Source: Not My Brother’s Reefer
Vaska on Berned! Jason W. Smith, Ph.D… on A Newsletter from my Sena…
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You’ll be amazed at how little we have to say about you …
While I agree with Missy Beatty, who has cried “Uncle”, and that, as far as I’m concerned, the cat fights on Cpunch over the Caitlin Johnstone teapot tempest have gone on far too long due to courtside lefties not wanting to share their seats with the rabble, I flashed on the phrase above as indicative of the que dit-on, the “what will they think?” narcissistic character of much of what passes for information sharing on social media these days.
Maybe because I’ve never used stuff like FB and Twitter (I signed up to FB today in order to congratulate Greg Barrett on his CP piece – and will shortly unsign up – because he’s walled himself off in FB land, but couldn’t figure out how to add a comment, didn’t want to spend the time to know, and, in the end, figured that anyone who spends more time listening to, and try to communicate with barn owls than surfing social media sites probably couldn’t have anything pertinent to say).
Anyone living in the US, or any of its vassal states worldwide, who can’t, or don’t want to believe that the US is a pretty messed up place are going to have to get used to being treated like the idiots they are, and if they don’t like it, tough shit. Trying to defend anything associated with the largest criminal enterprise in history to anyone who has a passing acquaintance with stuff called empathy, solidarity, and all those other compassionate qualities will get you a tirade like Ms Johnstone’s or a shrug of the shoulders from someone like me, unless you’re interested in something more than being worried about how you’re being seen.
Which brings me back to my original point, which was something about the que dit-on syndrome and how all this instantaneous, multi-platform chatter totally turns me off. Which probably won’t make a hill of beans of difference to y’all out there in the virtuo-sphere, and I could care less. Good night and good luck. I’m going to walk up the road and talk with a neighbor. It’a a lovely evening.
25 juillet 2017
On Oligarchs and Lords
“We don’t have oligarchs. We have lords like they have in Britain”.
-Fragment of a conversation with a Norwegian
Well, I thought to myself, that pretty much says it all. I guess if he says there is a difference (somehow), there must be one. Memories of Rovian “reality creation” came to mind. I was momentarily speechless in front of this heavily tattooed young man, a pure product of modern Norway’s democratic socialism, and here he was defending the originators of The Enclosure Act as somehow being what, exactly, more benevolent than the predators of global capitalism?
He was aghast at the thought that I considered Obama a fascist, and went off on a rant, explaining it was Putin who was the fascist, putting only unfriendly oligarchs in prison, while giving a free pass to the oligarchs who supported him; who was seizing Norwegian fishing boats; who was ordering his Air Force to fly along the Norwegian coast; who was planning to attack Norway; whose Orthodox Patriarch was against contraception and gay marriage, and, and …
I could see where all this was going and reckoned that I might be dealing with either a severe case of cognitive dissonance (a phenomenon that maybe takes up too much of my time, but that I encounter way too often), or that I had drunk too much Russian kool aid (or whatever it’s called). I mean, I’m open to all kinds of interpretations as to what’s going on these days, but when I’m confronted with an all too familiar so-called argument that seems to have come straight from DNC/NeoCon/MSM central, I tend to be a little wary. To say the least.
People seem to have this Bernie Sanders/Michael Moore idea that everything is perfect in Scandanavia, but those arguments propose something out of context, in the sense that the Nordic countries are tiny compared to the US, much more wealthy per capita (in spite of the high taxes, which we used to have in the US), resulting in a kind of false equivalency. The generous benefits enjoyed by the Norwegians, for example, result from the convenient discovery of a lot oil in their territorial waters. Otherwise, they might still be a second tier country of fish and potato eaters, watching their once proud merchant marine being undercut by flags of convenience.
And in that sense, their wealth is based upon the continued consumption of oil of which, per capita, they have rather a lot. Which leads us to the following conclusion: the Norwegian social contract model is based upon one of the things that is killing the planet.
They can vaunt their cocooned lives all they want, but when it’s based on ecocide, along with obedience to US belligerance worldwide, I tend to get kind of upset.
Or really confused?
21 juillet 2017
Caitlin Johnstone and Other Stuff
I’ve only recently become aware of “The Caitlin Johnstone Controversy” due to recent pieces on CounterPunch (need link). I’m pretty sure I had read a piece or two by Caitlin Johnstone somewhere (not to be confused with Diana Johnstone, but more about this later), and found myself thinking that, in spite of what I consider a bit over the top kind of rhetoric, yeah, I tend to agree with her.
Except for her recent pieces about John McCain’s health situation, which I find rather ghoulish ( you can read them on her Medium page, medium.com/@caityjohnstone ), insensitive, and adolescent. One commenter made the point that McCain’s long career in DC was possible because the people in Arizona kept re-electing him, just as the rest of the US has continually elected presidents, senators, congresspeople, all the way down to city council members who are basically unfit for the job.
In other words, McCain isn’t solely responsible for the ravages of US foreign policy. An insane warmonger, for sure, but totally representative of the history of US predatory, warmongering behavior. If the people of the US are tired of war, socio-economic inequality, and all the rest, then it’s up to them to do what they can to change that. And Johnstone’s ideas about bridging the gaps, purposefully constructed by the elites, between what are identified as the extreme left and extreme right is a step in the right direction, a step feared by those currently in power.
So when a relatively trusted left-leaning site, such as CounterPunch, attacks her because she has colored outside the lines of permitted lefty discourse, it gives me the impression that there’s some serious gatekeeping going on, and that’s the last thing we need.
Those of us who live in vassal states of the US actually have more of a right to comment on American politics than any American has, because it’s all we get. At least US citizens get a fake vote that they can throw away in their pretend elections; we don’t even get to have that. So I’m going to go right on ahead and keep writing about US politics, thank you very much. If anyone has a problem with this, don’t tell people like me to shut up, tell the plutocrats who rule your country to stop screwing us over. You’ll be amazed at how little we have to say about you once you stop dragging us into idiotic wars and manipulating our lives.
The only thing she forgot to mention is they probably have their own pretend elections down where she lives, and she probably shouldn’t be blaming the US for “everything” that goes wrong down under.
To be continued …
It bears repeating every day: Russia did not, repeat, did not invade the Ukraine. Nor did it forcibly “annex” the Crimea. I suggest making a copy of the above-linked short article, taking it to your local print/copy shop, and have it blown up to poster size, and tape it to the front of your fridge or the inside of your bathroom door to remind you, on a daily basis, that the mainstream media (MSM) is not telling you the truth about this situation. Or much of anything else, for that matter.
And if you’re not sure where these places are located, go to your local library (if one still exists where you live) and ask to see a map. If that’s not possible, for one reason or another, use the computer with which you’re reading this and search for them on the internet.
Just because the New York Times says something does not mean it’s true. You can probably trust the sports scores and the obituaries because they can’t put a spin on those kinds things. But for the rest …
You might also want to consider on a daily basis, as well, what people like Karl Rove thought about “reality”. The entire page is worth exploring, but here’s the money quote:
The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” He continued “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
It’s as true today as it was way back in 2004. And pretty much as far back in history as you care to look.
If you’re wondering why things are so fucked up, it’s because the psychopaths (and their faithful “little Eichmanns”) who run things couldn’t give a rat’s ass (and never have) about the 99.99% (run the nines out as far as you want) of the rest of us who have to deal with our crumbling infrastrutures, the poisoned air, water, and food, the constant wars, and all the rest. The list is a long one, as I’m sure you know.
And I reckon that the few people who stop by here probably agree with most of what I have just said, that I’m singing to the choir, that what I may think about all this is just a regurgitation of other like-minded blogs and alternative news sites. And they’re correct. This is not news. Or, at the least, it shouldn’t be.
The problem is that the message doesn’t seem to be getting outside of our own little echo chamber. There are tons of sites offering strategies on how to change things, lots of them with their own agendas of whatever sort. But lots of them seem to stop at the limits of those agendas, as if to say that if you’re not 100% with us, then you’re somehow against us.
This kind of thing will get us nowhere. This binary kind of thinking is not what’s going to solve the problems we’re facing.
For example “nationlism” does not necessarily mean “racism”. That’s what the MSM wants you to believe, because any kind of true nationalism goes against the neocon agenda of free movement of capital and cheap labor in order to increase profit. In order to put you or me in competition with a lesser paid laborer of whatever sort from somewhere else.
Personally, I’ve got nothing against anyone who could underbid me for whatever. If it’s an honest offer. If there’s no kind of disloyal subsidy behind it. If a group of immigrants (or whoever else) wants to get together and undercut a certain labor market for a long term share of whatever market, why should I object? If they’re doing it on their own, sharing the short term privations that go along with trying to grow a business, then I consider that perfectly understandable. As long as the playing field is level. More on this later.
This just in. I happened to look at my email and this is what I found:
July 10, 2017
Mr. Steve Church
Eastport, ME 04631-1632
Dear Mr. Church,
Thank you for contacting me to express your views regarding the April 2017 U.S. missile strike in Syria. I appreciate your taking the time to do so.
The cruise missile strikes against Al Shayrat airfield in western Syria were an appropriate response to the horrific chemical attacks perpetrated by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Our military action was both justified and proportional, and delivered an important message to both Syria and Russia that the United States will not tolerate Assad’s continued use of chemical weapons. The diplomatic agreement brokered by Russia in 2013 required the destruction of all of Syria’s chemical weapons, and that agreement did not come with an expiration date. I commend the President and his national security team for this decisive response to Assad’s appalling and indiscriminate attack against his own people, and I am grateful for each of the members of our armed forces who executed the strike.
I agree with those who express the necessity of congressional oversight of the executive branch, which is why I stated publicly that the President must consult with Congress if he is planning further military action. The Administration’s decision to conduct this missile strike, however, was a swift and justifiable response to the despicable use of illegal chemical weapons.
Should Congress deliberate further military action in Syria, I will keep your views in mind. Again, thank you for contacting me.
P.S. If you would like to receive weekly updates about my work on behalf of Maine in the United States Senate, you can subscribe to my e-newsletter by clicking here.
And this is what I said in reply.
Dear Senator Collins,
Thank you, I guess, for your generic, boilerplate response.
With all due respect, you sound like Karl Rove, or one his underlings, who explained to Ron Suskind that we’re an empire now, and we create our own reality … I hope you are familiar with that particular quote. If not, I’ll provide it.
There is no proof, whatsoever, that the Syrian government used chemical weapons of any sort. Or ever has, for that matter. As Seymour Hersh has reported, the bombing of the building released some chlorine and other agricultural products that, yes, may have affected some of the local population, but had nothing to do with the use of any kind of « chemical » weapon on the part of the Syrian government, not the Syrian « regime ».
Your response is typical of just another brain dead generation of political wannabes, hangers-on, « little Eichmanns » in service to the current « regime » pulling the strings in DC. I find that incredibly disappointing.
On the other hand, we get the regime we deserve. You can do all the « happy face » meetings you want with constituents who think it’s really cool to have a photo op with you. That won’t change anything in the long run. And you know it. It may fool some of the people, some of the time …
This is the kind of stuff we have to put up with. I find it incredibly boring. And dangerous.
Paul Street, over on Cpunch the other day, asked this question:
Why shouldn’t other nations try to impact U.S. politics by any means possible? Washington and Wall Street exercise powerful influence on life and politics in other nations whose people never have a say in U.S. policy. The United States’ outsized and deadly Superpower role (responsible for many millions of deaths around the world since 1945) means that other nations (Russia is certainly no exception) have a vested interest in the U.S. political process.
Given that the US has been constantly interfering in the affairs of other countries pretty much since its inception, that sounds like a reasonable question and assumption. But that doesn’t take into consideration Mr Putin’s calm answer to the journalists who constantly ask him about his country’s “alleged, so-called” interference in our most recent election. Distilled from various interviews and videos I’ve seen, he has basically said that Russia has no need to interfere, since Russia pretty much understands that politicians and presidents in the US come and go, but the basic policies, which Russia understands, never really change. Why bother to interfere? Does anyone seriously think that Putin was fooled by any of the campaign rhetoric (lies) of the two least liked (and right up there in the least capable category, as well) presidential candidates in history?
I think what Putin was trying to get across is the idea the he recognizes an oligarchy when he sees one, and one can’t find fault with that, given that that was the state of affairs (not without a fair amount of help – interference – by the US) in his own country when he was elected President. And unspoken as well is what I can imagine to be Russia’s collective eyeball rolling as they watch the US destroy itself through the manic antics of its idiotic governing class. No need to meddle, he can just sit back and watch it all crumble, just as the public infrastructure, as opposed to the private, is crumbling at this very moment.
There was a popular joke told in Russia after Putin returned from a visit with Obama. “Playing chess with Obama is like playing chess with a rooster. He crows a lot, knocks over all the pieces, shits all over the board, and claims victory”. Whether this anecdote is true or not is beside the point. It demonstrates a finesse of observation and humor hardly ever seen in the US political or media classes. Another one relates how Moscow prefers to let the US media broadcast freely in Russia to allow the public to see just how infantile it all is, have a laugh, and go back to rebuilding their society.
On the other hand, gathering information on an adversary (spying), has been around probably as long as there have adversarial relationships which, sad to say, seems to have been around forever.
And then there’s the obvious reaction to the fact of spying: counter-spying, or counter-espionage, or trying to figure out who or what is doing the spying in the first place. And one of classic means of doing that is to produce credible, but slightly false and ultimately useless, information and try to see how it gets to the adversary. Again, this is classic intra-state behavior, understood by both sides.
Compared with a more or less overt violent overthrow of a government by a foreign entity (as American as bank fraud), illegal by international law, spying could be considered downright civilized. Problem is, it’s still adversarial.
Ultimately, Karl Rove’s “reality creation” fantasy could very well come back to haunt him. It may work on a gullible public or the presstitute class, but its effect internationally is in decline. The “American Dream”, whether of NeoCon or Disney manufacture, is being recognized for what it is: a nightmare. Reminds me of another anecdote, this one concerning the reactions of East Germans who, after having a taste of the flash and baubles of the West, remarked, “Is that all there is?” The observation was correct. They recognized the West for what it is: all form and no content.
When you spend your time cobbling together a false reality ( propagandizing ), what you’re essentially doing is circumscribing imginative thought, a kind of mental Enclosure Act, and you have to spend your time and energy running around repairing all those virtual fences. A kind of industrial feedlot of the mind, and I’m sure you’re aware of the conditions in a feedlot. Vegetarians and Vegans have a point.
In a sense, the expansion of American hegemony physically has resulted in the contraction of its intellectual abilities. The US has around a thousand military bases, of whatever size, spread over the face of the planet in order to impose its “values”, but can’t (or most likely, chooses not to) educate its own people. Aside from a few research universities, funded mostly by military interests and attended by elitist wannabes, the principal job of American higher education is to distract, indebt, or serve, as in the case of the Ivy League and a few others, as a clearinghouse for future “little Eichmanns”, so necessary for the continuance of Empire.
For example, Obama did Harvard Law (a kind of oxymoron), and what did this enlightened instution provide us? A self-confessed murderer. “Turns out I’m pretty good at killing people”. La Clinton got a law degree from one of those revered East Coast intellectual hothouses and was giddy with Gadaffi’s murder. Of course she couldn’t pass the New York bar exam, but was elected senator anyway. Very discerning, those New Yorkers.
So we have a murderer President selecting a failed lawyer as Secretary of State who speaks no known foreign languages and who lies about being greeted by a “hail of bullets”, and just about everything else. Great education system. “We’re Number One!” You can chant that all you want, it still doesn’t make it true.
Unless you want to count the status of the US as the number one terrorist/criminal outfit in the world that reserves the right to threaten/incarcerate/kill anyone who in any way obstructs its psychpathic need to pillage the planet for profit or disfigure its gated communities by simply being there. The US is probably number one in producing ignorant politicians, as well. And probably the most ignorant electorate. Included in that category could be the majority of the minority of French voters who recently elected their “Jupiterian” president.
In any case, the American Department of State, supposedly tasked with diplomatic matters, in other words, promoting conversations with other countries, has instead been sending large campaign contributors or “friends of, or sons and daughters of” to the outposts of Empire where they know nothing of the country to which they are sent nor are they likely to have familiarity with the local language, with the mandate to cultivate the local English-speaking elite and instruct them in the best ways to surpress any form of self-government. Were they to somehow develop a sense of empathy, of understanding of the countries assigned to them, in other words, to “go native”, and propose a relationship, shall we say, less dictatorial, they’d probably be replaced asap by someone, again, a little less comprehensive, a little more obedient to the contempt with which “the other” is considered.
This insistence on obedience to predatory behavior will, in spite of a worldwide military presence, begin shrinking Empire’s array of options. Trying to “create reality” with a never-ending supply of stupidity can only end badly for those responsible for it.
Note. In an article I just came across, https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/07/05/the-invisible-wound-of-empire/, Nozomi Hayase has this to say.
Clinical psychiatrist, Jonathan Shay identified this war’s invisible scar manifested in combat veterans’ prolonged suffering. Calling it “moral injury”, he defined it as “betrayal of what is right by someone who holds legitimate authority in a high stake situation”. Shay describes how, when individuals are inflicted with this injury, their character begins to change, such that one’s social and moral horizon shrinks and they lose capacity to care for others.
While the cited article above is a discussion of Peter Van Buren’s recent book, Hooper’s War, the Shay citation describes in clinical terms what I was trying to lay out in layman’s terms. The bit about “… one’s social and moral horizon shrinks …” is exactly what is happening both in the general population and, more tragically, more emphatically (though to those who have a sense of history, this is definitely not news), in our political classes and their capitalist masters.
As to the “legitimate authority” Shay refers to, I would suggest, given the bought-and-paid-for state of affairs in which our so-called democracy finds itself, that we question said legitimacy.
I once referred to the young, rootless ( “European”, as opposed to British, French, Dutch, German, or Swiss, et al ) traders ( a fair portion of whom – possibly a majority – voted “Remain” in the Brexit vote ) migrating to the City of London to catch whatever commission crumbs fell from the tables of the criminal financial CEOs as “keyboard mercenaries”, not much different from the private military services provided by mercenaries like Eric Prince. I’m pretty certain a lot of those folks didn’t especially appreciate my comparison (especially because they consider themselve, somehow, progressive, left-leaning, even as they rip off billions every day in the service of Capital), but I think that Shay’s above-cited assessment of the situation is pretty accurate, and applies to all “little Eichmanns” (h/t Ward Churchill) working, in some form or another, for Empire.
The important thing in all this is the idea that when you give yourself up to power rather than peace, when obedience takes precedence over imagination, your social and moral horizon shrinks, and you become “invisibly wounded”, you become less of yourself. A pretty good description of the people running things in the US, and the West, in general. Morally and spiritually bottomless vessels, human black holes, whose appetite will never be satisfied until it swallows itself.
An image from the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine comes to mind.