Category Archives: John Bolton

Bolton’s Memoir Bolts from the Stable

President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton would have been confident.  His indulgent The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir pitted him against the administration in a not infrequent battle over material that is published by former officials recounting their giddy days in high office.  On June 17, the US government filed a civil suit seeking a preliminary injunction ahead of the planned release of the memoir on June 23, and a “constructive trust” arising from all profits issuing from the publication of the work.

Bolton had, as Jack Goldsmith and Marty Lederman point out, signed two separate, fundamentally similar non-disclosure agreements, “corresponding to two different sets of Specialized Compartmented Information programs to which he was afforded access.”

Publishing sensitive national security information in the US context is governed by that driest of documents known as Standard Form 312.  Bolton undertook that he would “never divulge classified information to anyone unless: (a) [he has] officially verified  that the recipient has been properly authorized by the United States Government to receive it; or (b) [he has] been given prior written notice of authorization from the United States Government … that such disclosure is permitted.”  The second feature of the agreement is that Bolton agreed that, should he be “uncertain about the classification status” of any information in question, he would “confirm from an authorized official that the information is unclassified before [he] may disclose it.”

This was not all.  To further supress information that would otherwise make it into the public domain is Standard Form 4414, which covers “Special Access Programs”, referred to in the field as sensitive compartmented information (SCI).  The policing authority in this case is the National Security Council, which required Bolton to submit to review “any writing … that contains or purports to contain any SCI or descriptive of activities that produce or relate to SCI or that I have reason to believe derived from SCI, that I contemplate disclosing to any person not authorized to have access to SCI or that I have prepared for public disclosure.”

Judge Royce Lamberth of the US District Court for the District of Columbia was not convinced by arguments made by the administration for a preliminary injunction halting the memoir’s publication.  But this did not necessarily make Bolton an endearing defendant.  The judge admitted that “Bolton’s unilateral conduct raises grave national security concerns” but found that “the horse is out of the barn”.

Ultimately, Bolton’s decision to go forth with the publication without final clearance from the intelligence censors was incautious but irreversible.  The judge even conceded that “Bolton may indeed have caused the country irreparable harm.”  The point was rapid, vast distribution and spread, assisted by the nature of technology.  In “the Internet age, even a handful of copies in circulation could irrevocably destroy confidentiality.” All was required was for a determined individual, armed with the contents of such a publication, to “publish [it] far and wide from his local coffee shop.” Resigned, the judge conceded that “the damage is done.  There is no restoring the status quo.”

To that end, any injunction “would be so toothless”.  The other obvious point – that over 200,000 copies of the book had already been shipped domestically, with thousands of copies being exported to booksellers in Europe, India and the Middle East – rendered the need for such a restraint moot.  “By the looks of it,” mused the judge, “the horse is not just out of the barn – it is out of the country.”

The Bolton episode underscores the very legitimacy of the prepublication review process.  Former CIA operative John Kiriakou makes the unimpeachable point that such documents, however sympathetic their authors, need to get into open circulation.  The republic needs the oxygen of revelation.  The process of review, he attests, is “deeply flawed and frequently political.”  As Kiriakou reminds us, such a system of suppression drew breath from the case of Victor Marchetti, who worked as an analyst at the CIA between 1955 and 1969.  Serialised versions of his book reflecting on the grand old days were slated to run in Esquire.  The CIA took issue, filed a temporary injunction against publication of the book citing the presence of classified information and the naming of undercover operatives.  The case made its way to the US Supreme Court, which held that the initial judgment in favour of an injunction was sound.  The non-disclosure regime was appropriate.  “We find the contract constitutional and otherwise reasonable and lawful.”  What followed was an arduous process of review, cutting and redaction, with Marchetti seeking clearance, and the CIA being miserly in concession.

Not all was lost for former members of the intelligence community and publishers.  Texts might still make it into circulation, provided they were cleared, and done so within 60 days by the relevant prepublication board.  Those not cleared might see profits confiscated.  But this did not address the issue of zealous overclassification, unnecessary redaction and violations of the 60 day rule.

The battle against the very constitutionality of the prepublication review system has begun in earnest.  On January 27, 2020, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information request seeking records related to the review of the manuscripts of 25 former federal officials, among them Bolton’s memoir.  In April 2, 2019, the Knight First Amendment Institute filed a lawsuit challenging the very constitutionality of prepublication review.  Along with the ACLU, the action was undertaken on behalf of five former public servants arguing that the prepublication system spanning the CIA, the Defence Department, the National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, violated the First Amendment right “to convey and of the public to hear, in a timely manner, the opinions of former government employees on issues of public importance.”

The action further argued that the prepublication process violated the First Amendment in not providing former employees “with fair notice of they can and cannot publish without prior review”, one that also invited “arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement by censors.”

On April 16, 2020, the District Court in Maryland found in favour of the government, holding the prepublication review system to be constitutional.  Judge George Hazel found that the ACLU and Knight First Amendment Institute had standing to challenge the review process, but felt governed by the forty-year old Supreme Court case of Snepp v. United States.  The defects of the prepublication system, be it in terms of vagueness on classification, the certainty of review standards, and the absence of procedural safeguards, had little bearing on the question of constitutionality.

The plaintiffs have duly appealed. Among their arguments is the fact that Snepp focused on remedies rather than First Amendment principles, sidestepping the very merits of the CIA review system.  The limits of government authority in imposing prepublication review obligations also remained untested.  The reasoning of Snepp has also aged, both in terms of the law of pre-restraint on employee obligations and the factual environment.  As the Knight First Amendment Institute urges, “We need to hear these voices [of former employees of the intelligence services], but if we want to hear them, we have to fix the obstacle course that prepublication review has become.”

2019 Latin America in Review: Year of the Revolt of the Dispossessed

A year ago, John Bolton, Trump’s short-lived national security advisor, invoked the 1823 Monroe Doctrine making explicit what has long been painfully implicit: the dominions south of the Rio Grande are the empire’s “backyard.” Yet 2019 was a year best characterized as the revolt of the dispossessed for a better world against the barbarism of neoliberalism. As Rafael Correa points out, Latin America today is in dispute. What follows is a briefing on this crossroads.

Andean Nations

Venezuela, the leader for regional integration and 21st century socialism, continued to be ground zero in the clash between the empire and those nations pursuing post-neoliberal alternatives and a multipolar world.

On the evening of January 22, trained US security asset and head of the suspended Venezuelan National Assembly Juan Guaidó received a call from US Vice President Pence, giving Guaidó the green light to declare himself president of Venezuela. The next day, Guaidó proclaimed his presidency on a Caracas street corner. Within minutes Trump recognized the self-appointment, later followed by some fifty US allies. Still most nations in the world did not recognize Guaidó, and the United Nations continues to recognize Maduro as the constitutional president of Venezuela.

Guaidó called for harsher US sanctions on his own people and even the US “military option.”  Gone was the pretext that sanctions targeted only the government. The former US Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield  boasted that these measures “would have an impact on everyone… to accelerate the collapse.” From President Barack Obama’s sanctions in 2015, Trump progressively ratcheted up the pain to the current blockade. This illegal collective punishment had already caused over 40,000 deaths by the beginning of the year according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), in a war by economic means, denying the Venezuelan people vital food and medicine.

Yet Guaidó failed to come to power. His publicity stunt on February 23 to bring “humanitarian aid” from Colombia fizzled. To make things worse, envoys of Guaidó in Colombia were caught embezzling some of the very funds slated for humanitarian assistance. Soon after this debacle, a staged coup on April 30 by Guaidó and a few military officers on an overpass in eastern Caracas aborted. In November, Guaidó made an even more pathetic coup attempt. His ability to garner support atrophied, drawing the ire even of some hardline opposition who formerly backed him, while the Maduro government continued to rally substantial popular demonstrations and signed a peaceful coexistence agreement with some moderate opposition parties in September.

Despite attempts by Washington to incite ruptures within the Venezuelan security forces, the “civic-military union” built by Chavez and continued under Maduro held firm, and the ranks of the militias continue to grow. And despite heavy lobbying by the Trump administration, Venezuela was voted onto the UN Human Rights Council on October 27.

In a bid to compensate for the diminished stature of the anti-Venezuela Lima Group,  on December 3, Colombia convened a summit for the activation of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) against Venezuela, to ratchet up sanctions even further and keep the military option on the table. By the end of 2019, even the Wall Street Journal conceded, “Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, once thought ripe for ouster, looks firmly in place.”

In Washington, North American solidarity activists defended the Venezuelan embassy from being taken over by Guaidó collaborators (April – May 2019). With the permission of the Venezuelan government and pursuant to international law, the Embassy Protectors held out for 37 days until expelled by the Secret Service. The four last defenders – Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese, Adrienne Pine, David Paul – will go to trial, facing possible stiff penalties. On October 25, journalist Max Blumenthal was also arrested and charged (subsequently dropped), as the US government cracks down on dissent both at home and abroad.

Colombia is the chief regional US client state, distinguished by being the largest recipient of US military aid in the hemisphere. Hillary Clinton called Plan Colombia a model for Latin America. Yet this model leads the world in extra-judicial killings of journalists, union leaders, and environmentalists. Meanwhile, Colombia continues to be the planet’s largest supplier of illicit cocaine.

A 2016 peace agreement saw the guerrilla FARC lay down their arms, but the government has honored the agreement mainly in the breach. Death squad activity continued in 2019, targeting former FARC militants. A faction of the FARC returned to the guerrilla path.

In a sign of growing disaffection with the hardline right-wing influence of former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe and his protégé and current President Iván Duque, the far right suffered significant losses in the October regional and municipal elections. Left-leaning Claudia López became the first woman and first lesbian to be mayor of the capital city of Bogotá. By year-end, Colombia experienced massive general strikes opposed to government austerity policies dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Bolivia. Evo Morales was the first indigenous president of this largely indigenous country. Under the 14 years of his Movement for Socialism party (MAS), Bolivia had the highest economic growth rate and the greatest poverty reduction in the Western Hemisphere. Bolivia became a world champion for indigenous and poor people, aligning with the progressive governments of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

Morales was fairly re-elected president on October 20. Because the US-backed candidate lost, the US called his election “fraudulent.” A compliant Organization of American States (OAS) disseminated misleading information on the validity of the election. Thus, the stage was set for the November 10 coup, when Morales was forced to “resign” by the military.

Thirteen US members of Congress sent a “dear colleague” letter condemning the “Administration’s support for [the] military-backed regime and silence on violent repression [which] contributes to spiraling crisis.” This letter stands in stark contrast to the close association of key figures behind the coup with allies in Washington, the OAS Secretary General’s embrace of coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho, and the endorsement of the coup by the right-wing neighbors. President Trump “applauded” the Bolivian military despite its well documented systematic  violations of human rights.

The self-proclaimed President Jeanine Áñez smeared indigenous communities as “satanic” in tweets, later deleted. Morales is now in exile, and the indigenous and other poor continue to protest in the face of lethal, racist repression.  At this writing, Morales, the MAS, and most of the popular sectors have agreed to new elections but efforts are underway by backers of the de facto government to disqualify the MAS from participating in an eventual election.

Ecuador. Speaking of reversals, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno took the prize. Moreno had served as vice president in a previous leftist government headed by Rafael Correa, who had campaigned for Moreno. Upon assuming the presidency in 2017, Moreno inexplicably and unexpectedly betrayed the platform, the voters, and the party that put him in office. He jailed his vice president and later other leaders of his former party and put out an arrest warrant for Correa, who is now in exile. On April 11, Moreno handed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who had been in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, to the British police.

Moreno withdrew Ecuador from ALBA, the leftist regional organization of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and some Caribbean nations. Last January, he recognized the US puppet Guaidó as president of Venezuela. By mid-year, Moreno gave the US an airbase on the Galápagos.

Moreno forgave some $4.5 billion in fines and debt by major corporations and oligarchs and then papered it over by an IMF loan. With the loan came austerity measures, el paquetazo, including removing fuel subsidies. The mass protest of the dispossessed, led by the indigenous CONAIE organization, was so overwhelming that Moreno was temporarily forced to flee the capital city of Quito and rescind some elements of the paquetazo. Moreno continues to push IMF stipulated austerity measures, while repressing his former party’s elected representatives.

Peru is in crisis, wracked with corruption scandals. In April 2019, former President Alan García shot himself as the police were preparing to arrest him for corruption, while fellow former President Alberto Fujimori is in jail on corruption accusations and human rights violations.  Former President Alejandro Toledo also faces corruption accusations and is fighting against extradition from the US. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was the last directly elected president of Peru. Formerly a US citizen and an IMF and World Bank official, he was forced to resign for corruption in March 2018 shortly before he was slated to host a meeting of the anti-Venezuela Lima Group to expose Venezuela for corruption.

Ever since, the presidency of Peru has been disputed. The current moderate-right President Martín Vízcarra dissolved the congress; the congress controlled by the far-right Keiko Fujimori (free after a year in detention for corruption) impeached the executive, although Vízcarra recovered the presidency. In the context of this dog fight among the elites have been massive anti-corruption mobilizations from below.

The Southern Cone

Brazil. New Year 2019 marked the inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil. The election of hard-right Bolsonaro – called the “Trump of Brazil” by friends and foes alike – was a major reversal from the previous left-leaning Workers Party governments.

Brazil has by far the biggest economy in Latin America and the eighth in the world and is part of the BRICS bloc including Russia, India, China, and South Africa. With a sycophant of Trump heading Brazil, both hemispheric and world geopolitics suffer the loss of a countervailing element to US hegemony. Brazil voted with the US and Israel for continuing the US blockade on Cuba and against 187 other UN members.

Former left-leaning President Lula da Silva would have easily beaten Bolsonaro, if the polls were any indication, but corrupt judge Sergio Moro sent Lula to prison on evidenceless charges. The judge was rewarded by ironically being made minister of justice in the new Bolsonaro government. Similarly, Dilma Rousseff, who was Lula’s left-leaning successor as president of Brazil, had been deposed on a technicality by the right-leaning congress in what amounted to a parliamentary coup in 2016.

An international campaign to free Lula finally succeeded in November, but far too late for him to run against Bolsonaro. Lula is free and fighting now, but could be incarcerated again.

Bolsonaro went about dismantling social welfare measures, firing government workers, and rewarding multinational corporations, while the Amazon burned. Predictably the popular sectors arose leading to an uncertain political situation in Brazil.

Chile. The Chilean people launched a general strike against austerity with slogans such as “neoliberalism was born in Chile and will die here.” Reacting to the “privatization of everything,” the uprising this fall has been truly from the grassroots with the established political parties sprinting to catch up with the popular revolt of the dispossessed.

Over a million protestors have taken to the streets in a country with a population of only 19 million. Many have remained there for weeks despite severe repression by the state, leaving numerous killed by live ammunition and rubber bullets. According to official state data, more than 8,000  have been jailed, almost 3,000 injured, and over 200 suffered ocular damage. Hundreds of  lawsuits for police brutality have been filed, including sexual abuses. The right-wing billionaire President Sebastián Piñera suspended some constitutional rights, declaring a “state of emergency” in a country still under the constitution created by the dictator Pinochet.

Argentina. After right-wing President Mauricio Macri imposed textbook perfect neoliberal economic reforms, the Argentine economy spectacularly and predictably failed with rampant inflation, food shortages, currency free-fall, and capital flight. Even the middle class protested in the streets in enormous uprisings of the dispossessed.

On October 27, the center-left ticket of Alberto Fernández as president and Cristina Fernández as VP won and announced Argentina will leave the regional anti-Venezuela Lima Group. They will also have to deal with Macri’s record breaking $50.1 billion IMF loan, saddling the people with austerity measures in a country that is broke and again at the edge of default.

Uruguay. The ruling left-center Frente Amplio’s candidate, Daniel Martínez, won in the first round of Uruguay’s presidential elections on October 27, but by a too narrow margin to avoid a runoff election. He faced a united right-wing in the November 24 runoff against Luis Lacalle Pou, which ended his party’s 15-year rule.

The Caribbean

Cuba. The US embargo of Cuba, initiated  by US President Kennedy and now a blockade (el bloqueo), along with covert regime-change operations and occupation of Guantánamo have continued in an unbroken policy of aggression through Democratic and Republican administrations alike. Most recently Trump resurrected Title III of the Clinton-era Helms-Burton Act to intensify the blockade. The Cuban people show no sign of capitulating.

Cubans welcomed a new president, as Miguel Díaz-Canel succeeded Raúl Castro. On April 10, they ratified a new constitution, after an extensive consultative process, engaging some 9 million people, 780,000 suggestions, 9,600 proposals, and 133,000 citizen meetings.

Puerto Rico and Cuba were the spoils of the first imperialist war, the 1898 Spanish-American War. Unlike free Cuba, Puerto Rico is still a neglected colonial possession of the US. And that political fact has never been clearer with Puerto Rico still not fully recovered from Hurricane María and still not governing itself to solve its own problems.

Puerto Rico experienced mass protests and a general strike in 2019. Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló was forced to resign on July 22. Puerto Rican liberation hero Oscar López Rivera observed: “Even before the governor announced his resignation, the fact is that he was not governing Puerto Rico.”

Haiti. After the harsh 29-year US-backed Duvalier dictatorships and the subsequent “military transition,” a brief flourishing of democracy ended in Haiti when the US brazenly kidnapped President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and flew him into exile in 2004. Since then, a series of dubiously elected presidents – some literally installed and all propped up by the US – have produced human rights and social welfare conditions worse than under the dictatorships.

Billions in relief after the 2010 earthquake and in Petrocaribe funds from Venezuela have largely “disappeared” into the pockets of corrupt politicians. In response, the ever-restive Haitian populace has yet intensified the uprising of the dispossessed throughout the country. The newly formed Patriotic Forum united 62 social movements, who call not only for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, but a complete dismantling of the “system of exclusion” and for a new republic of justice, transparency, and participation. They demanded chavire chodyè a (overturn the cauldron).

Central America and Mexico

Honduras. The designation of Honduras as a narco-state is supported by the October 18  conviction in US federal court of President Juan Orlando Hernández’s (JOH) brother Tony for cocaine smuggling.  JOH, the latest of a line of corrupt presidents since the 2009 US-backed coup, is identified as co-conspirator by the prosecutors. Testimony in the US court revealed that the notorious Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo gave JOH $1 million to help him rig the presidential election in 2013.

The US continued to prop up the tottering JOH regime staggering in the face of huge waves of popular protests including a prolonged national strike this summer. And those not opposing the government in the streets headed for asylum in the US, fleeing from gang violence and government malfeasance.

Guatemala. Right-wing comedian Jimmy Morales became president of Guatemala in August. In response to the revolt of dispossessed against his neoliberal rule, he declared a state of siege in five departments. Tens of thousands marched on Guatemala City, including the indigenous Xinkas, while many more Guatemalans fled the violence and everyday oppression seeking asylum at the US border.

The wounds of the US-backed genocidal dirty war of the 1980s against the largely indigenous population, taking some 200,000 lives, have not been healed but continue to be reinforced by harsh neoliberal measures and a regime of impunity fueling the exodus to the north. While lamenting the plight of these migrants, the corporate press in the US failed to recognize the made-in-America causes of their evacuation.

El Salvador. Likewise, El Salvador, another former victim of the US-backed dirty wars, added to the stream of Honduran and Guatemalan migrants seeking asylum in the US from the conditions created in large part by the country of their intended refuge.

Businessman Nayib Bukele, formerly associated with the left FMLN party and now turned right, was elected under the banner of the right-wing GANA party. He assumed the presidency on June 1, replacing Salvador Sánchez Ceren of the FMLN. Bukele has fallen in line with Washington’s drive to curtail emigration from the Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) and has reversed his nation’s foreign policy to accord with the Lima Group’s drive for regime change in Venezuela.

Nicaragua. 2019 was a year of hopeful recovery in Nicaragua, healing from successfully repulsing a US-backed coup the previous year. The domestic perpetrators were granted amnesty by leftist President Daniel Ortega, and social welfare indices were again on the ascent. Although the poorest country in Central America, Nicaraguans were for the most part not fleeing for the US but were rebuilding their homeland.

Mexico is the second largest economy in Latin American and the eleventh in the world. After decades of right-wing rule, left-of-center Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) assumed the presidency last December and his new MORENA party swept local and regional offices with the expectation that corruption, inequality, and other long festering economic injustices would be addressed. AMLO dissented from the anti-Venezuelan Lima Group and instituted a series of progressive domestic reforms.

Trump forced AMLO to contain the Central American immigrants massing on the US southern border or face tariff increases and other measures that would wreck the Mexican economy. As nineteenth century Mexican President Porfirio Díaz famously lamented: “Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States.”

A New Year’s message

2019 has not been an entirely bullish year for US imperialism, notwithstanding the hard turns to the right in Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador.  Powerful winds against neoliberalism are gusting in Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and even in the US “Commonwealth” of Puerto Rico. Regime-change operations failed in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. US-preferred candidates suffered losses in Mexico, Colombia, and Bolivia (later reversed by a coup). And the hegemon is challenged in its own “backyard” by the increased influence of Russia and especially China, now the second largest trading partner with Latin America and the Caribbean.

Recently Cuban President Díaz-Canel addressed the 120-state Non-aligned Movement (a third of which are sanctioned by Washington) with this perceptive thought for a multi-polar world: “There are more of us. Let us do more.”

A Careless Bully At The KFC At The End Of Empire

Will Trump go to war with the Iranians or the homeless? Or both?

Trump is a coward. The nation of Iran has the means and the will to fight. Do you recall the will displayed by Iranians when repelling foreign invaders when Iraq attempted to invade Iran as a de facto US proxy force? Conversely, the homeless do not possess any defence against assault by the agents of the US police state.

Regardless of his image among credulous true believers, Trump, character-wise, is the diametric opposite of the image he conveys as a titan of supreme self-confidence. The pose is ego-based compensation for inner feelings of inferiority and abject weakness. Only those who are terrified of their own feelings of weakness and vulnerability fixate on the weakness, real or perceived, of others. If you desire to suss out a person ridden with self-doubt, no matter how outwardly confident and bestowed with worldly success, notice if they possess a proclivity to bandy the ultimate designation of capitalist derision, “loser.” Trump is prone to inflict a Heinrich Himmler-like evil towards the homeless because, as was the case with the chinless cipher “toy soldier” Himmler, Trump is contemptuous of his inner feelings of inadequacy. To avoid a crippling spiral into shame and self-doubt, feelings of doubt and concomitant animus must be displaced.

The US, in a collective sense, cannot address the societal sin of allowing homelessness, due to a fear that even regarding the crisis might lead to feelings of vulnerability…that some form of contact loseritude might overwhelm and decimate their will. The inherent weakness in the structure of late US empire compels contempt for the homeless. Trump’s self doubt is the source of his compulsion to humiliate those he perceives as weak and shunt them from sight. Only then can he separate himself from self-hatred.

The reason the mode of mind is lethally dangerous: The psychical trope cannot be sustained in a viable sense. The sense of weakness remains, compelling the sufferer to double down on the perpetration of force. There can be no end to the depth of cruelty inflicted because the pathos rages in the interior life of the totalitarian bully — not those on whom he projects his feelings of weakness and vulnerability. The fires of Auschwitz were lit by fires of self-hatred. When tyrants attempt to cage their self-contempt, hell is unloosed upon the world.

There is much back and forth about Trump’s level of intellect. Is he the cluelessly imbecilic, Dunning-Kruger effect-ridden, ambulatory head wound that he appears to be? Does he fake being a gibbering idiot so that his foes will underestimate him?

Carl Jung stated Adolf Hitler did not possess originality nor intelligence but possessed a “low animal cunning” — a description that fits Donald Trump as well. A business failure, he got his start — bestowed with epic advantage — in business with multimillions of dollars from his wealthy, crooked father thus Trump was able to impersonate a canny mogul within the make-believe precincts of reality television, preening for the noxiously credulous citizenry of the United States of Dumbfuckistan, while accruing revenue for the benefit of a cabal of cretinous, short-sighted-by-cupidity, mass media oligarchs.

Moreover, Trump was able to become President due to the epic stupidity of the elite of the Democratic Party who rigged their primary and nomination process for a candidate whose sense of entitlement to power was only exceeded by her ineptitude as a campaigner and her inability to turn in a plausible impression of an actual human being. In short, the bar of US intelligence is set so low even someone as toxically stupid as Trump can outwit the militantly obtuse elite of late US imperium.

Yet John Bolton, The Moustache Of The Apocalypse, was banished from the sight of the Tangerine Tsunami Of Viciousness. Yet the (bi-partisan) blood-sustained empire has not seen the last of the former’s blood-intoxicated breed and the latter’s brand of racist demagogic jerk-rocketry. Trump and Bolton were made by the system; they did not make the system. An empire sustains itself on militarist plunder and its leaders retail in sleight-of-hand, xenophobic tropes. What else would its political class be populated by other than a nest of vipers? What else would Trump bear, on a psychical level, but a head full of snakes? There has not been a reckoning of common sense and basic decency in the precincts of US power. Bolton simply blundered into the snake pit of Trump’s vanity.

Rich thus born-with-obscene-advantage man-boys such as Trump — and again in the news, due to newly unearthed allegations of creepopthatic transgressions against women trapped in vulnerable circumstances, Blubbering Brett Kavanaugh — are raised with the (careless and vile) ethos:

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Worse: When called out for their transgressions against people born without money, power, and privilege, man-babies such as Trump and Kavanaugh flush with indignation and insist they are the victim and their accusers should be subjected to pillory and rebuke. Hence, we arrive at the origin of this vicious clutch of hideous man-boys: Capitalism is, what it always has been, a hierarchy of bullies.

*****

Post prancing down my Facebook news feed by a Trump rah-rah: “Trump has kept his promises. The economy is great. America is getting great again.”

Dispatch from a realm closer to reality:

The US economy is an over-heated, inflated bubble which is merely serving to bloat the already obscenely bloated coffers of the economic elite; Trump is gutting environmental regulations and laws that help to preserve endangered wildlife; he has withdrawn from crucial nuclear treaties; his wrong-headed tariffs are proving economically devastating to farming regions; he is caging children in concentration camp-like conditions; he is obsessed with building a money-sucking wall on the southern border and his xenophobic, racist demagoguery provoke violent reactions in a nation where xenophobia and racial resentment, perpetually, simmer beneath the surface.

It comes down to this: Donald Trump embodies U.S. America, its origins and zeitgeist, as is the case with the prevaricating, High Dollar owned and controlled tools of the Democratic Party. Why and how have these circumstances been allowed to prevail, unfettered by common sense and common decency? The US was founded on a principle in which the moneyed elite would have the means to monetise all things that their cupidity-seized minds surveyed, including the life and labor of human beings. Moreover, addressing the query in advance, there is not a “solution” to late empire…other than the terrible redemption that arrives with The Second Law Of Thermodynamics. Empires overextend themselves abroad and collapse into their corrupt core at home.

Do you desire to catch a glimpse of the Second Law Of Thermodynamics in play? Gaze upon the junk food bloated body of Donald Trump, denizen of the KFC at the end of empire, or note the carnage his (or the Great White Lifeguard Of Hope, Joe Biden’s) increasingly senile dementia-ridden mind inflicts upon syntax and cohesive narrative structure.

Trump’s collapsing linguistic function mirrors the decay of US infrastructure. His proposed remedy also mirrors his psychical derangement: A manic compensation, analogous to a junk food binge, involves the full-spectrum exploitation of all available fossil fuel resources, without regard to the damage inflicted on the body of the earth and the soul of the world.

Although the intrinsic foulness of the US did not arrive with Donald Trump. He is a reflection of the racist, genocidal, perpetually exploitative, money-lusting, humanity-loathing construction of the US — a hideousness that has been in play since the origin of the sham republic. Donald Trump simply reveals what exists at the rotten root and makes visible the murderous spores carried on the insidious winds of US empire.

A False Accusation of Antisemitism from Where You Would Least Expect It

I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction.

— Benjamin Netayahu, 2001, quoted in Ha’aretz, July 15, 2010

It is not uncommon, of course, to be labeled “anti-Semitic” for calling attention to the inordinate power of the Israel Lobby over our political processes or suggesting that the Iraq War was launched on Israel’s behalf. The last place that I would expect to find such an allegation, however, was on the CounterPunch website to which I have contributed a number of articles on the subject over the years.

On August 2nd in an opinion piece by Ron Jacobs, headlined, “Israel—The Largest US Aircraft Carrier in the World,” those, like myself, who have described, in detail, on CounterPunch and elsewhere, the manner in which the Israel Lobby controls both Congress and the White House on issues relating to Israel, were accused of propagating “what is an essentially anti-Semitic argument concerning the nature of the Washington-Tel Aviv alliance.”

That Jacobs, a veteran of the Sixties as long of tooth as myself, a prolific writer and frequent contributor to Left publications, would make such an allegation, after what we have learned about the role of pro-Israel Jewish neocons in fomenting the Iraq War and following that, implementing crippling sanctions on Iran while agitating against the nuclear agreement with Tehran, is as mind boggling as it is insulting.

Jacobs did this under the cover of what purports to be a review of a new book by historian Stephen Gowans, Israel: A Beachhead in the Middle East, which Jacobs contends is “a necessary and forceful rebuke of those on the left and right who insist that Washington is Israeli-occupied territory.”

First, a book review it is not. One cannot do justice to any serious book in just 764 words which is the length of Jacobs’ piece, although whether Gowans’ book which amplifies the charge of antisemitism can be taken seriously is open to question.

If not a book review then, what is it? Let’s start with the title, a quote from the late general and Secretary of State Alexander Haig whose very sanity came into question following the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan when Vice-President George HW Bush was away from the capital. At that point, as the New York Times described it, Haig “raced upstairs [to the press room] and went directly to the lectern before a television audience of millions. His knuckles whitening, his arms shaking, Mr. Haig declared to the world, ‘I am in control here, in the White House.’ He did not give that appearance.”

In any case, Gowans use of Haig’s quote in his book turned out to be hearsay from a dubious source.

From Jacobs’ opening sentence, it seems clear that his intention was to provide “damage control” for the plethora of predominantly Jewish organizations whose primary raison d’etre is pushing the agenda of the Netanyahu government on Capitol Hill whose activities, not to mention, existence, have been largely ignored or dismissed by others on the “Left” who share Jacobs’ aversion to blaming even a segment of American Jews for anything. (Think Noam Chomsky, Phyllis Bennis, Stephen Zunes).

“The Israeli government does not control the foreign policy of the United States.,” is how Jacobs began his article. True, but none of those he is criticizing argue that it is and Jacobs must surely know this. They affirm, with considerable evidence to back it up, that supporters of the Israeli government are largely responsible for shaping US policies in the Middle East and nowhere else. In other words, Jacobs has created a straw man.

If we restrict ourselves to this millennium, one only has to look at the appointees from the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) that George W Bush brought into his administration, and particularly to the Pentagon and who became activated, like sleeper cells, after the events of September 11.

From PNAC, came a troop of 20, foremost among them, Dick Cheney, Dubya’s Vice-President, Donald Rumsfeld, (Secretary of Defense), Paul Wolfowitz, (Deputy Secretary of Defense), Richard Perle, (Defense Advisory Board), Doug Feith, (Under Secretary of Defense for Policy), Lewis (Scooter) Libby (Cheney’s Chief of Staff), and John Bolton who received a recess appointment as UN ambassador when it was clear he wouldn’t get Senate approval. (Bolton would later be hailed by Israel’s UN ambassador, Dan Gillerman, as “the sixth man in our office” and last year, after replacing H.R. McMaster as Trump’s National Security Adviser, he received the “Defender of Israel” award from the Zionist Organization of America).

Launched in 1997 by neocons Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol, (son of Irving Kristol, the neocon movement’s co-founder), PNAC drew attention on Capitol Hill the following year when it sent a letter to then President Bill Clinton, calling on him to overthrow Saddam. Among its signatories were Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz. Legislation was passed, the Iraq Liberation Act, in 1998, which stated that it was US policy to oust Saddam but no action was taken or contemplated.

What makes the Israeli connection indisputable was that PNAC was preceded a year earlier by a policy paper prepared for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, entitled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” Its authors were a study group led by Perle which included Feith, David Wurmser and his Israeli wife Meyrav Wurmser and called for the removal of Saddam Hussein, highlighting Iraq’s possession of “weapons of mass destruction.” Wurmser would go on to become a Middle East Advisor for Vice President Cheney and with Feith, help set up the Office of Special Plans to produce evidence of Iraq’s WMDs when the CIA failed to come up with it.

What those who insist that the 2003 war on Iraq was just a continuation of traditional US imperialist policies refuse to acknowledge is that the invasion of Iraq marked a 180 degree break with what US Middle Eastern policy had been up to that point, namely, to maintain stability in that oil rich region.

That is why former president George HW Bush, his Secretary of State, James Baker and his National Security Advisor, former general, Brent Scowcroft, publicly opposed the war and why Bush Sr resisted demands from the neocons and Israel’s allies in the media, to have US troops march to Baghdad and remove Saddam from power after ousting Iraqi troops from Kuwait a decade earlier.

When this fact was pointed out to George W Bush by Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet the Press, Dubya responded, “I answer to a higher father.”

Before the war went south, Perle and Wolfowitz were competing in the media for credit for the great victory over Saddam. Both men, along with Cheney, Feith, and Bolton, were also members of JINSA’s Advisory Board, an influential but little known neocon operation that came into existence in 1976, apparently in response to President Gerald Ford having suspended a shipment of US jet fighters to Israel for six months upon Israel’s refusal to give up land in the Egyptian Sinai that it had captured in the October 1973 war.

Moreover, Ford sent a private letter to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin warning him about a likely re-evaluation of US-Israel relations, hinting that he might call for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders. Rabin made the letter public which alerted AIPAC to respond. It struck back against Ford by getting 76 senators, three-quarters of that body, to sign a letter to the president, warning him that the US-Israeli bond was sacrosanct and should not be meddled with. Ford quickly backed off and over the years, many more such letters, drafted by AIPAC, would reach the desk of our presidents.

JINSA saw its goal as making sure that the US and Israeli militaries would become so entwined that no future president would ever contemplate or be able to disentangle the armed forces of both countries. To ensure that, it created a large advisory board composed of former generals and admirals and a few police chiefs while arranging programs to take newly retiring generals and admirals on all expense paid trips to Israel. There are currently 57 former generals and admirals on the JINSA advisory board. The first and last article about JINSA in a national publication appeared in The Nation in 2002 and like PNAC, its existence has been ignored by those engaged in damage control on Israel’s behalf.

Even Colin Powell’s attribution of the war to Donald Rumsfeld’s embrace by “the JINSA crowd,” in Karen DeYoung’s biography of Powell, Soldier, did not stir any of the latter to reconsider their positions.

Going back to the first US war on Iraq, all of the sanctions put in place against governments viewed by Israel as its enemies, have largely been the work of AIPAC and its sister organizations such as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. WINEP or TWI (its current acronym) was spawned by AIPAC in 1985 in order to make the step from lobbying for Israel to actually making policy itself. It has become arguably the most influential of the Beltway think tanks whose “experts” routinely appear before Congressional committees and whose op-ed pieces invariably find their way into the opinion sections of our leading newspapers and the inboxes of members of Congress.

To enforce the sanctions, after 9/11, President Bush set up a special department in the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence which, beginning with the appointment of pro-Israel zealot, Stuart Levey, became the exclusive provenance of pro-Israel Jews, the latest of whom, Sigal Mandelker, is actually an Israeli. It is this department, in essence, an arm of the Israeli government, that determines what countries and companies are adhering to or breaking sanctions on Iran and Syria and which organizations should be placed on the terrorist watch list.

When Obama took office, the Israeli press reported that Levey had made a special trip to Israel to assure Netanyahu that under the new president, nothing would change.

Were there not sanctions on Iraq and on Iran, the major US oil companies would have been more than happy to do business with both countries. The last company that tried, Conoco, was obliged to cancel a deal it had made with Tehran in March, 1995.

The only way the Obama Administration was able to sign the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) with Iran and the other members of the UN Security Council plus Germany was to declare it to be an agreement, not a treaty, thus avoiding having a vote on it by the Senate where it would surely have been defeated. Not to be denied, Israel’s friends in Washington had the Senate pass a bill requiring Obama and succeeding presidents to ratify US participation in the agreement every 90 days. This was the equivalent of a poison pill and a perfect set-up for Donald Trump.

There is far too much evidence of Israel’s control of Washington to include in this short article but two more items should seal the debate.

The first begins in 2015 in Las Vegas when Jewish multi billionaire Sheldon Adelson held two auditions for prospective Republican presidential candidates at his Venetian Hotel to determine which one would be the best for Israel. Adelson was at the time and still is the owner of the most widely read newspaper in Israel, Israel Hayom, which is provided free and has been seen, until recently, as a mouthpiece for Netanyahu. On the day he opened his newspaper, he apologized to his Israeli audience for having “worn the uniform of the US army and not the Israeli Defense Forces,” a clip of which can still be seen on You Tube.

Adelson’s choices after the auditions were first Ted Cruz and then Marco Rubio. When both failed to attract the voters, Adelson switched to Trump, pumping tens of millions of dollars into his campaign and, judging from Trump’s gifts to Israel, not the least of which was moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, it is safe to say that Adelson bought himself a president.

Cut now to last December, in Florida, at the annual convention of the relatively new Israeli American Council, the major funder of which happens to be Adelson. On the stage as the host was Israeli-American Haim Saban, one of the Democratic Party’s major funders who once boasted to a New Yorker writer that he was a “one issue man and that issue is Israel.”

It was shortly after the November mid-term elections and Saban was interviewing the returning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer, the Senate’s top ranking Democrat. As Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) described it on Dec. 2:

Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat who likely will be speaker of the new US House of Representatives, listed pro-Israel lawmakers she plans to name to key committee positions and said her party remained fundamentally pro-Israel.

’We have people very well placed to share our values,’ Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in addressing the final event Sunday of the annual Israeli-American Council conference, after listing planned assignments.

Pelosi said she would name Rep. Nita Lowey, D-New York, to chair the Appropriations Committee; Eliot Engel, D-New York, to chair the Foreign Affairs Committee; Ted Deutch, D-Florida, to chair the Middle East subcommittee; Adam Schiff, D-California, to chair the Intelligence Committee; Alcee Hastings, D-Florida, to chair the human rights-monitoring Helsinki Committee; Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, to a key Appropriations Committee position; and Lois Frankel, D-Florida, to a key Foreign Affairs Committee position.

All have longstanding pro-Israel records and all but Hastings are Jewish.”1

Pelosi’s exchange with Saban can still be viewed on You Tube but don’t look for any report on that conference outside of the Jewish press. The corporate media, like Congress, is under the thumb of the Israel Lobby.

  1. Wasserman-Schultz had been the chair of the DNC who was forced to resign after the release by WikiLeaks of the DNC’s emails exposed the DNC’s efforts to sabotage Bernie Sanders on Hillary Clinton’s behalf. Obviously, that did not hurt her in Pelosi’s eyes.

Exit John Bolton, But Will That Mean An End To His Failed Foreign Policy?

Leon Neal, Getty Images

Many who oppose the aggressive foreign policy of the United States under President Donald Trump, which has resulted in record numbers of bombs dropped, regime change operations against Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran and Hong Kong, the abusive use of unilateral coercive measures (sanctions) and record military budgets, cheered when uber-hawk, John Bolton was removed as the National Security Advisor.

Bolton undermined Trump numerous times such as when Trump wanted to get out of Syria and sought negotiations with North Korea and Iran. Bolton led Trump into regime-change operations in Nicaragua and Venezuela, both of which backfired.

The firing of Bolton is an opportunity for Trump to make a major course correction on foreign policy as the 2020 election heats up. The escalation of military aggression and regime-change actions that have occurred in the Trump era have been inconsistent with his previous campaign statements, which indicated he opposed never-ending wars, nation-building, and interventions abroad and wanted to focus on fixing problems at home in the United States.

Trump has long expressed skepticism about US foreign intervention in activities that he has labeled as “nation-building.” During the presidential election campaign, Trump criticized the war in Iraq, claiming he opposed George W. Bush’s Iraq War at the time and accused Bush of lying about the presence of weapons of mass destruction. In October 2015, he criticized US interventions saying, “We’re nation-building. We can’t do it. We have to build our own nation. We’re nation-building, trying to tell people who have [had] dictators or worse for centuries how to run their own countries.”

In December 2016, before his inauguration, Trump said that the policy of “intervention and chaos” must come to an end. He pledged to “build up our military not as an act of aggression, but as an act of prevention. In short, we seek peace through strength.”

Trump has opportunities to take another course, one that is more consistent with his rhetoric. Chairman Kim of North Korea said he was open to another meeting with President Trump on September 10, the next day, Bolton was fired. Shortly after the firing of Bolton, Secretary of State Pompeo gave the green light for Trump to meet with the President of Iran without preconditions at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in a few weeks. The firing of Bolton may not be enough, Iranian officials have refused any meeting until sanctions are lifted. After Bolton’s firing, President Hassan Rouhani said Trump “should distance itself from ‘warmongers’” after the dismissal of Bolton.

When it comes to Latin America, Trump has been silent, especially about his failed coup in Venezuela. Trump’s previous National Security Advisor, H. R. McMaster, strongly recommended to President Trump not to pursue a military option in Venezuela when Trump suggested it in 2017. He explained that Latin American governments were against foreign intervention in the region. John Bolton gave contrary advice when he dubbed Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba the “Troika of Tyranny” and gave Trump bad advice by urging a strategy of escalating intervention in Venezuela, recognition of a failed coup government and military threats.

When Bolton was fired, the New York Times reported:

Mr. Trump also grew disenchanted with Mr. Bolton over the failed effort to push out President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela. Rather than the easy victory he was led to anticipate, the president has found himself bogged down in a conflict over which he has less influence than he had assumed. The political opposition backed by the White House could not turn Venezuela’s military against Mr. Maduro and has been stuck in a stalemate for months.

President Maduro has consistently expressed his willingness to meet with President Trump, despite the brutal economic war, military threats and recognition of the fraudulent Juan Guaido. Trump knows that Maduro is solidly in place as the president of Venezuela. US efforts to undermine his re-election in May of 2018 failed, the multiple coup efforts with Juan Guaido have failed, Venezuela exposed a series of terrorist plots the US was backing and there is little support for military intervention. In addition, because of Trump’s threats, Venezuela has strengthened its relationships with China and Russia, bringing them into Latin America in ways they have never happened before and squeezing out US interests.

John Bolton has put Trump in a trap in Venezuela. Trump has two choices: continued his failed strategy of regime change which has become a quagmire or stop interfering in the internal affairs of the sovereign nation of Venezuela. Once Trump recognizes that Venezuela is an independent nation he can have a diplomatic relationship with the country as exits between most nations. It is time to give up on the embarrassing failed Bolton strategy and pursue a new approach of non-interference and diplomacy.

For most of its history, the US and Venezuela have been allies. It has only been during the eras of Clinton through Obama and the Bolton-era during the Trump administration that the US has been in conflict with Venezuela. Trump can now reverse those mistaken policies and put the United States back on a constructive track.

Hands off Hong Kong: The Cry Seldom Heard

South China Morning Post

Through the summer the world has watched as protests shook Hong Kong. As early as April they began as peaceful demonstrations which peaked in early June, with hundreds of thousands, in protest of an extradition bill. That bill would have allowed Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, to return criminals to Taiwan, mainland China or Macau for crimes committed there – after approval by multiple layers of the Hong Kong judiciary. In the wake of those enormous nonviolent demonstrations, Carrie Lam, CEO of Hong Kong, “suspended” consideration of the extradition bill, a face-saving ploy. To make sure she was understood, she declared it “dead.” The large rallies, an undeniable expression of the peaceful will of a large segment of the Hong Kong population had won an impressive victory. The unpopular extradition bill was slain.

But that was not the end of the story. A smaller segment continued the protests. (The Hong Kong police at one point estimated 4,000 hard core protesters.) pressed on with other demands, beginning with a demand that the bill be “withdrawn,” not simply “suspended.” To this writer death by “suspension” is every bit as terminal as death by “withdrawal.” As this piece is sent to press, news comes that Corrie Lam has now formally withdrawn the bill.

As the summer passed, two iconic photos presented us with two human faces that captured two crucial features of the ongoing protests; they were not shown widely in the West.

First, Fu Guohao, a reporter for the Chinese mainland newspaper, Global Times, was attacked, bound and beaten by protesters during their takeover of the Hong Kong International Airport. When police and rescuers tried to free him, the protesters blocked them and also attempted to block the ambulance that eventually bore him off to the hospital. The photos and videos of this ugly sequence were seen by netizens across the globe even though given scant attention in Western media. Where were the stalwart defenders of the press in the US as this happened? As one example, DemocracyNow! (DN!) was completely silent as was the rest of the U.S. corporate media.

Fu’s beating came after many weeks when the protesters threw up barriers to stop traffic; blocked closure of subway doors, in defiance of commuters and police, to shut down mass transit; sacked and vandalized the HK legislature building; assaulted bystanders who disagreed with them; attacked the police with Molotov cocktails; and stormed and defaced police stations. Fu’s ordeal and all these actions shown in photos on Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, a paper leaning to the side of protesters, gave the lie to the image of these “democracy activists” as young Ghandis of East Asia. (The South China Morning Post is based in Hong Kong and its readership is concentrated there so it has to have some reasonable fidelity in reporting events; otherwise it loses credibility – and circulation. Similarly, much as the New York Times abhorred Occupy Wall Street, it could not fail to report on it.)

Which brings us to the second photo, much more important to U.S. citizens, that of a “Political Counselor” at the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong who in August was pictured meeting with, Joshua Long and Nathan Law, at a hotel there. The official was formerly a State Dept functionary in the Middle East – in Jerusalem, Riyadh, Beirut, Baghdad and Doha, certainly not an area lacking in imperial intrigues and regime change ops. That photo graphically contradicted the contention that there is no US “black hand,” as China calls it, in the Hong Kong riots. In fact, here the “black hand” was caught red-handed, leading Chen Weihua, a very perceptive China Daily columnist, to tweet the picture with the comment: “This is very very embarrassing. … a US diplomat in Hong Kong, was caught meeting HK protest leaders. It would be hard to imagine the US reaction if a Chinese diplomat were meeting leaders of Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter or Never Trump protesters.”

And that photo with the protest leaders is just a snap shot of the ample evidence of the hand of the U.S. government and its subsidiaries in the Hong Kong events. Perhaps the best documentation of the U.S. “black hand” is to be found in Dan Cohen’s superb article of August 17 in The Greyzone entitled, “Behind a made-for-TV Hong Kong protest narrative, Washington is backing nativism and mob violence.” The article by Cohen deserves careful reading; it leaves little doubt that there is a very deep involvement of the US in the Hong Kong riots. Of special interest is the detailed role and funding, amounting to over $1.3 million, in Hong Kong alone in recent years, of the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED), ever on the prowl for new regime change opportunities. Perhaps most important, the leaders of the “leaderless” protests have met with major US political figures such as John Bolton, Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo, Senator Marco Rubio, Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel, Nancy Pelosi and others, all of whom have heartily endorsed their efforts. This is not to deny that the protests were home grown at the outset in response to what was widely perceived as a legitimate grievance. But it would be equally absurd to deny that the U.S. is fishing in troubled Hong Kong waters to advance its anti-China crusade and regime change ambitions.

That said, where is the U.S. peace movement on the question of Hong Kong?

Let us be clear. One can sympathize with the demand of many citizens of Hong Kong to end the extradition bill or even the other four demands: an inquiry into police handling of their protests; the retraction of a government characterization of the demonstrations as riots; an amnesty for arrested protesters; and universal suffrage. (The first three all grow out of violence of the protests, be it noted.) But that is the business of the citizens of Hong Kong and all the rest of China. It is not the business of the U.S. government. Peace activists in the US should be hard at work documenting and denouncing the US government’s meddling in Hong Kong, which could set us on the road to war with China, potentially a nuclear war. And that is a mission for which we in the U.S. are uniquely suited since, at least in theory, we have some control over our government.

So, we should expect to hear the cry, “US Government, Hands Off Hong Kong”? Sadly, with a few principled exceptions it is nowhere to be heard on either the left or right.

Let’s take DemocracyNow! (DN!) as one example, a prominent one on the “progressive” end of the spectrum. From April through August 28, there have been 25 brief accounts (“headlines” as DN! calls them, each amounting to a few paragraphs) of the events in Hong Kong and 4 features, longer supposedly analytic pieces, on the same topic. Transcripts of the four features are here, here, here and here. There is not a single mention of possible US involvement or the meetings of the various leaders of the protest movement with Pompeo, Bolton, Pence, or the “Political Counselor” of the US Hong Kong consulate.

And this silence on US meddling is true not only of most progressive commentators but also most conservatives.

On the Left when someone cries “Democracy,” many forget all their pro-peace sentiment. And similarly on the Right when someone cries “Communism,” anti-interventionism too often goes down the tubes. Forgotten is John Quincy Adams’s 1823 dictum, endlessly quoted but little honored, “We do not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” Where does this lapse on the part of activists come from? Is it a deep-seated loyalty to Empire, the result of endless indoctrination? Is it U.S. Exceptionalism, ingrained to the point of unconsciousness? Or is it at bottom a question of who the paymasters are?

On both sides anti-interventionism takes an especially hard hit when it comes to major competitors of the US, powers that could actually stand in the way of US global hegemony, like Russia or China. In fact on its August 12 program, DN! managed a story taking a swipe at Russia right next to the one on Hong Kong – and DN! was in the forefront of advancing the now debunked and disgraced Russiagate Conspiracy Theory. In contrast, the anti-interventionist movement is front and center when it comes to weaker nations, for example Venezuela – and quite properly so. But when one puts this advocacy for weaker nations together with the New Cold War stance on China and Russia, one must ask what is going on here. Does it betoken a sort of imperial paternalism on the part of DN and like-minded outlets? It certainly gains DN!, and others like it, considerable credibility among anti-interventionists which can help win them to a position in favor of DN!’s New Cold War stance. And the masters of Empire certainly understand how valuable such credibility can be at crucial moments when support for their adventures is needed from every quarter.

Fortunately, there are a handful of exceptions to this New Cold War attitude. For example, on the left Popular Resistance has provided a view of the events in Hong Kong and a superb interview with K.J. Noh that go beyond the line of the State Department, the mainstream media and DN! And on the libertarian Right there is the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and the work of its Executive Director Dan McAdams.

We would all do well to follow the example of these organizations in rejecting a New Cold War mentality which is extremely dangerous, perhaps fatally so. A good beginning for us in the U.S. is to demand of our government, “Hands Off Hong Kong.”

Iranian War Veteran Gives Advice to Trump

Dear President Trump,

In a recent Tweet, you claimed that “Iranians never won a war, but never lost a negotiation.” As a world citizen and a veteran of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, I have firsthand experience with the bitterness of war, and I have a few suggestions and responses for you.

First, I would advise you against using the words win and winning to describe war, especially from a US perspective. American history is filled with bitter experiences of losing wars. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and even the engagement in Yemen—none of these horrifying interventions has ever reached their goals.

You should recognize that the first step in any combat is understanding your adversary. As an experienced Iranian war veteran, I strongly suggest you study the culture and history of an old civilization like Iran. Iranians, those you label as living in a “terrorist nation,” are proud that in the past 250 years we have never initiated a war. We are proud that we have never invaded, intruded and oppressed other nations, neither in our neighborhood nor even in response to our foes. 

Nonetheless, there is a delicacy in the sophisticated culture of Iran that separates us from you and your hawkish #Bteam—Bolton, Bin Salman and Bibi Netanyahu. The major difference is the view we each have toward war. For us, war is not an option; we never choose to go to war; we only respond to war.

In 1915, during WWI, Rais Ali Delvary, a young man from a tiny village near the Persian Gulf, gathered a group together to defend the country from the British invaders. They stopped the intruders who violated Iran’s neutrality during the war. Rais Ali’s slogan at the time is still applicable today. “We are in this war not to win over the invaders’ capital and assets; we are in this war to save our capital and assets from loss.” That is how we define losing and winning in a war. Rais Ali and his people won that war, as his disciples did almost a century later, and will do it again if they have to.

Mr. President, Iran has never initiated a war. Iran has never seized other nations’ resources to gain wealth and benefit for itself but Iran, of course, has and will vigorously defend its belongings, resources, life, and identity. Iran has done that throughout its four thousand years of history and will do it again if necessary. Rais Ali and his team did it in 1915. People in my generation did it in 1980-88 when the whole world stood behind Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain and helped him throughout those terrible eight years of war. We Iranians sacrificed everything to defend our nation.

Under the world’s watch, Saddam Hussain dropped bombs and used chemical weapons on civilians. In the end, he was not able to seize even an inch of our homeland. Iranians became one body in defense of our homes and families.

We lost hundreds of thousands of precious lives. To this day, Iranians, despite our differences, are all proud of the eight years we spent defending our country. Losing so many lives was a terrible tragedy and the nation still mourns the lives lost during those eight years. However, we stood firm and saved our homeland. Iran is still Iran; we did not lose an inch of terrain.

Mr. President, in our lexicon, the one who starts a war is the only loser. The one who plans to steal the happiness, life, and wellbeing of others is the real loser.  

War is not our business, but negotiations and diplomacy are. War is not our purpose. Peace is our mission. Peace is our philosophy in life, and you are right, diplomacy is our art.

Iran has proven its mastery in the art of diplomacy. Diplomacy, forbearance and patience are inclinations that cannot be achieved by billions of dollars of weapons. The United States’ allies in the region, including Saudi’s Bin-Salman and Israel’s Bibi Netanhayu, can testify to that. They have spent many billions of dollars in arms sales but have not been able to dominate Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

Just be aware, Mr. President, that your friends on the #Bteam are pushing you into the same quagmire they created with Iraq. In desperation, they have now tied the hands of our master of diplomacy, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, by imposing sanctions on him. They should have learned their lesson by now—they might be able to ties the hands of our master chess players, but we will find other ways to move the pawns and horses. And a final word of advice: Don’t play checkers with the grandmasters of chess.

Sincerely,

Habib Ahmadzadeh

• First published by Common Dreams

Dear Moderators of the Presidential Debates

You mass media folks lead busy lives, I’m sure. But you must have heard something about nuclear weapons — those supremely destructive devices that, along with climate change, threaten the continued existence of the human race.

Yes, thanks to popular protest and carefully-crafted arms control and disarmament agreements, there has been some progress in limiting the number of these weapons and averting a nuclear holocaust.  Even so, that progress has been rapidly unraveling in recent months, leading to a new nuclear arms race and revived talk of nuclear war.

Do I exaggerate?  Consider the following.

In May 2018, the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the laboriously-constructed Iran nuclear agreement that had closed off the possibility of that nation developing nuclear weapons.  This U.S. treaty pullout was followed by the imposition of heavy U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, as well as by thinly-veiled threats by Trump to use nuclear weapons to destroy that country.  Irate at these moves, the Iranian government recently retaliated by exceeding the limits set by the shattered agreement on its uranium stockpile and uranium enrichment.

At the beginning of February 2019, the Trump administration announced that, in August, the U.S. government will withdraw from the Reagan era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty―the historic agreement that had banned U.S. and Russian ground-launched cruise missiles―and would proceed to develop such weapons.  On the following day, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that, in response, his government was suspending its observance of the treaty and would build the kinds of nuclear missiles that the INF treaty had outlawed.

The next nuclear disarmament agreement on the chopping block appears to be the 2010 New START Treaty, which reduces U.S. and Russian deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 each, limits U.S. and Russian nuclear delivery vehicles, and provides for extensive inspection.  According to John Bolton, Trump’s national security advisor, this fundamentally flawed treaty, scheduled to expire in February 2021, is “unlikely” to be extended.  To preserve such an agreement, he argued, would amount to “malpractice.”  If the treaty is allowed to expire, it would be the first time since 1972 that there would be no nuclear arms control agreement between Russia and the United States.

One other key international agreement, which President Clinton signed―but, thanks to Republican opposition, the U.S. Senate has never ratified―is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).  Adopted with great fanfare in 1996 and backed by nearly all the world’s nations, the CTBT bans nuclear weapons testing, a practice which has long served as a prerequisite for developing or upgrading nuclear arsenals.  Today, Bolton is reportedly pressing for the treaty to be removed from Senate consideration and “unsigned,” as a possible prelude to U.S. resumption of nuclear testing.

Nor, dear moderators, does it seem likely that any new agreements will replace the old ones.  The U.S. State Department’s Office of Strategic Stability and Deterrence Affairs, which handles U.S. arms control ventures, has been whittled down during the Trump years from 14 staff members to four.  As a result, a former staffer reported, the State Department is no longer “equipped” to pursue arms control negotiations.  Coincidentally, the U.S. and Russian governments, which possess approximately 93 percent of the world’s nearly 14,000 nuclear warheads, have abandoned negotiations over controlling or eliminating them for the first time since the 1950s.

Instead of honoring the commitment, under Article VI of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to pursue negotiations for “cessation of the nuclear arms race” and for “nuclear disarmament,” all nine nuclear powers are today modernizing their nuclear weapons production facilities and adding new, improved types of nuclear weapons to their arsenals.  Over the next 30 years, this nuclear buildup will cost the United States alone an estimated $1,700,000,000,000 — at least if it is not obliterated first in a nuclear holocaust.

Will the United States and other nations survive these escalating preparations for nuclear war?  That question might seem overwrought, dear moderators, but, in fact, the U.S. government and others are increasing the role that nuclear weapons play in their “national security” policies.  Trump’s glib threats of nuclear war against North Korea and Iran are paralleled by new administration plans to develop a low-yield ballistic missile, which arms control advocates fear will lower the threshold for nuclear war.

Confirming the new interest in nuclear warfare, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, in June 2019, posted a planning document on the Pentagon’s website with a more upbeat appraisal of nuclear war-fighting than seen for many years.  Declaring that “using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability,” the document approvingly quoted Herman Kahn, the Cold War nuclear theorist who had argued for “winnable” nuclear wars and had provided an inspiration for Stanley Kubrick’s satirical film, Dr. Strangelove.

Of course, most Americans are not pining for this kind of approach to nuclear weapons.  Indeed, a May 2019 opinion poll by the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland found that two-thirds of U.S. respondents favored remaining within the INF Treaty, 80 percent wanted to extend the New START Treaty, about 60 percent supported “phasing out” U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles, and 75 percent backed legislation requiring congressional approval before the president could order a nuclear attack.

Therefore, when it comes to presidential debates, dear moderators, don’t you―as stand-ins for the American people―think it might be worthwhile to ask the candidates some questions about U.S. preparations for nuclear war and how best to avert a global catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude?

I think these issues are important.  Don’t you?

Why Should Iran be Cherished and Defended?

As I pen this short essay, Iran is standing against the mightiest nation on earth. It is facing tremendous danger; of annihilation even, if the world does not wake up fast, and rush to its rescue.

Stunning Iranian cities are in danger, but above all, its people: proud and beautiful, creative, formed by one of the oldest and deepest cultures on earth.

This is a reminder to the world: Iran may be bombed, devastated and injured terribly, for absolutely no reason. I repeat: there is zero rational reason for attacking Iran.

Iran has never attacked anyone. It has done nothing bad to the United States, to the United Kingdom, or even to those countries that want to destroy it immediately: Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Its only ‘crime’ is that it helped devastated Syria. And that it seriously stands by Palestine. And that it came to the rescue of many far away nations, like Cuba and Venezuela, when they were in awful need.

I am trying to choose the simplest words. No need for pirouettes and intellectual exercises.

Thousands, millions of Iranians may soon die, simply because a psychopath who is currently occupying the White House wants to humiliate his predecessor, who signed the nuclear deal. This information was leaked by his own staff. This is not about who is a bigger gangster. It is about the horrible fact that antagonizing Iran has absolutely nothing to do with Iran itself.

*****

Which brings the question to my mind: in what world are we really living? Could this be tolerable? Can the world just stand by, idly, and watch how one of the greatest countries on earth gets violated by aggressive, brutal forces, without any justification?

I love Iran! I love its cinema, poetry, food. I love Teheran. And I love the Iranian people with their polite, educated flair. I love their thinkers. I don’t want anything bad to happen to them.

You know, you were, of course, never told by the Western media, but Iran is a socialist country. It professes a system that could be defined as “socialism with Iranian characteristics”. Like China, Iran is one of the most ancient nations on earth, and it is perfectly capable of creating and developing its own economic and social system.

Iran is an extremely successful nation. Despite the embargos and terrible intimidation from the West, it still sits at the threshold of the “Very high human development”, defined by UNDP; well above such darlings of the West as Ukraine, Colombia or Thailand.

It clearly has an internationalist spirit: it shows great solidarity with the countries that are being battered by Western imperialism, including those in Latin America.

*****

I have no religion. In Iran, most of the people do. They are Shi’a Muslims. So what? I do not insist that everyone thinks like me. And my Iranian friends, comrades, brothers and sisters have never insisted that I feel or think the same way as they do. They are not fanatics, and they do not make people who are not like them, feel excluded. We are different and yet so similar. We fight for a better world. We are internationalists. We respect each other. We respect others.

Iran does not want to conquer anyone. But when its friends are attacked, it offers a helping hand. Like to Syria.

In the past, it was colonized by the West, and its democratic government was overthrown, in 1953, simply because it wanted to use its natural resources for improving the lives of its people. The morbid dictatorship of Shah Pahlavi was installed from abroad. And then, later, again, a terrible war unleashed against Iran by Iraq, with the full and candid support of the West.

I promised to make this essay short. There is no time for long litanies. And, in fact, this is not really an essay at all: it is an appeal.

As this goes to print, many people in Iran are anxious. They do not understand what they have done to deserve this; the sanctions, the US aircraft carriers sailing near their shores, and deadly B-52s deployed only dozens of miles away.

Iranians are brave, proud people. If confronted, if attacked, they will fight. And they will die with dignity, if there is no other alternative.

But why? Why should they fight and why should they die?

Those of you, my readers, living in the West: Study; study quickly. Then ask this question to your government: “What is the reason for this terrible scenario?”

Rent Iranian films; they are everywhere, winning all festivals. Read Iranian poets. Go eat Iranian food. Search for images of both historic and modern Iranian cities. Look at the faces of the people. Do not allow this to happen. Do not permit psychopathic reasoning to ruin millions of lives.

There was no real reason for the wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. The West perpetrated the most terrible imperialist interventions, ruining entire nations.

But Iran – it all goes one step further. It’s a total lack of logic and accountability on the part of the West.

Here, I declare my full support to the people of Iran, and to the country that has been giving countless cultural treasures to the world, for millennia.

It is because I have doubts that if Iran is destroyed, the human race could survive.

First published by New Eastern Outlook (NEO)

Trump and Supporters: Paranoiacs Following Lee Atwater’s Racist Strategy

He has been glorified as a hero and obeyed as a ruler, but fundamentally he is always the same. His most fantastic triumphs have taken place in our own time, among people who set great store by the idea of humanity. He is not yet extinct, nor will he ever be until we have the strength to see him clearly, whatever disguise he assumes and whatever his halo of glory. The survivor is mankind’s worst evil, its curse and perhaps its doom. Is it possible to escape him, even now at this last moment?

— Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power, April 1 1984

[White] America’s conscience is bankrupt. She lost all conscience a long time ago. Uncle Sam has no conscience. They don’t know what morals are. They don’t try and eliminate an evil because it’s evil, or because it’s illegal, or because it’s immoral; they eliminate it only when it threatens their existence. So you’re wasting your time appealing to the moral conscience of a bankrupt man like Uncle Sam. If he had a conscience, he’d straighten this thing out with no more pressure being put upon him…And in my opinion, the young generation of whites, blacks, browns, whatever else there is, you’re living at a time of extremism, a time of revolution, a time when there’s got to be a change. People in power have misused it, and now there has to be a change and a better world has to be built, and the only way it’s going to be built—is with extreme methods. And I, for one, will join in with anyone—I don’t care what color you are—as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth.”

— Malcolm X, Oxford Union Debate, 1964

Canettii argues in his book that the most dangerous individual holding power is someone who views him/herself as a Survivor, or someone who can survive at the expense of others. Canetti notes that the Survivor, with access to nuclear weapons, can obliterate a hefty chunk of mankind. The President of the United States, as Commander in Chief, has the option to use those weapons presumably only under the most dire of circumstances. President Donald Trump’s proximity to the nuclear weapons trigger has been noted with trepidation by non-military observers from the beginning of his presidency and that matter is always lurking in the background, particularly as the US modernizes its Nuclear Triad. But the checks and balances in the use of the Nuclear Triad can’t be discounted as it is likely that military commanders would refuse to carry out Trump’s orders to use nukes even in spite of revised doctrine appearing to make it easier to do so.

The bigger problem, according to Canetti, is this:

Today, the survivor is himself afraid. He has always been afraid, but with his vast new potentialities his fear has grown too, until it is almost unendurable…The most unquestioned and therefore the most dangerous thing he does is to give commands.

Trump’s world is a paranoid one. His apologists and supporters are loons. How else to describe those that refuse to condemn, even approve, racist presidential behavior. Trump and his disciples act as if they have survived some horrific mentally debilitating event; or indeed, expect one in the form of a color shift in America’s complexion.

They fear the majority of the popular American electorate, they fear immigrants, they fear people of color, they fear LGBT’s, they fear government funded social programs, they fear the questioning of their beliefs, and they fear non-Christians—and that’s just for starters.

Didn’t evolution weed these viruses out decades ago?

Trump and his disciples view themselves as a persecuted minority and that’s dangerous because they really believe they are. The statistics, the demographics, show that Whites make up the largest chunk of the American population with Hispanics second at 18.3 percent and Blacks at 13.4 percent. Trump’s people are horrified at the prospect that America will turn a light tinge of brown, which it inevitably will, by the 2050s and beyond.

Making Amends with Corporation and the Financial Sector

Trump is Canetti’s Survivor, a hustler. He managed to gaming the legal and financial system to stay afloat, always getting rescued/supported by “his kind” for boneheaded business decisions and now for slashing US federal spending and regulations that protect the American public turning the US federal government into a bigger playground for corporations, businesses and interest groups (something corporations welcome with glee).

The Washington Post reported in 2016 that Trump declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy six times; four in the 1990s and two in the 2000s. In 2004, Trump’s Hotel and Casinos Resorts was $1.8 billion in debt and couldn’t meet its obligations.

So why do the corporate powerhouses of America stick with Trump even though he is a real estate swindler, racist and psychopath?

That’s simple.  He is a repaying the corporate/financial world back for robbing them of billions years ago by giving them trillions now. He, and his Republican/Democrat apologists in the US Congress, slashed corporate/business tax rates, and they are now pillaging federal programs like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) for budget cuts or elimination, ostensibly to save American taxpayers some money. Trump wants to drop 3.1 million people from SNAP.

It is the same story at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the publication Mother Jones:

On Wednesday [July 18], the United States Environmental Protection Agency doubled down on one of the most controversial environmental deregulation moves of the Trump presidency…the EPA reaffirmed its 2017 decision to reject a proposal from the agency’s own scientists to ban an insecticide called chlorpyrifos that farmers use on a wide variety of crops, including corn, soybeans, fruit and nut trees, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, broccoli, and cauliflower.

And why would Trump be interested in chlorpyrifos that has been shown to be detrimental to children’s brain development? “Dow AgroSciences’ parent company, Dow Chemical, has also been buttering up Trump. The company contributed $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee…the administration has approved the Dow-Dupont merger, and named several former Dow execs to high posts within the US Department of Agriculture,” Mother Jones reported.

Just so.

Trump’s Supporters: Theory of Evolution Apologizes Profusely

Trump lands uppercuts and left hooks to the American body politic and culture by ignorant Tweets that stoke racial tensions and non-partisanship.

Just how does a racist grifter, who tells four democratic congresswomen—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, Ilhan Omar, D-MN, Ayanna Pressley, D-MA,  and Rashida Tlaib, D-MI, to go back to their “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” manage to win the support of millions of Americans and bump up Trump’s poll numbers? Or why did 187 US House members vote not to condemn Trump’s beliefs?

According to Pew Research, polling results for the 2016 election indicate that “Among the much larger group of white voters who had not completed college (44% of all voters), Trump won by more than two-to-one (64% to 28%)…Trump had an advantage among 50-to 64-year-old voters (51% to 45%) and those 65 and older (53% to 44%).”

And it is not just those who have not completed college or even attended college who are party of Trump’s looney bin. Wealthy “smart” Republicans are part of the evolutionary mishap, as well.  Republican CEOs side with Trump because he is helping them increase profit margins, shareholder dividends, and stock buybacks. What’s all the fuss about a President of the United States who is both a racist and pro-business? It is, after all, just another write-off for the books.

According to a paper titled The Politics of CEO’s:

We use Federal Election Commission (FEC) records to put together a comprehensive database of the political contributions made by over 3,500 individuals who served as CEOs of S&P 1500 companies during the period 2000-2017.We find that these political contributions display substantial partisan preferences in support of Republican candidates.To highlight the significance of CEO’s partisan preferences for some corporate decisions, we show that public companies led by Republican CEOs tend to be less transparent to investors with respect to their political spending.

Senate and House Republicans, morally bankrupt to the core, are marching to the beat of a racist drummer.

Democrats: Remember Your Ugly History

The Democrats don’t get a pass on racial issues. There’s a lot for them to answer for as well.

Writing in The Hill, Burgess Owens notes that:

As a party with a history of pro-slavery, pro-secession, pro-segregation and pro-socialism, the Democratic Party has also been the party that has politically controlled urban black America for over 60 years. Predominantly black communities in many cities today are mired in poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, crime and hopelessness. The Democratic Party has never apologized for its past, nor has it attempted to atone for its present failures.

Instead, it has skillfully used the art of bait-and-switch. Millions of Americans are convinced that somehow in the 1960s there was a wholesale transition of the Democratic Party’s two-centuries-old hatred of black people to the policies of the anti-slavery, anti-secession, anti-segregation and pro-God Republican Party. Only in a vacuum void of common sense, critical-thinking skills and true American history could such logic survive.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater, known for his brutal, but successful, campaigning for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, commented on flipping the Southern United States from racist Dixiecrats (Democrats) to, well, racist Republicans. Gone were the days of vulgar racist comments by Whites, and in came the days of using coded terms for racist policies.

In an interview with Atwater for a book on Southern party politics in 1981, while employed by the Reagan Administration,  Atwater was asked this:

But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to the [George] Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

Atwater responded:

Y’all don’t quote me on this. You start out in 1954 by saying…By 1968 you can’t say…that hurts you. Backfires.  You say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this”, is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than… So, any way you look at it, race is coming on the backbone.

And the beat goes on 38 years later.

Not All Whites

Many Whites have stood on the ramparts with people of color and other minorities to fight for equal rights and liberties. White judges and politicians have rendered decisions or passed legislation to turn the tide against racism in the USA. I’m not guilty of my Whiteness as I argued in (Dissident Voice, 2015).

I know of no one, young or old, that likes to be pigeon-holed no matter their color, immigrant status, or their ethnic background. No one wins this type of blame game except the racists in Trump’s camp who fan the flames of fear or those who mock the individuality of each human being.

So why are there racists out there in the open, in the White House, Congress, corporations and the voting public? What can be done about it?

I posed that question in 2015.  I mean, should I attribute the sins of the world to Whiteness? Or should I conclude that the Species itself and the dominant economic and ruling methodology of Capitalism combine to make the “demon” that Ta-Nehisi Coates refers to and the “system” that Malcolm X wants us all to change: That American system, born largely of the British, Roman and Greek Systems, that relies on absurd contradictions and irony. A system that makes those from NWA and Straight Out of Compton, with all the female bashing lyrics, now part of the One Percent elite of corporate America; or the principals of the George W. Bush Administration clearly guilty of war crimes still cashing in on public office; or the poor and largely Black people that can’t make $500 bail and waste away in jail; or the White miners in West Virginia killed because the mining company ignored safety rules and is found not guilty of negligence on a legal technicality; or the citizens of Detroit City denied, by a lone judge, the right to clean drinking water.

And what should I make of an American society that does not care about corporate surveillance (for profit) and government monitoring of all forms of communication (to maintain security and stability for the corporations to make profits)? Where were the White Rockers, Black Rappers, and Country Music stars when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raged on or the beach head for the corporate and government’s invasion of privacy was the home?

They, all of them, were co-opted by a political, economic and cultural system we deny every day but in which we also live, procreate, operate and profit. With all of our complaints, we don’t have a functional alternative to offer. The ballot-box provides no remedy. Presidential and Congressional elections are polluted by money and interests, foreign and domestic, over which voters have no control. Politicians are bought and sold like horses prior to a race.

I don’t think I’m White.  I think I am a human being.  I don’t know what it is like to be rich and in the top 20 percent of money makers in the USA.  I know that I’m color-labeled as White and class-labeled as Middle by the identity and false consciousness hunters that roam the American landscape.

I know I agree with Dave Chappelle, famed comedian with $10 million in the bank, who is labeled as Black and Wealthy. But I’m not a smart guy and I think that he is a human being and really funny guy with great observations of the human condition. I think that way of George Carlin, Chris Rock and the late Robin Williams. According to Chappelle “I support anyone’s right to be who they want to be. My question is: To what extent do I have to participate in your self-image?”

I don’t want to participate in the self-image, the evolutionary mishap, that is President Donald Trump, his apologists and his supporters. I also don’t want to deal with duplicitous Democrats who always seem ready to enable Trump’s foolishness.

It seems to me there is no vocal, turbulent opposition to the madness that permeates the United States of America these days. Who inspires any longer? Who can compromise?

Who will fight?