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Corporate Media Join in Editorializing for Press Freedom…for Themselves

Mainstream media hypocrisy on display

xx
 

Some 300 newspapers, large and small, joined today in publishing, often on their front pages, editorials defending the First Amendment’s freedom of the press, often making note of their own efforts to combat current threats to that freedom posed by President Trump’s attacks on journalists and the entire Fourth Estate, which Trump routinely denounces in tweets and at rallies as “enemies of the people.”

However, missing from most of these full-throated editorials is any real defense of those who are in the trenches doing the hardest job of a free press, which is exposing the worst offenses of government: the war crimes, the craven systemic corruption of the political system, and the purveying of propaganda and disinformation in the furtherance of anti-democratic policies. (A good example would be the employment by most major news organizations of retired generals and colonels as war commentators without noting their roles on corporate boards of arms merchants that profit form war — a scandal that not one major news organization will expose.)

Nowhere does one read, in these coordinated and seemingly impassioned editorial paeans to press freedom, a condemnation of the five-year torture and pursuit of journalist and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the London embassy of Ecuador, hiding from a secret sealed indictment that since the days of the virulently anti-free-press Obama administration has been sitting in the Attorney General’s office waiting for his capture.

Assange is trapped in the cramped Ecuadoran embassy by a complicit British government that has threatened to arrest him if he exits the building, claiming he is wanted for jumping bail in a court case that was already long-ago mooted by the expiration of Swedish arrest warrant that itself was based upon trumped-up charges of “rape” made against Assange by women who say they had not wanted those charges made in the first place. His real crime, and the thing the US wants to extradite him from Britain for, is publishing leaked Pentagon documents and videotapes proving a policy in the Iraq war of massive and deliberate war crimes.

Although news organizations like the New York Times and Washington Post made the most of those Wikileaks documents, publishing their horrific evidence of war crimes, such as the helicopter gun-ship machine-gun slaughter of a group of innocent Iraqis, including two journalists, shown in graphic detail in a leaked gun-sight video, and profited handsomely from the circulation and attention they derived from those stories, both those papers have slammed Assange, shamelessly questioning his status as a “journalist,” impugning his integrity.

Is The Green Party a Spoiler For Trump?

A liberal/left midterm debate

 
I have nothing against The Green Party. I have friends who swear by it and work for it and its candidates. During the 2012 election, I struggled with Philly cops to photograph Jill Stein getting arrested for civil disobedience at a bank in Philadelphia. She’s an honorable person with good intentions. But I never voted for her. In national elections like the one in 2016, I was a hold-your-nose, strategic voter for the Democrat; I saw a vote for Stein as a wasted vote -- or worse. As it turned out the election was incredibly close, creating questions, such as whether a vote for Jill Stein was Quixotic and whether it had greater strategic power as a spoiler vote for Donald Trump.

This question really stands out in the special congressional election this week in the Ohio 12th District. “That district has been Republican in 48 out of 50 years,” said Republican pollster Frank Luntz about the closeness of the race. “That’s a hit in the head with a baseball bat.” There was a less than 1% difference in votes between the two candidates; and with over 3000 provisional and absentee ballots still to be counted, the Democrat could still win the election in the end. The Green Party reportedly got about 1% of the vote. Do the math. Because the election was so very close, the Green Party seems to have been a key factor in putting the congressional Republican over the top.

 John Grant)Dr. Jill Stein being arrested in Philadelphia when she ran for president in 2012. (Photo: John Grant)

I wonder whether the Green Party is a self-inflicted wound on the part of a greater Left, which one might see as a volatile coalition of moderate, centrist liberals and more radical, angrier leftists. Green Party people, of course, disdain moderate, liberal Democrats like the plague. This has little to do with personalities or ideologies or utopian visions. It has to do with pragmatic electoral politics in a nation at a profound crossroad. (We could debate this stuff all night.) There's intense polarization and a growing sense of tribalism. Everything that was once common ground is now shaky. There's all the old government crimes to deal with and, suddenly, there's a new sense of encroaching authoritarianism that may be in synch with unsavory events and personalities around the world. Great gobs of dark money are obviously fueling it all. More and more normally-centric people are realizing it could happen here. There’s the old metaphor of the frog in the water who does not jump out because the temperature is raised very slowly a half a degree at a time. Presumably, at some point the frog will recognize it’s damn hot -- but by that point the little fellow’s energy may be so tapped-out by the rising heat that he can’t move and is doomed. But that’s just a silly metaphor.

Economists ‘Can’t Understand’ Why Workers Can’t Get Paid More in a ‘Booming’ Economy

Mystery of the underpaid American worker

 

Economists say they are stumped by a mystery: Since the US economy is doing so well, and unemployment is down to below 4%, which many argue is close to “full employment” in historic US terms, why is it that wages are not growing, and in fact, are lower in real dollars than they were in 1974, almost half a century ago.

Reading articles like these in news reports ranging from NPR to the New York Times to the Economist magazine in the UK, is a good source for some laughs.

These poor financial journalists and the economists they quote as their sources are all struggling because their models, and everything they learned in school about market theory, says that if labor markets are “tight,” meaning that there are few jobs available to unemployed workers, it should drive up wages of those who have jobs, because employers would have a hard time replacing workers who ask for more money.

Perhaps in some magic world where workers and bosses were operating basically as equals in some mystical “free marketplace,” that might be true, but it ignores things like power relations and labor law, the pernicious role of the new digital age where a worker’s employment record is immediately available for inspection by any potential new employer, and of course the existence of an asymmetric “global” economy which allows for the virtually free flow across borders of goods and especially investment capital, but that tightly restricts the flow of labor (that is, workers cannot just up and move to another country where pay and working conditions are better).

Workers picketing for a $15/hour minimum wage.Workers picketing for a $15/hour minimum wage.
 

Add to that the reality that statistics upon which economists base their views are developed and reported by a government that is almost totally in the pocket of the bosses. So when, for example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that unemployment is down to just 3.9 percent, that agency is using a definition of unemployment which has been changed multiple times over the years, always in a direction of reducing that number from what it would have been under an earlier definition. Basically the BLS defines the unemployment rate as the number of people who want a job and cannot find one (that’s the numerator), divided by the number of people who are “in the labor force” (the denominator). But the BLS today restricts its definition of “in the labor force” to meaning just those who either have a job, or who may not have a job but looked for one at least once during the prior four weeks. Being employed meanwhile, is currently defined broadly as anyone who has worked as little as one hour during the week prior to the survey! One hour!

Senate Democrats, with Few Exceptions, are a Gang of War-Mongers

Where’s the 'democratic socialist' challenge to militarism?

 

Democrats in the US Senate showed themselves to be just another war party this week, with 40 of their number out of 47 voting to pass a record $717-billion military budget for FY 2019. Only seven Democrats (Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, D-MA, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-OR, Kamala Harris, D-CA, Dick Durbin, D-IL, and Kirstin Gillibrand, D-NY) and independent Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with the Democratic Party, voted against the bill (Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who also caucuses with the Democrats, neutralized Sanders’ vote by voting for the measure).

For those who may have hoped that perhaps the growing number of self-described “democratic socialist” candidartes running for seats in Congress might call out this war-mongering by the Democratic Party establishment, there was just silence.

The Pentagon's new toy, the F-35 Joint Strike fighter, at $1.5 trillion and counting, is mankind's most expensive weapon. Social democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders voted to fund it.The Pentagon's new toy, the F-35 Joint Strike fighter, at $1.5 trillion and counting, is mankind's most expensive weapon. 40 Democrats and 46 Republicans in the Senate just voted to fund it .
 

Sen. Sanders, to be sure, said he would vote against the bill, but he didn’t say he was doing that because he thought it was an outrageous amount of money to spend on war and preparations for war. In fact, he prefaced his opposition by saying, “I support a strong US military.” Rather, as he always does, Sanders decried the “waste, fraud and mismanagement” in the Pentagon budget, instead of the reality that virtually the entire budget, representing two-thirds of all federal discretionary spending, is a waste.

The sad truth is that when it comes to Democratic candidates running openly wearing a “democratic socialist” label, including Sanders, the standard-bearer for this newly popular identity, there is a sort of fraud being perpetrated on the public. Most such candidates, including Sanders, simply won’t talk about US imperialism, hegemonism and about the need to slash the grossly outsized US military budget, which surpasses the budgets of nations with the next ten largest militaries.

Why does this matter? Because when progressive Democrats, and especially those who call themselves “democratic socialists” (implying that somehow straight-up “socialists” might not be sufficiently democratic!), espouse popular socialist programs like Medicare for All, expanded and enhanced Social Security benefits, free public college for anyone who wants to get a higher degree beyond high school, a guaranteed job for all, paid maternity/paternity leave, etc. — all worthy and popular ideas — they open themselves up immediately to charges by Republicans and by conservative and establishment liberal Democrats that they won’t be able to pay for those programs, or that they’d have to rise taxes to pay for them.

And those charges are justified, because most of those so-called progressive, and even “democratic socialist” candidates, tacitly or, in Sen. Sanders’ case even overtly support, fundamentally, the US military and most of America’s militaristic foreign policies and actions abroad — the majority of which are in flagrant violation of international law and have nothing to do with national defense.

I'm ready

Ok, now I'm ready.
I'm breathing,
I'm thinking.
I'm waving to you.

See?
See?
There, you see me!

Now let's look at each other.
You, over there,
me over here.
Breathing,
thinking.

Now let's wave to someone else.
Get their attention.
Shout if necessary.
Strike a cymbal.

There,
they see me.
Does your person see you?
This is great, isn't it?

Yeah, this is great.

Bigot Boy Trump Bombs With Tweet Against Black NFL Players

Trump runs but can't hide

Teens from Philadelphia make statement on status through art. LBW PhotoTeens from Philadelphia make statement on status through art. LBW Photo
 
Bigot Boy is at it again, dangling black boogeymen in another of his pathetic attempts to distract attention from his most recent public disaster.

President Trump, America’s Twitter-N-Chief, lashed out again at the NFL for not harshly cracking down on [black] players who do not stand for the national anthem. Trump oozed that tweet recently while reeling from rare bi-partisan criticisms of his pusillanimous performance during that Helsinki press conference with Russian President Putin.

Trump disguised his distract-attention tweet as a reaction to the announcement that the NFL and the NFL players union would negotiate on a policy regarding the national anthem. That announced negotiation suspended the NFL’s previously announced ban on protests during the national anthem…a ban that made Trump beam.

Trump again demanded ejection of any NFL players that protested during the national anthem. He cast the announced negotiations between NFL owners and players as owners’ caving-in to players. Yet, Trump has defended his carven cozy-up to Putin as the need for the two nuclear-armed adversaries to engage in negotiations to improve relations. Trump preens himself as a master negotiator.

The rancorous racism inherent in Trump’s tirades against black NFL players for exercising their First Amendment rights to raise concerns about police brutality assumed absurd dimensions during his post-Putin press conference antic to exploit the national anthem controversy.

The same Trump that extols the national anthem as a seemingly sacrosanct ritual for football games, when he verbally bludgeons black pro-football players, is the same Trump that trashed both the presidency and patriotism in Helsinki when he refused to publicly condemn Putin for the documented Russian interference in the 2016 election. Those Russian cyber onslaughts struck at the heart of America’s democracy: voting.

Socialism is becoming popular with US voters...and candidates

Did Bernie Sanders break down doors for new US socialist movement?

 

Philadelphia -– Last month, a major earthquake shook the bedrock of New York City politics, sending shockwaves that were felt across the US as 28-year-old Bronx-born Puerto Rican socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez trounced Rep. Joe Crowley, a 10-term House of Representatives member who was widely presumed to be the likely successor to long time House leader Nancy Pelosi.

A socialist winning an important House race in a country that just elected billionaire capitalist Donald Trump as president, and handed control of both houses of Congress to the Republicans – a party dedicated to unfettered capitalism? How can this be?

  Anastasia Osario-Cortez (2018) and Eugene Debs (1932)Socialist candidates in the US: Anastasia Osario-Cortez (2018) and Eugene Debs (1932)
 

Clearly, some kind of tectonic shift is underway in American politics, because Ocasio-Cortez is not the only socialist winning elections and ousting establishment Democrats. Four incumbent members of the state legislature in Pennsylvania, a state that narrowly voted for Trump in 2016, were defeated this year in primaries by insurgent candidates – all of them, like Osario-Cortez, members of Democratic Socialists of America, a little-known political group that has suddenly grown in membership from 6000 prior to 2016 to over 40,000 this year.

And as if that weren’t enough, in a stunning aftershock following her initial win in a Bronx/Queens district, Ocasio-Cortez learned that she had won another primary in a neighboring district in the Bronx on the Reform Party line. That minor party had no candidates running and had urged voters in the district to write in Osario-Cortez’s name, which they did in large numbers. (Of course she could not actually compete in that district as she doesn't live in it, but her winning by write in with no campaigning, just based upon the knowledge of her political positions is still significant.)

Socialism as a political force has never had an easy time in the US, a country that mythologizes the go-it-alone entrepreneur and the iconoclastic loner. For a brief time in the period between the two world wars, socialism was popular enough among US workers that American Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs was able to win almost a million votes for president in 1912 (about 6 percent of the popular vote at that time). But after two brutal government anti-red campaigns in the ‘20s and ‘50s that included Debs’ arrest, the blacklisting of many actors, teachers and journalists in the 1950s on charges of being Communists, and finally decades of government and media propaganda equating socialism with Communism, Bolshevism and Maoism, socialism has had few adherents and little public acceptance among most Americans.

Until now, that is...
 

For the rest of this article, which appeared today as an op-ed on the RT-TV website, please go to: Rt.com

Peace is a Good Thing, Whoever Manages to Achieve It

Undermining Trump-Putin summit means promoting war

 

Timing isn’t everything, but in politics it’s important, and the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials for allegedly being behind the supposed hacking of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 in an alleged effort to skew the election in favor of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, announced today by Mueller “Russiagate” probe overseer and Associate US Attorney General Rod Jay Rosenstein just before President Trump’s planned summit meeting Monday in Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin — reeks of politics.

It is also rather thin on the announced evidence of a “hack” despite mainstream journalism’s breathless reporting that it the indictment cites “hard evidence” of such hacks.

In fact, little or nothing of what evidence is released — supposed use of a server in Malaysia, for example — proves anyting, since the Vault 7 release of CIA hacking tools last year showed that the CIA has developed software that lets its hacking teams disguise themselves as anyone, from a lone crank in a Chicago basement to a Russian GRU hacking team in Moscow. It’s all pretty meaningless — especially since to date the FBI has reportedly never even demanded to see, much less confiscate, the DNC’s servers, which could provide real evidence that they were, in fact hacked at all.

When two leaders, each with the ability to destroy the world, agree to get along, that's a good thing. Period.When two leaders, each with the ability to destroy the world, agree to get along, that's a good thing. Period.

As the Veteran Intelligence Professionals (VIP) organization, whose membership includes former NSA experts like William Binney, who helped design that agency’s internet tapping systems, have declared, their own investigation, which looked at download speeds of the DNC hack, showed that it couldn’t have been done over a remote internet cable, but had to have been an inside job downloaded onto a thumbdrive or portable hard drive.

So we’re no further down the road in the so-called Russiagate hacking scandal, but the indictment of a dozen persons who can never be interrogated and brought to trial because they are safely in Russia does effectively do one thing: it undermines any chance that President Trump might reach some agreement with his Russian counterpart Putiin to ratchet down the growing hostility between the two countries, as Trump repeatedly said during the 2016 campaign that he wanted to do.

Say what you will about Trump and his fascist tendencies — for example his monstrous policy of jailing people entering the US surreptitiously who have legitimate refugee status claims that should be properly adjudicated, and even worse, grabbing their children and separating them — a process which is continuing even as courts have ordered the return of at least those children younger than five to their anxious and imprisoned parents, or the threat to invade Venezuela. It can only be a good thing to ease tensions between the two nations on this planet who have the capability to destroy it and render it a smoking ruin incapable of supporting life thanks to their stockpiles of thousands of nuclear weapons.

Yet it seems clear that forces in what has been called the “Deep State” or the “Permanent Government” of the US appear hell-bent on preserving that state of hair-trigger edginess between the US and Russia, no doubt because it keeps the financial taps wide open for the arms industry, the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies, and the politicians of both parties who feed on the campaign funds (bribes) offered by the industries that stand to benefit from cold war and myriad small hot ones.

The Politics of Cruelty

Our Enlightenment Legacy On the Ropes

 

Cruelty is the expression of hate and of the will to power. … The sadistic traits, the tendency to barbarousness, the impulse to destroy, manifest themselves in a manner that is senseless, brutal, scornful of every cultural achievement. … The sadist revels in the fear, the anger, the humiliation of his victim. … The sadist pictures to himself what is happening in the mind of his object, whose resistance he calls forth and breaks. Only this feeling of himself into the affective life of the object brings him the expected pleasure.
          - Wilhelm Stekel, Sadism and Masochism: The Psychology of Hatred and Cruelty (1929)
 
[T]he powerful often turn to torture in times of crisis, not because it works but because it salves their fears and insecurities with the psychic balm of empowerment. . . . Once torture begins, it seems to spread uncontrollably, particularly during times of crisis, in a downward spiral of fear and self-empowerment.
          - Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War On Terror (2006)
 

The way the Trump administration has gotten tough with immigrant families and children from Central America and Mexico shares something with psychological studies of sadism and the United States government’s own research on torture tapped by the George W. Bush administration to justify its cruelty in a moment of perceived crisis. Cruelty and torture are like pornography; as a famous Supreme Court justice put it: “I know it when I see it.” Cruelty as policy -- ie. the inducing of suffering among the powerless by the powerful -- is an ancient reality that hinges, as Dr. Stekel put it in 1929, on “the expression of hatred and of the will to power.” Stekel was an Austrian and a student of Freud's; it's noteworthy he wrote his 430-page work on sadism synonymous with the rise of European fascism. Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign can be seen in such a psychological and mythic light as a return to the “greatness” that presided over this land during the days of slavery, Jim Crow and Manifest Destiny, an expansive period when the politics of cruelty prevailed as a necessary tool for the capture and control of a wild land. As McCoy suggests, above, the politics of cruelty appears in times of crisis. For the atavistic populist, there's no need to articulate this clearly; since it's all there buried deep in the loam of US history and myth, dog-whistling will do.

The wall separating the two Nogaleses seen from the US; two boys on the Mexican side.The wall separating the two Nogaleses seen from the US; two boys on the Mexican side.

Boom!

A poem for Independence Day:

 

July the Fourth
Sallies forth
And people blow up gunpowder devices
Indulge all cheapshit vices
Gobble down cows and pigs
Smoke clouds of pot and cigs
Fornicate and regurgitate
Bloviate and crepitate
Making America great again
Increasing sewage rate again
Trash landfill refill
Plastic bottle overkill
Rivers of wrappers and
overflowed crappers
Run to the ocean
Crippling wave motion
Paralyzing currents
Making you wish that you weren't
Living among buffoons
Sending earth to doom
So lift a can of American beer
To still being here
In the land of the me
and the home of depraved
Where all is instant gratify
'Cause pretty soon, in the bye-and-bye
Jesus gonna fly you home
Where nobody got to moan
About houses you can't afford
and being fired and being bored
And kids and teachers blown apart
By some alt-think punk upstart
With a forty-seven AK

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Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

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by Dr. Radut