Caitlin Johnstone and Other Stuff

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, ), 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.

Caitlin Johnstone –

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 …

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How Many Times … ?

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. 


Susan M. Collins
United States Senator

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 …

Most sincerely,

Steve Church


This is the kind of stuff we have to put up with. I find it incredibly boring. And dangerous.

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Moral Injury

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,, 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.

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One Last Taste of Freedom

What kind of world are we living in ? For eight months of the year I live in a hamlet of some forty registered voters and some fifteen kids. As far as I know, there are three farmers, a mason, a nurse’s aide, an electrician, a teacher, a leather worker, two social workers of some sort, the family who rents the upstairs of city hall (job(s) unknown), a young divorcée, and four retirees, five, including me. Or six, if you include the asshole who lives just to the east of us across the road, who has, even though he’s an asshole, a beautiful garden. He showed it to me maybe six or seven years ago before I started taking care of his cat who he more or less abandoned and then got all pissed off when I told him his cat (who had more or less taken up residence with us) had come down with an infection and did he have the number of a veterinarian, did he even know that his cat was not well ? He told me to fuck off, to mind my own business.

One of the interesting things about that incident, now that I think about it, is that it represents, in a scaled down kind of way, the capitalist ethic. He acquires a cat (somehow, we don’t know) most probably to try and control the mouse problem that is so common in an agricultural setting where everything is built of stones and certainly not hermetic. Kind of like the factory owner who hires workers, and then, when they become ill or disabled, fires them and puts the care of the worker in the hands of the public who may or may not give a shit. In any case, the cat owner, like the factory owner, feels no responsibility or social conscience for someone who was providing him a) with an income, or b) with a service. Privatized profit, socialized costs.

We, of course, assumed the responsibility of seeing that the cat got the care he needed. It’s a long story (even kind of funny), but he ended up being sent to Paris to be treated for a cancerous tumor on his right flank. So, there are still some good people in this world.

And that brings me back to the original question. The small, incidental world that took care of Croc (my name for him because he tended to bite and scratch if you bothered him too much, although he was in the process of claming down), exists. It’s a matter of generalizing that ethic, that sense of uninterested care and community that, somehow, needs to be developed. Or rediscovered.

A lot of people are claiming that « social media » is somehow going to bring us together, to save us from the calamities of continuous war, environmental destruction. Two of the biggest questions of our times. I don’t see that happening.

What I see happening is the infantalization of way too many people via all the electronic diversions now available. They’re not talking to one another directly, they’re somewhere else, comforting themselves in some narcissistic nether world, or in anguish because someone didn’t « like » them on some social media channel. And all of this done at distance, as if some electronic god was giving each of them a thumb up or down. Rather than having a real conversation with the person sitting beside you on the train or the Metro, for example.

Electricity, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. There are many ways of producing it and many ways of using it. It’s just that the ends to which it being put to use these days may not be in our overall interests.

It’s not that I’m against « spreading the word » that something is going down. But what is the hurry ? The problems we’re facing today are not new, nor are they « news » for anyone who has a sense of history. This shit’s been going probably since before the wheel was invented.

Or maybe it’s just that I never believed in the corporate way of looking at things. I could have, since our family had a booming construction materials business. Maybe it was because my degree was in the liberal arts rather than business administration that I was considered somehow inept or subversive because I pleaded for organic development, self-sustaining communities (we were into real estate, as well), rather than those anonymous subdivisions that have destroyed the landscape, the environment, and the long term economy of the US. Plus, I thought two weeks of vacation was criminally not enough, since my father took off when he felt like it.

I lasted maybe six months, turned my back on all that and ended up working ranches in Wyoming and Montana, just to get all the frustration out of my system, to get out into the clean air of the Rockies, bend my body to the exigencies of the seasons, the lazy days of irrigation, the intense efforts of harvest, the celebratory end of season, the slow, steady winter fencing. Working with people who, to me, were mythical and monosyllabic. Who had more humor in the wink of an eye or a simple glance than a year’s worth of Comedy Central (as I was later to learn). And more authentic. More heartfelt. Less denigrating.

The last time around, at shipping season, Jackson plead my case for joining the crew up mountain, on the Continental Divide, where we herded and fed beef and sheep before loading them up for the west coast. The boss decided otherwise, and I decided to tarp over the back of my ’49 Chevy pickup and head back to my books, banging the steering wheel all the way down our branch of the Ruby to Alder, where I spent a few weeks drinking and supposedly hunting with my brand new 30-06 with the guy who talked me into buying the rifle down in Twin Bridges in the first place. First day out, I got a good sized deer from a decent distance, called it quits, refusing to shoot anything but inanimate shit. We ate the deer with the regulars at the bar just before I left, with a crushing hangover, and no idea where my rifle was. Couldn’t have cared less. I was heading east and had an uneasy feeling about going that way. My only comfort being the little straight six sitting right in front of me, clicking away like a clock, and the bottle of Jim Beam on the seat next to me, and the immensity of the slow slide down to the Missouri, where I bathed one early morning, amongst tree trunks and large stones, oblivious to the cold, giving my body one last taste of freedom.


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Maybe It’s Too Early. Or Too Late. Konstantakopoulos

I’m not sure where to start since I came across some of these links about five this morning, my normal wake up time these days, and some of them date from earlier, maybe not so random, internet archaeology.

I figure I might as well start at the top. Whitney’s review of Kovalik’s new book is almost an incitement not to buy it. Not because he pans it, but because, as reviewed, the book adds nothing that hasn’t been written about before. What the book does leave out is any discussion of the OSS’s (the outfit that spawned the CIA) concerted efforts to create the European Union (EU) and their wonderful little stay behind terrorist organizations huddled under the the cover of Operation Gladio (a continuation of the age old false flag gambit) to ensure that any truly Left-leaning Europpean political movement was discredited. So, as much as I prefer books to the internet, I don’t think I’ll be purchasing this one.

Speaking of books, here’s a strange story. I was offered, via email, a free Kindle copy of a recently published book. Since I don’t do Kindle or Facebook or Amazon or a lot of other (a)social media, as most of them fall under my personal BDS movement, I wrote the author proposing cash for a copy on a USB key or even a real copy that he surely had lying around. Or even a barter deal, my memoires for his book, though I explained that said memoires were still not quite finished. I got back a blow-off saying it would be simpler if I just ordered the book from a book store. My reaction ? Great alternative solidarity, and I’ll pass on your book. Typical Western lose-lose situation.

So next on the list is Macron’s election to the French presidency. An absolute disaster for everyone in France but for the oligarchs and their butt boys. Skip down to the the Johnstone piece for a bit of nuance and perhaps wishful thinking. She always thinks outside the box, and with her friend Jean Bricmont, are considered oddities, even dangerous, by the traditional, caviar Left (see the Proyect link).

As for Manchester, from my point of view, Pilger’s pretty much spot on, but stresses the security measures more than I would expect from him. You want security ? Don’t go shoving bayonets up the ass of a head of state !

Alas, imperialism is still alive and well, and everyone but the very few suffer for it.

Trump ? The Democrats ? Most of the world (outside the EU and other various pet states) is either cringing in embarrassment or laughing, and saying, « American exceptionalism ? If only we could keep it within its borders ! »

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Binary Solutions: Why Is The Left So Stupid?

The Le Pen – Macron contest for France’s presidency didn’t have to be like this : yet another choice between the lesser of two bad choices. You’d think the French, having witnessed the disaster of the US election, would have thought twice about allowing themselves to be Judas-Goated into such an electoral slaughterhouse. But they did.

And they didn’t get any help from any of the assorted Left or Alternative party leaders who decided, for reasons unknown (or maybe not, see below), not to combine their ideas and numbers into a solid, reasoned coalition to offer a real alternative to the media-driven joke of an election in which they have placed themselves as the ultimate losers.

Macron convinced fewer than 24% during the first round. Had Mélenchon and the rest of the outsiders, who all had, to a varying degree, relatively progressive and not incompatible ideas on most everything, been able to set aside their personal agendas, their egos, or whatever else goes on in the minds of people who decide to enter politics – especially a presidential election – , they could have easily found themselves in the second, and final round. And, as far as I’m concerned, a very good chance of winning.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out this kind of behavior, when I wasn’t reading Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s Leonardo’s Bicycle – a must read – or listening to the reasoned exasperation of my son-in-law on the same subject, when I came across, by chance, this morning, the following article :

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity, written by Carlos M Cipolla way back in the mid 70s. I urge anyone who’s confounded by what’s going on these days to read it, but here are the Five Basic Laws :

  1. Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
  2. The probability that a certain person (will) be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.
  3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.
  4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.
  5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

Corollary: a stupid person is more dangerous than a pillager.

  • (from the same Wikipedia page).

There are those who will probably object that this kind of « science » is not humane, doesn’t take into consideration all of the aléas of the human experience, that it’s too snarky, too condescending, or even too eugenecist somehow. If that’s the case, leave a comment. Or not.

As Richard Moser once wrote to me : «  … I take a synthetic approach and like to have a lot to think about … ».

It’s time we get out of the Binary Box.

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Empire Abroad. Empire at Home.

Source: Empire Abroad. Empire at Home.

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