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Thread: Important Stuff - ICYMI

  1. #11
    Atypical is offline
    Hostile Takeover

    by LEWIS LAPHAM
    DECEMBER 9, 2016

    “The populace may hiss me, but when I go home and think of my money, I applaud myself.”

    —Horace, Epistles

    It’s been a month since the election, and in the mirrored halls of the news and social media the contributors of uplifting opinion have been telling themselves that no matter what else might be said about the campaigns and the vote, it was a great day for Democracy. Rough and tumble democracy in the raw, free-range, artisanal and organic, the will of the people trampling out the vintage of political correctness, emerging from the ash heap of vicious cant, texting “yes” to the Declaration of Independence, “no” to an uncivil transfer of power. Cue the music, roll the camera and the flag. The people have spoken. Our democracy lives. Government of the people, by the people and for the people is not perished from the earth.

    Which might have been the case had Bernie Sanders been on the ballot. He wasn’t, and neither was democracy. What was on the ballot was plutocracy, complacently stupefied and transparently corrupt at the top of the Republican and the Democratic ticket. Two gold-plated names on the same boardroom door, both candidates representative of and privileged by a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich that for the last thirty years has been arranging the country’s political and socioeconomic affairs. The election campaign was the struggle for control of corporate management, Hillary Clinton seeking to fend off a hostile takeover by Donald Trump, the lady and the lout both standing four square and true blue for the freedom of money, steadfast and vigilant against the freedoms of movement and thought.

    Clinton lost the election because she tried to pretend what she was not—a caring friend of all the people, ardent believer in the rule of law. She could talk the prerecorded talk, but she couldn’t walk the walk, her prior record, like her every move and gesture, showing her to be in it for herself, deserving of the deference owed to the Queen of England, the jack of diamonds and the ace of spades.

    Trump won the election because he didn’t try to sell the Gettysburg Address. Upfront and fascist in his scorn for the democratic idea, he declared his candidacy on June 16, 2015, a deus ex machina descending by escalator into the atrium of Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, there to say, and say it plainly, democracy is for losers. Money, ladies and gentlemen, is power, and power, my friends, is not self-sacrificing or Democratic. Never was and never will be; law unto itself, and the only one that counts. Name of the game, nature of the beast.

    The mogul could afford the luxury of truth because he was really, really rich, un-bought and un-bossed, so selfishly and fearlessly rich he was free to do and say whatever it came into his head to do and say, whatever it took to root out the cowardly incompetence in Washington, clean up the mess in the Middle East, plant well-paying jobs in the American heartland. His was the greatest brand on earth come to make America once again the greatest show on earth, revive it with the sweet smell of his signature men’s colognes, Empire and Success.

    Trump didn’t need briefing papers or policy positions to refine the message. He embodied it live and in person, an unscripted and overweight canary flown from its gilded cage, telling it like it is from the inside looking out. Had he time or patience for messing around with books, he could have sourced his wisdom to Supreme Court Justice Lewis Brandeis, who in 1933 presented the case to Franklin D. Roosevelt at the outset of the New Deal:

    “We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

    In the world according to Trump, as it was in the worlds according to Alexander Hamilton and Ronald Reagan, democracy is a tip on a dead horse. An idea as far past its sell-by date as FDR’s straw hat, not up to the task of keeping America safe or running the trains on time. Too long-winded and slow, soft in the head and weak in the knees, no match for the barbarians (Mexican and African, radical Islamic and leftist academic) at the gates of Westchester County and Palm Beach.

    Not the exact words in Trump’s self-glorifying mouth, but the gist of the commandment he brought down from his Mount Sinai penthouse suite in June 2015, the one that for the next eighteen months he tweeted to phone and shouted to camera in red states and blue, pandering to the popular resentment and loathing of the Washington politicians and Wall Street masters of the universe who for two generations have been playing ordinary Americans for suckers.

    Cont'd Below

  2. #12
    Atypical is offline
    Cont'd

    Trump never tired of trash-talking the system of which he was a proud and ornamental figurehead, and the fans on fairgrounds in Kentucky and Ohio screamed and stamped in agreement because what he was saying they knew to be true—not as precept from a high-minded think tank but from their own downwardly mobile experience. Up close and personal they had suffered the consequences of the plutocracy’s ongoing and bi-partisan slum clearance project—class warfare waged by the increasingly frightened rich against the increasingly debt-burdened, disenfranchised and angry poor, the bulk of the nation’s wealth (actual and virtual, animal, mineral, vegetable and intellectual) amassed by 10% of its population, more laws restraining the freedom of persons, fewer laws limiting the license of property, the systematic juggling of the public light and land and air into the private purse, a national security apparatus herding sheep into the shelters of heavy law enforcement and harmless speech, every occupant of the White House from Reagan to Obama pleased to hold himself above the law, both houses of Congress reduced to impotent paralysis, a political discourse made by a news media presenting presidential candidates as game show contestants mounted on selfie sticks and played for jokes until brought to judgment on election night before the throne of cameras by whom and for whom they are produced.

    The camera doesn’t do democracy; democracy is the holding of one’s fellow citizens in respectful regard, not because they are beautiful or rich or famous but because they are one’s fellow citizens and therefore worth the knowing what they say and do. The work is tedious and slow; too many words with too little action doesn’t sell tickets. What sells tickets is celebrity, and because the camera sees but doesn’t think, it makes no meaningful or moral distinction between a bubble bath in Las Vegas staffed by pretty girls and a bloodbath in Palmyra staffed by headless corpses. The return on investment in both scene settings is the bankable flow of emotion drawn from the bottomless wells of human wish, dream, ignorance and fear.

    It didn’t matter what Trump said or didn’t say, whether he was cute and pink or headless. The journalists on the road with the mogul’s traveling circus weren’t covering a play of ideas; like flies to death and honey, they were drawn to the sweet decaying smell of overripe celebrity, enchanted, as is their custom, by the romance of crime.

    Blind to homespun shoes on common ground, the camera gazes adoringly at leather boots on horseback. So does the America movie-going public. Always a sight for sore eyes, the boots on horseback. They ride into town with the lonesome pine hero in the trail-weary saddle, knight errant, deadly and just, up against the odds and the system, come to remove the corrupt sheriff and redeem the God-fearing settlers, clean up the mess in the Middle West saloon, set the crooked straight, distribute moral fabric, civic virtue and a fair share of the loot to the storekeep, the shepherd and the school teacher.

    Trump pitched his campaign on the storyline the movie-going electorate likes a lot better than the one about Honest Abe Lincoln. The networks, the cable channels and the self-adoring social media, hoisted him up there in lights with robber-barons Vanderbilt and Rockefeller, gunslingers Eastwood and Stallone, mafia dons Corleone and Soprano. November 8, 2016 may become a night to remember, but it wasn’t a great day for democracy.

    http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001oj3AK...kp7aA2DTaTog==

  3. #13
    Atypical is offline
    How Pure Is Your Hate?

    Counterpunch, Paul Street

    January 16. 2017

    Fellow workers and citizens, how pure is your hatred? It’s easy to hate on openly authoritarian, loathsome, right-wing political personalities and institutions like Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Donald Trump, the Koch brothers, Paul Ryan, the Republican Party, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, Breitbart News, and FOX News. There’s no serious mystery over what those malicious people and entities are about: the ever upward distribution of wealth and power.

    The bigger tests are supposedly liberal and progressive personalities and institutions like Barack Obama, the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Party, George Soros, the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress, the “Public” Broadcasting System (“P”BS), the Washington Post, MSNBC, and the New York Times.

    These people and organizations are no less committed than the nation’s more transparently right-wing counterparts to the nation’s unelected deep state dictatorships of money, empire, and white-supremacy, but their allegiance and service to the nation’s reigning oppression structures and ideologies is cloaked by outwardly multicultural, liberal, and even progressive concern for the poor and nonwhite.

    “What’s the Something Much Better?”

    I was reminded of this distinction for the five thousandth time last Thursday while watching Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) member and “P”BS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff interview the longtime Senior Obama Advisor and intimate Obama family mentor and confidant Valerie Jarrett.

    Read the following passage from the interview last week and then tell me, please, to quote Alexander Cockburn, “is your hate pure?”

    Judy Woodruff, CFR and “P”BS: Just last night, the United States Senate took another step toward repeal of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. There was a budget vote, which is going to lead to other steps, which will lead to repeal. Just yesterday, the president-elect called Obamacare a complete and total disaster.

    Valerie Jarrett, White House: I think it’s very easy to say repeal and replace, but we have been encouraging the Republicans, since the president first started embarking on this effort, to put in place a plan for affordable care to come up with their best ideas. And they have had, what, 50, 60 votes to repeal, and not a single replacement plan. So…

    Woodruff: Well, they say that’s what they’re going to do. They’re going to get rid of what’s there now and replace it with something much better.

    Jarrett: Well, what’s the something much better? That’s my question. That’s the question the president has been asking for eight years right now. So, if there is a something better, let’s hear it. What’s the secret?

    Obama, 2003: “What I’d Like to See”

    After this exchange, Woodruff moved off the health care topic, with no follow up. That was a statement in itself. Surely any reasonably informed “public” media journalist would be aware that national Canadian-style single-payer health insurance – Improved Medicare for All – has long been backed by most Americans. Such a journalist would know that single-payer would provide comprehensive coverage to all the nation’s many millions of uninsured and under-insured while retaining free choice in doctor selection and being the most cost-effective way to go thanks to the elimination of private for-profit insurance corporations’ parasitic control over the system.

    A knowledgeable “public” journalist might even know that then state senator Barack Obama endorsed single payer on these very grounds as late as the summer of 2003, when he said the following to the Illinois AFL-CIO:

    “I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see.”

    Obama would quickly drop those sentiments in the interest of getting campaign backing from the nation’s giant insurance and drug companies and their Wall Street investors on his path to the U.S. Senate and the presidency.

    Right after he entered the White House Obama set up a health care reform task force chock full of big insurance company representatives. Not one of the more than 80 U.S. House of Representative members who had endorsed single payer – not even the veteran Black Congressman John Conyers, author of a House single payer bill – was invited to participate.

    A Sicko Game

    The outcome was the so-called Affordable Care Act (later dubbed “Obamacare”), a complicated and corporatist bill based on a Republican plan drawn up by the right-wing Heritage Foundation. Since it left the price- and premium-gouging and profit-taking power of the big insurance and drug syndicates intact, the ACA condemned a vast swath of the nation to continuing inadequate and unaffordable coverage – this while the right-wing noise machine has absurdly railed against “socialized health care.”

    Along the way, the new neoliberal president played a sicko (yes, Michael Moore) game to sell his Heritage Foundation bill, promising citizens that his plan would include a public option while having already traded that policy away to get for-profit hospitals to back the ACA. As Miles Moguiescu reported on Huffington Post and as the New York Times confirmed, “Obama made a backroom deal…with the for-profit hospital lobby that he would make sure there would be no national public option in the final health reform legislation…Even while President Obama was saying that he thought a public option was a good idea and encouraging supporters to believe his healthcare plan would include one,” Moguiescu noted, “he had promised for-profit hospital lobbyists that there would be no public option in the final bill.”

    We can be certain that the veteran agent of neoliberal mendacity Valerie Jarrett advised Obama to take this deeply duplicitous path.

    The Memory Hole

    It’s quite remarkable how completely the dominant “mainstream” media-politics culture manages to throw majority-supported social-democratic policy proposals down George Orwell’s memory hole.

    Listening to the Woodruff-Jarrett conversation, you’d think Bernie Sanders had never spoken to giant and enthusiastic crowds on behalf of single payer last year.

    You’d think Conyers had never drafted single-payer legislation backed by a considerable number of U.S. Congressman.

    You’d think that Canada and most of the industrialized world had never successfully implemented a widely popular nation-wide systems of universal governmental health insurance.

    You’d think single-payer didn’t have millions of citizen backers – including many thousands of doctors and National Nurses United – from coast to coast.

    You wouldn’t imagine that even Donald Trump has mused that single-payer might be the best way to fund health insurance for all.

    “So, if there is a something better, let’s hear it. What’s the secret?”

    Cont'd Below
    Last edited by Atypical; 01-17-2017 at 11:14 AM.

  4. #14
    Atypical is offline
    Cont'd

    Unreal.

    It reminds me of Hillary Clinton’s response as head of newly elected U.S. President Bill Clinton’s health care task force when Dr. David Himmelstien, the head of Physicians for a National Health Program, told her about the incredible possibilities of a comprehensive, single payer “Canadian style” health plan, supported by more than two-thirds of the U.S. public and certified by the Congressional Budget Office as “the most cost-effective plan on offer.”

    “David,” Hillary (Michael Moore’s heart throb) commented with fading patience before sending him away in 1993, “tell me something interesting.”

    That’s right: tell me something interesting.

    Along with the big insurance companies the Clintons deceptively railed against, the co-presidents Bill and Hill decided from the start to exclude the popular health care alternative – single payer – from the national health care “discussion.” What she advanced instead of the system that bored her was a hopelessly complex and secretly developed program called “managed competition.” Interesting. Obama would have more success with his Heritage Foundation-developed update in 2009 and 2010.

    And they wonder why Trump won.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/...-is-your-hate/

  5. #15
    Atypical is offline
    Law Enforcement Has Been Using OnStar, SiriusXM To Eavesdrop, Track Car Locations For More Than Fifteen Years.

    from the no-amount-of-premium-gasoline-will-buy-loyalty dept

    Thomas Fox-Brewster of Forbes is taking a closer look at a decade-plus of in-car surveillance, courtesy of electronics and services manufacturers are installing in as many cars as possible.
    Following the news that cops are trying to sweat down an Amazon Echo in hopes of hearing murder-related conversations, it's time to revisit the eavesdropping that's gone on for years prior to today's wealth of in-home recording devices.

    One of the more recent examples can be found in a 2014 warrant that allowed New York police to trace a vehicle by demanding the satellite radio and telematics provider SiriusXM provide location information.

    In this case, SiriusXM complied by turning on its "stolen vehicle recovery" mode, which allowed law enforcement to track the vehicle for ten days. SiriusXM told Forbes it only does this in response to search warrants and court orders. That may be the case for real-time tracking, but any location information captured and stored by SiriusXM can be had with nothing more than a subpoena, as this info is normally considered a third-party record.

    It's not just satellite radio companies allowing cops to engage in surreptitious tracking. OnStar and other in-vehicle services have been used by law enforcement to eavesdrop on personal conversations between drivers and passengers.

    In at least two cases, individuals unwittingly had their conversations listened in on by law enforcement. In 2001, OnStar competitor ATX Technologies (which later became part of Agero) was ordered to provide "roving interceptions" of a Mercedes Benz S430V. It initially complied with the order in November of that year to spy on audible communications for 30 days, but when the FBI asked for an extension in December, ATX declined, claiming it was overly burdensome.
    [...]


    In 2007, the OnStar system in a Chevrolet Tahoe belonging to a Gareth Wilson in Ohio contacted OnStar staff when an emergency button was pushed. As noted in a 2008 opinion from the case, Wilson was unaware the button had been hit. Subsequently, an OnStar employee heard the occupants discussing a possible drug deal, and allowed an officer from the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office to listen to the conversation. When the vehicle was located and searched, marijuana was found and an indictment filed days later. Ironically, the suspect hadn't even signed up to the OnStar service, but it hadn't been switched off.

    The 2001 case didn't end well for law enforcement. It wasn't that the court had an issue with the eavesdropping, but rather that the act of listening in limited the functionality of the in-car tech, which the court found to be overly-burdensome.

    OnStar is also asked to engage in real-time tracking by law enforcement. While OnStar denies it collects location info, it too has a stolen car recovery mode that allows OnStar to track vehicles. OnStar also says it will only do this in response to warrants and court orders -- or unless "exigent circumstances" necessitate the bypassing of these constitutional protections. What OnStar definitely won't do is let the public know how many times law enforcement has asked to track vehicles. The company told Forbes it "doesn't release the number of these requests."

    Plenty of vehicles come with built-in GPS-reliant devices, most of which perform some sort of data retention. Anything not considered to be "real-time" can be obtained without a warrant, thanks to the incredibly-outdated Third Party Doctrine. Private conversations can be captured and recorded with warrants, which makes a large number of vehicles on the road confidential informants on standby.

    Courts have generally been sympathetic to law enforcement use of in-car technology, finding the use of built-in "tools" to be less intrusive than officers installing their own devices on suspects' vehicles. Certainly law enforcement finds these pre-equipped listening/tracking devices more convenient as well.

    The expansion of in-car tech has led to a great many opportunities for law enforcement, at the expense of privacy expectations. While drivers certainly can't "reasonably" expect their travels on public roads to be "private," the collection of location data by third parties basically puts drivers under constant surveillance, relieving law enforcement from the burden of actually having to dedicate personnel, vehicles, and equipment to this task. And if cops can't get this location info from in-dash systems, they can probably grab it from the drivers' cell phone service providers.

    Law enforcement may find encryption to be slowing things down in terms of accessing cell phone contents, but everything else -- from in-car electronics to the Internet of Things -- is playing right into their hands.

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20...15-years.shtml
    Last edited by Atypical; 01-20-2017 at 12:30 PM.

  6. #16
    Atypical is offline
    The Fictitious Economy: Hiding How The Economy Really Works

    By Sharmini Peries

    Michael Hudson, author of the newly released J is for Junk Economics, says the media and academia use well-crafted euphemisms to conceal how the economy really works


    SHARMINI PERIES: Michael Hudson is a distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He’s the author of many books including, “The Bubble and Beyond” and “Finance Capitalism and Its Discontents”, “Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy,” and most recently, of course, “J is for Junk Economics“.

    Michael, your book reminds me of Raymond Williams’ key words. That was an incredible contribution to cultural criticism, a criticism of society and cultural studies as a discipline. And I think your book is going to make a phenomenal contribution to the field of economics. It would be a reference for people to go back, especially students to go back, and look at your version of the definition of these terms and looking at economics from that critical prism. So, my first question to you is really about this book. Why did you write it?

    MICHAEL HUDSON: I originally wrote it as an appendix to a book to have been called, “The Fictitious Economy.” That draft was written before the 2008 crisis. My point was that the way the economy is described in the press and in University courses has very little to do with how the economy really works. The press and journalistic reports use a terminology made of well crafted euphemisms to confuse understanding of how the economy works.

    In addition to giving key words to explain what’s positive and how to understand the economy, I discuss the misleading vocabulary, the Orwellian double-think used by the media, bank lobbyists and corporate lobbyists to persuade people that austerity and running into debt is the key to wealth, not its antithesis. The aim is to make them act against their own interests, by drawing a fictitious picture of the economy as if it’s a parallel universe.

    If you can make people use a vocabulary and concepts that make it appear that when the 1% gets richer, the whole economy is getting richer – or when GDP goes up, everybody is improving – then the people, the 95% who did not improve their position from 2008 to 2016 somehow can be made to suffer from the Stockholm syndrome. They’ll think, “Gee, it must be my fault. If the whole economy is growing, why am I so worse off? If only we can give more money to the top 5% or the 1%, it’ll all trickle down. We’ve got to cut taxes and help them so they can give me a job because as Trump and other people said, Well, I never met a poor person who gave me a job.”

    I’ve met a lot of rich people, and instead of giving people jobs when they buy a company, they usually make money for themselves by firing people, downsizing and outsourcing labor. So you’re not going to get the rich necessarily giving you jobs. But if people can somehow think that there’s an association between wealth at the top and more employment, and that you have to cut the taxes on the wealthy because it’ll all trickle down, then they have an upside-down view of how the economy works.

    I had written an appendix to the book and that took on a life of its own. If you have a vocabulary that describes how the world and the economy actually work, then one word will lead to another and soon you build up a more realistic picture of the economy. So, I not only discuss words and vocabulary, I discuss some of the key individuals and the key economists who’ve made contributions that don’t appear in the neoliberal academic curriculum.

    There’s a reason the history of economic thought is not taught anymore in the universities. If people really read what Adam Smith wrote and what John Stuart Mill wrote, they’d see that Smith criticized the landlords. He said that you’ve got to tax away their rents, because it’s a free lunch. Mill defined rent as what landlords make in their sleep, without working. Adam Smith said that whenever businessmen get together, they’re going to conspire as to how to get money from the public at large – how to do a deal and mislead people that it’s all for society’s good.

    This is not the kind of free enterprise that people who talk about Adam Smith explain when they depict him as if he were a tax cutter, an Austrian economist or a neoliberal. They don’t want to hear what he actually wrote. So, my book is really about reality economics. I found that to discuss reality economics, we have to take back control of the language or economic methodology, not use the logic that they use.

    Mainstream economists talk as if any status quo is in equilibrium. The subliminal trick here is that if you think of the economy as always being in equilibrium, it implies that if you’re poor or you can’t pay your debt, or you have problems sending your kids to school, that’s just part of nature. As if there isn’t an alternative. That is what Margaret Thatcher said: “There is no alternative.” My book is all about how of course there’s an alternative. But to make an alternative, you need an alternative way of looking at the world. And to do that you, as George Orwell said, you need a different vocabulary.

    SHARMINI PERIES: Speaking of vocabulary and euphemistic economic concepts, that’s what’s so unique about this book. It’s not just the words, like in Raymond Williams’, but it’s also about the theory and the concepts that we are tackling. You also talked about businessmen and how they use these terminologies in order to mislead us. So here we have a businessman in office, as President of the United States, who is proposing all kinds of economic reforms supposedly in our favor, in terms of workers. And you know, the big infrastructure projects he is proposing that are supposed to elevate and lift people out of poverty and give them jobs and so on. What is the mythology there?

    Cont'd Below
    Last edited by Atypical; 03-02-2017 at 12:34 PM.

  7. #17
    Atypical is offline
    Cont'd From Above


    MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, you just used the word “reform.” When I grew up, and for the past century, “reform” meant you unionize labor, you protect consumers, and you regulate the economy so that there’s less fraud against consumers. But the word “reform” today, as used by the International Monetary Fund in Greece when it insists on Greek reforms, means just the opposite: You’re supposed to lower wages by 10 or 20%. You cut back the pensions by about 50%. Ideally, you stop paying pensions in order to pay the IMF and other foreign creditors. You stop social spending. So, what you have is an inversion of the traditional vocabulary. Reform now means the opposite of what it meant early in the 20th century. It’s no longer Social Democratic. It’s right wing, anti-labor, pro-financial “reform” to cut back social spending and leave everything in a privatized way to the wealthy, and to the corporate sector.

    So reform is the first word that I’d use to illustrate how the meaning has changed as it’s used in the mainstream press. Basically, what the right wing has done in this country is hijack the vocabulary that was developed by the labor movement and by socialist economists for a century. They’ve appropriated it and turned it to mean the opposite.

    There are 400 words that I deal with. Many of these words show how the meaning has been turned upside down, to get people to have an upside down view of how the economy works.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/...-really-works/

    __________________________

    This is very important to know - not just about economics but everything. To manipulate the public into believing something that may not withstand scrutiny you must effectively frame the message. All seekers of power do this but the right-wing does it more effectively due to unlimited money, control of certain media and a relentless long-term strategy. And, since there is no opposition party (dems are co-conspiritors in this effort - almost all are phonies) - there are few who try to point out how wrong and dangerous this propaganda is. Those that try are ignored by the establishment, or if they manage to get support, they get whack-a-moled. (Bernie S)

    Welfare "Queens," WMD in Iraq, liberals are always wrong, government is the enemy, welfare is always wrong and people on it are parasites, the "free market", and the current emotional and empty slogan...Make America Great Again are all examples of misleading memes created to manipulate: many are taken in by them so they continue to be used.

    Protect yourself from being psychologically controlled - be skeptical of everything, read widely especially things you may not agree with, and know "they" are out to get your support and will do anything to get it.
    Last edited by Atypical; 03-02-2017 at 12:53 PM.

  8. #18
    Atypical is offline
    Russia Hysteria

    Those who lived through it or who read history know we have always considered the Soviet Union, now Russia, to be a deadly adversary. Decades of fear, drummed into us from many sources, have made a strong impression, and perhaps for many one that cannot be ameliorated. One of the main results is that any less than hostile opinion about our “enemy” is suspect. Reputations and careers can be affected – or worse.

    There is now an atmosphere where accusations regarding Russia are accepted without reservation by almost everyone because we all know they're the “bad guys.” That is not to say they're good friends.

    The Democrats blamed Russia for hacking the DNC and the election and thus contributing to Clinton's loss. Never mind that there is still no proof; the NSA has never agreed with others that this happened. Assange said Russia was not involved in the DNC leak and hinted it was an inside job. A DNC staffer, Seth Rich, who was in a major IT position in the DNC was murdered in July of last year. There are no leads currently. The police call it an attempted robbery although nothing was stolen.

    With that as a backdrop I offer an interview with Prof. Stephen Cohen, an expert on Russia. It provides his take on the current situation (many others agree with him.) There is so much rampant hysteria by media and both political parties that I felt this post was necessary. When someone or something can be criticized with strong evidence it should happen no matter what their reputation; when potential criticism is not supported by strong, objective evidence it should be stifled no matter who or what would be criticized.

    Especially important is what Cohen says beginning around 3:00 in the video. It is frightening and should be taken seriously.

    As I said in the post above (3/2), read widely from as many objective and authoritative sources as you can. Don't be an ideologue*. It's the only way to avoid becoming a mindless member of the herd.

    *Cohen is essentially a progressive, and criticizes liberals/progressives aggressively here. I respect him for that as well.

    https://youtu.be/BciYxlKfHH8
    Last edited by Atypical; 03-04-2017 at 10:30 AM.

  9. #19
    Atypical is offline
    GOP Lawmakers Now Admit Years Of Obamacare Votes Were A Sham

    Lee Fang, March 31 2017

    It is hard to overestimate the role of the Affordable Care Act in the Republican resurgence.

    Over the last seven years, the GOP has won successive elections by highlighting problems with Obamacare, airing more than $235 million in negative ads slamming the law, and staging more than 50 high-profile repeal votes. In 2016 every major Republican presidential candidate, including Donald Trump, campaigned on a pledge to quickly get rid of it.

    Now in total control of Congress and the White House, some GOP legislators are saying that the political assault on Obamacare was an exercise in cynical politics, and that an outright repeal was never on the table.

    “We have Republicans who do not want to repeal Obamacare,” said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., on Sirius XM Patriot on Wednesday.

    “They may have campaigned that way, they may have voted that way a couple of years ago when it didn’t make any difference,” Brooks continued. “But now that it makes a difference, there seems to not be the majority support that we need to pass legislation that we passed 50 or 60 times over five or six years.”

    Likewise, Rep. Pat Meehan, R-Pa., one of the lawmakers who came into power by riding the anti-ACA Tea Party wave in 2010, and who once elected pledged to “repeal, defund, delay, and dismantle Obamacare,” recently conceded in a candid interview with the Delaware County Daily Times that previous repeal efforts were a sham.

    Asked if the years of votes against the ACA were simply “ceremonial,” since Republicans knew that any serious repeal bill would be vetoed by President Barack Obama, Meehan responded “yes.”

    “I don’t think anyone would quarrel with the idea that they were largely position votes,” Meehan continued. “They were as political as they were anything else because there was a recognition that those were unlikely to be moved.”

    Republicans expected Hillary Clinton to win the election last year, and had not planned for being in a position to actually pass a repeal effort this year, said Meehan. But after Trump’s victory, the GOP leadership thought something had to be done on their campaign promises, and that’s why they attempted to move forward with the American Health Care Act.

    Other Republican lawmakers have made similar remarks in recent days.

    “You know, I think maybe its easier to run on these platitudes, run on a platform like this,” said Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., when asked by local radio station News Talk 1290 if Republicans ran on repeal “simply to get elected or re-elected.”

    Bacon, admitting that he supports provisions of the law, including coverage for pre-existing conditions, noted that governing can be very different from campaigning. “Sometimes things sound easier when you’re running,” Bacon added.

    Another candid comment came from Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, who told reporters last Friday that the dozens of repeal votes were cast in the past without any plan for viable legislation.

    “Sometimes you’re playing fantasy football and sometimes you’re in the real game,” Barton told Talking Points Memo.

    “We knew the president, if we could get a repeal bill to his desk, would almost certainly veto it. This time we knew if it got to the president’s desk it would be signed.”

    Even House Speaker Paul Ryan, shortly after his legislation to overhaul the health care system was pulled from a vote, said that Republicans weren’t ready to meet promises on repealing and replacing Obamacare — an implicit concession that previous repeal votes were merely symbolic.

    “We were a 10-year opposition party, where being against things was easy to do,” Ryan said, adding that his party wasn’t prepared to be the “governing party.”

    “We will get there,” Ryan added, “but we weren’t there today.”

    After the defeat of Ryan’s legislation last week, the speaker called Obamacare the “law of the land” that will remain “for the foreseeable future.”

    Following the embarrassing admission, conservative donors and some White House officials have mounted a campaign to revive a repeal effort, though there are few details about the type of repeal effort would muster support among the hard-right conservatives and moderates who sank the last attempt.

    https://theintercept.com/2017/03/31/...tes-obamacare/

    (recordings in the link)

    _______________________

    Anyone who is knowledgeable about political games knows that what turned out to be "Obamacare" was a Heritage Foundation creation that morphed into Romneycare in Massachusetts. That's right - a conservative created, business-oriented, giveaway to the healthcare industry was adopted by the "liberal" Obama administration. A complete joke on the American people used by Obama and conservatives to play us all.

    Now, the complete lie comes out. Why would conservatives want to fight a CONSERVATIVE plan. Answer - they never did. It was to show their "concern" for the people (and fundraise) and to fight that nasty "socialist" Obama. All of it bullshit.

    Anyone that believes any Republican, conservative or libertarian has any interest in the people is deluded. Anyone that thinks more than 20% of Democrats have any interest in the people is deluded.

    Know that this is not the only reason for contempt. There are hundreds of examples over just the last 20 years that show that neither party is to be trusted on ANYTHING, especially now.

    The game is totally rigged and we are the suckers at the table thinking any of them give a shit!

    This has never been more true and you should be concerned that a comedian has been one of the few to publicly tell you the truth.


    https://youtu.be/rsL6mKxtOlQ
    Last edited by Atypical; 04-14-2017 at 01:48 PM.

  10. #20
    Atypical is offline
    The Alleged Sarin Gas Attack and...


    There is evidence, contributed by many with intelligence backgrounds, that the gas attack in Syria recently was not what is being widely reported. It's true, as Chris Hedges' book title says, War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning; there are many with motives working to mislead the public.

    Here is an article that provides a succinct analysis of the situation and one that you are not likely to see from the corporate/neocon media.

    Hubris And Dysfunction In Trumpland

    by John Wight

    In decades to come historians will identify this past week as one of the most seminal in post war history, placing particular emphasis when they do on the actions of one of the most unstable, unpredictable and capricious presidents ever to occupy the White House.

    Those who, prior to Trump’s election, allowed themselves to believe his lack of political experience and ideologically-driven worldview were strengths that would go a long way to giving birth to the multipolar world that is long overdue, those people have reason to be nursing a sense of crushing disappointment over the political disaster that is currently unfolding, one that may well translate into a military disaster if allowed to continue on its current trajectory.

    Indeed, it is hard at this stage to avoid the feeling that Trump and his administration are actually itching for military confrontation with Russia. Like a child discovering matches for the first time, the 45th president appears a leader who after ordering a missile strike for the first time can’t wait to order more.

    It is a feeling reinforced by the meeting between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, which sadly was not the success a planet desperate for peace and stability was hoping for. Despite the cordial tone and atmosphere surrounding the talks, they ended with no resolution and no serious moves towards de-escalation.

    The Trump administration continues to assert that its intelligence leaves no room for doubt when it comes to the allegation that President Assad authorized a sarin gas attack on civilians in Syria’s opposition-held Idlib province. The Syrian leader denies the allegation, and Russia supports this denial, while calling for an independent UN-led investigation in order to ascertain the facts. Washington has so far refused to countenance such an investigation, while at the same time failing to produce the intelligence or evidence it claims to possess in support of its allegations.

    Even without factoring in the cooked-up and falsified intelligence that was used to unleash hell on Iraq in 2003, a conflict the after effects of which lie at the root of the current crisis – and even without factoring in the destruction of Libya in 2011, driven by the same regime change fanaticism – the stance of the Trump administration is both unconscionable and contemptuous in its arrogance. It begs the question of what the US Government is afraid of when it comes to an independent investigation? And why the refusal to reveal its evidence and the intelligence that points to Syrian government responsibility for this alleged attack?

    The most optimistic analysis we can make at this point is that Trump believes he can wheel and deal in the political arena as he has throughout his years in the business arena. But the consequences of having his bluff called in the game he’s playing now, as opposed to the game he cut his teeth in, are of an entirely different dimension. The game his administration is playing now carries with it the strong possibility of unleashing catastrophic consequences.

    The growing number of voices within the US that are questioning the conclusions being peddled by the White House over this alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack have thus far been dismissed as the product of conspiracy theory and pro-Assad propaganda. However the latest intervention by MIT professor Theodore Postol cannot be so easily ignored. Professor Postol, whose exhaustive rebuttal of the case against the Syrian government over the alleged sarin attack of 2013 should be required reading for anyone interested in drawing fact-based conclusions rather than those rooted in ideology, has raised his voice again, this time challenging the intelligence behind these allegations and the intelligence used to support them.

    Despite the lack of UN authorization or congressional approval for the airstrike launched by Trump against Syria, the mainstream media in the US, almost to a newspaper and network, has lined up behind their President with their by now customary Pavlovian cheerleading for war and regime change. Their ranks have been swelled by what can best be described as a left wing of US imperialism in the form of a hodgepodge of soi disant socialists and progressives, whose metamorphosis into the most passionate of regime change fanatics and cranks has been stunning to behold.

    Moscow, nobody should need reminding, will not accept its implied status of Carthage to Washington’s Rome, with the cards Trump has dealt Russia this past week those of a leader who has made the mistake of allowing himself become dizzy with the questionable success of one limited military action.

    Yet, regardless, overnight this missile strike has transported Trump from bête noire of the neocon establishment to its man of the hour. This is in spite of the fact that the incoherence and mixed messages that have ensued during the course of this crisis from Trump’s aforementioned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, UN envoy Nikki Haley, and woefully under qualified press secretary Sean Spicer, reveals a level of dysfunction commonly associated with satire rather than the serious business of government. The result is that Washington is currently a lumbering giant staggering blindly towards the edge of a cliff with no sign of stopping.

    This is why it is such a pity that we have in the White House a President who takes pride in never reading books. For if he did, and if he took the time to dip into the works of Napoleon Bonaparte, he might learn something. For instance: “International incidents must not be allowed to shape foreign policy, foreign policy must shape the incidents.”

    Napoleon, it should be borne in mind, was a leader who also made the fatal mistake of allowing hubris to cloud his judgement.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/...-in-trumpland/
    Last edited by Atypical; 04-28-2017 at 03:50 PM.

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