about deployment had been made”,  and only exploratory discussion was happening. This was despite strong signals from the US to South Korea that THAAD deployment was non-negotiable.  This “strategic ambiguity” turned out to be a ploy: a canard to calm down the raging Korean opposition to THAAD, and to avoid alienating Beijing.  During this time, the administration had been secretly scouting out locations for placement and negotiating specifics of emplacement.  Eventually, an artillery site adjacent to a melon farming area in Seong Ju County in the southern part of the country was found, and the deployment was initiated. However, the opposition to the deployment—massive, popular, and religious–was so overwhelming that the government relented, and looked around to find a different—and more defendable– site.  They quickly took over the Lotte Sky Hill Seongju Country Club, an exclusive private golf course belonging to the Lotte Conglomerate not far from the original artillery site.  This site was chosen because of its isolated, elevated terrain, and because the installation could happen immediately without “massive civil engineering work and infrastructure installation”.  This is a typical example of the incestuous nature of SK corporate-government-military nexus, and also speaks to the hurried, urgent, covert nature of the installation.

South Koreans, especially those living in the region had been massively opposed to the THAAD system for several reasons:

  • They understood that this would draw South Korean into a deadly arms race with China, and that Seong Ju (its THAAD missile batteries) and environs, as well as other parts of South Korea would become targets and collateral damage in any shooting war.
  • The lack of consultation and procedural democracy around the deployment rankled even the most stolidly conservative of Koreans.
  • The loss of land (in a small, highly populated country with scarce arable land), and the fear of families and crops being irradiated by high-energy X-band radar were serious concerns to farmers and activists.
  • Last but not least, US military bases tend to create massive social problems around them: prostitution, rape, gender-and-race-based violence, the degradation of civic and social life. The down-to-earth farmers of the region were not down for this.

In the period after THAAD deployment was suddenly announced, protests against the US-aligned Park Geun Hye government crested into the millions: over a period of months, throughout the dead of winter, over a quarter of the country’s population came out to protest her corrupt government.  Park’s popularity ratings dropped to 4%–below the confidence interval of the poll—before completely flatlining.  Years of neoliberal violence, labor abuse, colonial sycophancy, capitulation to US and Japan imperial designs, depraved indifference to human life, and unending corruption finally exploded into months of street protest. Park was eventually impeached, arrested, and imprisoned, and a caretaker Prime Minister was put into place. During this transitional period under the caretaker government, when the government was functioning on life support, the US bum-rushed the placement of the missiles—again during the dead of night—onto this golf course/country club in the South.  This action illegally bypassed the South Korean requirement of parliamentary review and approval.  It had been timed to occur before the election of a new South Korea president, to establish facts on the ground that would be hard to reverse with any subsequent administration.

On May of 2017, progressive president Moon Jae In, was elected to the South Korean presidency. President Moon had campaigned, among other things, on suspension of the THAAD deployment, contingent on further evaluation and environmental review.  However, not long after he took office, even more missiles were installed by the military leadership without notifying him, indicative of whom the South Korean military was really reporting to. This has been a thorn in his side since. President Moon, too, was pressured to increase THAAD deployment, and during the North Korea-US missile standoff in September of 2017, he relented to further temporary deployment.

The system is operated by the Combined Task Force Defender Unit, part of Delta-2, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment of the US Forces Korea, with an assist from thecontractors of the mercenary company Blackwater.  What was originally a temporary, contingent deployment has clearly been converted into a permanent, enduring, and profitable assignment for some.

How to Solve the THAAD issue: A Modest Proposal

There is one long-shot solution to the THAAD debacle that does not involve war, insurrection, or destabilization.

Objectively, golf courses are an abomination–a waste of productive land and water for the exclusive and non-productive use of a miniscule elite.  However, President Trump is very keen on charging the Koreans for the costs and the operation of the THAAD (which the Koreans have so far resisted). This has resulted in considerable antagonism, as has the entire “cost-sharing” agreement: the US wants a 500% increase in the current protection racket payment of $1 Billion/year that South Korea pays for the privilege of having its country occupied with US forces.

The Koreans could offer to pay off the THAAD costs, and then ask for full possession of the THAAD missiles, which are currently under the control of the US.

Once the Korean government takes possession of them, they can disarm them and place them as massive public sculptures in a peace museum or public park as a sculptural examples of imperial phallic-narcissistic extremism.

Of course, the US won’t go for this immediately.  The only way to make this happen is if the Koreans could offer the  current THAAD site—what used to be the Lotte Skyhill Country Club and Golf Course—previously a magnificent, beautiful, ultra-luxurious 18 hole golf course and country club with exquisite, sweeping views–lofted 2200 ft above the surroundings–as an inducement to President Trump.  It would require some clean up and renewed landscaping, as military deployments tend to turn even pristine environments into a mélange of bachelor cave and toxic trash dump, but that could be arranged, and should be included in the offer.  After all, the only worse use of land than a golf course is a military base.

After the missiles are removed, the site cleaned up and landscaped, President Trump can then reopen the course for golf, creating a “marvelous, beautiful” private club, and play golf there, which it seems, is the only thing he loves more than firing missiles and tormenting women.

The US Empire gets a hefty check; the Trump Empire gets its 20th golf course–the Trump Skyhill Country Club and Golf Course, to add to the portfolio of “top notch, magnificent, prestigious” golf courses, and South Korea, North Korea, China, and North East Asia gain peace in the region.

Something for everyone. I think it’s a worthy trade off.

*****

For more on the deployment of the THAAD missiles within the context of South Korea’s recent history and politics, and the relationship with NK, China, the US, and Japan (KPFA flashpoints).

How Much Violence and Destruction is Enough for Depraved American Leaders and Their Subjects?

Without trampling through all the historical details, we can designate the entire history of [Americans]—the glorious past so eulogized by our fathers—as the history of shame, for in that history there is more betrayal, apostasy, perfidious intrigue, ignominious defeat, well-deserved failure, base vengeance, merciless retaliation and brutality that no hypocrisy can mask…So let’s forget about the past and old glories, namely let’s leave it be, let’s no longer bring up those shames of the past and the jumbled mendacities considered worthy of praise, it’s more than enough for us just to remain on the surface of that swamp if at all possible, the swamp denoting the state of moral values today…Whoever is [American] continually postpones his present, exchanging it for a future that will never arrive.

Baron Wenkheim’s Homecoming, Laszlo Krasznahorkai

What subcategory of human being takes a knee on a handcuffed man, mashed face down on the pavement and, ultimately, forces him to die? Such was the action of a psychopathic white Minneapolis, Minnesota, police-paramilitary officer named Derek Chauvin, that resulted in the death of a black man, George Floyd.

Right there, on the street, recorded live by a bystander. Chauvin continued his personal application of the death penalty even as he knew he was being filmed. Idiot or no? Did he think he’d be exonerated by his superiors? Now the world can watch a uniformed member of the Minnesota State paramilitary apparatus snuff the life out of a human being. For what? An allegedly forged $20 bill?

And the result?

A long overdue protest movement in major cities across the United States that is posing a challenge to the State-Wall Street monopoly on violence that disproportionately eliminates blacks, Latino’s and poor whites. And let’s not forget those citizens in foreign countries wiped off the map by perpetual US bombing and drone attacks. (State-Wall Street: referring to corporations, lobbyists, finance houses, politicians, mainstream media, upper echelon military, etc.)

Power to the State-Wall Street, Not the People

It’s not the death of a black, white, Latino, Syrian or Iraqi, that is of concern to the State-Wall Street; rather it is the fear of the violent challenge posed by the protestors here at home (or insurgents abroad, China, Russia) to the State-Wall Street monopoly on violence.

The fear of the State-Wall Street crowd is so intense that the governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, called the Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to talk about strategy and tactics to subdue the protestors. Is that such a good idea given that the Taliban is pushing the US military out of Afghanistan?

The Pentagon is finally going to go to open war against its own—again— people first starting with the National Guard deployment in Minneapolis and followed by active duty military police. Most Americans will not care as they have been pummeled with constant propaganda about the military being a divine institution. What’s next? Another Jackson State?

The protests underway have at their foundation the totalitarian economic conditions which the State-Wall Street benignly incarcerate the larger population leaving them with the sham outlet of elections that simply replaces one prison warden with another. Vote for what? Another fascist like President Donald J. Trump or governors around the country who have their eyes on senate or house seats?

Why would someone like Floyd, allegedly, try to pass off a $20 note? You can’t separate that act from the grueling austerity measures and unemployment in the USA that leaves the young and poor, and lower classes of all stripes with no economic future and struggling to make ends meet each day, even to put food on the table.Yeah, sure, the COVID-19 Pandemic has been really tough on most Americans. But where are the trillions of federal dollars in the form of food aid, unemployment benefits, jobs programs for the Floyd’s and others in this country?

The State-Wall Street act as if over 100,000 Americans deaths from COVID-19 (largely poor, elderly, black) don’t matter at all. Nothing to see here, move along, the dear leaders say. Put the American flags at half mast, the president says. Here’s $1200 for each household, the US Congress says. Bow your heads in remembrance of the 100K religious leaders say. With this kind of American psychopathic leadership mentality that seems now to have infected nearly all American political and economic leaders, what’s one more George Floyd to them?

And it was chaotic ineptitude by the Trump administration, and his predecessors, that led to so many deaths. Even the nonpartisan Lancet weighed in on the matter with an unsigned editorial:

Funding to the CDC for a long time has been subject to conservative politics that have increasingly eroded the agency’s ability to mount effective, evidence-based public health responses. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration resisted providing the sufficient budget that the CDC needed to fight the HIV/AIDS crisis. The George W Bush administration put restrictions on global and domestic HIV prevention and reproductive health programming.

The Trump administration further chipped away at the CDC’s capacity to combat infectious diseases. CDC staff in China were cut back with the last remaining CDC officer recalled home from China CDC in July 2019, leaving an intelligence vacuum when COVID-19 began to emerge.

If You Can Kill 1 or 100K Americans, Why not Kill the Environment and Wildlife?

Everywhere across the spectrum that you look you can see the State-Wall Street turning the clock back to the early 1960s. Nowhere is this more evident than in the repeal of environmental and wildlife protections.

The Trump administration is relaxing a rule on the hunting and killing of bear cubs and wolves in their dens. According to Newsweek this report:

The National Park Service described the new rule as an effort to reinstate federal alignment with the state’s hunting regulations, according to an NPS news release. The rule, which is expected to go into effect in late June, would reverse course on hunting restrictions introduced in 2015 by President Barack Obama’s administration.

NPS spokesperson Peter Christian told the Anchorage Daily News that hunters would be allowed under the new rule to use artificial lighting to entice black bears out of their dens, employ bait to attract black and brown bears, hunt wolves and coyotes during their denning season, and catch caribou while they are swimming.

The New York Times has a running list of Trump’s assault on the environment. It notes that:

The bulk of the rollbacks identified by the Times have been carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, which repealed and replaced the Obama-era emissions rules for power plants and vehicles; weakened protections for more than half the nation’s wetlands; and withdrew the legal justification for restricting mercury emissions from power plants. At the same time, the Interior Department has worked to open up more land for oil and gas leasing by cutting back protected areas and limiting wildlife protections.

And, Oh, The Joy of Watching People Suffer and Die

Isn’t it enough for Americans to have hunted down Osama Bin Laden and killed him (a video somewhere); captured Saddam Hussein only to watch him hang in a stairwell; or have Muammar Gaddafi killed and stabbed in the anus with a bayonet?

Isn’t it enough for Americans to have lived with nearly 10 to 20 years of war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and hear/see the daily reports of civilian casualties killed by US and Coalition forces and the millions of displaced persons caused by US wars, combat action?

Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business

I wrote this article almost four years ago in reaction to the public’s claim to be inconvenienced by Oakland protesters stopping traffic on the freeway of Interstate 880 in Oakland in solidarity with the two black men shot and killed by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. The point of that article was to show that bystanders’ ideas of where violence starts, when it starts and who the perpetrators of violence are betrays an adherence to a liberal social contract theory rooted in Locke, Hobbes and Rousseau. Even those who claim to be “non-violent” are trapped in social contract theory. At the end of the article I argue for a political-economic understanding of where, when and who is responsible for the violence.

Given the recent police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the subsequent torching of police stations and the shutting down of bus lines, we will surely hear even greater howls from bystanders that they are being inconvenienced, that their rights are being infringed on, they had nothing to do with the violence and that the police are a neutral force. All these claims are rooted in the same social contract theory that becomes increasingly moth-eaten as capitalism continues to disintegrate.

First published July 22, 2016 Planning Beyond Capitalism

Are “bystanders” to violent events neutral or complicit?

In the past couple of weeks I’ve read a number of articles about police violence and citizens’ reactions to that violence. Most of these articles rightly point to the structural roots of police violence. However, I have found little written about how the people who are not directly involved in confrontations, “bystanders”, make sense of what is going on. How do people react to either police shooting citizens, citizens shooting the police or to the protests against police violence? Do people who seemed not directly involved in the violence constitute a neutral force or do they have some responsibility for what happens? I soon found how these bystanders thought about it, but not in the manner of my own choosing.

My controversial Facebook post

Almost two weeks ago one of my Facebook friends posted an aerial view of about 1,000 protesters in Oakland moving towards highway 880 to block traffic in reaction to the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. In my post I congratulated the protesters for their collective-creative courage in stepping out onto speeding traffic and stopping it. I said we need more of this until the entire road system is clogged. I also pointed out of the relatively recent existence of police departments (second half of the 19th century) and that for most of human history societies managed without them.

Since the original post was linked to KRON news, many more people saw my post than my normal networks. In a single day, I received over 2,000 responses. The good news for me, and what I suspect are most of the readers of leftist news sources, is that close to 80% “liked” what I said. Now for those of you not initiated into the mysteries of Facebook, “likes” don’t tell you much about the thinking processes of people, but I see it as better than having no information at all.

However, I want to focus on the responses of the 500 or so people that had commented. Most of these comments were hostile. Those who were hostile, but intelligent (meaning they explained why they were upset) can be divided into those who were put off because they were inconvenienced and thought I was insensitive to that. Then there were those who couldn’t imagine doing without the police and that I was completely unrealistic in claiming that a society could exist without them. I want to focus on how their hostility is connected to a liberal, social contract theory of violence.

A liberal theory of violence

Most people in the United States think that social life operates as social contracts, just as Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau described it. They also think normal social life is neutral and non-violent. Violence, they believe, begins at the point of a physical confrontation between people and usually includes lethal weapons. If there is no physical confrontation, there is no violence. So, for example, at a demonstration when the protesters are gathered and listening to speeches and the police are present, but simply talking to each other, these folks would say there is no violence. For a liberal theory of violence, the point where violence begins is when the police either use billy clubs, tear gas or tasers on the protesters, or when the protesters start throwing rocks at the police or through bank windows. If none of these things occurred, bystanders and the media deem the demonstration “peaceful”.

In the case of the protesters blocking the freeway, the police forcing them off the freeway and the protesters resisting the police, these would be claimed to be acts of violence. However, the people patiently waiting for the cops to get the protesters off the freeway – bystanders – were not being violent. So in other words the world is composed of three groups: cops on the one hand; protesters, criminals or deviants on the other; and the neutral public as bystanders.

This liberal theory of violence is grounded in the social contract theory of Hobbes and Locke. Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau (whom I’ll discuss later) were very different politically, but they all agreed that individuals were autonomous, self-subsisting beings who entered into social relations as a result of a “contract”. Interactions between individuals were voluntary, accidental and associative. Contracts were made only after the individual shrewdly weighed the costs and benefits of joining an association – as opposed to remaining alone.

Minding my own business: a Lockean theory of violence

The first of two major complaints against my post was that people were minding their own business. “Why should we be inconvenienced with something that has nothing to do with us? Even if the police were wrong to kill these guys, what does that have to do with me? Why do I have to lose two hours out of my day over something that has nothing to do with me?” This is a great example of the social contract operating. People imagine themselves as isolated monads who have families and jobs where their real social life is. Their membership in a social class, race, region or religion is a secondary matter. Primarily, they are individuals (or in cross-cultural psychology terms, “individualists”). But these individuals still enter the public zone where they walk, take public transportation or drive to get to work or go home. These Lockean individuals treat the public world as an instrumental waystation between their real social world of home, family and work. How is the public world engaged? The state of public bathrooms, increasing road rage and people crossing the street checking their cell phones, oblivious to cars making turns into their crosswalks, are just the tip of an iceberg of the increasing contempt of public life in the United States. This is a world in which normal social responsibilities are generally disregarded or kept to a bare minimum. In the public world “minding my own business” is the code of public conduct.

The political and racial nature of being inconvenienced

Being inconvenienced is intolerable if you play by the rules of minding your own business. As I shall argue shortly, social contract theory has very little to do with the real requirements of social life and the deeply social nature of our identity among even those who complain about being inconvenienced. The same people who claim to be minding their own business and being inconvenienced generally are quite capable of dealing with the ups and downs of public life and making adjustments, depending on the occasion. As I said in one of my rebuttals to some Facebook posts, you are inconvenienced all the time. You wait on lines to buy groceries longer than you’d like because the stores are understaffed. You wait on lines for hours on Black Friday to get deals the day after Thanksgiving. You wait in traffic for hours before and after ball games. Maybe most importantly, you accept the inconvenience of stock market crashes which deplete your savings and threaten your pensions. For these things you have plenty of reasons as to why you shouldn’t make a big deal about it. After all, what can you do? But when events are political and racially charged, for this — you will not put up with being inconvenienced.

Why don’t people see this? Cross-cultural psychologists say that the United States is the most individualist society in the world. Part of being an individualist, as I’ve said earlier, is that demographic membership — region, class, race — is generally not considered an important part of one’s identity. Another characteristic of individualism is that history does not matter. As individualists, those minding their own business tend to downplay their class and racial identity and they can’t understand why people are making such a big deal of these police killings. Because of their lack of appreciation of history, individualists can’t imagine that things that have happened in the past matter today because they are still present within existing social structures. When I teach a class in social psychology or cross-cultural psychology, I have my students answer questions about white privilege. Most of my white students are amazed at how much privilege they have without ever being aware of it. This privilege entitles people to “mind their own business.”

“Without the police there would be anarchy”: a Hobbesian theory of violence

As I said in earlier part in my post, we could do very well without the police, not immediately, but in the long run. I pointed out that the police force was established in the 19th century, essentially to help capitalists combat an increasingly militant labor force. I pointed out that tribal societies and agricultural civilizations also had to keep most of their population safe and they did so without police forces. I also pointed out that in revolutionary situations, citizen militias were formed as people patrolled their own communities. For some people on the Facebook thread, this was incomprehensible. Specifically, they said that without the police there would be “anarchy”. Thomas Hobbes couldn’t have said it better. Their belief is that people are competitive, aggressive, greedy, full of insatiable appetites and that without state intervention (in this case the police) life would be nasty, brutish and short.

“Give Peace a Chance”: A Rousseauism theory of non-violence

By far the most radical of the three social contract theorists was Rousseau. Rousseau had a more optimistic view of human beings than either Hobbes or Locke. Rousseau thought that people were basically good and that the state, private property or the trappings of civilization oppressed them. Rousseau believed the public was capable of participatory direct democracy. In spite of Rousseau attributing a more social nature to humanity, he also held that individuals voluntarily entered into a social contract and they were free to withdraw.

Up to now I have only talked about social contract theory as it relates to violence. Now I want to suggest that even those who claim to be non-violent still operate using a social contract theory of society. Today, Rousseau’s way of making sense of the relationship between individuals and society roughly corresponds to those liberals or anarchists who advocate “non-violence” as a political strategy. Social contract theory is operating when those advocating non-violence imagine that they can choose to be non-violent. For these left-wing social contract theorists, violence begins at the point of forceful contact. If, during a demonstration, protesters stayed away from the police, or practiced civil disobedience, these liberals or anarchists would congratulate themselves on behaving in a non-violent way. At the point of contact, if the police act violently and the protesters don’t resist, the protesters believe they are behaving in a non-violent way. They imagine that public social life is neutral and can remain neutral if the force of the state can be resisted.

Towards a political economy theory of violence                                                                                    

Marx and Durkheim are not alone in claiming that individuals are constitutionally social beings. In social psychology, Lev Vygotsky, George Herbert Mead and Ivana Markova all say in their own way that we are already always social. It is impossible not to be social. In fact, they would say that without being socialized you are not even human. So, where does social contract theory come from? According to C.B. Macpherson, social contract theory is a product of the development of early capitalist society as a way to explain new market relations. But how might these social constitutionalist theories help us to understand the relationship between the police, protesters, deviants and bystanders? Read on.

All class societies are, at their core, violent. In a society where oligarchs control the wealth and the lower classes are subjugated, violence is always the means of first or last resort. True, the ruling classes in history have used various types of propaganda to convince the lower classes why the upper classes deserve to be where they are and why the lower classes deserve to be where they are. But if all else fails, state repression is the result. In class societies state violence is always already the case. That means that even when the state (in our case the police) appears to do nothing, it already is violent because the police have massive violent and lethal means at hand. “Ok” you might say, “but where do the bystanders come into this?”

Bystanders on the freeway who think they are minding their own business and are inconvenienced pay taxes. Those taxes go into the production of violence from the factories where all the weapons are assembled and produced, to the places were the weapons are circulated as well as where they are distributed – including to the police. When weapons are produced, these weapons are already violent, ready-at-hand to use. Secondly, these same citizens pay taxes, which are converted into the salaries of the police. Furthermore, the workers all the way down the supply chain from production to circulation to distribution of weapons are also implicated in what the police do. For these workers it may just be a job, and they consciously live in their micro-world of family and friends, but behind their backs, they are part of a macro world. They are “socially unconscious” that they are also helping to produce violence. There is no such thing as people having a choice of whether or not to be violent. Everyone is more or less complicit.

For the Facebook critics that I’m calling Hobbesians who say that without the police there would be anarchy, what I think they mean is that without the police people would be even more violent than they are already are. They seem to think the citizens without the police are more violent in their social life than citizens with the police. For them the police restore “order”. These folks think that normal public life with the police guarding us is orderly and not violent. Rather than state violence being institutionalized to protect the upper classes, these Hobbesians think that the state is the great neutralizer, the great emulsifier that holds colliding monads from creating a war of all against all. Where might that way of thinking come from? Research shows that those who watch violent programs on television and in the movies repeatedly are more likely to imagine society as more violent than crime statistics show.

Lastly for those Rousseaians who want to give peace a chance, this is an impossible project while social classes continue to exist. The natural resources must be seized from the hands of the upper classes and redistributed to the middle class, working class and poor. This would certainly involve violent conflicts and it would take generations of resocialization to reduce the violence, even in a socialist society. Those who meditate, do yoga,0 attend non-violent workshops and practice civil disobedience still have jobs and pay taxes that fund the state machine of violence.

Violence involves both force and coercion

In the field of social psychology there is a simple distinction made between force and coercion as power bases. Force is the direct application of lethal means of violence on human beings. This is what social contract and my Facebook critics mean by violence. What they are missing is that there is a second source of violence, coercion, and it is defined as the threat of the use of force with lethal means. This threat of force has to be produced by all the people who are working to produce the weapons and those who pay taxes to pay the workers to make the weapons. In other words, there is violence being produced in the process of making the weapons available even if they are never used.

Qualifications

First, I am not suggesting that because I am calling my hostile audience “liberal”, that means that I think everyone posting was politically liberal. Liberal social contract theory operates as a theory of how society and the individual should be understood, based on living in a capitalist society. It is a framework that both liberals and conservatives accept no matter who is in power. Conservatives were won over to this somewhere in the middle of the 19th century when they realized that feudalism and the king were not coming back. This occurred at roughly the same time that they abandoned their organic hierarchical theory of society and the individual and slowly embraced social contract theory.

Lastly, to those brave thousand people who stepped on the freeway in Oakland and risked their lives in 2016, I salute you and I hope more of these freeway closures happen as police violence continues. At the same time, to expect the people whose lives you stopped on the freeway to “get it”, that Black Lives Do Matter, the message needs to be more explicit. To assume people understand that they are complicit is naïve. We have to meet people partly where they are and build bridges between where they are and where we are. Moralizing and screaming at people as they helplessly wait in their cars will have a boomerang effect. Showing people it is in their self-interest to join the fight against state violence is a much more practical course. This will not be easy. But something more than simply stopping traffic is required.

Beating Swords to Plowshares

Baghdad, March 20, 2003

Inscribed on a wall across from the United Nations in New York City are ancient words of incalculable yearning:

They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

— Isaiah 2:4

I’ve stood with activists in front of that same wall singing Down by the Riverside, a song promising we’ll lay down our swords and shields — “and study war no more, no more.”

In memorably eloquent words spoken after the onset of COVID-19, the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, had this message for the world:

The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown….. Put aside mistrust and animosity. Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes. End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.

Some of my closest friends now await sentencing  for having embraced the call, quite literally, to “beat swords into plowshares.” They entered a U.S. naval base which is the home port to “one of the largest known collections of nuclear weaponry in the world.” The Kings Bay Nuclear Naval Station in St. Mary’s, GA operates a fleet of Trident nuclear submarines. On April 4, 2018, Mark Colville, Clare Grady, Martha Hennessy, Elizabeth McAlister, Patrick O’Neill, Carmen Trotta and Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J. prayed, poured blood, spray painted messages against nuclear weapons, hammered on a replica of a nuclear weapon, hung banners and waited to be arrested.

Steve Kelly, a Jesuit priest, has been locked up in the Glynn County Detention Center ever since the night the seven entered Kings Bay Naval Station. Now beginning his third year in jail, he writes that his cramped, dingy quarters are “a 21st Century monastery.” He prays, reads, listens, learns and writes. The Glynn County jail will only allow correspondence that uses 3 x 6 pre-stamped post cards. Steve has mastered the art of condensing his thoughts into short messages.  “Nuclear weapons will not go away by themselves,” he says.

Steve’s co-defendants have served varying lengths of time in the Glynn County jail and several had to wear ankle monitors, something like wearing leg irons, during home confinement. The six now await sentencing. Liz McAllister’s telephonic hearing will be held on June 8th. The others expect to appear in the Glynn County Courthouse on June 29 and 30. They face years in prison.

In October of 2019, a jury found the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 guilty of destruction and depredation of government property, trespassing, and conspiracy. Judge Lisa Godbey Wood ruled that the jury wouldn’t be allowed to hear expert witnesses or learn what motivated each of the seven to nonviolently resist nuclear weapons. She ruled out faith-based testimony.

In 2003, the Sisters of St. Brigid of Kildare, Ireland asked me to speak at a retreat for people whose faith-based convictions motivated them to nonviolently resist the impending U.S. war against Iraq. During the retreat I listened to concerns of five people who felt they were ready to risk their lives and futures, and might want to join our Iraq Peace Team in Baghdad. But when I returned to Baghdad, I learned they had instead committed a Plowshares action at Shannon airport.

Parked on the tarmac there was a U.S. Navy warplane. Ireland is a neutral country, and the activists believed they were justified in trying to prevent Ireland’s airport from being used to stage a belligerent war  in Iraq against civilians already beleaguered by earlier U.S. attacks and 13 years of economic sanctions. Entering the Shannon airport, they easily reached a U.S. Navy warplane, and they hammered on it. Harry Browne writes about the action in a book called Hammered by the Irish.

Fortunately, they were represented by extremely talented lawyers. One of them, Mr. Nix, (since deceased) has been referred to as the last of the great Irish orators. The judge wouldn’t allow expert witnesses, and, in fact, the only defense witness she would allow to speak was me since the five said they resolved to take action after hearing me speak at their retreat. She also declared there would be no faith-based testimony in her courtroom. Although she insisted war was not going to be put on trial, she had to comply with Irish law which allows lawyers to say anything they want in the final summation. Near the end of the trial, Mr. Nix rose to speak. He assured the judge and jury that the greatest pacifist of all time was Jesus of Nazareth and the greatest pacifist document ever written was the Sermon on the Mount, “and,” he said, “I’m about to read it to you right now!”

Finishing the beatitudes, he pointed to the defendants and described them as people who didn’t practice their faith as though they were at the delicatessen, choosing a bit of this or rejecting that. “They believe in their faith!” he said.

Then his tone changed as he reminisced about how happy he’d felt, recently, listening to children at play in a park near his home. The children chased the geese up a hill and then the geese chased the children downhill. What could be more beautiful than the sound of children at play? Then he began telling about children in Lebanon whose parents had taken them for a dip in the park the previous day. His face suddenly seemed to glower as he roared out that children were dying in a pool of their own blood. He described an Israeli missile blasting into the swimming hole, killing the children. And then it was as though he was putting all of us on trial. “Would you not try, if you could, to stop a Hezbollah missile from slamming into southern Israel? Would you not try, if you could, to stop an Israeli missile from slamming into a swimming hole in Lebanon? The question isn’t: did these five have a lawful excuse to do what they did! The question is: what’s our excuse not to do more?!  What will rise ye?!

The jury acquitted the five on all five counts. The lawyers had been able to skillfully introduce a necessity defense. In U.S. courts, during many dozens of Plowshares trials, the defendants are next to never allowed to invoke the necessity defense, to argue that they needed to act in order to prevent a greater harm. The laws protect those who develop, store, sell and use weapons. Those who call for disarmament and try to sound an alarm regarding the omnicidal consequences of nuclear weapons are tried narrowly on issues of property damage and trespass.

Riots have broken out in cities across the United States as protesters have vented frustrated rage following the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for seven minutes. Some observers have rushed to judge the protesters, highlighting the irrationality of looting and burning buildings in their own neighborhoods, ruining places that might even provide services or jobs. Yet what could be more self-defeating and irrational, during the midst of a pandemic while climate catastrophes threaten planetary survival, than the action of spending more money on nuclear weapons and possibly conducting nuclear bomb tests. Why squander resources on military capacity to burn other people’s homes and cities through use of nuclear and conventional weapons?

The prophet Isaiah’s vision arouses action on the part of people longing to build a better world. Mr. Nix’s questions should be ours today, earnestly asking:

Who are the criminals?

The question isn’t: did the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 have a lawful excuse to do what they did. The question is, what’s our excuse not to do more? What will rise us?

Sinister Flatulence: Trump versus Twitter

Sawing off the branch you sit on can hardly be the best of policies.  But that all depends on the nature of the branch.  US President Donald Trump has huffed himself into another small historical moment, going on the offensive against social media companies using the very language his faux progressive opponents use against them.  All seem to be in agreement on one point: the Silicon Valley giants have become too powerful, runaway monsters in the stakes of high influence.  But sharp divergences and attitudes exist on how such companies are to be controlled, let alone disciplined.

The view on how best to chastise such companies come from opposite ends of the information spectrum. For the enraged and the offended, these internet giants should be punished for distributing content created by users who might, for instance, be seen to be glorifying violence or giving truck to the unsavoury.  Their view seems to be that humanity cannot be trusted with viewing matter that might, on the off chance, prove dangerously galvanic.

This is the view taken, for instance, by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.  “One thing is pretty clear to me,” he scoldingly told his audience at last year’s Never Is Now Summit hosted by the Anti-Defamation League.  “All this hate and violence [in the world] is being facilitated by a handful of internet companies that amount to the greatest propaganda machine in history.”

For Baron Cohen and travellers of like mind, the problem in all of this is the protection provided by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.  The provision confers immunity on internet companies for the use-generated content they host.

For Trump, such companies should be punished for misusing their immunity from prosecution for actually banning or flagging undesirable content or opinions.  In short, there should be no limits on the quality or nature of user-content used or posted.  For the first Twitter President in history, it was all too bruising to be “flagged” for content posted on Twitter taking issue with the response to Monday’s lethal arrest of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  On Friday, Trump tweeted the line, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”. It was a phrase Miami’s police chief Walter Headley used in 1967 in response to, as reported at the time, a “crackdown on … slum hoodlums”.  He spoke with reassurance for the head-kicking enthusiasts.  “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality.”

Trump spruced up that version – slightly.  “Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot.  I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means.”

Twitter has shown interest in the US president of late. Flagging and hiding Tweets, it also added a fact-check link to one of Trump’s messages.  All this was simply too much, a lingering, cyber stain.  The Executive Order that followed was cranky and a bit confused, taking issue with the wielding of power by internet companies “over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.”  Accordingly, “Section 230 was not intended to allow a handful of companies to grow into titans controlling vital avenues for our national discourse under the guise of promoting open forums for debate, and then to provide those behemoths blanket immunity when they use their power to censor content and silence viewpoints that they dislike.”  In removing or restricting access to content, such companies were “engaged in editorial conduct” and would, for that reason, have the shield of immunity removed.

The order is not likely to have much effect. The legal cognoscenti see it has having little bearing, a wasteful act of sinister flatulence.  Former Justice Department inspector general Michael Bromwich considered it “a hoot.  Unlawful and unenforceable.”  According to Joshua Geltzer, executive director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, it would be hard to make a case that Twitter’s labels on Trump’s tweets fell outside the immunity of section 230.  Nor could Trump sue for defamation, given that Trump, not Twitter, added the element of falsity to the affair.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sees the birth of the order as “unconstitutional because it was issued in retaliation for Twitter’s fact-checking of President Trump’s tweets.”  The concern for Jaffer is that the order entails the possibility of intimidation and investigation of internet companies. “There may well be regulation, and legislation worth considering in this sphere, but whatever else this order may be, it is not a good faith effort to protect speech online.”

What the latest moves have done is precipitate something of a conflict within the usually amoral social media sphere.  The titans seem to be in disagreement on how to approach the demagogue in the White House.  Do we let him bark and bellow without inhibition, or should some health warning label be attached?  Mark Zuckerberg makes Facebook’s position disingenuously clear: such companies should not be arbiters of truth.  (Unfortunately for the CEO, he expressed that view on a news outlet that often prefers the fictional narrative to the sturdy truthfulness.)  “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sees it differently.  “Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.”

Neither CEO should be taken too seriously. Twitter will make its policies as it sees fit (consider, for instance, its righteous civic integrity policy); ditto Facebook.  Neither – and here Zuckerberg is right – should be arbiters, but they are.  They have shaped, directed, cajoled, mocked and massaged the gullible, the idiotic and the deluded.  And for all the fuss being caused by this Order, Facebook it is not considered a serious target.  As Ian Bogost and Alex Madrigal insist, the Trump campaign effectively ceded “control to Facebook’ ad-buying machinery” in 2016, as it is doing now.  Internet boffin Zeynep Tufekci can only agree: the relationship between the president and the Facebook CEO “is so smooth that Trump said Zuckerberg congratulated the president for being ‘No.1 on Facebook’ at a private dinner with him.” Time to break bread again!

In the West: Propaganda, Hysteria and Truly Foul Breath!

If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be laughable: the political brigands in North America and Europe are fuming, spitting and rolling their eyes upwards towards the ceiling. They are pointing fingers in all directions, shouting incoherently “China!”, “Russia!”, “Venezuela and Cuba!”, “Iran!”; “You, You, YOU!”.

China and Russia are quietly building a new world, which includes brand new infrastructure, factories and entire neighborhoods for the people. Hospitals are being constructed, and so are universities, parks, concert halls and public transportation networks. Both countries are doing all this quickly and noiselessly, and with great determination. And despite sanctions and embargos, they never shout back at the salivating, angry mouths of the Western gurus of brainwashing.

The difference between the West and the two mighty allies in the East, is enormous. In fact, it is not a difference, but an outright contrast.

It is not that China and Russia are perfect countries. No. Perfection is depressing and it is aimed at by religious fanatics and (thank God, unsuccessfully), by fashion magazines. I don’t even know what it really means, philosophically – perfection.

What I do know is that in both China and Russia, people come first. Their standards of living are at the center of almost all the efforts of the planned economies. Beijing and Moscow and most of their bureaucracies exist so that the people live longer, better, and have more meaningful lives. The cities and villages are designed for citizens to become more educated, healthier, while enjoying a deeper cultural life.

Visiting Russia, from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad, as well as China, from Guangzhou to Urumqi; it is clearly visible, undeniable.

Western mass media and Western governments stopped asking all the basic questions, and preventing others from asking them publicly. Questions like: “What do we really want from life?” “What are we scared of?” “What kind of society do we want to live in?”

Say, seriously: do you really, really want to live in a country where you and your family could drive the latest Maserati or Lamborghini, on some road which is surrounded by infested slums? Do you? Do you want to shop in malls where the toilets are decorated in marble and with gold-plated faucets, while people are dying, just a 100 meters away, without basic sanitation and decent medical care?

Do you want to live in a bubble or your tiny country which is doing damn well simply because it used to colonize some enormous territories, and continues to colonize them, indirectly, to this very moment? Or in a country which prides itself on never colonizing anybody directly, but which has been “investing” in Western expansionism for decades and centuries. Notice, this time I am not naming names, not pointing fingers. I let the reader fill in the blanks.

Call me naïve, but I always thought that most people want to live secure lives, full of knowledge and culture, without the fear of falling ill, of crime waves which grow from misery, without the pre-occupation of how they are going to pay for the roof above their head, tomorrow and in one month, or even in ten years.

How many people in the West are scared, petrified? I am talking about unnecessary fears; fears that could be easily eliminated? How many are depressed, even desperate; suicidal, on poisonous pills which they are given so they can pull themselves through the day?

And how many people in the neo-colonies are living in absolute destitution; in Africa and the Middle East, in Latin America, Asia and Oceania?

Is it all necessary? Isn’t it all totally absurd?

The mass media and academia in the West and in its colonies are now serving the regime, which mainly consists of corporations and their PR facades — so-called elected governments.

The way the Western political system functions is hardly ever addressed. Again, no big questions are asked, including one of the most essential ones: “Why most of the people in North America and Europe who despise their own system keep electing the same individuals and parties that they say they hate? How come they keep being tricked into the weaving of their own nooses?”

Is this really, really freedom and democracy?

*****

In Russia and China, people are much more content with the systems they have.

People are also, almost always, much more content with the revolutionary systems they fought for and won in countries like Venezuela and Cuba, Iran and Bolivia before the West decided to take them, brutally and unceremoniously, away from them. Of course, if terrible sanctions are imposed, or even embargoes; if assassination plots and terrorist attacks are unleashed by Western mercenaries and their allies, life cannot be happy, balanced and enjoyable. Just look at Syria. But it is not the fault of socialism or Communism, it is not a fault of the systems which are different, is it?

Frankly: no true Communist or socialist system has had even a chance to bloom or to develop itself uninterrupted. They have always been attacked, brutalized and broken into pieces by the Western armies, interests, allies or mercenaries.

It is because all Communist systems fought with determination against colonialism, imperialism and plunder.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if there were to be no intervention, no smearing campaigns, no embargos and no war. Perhaps most of the Communist countries would flourish?

*****

And yet, despite all this horror imposed by the West, China and Russia are blooming.

North America and Europe are in panic. They are literally shaking. Their elites are in total overdrive, trying to invent new formulas, new insults, to stain the two global frontrunners.

The greatest fear they have is: what if the rest of the world were to notice? What if some countries were to begin switching sides, alliances? And some countries are doing precisely that! Everything is suddenly changing, evolving. Things are now being discussed in the Philippines and Mexico, in Kenya and in so many other places.

Most of the people in the colonized countries are still too scared to dream. They do not dare to believe that another world is possible; that attempts to build a much better planet would not be drowned in those proverbial bathtubs of blood again. Many are like hostages kept in a filthy cellar for years, unaccustomed anymore to the rays of the sun, living in constant fear. Stockholm syndrome seems to be omnipresent.

*****

Can huge and undeniably successful nations, like China and Russia, be absolutely, totally wrong? Can they be thoroughly evil? Reading the Western media, listening to government officials in North America and Europe, they are precisely that: deceitful, sinister and dangerous for their own people, and for the world.

There is absolutely nothing positive that is written (in the West) about nations which decided, or were forced to, embark on their own path: China, Russia, but also North Korea, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, even South Africa.

They are facing a barrage of negativity, cynical punches and insults. Every success is questioned and belittled. Almost every news story is introduced with a sarcastic question mark. Leaders are mocked.

In the West, journalism has virtually died. Thousands of scribes are unleashed by their corporate media outlets to search for the “darkest secrets” inside China, Russia, and other non-Western countries. Positive stories are allowed to be highlighted only if they occur in the West or in the neo-colonies of the Western Empire.

All this is because the regime is desperately fighting for its survival. Because it cannot inspire anyone, anymore. It cannot offer optimism, or to motivate with enthusiastic ideals. Smearing its opponents is “the best it can do”.

Russia and China cannot compete with the propaganda machinery of the West. And they do no try to, anymore. They used to, but they gave up, quite some time ago.

Instead, they are developing new social concepts for their people, working on implementing an Ecological Civilization, on improving the standards of living for all.

Instead of quarreling, pointing fingers and insulting opponents, Russia and China are marching forward, irreversibly.

This confident march is what will, most likely, save humanity from imminent collapse, from the terrible agony of cannibalism, which is promoted as “democracy” and “freedom” by the Western market fundamentalism and a brutal dictatorship of the 1%.

*****

China and Russia may not be perfect, but what is happening in the West is monstrous.

What is happening in the West’s new type of colonies is simply a crime against humanity, from West Papua to the Middle East, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and present-day Brazilian Amazonia, to name just a few thoroughly plundered, ruined parts of the world.

And there is total silence when it comes to these crimes. The Western media is silent, obedient and disciplined.

The ruined, injured parts of the world are quietly levitating towards both Russia and China. They suffered enormously for decades and centuries. They have no tears left in their eyes anymore; no blood in their veins. They do not read propaganda sheets. They are scarred, hungry and ill. They need to survive, they need a lifeline, quickly. They need a strong, determined arm to lean on.

Russia and China are there, ready to help. Now, immediately, unconditionally.

And they know it – in London, Washington, Paris, Berlin, Canberra, Ottawa! They know it, and they do all they can to stop the process. To silence the victims. To keep control over the world. To keep looting. To decide who should live and who should die, when and how.

It is not a good life. Not good at all. For the planet, even for the majority of people in the West.

Big questions have to be asked, essential ones.

Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba – they are asking and answering those questions, not always by words, but by building their own societies, often against all odds.

The louder the Western propagandists scream, the clearer it is that they are scared. Deep inside they know that they are wrong, and that their days are numbered.

I do not even have to write about COVID-19 in this essay. Many people that are reading these lines are well aware of the horrific failure and disgraceful lack of solidarity in the West.

Next time, when you hear loud shouts and insults, smell terribly bad breath, and see finger-pointing towards Russia and China, find a chair, sit down, and calmly, very calmly ask yourself at least few basic questions:

“Is this the world in which I want to live?”

“If the world in which I live scares me, frustrates me, makes me unhappy, why should I trust its ideologues and propagandists?”

“Perhaps the reason why the Western rulers hate, despise and fear countries like Russia and China, is because they are actually doing something essentially good for our planet and the people! If they do, shouldn’t I support them?”

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook

Caught in a Madhouse without My Mask

Caught with their proverbial pants down? The blustery conversations tied to corona virus, lockdown, Trump LLC, Pelosi and Comp., and the failed state that is the USA are to be expected.

It is a country of nanosecond attention spans.

A country with amnesia in vitro.

A country that has sacrificed future and future-future generations for the all mighty dollar.

Dog-eat-dog?

Survival of the fittest (or in the reverse Darwinism, survival of the least fit, the least smart, the least humane, the least human).

Yeah, sure, trolls abound in the social media morass. The putridity of a buffoon on one local Facebook page can be tiring.

The King Rat in High (he is high, by all accounts of his Adderall sniffing) Office is a troll, yep.

CEO, the Apprentice Blob, the guy who made head of CBS orgasmic during the last run-up to the POTUS election – “I might not agree with Mister Trump’s politics, but Donald Trump is really-really good for business.”

The bottom line is money for nothing. With Corona Capitalism, it’s money for the bail-out queens and kings – corporations. Wall Street is bullish. Studdly, in fact.

Make that 40 million unemployed. In USA, but we know that figure is so much higher using the other Bureau of Labor stats. Like U3, U5, U6 and UB-40!

Protective mask shaming by the trolls, including King Rat Donny, and then mask illiteracy by the masses.

Yes, those valiant cloth masks with coffee filter inserts, hmm, vanity, for sure. We know the physics of a sneeze – 23 feet and a 100,000 microbes spread out in one big let-go.

Multiphase Turbulent Gas Cloud From a Human Sneeze

Yet we have these Disneyland parameters — elbow greetings and six foot circle jerks. Social distancing is the racist caste system of India, and now, alas, we have meme after meme, two bit prognosticator yammering about what it means to be, well, self-quarantining.

Call it lockdown, and it then becomes a policing issue. It always has been a policing issue — for the 80 percent. Fines, regs, fees, tolls, levies, penalties, triple penalties,  interest, laws, measures, arrests, convictions. prosecutions.

Disciplinary confinement, man — read all about it!

If you question the myriad of narratives spewed by left and right of the manure pile called USA politics, then, well, you suffer ire, de-platforming.

Called a Trumpie or Republican or Money First American if you dare question the entire idea of forced lockdown without forced government and private industry supporting people in real time; and without forced collective safety nets for food, health care, social services during this tsunami of destruction these lockdowns and falsifying narratives daily.

You gotta be consistent, the old American way, right? No counter-intuitive thinking, no systems thinking, no whole picture thinking, right?

So many “duh moments,” that each and every duh thing said by left and right of the political center dung pit are just too numerous to mention or answer.

This is no joke – United States of Amnesia, maybe on a daily diet.

Gore Vidal quote: We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn ...

Weren’t we warning about the military industrial complex in the 1930s by the general, Smedley Butler and War is a Racket? I get hammered for being a conspiracy nut, that how could there be a deep state, how could there be the big lie in such a big bad diverse country? How can I say a vaccination ID chip program could be real?

Right:

In 1934, a colossal claim reached the American news media: There had been a plot to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in favor of a fascist government. Supposedly in the works since 1933, the claims of the conspiracy came from a very conspicuous and reliable source: Major General Smedley Butler, one of the most decorated war heroes of his time. Even more unbelievable were his claims of who was involved in the plot – respected names like Robert Sterling Clark, Grayson M.P. Murphy, and Prescott Bush. While news media at the time mocked Butler’s story, recently discovered archives have revealed the truth behind Major General Butler’s claims.  Source!

When was The Jungle written? A century and change ago, and, of course, the meat industry is so-so cleaned up?

Decades after Upton Sinclair exposed the horrors of meatpacking, radical labor organizing transformed the industry into a bastion of worker power. Now, a century later, after decades of union-busting and the coronavirus decimating workers throughout the industry, the meatpacking industry is back to The Jungle.  Source!

Try that argument with trolls on F/Zuck-err-berg or anywhere. Then you have that fourth grade level thinking King Rat, Adderall Donny, until whack a mole is more than some child’s game. It’s the SARS-CoV-2 plan, it’s the diplomacy of this Clear and Present Danger, United of Snakes? Did I say, William Blum?

This book could be entitled: Serial chain-saw baby killers and the women who love them.

The women don’t really believe that their beloved would do such a thing, even if they’re shown a severed limb or a headless torso. Or if they believe it, they know down to their bone marrow that lover-boy really had the best of intentions; it must have been some kind of very unfortunate accident, a well-meaning blunder; in fact, even more likely, it was an act of humanitarianism.

For more than 70 years, the United States convinced much of the world that there was an international conspiracy out there. An International Communist Conspiracy, seeking no less than control over the entire planet, for purposes which had no socially redeeming values. And the world was made to believe that it somehow needed the United States to save it from communist darkness. “Just buy our weapons,” said Washington, “let our military and our corporations roam freely across your land, and give us veto power over who your leaders will be, and we’ll protect you.”

Rogue State, William Blum

Point and counterpoint

So, all the evidence of USA bioweapons work, all the machinations by more than 13,000 scientists working on US programs for DARPA, Plum Island, Fort Detrick, University of North Carolina, et al, none of that counts? Doesn’t matter who might agree with the minutiae. Grand conspiracy to mess with coronavirus, and great work on bat viruses. We know that the USA is the free world’s biggest gangster, and we can go on and on about the toxins unleashed, the Japanese prisoners captured in bioweapons facilities and brought to the USA. Along with those Sieg Heil missile boys.

Does it matter if there are many opposing and counterpointing ideas? Can we not maybe entertain the idea that the USA (with help from UK and Israel) might be concocting viruses or chemicals for infertility or bombs that kill people but keep buildings intact? Depleted uranium shells? Goo that burns the skin off the bodies. Agent orange was not just a defoliant for exposing the heroes who fought the great American menace in their land. The McNamara and DOW papers state that agent orange (Your grandson’s Round-Up weed killer) would be something of the gift that keeps on giving. Papers reveal the idea was to ruin the rice crop of Vietnam. Contaminate the soil for generations.

Oh, that Round-Up Ready America. The media, the police, the finance, the insurance, the real estate, the hedge funds, the legal eagles, the university system, the chemical-fumigant-herbicide-pesticide purveyors. Big Pharma, Big Med, Big Private Prison. Big big big and too big to take on, fail, and frog march to the gallows.

Yet, this compliance for lockdown, even now, May 27. I live on the coast of Oregon, near Newport.

No industry, no shipping lanes, no stagnation, no burning coal or burning anything really, yet my mean greenie weenie acquaintances are still putting their Zoom Doom out there for environmental programs.

I have a new book – all my readings cancelled because of Corona Capitalism. But now, no light at the end of the lockdown tunnel. All those libraries? Outside parking lots, hell, I will stand away with bullhorn and read and talk.

Let the people sit outside, even with their vanity masks. The cleanest air in the world, and it circulates in an open house every ten minutes – completely new air in a house. Outside? Nope!

Tele-Zoom, man. These white great hopes, the middle and upper middle classes, they love the Zoom Doom. Tele-marketing turned into tele-ed, tele-med, tele-sex, tele-retail.

All these congealing ideas coming out now, with the absurdity of a fourth world country like USA. No clinics in every neighborhood. No dental care. No regulating polluters to not pollute zero emissions or toxins. All this colonizing of higher and lower education by the MBA’s and profiteers and for-profit investment vehicles.

All this racism and racist policies and the one hundred percent of Native American treaties broken by Uncle Sam.

I live here in Lincoln County, and the Siletz tribe has the big casino. Big attraction for addicts. But what is a disenfranchised tribe to do?

Even after all the theft and rapine, the Siletz Tribe in the 1820s was given a million acres, yet those white devils we praise as the great wagon trains of the Oh Pioneers, like a coronavirus, came into the Oregon Territory, and over time, all those deeded acres disappeared. The tribe now has 3,600 acres – fractured to be sure – in its sovereign name.

I have friends who do some amazing things looking at the numbers game, the To Die With Corona or Not to Die.  You betcha being skeptical of Gates and Vaccine Purveyors and Alex Azar and Fauchi and the Surgeon General and Trump LLC, you bet, best way to be. Davos, Rockefeller, all the pandemic planning way before Dec. 2019.

You betcha.

Unfortunately we are in some contradictory and counter-intuitive times. Yes, coronavirus, in it’s novel form, is worse than the H1N1 or Swine flu. Two times? Three? Hmm.

Locking down healthy people without safety nets —  and we know ALL the safety nets necessary for closing down the economy and day to day life, and schools – is insane.

So are meat packing plants and Amazon warehouses. So are the freaks dictating that private companies do not have to report sick employees with coronavirus. So is a country without test. So is a country that still rams its military whores into other parts of the world, still keeps those weapons deals going, yet this pathetic country can’t even amass MASH tents and hearts and minds soldiers (without weapons) to be part of the so-called coronavirus mitigation.

I read a lot as well as work a lot, and gain of function for DNA and RNA tweaking of viruses should never be allowed. But then never should there have been a patent given on seeds.

This is all pre-dating the Adderall Addict in Chief. Predates his scum lording in the Oval Office.

You can hate Donald Trump on so many levels and see him as a felon (in a long line of American president felons) and still not believe the Russian Investigation.

You can doubt lockdown and still decry armed racists and their white breed from going to state capitals with fully loaded AR-15’s.

You can decry Zoom and Facebook and parse the Fourth Industrial Revolution and rail against Internet of Things and AI and self-driving cars, and 5G, and still have pure science background in biology and ecology.

Beware of 'ZoomBombing': screensharing filth to video calls ...

You can attack the Planet of the Humans for its total lack of embracing the reality that the majority of the world – non-white, thank god – is doing many things to fight against green capitalism, carbon markets, REDD, and the other tricks of the capitalists. You can hate Michael Moore for being a multimillionaire. You can doubt Bill McKibben and tire of the Naomi Klein getting gazillion minutes of air time on the Soros Show, Democracy Now, and endless copy on the Intercept.

Yet, you can still embrace Bowling for Columbine, Shock Doctrine, The End of Nature, and rail against Green as the New Black.

It’s possible to think the lockdown is absurd on one level, and that business as usual is absurd, too.

You can be for universal health care, universal public education, for nationalizing (people-izing) industries, ending the billionaire class and still be for retail, mom and pop’s, good food, good weed and great wine.

Communists are for democracy and for the people’s rights over all rights of the business and investing class. Yes, the world is global and so is weather and so is the water cycle, winds, precipitation, and culture. Yes, we need to relocalize, but we need deep-deep ecology with deep-deep cultural survival.

Yes, peasant culture and collective enterprises, and looking at workers own their work and the industries, and yes, ending perpetual wars, any walls against people’s freedom of moment, well, call this neo-communism, or Marx-taken-to-the-next level, or Utopian?

But instead we argue whether cruise lines should come back, the value of a hair salon, and what about air traffic?

So many of the long-in-the-tooth conservative democrats I mingle with here on the coast have shit to say about the chronically homeless, the chronically one-paycheck from hell, the very people who hammer their roofs, flip their halibut steaks, clean granny’s bedpans, and the like.

They are glad the air is cleaner (that’s a big fat joke) and that air travel is curtailed. It is lockdown, and the rich still travel, and these conservative democrats who vote “green” are glad all that wasteful Disneyland travel is gone . . . while they still shuttle themselves to grand-kids across the land, go to their language immersion schools in Cuernavaca or Tibet.

Bring back the spotted owl, but screw the people. The dichotomies, the trolls on both ends, the split society, the false balancing of issues, the I-know-I-am-right pukes on all sides of the manure pile, well, they are Making America Great Again (that was Reagan’s line 40 years before another mentally-challenged foe is in the Oval office).

You see this was all predicted – shit, how many books and articles and even movies have been produced discussing a virus or other bacterial outbreak? And yet, this was not seen coming?

The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities. In the technotronic society the trend would seem to be towards the aggregation of the individual support of millions of uncoordinated citizens, easily within the reach of magnetic and attractive personalities exploiting the latest communications techniques to manipulate emotions and control reason.

― Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era

*-*

Researcher Alison Hawver McDowell: “A new global economic apparatus is being laid down that is profoundly anti-human. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will dispossess people from their means of survival and replace “work” with robots and AI. Through UBI and pay for success data surveillance the masses become batteries for predatory financial deals and the data extracted from them will be used to advance the Singularity.” Source.

*–*

The FOIA document, obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), was produced by a little-known U.S. government organization called the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI). It was created by the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and its official purpose is “to consider the methods and means necessary to advance the development of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and associated technologies to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States.”

The NSCAI is a key part of the government’s response to what is often referred to as the coming “fourth industrial revolution,” which has been described as “a revolution characterized by discontinuous technological development in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), big data, fifth-generation telecommunications networking (5G), nanotechnology and biotechnology, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and quantum computing.”  Source

How do we get Americans off their high horses? Those Earth Day people I have associated with who will continue to Zoom Doom their groups, now that this is the new normal – “Oh, so easy, just open up that laptop, sit back, sip chamomile and listen to those cool scientists and naturalists without having to strap in a car and driving someplace.”

This is a time of idiotic calls for a universal basic income while not making calls to create good work, that is, grow legions of people in paid-volunteer work, community-based work; real community-based schooling; clinics in each neighborhood; gardens and food distribution in all neighborhoods. Cancelling the billionaire class. Worthy public transportation that reaches the outskirts and is 24/7. Universal Basic Bum’s Income My Ass.

That UBI (not UB40) is based on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Disruptive Economies and Viral Economic and Digital models.

You know, self-driving cars, buses and trucks? Who said this was okay? And those jobs? Oh, yeah, we shall be locked up in cubicle mini-apartments and forced to receive our digital crypto currency monthly to pay for capitalism on steroids.

Foolish. And yet, the Andrew Yang’s and others call for this stupidity?

How about social security increased, total publicly-funded health care, state banks, cooperative utilities, true safety nets and creative organizations and self-organizing communities and agricultural-based intentional communities and real work.

There is a shit-ton of work to be done. Micro-homes built, foster homes visited, retirement communities to be built and energized.

But the masters of the universe and those other oddities want what? Get your pay, with your vaccination chip approved. All data and all history captured in the span of a human hair.

Some of us do not want the Trump World, the Biden World, the Gates World, the Naomi Klein World, the Goldman Sachs World, the World Bank World. Some of us imagine narratives and viewpoints that do not fit some consistent, packaged, inside-the-dreadful-lines of left-right (not really left, but right-super right) politic correctness.

It doesn’t take a million PhD’s in plethora of fields to define what works, what might work, what isn’t working, and how it works. This is common sense, and yet, we have prognosticators, idiots with Microphones and Makeup yammering pure nothingness.

I have had deeper conversations with old men halfway in their dementia while withdrawing from a weekend of meth than with a majority of people I also associate with. Or used to associate with.

Because the new normal allows for more and more sculpted venues, more Skype-up-your-ass and Zoom Doom sessions. “You can join BUT if we notice any derogatory language and counter spin, we shall pull the proverbial plug.”

The “I can’t breathe” yet again is the comment for a generation, for generations. Emblematic of the entire bullshit world of Cop Capitalism, the Police State Mentality of Bezos, Gates, F/Zuckerberg and any of the other Google and Digital Demigods.

How many times are we going to be subjected to the Blue Plague and the Green Plague – The Police State and the Finance State?

And yet, this is it for USA? Not an outcry and complete shut down of the country and the Fox News drumbeat with yet another hit-man cop running free. This cop, one of the Biden VP pick’s boys:

As Chief Prosecutor, Klobuchar Declined to Bring Charges Against Cop that Killed George Floyd; While serving as Minnesota’s chief prosecutor between 1999 and 2007, Klobuchar declined to bring charges against more than two dozen officers who had killed citizens while on duty – including against the cop that killed George Floyd.

Alan Macleod, May 27, 2019

Senator Klobuchar Police

So how do we have conversations now when the distance unlearning is taking hold not only for overpriced higher education (what idiocy is this when kids get to leave home, leave hometowns, end up on a bricks and mortar campus and end up spending 75 percent of their time in their dorms or apartments with on-line miseducation?) but for public schools.

Troll after troll want the end of childhood, they want the four horsemen of the apocalypse to come riding into their AR-1 and Glock-infested neighborhoods. They think and believe their Jesus was a Duck Dynasty aficionado. These cretins are cretins, easily flushed out in MAGA America.

It’s the greenie weenies, the ameliorating, the corrective ones – the straight democratic ticket lovers, the Hillary supporters, the ones blaming Nader, Stein and others for the victories of what they deem the more evil of the lesser evils.

Back to the future means we have Noam Chomsky again railing and lecturing us to believe his wonderful genius and vote with noses held by backing Biden over Trump. Whew, the new Hitler, uh? Is that so, Trump? Hmm, more bumbling misuse of the language and symbol.

Funny world, man, funny world. The entire mess is co-opted by the death star that is capitalism one all 12 cylinders or sputtering away in the throes of death.

Evil begotten country, evil penetrating imperialism, evil perversions of humanity, the cancer that is consumerism, the virus that is waste/waste/waste. Disease treatment so throw out preventative cures.

Until we are in Oregon, with busy signal for weeks at the unemployment office. Boosted prices at the grocery store. Entitled versus poor, and yet the poor seem entitled to believe in Yankee Doodle Dandy and their Stars and Bars.

Amazon.com: Rogue State: A Guide to the Worlds Only Superpower ...

A Truth Commission

Since the early 1990s the people of South Africa, Argentina, Guatemala, Chile and El Salvador have held official Truth Commissions to look squarely in the eyes of the crimes committed by their governments. There will never be any such official body to investigate and document the wide body of Washington’s crimes, although several unofficial citizens’ commissions have done so over the years for specific interventions, such as in Vietnam, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq; their findings were of course totally ignored by the establishment media (whose ideology is a belief that it doesn’t have any ideology).

In the absence of an official Truth Commission in the United States, this book is offered up as testimony.

— William Blum, Washington, DC/ May 2005/ Rogue State

And so we do this on our people, no? Care homes, workers in confined working operations, the elderly, the physically compromised. Ya think Bill and Melinda and his cronies aren’t thinking about eugenics?

Right.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people in care homes have been dying in droves.

Why is this happening? Is it simply because older adults are very vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 and therefore it’s not unexpected that many would succumb?

Or do care homes deserve the lion’s share of the blame, such as by paying so poorly that many workers have to split their time between several facilities, spreading the virus in the process?

Alternatively, could medical experts and government bureaucrats, with the full knowledge of at least the top tier of government officials, have created conditions shortly after the pandemic struck that contribute to the high death tolls while engendering virtually no public backlash against themselves?

This article shows that the third hypothesis is highly plausible. The people who created the conditions may be unaware of, or oblivious to, their implications. But it’s also possible that at least some of them know exactly what they’re doing.

After all – seeing it from an amoral government’s point of view – the growing numbers of elderly are a big burden on today’s fiscally strained governments, because in aggregate they’re paying much less into the tax base than younger people while causing the costs of healthcare and retirement programs to skyrocket.

–“Were conditions for high death rates at Care Homes created on purpose?”  Rosemary Frei

 

As coronavirus creeps into French care homes, a 'tsunami' of ...

Sickness Is The Health Of The State!

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A hundred years ago in response to the horror of WWI, the great Randolph Bourne famously pronounced the truth that “War is the Health of the State.” Said Bourne,
War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate co-operation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. The machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic penalties, the minorities are either intimidated into silence or brought slowly around by a subtle process of persuasion which may seem to them to really converting them……

Other values such artistic creation, knowledge, reason, beauty, the enhancement of life, are instantly and almost unanimously sacrificed and the significant classes who have constituted themselves the amateur agents of the State are engaged not only in sacrificing these values for themselves but in coercing all other persons into sacrificing them.

In a nation at war, every citizen identifies himself with the whole, and feels immensely strengthened in that identification. The purpose and desire of the collective community live in each person who throws himself whole-heartedly into the cause of war. The impeding distinction between society and the individual is almost blotted out.
A century later it appears that Randolph Bourne needs an update: Apparently, Sickness is the Health of the State, as well.

During the past 10 weeks, state control of economic and social life in America has erupted like never before. The stay-at-home and lockdown orders decreed by mayors and governors intrude into every nook and cranny of daily life, essentially subjecting tens of millions of Americans to house arrest and/or entombment in six-foot cylinders of social control.

The historic quasi-regimentation and suppression of dissent that occurred domestically during both world wars, for instance, pales by comparison.

The pretext, of course, has been that the coronavirus presents a dire threat to the very life and limb of the American public, and that exigent and invasive controls on individual action and daily commerce are necessary to stop its spread.

But that’s a gargantuan lie. The risk of death to an average healthy person under 60 years of age is no greater than that entailed in commuting 50 miles per day by car to work and back.

And besides, once a highly contagious virus gets loose among the general population— which the coronavirus had done long before Lockdown Nation was launched on March 13—its spread cannot be stopped, anyway.

In fact, it shouldn’t be stopped. When the virus is already out the barn-door and is relatively benign among 95% of the population which contracts it, the right course of action is to let freedom reign. That is, enable its natural spread among the healthy population and thereby foster the herd immunities that the human organism and social community have been deploying to combat such diseases for millennia.

Stated differently, the very high threshold of across-the-board threat to the health and life of the citizenry that would be required to suspend their liberties and pursuit of economic livelihood has not been remotely reached by the Covid. So what has and is still happening in Lockdown Nation is a case of grotesque and malign disproportion.

That’s evident enough in any random sample of the social controls and “nonessential business lockdowns” that have been hastily stood up coast to coast. But these excerpts from the lawsuit of an Illinois businessman capture the intrusive absurdity being foisted on the public as well as any:
I won’t get COVID if I get an abortion but I will get COVID if I get a colonoscopy.

Selling pot is essential but selling goods and services at a family- owned business is not. Pot wasn’t even legal and pot dispensaries didn’t even exist in this state until five months ago and, in that five months, they have become essential but a family-owned business in existence for five generations is not.

A family of six can pile in their car and drive to Carlyle Lake without contracting COVID but, if they all get in the same boat, they will.

We are told that kids rarely contract the virus and sunlight kills it, but summer youth programs, sports programs are cancelled. Four people can drive to the golf course and not get COVID but, if they play in a foursome, they will.

If I go to Walmart, I won’t get COVID but, if I go to church, I will.

Murderers are released from custody while small business owners are threatened with arrest if they have the audacity to attempt to feed their families.
These are just a few examples of rules, regulations and consequences that are arbitrary, capricious and completely devoid of anything even remotely approaching common sense. But this kind of arbitrary state invasion of economic and personal life is what happens when officialdom and politicians are green-lighted by an overpowering Big Lie.

In the case of Illinois, the state has its own bully-boy, Donald Trump wanna-be master of the universe in the state house. Governor J. B. Pritzker is the entitled scion of a brass knuckled family of Chicago business speculators who is used to getting his way, and has decided that it is his job job to quash the coronavirus—the rights of the state’s citizens and needs of the economy be damned.

But it is worth noting that the WITH Covid mortality rate in Illinois as of May 27 was just 40 per 100,000, which is only slightly above the US average and far below the level in hard hit states, where the apparent mortality rates are far higher.

It’s also about the same as Sweden, which hasn’t closed its schools, businesses and places of social congregation; and it is well above a variety of other US states and countries including Japan and South Korea, which have not employed anything remotely resembling the sweeping Lockdowns imposed by the state of Illinois:

WITH Covid Mortality Rates Per 100,000 (as of May 28)

· New York: 153;

· New Jersey: 128;

· Connecticut: 107;

· Massachusetts: 95;

· Rhode Island: 64;

· Sweden: 42;

· Illinois: 40;

· Georgia: 18;

· Florida: 11;

· Germany: 10;

· Texas: 6;

· Switzerland: 4;

· Russia: 3;

· Belarus: 2;

· Japan: 0.7;

· South Korea: 0.5 

Indeed, the sweeping range of mortality rates among these jurisdictions tell you that intrusive lockdowns designed to stop the virus’ spread don’t have much to do at all with actual outcomes. Public health measures in Georgia, Florida, Texas, Japan, Belarus and South Korea, for example, were not a fraction as intrusive and comprehensive as those in the state of Illinois.

Even then, fully 50% of the WITH Covid deaths in Illinois have been in nursing and other long-term care facilities—places outside the reach of the general public lockdowns, anyway.

So if you set aside the long-term care deaths, the general population mortality rate in Illinois is actually about 20 Covid deaths per 100,000. That’s only slightly higher than the year-in and year-out suicide rate of 15 per 100,000 and not even 3% of Illinois’ annual mortality rate from all causes of about 875 per 100,000.

So you have the worst of both worlds: The Illinois lockdowns do not account for its moderate mortality rates because if plenary lockdowns were efficacious, the mortality figures for New York and New Jersey would be drastically lower.

At the same time, destroying an economy and personal liberties and livelihoods on account of a 3% share of the state’s normal mortality rate gives the idea of overkill and disproportion an altogether new meaning.

To take another example, the WITH Covid mortality rate of 15.7 per 100,000 in Virginia is only a tad above its annual suicide rate of 13.9 per 100,000.

But that hasn’t stopped its power-grabbing governor, Ralph Northam, from imposing a sweeping lockdown on the state’s residents, including an edict that after Friday all Virginians over 10 years of age will wear the Mask pretty much everywhere. As one acerbic critic rightly noted,
Or else! Gesundheitsfuhrers – health police – will do the enforcing, handing out misdemeanor fines and presumably Hut! Hut! Huts! to the non-compliant.
Needless to say, even as the state balloons with its puffed up health police, the private sector has literally imploded. With today’s weekly report on initial unemployment claims, we have now reached a milestone which was not attained even during the darkest moments of the Great Depression.

To wit, during the past ten weeks 40.7 million workers have filed for state unemployment benefits, a figure which is nine times greater than the worst 10 months of the Great Recession; and when you add in the 4.5 million workers newly eligible under PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance), the total is close to 45 million.

The total employed work force on the eve of Lockdown Nation in February 2020, however, was just 158.7 million. So, actually, 28.3% of employed workers in what was alleged to be the Greatest Economy Ever have now received pink slips, and in a ten-week flash of the eye.

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Still, this needless calamity gets us to another avenue by which sickness have become the Health of the State.

After the Donald’s camarilla of malpracticing doctors green-lighted the Governors and Mayors to lockdown their economies in Mid-March and conducted daily coronavirus task force briefings which became the fodder for the MSM to generate hysteria among the general public, the Washington politicians experienced their own version of fear contagion. That is, they passed sight unseen a $3 trillion Everything Bailout which has literally eviscerated the public finances of the nation.

Consequently, and unlike even the worst period of the Great Recession, lockdown starved US Treasury receipts of $3 trillion in FY 2020 will amount to only 40% of Bailout bloated outlays, which will exceed $7 trillion. That’s not even worthy of banana republic style finance.

Needless to say, the Covid-fighters on Capitol Hill held no hearings, took no expert testimony, had the benefit of no professional analysis or even a cursory reading of the bills.

So they apparently didn’t bother to find out, for instance, that there were 71 million American workers last year whose paychecks averaged less than the new combined Federal/state benefit of $1,000 per week; and that there were 17 million workers in the hospitality and leisure sector as of February 2020, who averaged less than 25 hours per week on the clock and got paychecks of less than $350.

So now the state’s Virus Patrols are confronted with a new variety of ailment that may be afflicting millions of workers. To wit, the discovery that it pays big time to get furloughed.

As one widely circulated commentary on the social media put it: Thank Heavens for the Covid!
Before COVID I was miserable.

I had a job working $14.75/hr and hated waking up most days. I’ve since been laid off (obviously) but am one of those who is making much more by NOT working.

I used to make $550-600 per week depending on my hours but since COVID began, I’m clearing just over $1000/week. My gf is in the same situation and she’s also clearing just over $1000.

Today we plan to do some hiking since it’s going to be so nice out and I’ll be using my new grill to cook up some steak tonight. The gf is kind of a wine snob so she likes to splurge on really nice reds (which I’ll definitely be having later as well).

I really don’t understand people who say they’re more stressed or are fighting with their gf/wife more than before. It makes absolutely no sense to me. These have been the best 2 months I’ve had in a while. I can’t imagine going back to my old life and way of doing things. NOT HAPPENING!

The only thing that isn’t ideal right now is not being able to travel normally but I only vacationed once or twice a year before due to work/money issues. Now I’m able to save $800-1000/month with COVID stimulus and bonus so we’ll definitely be taking a nice vacation at some point this summer.
So the question recurs: Why the Lockdowns?

House arrest and the 6-foot cylinder of social control that have been stood up to thwart the spread of the virus are inherently unmatched to the task, which is illicit in the first place. But they will inherently clobber the economy and the livelihoods of millions— notwithstanding a lot of brave talk about the “new normal”.

As the Wall Street Journal detailed in a story about the travails of the restaurant industry, the so-called re-opening will only be a short bridge to oblivion for large segments of the industry:
Across the U.S., dining rooms are reopening and some customers are returning, industry data shows. But restaurants say they expect months of sales losses ahead due to capacity constraints imposed to contain the new coronavirus. They are also buying plexiglass walls to separate tables, hiring cleaning staff and turning fewer tables to give booths deeper scrub downs between customers, expenses that draw on a shallower pool of revenue.

Of the 30 states that have allowed restaurants statewide to resume serving customers indoors, 15 have limited capacity to 25% or 50%, according to market-research firm Gordon Haskett. The rest are mandating social distancing that have the effect of reducing capacity, or have yet to release guidance. Restaurant executives expect the limits to last at least through the summer.

Independent restaurants face even greater challenges than sit-down chains because they tend to have less room to cordon off customers and fewer seats to remove. A survey of 250 Colorado restaurant operators earlier this month found that nearly half expected to permanently close in less than three months at the 50% capacity cap that the state set on Wednesday. A study of 483 New York City venues found that 61% couldn’t make it with occupancy limits below 70%.

For a typical 75-seat sit-down restaurant in New York, an occupancy cap of 50% would allow for just 20 diners after accounting for employees, said James Mallios, a New York City restaurateur and attorney.

He said the number drops to around five diners at a 25% capacity limit. New York City hasn’t yet eased stay-at-home orders or set final capacity guidelines for restaurants.
Then again, there are 275 million Americans 64 years and under who face virtually no risk of death or serious illness. As of May 16, the CDC’s own data show that the WITH Covid mortality rate for this massive share of the population was just 4.9 per 100,000— about in line with the annual toll of traffic and other accidents.

By contrasts, the serious illnesses and deaths are occurring mainly where the Lockdowns aren’t. Persons 65 and older account for 16% of the population but 81% of the WITH-Covid deaths; and 32% of deaths have been among those 85 and older, which account for just 2.0% of the population—most of whom are in long-term care homes, and do not frequent restaurants.

The reason for high mortality and low public socializing, of course, is that the 22,543 persons 85 and older who died WITH Covid were pretty sick already. To wit, among them were—

· 8,267 cases of influenza and pneumonia;

· 11,250 cases of chronic lower respiratory and other pulmonary illnesses;

· 4,075 cases of high blood pressure;

· 4,000 cases of cardiac arrest and arterial arrhythmia;

· 5,800 cases of other circulatory diseases;

· 1,870 cases of diabetes and obesity;

· 3,650 cases of dementia;

· 1,700 cases of sepis and cancer;

· 1,025 cases of Alzheimer;

· 1,175 cases of renal failure; and

·8,000 cases of other serious ailments including accidents and poisonings. 
In all, the deceased over the age of 84 years had 50,800 of cases of classifiable diseases, most of them life-threatening. That’s an average of 2.25 each.

Needless to day, sickness is a condition of life—especially of advanced age; and it needs to be fought with medical care and personal health practices, not society-wide social engineering.

But when it becomes the Health of the State, as during the current Covid Hysteria, it is now apparent that the State becomes a greater mortal threat to liberty and prosperity than even during times of military war.

And we are quite sure that Randolph Bourne would heartily agree.


Reprinted with permission from David Stockman's Contra Corner.