Softpanorama

May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

Deception as an art form

News Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Recommended Links Diplomacy by deception Neoliberal war on reality or the importance of controlling the narrative Bait and Switch
 Very Serious People Leo Straus as the godfather of neocons Mayberry Machiavellians Machiavellism False flag operations as an important part of demonization of the enemy strategy Noble Lie
Pollyanna creep Machiavellians Manipulators Tricks Love bombing Groupthink Belief-coercion in high demand cults Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair
"Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Corruption of Regulators Cognitive Regulatory Capture Revolving Doors as Corruption
Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Lesser evil trick of legitimizing a disastrous, corrupt neoliberal politicians in US elections Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite Pluralism as a myth  Terrorism as a smokesreen for National Security State implementation Charlie Hebdo - more questions then answers
American Exceptionalism as Civil Religion Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Anatol Leiven on American Messianism New American Militarism Humor Etc

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

1984

"Hollywood no longer depicts reporters
in ruthless pursuit of criminals, high and low.
Now they are the criminals."

Frank Rich So Much for ’The Front Page’
NYT, November 2, 2003

"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."
--A. J. Liebling, writer (1904 - 1963)

Truth is the most precious thing. That's why we should ration it.
Vladimir Lenin

“Gentlemen, I am ready for the questions to my answers.”

- Charles de Gaulle,
at the beginning of the press conference,
wryly alluding to the staged nature of such events.

"The truth is that the newspaper is not a place for information to be given,
 rather it is just hollow content, or more than that, a provoker of content.
If it prints lies about atrocities, real atrocities are the result."

Karl Kraus, 1914

“You can fool some of the people all of the time
and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.”

George W. Bush, joking at a Gridiron Club dinner,
 Washington, D.C., March 2001

lately I’ve been amazed at the extent to which our entire public discourse now rests on disinformation and lies.

First of all the concept of "bread and circuses" is now used more widely then in Rome:

What’s necessary for the state is the illusion of normality, of regularity,” America’s best-known political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal, told me last week by phone from the prison where he is incarcerated in Frackville, Pa. “… In Rome, what the emperors needed was bread and circuses. In America, what we need is ‘Housewives of Atlanta.’ We need sports. The moral stories of good cops and evil people. Because you have that …. there is no critical thinking in America during this period...

... ... ...

Trump, an acute embarrassment to the corporate state and the organs of internal security, may be removed from the presidency, but such a palace coup would only further consolidate the power of the deep state and intensify internal measures of repression.

When "bread and  circuses" no longer work and people start asking themselves unpleasant question like "What is the deep state?", "Why we are finding all those wars in Me?"  heavy artillery of propaganda comes into play.

It starts with setting the proper narrative. The facts don't matter once the narrative is set.  In typical large scale disinformation cases like "Russian hacking" story (aka Russiagate), half of the country will go on thinking there's no way the story is totally made up, if MSM report if: there is no smoke without fire. Chris Hedges assumes that this idea of "injective proper narrative" started during Nixon's presidency with his idea of silent majority (Trump Is the Symptom, Not the Disease), but in reality it predates JFK assassination:

It began when big money was employed by political operatives such as Roger Stone, a close Trump adviser, to create negative political advertisements and false narratives to deceive the public, turning political debate into burlesque.

Dialectics suggest that each notion develops into its opposite. It might already happened with the US MSM. they are now all fake news  distribution ("fake news" are officially sanctioned rumors) XXI century can probably be called "the age of disinformation", although the process started long ago with the first totalitarian regimes in Russia, Italy and Germany. In this sense cold war was won by the USSR, because one of the most despicable features of the regime -- totalitarian control of media -- is now almost completely replicated in western countries.  As Daniel Schorr  aptly observed in his csmonitor article A spin cycle out of control

Washington these days feels a little like Moscow in Soviet times when the government routinely dispensed information to the public and the public routinely didn't believe it. The two main newspapers were the Communist Party organ, Pravda, (Truth) and the Soviet government organ, Izvestiya (News). People used to say, "There is no Izvestiya in Pravda and no Pravda in Izvestiya." 

Only a complete idiot now can believe mainstream press. Moreover at least Communists were honest about it and accepted it as a necessary evil, a byproduct of a one-party state surrounded by hostile capitalist states, which resort to all kind of dirty tricks to undermine it.

Under neoliberalism the net result is the same, but the dealing with media is based not of Party diktat (journalists are fighters of the Party"), but more subtle bets on greed, corruption and population stupidity and passivity. And communists view of "capitalist press" was simple, straightforward and is rather attractive, while in general being false, as many other communist ideas  --  all professional journalists should be considered to be a special kind of prostitutes  aka presstitutes :-). Anyway, even if you rightly think that communist's approach is too extreme or simplistic or both,  it still make perfect sense always ask who stands to profit and try to find and compare information form the opposition be it internal opposition press of other states. 

It is extremely naive to assume that free flow of information can exist in a any advanced Western state. But if you take several states then this assumption looks a little bit more realistic. Contradictions between state facilitates the flow of information, that would be suppressed by domestic press. that's why British press is generally preferable source of information about the US events ;-) Which they follow very closely. Of course, the level of disinformation is highly dependent on the importance of the event and generally reaches maximum in the atmosphere of McCarthyism-style witch hunt of war  hysteria ("Truth is the first casualty of war").  As Stephen Gowans wrote in Media Monitors Network

Every war proceeds along this path. Those who stand to be killed, dismembered, and dispossessed, are demonized, turned into the hobgoblins the American journalist H.L. Menken accused practical politicians of using to menace the population into consenting to what would otherwise not be consented to. Few are going to consent to the killing of innocents. So you turn the innocent into the guilty. Butchers. Murderers. Genocidists. Only later are the stories revealed to be gross exaggerations, often outright fabrications. 

That's why English is so important. It is the only language that has critical mass of foreign press (most countries provide English language periodicals and Web sites)  and as such English (along with Internet) is the main bastion of democracy in a modern world. Of course pro-state bias is also more pronounced in coverage of international events as foreign correspondents, who while not always are on a direct payroll of three letter agencies are often directly or indirectly influenced by them. If you are already thinking along this path you might also enjoy a book by John Ralston Saul called "Unconscious Civilization." Another his book that is worth reading (and written along the same lines) is "Voltaire's Bastards" in which he examines the appropriation of our government/corporations by an unaccountable elite which has co-opted the real power in our society (skip the Canadian identity-related staff) http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/events/readings/ejohn.htm

While in most cases Canadian and UK newspapers give more truthful picture of events in the USA, this is not true for foreign policy US and the USA are often in the same bed as for foreign policy and British press repeats (often in a slightly more sophisticated form  then the USA counterparts ;-) the State Department talking points. The same is true for Russian press about Ukraine.

Traditionally UK press was the standard of independent thinking. This clearly now belongs to the past (with Times controlled by Murdock family and Guardian being a neoliberal mouthpiece ) by still, in my experience, there are some remnants of this honorable tradition. You can more often to fight insightful articles in Guardian then iether in NYT or WaPo. But you need to be aware of those few brave soils, dinosaurs journalists who still try to inform public, not to misinform it. Another important factor is the level of monopolization of the press. In any case in British press discussions are always worth reading and typically this is were real information can be uncovered. 

This symbiosis of press and government is nothing new. It existed in the USSR and now exists in the West. Famous economist John Kenneth Galbraith in  his latest book The Economics of Innocent Fraud noted that  politicians and the media moguls actually form shadow "Ministry of Truth" in best Orwellian traditions, propagating, for example myth about:

..a benign "market" that big business always knows best, that minimal intervention stimulates the economy, that obscene pay gaps and unrestrained self-enrichment are an inevitable by-product of the system.

The other typical Soviet phenomena is blatant twisting of the language. For example the word "democracy" now usually means "our bastards" (as in famous quote “he may be a bastard, but he’s our bastard" ;-). And what is really sad, is that in case of war,  or major terrorist events, extreme, Soviet style disinformation is not limited to channels like Fox or Rupert Murdock controlled newspapers. It can be found all over the political spectrum. For example the level of distortion of wars in Kosovo and Beslan tragedy was actually greater in left press.  BBS and NYT, Newsweek, Guardian, Independent, etc really managed to outdid Fox in the art of disinformation in those cases. After that you feel nothing but disgust reading them.

And it is so called "left press" (or more correctly soft neoliberal press) which supported and continue to mix Wahhabi fanatics with freedom fighters. Like Talleyrand used to say "It is worse than a crime, -- it is a blunder" as Wahhabism is a direct threat to the civilized world. Moreover the story of Osama Bin Laden (Osama is essentially a byproduct of the Saudi regime, in particular the hardliners in the regime, and the CIA; Soviet invasion of Afghanistan provided the necessary but not sufficient condition for the creation of this movement; two other important components were Saudis and CIA) had shown quite convincingly that due to the internal logic of the movement they always turn against  the very people who were providing them money and PR support. As MSNBC author By Michael Moran stated in his Aug. 24, 1998 article "Bin Laden comes home to roost":

At the CIA, it happens often enough to have a code name: Blowback. Simply defined, this is the term that describes an agent, an operative or an operation that has turned on its creators. Osama bin Laden, our new public enemy Number 1, is the personification of blowback. And the fact that he is viewed as a hero by millions in the Islamic world proves again the old adage: Reap what you sow.

In case of important events, nobody now generally expects the government to tell the truth rather than to resort to propaganda.  So in a way we all live in post-USSR world.  But there is some level in which quantity turns into quality. And "war time coverage" now is gradually extended to less and less important cases that should not involve "war time" restrictions and mobilization priorities.  So the situation is gradually sliding to the level of Orvell's dystopian novell 1984.  If powerful interests are involved, then trying to tell the truth is a direct threat to the employment of the particular journalist (and in some countries even life); in the case of the broadcasters can lead to direct or subtle forms of censorship (removal from the air) and/or economic retribution.  That means that for most journalists the loyalty to one's boss (and by extension his handlers) overwhelmingly took precedent over personal honesty and integrity. Also journalists, especially in national capitals, are regularly bribed by the establishment. Some of the are connected with the establishment by family and other ties.

For that reason, we, as citizens, have to learn to recognize propaganda and media disinformation and within our limited means fight it. The ability to withstand massive "brainwashing" now become an important dimension of non-conformism.  Those skills are especially important due to an extremely dangerous development in mass communication -- complete loss of independence (sovietization) of mass media, the phenomenon that is also connected with the creation of  military-media-industrial complex (MMIC). Here is a relevant quote from The 50, 26, 20... Corporations That Own Our Media

Of the 1,700 daily papers, 98 percent are local monopolies and fewer than 15 corporations control most of the country's daily circulation. A handful of firms have most of the magazine business, with Time, Inc. alone accounting for about 40 percent of that industry's revenues.

Actually this kind of control of media by powerful interests (connected with the state, but necessary directly manipulated by the state) is the essence of  the totalitarian state.  This is a bad thing. I think, that in such circumstances anybody who has IQ to speak about, should not blindly believe any newspaper or TV station. Any news coverage should be considered more like a question than like an answer. This is especially true for international events. Only by comparing sources from different countries (for example Australian coverage, Asian coverage, GB and Canada coverage) one can get some idea about what's really is going on.  In this sense Internet is really the last citadel of democracy. In addition to the internet there is still a couple of good things:

The history the media cowardice, prejudice and gross over-simplification needs to be studied much more completely and materials presented below are far from being such a study. And while I would like to repeat it again: Internet is last bastion of democracy, media conglomerates actually controls a large part of Internet too, so crossing the national borders is extremely important. Portals like Yahoo are just puppets in a big game. Just ask yourself who provides news  for Yahoo and similar portals. One should always ask the question, "Who and why put this here?". 

Another problem is that it's rather difficult to counter disinformation especially if the message falls within the bounds of your cultural belief systems. That's true for both light and left propaganda. The Internet offers certain advantages in conveying false information because the well known issues of conformity, persuasion and self-justification are amplified by the Net.   Here are some relevant quotes:

What the mainstream media is doing with facts is often wrong. Sometimes it's plain, undisguised lie. And they don't really care if I know it, or you know it, or if  millions know it. Again, they don't care -- they are doing their paid job of manipulation of public opinion in the interests of powerful groups.  It is definitely not anything like what it is supposed to be, which is a reliable and independent information helping us to understand this complex world. Let's face it: political commentators are often a special kind of trained crocodiles, they are just animals trained to maim the prey. The art of disinformation now reached such level that you can suspect anything including the direct transmission from the place of the event to be staged, sanitized  or outright manipulated:

If you're reading this, we trust that you're painfully aware of the stranglehold that corporations have on the flow of "news" the world over. In this self-referential hyper-aware media-saturated environment, it's hardly incendiary or revolutionary at this point to imply that most news these days is manipulative moronic crap manufactured to simultaneously subdue and incite The Masses into their ongoing cycle of complacent apathy and egomaniacal patriotism. Or is it?

We won't insult your intelligence by waxing poetic about the self-preserving, dull-witted conspiracy of fools that we conveniently categorize as The Media Elite. You know the ones we're talking about. And in case you're not familiar with exactly how influenced the information that filters down to your front door, car radio or boob tube by The Military Entertainment Complex, have a looksie at who owns what. Yeah, that's right. Show us the money.

And while Internet is the last bastion of democracy, it is extremely important to be aware of the nature of the Internet. Information exists on the Net outside of existing scholarly structures. Sometimes respectable Internet sites are using all the dirty  tricks of  of yellow press journalism. See Open Directory - Science Social Sciences Psychology Persuasion and Social Influence. Here is an relevant quote from the paper: In Seattle's Aftermath Linux, Independent Media, and the Survival of Democracy:

Why Mainstream Media Won't Tell You the Truth

You don't have to be a genius or a conspiracy theorist to figure this one out. A few global media giants dominate the market; they have huge and growing holdings in virtually every means by which information is disseminated--films, books, TV channels, radio stations, newspapers, and magazines (Herman and McChesney, 1998). And they pressure, whether overtly or not, authors and reporters to put a slant on the news--specifically, a centrist to right-wing slant that favors the interests of the media's corporate owners. That's the reason you hear, over and over, why development matters more than preserving the environment, why free trade matters more than worker's rights, and why the U.S. has the right to impose its military power wherever it pleases.

Apart from the general pressure to slant the news to the center and right, industry associations overtly pressure media outlets to censor certain types of news reporting by threatening to withdraw advertising. For example, thanks to pressure from restaurant associations, newspapers are reluctant to specify local restaurants which violate health department regulations. Even so, overt pressure isn't often needed. When you're in the media business, you know darned well you'd better not run stories that businesses won't like. You tone it down. You run it by them. And if they're not comfortable and you're not comfortable, you don't run it.

In sum, you don't hear the truth because corporations don't want you to hear it and mainstream media are too cowardly to report it. Had you known the truth about Seattle (including substantive discussion of the specific issues concerning WTO policies), you might have thought more deeply about what's at stake. But that doesn't sell beer; why ask why, after all, when doing so is virtually unmarketable? Instead of providing the tools needed to think seriously about national policies, the media would much prefer to socialize viewers into becoming "neurotic in their need to buy advertised commodities", generating "mass spending on goods such as cosmetics, cigarettes, beer, soft drinks, and patent medicines completely out of proportion to the rational use of national income..." and diverting attention from "society's central needs, including public education, health care, [and] democratic economics" (Bagdikian, 1996:10).

At the same time for a thinking person Internet provides a unique possibility to resist this brain-washing campaign by comparing several sources. With some training you can read between the lines in mainstream media reports (people from former "socialist" countries usually have high score in those skills ;-):

The Internet is "dangerous" because it is a medium for the instantaneous and uncontrolled transmission of ideas.

We think of free speech as being a given--almost an absolute--in the United States and much of the Western world. Though everyone knows that certain kinds of speech, such as pornography, are against the law, most of us don't think about the web of social, nongovernmental constraints on legal but disfavored speech.

Unpopular ideas are marginalized in our society, restricted to the fringes of public discourse even without the need for any governmental action. Broadcast television and radio, cable, newsmagazines and book publishers all are--or are owned by--large conglomerates. Many rely on advertising, or own other businesses that do, or are simply owned or controlled by people whose personal involvement in the social web of contacts and constraints guarantees moderation in ideas. No idea sees the light of day until it has been turned over, examined from every angle, and pronounced fit for human consumption. Editors approve articles and books, and are managed by publishers who sometimes intervene in content. Committees decide what news stories to cover and which to ignore.

Let's don't miss this possibility, while it's still exists !!!

"To successfully uncover the lies of someone you first must know how to lie yourself. Now, some people just don't know how to lie because they've never been around someone who was good at it. I'm going to give you some pointers — never ever exaggerate within the lie. Details are key and remembering those details is what will keep the lie alive."

"One of the ways that deal with co-workers who I think have lied to me is to ask them the most obvious question: 'Did you lie to me when…?'"

"In a group of people, ask the person the question you need answered and when they lie to you, I just say — 'You lying &*#^, you never said that in your whole life.' Everybody breaks up laughing and the person obviously is caught. We all make a joke of it and it is much harder for them to be dishonest the next time."

"When it is obvious that someone's story has little connection to reality, I say 'Oh my gosh, almost the exact same thing happened to me.' This achieves the objective of 1) pointing out to the tall tale teller that you are on to him; and 2) makes everyone else realize how ridiculous this co-worker's stories are getting, and forces everyone to evaluate the veracity of all future tall tales.

"When trying to detect a liar, I act absent-minded and pause with unfinished sentences. The liar tends to fill these spaces. I have caught liars this way."

"I give them my biggest smile and usually say something like, 'Come on Pinocchio, your nose is growing.' Then I laugh gently. If they seem embarrassed or avoid eye contact and smile and say nothing, then I have confirmation that they have lied. They know it and I know it. Reading their body language is extremely important. Once word gets around that you are not a fool who will believe anything, most people won't try it with you."

"If you must interact with this person, try to have a third party present to be a neutral witness to any conversation that takes place. Also, if possible, interact via e-mail and be professional. We all know e-mails are a nice time-stamped paper trail of the facts."

"There are different ways to deal with lies, depending on the reason and the frequency. The solutions range from ignoring the lies, to training, to confrontation, to verbal and written warnings, and perhaps, as a last resort if the damage by the lies is substantial, termination."

"Of course he is lying. Everyone is lying. It's part of the human condition. Bosses lie all the time. Workers give them lies in reply and to each other."

Recommended Reading

The Understanding Stupidity

This systematic distortion of information makes human societies characteristically self-deceptive, with people disposed to believe they are living up to their ideals, particularly when they are not. The existing schematic dissonance is usually subconscious, due to the misleading nature of words, so society stumbles smugly along while at odds with itself, its environment and its equally stupid neighbors. In fact, the only really effective control of development comes not from inside but from physical limitations (what cannot be done) and competition with other groups which are also out of touch with themselves.

In general, internal criticism is of limited value as a control mechanism for growth and development of a social system. There usually tend to be few, if any, effective critics within any organization. When not dismissed out of hand as a crank or an outsider, anyone with valid criticism is made an outsider, as ostracism is a common reward for honesty, accuracy and integrity. Thus, criticism without power is largely wasted, producing little but woe for the bewildered critic himself.

Perhaps there are so few effective critics because anyone with any brains at all quickly finds that most human organizations just are not set up for effective criticism. The basic working assumption is that everything is just fine. Outside criticism is deflected and internal feedback is supposed to be positive reinforcement from "Yes men" promoting their careers by corrupting the mighty. At best, criticism has a place on the fringe, where cranks and comics can be tolerated as amusing diversions.

Can Truth Be Told When Using Selective Information

"The trap of the permanent campaign is that you diminish statesmanship," Professor Gergen said. "Statesmen rise above the daily concern and look to the long haul."

Business marketing and politics often overlap in election campaigns. Someone vying for office is essentially trying to sell himself to voters. "When you are campaigning, you're like the businessman who has a limited responsibility, a limited set of people to whom you owe something," said Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College and author of "Moral Freedom: The Search for Virtue in a World of Choice" (W. W. Norton).

But, increasingly, because of the fund-raising involved in running for national office, "you have to be in an almost permanent campaign mode," said David Gergen, now a professor of public service at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, who was an adviser to four presidents. "In politics, you fall into the trap of short-termism. You do whatever it takes to keep the headlines up today." This short-term thinking is not dissimilar to what causes some businesses to make poor decisions in trying to bolster stock prices or earnings reports.

"The trap of the permanent campaign is that you diminish statesmanship," Professor Gergen said. "Statesmen rise above the daily concern and look to the long haul."

BUT it's difficult to affect the long haul if you find yourself voted out of office. For that reason, Dick Morris, a former adviser to Mr. Clinton and the author of "Off with Their Heads: Traitors, Crooks and Obstructionists in American Politics, Media and Business" (Regan Books, 2003), said he thinks that "using polling and all of the tools of an election to help you govern is a good thing."

"It gets the president to be very aggressive in figuring out what he can do in an active way really to help the country," he added. "The motivation is to govern well so he can get elected."

Even if President Bush has to campaign constantly and, as a result, selectively uses information to sell his message, we still expect him to tell the truth. "If they decided to lie to make the case stronger that's simply unethical," said Mr. Gilman, who was a senior official at the United States Office of Government Ethics from 1988 to 2001. Mr. Gilman said he hopes that the president "got one bad piece of intelligence and the rest was correct."

Some political analysts say President Bush crossed a line in selectively using information by pointing to British intelligence to make an argument, when American intelligence doubted the claim. "As in all marketing, when you go too far, it creates a small cloud over you about credibility," Professor Gergen said.

There's more at stake when President Bush selectively uses information than when a business executive tries to move a product. The president's role clearly distinguishes his unique moral responsibility. As an executive, you don't order young men and women to give up their lives for a cause.


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NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

"It tends to be all accurate,
but not in an over-all context."

Donald Rumsfeld

2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001

[Oct 17, 2017] The Victory of Perception Management by Robert Parry

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Thus, you have the current hysteria over Russia's supposed "aggression" in Ukraine when the crisis was actually provoked by the West, including by U.S. neocons who helped create today's humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine that they now cynically blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin. ..."
"... But these were largely ad hoc efforts. A more comprehensive "public diplomacy" operation took shape beginning in 1982 when Raymond, a 30-year veteran of CIA clandestine services, was transferred to the NSC. ..."
"... A slight, soft-spoken New Yorker who reminded some of a character from a John le Carré spy novel, Raymond was an intelligence officer who "easily fades into the woodwork," according to one acquaintance. But Raymond would become the sparkplug for this high-powered propaganda network, according to a draft chapter of the Iran-Contra report. ..."
"... But things were about to change. In a Jan. 13, 1983, memo, NSC Advisor Clark foresaw the need for non-governmental money to advance this cause. "We will develop a scenario for obtaining private funding," Clark wrote. (Just five days later, President Reagan personally welcomed media magnate Rupert Murdoch into the Oval Office for a private meeting, according to records on file at the Reagan library.) ..."
"... As administration officials reached out to wealthy supporters, lines against domestic propaganda soon were crossed as the operation took aim not only at foreign audiences but at U.S. public opinion, the press and congressional Democrats who opposed funding the Nicaraguan Contras. ..."
"... At the time, the Contras were earning a gruesome reputation as human rights violators and terrorists. To change this negative perception of the Contras as well as of the U.S.-backed regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala, the Reagan administration created a full-blown, clandestine propaganda network. ..."
"... Lost History ..."
"... My American Journey ..."
"... Secrecy & Privilege ..."
"... Rupert Murdoch's media empire is bigger than ever, but his neocon messaging barely stands out as distinctive, given how the neocons also have gained control of the editorial and foreign-reporting sections of the Washington Post, the New York Times and virtually every other major news outlet. For instance, the demonizing of Russian President Putin is now so total that no honest person could look at those articles and see anything approaching objective or evenhanded journalism. Yet, no one loses a job over this lack of professionalism. ..."
"... America's Stolen Narrative, ..."
"... America's Stolen Narrative ..."
"... Reagan actually has two sides as he was portrayed on SNL, the nice grandfatherly side, and the mafia boss warmonger side. He managed to use the media to display his nice side. ..."
"... Studies estimate that between 100K and 150K Nam vets have committed suicide since the war. There are many reasons why but I suspect a goodly number did so when they couldn't handle the knowledge of how they had been used. I'm careful about who in my "peers" I enlighten. ..."
"... It's painful to watch any western MSM. It's all through our sports and entertainment programming to the point of madness. The wreckage caused by our "leaders" across the earth's face, in our name, IS evil. ..."
"... Studies estimate that between 100K and 150K Nam vets have committed suicide since the war. There are many reasons why but I suspect a goodly number did so when they couldn't handle the knowledge of how they had been used. I'm careful about who in my "peers" I enlighten. ..."
"... Always follow the money. ..."
Dec 28, 2014 | consortiumnews.com

Special Report: In the 1980s, the Reagan administration pioneered "perception management" to get the American people to "kick the Vietnam Syndrome" and accept more U.S. interventionism, but that propaganda structure continues to this day getting the public to buy into endless war, writes Robert Parry.

To understand how the American people find themselves trapped in today's Orwellian dystopia of endless warfare against an ever-shifting collection of "evil" enemies, you have to think back to the Vietnam War and the shock to the ruling elite caused by an unprecedented popular uprising against that war.

While on the surface Official Washington pretended that the mass protests didn't change policy, a panicky reality existed behind the scenes, a recognition that a major investment in domestic propaganda would be needed to ensure that future imperial adventures would have the public's eager support or at least its confused acquiescence.

President Ronald Reagan meeting with media magnate Rupert Murdoch in the Oval Office on Jan. 18, 1983, with Charles Wick, director of the U.S. Information Agency, in the background. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

This commitment to what the insiders called "perception management" began in earnest with the Reagan administration in the 1980s but it would come to be the accepted practice of all subsequent administrations, including the present one of President Barack Obama.

In that sense, propaganda in pursuit of foreign policy goals would trump the democratic ideal of an informed electorate. The point would be not to honestly inform the American people about events around the world but to manage their perceptions by ramping up fear in some cases and defusing outrage in others depending on the U.S. government's needs.

Thus, you have the current hysteria over Russia's supposed "aggression" in Ukraine when the crisis was actually provoked by the West, including by U.S. neocons who helped create today's humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine that they now cynically blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Yet, many of these same U.S. foreign policy operatives outraged over Russia's limited intervention to protect ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine are demanding that President Obama launch an air war against the Syrian military as a "humanitarian" intervention there.

In other words, if the Russians act to shield ethnic Russians on their border who are being bombarded by a coup regime in Kiev that was installed with U.S. support, the Russians are the villains blamed for the thousands of civilian deaths, even though the vast majority of the casualties have been inflicted by the Kiev regime from indiscriminate bombing and from dispatching neo-Nazi militias to do the street fighting.

In Ukraine, the exigent circumstances don't matter, including the violent overthrow of the constitutionally elected president last February. It's all about white hats for the current Kiev regime and black hats for the ethnic Russians and especially for Putin.

But an entirely different set of standards has applied to Syria where a U.S.-backed rebellion, which included violent Sunni jihadists from the start, wore the white hats and the relatively secular Syrian government, which has responded with excessive violence of its own, wears the black hats. But a problem to that neat dichotomy arose when one of the major Sunni rebel forces, the Islamic State, started seizing Iraqi territory and beheading Westerners.

Faced with those grisly scenes, President Obama authorized bombing the Islamic State forces in both Iraq and Syria, but neocons and other U.S. hardliners have been hectoring Obama to go after their preferred target, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, despite the risk that destroying the Syrian military could open the gates of Damascus to the Islamic State or al-Qaeda's Nusra Front.

Lost on the Dark Side

You might think that the American public would begin to rebel against these messy entangling alliances with the 1984 -like demonizing of one new "enemy" after another. Not only have these endless wars drained trillions of dollars from the U.S. taxpayers, they have led to the deaths of thousands of U.S. troops and to the tarnishing of America's image from the attendant evils of war, including a lengthy detour into the "dark side" of torture, assassinations and "collateral" killings of children and other innocents.

But that is where the history of "perception management" comes in, the need to keep the American people compliant and confused. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration was determined to "kick the Vietnam Syndrome," the revulsion that many Americans felt for warfare after all those years in the blood-soaked jungles of Vietnam and all the lies that clumsily justified the war.

So, the challenge for the U.S. government became: how to present the actions of "enemies" always in the darkest light while bathing the behavior of the U.S. "side" in a rosy glow. You also had to stage this propaganda theater in an ostensibly "free country" with a supposedly "independent press."

From documents declassified or leaked over the past several decades, including an unpublished draft chapter of the congressional Iran-Contra investigation, we now know a great deal about how this remarkable project was undertaken and who the key players were.

Perhaps not surprisingly much of the initiative came from the Central Intelligence Agency, which housed the expertise for manipulating target populations through propaganda and disinformation. The only difference this time would be that the American people would be the target population.

For this project, Ronald Reagan's CIA Director William J. Casey sent his top propaganda specialist Walter Raymond Jr. to the National Security Council staff to manage the inter-agency task forces that would brainstorm and coordinate this "public diplomacy" strategy.

Many of the old intelligence operatives, including Casey and Raymond, are now dead, but other influential Washington figures who were deeply involved by these strategies remain, such as neocon stalwart Robert Kagan, whose first major job in Washington was as chief of Reagan's State Department Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America.

Now a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a columnist at the Washington Post, Kagan remains an expert in presenting foreign policy initiatives within the "good guy/bad guy" frames that he learned in the 1980s. He is also the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who oversaw the overthrow of Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February amid a very effective U.S. propaganda strategy.

During the Reagan years, Kagan worked closely on propaganda schemes with Elliott Abrams, then the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America. After getting convicted and then pardoned in the Iran-Contra scandal, Abrams reemerged on President George W. Bush's National Security Council handling Middle East issues, including the Iraq War, and later "global democracy strategy." Abrams is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

These and other neocons were among the most diligent students learning the art of "perception management" from the likes of Raymond and Casey, but those propaganda skills have spread much more widely as "public diplomacy" and "information warfare" have now become an integral part of every U.S. foreign policy initiative.

A Propaganda Bureaucracy

Declassified documents now reveal how extensive Reagan's propaganda project became with inter-agency task forces assigned to develop "themes" that would push American "hot buttons." Scores of documents came out during the Iran-Contra scandal in 1987 and hundreds more are now available at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

What the documents reveal is that at the start of the Reagan administration, CIA Director Casey faced a daunting challenge in trying to rally public opinion behind aggressive U.S. interventions, especially in Central America. Bitter memories of the Vietnam War were still fresh and many Americans were horrified at the brutality of right-wing regimes in Guatemala and El Salvador, where Salvadoran soldiers raped and murdered four American churchwomen in December 1980.

The new leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua also was not viewed with much alarm. After all, Nicaragua was an impoverished country of only about three million people who had just cast off the brutal dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza.

So, Reagan's initial strategy of bolstering the Salvadoran and Guatemalan armies required defusing the negative publicity about them and somehow rallying the American people into supporting a covert CIA intervention inside Nicaragua via a counterrevolutionary force known as the Contras led by Somoza's ex-National Guard officers.

Reagan's task was made tougher by the fact that the Cold War's anti-communist arguments had so recently been discredited in Vietnam. As deputy assistant secretary to the Air Force, J. Michael Kelly, put it, "the most critical special operations mission we have is to persuade the American people that the communists are out to get us."

At the same time, the White House worked to weed out American reporters who uncovered facts that undercut the desired public images. As part of that effort, the administration attacked New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner for disclosing the Salvadoran regime's massacre of about 800 men, women and children in the village of El Mozote in northeast El Salvador in December 1981. Accuracy in Media and conservative news organizations, such as The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, joined in pummeling Bonner, who was soon ousted from his job.

But these were largely ad hoc efforts. A more comprehensive "public diplomacy" operation took shape beginning in 1982 when Raymond, a 30-year veteran of CIA clandestine services, was transferred to the NSC.

A slight, soft-spoken New Yorker who reminded some of a character from a John le Carré spy novel, Raymond was an intelligence officer who "easily fades into the woodwork," according to one acquaintance. But Raymond would become the sparkplug for this high-powered propaganda network, according to a draft chapter of the Iran-Contra report.

Though the draft chapter didn't use Raymond's name in its opening pages, apparently because some of the information came from classified depositions, Raymond's name was used later in the chapter and the earlier citations matched Raymond's known role. According to the draft report, the CIA officer who was recruited for the NSC job had served as Director of the Covert Action Staff at the CIA from 1978 to 1982 and was a "specialist in propaganda and disinformation."

"The CIA official [Raymond] discussed the transfer with [CIA Director] Casey and NSC Advisor William Clark that he be assigned to the NSC as [Donald] Gregg's successor [as coordinator of intelligence operations in June 1982] and received approval for his involvement in setting up the public diplomacy program along with his intelligence responsibilities," the chapter said.

"In the early part of 1983, documents obtained by the Select [Iran-Contra] Committees indicate that the Director of the Intelligence Staff of the NSC [Raymond] successfully recommended the establishment of an inter-governmental network to promote and manage a public diplomacy plan designed to create support for Reagan Administration policies at home and abroad."

During his Iran-Contra deposition, Raymond explained the need for this propaganda structure, saying: "We were not configured effectively to deal with the war of ideas."

One reason for this shortcoming was that federal law forbade taxpayers' money from being spent on domestic propaganda or grassroots lobbying to pressure congressional representatives. Of course, every president and his team had vast resources to make their case in public, but by tradition and law, they were restricted to speeches, testimony and one-on-one persuasion of lawmakers.

But things were about to change. In a Jan. 13, 1983, memo, NSC Advisor Clark foresaw the need for non-governmental money to advance this cause. "We will develop a scenario for obtaining private funding," Clark wrote. (Just five days later, President Reagan personally welcomed media magnate Rupert Murdoch into the Oval Office for a private meeting, according to records on file at the Reagan library.)

As administration officials reached out to wealthy supporters, lines against domestic propaganda soon were crossed as the operation took aim not only at foreign audiences but at U.S. public opinion, the press and congressional Democrats who opposed funding the Nicaraguan Contras.

At the time, the Contras were earning a gruesome reputation as human rights violators and terrorists. To change this negative perception of the Contras as well as of the U.S.-backed regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala, the Reagan administration created a full-blown, clandestine propaganda network.

In January 1983, President Reagan took the first formal step to create this unprecedented peacetime propaganda bureaucracy by signing National Security Decision Directive 77, entitled "Management of Public Diplomacy Relative to National Security." Reagan deemed it "necessary to strengthen the organization, planning and coordination of the various aspects of public diplomacy of the United States Government."

Reagan ordered the creation of a special planning group within the National Security Council to direct these "public diplomacy" campaigns. The planning group would be headed by the CIA's Walter Raymond Jr. and one of its principal arms would be a new Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America, housed at the State Department but under the control of the NSC.

CIA Taint

Worried about the legal prohibition barring the CIA from engaging in domestic propaganda, Raymond formally resigned from the CIA in April 1983, so, he said, "there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this." But Raymond continued to act toward the U.S. public much like a CIA officer would in directing a propaganda operation in a hostile foreign country.

Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey's ongoing involvement. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important "to get [Casey] out of the loop," but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986. It was "the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in," Raymond shrugged during his Iran-Contra deposition. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic politics "not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat."

As a result of Reagan's decision directive, "an elaborate system of inter-agency committees was eventually formed and charged with the task of working closely with private groups and individuals involved in fundraising, lobbying campaigns and propagandistic activities aimed at influencing public opinion and governmental action," the draft Iran-Contra chapter said. "This effort resulted in the creation of the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Department of State (S/LPD), headed by Otto Reich," a right-wing Cuban exile from Miami.

Though Secretary of State George Shultz wanted the office under his control, President Reagan insisted that Reich "report directly to the NSC," where Raymond oversaw the operations as a special assistant to the President and the NSC's director of international communications, the chapter said.

"Reich relied heavily on Raymond to secure personnel transfers from other government agencies to beef up the limited resources made available to S/LPD by the Department of State," the chapter said. "Personnel made available to the new office included intelligence specialists from the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army. On one occasion, five intelligence experts from the Army's 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were assigned to work with Reich's fast-growing operation."

A "public diplomacy strategy paper," dated May 5, 1983, summed up the administration's problem. "As far as our Central American policy is concerned, the press perceives that: the USG [U.S. government] is placing too much emphasis on a military solution, as well as being allied with inept, right-wing governments and groups. The focus on Nicaragua [is] on the alleged U.S.-backed 'covert' war against the Sandinistas. Moreover, the opposition is widely perceived as being led by former Somozistas."

The administration's difficulty with most of these press perceptions was that they were correct. But the strategy paper recommended ways to influence various groups of Americans to "correct" the impressions anyway, removing what another planning document called "perceptional obstacles."

"Themes will obviously have to be tailored to the target audience," the strategy paper said.

Casey's Hand

As the Reagan administration struggled to manage public perceptions, CIA Director Casey kept his personal hand in the effort. On one muggy day in August 1983, Casey convened a meeting of Reagan administration officials and five leading ad executives at the Old Executive Office Building next to the White House to come up with ideas for selling Reagan's Central American policies to the American people.

Earlier that day, a national security aide had warmed the P.R. men to their task with dire predictions that leftist governments would send waves of refugees into the United States and cynically flood America with drugs. The P.R. executives jotted down some thoughts over lunch and then pitched their ideas to the CIA director in the afternoon as he sat hunched behind a desk taking notes.

"Casey was kind of spearheading a recommendation" for better public relations for Reagan's Central America policies, recalled William I. Greener Jr., one of the ad men. Two top proposals arising from the meeting were for a high-powered communications operation inside the White House and private money for an outreach program to build support for U.S. intervention.

The results from the discussions were summed up in an Aug. 9, 1983, memo written by Raymond who described Casey's participation in the meeting to brainstorm how "to sell a 'new product' Central America by generating interest across-the-spectrum."

In the memo to then-U.S. Information Agency director Charles Wick, Raymond also noted that "via Murdock [sic] may be able to draw down added funds" to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond's reference to Rupert Murdoch possibly drawing down "added funds" suggests that the right-wing media mogul had been recruited to be part of the covert propaganda operation. During this period, Wick arranged at least two face-to-face meetings between Murdoch and Reagan.

In line with the clandestine nature of the operation, Raymond also suggested routing the "funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center." (Freedom House would later emerge as a principal beneficiary of funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, which was also created under the umbrella of Raymond's operation.)

As the Reagan administration pushed the envelope on domestic propaganda, Raymond continued to worry about Casey's involvement. In an Aug. 29, 1983, memo, Raymond recounted a call from Casey pushing his P.R. ideas. Alarmed at a CIA director participating so brazenly in domestic propaganda, Raymond wrote that "I philosophized a bit with Bill Casey (in an effort to get him out of the loop)" but with little success.

Meanwhile, Reich's Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America (S/LPD) proved extremely effective in selecting "hot buttons" that would anger Americans about the Sandinistas. He also browbeat news correspondents who produced stories that conflicted with the administration's "themes." Reich's basic M.O. was to dispatch his propaganda teams to lobby news executives to remove or punish out-of-step reporters with a disturbing degree of success. Reich once bragged that his office "did not give the critics of the policy any quarter in the debate."

Another part of the office's job was to plant "white propaganda" in the news media through op-eds secretly financed by the government. In one memo, Jonathan Miller, a senior public diplomacy official, informed White House aide Patrick Buchanan about success placing an anti-Sandinista piece in The Wall Street Journal's friendly pages. "Officially, this office had no role in its preparation," Miller wrote.

Other times, the administration put out "black propaganda," outright falsehoods. In 1983, one such theme was designed to anger American Jews by portraying the Sandinistas as anti-Semitic because much of Nicaragua's small Jewish community fled after the revolution in 1979.

However, the U.S. embassy in Managua investigated the charges and "found no verifiable ground on which to accuse the GRN [the Sandinista government] of anti-Semitism," according to a July 28, 1983, cable. But the administration kept the cable secret and pushed the "hot button" anyway.

Black Hats/White Hats

Repeatedly, Raymond lectured his subordinates on the chief goal of the operation: "in the specific case of Nica[ragua], concentrate on gluing black hats on the Sandinistas and white hats on UNO [the Contras' United Nicaraguan Opposition]." So Reagan's speechwriters dutifully penned descriptions of Sandinista-ruled Nicaragua as a "totalitarian dungeon" and the Contras as the "moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers."

As one NSC official told me, the campaign was modeled after CIA covert operations abroad where a political goal is more important than the truth. "They were trying to manipulate [U.S.] public opinion using the tools of Walt Raymond's trade craft which he learned from his career in the CIA covert operation shop," the official admitted.

Another administration official gave a similar description to The Miami Herald's Alfonso Chardy. "If you look at it as a whole, the Office of Public Diplomacy was carrying out a huge psychological operation, the kind the military conduct to influence the population in denied or enemy territory," that official explained. [For more details, see Parry's Lost History .]

Another important figure in the pro-Contra propaganda was NSC staffer Oliver North, who spent a great deal of his time on the Nicaraguan public diplomacy operation even though he is better known for arranging secret arms shipments to the Contras and to Iran's radical Islamic government, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal.

The draft Iran-Contra chapter depicted a Byzantine network of contract and private operatives who handled details of the domestic propaganda while concealing the hand of the White House and the CIA. "Richard R. Miller, former head of public affairs at AID, and Francis D. Gomez, former public affairs specialist at the State Department and USIA, were hired by S/LPD through sole-source, no-bid contracts to carry out a variety of activities on behalf of the Reagan administration policies in Central America," the chapter said.

"Supported by the State Department and White House, Miller and Gomez became the outside managers of [North operative] Spitz Channel's fundraising and lobbying activities. They also served as the managers of Central American political figures, defectors, Nicaraguan opposition leaders and Sandinista atrocity victims who were made available to the press, the Congress and private groups, to tell the story of the Contra cause."

Miller and Gomez facilitated transfers of money to Swiss and offshore banks at North's direction, as they "became the key link between the State Department and the Reagan White House with the private groups and individuals engaged in a myriad of endeavors aimed at influencing the Congress, the media and public opinion," the chapter said.

The Iran-Contra draft chapter also cited a March 10, 1985, memo from North describing his assistance to CIA Director Casey in timing disclosures of pro-Contra news "aimed at securing Congressional approval for renewed support to the Nicaraguan Resistance Forces."

The chapter added: "Casey's involvement in the public diplomacy effort apparently continued throughout the period under investigation by the Committees," including a 1985 role in pressuring Congress to renew Contra aid and a 1986 hand in further shielding the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America from the oversight of Secretary Shultz.

A Raymond-authored memo to Casey in August 1986 described the shift of the S/LPD office where Robert Kagan had replaced Reich to the control of the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, which was headed by Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, who had tapped Kagan for the public diplomacy job.

Even after the Iran-Contra scandal unraveled in 1986-87 and Casey died of brain cancer on May 6, 1987, the Republicans fought to keep secret the remarkable story of the public diplomacy apparatus. As part of a deal to get three moderate Republican senators to join Democrats in signing the Iran-Contra majority report, Democratic leaders agreed to drop the draft chapter detailing the CIA's domestic propaganda role (although a few references were included in the executive summary). But other Republicans, including Rep. Dick Cheney, still issued a minority report defending broad presidential powers in foreign affairs.

Thus, the American people were spared the chapter's troubling conclusion: that a secret propaganda apparatus had existed, run by "one of the CIA's most senior specialists, sent to the NSC by Bill Casey, to create and coordinate an inter-agency public-diplomacy mechanism [which] did what a covert CIA operation in a foreign country might do. [It] attempted to manipulate the media, the Congress and public opinion to support the Reagan administration's policies."

Kicking the Vietnam Syndrome

The ultimate success of Reagan's propaganda strategy was affirmed during the tenure of his successor, George H.W. Bush, when Bush ordered a 100-hour ground war on Feb. 23, 1991, to oust Iraqi troops from Kuwait, which had been invaded the previous August.

Though Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had long been signaling a readiness to withdraw and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev had negotiated a withdrawal arrangement that even had the blessings of top U.S. commanders in the field President Bush insisted on pressing ahead with the ground attack.

Bush's chief reason was that he and his Defense Secretary Dick Cheney saw the assault against Iraq's already decimated forces as an easy victory, one that would demonstrate America's new military capacity for high-tech warfare and would cap the process begun a decade earlier to erase the Vietnam Syndrome from the minds of average Americans.

Those strategic aspects of Bush's grand plan for a "new world order" began to emerge after the U.S.-led coalition started pummeling Iraq with air strikes in mid-January 1991. The bombings inflicted severe damage on Iraq's military and civilian infrastructure and slaughtered a large number of non-combatants, including the incineration of some 400 women and children in a Baghdad bomb shelter on Feb. 13. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com's " Recalling the Slaughter of Innocents ."]

The air war's damage was so severe that some world leaders looked for a way to end the carnage and arrange Iraq's departure from Kuwait. Even senior U.S. military field commanders, such as Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, looked favorably on proposals for sparing lives.

But Bush was fixated on a ground war. Though secret from the American people at that time, Bush had long determined that a peaceful Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait would not be allowed. Indeed, Bush was privately fearful that the Iraqis might capitulate before the United States could attack.

At the time, conservative columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak were among the few outsiders who described Bush's obsession with exorcising the Vietnam Syndrome. On Feb. 25, 1991, they wrote that the Gorbachev initiative brokering Iraq's surrender of Kuwait "stirred fears" among Bush's advisers that the Vietnam Syndrome might survive the Gulf War.

"There was considerable relief, therefore, when the President made clear he was having nothing to do with the deal that would enable Saddam Hussein to bring his troops out of Kuwait with flags flying," Evans and Novak wrote. "Fear of a peace deal at the Bush White House had less to do with oil, Israel or Iraqi expansionism than with the bitter legacy of a lost war. 'This is the chance to get rid of the Vietnam Syndrome,' one senior aide told us."

In the 1999 book, Shadow , author Bob Woodward confirmed that Bush was adamant about fighting a war, even as the White House pretended it would be satisfied with an unconditional Iraqi withdrawal. "We have to have a war," Bush told his inner circle of Secretary of State James Baker, national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and Gen. Colin Powell, according to Woodward.

"Scowcroft was aware that this understanding could never be stated publicly or be permitted to leak out. An American president who declared the necessity of war would probably be thrown out of office. Americans were peacemakers, not warmongers," Woodward wrote.

The Ground War

However, the "fear of a peace deal" resurfaced in the wake of the U.S.-led bombing campaign. Soviet diplomats met with Iraqi leaders who let it be known that they were prepared to withdraw their troops from Kuwait unconditionally.

Learning of Gorbachev's proposed settlement, Schwarzkopf also saw little reason for U.S. soldiers to die if the Iraqis were prepared to withdraw and leave their heavy weapons behind. There was also the prospect of chemical warfare that the Iraqis might use against advancing American troops. Schwarzkopf saw the possibility of heavy U.S. casualties.

But Gorbachev's plan was running into trouble with President Bush and his political subordinates who wanted a ground war to crown the U.S. victory. Schwarzkopf reached out to Gen. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to make the case for peace with the President.

On Feb. 21, 1991, the two generals hammered out a cease-fire proposal for presentation to the NSC. The peace deal would give Iraqi forces one week to march out of Kuwait while leaving their armor and heavy equipment behind. Schwarzkopf thought he had Powell's commitment to pitch the plan at the White House.

But Powell found himself caught in the middle. He wanted to please Bush while still representing the concerns of the field commanders. When Powell arrived at the White House late on the evening of Feb. 21, he found Bush angry about the Soviet peace initiative. Still, according to Woodward's Shadow , Powell reiterated that he and Schwarzkopf "would rather see the Iraqis walk out than be driven out."

In My American Journey , Powell expressed sympathy for Bush's predicament. "The President's problem was how to say no to Gorbachev without appearing to throw away a chance for peace," Powell wrote. "I could hear the President's growing distress in his voice. 'I don't want to take this deal,' he said. 'But I don't want to stiff Gorbachev, not after he's come this far with us. We've got to find a way out'."

Powell sought Bush's attention. "I raised a finger," Powell wrote. "The President turned to me. 'Got something, Colin?'," Bush asked. But Powell did not outline Schwarzkopf's one-week cease-fire plan. Instead, Powell offered a different idea intended to make the ground offensive inevitable.

"We don't stiff Gorbachev," Powell explained. "Let's put a deadline on Gorby's proposal. We say, great idea, as long as they're completely on their way out by, say, noon Saturday," Feb. 23, less than two days away.

Powell understood that the two-day deadline would not give the Iraqis enough time to act, especially with their command-and-control systems severely damaged by the air war. The plan was a public-relations strategy to guarantee that the White House got its ground war. "If, as I suspect, they don't move, then the flogging begins," Powell told a gratified president.

The next day, at 10:30 a.m., a Friday, Bush announced his ultimatum. There would be a Saturday noon deadline for the Iraqi withdrawal, as Powell had recommended. Schwarzkopf and his field commanders in Saudi Arabia watched Bush on television and immediately grasped its meaning.

"We all knew by then which it would be," Schwarzkopf wrote. "We were marching toward a Sunday morning attack."

When the Iraqis predictably missed the deadline, American and allied forces launched the ground offensive at 0400 on Feb. 24, Persian Gulf time.

Though Iraqi forces were soon in full retreat, the allies pursued and slaughtered tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers in the 100-hour war. U.S. casualties were light, 147 killed in combat and another 236 killed in accidents or from other causes. "Small losses as military statistics go," wrote Powell, "but a tragedy for each family."

On Feb. 28, the day the war ended, Bush celebrated the victory. "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all," the President exulted, speaking to a group at the White House. [For more details, see Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege .]

So as not to put a damper on the post-war happy feelings, the U.S. news media decided not to show many of the grisliest photos, such as charred Iraqi soldiers ghoulishly still seated in their burned-out trucks where they had been incinerated while trying to flee. By that point, U.S. journalists knew it wasn't smart for their careers to present a reality that didn't make the war look good.

Enduring Legacy

Though Reagan's creation of a domestic propaganda bureaucracy began more than three decades ago and Bush's vanquishing of the Vietnam Syndrome was more than two decades ago the legacy of those actions continue to reverberate today in how the perceptions of the American people are now routinely managed. That was true during last decade's Iraq War and this decade's conflicts in Libya, Syria and Ukraine as well as the economic sanctions against Iran and Russia.

Indeed, while the older generation that pioneered these domestic propaganda techniques has passed from the scene, many of their protégés are still around along with some of the same organizations. The National Endowment for Democracy, which was formed in 1983 at the urging of CIA Director Casey and under the supervision of Walter Raymond's NSC operation, is still run by the same neocon, Carl Gershman, and has an even bigger budget, now exceeding $100 million a year.

Gershman and his NED played important behind-the-scenes roles in instigating the Ukraine crisis by financing activists, journalists and other operatives who supported the coup against elected President Yanukovych. The NED-backed Freedom House also beat the propaganda drums. [See Consortiumnews.com's " A Shadow Foreign Policy. "]

Two other Reagan-era veterans, Elliott Abrams and Robert Kagan, have both provided important intellectual support for continuing U.S. interventionism around the world. Earlier this year, Kagan's article for The New Republic, entitled " Superpowers Don't Get to Retire ," touched such a raw nerve with President Obama that he hosted Kagan at a White House lunch and crafted the presidential commencement speech at West Point to deflect some of Kagan's criticism of Obama's hesitancy to use military force.

A New York Times article about Kagan's influence over Obama reported that Kagan's wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, apparently had a hand in crafting the attack on her ostensible boss, President Obama.

According to the Times article, the husband-and-wife team share both a common world view and professional ambitions, Nuland editing Kagan's articles and Kagan "not permitted to use any official information he overhears or picks up around the house" a suggestion that Kagan's thinking at least may be informed by foreign policy secrets passed on by his wife.

Though Nuland wouldn't comment specifically on Kagan's attack on President Obama, she indicated that she holds similar views. "But suffice to say," Nuland said, "that nothing goes out of the house that I don't think is worthy of his talents. Let's put it that way."

Misguided Media

In the three decades since Reagan's propaganda machine was launched, the American press corps also has fallen more and more into line with an aggressive U.S. government's foreign policy strategies. Those of us in the mainstream media who resisted the propaganda pressures mostly saw our careers suffer while those who played along moved steadily up the ranks into positions of more money and more status.

Even after the Iraq War debacle when nearly the entire mainstream media went with the pro-invasion flow, there was almost no accountability for that historic journalistic failure. Indeed, the neocon influence at major newspapers, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, only has solidified since.

Today's coverage of the Syrian civil war or the Ukraine crisis is so firmly in line with the State Department's propaganda "themes" that it would put smiles on the faces of William Casey and Walter Raymond if they were around today to see how seamlessly the "perception management" now works. There's no need any more to send out "public diplomacy" teams to bully editors and news executives. Everyone is already onboard.

Rupert Murdoch's media empire is bigger than ever, but his neocon messaging barely stands out as distinctive, given how the neocons also have gained control of the editorial and foreign-reporting sections of the Washington Post, the New York Times and virtually every other major news outlet. For instance, the demonizing of Russian President Putin is now so total that no honest person could look at those articles and see anything approaching objective or evenhanded journalism. Yet, no one loses a job over this lack of professionalism.

The Reagan administration's dreams of harnessing private foundations and non-governmental organizations have also come true. The Orwellian circle has been completed with many American "anti-war" groups advocating for "humanitarian" wars in Syria and other countries targeted by U.S. propaganda. [See Consortiumnews.com's " Selling 'Peace Groups' on US-Led Wars. "]

Much as Reagan's "public diplomacy" apparatus once sent around "defectors" to lambaste Nicaragua's Sandinistas by citing hyped-up human rights violations now the work is done by NGOs with barely perceptible threads back to the U.S. government. Just as Freedom House had "credibility" in the 1980s because of its earlier reputation as a human rights group, now other groups carrying the "human rights" tag, such as Human Rights Watch, are in the forefront of urging U.S. military interventions based on murky or propagandistic claims. [See Consortiumnews.com's " The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case. "]

At this advanced stage of America's quiet surrender to "perception management," it is even hard to envision how one could retrace the many steps that would lead back to the concept of a democratic Republic based on an informed electorate. Many on the American Right remain entranced by the old propaganda theme about the "liberal media" and still embrace Reagan as their beloved icon. Meanwhile, many liberals can't break away from their own wistful trust in the New York Times and their empty hope that the media really is "liberal."

To confront the hard truth is not easy. Indeed, in this case, it can cause despair because there are so few voices to trust and they are easily drowned out by floods of disinformation that can come from any angle right, left or center. Yet, for the American democratic Republic to reset its goal toward an informed electorate, there is no option other than to build institutions that are determinedly committed to the truth.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com ). You also can order Robert Parry's trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America's Stolen Narrative . For details on this offer, click here .

LIANE CASTEN , December 28, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Terrific analysis. Am working on my own book on Vietnam (under contract.) Would love to use this piece liberally–of course with serious attribution. Do I have your permission?. Liane

W. R. Knight , December 28, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Bear in mind that during WWII, Reagan was nothing more than an itinerant movie actor who played war heros but never participated in the war itself. The movies he played in weren't much more than unabashed propaganda.

It is obscene that we allow the most vociferous warmongers to avoid any personal risk in the wars they promote; and it is depressing to see the public persuaded by the propaganda to sacrifice their money and children for the benefit of the warmongers.

Man on the street , December 29, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Reagan actually has two sides as he was portrayed on SNL, the nice grandfatherly side, and the mafia boss warmonger side. He managed to use the media to display his nice side.

Carroll Price , December 31, 2014 at 11:49 am

It takes both. All really successful presidents have a nice grandfatherly side and a mafia boss side that's displayed to the public as the need arises. Why? Because the American people admire the mafia war monger trait as much, if not more, than the grandfatherly trait. FDR and Reagan were both successful presidents because they had great skill in displaying whichever side fitted occasion, while Jimmy Carter, who was not blessed with a mafia/war monger side was a complete failure.

Joe Tedesky , December 28, 2014 at 2:07 pm

When ever this subject comes up, of how the right wing in American politics controls the narrative, I think of the 'Powell Memo'. In 1971 Lewis Powell wrote a secretive memo descripting how the conservatives must take hold of the American media. Powell would become a Supreme Court justice. If you Google his 'Powell Memo' you will read how Justice Powell laid out a very specific plan on how to do this. Powell wrote this before becoming a sitting Supreme Court Justice. His instructions were so good that many believe this document he wrote, was his stairway to heaven.

I cannot help but reflect on how the Warren Report was a great way for the Dark State to see how well they could pull the wool over America's eyes. Even though many did not buy the official one gunman claim, what else was there to counter this official report. So, it's business as usual, and for the average US citizen there isn't much else left to do.

I value this site. Although, there are way to many Americans not getting the news this site has to offer. Instead our society strolls along catching the sound bites, and listening to agenda driven pundits to become the most ill informed populace in human history.

Everythings Jake , December 28, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Another stellar moment of "integrity" in Colin Powell's long and ignominious career.

JWalters , December 28, 2014 at 5:43 pm

" given how the neocons also have gained control of the editorial and foreign-reporting sections of the Washington Post, the New York Times and virtually every other major news outlet."

And how do the neocons, working from niches out of the limelight, have the power to do all this? In a political system dominated by money, from where comes their money? Who coordinates their game plan? Who has an interest in promoting needless wars?
http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

Mark , December 29, 2014 at 8:35 am

A tour de force outstanding work; essential reading, imo. It draws together in detail the mind-management of aggressive imperial adventures from Vietnam, through Central America and Iraq up to Ukraine and Syria today. Thank you Robert Parry.

Perhaps, as a further signal of the 'same ole same ole', you might even have thrown in somewhere the epithet 'jihadi contras' to describe extremist militias used (recruited, funded, trained, armed and directed) by the US (and allies) in the Syrian nightmare (and Libyan); where the secular and tolerant Assad government is – painfully for perception managers – still supported by the vast majority of Syrians, however topsy-turvy the mainextreme narrative is.

Thomas Seifert , December 29, 2014 at 9:12 am

A question from Germany: We observe a very similar process over here – the mainstream media closest following (and inciting!) the official NATO-propaganda in the case of Ukraine. This happens even stubbornly against the bitter protests from greater parts of their own readers.

But: HOW does this happen? What are precisely the mechanisms to unite the media and the journalists behind a special doctrine? On other themes there is still a pluralism of opinions – but in the case of "national interests"/foreign policy there is a kind of frightening standardization. Why this difference?

And why this against an obvious resistance from large parts of their readers and from experts (e.g. the last three German chancellors – Schmidt, Kohl and Schroeder – have admonished the NATO for better considering the Russian security interests). I don't want to believe in simple conspiracy theories

onno , December 29, 2014 at 9:23 am

Another great article by Consortiumnews proving the manipulation of people by the Western Media. It's amazing and scary to realize that people's minds are influenced by government propaganda. It reminds me of the German occupation during WW II and the lies broadcasted by US financed Radio Free Europe during the Cold War and apparently still happening in Azerbaijan.

This is psychological warfare at its best and used at the hands of the White House and Washington's Congress. What a shame for a so-called democratic nation, when are the American people waking up?

John , December 29, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Excellent piece indeed. The collusion of mass media and officials installed by the same economic powers completes the totalitarian mechanism which has displaced democracy.

Suggest clarifying use of the name Raymond, at first apparently Raymond Bonner also called Bonner, then a (different?) Raymond with the CIA referred to only by surname(?) as Raymond, then a Walter Raymond jr.

Studies estimate that between 100K and 150K Nam vets have committed suicide since the war. There are many reasons why but I suspect a goodly number did so when they couldn't handle the knowledge of how they had been used. I'm careful about who in my "peers" I enlighten.

Paul , December 29, 2014 at 3:39 pm

The positive side of democracy in America is exemplified precisely by journalism such as this. How sad that it is almost completely overshadowed by the cynical imperial 'democracy' that Parry's essay describes.

Your description of how the first Iraq War was pursued despite easily available options to avoid the carnage are hair-raising and infuriating. Almost as infuriating as the internal propaganda efforts of the U.S. government. I hope this essay is widely read.

To me, the positive side of democracy in America is exemplified precisely by journalism such as this. How sad that it is almost completely overshadowed by the cynical imperial 'democracy' that Parry's essay describes.

Barbc , December 29, 2014 at 7:32 pm

This past year I have learned from a number of Vietnam veterans that Reagan is not as well liked as has had been implied.
A most of the dislike is how he did not follow throw with bringing home the POWs left behind in Vietnam.

Steve Pahs , December 29, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Mr. Parry,

I follow your writing and have passed it along at times to the misinformed in my life. I appreciate such as your MH17 work early on when Putin and Russia were immediately blamed.

I am a Nam grunt vet from 66′-67′ who is the not so proud recipient of the Purple Heart. My physical wounds affect me to this day as I approach the age of 68. My mental wounds are not from my combat experience so much as they are from the eventual feeling of being used and betrayed. Adversity does not build character, it reveals it. I'm good with mine. The mental wounds evolved over time as I educated myself about how such an awful thing as that war could happen and engulf me in it at 19.

Three months in a military hospital makes one think about what had just transpired. It was the start of a journey that will continue till my last breath. I've crossed that threshold where most of my family and friends are looking through a keyhole offered up by our "leaders" while I am in the room dealing with the evil. Even those who understand what I present will sometimes tell me that "you are right, but it's too late in my life to accept it". That was said by a former Marine pilot.

It's painful to watch any western MSM. It's all through our sports and entertainment programming to the point of madness. The wreckage caused by our "leaders" across the earth's face, in our name, IS evil. I stopped taking the local paper a couple of years ago after they no longer would print my letters and columns. Twenty years ago it all made me quite angry. It's sadness I feel now for those who refuse to "see". Many vets don't know the source of their anger and the VA gladly numbs them with drugs. Not I.

Studies estimate that between 100K and 150K Nam vets have committed suicide since the war. There are many reasons why but I suspect a goodly number did so when they couldn't handle the knowledge of how they had been used. I'm careful about who in my "peers" I enlighten.

Mark Twain (SLC) said some profound things. One of my favorites is "It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled".
Always follow the money.

Thanks for what you do. It does make a difference.
Steve Pahs

MarkinPNW , December 30, 2014 at 1:43 am

This "Perception Management" is nothing knew. The argument has been made persuasively that the attack on Pearl Harbor actually resulted from a deliberate and successful campaign by FDR to change or "manage" the mass opinions or "Perceptions" of the US electorate from strongly pro-peace and anti-war (what could be called a "Great War syndrome" from the stupid and useless devastation of WW1) to all out pro-war for US involvement in WW2, by provoking the Japanese and refusing all peace negotiations with the Japanese who desperately were trying to avoid war.

In reference to "Orwellian Dystopia", Orwell's novels "Animal Farm" and "1984" were based in large part on Orwell's experience in the Spanish Civil War and WW2, respectively.

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg , December 30, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Until the U.S. gets its butt seriously whipped again, as in Vietnam, the ever escalating strategy of tension against all countries who exhibit less than total and unconditional obedience to Washington will continue. Victoria Nuland is nothing more than a modern version of Cecil Rhodes; the ever probing tentacle of a voracious empire. In fact, It's really the same one.

hp , December 30, 2014 at 3:52 pm

The ripened fruit of the pervert Freud's pervert nephew Edward Bernays. (how the usurping usurers roll)

Jacob , December 31, 2014 at 11:51 pm

"In the 1980s, the Reagan administration pioneered 'perception management' to get the American people to 'kick the Vietnam Syndrome' and accept more U.S. interventionism, . . ."

The management of public perception within the U.S. regarding its imperialistic/colonial ambitions goes back much further than the 1980s. The Committee on Public Information, also known as "the Creel Commission," was the likely model Reagan wanted to imitate. The purpose of the CPI was to convince the American public, which was mostly anti-war, to support America's entry into the European war, also known as WWI. The CPI was in official operation from 1917 to 1919 during the Woodrow Wilson administration. But the paradigm for the use of mass propaganda to alter public perceptions is the Congregatio de propaganda fide (The Office for the Propagation of the Faith), a 1622 Vatican invention to undermine the spread of Protestantism by managing public perceptions on religious and spiritual matters.

[Oct 12, 2017] Are those my words coming out of Steve Bannons mouth? by Thomas Frank

Like Obama before him Trump proved to be a very talented "bat and switcher".
Notable quotes:
"... Donald Trump's presidential campaign took this cynical strategy farther than any of his Republican predecessors, openly reaching out to alienated working-class voters, the backbone of so many left-wing protest movements. ..."
"... Trump told us he was going to do something about Nafta, a left-wing bête noir since the 1990s. He promised to revive Glass Steagall. He claimed to care so very, very much about the people of the deindustrialized zones whose sufferings have been so thoroughly documented by left-wing authors. ..."
"... When Sanders decided to support HRC, I figured nothing will ever change. He built up a lot of hope (as did Obama), only to pull the rug out at the eleventh hour. ..."
"... Moving to the far towards the "progressive" left, the Democratic party abandoned the working and middle classes in favor of the coastal well to do city dwellers while trying to appeal to the "oppressed identity" single issue "groups". ..."
"... People got tired of losing their jobs to "globalization", with the government deciding what they can do with policies of "diversity", which is essentially a quota system, and with having ideologues and bureaucrats decide what is good or bad for them. ..."
"... If we lost the base of the Democratic party it wasn't because it was stolen from us. It was because it was given away. We started giving it away when we learned the wrong lesson after Ronald Reagan and thought that we had to move to the right with Bill Clinton to win the presidency. ..."
"... Clinton is the ultimate Swamp Creature,and large reason for her loss is that she spent more time with her high dollar donors then in swing states. How do you think the "Clinton Foundation" got so big? ..."
"... So the Democrats embraced the moneyed establishment because they felt they had to to win, while the Republicans denounced that same establishment but only as part of a bait-and-switch strategy. Meanwhile the establishment hedges their bets and wins no matter what the election outcome. ..."
"... I agree, the New Deal was quite leftist, in the sense that it acknowledged the crisis which had struck the working class. It's atypical in the history of the Democratic Party, which has been devoted to advancing the interests of U.S. corporations and since the Clinton years, those of multinational business consortia. But even the New Deal was a far cry from a revolutionary call to arms. In fact, it was meant to curtail such agitation. Roosevelt said as much. ..."
"... There is no left movement in Washington. Each is going after money from lobbyists. I just see the USA rapidly consuming itself and fragmenting. It has poor social, medical, policing programs. And it continues to digest itself in petty hate between the Democrats and Republicans. It really has no serious governance and worse its flagship superior court is now being sold to capitalism ..."
"... Identity politics is what the oligarchy is using to divide us. I just think it is counterproductive to battle each other when the upward mobility is being taken from us. I wish others could see it. ..."
"... Immigration restrictionists in the US have for decades fought the corporate establishment. In fact, we have fought what are probably the most powerful coalitions of special interests in human history, coalitions of corporate predators, Big Labor, Big Religion, Big Media, and Big Government. ..."
"... There are plenty of populists in the Republican Party, but the governing portion of the party is solidly neocon. Hence the battle between President Trump and the "17 intelligence agencies," and the remarkable undermining of Trump's foreign policy proposals by his own cabinet. ..."
"... Just as the progressive base of the Democratic Party is suppressed by the corporatists at the DNC and other centralized party organs, the Republican base is a captive to its Washington elite power brokers. ..."
"... Apparently 'isolationism' now means simply advocating for some restraint on endless global US military interventionism, hundreds and hundreds of bases in 80+ countries, and trillion dollar 'defence' budgets. ..."
"... I'll take an isolationist over a neo-con any day. ..."
"... The "traditional base" of the Democratic Party was destroyed long ago by de-industrialisation, hollowing of labor law, and now by opioids of the masses. The present day DNC is run by and for their army of contractors, lobbyists, bunglers, and wreckers. ..."
"... I hate to say it to you, but Trump voters who live in Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Iowa weren't looking for upscale living and calling for lower corporate taxes etc. One out of four WV residents are living under economic distress. They just want decent jobs and a government that represents working people, not the wealthy. ..."
Oct 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Oct 6, 2017

here's was a moment in Steve Bannon's recent 60 Minutes inter view when the former presidential advisor was asked what he's done to drain "the swamp," the Trumpists' favorite metaphor for everything they hate about Washington DC. Here was Bannon's reply: "The swamp is 50 years in the making. Let's talk about the swamp. The swamp is a business model. It's a successful business model. It's a donor, consultant, K Street lobbyist, politician ... 7 of the 9 wealthiest counties in America ring Washington, DC."

With a shock of recognition I knew immediately what Bannon meant, because what he was talking about was the subject matter of my 2008 book, The Wrecking Crew – the interconnected eco-system of corruption that makes Washington, DC so rich.

The first chapter of my book had been a description of those wealthy counties that ring Washington, DC: the fine cars, the billowing homes, the expense-account restaurants. The rest of the book was my attempt to explain the system that made possible the earthly paradise of Washington and – just like Steve Bannon – I did it by referring to a business model: the political donors and the K Street lobbyists, who act in combination with politicians of the Tom DeLay variety.

My critique of Washington was distinctly from the left, and it astonished me to hear something very close to my argument coming from the mouth of one of the nation's most prominent conservatives. But in fact, Bannon has a long history of reaching out to the left – you might say, of swiping its populist language and hijacking its causes.

In this space back in February, for example, I described Bannon's bizarre 2010 pseudo-documentary about the financial crisis, which superficially resembles actual documentaries, but which swerves to blame this failure of the deregulated financial system on the counterculture of the 1960s.

Bannon's once-famous denunciation of Wall Street banks for their role in the financial crisis is another example. His fondness for the author Christopher Lasch is also revealing. As was his admiring phone call with Robert Kuttner, a well-known liberal editor, which happened just before Bannon left his high-ranking White House job in August.

Mimicry is supposed to be a form of flattery, right

Dig a little deeper, and it sometimes seems like the history of the populist right – with its calls to "organize discontent" and its endless war against "the establishment" and the "elites" – is nothing but a history of reformatting left-wing ideas to fit the needs of the billionaire class. Think of Ronald Reagan's (and Mike Pence's) deliberate reprise of Franklin Roosevelt. Or the constant echoes of Depression-era themes and imagery that one heard from the Tea Party movement.

Donald Trump's presidential campaign took this cynical strategy farther than any of his Republican predecessors, openly reaching out to alienated working-class voters, the backbone of so many left-wing protest movements.

Trump told us he was going to do something about Nafta, a left-wing bête noir since the 1990s. He promised to revive Glass Steagall. He claimed to care so very, very much about the people of the deindustrialized zones whose sufferings have been so thoroughly documented by left-wing authors.

So many fine, militant words. So many clarion calls rousing the people against corrupt elites. And now comes Steve Bannon, the terror of the Republican establishment, hectoring us about "the swamp" with ideas so strikingly similar to my own.

Look at deeds rather than words, however, and it seems as though Trump and his gang have been using The Wrecking Crew more as a how-to guide than anything else. In that book, for example, I pointed out that one of the hallmarks of modern conservative governance is the placement of people who are hostile to the mission of federal agencies in positions of authority in those very agencies.

This is an essential component of the Washington corruption Bannon loves to deplore – and yet this is precisely what Bannon's man Trump has done. Betsy DeVos, a foe of public schools, is running the Department of Education. Scott Pruitt, a veteran antagonist of the EPA, has been put in charge of the EPA. Rick Perry now runs the Department of Energy, an agency he once proposed to abolish.

Another characteristic of the DC wrecking crew is a war on competence within the Federal bureaucracy – and that, too, is back on, courtesy of the folks who rallied you against corruption so movingly last year.

Lobbying ? The industry appears to be gearing up for a return of its Reagan-era golden age. In the early days of the administration, lobbyists were appointed en masse to team Trump and a brigade of brash new K Street personalities is rising up to replace the old guard.

Privatization? The people in DC are trying it again, and this time on a gigantic scale. Trump's ultra-populist infrastructure promise now seems to be little more than a vast scheme for encouraging investment firms to take over the country's highways and bridges. Even the dreams of privatized war are back, brought to you courtesy of the enterprising Erik Prince, a familiar face from the worst days of the Iraq war.

Above it all towers the traditional Republican ideal of business-in-government. "The government should be run like a great American company," is how Jared Kushner puts it this time around; and with his private-jet-set cabinet Donald Trump is going to show the nation exactly what that philosophy looks like.

All the elements are here. The conclusion is unquestionable. The wrecking crew is back.

And why is it back? Because, among other things, Republicans are better at fulminating against the wrecking crew than are Democrats. Maybe that's because Democratic leaders feel it's inappropriate to use such blunt and crude language.

Maybe that's because, for 40 years or so, the leadership faction of the Democratic Party has been at war with its own left wing, defining us out of the conversation, turning a deaf ear to our demands, denouncing populism even as the right grabbed for it with both hands. Either way, the Democrats seem to have no intention of changing their approach now.

Maybe we on the left should take consolation in the things Steve Bannon says. Our own team may not listen to us, but at least there's someone out there in a position of power who apparently does. And mimicry is supposed to be a form of flattery, right?

No. All this is happening for one reason only: to steal the traditional base of the Democratic Party out from under us. That it will also enrich countless contractors and lobbyists and bunglers and wreckers is just a bonus.

Thomas Frank is a Guardian columnist

Thirdparty -> bh_two , 9 Oct 2017 04:04

Right. The traditional base of the Democratic Party stopped supporting it when it was taken over by right-wingers like the Clintons.
Thirdparty , 9 Oct 2017 04:01
On running the government like a business: That is exactly what the Trump regime is doing. Their business model is the mob. And to be fair, the idea of running government like a business makes precisely as much sense as running a business like a government.
Aligarter , 9 Oct 2017 03:15
Steve Bannon is part of the plan to de-democratize the USA and Republicans can only do that by lying on an industrial scale, which they do very efficiently and effectively. Why the need? Because although they are good at destruction, they are no good at all at building the nation or government.

The First Rule of Marketing says that if you give people what they want, they will give you dollars. The billionaires who fund the Republicans again and again do so not because they believe in good government, or have the slightest concern for the wealth, health and defense of the nation, but because they get what they want. It's a purchasing contract.

bh_two , 9 Oct 2017 01:27
"....to steal the traditional base of the Democratic Party out from under us"

They aren't your servants to do your bidding and wait your table. Nor your political property. There is no more similarity of average working blokes to self-infatuated intellectuals of "the left" than a potato to a hubcap.

Working people left the party because they plainly are no longer welcome except during the brief hours when the polls are open.

curiouswes -> HauptmannGurski , 9 Oct 2017 01:22

What are we at?

I haven't the vaguest idea. When Sanders decided to support HRC, I figured nothing will ever change. He built up a lot of hope (as did Obama), only to pull the rug out at the eleventh hour.

MD1212a , 8 Oct 2017 21:32
Moving to the far towards the "progressive" left, the Democratic party abandoned the working and middle classes in favor of the coastal well to do city dwellers while trying to appeal to the "oppressed identity" single issue "groups". The only answer it presented to all problems was more government control over the economy and over all aspects of people's life. People got tired of losing their jobs to "globalization", with the government deciding what they can do with policies of "diversity", which is essentially a quota system, and with having ideologues and bureaucrats decide what is good or bad for them.
DocDiv -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 20:16
TPP was a secret deal, which had written into it, its own right to trump the legal systems of signatory countries with TPP-sponsored arbitration and even mediation judgments. Trump saw that off on his first day.
Lyndon Watson , 8 Oct 2017 20:02
If we lost the base of the Democratic party it wasn't because it was stolen from us. It was because it was given away. We started giving it away when we learned the wrong lesson after Ronald Reagan and thought that we had to move to the right with Bill Clinton to win the presidency.

It was later given away when we didn't accomplish much when we had the majorities in the House, Senate and Presidency back in 2008. If Trump picked up our message it was because he took it, it was because it was just sitting there waiting to be picked up.

Cas Ann -> J.K. Stevens , 8 Oct 2017 19:20
Nonsense. Clinton is the ultimate Swamp Creature,and large reason for her loss is that she spent more time with her high dollar donors then in swing states. How do you think the "Clinton Foundation" got so big?
JohnCan45 , 8 Oct 2017 17:11
So the Democrats embraced the moneyed establishment because they felt they had to to win, while the Republicans denounced that same establishment but only as part of a bait-and-switch strategy. Meanwhile the establishment hedges their bets and wins no matter what the election outcome.
curiouswes -> stderr2 , 8 Oct 2017 16:51

Conservatives argue against identity politics.

That is a good message. I'll be more supportive of the conservatives when they actually practice what they preach. But please don't get me wrong. Not all conservatives are into white supremacy. The problem I see is that if one is a white supremacist, the conservatives don't publicly denounce that position. It makes many people of color feel alienated by conservatism. At least the left openly denounces white supremacy. The right praises MLK but doesn't condemn those in Charlotteville. They had a right to protest and the left shouldn't have tried to silence them. However it was identity politics. They wouldn't be protecting the open display of the confederacy if they weren't into identity politics. That message seems to get lost as conservatism frowns on identity politics.

I don't know what that refers to.

NAFTA passed under Clinton , but more importantly, so did the Uruguay Round of GATT. When the Senate passed that (the House passed it to but technically the House doesn't ratify treaties), it severely curtailed the USA's ability to negotiate our own trade deals. All members of the WTO are vulnerable to financial penalties if any member nation tries to override the rulings set by the WTO. Not only did Ralph Nader recognize this as a problem and try to run for president because of it, so did Pat Buchanan. Buchanan saw this as lost sovereignty (in his words). Both Nader and Buchanan were of course unsuccessful because we vote in an FPTP voting system which tends to eliminate third parties form being successful.

The point is that Clinton forced Congress to pass the legislation just like Paulson forced Congress to approve a bailout of the banks during the financial crisis. It wasn't really all the republicans fault, but the oligarchy would have taken down the global economy if it didn't get bailed out. Anyway the WTO has a policy on dumping:

If a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges on its own home market, it is said to be "dumping" the product. The WTO Agreement does not regulate the actions of companies engaged in "dumping". Its focus is on how governments can or cannot react to dumping -- it disciplines anti-dumping actions, and it is often called the "Anti-dumping Agreement".

both dems and reps rant and rave about China dumping steel but nothing ever gets done to stop it because the WTO is there protecting China (or american companies making steel in China). Either way the american steel worker gets screwed in the process and that is why populists hate globalism. The American worker knows he's getting screwed but he may not be aware of the mechanism by which he is getting screwed. The media rarely talks about the WTO because if the American worker knew how he was getting screwed, he'd be screaming to get out of the WTO. Typically he only knows his jobs are gone and where they are. However it was Clinton who did this and the idea that anybody would even think of putting HRC back in the white house while she is still married to that dude is due to utter ignorance of the fact of what he did when he was there the first time.

I think both Clinton and W should be in jail, but this isn't about W.

budhudnut -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 16:39
I agree, the New Deal was quite leftist, in the sense that it acknowledged the crisis which had struck the working class. It's atypical in the history of the Democratic Party, which has been devoted to advancing the interests of U.S. corporations and since the Clinton years, those of multinational business consortia. But even the New Deal was a far cry from a revolutionary call to arms. In fact, it was meant to curtail such agitation. Roosevelt said as much.
ID6995146 , 8 Oct 2017 16:15
There is no left movement in Washington. Each is going after money from lobbyists. I just see the USA rapidly consuming itself and fragmenting. It has poor social, medical, policing programs. And it continues to digest itself in petty hate between the Democrats and Republicans. It really has no serious governance and worse its flagship superior court is now being sold to capitalism. Capitalism will fail as predicted by Marx and those who really know about it. It is our children who will pick up the tab if they can survive.
stderr2 -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 15:19
> Identity politics is what the oligarchy is using to divide us.

Conservatives argue against identity politics. I don't know what the oligarchy is supposed to be, in the context of the US. People in power often came from varied backgrounds, not usually all that rich backgrounds.

> upward mobility is being taken from us

Upward from what? If you are poor, there's a lot of upward that might be possible, but if you are middle class, whatever that means, you can't have everyone moving up or the definition of middle class would change to them.

> The worst thing that happened to us, happened under Clinton

I don't know what that refers to. Welfare reform? Various changes to banking regulations? Allowing bin Laden to hit us again and again but instead of doing what needed to be done, frolicking with a young frisky intern in the Oval Office? I doubt Bush Sr would've done that.

stderr2 -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 15:12
> However if you stand up for the rights of one group and ignore the rights of another today some people still don't "get it".

They don't get what? When someone protests in the street, whether they are sweetness and light or racist or whatever, they have the right to protest. Plenty of people would argue that "hate speech" should be banned, them defining what "hate speech" means, of course. These people are arguing against settled constitutional law.

> I tend to think the US citizen should be protected by the bill of rights and not necessarily those here illegally.

Yet not protecting everyone with due process, for example, is a violation of constitutional law.

curiouswes -> stderr2 , 8 Oct 2017 14:49
I consider myself a populist. Not exactly from the left but certainly more left that right. Identity politics is what the oligarchy is using to divide us. I just think it is counterproductive to battle each other when the upward mobility is being taken from us. I wish others could see it. The worst thing that happened to us, happened under Clinton, but rest assured; HW Bush would have done it had he won the election in 92.
budhudnut -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 13:10
My point was that calling the Democratic Party a leftist party requires a notion of that term drained of real meaning. The Democratic Party has always upheld the supremacy of capital and the necessity of forestalling a revolution. I realize that in the United States plenty of people regard President Obama and Hillary Clinton as communists, but that's simply a measure of how far to the right political discourse stands there. The American left was eliminated from public life in the 1940s and 1950s with the suppression of the Communist Party, the purging of the unions and professions, and strict mass indoctrination of the citizenry. And whenever new manifestations of leftist energy have appeared, they have been met with unremitting hostility from liberal and conservative centers of power.

Finally, the Democratic Party is a party not just of capital, but of empire. This was never more true than in last year's election, in which Donald Trump was able to appeal to marginal voters on the ambiguous claim that he was less warlike than Secretary Clinton. No, there's nothing in the two party set-up which expresses the basic demands of the modern left- an end to imperialism, nationalization of key industries, and so on. And when people restrict their political thinking to the narrow range offered by a business oligopoly, they're going to be misreading their own reality.

lsjogren -> dallasdunlap , 8 Oct 2017 10:27
The Republican Party has a big problem in that its agenda has at best a small grassroots following of perhaps 10% of the populace.

Meantime, populist-nationalism is in sync with the views of I would estimate at least 50% of the US citizenry and perhaps as much as 60%. (the other 30% of the public are "progressives")

The establishment has maintained power by default. When our political system offers only a choice between a "progressive" Democrat and an establishment Repubilcan, many voters choose the latter as the lesser evil.

If and when voters actually are offered a genuine choice at the ballot box, watch out. I think you will start seeing this played out on a grand scale in the 2018 and 2020 Republican primaries.

lsjogren , 8 Oct 2017 10:22
Fighting the corporate establishment has never been the exclusive province of the left.

Immigration restrictionists in the US have for decades fought the corporate establishment. In fact, we have fought what are probably the most powerful coalitions of special interests in human history, coalitions of corporate predators, Big Labor, Big Religion, Big Media, and Big Government.

This movement is one of the grassroots pillars fueling Bannonism.

dallasdunlap , 8 Oct 2017 09:03
There are plenty of populists in the Republican Party, but the governing portion of the party is solidly neocon. Hence the battle between President Trump and the "17 intelligence agencies," and the remarkable undermining of Trump's foreign policy proposals by his own cabinet.

Just as the progressive base of the Democratic Party is suppressed by the corporatists at the DNC and other centralized party organs, the Republican base is a captive to its Washington elite power brokers.

budhudnut , 8 Oct 2017 06:26
Thomas Frank's interesting and thoughtful pieces on the failure- or refusal- of the Democratic Party to come to terms with the depths of voter disaffection form an interesting contrast with the Guardian's DNC-supplied outlook. I suppose that's why he's been hired, to take up all that slack as the paper trudges ever rightward. Here's a link to an extended recent interview he gave with Paul Jay at The Real News.

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=832&Itemid=74&jumival=1649

Christopher Oxley , 7 Oct 2017 16:53
Populist movements typically tend to involve more focus on complaining and raging about problems than coming up with any real solutions for them, so it doesn't really matter whether members self-identify as coming from the left or right. Given the Trump campaign was all about manipulation anyway, with Trump just a puppet to distract the public from seeing the corprate take-over of the state, it's not surprising they used a populist rhetoric, as seen in shock doctrine, that inherent rage blinds them from seeing they are being manipulated.
Ben Groetsch -> sludgeco , 7 Oct 2017 15:48
The last time the Democrats actually offered something to the American people was the War on Poverty and Civil Rights legislation by President Johnson in the 1960s. Other than the Democrats have been acting like an extended PR arm of corporate America by performing sideshows on social issues while failing to address the needs of working families. I clearly don't buy into the notion that the Democrats are a tad better than the Republicans. No, the Democrats need to be radically to the left like Bernie Sanders, not moderate Republican lite such as Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. This country simply cannot continue electing conservative governments all the time in Washington DC.
sparkylab -> JoeintheMidwest , 7 Oct 2017 12:50
Apparently 'isolationism' now means simply advocating for some restraint on endless global US military interventionism, hundreds and hundreds of bases in 80+ countries, and trillion dollar 'defence' budgets.
JoeintheMidwest -> PennyCarter , 7 Oct 2017 12:25
A broken clock is right twice a day. Yes, Republican isolationists are the only ones in their primarily interventionist party to ever make a principled critique of endless U.S. wars abroad. Sadly, the Democrats are, with some honorable exceptions like Dennis Kucinich, as committed to these endless wars as their partners across the aisle. This is one of the many reasons why Hillary Clinton lost. However, Buchanan's xenophobia makes his brand of anti-imperialism shallow--he still thinks "Western civilization" is superior to other cultures, and has denied the genocide against Native Americans. His views about Jews are also rather creepy. That said, I'll take an isolationist over a neo-con any day.
money777 , 7 Oct 2017 07:21
There is divisive manipulation on the left and the right, the pundits blame each other to keep America divided. The right stereotypes the left while the left stereotypes the right . The working class crazy white guy is oppressing the hispanic and blacks while the blacks and hispanic oppress the working class white. The left pundits make fun of the working class while the right pundits make fun of the left pundits. Both sides are entralled by business interests aka socoio-political interests. Afterall, this is a business world where ppl have to put food on the table.America is on the verge of becoming as divided as america was prior to the civil war. What am i supposed to do? Join the resistence of division taking place on the left and the right? Protest against another american at a divided left vs. right rally? Resistence is futile because resistence leads to more division.

Excuse my unedites grammar semtence structure lack of sense and not serious online comment

Ponderbelle -> America_Loves_Trump , 7 Oct 2017 05:16
Trump can't stop calling others names - with the absurd stance that he must bully people to create a sense of self respect.

Those who support Trump or Bannon generally have in common a refusal to see any viewpoint other than their own. They'll find a way to make most any belief, policy or decision which T&B uphold, look justified or non-offensive in motives.

Trump runs every which way, so, there are bound to be a few things one finds agreeable (even from the left). Bannon thinks democracy does not work. He'd like to see the federal government crash.

In fact, The USA has no true democracy. Like many developed nations we are under the total rule of organized business. Profit is superior and normalized whereas basic human needs are for the highest bid competition. Greed older than Methuselah's first breakfast. Bannon doesn't have a vision for the betterment and uplift of society any more than anyone else. Who cannot can see corporate greed has its tentacles around us? The common person on the street knows the scheme. What to do about it finds us in the land of inertia. Next crash (it is coming) the panicked cry for bailouts will be near impossible to put-up with. With billions on the planet we are in new territory, as to resources and competition. A system which cannot survive with its hand in our pocket while claiming free market enterprise will even out the system on balance - meaning for investors, and head in sand more of the same.

ID6823856 , 7 Oct 2017 04:10
The "base" of the Democratic party is now the same get rich ideologues of Clinton-ism who are happy to lobby and privatise with as much enthusiasm as any right wing Republican/Conservative/Tea Party ideologue. Every administration, Republican or Democratic, from Clinton, to Bush, to Obama, has held to the same policies of the Reagan administration. The "traditional base" of the Democratic Party was destroyed long ago by de-industrialisation, hollowing of labor law, and now by opioids of the masses. The present day DNC is run by and for their army of contractors, lobbyists, bunglers, and wreckers.
rogerscorpion , 7 Oct 2017 04:06
Mr. Frank, I found it surprising that you mentioned both Betsy de Vos and Erik Prince -- but didn't mention the fact that they are siblings.
PeterOrmonde , 7 Oct 2017 03:45
Yep - the big mistake with critters like Bannon is to ignore or dismiss everything they say and fail to detect what resonance they are striking with what audience.

But it's awkward when you just read them and recognise grains of truthiness - they see the same problems it's just their solutions are all wrong. But they are actually cutting the left's grass - pinching the alienation and discontent that rightly belongs to progress, no? Now the NRA have got 'em - not even the GOP.

Be yer unfinished civil war this... grinding away slowly ... so now the whole place is riven by fear and suspicion - of race, wealth, cities, the guvvermint, of anything and everything really. A deeply traumatised culture you've got sitting down there - victims real and imagined wandering about and none of it getting fixed at all..

Not everyone or everywhere - but the most fearful and angry cluster are centred on the underlying issues of the era of Lincoln. Trump is speaking for and to them. There can be no more nonsense about lone gunmen - this is now part of US culture - systemic and systematic.

Yer 500 kiddies are just the price of open-carry freedoms according to the Vegas mayor. All the same old folk-wisdoms: can't have laws that stop bad people being bad?... why should the 1% of evildoers dictate our liberties?

But of course they do. That is how all laws work, whether murder or shoplifting - everyone shows their bags. In fact they are arguing for lawlessness - vigilantism and John Wayne cowboy myths. That's the Trump/Bannon audience ... National Enquirer readers packing heat .

Gonna get ugly before it's fixed.

Maury A. Bousson , 7 Oct 2017 02:42
#TheHouseAlwaysWins The author gets so close to putting his finger on the problem and then at the last moment swerves off into partisan rhetoric. Wake up dude! Both of the things you think are opposite sides are out to get us.
eastbayradical -> newyorkred , 7 Oct 2017 02:24
The list below delineates the policies and initiatives that Hillary Clinton supported over course of her political career (including as a loyal First Lady to Bill Clinton). They help explain the depressed voter enthusiasm and turnout for the Dems among many of the groups to whom you say Frank, as a "well-to-do white man" pining for "white working class revolution," owes an apology:

--Deregulation of the investment banks (and against reinstatement of Glass--Steagall)
--Deregulation of the telecommunications industry
--Deregulation of derivatives
--The destruction of welfare (which has caused the numbers living in extreme poverty to double since its passage)
--The Omnibus Crime Bill (increased the prison population massively)
--NAFTA
--The sanctions regime against Iraq of the 1990s that killed 500,000 Iraqi children ("it was worth it," said her friend Madeline Albright)
--The Defense of Marriage Act
--CAFTA (granted stealthy support)
--TPP
--Fracking
--The objectively-racist death penalty
--The private prison industry
--The Patriot Act
--The Iraq War
--The bombing of Libya
--Military intervention in Syria
--Israel's starvation blockade and blitzkrieg against Gaza
--The right-wing coup in Honduras
--Investor-friendly repression and cronyism in Haiti
--A 31 cents/hour minimum wage in Haiti (and against attempts to raise it)
--The recently announced 20 year, $1,000,000,000,000 (trillion) upgrade of the US's nuclear arsenal
--Historically-high numbers of deportations under the Obama Adm.
--Oil drilling in the Arctic
--The fight against free public university tuition
--The fight against single-payer health care
--Acceptance of tens of millions of dollars of corporate money
--Credit-card industry favored bankruptcy laws
--The bail-out of Wall Street

suddenoakdeath -> James F. , 7 Oct 2017 01:24
....and America was convinced Trump cared about them, so says Thomas Frank.
Alex W -> Ben Groetsch , 6 Oct 2017 21:21
If you think America is bad, then try living in the UK. The UK is a hotbed of religious nutters. Just look at Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, David Cameron, and Theresa May.

The UK still has a "state-established" church (the Church of England). The UK's national anthem ' God Save the Queen ' mentions 'God' over 30 different times. And most British schools are still faith-based and funded by the church. Also, abortion and gay marriage are still banned in some parts of the UK, such as Northern Ireland.

Forget Donald Trump.... the UK is far more religious & dangerous.

askzippy , 6 Oct 2017 21:09
Lol, yeah it's only the Rs that do bad stuff in DC. HRC was the Queen of the system described above. An article designed to confuse those without eyes to see.

The interesting thing for me is the hate levels on the left which appear to be almost off the scale at the moment. Identity politics seems to have a deep hold on your hearts.

sejong , 6 Oct 2017 20:55
The national of USA should be changed from bald eagle to lone wolf. Forget e pluribis unum. War of all against all.
Alex W -> Sharon Sekhon , 6 Oct 2017 20:04
The U.S. is more liberal & secular than ever. The election of Trump doesn't change that. According to a 2011 Pew Report , the U.S. now has the 3rd largest atheist population in the world -- after China & Japan. On top of that, a 2015 Gallup Poll found that 60% of Americans would vote for an atheist President -- a record number that continues to grow every year.

Additionally, gay marriage is legal in all 50 U.S. states. Marijuana is legal & taxed in 8 U.S. states. Euthanasia (assisted suicide) is legal in 6 U.S states -- including California (the largest state in America with over 40 million people). Even prostitution is legal & regulated in some U.S. states, such as Nevada!

*Sign into Youtube to watch this video about legal American brothels.

The U.S. constitution guarantees separation of Church & State -- unlike the UK, which still has a "state-established" church (the Church of England).

kmacafee -> Attu de Bubbalot , 6 Oct 2017 19:53
Not really. They will be defeated in the next election and they are already facing charges and prison time. This will not end with a bang, but with a whimper and whining like you've never heard. There are many more in the one percent and the top 10% who are already disgusted with Mercer, Koch, Trump and the whole Putin cabal. Evil is evil and splashing some fake christianity on their hitler speeches is not fooling anyone but the already fooled; and they are a small lot getting smaller every single day.
Zepp -> NYbill13 , 6 Oct 2017 18:21
Most of Bannon's story about dear old dad is pure crap. He was already a right wing film-maker before the 2008 meltdown, and dear old dad would still have his money if he had listened to his two financier sons instead of the cable TV idiot Cramer. AT&T, in case you haven't heard, came through the crash intact.
colacj , 6 Oct 2017 18:16
15 billion dollars worth of missiles being sold to Saudi Arabia ........ while a few days ago Saudi Arabia goes to Moscow and talks to putin which is the first tie ever.......... so we sold them weapons to what , aim at us........
Ben Groetsch -> MTavernier , 6 Oct 2017 18:15
So, do you preferred two thirds of the American population to live on welfare aid like Medicaid which doesn't even covered dental and eye exams? As much you don't like the GOP approach to healthcare reform, the Democrats would rather bailed out the insurance industry by making consumers to buy unaffordable coverage and public assistance programs and refused to embraced Bernie Sanders approach to universal healthcare. The Democratic Party simply has no ideas, just empty tough talk against the President.
Ben Groetsch -> Social36 , 6 Oct 2017 18:10
I hate to say it to you, but Trump voters who live in Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Iowa weren't looking for upscale living and calling for lower corporate taxes etc. One out of four WV residents are living under economic distress. They just want decent jobs and a government that represents working people, not the wealthy.

[Oct 12, 2017] The proletariat, or at least the opioid threatened, white and marginalized cadre on show in the Rust belt states, probably thought they had their man in DJT because he said what it took to get himself elected in the vernacular they prefer, feeling its authenticity made them look honest.. Ha!

Oct 12, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com

Ben Groetsch -> Sharon Sekhon , 6 Oct 2017 18:02

So, you're suggesting that Frank's political instincts are all wrong when he first wrote his book thesis on "What's the matter with Kansas," which lays out the scanting indictment of the pro-corporate wing of the Democratic Party and their wealthy supporters. Here's the reality that you Clinton bots don't understand: the rest of the country is like Kansas, not glamour LA or Wall Street NYC. People work in blue collar and grey collar professions, have modest wealth, and some are involved in trade unions. Many don't have a college degree; many also have no desires to go to a liberal arts school or state public university. Nearly eighty percent of middle America have a high school diploma. Only thirty percent have a college BA degree, and less than five percent have a advanced degree in Law or PH'D. Those numbers haven't changed since the 1960s. And yet, the corporate ruling class which showers money to both political parties have been selling the public a bill of false promises and lies about the necessary of getting a college degree in order to find gainful employment with living wages. Sorry, there isn't no living wage jobs. Our industrialized state has been devalued by NAFTA, a pro-corporate trade deal signed by Bill Clinton in the 1990s, had destroyed the fabric of mostly blue collar communities in middle America. Both Democrats and Republicans all conspired to gut the entire working classes out of the middle class status and into the underclass welfare state as a whole---first with welfare reform in the 1990s, followed by Bush era tax cuts, getting rid of Glass-Stegeall, awarding companies with job outsourcing, failure to provide affordable housing to the needy while selling risky sub-prime mortgages, making our higher educational system as a luxury commodity, destroying our pension system and replacing it with an inadequate 401K retirement package, allowing the one percent to hide their money overseas in tax haven accounts, subsidizing the rich, and control the media through corporate consolidation. We no longer have the ability to innovate, produce, or create a thriving working class middle. Instead, corporate dominance in our politics and our legal system makes it almost impossible to generate a fair, diverse, and expanding opportunities economy on the basis of progressive regulations that is desperately needed.

What Frank had in mind is what the donor class within the Democratic Party is scared about. That is, working people are being shoved aside due to the power of money in government, and yet the Democratic Party has to changed its tune in order to regain the working class voters in middle America.

Ben Groetsch , 6 Oct 2017 17:39
Well, Bannon is partly right given the fact that our government has been at the wheel of powerful lobbyists and wealthy donors for so long. However, given the dysfunctional and unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Trump Administration in DC, the Democrats seem to appear as aloof and tone deaf with the American people----a state of utter denial regarding a major political party that just lost the Presidential election to a dingbat D list reality tv star and real estate tycoon who has the mindset of a spoiled child.

The true reason behind Bannon's conquest for political votes is that the working class here in the US have been totally neglected and left behind by eight years of Obama and the last two terms of Bush Jr from the previous decade. Working people want actual middle class jobs and a shot of a decent life in retirement, not welfare checks from the government.

fabfreddy -> CivilDiscussion , 6 Oct 2017 17:05
Is that just about everybody? Or do you think there are people that wouldn't want to be billionaires?
Rollmeover , 6 Oct 2017 16:56
Democrats are so disorganized that to elect them is folly. We already have disorganization. Trump will win a second term.
chunki , 6 Oct 2017 16:55
The Left in English-speaking countries has been overtaken by upper-middle class people who are obsessed with sexual identity and race. They are snobby towards working class people and will abuse them as racist when they talk about problems with immigration or other social groups with different coloured skin. I moved from the first group into the second, and I know working class people are no more prejudiced than upper-middle class, but they don't have the vocabulary to express it in a way that "educated" people will recognise.
This snobbery towards possible complexities in the life of working class people is damning leftwing parties to continual oblivion.
(Working class people use blunt language, but they apply it to themselves equally. Those higher up the social ladder are not used to hearing that type of language.)
jackrousseau -> EyeFullEnt , 6 Oct 2017 14:14
Did anything I say indicate I support Trump? I described his administration as an economically centrist "kleptocracy". Trump Jr. taking thinly veiled payoffs on the speaking/grift circuit is par for the course.

Though, I imagine Trump Jr. commands significantly less than Chelsea Clinton ($65,000 as of 2015). http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/chelsea-clinton-speaking-fee-university-missouri-119580

And I imagine it's only a matter of time before we also see Obama's children "speaking" for thinly veiled payoffs. One already scored an prestigious internship with the socially progressive Weinstein Company. And Michelle's currently getting in excess of $200,000 for 1hr speeches. https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/05/02/michelle-obama-s-speaker-fee-is-as-much-as-some-former-president/22065295 /

...All enough to make someone a little cynical about American politics.

America_Loves_Trump -> EyeFullEnt , 6 Oct 2017 11:44
More misinformed nonsense.

In fact, Breitbart gets criticism on the right for being too gung ho in embracing Israel. Steve Bannon quotes that give some of his supporters pause are things like "no media outlet is more pro-Israel than Breitbart". I guess politics is a factor but most of us don't like all the money we give them and how a major reason that the Muslim world is so angry at the Western one is it's unflinching backing of Israel, no matter how much of the West Bank they encroach upon, among other things.

The idea that Breitbart is anti-Semitic is an absurd Media Matters talking point going back to an article calling Bill Kristol a "Renegade Jew". The article was, obviously, written by a Jew. And the thrust of the article was that Bill Kristol (and others) making attempts to steal the Republican nomination from Trump (as the Dems had from Bernie Sanders) would ultimately harm Israel. So it was a Jew calling a Jew a Renegade Jew for making a decision he believed was bad for the Jewish homeland.

I know it's all very confusing but hopefully that's cleared up now.

TheRexican , 6 Oct 2017 11:31
"I did it by referring to a business model: the political donors and the K Street lobbyists, who act in combination with politicians of the Tom DeLay variety."

There are almost no members of Congress who are of any other sort than the "Tom Delay" variety you refer to. Very nearly every single member is corrupt. The game is ruined. Perhaps an end to gerrymandering (if we shoudl be so fortunate) will allow some mechanism for changing the guard in Congress. We need to remove them all. They sold us out and we need to exile them for life.

Don't think your rep is any better. This keeps us stuck.

America_Loves_Trump -> charlieblue , 6 Oct 2017 11:10
I don't JUST yell Hillary. I also mentioned Obama and the rest of the criminals who make up the Democratic Party. Whose list of proven criminality is simply staggering enough before you get in to the mountains of very damning circumstantial stuff that begs investigation.

And when I mention the Democrats, you act as if it's some irrelevent non sequitur. IT IS NOT. Please remember that the choice was Trump OR Hillary. So whenever people lament how apparently terrible the President who has brought us 3.1% GDP growth for the first time in years and well over a million new jobs along with finally insisting that the law needs to be enforced for the first time in 8 years, the issue of the alternative to this IS of course relevant.

As I said: Clinton is a part of the establishment. A real swamp monster. One of the really big stinking ones, with huge wads of cash stuck to her blood soaked claws. Trump is not. And by the very low bar set by the past few Presidents, just not being more of the same is an improvement.

And by the way, Hillary Clinton did commit multiple felonies. The private server = felony (whether "intent" was there or not, that was an irrelevant muddying of the waters). The storing and forwarding of classified info on this server = felony (whether or not she, after decades in government understood that (C) meant classified as it always had all along).

You've got your head in the sand, pal

Whiplashed -> America_Loves_Trump , 6 Oct 2017 10:53
You seem to be taking Clinton Cash as evidence of something, but that is just a piece of propaganda meant to sway the election. Where are your reputable sources?
boilingriver -> America_Loves_Trump , 6 Oct 2017 10:51
There are some great videos on Youtube where he talks about economics.
HAHA yes where he deliberately lies about the cause of 2008.

Where he is now silent on cohn who is now in charge of economic policy.

So, while Cohn was overseeing one team inside Goldman Sachs preoccupied with implementing the big short, he was in regular contact with others scrambling to offload its subprime inventory. One Goldman trader described the mortgage-backed securities they were selling as "shitty." Another complained in an email that they were being asked to "distribute junk that nobody was dumb enough to take first time around." A December 28 email from Fabrice "Fabulous Fab" Tourre, a Goldman vice president later convicted of fraud, instructed traders to focus on less astute, "buy and hold" investors rather than "sophisticated hedge funds" that "will be on the same side of the trade as we will."
https://theintercept.com/2017/09/17/goldman-sachs-gary-cohn-donald-trump-administration /

Then there is Mnuchin( Treasury secretary) the foreclosure king, who made a fortune on taking peoples home, some for $1 mistake.

Why did republicans mot make up some laws to put them into prison. Why are they silent now when trump is deregulating by executive order.

Talk about fake outrage putting in the people who caused the problems as the solutions.

America_Loves_Trump -> NYbill13 , 6 Oct 2017 10:12
Spoken from someone who has obviously never listened to what Steve Bannon said or his message.

You obviously don't know, for example, that his Dad - a union guy - lost half of his life savings in the crash of 2008.

And you do not have a single quote where you can attribute "master race" stuff to Bannon. That's literally a smear based on nothing, created by the Clinton people as revenge for his role in the absolutely devastating expose Clinton Cash.

Those of us paying attention understand what he is: an unbelievably bright guy who was the first man who successfully harnessed the informed outrage of the alternative media to have an impact in national politics. He and Trump beat the rigging and achieved for the socially conservative anti-deepstate people what Bernie Sanders was unable to achieve on the Left... if he ever really had the stomach for the fight in the first place.

LittleTomcat , 6 Oct 2017 09:28
"That it will also enrich countless contractors and lobbyists and bunglers and wreckers is just a bonus." Mmmm, maybe not a bonus so much as the objective, perhaps? As an aside, the method of installing nomenclature to control agencies, such as the agency responsible for granting broadcast licences, was described, if I recall correctly, in Josef Korbel's 1959 "The Communist Subversion of Czechoslovakia, 1938-1948". For a funny take on the privatisation of perpetual military conflict, Christopher Buckley's "They Eat Puppies, Don't They?" might provide a laugh, if you don't think about how closely it matches reality.
oiler , 6 Oct 2017 07:03
The proletariat, or at least the opioid threatened, white and marginalized cadre on show in the Rust belt states, probably thought they had their man in DJT because he said what it took to get himself elected in the vernacular they prefer, feeling its authenticity made them look honest.. Ha! But look! They are no different from other vulnerables after all, and they will be and are, being screwed over accordingly. Turkeys and Christmas, Foxes and henhouses, its all been said and now its being done: educate yourselves, folks.. before its too late.
HilltopRide , 6 Oct 2017 06:30
Yep, judge em solely on their actions. Trump is about entrenching the corporate coup d'etat. Expanding the swamp, not draining it. The question is now, after Citizens United and with a conservative SCOTUS in perpetuity, whether it's too wide and deep ever to be drained.

[Oct 08, 2017] The Dark History of Fear, Inc

Notable quotes:
"... None of this qualifies as your typical run-of-the-mill lunacy (scented candles cause cancer), over-the-top tripe (the recent solar eclipse marks the beginning of the apocalypse), or unbelievable baloney (that man-made pyramids have been discovered in Antarctica). Rather, the paranoid style is rooted in pernicious, but believable, political fears: that the nation is under threat from people or movements plotting to do it harm and is teetering, teetering, teetering on the edge of an abyss. The problem is not that this is patently false (The Germans! The Japanese! The Russians!), but that it's often exaggerated -- and, sometimes, purposely so. Then too, as Hofstadter implied, preying on these fears for political gain not only isn't new, it's tried, tested, and often successful. Scaring the dickens out of voters is as American as the 4th of July. ..."
"... The claims now are not only as breathless as anything the CIA said about East Germany in the 1980s, they're as suspect: Mexico is "on the verge of collapse" -- a claim made by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly -- that Russia is providing arms to the Taliban (retold by the recently retired commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson, Jr., and, just the other day by James Mattis), that the U.S. military will be "outranged and outgunned by many potential adversaries in the future" (noted by national security adviser H.R. McMaster prior to his service at the White House) and that, as Donald Trump himself said during his address to the United Nations, large parts of the world " are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell ." ..."
"... The problem with the claims is that those who are asked to dismiss them are required to defend the opposite -- that Mexico is economically healthy (it isn't, but it's hardly on the verge of collapse), that Russian weapons haven't shown up in Afghanistan (they have, though not simply in the hands of the Taliban), that Russia and China aren't developing new and more sophisticated weapons (they are, but so what?), or that it's ridiculous not to believe that "major portions of the world are in conflict" (that's always been true). The other problem with disproving the claims is that doing so contains a whiff of weakness, or naiveté: that the skeptic favors open borders, supports Afghan terrorism, doesn't support a strong military, or is hopelessly misinformed. In fact, however, each of these claims have been made before -- and refuted by expert testimony. ..."
"... The same holds true for each of the other claims. Following Gen. Nicholson's statement that Russia was providing arms to the Taliban, his claim was given short shrift by both the Defense Intelligence Agency and by Jens Stoltenberg, the General Secretary of NATO. Stoltenberg acknowledged that he'd seen the reports, adding that the only thing they lacked was proof. ..."
"... That Russia is an antagonist is now widely accepted, and it is trivially true that Moscow's nuclear arsenal (with or without the help of China) could lay waste to the U.S. But outgunning us? Russia spends a fraction of what the U.S. spends on its military establishment (some 14 percent of what we spend, in fact) and so must pick and choose what weapons it will develop. ..."
"... So, yes, we're in deep, deep trouble -- just as we were when witches danced in Ipswich, when Samuel Morse claimed we were being subverted by papists, when Joe McCarthy saw a communist under every State Department memo -- and when the Russians were producing missiles like sausages. ..."
Oct 08, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Back in 1835, Samuel F.B. Morse (who went on to invent the telegraph and the Morse Code), wrote a book about a plot to overthrow the American republic. The conspiracy, Morse wrote, was well-funded, highly secretive, and hatched in Vienna by members of the The St. Leopold Foundation, which had dispatched cells of Jesuit missionaries to the U.S. to forcibly convert the nation to Roman Catholicism. This was no small intrigue: The plot's leaders, as Morse meticulously catalogued, were Austrian diplomat Klemens von Metternich, Ferdinand V of Hungary, and (of course) Pope Gregory XVI. "It is high time that we awakened to the apprehension of danger," Morse wrote .

What is shocking about this nonsense is not that Morse actually believed it, but that millions of other Americans did too. Morse's book seeded the rise of the nativist "Know-Nothing" party , whose goal was to curb immigration, root out Catholicism, and return America to its protestant ideals. In essence, they were the America-firsters of the nineteenth century. The Know-Nothings swept into office in Chicago, were strong in Massachusetts and, in 1856, nominated a national ticket (Millard Fillmore and Andrew Donelson), for the presidency; they tallied nearly 900,000 votes, one-quarter of those cast. "I know nothing but my country, my whole country and nothing but my country," they chanted.

Historians have since excavated the Morse plot with relish, if only as a way to better understand a nation that, from time to time, enjoys being scared witless.

Before the Know-Nothings there were the Anti-Masons, a political movement that warned of a takeover by secretive apron-wearing do-gooders who met for god-knows-why. And before that Americans were warned about witches named Dorothy, Rebecca, Martha, and Rachel, dancing in New England's forests. Some 120 years after Morse, in 1964, historian Richard Hofstadter dubbed this "the paranoid style in American politics" -- a paradigm-shifting essay that catalogued a raft of intrigues peopled by witches, Illuminati, Masons, Jesuits, Mormons, Jewish bankers, Bilderbergers and, in Hofstadter's time, communist dupes doing Moscow's bidding. America's enemies might be unseen, but they were everywhere.

"In the end, the real mystery, for one who reads the primary works of paranoid scholarship," Hofstadter wrote, "is not how the United States has been brought to its present dangerous position but how it managed to survive at all."

None of this qualifies as your typical run-of-the-mill lunacy (scented candles cause cancer), over-the-top tripe (the recent solar eclipse marks the beginning of the apocalypse), or unbelievable baloney (that man-made pyramids have been discovered in Antarctica). Rather, the paranoid style is rooted in pernicious, but believable, political fears: that the nation is under threat from people or movements plotting to do it harm and is teetering, teetering, teetering on the edge of an abyss. The problem is not that this is patently false (The Germans! The Japanese! The Russians!), but that it's often exaggerated -- and, sometimes, purposely so. Then too, as Hofstadter implied, preying on these fears for political gain not only isn't new, it's tried, tested, and often successful. Scaring the dickens out of voters is as American as the 4th of July.

The historical "for instance" in this is well-documented: during the 1960 presidential campaign, John Kennedy insisted that the Soviet Union had outstripped the U.S. in ballistic missile production. There was a growing and dangerous "missile gap" Kennedy claimed, placing the nation in great peril. Dwight Eisenhower, he said, had been derelict in not acknowledging the threat. An independent study commission issued a report that confirmed the fear and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave it credence: We are "turning out missiles like sausages," he claimed. As it turns out, Kennedy was right: there was a missile gap, but not in a way that he thought -- we had plenty, while they had none (a later CIA report speculated that, actually, they might have had three, maybe). Years later, Kennedy's claim looked downright foolish: the problem for the Russians wasn't that they couldn't make missiles (they eventually did, and plenty of them), but that they couldn't make sausages -- which cost them their empire. The same kinds of claims were retailed by U.S. intelligence services about Russia's allies: a 1987 CIA fact book said that East Germany's GDP per capita was higher than West Germany's, a claim so ludicrous that Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan dismissed it to a panel of CIA officers with a legendary quip: "I know a Berlin taxi driver who could have told you that wasn't true."

The claims now are not only as breathless as anything the CIA said about East Germany in the 1980s, they're as suspect: Mexico is "on the verge of collapse" -- a claim made by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly -- that Russia is providing arms to the Taliban (retold by the recently retired commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson, Jr., and, just the other day by James Mattis), that the U.S. military will be "outranged and outgunned by many potential adversaries in the future" (noted by national security adviser H.R. McMaster prior to his service at the White House) and that, as Donald Trump himself said during his address to the United Nations, large parts of the world " are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell ."

The problem with the claims is that those who are asked to dismiss them are required to defend the opposite -- that Mexico is economically healthy (it isn't, but it's hardly on the verge of collapse), that Russian weapons haven't shown up in Afghanistan (they have, though not simply in the hands of the Taliban), that Russia and China aren't developing new and more sophisticated weapons (they are, but so what?), or that it's ridiculous not to believe that "major portions of the world are in conflict" (that's always been true). The other problem with disproving the claims is that doing so contains a whiff of weakness, or naiveté: that the skeptic favors open borders, supports Afghan terrorism, doesn't support a strong military, or is hopelessly misinformed. In fact, however, each of these claims have been made before -- and refuted by expert testimony.

Gen. Barry McCaffrey said that Mexico was in a state of collapse back in 2009, a claim contradicted by then-Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair. More recently, and before the recent earthquake shook Mexico City, the collapsing Mexican government offered to help provide aid to Texans victimized by Hurricane Harvey. It's a wonder they would think of us as the walls were coming down around them. Then too, if Mexico is really on the verge of collapse, shouldn't the administration be doing something about it -- perhaps we should appeal to the international community to provide the Mexican government with low interest loans, or maybe we should deploy a U.S. aircraft carrier group to the Gulf of Mexico. Or perhaps, just perhaps, the claim is Morse-like: designed to frighten us, perhaps, into building a wall as a barrier to keep immigrants who are not pouring over the border from pouring over the border.

The same holds true for each of the other claims. Following Gen. Nicholson's statement that Russia was providing arms to the Taliban, his claim was given short shrift by both the Defense Intelligence Agency and by Jens Stoltenberg, the General Secretary of NATO. Stoltenberg acknowledged that he'd seen the reports, adding that the only thing they lacked was proof. But Stoltenberg went further, inviting Russia to be a part of the Afghanistan peace process -- a strange request to a nation that a top U.S. general claims is helping the enemy. Even so, the claim was repeated just this last week by Defense Secretary James Mattis, who added Iran to the growing list of Taliban allies. Of course, Nicholson and Mattis might be absolutely right, but they're saying so doesn't make it so. Then too (we shuffle our feet, look at our shoes, mumble to ourselves), the Taliban's best friend in Afghanistan isn't Russia or Iran, it's Pakistan -- our friend.

That Russia is an antagonist is now widely accepted, and it is trivially true that Moscow's nuclear arsenal (with or without the help of China) could lay waste to the U.S. But outgunning us? Russia spends a fraction of what the U.S. spends on its military establishment (some 14 percent of what we spend, in fact) and so must pick and choose what weapons it will develop. The result is that the Russian Federation continues technological advances in some weapons systems, but lacks significant technological depth elsewhere. During its 2015 May Day military parade, Russia showed off its new state-of-the-art T-14 main battle tank, complete with a new-fangled APS (active protection system) designed to defeat anti-armor weapons. Onlookers ogled the tank, oohing and ahhing at its shiny exterior, its impressive armament. But then, just as it was about to exit Red Square it broke down -- and had to be towed. Is Russia a threat? Sure, it's a threat. But Russia has many of the same problems now that it had at the end of the Cold War. It ranks 53rd in per capita GDP -- just behind Panama.

The world has problems, big problems but it is not going to hell. Here's what going to hell looks like. In the autumn of 1941, Europe was under the domination of a genocidal regime that had extended its murderous policies through all of Europe and whose armies were headed towards Moscow. In Asia, large swathes of China and all of Southeast Asia were occupied by Japanese militarists. The two, with Italy, had formed an axis and controlled significant portions of the globe. Their enemies were teetering on the edge of defeat. The world was going to hell, alright, but the U.S. had yet to get into the war.

But that's not the worst of it. During the early morning hours of September 26, 1983, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov was notified by his computer system that the U.S. had launched five intercontinental ballistic missiles at Russia. Petrov sat there for a moment, when he should have been on the telephone to his superiors. After several moments he concluded that the warning just didn't make sense. Why would the U.S. launch only five missiles at Russia, when everyone in the Soviet military supposed they would launch a barrage. "The siren howled, but I just sat there for a few seconds," he later told the BBC, "staring at the big, back-lit, red screen with the word 'launch' on it." Petrov ignored the warning -- and may well have prevented a nuclear holocaust.

So, yes, we're in deep, deep trouble -- just as we were when witches danced in Ipswich, when Samuel Morse claimed we were being subverted by papists, when Joe McCarthy saw a communist under every State Department memo -- and when the Russians were producing missiles like sausages.

Now, as then, we have two choices: we can either embrace our fears and shake in our boots, or we can tell the sky-is-falling crowd what Samuel F.B. Morse's friends told him all the way back in 1835.

Get a grip.

Mark Perry is a foreign policy analyst and the author of The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur. His next book, The Pentagon's Wars, will be released in October. He tweets @markperrydc

[Oct 06, 2017] How Economists Turned Corporations into Predators

Highly recommended!
The idea the a scientist can be a gangster was probably first presented by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his famous Sherlock Holmes detective stories. Neoliberalism just made this a reality. Mass production of "scientific gangsters" is an immanent feature of neoliberalism.
Notable quotes:
"... By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... The Idea That Businesses Exist Solely to Enrich Shareholders Is Harmful Nonsense ..."
"... Neil Fligstein wrote a good book awhile back called The Transformation of Corporate Control that shows how most large manufacturing companies were initially run by engineers, then sales people, then finance people (as corporations came to be seen as bundles of assets as opposed to businesses). I think this transformation paralleled the rise of neoclassical economics. So, not so much "chicken-and-egg" as "class war." In Germany, at least until recently, I believe CEO's of manufacturing firms were still disproportionately engineers. ..."
"... a group of hedge fund activists can suck the value that you've created right out, driving your company down and making you worse off and the company financially fragile ..."
"... That means transforming business education, including the replacement of agency theory with innovation theory ..."
"... since gigantism is the norm, rather than family run farms in a mostly agrarian economy such failures are catastrophic. The linkage between these elephants tends to create systemic risk. Previously, failure was small and isolated. ..."
"... Welcome to our wonderful new world of infinite mutual vulnerability! Risk On! Nuclear weapons, Equifax, Googleamazon, NSApanopticon, FIRE, hacking, crapification The Soviet Union vanished as an entity, many starved, but the mopes there at least still knew how to raise up edible crops and live on "less" and maybe do better collective response to that sharp peak on the entropy curve. Wonder how things might play out exceptionally, here in the Empire? ..."
"... It should be noted that Michael Jensen of HBS, one of the originators of the `maximize shareholder value' of corporate governance, is on some short lists for this year's not-exactly-the-Nobel Prize in Economics. ..."
Oct 06, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

The Idea That Businesses Exist Solely to Enrich Shareholders Is Harmful Nonsense

In a new INET paper featured in the Financial Times , economist William Lazonick lays out a theory about how corporations can work for everyone – not just a few executives and Wall Streeters. He challenges a set of controversial ideas that became gospel in business schools and the mainstream media starting in the 1980s. He sat down with INET's Lynn Parramore to discuss.

Lynn Parramore: Since the 1980s, business schools have touted "agency theory," a controversial set of ideas meant to explain how corporations best operate. Proponents say that you run a business with the goal of channeling money to shareholders instead of, say, creating great products or making any efforts at socially responsible actions such as taking account of climate change. Many now take this view as gospel, even though no less a business titan than Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, called the notion that a company should be run to maximize shareholder value "the dumbest idea in the world." Why did Welch say that?

William Lazonick: Welch made that statement in a 2009 interview , just ahead of the news that GE had lost its S&P Triple-A rating in the midst of the financial crisis. He explained that, "shareholder value is a result, not a strategy" and that a company's "main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products." During his tenure as GE CEO from 1981 to 2001, Welch had an obsession with increasing the company's stock price and hitting quarterly earnings-per-share targets, but he also understood that revenues come when your company generates innovative products. He knew that the employees' skills and efforts enable the company to develop those products and sell them.

If a publicly-listed corporation succeeds in creating innovative goods or services, then shareholders stand to gain from dividend payments if they hold shares or if they sell at a higher price. But where does the company's value actually come from? It comes from employees who use their collective and cumulative learning to satisfy customers with great products. It follows that these employees are the ones who should be rewarded when the business is a success. We've become blinded to this simple, obvious logic.

LP: What have these academic theorists missed about how companies really operate and perform? How have their views impacted our economy and society?

WL: As I show in my new INET paper " Innovative Enterprise Solves the Agency Problem ," agency theorists don't have a theory of innovative enterprise. That's strange, since they are talking about how companies succeed.

They believe that to be efficient, business corporations should be run to "maximize shareholder value." But as I have argued in another recent INET paper , public shareholders at a company like GE are not investors in the company's productive capabilities.

LP: Wait, as a stockholder I'm not an investor in the company's capabilities?

WL: When you buy shares of a stock, you are not creating value for the company -- you're just a saver who buys shares outstanding on the stock market for the sake of a yield on your financial portfolio. Public shareholders are value extractors , not value creators.

By touting public shareholders as a corporation's value creators, agency theorists lay the groundwork for some very harmful activities. They legitimize "hedge fund activists," for example. These are aggressive corporate predators who buy shares of a company on the stock market and then use the power bestowed upon them by the ill-conceived U.S. proxy voting system, endorsed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to demand that the corporation inflate profits by cutting costs. That often means mass layoffs and depressed incomes for anybody who remains. In an industry like pharmaceuticals , the activists also press for extortionate product price increases. The higher profits tend to boost stock prices for the activists and other shareholders if they sell their shares on the market.

LP: So the hedge fund activists are extracting value from a corporation instead of creating it, and yet they are the ones who get enriched.

WL: Right. Agency theory aids and abets this value extraction by advocating, in the name of "maximizing shareholder value," massive distributions to shareholders in the form of dividends for holding shares as well as stock buybacks that you hear about, which give manipulative boosts to stock prices. Activists get rich when they sell the shares. The people who created the value -- the employees -- often get poorer.

###p"downsize-and-distribute" -- something that corporations have been doing since the 1980s, which has resulted in extreme concentration of income among the richest households and the erosion of middle-class employment opportunities.

LP: You've called stock buybacks -- what happens when a company buys back its own shares from the marketplace, often to manipulate the stock price upwards -- the "legalized looting of the U.S. business corporation." What's the problem with this practice?

WL: If you buy shares in Apple, for example, you can get a dividend for holding shares and, possibly, a capital gain when you sell the shares. Since 2012, when Apple made its first dividend payment since 1996, the company has shelled out $57.4 billion as dividends, equivalent to over 22 percent of net income. That's fine. But the company has also spent $157.9 billion on stock buybacks, equal to 62 percent of net income.

Yet the only time in its history that Apple ever raised funds on the public stock market was in 1980, when it collected $97 million in its initial public offering. How can a corporation return capital to parties that never supplied it with capital? It's a very misleading concept.

The vast majority of people who hold Apple's publicly-listed shares have simply bought outstanding shares on the stock market. They have contributed nothing to Apple's value-creating capabilities. That includes veteran corporate raider Carl Icahn, who raked in $2 billion by holding $3.6 billion in Apple shares for about 32 months, while using his influence to encourage Apple to do $80.3 billion in buybacks in 2014-2015, the largest repurchases ever. Over this period, Apple, the most cash-rich company in history, increased its debt by $47.6 billion to do buybacks so that it would not have to repatriate its offshore profits, sheltered from U.S. corporate taxes.

There are many ways in which the company could have returned its profits to employees and taxpayers -- the real value creators -- that are consistent with an innovative business model. Instead, in doing massive buybacks, Apple's board (which includes former Vice President Al Gore) has endorsed legalized looting. The SEC bears a lot of blame. It's supposed to protect investors and make sure financial markets are free of manipulation. But back in 1982, the SEC bought into agency theory under Reagan and came up with a rule that gives corporate executives a "safe harbor" against charges of stock-price manipulation when they do billions of dollars of buybacks for the sole purpose of manipulating their company's stock price.

LP: But don't shareholders deserve some of the profits as part owners of the corporation?

WL: Let's say you buy stock in General Motors. You are just buying a share that is outstanding on the market. You are contributing nothing to the company. And you will only buy the shares because the stock market is highly liquid, enabling you to easily sell some or all of the shares at any moment that you so choose.

In contrast, people who work for General Motors supply skill and effort to generate the company's innovative products. They are making productive contributions with expectations that, if the innovative strategy is successful, they will share in the gains -- a bigger paycheck, employment security, a promotion. In providing their labor services, these employees are the real value creators whose economic futures are at risk.

LP: This is really different from what a lot of us have been taught to believe. An employee gets a paycheck for showing up at work -- there's your reward. When we take a job, we probably don't expect management to see us as risk-takers entitled to share in the profits unless we're pretty high up.

WL: If you work for a company, even if its innovative strategy is a big success, you run a big risk because under the current regime of "maximizing shareholder value" a group of hedge fund activists can suck the value that you've created right out, driving your company down and making you worse off and the company financially fragile. And they are not the only predators you have to deal with. Incentivized with huge amounts of stock-based pay, senior corporate executives will, and often do, extract value from the company for their own personal gain -- at your expense. As Professor Jang-Sup Shin and I argue in a forthcoming book, senior executives often become value-extracting insiders. And they open the corporate coffers to hedge fund activists, the value-extracting outsiders. Large institutional investors can use their proxy votes to support corporate raids, acting as value-extracting enablers.

You put in your ideas, knowledge, time, and effort to make the company a huge success, and still you may get laid off or find your paycheck shrinking. The losers are not only the mass of corporate employees -- if you're a taxpayer, your money provides the business corporation with physical infrastructure, like roads and bridges, and human knowledge, like scientific discoveries, that it needs to innovate and profit. Senior corporate executives are constantly complaining that they need lower corporate taxes in order to compete, when what they really want is more cash to distribute to shareholders and boost stock prices. In that system, they win but the rest of us lose .

LP: Some academics say that hedge fund activism is great because it makes a company run better and produce higher profits. Others say, "No, Wall Streeters shouldn't have more say than executives who know better how to run the company." You say that both of these camps have got it wrong. How so?

WL: A company has to be run by executive insiders, and in order to produce innovation these executives have got to do three things:

First you need a resource-allocation strategy that, in the face of uncertainty, seeks to generate high-quality, low-cost products. Second, you need to implement that strategy through training, retaining, motivating, and rewarding employees, upon whom the development and utilization of the organization's productive capabilities depend. Third, you have to mobilize and leverage the company's cash flow to support the innovative strategy. But under the sway of the "maximizing shareholder value" idea, many senior corporate executives have been unwilling, and often unable, to perform these value-creating functions. Agency theorists have got it so backwards that they actually celebrate the virtues of " the value extracting CEO ." How strange is that?

Massive stock buybacks is where the incentives of corporate executives who extract value align with the interests of hedge fund activists who also want to suck value from a corporation. When they promote this kind of alliance, agency theorists have in effect served as academic agents of activist aggression. Lacking a theory of the value-creating firm, or what I call a "theory of innovative enterprise," agency theorists cannot imagine what an executive who creates value actually does. They don't see that it's crucial to align executives' interests with the value-creating investment requirements of the organizations over which they exercise strategic control. This intellectual deficit is not unique to agency theorists; it is inherent in their training in neoclassical economics .

LP: So if shareholders and executives are too often just looting companies to enrich themselves – "value extraction," as you put it – and not caring about long-term success, who is in a better position to decide how to run them, where to allocate resources and so on?

WL: We need to redesign corporate-governance institutions to promote the interests of American households as workers and taxpayers. Because of technological, market, or competitive uncertainties, workers take the risk that the application of their skills and the expenditure of their efforts will be in vain. In financing investments in infrastructure and knowledge, taxpayers make productive capabilities available to business enterprises, but with no guaranteed return on those investments.

These stakeholders need to have representation on corporate boards of directors. Predators, including self-serving corporate executives and greed-driven shareholder activists, should certainly not have representation on corporate boards.

LP: Sounds like we've lost sight of what a business needs to do to be successful in the long run, and it's costing everybody except a handful of senior executives, hedge fund managers, and Wall Street bankers. How would your "innovation theory" help companies run better and make for a healthier economy and society?

WL: Major corporations are key to the operation and performance of the economy. So we need a revolution in corporate governance to get us back on track to stable and equitable economic growth. Besides changing board representation, I would change the incentives for top executives so that they are rewarded for allocating corporate resources to value creation. Senior executives should gain along with the rest of the organization when the corporation is successful in generating competitive products while sharing the gains with workers and taxpayers.

Innovation theory calls for changing the mindsets and skill sets of senior executives. That means transforming business education, including the replacement of agency theory with innovation theory. That also means changing the career paths through which corporate personnel can rise to positions of strategic control, so that leaders who create value get rewarded and those who extract it are disfavored. At the institutional level, it would be great to see the SEC, as the regulator of financial markets, take a giant step in supporting value creation by banning stock buybacks whose purpose it is to manipulate stock prices.

To get from here to there, we have to replace nonsense with common sense in our understanding of how business enterprises operate and perform.

Enquiring Mind , October 6, 2017 at 10:44 am

Owners come first!
That was the slogan of our former board chair. He didn't disclose to the employees that his compensation was influenced mightily by how big the net income was. He did tell the employees that they were well down the hierarchy, after Owners (capital O) and then vendors and then customers. His former employees deserted in droves.

RepubAnon , October 6, 2017 at 12:14 pm

I'd say that maximizing long-term shareholder value is a great idea the problem is, as is so often the case these days, short-term thinking.

Driving away a company's best employees makes that quarter's numbers look better, but destroys long-term value. Same thing for so many other short-term, "I'll be gone, you'll be gone" strategies.

One step to fixing things – change the definition of long-term capital gains from the current 1 year to, say, 5 years. This "one simple trick" would fix everything from the carried interest loophole to the abuses inherent in the current Wall Street gambling mentality.

It won't happen, of course, but it'd be nice.

Tim , October 6, 2017 at 2:21 pm

We can talk about what is best in theory, but reality is just that, shareholders come first.

They control the board and the CEO and the CEO institutes the will of the shareholders down into the business entities, determining the level of reinvestment in the business units and the level of employee compensation. That will continue to be the case until the company goes bankrupt at which point shareholders are entitled to nothing.

I agree with others that Jack Welch is saying what he is saying after the fact. Way too easy to do.

a different chris , October 6, 2017 at 10:47 am

>Welch had an obsession with increasing the company's stock price and hitting quarterly earnings-per-share targets, but he also understood

Yeah so he talks a good game but when he had the reins – one of the most powerful men in the world meekly (ok, that's a hilarious adjective when applied to Jack Welsh) followed the herd. Or more accurately, found out where the herd was heading and got out in front of it. The true sign of modern "leadership".

RepubAnon , October 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Folks at GE back in the day nicknamed him "Neutron Jack" – if he visited a site, all the employees disappeared, leaving only the buildings standing

digi_owl , October 6, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Or more accurately, found out where the herd was heading and got out in front of it. The true sign of modern "leadership".

Reminds me of something i have read, supposedly a quite from some politician or other, going to the tune of "i need to find out where the mob is going, so i can lead them there".

Left in Wisconsin , October 6, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Welch's primary business strategy at GE was to exit every product market in which GE's market share was not in the top two in the industry (selling them off or closing them down) and reallocate resources to industries where GE was market dominant, often buying up the competition rather than truly investing in innovation. A truly awful human being.

Synoia , October 6, 2017 at 11:18 am

As I personally have always believed, Employees have more invested in their employers than shareholders. Shareholders can sell quickly and have no loyalty. Employees do not enjoy such a liquid "jobs market."

There also seems to be a turning point in companies, where they change the perception of the customers form a group to be treasured, to a group who are to b exploited – change the relationship so the customers become "marks."

I also believe there should be an almost automatic "break -up" provision for companies who reach a certain market share.

Finally there should be one definition of income, and it should include Wages, Dividends, and Capital Gains.

Vatch , October 6, 2017 at 11:27 am

there should be an almost automatic "break -up" provision for companies who reach a certain market share.

Yes, anti-trust enforcement would be nice. Hypothetical President Sanders might actually do that. Real and hypothetical Presidents Bush, Obama, Romney, B. Clinton, H. Clinton, and Trump have other priorities.

readerOfTeaLeaves , October 6, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Sen Bernie Sanders sees right through the neoclassical fetters, blinders, and bullshit. He recognizes how intellectually and economically stagnant and dangerous it is. He has the most powerful conceptual, articulate grasp of economics that I've seen the past 40 years. He also, IIRC, had MMTer Stephanie Kelton as an advisor, and had her advise the Senate Finance Committee. Also notable: Sen Elizabeth Warren.

The other political operators that you mention are still in thrall to neoclassical assumptions. They mistake 'takers' for 'makers' and are economically bamboozled. And it has worked out well for all of them, on a personal basis, so it is not surprising that they don't see the problems.

Anyone actually trying to build an innovative business, OTOH, has to see through the bamboozlement or else you're out of business pronto.

JTMcPhee , October 6, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Chicken and egg question:

The class of humans that by inclination and opportunity become C-Suite and VC looters and "owners:" did they precede the imprimatur of "economists" with their notions of price, value, and crossing of curves, or did the "economists" do a Martin Luther, nail up a bunch of theses, and preach fire and brimstone to turn the greedheads loose?

And was/is any other outcome for the species and the planet even possible?

Left in Wisconsin , October 6, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Neil Fligstein wrote a good book awhile back called The Transformation of Corporate Control that shows how most large manufacturing companies were initially run by engineers, then sales people, then finance people (as corporations came to be seen as bundles of assets as opposed to businesses). I think this transformation paralleled the rise of neoclassical economics. So, not so much "chicken-and-egg" as "class war." In Germany, at least until recently, I believe CEO's of manufacturing firms were still disproportionately engineers.

Carla , October 6, 2017 at 3:05 pm

"most large manufacturing companies were initially run by engineers, then sales people, then finance people"

The Lincoln Electric Company, which became famous for its "Incentive Management" program of compensating employees, was a client of mine. Over three decades I saw it progress through precisely those stages, and gradually lose every characteristic that had made the company unique.

readerOfTeaLeaves , October 6, 2017 at 12:30 pm

This post was a genuine pleasure to read. Especially:

If you work for a company, even if its innovative strategy is a big success, you run a big risk because under the current regime of "maximizing shareholder value" a group of hedge fund activists can suck the value that you've created right out, driving your company down and making you worse off and the company financially fragile .

And we've had a government by and for hedge fund managers for about the same amount of time that we've had economic woes. One problem is that hedge funders like Romney, who actually don't think about consumer product development, actually don't have to test and deploy products, bring their bean-counter assumptions to business and make a hash of things. I mention Romney specifically, because he presents himself to the world as a paragon of economic wisdom.

Romney has a prestigious business school background. Which makes me want to highlight this:

Innovation theory calls for changing the mindsets and skill sets of senior executives. That means transforming business education, including the replacement of agency theory with innovation theory .

JTMcPhee , October 6, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Just a thought: "innovation theory," like MMT, is maybe just a tool set? "Innovation" includes "autonomous combat devices," and CRSP-R, and nuclear weapons, and the F-35, and fracking, and derivatives, and plastics, and charter schools, stuff and ideas that for some of us constitute "value" are corporations as the category has grown to be, any more likely to "innovate" in the areas of social improvements and possibilities, or stewardship of the planet, or close down the toll stations and all the other rent collection scams and extortions they have "innovated" to date? Or release their chokehold on "policy?"

Says the proponent: "Major corporations are key to the operation and performance of the economy. So we need a revolution in corporate governance to get us back on track to stable and equitable economic growth. Besides changing board representation, I would change the incentives for top executives so they are rewarded for allocating corporate resources to value creation. Senior executives should gain along with the rest of the organization when the corporation is successful in generating competitive products while sharing the gains with workers and taxpayers." There seems to be so much wrong and just more Biz-babble about this, one hardly knows where to start unpacking.

"Major corporations are key?" Really? Monsanto? GM? Bechtel? The Big Banks? And "back on track": When has the political economy, writ small or large, ever been "on track to stability and equitable growth," said "growth' itself seemingly one of the pathologies that's killing us? And who's going to write the entries for the corporate senior executives' dance cards that will measure their "success," in those feel-good categories?

But it's a good conversation piece, and maybe an opening into Something Better, however us inherently mostly self-interested, self-pleasing omnivorous predators might define "better "

Disturbed Voter , October 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Badly run companies, naturally extinguish themselves. Unfortunately they take down their customers, owners, vendors and employees in the process. But the government can step in and either save a company that otherwise would die, or act as a crony corruption partner on behalf of a well connected company. Same as it always was.

But since gigantism is the norm, rather than family run farms in a mostly agrarian economy such failures are catastrophic. The linkage between these elephants tends to create systemic risk. Previously, failure was small and isolated.

JTMcPhee , October 6, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Welcome to our wonderful new world of infinite mutual vulnerability! Risk On! Nuclear weapons, Equifax, Googleamazon, NSApanopticon, FIRE, hacking, crapification The Soviet Union vanished as an entity, many starved, but the mopes there at least still knew how to raise up edible crops and live on "less" and maybe do better collective response to that sharp peak on the entropy curve. Wonder how things might play out exceptionally, here in the Empire?

allan , October 6, 2017 at 12:48 pm

It should be noted that Michael Jensen of HBS, one of the originators of the `maximize shareholder value' of corporate governance, is on some short lists for this year's not-exactly-the-Nobel Prize in Economics.

[Oct 06, 2017] Prof. Philip Mirowski keynote for Life and Debt conference

Highly recommended!
Among interesting ideas that Mirkowski presented in this lecture are "privatization of science" -- when well paid intellectual prostitutes produce the reuslt which are expected by their handlers. the other is his thought on the difference between neoclassical economics and neoliberalism. Neoliberalism believes in state intervention and this intervention should take the form of enforcing market on all spheres of human society.
Another interesting idea that neoliberalism in many cases doe not need the success of its ideas. The failure can also be exploited for enforcing "more market" on the society.
In other words market fundamentalism has all features of civil religion and like in Middle Ages it is enforced from above. heretics are not burned at the stake but simply ostracized.
Notable quotes:
"... how it is that science came to be subordinate to economics and the very future of nature to be contingent upon the market. ..."
"... As a leading exponent of the Institutional school, he has published formal treatments of financial markets that update Minsky's 'financial instability hypothesis' for the world of computerised derivative trading. ..."
Aug 18, 2013 | www.youtube.com

Life and Debt: Living through the Financialisation of the Biosphere

How can it be that the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis and the deepest financial crisis since 1930s have done so little to undermine the supremacy of orthodox economics?

The lecture will preview material from Mirowski's new book: Never Lt a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (Verso, 2013).

In this lecture, Professor Mirowski responds to the question of how it is that science came to be subordinate to economics and the very future of nature to be contingent upon the market. Charting the contradictions of the contemporary political landscape, he notes that science denialism, markets for pollution permits and proposals for geo-engineering can all be understood as political strategies designed to neutralize the impact of environmentalism, as they all originated in the network of corporate-sponsored think-tanks that have made neoliberal accounts of society, politics and the economy so prevalent that even the most profound crises are unable to shake their grip on the political imagination.

For those of us who are still paying attention, the task of constructing an alternative politics of science and markets is a vital one.

Philip Mirowski is Carl E. Koch Professor at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. His most famous book, More Heat Than Light: Economics as Social Physics (1989) established his reputation as a formidable critic of the scientific status of neoclassical economics. His Machine Dreams: Economics becomes a Cyborg Science (2002) presents a history of the Cold War consolidation of American economic orthodoxy in the same intellectual milieu that produced systems theory, the digital computer, the atomic bomb, the strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction, and the 'think tank'. The Road from Mont Pelerin: the Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (with Dieter Plewhe, 2009), drawn from the archives of the Mont Pelerin Society and the Chicago School, presents a scholarly history of neoliberalism: the political movement initiated by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman in the 1940s, which has since become the world's dominant philosophy of government.

As a leading exponent of the Institutional school, he has published formal treatments of financial markets that update Minsky's 'financial instability hypothesis' for the world of computerised derivative trading.

This lecture is presented by the UTS Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre and the Australian Working Group on Financialisation at the University of Sydney.

[Oct 05, 2017] Opinion cultivation is a mass comms topic. You can look up the spiral of silence, which was theorized in the 1970s as self-censorship by people who hold minority opinions, or think they do.

Notable quotes:
"... TAC is an odd place, I post comments and for some reason every single comment I post on the U.S. state Dept. never gets published while every other comment I write does and I cannot fathom why. ..."
"... Many comment sections of political and "news" sites are tightly curated. They offer the illusion of open discussion but in fact limit the scope of what discussion points are allowed. ..."
"... From a PR/opinion cultivation perspective the goal is to keep those points or positions from appearing before other commenters and readers, thus validating their existence. Or such points or positions are allowed through on a very irregular or rare basis, which leaves the impression that they are extreme. ..."
"... Opinion cultivation is a mass comms topic. You can look up the "spiral of silence," which was theorized in the 1970s as self-censorship by people who hold minority opinions, or think they do. ..."
"... What we have today is the systematic creation of "spiral of silence" by the media that tout themselves as giving voice to opinions/positions/facts. They silence views at odds with the ones they want to sell, with the intention that their viewers/readers will self-censor. ..."
Oct 04, 2017 | www.unz.com

Olorin says: October 3, 2017 at 9:45 pm

@Chris Chuba

I'm sorry to hear that you were removed from TAC. I do not believe that you should tailor you writings to make them pro-Israeli / Jewish if that does not represent your views. If I find an article unappealing I just skip it, I don't want to see it censored and I don't assume bad intentions on people just because they pursue a theory I don't agree with. To judge if someone is out-of-bounds perhaps we should apply the 'Iran test', replace Israel/Jewish with Iran/Iranian and see if people would still take offense (being a bit facetious, nothing would be out-of-bounds).

TAC is an odd place, I post comments and for some reason every single comment I post on the U.S. state Dept. never gets published while every other comment I write does and I cannot fathom why.

The pattern goes like this.

  1. Larison writes how Tillerson is gutting the U.S. State Dept. budget and this is wrecking U.S. diplomacy.
  2. I post a comment asking why that's a bad thing because 60%+ of the budget goes for 'soft power', funding NGO's to influence and/or meddle in other countries. Lindsey Graham even said, 'that's our soft power'.

This is like Groundhog Day, I've tried posting several versions of this comment thinking that I inadvertently said something inflammatory. I've stopped commenting on any article having to do with this topic.

Maybe I'm wrong, I'm fallible but I don't see how my comment is out of bounds, I'm baffled.

TAC is an odd place, I post comments and for some reason every single comment I post on the U.S. state Dept. never gets published while every other comment I write does and I cannot fathom why.

Many comment sections of political and "news" sites are tightly curated. They offer the illusion of open discussion but in fact limit the scope of what discussion points are allowed.

From a PR/opinion cultivation perspective the goal is to keep those points or positions from appearing before other commenters and readers, thus validating their existence. Or such points or positions are allowed through on a very irregular or rare basis, which leaves the impression that they are extreme.

Opinion cultivation is a mass comms topic. You can look up the "spiral of silence," which was theorized in the 1970s as self-censorship by people who hold minority opinions, or think they do.

What we have today is the systematic creation of "spiral of silence" by the media that tout themselves as giving voice to opinions/positions/facts. They silence views at odds with the ones they want to sell, with the intention that their viewers/readers will self-censor.

This is related to the 1970s to 1980s field of "cultivation theory" out of the Annenberg School (Penn). In that case, Jewish scholars at a majority Jewish department commenting on disproportionately Jewish-run media networks/outlets and Jewish-created programming concluded that rank-and-file white Americans were stupid for thinking the world was mean and dangerous based on what they saw on television.

(The findings/research claim held that more hours of TV viewing led to people thinking crime rates were higher than they actually were. I don't call whether the converse was true, i.e., no TV viewing led to underestimate of crime rates, or what.)

There was some truth in the cultivation theory framing–George Gerbner left communist Hungary, IIRC–but the whole thing struck me overall as an effort to ridicule white men and women for a) trusting the media and b) perceiving that their culture was going shall we say down the tubes. The real data were the actual crime rates and why the MSM didn't report those, nor on the demographics of them.

In any case, the researchers were suffering from confirmation bias at least as strongly as their human subjects were, IMO.

[Oct 04, 2017] Trump, Syriza Brexit prove voting is only small part of the battle by Neil Clark

Highly recommended!
Inverted totalitarism is very far from democracy. It just pretends being democracy.
Notable quotes:
"... Trump won the election by attracting working-class 'rust belt' voters away from the Democrats and for offering the prospect of an end to a 'liberal interventionist' foreign policy. Yet just nine months into his Presidency the belief that Trump would mark a 'clean break' with what had gone before is in tatters. National conservative members of his team have been purged, while Trump has proved himself as much of a war hawk as his predecessors. Rather than 'draining the swamp,' The Donald has waded right into it. ..."
"... The events of 2017 plainly prove as I argued here that the US is a regime and not a genuine democracy, and that whoever gets to the White House - sooner or later - will be forced to toe the War Party/Wall Street/Deep State line, regardless of what they promise on the election trail. ..."
Oct 04, 2017 | www.rt.com

If voting changed anything, they'd abolish it. That might sound a bit glib but consider these recent events.

In January 2015, the Greek people, sick and tired of austerity and rapidly plummeting living standards, voted for Syriza, a radical anti-austerity party. The Coalition of the Left, which had only been formed eleven years earlier, won 36.3 percent of the vote and 149 out of the Hellenic Parliament's 300 seats. The Greek people had reasonable hopes their austerity nightmare would end. The victory of Syriza was hailed by progressives across Europe.

Pressure was applied on Greece by 'The Troika' to accept onerous terms for a new bailout. Syriza went to the people in June 2015 to ask them directly in a national referendum if they should accept the terms.

"On Sunday, we are not simply deciding to remain in Europe, we are deciding to live with dignity in Europe," Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, declared. The Greek people duly gave Tsipras the mandate he asked for, and rejected the bailout terms with 61.3 percent voting 'No.'

Yet, just over two weeks after the referendum, Syriza accepted a bailout package that contained larger cuts in pensions and higher tax increases than the one on offer earlier. The Greek people may as well have stayed at home on 27th June for all the difference their vote made.

Many supporters of Donald Trump in the US are no doubt thinking the same.

Trump won the election by attracting working-class 'rust belt' voters away from the Democrats and for offering the prospect of an end to a 'liberal interventionist' foreign policy. Yet just nine months into his Presidency the belief that Trump would mark a 'clean break' with what had gone before is in tatters. National conservative members of his team have been purged, while Trump has proved himself as much of a war hawk as his predecessors. Rather than 'draining the swamp,' The Donald has waded right into it.

The events of 2017 plainly prove as I argued here that the US is a regime and not a genuine democracy, and that whoever gets to the White House - sooner or later - will be forced to toe the War Party/Wall Street/Deep State line, regardless of what they promise on the election trail.

... ... ... ...

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

[Oct 04, 2017] Living Under the French Hate Speech Laws by Lawrence G. Proulx

Notable quotes:
"... Lawrence G. Proulx is a retired copy editor who worked for more than 30 years at the Washington Times, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune and International New York Times. ..."
Oct 04, 2017 | www.unz.com

What infractions must a speaker or writer or editor or publisher avoid in order to stay within the law in France? Here are the basics, as discussed in the manual "Droits des journalistes et liberté d'expression" by Bernard Dapogny and Marion Dapogny:

False news, "made in bad faith, that disturbs the public order or is capable of disturbing it." Use of a false document in reporting. Attempt to harm the discipline or morale of the armed forces or to hinder a war effort. Defamation. Insult. [The distinction between this and the preceding is that defamation must assert something specific, whereas insult can be merely an offensive word.] Attempt to harm a person's honor or reputation. Defamation of or insult to the judiciary, the military services, various other public bodies including "junior high schools, high schools, universities, the Legion of Honor" as well as "local administrations, the police, hospitals, penitentiaries." Defamation of or insult to persons acting in a position of public authority, including "representatives and senators, ministers and Secretaries of State" as well as "police personnel, magistrates, teachers." Defamation or insult based on race, religion or belonging to an ethnic group or a nation. Defamation or insult based on sex, sexual orientation or handicap. Defamation of or insult to deceased persons, where the offense touches on the honor of the heirs or close survivors. Provocation to the commission of a crime which leads to the crime. Provocation to the commission of a crime which doesn't lead to the crime. Indirect provocation (apology), that is, stating that certain crimes were justified, including "war crimes, crimes against humanity or crimes in collaboration with the enemy." Provocation to hate, violence or discrimination, which could be based on a person's "origin, sex, family situation, state of pregnancy, physical appearance, family name, state of health, handicap, genetic characteristics, morals, sexual orientation, age, opinions, politics, labor union activity, belonging or not belonging, real or supposed to a particular ethnic group, nation, race or religion." Provocation to or apology for terrorism. Contesting "the existence of one or several crimes against humanity as defined by Article 6 of the charter of the International Military Tribunal [the Nuremberg Tribunal] annexed to the London Agreement of August 6, 1945, and which were committed by the members of an organization declared criminal in application of Article 9 of the said charter, by a person recognized as guilty of such crimes by a French jurisdiction or by an international one." Enacted in July 1990 and called the Gayssot Law. Offending the president of the Republic. [This law was repealed in 2013.]

Many of these laws are seldom invoked; others are used frequently. To put flesh on the matter, I offer you a list of cases from 2013 that I put together in 2014 for an article that never found a publisher. (Sorry, but the work of assembling it was too tedious for me to undertake it again, and I think the general impression given by more recent cases would not be different.) Although details of the offensive language are frequently omitted in the news reports from which this list is compiled, a quick look will give a sense of how routine the cases are.

One thing should be mentioned first. An anti-racism law passed in July 1972, commonly called the Pleven Law, strengthened the restrictions on speech and granted to private associations dedicated to fighting racism the right to participate in the prosecution of criminal cases and to claim damages as well. Amendments to the law empowered additional categories of associations, for example, associations working "to defend the moral interests and the honor of veterans and victims of war and of those who died for France" or "to defend the memory of slaves and the honor of their descendants." Such associations are frequently the first to blow the whistle on remarks they consider violative, and because they have the standing to file complaints even when no particular person is targeted by the contested remarks, their legal recognition is an important factor in the number of cases brought before the courts today.

2013 in Review

January

Marie-Josée Roig, the mayor of Avignon, files a complaint for public insults contained in a book purporting to be fiction ("Le Monarque, son fils, son fief") by Marie-Célie Guillaume in which a character who resembles Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president, demands a quick sexual "present" from a woman who resembles Roig.

Daniel Boyer, the mayor of Châteaubernard, files a complaint for public insults after a wave of graffiti attacking him and various acts of vandalism.

Frédéric Haziza, a Jewish journalist, files a complaint for public insult and public insult committed against a person because of his religion, after being attacked on the website of Alain Soral, a self-described anti-Zionist activist. Haziza had refused to invite Soral onto his show to discuss Soral's book "Comprendre l'empire" because of Soral's "clearly antisemitic" views.

March

A judge, Jean-Michel Gentil, files a complaint for contempt and insult against Henri Guaino, a deputy in Parliament, for having said that the judge "dishonored the [state] institutions and justice" after Sarkozy was interrogated on suspicion of abusing the weakness of a rich aged widow.

Bloc Identitaire, a nationalist group, announces its intention to file a complaint for public insult against Yann Galut, a deputy from the Cher department, for having called the members of the bloc "casseurs" (protesters who destroy property) in a Twitter message.

April

Rama Yade, a former secretary of state for human rights and for sports, is found guilty of defamation and insult for eight of twenty-eight contested statements posted on her blog about a political opponent, Manuel Aeschlimann, after she was challenged over her domicile status in the Hauts-de-Seine department.

May

Yvan Benedetti and Alexandre Gabriac, right-wing activists, file a complaint against Jean-François Carenco, the prefect of Lyon, and Albert Doutre, director of public security, for "hateful" public insults (such as "imbecilities" and "thugs") made during the containment of a nationalist youth protest in front of the Socialist Party local headquarters.

June

The city of Angers files suit against a shopkeeper for public insult in the form of signs he put up to protest a proposed tax on businesses that serve clients on the sidewalk, which followed among other things a police check of whether he was serving alcohol without the proper license.

Pierre Dubois, the mayor of Roubaix, and the Human Rights League file a complaint against an unnamed man who, during the course of a heated discussion at a public meeting, suggested that the Roma (Gypsies) be sent to Auschwitz.

July

Sylvie Goy-Chavent, a senator of the Ain department who prepared a report on the security of meat production in France, files a complaint against a website, Internet JSSNews.com, which describes itself as a webzine of Israeli opinion, for calling her such things as "bitch" and "little shit" and writing, among other things, "Goy, she wears her name well."

September

The Union of Jewish Students of France says it will file a complaint against the weekly magazine Valeurs Actuelles for provocation of racial or religious discrimination, hatred or violence. The group describes the cover of the magazine's Sept. 26 issue, which shows a white bust of a woman representing France wearing a black Islamic veil and bearing the title "Naturalized: The Invasion They're Hiding," as "racist" and "hateful." The magazine says in return that it will file a complaint against the group for calumnious denunciation, defamation and attack on freedom of expression.

The Foundation for the Memorial of the Black Slave Trade, along with the Federation of African Associations, the National Union of Overseas France, and other organizations and individual citizens file a complaint against Jean-Sebastien Vialatte, a deputy in Parliament, for public insult, defamation and incitement of racial hatred and racial discrimination, for his remarks after vandalism occurred during a celebration of the Paris Saint-Germain soccer team. He had sent a Twitter message in which he said sardonically that "the people who vandalize are surely descendants of slaves, they have excuses[.] #Taubira [the justice minister] will give them some compensation!"

October

The League for the Judicial Defense of Muslims files a complaint against the weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo for its July 10 cover which had a cartoon captioned in large letters with "The Koran, it's shit; it doesn't stop bullets"; against the magazine Valeurs Actuelles for its Sept. 26 cover; against the website Riposte Laïque for various articles; and against Manuel Valls, the secretary of the interior, for provocation of discrimination and hate, for saying, "Within ten years we will show, we are in the process of showing, there is a will, that Islam is compatible [sic] with the Republic."

Bruno Gilles, a senator in the Union for a Popular Movement, files a complaint against a socialist, Patrick Mennucci, for "defamation and public insults." "He called me a racist and xenophobe," the senator said.

France-El Djazaïr, a Franco-Algerian friendship association, announces that it will file a complaint against a police officer in the city of Alès for "insults and incitement to xenophobic and Islamophobic hatred"; the officer had put on his Facebook profile page a photo-montage representing the Algerian flag over which was written "I hate Algeria," attached to an image of a man wiping his bottom with the flag.

Bachir Bouhmadou, adjunct general secretary of Citizen Resistance, and Ali Saab, president of the Association of Muslims of the Territory of Belfort, file a complaint against Christine Tasin, a militant with the group Republican Resistance, for videotaped comments opposing ritual Islamic butchery and criticizing Islam.

Abdellah Zekri, the president of the National Observatory Against Islamophobia, says he will file a complaint after his house was defaced with swastikas and graffiti saying "Islam Out" and "Heit [sic] Hitler."

The National Front says it will file a complaint against Christiane Taubira, the justice minister, for public insult for having described the party's way of thinking as "deadly and murderous" and summarizing it thus: "It's the blacks in the branches of the trees, the Arabs in the sea, the homosexuals in the Seine, the Jews in the oven and so forth."

November

A 65-year-old man is found guilty of insulting Claudine Ledoux, the mayor of Charleville-Mézières, on his website, l'Union-l'Ardennais, in a manner described by a regional newspaper as "menacing, racist and sexist," in relation to her being made a knight in the Legion of Honor; he is ordered to pay a fine of one thousand euros and damages for mental distress of the same amount to Ledoux.

The association SOS Racisme says it will file a complaint for incitation to racial hatred against Minute, a 16-page rightist weekly, for its cover with a photo of Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who is a native of French Guiana, and for the title "Clever Like a Monkey, Taubira Finds the Banana Again," which combines two common French expressions; to have the banana (or the peach) means to be full of energy.

A player files a complaint for racial insult after a rough soccer game (three red cards) between the second-stringers of the Sablé and Lude clubs. A player explained: "This attacker called me a dirty white. I called him a dirty black."

The Movement Against Racism and for the Amity of Peoples files a complaint for provocation of racial hatred against Manuel Valls, minister of the interior, for comments about the Gypsies including, "The Gypsies should stay in Romania or return there." The case will be dismissed in December 2013.

Bob Dylan is put under formal investigation for insult and provocation of racial hatred after the Representative Council of the Croatian Community and Institutions of France files a complaint against both him and the magazine Rolling Stone, the French version of which republished an interview in which he said, "If you've got a slave master or the Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood." The case will be dismissed in April 2014.

December

The comedian Nicolas Bedos testifies after being accused of complicity in making a public racial insult in an article in the magazine Marianne as well as on its website; among the phrases he used were "Negro bugger," "island indolence" and "lazy natives."

Gérard Huet, the mayor of Loudéac, is sued by the Human Rights League for comments about Gypsies he made at a meeting to discuss expenditures to renovate the area where the Gypsies were living. "They've stolen all our plumbing," he says, and he later objects to the comment of another member of the city council with, "You're defending thieves?" He sues the league in return for harassment.

The comedian Dieudonné files a defamation complaint after Alain Jakubowicz, the president of the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism, describes the "quenelle," a gesture used by the comedian and his fans, as "corresponding to an inverted Nazi salute signifying the sodomizing of the victims of the Holocaust." Dieudonné also says he will sue Le Monde, Le Figaro, BFMTV, France 2 and Manuel Valls, the interior minister.

The imam Hicham El Barkani files a complaint for insult after a protest described as islamophobic against the opening of a mosque in Papeete.

Historians on Trial

Some cases have greater import than those listed above, as when historians are attacked for their work.

The Columbia University historian Bernard Lewis gave an interview to Le Monde on November 16, 1993, in which he discussed the killings of Armenians by Turks during the First World War. In the course of it he said, "If one speaks of genocide, that implies that there was a deliberate policy, a decision, to systematically annihilate the Armenian nation. That is quite doubtful. Turkish documents prove a will of deportation, not of extermination." On January 1, 1994, in response to strong objections to his remarks, he published a further explanation of his position, again in Le Monde, ending with a repetition of his main point, that "no serious proof exists of a decision and a plan by the Ottoman government aiming at exterminating the Armenian nation." He was sued by the Forum of Armenian Associations of France and the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism on the claim that he had "gravely hurt the memory and respect of the survivors and of their families." The civil court of Paris ruled that Lewis had "failed to meet his duty of objectivity and prudence in expressing himself without nuance on so sensitive a subject" and ordered him to pay a franc each to the two associations as well as the cost of publishing the decision. Lewis was also the defendant in other civil cases and one criminal one on the same subject, all of which were dismissed.

In 2001, the French Parliament "publicly recognized the Armenian genocide of 1915," and in 2012 the Parliament passed a law instituting a punishment of imprisonment for one year and a fine of 45,000 euros of anyone who "contests or minimizes in an outrageous fashion" genocides recognized as such by French law, but the Constitutional Council ruled the latter law unconstitutional a month later. Both of the main candidates for president that year, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, soon announced that they would seek a new law to criminalize denial of the Armenian genocide, and in January 2017 a law took effect providing for a year of prison and a fine of 45,000 euros for those who denied, belittled or "banalized in an outrageous way" recognized genocides, crimes against humanity, and enslavement or exploitation of an enslaved person.

In 2001 Parliament also passed a law recognizing "that the trans-Atlantic trade in Negroes as well as the trade in the Indian Ocean on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the slavery perpetrated starting in the 15th Century, in the Americas and the Caribbean, in the Indian Ocean and in Europe against the Africans, Amerindians, Madagascans and Indians constitute a crime against humanity." Four years later this law was invoked against Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau, a professor at the University of Southern Brittany. In the course of an interview given on June 12, 2005, in relation to his book "Les traites négrières" (The Negro Slave Trades), which had won many awards including the Senate History Book Prize, Pétré-Grenouilleau rejected a comparison of the slave trades to the Jewish Holocaust: "The slave trades are not genocides. The slave trade didn't have the goal of exterminating a people. The slave was a good that had a market value that one wanted to make work as much as possible." An association representing people of the Caribbean, French Guiana and Réunion filed a complaint against him for denying a crime against humanity and demanded that he be "suspended from his university functions for revisionism." In the vehement debate that ensued, Pétré-Grenouilleau was strongly supported by many prominent historians, and in February 2006, acknowledging this opposition, the association withdrew its complaint.

Shortly before the Pétré-Grenouilleau affair erupted, another "memorial" law had been passed, in January 2005, aimed generally at recognizing the suffering of those French citizens who had been repatriated from North Africa at the end of the Algerian War. This law had itself evoked controversy, by requiring that "school programs recognize in particular the positive role of the French presence overseas, notably in North Africa." A year later the law was emended and the "positive role" removed.

Real Prison Sentences

I know of only three writers who have recently been given sentences that were "fermes," as the French say, that is, that were not suspended as soon as pronounced. Vincent Reynouard is a Frenchman born in 1969 and trained as a chemical engineer who has argued that the Nazis had no plan to exterminate the Jews and that gas chambers were not used to kill people. Among the many videos he has placed on the Internet, there is one in which he expresses his admiration for Hitler; he says, "I think that Hitler was a man too good for the 20th Century, too honest, too straightforward." A month after being arrested in Belgium, Reynouard was extradited to France in August 2010 and served seven and a half months in prison for contesting a crime against humanity. He has continued to produce writings and Internet videos, and in February 2015 he was convicted of contestation of crimes against humanity and sentenced to two years in prison. In November 2016 he was given a five-months sentence for publishing two videos in which he stated that he would offer 5,000 euros to "anyone who can show me, in free, candid and courteous debate, that the homicidal Hitlerian gas chambers are not a myth of history." To avoid a return to prison, he is said to be living in England.

Hervé Ryssen, according to Wikipedia, has been sentenced several times for his writings about Jews on counts, among others, of racial insult, racial defamation, defamation against a group of persons because of their belonging to a certain race, and incitation to racial hatred; and Boris Le Lay, who is living in Japan, has been sentenced in absentia many times, most recently in July this year to serve 32 months in prison and to pay 31,500 euros to the groups representing the supposed victims, for his writings judged to constitute incitement to discrimination and to racial hatred and violence, and to contain public racial insults. Among the recent charges against Le Lay was one of making death threats against activists of the Human Rights League; I have not been able to determine if he was convicted of this; if he was, he appears in that instance to be an exception to the other cases discussed in this article, which involve no violence or threat thereof.

Politicians on Trial

Although many speech cases involve politicians, two in particular deserve mention because they arguably played a role in the presidential election of 2007.

The first round of the previous election, in 2002, had stunned the country as Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, edged out Lionel Jospin, the Socialist candidate, for a place in the second round. Le Pen's share of the first-round vote was only 16.9 percent, but Jospin was handicapped by an abundance of rivals on the left who split the vote. Before the second round, a broad denunciatory publicity campaign to block Le Pen took place, and his opponent, Jacques Chirac, the incumbent, refused to debate him. Chirac was re-elected with 82 percent of the vote.

Before the next election, in 2007, both Le Pen and the party's second-ranking member, Bruno Gollnisch, would be defendants in high-profile cases over things they said.

On January 7, 2005, the rightist weekly Rivarol published an interview in which Le Pen said: "In France, at least, the German occupation wasn't particularly inhumane, even if there were slip-ups, inevitable in a country of 550,000 square kilometers." He also related a story about a German lieutenant, "crazy with pain" after an attack on a train in which many young soldiers died, who he said would have shot up a village had the Gestapo not intervened. Various groups filed complaints, and in March an investigation was formally opened. In February 2008 he was found guilty of complicity in the contestation of crimes against humanity and complicity in apology for war crimes. In January 2009 the appeals court in Paris confirmed the verdict on the first count but threw out the war-crimes verdict. In April 2011 the Court of Cassation overturned the crimes-against-humanity verdict, and remanded the matter to the appeals court, which again found him guilty in February 2012, a judgment confirmed by the Court of Cassation in June 2013. Le Pen was sentenced to three months in prison (suspended) and assessed a fine of 10,000 euros, and the editor of Rivarol and the interviewer were fined 5,000 euros and 2,000 euros respectively. Three of the complainant groups were awarded damages of 5,000 euros each, and Rivarol was ordered to pay for the publication of the decision in Le Figaro.

In the other case, Gollnisch, a professor of Japanese language and culture at the University of Lyon who at the time was director general of the National Front (before the ascension of Marine Le Pen), was charged with contestation of crimes against humanity for responses to a journalist's questions at a press conference in October 2004. No electronic recording was made, but he was quoted as saying: "There is no serious historian who accepts completely the conclusions of the Nuremberg Tribunal; I think that the discussion should remain free concerning the drama of the concentration camps. The number of deaths, the manner in which the people died -- historians have the right to discuss. I don't deny that there were homicidal gas chambers, but the discussion should remain free." In 2006, before the verdict was rendered, he was suspended from his university post for five years.

During the trial Gollnisch was questioned intensively for hours one day in November 2006 over his true beliefs on the matter, and the attorney examining him, Alain Jakubowicz, representing the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism, said he would withdraw from the case if Gollnisch would only admit "that the organized extermination of the Jews of Europe by the Nazi regime during the Second World War constitute an incontestable crime against humanity perpetrated notably by the use of gas chambers." According to Le Monde, Gollnisch appeared surprised and hesitated before giving an answer that might alienate the "hard fringe of his movement." Gollnisch replied, "Completely." Asked to repeat his answer, he said: "My answer is affirmative." He was convicted in January 2007, three months before the first round of the presidential election, and sentenced to serve three months in prison (suspended) and pay a fine of 5,000 euros. An appeals court in February 2008 confirmed the conviction and added fines totaling 39,000 euros to be paid to nine associations devoted to fighting racism or representing people deported from France during World War Two. But in June 2009 the Court of Cassation, judging that his contradictory remarks as presented to the court did not constitute contestation, overturned the verdict without possibility of retrial.

However these cases might be viewed in relation to freedom of speech, they also merit attention from a purely political point of view. In the 2002 election, Jean-Marie Le Pen scored an upset in the first round; in 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy won the presidency by, in the view of many commentators, "borrowing the discourse" and luring the voters of Le Pen's party. In between, both Le Pen and his righthand man were put on trial, to the accompaniment of much public commentary, on charges that suggested their approbation of Nazi atrocities. Under such circumstances, borrowing and luring may be much easier than would otherwise be the case.

Censored Books

In September 2013 the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism sought an injunction from a court in Bobigny to order the excision of passages from five books republished by Kontre Kulture, a publishing enterprise whose publication director is Alain Soral. David-Olivier Kaminski, an attorney for the league, described Soral as someone known as a "vector of hate" and characterized the re-editions as a "provocation, with the purpose of arousing tensions." The league also asked for 20,000 euros in damages for each of the five books.

In November the court ordered the withdrawal from sale of one of the books, "L'Anthologie des propos contre les juifs, le judaïsme et le sionisme" by Paul-Eric Blanrue, which had originally been published by another publisher in 2007, and the removal of certain passages from the four others, all of which were reprints of books published long ago: "La France juive" by Edouard Drumont, "Le salut par les juifs" by Léon Bloy, "Le juif international" by Henry Ford, et "La controverse de Sion" by Douglas Reed. The court judged that the works constituted "insult toward a group of persons because of their belonging to a specific religion," "negation of crimes against humanity," and "provocation of racial hatred." Kontre Kulture and Soral were also ordered to pay 8,000 euros each to the league as well as a part of its legal expenses. In December 2014 a court overturned the previous ruling on the "Anthologie" and it was again allowed to be sold.

The media reaction focused principally on the book by Léon Bloy. Bloy's great-grandchild, Alexis Galpérine, reminded readers in Le Figaro that Bloy was a "philosemite" and that "Le salut par les juifs" had been recommended as a "book against antisemitism" by Franz Kafka. Pierre Glaudes, a professor at the Sorbonne, wrote in the weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur: "This decision of justice arouses astonishment and disquiet by attacking a literary work that is 122 years old and has been republished several times without having attracted lightning strikes by justice. This condemnation sets a dangerous precedent. Why not censor 'The Merchant of Venice' by Shakespeare, 'Gobseck' by Balzac or 'Money' by Zola for their antisemitic statements?"

Stage Show Blocked

The case of the comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala merits notice particularly for the legal manner in which the performance of his show "The Wall" in Nantes was forbidden in January 2014.

Dieudonné, the son of a Cameroonian man and a French woman, performed for several years early in his career with a Jewish partner, and their sketches often made fun of racism. Eventually he came to hold Jews responsible in large part for the slave trade, he expressed resentment at the attention given to the Holocaust in comparison with that given to the slavery, and he came to regard Jews not as fellow victims of prejudice but instead as important members of a power structure in which people of the Third World and of Third World origin are kept down. His new acts were sharply criticized, and he responded with provocations such as including Robert Faurisson, notorious as a denier of the Holocaust and gas chambers, in his acts. Dieudonné was found guilty of racial insult or defamation on numerous occasions, for example, for saying that a television host financed the Israeli Army, "which doesn't hesitate to kill Palestinian children"; for characterizing Holocaust remembrance as "memorial pornography"; for stating that the directors of a pro-Israeli website were trying to paint him as an antisemite and "son of Hitler"; for describing the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism as one of the "mafia-like associations that organize censorship, that deny all concepts of racism except that concerning the Jews. In fact, they are nothing but Israeli agents."

Largely excluded from television and other standard venues, he has nonetheless maintained an enthusiastic and politically and racially mixed following through his stage shows and videos. In January 2014 his stage show "The Wall" was challenged by the government as a threat to public order and to the dignity of the human person. Its performance in Nantes was banned by the prefecture of the Loire-Atlantic region, which judged that it contained antisemitic remarks that would incite racial hatred and constitute an apology for discriminations, persecutions and exterminations perpetrated in the course of the Second World War. The ban was lifted on the day of the show by the region's administrative tribunal, which held that the show "could not be regarded as having as its essential purpose an affront at human dignity," but the tribunal's ruling was overturned and the ban reinstated later the same day by a judge of the Council of State, the highest court in the administrative-law system, after an urgent request by Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

Conclusion

French people in general seem content with the way free speech questions are handled. If in private they will occasionally murmur that "one can't say anything anymore," in public there is very little disagreement over the necessity of punishing infractions involving remarks characterized as racist or antisemitic or "negationist." Prominent cases, such as the many brought against Jean-Marie Le Pen, are approved, explicitly or implicitly, by the vast majority of commentators in the press and on the radio and television. Even publications that push the limits of public tolerance in other ways -- for example, with crude or even violently obscene and sacrilegious writings and cartoons -- do not defend the targets of anti-racism or anti-contestation laws on general free-speech grounds; quite the contrary.

There is no high-profile organization or figure that publicly espouses the famous words that Voltaire apparently never really said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Over all the attitude is closer to that attributed to the revolutionary Saint-Just, "No liberty for the enemies of liberty." The slogan of the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism, one of the organizations most active in denouncing speech offenders, is "Racism is not an opinion but a criminal offense." Even a group such as Reporters Without Borders, which works to further the freedom of the press throughout the world, generally makes no objection to the laws discussed above, although it did oppose the one criminalizing the denial of legally recognized genocides. In an interview, Antoine Héry, in charge of the group's activities in the European Union and the Balkans, explained to me: "I think that the problem in France is that there really are racist statements -- many. This climate exists; it isn't a phantasm. There is, from this point of view, a necessity to regulate a little the domain of speech, because there are abuses. I don't think that in the United States one finds this sort of mass behavior -- because it is massive, it isn't just one guy in his corner doing his thing."

There have been dissident voices on the subject of the criminalization of so-called negationism and other "memorial laws." One of the most prominent is a group called Liberté pour l'Histoire, which was formed in 2005 in response to what seemed about to become a wave of such laws. In a public appeal signed by nineteen historians in December of that year and later by hundreds more, it stated that "in a free state, it is not the business of the parliament nor of the judicial authority to define historical truth" and called for "the abrogation of these legislative measures unworthy of a democratic regime." But even this unambiguous stand is not so solid as it might appear. In 2010, at the International Congress of Historical Sciences in Amsterdam, the group's president, Pierre Nora, spoke of the Gayssot Law and stated: "It is now twenty years since the law was voted, and even if we continue to regret it intellectually speaking, the association Liberté pour l'Histoire does not campaign for its suppression and does not wish to challenge it for the simple reason that this legal and official challenge would only be seen in the public eye as authorizing and even encouraging the denial of the Jewish genocide." There could hardly be a better illustration of the French ambivalence on the matter than this.

This ambivalence derives from an evident fact: the characteristics of the system that make it vicious from a free-speech perspective -- the vagueness and elasticity of the definitions of the crimes, the politically selective application of the laws, the tendency of the trials to become examinations of the defendants' thoughts and beliefs rather than merely of their public statements -- are virtues for a system of political repression, and in France there is a general consensus that the "extreme right" needs to be kept down and that expressions of "racism" and "antisemitism" deserve to be squelched. While there are pockets of dissidence -- such as the websites Polémia and Boulevard Voltaire, the independent rightist station Radio Courtoisie and the Internet television channel TV Libertés -- the assumption remains widespread that anyone arguing that freedom should extend to such speech must have evil motives.

The legal procedures through which speech is restricted do sometimes come under criticism. For instance, the ban on Dieudonné's show "The Wall" was widely criticized because it imposed a prior restraint, seen as equivalent to censorship in a way that punishing the performer afterward would not be. Jack Lang, who was minister of culture in the Mitterrand administration, said that the Council of State had opened a Pandora's box of potential abuses; he objected as well to basing the decision on a vague principle of "human dignity" and pointed out that the risk to public order was not credible. Michel Tubiana, a former president of the Human Rights League, which also objected to the ban, told me in an interview that Dieudonné should have been allowed to do his show and then he could have been prosecuted in the normal way. On the league's website, one reads: "Clearly it is necessary to let nothing pass, to systematically bring prosecutions against the delinquent, to denounce systematically his crimes."

For the future, there is pressure to increase the surveillance, particularly of the Internet. At its annual dinners, which are grand affairs similar to those of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in the United States, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France presses the attending government officials hard for ever more stringent restrictions, especially on Internet communications. In March 2016, for example, its president, Roger Cukierman, urged that the state of emergency "should also apply to the Internet," and this year its new president, Francis Kalifat, called for "zero tolerance" for bloggers "of hateful content."

In the meantime, France, like the other countries of the European Union, is a party to the Council Framework Decision "on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law," adopted unanimously by the ministers in the Council of the European Union in November 2008. In a report in January 2014 on the implementation of this decision, the European Commission stated: "Member States must ensure that the following intentional conduct is punishable when directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin:

publicly inciting to violence or hatred, including by public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material; publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court; or the crimes defined in Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal appended to the London Agreement of 8 August 1945, when the conduct is carried out in a manner likely to incite violence or hatred against such a group or one or more of its members."

And France does its part, by continuing to reinforce its laws. On August 5 of this year it made illegal any "nonpublic" insult or defamation (as, for example, made during a meeting in a company's offices) "made toward a person or group of persons because of their origin or belonging or not belonging, real or supposed, to an ethnic group, a nation, a putative race or a particular religion; [or] because of their sex, their sexual orientation or gender identity, or their handicap."

The law provides for fines of 1,500 euros initially and 3,000 euros for recidivists. It also gives a judge the option of augmenting the punishment with a compulsory course in citizenship.

Lawrence G. Proulx is a retired copy editor who worked for more than 30 years at the Washington Times, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune and International New York Times.

Diversity Heretic > , October 4, 2017 at 4:51 am GMT

"[Neo]Liberalism" is a religion. It defines orthodoxy and heresy and punishes the latter. It asserts the right to punish those who traduce its icons and who violate its taboos.

AKAHorace > , October 4, 2017 at 4:56 am GMT

Would it solve or worsen problems if they reintroduced dueling ?

Achmed E. Newman > , Website October 4, 2017 at 7:54 am GMT

From all this long history of curtailment and punishment of free speech of various sorts, it seems like the French never really had their hearts in it, whether they had their constitution of the 5th Republic with its weasel-out words "but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law." or even if they had had the same supposed "law of the land" as the US Constitution with its Amendment I.

Our Constitution was upheld pretty well for about 3/4 of the total time since it was written, but it takes the kind of people who care about basic principles. That would pretty much mean mostly descendants of the Founders with only such influx of newcomers that could be assimilated into the culture that values basic principles over political expediency. It goes without saying that women shouldn't have been allowed to vote here, but I said it just in case. In France, I think there weren't so many people that ever got the real idea of free speech and the quote that Voltaire didn't say.

Worse yet for France is the codifying of certain areas of knowledge, normally subject to debate, as "Government-Approved Non-arguable Truth" , which is what the legal maneuvers you write about amount to. Of course, the elites, along with the cucks of the land arrange these Truths to be based on any opposition to foreign immigrant invasion, defending of one's race, but opposition to the Government will always be number 1, as that locks it all in. It's a nice Catch-22 there – "YOUR government's speech policy clearly specifies what you can and can't talk about. The speech policy happens to be one of the things you can't talk about."

The Ministry of Truth is probably not even necessary anymore, as it seems like the unprincipled French have let the bulk of it be put in place already – maybe the Ministry of Truth is all part of "The Cloud". Instead of the answer to, or way out of, this 1984 society lying "with the proles", I'd say it's more up to the hackers now.

conatus > , October 4, 2017 at 9:30 am GMT

Definitional hypertrophy
"This ambivalence derives from an evident fact: the characteristics of the system that make it vicious from a free-speech perspective -- the vagueness and elasticity of the definitions of the crimes"
In an earlier piece Mr. Proulx wrote about 'defintional hypertrophy' which seems to characterize our Zeitgeist. A great great phrase which sums up the elasticized properties of the big three sins of our times, racism, sexism and homophobia.
Racism used to mean Birmingham Regulations regarding public facilities and separate but equal schools, now due to definitional hypertrophy it means 'noticing any racial characteristics' especially if you are white. Sexism used to mean, say banning women from non nurturing occupations and now it means saying "You look good!" to a woman in a absent minded fit of masculinity. Homophobia used to mean 'Hey keep it in the closet pal i don't want to think about what you do" and now homophobia means you must clap loudly and quickly at all homosexual activities or Homo Tinkerbell will die.
Over time these definitions have expanded as the Majority's freedoms have contracted.

Jason Liu > , October 4, 2017 at 10:37 am GMT

Free speech is an illusion, it seems. Most people want to shut their enemies up, and often succeed in doing so. Some countries are just more upfront about it.

Wizard of Oz > , October 4, 2017 at 11:52 am GMT

Is there not class distinction which helps fo understand what these laws are about. Any intelligènt edicated person ought to be verbally adroit enough to convey his meaning in an indirect way so as to avoid the thrust of the law. Thus, e.g.

I think we should discuss how we can combat the very commonly stated view that X and the alarming number of people who can see nothing wrong with it. It is not a matter so much as truth or falsehood but we need to ensure that children are indoctrinated from an early age so they will never even ask the disturbing queston "is this true?". By the time they have grown up to participate in the political life of the nation the whole question will have been swallowed by a memory hole and become a non issue. Much safer for the tranquillity of society than continued cantankerous debates erupting over the truth or falsity of something permanently consigned to be false.

IndieRafael > , October 4, 2017 at 2:48 pm GMT

Long but worth it. As author Proulx says, you can skip over sections in the middle and jump to his conclusion. This is one of the most thoroughly researched, best organized and most clearly written articles I've ever read on Unz.com. The internet needs more copy editors writing like this.

The article is really helpful in understanding the current situation in France.

The European context is mentioned at the end. It would be interesting to read a comparison of France and other European countries.

anonymous > , Disclaimer October 4, 2017 at 5:47 pm GMT

News censorship rises where news integrity falls. Eastern regimes know well harmful effects of censors and informants.

Mulegino1 > , October 4, 2017 at 6:15 pm GMT

In the land of "Liberte, Fraternite, et Egalite" there is from all appearances very little "liberte" and that little international clique of "freres" enjoys a lot more "egalite" than the rest.

Europeancivilwar.com > , Website October 4, 2017 at 6:29 pm GMT

I think the situation in Spain has shown just how little the EU pretenses of 'democracy' mean. Indeed, we all know the famous quote about what 'democracy' really means.

Regrettably though I think things will need to get much worse before they get better. I think the 'normal' people will need Muslims to make up at least 50% of the overall population before they realize just what a horrific future they are heading to..

[Oct 04, 2017] Islamic threat as subsititute for soviet threat that diassered

Oct 04, 2017 | www.unz.com


renfro > , October 4, 2017 at 4:33 am GMT

One of the first things I came across when trying to pinpoint when the Islamic threat was first being 'ginned up' in the US was this essay written in 1992. It is so accurate it could have been written yesterday. I think anyone could guess at which foreign country had the individuals and journalist and congressional clout in the US to create the idea of a 'Green Peril'.

https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/green-peril-creating-islamic-fundamentalist-threat

The "Green Peril": Creating the Islamic Fundamentalist Threat
By Leon T. Hadar
August 27, 1992

excerpts..

The Making of a "Peril"

The Islamic threat argument is becoming increasingly popular with some segments of the American foreign policy establishment. They are encouraged by foreign governments who, for reasons of self-interest, want to see Washington embroiled in the coming West vs. Islam confrontation. The result is the construction of the new peril, a process that does not reflect any grand conspiracy but that nevertheless has its own logic, rules and timetables.
Indeed, like the Red Menace of the Cold War era, the Green Peril is perceived as a cancer spreading around the globe,undermining the legitimacy of Western values and political systems. The cosmic importance of the confrontation would make it necessary for Washington to adopt a long term diplomatic and military strategy; to forge new and solid alliances; to prepare the American people for a never ending struggle that will test their resolve; and to develop new containment policies, new doctrines, and a new foreign policy elite with its "wise men" and "experts."

The creation of a peril usually starts with mysterious "sources" and unnamed officials who leak information, float trial balloons, and warn about the coming threat. Those sources reflect debates and discussions taking place within government. Their information is then augmented by colorful intelligence reports that finger exotic and conspiratorial terrorists and military advisers. Journalists then search for the named and other villains. The media end up finding corroboration from foreign sources who form an informal coalition with the sources in the U.S. government and help the press uncover further information substantiating the threat coming from the new bad guys.

In addition, think tanks studies and op-ed pieces add momentum to the official spin. Their publication is followed by congressional hearings, policy conferences, and public press briefings. A governmental policy debate ensues, producing studies, working papers, and eventually doctrines and policies that become part of the media's spin. The new villain is now ready to be integrated into the popular culture to help to mobilize public support for a new crusade. In the case of the Green Peril, that process has been under way for several months.

The Israeli government and its supporters in Washington are trying to play the Islamic card. The specter of Central Asian republics and Iran equipped with nuclear weapons helps Israel to reduce any potential international pressure on it to place its own nuclear capabilities and strategy on the negotiating table. More important, perhaps, the Green Peril could revive, in the long run, Israel's role as America's strategic asset, which was eroded as a result of the end of the Cold War
The operational message is that the United States "must refocus its policy on the basic problems facing the Islamic world rather than only the Arab-Israeli conflict."[23] Jerusalem's attempts to turn that conflict into a Jewish-Moslem confrontation and to place America on its side to help contain radical Moslem forces in the region may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The result is likely to be strengthened anti-American feelings in the Middle East and anti-American terrorist acts, which, in turn, will invite a new round of American military intervention."

[Oct 04, 2017] Creating taboos is the slicing salami tactic

How marginalization of opposition works: Once the extreme positions on an issue (left of right) are rendered taboo and excluded, the next position in (which the lobbyists could not easily succeed in banning as "extreme" initially) becomes the new "extreme". As a bonus its advocates can be accused of being closet supporters of the banned position and as such ostracized.
Oct 04, 2017 | www.unz.com

Randal > ,

October 4, 2017 at 4:51 pm GMT

@Clay Bishop

I've been banned from the Antiwar comment section more than once for explicitly mentioning Jewish influence on foreign policy without masking it with terms like "Zionists," "Neocons," "Likudniks," or the "War Party."

As much as the older crowd on our political spectrum hate to admit it, Daily Stormer and Pol have actually opened up a space for a rational discussion of Jewish influence on politics. When you have anonymous accounts literally calling for all Jews to be gassed, a couple pundits talking soberly about Jewish influence seem fairly moderate by comparison.

And the readers of DS and Pol are definitely the younger generation who will make up the majority of the Right in the future. I envision a day in the near future when the mention of Israel elicits boos at the Republican National Convention.

As much as the older crowd on our political spectrum hate to admit it, Daily Stormer and Pol have actually opened up a space for a rational discussion of Jewish influence on politics. When you have anonymous accounts literally calling for all Jews to be gassed, a couple pundits talking soberly about Jewish influence seem fairly moderate by comparison.

This is of course exactly how banning opinions distorts debate and why identity lobbyists love to impose such taboos on discourse.

Once the extreme positions on an issue are rendered taboo and excluded, the next position in (which the lobbyists could not easily succeed in banning as "extreme" initially) becomes the apparent "extreme" and as a bonus its advocates can be accused of being closet supporters of the banned extreme. They then have to spend all their time and energy defending themselves against being harassed and trying to word their arguments carefully so they can't be accused of falling foul of the taboo (or as with some of the accusations against Giraldi's piece here – of not trying hard enough to avoid the supposed appearance of falling foul of it).

That's how proposals to limit mass immigration are labelled "race hatred" and banned in many forums, and how reasonable raising of an important issue such as in Giraldi's piece gets one smeared as an "antisemite" (or potentially prosecuted in the UK) and excluded from mainstream publications.

Rurik > , October 4, 2017 at 5:47 pm GMT

@Randal


As much as the older crowd on our political spectrum hate to admit it, Daily Stormer and Pol have actually opened up a space for a rational discussion of Jewish influence on politics. When you have anonymous accounts literally calling for all Jews to be gassed, a couple pundits talking soberly about Jewish influence seem fairly moderate by comparison.
This is of course exactly how banning opinions distorts debate and why identity lobbyists love to impose such taboos on discourse.

Once the extreme positions on an issue are rendered taboo and excluded, the next position in (which the lobbyists could not easily succeed in banning as "extreme" initially) becomes the apparent "extreme" and as a bonus its advocates can be accused of being closet supporters of the banned extreme. They then have to spend all their time and energy defending themselves against being harassed and trying to word their arguments carefully so they can't be accused of falling foul of the taboo (or as with some of the accusations against Giraldi's piece here - of not trying hard enough to avoid the supposed appearance of falling foul of it).

That's how proposals to limit mass immigration are labelled "race hatred" and banned in many forums, and how reasonable raising of an important issue such as in Giraldi's piece gets one smeared as an "antisemite" (or potentially prosecuted in the UK) and excluded from mainstream publications.

Once the extreme positions on an issue are rendered taboo and excluded, the next position in (which the lobbyists could not easily succeed in banning as "extreme" initially) becomes the apparent "extreme" and as a bonus its advocates can be accused of being closet supporters of the banned extreme.

I'm glad your insightful comment was recognized as such

Reminds me of how Marine Le Pen's father was marginalized as an 'anti-Semite' (for simply telling the obvious truth), and once he was effectively maligned, (they) set their sights on the moderate daughter, as being "far right", which simply means not as far left as (they) are.

today they call the AfD "far right", in order to marginalize their extremely reasonable and moderate positions – as advocating an invasion of Poland

and of course, were Mr. G to sob his contrition and re-write the article, (not likely ; ), they'd simply set their sights on the next target, having moved the goal posts and tilted the playing field always more and more in their favor.

[Oct 01, 2017] Neoliberalism Is a Political Project

Notable quotes:
"... I've always treated neoliberalism as a political project carried out by the corporate capitalist class as they felt intensely threatened both politically and economically towards the end of the 1960s into the 1970s. They desperately wanted to launch a political project that would curb the power of labor. ..."
"... In many respects the project was a counterrevolutionary project. It would nip in the bud what, at that time, were revolutionary movements in much of the developing world ..."
"... So in that situation there was, in effect, a global threat to the power of the corporate capitalist class and therefore the question was, What to do?. The ruling class wasn't omniscient but they recognized that there were a number of fronts on which they had to struggle: the ideological front, the political front, and above all they had to struggle to curb the power of labor by whatever means possible. Out of this there emerged a political project which I would call neoliberalism. ..."
"... The ideological front amounted to following the advice of a guy named Lewis Powell . He wrote a memo saying that things had gone too far, that capital needed a collective project. The memo helped mobilize the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable. ..."
"... Ideas were also important to the ideological front. The judgment at that time was that universities were impossible to organize because the student movement was too strong and the faculty too liberal-minded, so they set up all of these think tanks like the Manhattan Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Ohlin Foundation. These think tanks brought in the ideas of Freidrich Hayek and Milton Friedman and supply-side economics. ..."
"... This process took a long time. I think now we've reached a point where you don't need something like the Heritage Foundation anymore. Universities have pretty much been taken over by the neoliberal projects surrounding them. ..."
"... With respect to labor, the challenge was to make domestic labor competitive with global labor. One way was to open up immigration. In the 1960s, for example, Germans were importing Turkish labor, the French Maghrebian labor, the British colonial labor. But this created a great deal of dissatisfaction and unrest. ..."
"... Instead they chose the other way -- to take capital to where the low-wage labor forces were. But for globalization to work you had to reduce tariffs and empower finance capital, because finance capital is the most mobile form of capital. So finance capital and things like floating currencies became critical to curbing labor. ..."
"... At the same time, ideological projects to privatize and deregulate created unemployment. So, unemployment at home and offshoring taking the jobs abroad, and a third component: technological change , deindustrialization through automation and robotization. That was the strategy to squash labor. ..."
"... It was an ideological assault but also an economic assault. To me this is what neoliberalism was about: it was that political project ..."
"... I think they just intuitively said, We gotta crush labor, how do we do it? And they found that there was a legitimizing theory out there, which would support that. ..."
Oct 01, 2017 | www.jacobinmag.com

I've always treated neoliberalism as a political project carried out by the corporate capitalist class as they felt intensely threatened both politically and economically towards the end of the 1960s into the 1970s. They desperately wanted to launch a political project that would curb the power of labor.

In many respects the project was a counterrevolutionary project. It would nip in the bud what, at that time, were revolutionary movements in much of the developing world -- Mozambique, Angola, China etc. -- but also a rising tide of communist influences in countries like Italy and France and, to a lesser degree, the threat of a revival of that in Spain.

Even in the United States, trade unions had produced a Democratic Congress that was quite radical in its intent. In the early 1970s they, along with other social movements, forced a slew of reforms and reformist initiatives which were anti-corporate: the Environmental Protection Agency , the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, consumer protections, and a whole set of things around empowering labor even more than it had been empowered before.

So in that situation there was, in effect, a global threat to the power of the corporate capitalist class and therefore the question was, What to do?. The ruling class wasn't omniscient but they recognized that there were a number of fronts on which they had to struggle: the ideological front, the political front, and above all they had to struggle to curb the power of labor by whatever means possible. Out of this there emerged a political project which I would call neoliberalism.

BSR Can you talk a bit about the ideological and political fronts and the attacks on labor? DH The ideological front amounted to following the advice of a guy named Lewis Powell . He wrote a memo saying that things had gone too far, that capital needed a collective project. The memo helped mobilize the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.

Ideas were also important to the ideological front. The judgment at that time was that universities were impossible to organize because the student movement was too strong and the faculty too liberal-minded, so they set up all of these think tanks like the Manhattan Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Ohlin Foundation. These think tanks brought in the ideas of Freidrich Hayek and Milton Friedman and supply-side economics.

The idea was to have these think tanks do serious research and some of them did -- for instance, the National Bureau of Economic Research was a privately funded institution that did extremely good and thorough research. This research would then be published independently and it would influence the press and bit by bit it would surround and infiltrate the universities.

This process took a long time. I think now we've reached a point where you don't need something like the Heritage Foundation anymore. Universities have pretty much been taken over by the neoliberal projects surrounding them.

With respect to labor, the challenge was to make domestic labor competitive with global labor. One way was to open up immigration. In the 1960s, for example, Germans were importing Turkish labor, the French Maghrebian labor, the British colonial labor. But this created a great deal of dissatisfaction and unrest.

Instead they chose the other way -- to take capital to where the low-wage labor forces were. But for globalization to work you had to reduce tariffs and empower finance capital, because finance capital is the most mobile form of capital. So finance capital and things like floating currencies became critical to curbing labor.

At the same time, ideological projects to privatize and deregulate created unemployment. So, unemployment at home and offshoring taking the jobs abroad, and a third component: technological change , deindustrialization through automation and robotization. That was the strategy to squash labor.

It was an ideological assault but also an economic assault. To me this is what neoliberalism was about: it was that political project, and I think the bourgeoisie or the corporate capitalist class put it into motion bit by bit.

I don't think they started out by reading Hayek or anything, I think they just intuitively said, We gotta crush labor, how do we do it? And they found that there was a legitimizing theory out there, which would support that.

[Sep 24, 2017] How Sony, Obama, Seth Rogen and the CIA Secretly Planned to Force Regime Change in North Korea by Tim Shorrock

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The U.S., he warned in a recent speech on Capitol Hill that I attended, must deliver Kim a simple message: "We know the only thing you care about is your regime's survival. Either denuclearize or we will take actions politically to destabilize your regime." His talk was a basic primer for this "uprising" from within, which is exactly what the Bush administration sought in Iraq when it invaded in 2003. ..."
"... K-Pop, the South Korean musical genre that's popular around the world, could be another weapon: "It's acidic as far the regime is concerned." And commercials about South Korean life planted in DVDs smuggled into the North "would be terrible for Kim Jong-un." ..."
"... The purpose of the operation, he said, is to convince the people of the DPRK that their "paranoid" leader is not a "god," and to plant the idea that his country is unstable: "If that's in his mind, it will affect his behavior." In short, a psy-op. ..."
"... Why Bennett? His official biography states that he has worked for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Forces in South Korea and Japan, the U.S. Pacific Command as well as the South Korean and Japanese militaries. According an email he wrote to Sony's Lynton in 2014, he got his start in Asia as a Mormon missionary to Japan and began working on Korea in 1989 "at the request of the Pentagon." By 2014, he said, he had made over 100 trips to South Korea to advise the U.S. Army and senior South Korean military personnel "on how to deter North Korea." Even though he has never been to the DPRK, he bases his knowledge of the country on his "extensive interviews with senior North Korean defectors." ..."
"... The film allegedly sparked North Korea to hack Sony and leak thousands of internal Sony emails. North Korea also warned the Obama administration not to allow the film to be released, branding it "an act of terrorism." So, when Bennett invited questions at his congressional briefing, I asked him: what was his involvement in The Interview , and did he think it was effective? ..."
"... As Americans come to grips with Trump's confrontational policies with North Korea, it's easy to forget that U.S. relations with North Korea reached a nadir under Barack Obama. Here's why: Bennett's regime change proposals were, and are, the culmination of policies hatched by Obama's left-liberal administration to weaken Kim's hold on power and hasten what they considered North Korea's inevitable collapse. Obviously they failed, yet elements of the plan still abound. ..."
"... To head off that development, in 1994 President Bill Clinton negotiated an agreement with North Korea's founding leader, Kim Il-sung, that sought to allay his government's fears by ending America's hostile policies. Under the "Agreed Framework," the DPRK shut down its one test reactor -- its only source for plutonium -- in return for U.S. shipments of oil for its power grid and two new light-water reactors to be built by an international consortium. Most importantly, both sides agreed to end mutual hostility by fully normalizing their economic and political relations. ..."
"... The agreement, which froze North Korea's nuclear program for 12 years, held for several years. But in 2002, the Bush administration accused the DPRK -- falsely it turned out -- of building a secret uranium program as a second route to a bomb and tore up the framework. In response, North Korea, which was by now led by Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un's father, restarted its nuclear program, and by 2006 had exploded its first nuclear device. ..."
"... Surprisingly, Bush reopened negotiations only three weeks later, and by 2007, under the rubric of the Six Party Talks, the DPRK agreed again to freeze its program. That accord was still pending when Obama was elected in 2009. He had run for president pledging to talk to Iran and North Korea, but quickly changed course on Korea. ..."
"... Obama and his top adviser on Asia, Jeff Bader, decided in 2009 to side with the new, conservative president of South Korea, Lee Myung Bak, who had campaigned against engagement and demanded stronger pressure tactics against the DPRK. Soon, the idea of direct talks and regular was abandoned. Officially, the doctrine for replacing direct engagement with pressure tactics was known as "strategic patience." Behind it was a mistaken assumption!the same one made by Bennett today!that North Korea was headed for collapse, making even the chance of an agreement a futile exercise. ..."
"... It's difficult to overstate how reactionary Obama's policies became. In contrast to Bush, and even Trump, Obama flatly rejected the idea of negotiating with the North without a prior commitment to denuclearization. He also expressed no interest in the DPRK's offer to sign a peace agreement. More disturbingly, he was the first president in history to refer to the Korean War, which has been universally recognized as a bloody stalemate, as a "victory." In doing so, Obama revived a right-wing trope that was first used in the 1950s and resurrected during the Bush years by David Frum and other neocons. So from the onset, Obama caused America's policy toward Korea to take a sharp right turn. ..."
"... But the U.S. government had no doubts at all. In January 2015, Obama called the DPRK's alleged hack an "act of war" and used it as an excuse to launch one of the most aggressive American actions on behalf of a private corporation in U.S. history. His executive order imposed sanctions against three North Korean agencies and nearly a dozen "critical North Korean operatives" in retaliation for the hack. The Treasury Department said the sanctions were in direct response to North Korea's "numerous provocations, particularly the recent cyber-attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment." The action marked a major escalation, returning "the U.S. to a posture of open hostility with its oldest remaining Cold War adversary," the Wall Street Journal noted . ..."
"... Shortly after these actions were taken, the New York Times published a revelation that raised serious questions about the hack, reporting that the NSA had broken into the DPRK's computer systems as early as 2010 and "penetrated directly into the North with the help of South Korea and other American allies." If that was true, the NSA might have watched the alleged hackers and allowed them to do their work. Here's what the Times concluded: ..."
"... Today, Kim Jong-un remains firmly in control of North Korea, and the Trump administration -- despite Trump's tweets on Sunday equating engagement with "appeasement " -- appears to be slowly moving toward negotiations of some kind with his government. Bruce Bennett continues to fantasize about bringing the leader down. Kim, he argued in a recent post , craves his weapons not for self-defense but because "nukes are one way to show his subjects he's a god." Kim is "a weak leader consumed by paranoia," he wrote in a separate piece. ..."
"... And on August 29, in a departing interview with Fox News, ousted White House adviser Sebastian Gorka let it slip that the cyber attacks on North Korea probably continue. "On the more covert side of things, you have seen a lot of missile tests fail," he said . "Most tests actually fail. Sometimes there may be reasons beyond just incompetence by North Korea." ..."
"... And there was an intriguing exchange recently between one of Obama's top national security officials and South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in . On August 4, Moon spoke out against Korean right-wingers who send anti-DPRK propaganda over the border in large balloons!one of the tactics frequently suggested by Bennett and carried out by neocons Kirchick and Halvorssen. These actions, he warned , unnecessarily aggravate the North, and particularly during times of severe tension, "could prompt accidental clashes." ..."
"... That sparked an angry tweet from Samantha Power, the Obama administration's former U.N. ambassador and perhaps the most famous proponent of "humanitarian intervention" against enemy states like North Korea. "So mistaken," Power tweeted in response to Moon. "Information is what Kim Jong-un fears most. ..."
Sep 05, 2017 | www.alternet.org

Grayzone Project 294 COMMENTS

Over the past month, President Trump's incendiary threats to rain " fire and fury " on North Korea in response to its ballistic missile program set off a chain of military escalations that climaxed this week with Pyongyang's sixth test of a nuclear device , a hydrogen bomb three to five times more powerful than the American bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As the crisis unfolded, the Rand Corporation, a military-intelligence think tank founded during the Cold War, relentlessly promoted the views of Bruce W. Bennett, a defense researcher it calls "one of the leading experts on the world's most reclusive country." Two or three times a day, Rand's media shop tweets out links to Bennett's writings on Kim Jong-un, the 33-year-old who rules the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK), its formal and preferred name.

While Trump has vowed to use sanctions, war threats and diplomacy to stop Kim from developing a ballistic missile that could fire nuclear weapons at the United States!exactly what Kim claimed to do on Sunday!Bennett believes that the only target worth considering is North Korea's " Supreme Leader " himself.

Bennett's basic theme is that North Korea is teetering on collapse and internal unrest because the military and technocratic elite who run the country have given up on Kim and his dynastic family. It's a theory that's been around for decades , but has picked up steam in reaction to Kim's recent purges, including possibly his own brother and a string of high-level defections that includes Thae Yong-ho , the erudite former North Korea ambassador to London.

In glossy books and pamphlets ("Preparing North Korean Elites for Unification") and in appearances from CNN to Fox to Teen Vogue , Bennett lays out his plan for overthrowing the North Korean government by saturating the country with leaflets and propaganda and providing assurances to potential plotters in the North that they would have a place within a new, unified Korea!but only under South Korean and U.S. control.

The U.S., he warned in a recent speech on Capitol Hill that I attended, must deliver Kim a simple message: "We know the only thing you care about is your regime's survival. Either denuclearize or we will take actions politically to destabilize your regime." His talk was a basic primer for this "uprising" from within, which is exactly what the Bush administration sought in Iraq when it invaded in 2003.

The plan, Bennett said, might begin with the U.S. Air Force dropping leaflets on North Korean missile bases that invite North Korean soldiers to defect. "If there were one or two, that would be a political loss of face." K-Pop, the South Korean musical genre that's popular around the world, could be another weapon: "It's acidic as far the regime is concerned." And commercials about South Korean life planted in DVDs smuggled into the North "would be terrible for Kim Jong-un."

The purpose of the operation, he said, is to convince the people of the DPRK that their "paranoid" leader is not a "god," and to plant the idea that his country is unstable: "If that's in his mind, it will affect his behavior." In short, a psy-op.

As I listened to his spiel, I was reminded of Bennett's advisory role in the 2014 Seth Rogen comedy The Interview , about two Hollywood stoners hired by the CIA to kill Kim. It depicted, in graphic detail, Kim's head being blown apart by a guided missile fired by fed-up North Korean "elites" who had come over to the U.S. side after their conversations with the fake American journalists, played by Rogen and his sidekick James Franco.

The film was produced by Japan's Sony Pictures, but finalized only after receiving critical advice and assistance from the Obama State Department, the Rand Corporation, and according to a 2014 interview Rogen gave to the New York Times, the CIA. ("We made relationships with certain people who work in the government as consultants, who I'm convinced are in the CIA.") But it was all under the tutelage of Bruce Bennett, who was brought into the project by Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, a prominent member of Rand's board of directors and a close confidante of President Obama.

Why Bennett? His official biography states that he has worked for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Forces in South Korea and Japan, the U.S. Pacific Command as well as the South Korean and Japanese militaries. According an email he wrote to Sony's Lynton in 2014, he got his start in Asia as a Mormon missionary to Japan and began working on Korea in 1989 "at the request of the Pentagon." By 2014, he said, he had made over 100 trips to South Korea to advise the U.S. Army and senior South Korean military personnel "on how to deter North Korea." Even though he has never been to the DPRK, he bases his knowledge of the country on his "extensive interviews with senior North Korean defectors."

The movie's plot closely follows Bennett's vision for regime change from within, and is illustrated in two key scenes.

"We're aware of a small faction in the existing leadership that already wants him gone," the CIA agent overseeing the assassination plot tells her American recruits early on. "They want change and they're too scared to act alone. And they need you two to go in there and remove Kim and embolden them to revolt." Later, "Sook," the sexy assistant to Kim who joins the regime change plot, pleads with Rogen: "How do you prove to the 24 million people of North Korea that their god is a murderer and a liar? The people need to be shown that he's not a god."

The film allegedly sparked North Korea to hack Sony and leak thousands of internal Sony emails. North Korea also warned the Obama administration not to allow the film to be released, branding it "an act of terrorism." So, when Bennett invited questions at his congressional briefing, I asked him: what was his involvement in The Interview , and did he think it was effective?

At first, Bennett was elusive, saying, "I did not work on the movie." When I reminded him that he had been listed as an adviser, he changed course. "I heard about it for the first time when I was sent a copy of the DVD by the president of Sony Pictures, who was asking, do we need to be worried about this?" he explained, inspiring a ripple of laughter throughout the room. Bennett continued: "So I had a tail-end role in trying to help them appreciate what they might be worried about."

But there's a lot more to the story. Now that Kim is dominating the news once again, it's time to revisit this film and how it became a weapon in the long-running American war against North Korea.

Obama's hard line on DPRK

As Americans come to grips with Trump's confrontational policies with North Korea, it's easy to forget that U.S. relations with North Korea reached a nadir under Barack Obama. Here's why: Bennett's regime change proposals were, and are, the culmination of policies hatched by Obama's left-liberal administration to weaken Kim's hold on power and hasten what they considered North Korea's inevitable collapse. Obviously they failed, yet elements of the plan still abound.

Let's start with some basic background. The hostile U.S. relationship with the DPRK dates back to the Korean War, when U.S. bombers turned the country into cinders in a destructive campaign of carpet-bombing that killed millions of people. In 1953, an armistice ended the fighting, leaving the country divided and in a perpetual state of war. A peace treaty was never signed. Sometime in the late 1980s, with the border still tense and the U.S. showing no signs of withdrawing its military forces from the South, the DPRK decided to embark on a nuclear program to defend itself from wars of regime change and guarantee its sovereignty.

To head off that development, in 1994 President Bill Clinton negotiated an agreement with North Korea's founding leader, Kim Il-sung, that sought to allay his government's fears by ending America's hostile policies. Under the "Agreed Framework," the DPRK shut down its one test reactor -- its only source for plutonium -- in return for U.S. shipments of oil for its power grid and two new light-water reactors to be built by an international consortium. Most importantly, both sides agreed to end mutual hostility by fully normalizing their economic and political relations.

The agreement, which froze North Korea's nuclear program for 12 years, held for several years. But in 2002, the Bush administration accused the DPRK -- falsely it turned out -- of building a secret uranium program as a second route to a bomb and tore up the framework. In response, North Korea, which was by now led by Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un's father, restarted its nuclear program, and by 2006 had exploded its first nuclear device.

Surprisingly, Bush reopened negotiations only three weeks later, and by 2007, under the rubric of the Six Party Talks, the DPRK agreed again to freeze its program. That accord was still pending when Obama was elected in 2009. He had run for president pledging to talk to Iran and North Korea, but quickly changed course on Korea.

According to Leon Sigal, a former State Department official who has met with North Korea many times in unofficial talks, Obama and his top adviser on Asia, Jeff Bader, decided in 2009 to side with the new, conservative president of South Korea, Lee Myung Bak, who had campaigned against engagement and demanded stronger pressure tactics against the DPRK. Soon, the idea of direct talks and regular was abandoned. Officially, the doctrine for replacing direct engagement with pressure tactics was known as "strategic patience." Behind it was a mistaken assumption!the same one made by Bennett today!that North Korea was headed for collapse, making even the chance of an agreement a futile exercise.

It's difficult to overstate how reactionary Obama's policies became. In contrast to Bush, and even Trump, Obama flatly rejected the idea of negotiating with the North without a prior commitment to denuclearization. He also expressed no interest in the DPRK's offer to sign a peace agreement. More disturbingly, he was the first president in history to refer to the Korean War, which has been universally recognized as a bloody stalemate, as a "victory." In doing so, Obama revived a right-wing trope that was first used in the 1950s and resurrected during the Bush years by David Frum and other neocons. So from the onset, Obama caused America's policy toward Korea to take a sharp right turn.

The tensions were exacerbated by the covert cyber war Obama launched against North Korea to damage and slow its missile program. During the Obama years, North Korea tested three more nuclear bombs, and despite the cyber war, rapidly expanded its missile abilities. As the situation deteriorated, Obama embarked on a series of military exercises with South Korea that increased in size and tempo over the course of his administration. They included unprecedented overflights by B-52 and stealth B1-B bombers as well as training in " decapitation strikes " designed to take out Kim and his leadership. All of this led straight to the crisis Trump inherited and has only made worse.

But while Trump critics rightly chafe over his reckless allusions to a nuclear attack on Korea, it's often forgotten that Obama himself made similar statements, couched in his trademark cool. "We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals," Obama told CBS News in April 2016. A few months later, Daniel Russel, the president's senior diplomat on Asia who had earlier viewed The Interview at Sony's request, actually threatened North Korea's destruction. If Kim gets "an enhanced capacity to conduct a nuclear attack," Russel told defense reporters, he would "immediately die."

At the time, these threats hardly caused a ripple in the media, and sparked few complaints from the liberals who now criticize Trump for pushing the U.S. to war or the progressive reporters who criticized Bush for his invasion of Iraq.

Seth Rogen 'melted head' assassination scene

Although the idea for The Interview had been around for a while, the real inspiration, director Seth Rogen told the Los Angeles Times, was some "idle kidding around" he did with his friends after the assassination of Osama bin Laden in 2011. He and Sony were also encouraged by the wild success of the 2004 hit movie Team America , which ridiculed Kim Jong-il's big glasses and bouffant hair-do. But what sparked Sony's decision to go ahead with its $35 million investment was the crisis that shook the Korean Peninsula when the DPRK tested its third nuclear device in February 2013.

The nuclear test vaulted Kim Jong-un into the headlines for the first time, giving Sony the moment it had been seeking. In a "strategic marketing and research" paper later leaked by hackers, the studio told promoters to push the theme of "the dictator's bizarre behavior!he's a young, inexperienced guy with self-esteem and 'daddy' issues." The film used every racist image and trope that Rogen could dream up, from the sing-songy caricatures of Asian speech that were a film staple in the 1940s and '50s, to the concept that Koreans are either robotic slaves (like Kim's security guards) or sex-starved submissives who crave American men (like Sook, the "elite" aide to Kim who falls for the Rogen character).

In the end of the film, the Hollywood rebels triumph after badgering Kim with tough questions about his ability to feed his own people, an allusion to the terrible famine that occurred in the late-1990s. Kim goes crazy, forcing "a man once revered among mortals to cry and shit in his pants," the Rogen character explains. After the stoner character screams, "he's no god, he's a butthole," Kim is struck on his helicopter by the fatal missile shot by Sook's rebels, and his head explodes in a fireball. The rebels' job now "is to make sure power is transferred to the right hands," the Americans explain.

It was that ending that caused most of the controversy, both at the studio and when the film was later pre-screened to select officials of the Obama administration. When the first takes were shown in June 2014, some of Sony's Japanese executives were disturbed by both the violence and the racism. By this time, North Korea (which relentlessly monitors U.S. media) had got wind of the film and its theme of assassinating its head of state. So the studio asked Rogen to tone it down by removing one scene in which moviegoers watched Kim's face slowly melt and slide off his head. This sent Rogen on a tirade.

"We feel the story of censorship and trying to appease North Korea WILL in fact hurt the film critically, and thus financially," he wrote to Amy Pascal , Sony Pictures' top executive at the time. "The head melting shot described vividly in all these articles is universally received as awesome by the articles writing about them, and when these critics see a shot that is decidedly LESS awesome, regardless of what story we put out there, the truth will be apparent: it's a compromised product." (The head-melting scene was removed, but Rogen's Hollywood version of selective morality was revealing nonetheless).

By this point, North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs was denouncing the film as tantamount to "an act of war," and threatening "a decisive and merciless countermeasure" if the Obama administration allowed it to be shown. That was apparently the result Rogen was looking for.

"There was a lot of high-fiving," he told the Los Angeles Times. Even if it caused a war?

"Hopefully," Rogen said, "people will say, 'You know what? It was worth it. It was a good movie!'"

It was then that Sony turned to the government for help, through Rand and its Korea expert, Bruce Bennett.

With top Obama contacts, Sony and Rand collaborate on coup narrative

The Rand Corporation first became famous in 1971, when Daniel Ellsberg, a Rand analyst, leaked the Pentagon Papers that exposed the secret history of the Vietnam War. The incredible tale of official lies that unfolded in pages of the New York Times and other papers helped end the war four years later and triggered the beginning of the end of Richard Nixon. After shaking off that incident, Rand emerged as one of the premiere research centers for the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence.

As a result of 9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Rand returned full force to refining the practice of counterinsurgency , or COIN, the "soft power" side of empire-building that got its start in Vietnam and aims at winning "hearts and minds" of countries that the United States invades or subverts. Bennett's policy proposals to divide members of the North Korean "elite" from their government with offers of political support and financial assistance come right out of the COIN playbook .

The link between Rand and Sony was made shortly after the first public viewing of the film by Rand CEO Michael Rich, a lifelong employee of the think tank. Under his leadership, Rand developed close ties with U.S. intelligence. In November 2014, for example, Rich presided over a "rare dialogue" with the National Security Agency that took place at Sony's headquarters in Century City and included then NSA director Michael Rogers as well as Michael Leiter, the former director of the CIA's National Counterterrorism Center.

In June 2014, after the first clips of the movie where shown, Rich emailed Bennett, informing him he had recommended that Rand "trustee Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment, get in touch with you for some quick assistance." Lynton, too, had high-level connections. As the hacked Sony emails collected by Wikileaks would later reveal , he had attended dinners at Martha's Vineyard with President Obama, and as a Rand board member, had contacts throughout government. From June on, Bennett, through Lynton, became a critical adviser to the film and acted as a liaison between the studio and the Obama administration.

The makers of The Interview were especially interested in advice on crafting the ending of the film. The scene of Kim's head exploding pleased Bennett, as he wrote in one of his emails. "I have been clear that the assassination of Kim Jong-Un is the most likely path to a collapse of the North Korean government," he wrote .

Bennett continued: 'Thus while toning down the ending may reduce the North Korean response, I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will). So from a personal perspective, I would personally prefer to leave the ending alone."

Bennett firmly believed the film could spark the U.S.-led coup he had dreamed about for so long. "There are many ways that United States and even Sony Pictures could affect North Korean internal politics," he wrote on the Rand website. "Slipping DVDs of at least parts of The Interview into the North, including a narration describing what their 'god' Kim is really like is one way." (In fact, a version of this stunt was attempted right after the film came out by two of the more fanatical regime-changers in Washington, the neocon writer Jamie Kirchik and right-wing human rights hustler Thor Halvorssen .)

To make sure the film was on the right track, Sony arranged to show the ending to officials at the State Department. Lynton emailed Daniel Russel, who was the assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, that the studio was "concerned for the safety of Americans and American and North Korean relations." He and other U.S. officials gave their blessing to the film's violent ending. After word of Russel's involvement leaked out, the State Department denied any role, only to be contradicted by Russel himself. In a 2016 speech in Los Angeles, he said , "I'm the U.S. government official who told Sony there was no problem 'greenlighting' the movie The Interview ."

Despite the official go-ahead, Sony agreed at first to only release The Interview on DVD. Then, when Sony temporarily pulled the film in December 2014, Obama became its champion, declaring that "we cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States." That led to the remarkable sight of Hollywood actors and directors from the liberal left, led by the likes of George Clooney and Michael Moore, defending the film as an act of free speech and urging Americans to defy Kim's "censorship" and go see it in a theater.

By this time, Sony had been hacked by a group that called itself the " Guardians of Peace ." The FBI later claimed this group was secretly working for North Korea. The Obama administration agreed, and said its top intelligence officials had concluded that North Korea was "centrally involved." This finding was questioned by many cyber-security experts (especially Gregory Elich's critique in Counterpunch and Kim Zetter's analysis in Wired). They concluded that the FBI's "evidence" found in servers in Thailand, Singapore and elsewhere was thin and speculative, and found signs that the real hackers (who had an uncanny insider knowledge of Hollywood) could still be at large and might have been former Sony employees.

But the U.S. government had no doubts at all. In January 2015, Obama called the DPRK's alleged hack an "act of war" and used it as an excuse to launch one of the most aggressive American actions on behalf of a private corporation in U.S. history. His executive order imposed sanctions against three North Korean agencies and nearly a dozen "critical North Korean operatives" in retaliation for the hack. The Treasury Department said the sanctions were in direct response to North Korea's "numerous provocations, particularly the recent cyber-attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment." The action marked a major escalation, returning "the U.S. to a posture of open hostility with its oldest remaining Cold War adversary," the Wall Street Journal noted .

Shortly after these actions were taken, the New York Times published a revelation that raised serious questions about the hack, reporting that the NSA had broken into the DPRK's computer systems as early as 2010 and "penetrated directly into the North with the help of South Korea and other American allies." If that was true, the NSA might have watched the alleged hackers and allowed them to do their work. Here's what the Times concluded:

"The extensive American penetration of the North Korean system raises questions about why the United States was not able to alert Sony as the attacks took shape last fall, even though the North had warned, as early as June, that the release of the movie would be 'an act of war.'"

By this time, however, the film had done its damage by convincing Kim's government that the Obama administration did indeed want its destruction. More missile and nuclear tests followed, and by the end of the Obama administration relations were far worse than they were when Bush left office in 2009. In other words, the film had the opposite of its intended effect, prompting a clampdown by Kim and suppressing whatever internal dissent existed.

Today, Kim Jong-un remains firmly in control of North Korea, and the Trump administration -- despite Trump's tweets on Sunday equating engagement with "appeasement " -- appears to be slowly moving toward negotiations of some kind with his government. Bruce Bennett continues to fantasize about bringing the leader down. Kim, he argued in a recent post , craves his weapons not for self-defense but because "nukes are one way to show his subjects he's a god." Kim is "a weak leader consumed by paranoia," he wrote in a separate piece.

At the same time, there is abundant evidence that the combination regime-change/cyber war project adopted by the Obama administration is still in force. A few weeks ago, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told a crowd at the Aspen Forum that he's been ordered to find ways to "separate" Kim from his "missiles and nuclear weapons" -- a "strong hint," the New York Times reported , "that the United States was considering seeking a regime change in North Korea." And on August 29, in a departing interview with Fox News, ousted White House adviser Sebastian Gorka let it slip that the cyber attacks on North Korea probably continue. "On the more covert side of things, you have seen a lot of missile tests fail," he said . "Most tests actually fail. Sometimes there may be reasons beyond just incompetence by North Korea."

The Democrats haven't let up, either. Last month, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal told NBC News that the Obama administration should have responded more aggressively to North Korea's alleged hack of Sony in 2014. And there was an intriguing exchange recently between one of Obama's top national security officials and South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in . On August 4, Moon spoke out against Korean right-wingers who send anti-DPRK propaganda over the border in large balloons!one of the tactics frequently suggested by Bennett and carried out by neocons Kirchick and Halvorssen. These actions, he warned , unnecessarily aggravate the North, and particularly during times of severe tension, "could prompt accidental clashes."

That sparked an angry tweet from Samantha Power, the Obama administration's former U.N. ambassador and perhaps the most famous proponent of "humanitarian intervention" against enemy states like North Korea. "So mistaken," Power tweeted in response to Moon. "Information is what Kim Jong-un fears most."

[Sep 23, 2017] In simple terms, MSM owners decide that a particular topic is a taboo subject and filter everything related to it out

Sep 23, 2017 | www.unz.com
Miro23 > > , September 5, 2016 at 10:15 pm GMT

@Mr. Anon

"Only a child – or its intellectual equivalent, i.e., a low information infotainment consumer – could believe in the official version of 9/11."

That is clearly false, as plenty of people who are smart - smarter than you actually - do in fact believe just that.

Or maybe a lot of smart people pretend to believe the official 9/11 story because that's where their interest lies. MSM journalists know for sure that articles that deviate from the official line on 9/11 are career ending moves .

In simple terms, MSM owners have decided that 9/11 is a taboo subject (same as USS Liberty) and they decide what gets published.

[Sep 23, 2017] MSM journalists know for sure that articles that deviate from the official line are career ending moves .

Notable quotes:
"... In late July 2010, longtime Canadian journalist Eric Margolis was told his column would be dropped, and just a few weeks later he published a double-length piece expressing strong doubts about 9/11, the first time he'd articulated that position: ..."
"... In 2007, the parent company of The Chicago Tribune announced it had accepted a leveraged-buyout takeover bid by investor Sam Zell, who planned a massive wave cost-cutting layoffs, which eventually wrecked the company. In late 2007, the Chicago Tribune suddenly ran a very long piece regarding the Liberty Attack, about the only time I've ever seen it discussed in the MSM. ..."
www.unz.com

Ron Unz > , September 6, 2016 at 8:33 pm GMT

@Miro23

Or maybe a lot of smart people pretend to believe the official 9/11 story because that's where their interest lies. MSM journalists know for sure that articles that deviate from the official line on 9/11 are career ending moves .

In simple terms, MSM owners have decided that 9/11 is a taboo subject (same as USS Liberty) and they decide what gets published.

Well, I haven't read through all of this enormously long discussion-thread, but I happened to notice this particular comment. Not having been an MSM journalist myself, I can't say whether or not it's true, but a couple of interesting, possibly coincidental, examples come to mind

In late July 2010, longtime Canadian journalist Eric Margolis was told his column would be dropped, and just a few weeks later he published a double-length piece expressing strong doubts about 9/11, the first time he'd articulated that position:

http://www.unz.com/article/911-the-mother-of-all-coincidences/

In 2007, the parent company of The Chicago Tribune announced it had accepted a leveraged-buyout takeover bid by investor Sam Zell, who planned a massive wave cost-cutting layoffs, which eventually wrecked the company. In late 2007, the Chicago Tribune suddenly ran a very long piece regarding the Liberty Attack, about the only time I've ever seen it discussed in the MSM.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-liberty_tuesoct02-story.html

[Sep 23, 2017] Marginalization of other opionins is important, so that those few who become aware of a conspiracy do not have enough social capital to muster any significant action against it

Notable quotes:
"... The history of the 20th and 21st centuries is largely what it is because of political conspiracies, wherein the state does one thing or another using covert methods and then sells the opposite story to the gullible public. It is basically a form of military deception by other means. ..."
"... There is no doubt that the public (the real enemy of the state) sure are gullible. ..."
"... a conspiracy, as Mr Unz indicates, is just a perjorative term used by the state to divert attention from what are otherwise normal covert operations. The real issue is that these events have had massive, gigantic global consequences but operate completely below the radar of the intellectual classes. ..."
"... This is an old clip showing admittance of the CIA that they use the mainstream media to manipulate the thoughts and ideas of American citizens in the USA. This has not changed obviously and is good to know happened in the past due to our reality today. http://youtu.be/5ED63A_hcd0 ..."
"... 9/23/1975 Tom Charles Huston Church Committee Testimony in full: https://www.c-span.org/video/?408953-1/tom-charles-huston-testimony-church-committee ..."
"... Secrecy is important to the extent that people would be in a position to thwart the conspiracy should they come to know about it. To minimize the need for secrecy, the conspirators might try to foster a general, childlike ignorance about public affairs, so that the public would not recognize a conspiracy even if it were being discussed openly. ..."
"... In this regard, the capture of major media (pace Mr. Unz) would be key to achieving this aim. Marginalization is another strategy, so that those few who become aware of a conspiracy do not have enough social capital to muster any significant action against it. ..."
"... "The creation of a peril usually starts with mysterious "sources" and unnamed officials who leak information, float trial balloons, and warn about the coming threat. Those sources reflect debates and discussions taking place within government. Their information is then augmented by colorful intelligence reports that finger exotic and conspiratorial terrorists and military advisers. Journalists then search for the named and other villains. The media end up finding corroboration from foreign sources who form an informal coalition with the sources in the U.S. government and help the press uncover further information substantiating the threat coming from the new bad guys. ..."
"... following the collapse of Soviets, they have been looking for an enemy that they were finding raising its heads in Algeria, Iran, Sudan, and even in Malayasia back in 1992. ..."
"... Conspiracy theory -- is absolutely commonplace but rendered a bogus term . It is common and practiced by the government all the time. It is used by people who have agenda and find resistance to agenda . The moment they use false narrative, weird scenario, create unknown fear and offer solution abusing the authorities, abusing the institutional but previous records and inserting propaganda preaching journalist ( CIA had more than 400 in 1975 per Bernstein) , they are engaging in conspiracy. ..."
Sep 23, 2017 | www.unz.com

Kirt > , September 5, 2016 at 4:26 am GMT

Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan. Secrecy may be needed for the success of a conspiracy, but it is not essential to the definition. Were it essential to the definition, you could never prove the existence of a conspiracy. Either secrecy would be maintained and there would be little or no evidence or secrecy would not be maintained and the plan would become known and by definition not be a conspiracy.

Langley > , September 23, 2017 at 2:16 am GMT

The phrase "conspiracy theory" seems to have existed before 1960.

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=conspiracy+theories&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cconspiracy%20theories%3B%2Cc0

However, the CIA may have stumbled across it and used it to their advantage.

Anon > , Disclaimer September 22, 2017 at 4:33 pm GMT

The history of the 20th and 21st centuries is largely what it is because of political conspiracies, wherein the state does one thing or another using covert methods and then sells the opposite story to the gullible public. It is basically a form of military deception by other means.

There is no doubt that the public (the real enemy of the state) sure are gullible. I think Mr Unz is trying to work out in his own mind why it is that the sell job always works and is so successful.

Consider the following false flag events:

These events are all clearly 'conspiracies', but a conspiracy, as Mr Unz indicates, is just a perjorative term used by the state to divert attention from what are otherwise normal covert operations. The real issue is that these events have had massive, gigantic global consequences but operate completely below the radar of the intellectual classes.

Agent76 > , December 26, 2016 at 3:46 pm GMT

(1975) CIA Admits Using News To Manipulate the USA

This is an old clip showing admittance of the CIA that they use the mainstream media to manipulate the thoughts and ideas of American citizens in the USA. This has not changed obviously and is good to know happened in the past due to our reality today. http://youtu.be/5ED63A_hcd0

9/23/1975 Tom Charles Huston Church Committee Testimony in full: https://www.c-span.org/video/?408953-1/tom-charles-huston-testimony-church-committee

Greg > , December 25, 2016 at 6:34 pm GMT

@Kirt

... ... ...

Secrecy is important to the extent that people would be in a position to thwart the conspiracy should they come to know about it. To minimize the need for secrecy, the conspirators might try to foster a general, childlike ignorance about public affairs, so that the public would not recognize a conspiracy even if it were being discussed openly.

In this regard, the capture of major media (pace Mr. Unz) would be key to achieving this aim. Marginalization is another strategy, so that those few who become aware of a conspiracy do not have enough social capital to muster any significant action against it. Believing that a conspiracy needs secrecy is the perhaps optimistic belief that neither dumbing down the general public nor marginalizing the watchdogs is sufficient: there's still a significant chance that public exposure could derail the conspirators.

KA > , September 12, 2016 at 2:58 pm GMT

@Boris

after my asking you what the strongest evidence available for the official story
As I've already shown, you asked me "what records?" The ticket is among the records that support the official story. It is sad that you keep lying about this. We both agree--and have from the beginning--that the ticket is necessary, but not sufficient. You keep pretending otherwise for some reason. Your behavior is downright weird.

"The creation of a peril usually starts with mysterious "sources" and unnamed officials who leak information, float trial balloons, and warn about the coming threat. Those sources reflect debates and discussions taking place within government. Their information is then augmented by colorful intelligence reports that finger exotic and conspiratorial terrorists and military advisers. Journalists then search for the named and other villains. The media end up finding corroboration from foreign sources who form an informal coalition with the sources in the U.S. government and help the press uncover further information substantiating the threat coming from the new bad guys.

A series of leaks, signals, and trial balloons is already beginning to shape U.S. agenda and policy. Congress is about to conduct several hearings on the global threat of Islamic fundamentalism.(14)

The Bush administration has been trying to devise policies and establish new alliances to counter Iranian influence: building up Islamic but secular and pro-Western Turkey as a countervailing force in Central Asia, expanding U.S. commitments to Saudi Arabia, warning Sudan that it faces grave consequences as a result of its policies, and even shoring up a socialist military dictatorship in Algeria.

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-177

Printing a ticket and getting a Passport ,if all that you have, then you are in the right league . Join those in NYT, WaPo, Hoover Institue and speak to George Will, Jim Hoagland, because following the collapse of Soviets, they have been looking for an enemy that they were finding raising its heads in Algeria, Iran, Sudan, and even in Malayasia back in 1992.

Conspiracy theory -- is absolutely commonplace but rendered a bogus term . It is common and practiced by the government all the time. It is used by people who have agenda and find resistance to agenda . The moment they use false narrative, weird scenario, create unknown fear and offer solution abusing the authorities, abusing the institutional but previous records and inserting propaganda preaching journalist ( CIA had more than 400 in 1975 per Bernstein) , they are engaging in conspiracy. It follows a script. So it has a theory to follow . It is a conspiracy theory.

KA > , September 12, 2016 at 2:50 am GMT

The biggest hoax ever perpetrated is the gradual evolution of the alleged threat from Islam . Its a multilayered multi focal interconnected open production of a vast conspiracy – achieved without any shred of evidence or even plausible reason for the existence of any such threat .

This is a quote from an article published in 1992 and quotes 90 sources .

" In addition, think tanks studies and op-ed pieces add momentum to the official spin. Their publication is followed by congressional hearings, policy conferences, and public press briefings. A governmental policy debate ensues, producing studies, working papers, and eventually doctrines and policies that become part of the media's spin. The new villain is now ready to be integrated into the popular culture to help to mobilize public support for a new crusade. In the case of the Green Peril, that process has been under way for several months.(13)

THE GREEN PERIL
Creating the Islamic Fundamentalist Threat
Leon T Hadar ,a former bureau chief for Jerusalem Post.

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-177.html

"WaPo, NYT, WSJ, Washington Times, ABC news and Economist all gathered the Islamic experts out of the same offices that used to house the Soviet experts, painted them green removed the red markings and asked them to follow the direction . ( Well I made this up But that's exactly what happened .)

[Sep 23, 2017] A conspiracy theory is a theory based on facts but without MSM backing. Theres no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight.

Notable quotes:
"... So, a conspiracy theory is a theory without media backing. There's no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight. ..."
"... People need to remember than by definition, the ratio of what you don't know to what you do know is infinity to one. Be more open minded. "They shall find it difficult, they who have taken authority as truth rather than truth for authority". ..."
www.unz.com
LondonBob > , September 6, 2016 at 5:39 pm GMT

@Paul Jolliffe Mr. Unz,

Here is a link to Carl Bernstein's definitive 1977 Rolling Stone article "CIA and the Media" in which he addresses - and confirms - your worst fears. You are very right, and no less a figure than Bernstein has said so for nearly four decades . . .

http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php No coincidence that all the CIA agents involved in the JFK assassination are known to be experts in 'black ops' and news media specialists. Jim Angleton, Cord Meyer, David Atlee Phillips and E. Howard Hunt, who confessed his involvement, all made their names in black propaganda or news management.

Abraham > , September 6, 2016 at 6:28 pm GMT

@Lot Given how easy it is to create a conspiracy theory, most of them will be crazy.

Another problem with elite conspiracies is that elites usually do not have to act in secret because they already are in control. For Kennedy, a centrist cold warrior, his views already reflected those of elites, maybe even more so than Johnson.

The other problem is that actual criminal conspiracies by elites quite often are discovered, such as Watergate and Iran Contra. Given how easy it is to create a conspiracy theory, most of them will be crazy.

A statement that appears straight out of the CIA's playbook.

Another problem with elite conspiracies is that elites usually do not have to act in secret because they already are in control.

Such control does not imply they have nothing to hide, particularly when exposure of the deed would have damaging repercussions for them.

For Kennedy, a centrist cold warrior, his views already reflected those of elites, maybe even more so than Johnson.

It didn't reflect that of Israel's elites. After JFK's assassination, American foreign policy vis a vis Israel was completely reversed under Johnson, who hung the crew of the USS Liberty out to dry.

The other problem is that actual criminal conspiracies by elites quite often are discovered, such as Watergate and Iran Contra.

How is this a problem?

WorkingClass > , September 6, 2016 at 9:12 pm GMT

The CIA is the presidents private secret army. Nothing it does is legal.

Ron Unz > , September 6, 2016 at 9:53 pm GMT

For those without convenient access to a copy of the deHaven-Smith book, I've discovered there are some lengthy extracts available on the web:

https://off-guardian.org/2016/09/04/are-you-a-mind-controlled-cia-stooge/

Boris > , September 6, 2016 at 10:48 pm GMT

@biz

He is really very good.

He has a book https://www.amazon.com/Guilt-Association-Deception-Self-Deceit-America/product-reviews/098213150X/ref=cm_cr_dp_see_all_btm?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=recent

anti_republocrat > , September 7, 2016 at 1:48 am GMT

@Chief Seattle So, a conspiracy theory is a theory without media backing. There's no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight.

Maybe it's true, maybe not, but if the roles had been reversed, the media would be telling its proponents to take off their tin foil hats. Note also that the allegations immediately become "fact" because they were reported by someone else. As Business Insider reported, "Amid mounting evidence of Russia's involvement in the hack of the Democratic National Committee ," without any specificity whatsoever as to what that "mounting evidence" was (most likely multiple reports in other media) never mind that the article goes on to quote James Clapper, " we are not quite ready yet to make a call on attribution." WTF! Here, read it yourself: http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-dnc-hack-black-propaganda-2016-7

Totally mindless. So not only is Russia hacking, but we know it's intention is to influence US elections!!! And now their hacking voter DBs and will likely hack our vote tabulating machines. You can't make this s ** t up.

Nathan Hale > , September 7, 2016 at 4:12 am GMT

@Jason Liu

...In the corporate world, it often seems that upper management spends a bulk of their time conspiring against one another or entering into secret talks to sell the company to a rival, unbeknownst to the employees or shareholders.

NoseytheDuke > , September 7, 2016 at 4:32 am GMT

@Alfred1860 I find it quite amusing how, in an article supporting of the existence of conspiracy theories, so many comments consist of hurling insults at people making skeptical comments about what are obviously very sacred cows.

People need to remember than by definition, the ratio of what you don't know to what you do know is infinity to one. Be more open minded. "They shall find it difficult, they who have taken authority as truth rather than truth for authority".

Gerald Massey

Ed Rankin > , Website September 7, 2016 at 8:42 pm GMT

In Dispatch 1035-960 mailed to station chiefs on April 1, 1967, the CIA laid out a series of "talking points" in its memo addressing the "conspiracy theorists" who were questioning the Warren Commission's findings on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. They include the following:

I have found numerous examples of these exact points being made in televised news segments, newspapers, magazines and even some academic articles and scholarly books.

Additionally, some of the most influential and frequently-cited authors who are the most critical of "conspiracy theorists", both academic and lay people, have very direct ties to government, foundations and other institutions of authority.

While we can't know if the CIA was primarily responsible for the creation of the pejorative, but what we do know from the Church Committee hearings, was that the Agency did have paid operatives working inside major media organizations as late as the 1970s. In fact, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper has acknowledged ties to the CIA.

With recent lifting of restrictions on the government's use of domestic propaganda with the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, which passed as part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, I think reasonable people would expect this type of pejorative construction to resume if in fact, it ever ceased.

Bill Jones > , September 7, 2016 at 9:47 pm GMT

A nice little piece on one of the players in the big conspiracy: https://www.corbettreport.com/911-suspects-philip-zelikow/

Marie > , September 8, 2016 at 4:01 am GMT

Literally every article I've ever read about conservatives and/or the conservative movement within the pages of the New Yorker – and I've read going back decades, unfortunately – has judiciously referenced 'The Paranoid Style in American Politics'.

I mean, EVERY SINGLE article regarding Republicans, conservatives and/or opposition to leftism has the Hofstadter quote somewhere – it must be a staple on the J-School syllabi.

It seems Prof. Hofstadter was something of an adherent to the Frankfurt School nonsense – Marxism-meets-dime-store-Freud being every New Yorker writer's stock in trade, of course

Hippopotamusdrome > , September 9, 2016 at 8:21 am GMT

@biz Actually, there is no symmetry in conspiracy theories as you imply.

The definition of a conspiracy theory is an explanation of events that traces them to a secret network, and when presented with contradictory evidence, simply enlarges the network of supposed conspirators rather than modifying the explanation.

... ... ...

[Sep 23, 2017] Although most Americans today reject the official (lone gunman) account of the Kennedy assassination, they also have doubts about conspiracy theories and those who believe them. This means the CIA program was successful, for its aim was not to sell the Warren Commission, but to sow uncertainty about the commission's critics. Today, people are not only uncertain, they have given up ever learning the truth

Sep 23, 2017 | www.unz.com

anon, Disclaimer September 6, 2016 at 2:10 am GMT

deHaven Smith is not that impressive on several counts.

one example: book opens:

"Although most Americans today reject the official (lone gunman) account of the Kennedy assassination, they also have doubts about conspiracy theories and those who believe them. This means the CIA program was successful, for its aim was not to sell the Warren Commission, but to sow uncertainty about the commission's critics. Today, people are not only uncertain, they have given up ever learning the truth. "

At least one high-profile person and an entire community that supports him does not have doubts, has not given up. Cyril Wecht blasted holes in Arlen Specter's "one bullet" theory in 1965. He's still at it. In 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of JFK's assassination,

"about 500 people gathered at Duquesne University for a JFK symposium sponsored by the university's Institute of Forensic Science and Law, which is named for Wecht. Appearances by Stone and a doctor who tended to Kennedy brought national attention.

People sneered when they mentioned Specter's name or the single-bullet theory.

Across the state, the Single Bullet exhibit opened on Oct. 21. It's the first exhibition in Philadelphia University's Arlen Specter Center for Public Policy. Willens, the former Kennedy aide, delivered a speech. The center's coordinator, Karen Albert, said he was looking forward to defending his conclusion on the 50th anniversary. " http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5017529-74/wecht-commission-specter

Smith did not even mention Wecht or Specter and the single-bullet theory in his book. The omission is important insofar as its inclusion would have demonstrated that for many years the populace has been aware of the dishonesty of the US government and some have been raising their voices against and continue to do so.

That knowledge should give encouragement to activists such as those who demand accountability for Israel's attack on the USS Liberty and the deliberate killing of 34 US sailors and other personnel.

(Specter has been useful to the deep state in other ways: he protected Zalman Shapiro, former head of NUMEC, from prosecution for his part in smuggling uranium to Israel. http://israellobby.org/numec/ 0

[Sep 23, 2017] American Pravda How the CIA Invented "Conspiracy Theories" by Ron Unz

Notable quotes:
"... Even for most educated Americans, theorists such as Beard, Popper, and Strauss are probably no more than vague names mentioned in textbooks, and that was certainly true in my own case. But while the influence of Beard seems to have largely disappeared in elite circles, the same is hardly true of his rivals. Popper probably ranks as one of the founders of modern liberal thought, with an individual as politically influential as left-liberal financier George Soros claiming to be his intellectual disciple . Meanwhile, the neo-conservative thinkers who have totally dominated the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement for the last couple of decades often proudly trace their ideas back to Strauss. ..."
"... The best strategy is to foster implausible conspiracy theories to create a cloud of disinformation. This technique was used very effectively after 9/11, such that it's very hard to discuss a coverup without being labeled a truther. ..."
"... It should also be noted that Irving Kristol was sponsored by -- on the payroll of – the CIA while still in Britain. Kristol has acknowledged that CIA support got his movement off the ground. ..."
"... Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in. ..."
Sep 05, 2016 | www.unz.com

A year or two ago, I saw the much-touted science fiction film Interstellar , and although the plot wasn't any good, one early scene was quite amusing. For various reasons, the American government of the future claimed that our Moon Landings of the late 1960s had been faked, a trick aimed at winning the Cold War by bankrupting Russia into fruitless space efforts of its own. This inversion of historical reality was accepted as true by nearly everyone, and those few people who claimed that Neil Armstrong had indeed set foot on the Moon were universally ridiculed as "crazy conspiracy theorists." This seems a realistic portrayal of human nature to me.

Obviously, a large fraction of everything described by our government leaders or presented in the pages of our most respectable newspapers!from the 9/11 attacks to the most insignificant local case of petty urban corruption!could objectively be categorized as a "conspiracy theory" but such words are never applied. Instead, use of that highly loaded phrase is reserved for those theories, whether plausible or fanciful, that do not possess the endorsement stamp of establishmentarian approval.

Put another way, there are good "conspiracy theories" and bad "conspiracy theories," with the former being the ones promoted by pundits on mainstream television shows and hence never described as such. I've sometimes joked with people that if ownership and control of our television stations and other major media outlets suddenly changed, the new information regime would require only a few weeks of concerted effort to totally invert all of our most famous "conspiracy theories" in the minds of the gullible American public. The notion that nineteen Arabs armed with box-cutters hijacked several jetliners, easily evaded our NORAD air defenses, and reduced several landmark buildings to rubble would soon be universally ridiculed as the most preposterous "conspiracy theory" ever to have gone straight from the comic books into the minds of the mentally ill, easily surpassing the absurd "lone gunman" theory of the JFK assassination.

Even without such changes in media control, huge shifts in American public beliefs have frequently occurred in the recent past, merely on the basis of implied association. In the initial weeks and months following the 2001 attacks, every American media organ was enlisted to denounce and vilify Osama Bin Laden, the purported Islamicist master-mind, as our greatest national enemy, with his bearded visage endlessly appearing on television and in print, soon becoming one of the most recognizable faces in the world. But as the Bush Administration and its key media allies prepared a war against Iraq, the images of the Burning Towers were instead regularly juxtaposed with mustachioed photos of dictator Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden's arch-enemy. As a consequence, by the time we attacked Iraq in 2003, polls revealed that some 70% of the American public believed that Saddam was personally involved in the destruction of our World Trade Center. By that date I don't doubt that many millions of patriotic but low-information Americans would have angrily denounced and vilified as a "crazy conspiracy theorist" anyone with the temerity to suggest that Saddam had not been behind 9/11, despite almost no one in authority having ever explicitly made such a fallacious claim.

one of our most prominent scholars and public intellectuals had been historian Charles Beard , whose influential writings had heavily focused on the harmful role of various elite conspiracies in shaping American policy for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many, with his examples ranging from the earliest history of the United States down to the nation's entry into WWI. Obviously, researchers never claimed that all major historical events had hidden causes, but it was widely accepted that some of them did, and attempting to investigate those possibilities was deemed a perfectly acceptable academic enterprise.

However, Beard was a strong opponent of American entry into the Second World War, and he was marginalized in the years that followed, even prior to his death in 1948. Many younger public intellectuals of a similar bent also suffered the same fate, or were even purged from respectability and denied any access to the mainstream media. At the same time, the totally contrary perspectives of two European political philosophers, Karl Popper and Leo Strauss , gradually gained ascendancy in American intellectual circles, and their ideas became dominant in public life.

Popper, the more widely influential, presented broad, largely theoretical objections to the very possibility of important conspiracies ever existing, suggesting that these would be implausibly difficult to implement given the fallibility of human agents; what might appear a conspiracy actually amounted to individual actors pursuing their narrow aims. Even more importantly, he regarded "conspiratorial beliefs" as an extremely dangerous social malady, a major contributing factor to the rise of Nazism and other deadly totalitarian ideologies. His own background as an individual of Jewish ancestry who had fled Austria in 1937 surely contributed to the depth of his feelings on these philosophical matters.

Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.

Even for most educated Americans, theorists such as Beard, Popper, and Strauss are probably no more than vague names mentioned in textbooks, and that was certainly true in my own case. But while the influence of Beard seems to have largely disappeared in elite circles, the same is hardly true of his rivals. Popper probably ranks as one of the founders of modern liberal thought, with an individual as politically influential as left-liberal financier George Soros claiming to be his intellectual disciple . Meanwhile, the neo-conservative thinkers who have totally dominated the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement for the last couple of decades often proudly trace their ideas back to Strauss.

So, through a mixture of Popperian and Straussian thinking, the traditional American tendency to regard elite conspiracies as a real but harmful aspect of our society was gradually stigmatized as either paranoid or politically dangerous, laying the conditions for its exclusion from respectable discourse.

Kirt > , September 5, 2016 at 4:26 am GMT

Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan. Secrecy may be needed for the success of a conspiracy, but it is not essential to the definition. Were it essential to the definition, you could never prove the existence of a conspiracy. Either secrecy would be maintained and there would be little or no evidence or secrecy would not be maintained and the plan would become known and by definition not be a conspiracy.

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 4:55 am GMT

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."

–William Casey, CIA Director, from a first staff meeting in 1981

You can read the context of that quote according to the person who claims to be its original source here:

https://www.quora.com/Did-William-Casey-CIA-Director-really-say-Well-know-our-disinformation-program-is-complete-when-everything-the-American-public-believes-is-false

I think it's worth pointing out what I've never seen explained about that quote, a quote with as much currency in the conspiracy theory fever swamps as any single quote has ever had. The point of the disinformation campaign was not to manipulate the public but to manipulate the soviets. Because our CIA analysts spent so much time unriddling the soviet media, we figured their CIA analysts were doing the same thing with ours.

FKA Max > , September 5, 2016 at 4:56 am GMT

Mr. Unz,

this study/paper might by of interest to you: http://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/wp-content/uploads/CONSPIRE.doc

[MORE]

Note: This paper was published in Political Psychology 15: 733-744, 1994. This is the original typescript sent to the journal, it does not include any editorial changes that may have been made. The journal itself is not available online, to my knowledge.

Belief in Conspiracy Theories

Ted Goertzel1

Running Head: Belief in Conspiracy Theories.

KEY WORDS: conspiracy theories, anomia, trust

Table Three
Means Scores of Racial/Ethnic Groups on Attitude Scales
White[W] Hispanic[H] Black[B]
Scale
Belief in Conspiracies 2.5[W] 2.8[H] 3.3[B]
Anomia 3.4[W] 3.8[H] 4.1[B]
Trust 3.7[W] 3.3[H] 3.1[B]
Note: All scales varied from 1 to 5, with 3 as a neutral score.

One of the most interesting discussions of the paper:

It is puzzling that conspiratorial thinking has been overlooked in the extensive research on authoritarianism which has dominated quantitative work in political psychology since the 1950s. One possible explanation is that much of this work focuses on right-wing authoritarianism (Altmeyer, 1988), while conspiratorial thinking is characteristic of alienated thinkers on both the right and the left (Citrin, et al., 1975; Graumann, 1987; Berlet, 1992). Even more surprisingly, however, conspiratorial thinking has not been a focus of the efforts to measure "left-wing authoritarianism" (Stone, 1980; Eysenck, 1981; LeVasseur & Gold, 1993) or of research with the "dogmatism" concept (Rokeach, 1960) which was intended to overcome the ideological bias in authoritarianism measures.
On a more fundamental level, the difficulty with existing research traditions may be their focus on the content of beliefs rather than the res[p]ondent's cognitive processes or emotional makeup. As I have argued elsewhere (Goertzel, 1987), most studies of authoritarianism simply ask people what they believe and then assume that these beliefs must be based on underlying psychological processes which go unmeasured. Since these scales ask mostly about beliefs held by those on the right, it is not surprising that they find authoritarianism to be a right-wing phenomenon. Research with projective tests (Rothman and Lichter, 1982) and biographical materials (Goertzel, 1992), on the other hand, has confirmed that many aspects of authoritarian thinking can be found on both the left and the right.

Lot > , September 5, 2016 at 5:14 am GMT

Given how easy it is to create a conspiracy theory, most of them will be crazy.

Another problem with elite conspiracies is that elites usually do not have to act in secret because they already are in control. For Kennedy, a centrist cold warrior, his views already reflected those of elites, maybe even more so than Johnson.

The other problem is that actual criminal conspiracies by elites quite often are discovered, such as Watergate and Iran Contra.

Chief Seattle > , September 5, 2016 at 5:17 am GMT

So, a conspiracy theory is a theory without media backing. There's no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight.

Maybe it's true, maybe not, but if the roles had been reversed, the media would be telling its proponents to take off their tin foil hats.

Miro23 > , September 5, 2016 at 5:20 am GMT

The British and Americans have been the victims of conspiracies (False Flag operations) for years.

For example:

The Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (headquarters of the British Mandate Government of Palestine) in which Zionist activists dressed as Arabs placed milk churns filled with explosives against the main columns of the building killing 91 people and injuring 44. Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu, attended a celebration to commemorate the event.

Operation Susannah (Lavon Affair) where Israeli operatives impersonating Arabs bombed British and American cinemas, libraries and educational centers in Egypt to destabilize the country and keep British troops committed to the Middle East.

Or June 8, 1967, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty with unmarked aircraft and torpedo boats. 34 men were killed and 171 wounded, with the attack in international waters following over nine hours of close surveillance. When the ship failed to sink, the Israeli government concocted an elaborate story to cover the crime. Original plan to blame the sinking with all lives lost on the Egyptians and draw the US into the war.

Or Israelis and U.S. Zionists appearing all over the most recent WTC 9/11 "Operation" with Israelis once again impersonating Arabs in a historic deception/terror action of a type that seems to carry a lot of kudos with old Israeli ex-terrorist Likudniks. Israeli agents were sent to film the historic day (as they later admitted on Israeli TV), with the celebrations including photos of themselves with a background of the burning towers where thousands of Americans were being incinerated.

Iraq was destroyed as a result of 9/11 but unfortunately for the conspirators, the momentum wasn't sufficient for a general war including Iran. Also the general war would have included the nuclear angle and justified the activation of a neo-con led Emergency Regime (dictatorship) in the US enforced with the newly printed Patriot Act and Homeland Security troops – or maybe that's just another Conspiracy Theory?

Emblematic > , September 5, 2016 at 7:17 am GMT

I get the sense Ron's building up to something. For those who haven't seen it, can I recommend Ryan Dawson's 'War by Deception':

polistra > , September 5, 2016 at 8:03 am GMT

Simplifying one "contradiction": Our elites have never been primarily anti-Russian or pro-Russian. Since 1946 our elites have been purely GLOBALIST, and their secondary feelings toward Russia strictly follow from this primary goal.

At first Russia was an obstacle to globalism, blocking much of the UN's efforts. Our elites were anti-Russian. After 1962 or so, Russia became the main driver of the UN, so our elites were pro-Russian. Since 1989, Russia has been the guiding star for ANTI-globalist forces, so our elites are FEROCIOUSLY anti-Russian.

smiddy > , September 5, 2016 at 8:13 am GMT

Mr. Unz's direct confrontation with this topic leads me to feel a sense of sentimentality or coming full circle as my "red-pilled" experience literally started with his The Myth of American Meritocracy a little over 2 years ago (I finally looked into the "white privilege" I was "highly exposed" to in college).

Long story short, I was a lazy liberal beforehand, now a highly motivated conservative; nothing helps one get their ish together better than understanding the trajectory at which our society is heading. The Myth of American Meritocracy singularly led me to have a more open mind in understanding how non-congruent the mainstream narrative can be with man's shared universal reality, and having spent way too much time in school learning research methodology, I finally applied it via whim thereafter to criminal statistics (but we know where this story ends), then WW2, the mainstream narrative of which I grew up worshiping

For someone who, when I was naive, hung on to every word one heard or read in the countless amount of hours I've spent in American history classes, for me to learn the hard way of Operation Keelhaul, the Haavara Agreement, the disease epidemic, the migrant crisis (before hand), the hand THE banksters probably played (in playing both sides), and so on, it becomes all too clear how amazingly systematically corrupt our academic system has become. Not once did I ever hear one smidgen about those extremely large plot points; they're so consistently implicitly left out of the script its terrifying.

Alternating to my freshman year of high school now, when I was still naive, I complained to our just hired 22 year old (conveniently) Jewish teacher (fresh out of the Ivy League but back to sacrifice where he had graduated high school, he had always reminded us) over having to read about the Little Rock 9 and Ann Frank for literally (in my case) the 4th time (each). Point is, even when I was entirely clueless, and had no defensive instinct at all, it still didn't feel healthy to read over and over again; I was emotionally exhausted already. I accepted their stories at face value, faced the guilt, and just wanted to move on, yet according to my teacher I "lacked empathy" (so if only we were taught about how the Irish were treated in the 17th we'd be fine). It really is this kind of dwelling on the past that has been institutionalized, and its borderline brain-washing, regardless of the said tragedy's validity.

There is one such particular event of WW2 that, once naive, I've personally cried over more than any other historical event easily (perhaps even more than anything subjectively experienced), much in thanks to programmed televising So what's so weird about all of this, is its like a meta-intellectual betrayal, but with all the emotional connotations of a woman who wronged you in all the worse ways (and she's inevitably waiting in seemingly every dark corner of history you delve into, thus the "endless rabbit hole" you fall through). And its this implicit brand of deceit that is patently feminine which can be inductively read from the MSM to "read the tea leaves"

I could go on and on but really I initially just wanted to thank you Mr. Unz, your publication, and your current and past writing staff. I don't even want to imagine a world where I had never stumbled upon your work!

JL > , September 5, 2016 at 10:40 am GMT

Perhaps the media tried too hard, were too eager to be complicit, and now they've completely lost the plot. The rise of Trump, in the face of a completely and uniformly hostile media, suggests that a large part of the American public, consciously or not, now completely rejects entire media narratives and assumes the exact opposite to be true. And they're panicking. Not knowing what to do, they double and triple down on the same fail that got them into this mess. Truly interesting times.

Thanks, Mr. Unz, for your "small webzine".

Gene Tuttle > , September 5, 2016 at 10:41 am GMT

I've often used the argument myself that conspiracies inevitably have short shelf lives in the US because it was so difficult for Americans to keep secrets. The article makes a useful point in suggesting that secret plots, even after being revealed, may nevertheless remain widely ignored. Ideology, group-think, pack journalism etc. are powerful forces, often subconsciously at work, preventing alternative theories from developing legs.

Though long an admirer of Karl Popper, I hadn't strongly associated him with attacks on conspiracy theories per se. As an American "outsider" living abroad most of my adult life, I've all too often encountered those who assumed my background alone explained an argument of mine that they didn't like. Popper had hit the nail on the head when he wrote about

"a widespread and dangerous fashion of our time of not taking arguments seriously, and at their face value, at least tentatively, but of seeing in them nothing but a way in which deeper irrational motives and tendencies express themselves." It was "the attitude of looking at once for the unconscious motives and determinants in the social habitat of the thinker, instead of first examining the validity of the argument itself."

The powerful nazi and communist ideologies of his day assumed that one's " blood " or " class " precluded "correct" thinking. Those politically incorrect challengers to their own totalitarian weltanschauung were (to put it mildly) persecuted as conspirators. No doubt, as Ron Unz notes, Popper's personal experience "contributed the depth of his feelings" ! I would say skepticism – about conspiracy claims.

But the author of the " Open Society " had an open mind and I suspect he'd find the thesis reasonable that real conspiracies can both be uncovered and largely ignored because so many simply opt to ignore them. In such cases, evidence and "not taking arguments seriously" often reflects "intellectual groupieism," emotions, professional insecurities as well as venal collective interests.

anonymous > , Disclaimer September 5, 2016 at 12:24 pm GMT

One conspiracy theory is that some of the wilder, more incredible notions of what may have taken place are deliberately circulated so as to muddy the waters and discredit those who question the party line. For example, outlandish claims by some that no planes were crashed on 9-11 but were really just holograms are seized upon by supposed debunkers as being representative of all skeptics, overshadowing the more reasonable types who question the narrative. This seems to be quite deliberate.

The mainstream American press is the freest in the world, we've been told endlessly, and at some point I realized that I was reading these accolades to itself in the very same press. Not the most objective source one comes to realize. Now on the internet it seems there are those who appear to fan out everywhere to influence the discussion, spread their slogans and shout down opposing ideas. Paid trolls and others?

Conspiracies exist. Consider the Gulf of Tonkin fabrication which certainly involved many actors and yet the general public was kept in the dark about the real facts. The results need not be rehashed yet again. There's a streak of denial in most people. They don't want to contemplate the idea that FDR may have deliberately allowed American servicemen to die at Pearl Harbor in order to get the war he wanted. Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 12:44 pm GMT

@Emblematic I get the sense Ron's building up to something.

For those who haven't seen it, can I recommend Ryan Dawson's 'War by Deception':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK6VLFdWJ4I

I get the sense Ron's building up to something.

One can only hope. This time he mentioned 9/11! so that base is covered; no need to say more about that than that; besides I doubt even he could add to what has already been published and posted on this site re that Big Lie. I would like to see how he weighs all the evidence on RFK's assassination, what he would be willing to call what looks like nothing as much as what MK-Ultra was about.

Wizard of Oz > , September 5, 2016 at 12:44 pm GMT

@Miro23 The British and Americans have been the victims of conspiracies (False Flag operations) for years.

For example:

The Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (headquarters of the British Mandate Government of Palestine) in which Zionist activists dressed as Arabs placed milk churns filled with explosives against the main columns of the building killing 91 people and injuring 44. Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu, attended a celebration to commemorate the event.

Operation Susannah (Lavon Affair) where Israeli operatives impersonating Arabs bombed British and American cinemas, libraries and educational centers in Egypt to destabilize the country and keep British troops committed to the Middle East.

Or June 8, 1967, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty with unmarked aircraft and torpedo boats. 34 men were killed and 171 wounded, with the attack in international waters following over nine hours of close surveillance. When the ship failed to sink, the Israeli government concocted an elaborate story to cover the crime. Original plan to blame the sinking with all lives lost on the Egyptians and draw the US into the war.

Or Israelis and U.S. Zionists appearing all over the most recent WTC 9/11 "Operation" with Israelis once again impersonating Arabs in a historic deception/terror action of a type that seems to carry a lot of kudos with old Israeli ex-terrorist Likudniks. Israeli agents were sent to film the historic day (as they later admitted on Israeli TV), with the celebrations including photos of themselves with a background of the burning towers where thousands of Americans were being incinerated.

Iraq was destroyed as a result of 9/11 but unfortunately for the conspirators, the momentum wasn't sufficient for a general war including Iran. Also the general war would have included the nuclear angle and justified the activation of a neo-con led Emergency Regime (dictatorship) in the US enforced with the newly printed Patriot Act and Homeland Security troops - or maybe that's just another Conspiracy Theory? I accept that your explanation of the attack on USS Liberty is relatively plausible but another which runs it close is that Israel had to ensure that there was no proof left of the true order of events which were not in accordance with the Israeli official version. So I ask what are your sources?

Likewise, if you are saying that suicidal hijackers flew planes into buildings on 9/11 but that it was organised by Mossad or other Israelis your story needs a lot of filling out and evidence to be credible. Or are you merely saying the Israelis knew what was going to
happen and let it go ahead because it could be turned to their advantage?

SolontoCroesus > , September 5, 2016 at 1:24 pm GMT

@anonymous One conspiracy theory is that some of the wilder, more incredible notions of what may have taken place are deliberately circulated so as to muddy the waters and discredit those who question the party line. For example, outlandish claims by some that no planes were crashed on 9-11 but were really just holograms are seized upon by supposed debunkers as being representative of all skeptics, overshadowing the more reasonable types who question the narrative. This seems to be quite deliberate.
The mainstream American press is the freest in the world, we've been told endlessly, and at some point I realized that I was reading these accolades to itself in the very same press. Not the most objective source one comes to realize. Now on the internet it seems there are those who appear to fan out everywhere to influence the discussion, spread their slogans and shout down opposing ideas. Paid trolls and others?
Conspiracies exist. Consider the Gulf of Tonkin fabrication which certainly involved many actors and yet the general public was kept in the dark about the real facts. The results need not be rehashed yet again. There's a streak of denial in most people. They don't want to contemplate the idea that FDR may have deliberately allowed American servicemen to die at Pearl Harbor in order to get the war he wanted. Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.

Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.

Is this built-in deceit and manipulation unique to American life, or ! beyond the usual understandings about human nature ! is the systematic or institutionalized "deceit and manipulation" present in all cultures? in western cultures? in some but not all cultures? If the lattermost, in which cultures is "deceit and manipulation" less systematic and institutionalized?

Was "deceit and manipulation" institutionalized into American life from the beginning ! by the Founders, or did USA deviate from its intended path at some point? If so, at what point? How did it happen?

Is there the possibility of redemption?

Wizard of Oz > , September 5, 2016 at 2:03 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus


Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.
Is this built-in deceit and manipulation unique to American life, or -- beyond the usual understandings about human nature -- is the systematic or institutionalized "deceit and manipulation" present in all cultures? in western cultures? in some but not all cultures? If the lattermost, in which cultures is "deceit and manipulation" less systematic and institutionalized?

Was "deceit and manipulation" institutionalized into American life from the beginning -- by the Founders, or did USA deviate from its intended path at some point? If so, at what point? How did it happen?

Is there the possibility of redemption? It would be worth considering the different contributions to truth telling and also honest scepticism of the Puritan and other Protestant culture, and of the Enlightenment for a start. Some subjects were difficult – like whether there is a God for all Christians and of course the one that must have addled many brains: slavery.

godfree roberts > , September 5, 2016 at 2:18 pm GMT

Agreed. This is an exemplary piece of scholarship and also an enthralling re-telling of our recent past. Highly recommended.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 2:22 pm GMT

Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss.

The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall–and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?–is on Thoughts on Machiavelli . Strauss does so, first and foremost, because conspiracy is a major theme of Machiavelli's and the subject of the two longest chapters of his two most important books ( Prince 19 and Discourses III 6). Strauss further develops the idea that modern philosophy begins as a conspiracy between Machiavelli and (some of) his readers. Strauss simply never said anything like this:

Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.

As for his relationship with neoconservatism, you also overstate that considerably. Yes, there are many neoconservative Straussians. But there are also Straussian paleos, tradcons, liberatarians, liberals, and moderates. There are many who are apolitical and interested only in abstract philosophy. There are Straussian religious conservatives, agnostics and atheists. Christians, Jews and Muslim. Catholic, Protestants and Mormons. The neocons just get all the attention–owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration, which everyone today believes without having read, or even being aware of (have/are you?).

If "neocon" has any meaning, it means, first, a former intellectual liberal who has drifted right. Second, a domestic policy scholar who focuses on data-driven social science. And third, a foreign policy hawk.

None of these really apply to Strauss, who spent his who career studying political philosophy, with an intense focus on the Greeks. He voted Dem in every election in which he could vote, until his last, 1972, when he voted for Nixon out of Cold War concerns. You might say that makes him a "hawk" but he never wrote any essays saying so. He simply told a few people privately that McGovern was too naïve about the Soviets. You might also say that is evidence that he "drifted right" but he didn't think so. He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death. As for data-driven social science, he famously attacked it in of the very few of his writings that ever got any attention in mainstream political science ("An Epilogue").

You may well be right about the CIA's role in popularizing the phrase "conspiracy theory." But Leo Strauss had nothing to do with it. Or, if he did, he hid his role exceptionally well, because there is no evidence of such in his writings.

Connecticut Famer > , September 5, 2016 at 2:28 pm GMT

@Gene Tuttle I've often used the argument myself that conspiracies inevitably have short shelf lives in the US because it was so difficult for Americans to keep secrets. The article makes a useful point in suggesting that secret plots, even after being revealed, may nevertheless remain widely ignored. Ideology, group-think, pack journalism etc. are powerful forces, often subconsciously at work, preventing alternative theories from developing legs.

Though long an admirer of Karl Popper, I hadn't strongly associated him with attacks on conspiracy theories per se. As an American "outsider" living abroad most of my adult life, I've all too often encountered those who assumed my background alone explained an argument of mine that they didn't like. Popper had hit the nail on the head when he wrote about

"a widespread and dangerous fashion of our time...of not taking arguments seriously, and at their face value, at least tentatively, but of seeing in them nothing but a way in which deeper irrational motives and tendencies express themselves." It was "the attitude of looking at once for the unconscious motives and determinants in the social habitat of the thinker, instead of first examining the validity of the argument itself."
The powerful nazi and communist ideologies of his day assumed that one's " blood " or " class " precluded "correct" thinking. Those politically incorrect challengers to their own totalitarian weltanschauung were (to put it mildly) persecuted as conspirators. No doubt, as Ron Unz notes, Popper's personal experience "contributed the depth of his feelings" -- I would say skepticism – about conspiracy claims.

But the author of the " Open Society " had an open mind and I suspect he'd find the thesis reasonable that real conspiracies can both be uncovered and largely ignored because so many simply opt to ignore them. In such cases, evidence and "not taking arguments seriously" often reflects "intellectual groupieism," emotions, professional insecurities as well as venal collective interests. "But the author of the "Open Society" had an open mind and I suspect he'd find the thesis reasonable that real conspiracies can both be uncovered and largely ignored because so many simply opt to ignore them. In such cases, evidence and "not taking arguments seriously" often reflects "intellectual groupieism," emotions, professional insecurities as well as venal collective interests."

Possibly as in the JFK case? I actually watched Lee Harvey Oswald get drilled by the man who was later identified as Jack Ruby (real surname "Rubenstein") live on television. The minute it happened and even at age 16 at the time I smelled a rat. Who was ultimately behind it all is something which I can't answer and care not to speculate upon, but to this day I remain suspicious about the circumstances surrounding Oswald's death and Ruby's subsequent dissembling.

Jacques Sheete > , September 5, 2016 at 2:46 pm GMT

Superb article.

It's good to see that Mr. Beard is getting some well deserved good press. It's also good to have people put on alert about Leo Strauss; his name should be a household word, and that of derision. I first learned of the fool at LewRockwell.com, and I feel it's worth investigating him as a source of the goofy neocon outlook that the world's been suffering under for decades. "Strauss, who opposed the idea of individual rights, maintained that neither the ancient world nor the Christian envisioned strict, absolute limits on state power. Straussian neoconservatism is not conservatism as it has ever been understood in America or anywhere else "

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2004/09/thomas-woods/the-neocon-godfather/

Paul Jolliffe > , September 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm GMT

Mr. Unz,

Here is a link to Carl Bernstein's definitive 1977 Rolling Stone article "CIA and the Media" in which he addresses – and confirms – your worst fears. You are very right, and no less a figure than Bernstein has said so for nearly four decades . . .

http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

Clearpoint > , September 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm GMT

Popper and Strauss. Neoliberal thought unites with neoconservative thought. Explicitly different rationales, but the same goals and the same method of achieving those goals. Sounds like target marketing of the two biggest target markets of American exceptionalism – dumb and dumber. Apparently critical thinkers are a minority that they believe can be easily marginalized.

John Jeremiah Smith > , September 5, 2016 at 2:58 pm GMT

@JL Perhaps the media tried too hard, were too eager to be complicit, and now they've completely lost the plot. The rise of Trump, in the face of a completely and uniformly hostile media, suggests that a large part of the American public, consciously or not, now completely rejects entire media narratives and assumes the exact opposite to be true. And they're panicking. Not knowing what to do, they double and triple down on the same fail that got them into this mess. Truly interesting times.

Thanks, Mr. Unz, for your "small webzine".

The rise of Trump, in the face of a completely and uniformly hostile media, suggests that a large part of the American public, consciously or not, now completely rejects entire media narratives and assumes the exact opposite to be true. And they're panicking.

Are they? Or, have they simply fired the first few rounds of easily-dispatched, easily-targeted artillery? I do note that this is the most massive full-court press in support of the oligarchy that I have ever seen. But, I sense that political wars have moved from the court of public opinion and perception, into the courtyards of the moneyed elite. Inasmuch as no rich person has ever believed that he or she has enough money and power, the national political conflict is now composed solely of issues that affect the wealth and power of the 0.1%, which is itself segmented into areas of economic focus and varying forms of wealth acquisition. For example, if air transport systems threaten the wealth and power of ocean-based shipping, that competition between oligarchs will morph into politically-expressed contexts.

There is absolutely no concern, anywhere within the dominion of the 0.1%, with human values, human rights, or any of that sort of ethically-principled hoo-hoo.

John Jeremiah Smith > , September 5, 2016 at 3:05 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus

Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.
Is this built-in deceit and manipulation unique to American life, or -- beyond the usual understandings about human nature -- is the systematic or institutionalized "deceit and manipulation" present in all cultures? in western cultures? in some but not all cultures? If the lattermost, in which cultures is "deceit and manipulation" less systematic and institutionalized?

Was "deceit and manipulation" institutionalized into American life from the beginning -- by the Founders, or did USA deviate from its intended path at some point? If so, at what point? How did it happen?

Is there the possibility of redemption?

Is there the possibility of redemption?

Of what is "redemption" constituted? Considering that fewer than 20% of American residents during the Revolution were actually involved in the revolt, with an estimated 40% preferring to retain the colony under monarchy, and considering that the ethical and political awareness of the Average American and the Average Illegal Resident Alien have gone downhill from there, can it honestly be said that there's enough true flavor of human rights and equal access/opportunity to redeem?

biz > , September 5, 2016 at 3:10 pm GMT

@John Jeremiah Smith

The definition of a conspiracy theory is an explanation of events that traces them to a secret network, and when presented with contradictory evidence, simply enlarges the network of supposed conspirators rather than modifying the explanation.
LOL x 2. I think you're saying that the above is YOUR definition of "conspiracy theory", not to be confused with any real and accurate definition of "conspiracy theory". No what I have put is the generally accepted definition used in journalistic and sociological works about conspiracy theory culture, e.g. this book .
CanSpeccy > , Website September 5, 2016 at 3:22 pm GMT

Good epistemological analysis.

The great flaw in the Western system of "democratic" government is that hardly anyone knows the meaning of the word "epistemology", let alone have any grasp of the underlying challenge of knowing what they know, or rather knowing how little they know beyond what they know from direct personal experience. This is a challenge made vastly more difficult in the modern age when almost everything we know is derived not from personal experience, or from other people of whose character and intellectual competence we have some personal knowledge, but from the arrangement of ink on paper or of pixels on a video screen. To this problem, there is probably no solution, although either a sharp restriction of the franchise to those of some maturity and education, or a division of the franchise according to what each particular individual could be expected to know something about, would be a step in the right direction.

As it is, we will, inevitably, continue to be the target of high powered manipulation by corporate owned media and other powerful interests.

Professor Lance Haven de Smith, whose book you mention is an expert on SCADS, or state crimes against democracy. An article by him on this topic is available here . There is some interesting academic material about SCADs here .

nsa > , September 5, 2016 at 3:25 pm GMT

In spook circles, leaving [false] clues is referred to as inoculation. Refer to the work of Bill McGuire in the late 50s and early 60s. For example, we here in Langley and Ft. Meade have left intact on the internet the early picture of the 20′ entry hole left by the "757″ in the facade of the pentagon before the explosion and complete collapse of the exterior wall ..inviting the conspiratorial question " where are the wings, the mangled cadavers, the tail?". This is all just too easy

Alden > , September 5, 2016 at 3:27 pm GMT

Highly reccomend Chris Buckley's book. "Little Green Men" The plot is that the entire UFO thing was set up after WW3 by the DOJ to keep the money flowing. Like all Buckley's books, it's a great read. I stopped believing in anything written in newspapers around 1966 because they were so pro black criminal and anti police

Have fun on Labor Day

John Jeremiah Smith > , September 5, 2016 at 3:45 pm GMT

@biz No what I have put is the generally accepted definition used in journalistic and sociological works about conspiracy theory culture, e.g. this book .

No what I have put is the generally accepted definition used in journalistic and sociological works about conspiracy theory culture, e.g. this book.

Journalism? Sociological works? You choose to quote even bigger liars as defining "conspiracy theory"?

"A conspiracy theory is a belief that a secret conspiracy has actually been decisive in producing a political event or evil outcome which the theorists strongly disapprove of. The conspiracy theory typically identifies the conspirators, provides evidence that supposedly links them together with an evil plan to harm the body politic, and may also point to a supposed cover up by authorities or media who should have stopped the conspiracy. The duty of the theorist is to pick from a myriad of facts and assumptions and reassemble them to form a picture of the conspiracy, as in a jigsaw puzzle. A theorist may publicly identify specific conspirators, and if they deny the allegations that is evidence they have been sworn to secrecy and are probably guilty."

Similar, agreed, but with noteworthy differences.

SolontoCroesus > , September 5, 2016 at 4:12 pm GMT

@Decius Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss.

The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall--and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?--is on Thoughts on Machiavelli . Strauss does so, first and foremost, because conspiracy is a major theme of Machiavelli's and the subject of the two longest chapters of his two most important books ( Prince 19 and Discourses III 6). Strauss further develops the idea that modern philosophy begins as a conspiracy between Machiavelli and (some of) his readers. Strauss simply never said anything like this:

Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.
As for his relationship with neoconservatism, you also overstate that considerably. Yes, there are many neoconservative Straussians. But there are also Straussian paleos, tradcons, liberatarians, liberals, and moderates. There are many who are apolitical and interested only in abstract philosophy. There are Straussian religious conservatives, agnostics and atheists. Christians, Jews and Muslim. Catholic, Protestants and Mormons. The neocons just get all the attention--owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration, which everyone today believes without having read, or even being aware of (have/are you?).

If "neocon" has any meaning, it means, first, a former intellectual liberal who has drifted right. Second, a domestic policy scholar who focuses on data-driven social science. And third, a foreign policy hawk.

None of these really apply to Strauss, who spent his who career studying political philosophy, with an intense focus on the Greeks. He voted Dem in every election in which he could vote, until his last, 1972, when he voted for Nixon out of Cold War concerns. You might say that makes him a "hawk" but he never wrote any essays saying so. He simply told a few people privately that McGovern was too naïve about the Soviets. You might also say that is evidence that he "drifted right" but he didn't think so. He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death. As for data-driven social science, he famously attacked it in of the very few of his writings that ever got any attention in mainstream political science ("An Epilogue").

You may well be right about the CIA's role in popularizing the phrase "conspiracy theory." But Leo Strauss had nothing to do with it. Or, if he did, he hid his role exceptionally well, because there is no evidence of such in his writings. C Bradley Thompson was educated/trained as a Straussian neoconservative, then got mugged by reality and started to re-assess his own philosophical orientation.

One of the most interesting points Thompson makes in this discussion of his book, Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea, occurs in the Q&A segment when he demonstrates that Strauss was, indeed, an acolyte of Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt

Laurel > , September 5, 2016 at 4:22 pm GMT

The best strategy is to foster implausible conspiracy theories to create a cloud of disinformation. This technique was used very effectively after 9/11, such that it's very hard to discuss a coverup without being labeled a truther.

SolontoCroesus > , September 5, 2016 at 4:24 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus C Bradley Thompson was educated/trained as a Straussian neoconservative, then got mugged by reality and started to re-assess his own philosophical orientation.

One of the most interesting points Thompson makes in this discussion of his book, Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea, occurs in the Q&A segment when he demonstrates that Strauss was, indeed, an acolyte of Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Oh6DmjQaho @ 12 min, Thompson asserts that "Leo Strauss was the most important influence on Irving Kristol's intellectual development. My book reveals for the first time the importance of Kristol's 1952 review of Strauss's Persecution and the Art of Writing . For me this is the Rosetta Stone . . .for understanding the deepest layer of neoconservative political philosophy."

It should also be noted that Irving Kristol was sponsored by -- on the payroll of – the CIA while still in Britain. Kristol has acknowledged that CIA support got his movement off the ground.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 4:25 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus C Bradley Thompson was educated/trained as a Straussian neoconservative, then got mugged by reality and started to re-assess his own philosophical orientation.

One of the most interesting points Thompson makes in this discussion of his book, Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea, occurs in the Q&A segment when he demonstrates that Strauss was, indeed, an acolyte of Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Oh6DmjQaho No. Strauss and Schmitt were friendly in the 1930s but Strauss was critical of Schmitt's work even then and said so. Schmitt himself said that Strauss had "seen right through" his arguments. Strauss was no acolyte of Schmitt's, he was a greater and deeper thinker and Schmitt -- something Schmitt himself acknowledged.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 4:42 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus @ 12 min, Thompson asserts that "Leo Strauss was the most important influence on Irving Kristol's intellectual development. My book reveals for the first time the importance of Kristol's 1952 review of Strauss's Persecution and the Art of Writing . For me this is the Rosetta Stone . . .for understanding the deepest layer of neoconservative political philosophy."

---

It should also be noted that Irving Kristol was sponsored by -- on the payroll of - the CIA while still in Britain. Kristol has acknowledged that CIA support got his movement off the ground. So what? That's one guy. How do we even know Kristol interpreted Strauss correctly? Kristol's concerns–data-driven social science–were not Strauss's. And so on and on.

But all that is a re-frame anyway. The charge from Unz is that Strauss is responsible, partly, for the way Americans think about conspiracy today because Strauss advocated for elite conspiracy. That's false and Unz can't back it up.

5371 > , September 5, 2016 at 4:45 pm GMT

@Decius No. Strauss and Schmitt were friendly in the 1930s but Strauss was critical of Schmitt's work even then and said so. Schmitt himself said that Strauss had "seen right through" his arguments. Strauss was no acolyte of Schmitt's, he was a greater and deeper thinker and Schmitt--something Schmitt himself acknowledged. This is complete nonsense. Schmitt is a powerful and original thinker, Strauss a weak and derivative one whose real sweet spot was academic politics.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 4:54 pm GMT

@5371 This is complete nonsense. Schmitt is a powerful and original thinker, Strauss a weak and derivative one whose real sweet spot was academic politics. Schmitt disagreed with you.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 4:59 pm GMT

@5371 This is complete nonsense. Schmitt is a powerful and original thinker, Strauss a weak and derivative one whose real sweet spot was academic politics. At any rate it's sort of absurd to watch you people chase your tails. All that you "know" or think you know is that Strauss is bad. But Schmitt is good. But Strauss is derivative of Schmitt. Doesn't that make Strauss good, or Schmitt bad?

Schmitt is famous for arguing in favor of the essential particularity of politics -- i.e., against alleged neocon universalism. So if Strauss is derivative of Schmitt, how can he be a neocon universalist?

Strauss in fact agrees with Schmitt on the essential particularity of politics and says so, but finds a deeper source, with deeper arguments, in Plato. Schmitt admitted that his own attempt to fortify his particularism was build on the quick-sandy foundation of modern rationalism, which Strauss taught him to see through.

Hibernian > , September 5, 2016 at 5:02 pm GMT

@anonymous Pearl Harbor (covered in "Day of Deceit") is good starting point. I strongly encourage Mr. Unz to read Robert Stinnet's book next before moving on.

FDR never intended that 2,400 Americans would die there. He just thought that if Japan "struck first", he could justify our entry into WWII to the public. What's really fascinating (and almost wholly unknown) is the sequence of events and headlines from December 8 to December 11, 1941, the date Hitler declared war on the USA.

While Pearl Harbor meant war with Japan, it did not necessarily guarantee war with Nazi Germany. For 72 hours, no one could be sure that Germany would declare war on us. Did FDR manipulate events post-Pearl Harbor to ensure it did happen? "FDR never intended that 2,400 Americans would die there."

Did he think our forces at Pearl, lacking needed intelligence, would limit the losses to a lesser number?

SolontoCroesus > , September 5, 2016 at 5:07 pm GMT

@Decius So what? That's one guy. How do we even know Kristol interpreted Strauss correctly? Kristol's concerns -- data-driven social science -- were not Strauss's. And so on and on.

But all that is a re-frame anyway. The charge from Unz is that Strauss is responsible, partly, for the way Americans think about conspiracy today because Strauss advocated for elite conspiracy. That's false and Unz can't back it up.

The charge from Unz is that Strauss is responsible, partly, for the way Americans think about conspiracy today because Strauss advocated for elite conspiracy. That's false and Unz can't back it up.

Can't back it up or has not done so, so far?

The day is young . . . the moon has not yet appeared in the eastern sky.

Carlton Meyer > , Website September 5, 2016 at 5:20 pm GMT

Some conspiracies are eventually acknowledged. For recent examples, our government finally admitted that our CIA overthrew the government of Iran in the 1950s. The sinking of the Lusitania because it carried tons of munitions and weapons during WW I has been mostly accepted since 1982, after the sunken ship was discovered and searched by divers. For example, Encyclopedia Britannica:

"The Lusitania was carrying a cargo of rifle ammunition and shells (together about 173 tons), and the Germans, who had circulated warnings that the ship would be sunk, felt themselves fully justified in attacking a vessel that was furthering the war aims of their enemy. The German government also felt that, in view of the vulnerability of U-boats while on the surface and the British announcement of intentions to arm merchant ships, prior warning of potential targets was impractical."

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Lusitania-British-ship

One of the newest has got little attention, the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, who was a computer guy leaking info to Wikileaks.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/08/10/assange-implies-murdered-dnc-staffer-was-wikileaks-source.html

If we truly had aggressive news competition in the USA, this story would remain in the headlines, but of course its implications are not acceptable. However, stories about Russian hackers persist with no hard evidence.

JL > , September 5, 2016 at 5:27 pm GMT

@John Jeremiah Smith

The rise of Trump, in the face of a completely and uniformly hostile media, suggests that a large part of the American public, consciously or not, now completely rejects entire media narratives and assumes the exact opposite to be true. And they're panicking.
Are they? Or, have they simply fired the first few rounds of easily-dispatched, easily-targeted artillery? I do note that this is the most massive full-court press in support of the oligarchy that I have ever seen. But, I sense that political wars have moved from the court of public opinion and perception, into the courtyards of the moneyed elite. Inasmuch as no rich person has ever believed that he or she has enough money and power, the national political conflict is now composed solely of issues that affect the wealth and power of the 0.1%, which is itself segmented into areas of economic focus and varying forms of wealth acquisition. For example, if air transport systems threaten the wealth and power of ocean-based shipping, that competition between oligarchs will morph into politically-expressed contexts.

There is absolutely no concern, anywhere within the dominion of the 0.1%, with human values, human rights, or any of that sort of ethically-principled hoo-hoo. I suppose my comment came off somewhat like unbridled, naive optimism. Your points are unquestionably valid, however, and I am disinclined to argue. Of course Trump represents the interests of certain groups of elites and is not merely the essence of a popular movement. I'll be honest, though, I'm having a tough time determining who these groups are, exactly.

Just like with Brexit, these events don't happen without powerful manipulation from somewhere within the 0.1%. Still, it's tough for me to imagine what a Trump presidency will even look like. Who will be in his cabinet, from what backgrounds will they come?

There is absolutely no concern, anywhere within the dominion of the 0.1%, with human values, human rights, or any of that sort of ethically-principled hoo-hoo.

Certainly not. What are fundamentally important questions for us are merely means to an end for them.

Jeffrey S. > , Website September 5, 2016 at 5:31 pm GMT

Beard was an interesting guy, but's let's not forget that his central thesis regarding the founding of this country doesn't hold up to historical scrutiny:

http://www.libertylawsite.org/2014/10/10/charles-beard-living-legend-or-archaic-icon/

Meanwhile, I think it helps to think about conspiracies philosophically ! rigorous thought can help clear up sloppy thinking (which is found in many such theories):

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/01/trouble-with-conspiracy-theories.html

Mulegino1 > , September 5, 2016 at 5:35 pm GMT

With respect to conspiracies, there are two equally absurd extreme views which distract from reality: one is the childish rejection of all conspiracy theories and the other the childish belief that every appreciable newsworthy event with a political, economic or social impact is the result of a nefarious conspiracy. The truth, of course, is to be found in the middle....

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 5:43 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus

The charge from Unz is that Strauss is responsible, partly, for the way Americans think about conspiracy today because Strauss advocated for elite conspiracy. That's false and Unz can't back it up.
Can't back it up or has not done so, so far? The day is young . . . the moon has not yet appeared in the eastern sky. I know Strauss's books. I am guessing that Unz does not because if he did, he would not attribute to Strauss what he did. At any rate, even if Unz does know the books, I fail to see what passages he could cite to support the paragraph that I highlighted. As noted, the claim sounds vaguely derivative of Drury, who hates Strauss (and gets everything wrong) but even she doesn't quite say what Unz says.
Ron Unz > , September 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm GMT

@Decius Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss.

The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall--and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?--is on Thoughts on Machiavelli . Strauss does so, first and foremost, because conspiracy is a major theme of Machiavelli's and the subject of the two longest chapters of his two most important books ( Prince 19 and Discourses III 6). Strauss further develops the idea that modern philosophy begins as a conspiracy between Machiavelli and (some of) his readers. Strauss simply never said anything like this:

Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.
As for his relationship with neoconservatism, you also overstate that considerably. Yes, there are many neoconservative Straussians. But there are also Straussian paleos, tradcons, liberatarians, liberals, and moderates. There are many who are apolitical and interested only in abstract philosophy. There are Straussian religious conservatives, agnostics and atheists. Christians, Jews and Muslim. Catholic, Protestants and Mormons. The neocons just get all the attention--owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration, which everyone today believes without having read, or even being aware of (have/are you?).

If "neocon" has any meaning, it means, first, a former intellectual liberal who has drifted right. Second, a domestic policy scholar who focuses on data-driven social science. And third, a foreign policy hawk.

None of these really apply to Strauss, who spent his who career studying political philosophy, with an intense focus on the Greeks. He voted Dem in every election in which he could vote, until his last, 1972, when he voted for Nixon out of Cold War concerns. You might say that makes him a "hawk" but he never wrote any essays saying so. He simply told a few people privately that McGovern was too naïve about the Soviets. You might also say that is evidence that he "drifted right" but he didn't think so. He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death. As for data-driven social science, he famously attacked it in of the very few of his writings that ever got any attention in mainstream political science ("An Epilogue").

You may well be right about the CIA's role in popularizing the phrase "conspiracy theory." But Leo Strauss had nothing to do with it. Or, if he did, he hid his role exceptionally well, because there is no evidence of such in his writings.

Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss. The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall–and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you? .The neocons just get all the attention–owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death.

I'll candidly admit I haven't read a single one of Strauss's own books, nor even that very influential James Atlas article you dislike so intensely. Instead, I was merely summarizing the extensive arguments of Prof. deHaven-Smith, who, as a prominent political scientist, is presumably quite familiar with Strauss, though I don't doubt that his views might differ considerably from your own.

But on your second point, I do remember seeing a very amusing private letter of Strauss that came to light about a decade or so ago. Written shortly after his arrival in America, it was addressed to a fellow ultra-rightwing Jewish exile from Europe, and in it he praised fascism and (I think) Nazism to the skies, arguing that their regrettable deviation into "anti-Semitism" (which had precipitated his own personal exile from Germany) should in no way be considered a refutation of all the other wonderful aspects of those political doctrines. This leads me to wonder if Strauss was truly the "liberal" you suggest, or perhaps was instead engaging in exactly the sort of "ideological crypsis" that seems such an important part of his political philosophy

It's likely my faulty memory may have garbled important aspects of the letter I mention, and given your expertise on Straussian issues, I'm sure you should be able to locate it and easily correct me.

Mulegino1 > , September 5, 2016 at 5:48 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus

Stepping back from it all to get a long distance view one can see the patterns of deceit and manipulation all throughout American political life. It's not just incidental but rather is built in.
Is this built-in deceit and manipulation unique to American life, or -- beyond the usual understandings about human nature -- is the systematic or institutionalized "deceit and manipulation" present in all cultures? in western cultures? in some but not all cultures? If the lattermost, in which cultures is "deceit and manipulation" less systematic and institutionalized?

Was "deceit and manipulation" institutionalized into American life from the beginning -- by the Founders, or did USA deviate from its intended path at some point? If so, at what point? How did it happen?

Is there the possibility of redemption? To my mind, the real point of deviation in the history of the United States is the Spanish American War, and the transformation of America from a tellurocratic to a thallasocratic power. America's traditional role had been that of a vast, continental, land based power, eschewing intervention in the affairs of Europe and the rest of the world outside the Western Hemisphere. (This is largely the reason that the Russian Czar allied with the Union in the American Civil War).

Unfortunately, America's traditional tellurocratic role was abandonded – thanks to the likes of Admiral ("Victory through Sea Power") Mahan, John Hay, and the loopy Teddy Roosevelt, inter alia – and the nation went on to embrace the role of international arbiter and busybody, and became insatiable in the pursuit of empire, with catastrophic results for the world.

Sam Shama > , September 5, 2016 at 5:59 pm GMT

@5371 This is a good piece which deserved an acceptable level of mental hygiene in the comment section. Unfortunately, two of the first nine comments are from morons spamming their "no lunar landing" drivel. In all probability the "no nuclear weapons" clowns will also be here imminently. Oh well, a delicious sweet dish will attract a fly as much as a gourmet. [Oh well, a delicious sweet dish will attract a fly as much as a gourmet.]

LOL. I'll compile a mental list of both. Aren't the comments missing someone btw?

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 6:00 pm GMT

@Ron Unz

Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss. The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall–and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?....The neocons just get all the attention–owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration...He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death.
I'll candidly admit I haven't read a single one of Strauss's own books, nor even that very influential James Atlas article you dislike so intensely. Instead, I was merely summarizing the extensive arguments of Prof. deHaven-Smith, who, as a prominent political scientist, is presumably quite familiar with Strauss, though I don't doubt that his views might differ considerably from your own.

But on your second point, I do remember seeing a very amusing private letter of Strauss that came to light about a decade or so ago. Written shortly after his arrival in America, it was addressed to a fellow ultra-rightwing Jewish exile from Europe, and in it he praised fascism and (I think) Nazism to the skies, arguing that their regrettable deviation into "anti-Semitism" (which had precipitated his own personal exile from Germany) should in no way be considered a refutation of all the other wonderful aspects of those political doctrines. This leads me to wonder if Strauss was truly the "liberal" you suggest, or perhaps was instead engaging in exactly the sort of "ideological crypsis" that seems such an important part of his political philosophy...

It's likely my faulty memory may have garbled important aspects of the letter I mention, and given your expertise on Straussian issues, I'm sure you should be able to locate it and easily correct me. The letter you are referring to is a letter to Karl Lowith from 1933. The most sustained–not to say serious–attempt to make it say that Strauss is coming out as a fascist has been the work of William Altman. I don't think he even comes close to making his case.

The letter can more charitably and reasonably read as a frank acknowledgement of the failure of Weimar liberalism and of liberalism generally precisely to take into account nationalist sentiment but instead to "universalize" all particulars without due attention to differing conditions, circumstances, "matter," and so on. In other words, Strauss is defending the "concept of the political" both from liberal universalism and from the simple-minded identification of particularism (or nationalism) with fascism. Sound familiar? All nationalist sentiment is fascism, Trump is a Nazi, and so on. An "argument" as old as hills and which Strauss saw through immediately.

Once again, though, the tail is chased. How can Strauss be both a universalist neo-con and a particularist-nationalist-fascist at the same time? The only common thread is: Strauss is bad.

In my view, Strauss is good. More to the point, I find stronger intellectual support in Strauss for my own nationalist leanings and pro-Trumpism than I find in any other intellectual source of any depth. I am in the minority among Straussians in thinking so, but I am not alone. Morevoer, I think in open debate, I have a stronger case for Straussian particularism than others can make for Straussian universalism.

And, not incidentally, none of this points to any such views on conspiracy as you put into Strauss's mouth.

Robard > , September 5, 2016 at 6:04 pm GMT

If government doesn't believe in conspiracies, why have secret services in the first place? Either they want to thwart conspiracies or they are creating their own or both.

Jacques Sheete > , September 5, 2016 at 6:24 pm GMT

@Ron Unz

Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss. The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall–and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?....The neocons just get all the attention–owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration...He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death.
I'll candidly admit I haven't read a single one of Strauss's own books, nor even that very influential James Atlas article you dislike so intensely. Instead, I was merely summarizing the extensive arguments of Prof. deHaven-Smith, who, as a prominent political scientist, is presumably quite familiar with Strauss, though I don't doubt that his views might differ considerably from your own.

But on your second point, I do remember seeing a very amusing private letter of Strauss that came to light about a decade or so ago. Written shortly after his arrival in America, it was addressed to a fellow ultra-rightwing Jewish exile from Europe, and in it he praised fascism and (I think) Nazism to the skies, arguing that their regrettable deviation into "anti-Semitism" (which had precipitated his own personal exile from Germany) should in no way be considered a refutation of all the other wonderful aspects of those political doctrines. This leads me to wonder if Strauss was truly the "liberal" you suggest, or perhaps was instead engaging in exactly the sort of "ideological crypsis" that seems such an important part of his political philosophy...

It's likely my faulty memory may have garbled important aspects of the letter I mention, and given your expertise on Straussian issues, I'm sure you should be able to locate it and easily correct me. While I've read nothing by Prof. deHaven-Smith, from what you've written, he and DiLorenzo would probably agree.

Here's a short but readable eval of Strauss' ideas, and DiLorenzo is one academician whom I somewhat trust.:

Moronic Intellectuals
By Thomas DiLorenzo

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2004/09/thomas-woods/the-neocon-godfather/

John Jeremiah Smith > , September 5, 2016 at 6:29 pm GMT

@JL I suppose my comment came off somewhat like unbridled, naive optimism. Your points are unquestionably valid, however, and I am disinclined to argue. Of course Trump represents the interests of certain groups of elites and is not merely the essence of a popular movement. I'll be honest, though, I'm having a tough time determining who these groups are, exactly.

Just like with Brexit, these events don't happen without powerful manipulation from somewhere within the 0.1%. Still, it's tough for me to imagine what a Trump presidency will even look like. Who will be in his cabinet, from what backgrounds will they come?


There is absolutely no concern, anywhere within the dominion of the 0.1%, with human values, human rights, or any of that sort of ethically-principled hoo-hoo.
Certainly not. What are fundamentally important questions for us are merely means to an end for them.

Of course Trump represents the interests of certain groups of elites and is not merely the essence of a popular movement. I'll be honest, though, I'm having a tough time determining who these groups are, exactly.

Yes, and how many players, each with what orientation and degree of focus? The 0.1% population contains 10,000 – 50,00o potential players, globally.

It is my opinion that the extremely-high degree of corruption, within the mighty engine of resource consumption and bribery that is the US government, contributes greatly to the "big picture" of ongoing conflict among the members of the oligarchy.

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 6:31 pm GMT

@Decius Your characterization of Strauss on conspiracy has almost no basis in anything Strauss actually wrote. I would bet that you are presenting a dumbed -down and inaccurate version of Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, which are themselves abysmally inaccurate and libelous about Strauss.

The only place Strauss discusses conspiracy thematically that I can recall--and I have read all his books several times, and still read them; have/do you?--is on Thoughts on Machiavelli . Strauss does so, first and foremost, because conspiracy is a major theme of Machiavelli's and the subject of the two longest chapters of his two most important books ( Prince 19 and Discourses III 6). Strauss further develops the idea that modern philosophy begins as a conspiracy between Machiavelli and (some of) his readers. Strauss simply never said anything like this:


Meanwhile, Strauss, a founding figure in modern neo-conservative thought, was equally harsh in his attacks upon conspiracy analysis, but for polar-opposite reasons. In his mind, elite conspiracies were absolutely necessary and beneficial, a crucial social defense against anarchy or totalitarianism, but their effectiveness obviously depended upon keeping them hidden from the prying eyes of the ignorant masses. His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.
As for his relationship with neoconservatism, you also overstate that considerably. Yes, there are many neoconservative Straussians. But there are also Straussian paleos, tradcons, liberatarians, liberals, and moderates. There are many who are apolitical and interested only in abstract philosophy. There are Straussian religious conservatives, agnostics and atheists. Christians, Jews and Muslim. Catholic, Protestants and Mormons. The neocons just get all the attention--owing again, in part to Drury and in part to one terrible 2003 article by James Atlas, which no one these days has read, but quickly became THE account of neocon Straussians controlling the Bush administration, which everyone today believes without having read, or even being aware of (have/are you?).

If "neocon" has any meaning, it means, first, a former intellectual liberal who has drifted right. Second, a domestic policy scholar who focuses on data-driven social science. And third, a foreign policy hawk.

None of these really apply to Strauss, who spent his who career studying political philosophy, with an intense focus on the Greeks. He voted Dem in every election in which he could vote, until his last, 1972, when he voted for Nixon out of Cold War concerns. You might say that makes him a "hawk" but he never wrote any essays saying so. He simply told a few people privately that McGovern was too naïve about the Soviets. You might also say that is evidence that he "drifted right" but he didn't think so. He apparently considered himself a Cold War liberal until his death. As for data-driven social science, he famously attacked it in of the very few of his writings that ever got any attention in mainstream political science ("An Epilogue").

You may well be right about the CIA's role in popularizing the phrase "conspiracy theory." But Leo Strauss had nothing to do with it. Or, if he did, he hid his role exceptionally well, because there is no evidence of such in his writings. Actually I don't think Ron is so far off. And I think, at best, you must be overeducated. Strauss held that authentic philosophy is a conspiracy . From there, certain practical advice about how to carry out the philosophy of the true philosopher follows. Such advice would about seem to be how Ron said it was.

I have not read the essay by Atlas. But for the duration of the Bush Administration I did read the Weekly Standard. I recall in particular one time when the editors recommended what books to bring to the beach, and Bill Kristol said "anything by Leo Strauss." My impression is that the Weekly Standard's brazen propaganda back then was the way certain editors understood themselves to be acting like Strauss's true disciples.

And of course now Krystol is hocking a former spook to run against Trump in Utah.

Ron Unz > , September 5, 2016 at 6:34 pm GMT

@Decius The letter you are referring to is a letter to Karl Lowith from 1933. The most sustained--not to say serious--attempt to make it say that Strauss is coming out as a fascist has been the work of William Altman. I don't think he even comes close to making his case.

The letter can more charitably and reasonably read as a frank acknowledgement of the failure of Weimar liberalism and of liberalism generally precisely to take into account nationalist sentiment but instead to "universalize" all particulars without due attention to differing conditions, circumstances, "matter," and so on. In other words, Strauss is defending the "concept of the political" both from liberal universalism and from the simple-minded identification of particularism (or nationalism) with fascism. Sound familiar? All nationalist sentiment is fascism, Trump is a Nazi, and so on. An "argument" as old as hills and which Strauss saw through immediately.

Once again, though, the tail is chased. How can Strauss be both a universalist neo-con and a particularist-nationalist-fascist at the same time? The only common thread is: Strauss is bad.

In my view, Strauss is good. More to the point, I find stronger intellectual support in Strauss for my own nationalist leanings and pro-Trumpism than I find in any other intellectual source of any depth. I am in the minority among Straussians in thinking so, but I am not alone. Morevoer, I think in open debate, I have a stronger case for Straussian particularism than others can make for Straussian universalism.

And, not incidentally, none of this points to any such views on conspiracy as you put into Strauss's mouth.

The letter you are referring to is a letter to Karl Lowith from 1933. The most sustained–not to say serious–attempt to make it say that Strauss is coming out as a fascist has been the work of William Altman.

Well, I decided I might as well google up the letter, and found this extended discussion in Harpers by someone who clearly dislikes Strauss and the Neocons, with a link to a full translation of Strauss's controversial missive.

http://harpers.org/blog/2008/01/will-the-real-leo-strauss-please-stand-up/

Offhand, it does indeed seem like I misremembered some of the details. Strauss apparently didn't seem to like the Nazis very much, but it certainly sounds like he had positive feelings towards the Fascists. In any event, the following excerpt makes me wonder whether he was actually a "liberal," or merely pretended to be since his income probably depended upon liberal donors and institutions

And, what concerns this matter: the fact that the new right-wing Germany does not tolerate us says nothing against the principles of the right. To the contrary: only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible with seemliness, that is, without resort to the ludicrous and despicable appeal to the droits imprescriptibles de l'homme(5) to protest against the shabby abomination There is no reason to crawl to the cross, neither to the cross of liberalism, as long as somewhere in the world there is a glimmer of the spark of the Roman thought.

Buzz Mohawk > , September 5, 2016 at 6:48 pm GMT

By reading Ron's American Pravda series of columns, I am learning things that otherwise I would not have known. I am developing a clearer understanding of the real truth . This is an important contribution to my understanding of of reality! And I trust this because of the quality and earnestness of the source. This is all very much appreciated.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 6:50 pm GMT

@Ron Unz

The letter you are referring to is a letter to Karl Lowith from 1933. The most sustained–not to say serious–attempt to make it say that Strauss is coming out as a fascist has been the work of William Altman.
Well, I decided I might as well google up the letter, and found this extended discussion in Harpers by someone who clearly dislikes Strauss and the Neocons, with a link to a full translation of Strauss's controversial missive.

http://harpers.org/blog/2008/01/will-the-real-leo-strauss-please-stand-up/

Offhand, it does indeed seem like I misremembered some of the details. Strauss apparently didn't seem to like the Nazis very much, but it certainly sounds like he had positive feelings towards the Fascists. In any event, the following excerpt makes me wonder whether he was actually a "liberal," or merely pretended to be since his income probably depended upon liberal donors and institutions...

And, what concerns this matter: the fact that the new right-wing Germany does not tolerate us says nothing against the principles of the right. To the contrary: only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible with seemliness, that is, without resort to the ludicrous and despicable appeal to the droits imprescriptibles de l'homme(5) to protest against the shabby abomination...There is no reason to crawl to the cross, neither to the cross of liberalism, as long as somewhere in the world there is a glimmer of the spark of the Roman thought.
What is a liberal? That's not a troll question. Strauss was above all a Socratic and Socratic philosophy begins with "what is" questions. One of Strauss's books is entitled Liberalism Ancient and Modern .

Strauss was apparently a liberal in the US context in that he mostly voted for Dems. He also wrote one acerbically critical letter to National Review.

However, a mid-20th-century American liberal may have been many things, but unpatriotic or nationalistic they were not. When liberalism turned with McGovern, Strauss looked elsewhere, and then died a year later, so we don't know how his political outlook would, or would not, have changed longer term. But at least in the 40s-60s, he was quite OK with Cold War American liberals. That's perfectly consistent with the nationalist sentiment expressed in the letter to Lowith. Also, Strauss was appalled by the dissoluteness of Weimar–and would become appalled by the dissoluteness of the late 1960s. But America prior was not yet dissolute. And he was appalled by Weimar's weakness. But America pre-Vietnam was not weak. Again, perfectly consistent with the letter.

Strauss supported the Cold War because he thought the USSR was a real threat in the near term and because he feared, on a higher plane, the imposition of "the universal and homogenous state." He was opposed to that, whereas those to his left were for it. So was he conservative?

Strauss transcends all these distinctions. That's not to say that they are meaningless. Indeed, he would be the first to say that they are meaningful. But, like Tocqueville, Strauss aimed to see not differently but further than the parties.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 6:54 pm GMT

@Pat Casey Actually I don't think Ron is so far off. And I think, at best, you must be overeducated. Strauss held that authentic philosophy is a conspiracy . From there, certain practical advice about how to carry out the philosophy of the true philosopher follows. Such advice would about seem to be how Ron said it was.

I have not read the essay by Atlas. But for the duration of the Bush Administration I did read the Weekly Standard. I recall in particular one time when the editors recommended what books to bring to the beach, and Bill Kristol said "anything by Leo Strauss." My impression is that the Weekly Standard's brazen propaganda back then was the way certain editors understood themselves to be acting like Strauss's true disciples.

And of course now Krystol is hocking a former spook to run against Trump in Utah. The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious. Yes, Bill K loves Strauss. That really doesn't prove much about Strauss either way. I believe, though of course cannot prove since Strauss can't speak, that Strauss would have opposed the Iraq War. He would have seen it as imprudent and prudence is the supreme virtue of the statesman.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).

Yngvar > , September 5, 2016 at 6:59 pm GMT

So as a means of damage control, the CIA distributed a secret memo to all its field offices requesting that they enlist their media assets in efforts to ridicule and attack such critics as irrational supporters of "conspiracy theories."

And what do you know, the term "conspiracy theories" was non-existent in books before JFK's assassination but took off right after, according to Google's Ngram Viewer: https://is.gd/GYioQZ

utu > , September 5, 2016 at 7:38 pm GMT

@Decius The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious. Yes, Bill K loves Strauss. That really doesn't prove much about Strauss either way. I believe, though of course cannot prove since Strauss can't speak, that Strauss would have opposed the Iraq War. He would have seen it as imprudent and prudence is the supreme virtue of the statesman.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points). Unless you give some evidence that Strauss was a Reptilian or at least that he was a skeptic about the Moon landing there is no need for further discussion on Strauss here.

Erik Sieven > , September 5, 2016 at 7:40 pm GMT

@Kirt Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan. Secrecy may be needed for the success of a conspiracy, but it is not essential to the definition. Were it essential to the definition, you could never prove the existence of a conspiracy. Either secrecy would be maintained and there would be little or no evidence or secrecy would not be maintained and the plan would become known and by definition not be a conspiracy. "Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan." but probably everything think that what he does is good, not evil

art guerrilla > , Website September 5, 2016 at 8:10 pm GMT

@Chief Seattle So, a conspiracy theory is a theory without media backing. There's no better recent example of this than when the DNC emails were released by wikileaks during their convention. The story put forth was that Russian hackers were responsible, and were trying to throw the election to their buddy Trump. The evidence for this? Zero. And yet it became a plausible explanation in the media, overnight.

Maybe it's true, maybe not, but if the roles had been reversed, the media would be telling its proponents to take off their tin foil hats. ahhh, but 'Russkie!/squirrel!' worked, didn't it ? ? ?
virtually NOTHING about the actual content of the emails
what was hysterical, was a followup not too long afterwards, where pelosi 'warned' that there might be a whole raft of other emails which said bad stuff and stuff, and, um, they were -like- probably, um, all, uh, fake and stuff
it really is a funny tragi-comedy, isn't it ? ? ?
then why am i crying inside

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 8:35 pm GMT

@Decius The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious. Yes, Bill K loves Strauss. That really doesn't prove much about Strauss either way. I believe, though of course cannot prove since Strauss can't speak, that Strauss would have opposed the Iraq War. He would have seen it as imprudent and prudence is the supreme virtue of the statesman.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).

The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious.

That's not what I did. Don't do that. You seemed to be saying the neo-cons do not hail from the school of Strauss as this Atlas fellow said they did. I was saying they do, according to them.

It was pretty obvious back then that the weekly standard was acting as an organ of the bush administration more than a member of the media. I remember there was even a tepid discussion about how we as journalist should feel about these fellas with one foot in the media and one foot in the politics. Does that have anything to do with the style Strauss bespoke? My understanding is that Strauss addressed his philosophy not to Princes but certain among the reading public. That turns out to first of all mean political journalists who will sacrifice the integrity of their profession for the sake of a particular kind of proud story about the USA polity and its villains. Yes I do think people like Bill Krystol and Michael Ledeen saw themselves in terms as dramatic as that.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).

You mean I was right about Strauss having a conspiracy theory of philosophy. I didn't say anything about the second half. I read Paul Gottfried and I agree Strauss was a ridiculous scholar. Of course I believe you when you say in so many words that Strauss did not like philosophies that license mass movements of true believers. Full stop right there. Now we can count back from all them and make this an exercise in splitting hairs. What audience to be precise did Strauss exactly have in mind? Actually I don't think he deserves that much credit; I don't think he really knew who he was writing for.

Jacques Sheete > , September 5, 2016 at 9:43 pm GMT

@Pat Casey

The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious.
That's not what I did. Don't do that. You seemed to be saying the neo-cons do not hail from the school of Strauss as this Atlas fellow said they did. I was saying they do, according to them.

It was pretty obvious back then that the weekly standard was acting as an organ of the bush administration more than a member of the media. I remember there was even a tepid discussion about how we as journalist should feel about these fellas with one foot in the media and one foot in the politics. Does that have anything to do with the style Strauss bespoke? My understanding is that Strauss addressed his philosophy not to Princes but certain among the reading public. That turns out to first of all mean political journalists who will sacrifice the integrity of their profession for the sake of a particular kind of proud story about the USA polity and its villains. Yes I do think people like Bill Krystol and Michael Ledeen saw themselves in terms as dramatic as that.

You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).
You mean I was right about Strauss having a conspiracy theory of philosophy. I didn't say anything about the second half. I read Paul Gottfried and I agree Strauss was a ridiculous scholar. Of course I believe you when you say in so many words that Strauss did not like philosophies that license mass movements of true believers. Full stop right there. Now we can count back from all them and make this an exercise in splitting hairs. What audience to be precise did Strauss exactly have in mind? Actually I don't think he deserves that much credit; I don't think he really knew who he was writing for.

I don't think he really knew who he was writing for.

Love it.

My theory is that they basically wrote anything that came to mind so long as no one could pin 'em down to specifics, allowed them to keep paying the bills , afforded them a chance to sound "profound," and to be somebody.

Pretty much all of the type are frauds and only fools (especially the pompous quasi-scientific, pseudo intellectual, ones) take 'em seriously. I agree that the ancients were much more honest but even they were recognized as BSers of high degree by the likes of Aristophanes and Lucian of Samosata to name only two. (I named them because they make particularly entertaining reading.)

I think the 20th century should be known as the Age of Pathetic Charlatans and I'm glad it's over. May it and the endless gaggle of cheap morons it spawned never return.

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 10:12 pm GMT

@Pat Casey

The reduction of Strauss and all his concerns to TWS is not serious.
That's not what I did. Don't do that. You seemed to be saying the neo-cons do not hail from the school of Strauss as this Atlas fellow said they did. I was saying they do, according to them.

It was pretty obvious back then that the weekly standard was acting as an organ of the bush administration more than a member of the media. I remember there was even a tepid discussion about how we as journalist should feel about these fellas with one foot in the media and one foot in the politics. Does that have anything to do with the style Strauss bespoke? My understanding is that Strauss addressed his philosophy not to Princes but certain among the reading public. That turns out to first of all mean political journalists who will sacrifice the integrity of their profession for the sake of a particular kind of proud story about the USA polity and its villains. Yes I do think people like Bill Krystol and Michael Ledeen saw themselves in terms as dramatic as that.


You are sort of right about philosophy being a conspiracy, but wrong in the second half. MODERN philosophy attempts to take the conspiracy public, so to speak, to act in the real world. Ancient philosophy did not, or did so in a very limited, mitigating way, always with caution, moderation, prudence, and a lack of messianic hopes or intentions. Strauss argued his whole life for the superiority of the ancients to the moderns on this point (and on other points).
You mean I was right about Strauss having a conspiracy theory of philosophy. I didn't say anything about the second half. I read Paul Gottfried and I agree Strauss was a ridiculous scholar. Of course I believe you when you say in so many words that Strauss did not like philosophies that license mass movements of true believers. Full stop right there. Now we can count back from all them and make this an exercise in splitting hairs. What audience to be precise did Strauss exactly have in mind? Actually I don't think he deserves that much credit; I don't think he really knew who he was writing for. Kristol is a Straussian because he got a PhD in PolPhil from Harvard under Mansfield, who is a Straussian. There is no necessary connection between Strauss's thought any of the main tenets of Neo-conservatism. I've said, and you've all ignored, that Strauss attacked data-driven social science, which is the original hallmark of neo-conservatism. A later hallmark (which emerged after Strauss's death) was foreign policy hawkism. Unless you want to say that Strauss's opposition to the USSR makes him a neo-con, in which case every Cold War liberal going back to Truman was a neo-con. At which point the term has no meaning.

Strauss addresses scholars and potential philosophers. He has almost nothing to say about the transient issues of his age. Based on his comments on what other thinkers had to say about war (Thucydides above all) I believe we can infer that Strauss was generally in favor of preparedness and wariness but otherwise anti-war in the general sense. If we may analogize the Iraq War to the Sicilian Expedition we may say that Strauss probably would have opposed the former as imprudent, just as he tacitly endorses T's judgement that the latter was imprudent.

Strauss openly characterizes Machiavelli's approach to philosophy as a conspiracy, using that word, but does not say it about any other thinker. However, his teaching that philosophy is an inherently elite and very small enterprise may be fairly characterized as a "conspiracy." however, before modernity, the nature of the conspiracy was to protect the conspirators and the philosophic life, not a reform campaign. that's what it becomes under modernity, which Strauss opposes. One of Strauss's aims in writing was to revive the ancient idea of philosophy, its proper scope, and its proper relationship to society, which he believed modernity had corrupted.

It is unfortunate that Strauss became a bogey-man to so many who have no idea what he said or why. It happened rather recently and based on some very thin scholarship. Most of the thing people try to pin on him are things that I and my friends oppose too. We just know they don't trace to Strauss. In fact, the opposite is often true.

Konga > , September 5, 2016 at 10:17 pm GMT

@Miro23 The British and Americans have been the victims of conspiracies (False Flag operations) for years.

For example:

The Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (headquarters of the British Mandate Government of Palestine) in which Zionist activists dressed as Arabs placed milk churns filled with explosives against the main columns of the building killing 91 people and injuring 44. Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu, attended a celebration to commemorate the event.

Operation Susannah (Lavon Affair) where Israeli operatives impersonating Arabs bombed British and American cinemas, libraries and educational centers in Egypt to destabilize the country and keep British troops committed to the Middle East.

Or June 8, 1967, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty with unmarked aircraft and torpedo boats. 34 men were killed and 171 wounded, with the attack in international waters following over nine hours of close surveillance. When the ship failed to sink, the Israeli government concocted an elaborate story to cover the crime. Original plan to blame the sinking with all lives lost on the Egyptians and draw the US into the war.

Or Israelis and U.S. Zionists appearing all over the most recent WTC 9/11 "Operation" with Israelis once again impersonating Arabs in a historic deception/terror action of a type that seems to carry a lot of kudos with old Israeli ex-terrorist Likudniks. Israeli agents were sent to film the historic day (as they later admitted on Israeli TV), with the celebrations including photos of themselves with a background of the burning towers where thousands of Americans were being incinerated.

Iraq was destroyed as a result of 9/11 but unfortunately for the conspirators, the momentum wasn't sufficient for a general war including Iran. Also the general war would have included the nuclear angle and justified the activation of a neo-con led Emergency Regime (dictatorship) in the US enforced with the newly printed Patriot Act and Homeland Security troops - or maybe that's just another Conspiracy Theory? So true!
But you forgot the two missiles shot from a NATO naval and HQ base in Spain towards Damascus, shot down by the Russians (two weeks before the "agreement" on chemical weapons, remember?) and then attributed to Israel's drills turned wrong

Decius > , September 5, 2016 at 10:17 pm GMT

A good book, BTW, is Robert Howse's Leo Strauss: Man of Peace . Howse is liberal, FWIW.

ten miles > , September 5, 2016 at 10:20 pm GMT

One resents (first), and eventually hates whom they have to lie to. In what regard would our elites, in our electoral democracy, hold us voters in (by now)?
Kinda answers itself doesn't it?

map > , September 5, 2016 at 11:03 pm GMT

Popper's point about conspiracy theories really makes no sense. This is the assumption that a conspiracy is like a start-up, one that requires lots of transparency to work because of the need to recruit members for the conspiracy. As soon as one member disagrees, the conspiracy falls apart.

The problem is that a conspiracy is not like a start-up. The purpose of the start-up is the start-up itself. The purpose of the conspiracy is not the conspiracy itself. Conspiracies are simply vehicles by which like minded people actually find each other. The secrecy is built-in because they are like-minded.

Kirt > , September 5, 2016 at 11:15 pm GMT

@Erik Sieven "Conspiracy is simply a plan or agreement by more than one person to do something evil and then the pursuit of that plan." but probably everything think that what he does is good, not evil "probably everything think that what he does is good, not evil"

Yeah, that's true. I think that it was Saint Thomas Aquinas who said that evil is always done under an aspect of good. Hence no one will consider himself a conspirator other than perhaps in a legal sense if he is aware that what he is doing is illegal. Apart from that the charge of conspiracy will always come from opponents; e.g. Hilly's charge of "a vast right-wing conspiracy".

Ron Unz > , September 5, 2016 at 11:27 pm GMT

@Paul Jolliffe Mr. Unz,

Here is a link to Carl Bernstein's definitive 1977 Rolling Stone article "CIA and the Media" in which he addresses - and confirms - your worst fears. You are very right, and no less a figure than Bernstein has said so for nearly four decades . . .

http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

Here is a link to Carl Bernstein's definitive 1977 Rolling Stone article "CIA and the Media" in which he addresses – and confirms – your worst fears. You are very right, and no less a figure than Bernstein has said so for nearly four decades

Thanks so much for the excellent reference to the Bernstein article, of which I hadn't been aware. I found it fascinating, not least because of all the speculations floating around over the last decade or two that Bernstein's famed collaborator, Bob Woodward, had had an intelligence background, and perhaps Watergate represented a plot by elements of the CIA to remove Nixon from the White House. As for the 25,000 word article itself, I'd suggest that people read it. Since quite a lot of this comment-thread is already filled with debates about the supposed liberalism of Leo Strauss and an alleged Moon Landing Hoax, I might as well provide a few of the provocative extracts:

http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

He was very eager, he loved to cooperate." On one occasion, according to several CIA officials, Sulzberger was given a briefing paper by the Agency which ran almost verbatim under the columnist's byline in the Times. "Cycame out and said, 'I'm thinking of doing a piece, can you give me some background?'" a CIA officer said. "We gave it to Cy as a background piece and Cy gave it to the printers and put his name on it." Sulzberger denies that any incident occurred. "A lot of baloney," he said.

[MORE]

Stewart Alsop's relationship with the Agency was much more extensive than Sulzberger's. One official who served at the highest levels in the CIA said flatly: "Stew Alsop was a CIA agent." An equally senior official refused to define Alsop's relationship with the Agency except to say it was a formal one. Other sources said that Alsop was particularly helpful to the Agency in discussions with, officials of foreign governments!asking questions to which the CIA was seeking answers, planting misinformation advantageous to American policy, assessing opportunities for CIA recruitment of well‑placed foreigners.

The New York Times. The Agency's relationship with the Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials. From 1950 to 1966, about ten CIA employees were provided Times cover under arrangements approved by the newspaper's late publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger. The cover arrangements were part of a general Times policy!set by Sulzberger!to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible.

When Newsweek waspurchased by the Washington Post Company, publisher Philip L. Graham was informed by Agency officials that the CIA occasionally used the magazine for cover purposes, according to CIA sources. "It was widely known that Phil Graham was somebody you could get help from," said a former deputy director of the Agency. "Frank Wisner dealt with him." Wisner, deputy director of the CIA from 1950 until shortly before his suicide in 1965, was the Agency's premier orchestrator of "black" operations, including many in which journalists were involved. Wisner liked to boast of his "mighty Wurlitzer," a wondrous propaganda instrument he built, and played, with help from the press.) Phil Graham was probably Wisner's closest friend. But Graharn, who committed suicide in 1963, apparently knew little of the specifics of any cover arrangements with Newsweek, CIA sources said.

The Agency played an intriguing numbers game with the committee. Those who prepared the material say it was physically impossible to produce all of the Agency's files on the use of journalists. "We gave them a broad, representative picture," said one agency official. "We never pretended it was a total description of the range of activities over 25 years, or of the number of journalists who have done things for us." A relatively small number of the summaries described the activities of foreign journalists!including those working as stringers for American publications. Those officials most knowledgeable about the subject say that a figure of 400 American journalists is on the low side of the actual number who maintained covert relationships and undertook clandestine tasks.

From the twenty‑five files he got back, according to Senate sources and CIA officials, an unavoidable conclusion emerged: that to a degree never widely suspected, the CIA in the 1950s, '60s and even early '70s had concentrated its relationships with journalists in the most prominent sectors of the American press corps, including four or five of the largest newspapers in the country, the broadcast networks and the two major newsweekly magazines. Despite the omission of names and affiliations from the twenty‑five detailed files each was between three and eleven inches thick), the information was usually sufficient to tentatively identify either the newsman, his affiliation or both!particularly because so many of them were prominent in the profession.

The Alarmist > , September 5, 2016 at 11:43 pm GMT

@Darin If moon landings were fake, why hadn't USSR or China revealed it? This would discredit USA before the whole world and won the Cold War in one stroke.

If USSR was also part of the plot, then whole Cold War was fake - and in this case there would be no need for the small Apollo fake.

Sometimes, stupid conspiracy theories are just stupid conspiracy theories - or smart fakes, designed to discredit conspirational thinking and distract them from the real conspiracies. Take your pick.

" then whole Cold War was fake."

Wow, now here's a conspiracy theory to sink one's teeth into. That would make a great Matrix/MI/Bourne sequel.

Pat Casey > , September 5, 2016 at 11:48 pm GMT

@Decius Kristol is a Straussian because he got a PhD in PolPhil from Harvard under Mansfield, who is a Straussian. There is no necessary connection between Strauss's thought any of the main tenets of Neo-conservatism. I've said, and you've all ignored, that Strauss attacked data-driven social science, which is the original hallmark of neo-conservatism. A later hallmark (which emerged after Strauss's death) was foreign policy hawkism. Unless you want to say that Strauss's opposition to the USSR makes him a neo-con, in which case every Cold War liberal going back to Truman was a neo-con. At which point the term has no meaning.

Strauss addresses scholars and potential philosophers. He has almost nothing to say about the transient issues of his age. Based on his comments on what other thinkers had to say about war (Thucydides above all) I believe we can infer that Strauss was generally in favor of preparedness and wariness but otherwise anti-war in the general sense. If we may analogize the Iraq War to the Sicilian Expedition we may say that Strauss probably would have opposed the former as imprudent, just as he tacitly endorses T's judgement that the latter was imprudent.

Strauss openly characterizes Machiavelli's approach to philosophy as a conspiracy, using that word, but does not say it about any other thinker. However, his teaching that philosophy is an inherently elite and very small enterprise may be fairly characterized as a "conspiracy." however, before modernity, the nature of the conspiracy was to protect the conspirators and the philosophic life, not a reform campaign. that's what it becomes under modernity, which Strauss opposes. One of Strauss's aims in writing was to revive the ancient idea of philosophy, its proper scope, and its proper relationship to society, which he believed modernity had corrupted.

It is unfortunate that Strauss became a bogey-man to so many who have no idea what he said or why. It happened rather recently and based on some very thin scholarship. Most of the thing people try to pin on him are things that I and my friends oppose too. We just know they don't trace to Strauss. In fact, the opposite is often true. Thanks for that response, gave me a better perspective of the man. I guess he did know who he was writing for. And I do think the way to write for history is to write history by disregarding topical preoccupations, except to damn them with faint praise. I have a master like that I always go back to on the topic I care about most.

And actually the one work of Strauss's I have picked up, years ago, is his Machiavelli; it's one of the thousands of books I've read! not though one of the few I finished. Brushing up just now by way of wikipedia, it doesn't look like Strauss staked his claim strong enough, if an original reading is what he was writing.

By the way, I know the Irishman John Toland was the first to publish on the esoteric-exoteric distinction, and coined the term pantheist on a related occasion when he named what new beast Spinoza had born. That was when an esoteric mode of writing was really needed, and you will hear The Ethics called esoteric or cryptic, but I know the work well, and it is no more esoteric than any work of genius that teaches you to read closely right at the start.

Is The Prince an esoteric work? Did it entertain a conspiracy with special readers? I suppose only if Machiavelli had individuals in mind who might wonder were they all the while in mind when he was writing about how to dispose of them. The point is, there's nothing profound about observing that, it's almost common sense if you take into account the first thing about Machiavelli's circumstance.

I won't be glib and write Strauss's method off as typically paranoid; it's creative, but bound to be too creative by half. I think it might lead readers to have more fun than's good for learning.

Wizard of Oz > , September 6, 2016 at 12:15 am GMT

@Decius Kristol is a Straussian because he got a PhD in PolPhil from Harvard under Mansfield, who is a Straussian. There is no necessary connection between Strauss's thought any of the main tenets of Neo-conservatism. I've said, and you've all ignored, that Strauss attacked data-driven social science, which is the original hallmark of neo-conservatism. A later hallmark (which emerged after Strauss's death) was foreign policy hawkism. Unless you want to say that Strauss's opposition to the USSR makes him a neo-con, in which case every Cold War liberal going back to Truman was a neo-con. At which point the term has no meaning.

Strauss addresses scholars and potential philosophers. He has almost nothing to say about the transient issues of his age. Based on his comments on what other thinkers had to say about war (Thucydides above all) I believe we can infer that Strauss was generally in favor of preparedness and wariness but otherwise anti-war in the general sense. If we may analogize the Iraq War to the Sicilian Expedition we may say that Strauss probably would have opposed the former as imprudent, just as he tacitly endorses T's judgement that the latter was imprudent.

Strauss openly characterizes Machiavelli's approach to philosophy as a conspiracy, using that word, but does not say it about any other thinker. However, his teaching that philosophy is an inherently elite and very small enterprise may be fairly characterized as a "conspiracy." however, before modernity, the nature of the conspiracy was to protect the conspirators and the philosophic life, not a reform campaign. that's what it becomes under modernity, which Strauss opposes. One of Strauss's aims in writing was to revive the ancient idea of philosophy, its proper scope, and its proper relationship to society, which he believed modernity had corrupted.

It is unfortunate that Strauss became a bogey-man to so many who have no idea what he said or why. It happened rather recently and based on some very thin scholarship. Most of the thing people try to pin on him are things that I and my friends oppose too. We just know they don't trace to Strauss. In fact, the opposite is often true. Fascinating. A reminder that one should five lives lived to 120 so one can lots of stories right .

Bill Jones > , September 6, 2016 at 1:04 am GMT

@Gene Tuttle I've often used the argument myself that conspiracies inevitably have short shelf lives in the US because it was so difficult for Americans to keep secrets. The article makes a useful point in suggesting that secret plots, even after being revealed, may nevertheless remain widely ignored. Ideology, group-think, pack journalism etc. are powerful forces, often subconsciously at work, preventing alternative theories from developing legs.

Though long an admirer of Karl Popper, I hadn't strongly associated him with attacks on conspiracy theories per se. As an American "outsider" living abroad most of my adult life, I've all too often encountered those who assumed my background alone explained an argument of mine that they didn't like. Popper had hit the nail on the head when he wrote about

"a widespread and dangerous fashion of our time...of not taking arguments seriously, and at their face value, at least tentatively, but of seeing in them nothing but a way in which deeper irrational motives and tendencies express themselves." It was "the attitude of looking at once for the unconscious motives and determinants in the social habitat of the thinker, instead of first examining the validity of the argument itself."
The powerful nazi and communist ideologies of his day assumed that one's " blood " or " class " precluded "correct" thinking. Those politically incorrect challengers to their own totalitarian weltanschauung were (to put it mildly) persecuted as conspirators. No doubt, as Ron Unz notes, Popper's personal experience "contributed the depth of his feelings" -- I would say skepticism – about conspiracy claims.

But the author of the " Open Society " had an open mind and I suspect he'd find the thesis reasonable that real conspiracies can both be uncovered and largely ignored because so many simply opt to ignore them. In such cases, evidence and "not taking arguments seriously" often reflects "intellectual groupieism," emotions, professional insecurities as well as venal collective interests. Nice try.

The Manhattan Project was successfully kept secret despite its scope and the fact that it consumed 17% of the electricity production of the entire US.

exiled off mainstreet > , September 6, 2016 at 1:14 am GMT

@Miro23 The British and Americans have been the victims of conspiracies (False Flag operations) for years.

For example:

The Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (headquarters of the British Mandate Government of Palestine) in which Zionist activists dressed as Arabs placed milk churns filled with explosives against the main columns of the building killing 91 people and injuring 44. Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu, attended a celebration to commemorate the event.

Operation Susannah (Lavon Affair) where Israeli operatives impersonating Arabs bombed British and American cinemas, libraries and educational centers in Egypt to destabilize the country and keep British troops committed to the Middle East.

Or June 8, 1967, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty with unmarked aircraft and torpedo boats. 34 men were killed and 171 wounded, with the attack in international waters following over nine hours of close surveillance. When the ship failed to sink, the Israeli government concocted an elaborate story to cover the crime. Original plan to blame the sinking with all lives lost on the Egyptians and draw the US into the war.

Or Israelis and U.S. Zionists appearing all over the most recent WTC 9/11 "Operation" with Israelis once again impersonating Arabs in a historic deception/terror action of a type that seems to carry a lot of kudos with old Israeli ex-terrorist Likudniks. Israeli agents were sent to film the historic day (as they later admitted on Israeli TV), with the celebrations including photos of themselves with a background of the burning towers where thousands of Americans were being incinerated.

Iraq was destroyed as a result of 9/11 but unfortunately for the conspirators, the momentum wasn't sufficient for a general war including Iran. Also the general war would have included the nuclear angle and justified the activation of a neo-con led Emergency Regime (dictatorship) in the US enforced with the newly printed Patriot Act and Homeland Security troops - or maybe that's just another Conspiracy Theory? The Israelis learned their false flag lesson from the Nazis, who used concentration camp inmates dressed as Polish soldiers as part of a phony attack on the frontier radio station "Sender Gleiwitz" a day or so before they invaded Poland.

exiled off mainstreet > , September 6, 2016 at 1:44 am GMT

@Darin Yes, why?

If you want to start a war, would you want to start with great defeat and loss of your fleet?

In the thirties, there were three cases of false flag attacks created to justify a war.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mukden_Incident
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleiwitz_incident
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelling_of_Mainila

In none of these cases the attacker actually killed thousands of his own soldiers, what would be the point? I didn't notice Gleiwitz was mentioned in another posting before I mentioned it. I tend go along with you and suspect incompetence rather than purpose was the cause of the Pearl Harbor disaster, though the incompetence may have included failure to adequately warn those on the ground at Pearl Harbor. Personally, I don't back the "truther" version of the twin towers because that would have required a broader conspiracy than I think could have succeeded. My guess is that the neighboring building was destroyed as part of the cleanup effort. I do think, however, that the authorities knew something was up, didn't believe it could ever succeed and used it as a sort of Reichstag Fire incident to brush aside constitutional democracy in the US. I also suspect that the Mossad knew more than they let on. My guess is that if Gore rather than Bush had been in power that history would have been far different. I suspect that the anthrax thing was more likely started by the yankee regime as a home-grown conspiracy.

Decius > , September 6, 2016 at 1:51 am GMT

@Pat Casey Thanks for that response, gave me a better perspective of the man. I guess he did know who he was writing for. And I do think the way to write for history is to write history by disregarding topical preoccupations, except to damn them with faint praise. I have a master like that I always go back to on the topic I care about most.

And actually the one work of Strauss's I have picked up, years ago, is his Machiavelli; it's one of the thousands of books I've read--- not though one of the few I finished. Brushing up just now by way of wikipedia, it doesn't look like Strauss staked his claim strong enough, if an original reading is what he was writing.

By the way, I know the Irishman John Toland was the first to publish on the esoteric-exoteric distinction, and coined the term pantheist on a related occasion when he named what new beast Spinoza had born. That was when an esoteric mode of writing was really needed, and you will hear The Ethics called esoteric or cryptic, but I know the work well, and it is no more esoteric than any work of genius that teaches you to read closely right at the start.

Is The Prince an esoteric work? Did it entertain a conspiracy with special readers? I suppose only if Machiavelli had individuals in mind who might wonder were they all the while in mind when he was writing about how to dispose of them. The point is, there's nothing profound about observing that, it's almost common sense if you take into account the first thing about Machiavelli's circumstance.

I won't be glib and write Strauss's method off as typically paranoid; it's creative, but bound to be too creative by half. I think it might lead readers to have more fun than's good for learning. First, if you are at all interested in esotericism, I cannot recommend highly enough Philosophy Between the Lines by Meltzer. The only thing critical I can say about this book is that, if one is really an expert in one of the thinkers that Meltzer treats, one will read the passages on that thinker that Meltzer cites and say "So what? I've known that for years. He's shed no new light." Which is true. But irrelevant to what he's trying to do. The book presents an unassailable case that philosophy has been esoteric since Plato. Esotericism long predates Spinoza and has been discussed since ancient times. Strauss simply revived a concept that had been forgotten. Toland (who I am not that familiar with) wrote before esotericism as it were "lapsed." Strauss says that Goethe and Lessing were the last to write this way. When Strauss revived knowledge of esotericism in the late 1930s with the first Xenophon article, he was considered nuts.

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.

I would recommend in addition Strauss's book on Spinoza and especially the much later preface that he wrote when he felt he finally understood Spinoza's esotericism.

Yes, the Prince (and the Discourses , and Art of War , and Florentine Histories ) are esoteric. It's too complex to argue in a comment thread. Suffice it to say for now that the outrageous "kill that dude" teachings serve and exoteric purpose.

anonymous > , Disclaimer September 6, 2016 at 2:18 am GMT

@exiled off mainstreet I didn't notice Gleiwitz was mentioned in another posting before I mentioned it. I tend go along with you and suspect incompetence rather than purpose was the cause of the Pearl Harbor disaster, though the incompetence may have included failure to adequately warn those on the ground at Pearl Harbor. Personally, I don't back the "truther" version of the twin towers because that would have required a broader conspiracy than I think could have succeeded. My guess is that the neighboring building was destroyed as part of the cleanup effort. I do think, however, that the authorities knew something was up, didn't believe it could ever succeed and used it as a sort of Reichstag Fire incident to brush aside constitutional democracy in the US. I also suspect that the Mossad knew more than they let on. My guess is that if Gore rather than Bush had been in power that history would have been far different. I suspect that the anthrax thing was more likely started by the yankee regime as a home-grown conspiracy.

My guess is that if Gore rather than Bush had been in power that history would have been far different.

Joe Lieberman was Gore's running mate. Lieberman had the Patriot Act on a shelf waiting for an opportunity !

While holding the chair of the "Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs," Lieberman introduced on October 11, 2001, Senate Bill 1534, to establish the US Department of Homeland Security.

Anticipating the bill's certain passage, Lieberman gave himself automatic chairmanship after he changed the name of his committee to, "The Senate Committee of Homeland Security and Government Affairs."

Since then, Lieberman has been the main force behind legislation such as:
-1- The USA Patriot Act
-2- Protect America Act
-3- National Emergency Centers Establishment Act
-4- The Enemy Belligerent Interrogation Act
-5- The Terrorist Expatriation Act, and the proposed
-6- Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act.

Rurik > , September 6, 2016 at 2:40 am GMT

Thank you Mr. Unz, for this excellent- and circumspect and salient- article.

His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.

I'll just add that from what I've glimmered, (I'm definitely no expert on Leo Strauss), Strauss' philosophy contained more than just a careful consideration of 'conspiracy theories' and how they should be handled, but that what he advocated was a small group of highly motivated elite zealots (Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, et al) who would not just use power to control the narrative vis-a-vis conspiracy theories, but more to the point, would be the men who would conspire to alter the realities that required a mocking of "conspiracy theories" in the first place.

From what I understand, one of his motivating themes was that his acolytes would come to understand that they shouldn't be guided by trite, pedestrian notions of morality when being the agents of change in the world. And that rather, they should use his teachings as a way to see the world as exceptional men, who would boldly do things others might shrink from, out of hackneyed notions of probity.

Perhaps the best quote I know of to describe Straussianism (as I understand it) was made by a man who wasn't one of his actual students, but who certainly would have been well acquainted and worked closely with others who were; Karl Rove, when speaking to an aid:

"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."

that quote for me, describes Straussianism to a T. And if so, certainty dovetails with what happened during the reign of Bush-the lesser. Especially with something as audacious as 911.

That at least, is how I've seen it

As for the control of the media, I think most of your readers are certainly aware of that particular conundrum and its consequences. It is literally impossible to be too cynical as regards our media and government and CIA and other shenanigans, IMHO.

Thanks again sir.

SolontoCroesus > , September 6, 2016 at 2:50 am GMT

@Decius First, if you are at all interested in esotericism, I cannot recommend highly enough Philosophy Between the Lines by Meltzer. The only thing critical I can say about this book is that, if one is really an expert in one of the thinkers that Meltzer treats, one will read the passages on that thinker that Meltzer cites and say "So what? I've known that for years. He's shed no new light." Which is true. But irrelevant to what he's trying to do. The book presents an unassailable case that philosophy has been esoteric since Plato. Esotericism long predates Spinoza and has been discussed since ancient times. Strauss simply revived a concept that had been forgotten. Toland (who I am not that familiar with) wrote before esotericism as it were "lapsed." Strauss says that Goethe and Lessing were the last to write this way. When Strauss revived knowledge of esotericism in the late 1930s with the first Xenophon article, he was considered nuts.

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.

I would recommend in addition Strauss's book on Spinoza and especially the much later preface that he wrote when he felt he finally understood Spinoza's esotericism.

Yes, the Prince (and the Discourses , and Art of War , and Florentine Histories ) are esoteric. It's too complex to argue in a comment thread. Suffice it to say for now that the outrageous "kill that dude" teachings serve and exoteric purpose.

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.

Nonsense.

Maurizio Viroli has dedicated his life to scholarship on Machiavelli. He reads and understands The Prince (and Machiavelli's other works and life) in the context in which they were written, taking account of the finest details of Machiavelli's human, psychological, and spiritual evolution in the course of career and writing. Viroli walks in Niccolo's footsteps; like Machiavelli, he "puts on the garments" of 15th century Florence, and Rome, and the French and Germanic cities where Machiavelli traveled to represent Florence.

Strauss may satisfy those inclined to engage in exercise in Talmudic argument, but Machiavelli was Italian, Florentine, and Roman; Dante was his constant companion; he was also conversant in Old and New Testament literature and, less extensively, with the relatively newly rediscovered Greek philosophers.

Strauss does not understand Machiavelli's thoughts on religion because he fails to separate Niccolo's Christian, Danteian spirituality from his disgust with the corruption of the Roman Catholic papacy and institutional church.

If you want intellectual showmanship and hair-splitting, Strauss on Machiavelli's your man. If you want to understand the soul of Niccolo Machiavelli and the complexities of political life in the Florence, Italy he lived in and loved, you can't do better than Maurizio Viroli.

Machiavelli and Republicanism

http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/history/history-ideas-and-intellectual-history/machiavelli-and-republicanism?format=PB

Redeeming the Prince

http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/681223

For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism

http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/0198293585.001.0001/acprof-9780198293583

(Strauss twists Machiavelli's love of country into an evil act because it is not universal. Yet, as one reviewer noted of Strauss, "I would make the case that the best defense of Strauss lies in an understanding of Aristotle and Israel." https://www.amazon.com/German-Stranger-Strauss-National-Socialism/dp/0739147382 )

CanSpeccy > , Website September 6, 2016 at 2:50 am GMT

@biz


you are too quick to conflate 9/11 and the moon landings
Actually, it was Unz himself who stated a while back that if we admit that one of them is possible, then all are possible, or something more or less to that effect.

In an case, the 9/11 controlled demolition / missile / flight 93 is in a hangar in Cleveland stuff is just as implausible as faking the moon landings. Too many people and organizations and countries needing to be in on it, etc. biz, you obviously missed it. Bill Jones, above , debunked your argument even before you made it.

Pat Casey > , September 6, 2016 at 3:31 am GMT

@Rurik Thank you Mr. Unz, for this excellent- and circumspect and salient- article.


His main problem with "conspiracy theories" was not that they were always false, but they might often be true, and therefore their spread was potentially disruptive to the smooth functioning of society. So as a matter of self-defense, elites needed to actively suppress or otherwise undercut the unauthorized investigation of suspected conspiracies.
I'll just add that from what I've glimmered, (I'm definitely no expert on Leo Strauss), Strauss' philosophy contained more than just a careful consideration of 'conspiracy theories' and how they should be handled, but that what he advocated was a small group of highly motivated elite zealots (Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, et al) who would not just use power to control the narrative vis-a-vis conspiracy theories, but more to the point, would be the men who would conspire to alter the realities that required a mocking of "conspiracy theories" in the first place.

From what I understand, one of his motivating themes was that his acolytes would come to understand that they shouldn't be guided by trite, pedestrian notions of morality when being the agents of change in the world. And that rather, they should use his teachings as a way to see the world as exceptional men, who would boldly do things others might shrink from, out of hackneyed notions of probity.

Perhaps the best quote I know of to describe Straussianism (as I understand it) was made by a man who wasn't one of his actual students, but who certainly would have been well acquainted and worked closely with others who were; Karl Rove, when speaking to an aid:

"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."

that quote for me, describes Straussianism to a T. And if so, certainty dovetails with what happened during the reign of Bush-the lesser. Especially with something as audacious as 911.

That at least, is how I've seen it...

As for the control of the media, I think most of your readers are certainly aware of that particular conundrum and its consequences. It is literally impossible to be too cynical as regards our media and government and CIA and other shenanigans, IMHO.

Thanks again sir. Nice job. You roped the quote that ran across my mind! I swear these things are in the air. How do you say, the ghost of Leo Strauss was moving men to do what you can't pin on his memory? Well you said it and that settles it. Thank goodness.

Astuteobservor II > , September 6, 2016 at 3:32 am GMT

after snowden, every conspiracy theory got a 99% boost in credibility. he confirmed the big bad boogeymen watching and spying on us all. nothing else is impossible, nothing. every theory is now possible, everything.

Decius > , September 6, 2016 at 3:55 am GMT

@Pat Casey Nice job. You roped the quote that ran across my mind--- I swear these things are in the air. How do you say, the ghost of Leo Strauss was moving men to do what you can't pin on his memory? Well you said it and that settles it. Thank goodness. Wait, a quote from Rove that doesn't even mention Strauss explains everything about Strauss? Are you serious?

I gather you just need a boogeyman and Strauss is the one you've selected. Or, more accurately, have allowed others to select for you.

Decius > , September 6, 2016 at 4:03 am GMT

@SolontoCroesus

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.
Nonsense. Maurizio Viroli has dedicated his life to scholarship on Machiavelli. He reads and understands The Prince (and Machiavelli's other works and life) in the context in which they were written, taking account of the finest details of Machiavelli's human, psychological, and spiritual evolution in the course of career and writing. Viroli walks in Niccolo's footsteps; like Machiavelli, he "puts on the garments" of 15th century Florence, and Rome, and the French and Germanic cities where Machiavelli traveled to represent Florence.

Strauss may satisfy those inclined to engage in exercise in Talmudic argument, but Machiavelli was Italian, Florentine, and Roman; Dante was his constant companion; he was also conversant in Old and New Testament literature and, less extensively, with the relatively newly rediscovered Greek philosophers.

Strauss does not understand Machiavelli's thoughts on religion because he fails to separate Niccolo's Christian, Danteian spirituality from his disgust with the corruption of the Roman Catholic papacy and institutional church. If you want intellectual showmanship and hair-splitting, Strauss on Machiavelli's your man. If you want to understand the soul of Niccolo Machiavelli and the complexities of political life in the Florence, Italy he lived in and loved, you can't do better than Maurizio Viroli.

(Strauss twists Machiavelli's love of country into an evil act because it is not universal. Yet, as one reviewer noted of Strauss, "I would make the case that the best defense of Strauss lies in an understanding of Aristotle and Israel." https://www.amazon.com/German-Stranger-Strauss-National-Socialism/dp/0739147382 ) First, you are wrong that Strauss thinks Machiavelli's patriotism is in itself evil. Strauss says the exact opposite at several points. But he also says that recourse to patriotism does not in itself excuse Machiavelli's recommendations to do evil. Strauss himself comes up with the most persuasive justifications (which are higher than excuses) for Machiavelli's evil sayings. But to understand Strauss's arguments, you would have to read the book and spend a lot of time with it because it is hard.

Viroli is a scholar I respect for a lot of reasons, but not for philosophic depth. The argument about "context" diminishes Machiavelli (and all great thinkers) by presupposing that their thought is time-bound or that they could not think past the horizon of their time. The greatest minds transcend their times and even create new times. There aren't very many such, but Nick was one.

pyrrhus > , September 6, 2016 at 5:37 am GMT

The CIA's Project Mockingbird had all the network news anchors using the words "conspiracy theory" like the brainless parrots that they were. And Americans remain well brainwashed, although it's actually hard to get anything significant done without a "conspiracy."

Pat Casey > , September 6, 2016 at 5:37 am GMT

@Decius First, if you are at all interested in esotericism, I cannot recommend highly enough Philosophy Between the Lines by Meltzer. The only thing critical I can say about this book is that, if one is really an expert in one of the thinkers that Meltzer treats, one will read the passages on that thinker that Meltzer cites and say "So what? I've known that for years. He's shed no new light." Which is true. But irrelevant to what he's trying to do. The book presents an unassailable case that philosophy has been esoteric since Plato. Esotericism long predates Spinoza and has been discussed since ancient times. Strauss simply revived a concept that had been forgotten. Toland (who I am not that familiar with) wrote before esotericism as it were "lapsed." Strauss says that Goethe and Lessing were the last to write this way. When Strauss revived knowledge of esotericism in the late 1930s with the first Xenophon article, he was considered nuts.

Strauss's Machiavelli book is my favorite and I think his best. It is totally "original" in the sense that he took a wildly new path from all previous scholarship. It has basically defined the debate to this day. All subsequent scholarship either follows him, opposes him, or tries to ignore him.

I would recommend in addition Strauss's book on Spinoza and especially the much later preface that he wrote when he felt he finally understood Spinoza's esotericism.

Yes, the Prince (and the Discourses , and Art of War , and Florentine Histories ) are esoteric. It's too complex to argue in a comment thread. Suffice it to say for now that the outrageous "kill that dude" teachings serve and exoteric purpose. Steve weighed in on this a while back and made the point that what we have, what has been handed down to us, that probably is the esoteric stuff. I don't think he even mentioned in the piece how interesting it is that what we have of Aristotle seem to be lecture notes. I suspect that is just because: Aristotle taught Alexander!the teacher knew no felt need to live on as a writer like Plato did. One thing we can say about those lecture notes, we can pretty well imagine they were not written in his prime, hence we're still learning how much good stuff is there; if you know your stuff, you know as late as the late Richard Taylor that the philosopher was yet outdoing us moderns in a point he makes like an afterthought but could not matter more. But so anyways, what we have is the distilled Aristotle probably from his golden years; if we also had it in any other form, it might read comparatively mercilessly for being too esoteric. As we know him it is impossible to imagine Aristotle writing dialogues, debating other voices ; one need not name rivals when one has none and he was the King's philosopher. What you can't say is no he was being disorganized on purpose to be esoteric, right?

But take Plato. I assume if you could read ancient Greek as well as Plato could, you would find many a double meaning at crucial turns but I really have no idea save the gut instinct that the man was an inspired writer when he wrote which is to say a poet. And what a poet does is let the muse speak and summon such nice lines as "The Beauty is not the Madness/ Though my errors and wrecks lie about me/and I am not a demigod, I cannot make it cohere." The errors that lie about him strewn about him as it were, they lie about how good he was when he was at his best. A tongue like a double-bladed sword says the Bible. I imagine some of Ezra Pound's radio rants need a second listen with less tense nerves; they say the Italians suspected he was transmitting code. Anyways. Imagine how much can be said for the stories we tell ourselves .how many former selves does any one wind up with? you have to ask your self.

Scholasticism, well you could almost say that's all about no secret handshake shit. Make sure them key words get nailed down and no tricks or to the tower you got cause to go.

Spinoza, oh we know exactly where his mystery lies. Edwin Curley said:

"In responding to this objection, I think I had best begin by confessing candidly that in spite of many years of study, I still do not feel that I understand this part of the Ethics at all adequately. I feel the freedom to confess that, of course, because I also believe that no one else understands it adequately either"

What objection? The one that says, nothing of the mind should remain eternal after the body has been destroyed if there is only one substance! We could have gone to grad school on this paper is what the man said, but first pay respects to what that meant to him personally, cause he probably escaped with his life when he did, but he knew his disciples would keep his mind alive. But seriously I should touch this up and send it somewhere:

It must be said that the elegance of this deduction is striking. God's idea of the human body corresponds with the mind's idea of the human body. The crucial move that turns the correspondence into a startling claim is that God's idea expresses the essence of the body, while the mind's idea expresses the essence of the mind. Through the initial correspondence, God's eternal essence expressed as an idea of the body adopts the essence of the mind. Thus, when the body dies, something of the essence of the mind remains eternal. With that, Spinoza culminates his masterpiece.

" Since what is conceived, with a certain eternal necessity, through God's essence itself, is nevertheless something, this something that pertains to the essence of the mind will necessarily be eternal." Besides being an Eternalist, Spinoza is also an Idealist. It fits then that he should leave something of the mind remaining eternally, rather than what a strict Eternalist would leave, that is, something of the mind and body. But recall that Spinoza's something that pertains to the essence of the mind is the idea of the body . In the final analysis, his system coheres.

That's terribly poignant too, because it shows he went back to his roots in the end: "The soul will blame the body for its actions."

Anyways I've spent myself and who wants to talk about Nietzsche, really. That guy was an antenna for a frequency that was broadcasting Noh drama directly into his soul while he wrote his Zarathustra, and I don't believe he ever came back from that!he had all the inside jokes he could tell to himself in perpetuity. But I gotta say, one time I ran into this guys blog who had let Nietzsche drive him insane, and he had comprehensively worked out to an absolute end the thesis his whole philosophy was to understand that a formal Matriarchy was what's good and here's why that's the necessity. If that is true its too hysterical to ever argue with no hint of mania. So I felt bad for the guy.

But what the other guy said rings truest to me. And I'd just add that Paul Gottfried's observation that Strauss winds up treating a text a lot like the Deconstructions do does not entirely fail Strauss for me. The fundamental truth to them is something every one of us around can understand: these words we type, the ain't alive on quick lips, which is what gets some of us into more trouble than others.

I definitely check out the book, but one must be cautious when resurrecting phantoms.

Pat Casey > , September 6, 2016 at 6:18 am GMT

@Decius Wait, a quote from Rove that doesn't even mention Strauss explains everything about Strauss? Are you serious?

I gather you just need a boogeyman and Strauss is the one you've selected. Or, more accurately, have allowed others to select for you. Don't miss my longer reply, in the cue, plus this one, but put the boogeyman business to bed and put your defenses down . I can't say it any other way: I think the spirit of Leo Strauss may well have moved men to move mountains and mountains otherwise called federal bureaucracies and divisions of armies. It might explain not "everything" about Strauss but indeed whats essential about Strauss, which is that you are right, I suspect he was special. Step back for a second and forget that those Bush bastards were bastards and just estimate the nerve it takes to pull off 9/11 and then go into Afghanistan and Iraq. We can all at least agree, that's somthin.

5371 > , September 6, 2016 at 6:20 am GMT

@Decius At any rate it's sort of absurd to watch you people chase your tails. All that you "know" or think you know is that Strauss is bad. But Schmitt is good. But Strauss is derivative of Schmitt. Doesn't that make Strauss good, or Schmitt bad?

Schmitt is famous for arguing in favor of the essential particularity of politics--i.e., against alleged neocon universalism. So if Strauss is derivative of Schmitt, how can he be a neocon universalist?

Strauss in fact agrees with Schmitt on the essential particularity of politics and says so, but finds a deeper source, with deeper arguments, in Plato. Schmitt admitted that his own attempt to fortify his particularism was build on the quick-sandy foundation of modern rationalism, which Strauss taught him to see through. When you can pin Strauss down to a definite meaning, it is false, banal or both. He is usually too obfuscatory to be pinned down. Schmitt is easy to understand and shows you true things you had not thought of before.

dismasdolben > , September 6, 2016 at 6:23 am GMT

My favourite historical conspiracy is the so-called "Gunpowder Plot," which is still, despite all of the evidence that has been discovered in more modern times, represented in history books, as being exclusively the work of disgruntled Catholic noblemen and their Jesuit confessors. It was actually a government projection of the Cecil ministry, completely riddled with moles who nurtured it along, right up until the point when it could be revealed to the public for maximum political effect, and to the King, so that he would become more terrorified, and, thus, more dependent upon the Cecils and their "constitutionalist" Puritan proteges. The "evidence" has, indeed, always been in plain sight, and it has been dealt with in numerous books, such as The Gunpowder Plot, Faith and Treason , by Antonia Fraser, and another book, entitled "God's Secret Agents,' but, still, to this day, the myth of conspiring priests is still propagated in atavistic anti-Catholic British history.

Wizard of Oz > , September 6, 2016 at 7:42 am GMT

@Miro23 Being smart has nothing to do with it.

For example the government says that WTC7 completely collapsed in 7 seconds due to fire. You don't need to be smart to see something is wrong here (hint: most of the structural pillars were untouched by fire). I see the biggest problem about a conspiratorial explanation for the WTC 7 collapse is motive. How does it make sense for those who wanted the big splash that hitting buildings 1 and 2 would give? The other major difficulty is the video footage of fires burning all day which had to have heated the steel and therefore potentially weakened it to a critical point. Where's the mystery?

Old fogey > , September 6, 2016 at 8:28 am GMT

@Laurel The best strategy is to foster implausible conspiracy theories to create a cloud of disinformation. This technique was used very effectively after 9/11, such that it's very hard to discuss a coverup without being labeled a truther. Thank you for inserting the word "truther" into the conversation. It has always fascinated me that someone searching for the truth about a political issue is now automatically considered a conspiracy theorist.

Moi > , September 6, 2016 at 1:07 pm GMT

@Rehmat There are more so-called "conspiracy theories" claimed by the US government, CIA, and organized Jewry than the Jews may have been killed by the Nazis. The "conspiracy theorists" like the "terrorists" are chosen by the Zionist-controlled mainstream media.

Like the September 11, 2001 attacks, the lie that Iran's president Ahmadinejad called, WIPE ISRAEL OFF THE MAP, is still kept alive by the Organized Jewry even though Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor admitted that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said Iran wanted to "wipe Israel off the face of the map" in an interview with Al Jazeera in April 2012.

American investigative writer and author, Robert Parry, claimed on September 19, 2009 that Ahmadinejad never denied Holocaust. He just challenged Israel and the western powers to allow an open debate to find the truth behind the Zionist Holy Cow, "Six Million Died".

In reality, the only country that has been 'wiped off the map' is the 5,000-year-old Palestine by Europe's unwanted Jews.

Iran's current president Dr. Hassan Rouhani like Dr. Ahmadinejad, is also blamed for denying the Zionist Holy Holocaust as parroted by Wiesel, which he never did, saying it's up to historians to decide who's lying.

https://rehmat1.com/2013/09/28/holocaust-the-word-rouhani-never-uttered/ If the Zionists can lie so much about Israeli history (e.g. The Arabs encouraged Palestinians to flee, that the Arabs were about to attack Israel in 1967, land without a people for a people without a land, etc.), one can only wonder about the official holocaust narrative of 6M dead, gas chambers, etc.).

I've not read Elie Weisel's book Night, but I understand that no where does he mention gas chambers in Auschwitz .

[Sep 21, 2017] Hysteria in America -- Congress Filled With Totalitarians Who Oppose

Notable quotes:
"... Indeed, American legislators have published a bill that could potentially block Russian broadcasters from being shown in the US. It could allow US content providers to break their contracts, leaving Russian channels without any legal recourse. ..."
"... "prohibit multichannel video programming distributors from being required to carry certain video content that is owned or controlled by the Government of the Russian Federation" ..."
"... Why the focus on Russia, in what's supposed to be an annual defense spending bill? ..."
"... As we mentioned, various foreign governments fund TV channels in America, but only Russia gets a mention in this bill. Is that a case of double-standards? Should the attention just solely be on Russia? ..."
"... Does it look like this measure has been deliberately buried in a huge defense bill to avoid scrutiny? Or do you expect debate on this? ..."
"... 'Investigate Russia' ..."
"... Reprinted with permission from RT . ..."
Sep 21, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

'Free Market of Ideas' by RT

There are members of Congress who don't want anyone on TV saying America's foreign policy is a disaster and it costs a fortune, Daniel McAdams, executive director, Ron Paul Institute, told RT.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2018, which passed the US Senate earlier this week, carries some added provisions that have little in common with the military.

Indeed, American legislators have published a bill that could potentially block Russian broadcasters from being shown in the US. It could allow US content providers to break their contracts, leaving Russian channels without any legal recourse.

The plan is buried inside a tiny amendment of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The part about Russia is summarized in just a few lines, between details on funding of the US military.

Amendment No 1096 , which aims to "prohibit multichannel video programming distributors from being required to carry certain video content that is owned or controlled by the Government of the Russian Federation" .

RT: Why the focus on Russia, in what's supposed to be an annual defense spending bill?

Daniel McAdams: There is an obsession on Capitol Hill and within the mainstream media with RT because RT is effective and RT is watched. But also, and this is very important because RT carries perspectives that are not available in the mainstream media. Commentators on RT that I know would say the same thing that they say on RT if they were invited by any of the mainstream media, but they won't. The matter of fact is that John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the people who were behind this amendment, the Atlantic Council and the others are trying to silence RT. They are the totalitarians, they are the enemies of free speech; they're the enemies of the First Amendment; they don't want anyone coming on television saying that America's foreign policy is a disaster; it is broken; it is making us more vulnerable to attack, and it's costing a fortune. It cannot stand competition in the area of ideas.

RT: As we mentioned, various foreign governments fund TV channels in America, but only Russia gets a mention in this bill. Is that a case of double-standards? Should the attention just solely be on Russia?

DM: The attention should be on none of these stations. It should be viewer beware. If you're watching RT and you know that it is funded, or its funding comes from the Russian government, you take that into consideration just as any intelligent person would do. When I watch France 24, when I watch the BBC, I know that that takes the perspectives of the British government into consideration, because it is funded by that.

This is a free market of ideas; this is what this is all about. But the people on Capitol Hill are again totalitarians – they don't want a free market in ideas. They want to control the debate. They don't want Americans to wake up and see that the foreign policy that they are pushing is resulting in a charred Earth and a disaster that is coming home to roost.

RT: Does it look like this measure has been deliberately buried in a huge defense bill to avoid scrutiny? Or do you expect debate on this?

DM: This is how it's done, absolutely. I have read a million defense spending bills in my 15 years on the Hill. This is called planting a seed – you plant this kernel, and it starts to grow. If someone objects, later on, you can say – this is already passed in the defense bill; you've already voted on this; this is already part of the law; this is just suggesting, clarifying, or going further. This is how they do things: you bury it in a huge bill like this; you plant a seed and you watch it grow.

I don't know the exact language in the bill; I am sure Russia is not only the flavor of the month, it is the flavor of the year. There is the 'Investigate Russia' committee , where a bunch of Hollywood liberals got together with a bunch of neocons and are finding reds under our beds. There is a hysteria going on in America. I still would like to believe that the average American thinks it's absolutely nuts; I hope it stays that way. Hopefully, this will blow over at some point, and not blow up .

Hollywood was once on the receiving end of McCarthyism in the 50s, and now it looks like they want to dish out McCarthyism on everyone else.

Reprinted with permission from RT .


Related

[Sep 20, 2017] Neoliberalism has had its day. So what happens next by Martin Jacques

Notable quotes:
"... Capital in the Twenty-First Century ..."
Sep 20, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

he western financial crisis of 2007-8 was the worst since 1931, yet its immediate repercussions were surprisingly modest. The crisis challenged the foundation stones of the long-dominant neoliberal ideology but it seemed to emerge largely unscathed. The banks were bailed out; hardly any bankers on either side of the Atlantic were prosecuted for their crimes; and the price of their behaviour was duly paid by the taxpayer. Subsequent economic policy, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, has relied overwhelmingly on monetary policy, especially quantitative easing. It has failed. The western economy has stagnated and is now approaching its lost decade, with no end in sight.

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After almost nine years, we are finally beginning to reap the political whirlwind of the financial crisis. But how did neoliberalism manage to survive virtually unscathed for so long? Although it failed the test of the real world, bequeathing the worst economic disaster for seven decades, politically and intellectually it remained the only show in town. Parties of the right, centre and left had all bought into its philosophy, New Labour a classic in point. They knew no other way of thinking or doing: it had become the common sense. It was, as Antonio Gramsci put it, hegemonic. But that hegemony cannot and will not survive the test of the real world.

ss="rich-link tone-comment--item "> Third parties aren't 'spoilers'. They're at the cutting edge of democracy Kevin Zeese Read more

The first inkling of the wider political consequences was evident in the turn in public opinion against the banks, bankers and business leaders. For decades, they could do no wrong: they were feted as the role models of our age, the default troubleshooters of choice in education, health and seemingly everything else. Now, though, their star was in steep descent, along with that of the political class. The effect of the financial crisis was to undermine faith and trust in the competence of the governing elites. It marked the beginnings of a wider political crisis.

But the causes of this political crisis, glaringly evident on both sides of the Atlantic, are much deeper than simply the financial crisis and the virtually stillborn recovery of the last decade. They go to the heart of the neoliberal project that dates from the late 70s and the political rise of Reagan and Thatcher, and embraced at its core the idea of a global free market in goods, services and capital. The depression-era system of bank regulation was dismantled, in the US in the 1990s and in Britain in 1986, thereby creating the conditions for the 2008 crisis. Equality was scorned, the idea of trickle-down economics lauded, government condemned as a fetter on the market and duly downsized, immigration encouraged, regulation cut to a minimum, taxes reduced and a blind eye turned to corporate evasion.

It should be noted that, by historical standards, the neoliberal era has not had a particularly good track record. The most dynamic period of postwar western growth was that between the end of the war and the early 70s, the era of welfare capitalism and Keynesianism, when the growth rate was double that of the neoliberal period from 1980 to the present.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, pictured in 1984, ushered in the era of neoliberalism. Photograph: Bettmann Archive

But by far the most disastrous feature of the neoliberal period has been the huge growth in inequality. Until very recently, this had been virtually ignored. With extraordinary speed, however, it has emerged as one of, if not the most important political issue on both sides of the Atlantic, most dramatically in the US. It is, bar none, the issue that is driving the political discontent that is now engulfing the west. Given the statistical evidence, it is puzzling, shocking even, that it has been disregarded for so long; the explanation can only lie in the sheer extent of the hegemony of neoliberalism and its values.

But now reality has upset the doctrinal apple cart. In the period 1948-1972, every section of the American population experienced very similar and sizable increases in their standard of living; between 1972-2013, the bottom 10% experienced falling real income while the top 10% did far better than everyone else. In the US, the median real income for full-time male workers is now lower than it was four decades ago: the income of the bottom 90% of the population has stagnated for over 30 years .

A not so dissimilar picture is true of the UK. And the problem has grown more serious since the financial crisis. On average, between 65-70% of households in 25 high-income economies experienced stagnant or falling real incomes between 2005 and 2014.

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Large sections of the population in both the US and the UK are now in revolt against their lot

The reasons are not difficult to explain. The hyper-globalisation era has been systematically stacked in favour of capital against labour: international trading agreements, drawn up in great secrecy, with business on the inside and the unions and citizens excluded, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being but the latest examples; the politico-legal attack on the unions; the encouragement of large-scale immigration in both the US and Europe that helped to undermine the bargaining power of the domestic workforce; and the failure to retrain displaced workers in any meaningful way.

As Thomas Piketty has shown, in the absence of countervailing pressures, capitalism naturally gravitates towards increasing inequality. In the period between 1945 and the late 70s, Cold War competition was arguably the biggest such constraint. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there have been none. As the popular backlash grows increasingly irresistible, however, such a winner-takes-all regime becomes politically unsustainable.

Large sections of the population in both the US and the UK are now in revolt against their lot, as graphically illustrated by the support for Trump and Sanders in the US and the Brexit vote in the UK. This popular revolt is often described, in a somewhat denigratory and dismissive fashion, as populism. Or, as Francis Fukuyama writes in a recent excellent essay in Foreign Affairs : "'Populism' is the label that political elites attach to policies supported by ordinary citizens that they don't like." Populism is a movement against the status quo. It represents the beginnings of something new, though it is generally much clearer about what it is against than what it is for. It can be progressive or reactionary, but more usually both.

Brexit is a classic example of such populism. It has overturned a fundamental cornerstone of UK policy since the early 1970s. Though ostensibly about Europe, it was in fact about much more: a cri de coeur from those who feel they have lost out and been left behind, whose living standards have stagnated or worse since the 1980s, who feel dislocated by large-scale immigration over which they have no control and who face an increasingly insecure and casualised labour market. Their revolt has paralysed the governing elite, already claimed one prime minister, and left the latest one fumbling around in the dark looking for divine inspiration.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Brexit was the marker of a working-class revolt. Photograph: Mark Thomas/Alamy

The wave of populism marks the return of class as a central agency in politics, both in the UK and the US. This is particularly remarkable in the US. For many decades, the idea of the "working class" was marginal to American political discourse. Most Americans described themselves as middle class, a reflection of the aspirational pulse at the heart of American society. According to a Gallup poll, in 2000 only 33% of Americans called themselves working class; by 2015 the figure was 48%, almost half the population.

Brexit, too, was primarily a working-class revolt. Hitherto, on both sides of the Atlantic, the agency of class has been in retreat in the face of the emergence of a new range of identities and issues from gender and race to sexual orientation and the environment. The return of class, because of its sheer reach, has the potential, like no other issue, to redefine the political landscape.

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The working class belongs to no one: its orientation, far from predetermined, is a function of politics

The re-emergence of class should not be confused with the labour movement. They are not synonymous: this is obvious in the US and increasingly the case in the UK. Indeed, over the last half-century, there has been a growing separation between the two in Britain. The re-emergence of the working class as a political voice in Britain, most notably in the Brexit vote, can best be described as an inchoate expression of resentment and protest, with only a very weak sense of belonging to the labour movement.

Indeed, Ukip has been as important – in the form of immigration and Europe – in shaping its current attitudes as the Labour party. In the United States, both Trump and Sanders have given expression to the working-class revolt, the latter almost as much as the former. The working class belongs to no one: its orientation, far from predetermined, as the left liked to think, is a function of politics.

The neoliberal era is being undermined from two directions. First, if its record of economic growth has never been particularly strong, it is now dismal. Europe is barely larger than it was on the eve of the financial crisis in 2007; the United States has done better but even its growth has been anaemic. Economists such as Larry Summers believe that the prospect for the future is most likely one of secular stagnation .

Worse, because the recovery has been so weak and fragile, there is a widespread belief that another financial crisis may well beckon. In other words, the neoliberal era has delivered the west back into the kind of crisis-ridden world that we last experienced in the 1930s. With this background, it is hardly surprising that a majority in the west now believe their children will be worse off than they were. Second, those who have lost out in the neoliberal era are no longer prepared to acquiesce in their fate – they are increasingly in open revolt. We are witnessing the end of the neoliberal era. It is not dead, but it is in its early death throes, just as the social-democratic era was during the 1970s.

A sure sign of the declining influence of neoliberalism is the rising chorus of intellectual voices raised against it. From the mid-70s through the 80s, the economic debate was increasingly dominated by monetarists and free marketeers. But since the western financial crisis, the centre of gravity of the intellectual debate has shifted profoundly. This is most obvious in the United States, with economists such as Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Dani Rodrik and Jeffrey Sachs becoming increasingly influential. Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century has been a massive seller. His work and that of Tony Atkinson and Angus Deaton have pushed the question of the inequality to the top of the political agenda. In the UK, Ha-Joon Chang , for long isolated within the economics profession, has gained a following far greater than those who think economics is a branch of mathematics.

;'Virtually no one foresaw the triumph of Jeremy Corbyn', pictured at rally in north London last week. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Meanwhile, some of those who were previously strong advocates of a neoliberal approach, such as Larry Summers and the Financial Times 's Martin Wolf, have become extremely critical. The wind is in the sails of the critics of neoliberalism; the neoliberals and monetarists are in retreat. In the UK, the media and political worlds are well behind the curve. Few recognise that we are at the end of an era. Old attitudes and assumptions still predominate, whether on the BBC's Today programme, in the rightwing press or the parliamentary Labour party.

Following Ed Miliband's resignation as Labour leader, virtually no one foresaw the triumph of Jeremy Corbyn in the subsequent leadership election. The assumption had been more of the same, a Blairite or a halfway house like Miliband, certainly not anyone like Corbyn. But the zeitgeist had changed. The membership, especially the young who had joined the party on an unprecedented scale, wanted a complete break with New Labour. One of the reasons why the left has failed to emerge as the leader of the new mood of working-class disillusionment is that most social democratic parties became, in varying degrees, disciples of neoliberalism and uber-globalisation. The most extreme forms of this phenomenon were New Labour and the Democrats, who in the late 90s and 00s became its advance guard, personified by Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, triangulation and the third way.

But as David Marquand observed in a review for the New Statesman , what is the point of a social democratic party if it doesn't represent the less fortunate, the underprivileged and the losers? New Labour deserted those who needed them, who historically they were supposed to represent. Is it surprising that large sections have now deserted the party who deserted them? Blair, in his reincarnation as a money-obsessed consultant to a shady bunch of presidents and dictators, is a fitting testament to the demise of New Labour.

The rival contenders – Burnham, Cooper and Kendall – represented continuity. They were swept away by Corbyn, who won nearly 60% of the votes. New Labour was over, as dead as Monty Python's parrot. Few grasped the meaning of what had happened. A Guardian leader welcomed the surge in membership and then, lo and behold, urged support for Yvette Cooper, the very antithesis of the reason for the enthusiasm. The PLP refused to accept the result and ever since has tried with might and main to remove Corbyn.

Just as the Labour party took far too long to come to terms with the rise of Thatcherism and the birth of a new era at the end of the 70s, now it could not grasp that the Thatcherite paradigm, which they eventually came to embrace in the form of New Labour, had finally run its course. Labour, like everyone else, is obliged to think anew. The membership in their antipathy to New Labour turned to someone who had never accepted the latter, who was the polar opposite in almost every respect of Blair, and embodying an authenticity and decency which Blair patently did not.

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Labour may be in intensive care, but the condition of the Conservatives is not a great deal better

Corbyn is not a product of the new times, he is a throwback to the late 70s and early 80s. That is both his strength and also his weakness. He is uncontaminated by the New Labour legacy because he has never accepted it. But nor, it would seem, does he understand the nature of the new era. The danger is that he is possessed of feet of clay in what is a highly fluid and unpredictable political environment, devoid of any certainties of almost any kind, in which Labour finds itself dangerously divided and weakened.

Labour may be in intensive care, but the condition of the Conservatives is not a great deal better. David Cameron was guilty of a huge and irresponsible miscalculation over Brexit. He was forced to resign in the most ignominious of circumstances. The party is hopelessly divided. It has no idea in which direction to move after Brexit. The Brexiters painted an optimistic picture of turning away from the declining European market and embracing the expanding markets of the world, albeit barely mentioning by name which countries it had in mind. It looks as if the new prime minister may have an anachronistic hostility towards China and a willingness to undo the good work of George Osborne. If the government turns its back on China, by far the fastest growing market in the world, where are they going to turn?

Brexit has left the country fragmented and deeply divided, with the very real prospect that Scotland might choose independence. Meanwhile, the Conservatives seem to have little understanding that the neoliberal era is in its death throes.

'Put America first': Donald Trump in Cleveland last month. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Dramatic as events have been in the UK, they cannot compare with those in the United States. Almost from nowhere, Donald Trump rose to capture the Republican nomination and confound virtually all the pundits and not least his own party. His message was straightforwardly anti-globalisation. He believes that the interests of the working class have been sacrificed in favour of the big corporations that have been encouraged to invest around the world and thereby deprive American workers of their jobs. Further, he argues that large-scale immigration has weakened the bargaining power of American workers and served to lower their wages.

He proposes that US corporations should be required to invest their cash reserves in the US. He believes that the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) has had the effect of exporting American jobs to Mexico. On similar grounds, he is opposed to the TPP and the TTIP. And he also accuses China of stealing American jobs, threatening to impose a 45% tariff on Chinese imports.

To globalisation Trump counterposes economic nationalism: "Put America first". His appeal, above all, is to the white working class who, until Trump's (and Bernie Sander's) arrival on the political scene, had been ignored and largely unrepresented since the 1980s. Given that their wages have been falling for most of the last 40 years, it is extraordinary how their interests have been neglected by the political class. Increasingly, they have voted Republican, but the Republicans have long been captured by the super-rich and Wall Street, whose interests, as hyper-globalisers, have run directly counter to those of the white working class. With the arrival of Trump they finally found a representative: they won Trump the Republican nomination.

The economic nationalist argument has also been vigorously pursued by Bernie Sanders , who ran Hillary Clinton extremely close for the Democratic nomination and would probably have won but for more than 700 so-called super-delegates, who were effectively chosen by the Democratic machine and overwhelmingly supported Clinton. As in the case of the Republicans, the Democrats have long supported a neoliberal, pro-globalisation strategy, notwithstanding the concerns of its trade union base. Both the Republicans and the Democrats now find themselves deeply polarised between the pro- and anti-globalisers, an entirely new development not witnessed since the shift towards neoliberalism under Reagan almost 40 years ago.

Another plank of Trump's nationalist appeal – "Make America great again" – is his position on foreign policy. He believes that America's pursuit of great power status has squandered the nation's resources. He argues that the country's alliance system is unfair, with America bearing most of the cost and its allies contributing far too little. He points to Japan and South Korea, and Nato's European members as prime examples.He seeks to rebalance these relationships and, failing that, to exit from them.

As a country in decline, he argues that America can no longer afford to carry this kind of financial burden. Rather than putting the world to rights, he believes the money should be invested at home, pointing to the dilapidated state of America's infrastructure. Trump's position represents a major critique of America as the world's hegemon. His arguments mark a radical break with the neoliberal, hyper-globalisation ideology that has reigned since the early 1980s and with the foreign policy orthodoxy of most of the postwar period. These arguments must be taken seriously. They should not be lightly dismissed just because of their authorship. But Trump is no man of the left. He is a populist of the right. He has launched a racist and xenophobic attack on Muslims and on Mexicans. Trump's appeal is to a white working class that feels it has been cheated by the big corporations, undermined by Hispanic immigration, and often resentful towards African-Americans who for long too many have viewed as their inferior.

A Trump America would mark a descent into authoritarianism characterised by abuse, scapegoating, discrimination, racism, arbitrariness and violence; America would become a deeply polarised and divided society. His threat to impose 45% tariffs on China , if implemented, would certainly provoke retaliation by the Chinese and herald the beginnings of a new era of protectionism.

Trump may well lose the presidential election just as Sanders failed in his bid for the Democrat nomination. But this does not mean that the forces opposed to hyper-globalisation – unrestricted immigration, TPP and TTIP, the free movement of capital and much else – will have lost the argument and are set to decline. In little more than 12 months, Trump and Sanders have transformed the nature and terms of the argument. Far from being on the wane, the arguments of the critics of hyper-globalisation are steadily gaining ground. Roughly two-thirds of Americans agree that "we should not think so much in international terms but concentrate more on our own national problems". And, above all else, what will continue to drive opposition to the hyper-globalisers is inequality.

[Sep 18, 2017] The NYT's Yellow Journalism on Russia by Rober Parry

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times is prepping the American people for what could become World War III. The daily message is that you must learn to hate Russia and its President Vladimir Putin so much that, first, you should support vast new spending on America's Military-Industrial Complex and, second, you'll be ginned up for nuclear war if it comes to that. ..."
"... At this stage, the Times doesn't even try for a cosmetic appearance of objective journalism. Look at how the Times has twisted the history of the Ukraine crisis, treating it simply as a case of "Russian aggression" or a "Russian invasion." The Times routinely ignores what actually happened in Ukraine in late 2013 and early 2014 when the U.S. government aided and abetted a violent coup that overthrew Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych after he had been demonized in the Western media. ..."
"... The Times and much of the U.S. mainstream media refuses even to acknowledge that there is another side to the Ukraine story. Anyone who mentions this reality is deemed a "Kremlin stooge" in much the same way that people who questioned the mainstream certainty about Iraq's WMD in 2002-03 were called "Saddam apologists." ..."
"... Many liberals came to view the dubious claims of Russian "meddling" in the 2016 election as the golden ticket to remove Trump from the White House. So, amid that frenzy, all standards of proof were jettisoned to make Russia-gate the new Watergate. ..."
"... For one, even if the U.S. government were to succeed in destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia sufficiently to force out President Putin, the neocon dream of another malleable Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin is far less likely than the emergence of an extreme Russian nationalist who might be ready to push the nuclear button rather than accept further humiliation of Mother Russia. ..."
"... The truth is that the world has much less to fear from the calculating Vladimir Putin than from the guy who might follow a deposed Vladimir Putin amid economic desperation and political chaos in Russia. But the possibility of nuclear Armageddon doesn't seem to bother the neocon/liberal-interventionist New York Times. Nor apparently does the principle of fair and honest journalism. ..."
"... America's Stolen Narrative, ..."
"... The Trans-Atlantic Empire of banking cartels rest upon enmity with the only other Great Powers in the World: Russia and China, while keeping USA thoroughly within their orbit, relying on our Great Power as the engine that powers this Western Bankers' Empire (the steering room lies in City-of-London, who has LONG maneuvered, via their Wall Street assets, to bring us into Empire). Should peaceful, cooperative and productive relations break out between USA, Russia, and China, this would undermine everything the Western Empire has worked to build. ..."
"... THIS is why the phony Russiagate issue is flogged to get rid of Trump (who seeks cooperation with Russia and China), AND keeping Russia as "The Enemy", keeping the MIC, Intel community, various police-state ops, in high demand for "National Security" reasons (also positioned to foil any democratic uprisings, should they see past the progs daily curtain and see their plight). ..."
"... The funny thing about living through the 'fake news' era, is that now everyone thinks that their news source is the correct news source. Many believe that outside of the individual everyone else reads or listens too 'fake news'. It's like all of a sudden no one has credibility, yet everyone may have it, depending on what news source you subscribe to. I mean there's almost no way of knowing what the truth is, because everyone is claiming that they are getting their news from reputable news outlets, but some or many aren't, and who are the reputable news sources, if you don't mind my asking you this just for the record? ..."
"... To learn how to deal with this 'fake news', I would suggest you start studying the JFK assassination, or any other ill defined tragic event, and then you might learn how to decipher the 'fake news' matrix of confusion to learn what you so desire to learn. I chose this route, because when was the last time the Establishment brokered the truth in regard to a happening such as the JFK assassination? Upon learning of what a few well written books has to say, you will then need to rely on your own brain to at least give you enough satisfaction to allow you to believe that you pretty well got it right, and there go you. In other words, the truth is out there, hiding in plain sight, and if you are persistent enough you just might find it. Good luck. ..."
Sep 18, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

The NYT's Yellow Journalism on Russia September 15, 2017

Exclusive: The New York Times' descent into yellow journalism over Russia recalls the sensationalism of Hearst and Pulitzer leading to the Spanish-American War, but the risks to humanity are much greater now, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Reading The New York Times these days is like getting a daily dose of the "Two Minutes Hate" as envisioned in George Orwell's 1984, except applied to America's new/old enemy Russia. Even routine international behavior, such as Russia using fictitious names for potential adversaries during a military drill, is transformed into something weird and evil.

In the snide and alarmist style that the Times now always applies to Russia, reporter Andrew Higgins wrote – referring to a fictitious war-game "enemy" – "The country does not exist, so it has neither an army nor any real citizens, though it has acquired a feisty following of would-be patriots online. Starting on Thursday, however, the fictional state, Veishnoriya, a distillation of the Kremlin's darkest fears about the West, becomes the target of the combined military might of Russia and its ally Belarus."

This snarky front-page story in Thursday's print editions also played into the Times' larger narrative about Russia as a disseminator of "fake news." You see the Russkies are even inventing "fictional" enemies to bully. Hah-hah-hah -- The article was entitled, "Russia's War Games With Fake Enemies Cause Real Alarm."

Of course, the U.S. and its allies also conduct war games against fictitious enemies, but you wouldn't know that from reading the Times. For instance, U.S. war games in 2015 substituted five made-up states – Ariana, Atropia, Donovia, Gorgas and Limaria – for nations near the Caucasus mountains along the borders of Russia and Iran.

In earlier war games, the U.S. used both fictitious names and colors in place of actual countries. For instance, in 1981, the Reagan administration conducted "Ocean Venture" with that war-game scenario focused on a group of islands called "Amber and the Amberdines," obvious stand-ins for Grenada and the Grenadines, with "Orange" used to represent Cuba.

In those cases, the maneuvers by the powerful U.S. military were clearly intended to intimidate far weaker countries. Yet, the U.S. mainstream media did not treat those war rehearsals for what they were, implicit aggression, but rather mocked protests from the obvious targets as paranoia since we all know the U.S. would never violate international law and invade some weak country -- (As it turned out, Ocean Venture '81 was a dress rehearsal for the actual U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983.)

Yet, as far as the Times and its many imitators in the major media are concerned, there's one standard for "us" and another for Russia and other countries that "we" don't like.

Yellow Journalism

But the Times' behavior over the past several years suggests something even more sinister than biased reporting. The "newspaper of record" has slid into yellow journalism, the practice of two earlier New York newspapers – William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer's New York World – that in the 1890s manipulated facts about the crisis in Cuba to push the United States into war with Spain, a conflict that many historians say marked the beginning of America's global empire.

Except in today's instance, The New York Times is prepping the American people for what could become World War III. The daily message is that you must learn to hate Russia and its President Vladimir Putin so much that, first, you should support vast new spending on America's Military-Industrial Complex and, second, you'll be ginned up for nuclear war if it comes to that.

At this stage, the Times doesn't even try for a cosmetic appearance of objective journalism. Look at how the Times has twisted the history of the Ukraine crisis, treating it simply as a case of "Russian aggression" or a "Russian invasion." The Times routinely ignores what actually happened in Ukraine in late 2013 and early 2014 when the U.S. government aided and abetted a violent coup that overthrew Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych after he had been demonized in the Western media.

Even as neo-Nazi and ultranationalist protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at police, Yanukovych signaled a willingness to compromise and ordered his police to avoid worsening violence. But compromise wasn't good enough for U.S. neocons – such as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland; Sen. John McCain; and National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman. They had invested too much in moving Ukraine away from Russia.

Nuland put the U.S. spending at $5 billion and was caught discussing with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who should be in the new government and how to "glue" or "midwife this thing"; McCain appeared on stage urging on far-right militants; and Gershman was overseeing scores of NED projects inside Ukraine, which he had deemed the "biggest prize" and an important step in achieving an even bigger regime change in Russia, or as he put it: "Ukraine's choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself."

The Putsch

So, on Feb. 20, 2014, instead of seeking peace , a sniper firing from a building controlled by anti-Yanukovych forces killed both police and protesters, touching off a day of carnage. Immediately, the Western media blamed Yanukovych. Sen. John McCain appearing with Ukrainian rightists of the Svoboda party at a pre-coup rally in Kiev.

Shaken by the violence, Yanukovych again tried to pacify matters by reaching a compromise -- guaranteed by France, Germany and Poland -- to relinquish some of his powers and move up an election so he could be voted out of office peacefully. He also pulled back the police.

At that juncture, the neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists spearheaded a violent putsch on Feb. 22, 2014, forcing Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives. Ignoring the agreement guaranteed by the three European nations, Nuland and the U.S. State Department quickly deemed the coup regime "legitimate."

However, ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, which represented Yanukovych's electoral base, resisted the coup and turned to Russia for protection. Contrary to the Times' narrative, there was no "Russian invasion" of Crimea because Russian troops were already there as part of an agreement for its Sevastopol naval base. That's why you've never seen photos of Russian troops crashing across Ukraine's borders in tanks or splashing ashore in Crimea with an amphibious landing or descending by parachute. They were already inside Crimea.

The Crimean autonomous government also voted to undertake a referendum on whether to leave the failed Ukrainian state and to rejoin Russia, which had governed Crimea since the Eighteenth Century. In that referendum, Crimean citizens voted by some 96 percent to exit Ukraine and seek reunion with Russia, a democratic and voluntary process that the Times always calls "annexation."

The Times and much of the U.S. mainstream media refuses even to acknowledge that there is another side to the Ukraine story. Anyone who mentions this reality is deemed a "Kremlin stooge" in much the same way that people who questioned the mainstream certainty about Iraq's WMD in 2002-03 were called "Saddam apologists."

But what is particularly remarkable about the endless Russia-bashing is that – because it started under President Obama – it sucked in many American liberals and even some progressives. That process grew even worse when the contempt for Russia merged with the Left's revulsion over Donald Trump's election.

Many liberals came to view the dubious claims of Russian "meddling" in the 2016 election as the golden ticket to remove Trump from the White House. So, amid that frenzy, all standards of proof were jettisoned to make Russia-gate the new Watergate.

The Times, The Washington Post and pretty much the entire U.S. news media joined the "resistance" to Trump's presidency and embraced the neocon "regime change" goal for Putin's Russia. Very few people care about the enormous risks that this "strategy" entails.

For one, even if the U.S. government were to succeed in destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia sufficiently to force out President Putin, the neocon dream of another malleable Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin is far less likely than the emergence of an extreme Russian nationalist who might be ready to push the nuclear button rather than accept further humiliation of Mother Russia.

The truth is that the world has much less to fear from the calculating Vladimir Putin than from the guy who might follow a deposed Vladimir Putin amid economic desperation and political chaos in Russia. But the possibility of nuclear Armageddon doesn't seem to bother the neocon/liberal-interventionist New York Times. Nor apparently does the principle of fair and honest journalism.

The Times and rest of the mainstream media are just having too much fun hating Russia and Putin to worry about the possible extermination of life on planet Earth.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com ).

jo6pac , September 15, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Amerikas way of bring the big D to your nation. Death

http://www.globalresearch.ca/unknown-snipers-and-western-backed-regime-change/27904

Thanks RP for reading the times so I don't have to not that would.

Common Tater , September 16, 2017 at 2:05 pm

Thanks for the link, I knew about the use of snipers in Venezuela '02, did not realize there were so many more.

BayouCoyote , September 18, 2017 at 11:13 am

Kinda reminds me of what our only "Ally in the ME" did to our Marines in Iraq.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIiGfUjZnbU

JWalters , September 16, 2017 at 7:29 pm

Bingo -- In a surely related story, the mainstream press is equally relentless in AVOIDING telling Americans the facts about Israel, and especially about its control over the American press.
"Israel lobby is never a story (for media that is in bed with the lobby)"
http://mondoweiss.net/2017/09/israel-lobby-never/

Virtually everything average Americans have been told about Israel has been, amazingly, an absolute lie. Israel was NOT victimized by powerful Arab armies. Israel overpowered and victimized a defenseless, civilian Arab population. Military analysts knew the Arab armies were in poor shape and would be unable to resist the zionist army. Muslim "citizens" of Israel do NOT have all the same rights as Jews. Israelis are NOT under threat from the indigineous Palestinians, but Palestinians are under constant threats of theft and death from the Israelis. Israel does NOT share America's most fundamental values, which rest on the principle of equal human rights for all.

How has this gigantic package of outright lies has been foisted upon the American public for so long? And how long can it continue? It turns out they did not foresee the internet, and the facts are leaking out everywhere. So it appears they're desperately coercing facebook and google to rig their rankings, trying to hide the facts. But one day soon there will be a 'snap' in the collective mind, and everybody will know that everybody knows.

For readers who haven't seen it yet,
"War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror"
http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

Common Tater , September 17, 2017 at 3:48 am

JWalters
I can tell you are angry. I too was angry when I figured it out.
Long before I figured it out, I was a soldier. Our unit was prepared for an exercise and we were all sleeping at the regiment compound, the buses would arrive at zero-dark thirty. I was reading a book about the ME(this was shortly after 9-11). A friend, came up and asked what I was reading. I told him I was reading about the Balfour paper and how that had a significant effect on the ME. He began explaining to me how the zionist movement had used the idea that no one lived on that land, to force the people from that land, out of that land.
I quickly responded that Israel had defended that land against 5 Arab armies and managed to hold on to that land. I informed him he was mistaken.
He agreed to disagree, and walked away.
This happened way back in 2002 if only I could pick his mind now. How did he know about this, way back before the internet was in any shape to wake people up?
There is hope still that guys who are young as i was, will say "Fuck You I defend this line and no further."
Without their compliance, there can be no wars.

Bernard Fisher , September 17, 2017 at 8:57 am

CommonTater your story parallels mine -- I was in the military, went to Vietnam to 'defend our nation against communism', felt horror at the Zionist stories of how Palestinians rocketed them, was told by senior officer about what Zionism is really about and I, like you, disbelieved him. That was in 1974 -- -- Now, with all the troubles in the world I won't read the MSP but look towards the alternative news sources. They make more sense. But as I try to educate others on what I have learned I am as disappointed as my senior officer must have been back them. Articles such as this one reproduced by ICH are gems: I save and print them in a compendium detailing ongoing war crimes.

Common Tater , September 17, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Bernard Fisher
Thanks for your response.
Good Idea to save and print these "gems" on consortiumnews.
Hopefully they wake more Americans.
Cheers

michael fish , September 15, 2017 at 5:44 pm

Thanks Mr. Parry,
You are a voice in the hurricane of hatred and lies propagated by the richest people on the planet.
Eventually some moron who believes this new York Times garbage will actually unleash the bomb and we will all be smoke.
That has always been the result of such successful propaganda. And it is very successful. It has almost occluded any truth for the vast majority of westerners .
Michael Fish

Yomamama , September 16, 2017 at 1:58 am

Agreed. I wish this clear and comprehensive article could be stapled on every American voter's door (wanted to say forehead but violence is bad). Many would toss it in the trash. Many would not agree even with full comprehension because of their own horrid beliefs. But maybe a few would read it and have an epiphany. It's very hard work to find an avenue to change the minds of millions of people who've been inculcated by nationalist propaganda since birth. Since 4 years old seeing the wonderful National Anthem and jets fly over the stadium of their favorite sports team. Since required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

I refused to stand for or recite the Pledge when I was seven or eight years old. I was sent to detention. My awesome mom though intervened and afterwards I could remain seated while most or all other kids stood up to do the ritual. I refuse to stand up and place hand-on-heart and remove cap during any sporting contests when the Anthem is played. I've been threatened with physical violence by many strangers around me.

https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/exclusive-documents-expose-direct-us-military-intelligence-influence-on-1-800-movies-and-tv-shows-36433107c307

Thanks Mr. Parry, your voice is appreciated, your articles and logic are top-notch. Very valuable stuff, available for the curious, the skeptical. Well, until Google monopolizes search algorithms and calls this a Russian fake news site, perhaps or Congress the same

Virginia , September 16, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Excellent link, Yomamama.

Common Tater , September 16, 2017 at 2:20 pm

My hat is off to you sir, I have not been to any sporting events since I woke up, but I imagine it would be very difficult to remain seated and hatted during the opening affirmation of nationalism. My waking up coincides with a drastic drop in sports viewing. I used to be an NFL fan, rooted for the Niners (started watching NFL in the late eighties), the last full season I followed was the 2013-14 season.

It was the Ukraine coup that woke me up. It started when watching videos on youtube of guys stomping on riot cops, using a fire hose on them like a reverse water cannon. Then I realized these guys were the peaceful protesters being talked about on t.v. It was like a thread hanging in front of me, I began pulling and pulling until the veil in front of my eyes came apart. It was during this time I discovered consortiumnews.com.

Thomas Dickinson , September 16, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Mr Common Tater–just appreciating reading that someone else "woke up". That is the way it has felt to me. For me it was Oct 2002 and Bush's speech that was clearly heading us to war in Iraq. The "election" (appointment) of Bush in 2000 though was the first alarm clock that I started to hear. Most recent wake up is connected to Mr Parry's relentless (I hope) and necessary debunking of the myth of Russian nastiness and corresponding myth of US rectitude. Been watching The Untold History of the United States and have been dealing with the real bedrock truth that my government invented and invents enemies as a tactic in a game–ie. it's a bunch of boys thinking foreign relationship building is first and foremost a game. It has been hard to wash away all this greasy insidious smut from my life.

Common Tater , September 16, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Thomas Dickinson

It sucks to wake up, in a way. Once one gets past the denial, Tom Clancy novel type movies lose some of it's fun, although still entertaining. One secretly knows the audience in the cinema is just eating it all up and loving it. The American hero yells "yippie kayay mother f -- -r" as he defeats the post-Soviet Russian villain in Russia blowing up buildings, and destroying s–t as he saves the world for democracy. The Russian authorities amount to some guy in Soviet peaked hat, and long coat, begging for a bribe.

Oliver Stone's series is really good, it turns history on his head and shakes all the pennies out his pockets. Another good reporter is John Pilger, he has a long list of docs he has done over several decades.

Cheers

Homer Jay , September 16, 2017 at 5:44 pm

I have been watching that same series, about 3 episodes in. The most mind blowing part to think about is how the establishment consipired to block the nomination of the progressive Henry Wallace as a repeat VP for Roosevelt, leading instead to Harry Truman's nomination as VP, and then you know the rest of the story.

Funny how history repeated itself with the nomination of Clinton instead of Sanders. Btw, after Sanders mistakenly jumped on the Russia bashing bandwagon he was one of the few who voted against the recent sanctions being imposed against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. So yeah, I'd feel alot better with a Sanders president at this point.

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Apart from the obvious Exceptionalist and Zionazi imperative to destroy Russia and China in order that God's Kingdom of 'Full Spectrum Dominance' be established across His world by his various 'Chosen People', the USA always needs an enemy. Now, more than ever, as the country crumbles into disrepair and unprecedented inequality, poverty and elite arrogance, the proles must be led to blame their plight on some Evil foreign daemon.

Only this time its no Saddam or Gaddaffi or Assad that can be easily bombed back to that Stone Age that all the non-Chosen must inhabit. This time the bullying thugs will get a, thermo-nuclear, bloody nose if they do not back off. Regretably, their egos refuse to withdraw, even in the interest of self-survival.

Paranam Kid , September 16, 2017 at 6:13 am

" It has almost occluded any truth for the vast majority of westerners."

You are so right about that, I notice it every day on other forums on which I discuss current affairs with others: the US views are the accepted ones, and I get a lot of stick for stating different views. It is actually frightening to see how few people can think for themselves.

mike k , September 15, 2017 at 5:47 pm

The American people are being systematically lied to, and they don't have a clue that it is happening. There is no awake and intelligent public to prevent what is unfolding. The worst kind of criminals are in charge of our government, media, and military. The sleeping masses are making their way down the dark mountain to the hellish outcome that awaits them.

"These grand and fatal movements toward death: the grandeur
of the mass
Makes pity a fool, the tearing pity
For the atoms of the mass, the persons, the victims, makes it
seem monstrous
To admire the tragic beauty they build.
It is beautiful as a river flowing or a slowly gathering
Glacier on a high mountain rock-face,
Bound to plow down a forest, or as frost in November,
The gold and flaming death-dance for leaves,
Or a girl in the night of her spent maidenhood, bleeding and
kissing.
I would burn my right hand in a slow fire
To change the future I should do foolishly. The beauty
of modern
Man is not in the persons but in the
Disastrous rhythm, the heavy and mobile masses, the dance of the
Dream-led masses down the dark mountain."

Robinson Jeffers

HopeLB , September 15, 2017 at 10:36 pm

Great, Dark and Accurate poem -- Thank You -- Think I'll send it to Rachel Maddow, Wapo and the NYTimes.Might do them some good. Wouldn't that be lovely.

Patrick Lucius , September 16, 2017 at 12:42 am

Which poem is that? Not Shine, perishing Republic, is it?

Thomas Dickinson , September 16, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Rearmament by Robinson Jeffers. I liked that a lot, too, so looked it up. https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/rearmament/

Jeff Davis , September 18, 2017 at 11:35 am

Fabulous reply. Back atcha:

Dulce et Decorum Est
BY WILFRED OWEN

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas -- GAS -- Quick, boys -- -- An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. --
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

******************************

And this, from Bob Dylan's "Jokerman" .

Freedom just around the corner for you
But with the truth so far off, what good will it do?

******************************

I love life and am by nature a cockeyed optimist, but I find myself intermittently gloomy, my optimism overwhelmed by cynicism, when I see the abundance of moronic belligerence so passionately snarled out in the comments sections across the internet. Clearly, humans are cursed with an addiction to violence For my part, I am old and will die soon and have no children, plus I live in a quiet backwater far away from the nuclear blast zone. Humanity seems on course for a major "culling". Insane and sad.

Mike Morrison , September 15, 2017 at 5:48 pm

Over three years now the war in Donbass, Ukraine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BoKj39HKls

Dr. Ando Arike , September 15, 2017 at 5:49 pm

I'd like to see more investigative reporting on the NYT's and other major media outlets' links to the CIA and other Deep State info-war bureaus. What the Times is doing now is reminiscent of the Michael Gordon-Judith Miller propaganda in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. Operation Mockingbird, uncovered during the mid-70s Church Hearings, is an ongoing effort, it would seem. Revealing hard links to CIA information ops would be a great service to humanity.

SteveK9 , September 15, 2017 at 7:22 pm

After 'Michael Gordon-Judith Miller' I stopped reading the Times.

Beard681 , September 18, 2017 at 11:52 am

I am amazed at how many conspiracy types there are who want to see some sort of oligarch, capitalist, zionist or deep state cabal behind it all. (That is a REALLY optimistic view of the human propensity for violent conflict.) It is just a bunch of corporate shills pushing for war (hopefully cold) because war sells newspapers.

Rich Rubenstein , September 15, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Robert Parry has gotten this exactly right -- I'm a regular NYTimes subscriber /-have been for years -- and I have NEVER read anything about Russia that has not been written by professional Russia-haters like Higgins. Frankly, I don't get it. What accounts for this weird and dangerous bias?

mike k , September 15, 2017 at 6:03 pm

Have you looked into who owns the NYT?

Paranam Kid , September 16, 2017 at 6:32 am

Why do you keep reading the NYT? Not only the Russia stories are heavily biased, but all their stories are. Most op-ed's about Israel/Palestine are written by zealous pro-Israel/pro-Zionists, against very few pro-Palestine people.

Brad Owen , September 16, 2017 at 8:07 am

The Trans-Atlantic Empire of banking cartels rest upon enmity with the only other Great Powers in the World: Russia and China, while keeping USA thoroughly within their orbit, relying on our Great Power as the engine that powers this Western Bankers' Empire (the steering room lies in City-of-London, who has LONG maneuvered, via their Wall Street assets, to bring us into Empire). Should peaceful, cooperative and productive relations break out between USA, Russia, and China, this would undermine everything the Western Empire has worked to build.

THIS is why the phony Russiagate issue is flogged to get rid of Trump (who seeks cooperation with Russia and China), AND keeping Russia as "The Enemy", keeping the MIC, Intel community, various police-state ops, in high demand for "National Security" reasons (also positioned to foil any democratic uprisings, should they see past the progs daily curtain and see their plight).

Brad Owen , September 16, 2017 at 8:08 am

Progs=propaganda stupid iPad.

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm

Here in Aust-failure I read the papers for many years until they became TOO repulsive, particularly the Murdoch hate and fear-mongering rags. I also, and still do, masochistically listen to the Government ABC and SBS. In all those years I really cannot recall any articles or programs that reported on Russia or China in a positive manner, save when Yeltsin, a true hero to all our fakestream media, was in charge. That sort of uniformity of opinion, over generations, is almost admirable. And the necessity to ALWAYS follow the Imperial US ('Our great and powerful friend') line leads to some deficiencies in the quality of the personnel employed, as I one again reflected upon the other day when one hackette referred to (The Evil, of course)Kim Jong-un as 'President Un', several times.

Jeff Davis , September 18, 2017 at 12:31 pm

"What accounts for this weird and dangerous bias?"

Several points:

The Russian -- formerly Commie -- -- boogieman is a profit center for the military, their industrial suppliers, and the political class. That's the major factor. But also, the Zionist project requires a bulked up US military "tasked" with "full spectrum" military dominance -- the Wolfowitz Doctrine, the American jackboot on the world's throat forever -- to insure the eternal protection of Israel. Largely unseen in this Israeli/Zionist factor is the thousand-year-old blood feud between the Jews and Russians. They are ancient enemies since the founding of Czarist Russia. No amount of time or modernity can diminish the passion of that animus. (I suspect that the Zionist aim to "destroy" Russia will eventually backfire and lead instead to the destruction of Israel, but really, we shouldn't talk about that.)

mike k , September 15, 2017 at 6:26 pm

The richest man in the world has the controlling interest in the NYT. Draw your own conclusions.

http://freebeacon.com/issues/mexican-billionaire-carlos-slim-becomes-top-owner-of-new-york-times/

Brad Owen , September 16, 2017 at 8:36 am

Mexico, ground zero for the world fascist movement in the 20s and 30s (going by name Synarchy Internationale still does) throuout Ibero-America, centered in PAN. The Spanish-speaking World had to contend with Franco, and Salazar being in power so long in the respective "Mother Countries" of the Iberian Peninsula. This was the main trail for the ratlines to travel.

I saw a dead coyote on the side of the road the other day. I know you know what that means to me, Mike. Omens are a lost art in these modern times, and I have no expertise in these matters, but it struck my attention hard. It was on the right side of the road: trouble for Trump coming from The Right? They are more potent than the ineffective Left, so this might be the way Trump is pulled down.

Sfomarco , September 16, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Carlos Slim (f/k/a Salim)

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Yes, but who bankrolls Slim?

Stiv , September 15, 2017 at 6:51 pm

I wouldn't even need to read this to know what's going to be said. After the last article from Parry, which was very good and interesting .plowing new ground for him he's back to rehashing the same old shit. Not that it's necessarily wrong, only been said about a hundred times. Yawn

D.H. Fabian , September 16, 2017 at 2:46 am

After months of so many people pointing out how and why the "Russia stole the election" claim is false, it came roaring back (in liberal media) in recent days. It demands a response.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 7:26 am

No one is required to read anything on CN.

Virginia , September 16, 2017 at 1:58 pm

RP brought lots of new things into play in his article and showed how they mesh together and support one another "against Trump." I almost skipped it because so familiar with the topic, but RP brought new light to the subject, in my humble opinion.

Common Tater , September 16, 2017 at 2:40 pm

I do not need to read or watch established "news" media to know what's going to be said. After the last b.s. story from the usual talking heads which was low brow and insulting to the intelligence of the audience, they are back at it again same ol'shit by the same talking heads. It is most definitely wrong, and it needs to be countered as much as possible not yawning.

Gregory Herr , September 16, 2017 at 8:18 pm

That's what struck me just how absurdly insulting will the Times get?

And I think the point that trying to destabilize the Russian Federation may very well bring about a more militant hardline Russia is important to stress.

anon , September 17, 2017 at 9:02 am

"Stiv" is a troll who makes this junk comment every time. Better to ignore him.

Colin , September 18, 2017 at 11:54 am

Were you planning to contribute anything useful to the discussion?

SteveK9 , September 15, 2017 at 7:19 pm

I always wonder what motivation the accusers believe you have when they call you a 'Putin stooge'. Why would you be one? Are you getting paid? Of course not, so this is just a judgment on your part. They could call you a fool, but accuse you of 'carrying water for the Kremlin' as I heard that execrable creature, Adam Schiff say to Tucker Carlson? That just makes no sense. Of course, none of it is rational.

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:38 pm

They're insane. A crumbling Empire which was supposed to rule the world forever, 'Under God' through Full Spectrum Dominance, but which, in fact, is disintegrating under its own moral, intellectual and spiritual rottenness, is bound to produce hate-crazed zealots looking for foreign scape-goats. Add the rage of the Clintonbots whose propaganda had told then for months that the She-Devil would crush the carnival-huckster, and her vicious post-defeat campaign to drive for war with Russia (what a truly Evil creature she is)and you get this hysteria. Interestingly, 'hysteria' is the word used to describe Bibi Nutty-yahoo, the USA's de facto 'capo di tutti capi', in Sochi recently when Putin refused to follow orders.

David Grace , September 15, 2017 at 7:30 pm

I have another theory I'd like to get reviewed. These are corporate wars, and not aimed at the stability of nations. It is claimed that in 1991, at the fall of the Soviet Union, the oligarchs were created by the massive purchasing of the assets of the collapsing nation. The CIA was said to have put together a 'bond issue' worth some $480 Billion, and it was used to buy farms, factories, mineral rights and other formerly common holdings of the USSR. This 'bond issue' was never repaid to the US taxpayers, and the deeds are in the hands of various oligarchs. Not all of the oligarchs are tied to the CIA, as there were other wells of purchasers of the country, but the ties to Trump are actually ties to dirty CIA or other organized crime entities.

The NY Times may be trying to capture certain assets for certain clients, and their editorial policy reflects this.

I'd appreciate feedback on this.

Thanks,
David

David Grace , September 15, 2017 at 7:33 pm

There are many on-line videos on this theme. Searching 'Black Eagle Trust' is one form. Here is one link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhBZJEqoe0A

stephen sivonda , September 15, 2017 at 9:51 pm

David Grace . what have we here, a thinking man? I like your premise, and I haven't even watched the link you supplied. That being said, I'll sign off and investigate that link.

D.H. Fabian , September 16, 2017 at 2:39 am

Conspiracy theories upon conspiracy theories, ensuring that the public will never be able to root out the facts. People still argue about the Kennedy assassination 54 years later.

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:39 pm

There is no rational 'argument' about what really happened to JFK.

Zhu Bajie , September 17, 2017 at 7:12 pm

Most conspiracy theories are fantasy fiction. If you have real evidence, based on verifiable facts, then it's not a theory any more. But most of the conspiracy theories popular in the USA just serve popular vanity. We never have to accept our mistakes, our crimes against humanity, etc. It's always THEIR fault.

We Americans over all are like small children, always making excuses.

mark , September 16, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Some of the material on the Black Eagle Trust are suspect. It gives figures for stolen Japanese war loot, for example, that are simply ludicrous. Figures of so many thousand tons of gold, for example, when the references should probably be to OUNCES of gold.

RBHoughton , September 15, 2017 at 8:03 pm

One sniper in Ukraine overthrew the democratic government. Previously one sniper in Dallas overthrew another democratic government. Are there any other examples?

Is our infatuation with democracy just a propaganda thing – to fool citizens into supposing they have value beyond their labour?

AshenLight , September 15, 2017 at 10:13 pm

> Is our infatuation with democracy just a propaganda thing – to fool citizens into supposing they have value beyond their labour?

It's about control -- those who know they are slaves will resist and fight, but those who mistakenly believe they are free will not (and if you give them even just a little comfort, they'll tenaciously defend their own enslavement). It turns out this "inverted totalitarianism" thing works a lot better than the old-fashioned kind.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 7:19 am

Indeed. Gurdjieff told the tale of a farmer whose sheep were always wandering off due to his being unable to afford fences to keep them in. Then he had an idea, and called them all together. He told some of them they were eagles, and others lions etc. They were now so proud of their new identities that it never occurred to them anymore to escape from their master's small domain.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 7:23 am

MLK is another example, as is Robert Kennedy.

Anna , September 16, 2017 at 12:53 pm

The American patriots are coming out: "CIA Agent Whistleblower Risks All To Expose The Shadow Government" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHbrOg092G That would be the end of the Lobby, mega oilmen and the FedReserve criminals

mark , September 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm

Yes, snipers on rooftops in Deraa, southern Syria, in 2011. These mysterious figures fired into crowds, deliberately targeting women and young children to inflame the crowd. At the same time the same snipers killed 7 police officers. Unarmed police had been sent in to deal with unrest without bloodshed. These police officers were armed only with batons.

This is a standard page from the CIA playbook. The mysterious snipers in Maidan Square in 2014 are believed to have been Yugoslavian mercenaries hired by the CIA.

Zhu Bajie , September 17, 2017 at 7:14 pm

The US has had oligarchy since 1789.

BobH , September 15, 2017 at 8:06 pm

We all have some kind of a bias but fortunately most of us here know the difference between bias and propaganda. Bias based on facts and our own values is often constructive but the N.Y. Times(like most msm) has descended into disseminating insidious propaganda. Unfortunately the search for truth requires a bit more research and time than most people are willing to invest. Thankfully, Robert Parry continues his quest but the dragons are not easy to slay. My own quest for truth once led to a philosophical essay. The cartoon at the bottom(SH Chambers) sums it up.
https://crivellistreetchronicle.blogspot.com/2016/07/truth-elusive-concept.html

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 7:13 am

I put a comment on your blog.

BobH , September 16, 2017 at 11:15 am

Mike, thanks so much, I'll look forward to reading it(so far, I don't see it Moderation?)

Virginia , September 16, 2017 at 2:20 pm

If we have a bias towards honesty, that helps. It keeps one's mind more open and provides a willingness to entertain various points of view. It's not naivete, however, but thoughtful consideration coupled with awareness and that protects one from being easily manipulated. But then, oppositely, there's a human tendency to want to be popular which inclines one towards groupthink. But why that so entrenches itself, making people impervious to truth, is a conundrum -- Maybe if the "why" can be answered, the "how" will become apparent -- how to reach individuals with the truth as so oft told, though hard on the ears, at CN.

Jacob Leyva , September 15, 2017 at 10:12 pm

So what do you think of the Russia-Facebook dealings? When will we get an article on that?

Fuzzy , September 18, 2017 at 7:19 am

Really? You think this is important?

http://davidswanson.org/warlist/?link_id=3&can_id=ed31bf4cbc8f991980718b21b49ca26d&source=email-how-outlawing-war-changed-the-world-in-1928-2&email_referrer=email_232560&email_subject=how-outlawing-war-changed-the-world-in-1928

John , September 15, 2017 at 10:47 pm

The Russian /Iranian vs the Ashkenazi has been going on for many, many years ..The USA is to a large extent controlled by the Ashkenazi / Zionist agenda which literally owns most of the MSM outlets .Agendas must be announced through propaganda to sway the sleeping public toward conformity .The only baffling question that remains is why do Americans allow Zionist to control such a large part of their great republic ?

Art , September 16, 2017 at 1:43 am

Robert, you come from intelligence. Why don't you look at Russia-gate from all possible angles?
I suggest the following. Putin is an American spy. Russia-gate is created to make him a winner, a hero.
And the specious confrontation is a good cover for Putin.
This is in a nutshell.
I can obviously say mu-uch more.

D.H. Fabian , September 16, 2017 at 2:33 am

Throughout 2017, we've seen a surge of efforts by both parties -- via the media that serve them -- to build support for a final nuclear war. The focus jumps from rattling war sabers at China (via Korea, at the moment) to rattling them at Russia, two nuclear-armed world powers. This has been working to bring Russia and China together, resolving their years of conflict in view of a potential world threat -- the US. Whatever their delusions, and regardless of their ideology, our political leaders are setting the stage for the deaths of millions of us, and the utter destruction of the US.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 6:59 am

Our political leaders have betrayed us.

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Thermo-nuclear war would cause human extinction, not just billions of casualties.

Jim Glover , September 16, 2017 at 3:15 am

It is the same now with North Korea and China. So what would happen if those nations were destabilized by Sanctions or worse Russia, China Iran and more would support Kim. How to make peace?

Dennis Rodman has the guts to suggest call and talk with Kim or "Try it you might like it better than total mutual destruction". Think Love and Peace it can't hurt like all the war, hate and fear the media keeps pushing for advertising profits. War and Fear is the biggest racket on the planet. What can I do? Fighting a losing battle but it is fun tryin' to win.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 6:57 am

We may be losing now, but who knows? It ain't over till it's over. Hang in there.

GMC , September 16, 2017 at 3:20 am

Great article- again . I used to live in the US, I used to live in Alaska, I used to live in Crimea, Ukraine but now I live in Crimea, Russia and Smolensk, Ru. I watched this all go down but it took awhile to see the entire picture. I seldom get any more emails from the states – even my brother doesn't get it. They think I'm now a " commie" , I guess. I see it as the last big gasp of hot, dangerous air from an Empire -- Exposed. Unfortunately, its not over yet and maybe we/you will have more bad times ahead. Crimea this summer is doing well with much work going on – from the badly needed new infrastructure to the new bridge, the people are much better off than in Ukraine. They made the right choice in returning to Mother Russia even though it was a no-brainer for them. The world is lucky to have free writers like, Parry, Roberts, Vltchek, Pepe', the Saker and the intelligent commenters are as important as the writers in spreading the Pravda. Spacibo Mr. Parry

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 6:54 am

Thanks for sharing with us GMC. And good luck to you.

ranney , September 16, 2017 at 4:22 am

YES -- -- -- -- -- Yes to all that you wrote Robert -- Thank you again for writing clearly and saying what obviously needs to be said, but no one else will. We've been down this road before -i.e. the media pulling us into wars of Empire – first the Spanish- American one, then a bunch of others working up to Viet Nam, and then Iraq. Each one gets worse and now we're reaching for a nuclear one. Keep writing; your voice gives some of us hope that just maybe others will join in and stop the media from their constant "messages of hate" and the urging of the public to a suicidal conflagration.

Joe Tedesky , September 16, 2017 at 8:55 am

The funny thing about living through the 'fake news' era, is that now everyone thinks that their news source is the correct news source. Many believe that outside of the individual everyone else reads or listens too 'fake news'. It's like all of a sudden no one has credibility, yet everyone may have it, depending on what news source you subscribe to. I mean there's almost no way of knowing what the truth is, because everyone is claiming that they are getting their news from reputable news outlets, but some or many aren't, and who are the reputable news sources, if you don't mind my asking you this just for the record?

Come to think of it, the 'fake news' theme is brilliant considering that now we have no bench mark for what the truth is, and by not having that bench mark for the truth we all go our separate ways believing what we believe, because certainly my news source is the only truthful one, and your news source is beyond questionable of how the news should be reported.

People read headlines, but hardly do they ever read the article. Many hear news sound bites, but never do they do the research required, in order to verify the stories accuracy. Hear say works even more to rain in the clouds of mass deception. Then there are those who sort of buy whatever it is the established news outlets are selling based on their belief that it doesn't much matter anyway, because 'the establishment' lies to us all the time as a rule, so what's the big deal to keep up on the news, because it's all obviously one big lie isn't it? So not only do we have irresponsible news journalist, we also have a very large number of a monopolized unqualified news gatherers who must accept what the various news agencies report, regardless of what the truth may be. It's better the Establishment keep it this way, because then the Establishment has better control over the 'mob grabbing the pitchforks and sickles' and crying out justice for somebody's head. It's kind of like job security for the Establishment, but in their case it's more like a 'keeping your elitist head' security, if you know what I mean.

To learn how to deal with this 'fake news', I would suggest you start studying the JFK assassination, or any other ill defined tragic event, and then you might learn how to decipher the 'fake news' matrix of confusion to learn what you so desire to learn. I chose this route, because when was the last time the Establishment brokered the truth in regard to a happening such as the JFK assassination? Upon learning of what a few well written books has to say, you will then need to rely on your own brain to at least give you enough satisfaction to allow you to believe that you pretty well got it right, and there go you. In other words, the truth is out there, hiding in plain sight, and if you are persistent enough you just might find it. Good luck.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 11:29 am

The truth has never been that easy to find Joe. Actually all the beyond obvious propaganda on the MSM might wake some people up to do the searching necessary to get closer to what is really happening in their world. Maybe the liars have finally overplayed their hand? Or are we the people really that dumb? (I am scared to hear the answer to that one -- )

Joe Tedesky , September 16, 2017 at 12:04 pm

I could be a wise guy, and say to you 'or so you say' in reply to your kind comment, but then that would make me a troll.

All I'm saying mike is that in this era of 'fake news' we are all running about on different levels, and never shall the two of us meet. That is unless you and I get our news from the same source, but what are the odds of all of us getting the same news? It's impossible, and I'm not quite that sure that that would be what we want either. Still without an objective, and honest large media to set the correct narrative we end up in this place, where you might find yourself doing a spread sheet study to come to some conclusion of what is true, and what isn't.

Case in point, read about Russia-Gate here on consortiumnews, and then go listen to Rachel Maddow report on the same thing. Two different sets of stories. Just try and reconcile what you read on sites like this one concerning Ukraine, then go watch MSNBC or CNN. Never a match. So you mike read consortiumnews, and your in laws read the NYT and watch CNN, and there you go, a controversy arises between you and the in laws and with that life goes on, but where is the correct news to be found to settle the score?

Once upon a time the established news agencies such as CNN, and the NYT, were the hallmark of the news, and sites such as this one were the ones on the edge, now I'm convinced this conviction has reversed itself.

Thanks mike for the reply. Joe

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 9:07 am

Wouldn't it be hilarious mike, if the dumbed down people attacked the Bastille under false pretense? Especially if the lie had been concocted by the blinded by their own hubris sitting powers to be. Talk about poetic justice, and well placed irony. Priceless --

Virginia , September 16, 2017 at 2:38 pm

Joe, Apparently people take the easy way out. And that's just it -- "the way out." Extinction -- Maybe they haven't learned there's something worth learning about and living for. I'm gonna concentrate on that. Open eyes that they might see

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 8:08 am

You are right Virginia, it is probably 'a way out', and God bless them for it. My late Mother was like that, but I'll tell you why. When my Mother was growing up in a family of eleven children, her father would rent out their street level basement to the voting polls. A block away my uncle who was quite older than my Mother owned a corner saloon. Now on Election Day my Mother said how the men in suits would pull up in their big expensive cars, and they would descend upon my uncles corner bar. Soon after one by one drunks would come out of the tavern wearing Republican buttons then they would go into grandpap's basement voting booth, and vote. Not long after my Mom said, the same drunks would come pouring out of my uncles tavern and this time they were wearing Democratic buttons, and they would go vote once or as many times as it would take to thank the big guys in the suits for the free drinks. My Mom said this went on all day. She said a lot dead people voted whether they knew it or not, and that's the truth. She would follow up by saying, 'yeah a lot of politicians won on the drunk vote'.

So Virginia some can't take the decept and lying, and with that they give up. I myself don't feel this way, but then there are the times I can't help but think of how my dear sweet Mother probably did have it right for the sake of living your life in the most upright and honest way. Sadly, there is no virtue in politics, or so it seems.

Oh yeah, that uncle who owned the corner saloon, he did go into politics holding nominee appointed positions, until he got wise and got a honest job, as he would jokingly say.

For the record my Mother did vote, but she was the lady standing in line who looked reluctant and pissed off to be there, but never the less my Mum was a voter. Oh, the candidate my Mother loved the most was JFK. John F Kennedy's was the only presidential picture my Mother ever hung in our humble home.

My message here, was only meant to give some cover, and an explanation for those who shy away from politics, and not an excuse to stay uninvolved. For even my non political Mum did at least in the end break down, and do the right thing. We should all at least try, and keep up on the events of our time, and vote with the best intentions we can muster up.

Okay, I'm sorry for the length of my reply, but you are always worth taking time for me to give a reasonable answer to. I also hope I'm entertaining with these stories I seem to tell from time to time. Take care Virginia. Joe

Tannenhouser , September 17, 2017 at 7:28 pm

Humans are approximately 90% water, give or take depending on evaporation (Age). Water always takes the path of least resistance. Oh I wish and hope for the day when most realize they are much more than 'just' water:)

Mulga Mumblebrain , September 16, 2017 at 5:47 pm

The fakestream media lies incessantly, and has for generations. Chomsky and Herman's 'Manufacturing Consent' outlines the propaganda role of the 'mass media', and is twenty-five years old, in which period things have gotten MUCH worse (just look at the fate of the UK 'Guardian' for an example). Yet the fakestream presstitutes STILL have the unmitigated gall to call others 'fake' and demand that we believe their unbelievable narratives. That's real chutzpah.

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 8:26 am

You know Mulga you are correct, many generations have listened to many, many, lies upon their way to the voting booths. It goes without saying, how the aristocrats when they find it necessary, as they often do find it necessary, they lie to their flock for a whole host of reasons. Why we could pick anytime in history, and find out where lies have paved the way to a leaders greater conquest, or a leaders said greater conquest if not met with defeat, but never the less the public was used to propel some leaders wishes onward and upward whether for the good or the bad.

But here we are Mulga, you and the rest of us here, straddling on the fence over what might be right to what possibly could be wrong. Without a responsible press you and us Mulga need to learn from each other. Like when comment posters leave links, that's always been something good for me to follow through on.

We live in a unique time, but a time not that unique, as much as it is our time. Our great, great, grandparents were straddling the same fence, and I'm guessing they too relied on each other to navigate there way through the twisting maze of politics, and basically what they all wanted, was a little peace on earth. So Mulga I also guess that you and we the people are just carrying on a tradition that us common folk have been assigned too continue.

Like reading your comments Mulga, good to see you here. Joe

Zhu Bajie , September 17, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Fake news has always been common. Critical thinking has never been popular because Occam's Razor might slice your favorite story to shreds. Personally, I give full credence to few things in life, but suspect many more, to some degree. I trust my own experiences more than what I read in the media and try to reject conventional wisdom as much as possible.

Herman , September 16, 2017 at 9:39 am

Observing Putin's behavior, you have to be impressed with his continue willingness to extend the olive branch and to seek a reasonable settlement of differences. His language always leaves open the possibility of détente with the understanding that Russia is not going to lay down to be run over. On the contrary, the language of Obama and Trump, and their representatives is consistently take it or leave and engaging in school yard insults of Russia, Putin, Lavrov and others. We have consistently played the bully in the school yard encouraging others to join in the bullying. We talk about the corrosive discourse at home, but observe the discourse in foreign affairs. Trump and his associates are guilty, but slick talking Obama and his subordinates was often worse. .As has so often been said, we have only two arrows in our foreign affairs quiver, war and sanctions. We lack the imagination and will to actually engage in civil discussions with those on our enemies' list.

Parry is of course correct in his opinion of the New York Times but it doesn't stop there, only that the New York Times undeservedly is the "newspaper of record." His citing of Orwell is on the mark. Just turn your TV on for the news and see for yourself.

Dave P. , September 16, 2017 at 8:27 pm

Very well said, Herman. Very true.

Patricia Victour , September 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

I don't subscribe to the NYT for this reason, and it is galling to me that our local rag, "The Santa Fe New Mexican," while featuring excellent local coverage for the most part, gets all it's "national" news from the likes of the NYT, WaPo, and AP. These stories, much of it "fake news" in my opinion, are offered as gospel by the "New Mexican", with no journalistic effort to print opposing views. People I know seem so proud of themselves that they subscribe to "The Times," and I don't even dare try to point out to them that they are being duped and propagandized into believing the most outrageous (and dangerous) crap.

To add another dimension, these sources are so jealous of their position as the ultimate word on what Americans are to believe, and also so worried about their waning influence, that now RT and Sputnik, both Russia-sponsored news outlets, may be forced to register as "foreign agents" in the U.S. I am not familiar with Sputnik, but I have been watching RT on TV for several years and find it to be an excellent source of national and foreign news. Stories I see first on RT are usually confirmed soon after by other reliable sources, such as this excellent site – Consortiumnews. At no point did I feel I was being coerced by Russia during the 2016 election – I needed no confirmation that both Trump and Clinton were probably the worst candidates ever to run for President.

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 9:31 am

You know what I find interesting is how a reporter such as Robert Parry will pinpoint his details to a critique of say the NYT, but when or if a NYTer is to write a likewise article of the Alternative Internet Press the NYTer will just simply critique their internet rival as a 'conspiracy theorist' or as now as in 2017 they refer to them as 'fake news artist'. I mean no rebuttal back referencing certain details such as what Parry mentioned, but just rhetorical words written over tabloid written headlines finalized under the heading of 'fake news'. This must be being taught in journalism school these days, because it's popular in the MSM.

Just like you have never heard or read from the MSM a detailed answered rebuttal to the pointed questions of say the '911 Truthers' or a 'JFK Assassination Researcher' a valid bona fide answer. No, but you do hear the masters and mistresses of the corporate media world call writers such as Parry, Roberts, and St Clair, 'fake newscasters', 'Putin Puppets', and or a whole host of other nasty names, as they feel fit to write, but never a honest too goodness rebuttal. Then they talk about Trump not sounding or acting presidential hmm the nerve of these wordsmiths.

BTW, I don't care much for Trump, and I even care less for our MSM. Just wanted to get that straight.

Nice comment Patricia. Joe

hatedbyu , September 16, 2017 at 10:57 am

let's not forget about the nytimes grossly negligent reporting on syria and libya. judith miller? russian doping scandal. lying about the holdomor . man i could do this all day ..

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 10:12 am

You mean the on air hours of punditry explaining away their professions mistakes, or the honest rebuttal? It's at those particular times and occurrences of ignored self reflection our honorable (not) MSM falls back on Orwell's 1984. Like it never happened. The dog didn't eat no home work, because there never was a dog, nor was there any homework .stupid us. Life goes on uninterrupted and non commercial time can be filled with an update on Bill Cosby's past alleged sexual predator attacks, and this is our professional news casting doing its best to entertain us, not inform us god forbid, but entertain us the ignorant masses of their workless society.

One day hatedbyu the ignorant masses may just show the corporate infotainment duchess and dudes that they 'the people' ain't so ignorant, and things must change. Well at least that's the dream, but it's still a work in progress, and then there's the historical seesaw.

I think it's the power of empire to expand, just like a balloon, until it reaches it's bursting point. But just what that bursting point is, is without a doubt the most disputable of arguments to be made. I am coming to the belief we are, as always, continually getting to that point, and we may of course be very close to igniting that spark in the not so far off future. I would prefer the spark to be completely financial, and dealt with accordingly, but I'm a dreamer purest and a conspiracy theorist, so that means when the crap starts going down, I'll be the old man on the hill lighting up a big fat doobie cue soundtrack 'Fool On the Hill'.

Sorry just had to get carried away, but it's Sunday morning hatedbyu and I'm home alone and nobody's trying to break in .. Good comment hatedbyu. Joe

Stephen J. , September 16, 2017 at 11:27 am

A Compilation Not seen in Corporate Media: See Link Below:
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
US Wars and Hostile Actions: A List
By David Swanson

http://davidswanson.org/warlist/?link_id=3&can_id=ed31bf4cbc8f991980718b21b49ca26d&source=email-how-outlawing-war-changed-the-world-in-1928-2&email_referrer=email_232560&email_subject=how-outlawing-war-changed-the-world-in-1928

Bob Van Noy , September 16, 2017 at 9:42 pm

Stephen J. Thank you for introducing me to David Swanson. Great link.

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 11:29 am

Im with you on that Bob, Stephen J providing the Swanson link should be a must read, to keep things fair and balanced. I also do wonder if Swanson's message isn't getting out there, and we all don't already know it? I'm a glass half full kind of guy, but what do we really know about each other, other than what the corporate media instills on us? I wish cable news would air a program made up of Swanson, Pilger, and Parry, for that at least could put some well needed balance finality back, if it ever was there in the first place, back into the public narrative .but there go I.

Good to see you Bob. Joe

Hank , September 16, 2017 at 11:32 am

The deep state sticks with what works: controlling the media keeps the masses ignorant and malleable. "Remember the Maine"
Germans are bayoneting Belgium babies and "remember the Lusitania" , some evidence shows higher ups knew the Japanese fleet was 400 miles from Hawaii, recall "Tonkin Gulf" episode, Iran Contra , invasion of Granada, Panama, and of course 911 and war on terror, patriot act, weapons of mass destruction, and Russia hacking the election. The masses "believe" these to be true and react and respond accordingly.

"
"Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY."

–Goering at the Nuremberg Trials

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Thanks Hank. Same ole same ole, eh? When will we ever learn?

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 11:32 am

"Trump might well go down in history of the President who screwed-up a historical opportunity to really change our entire planet for the better and who, instead, by his abject lack of courage and honor, his total lack of political and diplomatic education and by his groveling subservience to the "swamp" he had promised to drain ended up being as pathetically clueless as Obama was." (The Saker)

My sentiments exactly.

Voytenko , September 16, 2017 at 11:49 am

What a glaring lie this article is, its' author being either "useful idiot" played by Kremlin, or maybe not so much of an idiot. What are you talking about here in comments, those who applaud this article, this bunch of lies? You live in Ukraine, you know anything about that so-called "putch"? How dare you to insult the whole nation – Ukrainian nation? Shame on you, people. You don't know (author of the article including) anything about Russia, Ukraine and that bloody Putin, but you have problems with the US and its' politics. US are your business, Ukraine definitely not. Find some other examples of NYT and USA malfeasance, some you know something about. Stop insulting other nations.

anon , September 17, 2017 at 9:53 am

You are not from Ukraine, and you care not for Ukraine, or you would seek unity not dominance of East over West Ukraine. Tell us about your life in Ukraine, and show us the evidence of "that bloody Putin."

Abe , September 16, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Yellow journalism now employs "open source and social media investigation" scams foisted by Eliot Higgins and the Bellingcat disinformation site.

Bellingcat is allied with the New York Times and the Washington Post, the two principal mainstream media organs for "regime change" propaganda, via the First Draft Coalition "partner network".

In a triumph of Orwellian Newspeak, this Google-sponsored "post-Truth" Propaganda 3.0 coalition declares that member organizations will "work together to tackle common issues, including ways to streamline the verification process".

The New York Times routinely hacks up Bellingcat "reports" and pretends they're "verification"

Malachy Browne, "Senior Story Producer" at the New York Times, cited Bellingcat to embellish the media "story" about the Khan Shaykhun chemical incident in Idlib Syria.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/01/insider/the-times-uses-forensic-mapping-to-verify-a-syrian-chemical-attack.html

Before joining the Times, Browne was an editor at "social news and marketing agency" Storyful and at Reported. ly, the "social reporting" arm of Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media.

Browne generously "supplemented" his "reporting" on the Khan Shaykun incident with "videos gathered by the journalist Eliot Higgins and the social media news agency Storyful".

Browne encouraged Times readers to participate in the Bellingcat-style "verification" charade: "Find a computer, get on Google Earth and match what you see in the video to the streets and buildings"

Browne of Storyful and Higgins of Bellingcat are founding members of the Google-funded "First Draft" coalition.

Browne demonstrates how the NYT and other "First Draft" coalition media outlets use video to "strengthen" their "storytelling".

In 2016, the NYT video department hired Browne and Andrew Glazer. a senior producer on the team that launched VICE News, to help "enhance" the "reporting" at the Times.

Browne represents the Times' effort to package its dubious "reporting" using the Storyful marketing strategy of "building trust, loyalty, and revenue with insight and emotionally driven content" wedded with Bellingcat style "digital forensics" scams.

In other words, we should expect the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, UK Guardian, and all the other "First Draft" coalition media "partners" to barrage us more Bellingcat / Atlantic Council-style Facebook and YouTube video mashups, crazy fun with Google Earth, and Twitter campaigns.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 1:47 pm

Thanks Abe. Sounds like these guys all read 1984, and decided it was just the thing for 2017 Amerika.

Abe , September 16, 2017 at 1:49 pm

"Our investigation debunks the claims"

Browne keeps the April 2017 NYT video positioned at the top of his Twitter feed
https://twitter.com/malachybrowne/status/857290743068721152

Obviously Browne is proud of the "investigation" even though merely shared a "story" fed to him by Higgins' Bellingcat and the Atlantic Council .

Abe , September 16, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Higgins and Bellingcat receives direct funding from the Open Society Foundations (OSF) founded by business magnate George Soros, and from Google's Digital News Initiatives (DNI).

Google's 2017 DNI Fund Annual Report describes Higgins as "a world–leading expert in news verification".

Higgins claims the DNI funding "allowed us to push this to the next level".
https://digitalnewsinitiative.com/news/case-study-codifying-social-conflict-data/

In their zeal to propagate the story of Higgins as a courageous former "unemployed man" now busy independently "Codifying social conflict data", Google neglects to mention Higgins' role as a "research fellow" for the NATO-funded Atlantic Council "regime change" think tank.

Despite their claims of "independent journalism", Eliot Higgins and the team of disinformation operatives at Bellingcat depend on the Atlantic Council to promote their "online investigations".

The Atlantic Council donors list includes:

– US government and military entities: US State Department, US Air Force, US Army, US Marines.

– The NATO military alliance

– Large corporations and major military contractors: Chevron, Google, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, BP, ExxonMobil, General Electric, Northrup Grumman, SAIC, ConocoPhillips, and Dow Chemical

– Foreign governments: United Arab Emirates (UAE; which gives the think tank at least $1 million), Kingdom of Bahrain, City of London, Ministry of Defense of Finland, Embassy of Latvia, Estonian Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Defense of Georgia

– Other think tanks and think tankers: Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Nicolas Veron of Bruegel (formerly at PIIE), Anne-Marie Slaughter (head of New America Foundation), Michele Flournoy (head of Center for a New American Security), Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution.

Higgins is a Research Associate of the Department of War Studies at King's College, and was principal co-author of the Atlantic Council "reports" on Ukraine and Syria.

Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President of Programs and Strategy at the Atlantic Council, a co-author with Higgins of the report, effusively praised Higgins' effort to bolster anti-Russian propaganda:

Wilson stated, "We make this case using only open source, all unclassified material. And none of it provided by government sources. And it's thanks to works, the work that's been pioneered by human rights defenders and our partner Eliot Higgins, uh, we've been able to use social media forensics and geolocation to back this up." (see Atlantic Council video presentation minutes 35:10-36:30)

However, the Atlantic Council claim that "none" of Higgins' material was provided by government sources is an obvious lie.

Higgins' primary "pieces of evidence" are a video depicting a Buk missile launcher and a set of geolocation coordinates that were supplied by the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) and the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior via the Facebook page of senior-level Ukrainian government official Arsen Avakov, the Minister of Internal Affairs.

Higgins and the Atlantic Council are working in support of the Pentagon and Western intelligence's "hybrid war" against Russia.

The laudatory bio of Higgins on the Kings College website specifically acknowledges his service to the Atlantic Council:

"an award winning investigative journalist and publishes the work of an international alliance of fellow investigators using freely available online information. He has helped inaugurate open-source and social media investigations by trawling through vast amounts of data uploaded constantly on to the web and social media sites. His inquiries have revealed extraordinary findings, including linking the Buk used to down flight MH17 to Russia, uncovering details about the August 21st 2013 Sarin attacks in Damascus, and evidencing the involvement of the Russian military in the Ukrainian conflict. Recently he has worked with the Atlantic Council on the report "Hiding in Plain Sight", which used open source information to detail Russia's military involvement in the crisis in Ukraine."

While it honors Higgins' enthusiastic "trawling", King's College curiously neglects to mention that Higgins' "findings" on the Syian sarin attacks were thoroughly debunked.

King's College also curiously neglects to mention the fact that Higgins, now listed as a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council's "Future Europe Initiative", was principal co-author of the April 2016 Atlantic Council "report" on Syria.

The report's other key author was John E. Herbst, United States Ambassador to Ukraine from September 2003 to May 2006 (the period that became known as the Orange Revolution) and Director of the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center.

Other report authors include Frederic C. Hof, who served as Special Adviser on Syrian political transition to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012. Hof was previously the Special Coordinator for Regional Affairs in the US Department of State's Office of the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, where he advised Special Envoy George Mitchel. Hof had been a Resident Senior Fellow in the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East since November 2012, and assumed the position as Director in May 2016.

There is no daylight between the "online investigations" of Higgins and Bellingcat and the "regime change" efforts of the NATO-backed Atlantic Council.

Thanks to the Atlantic Council, Soros, and Google, it's a pretty well-funded gig for fake "citizen investigative journalist" Higgins.

Dave P. , September 17, 2017 at 12:26 am

Abe – Thanks for all the invaluable information you have been providing.

jaycee , September 16, 2017 at 1:52 pm

The meme of an aggressive assertive Russia, based on what happened in Crimea, is a deliberate lie expressed with the utmost contempt towards principled diplomacy. The average consumer of mainstream news is also being shamelessly and contemptuously manipulated.

First, the people of Crimea did not want to be part of Ukraine after the USSR dissolved, and had previously expressed their opinion through referenda. The events of 2014 were part of an obvious pattern of previously expressed opinion.

Second, around the time of the so-called Orange Revolution, NATO analysts forecast what would probably happen should Ukraine embrace European "security architecture" (i.e. NATO), and concluded that Russia would take steps to protect their naval facilities in Crimea. Yet, in 2014, NATO officials would disingenuously express their utmost shock and surprise at the event.

Third, Viktor Yushchenko, who came to power in Ukraine in 2005 through the NED-financed Orange Revolution, consistently described his intention to join Ukraine with European institutions, including its "security architecture" (NATO), although acknowledging that the Ukrainian citizenry would have to be manipulated into accepting such a controversial and adversarial position. He would downplay presumed Russian reaction to potential removal from Crimea despite the obviousness and predictability of a serious crisis (see Sept 23, 2008 "Conversation with Viktor Yushchenko" Council On Foreign Relations). Yushchenko polled at 5.45% when he lost the Presidency in 2010, running on a platform of European integration.

Fourth, Russian officials at the highest level told their American counterparts in 2009 that any attempt to integrate Ukraine into NATO, and a corresponding threat to the Crimean naval facilities, would result in moves similar to what would later happen in 2014. Yet the United States, after instigating and legitimizing the Ukraine coup, would react to the Crimean referendum as an aggressive act which represented an unexpected security crisis requiring a reluctant but firm response of militarizing the entire region, and portraying the Russian state to the public as a dangerous and aggressive rogue power.

The deliberate omission of relevant contextual background by politicians, military officials, and the mainstream media demonstrates that none of these institutions can be trusted, and it is they who represent the greatest threat to international security. Putin has been relentlessly demonized, but it can be argued that his swift and essentially bloodless moves in Crimea in 2014 avoided what could have been a major international crisis on the level of the Berlin blockade in 1961. It appears, in hindsight, that such a crisis is exactly what the NATO alliance desired all along.

Sam F , September 17, 2017 at 9:58 am

Well said.

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Nicely put jaycee. What you wrote took me back to a time of some eight months before Maiden Square, when my niece decided to live in Kiev. A bit of a ways away from Pittsburgh, so I started researching Ukraine. I also discovered RT & Moonofalabama, and sites like that.

What you wrote jaycee, in my humble opinion should be said in our MSM news. If for no other reason but to give an alternative fair and balance to say the likes of Rachel Maddow, or Joy Ann Reed. The way the MSM picks and chooses, and skims across important events in Ukraine, like Odessa, are criminal if ever the Press is to be judged for crimes of war. To the crys of a destroyed empire's vanquished population would then your small essay be heard jaycee, and yet that's the world we live in, but at least you said it.

Thanks jaycee (that's the first time I wrote your name and the j didn't go capital what does that mean? Who cares.)
Joe

rosemerry , September 16, 2017 at 2:04 pm

Of course the NYT liars would not bother to watch Oliver Stone's interviews with Pres. Putin, but during them he explained at length about his cooperation during the years after Ukraine elected a pro-Western president, managing to carry out mutual agreements and policies, but after the new pro- Russian president was elected, the USA did not accept him and overthrew him, which preceded the antics of Nuland et al in 2014 and the rest which followed.

MaDarby , September 16, 2017 at 2:05 pm

It appears to me that the elites decided long ago that the best solution to overpopulation is just to let climate change take care of three or four billion people while the Saud family and the Cargill family live on in their sheltered paradises with every convenience AI can provide.

It is clear these mega-rich families DO NOT CARE about society, about mass human extension or even about nature itself. They are the pinnacle of human evolution. Psycho-pathological loss of empathy might have been a bad evolutionary experiment.

This is derangement on a human specie scale, no leader no one in power has been willing to do anything but exploit every opportunity to make money and increase global domination, the great powers knew this day was coming when they made their decisions to hide it 50 years ago. The consequences are acceptable to the decision makers.

A mass extension of organic life is taking place before our eyes, nothing can stop it, THEY DO NOT CARE.

They sure as hell don't care if millions don't believe the Russia crap they just move ahead as the Imperial power, might makes right. In the end it is a religious project, the biblical slaughter of the innocents to appease a vengeful god and rid the world of evil.

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 12:19 pm

What you bring up MaDarby takes me towards the direction of wondering what all those other Departments, other than State & Defense, of the Presidential Cabinet are up too? If our news were done and somehow properly organized, in such away as to educate us peons, then whatever the time allowed would be to broadcast and print out what each Federal Agency is up to. Now I know a citizen can seek out this information, but why can't there be a suitable mass media representation to reach us clunkheads like me, not you?

What should be exposed is the corporate ownership of the very agencies that were put in place to protect the 'Commons' has been corrupted to the point of no return. This dilemma will take a huge public referendum short of a mob revolution to change this atmosphere of complacency. The public will get blamed, but the real blame should be put on the massive leadership programs which were bolted down on to their citizens masses knowledge of said events, and there in lies the total crime of deception.

MaDarby your concern for nature is where a smart person should put their number one priority concern, no arguing there, but just a lifting word of approval of how you put it. Joe

Donald Patterson , September 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Consortium has been a clear voice on the lunacy of the Russia-Gate scandal. But to paint Yanukovych former President of the Ukraine as an injured party considering his history in government with what appears to be large scale corruption is part of the story as well. A treason trial started in May. More info needed on what looks like a complicated story. This would be a good piece of investigative journalism as well.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 9:03 pm

Can you imagine what a huge can of worms would be revealed if there was a thorough investigation on every congressperson and public official in Washington DC? It would make Yanukovych look like a saint. And in addition, let's investigate the 10,000 richest people in the US, including all their offshore fortunes gained by illegal means. Wouldn't it make sense to do that? Isn't there enough evidence of probable criminal activity to open these investigations? Where is our ethical sense when it comes to our own dirty laundry? I guess it's easier to speculate about other's crimes than look into our own, eh?

Joe Tedesky , September 17, 2017 at 12:40 pm

The focus I get isn't so much focused on Yanukovych, even Putin wasn't all that crazy about his style of leadership, but my focus on a viable democratically created government doesn't necessarily start with an armed public coup. Yes, leading up to the violence, peaceful protesters took to the streets, but as we both know this is always the case until the baton twirling thugs come to finally ramp up the protest to a marathon of violent clashes and whatever else gets heads busted, until we have a full fledged revolution on our hands pass out the cookies. I mean by by-passing the voting polls, even to somehow ad hoc a temporary government in some manner of government overthrow were done peacefully, well then maybe I could get on board with this new Ukrainian government, but even the NYT finds it impossible to cover up everything.

And what about the people of Donbass? Shouldn't they have a say in this new government realignment? Ukraine has, and has always had a East meets West kind of problem. That area has been ruled over for centuries by each other, and one another, to a point of who's who and what's what is hard to figure out. Donbass, should in my regard be separate from the Now Kiev government. (Be kind with your critique of me for I am just an average American telling you what I see from here)

It's like everything else, where we should let the people of the region sit down with each other and work it out, we instead blame it on Putin, or whoever else Putin appears to be, and there you have it MIC spending up the ying-yang, for the lack of a better portrayal, but still a portrayal of what ills our modern geopolitical society.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 2:49 pm

"The best thing which could happen to this country and its people would be the collapse of this Empire. The support, even tacit and passive, of this Empire by people like yourself only delays this outcome and allows this abomination to to bring even more misery and pain upon millions of innocent people, including millions of your fellow Americans. This Empire now also threatens my country, Russia, with war and possibly nuclear war and that, in turn, means that this Empire threatens the survival of the human species. Whether the US Empire is the most evil one in history is debatable, but the fact that it is by far the most dangerous one is not. Is that not a good enough reason for you to say "enough is enough"? What would it take for you to switch sides and join the rest of mankind in what is a struggle for the survival of our species? Or will it take a nuclear winter to open your eyes to the true nature of the Empire you apparently are still supporting against all evidence?" (the Saker)

Please go to the entire article on today's Saker Blog.

Voytenko , September 16, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Sick edition consortiumnews, sick readers. Elites, Deep State, Evil Empire USA Dove Putin with olive branch Guys, why don't you watch, say for a week, Russian TV, if you have somebody around who can translate from Russian. If you want to hear real nazi racist alt-whatever crap, Russian TV is the place. But you'll enjoy it, most probably. Thankfully, you guys, are obviously, minority, with all your pseudo intellectual delusions, discussions and ideas. "Useful idiots" – that's what Lenin said about the likes of you.

Abe , September 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm

There is no reason to assume that the trollish rants of "Voytenko" are from some outraged flag-waving "patriot" in Kiev. There are plenty of other "useful idiots" ready, willing and able to make mischief.

For example, about a million Jews emigrated to Israel ("made Aliyah") from the post-Soviet states during the 1990s. Some 266,300 were Ukrainian Jews. A large number of Ukrainian Jews also emigrated to the United States during this period. For example, out of an estimated 400 thousand Russian-speaking Jews in Metro New York, the largest number (thirty-six percent) hail from Ukraine. Needless to say, many among them are not so well disposed toward the nations of Russia or Ukraine, and quite capable of all manner of mischief.

A particularly "useful idiot" making mischief the days is Sergey Brin of Google. Brin's parents were graduates of Moscow State University who emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1979 when their son was five years old.

Google, the company that runs the most visited website in the world, the company that owns YouTube, is very snugly in bed with the US military-industrial-surveillance complex.

In fact, Google was seed funded by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The company now enjoys lavish "partnerships" with military contractors like SAIC, Northrop Grumman and Blackbird.

Google's mission statement from the outset was "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful".

In a 2004 letter prior to their initial public offering, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin explained their "Don't be evil" culture required objectivity and an absence of bias: "We believe it is important for everyone to have access to the best information and research, not only to the information people pay for you to see."

The corporate giant appears to have replaced the original motto altogether. A carefully reworded version appears in the Google Code of Conduct: "You can make money without doing evil".

This new gospel allows Google and its "partners" to make money promoting propaganda and engaging in surveillance, and somehow manage to not "be evil". That's "post-truth" logic for you.

Google has been enthusiastically promoting Eliot Higgins "arm chair analytics" since 2013
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbWhcWizSFY

Indeed, a very cozy cross-promotion is happening between Google and Bellingcat.

In November 2014, Google Ideas and Google For Media, partnered the George Soros-funded Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) to host an "Investigathon" in New York City. Google Ideas promoted Higgins' "War and Pieces: Social Media Investigations" song and dance via their YouTube page.

Higgins constantly insists that Bellingcat "findings" are "reaffirmed" by accessing imagery in Google Earth.

Google Earth, originally called EarthViewer 3D, was created by Keyhole, Inc, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) funded company acquired by Google in 2004. Google Earth uses satellite images provided by the company Digital Globe, a supplier of the US Department of Defense (DoD) with deep connections to both the military and intelligence communities.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is both a combat support agency under the United States Department of Defense, and an intelligence agency of the United States Intelligence Community. Robert T. Cardillo, director of the NGA, lavishly praised Digital Globe as "a true mission partner in every sense of the word". Examination of the Board of Directors of Digital Globe reveals intimate connections to DoD and CIA.

Google has quite the history of malicious behavior. In what became known as the "Wi-Spy" scandal, it was revealed that Google had been collecting hundreds of gigabytes of payload data, including personal and sensitive information. First names, email addresses, physical addresses, and a conversation between two married individuals planning an extra-marital affair were all cited by the FCC. In a 2012 settlement, the Federal Trade Commission announced that Google will pay $22.5 million for overriding privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser. Though it was the largest civil penalty the Federal Trade Commission had ever imposed for violating one of its orders, the penalty as little more than symbolic for a company that had $2.8 billion in earnings the previous quarter.

Google is a joint venture partner with the CIA. In 2009, Google Ventures and In-Q-Tel invested "under $10 million each" into Recorded Future shortly after the company was founded. The company developed technology that strips information from web pages, blogs, and Twitter accounts.

In addition to funding Bellingcat and joint ventures with the CIA, Brin's Google is heavily invested in Crowdstrike, an American cybersecurity technology firm based in Irvine, California.

Crowdstrike is the main "source" of the "Russians hacked the DNC" story.

Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder and chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council "regime change" think tank.

Alperovitz said that Crowdstrike has "high confidence" it was "Russian hackers".

"But we don't have hard evidence," Alperovitch admitted in a June 16, 2016 Washington Post interview.

Allegations of Russian perfidy are routinely issued by private companies with lucrative US Department of Defense (DoD) contracts. The companies claiming to protect the nation against "threats" have the ability to manufacture "threats".

The US and UK possess elite cyber capabilities for both cyberspace espionage and offensive operations.

Both the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) are intelligence agencies with a long history of supporting military operations. US military cyber operations are the responsibility of US Cyber Command, whose commander is also the head of the NSA.

US offensive cyber operations have emphasized political coercion and opinion shaping, shifting public perception in NATO countries as well as globally in ways favorable to the US, and to create a sense of unease and distrust among perceived adversaries such as Russia and China.

The Snowden revelations made it clear that US offensive cyber capabilities can and have been directed both domestically and internationally. The notion that US and NATO cyber operations are purely defensive is a myth.

Recent US domestic cyber operations have been used for coercive effect, creating uncertainty and concern within the American government and population.

The perception that a foreign attacker may have infiltrated US networks, is monitoring communications, and perhaps considering even more damaging actions, can have a disorienting effect.

In the world of US "hybrid warfare" against Russia, offensive cyber operations work in tandem with NATO propaganda efforts, perhaps best exemplified by the "online investigation" antics of the Atlantic Council's Eliot Higgins and his Bellingcat disinformation site.

mike k , September 16, 2017 at 8:50 pm

Thanks Abe. Your insights are invaluable.

GMC , September 17, 2017 at 4:53 am

I live in Russia and see those shows that you speak of. The Nazi rants are from the Ukraine folks invited on the show – you want to see Ukraine shows like the ones in RU. – well, you won't see any Russians invited to talk -- -- NONE --

Gregory Herr , September 17, 2017 at 10:33 am

Your posts are so blatantly contrived it's almost funny. Do you write for sitcoms as well?

mrtmbrnmn , September 16, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Is this a great country, or wot???

Stupid starts at the very top and there is no bottom to it .

Dominic Pukallus , September 16, 2017 at 10:13 pm

The Washington Post has its own ironically self-describing slogan. Perhaps that of the NYT these days should be, in the same vein, "The Sleep of Reason begets monsters". And who will soon then be able to whistle in the darkness full of these things?

mike k , September 17, 2017 at 8:03 am

When looking for monsters, the WaPo should start by looking at themselves.

Walter DuBlanica , September 17, 2017 at 2:26 pm

The chaos in Ukraine was engineered by Victoria Nuland at Hillary's request. Good that she is not president. The Ukrainians and Russians are one and the same people, same DNA, same religion Orthodoxy., Slavic, languages very close to each other, Cyrillic alphabet and a long common history .

Russian_angel , September 17, 2017 at 9:43 pm

Thank you for the truth about Russia, it hurts the Russians to read about themselves in the American newspapers a lie.

Florin , September 18, 2017 at 2:15 am

Gershman, Nuland, Pyland, Feltman . essentially ths four biggest US (quasi) diplomats, like Volodymyr Groysman, Petro Poroshenko and perhaps 'our guy' Yats – are Jewish.

Add to this the role of Israeli 'ex' military, some hundreds, which means Mossad, and of Jewish oligarchs in Ukraine – and consider that Jews are less than 1% of the population.

The point is if we were free to speak plainly, the Ukraine coup looks to be one in which American and Ukrainian Jews acted in concert to benefit Jewish power. There is more to be said on this, but this glimpse will suffice because, of course, one is not free to speak plainly even where plain speaking is, on the face of it, encouraged.

Jamie , September 18, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Where was fake Antifa when Obama armed Nazi's in the Ukraine?

https://consortiumnews.com/2015/06/12/u-s-house-admits-nazi-role-in-ukraine/

Obama then put Joe Biden's sleazy son, Hunter, on the board of the largest gas company there:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/05/14/hunter-bidens-new-job-at-a-ukrainian-gas-company-is-a-problem-for-u-s-soft-power/

By ignoring the fascism of one political party, Antifa is actually pro-fascist. This fits in well with their Hitler-like disdain for freedom of press, speech and assembly. And their absolute love of violence, we also saw in the 1930s among Nazi groups

[Sep 18, 2017] End Democracy Promotion Balderdash by James Bovard

Notable quotes:
"... The Trump administration's foreign policy often resembles a Mad Hatter's Tea Party or a loose cannon on a ship deck. But every now and then, a good idea emerges from the fracas. Such is the case with a reform that could sharply reduce America's piety exports. ..."
"... this is like presuming that any preacher who fails to promise to eradicate sin is a tool of the devil. Instead, it is time to recognize the carnage the US has sown abroad in the name of democracy. ..."
"... In his 2005 inaugural address, President George W. Bush proclaimed that the US would "seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." While Bush's invocation thrilled Washington, the rest of the world paid more attention to his support for any tyrant who joined his War on Terror. ..."
"... In 2011, Obama portrayed the US bombing of Libya as a triumph of democratic values. After Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi was killed, Obama speedily announced that Libyans "now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya." But violence spiraled out of control and claimed thousands of victims (including four Americans killed in Benghazi in 2012). Similarly, Obama administration officials invoked democracy to justify arming quasi-terrorist groups in Syria's civil war, worsening a conflict that killed hundreds of thousands and created millions of refuges. ..."
"... Democracy promotion gives US policymakers a license to meddle almost anywhere on Earth. The National Endowment for Democracy , created in 1983, has been caught interfering in elections in France, Panama , Costa Rica , Ukraine , Venezuela, Nicaragua, Russia, Czechoslovakia , Poland , Haiti and many other nations. The State Department has a long list of similar pratfalls, including pouring vast amounts of money in vain efforts to beget democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan . ..."
"... Rather than abandoning all moral goals in foreign policy, Washington could instead embrace a strict policy of "honesty in democracy promotion." Under this standard, the US government would cease trying to covertly influence foreign elections, cease glorifying tinhorn dictators who rigged elections to capture power, and cease bankrolling authoritarian regimes that blight democratic reforms in the bud. But the odds of Washington policymakers abiding by those restraints is akin to the chances that all of Trump's tweets will henceforth be edifying. ..."
"... Rather than delivering political salvation, US interventions abroad more often produce "no-fault carnage" (no one in Washington is ever held liable). At a minimum, we should get our own constitutional house in order before seeking to rescue benighted foreigners. Ironically, many of the same people who equate Trump with Hitler still insist that the US government should continue its political missionary work during his reign. ..."
Aug 13, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

The Trump administration's foreign policy often resembles a Mad Hatter's Tea Party or a loose cannon on a ship deck. But every now and then, a good idea emerges from the fracas. Such is the case with a reform that could sharply reduce America's piety exports.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is revising the State Department mission statement to focus on promoting "the security, prosperity and interests of the American people globally." Washington pundits are aghast that "democracy promotion" is no longer trumpeted as a top US foreign policy goal. Elliott Abrams, George W. Bush's "democracy czar," complained, "We used to want a just and democratic world, and now apparently we don't the message being sent will be a great comfort to every dictator in the world."

But this is like presuming that any preacher who fails to promise to eradicate sin is a tool of the devil. Instead, it is time to recognize the carnage the US has sown abroad in the name of democracy.

The US has periodically pledged to spread democracy ever since President Woodrow Wilson announced in 1913: "I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good men!" Democracy is so important that the US government refuses to stand idly by when foreign voters go astray. Since 1946, the US has intervened -- usually covertly -- in more than 80 foreign elections to assist its preferred candidate or party.

In his 2005 inaugural address, President George W. Bush proclaimed that the US would "seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." While Bush's invocation thrilled Washington, the rest of the world paid more attention to his support for any tyrant who joined his War on Terror.

President Barack Obama was supposed to redeem the honor of US foreign policy. In 2011, Obama portrayed the US bombing of Libya as a triumph of democratic values. After Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi was killed, Obama speedily announced that Libyans "now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya." But violence spiraled out of control and claimed thousands of victims (including four Americans killed in Benghazi in 2012). Similarly, Obama administration officials invoked democracy to justify arming quasi-terrorist groups in Syria's civil war, worsening a conflict that killed hundreds of thousands and created millions of refuges.

But the Obama team, like prior administrations, did not permit its democratic pretensions to impede business as usual. After Egyptian protestors toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak, Obama pledged to assist that nation "pursue a credible transition to a democracy ." But the US government disapproved of that nation's first elected leader, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi. After the Egyptian military deposed Morsi in 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry bizarrely praised Egypt's generals for " restoring democracy ." Similarly, many Ethiopians were horrified when Obama visited their country in 2015 and praised its regime as " democratically elected " -- despite a sham election and its brutal suppression of journalists, bloggers and other critics.

Democracy promotion gives US policymakers a license to meddle almost anywhere on Earth. The National Endowment for Democracy , created in 1983, has been caught interfering in elections in France, Panama , Costa Rica , Ukraine , Venezuela, Nicaragua, Russia, Czechoslovakia , Poland , Haiti and many other nations. The State Department has a long list of similar pratfalls, including pouring vast amounts of money in vain efforts to beget democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan .

Democracy at its best is a wonderful form of government but many so-called democracies nowadays are simply elective despotisms. Elections abroad are often herd counts to determine who gets to fleece the herd. Many democracies have become kleptocracies where governing is indistinguishable from looting.

In some nations, election victories legitimize destroying voters en masse. This is exemplified by the Philippines, where the government has killed 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers , including several mayors . After President Rodrigo Duterte publicly declared that he would be " happy to slaughter " three million drug users, Trump phoned him and, according to a leaked transcript, said, "I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job [you're doing] on the drug problem." Similarly, Trump congratulated Turkish president Recep Erdogan after he won a referendum that awarded him quasi-dictatorial powers.

It is time to admit that America lacks a Midas touch for spreading democracy. Freedom House reported that, even prior to Trump's election, more than 100 nations have seen declines in democracy since 2005.

Rather than abandoning all moral goals in foreign policy, Washington could instead embrace a strict policy of "honesty in democracy promotion." Under this standard, the US government would cease trying to covertly influence foreign elections, cease glorifying tinhorn dictators who rigged elections to capture power, and cease bankrolling authoritarian regimes that blight democratic reforms in the bud. But the odds of Washington policymakers abiding by those restraints is akin to the chances that all of Trump's tweets will henceforth be edifying.

Rather than delivering political salvation, US interventions abroad more often produce "no-fault carnage" (no one in Washington is ever held liable). At a minimum, we should get our own constitutional house in order before seeking to rescue benighted foreigners. Ironically, many of the same people who equate Trump with Hitler still insist that the US government should continue its political missionary work during his reign.

James Bovard, author of Public Policy Hooligan , is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors . Follow him on Twitter @JimBovard

Reprinted with author's permission from USA TODAY .

[Sep 18, 2017] Americas Deadliest Export -- Democracy - The Truth about US Foreign Policy and Everything Else by Gary Corseri

Notable quotes:
"... "If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security... and if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book Rogue State." ..."
Amazon.com

William Blum's "Cri de Coeur", February 9, 2013

William Blum's Cri de Coeur
A review of "America's Deadliest Export: Democracy" by William Blum (Zed Books, London/New York, 2013.)

(As it has appeared at DissidentVoice, OpEdNews, etc.):

In activist-author-publisher William Blum's new book, America's Deadliest Export: Democracy, he tells the story of how he got his 15 minutes of fame back in 2006. Osama bin Laden had released an audiotape, declaring:

"If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security... and if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book Rogue State."

Bin Laden then quoted from the Foreword of Blum's 2000 book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, in which he had mused:

"If I were... president, I could stop terrorist attacks [on us] in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize... to all the widows and the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America's global interventions... have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but... a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims. ... That's what I'd do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated."

Unfortunately, Blum never made it to the White House! But, fortunately, for those who have read his books or follow his "Anti-Empire Reports" on the Web, he was not assassinated! And now he has collected his reports and essays of the last dozen years or so into a 352-page volume that will not only stand the test of time, but will help to define this disillusioned, morose, violent and unraveling Age.

America's Deadliest... is divided into 21 chapters and an introduction--and there's something to underline or memorize on every page! Sometimes it's just one of Blum's irrepressible quips, and sometimes it's a matter of searing American foreign or domestic policiy that clarifies that Bushwhackian question of yore: "Why do they hate us?"

Reading this scrupulously documented book, I lost count of the times I uttered, "unbelievable!" concerning some nefarious act committed by the US Empire in the name of freedom, democracy and fighting communism or terrorism. Reading Blum's book with an open mind, weighing the evidence, will bleach out any pride in the flag we have planted in so many corpses around the world. The book is a diuretic and emetic!

Blum's style is common sense raised to its highest level. The wonder of America's Deadliest ... is that it covers so much of the sodden, bloody ground of America's march across our post-Second-World-War world, yet tells the story with such deftness and grace-under-fire that the reader is enticed--not moralized, not disquisitionally badgered--, but enticed to consider our globe from a promontory of higher understanding.

Some of the themes Blum covers (and often eviscerates) include:

  1. Why they hate us;
  2. America means well;
  3. We cannot permit a successful alternative to the capitalist model to develop anywhere in the world;
  4. We will use whatever means necessary--including, lies, deception, sabotage, bribery, torture and war--to achieve the above idea.

Along the way, we get glimpses of Blum's experientially rich life. A note "About the Author" tells us that, "He left the State Department in 1967, abandoning his aspiration of becoming a Foreign Service Officer because of his opposition to what the US was doing in Vietnam. He then became a founder and editor of the Washington Free Press, the first "alternative" newspaper in the capital."

In his chapter on "Patriotism," Blum relates how, after a talk, he was asked: "Do you love America?" He responded with what we may take for his credo: "I don't love any country. I'm a citizen of the world. I love certain principles, like human rights, civil liberties, meaningful democracy, an economy which puts people before profits."

America's Deadliest... is a book of wisdom and wit that ponders "how this world became so unbearably cruel, corrupt, unjust, and stupid?" In a pointillistic approach, sowing aphoristic seeds for thought, Blum enumerates instances of that cruelty, often with wry, pained commentary. "War can be seen as America's religion," he tells us. Reflecting on Obama's octupling Bush's number of drones used to assassinate, collaterally kill and terrorize, he affirms:

"Obama is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the American left." And, he avers, "Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good." And then turns around and reminds us--lest we forget--how the mass media have invaded our lives, with memes about patriotism, democracy, God, the "good life": "Can it be imagined that an American president would openly implore America's young people to fight a foreign war to defend `capitalism'?" he wonders.

"The word itself has largely gone out of fashion. The approved references now are to the market economy, free market, free enterprise, or private enterprise."

Cynthia McKinney writes that the book is "corruscating, eye-opening, and essential." Oliver Stone calls it a "fireball of terse information."
Like Howard Zinn, Ralph Nader, Paul Craig Roberts, Cindy Sheehan and Bradley Manning, Blum is committed to setting the historical record straight. His book is dangerous. Steadfast, immutable "truths" one has taken for granted--often since childhood--are exposed as hollow baubles to entertain the un/mis/and dis-informed. One such Blumism recollects Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez's account of a videotape with a very undiplomatic Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and cowboy George Bush: "`We've got to smash somebody's ass quickly,'" Powell said. "`We must have a brute demonstration of power.'

Then Bush spoke: `Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! ... Stay strong! ... Kill them! ... We are going to wipe them out!'"

Blum's intellectual resources are as keen as anyone's writing today. He also adds an ample measure of humanity to his trenchant critiques. He juxtaposes the noble rhetoric of our professed values with the mordant facts of our deeds. The cognitive dissonance makes for a memorable, very unpretty picture of how an immensely privileged people lost themselves, while gorging on junk food, junk politics, junk economics, junk education, junk media. Like an Isaiah, a Jeremiah, he lambastes his own--us!--flaying layers of hypocrisy and betrayals while seeking to reveal the core values of human dignity, empathy and moral rectitude.

Gary Corseri has published and posted prose, poetry and dramas at hundreds of periodicals and websites worldwide, including CommonDreams, Countercurrents, BraveNewWorld.in, OpEdNews, CounterPunch, Outlook India, The New York Times, Dissident Voice. He has published novels, poetry collections and a literary anthology (edited). His dramas have been presented on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere, and he has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library. He has taught in US public schools and prisons, and at American and Japanese universities. Contact: gary_corseri@comcast.net.

[Sep 18, 2017] Down With Western Democracy !

Notable quotes:
"... German Nazis and Italian Fascists defined their rule as 'democratic', and so does this Empire. The British and French empires that exterminated tens of millions of people all over the world, always promoted themselves as 'democracies'. ..."
"... And now, once again, we are witnessing a tremendous onslaught by the business-political-imperialist Western apparatus, destabilizing or directly destroying entire nations, overthrowing governments and bombing 'rebellious' states into the ground. All this is done in the name of democracy, in the name of freedom. ..."
"... This sacrificial altar is called, Democracy, in direct mockery to what the term symbolizes in its original, Greek, language. ..."
Aug 02, 2014 | CounterPunch

A specter is haunting Europe and Western world - it is this time, the specter of fascism. It came quietly, without great fanfare and parades, without raised hands and loud shouts. But it came, or it returned, as it has always been present in this culture, one that has, for centuries, been enslaving our entire planet.

As was in Nazi Germany, resistance to the fascist empire is again given an unsavory name: terrorism. Partisans and patriots, resistance fighters – all of them were and have always been defined by fascist bigots as terrorists.

By the logic of Empire, to murder millions of men, women and children in all corners of the world abroad is considered legitimate and patriotic, but to defend one's motherland was and is a sign of extremism.

German Nazis and Italian Fascists defined their rule as 'democratic', and so does this Empire. The British and French empires that exterminated tens of millions of people all over the world, always promoted themselves as 'democracies'.

And now, once again, we are witnessing a tremendous onslaught by the business-political-imperialist Western apparatus, destabilizing or directly destroying entire nations, overthrowing governments and bombing 'rebellious' states into the ground. All this is done in the name of democracy, in the name of freedom.

An unelected monster, as it has done for centuries, is playing with the world, torturing some, and plundering others, or both.

The West, in a final act of arrogance, has somehow confused itself with its own concept of God. It has decided that it has the full right to shape the planet, to punish and to reward, to destroy and rebuild as it wishes.

This horrible wave of terror unleashed against our planet, is justified by an increasingly meaningless but fanatically defended dogma, symbolized by a box (made of card or wood, usually), and masses of people sticking pieces of paper into the opening on the top of that box.

This is the altar of Western ideological fundamentalism. This is a supreme idiocy that cannot be questioned, as it guarantees the status quo for ruling elites and business interests, an absurdity that justifies all crimes, all lies and all madness.

This sacrificial altar is called, Democracy, in direct mockery to what the term symbolizes in its original, Greek, language.

***

In our latest book, "On Western Terrorism – from Hiroshima to Drone Warfare", Noam Chomsky commented on the 'democratic' process in the Western world:

"The goal of elections now is to undermine democracy. They are run by the public relations industry and they're certainly not trying to create informed voters who'll make rational choices. They are trying to delude people into making irrational choices. The same techniques that are used to undermine markets are used to undermine democracy. It's one of the major industries in the country and its basic workings are invisible."

But what is it that really signifies this 'sacred' word, this almost religious term, and this pinnacle of Western demagogy? We hear it everywhere. We are ready to sacrifice millions of lives (not ours of course, at least not yet, but definitely lives of the others) in the name of it.

Democracy!

All those grand slogans and propaganda! Last year I visited Pyongyang, but I have to testify that North Koreans are not as good at slogans as the Western propagandists are.

"In the name of freedom and democracy!" Hundreds of millions tons of bombs fell from the sky on the Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese countryside bodies were burned by napalm, mutilated by spectacular explosions.

"Defending democracy!" Children were raped in front of their parents in Central America, men and women machine-gunned down by death squads that had been trained in military bases in the United States of America.

"Civilizing the world and spreading democracy!" That has always been a European slogan, their 'stuff to do', and a way of showing their great civilization to others. Amputating hands of Congolese people, murdering around ten million of them, and many more in Namibia, East Africa, West Africa and Algiers; gassing people of the Middle East ( "I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes", to borrow from the colorful lexicon of (Sir) Winston Churchill).

So what is it really? Who is it, that strange lady with an axe in her hand and with a covered face – the lady whose name is Democracy?

***

It is all very simple, actually. The term originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) "rule of the people". Then and now, it was supposed to be in direct contrast to ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratia), that means "rule of an elite".

'Rule of the people' Let us just visit a few examples of the 'rule of the people'.

People spoke, they ruled, they voted 'democratically' in Chile, bringing in the mild and socialist government of 'Popular Unity' of Salvador Allende.

Sure, the Chilean education system was so brilliant, its political and social system so wonderful, that it inspired not only many countries in Latin America, but also those in far away Mediterranean Europe.

That could not be tolerated, because, as we all know, it is only white Europe and North America that can be allowed to supply the world with the blueprint for any society, anywhere on this planet. It was decided that "Chile has to scream", that its economy had to be ruined and the "Popular Unity" government kicked out of power.

Henry Kissinger, belonging, obviously, to a much higher race and country of a much higher grade, made a straightforward and in a way very 'honest' statement, clearly defining the North American stand towards global democracy: "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its people."

And so Chile was ravaged. Thousands of people were murdered and 'our son-of-a-bitch' was brought to power. General Pinochet was not elected: he bombed the Presidential palace in Santiago, he savagely tortured the men and women who were elected by the Chilean people, and he "disappeared" thousands.

But that was fine, because democracy, as it is seen from Washington, London or Paris, is nothing more and nothing less than what the white man needs in order to control this planet, unopposed and preferably never criticized.

Of course Chile was not the only place where 'democracy' was 'redefined'. And it was not the most brutal scenario either, although it was brutal enough. But it was a very symbolic 'case', because here, there could be absolutely no dispute: an extremely well educated, middle class country, voted in transparent elections, just to have its government murdered, tortured and exiled, simply because it was too democratic and too involved in improving the lives of its people.

There were countless instances of open spite coming from the North, towards the 'rule of the people' in Latin America. For centuries, there have been limitless examples. Every country 'south of the border' in the Western Hemisphere, became a victim.

After all, the self-imposed Monroe Doctrine gave North Americans 'unquestionable rights' to intervene and 'correct' any 'irresponsible' democratic moves made by the lower races inhabiting Central and South America as well as the Caribbean Islands.

There were many different scenarios of real ingenuity, in how to torture countries that embarked on building decent homes for their people, although soon there was evidence of repetitiveness and predictability.

The US has been either sponsoring extremely brutal coups (like the one in Guatemala in 1954), or simply occupying the countries in order to overthrow their democratically elected governments. Justifications for such interventions have varied: it was done in order to 'restore order', to 'restore freedom and democracy', or to prevent the emergence of 'another Cuba'.

From the Dominican Republic in 1965 to Grenada in 1983, countries were 'saved from themselves' through the introduction (by orders from mainly the Protestant North American elites with clearly pathological superiority complexes) of death squads that administered torture, rape and extrajudicial executions. People were killed because their democratic decisions were seen as 'irresponsible' and therefore unacceptable.

While there has been open racism in every aspect of how the Empire controlled its colonies, 'political correctness' was skillfully introduced, effectively reducing to a bare minimum any serious critiques of the societies that were forced into submission.

In Indonesia, between 1 and 3 million people were murdered in the years1965/66, in a US -sponsored coup, because there too, was a 'great danger' that the people would rule and decide to vote 'irresponsibly', bringing the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), at that time the third most numerous Communist Party anywhere in the world, to power.

The democratically elected President of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, was murdered in 1961, by the joint efforts of the United States and Europe, simply because he was determined to use the vast natural resources of his country to feed his own people; and because he dared to criticize Western colonialism and imperialism openly and passionately.

East Timor lost a third of its population simply because its people, after gaining independence from Portugal, dared to vote the left-leaning FRETILIN into power. "We are not going to tolerate another Cuba next to our shores", protested the Indonesian fascist dictator Suharto, and the US and Australia strongly agreed. The torture, and extermination of East Timorese people by the Indonesian military, was considered irrelevant and not even worth reporting in the mass media.

The people of Iran could of course not be trusted with 'democracy'. Iran is one of the oldest and greatest cultures on earth, but its people wanted to use the revenues from its oil to improve their lives, not to feed foreign multi-nationals. That has always been considered a crime by Western powers – a crime punishable by death.

The people of Iran decided to rule; they voted, they said that they want to have all their oil industry nationalized. Mohammad Mosaddeq, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953, was ready to implement what his people demanded. But his government was overthrown in a coup d'état, orchestrated by the British MI6 and North American CIA, and what followed was the murderous dictatorship of the deranged Western puppet – Reza Pahlavi. As in Latin America and Indonesia, instead of schools, hospitals and housing projects, people got death squads, torture chambers and fear. Is that what they wanted? Is that what they voted for?

There were literally dozens of countries, all over the world, which had to be 'saved', by the West, from their own 'irresponsible citizens and voters'. Brazil recently 'celebrated' the 50th anniversary of the US-backed military coup d'état, which began a horrendous 20 year long military dictatorship. The US supported two coups in Iraq, in 1963 and 1968 that brought Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party to power. The list is endless. These are only some random examples.

On closer examination, the West has overthrown, or made attempts to overthrow, almost any democratically elected governments, on all continents attempting to serve their own people, by providing them with decent standards of living and social services. That is quite an achievement, and some stamina!

Could it be then that the West only respects 'Democracy' when 'people are forced to rule' against their own interests? And when they are 'defending' what they are ordered to defend by local elites that are subservient to North American and European interests? and also when they are defending the interests of foreign multi-national companies and Western governments that are dependent on those companies?

***

Can anything be done? If a country is too weak to defend itself by military means, against some mighty Western aggressor, could it approach any international democratic institutions, hoping for protection?

Unthinkable!

A good example is Nicaragua, which had been literally terrorized by the United States, for no other reason than for being socialist. Its government went to court.

The case was called: The Republic of Nicaragua v. The United States of America.

It was a 1986 case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in which the ICJ ruled in favor of Nicaragua and against the United States and awarded reparations to Nicaragua.

The judgment was long, consisting of 291 points. Among them that the United States had been involved in the "unlawful use of force." The alleged violations included attacks on Nicaraguan facilities and naval vessels, the mining of Nicaraguan ports, the invasion of Nicaraguan air space, and the training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying of forces (the "Contras") and seeking to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government.

Judgment was passed, and so were UN votes and resolutions. The UN resolution from 1986 called for the full and immediate compliance with the Judgment. Only Thailand, France and the UK abstained. The US showed total spite towards the court, and it vetoed all UN resolutions.

It continued its terror campaign against Nicaragua. In the end, the ruined and exhausted country voted in 1990. It was soon clear that it was not voting for or against Sandinista government, but whether to endure more violence from the North, or to simply accept depressing defeat. The Sandinista government lost. It lost because the voters had a North American gun pointing at their heads.

This is how 'democracy' works.

I covered the Nicaraguan elections of 1996 and I was told by voters, by a great majority of them, that they were going to vote for the right-wing candidate (Aleman), only because the US was threatening to unleash another wave of terror in case the Sandinista government came back to power, democratically.

The Sandinistas are now back. But only because most of Latin America has changed, and there is unity and determination to fight, if necessary.

***

While the Europeans are clearly benefiting from neo-colonialism and the plunder that goes on all over the world, it would be ridiculous to claim that they themselves are 'enjoying the fruits of democracy'.

In a dazzling novel "Seeing", written by Jose Saramago, a laureate for the Nobel Prize for literature, some 83% of voters in an unidentified country (most likely Saramago's native Portugal), decide to cast blank ballots, expressing clear spite towards the Western representative election system.

This state, which prided itself as a 'democratic one', responded by unleashing an orgy of terror against its own citizens. It soon became obvious that people are allowed to make democratic choices only when the result serves the interests of the regime.

Ursula K Le Guin, reviewing the novel in the pages of The Guardian, on 15 April 2006, admitted:

Turning in a blank ballot is a signal unfamiliar to most Britons and Americans, who aren't yet used to living under a government that has made voting meaningless. In a functioning democracy, one can consider not voting a lazy protest liable to play into the hands of the party in power (as when low Labour turn-out allowed Margaret Thatcher's re-elections, and Democratic apathy secured both elections of George W Bush). It comes hard to me to admit that a vote is not in itself an act of power, and I was at first blind to the point Saramago's non-voting voters are making.

She should not have been. Even in Europe itself, terror had been unleashed, on many occasions, against the people who decided to vote 'incorrectly'.

Perhaps the most brutal instance was in the post WWII period, when the Communist Parties were clearly heading for spectacular victories in France, Italy and West Germany. Such 'irresponsible behavior' had to be, of course, stopped. Both US and UK intelligence forces made a tremendous effort to 'save democracy' in Europe, employing Nazis to break, intimidate, even murder members of progressive movements and parties.

These Nazi cadres were later allowed, even encouraged, to leave Europe for South America, some carrying huge booty from the victims who vanished in concentration camps. This booty included gold teeth.

Later on, in the 1990's, I spoke to some of them, and also to their children, in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. They were proud of their deeds, unrepentant, and as Nazi as ever.

Many of those European Nazis later actively participated in Operation Condor, so enthusiastically supported by the Paraguayan fascist and pro-Western dictator, Alfredo Strössner. Mr Strössner was a dear friend and asylum-giver to many WWII war criminals, including people like Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor known as the "Angel of Death", who performed genetic experiments on children during the WWII.

So, after destroying that 'irresponsible democratic process' in Europe (the post-war Western Empire), many European Nazis that were now loyally serving their new master, were asked to continue with what they knew how to do best. Therefore they helped to assassinate some 60,000 left-wing South American men, women and their children, who were guilty of building egalitarian and just societies in their home countries. Many of these Nazis took part, directly, in Operacion Condor, under the direct supervision of the United States and Europe.

As Naomi Klein writes in her book, Shock Doctrine:

"Operación Cóndor, also known as Plan Cóndor, Portuguese: Operação Condor) was a campaign of political repression and terror involving intelligence operations and assassination of opponents, officially implemented in 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America. The program was intended to eradicate communist or Soviet influence and ideas, and to suppress active or potential opposition movements against the participating governments."

In Chile, German Nazis rolled up their sleeves and went to work directly: by interrogating, liquidating and savagely torturing members of the democratically elected government and its supporters. They also performed countless medical experiments on people, at the so-called Colonia Dirnidad, during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, whose rule was manufactured and sustained by Dr. Kissinger and his clique.

But back to Europe: in Greece, after WWII, both the UK and US got heavily involved in the civil war between the Communists and the extreme right-wing forces.

In 1967, just one month before the elections in which the Greek left-wing was expected to win democratically (the Indonesian scenario of 1965), the US and its 'Greek colonels' staged a coup, which marked the beginning of a 7 year savage dictatorship.

What happened in Yugoslavia, some 30 years later is, of course clear. A successful Communist country could not be allowed to survive, and definitely not in Europe. As bombs fell on Belgrade, many of those inquisitive and critically thinking people that had any illusions left about the Western regime and its 'democratic principles', lost them rapidly.

But by then, the majority of Europe already consisted of indoctrinated masses, some of the worst informed and most monolithic (in their thinking) on earth.

Europe and its voters It is that constantly complaining multitude, which wants more and more money, and delivers the same and extremely predictable electoral results every four, five or six years. It lives and votes mechanically. It has totally lost its ability to imagine a different world, to fight for humanist principles, and even to dream.

It is turning into an extremely scary place, a museum at best, and a cemetery of human vision at the worst.

***

As Noam Chomsky pointed out:

Americans may be encouraged to vote, but not to participate more meaningfully in the political arena. Essentially the election is a method of marginalizing the population. A huge propaganda campaign is mounted to get people to focus on these personalized quadrennial extravaganzas and to think, "That's politics." But it isn't. It's only a small part of politics.
The population has been carefully excluded from political activity, and not by accident. An enormous amount of work has gone into that disenfranchisement. During the 1960s the outburst of popular participation in democracy terrified the forces of convention, which mounted a fierce counter-campaign. Manifestations show up today on the left as well as the right in the effort to drive democracy back into the hole where it belongs.

Arundhati Roy, commented in her "Is there life after democracy?"

The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasized into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the Free Market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximizing profit? Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be?

***

After all that brutality, and spite for people all over the world, the West is now teaching the planet about democracy. It is lecturing Asians and Africans, people from Middle East and Sub-Continent, on how to make their countries more 'democratic'. It is actually hard to believe, it should be one of the most hilarious things on earth, but it is happening, and everyone is silent about it.

Those who are listening without bursting into laughter are actually well paid.

There are seminars; even foreign aid projects related to 'good governance', sponsored by the European Union, and the United States. The EU is actually much more active in this field. Like the Italian mafia, it sends covert but unmistakable messages to the world: "You do as we say, or we break your legs But if you obey, come to us and we will teach you how to be a good aide to Cosa Nostra! And we will give you some pasta and wine while you are learning."

Because there is plenty of money, so called 'funding' members of the elite, the academia, media and non-government organizations, from countries that have been plundered by the West – countries like Indonesia, Philippines, DR Congo, Honduras, or Colombia –send armies of people to get voluntarily indoctrinated, (sorry, to be 'enlightened') to learn about democracy from the greatest assassins of genuine 'people's power'; from the West.

Violating democracy is an enormous business. To hush it up is part of that business. To learn how to be idle and not to intervene against the external forces destroying democracy in your own country, while pretending to be 'engaged and active', is actually the best business, much better than building bridges or educating children (from a mercantilist point of view).

Once, at the University of Indonesia where I was invited to speak, a student asked me 'what is the way forward', to make his country more democratic? I replied, looking at several members of the professorial staff:

"Demand that your teachers stop going to Europe on fully funded trips. Demand that they stop being trained in how to brainwash you. Do not go there yourself, to study. Go there to see, to understand and to learn, but not to study Europe had robbed you of everything. They are still looting your country. What do you think you will learn there? Do you really think they will teach you how to save your nation?"

Students began laughing. The professors were fuming. I was never invited back. I am sure that the professors knew exactly what I was talking about. The students did not. They were thinking that I made a very good joke. But I was not trying to be funny.

***

As I write these words, the Thai military junta has taken over the country. The West is silent: the Thai military is an extremely close ally. Democracy at work

And as I write these words, the fascist government in Kiev is chasing, kidnapping and "disappearing" people in the east and south of Ukraine. By some insane twist of logic, the Western corporate media is managing to blame Russia. And only a few people are rolling around on the floor, laughing.

As I write these words, a big part of Africa is in flames, totally destroyed by the US, UK, France and other colonial powers.

Client states like the Philippines are now literally being paid to get antagonistic with China.

Japanese neo-fascist adventurism fully supported by the Unites States can easily trigger WWIII. So can Western greed and fascist practices in Ukraine.

Democracy! People's power!

If the West had sat on its ass, where it belongs, in Europe and in North America, after WWII, the world would have hardly any problems now. People like Lumumba, Allende, Sukarno, Mosaddeq, would have led their nations and continents. They would have communicated with their own people, interacted with them. They would have built their own styles of 'democracy'.

But all that came from the Bandung Conference of 1955, from the ideals of the Non-Aligned movement, was ruined and bathed in blood. The true hopes of the people of the world cut to pieces, urinated on, and then thrown into gutter.

But no more time should be wasted by just analyzing, and by crying over spilt milk. Time to move on!

The world has been tortured by Europe and the United States, for decades and centuries. It has been tortured in the name of democracy but it has all been one great lie. The world has been tortured simply because of greed, and because of racism. Just look back at history. Europe and the United States have only stopped calling people "niggers", but they do not have any more respect for them than before. And they are willing, same as before, to sacrifice millions of human lives.

Let us stop worshiping their box, and those meaningless pieces of paper that they want us to stick in there. There is no power of people in this. Look at the United States itself – where is our democracy? It is a one-party regime fully controlled by market fundamentalists. Look at our press, and propaganda

Rule of the people by the people, true democracy, can be achieved. We the people had been derailed, intellectually, so we have not been thinking how, for so many decades.

Now we, many of us, know what is wrong, but we are still not sure what is right.

Let us think and let us search, let us experiment. And also, let us reject their fascism first. Let them stick their papers wherever they want! Let them pretend that they are not slaves to some vendors and swindlers. Let them do whatever they want – there, where they belong.

Democracy is more than a box. It is more than a multitude of political parties. It is when people can truly choose, decide and build a society that they dream about. Democracy is the lack of fear of having napalm and bombs murdering our dreams. Democracy is when people speak and from those words grow their own nation. Democracy is when millions of hands join together and from that brilliant union, new trains begin to run, new schools begin to teach, and new hospitals begin to heal. All this by the people, for the people! All this created by proud and free humans as gift to all – to their nation.

Yes, let the slave masters stick their pieces of paper into a box, or somewhere else. They can call it democracy. Let us call democracy something else – rule of the people, a great exchange of ideas, of hopes and dreams. Let our taking control over our lives and over our nations be called 'democracy'!

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called "Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear". He has just completed the feature documentary, "Rwanda Gambit" about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

[Sep 18, 2017] A Foreign Enemy is a Tyrants Best Friend

Notable quotes:
"... This activates what Randolph Bourne called their "herd mind," inducing them to rally around their governments in a militaristic stampede so as to create the national unity of purpose deemed necessary to defend the homeland against the foreign menace. When you lay siege to an entire country, don't be surprised when it starts to look and act like a barracks. ..."
"... Imperial governments like to pretend that affairs are quite the reverse, adopting the essentially terrorist rationale that waging war against the civilian populace of a rogue state will pressure them to blame and turn against their governments. In reality, it only tends to bolster public support for the regime. ..."
"... The imperial "bogeygoat" is an essential prop for the power of petty tyrants, just as rogue state bogeymen are essential props for the power of grand tyrants like our own. Thus, it should be no surprise that the staunchest opponents to the Iran nuclear deal include both American and Iranian hardliners. Just as there is a "symbiosis of savagery" between imperial hawks and anti-imperial terrorists (as I explain here), there is a similar symbiotic relationship between imperial and rogue state hardliners. ..."
Jul 28, 2015 | Antiwar.com

Cold wars freeze despotism in place, and thaws in foreign relations melt it away

The recent Iran nuclear deal represents a thaw in the American cold war against that country. It is a welcome sequel to the Obama administration's partial normalization with Cuba announced late last year.

Hardliners denounce these policies as "going soft" on theocracy and communism. Yet, it is such critics' own hardline, hawkish policies that have done the most to ossify and strengthen such regimes.

That is because war, including cold war, is the health of the state. Antagonistic imperial policies - economic warfare, saber-rattling, clandestine interventions, and full-blown attacks - make the citizens of targeted "rogue states" feel under siege.

This activates what Randolph Bourne called their "herd mind," inducing them to rally around their governments in a militaristic stampede so as to create the national unity of purpose deemed necessary to defend the homeland against the foreign menace. When you lay siege to an entire country, don't be surprised when it starts to look and act like a barracks.

Rogue state governments eagerly amplify and exploit this siege effect through propaganda, taking on the mantle of foremost defender of the nation against the "Yankee Imperialist" or "Great Satan." Amid the atmosphere of crisis, public resistance against domestic oppression by the now indispensable "guardian class" goes by the board. "Quit your complaining. Don't you know there's a cold war on? Don't you know we're under siege?"

Moreover, cold wars make it easy for rogue state governments to shift the blame for domestic troubles away from their own misrule, and onto the foreign bogeyman/scapegoat ("bogeygoat?") instead. This is especially easy for being to some extent correct, especially with regard to economic blockades and other crippling sanctions, like those Washington has imposed on Cuba, Iran, etc.

Imperial governments like to pretend that affairs are quite the reverse, adopting the essentially terrorist rationale that waging war against the civilian populace of a rogue state will pressure them to blame and turn against their governments. In reality, it only tends to bolster public support for the regime.

The imperial "bogeygoat" is an essential prop for the power of petty tyrants, just as rogue state bogeymen are essential props for the power of grand tyrants like our own. Thus, it should be no surprise that the staunchest opponents to the Iran nuclear deal include both American and Iranian hardliners. Just as there is a "symbiosis of savagery" between imperial hawks and anti-imperial terrorists (as I explain here), there is a similar symbiotic relationship between imperial and rogue state hardliners.

The last thing hardliners want is the loss of their cherished bogeygoat. Once an emergency foreign threat recedes, and the fog of war hysteria lifts, people are then more capable of clearly seeing their "guardians" as the domestic threat that they are, and more likely to feel that they can afford to address that threat without exposing themselves to foreign danger. This tends to impel governments to become less oppressive, and may even lead to their loss of power.

Thus after Nixon normalized with communist China and belatedly ended the war on communist Vietnam, both of those countries greatly liberalized and became more prosperous. Even Soviet reforms and the ultimate dissolution of the Soviet Union only arose following American detente.

Simultaneously, as the American cold wars against communist Cuba and communist North Korea continued without stint for decades, providing the Castros and Kims the ultimate bogeygoat to feature in their propaganda, the impoverishing authoritarian grip of those regimes on their besieged people only strengthened.

Similarly, ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the puppet dictator that the CIA had installed over Iran in a 1953 coup, the Ayatollahs have been able to exploit ongoing hostility from the American "Great Satan" to retain and consolidate their repressive theocratic power.

All this is an object lesson for US relations with Putin's Russia, Chavista Venezuela, and beyond. Disastrously, it is being unheeded.

Even while thawing relations with Iran, the Obama administration has triggered a new cold war with Russia over Ukraine. This has only made Russian President Vladimir Putin more domestically popular than ever.

And even while normalizing relations with Cuba, Obama recently declared Venezuela a national security threat, imposing new sanctions. As journalist Alexandra Ulmer argued, these sanctions "may be godsend for struggling Venezuelan leader," President Nicolas Maduro. As Ulmer wrote in Reuters:

"Suddenly, the unpopular leader has an excuse to crank up the revolutionary rhetoric and try to fire up supporters, copying a tactic used skillfully for more than a decade by his mentor and predecessor, the late socialist firebrand Hugo Chavez.

A new fight with the enemy to the north may also help unite disparate ruling Socialist Party factions and distract Venezuelans from relentless and depressing talk about their day-to-day economic problems."

[Sep 17, 2017] How to effectively resist truth-killing efforts of various agencies not interested in revealing the truth on the particular subject

Notable quotes:
"... In all those discussions, be it Obamacare, neoclassical economics, neoliberalism, globalization, automation, or supposed Russian interference in elections the key question is how to effectively resist truth-killing efforts of various agencies not interested in revealing the truth on the particular subject. ..."
"... Now those disinformation efforts can be easily amplified via Internet, which serves as a kind of echo-chamber. For example, just a half-dozen of like-minded people can drive Internet discussion in the necessary direction and spam or smear opponents. Essentially such informal cliques are quite capable to dominate discussion in popular blogs. ..."
"... The problem is fundamental, and relates to a broad spectrum of policy issues both foreign and domestic, because truth - factual reality - is a necessary foundation to consider and evaluate and debate policy on any subject. ..."
"... Crushing the truth means not just our having to endure any one misdirected policy; it means losing the ability even to address policy intelligently. ..."
Jun 27, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

libezkova June 27, 2017 at 10:50 AM

In all those discussions, be it Obamacare, neoclassical economics, neoliberalism, globalization, automation, or supposed Russian interference in elections the key question is how to effectively resist truth-killing efforts of various agencies not interested in revealing the truth on the particular subject.

Now those disinformation efforts can be easily amplified via Internet, which serves as a kind of echo-chamber. For example, just a half-dozen of like-minded people can drive Internet discussion in the necessary direction and spam or smear opponents. Essentially such informal cliques are quite capable to dominate discussion in popular blogs.

Paul R. Pillar in his May 2 essay in National interest provided an interesting overview of this problem. While his analyses is related to Trump climate change policies some points have wider applicability:

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/truth-killing-meta-issue-20452?page=2

The problem is fundamental, and relates to a broad spectrum of policy issues both foreign and domestic, because truth - factual reality - is a necessary foundation to consider and evaluate and debate policy on any subject.

Crushing the truth means not just our having to endure any one misdirected policy; it means losing the ability even to address policy intelligently.

To the extent that falsehood is successfully instilled in the minds of enough people, the political system loses what would otherwise be its ability to provide a check on policy that is bad policy because it is inconsistent with factual reality.

[Sep 17, 2017] Empire Idiots by Linh Dinh

Highly recommended!
There are probably two factors here: The first is the real anger of Arab population against aggression by the USA and European states (mainly GB and Frnace). That what produces radicalized Muslims who can commit terrorist attacks.
The second factor is the desire of intelligence agencies to exploit those attacks for thier own purposes. For example, it is quite possible, that they are standing idle to the most stupid of them and disrupt others, more dangerous.
Notable quotes:
"... How many Muslims are needed to drive one suicide car? Five, of course. What's the best, most lethal vehicle for the purpose? The compact Audi A3, naturally. ..."
"... From 9/11, Charlie Hebdo, Paris' Bataclan Concert Hall, Berlin's Christmas Market to Barcelona, etc., Muslim mass murderers seem expert at leaving behind their identity papers. ..."
"... Classic examples of this type of "lost and found id" were Oswald's lost wallet and James Earl Ray's dropped bundle of documents (ML King) ..."
"... Arab folks are brimming with anger that is now being met by the anger of the natives. ..."
"... I think the author misses the role of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, who appear to be the main financiers of the work performed by the above American Israel Empire. ..."
"... Perhaps the term Petrodollar Empire would be more accurate? As a bonus, it also complies better to the rules of political correctness. ..."
"... I am always deeply skeptical of these false flag claims. We bomb and kill arabs daily, yet create magnificent conspiracy theories to explain how it is someone else blowing crap up in vengeance. ..."
"... Why would Israel need to frame Muslim bombers when so many are so willing to do the job themselves and avenge their dead? Israel certainly pulls our strings to conduct the bombardment and they control American politics – why would they need to fabricate murders of random faceless Spaniards? How does that keep American taxpayers footing the bill for Zionism? ..."
"... It's really pretty simple isn't it? Before we decided to throw in with England and help genocide the Palestinians we had few problems with arabs. Now we've expanded our mission to include Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, etc and our blowback is serious. The arabs are doing what I'd do if a foreign power bombed my family. I could not care less what happens to Israelis or arabs. We need to either nuke the entire Arab world or leave it the hell alone – none of them are worth a single American life. ..."
Sep 09, 2017 | www.unz.com

How many Muslims are needed to drive one suicide car? Five, of course. What's the best, most lethal vehicle for the purpose? The compact Audi A3, naturally. What's the best time to stage such an attack? 1:15AM, grasshopper, when there are almost nobody on the Paseo Maritimo. Finally, what should you wear for such a momentous and self-defining occasion? Fake suicide vests, stupid, because they serve no purpose besides giving cops an excuse to perforate you immediately.

... .. ...

Astonishingly moronic, the five Muslims in Cambrils made all the worst choices possible, but the rest of their "terrorist cell" weren't any smarter, it is said.

Eight hours earlier, a van had killed 14 people and injured 130+ more in Barcelona, and the purported driver of that van, 22-year-old Younes Aboyaaqoub, had rented the vehicle with his own credit card. Very stupid. He also left his IDs in a second van, meant as a get-away car.

From 9/11, Charlie Hebdo, Paris' Bataclan Concert Hall, Berlin's Christmas Market to Barcelona, etc., Muslim mass murderers seem expert at leaving behind their identity papers. Otherwise, the official narrative can't be broadcast immediately. Wait a week or a month for a proper investigation, and the public won't have any idea what you're talking about, fixated as they are on a Kardashian pumped up buttocks or Messi goal.

Brabantian, Website September 9, 2017 at 9:03 am GMT

List of Passport / ID documents found at terrorism attack scenes – at least 8, including those Linh Dinh mentions above

(1) – 11 Sep 2001 passport found in NYC towers rubble tho aeroplane had 'turned to vapour'
(2) – 7 Jul 2005 London bomboings – ID of '4th bomber' allegedly 'found by UK police'
(3) – 7 Jan 2015 Charlie Hebdo, passport in car in front of Paris Jewish deli where Mossad meets
(4) – 13 Nov 2015 Bataclan Paris passport flew from body 'after killer exploded his suicide vest'
(5) – 14 Jul 2016 Nice France lorry attack 'passport found'
(6) – 19 Dec 2016 Berlin Christmas market lorry attack 'ID found', after 24 hours of searching lorry cab
(7) – 22 May 2017 Manchester UK 'suicide bomber leaves ID' at scene amidst another 'terror on 22nd'
(8) – 17 Aug 2017 Barcelona deadly terror attack by white van, 'Spanish passport found in van'

Also related & of interest
'Mossad did the Barcelona attack' – Israel heavily involved with Barcelona police – from Aangirfan on her site

republic, September 9, 2017 at 11:43 am GMT

@Brabantian List of Passport / ID documents found at terrorism attack scenes - at least 8, including those Linh Dinh mentions above

(1) - 11 Sep 2001 passport found in NYC towers rubble tho aeroplane had 'turned to vapour'
(2) - 7 Jul 2005 London bomboings - ID of '4th bomber' allegedly 'found by UK police'
(3) - 7 Jan 2015 Charlie Hebdo, passport in car in front of Paris Jewish deli where Mossad meets
(4) - 13 Nov 2015 Bataclan Paris passport flew from body 'after killer exploded his suicide vest'
(5) - 14 Jul 2016 Nice France lorry attack 'passport found'
(6) - 19 Dec 2016 Berlin Christmas market lorry attack 'ID found', after 24 hours of searching lorry cab
(7) - 22 May 2017 Manchester UK 'suicide bomber leaves ID' at scene amidst another 'terror on 22nd'
(8) - 17 Aug 2017 Barcelona deadly terror attack by white van, 'Spanish passport found in van'

Also related & of interest
'Mossad did the Barcelona attack' - Israel heavily involved with Barcelona police - from Aangirfan on her site
http://aanirfan.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/mossad-did-barcelona-attack.html
http://aanirfan.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/barcelona-false-flag-part-3.html https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Lost_and_Found_ID

Classic examples of this type of "lost and found id" were Oswald's lost wallet and James Earl Ray's dropped bundle of documents (ML King)

Cranky, September 9, 2017 at 2:35 pm GMT

Dinh, you are a fool. The Spanish police until the last two decades were always a bit trigger happy. And then you forget the Guardia Civil. They were the people in charge of keeping Franco's Spain quiet, and it was quiet like the grave. The really funny part is the Arab folks are brimming with anger that is now being met by the anger of the natives. Read the Blood of Spain, and see the complicated relationship between Franco's Moros and how they ravaged parts of Spain during the Civil War. The really ironic part is these "radicalized" kids are simply fodder for the papers back home, and an excuse to begin the round ups and mass deportations.

Fascism is now returning to Europe because of the liberal insanity of open borders and mass immigration.

Go see this in Spain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valle_de_los_Ca%C3%ADdos

Built by the prisoners of France, and then ponder what it means when a people get tired of too much change.

Simpleguest, September 9, 2017 at 4:34 pm GMT

Nice read, indeed. Regarding the main idea of the article, that the:

" .. American Israel Empire is working nonstop to deform the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and, frankly, the rest of the world."

I think the author misses the role of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, who appear to be the main financiers of the work performed by the above American Israel Empire.

Perhaps the term Petrodollar Empire would be more accurate? As a bonus, it also complies better to the rules of political correctness.

DFH, September 9, 2017 at 8:34 pm GMT

Which seems more likely prima facie , Muslim terrorism or that the whole thing was faked? The whole premise of this article seems to be that it's simply ludicrous that a Muslim would ever do something like ram a car into a crowd of people.

jacques sheete, September 9, 2017 at 11:36 pm GMT

You're being played, in short.

For sure. Deja vu all over again and again. Another fine one, LD!

Dumbo, September 10, 2017 at 3:47 am GMT

It's like in the great movie by Kurosawa, Yojimbo, one guy playing both sides one against the other. Except Sanjuro was a good guy trying to kill a bunch of thugs and bring peace to the town, while our globo-masters prefer to see innocent people being murdered and the world in chaos.

Anon, Disclaimer September 10, 2017 at 6:11 pm GMT

@Linh Dinh "Barcelona Massacre, the testimony of Bruno Gulotta's father," delivered a day after his son's death:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbvhAwlYgfA

Linh, the Orlando video seems obviously fake. For those who look for those things, there are plenty of give-aways. But what's your point with the Barcelona video? I don't speak Spanish or Catalan, as the case may be, but he seems to be fairly dispassionate and therefore not bullshitting. I do hope there was a point you were making. There is enough in what you say, so that your linguistic showing off is a pointless irritation. I would like to make my point with a pointless Hindi quip, but my phone doesn't support the script.

Dumbo, September 10, 2017 at 8:32 pm GMT

@fish

What Merkel has done in Germany is incredible. She took in a million, a million and a half refugees, and there has been no major problem. It has been a great success, a miracle."
Yeah....good luck with that! By the time this all sorts out historically Merkel will rate lower than ol Schickelgruber.

Mutti.....Europes greatest "Crazy Cat Lady"!

"and there has been no major problem"

Except for a few stabbings, shootings and bombings as well as general malaise and waste of taxpayer's money, but what is that compared to the glory of diversity?
Well, I guess Germany had too few kebab shops

"By the time this all sorts out historically Merkel will rate lower than ol Schickelgruber."

The problem of politics and especially democracy is that politicians act for short term gains, but their decisions affect everybody else in the long term. By the time the Scheiße hits the fan Merkel and her friends will be happily retired in Switzerland or Monaco.

Andrew Nichos, September 11, 2017 at 3:30 am GMT

You'd have to be blind and stupid not have noticed this convenient habit of Muslim terrorists. I wonder why the IRA/ Baader Meinhof/Brigata Rossi or the westher,men didn't have the same habit?

NoseytheDuke, September 11, 2017 at 4:26 am GMT

You'd have to be blind and stupid not have noticed this convenient habit of pseudo moslem terrorists. I wonder why the IRA/ Baader Meinhof/Brigata Rossi or the Weathermen didn't have the same habit?

I fixed that for you, mate. The frequency of this seemingly ritual habit is amazing I agree. It is certainly one for the Coincidence Theorists out there.

Erebus, September 11, 2017 at 5:39 am GMT

@Intelligent Dasein From the banner of this website:

A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
I am here reminded of Jerry Seinfeld's wise observation that "Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."

I would advise Ron Unz to take this saying to heart and to spike the execrable Linh Dinh from these pages, and his butt-buddy Revusky, too.

I am here reminded of Jerry Seinfeld's wise observation that "Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."

Seinfeld would have been wiser if he had said that it's always less travelled for a reason. That reason is invariably along the lines of it being less convenient, more arduous, and more challenging. It often takes you to uncomfortable places, and you have to leave your beloved baggage behind.
Most people naturally choose to walk the broad level path that's been thoughtfully laid out for them. It doesn't go anywhere at all, except maybe in a giant circle, so that it doesn't matter where they start or where they stop, but they get to keep and even accumulate baggage along the way and that's what travelling is all about, isn't it?

NoseytheDuke, September 11, 2017 at 11:42 am GMT

@utu Looks like Linh Dinh was turned by Revusky. Everything must be a hoax. This is their starting position: It is a hoax until proven otherwise.

And Revusky comes up with his cheap schtick about the "emotional register." As if he ever seen true reactions of real people who lost relatives? All his life like all the hoax mongering youtube yahoos he was exposed to movies with the overacted emotional displays by actors and this formed the baseline for the youtube yahoos and Revusky. So when he sees more measure reactions of real people he thinks it must be bad acting. Yes, if you haven't noticed, the real life is full of bad acting, you fool.

More interesting would be to read about how is the bromance evolving? Actually real life is usually quite authentic which is the 'real' part and since several big "terror"events have had some inexplicable aspects to them suggesting the involvement of trickery it would be wise to suspect that of other events too. If you've been mugged while walking in the street a couple of times it would be completely rational and indeed prudent if you crossed the street to avoid a stranger, or clutched a hidden weapon as a stranger approached. This is natural and the survival instinct at work.

As to the emotional register, most people have not studied acting yet they can spot poor acting on TV or in a movie very quickly because they have experienced human behaviour their entire lives. When the behaviour or physical action doesn't match the dialogue or situation it appears very odd to us. Some people are more observant than others, this is why professional actors like to study the traits and quirks of people.

Linh Dinh has written some really excellent articles as many commenters have approved and stated as much but if you don't like them why bother reading or commenting? Jonathan Revusky too has written some very worthwhile articles in my opinion but he doesn't seem to take criticism well and has made a few enemies here but again, if you don't like them why not spend your time reading the work of other people?

bb., September 11, 2017 at 12:36 pm GMT

i agree that the passports left behind all the time are a little bit weird. when some shit goes down, among friends, we jokingly ask if they found the passports yet? but it could also be that they want to leave them behind, as a martyr signature or something maybe. like now they recruited irma for their cause..saying god is on their side.
but then again..i am susceptible to consider weird shit. like the boston bombings for example. I saw a very strange video of a simulation of a bombing attack which looked very real, like tv footage, but maybe that's the point of a good simulation.
we live in weird times. information flow is corrupted and not to be trusted. stanislaw lem wrote about it 40years ago and I always think about it reading news.

escobar, September 11, 2017 at 1:05 pm GMT

Linh Dinh's and others' dark dreams:

The American Israel Empire, the Anglo Zionist Conspiracy, the Jew Bolshevik plot

How do the Jews have time for all that and make so much money, run their dentistry, legal, media, entertainment empires and lust after blond shiksa cheerleaders as well?
Maybe it's from those gefilte fish they eat, or from the chopped liver they do even better than this sample produced by Linh Dinh.

Joe Hide, September 11, 2017 at 1:16 pm GMT

Millions of us have been aware of the "Empire" for years now Linh. We just don't have access to the media expression as you do. We tend to be quiet about it until we sense a person or group is open to this Truth. Most people think inside the box because it's safe, comforting, and lacks unpleasant reactions. We who want the Truth value your articles, because we really do believe that "The Truth will set you free."

Santoculto, September 11, 2017 at 1:50 pm GMT

Francisco, a typical teacher of philosophy and never a real philosopher. Most of this "refugees" are permanent immigrants, that's why this "refugee crisis" is just a way to accelerate the capitulation of Europe. Real refugees came back to their countries when they have opportunity. In the end the most effective way to stop middle east conflicts must be done via exposition of real (((criminals))), the direct responsible for all this shit. Only the truth can solve any problem and (((problem))).

Teacher of history's philosophy, what most of this "philosophers" are. Real philosophers learn/or invent and teach real or valid philosophical methods of thinking/analytical-critical thinking and of course subsequent action/application.

anonymous, Disclaimer September 11, 2017 at 2:34 pm GMT

The author is claiming it's all fake because the participants were inept and stupid. They possibly were being monitored and followed all along. That doesn't make it a staged fake event. "Kosher Nostra"? What's that supposed to mean? Jews are scapegoated for what Muslims do and have been doing for close to fourteen hundred years? It took the Spanish hundreds of years of struggle to free themselves from Muslim overlordship and now they're just supposed to wash their brains of any historical memory? Those third worlders written about so lovingly add nothing to Spain besides just some food joints. The author doesn't live there anyway so why is he telling them how to live?"Drugged and inflamed" is not necessarily true of all of America. The author is probably an alcoholic and needs to stop hanging around craphole taverns with all those dysfunctional boozers.

Hairway To Steven, September 11, 2017 at 8:30 pm GMT

Conspiracy theories like those expressed in this article and in many of the comments are for those either lacking the good sense to appreciate that the world is complex or the intellectual patience to sort through that complexity.

In the absence of these qualities, conspiracy nuts come up with unified theories that "explain everything" (e.g., the Jews control the world).

Actually moving out of the basement of their mom's house, or even losing their virginity, might help, but most of these sweaty little pamphleteers are lost causes whose lives rarely extend beyond a circle of like-minded friends and the insular concerns expressed in their over-heated and under-read blogs.

Stan d Mute, September 11, 2017 at 10:34 pm GMT

@DFH Which seems more likely prima facie , Muslim terrorism or that the whole thing was faked?
The whole premise of this article seems to be that it's simply ludicrous that a Muslim would ever do something like ram a car into a crowd of people.

Which seems more likely prima facie, Muslim terrorism or that the whole thing was faked?
The whole premise of this article seems to be that it's simply ludicrous that a Muslim would ever do something like ram a car into a crowd of people.

I am always deeply skeptical of these false flag claims. We bomb and kill arabs daily, yet create magnificent conspiracy theories to explain how it is someone else blowing crap up in vengeance.

Why would Israel need to frame Muslim bombers when so many are so willing to do the job themselves and avenge their dead? Israel certainly pulls our strings to conduct the bombardment and they control American politics – why would they need to fabricate murders of random faceless Spaniards? How does that keep American taxpayers footing the bill for Zionism?

It's really pretty simple isn't it? Before we decided to throw in with England and help genocide the Palestinians we had few problems with arabs. Now we've expanded our mission to include Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, etc and our blowback is serious. The arabs are doing what I'd do if a foreign power bombed my family. I could not care less what happens to Israelis or arabs. We need to either nuke the entire Arab world or leave it the hell alone – none of them are worth a single American life.

Art, September 12, 2017 at 2:30 am GMT

How stupid must you be to not see that the American Israel Empire has rigged every aspect of your reality?

...The pattern of human nature that they use is called the Stockholm syndrome.

It has been documented that a group of people can be turned against themselves when they are captured and terrorized, and in the process, they are propagandized to believe that the terrorizers themselves are the true victims. The terrorists tell the those they captured, that they are doing this because they themselves are the real victims.

The syndrome is that the captured group begin to sympathize with their terrorists. They take to heart that the terrorists are indeed victims, and that they should be supported. .

... ... ...

Think Peace -- Art

Stan d Mute, September 12, 2017 at 2:50 am GMT

@ChuckOrloski "... none of them are worth an American life."

Stan d Mute,

The dangerous thing about your rather common conclusion (above) is the stinky fact that, for the sake of creating Greater Israel, Neoconservatives are in your "Amen Corner" and also would green light the "nuking" of Iran.

Thank you.

Neoconservatives are in your "Amen Corner" and also would green light the "nuking" of Iran.

Don't paint me with your misrepresentation. I wrote " nuke the entire Arab world " Your Iran reply is a strawman.

Few neocons would endorse my suggestion to either obliterate the Middle East (drill for oil through the glass) or abandon their first loyalty of Zionism and all resulting meddling and murdering in the region.

Tell it like it is, September 12, 2017 at 10:05 pm GMT

Cry me a river. No sympathy from me. This article is completely one sided. What kind of investigative reporting is this when the author didn't even interview the police and review the evidence, but simply hurl out accusations through hearsay from the average guys on the street.

... ... ...

denk, September 13, 2017 at 3:32 pm GMT

The terror factory

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34322.htm

It has already been exposed that 95% of domestic 'terror attacks' were FBI/CIA
false flags.

[Sep 17, 2017] Society has always been divided into two classes: those who write the script, and those who live it; the programmers and the users.

Notable quotes:
"... The narratives are, after all not intended to reveal any truths, but to get their subjects to do something the elites want them to do, and in the course their doing it, to cement the elites' power. Subjects, being what they are, have fallen for lies since the Pharoahs told whoppers to get their peasants to invest in pyramids, or the Archdruids got their's to die hauling and arranging 20T rocks on a dreary plain. ..."
"... As long as a subject can internalize the narrative and live his life as if it was true, that's good enough for him. He simply doesn't need, or even want more truth than that. He never has, and he never will. Elites have known this since the dawn of the Neolithic, maybe earlier. That's what made them elites. Nothing else. ..."
"... Much more interesting is what happens when narratives break down ..."
Sep 15, 2017 | www.unz.com

Anonymous, Disclaimer September 15, 2017 at 8:22 am GMT

@Erebus

This is their starting position: It is a hoax until proven otherwise.
If it's turned out to be a hoax the last 20x it happened, why would you insist on starting at the opposite end? Seems inefficient, no?

What is perhaps even more inefficient on the part of Dinh and Revusky is to go interminably 'round and 'round this spot. Ok, we know that the narratives elites feed their subjects are invariably false. They have to be, or they wouldn't work. Twas ever thus.

The narratives are, after all not intended to reveal any truths, but to get their subjects to do something the elites want them to do, and in the course their doing it, to cement the elites' power. Subjects, being what they are, have fallen for lies since the Pharoahs told whoppers to get their peasants to invest in pyramids, or the Archdruids got their's to die hauling and arranging 20T rocks on a dreary plain.

As long as a subject can internalize the narrative and live his life as if it was true, that's good enough for him. He simply doesn't need, or even want more truth than that. He never has, and he never will. Elites have known this since the dawn of the Neolithic, maybe earlier. That's what made them elites. Nothing else.

Much more interesting is what happens when narratives break down, which is why Dinh's vignettes from the fraying seams of the American Narrative are more fascinating than these half-baked, pseudo-forensic analyses of "terror events". Maybe he thinks too many people still believe these bugaboos and should be brought around to enlightenment. That's as may be, but one wonders whether he understands that if enough people "come around", the forces unleashed are far more disruptive than when they accept, if not believe, the lies.

As long as a subject can internalize the narrative and live his life as if it was true, that's good enough for him. He simply doesn't need, or even want more truth than that. He never has, and he never will. Elites have known this since the dawn of the Neolithic, maybe earlier. That's what made them elites. Nothing else.

In other words, society has always been divided into two classes: those who write the script, and those who live it; the programmers and the users.

What's gone wrong? Are too many people finding the root shell?

[Sep 17, 2017] Anyone using the words, conspiracy theories implicitly subscribe to MSM narrative of events and lack of intellectual patience to analyze events himself. Even if the rumor (aka conspiracy theory ) is wrong if often raises important issues about the weaknesses of the official MSM narrative -- politically correct explanation of the same events

The narratives are, after all not intended to reveal any truths, but to get their subjects to do something the elites want them to do, and in the course their doing it, to cement the elites' power.
Subjects, being what they are, have fallen for lies since the Pharoahs...
As long as a subject can internalize the narrative and live his life as if it was true, that's good enough for him. He simply doesn't need, or even want more truth than that. He never has, and he never will. Elites have known this since the dawn of the Neolithic, maybe earlier. That's what made them elites. Nothing else. Much more interesting is what happens when narratives break down. That's why half-baked, pseudo-forensic analyses of "terror events" falls under the scrutiny lately. One wonders whether he understands that if enough people "come around", the forces unleashed are far more disruptive than when the the lemmings accept, if not believe, the lies.
Notable quotes:
"... Anyone using the words, "conspiracy theories" as used above really shouldn't be lecturing anyone about their lack of good sense or their lack of intellectual patience. In fact, using such mass media promulgated terms shows a gross lack of brain power as well as a paucity of experience, a high degree of susceptibility to propaganda, high titer of naivete, not enough sense to question much, if anything, and poor judgement overall. ..."
"... Someone other than myself coined the term, "coincidence theorist" and that appropriately applies to those who parrot mass media generated concepts and is much more damning. ..."
"... Millions of us have been aware of the "Empire" for years now Linh. We just don't have access to the media expression as you do. We tend to be quiet about it until we sense a person or group is open to this Truth. Most people think inside the box because it's safe, comforting, and lacks unpleasant reactions. We who want the Truth value your articles, because we really do believe that "The Truth will set you free." ..."
Sep 15, 2017 | www.unz.com

jacques sheete, September 15, 2017 at 12:39 pm GMT

@Hairway To Steven Conspiracy theories like those expressed in this article and in many of the comments are for those either lacking the good sense to appreciate that the world is complex or the intellectual patience to sort through that complexity. In the absence of these qualities, conspiracy nuts come up with unified theories that "explain everything" (e.g., the Jews control the world). Actually moving out of the basement of their mom's house, or even losing their virginity, might help, but most of these sweaty little pamphleteers are lost causes whose lives rarely extend beyond a circle of like-minded friends and the insular concerns expressed in their over-heated and under-read blogs.

Conspiracy theories like those expressed in this article and in many of the comments are for those either lacking the good sense to appreciate that the world is complex or the intellectual patience to sort through that complexity.

Or they could be lacking in gullibility, which is much more likely.

Anyone using the words, "conspiracy theories" as used above really shouldn't be lecturing anyone about their lack of good sense or their lack of intellectual patience. In fact, using such mass media promulgated terms shows a gross lack of brain power as well as a paucity of experience, a high degree of susceptibility to propaganda, high titer of naivete, not enough sense to question much, if anything, and poor judgement overall.

Someone other than myself coined the term, "coincidence theorist" and that appropriately applies to those who parrot mass media generated concepts and is much more damning.

Joe Hide, September 11, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Millions of us have been aware of the "Empire" for years now Linh. We just don't have access to the media expression as you do. We tend to be quiet about it until we sense a person or group is open to this Truth. Most people think inside the box because it's safe, comforting, and lacks unpleasant reactions. We who want the Truth value your articles, because we really do believe that "The Truth will set you free."

[Sep 17, 2017] "Growing more and more unaccustomed to reflect and form any opinions of their own, people will begin to talk in the same tone as we because we alone shall be offering them new directions for thought."

While from a quite questionable source ( The Protocols of the Elders of Zio -- Wikipedia suggests that it was a forgery attributed iether to Russian journalists Matvei Golovinski (Golovinski's role in the writing of the Protocols is disputed by Michael Hagemeister, Richard Levy and Cesare De Michelis) and Manasevich-Manuilov at the direction of Pyotr Rachkovsky , Chief of the Russian secret service in Paris; it was also traced back to works of Goedsche and Jacques Crétineau-Joly Lucien Wolf (an English Jewish journalist). But a dramatic exposé occurred in the series of articles in The Times by its Constantinople reporter, Philip Graves , who discovered the plagiarism from the work of Maurice Joly ). Still the phase reflects the essence of brainwashing pretty well...
Sep 17, 2017 | en.wikipedia.org

[Sep 17, 2017] People fear independent thought for concern that they will be deterred from upward employment mobility. In short, we suffer the enforcement of an institutional hindance to Free Speech.

Sep 17, 2017 | www.unz.com

Art > , September 15, 2017 at 11:24 pm GMT

Fear is "a powerful thing" and such zeitgeist pervades America to an extent that people fear independent thought for concern that they will be deterred from upward employment mobility. In short, we suffer the enforcement of an institutional hindance to Free Speech.

Call it what it is – TERRORISM.

"Terror"
1. Intense, overpowering fear.
2. One that instills intense fear.
3. The ability to instill intense fear.
4. Violence committed or threatened by a group, especially against civilians , in