Category Archives: Hypocrisy

The Hollow Ethics of Israel’s Liberals

Human rights abuses by their government have so outraged prominent liberal Israelis that, in an unprecedented move, they have launched a campaign of civil disobedience.

Many hundreds have responded to a call by rabbis, pledging to hide victims in their own homes to protect them from Israel’s security services.

With the mood rapidly turning sour, academics and professionals, including doctors, pilots, school principals and lawyers have refused to collude in Israel’s policy of oppression.

This month a raft of respected literary figures, including Amos Oz and David Grossman, reminded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it was imperative to “act morally, humanely and with compassion worthy of the Jewish people. … Otherwise, we will have no reason to exist.”

Outside Israel, Jewish organisations have uncharacteristically sounded the alarm as well, warning that Israel’s actions “betray the core values that we, as Jews, share”.

But none of this outpouring of moral concern has been voiced on behalf of Palestinians. Instead the consciences of Israeli liberals have been pricked by the exceptional plight of some 40,000 African asylum seekers, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea.

The Israeli government initiated a programme this month to expel these refugees, who gained sanctuary in Israel from war zones before Israel managed to complete a fence across the Sinai in 2013 keeping them out.

Deep shame

The asylum seekers are now being offered a “choice” between being deported back to Africa, on the one hand, with the attendant dangers of persecution, torture and possible death, and indefinite imprisonment in Israel, on the other.

The destination country, Rwanda, is being paid $5,000 for each asylum seeker it accepts. But reports show that Rwanda is reneging on promises to give them residency status, forcing the refugees either to return to the regions from which they originally fled or make a perilous sea crossing to Europe.

Their treatment has indeed been shocking and is in flagrant violation of the international conventions on refugees’ rights Israel has ratified.

In an indication of how little official sympathy there is for the refugees, only 10 have been awarded asylum – a minuscule fraction of applicants. That compares with more than 80 per cent of Sudanese and Eritreans gaining refugee status in many European countries.

Meanwhile, Israeli government ministers have repeatedly incited against the Africans, calling them a “cancer” and a “sanitation hazard”, which in turn has fuelled public hate campaigns and a lynch-mob mentality.

It is understandable why liberal Israelis would feel deep shame at this behaviour. The explicit rationale behind Israel’s creation, after all, was as a sanctuary for Jewish refugees from rampant race hatred and persecution in Europe that culminated in the Holocaust.

Israel often describes itself as a country of refugees. The conventions Israel is flouting were drafted precisely out of recognition of the plight of Jews fleeing Europe.

Public relations catastrophe

The backlash in Israel has been led by religious leaders. Rabbis have urged Israelis to shame the government by promising to hide the Africans in their cellars and attics to foil the deportations.

It is intended to echo the way Europeans once bravely tried to save Jews from the Nazis – most famously in the case of child diarist Anne Frank, who later perished in a concentration camp.

Pilots for Israel’s national carrier El Al and airport staff have publicly refused to fly the asylum seekers back into danger, joining in the public defiance of psychologists, lawyers, professors and many others.

A group of 350 doctors, including heads of hospital departments, this week said they were speaking out because the deportations would do “harm among the most severe known to humanity”.

And, in a move that was a public relations catastrophe for Netanyahu and his cabinet, Holocaust survivors and their organisations loudly denounced the policy this week too. They quoted Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s address to the UN in 2005: “Will the world ever learn?”

The shock and indignation from liberal Israelis – while welcome and gratifying – has nonetheless exposed the ethical hollowness at the heart of this unprecedented campaign of civil resistance.

Easy generosity

It looks suspiciously like liberal Israelis are prepared to stand in solidarity with asylum seekers only because it is a relatively easy generosity – an act of humanitarianism they dare not extend to Palestinians.

Many Palestinians are also refugees, spawned by Israel’s creation as a self-proclaimed Jewish state on their homeland and by the campaign of ethnic cleansing in 1948 that enabled it – what Palestinians term their Nakba, or Catastrophe.

Israel refused to allow these Palestinians to return home. Many millions have lived for decades in abject conditions in refugee camps across the Middle East.

Palestinians in the occupied territories, meanwhile, face appalling human rights abuses – in their case not via a third party in Africa, but directly from the state of Israel.

Where has been the solidarity, the campaigns of civil disobedience on behalf of these Palestinians after 70 years of suffering? Only a tiny number of far-left Israelis – mostly anarchists – have ever stood alongside Palestinians.

They have joined Palestinians, for example, on demonstrations in West Bank farming communities like Bilin and Nabi Saleh, facing down armed and often violent Israeli soldiers, as they struggle against the theft of their lands to feed the expansion of Jewish settlements.

In fact, far from showing solidarity with Palestinians, many liberal Israelis have been demanding ever harsher treatment.

The overwhelming majority of Israelis celebrated the recent imprisonment of Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old child from Nabi Saleh who slapped a soldier after he had invaded her home. Moments earlier his unit had shot her 15-year-old cousin in the face, after he peeked over a wall.

Palestinian children throwing stones now face up to 20 years in jail, and their parents risk being fired from their jobs. Two-thirds of Palestinian children arrested by Israeli security services report being beaten or tortured.

But Ahed and these other children are not Palestinian Anne Franks in the eyes of liberal Israelis. They are “terrorists”.

Israel’s ‘Trump moment’

The wave of indignation at the asylum seekers’ predicament looks suspiciously like Israel’s “Trump moment”, echoing the recent outpouring of rage from American liberals at the easy hate-figure of US President Donald Trump.

These same Americans stood silent as Trump’s predecessors waged aggressive wars around the globe and tore up international law with programmes of extra-judicial executions, rendition and torture.

Similarly, liberal Israelis appear to be engaging in a kind of displacement activity: focusing on one grave but isolated outrage to avoid dealing with a far larger, far longer-running one they are personally implicated in.

Underscoring this paradox, Rabbis for Human Rights has called on the kibbutz and moshav agricultural communities to offer moral leadership in the campaign to hide African refugees.

These same communities were established over the destroyed homes of Palestinian refugees forced into exile in 1948. These same agricultural communities have barred any of the state’s Palestinian citizens – one in five of the population – from living in them. All have remained ethnically “pure”.

In their inconsistent moral defence of human rights, liberal Israelis have inadvertently revealed that they are not so far removed from the right-wing government they publicly abhor.

Much of the support for the African asylum seekers, including from Israel’s most famous writers, has highlighted how insignificant their numbers are, now that a wall across Sinai blocks further entry by refugees. If all 40,000 were allowed to stay, it is routinely pointed out, they would comprise less than 0.5 percent of Israel’s population.

A demographic demon

Contrast that with Palestinians. A fifth of Israel’s citizens are Palestinian, those Israel failed to expel in 1948. Combined with Palestinians living under belligerent Israeli military rule in the occupied territories – in the Greater Israel Netanyahu is carving out – they comprise half the region’s population.

When it comes to Palestinians, liberal Israelis sound little different from Netanyahu’s supporters. Both are concerned about maintaining Israel as a fortress Jewish state. Both want walls to keep out non-Jews, whether Palestinians in the occupied territories or refugees from Africa.

Both characterise Palestinians, either Israeli citizens or victims of the occupation, as a “demographic demon” and the Jewish state’s “Achilles’ heel”. Both fear a dilution of Israel’s Jewishness.

In short, both Israeli liberals and right-wingers are obsessed with demography – the numbers of Jews versus non-Jews – and with preserving Jewish privilege. Both are laying the groundwork for future outrages against Palestinians and for further incremental waves of ethnic cleansing.

But educated, liberal European Israelis – those who dominate academia and the professions now leading the revolt – can afford to salve their consciences over a population of Africans who will remain small and marginal. These refugees are unlikely to rise above sweeping the streets or cleaning dishes in restaurants in liberal Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu and the right, however, rely on the support of much poorer Israelis, often Jews who immigrated from Arab countries and face overt discrimination from Israeli liberals.

Right wing politicians need constantly to create (non-Jewish) bogeymen to shore up their political power base among these poor communities. It has been easy for the right to whip up fears of African refugees as freeloaders and here to “steal our jobs and women”.

Pragmatic humanitarianism

In a fearmongering tactic reminiscent of those used against Palestinians, Netanyahu warned in 2012 that 60,000 Africans – the number then in Israel – “could become 600,000 and possibly even jeopardise Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish democracy”.

Netanyahu’s government routinely describes the African refugees as “illegal infiltrators” – a much more sinister term than may be apparent to outsiders.

“Infiltrators” are what the Palestinians were called when they tried to return to their homes after their expulsion in 1948. An early Israeli law effectively gave Israeli security officials carte blanche to shoot these “infiltrators”.

The government’s comparing of African refugees to these Palestinians is intended as a clear form of incitement.

That may not wash with liberal Israelis, but also it has not opened their eyes to their own hypocrisy. Theirs is a pragmatic humanitarianism, not a principled one.

Is the terrible suffering Israel is now inflicting on African refugees not also the moment for liberal Israelis to appreciate that Palestinians have been enduring similar abuses for seven decades?

Has the time not finally arrived when liberal Israelis need to mount a campaign of civil disobedience on behalf not just of Africans but of Palestinians too?

• First published in Middle East Eye

Why is the Israeli Army Suddenly Concerned About Gaza?

More than 10 years ago Israel tightened its grip on Gaza, enforcing a blockade on goods coming in and out of the tiny coastal enclave that left much of the two million-strong population there unemployed, impoverished and hopeless.

Since then, Israel has launched three separate major military assaults that have destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, killed many thousands and left tens of thousands more homeless and traumatised.

Gaza is effectively an open-air prison, an extremely overcrowded one, with only a few hours of electricity a day and its ground water polluted by seawater and sewage.

Last week Israeli military officials for the first time echoed what human rights groups and the United Nations have been saying for some time: that Gaza’s economy and infrastructure stand on the brink of collapse.

After a decade of this horrifying experiment in human endurance, the Israeli army finally appears to be concerned about whether Gaza can continue coping much longer.

In recent days it has begun handing out forms, with more than a dozen questions, to the small number of Palestinians allowed briefly out of Gaza – mainly business people trading with Israel, those needing emergency medical treatment and family members accompanying them.

One question asks bluntly whether they are happy, another whom they blame for their economic troubles. A statistician might wonder whether the answers can be trusted, given that the sample group is so heavily dependent on Israel’s good will for their physical and financial survival.

But the survey does at least suggest that Israel’s top brass may be open to new thinking, after decades of treating Palestinians only as target practice, lab rats or sheep to be herded into cities, freeing up land for Jewish settlers. Has the army finally understood that Palestinians are human beings too, with limits to the suffering they can soak up?

According to the local media, the army is in part responding to practical concerns. It is reportedly worried that, if epidemics break out, the diseases will quickly spread into Israel.

And if Gaza’s economy collapses too, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians could be banging on Israel’s door – or rather storming its hi-tech incarceration fence – to be allowed in. The army has no realistic contingency plans for either scenario.

Nonetheless, neither Israeli politicians nor Washington appear to be taking evasive action. In fact, things look set to get worse.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week there could be no improvements, no reconstruction in Gaza until Hamas agrees to give up its weapons – the only thing, in Hamas’s view, that serves as a deterrent against future Israeli attacks.

Figures show Israel’s policy towards Gaza has been actually growing harsher. In 2017, exit permits issued by Israel dwindled to a third of the number two years earlier – and a hundredfold fewer than in early 2000. A few hundred Palestinian business people receive visas, stifling any chance of economic revival.

The number of trucks bringing goods into Gaza has been cut in half – not because Israel is putting the inmates on a “diet”, as it once did, but because the enclave’s Palestinians lack “purchasing power”. That is, they are too poor to buy Israeli goods.

Mr Netanyahu has resolutely ignored a plan by his transport minister to build an artificial island off Gaza to accommodate a sea port under Israeli or international supervision. And no one is considering allowing the Palestinians to exploit Gaza’s natural gas fields, just off the coast.

In fact, the only thing holding Gaza together is the international aid it receives. And that is now in jeopardy too.

The Trump administration announced last week it is to slash by half the aid it sends to Palestinian refugees via the UN agency UNRWA. Mr Trump has proposed further cuts to punish Mahmoud Abbas, the increasingly exasperated Palestinian leader, for refusing to pretend any longer that the US is an honest broker capable of overseeing peace talks.

The White House’s difficulties will only be underscored on Sunday evening, when Mike Pence, the US vice-president, arrives in Israel as part of Mr Trump’s supposed push for peace.

Palestinians in Gaza will feel the loss of aid severely. A majority live in miserable refugee camps set up after their families were expelled in 1948 from homes in what is now Israel. They depend on the UN for food handouts, health and education.

Backed by the PLO’s legislative body, the central council, Mr Abbas has begun retaliating – at least rhetorically. He desperately needs to shore up the credibility of his diplomatic strategy in pursuit of a two-state solution after Mr Trump recently hived off Palestine’s future capital, Jerusalem, to Israel.

Mr Abbas threatened, if not very credibly, to end a security coordination with Israel he once termed “sacred” and declared as finished the Oslo accords that created the Palestinian Authority he now heads.

The lack of visible concern in Israel and Washington suggests neither believes he will make good on those threats.

But it is not Mr Abbas’s posturing that Mr Netanyahu and Mr Trump need worry about. They should be listening to Israel’s generals, who understand that there is no defence against the fallout from the catastrophe looming in Gaza.

• First published in The National

Apple and the Guardian: Partners in a Death Spiral

This report on Apple CEO Tim Cook’s visit to a UK school to promote the company’s new coding curriculum for schoolchildren could hardly be a better illustration of the way the Guardian newspaper serves as a key propagandist for aggressive global corporate capitalism, helping to create for it a façade of humanitarianism.

The Guardian presents Cook (no relation) as a concerned global citizen, a gay man who fights for LGBT rights and might have been Hillary Clinton’s running mate if things had turned out differently. The article could just as easily have been a press release straight out of Apple headquarters.

Unchallenged by the Guardian, Cook claims via the article to be promoting coding as a universal language bringing people together and serving as a great leveller of mankind, offering everyone the chance to become … multi-billionnaire Tim Cook.

Or as the Guardian puts it:

The one-year coding curriculum adopted by Harlow college, half an hour north of London, is intended to teach students computing skills through the use of a variety of games, lessons and interactive materials. Every student is given an iPad loaded with coding apps and tools, and the teachers guide them through the concepts of coding.

There is not a hint of scepticism or suggestion that Cook and Apple are using the schools coding programme to promote their products among a captive and impressionable audience, and to counter growing concerns – even among those in the hi-tech industries – that the social media integral to Apple products is designed to be addictive and damaging to children.

Indeed, the emphasis of the article is on an apparent concern from Cook – who has no children – with the welfare of his young nephew. The piece accepts at face value Cook’s claim that he gets to decide how much time his nephew spends on social media rather than, as happens in all other families, the boy’s actual parents. Cook says he limits his exposure

In fact, given the growing alarm over the likely role of social media in impairing children’s development, Cook’s visit might be better compared to inviting the CEO of a tobacco company into schools to promote sports as a welcome complement to the habit of smoking 20 a day.

According to Cook, his famous predecessor Steve Jobs’ passion was to “serve humanity”, with Cook readily jumping at the chance to join that mission when Jobs poached him from IBM. “I finally felt aligned,” he adds.

So how did Cook contribute to serving humanity at Apple as senior vice-president of worldwide operations? Here is the Guardian’s extremely brief and bland summing up of his early career at Apple, the period that presumably proved him worthy of being Jobs’ successor:

He closed factories and warehouses, replacing them with contract manufacturers in Asia. He also kept costs under control and secured long-term deals in soon-to-be-crucial parts for the company, including flash memory storage for the iPod Nano, iPhone and iPad, which locked out competitors.

If one pauses long enough to decode that passage – and the Guardian gives every appearance of preferring you don’t – it reveals Cook (as one might expect of a successful CEO of a global corporation about to become the richest in the world) as a ruthless, cut-throat businessman, who turned large numbers of Apple’s employees out on to the street and left many others in far worse conditions, working for “contractors”.

But why delay over trivialities like that? Let’s get back to how great Cook and Apple are. The Guardian hastily returns to hagiography:

Since then, he has put his own stamp on Apple. In a 2014 profile to mark Cook’s announcement as person of the year, the Financial Times noted his passion for doing “things for other reasons than a profit motive, we do things because they are right and just”. As CEO, he has championed health, e-waste and renewable energy initiatives (claiming to run its own facilities mostly on renewable sources) plus Apple’s educational coding projects.

There’s more, much more – and not a word of it suggests that Cook might be primarily thinking of Apple’s brand image, and the effect on sales, as he puts on a few sticking plasters to try to conceal Apple’s central place in an unsustainable pyramid scheme of endless growth and wealth creation on a planet with finite resources.

Cook has, says the Guardian, “become a vocal proponent of privacy against global surveillance, and education to fight issues around gender diversity.”

So presumably all those security flaws and backdoors – the ones we know about so far – that allowed Big Brother states claiming to be western democracies to spy on us were unintended by Apple and its competitors. There is absolutely no way they might have been efforts by these mega-corporations to placate our increasingly authoritarian governments, in a trade-off to ensure no obstacles were placed in the way of their business affairs.

More Cook: “Introducing coding at an increasingly early age will help gender diversity too.”

Now one can see why Clinton might have wanted Cook at her side, the good business cop to Donald Trump’s bad business cop. Cook obviously knows how to exploit identity politics – to the exclusion of other kinds of politics – to maximum effect.

Please do not think I am so naive as to believe that either Cook or Apple could operate in any other way in what is a dog-eat-dog corporate business world. This is not criticism of them for being who they must be in a global competition in which one either devours or is devoured.

But let us not also kid ourselves that this neoliberal world we have allowed to be created in our names is not deeply sick and self-harming – and that, now with climate change accelerating, we are not caught in a death spiral.

We have to change course. That can only happen when we recognise that the corporations we idealise are really psychopathic in nature, and that the corporate media we trust is enabling and hastening their – and our – descent into madness.

The Punditry of Shithole Thinking

Our capitalist elites have used propaganda, money and the marginalizing of their critics to erase the first three of philosopher John Locke’s elements of the perfect state: liberty, equality and freedom. They exclusively empower the fourth, property. Liberty and freedom in the corporate state mean the liberty and freedom of corporations and the rich to exploit and pillage without government interference or regulatory oversight. And the single most important characteristic of government is its willingness to use force, at home and abroad, to protect the interests of the property classes.

— Chris Hedges, “Corpses of Souls”

Here’s a thought experiment for social workers assisting homeless, recovery (drug, alcohol), re-entry (coming out of prison), and those diagnosed with mental and physical health challenges: Take a college educated “professional,” George, and then a “homeless” person, Julia, and put them in the same tattered clothes, take away phone, ID, money, credit cards, blindfold them, transport them from say Portland, Oregon, and to Toronto, Canada, or Buffalo, NY, and drop them off in an alley in a run-down part of town at 3 am on a Monday. Then challenge them to get back to square “go.”

We know the homeless person, or the former incarcerated person, or the recovering addict will be home — Portland – within 48 hours. The professional, either in FIRE (finance insurance real estate) or any number of elite fields, will tank quickly. Especially if we were to drop that person off outside of town into a homeless camp.

In my field of social work, many employers I talk to would rather have a former inmate, a former felon, who has gotten his or her life back on track, on the job. Really. There are even Harvard (who cares that it’s Ivy League, by the way?) studies to that effect. Of course, the rationale is based on company loyalty; an ex-con would really appreciate his freedoms now; hard work – workaholic – since all that time in the lobotomizing prison system would kick in an obsessiveness toward keeping busy, keeping moving. Then, some employers I talk to think most workers or potential workers are the problem, would steal time, money, goods, and things from the company. So, the felon has already done time, knows the depravity of prison systems, and would stay on the up and up without jeopardizing incarceration. Plus, in the US, companies get a tax break for hiring former felons!

The fields of social work are growing, yet the pay is shrinking, the work conditions are ramped up, the management are bizarre examples of former social workers themselves (very anti worker, very hard on outside-the-box thinkers, and completely blank on what radical social work is and how to even apply the principles of that form of social work). Most non-profits do the dirty work of what a society is looking more and more to not provide for – mental health care for a bigger and bigger share of the USA population; disability services for a larger and larger swath of Americans mentally, psychologically, intellectually, socially, physically, and spiritually broken or disabled; financial, employment, education, housing assistance for an ever-growing population of humans who are not able to work and live and transport and find health care for themselves in this New Gilded Age.

The non-profits I have worked for are top-heavy, have very little money put aside or earmarked or grant-provided for the workers; many of the non-profits hire development associates, upper management shills, PR folk, marketing and events coordinators; many are in shining and remodeled digs while casting shadows on the street people they supposedly care about.

Some of us in social services have come from other professions, and like me, many are former teachers. Very few are radical thinkers, and many are just trying to hang on. When you work in an at-will state, where organizing and workplace coordinating is akin to communism, and when you work for people younger and the same age as yourself who once had their lives more or less put together but who are today on the streets, in shelters, in vans on the side of the road, and who have to pay for legal debts – hospital bills, legal financial obligations, debts coming at them via mean-assed debt collectors and repo men —  the idea of Six Degrees of Separation comes cold like melting glaciers as really Only One Degree of Separation.

Manfred Max Neef calls this country, USA — richest, biggest land rip off abusing, military mightiest, vastest financial thieving, culturally insanest — underdeveloping.

I mean, your country is the most dramatic example that you can find. I have gone as far as saying — and this is a chapter of a book of mine that is published next month in England, the title of which is Economics Unmasked. There is a chapter called “The United States, an Underdeveloping Nation,” which is a new category. We have developed, underdeveloped and developing. Now you have underdeveloping. And your country is an example, in which the one percent of the Americans, you know, are doing better and better and better, and the 99 percent is going down, in all sorts of manifestations. People living in their cars now and sleeping in their cars, you know, parked in front of the house that used to be their house — thousands of people. Millions of people, you know, have lost everything. But the speculators that brought about the whole mess, oh, they are fantastically well off. No problem. No problem.

This short piece – rare for me at DV, LA Progressive,  and other places, since I still believe that concision is not a favorable tool to understanding the complexities of our society and systems thinking – is all tied to really what many Americans WAY WAY before Trump’s family set foot in this country have always believed about Mexico or New Orleans or Dominican Republic or South Africa or Philippines or Afghanistan (just replace a country like Haiti with any number of 120 countries in the world) have said, stated, written and professed undiplomatically and through the Economic Hit Men: They are ALL shitholes.

I have had plenty of people in my 61 years living on this planet, after being in dozens of countries (I have lived and worked in), fellow (sic) Americans (sic) who thought my white skin and my little lists of three college degrees and my male status entitled my fellow Americans to rant on and on about how dirty, backward, primitive, slow-witted, poor, inefficient, shady, criminal this or that country is — countries from which I lived, traveled and worked and those many have not stepped foot in, beyond FOX News and Hollywood propaganda.

That Trump now voices what Americans have believed, and economists have practiced, and our military branches have reflected – America is Great, and the rest of the rabble (well, maybe not Norway or Finland — that’s about it for that pure white race places) are part and particle the shitholes Trump so undiplomatically states the world is.

In reality, though, if we look at the definition of “shit”/”hole,” it all comes back to this warring, militant, earth-killing, global lording over country called the United States of America. Infantilized, lobotomized, one-paycheck/broken bone/auto accident/employment termination/criminal justice involved/foreclosure AWAY from shithole status.

This poor white and now multi-race co-opting country of people who have zero idea how and why its more or less isolated little status among the global actors is set in their minds as “okay . . . Great/Yes We Can/Make It Great Again/Numero Uno” because of the shit we serve up to the rest of the world vis-à-vis military and economic and resource plundering insanity.

While our own country is full of shit-holes– full of systems of penury and debasement and depravity and delusion and destruction and increasing wrath upon its own populations – we see this spasm of protestations from the Liberal Democrats Who Support All Those Democratic Party apparatchiks of regime change and collateral damage carried out on what Bush or Obama see as the “shit hole Iraqis and Afghans and Libyans and Yeminis and Somalis.” Imagine, the democrats crying about Trump and his redneck Americanism.

Which party said we had to bomb them back to the stone age? Which party wrapped up Japanese Americans in barbed wire luxury? Which party helped to wipe out 3 million Vietnamese? Who bombed, razed, illegally mined, economically double-triple tapped the world’s other shit holes? Way-way before two-bit The Apprentice got raves and ratings and millions. It’s Trump who is still on record ranting about the Central Park Five, found to be falsely convicted and held in prison (now released), stating months ago, after the five men were acquitted, found to be innocent and released, that “they are guilty of the rape, man.” His Trump Faulty Towers Corp. paid or two full page ads in the NYT ranting about “their guilty” after they were found innocent.

Again, a reset button is necessary when looking at the big billionaire’s motley mind and fourth grade thinking style: who is he, how did he get here, where did he learn, how did he exist in this country, what is his American soul made of . . . . The who, why, when, what, where and how are questions Americans of all political stripes never ask.

We can tap dance around those “deplorables” voting for George Wallace or Barry Goldwater or George Bush or Donald Trump, or dance around those millionaires who see other shitholes producing other super predators, or two-step into more delusion when Super Rich Hollywood defines You and Me and Success and Failure, or when Amazon dot com comes crashing into your local bricks and mortar, or how the millionaire media or celebrities come into your living rooms via cable or iPhone and kidnap your loved ones, young and old.

Seriously, which shithole shall we concentrate on in the US of A, the engine of shit holes, the Mother of All Shitholes, coming to a neighborhood nearby, or Flint Michigan, or Charlottesville, or Fortune 1000 boardroom or dis-education college faculty and administration?

Who in your group of friends and acquaintances even knows what economics is for? Manfred Max Neef again:

One, the economy is to serve the people and not the people to serve the economy.

Two, development is about people and not about objects.

Three, growth is not the same as development, and development does not necessarily require growth.

Four, no economy is possible in the absence of ecosystem services.

Five, the economy is a subsystem of a larger finite system, the biosphere, hence permanent growth is impossible.

And the fundamental value to sustain a new economy should be that no economic interest, under no circumstance, can be above the reverence of life.

I am sorry to say in my years as a journalist, college teacher, union organizer, social worker, environmentalist, urban planner, etc., I have run into more shithole thinkers in this country than all the countries I’ve been to combined, by far. If you want to run into real thugs, real criminals, real depravity, delusional thinking, disgusting thinking, real retrograde philosophy, real illiteracy, real infantilism, come to a town near me – Pacific Northwest, or Texas or Arizona, or anywhere I have done my time in.

Not many anti-Trump people would question the root cause of his shithole role running this shithole country, and the mirror is not large enough for self-reflection: biggest military in the world, biggest land mass stolen from original nations, biggest area cleared of natural ecosystems, biggest group of la-la-land thinkers. Magical thinkers, the lot of us, really.

Let the knee-jerking go on and on as Americans attempt to parse out who they are in that mirror mirror on the wall! Unless you have ended the mythical belief in this country’s prowess and greatness and stopped hiding from this society’s advanced malignant cancer called predatory and consumer capitalism, then you are the Trump in that mirror, without or without the orange glow!

Max-Neef: First of all, we need cultured economists again, who know the history, where they come from, how the ideas originated, who did what, and so on and so on; second, an economics now that understands itself very clearly as a subsystem of a larger system that is finite, the biosphere, hence economic growth as an impossibility; and third, a system that understands that it cannot function without the seriousness of ecosystems. And economists know nothing about ecosystems. They don’t know nothing about thermodynamics, you know, nothing about biodiversity or anything. I mean, they are totally ignorant in that respect. And I don’t see what harm it would do, you know, to an economist to know that if the beasts would disappear, he would disappear as well, because there wouldn’t be food anymore. But he doesn’t know that, you know, that we depend absolutely from nature. But for these economists we have, nature is a subsystem of the economy. I mean, it’s absolutely crazy.

Monbiot Is a Hypocrite and a Bully

It is time for George Monbiot’s legion of supporters to call him out. Not only is he a hypocrite, but he is becoming an increasingly dangerous one.

Turning a blind eye to his behaviour, or worse excusing it, as too often happens, has only encouraged him to intensify his attacks on dissident writers, those who – whether right or wrong on any specific issue – are slowly helping us all to develop more critical perspectives on western foreign policy goals than has ever been possible before.

I do not lightly use such strong language against Monbiot, someone I once admired. But his column this week drips with hypocrisy as he accuses the right wing media of being the real villains when it comes to “no-platforming”. Monbiot writes:

But perhaps the real discomfort is that the worst no-platforming of all takes place within our newspapers. In the publications most obsessed with student silliness, there is no platform for socialism, no platform for environmentalism, no platform for those who might offend the interests of the proprietors. …

I believe that a healthy media organisation, like a healthy university, should admit a diversity of opinion. I want the other newspapers to keep publishing views with which I fiercely disagree. But they – and we – should also seek opposing views and publish them too, however uncomfortable this might be.

What free speech advocate would disagree with that? Except it is Monbiot himself who has been using his prominent platforms, at the Guardian and on social media, to discredit critical thinkers on the left – not with reasoned arguments, but by impugning their integrity.

Denied a platform

It started with his unsubstantiated claim that scholars like Noam Chomsky and the late Ed Herman, as well as the acclaimed journalist John Pilger, were “genocide deniers and belittlers”. It now focuses on childish insinuations that those who question the corporate media’s simplistic narrative on Syria are Assad apologists or in Vladimir Putin’s pay.

But worse than this, Monbiot is also conspiring – either actively or through his silence – to deny critics of his and the Guardian’s position on Syria the chance to set out their evidence in its pages.

The Guardian’s anti-democratic stance does not surprise me, as someone who worked there for many years. I found myself repeatedly no-platformed by the paper – even while on its staff – after I started taking an interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict and writing about the discomforting issue of what a Jewish state entails. My treatment is far from unique.

Now the paper is denying a platform to those who question simplistic and self-serving western narratives on Syria. And Monbiot is backing his employer to the hilt, even as he professes his commitment to the publication of views he fiercely disagrees with. That’s the dictionary definition of hypocrisy.

‘Selfless’ White Helmets?

The latest instalment of the Guardian and Monbiot’s long-running battle to silence Syria dissidents arrived last month when Olivia Solon, the paper’s technology writer living in San Francisco, developed a sudden and unexpected expertise in a controversial Syrian group called the White Helmets.

In the western corporate media narrative, the White Helmets are a group of dedicated and selfless rescue workers. They are supposedly the humanitarians on whose behalf a western intervention in Syria would have been justified – before, that is, Syrian leader Bashar Assad queered their pitch by inviting in Russia.

However, there are problems with the White Helmets. They operate only in rebel – read: mainly al-Qaeda and ISIS-held – areas of Syria, and plenty of evidence shows that they are funded by the UK and US to advance both countries’ far-from-humanitarian policy objectives in Syria.

There are also strong indications that members of the White Helmets have been involved in war crimes, and that they have staged rescue operations as a part of a propaganda offensive designed to assist Islamic extremists trying to oust Assad. (Solon discounts this last claim. In doing so, she ignores several examples of such behaviour, concentrating instead on an improbable “mannequin challenge”, when the White Helmets supposedly froze their emergency operations, in the midst of rescue efforts, apparently as part of a peculiar publicity campaign.)

Guardian hatchet job

Whatever side one takes in this debate, one would imagine that Monbiot should have a clear agenda in support of hearing evidence from all sides. One might also imagine that he would want to distance himself from Solon’s efforts to tie criticism of the White Helmets to a supposed “fake news” crisis and paint those critical of the group as Putin-bots. According to Solon:

The way the Russian propaganda machine has targeted the White Helmets is a neat case study in the prevailing information wars. It exposes just how rumours, conspiracy theories and half-truths bubble to the top of YouTube, Google and Twitter search algorithms.

Those are the same algorithms that have been changed in recent months to make sure that prominent leftist websites are increasingly difficult to find on internet searches and their writers’ views effectively disappeared.

Yet Monbiot has been using social media to promote Solon’s cheerleading of the White Helmets and her hatchet job against on-the-ground journalists who have taken a far more critical view of the group.

As set out by Prof Tim Hayward, the Guardian’s response to criticism of Solon’s piece has been typical. The comments section below the article was hastily closed after many criticisms were voiced by readers. The journalists who were singled out for attack by Solon were denied a right of reply. A group of concerned academics led by Hayward who submitted their own article, which detailed publicly available evidence to counter Solon’s simplistic account of the White Helmets, were ignored. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s editors and the reader’s editor have ignored all efforts by these parties to contact them.

Given his claim to be an uncompromising defender of free speech and a fierce advocate of providing platforms to those who can back up their arguments with evidence, however discomforting, one might have assumed that Monbiot would at the very least have lobbied on behalf of Hayward and his fellow scholars. But not a bit of it. Yet again he has joined the dogs of the corporate media baying for blood. Instead he turned to Twitter to claim Hayward and Piers Robinson, an expert on propaganda, had “disgraced” themselves.

Undermining climate concerns

The many tens of thousands of leftists who defend Monbiot, or turn a blind eye to his hypocrisy, largely do so because of his record on the environment. But in practice they are enabling not only his increasingly overt incitement against critical thinkers, but also undermining the very cause his supporters believe he champions.

Climate breakdown is a global concern. Rewilding, bike-riding, protecting bees and polar bears, and developing new sustainable technologies are all vitally important. But such actions will amount to little if we fail to turn a highly sceptical eye on the activities of a western military-industrial complex ravaging the planet’s poorest regions.

These war industries fill their coffers by using weapons indiscriminately on “enemy” populations, spawning new and fiercer enemies – while often propping them up too – to generate endless wars. The consequences include massive displacements of these populations who then destabilise other regions, spreading the effect and creating new opportunities for the arms manufacturers, homeland security industries, and the financial industries that feed off them.

A true environmentalist has to look as critically at western policies in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela and many other areas of the globe as he does at UK policy in the Welsh hills and the Lake District.

All indications are that Monbiot lacks the experience, knowledge and skills to unravel the deceptions being perpetrated in the west’s proxy and not-so-proxy wars overseas. That is fair enough. What is not reasonable is that he should use his platforms to smear precisely those who can speak with a degree of authority and independence – and then conspire in denying them a platform to respond. That is the behaviour not only of a hypocrite, but of a bully too.

Counter Intuition, False Dichotomies, Zeig Heil for the Siloed Manufactured Causes/Consents

A change in Quantity also entails a change in Quality.
Friedrich Engels

No one can define or measure justice, democracy, security, freedom, truth, or love. No one can define or measure any value. But if no one speaks up for them, if systems aren’t designed to produce them, if we don’t speak about them and point toward their presence or absence, they will cease to exist.
Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems: A Primer

If it seems self-serving and pedestrian to chronicle my own slice of heaven called Working as a Precariat USA, then so be it. I have read so much lately on climate science, on the science around the toxic earth, around the political-billionaire-millionaire miscreants, both male and female (Trump commuted this Kosher Millionaire Rabbi, in jail for bank fraud, 27 years, today, so expect other chosen people of the white collar criminal variety to be pardoned, let go, praised), and the on-going Scarlet Letter Outing of Men, therefore,  coming down out of the ether of punditry and mainstream-and-not-so-liberal-media to get my own ground-truthing framed in what is dog-eat-dog predatory capitalism turbo charged seems like sanity to me.

I could get all British Lit on my reader by quoting John Donne, since inherently I am an entrenched systems thinker, a giver in the Ishmael sense, and understand the principles tied to cooperative evolution:

No Man Is An Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

— John Donne

And I could get all deep ecology on you, and cite a simple but profound set of laws tied to the notion of biomimicry by Janine Benyus:

9 Basic Principles of Biomimicry

Nature runs on sunlight.
Nature uses only the energy it needs.
Nature fits form to function.
Nature recycles everything.
Nature rewards cooperation.
Nature banks on diversity.
Nature demands local expertise.
Nature curbs excesses from within.
Nature taps the power of limits.

But my own little world coming into the Year 2018 (year of the dog) centers around my identity, or part of it, as assigned to me by Capitalists: my age, my gender, my sexuality, my race, my upbringing, my education, my wallet, my political affiliations, my religion, my abilities, my disabilities, my blind-spots, my enlightened self, my weight-height-strength, my IQ’s, my credit report, my military record, my criminal record, my work record, my health record, my belief system, and, well, my Google rating. There is no room in Capitalism for holism, seeing and talking about the “philosophy-ethos-spiritual me”!

There’s so much more to us, most human beings, even deplorables, yet, in USA and the Matrix, it all boils down to what you do for a living, and what do you show materially from that living.

I am still seething from a sacking, almost two months ago, which I have chronicled here and here and here, and part of that sacking was my questioning vaccine safety. My stories have gone viral, in a sense, tied to the educated and safety seekers looking at the vaccination movement. I am clumped into the realm of a large swath of people and organizations looking at the injuries, incapacitation and deaths caused by the forces of genetics in one’s self and vaccines. I am also connected vis-à-vis WWW to those groups doubting the legality and ethics of forcing people to get shot-up with drugs, from the US Air Force pilots protesting the so-called anthrax vaccine, to nurses against the latest flu shot, and those parents and advocates who do not want to be forced to have children pumped up with untested vaccines – 19 or more by age five (32 by age 15!). Many kids are getting shot up without parental (informed) consent. CDC’s dictum:

The CDC has just launched a program that will calculate a catch-up schedule for children who were not vaccinated on schedule. A 5-year-old child who was not previously vaccinated would be required to receive 19 vaccines in one month, including 6 doses of aluminum-containing injections! This catch-up schedule was NOT tested for safety to determine the immediate or long-term risk of neurological or immunological damage.

Let me back up. What happened to me, in a nutshell, is my right to free speech, my right to a safe, open and embracing classroom environment, and my right to be heard in regard to a complaint made by Planned Parenthood were ripped from my hands and vocal chords, so to speak, and ripped from myself as a human trying to do good as a social worker and make a living.

I was in a class, at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest in the city of Seattle, two bastions (sic) of liberalism and supposed respect for diverse opinions. I’ve lived and worked there, Puget Sound, Seattle, and I have chronicled that sometimes nauseating place and the select citizens I call “unpeople” here at DV and other places. It is not the nirvana of liberalism, and it’s a place overcrowded, full of citizens who are homeless, and more precarious than success stories, with the rich and the Amazon and Bill Gates groupies high on their own flatulence. That’s another story.

Mine now, as I go to interview after interview since my termination, to get back in the saddle, to get a job to survive, goes like this: I was told I could not finish day two of this almost mindless 16-hour class (we practiced saying vulva and penis in a circle while passing around stuffed animals!), because of the supposed crime of not believing all the news fit to print from the PR/propaganda engines of Big Pharma, Western Medicine and the vaccination makers (I was so much more contrite and reserved in my statements in the classroom of 45 people, four men and 41 women, than maybe the reader can imagine, but it’s true . . . and I have coworker witnesses to attest to it).

I was also told (not directly, but through my employer, a non-profit in Portland) by three Planned Parenthood teachers (sic) that my broaching of Chinese traditional medicine and native American and other cultural systems of healing in a brief aside solicited by the teachers was not just NOT allowed but inflammatory and dangerous to the other students. Finally, these three PP people (and I suppose several supervisors behind the scenes) labeled me as a disruptive force to the learning environment, which is obscene since I was the picture of comportment and low-key engagement!

I expected some decency from my bosses to get my story and my coworkers’ stories, but instead, I was railroaded out of the job. I did not work for Planned Parenthood, it must be stressed. Imagine the conflict of interest tied to Planned Parenthood making millions off of giving boys and girls and young adults the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, marketed by Merck. Planned Parenthood’s $350 million yearly budget is fed through Big Pharma donations and, of course, taxpayer grants/funding. The sex ed classes Planned Parenthood delivers to my clients and to social workers is funded by public coffers. Planned Parenthood also has an international division, and teamed up with Bill and Melinda, Big Pharma and those killer philanthropists who want the great white hope of their messed up lives to be the every glowing smile of Third World victims of structural violence, agricultural rape, mass drug/vaccine experiments, and a new form of Facebook happy meal eugenics. Planned Parenthood also has a political arm, lobbying for their own special interests, some worthy, other nefarious.

Even though I never got into a vaccine debate with Planned Parenthood, really, truthfully, the trainers took a couple of off-the-record anonymous comments written down by me around not appreciating Planned Parenthood taking the side of pharmaceutical hook-line-and-sinker as proof of my heresy and radical view. Hell, how hard is it to surf the internet and find peer-reviewed and millions of anecdotal stories about vaccine injuries and incapacitation and death, tied to the HPV vaccine? There are huge issues tied to the rotten lies of the vaccine makers and distributors here:

Vaxxed Movie
HPVVaxxed Movie

Greater Good Movie
Sacrificial Virgins – Not for the Greater Good –

Part 1, 2, 3 Sacrificial Virgins.
TV3 HPV Documentary
Does anyone need Gardasil?
Colombia 2017: “Fue el Gardasil” (Gardasil Did It) – Abridged version

A hard look at the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and the families desperately trying to navigate their way through it.

The Vaccine Court looks at the mysterious and often unknown world of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), the only recourse for seeking compensation for those who have been injured by a vaccine. The NVICP, better known as the ”Vaccine Court,” however, is not without controversy

Medical Doctors Opposed to Forced Vaccinations: Should Their Views be Silenced?

Bill Gates $10 Billion Vaccine Scam

Mandatory Swine Flu Vaccination Alert

The Washington Vaccination Ploy: Puerto Rico And The Zika Quandary

Making The HPV Vaccine Mandatory Is Bad Medicine

Supreme Court Pulls Up Government Of India Over

Licensing And Trials With “Cervical Cancer” Vaccines

Readying Americans For Dangerous, Mandatory Vaccinations

Judicial Watch HPV

Vaccine McCarthyism. What if the Vaccine Paradigm itself is Deliberately Flawed?

Did 2014 Mark the Collapse of the Vaccine Establishment?

Dr. Gary Null – Archive, Vaccines, Global Research

This is the world we are in a nutshell – liberals attacking independent thinkers, radicals on the left like me. The Politically Corrective forces of the liberal class and the big businesses like those outfits run like Planned Parenthood have the power to tell my Portland, Oregon, bosses I am dismissed from a mandatory training, and then, my job as social worker ends in termination with a sham of an investigation.

It’s easy to be resentful of the powers that be, in this case, Democratic Party females who wanted me shut up, shut down, out of social work!

Two and two put together, in a simple sense, is that my few words voiced in a calm, respectful manner at a Planned Parenthood course (repeat, tax payer funded training) on the Fundamentals of Sex (sex ed) precipitated a termination, and now a bruise on my reputation is growing like a hematoma of gigantic proportions. Does anyone think finding a job, a replacement job, is easy now that I was terminated and now that I have voiced all of this on the worldwide net?

Readers must know the particular nature of employment in the Portland, Oregon, area, which is now becoming Califi-cadia, and the fact many people from bigger cities, back east, too, have been coming out here for the evergreens, rivers, snowboarding, beer and (back a few years), more millionaire-affordable-friendly homes and income rentals. The competition for rare jobs with my background, and for someone like me – radical and dissident — is steep.

I know a lot of writers who are more or less safe economically or job wise that could never understand and maybe empathize with my predicament. “Damaged goods, and why have you stagnated in this lowly field with so much going for you in your thirties and forties? Graduate degrees and writing awards. What’s up with that? It must be something about you – your big mouth, something.” Variations on that theme.

Now in the scheme of things, I am reminded daily, I am not a head of a family in Yemen, or journalist in Myanmar, or working as a teacher in Mexico, or plying my trade as social worker in Honduras, or living the dissident’s life as a Palestinian activist in Gaza, so I should count my lucky stars.

All of that goes without saying, for sure, and in the global scheme of things, this is merely a bump in my life inside the United States of Israel’s financial and surveillance hall of mirrors (read Robert Fisk’s smart take on the United States of Israel rather than the cartoon prophecies above linked)

Yet, for me to have any traction on my thinking about how screwed up America is, from the towers of the three men who own half of all USA wealth, to the drone shops helping immolate wedding parties and sleeping babies, to the absurdity of the duopoly political class, to the ever-eviscerating communities from shore to shining shore, I have to go personal, in the now, as the idiocy and injustices unfold for me, from my pennyante perspective. I understand how to make those allusions and comparisons to my brothers and sisters in arms in much more dire circumstances.

This bizarre situation at a Planned Parenthood training demonstrates the power of the forces of stupidity and lock step thinking running certain parts of America’s grand illusion kabuki show; and for me, a rare male in the business of social worker, this has been a reckoning with an upside-down world of social services run by women, some of whom are as uncaring and dictatorial and unethical as their male counterparts who they dis all the time.

Here I am, on a second lawyer listening to me and contemplating the veracity of some wrongful termination suit, looking at whistle-blower laws, and positing possible gender-age-religious discrimination. The first legal outfit I dealt with is a non-profit and stated they were spread too thin to handle my case.

“If only you were disabled, African-American, a veteran, homosexual, and living with PTSD and a speech impediment.” In so many words, that was the prognosis.

The new lawyer says, “Look, you were terminated for being ‘argumentative’ and ‘aggressive.’ For a white heterosexual man, that’s a no-no. But, if you were a woman, and were ‘combative’, they’d see that as passionate and demonstrable of being a great advocate for her clients, as an honorable thing showing you are willing to be there fully supporting clients. They’d say ‘aggressive’ for a woman would be justified and more akin to being smart, focused, confident and ready to take on challenges and advocate for your clients and a worthy way to make real changes for the female gender. And, one man’s arguing is another woman’s opining. ”

This coming from a female lawyer . . .

The world according to the felons running the show, whether it’s political, private capital, big business, and big non-profit and big government, well, my mother told me at a young age, 16: “Your mouth and your passion and your sense of justice and your anti-authority character and constant questioning will get you fired . . . expect a lonely path to old age and a rocky series of rites of passage . . . make family important, friendships key, and follow that vision quest and obsession with putting nature right. As long as you continue understanding why you are where you are, why there are no laurels awaiting you, and why the powers that be do not want you in the same room, then you are possibly more realized and actualized than most.”

Something along those lines, Mona from British Columbia used to say, but alas, the story is never ending, and the gifts that capitalism and elitism and Empire just keep on giving are those that really give it to us. Daily and second-by-second-by-nanosecond.

As the daily diet of perversions and accusations of perversion, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and all things in between rape and coming on to a woman, it is a wonder anyone can think straight about what it means to be men and women working toward justice, toward universal human rights.

I’ve read over at the World Socialist Website stories about how the #MeToo movement is a witch hunt, and while perusing the comments sections, I am feeling as if I am living in the 1950s, or in the Trump-Billy Bush-Howard Stern locker-room with the outward misogyny:

All of this is being ignored in the campaign over sexual harassment. Class divisions are covered up beneath the claim that all women, regardless of their income, share the same “experience” of being oppressed by men, who, particularly if they are white, enjoy the benefits of the “privileged.”

The sexual harassment campaign is right-wing, antidemocratic and politically reactionary. It has nothing to do with the interests of the workers, men or women.

Some of WSWS writer Joseph Kishore’s points are well taken, like there has to be a delineation between something said versus something done, and that there has to be a fair airing of accusations, fairness, and of course, innocence before guilt and a fair answering to allegations. But, are there more important things in the world than a Saturday Night Live comic groping women at state fairs as his role as senator? Isn’t this what we have succumbed to, this cult of celebrity? And, are we really all crocodile teary about millionaires and multi-multi millionaires losing jobs in entertainment (who could count a Charlie Rose as a journalist, or a classical conductor as anything more than entertainer?).

Lost in the entire defense, of course, is that having these creeps masturbate in front of you is a crime, really, public exposure, to say the least. How many of my clients, homeless, living in shit cities with no public restrooms or toilets, get arrested for public urination, and if seen by someone who complains, it’s three times and you are labeled a sex offender.

Lost in this millionaires’ game of exposing genitals and spreading semen, is that who in hell would want their nieces, daughters, wives and sons and brothers put to this test: capitalist men in power, or some form of power stretched down the line far from the corridors of the political and arts and entertainment domains, exposing themselves in front of loved ones? Who wants some actor or director or editor grabbing their loved ones and friends, or mauling girls and women in public or private against their wills? Is this the nature of some of these so-called leftists rebuffing the calling out of the perverts? Any manner of stupidity tied to lecherous behavior in the workplace, and this power dynamic of keeping a job or getting one or a better position based on some male actor’s or journalist’s or CEO’s demented sexual game or worse, sexual assault, should be called out and dealt with.

Is there presumed innocence? Come on, in an at-will state, in a world of precarity, we are all guilty, hence the mandatory background-credit-work history-drug-medical history checks, even before employment.

The fact that these conservative money-grubbing outfits like PBS or NBC or Uber or Walmart are sacking people before a fair trial or investigation, it does speak to the power of Capitalism. All of that is unethical, and unfair, but I see no massive wave of people defending the rights of the worker, the rights of maids and hotel workers and fast-food workers and restaurant servers or anyone working in you-name-the-field to not only not have to live with sexual harassment and quid pro quo but also with unlivable wages, precarious jobs, wage theft, and lack of say in the workplace.

But here, again, blaming the victims, as if women or men ever had the rights and backing to confront bad bosses and bad decisions and harassment and workplace dangers and on and on, but we have the “well if women are going to be Playboy bunnies, then all women are game . . . .”

Kim Kardashian is famous for one thing – her opulent and well-televised derriere. Miley Cyrus has a music video where she swings around buck naked on a wrecking ball, Beyonce is applauded for her “daring feminine rights” song, during which she and her backup singers dress like strippers and dance around poles, the Russian group, Pussy Riot, who have done performances in which they use raw chicken parts to simulate masturbation, were invited to visit the US Congress and were given a standing ovation when they did so, rappers make millions with music videos where women are denigrated and used as props to dance around showing their behinds to the camera, hundreds of women in the US have participated in so-called “slut riots” where they stalk down major thoroughfares in their undergarments just to prove they can and they are lauded for their “daring bravery”, and tens of thousands of Americans routinely enroll their daughters in beauty pageants each year, where they will be judged on their physical attributes.

And yet, anonymous decades-old allegations with vague references to some sort of “something offensive” (not offensive enough for the accuser to have taken action when the “something” occurred, however), are horrifying and can wipe out careers overnight.

This is absurd, and we are also not in some revolutionary moment, some civil rights for women movement stitched into Hollywood’s obvious depravities on many levels.

The stinking world I live and work in is all about political correctiveness, about demeaning HR folk, about top-heavy administrations, about supervisors who could care less about turnover of employees, who are there to berate or control. Daily, the stupidity of people in my profession – social services – belies a compliant field and brow-beater middling people in positions of authority.

They will fawn over Obama or Hillary. Imagine, calling black youth “super predators” (Clinton, Trump). Imagine, bragging about being a good killer and laughing about using “drones on any of my daughters’ boyfriends that get out of line” (Obama). Imagine Madeline Albright saying a million dead Iraqis as a result of US-imposed sanctions was just the business (as usual) of the United States, LLC (collateral damage in keeping with the USA’s economic security). Imagine the bayonet rape of Libya both figuratively and literally with Qaddafi and the smirk from Mrs. Clinton!

I get canned – kicked out of “liberal” Planned Parenthood’s Seattle offices and then fired from a female-run and largely female-staffed non-profit that pays marketing firms to PR their reputation as caring leaders in mental health services?

I just mentioned briefly a vaccine and alternative forms of medicine.

As brief as three sentences written and thirty spoken words.

Sacked, frog-marched out of work, and my young clients, left hanging, many in crisis.

We live in an upside-down world, where this Obama gets laughs and giggles joking about using drones on his daughters’ boyfriends if they get out of line, yet, if the great pretender Obama were to mention the bust and butt of Beyonce after her Super Bowl performance, Obama would have been derided, chided or worse, censored.

Maybe!

I think I started this post around what it means to be a man, a father, a son, a grandson, and, partner/significant other/husband.

Man, in the 1980’s, I was teaching Robert Bly, Iron John, and got attacked on all sides of the issues around mentoring boys into men, around the general thesis Bly was impregnating that book with. He talked about the inner boy in a screwed up family may “keep on being shamed, invaded, disappointed, and paralyzed for years and years.” Bly talked about how boys and men in the USA feel like victims in that messed up family. Bly was attempting to close the door to that victimhood. He talked about the inner warrior to defend “their soul houses” from invasions. It was that warrior, for both men and women, people lambasted Bly, yet, come one, look at today, 2017, 13 years after the book was published. Talk about bad people!

BAD PEOPLE

A man told me once that all the bad people
Were needed. Maybe not all, but your fingernails
You need; they are really claws, and we know
Claws. The sharks—what about them?
They make other fish swim faster. The hard-faced men
In black coats who chase you for hours
In dreams—that’s the only way to get you
To the shore. Sometimes those hard women
Who abandon you get you to say, “You.”
A lazy part of us is like a tumbleweed.
It doesn’t move on its own. Sometimes it takes
A lot of Depression to get tumbleweeds moving.
Then they blow across three or four States.
This man told me that things work together.
Bad handwriting sometimes leads to new ideas;
And a careless god—who refuses to let people
Eat from the Tree of Knowledge—can lead
To books, and eventually to us. We write
Poems with lies in them, but they help a little.”
― Robert Bly, Morning Poems

What is it about American Men, about this country’s 70-plus approval of all soldiers, all military, all mercenaries in our armies and navies and air forces and marines? What is it about this country’s women either defending Hillary as the best role model for girls, or those women who voted in the Moore-Jones election, for Moore, of course?

What is it about white women and loving Trump, those that do, and those who love Hillary? They have no inner warriors.

What is it about the white males holding the purse strings, many of them Jewish, as the Jewish web sites and newspapers and columnists continue to glower over. Reading the Israeli and the Jewish voices in print, I am seeing how an untenable Zionism and Judaism is, more concerted and extreme in xenophobia than the ultra-Christians in this country.

I end with this interesting look at father-son:

The changing times are evident in the debate about a current piece of legislation that could be the biggest change to labor law since the days when Marcus’s father was working as a carpenter. The Employee Free Choice Act, which was introduced in both the House and the Senate in March, would change labor law from the 1930s in order to make it easier for unions to organize workers.

Today, as in the ’30s, there are a number of influential Jewish union leaders supporting the legislation. But unlike in the ’30s, a few Jewish voices have surfaced as among the most influential opponents of the legislation. Marcus is frequently mentioned among the leading voices opposing the free choice act. In a famous phone call discussing the legislation with other business executives, he said, “This is how a civilization disappears.” That echoed the words of another child of poor Jewish immigrants, Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and Jewish philanthropist who told The Wall Street Journal that EFCA is “one of the two fundamental threats to society,” along with Islamism.

Marcus also has worked closely with the lobbyist leading the anti-EFCA charge, Rick Berman, who has waded into Jewish communal waters to make his argument that the current unions have no connection with the old ones to which Berman’s father belonged.

Many on both sides of the current legislation say that a traditional sympathy for labor that existed in the Jewish community has given way to antipathy in a number of very prominent quarters, with sometimes complicated consequences. Amy Dean, who is active in both the labor world and the Jewish community, says she often encounters people “who have this very warm spot for the labor movement, but it’s sort of romantic and historical. They have these warm feelings for the role of the garment unions, but they think it’s not a modern movement that they want to embrace. We have a huge dissonance within the Jewish community about the labor movement.”

For Berman, this dissonance has appeared in his own family: His son David Berman, a founder of the rock bands Pavement and the Silver Jews, has vociferously attacked his father’s stance on labor unions.

Jews should always identify with the disadvantaged,” the younger Berman (David) wrote to the Forward. “You cannot ‘graduate’ to a life of self-interest and exploitation.”

Berman, Marcus and Adelson appear to have played a role in halting EFCA’s progress through Congress. While passage looked like a sure thing earlier this year, when Barack Obama took office, the bill’s prospects have dimmed as a number of key senators have announced their opposition to it. It is perhaps fitting that the senator whose opposition represented a turning point was Pennsylvania Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter, the child of Jewish immigrant parents. People such as Specter and Marcus do not see the issue of EFCA in Jewish terms, but they acknowledge that they are frequently contending with history when they take up the current legislation or any other labor issues.

This meant that rabbis would often mediate labor disputes between Jewish workers and bosses, and many of the most prominent Jewish business owners at the time — names like Macy and Gimbels — worked closely with unions. Back in 1935, when the National Labor Relations Act was passed, the influential, and heavily Jewish, garment unions in New York City rallied working men and women to provide crucial popular support for the legislation. Historians note that Jews had hardly any presence in groups that opposed the legislation; they were often barred from entering the national business associations.

Since that time, of course, the Jewish community has largely followed the route of Marcus out of the tenements and into the business class. The 2001 National Jewish Population Survey found that 36% of Jewish households reported income above $75,000 — twice the percentage in the population at large.

Nowhere is the dissonance on these points more evident than in the rather personal battle being waged by Berman, the leading lobbyist against unions and EFCA in Washington.

Berman has long been a lightning rod for criticism, thanks to the work that his firm, Berman and Company, has done on behalf of such corporate interests as the tobacco and alcohol industries. Berman’s recent work against unions — his firm has spent $25 million on advertisements against EFCA — has won him enemies not only within the labor movement, but also within his own rather prominent family.

In January of this year, his son David announced in an Internet post that he was leaving his latest music project, the Silver Jews. He took the opportunity to launch an attack on his lobbyist father.

Former lobbyist-turned-advocate Rick Berman's six non-profit groups all funnel business to his for-profit PR company

My father is a despicable man,” the younger Berman wrote in the January 22 post on the message board of his record label, Drag City. The first specific charge that Berman levied against his father was that he is a “union buster.” In an e-mail interview with the Forward, David Berman said that his father — and his father’s generation — had become disconnected from the hardship of their grandparents. Both of Rick Berman’s grandfathers worked in the New York garment industry.

My grandparents are good people, raised by good Jews,” the younger Berman wrote to the Forward, “but their children are just living lives of meaningless acquisition. Within two generations, all memory of injustice is forgotten.

See the source image

What is lost in all of this sadism created by both parties, all the movers and shakers with millions stuffed in pockets, the billionaires like the following have set up empires of shame with their billions upon billions. Like Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg ($35.5 billion), Mark Zuckerbeg ($33.4 billion), Sheldon Adelson ($31.4 billion), and Shari Arison, like Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page ($29.2 and $29.7 billion); investors George Soros ($24.2 billion), Carl Icahn ($23.5 billion) and Len Blavatnik ($20.2 billion), and Dell Computer Founder Michael Dell ($19.2 billion);  like Larry Ellison ($54.2 billion), Russ Weiner, the founder and CEO of Rockstar energy drinks, Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago White Sox sports franchises, and Ken Grossman, a co-founder of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Weiner is the son of prominent conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage (born Michael Weiner); like Seth Klarman, an investor in the Times of Israel, is also on the list, with a net worth of $1.5 billion.

Within two generations of those death camps, David Berman states, his family and tribal line have become despicable in many cases, taking advantage of power, tax dodges, military-pharmacy-finance-computing-legal-retail larceny on a very global scale.

Those sins of the father, ugh?

Daddy

Sylvia Plath, 1932 – 1963

You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time—
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You—

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I’m finally through.
The black telephone’s off at the root,
The voices just can’t worm through.

If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two—
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.

Whitewashing: The Media’s Two Narratives on Terrorism

Within hours after Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi immigrant, allegedly detonated a pipe bomb in New York City on December 11, severely injuring himself and wounding four others, a most comprehensive official and media narrative emerged.

The formulation of the narrative concerning Ullah’s motives, radicalization and assumed hate for the US was so immaculate, one would have thought it took authorities months, not hours to compile such demanding evidence.

Strangely, Ullah’s own family was surprised by the accusation concerning their son.

However, the exact nature of what truly happened matters little. Not only was Ullah instantly found guilty by the media, all Muslims and immigrants, in fact, were.

Following each attack of this nature, Muslims in the US mobilize to fend off accusations concerning their faith, their values and their allegiance to the country in which they live.

But it is not an easy fight to win. When President Donald Trump is constantly tweeting anti-Muslim propaganda, while his administration exploits every opportunity to advance anti-immigrant initiatives, the beleaguered small community of Muslims in the US can do little to stop the rising tide of Islamophobia.

The media has played a major role in propagating the negative attitudes towards Muslims and Islam, which, in turn, provide the much-needed public support for the government to continue with its anti-Muslim measures.

Compare such attitudes with the way in which mass shootings carried out by white American men is communicated by the government and media alike.

Although mass killings by white males have proven to be the deadliest in the US, the discussion generated in the media and official discourses are centered mostly on mental illness of white attackers. In other words, there is consensus that violence perpetrated by members of the white community is not inherent to that community’s race, culture or religion.

Five years after Adam Lazna killed 20 first graders and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, many are still at work trying to analyze Lanza’s supposed mental illness that drove him to commit such a reprehensible act.

The fact that Lanza was carrying more than 30 pounds of weapons seemed superfluous. Many pundits and politicians still refuse to engage in a discussion about guns.

The ‘mental health’ argument in also championed by Trump himself.

“Mental health is your problem here”, Trump said in a statement in response to a mass shooting by Devin Kelly, a white male who killed more than two dozen people in a Texas church last November.

Resorting to easy answers when white men kill is now the norm. Killers of other races, skin colors and nationalities, however, get entirely different treatment.

As soon as the news emerged of Ullah’s alleged bombing in New York, the Trump administration moved in full force to target immigrants. It called on Congress to end the diversity immigration lottery program, and to also shoot down chain migration – a government program that allows for easier immigration based on family connection.

The incessant media coverage and stubborn government targeting of Muslims have led to an unprecedented hysteria which, in turn, led to numerous incidents of Muslims being targeted because of their faith. Many accounts of Muslims being thrown out of airplanes, often kicking and screaming, is becoming a fact of life in the US.

When Khairuldeen Makhzoomi was kicked out of a Southwest Airlines flight last year for speaking Arabic on the phone, the agent who escorted him reprimanded him for using his mother tongue in public considering “today’s political climate.”

Anila Dualatzai was dragged down the aisle of a plane heading to Los Angeles. She was “profiled, abused, interrogated, detained, and subjected to false reporting and the trauma of racist, vitriolic public shaming precisely because she is a woman, a person of color, and a Muslim,” her attorney told the Washington Post.

While this hysteria plays well into the hands of opportunistic politicians like Trump, actual facts suggest that violence is hardly a Muslim phenomenon.

Newsweek reported on statistics showing that white men have committed most of the country’s mass killings. Since 1982, the “majority of mass shootings – 54 percent – were committed by white men,” numbers show.

Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old white man who massacred 58 people and wounded hundreds more at the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas last October, was only one of an ever-growing list.

Countless government officials and journalists have fanned out to find out why Paddock would carry out such a heinous act, as if a white man’s violence is a rare event in a country supposedly threatened by Blacks, Mexicans and Muslims.

Yet the truth is that the white man’s profile is the most violent in the US.

“White men commit mass shootings out of a sense of entitlement,” John Haltiwanger wrote in Newsweek.

Research conducted by Eric Madfis from the University of Washington argued in 2014 that, in the US, “middle-class Caucasian heterosexual males in their teenage years and in middle age commit mass murder … in numbers disproportionately high relative to their share of the population.”

He ascribed this finding to “white entitlement” and “heterosexual masculinity”, among other reasons.

Still, a whole race, gender and religion are not held suspect; a rule that applies to some and excludes others.

Certainly, anti-Arab and Muslim sentiment in the US has been around for generations, but it has risen sharply in the last two decades. Arabs and Muslims have become an easy scapegoat for all of America’s instabilities and failures.

But demonizing and humiliating brown-skinned men and women is certainly not the way out of the economic, political and foreign policy quagmires which American ruling elites have invited upon their country.

Such unlawful and undemocratic behavior may feed anti-Muslim hysteria a little longer, and give the likes of Trump more fodder for their useless efforts in targeting innocent men and women. But, in the long run, it will do the country much harm, damaging its democratic institutions and contributing to the culture of violence, founded on entitled white men touting guns and killing innocent people.

Palestinian Rage will rise to the Surface in Time

It is tempting to interpret the announcement of a delay, however brief, in US vice-president Mike Pence’s visit to the Middle East this week as the ultimate travel warning. It follows an eruption of regional unrest over Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

During protests on Friday, Israeli occupation forces killed four Palestinians and injured more than 250.

US officials, however, are not worried about the safety of Mr Pence, who is due in Israel on Wednesday. In fact, predictions of a third Palestinian uprising in response to Mr Trump’s Jerusalem declaration may be premature.

After decades of flagrant US bias towards Israel, Mr Trump has confirmed to Palestinians only what they already knew. Some even grudgingly welcomed his candour. They hope he has finally silenced US claims to being an “honest broker” in an interminable “peace process” that has simply bought time for Israel to entrench the occupation.

The Palestinians’ anger towards Israel and the US is a slow-burning fuse. It will detonate at a moment of their choosing, not of Mr Trump’s.

Rather, the hesitation in Washington over the vice-president’s visit reflects the messy new diplomatic reality that the White House has unleashed.

Mr Pence was due here to smooth the path to Mr Trump’s long-promised peace plan and to highlight the plight of Christians in the Middle East. The door has now been firmly shut in his face on both counts. Palestinian officials have declared a boycott of him, as have Christian leaders in Palestine and Egypt.

Instead of cancelling Mr Pence’s visit or exploiting the extra days’ breathing space to try to reverse the damage, the bull-headed Trump administration is eager to break more of the china.

Following the diplomatic precedent set in May by his boss, Mr Pence is scheduled to visit the Western Wall on Wednesday night in Jerusalem’s occupied Old City and immediately below the Al Aqsa mosque plaza.

Described as “official”, his visit will be invested with far graver symbolism following Mr Trump’s designation of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

To add insult to injury, and in contravention of claims that Washington will not pre-determine the borders of a divided Jerusalem before peace talks, a senior US official noted at the weekend that there was no scenario in which the Western Wall would not end up in Israel’s hands.

The US policy change on Jerusalem has been a hammer blow to the three main pillars supporting the cause of Palestinian statehood: the Palestinian Authority, the European Union and the Arab states.

The biggest loser is Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. Washington stripped him of his emperor’s clothes: he now heads a Palestinian government-in-waiting that is unlikely ever to be attached to a state, viable or otherwise.

The Arab states, which assumed they were the key to a much-touted “outside-in” strategy, creating a regional framework for peace, have been deprived of the single issue – Jerusalem – that matters most to them.

Egypt scrambled to help Mr Abbas at the weekend by drafting a UN security resolution to rescind any change of status for Jerusalem. But an inevitable US veto made the move moot.

And Europe, which has played “good cop” to the bullying US one, has been exposed as complicit in its partner’s rogue behaviour.

Europe’s predicament is underscored by its peace-making rhetoric. It has long cried wolf, warning that a moment would soon arrive when a two-state solution was no longer feasible, when a temporary occupation morphed into permanent apartheid.

Now that the heart of a Palestinian state has been publicly devoured by the wolf, what will Europe and Mr Abbas do?

The signs are that they will pretend nothing has changed – if only out of fear of what might fill the void if peace-making were exposed as a hollow charade.

But it is precisely the pretence of a peace process that has kept Palestinians chained to an illusion. The perpetuation of false hope about statehood does not benefit Palestinians; it preserves a calm that aids Israel.

That was why the White House accused Mr Abbas of walking away from dialogue last week. But only a fool keeps on appealing to the better nature of a deaf thug.

The burden now falls on the PA, the Arab states and Europe to accept the new reality, and assert a policy independent of the US.

Some Palestinian leaders, like Hanan Ashrawi, already understand this. “Trump’s move is a new era,” she said last week. “There’s no going back.”

Palestinian goals and strategies must be reassessed. Nonetheless, the pressures for a return to the “peace” business as usual will be intense.

Ordinary Palestinians in Jerusalem may be the first to signal the new direction of struggle – one that recognises that a Palestinian state is dead and buried.

In recent years, growing numbers have started applying, as Israeli law entitles them to, for Israeli citizenship. Israel has twisted and turned to delay honouring its commitment, even as it calls Jerusalem its “united capital”.

Palestinians will have to shame Israel, the US and the watching world by adopting the tools of an anti-apartheid struggle – of non-violent resistance and civil disobedience – to gain equal rights in a single state.

At the moment, the undercurrents of Palestinian rage chiefly swirl below the surface. But they will rise in time, and the consequences of Mr Trump’s deed will become all too apparent.

• First published in the National

Trump, North Korea, Iran: Some Facts and “the instinct to attack”

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?

— Mahatma Gandi, 1869-1948

When the UN was established on 24th October 1945, little over five months after the end of World War 11, the organization’s stated aims were to prevent further devastating conflicts. In spite of the fact that 193 out of the world’s 195 nations are Member States, it has failed woefully.

The US alone has been involved, since the UN’s founding, in fifty-seven overt murderous meddlings, government overthrows, bloody invasions and/or occupations. One article estimates that the US – supremely ironically base of the UN’s great Headquarters – “most likely has been responsible since WWII for the deaths of between 20 and 30 million people in wars and conflicts scattered over the world.”

The writer asks: “How many September 11ths has the United States caused in other nations since WWII?” He answers himself: “Possibly 10,000.” It is surely a reflection of desperation for peace and disgust at where humanity is being led, that the meticulously researched piece was shared over seventy seven thousand times on the one quoted site alone.

No wonder the US government is so keen to crush and corral the Internet.

Donald Trump, addressing the UN General Assembly on the 19th September, made it chillingly clear that if he has his way he is headed for numerous more international “September 11ths.”

It was seemingly equally clear that he was clueless about the fine founding aims, for all its failings, of the UN:

We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind … to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person … of nations large and small … to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours …

Human worth, tolerance, peace and international neighbourly-ness are clearly a foreign land to the multiple draft dodger.

Just prior to America’s Congressional Budget Office announcing that the nation’s nuclear weapons programme will cost a mind-bending $1.2 Trillion over the next thirty years to update and maintain, Trump used the UN to threaten the annihilation of North Korea and accuse Iran of pursuing “death and destruction.”

At every level hypocrisy towers – along with “might is right” threats. As John Queally reminds the U.S. military maintains plans to “strike virtually anywhere on the face of the Earth within 60 minutes.”

Further:

… the U.S.’s overall military capabilities are unparalleled. The U.S. has one of the world’s largest military budgets accounting for gross domestic product, spending roughly $618 billion a year on arms and other military capabilities. It has nearly 8,000 nuclear warheads in reserve, 13,900 aircraft, 920 attack helicopters and 72 submarines, along with 800 overseas military bases in 70 countries scattered across strategic areas throughout the world, and roughly 150,090 soldiers stationed across 150 countries. The U.S. employs about 1,066,600 soldiers.

The President and Commander in Chief of this arsenal of Armageddon, referring to North Korea railed about “a band of criminals arming itself with nuclear weapons …” What an irony from the leader of the only nation on earth to have used them – twice – and used them again and again in the form of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans and almost certainly Syria.

The resultant cancers and birth defects are the shaming, horrifying legacy of criminality on an unprecedented scale – the medical legacy of which will, of course, prevail for 4.5 Billion years, the life of depleted uranium – and the estimated life of the earth – lest it ever be forgotten.

Given Trump’s terrifying threats of circumstances where “… we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea …” issued at the UN, no wonder that nation, isolated, threatened and vilified for over half a century seeks what it sees as defense.

Incredibly, Trump’s paragraph including the total destruction of North Korea ended: “The United States is ready, willing and able … That’s what the United Nations is all about. That’s what the United Nations is for …” He is clearly clueless as to that founding pledge. Perhaps he was confusing it with NATO.

Iran is, of course, also in Trump’s sights. Yet less than three weeks before his UN tirade, the International Atomic Energy Agency, charged with monitoring Iran’s nuclear power programme, had confirmed that Iran was abiding by the 2015 multilateral agreement which he incessantly accuses the country of violating.

Moreover, The IAEA director, Yukiya Amano, confirmed to the Associated Press that the Agency has access to all locations “without making distinctions between military and civilian locations”.  There is also a framework for the Agency to visit even the most sensitive sites.

In May this year, at a Press Conference in Denmark on the Iran agreement Amano stated:

Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime. Our inspectors are on the ground 24/7. We monitor nuclear facilities remotely, using permanently installed cameras and other sensors. We have expanded access to sites, and have more information about Iran’s nuclear programme.

Peace, tolerance and international neighbours, however, were reduced by the President at the UN, to Iran being: “a corrupt dictatorship”, exporting “violence, bloodshed and chaos.” It also “funds terrorists that attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbours.”

Iran, of course, has not attacked another nation for over two hundred years and fought only when defending its own territory against encroachment or attack. Current Middle East nightmares have entirely sprung from, as General Wesley Clark stated he was told shortly after 11th September 2001: “We’re going to take out seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan & Iran…”

As for a “peaceful … Israeli neighbor”, Planet Trump is clearly set on disconnect.

Donald Trump either had not read the IAEA Report or chose to ignore it, telling the UN that: “ a murderous regime” was “building dangerous missiles” and that the 2015 agreement “provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear programme.” The gutter-language insults and accusations heaped on a proud, ancient nation reflect an ignorance of diplomacy, politics and indeed, basic norms of civility.

In an address on “Iran Strategy” on 13th October in the surely misnamed “Diplomatic” Reception Room he opened by saying he had ordered a “strategic review” of policy “toward the rogue regime of Iran.”

He was announcing “major steps … to confront the Iranian regime’s hostile actions …”

“Our policy is based on a clear-eyed assessment of the Iranian dictatorship, its sponsorship of terrorism and its continuing aggression in the Middle East and all around the world.”

Far from “clear eyed”, the all is blind, un-statesmanlike, including a one-sided, context-less, history of the US/Iran relationship, which needs a lengthy article to address reality. Ranting, knowledge-free accusations seem instead plucked out of the air.

As for “sponsorship of terrorism … continuing aggression in the Middle East … and around the world”, perhaps a glance at Washington’s nationwide back yard and a bit of introspection might be worthwhile.

Then there was this gem:

The regime also received a massive cash settlement of $1.7 billion from the U.S., a large portion of which was physically loaded onto an airplane and flown into Iran. Just imagine the sight of those huge piles of money being hauled off by the Iranians, waiting at the airport for the cash. I wonder where all that money went.

Iran had, in fact, been owed $400 million since 1979, over an order of US aircraft which were never delivered after the severing of Iran-US relations after the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. The interest has risen year on year and Iran was awarded the $1.7 billion compensation by an international Court in The Hague.

It was not, in fact, even paid in dollars, since the US will not trade in dollars with Iran, so had to scrabble around assembling various other currencies to service the debt. Since, due to the US embargo on Iran, there are no currency trading mechanisms, the compensation had to be physically flown in and delivered.

Trump’s sabre rattling against Iran is chilling – and, of course, has no mention of crimes of enormity by the US against the country:

In August 1953, through the auspices of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and British intelligence, in cooperation with forces loyal to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, the popularly-elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, was forcibly removed from power.

To insure the Shah retained power, the father of General Norman Schwartzkopf, of Basra Road massacre infamy, had:

Under a CIA operation called ‘Operation Ajax’ been sent to Iran to encourage the Shah to return to power and, most crucially, helped him … by forming and training security forces that would be loyal to the Shah. These … would eventually metamorphose into the dreaded and feared SAVAK secret police, one of the most brutal foundations of the Shah’s power.

SAVAK basically served as an intelligence agency with unlimited police powers — and a very effective deterrent to any opposition to the Shah. Officers of the organization could spy on or arrest almost anybody at will and frequently used torture to gain information or to simply intimidate the populace.

SAVAK’s presence deepened in the 1960s and 1970s, when it arrested, tortured and killed untold thousands of Iranians – anyone who was perceived to be a threat to the Shah’s one-party rule.

Trump’s chilling threats towards Iran seem to include intended revenge for the hostage taking of personnel in the US embassy in Tehran in 1979. Has he any idea of the regime the US embassy might have seemed to represent to the people of Iran, given just the briefest details of US meddling, above?

There seems to be no great world institutions, even American constitutionals ones, flashing warning lights in truly terrifying times. North Korea and Iran have both indicated willingness to talk. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson seems to be making encouragingly conciliatory statements about dialogue, President Carter has offered to talk to North Korea. Both seem to have been dismissed or slapped down by a man with seemingly hate in his heart – and his finger on the nuclear button.

In an excellent just out book, “Devil’s Bargain”, by Joshua Green, Bloomberg Businessweek’s senior national correspondent, he compares former Trump Campaign Manager, Steve Bannon to Trump, the “first instinct was always to attack.”

Wake up world.

Neutral Athletes: Russia, Drugs and the Olympics

Being a moralist in the Olympics doesn’t carry you very far. Turn one way, and there are enterprising drug cheats; turn another, there are wads of cash in envelopes finding their inexorable way to an official’s accounts. The challenge of the Olympics is, in a fundamental way, a challenge of institutional decay, ruination and sport as profit.

Having the International Olympic Committee banish a state from a competition that is itself compromised is a truly tall order.  It reeks, by its nature, of falsely applied judgment.  In the case of the Russia ban for the Winter Olympics to be held in Pyeongchang, the pot has assumed judgment over the kettle.

The decision assumes that a particular state has gone defiantly rogue to an extraordinary degree while presuming a state of near decent purity on the part of the entire family of Olympic nations.  According to Samuel Schmid, chair of the commission report submitted to the IOC charging Russia with an extensive doping program, “We have never seen any such manipulation and cheating and this has caused unprecedented damage to Olympism and to sports.”

The statement resembles a holed raft awaiting its inevitable sinking.  As always with such observations, history is risibly ignored in favour of the inglorious present.  Doping, after all, was the preserve of state sponsored, and engineered perfection, for decades during the Cold War.  The body beautiful became the patriotic instrument, suitably tanked and packed by doping.  That’s Olympism for you.

In the current era, the field of performance enhancement supplements and medications is notoriously shifting.  What is to be banned or not as assisting the athlete’s performance leaves the administrators baffled.  Technically, anything medical, anything soothing, and anything to salve the stretched body, could constitute assistance.  Little wonder, then, that the World Anti-Doping Agency has had its work cut out for it, having itself been accused of unevenness.

This notion of the eviscerated state, and institutional morality, supplies us with the option of where the idea of athlete neutrality might be taken.  IOC President Thomas Bach expressed his regret at the decision’s impact on athletes who had complied with the rules.  “As an athlete myself, I am feeling very sorry for all the clean athletes from all (National Olympic Committees) who are suffering from this manipulation.”

To that end, the IOC has permitted Russia to compete as neutral athletes called “Olympic Athletes from Russia”, to be determined by a panel headed by the chair of the Independent Testing Authority, Valerie Fourneyron.  (Russia has been scoldingly told that they supply $15 million to that authority.)

While this will be understandably sneered at in Russian circles, the precedent might well offer a blessing in rather well kept disguise. Why not consider taking the symbolic flag out of Olympic sports altogether, along with any patriotic vestiges?  A little tinkering with this concept and a different variant of Olympism might be forged.  Taken in its unadulterated way, the state can be removed from the equation, or at the very least minimised in its influence.  Keep the pursuit of the Olympics, but abolish the nonsensical notion of competing under what would amount to entrenched national sponsorship.

The flag of a country, after all, forcefully implies a commitment of allegiance and show pony status, the sponsored performer, the hired hand appointed to do approved tricks. To march with and under the expansive flag – a specific national flag, that is – into a stadium or an arena of competition suggests an instrumental purpose for the competitor.  You are not so much advancing yourself as your country’s credentials.

Bearing that symbol suggests benefits, state worship and loyalty. It also advises athletes to be slavish, leaving aside individual autonomy in favour of state policies.  The policies might be extreme – the Soviet-DDR model certain affords one example, but others are not that much better.  The Australian system is only better in so far as it claims to avoid prohibited doping while still keeping the psychological apparatus in play.  This is specifically true for swimmers, who tend to resemble psychological wrecks after an Olympic performance.

Given the stresses athletes already face, the neutrality status may have something going for it.  Throw out the oppressive national and nationalist nonsense. Focus on the healthy competition for its sake, sinews, sweat and skill, not the people or entities sponsoring or forcing it.  Focus on the sheer gravitas, the imposing physicality of human performance, rather than the manipulative politics and crude finance.  This would have an added incentive: taking another layer of the corrupt mechanics and the ceremonial circus lies behind modern Olympism.

Shifting the focus to individual athletes as performers removes the demanding middle man, the all-seeing parent ever in threat of disapproval.  Admittedly, that middle man tends to have the resources to back the athlete, generous yet compromising largesse.  Removing such entities banishes a particular form of global middle management.  To dare this is to dream for a new form of athletic governance.  Farewell pigs in clover and welcome the genuine punters.

Unfortunately, the nationalist sentiment beats strongly, fighting any notion of neutrality.  The treatment of Russia is popular in various fraternities, notably those who see their own states as noble backers rather than compromised masters.  The aesthetic might be important, but it never trumps the chest thumping, the patriotic coaches, and the number crunchers back in the home state seeking medals.