Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Monday, February 29, 2016

Testing Out Repression in Israel

Jeff Halper, co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, sees the brutal practice of destroying Palestinian homes and similar tactics as part of an experiment in social repression that can have broader implications as income inequality spreads across the globe, as he told Dennis J. Bernstein.  (Reprinted in part from Consortium News)

Dennis Bernstein: Let’s talk about how you say Israel uses the occupied territories as a training ground, a weapons and control of people training ground, which is then exported. It’s sort of Israel’s front line, forward trade. This concept, and these weapons, and this technology, and these techniques, are then sold to the rest of the world. Set that up for us.

Jeff Halper:  You have a neoliberal world system. OXFAM came out with a report two weeks ago. Now, 1 percent of the population controls half the resources: most of humanity has been excluded as surplus humanity. You have more and more repression, especially as resources are being extracted from poor people. And they’re excluded. So there’s more and more resistance. … You had the Occupy Movement and you’ve got Black Lives Matter. There’s more and more resistance, so that the capitalist world system, itself, and all the different elites that are dependent upon it, somehow have to start looking more and more towards repression.

In other words, capitalism always tried to have a happy face: Ronald McDonald, and Hollywood and Walt Disney. But the more people are starting to see through it, and are starting to see those inequalities …, the velvet glove over the iron fist has to come [off]. And so the elites are getting more and more insecure. But the kinds of wars they’re fighting are not the wars we think of. You know, Rambo and F-16s and tanks … they’re not those kinds of wars. They are what generals actually are calling, “Wars Amongst the People.” … I took that to say what that really is, which is, “War Against the People.” In other words, urban warfare, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism. It’s also called asymmetrical wars. There are a million terms.

So, really the elites in every country, and then if you take it within the world system, the capitalist elites certainly, the capitalist part of the corporation, and so on, are looking for, “How do we keep the people under control?” Now, where’s a better place to go for a model than Israel? The United States doesn’t have that experience. Europe hasn’t had colonial wars for 50 years now. So Israel is in the middle of an ongoing century-long war of counterinsurgency against the Palestinian people.

All these years, it has the tactics, it has the methods, it has the weaponry. It has the systems of security, systems of surveillance, all in place to export. And so that’s, I think, how you can explain how Israel gets away with it. It delivers for the elites. “We’ll deliver you the means of repressing your own populations, and in return you let us keep the occupation.”

Boston-area Veterans Stand with Muslims

Historic solidarity rally organized by the Smedley Butler Brigade of Veterans For Peace, Boston-area, February 27 at The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center.

See the Boston Globe article on this event here
Video by Regis Tremblay.

Don't Take this Planet for Granted

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Who is Now the Biggest Threat?

There are those in Washington who are projecting Russia as the latest 'biggest threat to the US'.  The US always needs a #1 boogey-man and a couple smaller ones just to keep the fear factor alive back here at home.  The endless war machine has become quite skilled at keeping the public distracted by their incessant fear-mongering that makes the war-mongering possible - along with the huge weapons production profits.

This all goes back to the days when the weapons industry created false stories that Lakota warrior Crazy Horse was back on the war path after having actually been brought onto the reservation in South Dakota in 1877.  Not satisfied with their 'victory' over the Indians in the Black Hills the weapons industry had artists do renderings and journalists write fake stories depicting Crazy Horse back on the war path killing and raping white settlers.  Congress immediately swung into action appropriating more $$$ for the Indian wars out west when in fact Crazy Horse and his ragged starving band had settled onto the reservation.  Truth is meaningless when $$$ stands to be made by perpetuating fear.

One must actually pay attention to detail so as not to get taken in by the hucksters.  Most people don't have the time, or the desire, to sort out all the sordid lies and deception.  Many people eventually fall for the enemy creation script that is constantly promoted by the likes of the NY Times, Washington Post, BBC, MSNBC or NPR.  The ruling corporate oil-i-garchy has all the bases covered.

Sunday Song


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Inside View of VFP Asia-Pacific Trip

William Griffin here. Just wanted to share this video. I originally made this video just to show my local San Diego Veterans For Peace chapter a summary of our trip [last December], so it has some biases, showing more footage of Mike, Stan, and I. But a few people outside of San Diego have viewed the video and liked it. So, I thought I'd share with you all. You're welcome to share this video with your local chapters to give them a type of visual of our experience.

This is NOT the mini-documentary. Its just a series of film I put together to give people an idea of what happened.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The War Base Versus the People

After many years of non-violent struggle against the Navy base construction on Jeju Island, South Korea the base is now officially open.  Yesterday the Korean government held their ceremony to inaugurate the Navy base that will port US destroyers, nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers to be aimed at China and Russia.  At the same time Gangjeong villagers and their many supporters (including four American activists now there) held protests and their own peaceful ceremonies.

Long-time Gangjeong international peace team member Sung-Hee Choi reported that:

If you ask what we feel, of course, we are very sad and upset for a the completion of the Jeju navy base. But on Feb. 26, people also found how encouraged and empowered they are for the presence of their like-minded friends. The people’s protest, the alternative event against navy ceremony was energetic, moving, and worth to join. The new stage of our struggle to close the base and to realize the true life and peace village and the Demilitarized Peace Island has begun.

Making Money from Saudi War$

William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He is an internationally recognized expert on the arms trade, nuclear policy, and military spending. He is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books: 2011). His previous books include And Weapons for All (HarperCollins, 1995), a critique of U.S. arms sales policies from the Nixon through Clinton administrations; and Lessons from Iraq: Avoiding the Next War, co-edited with Miram Pemberton (Paradigm Press, 2008). 

Prior to working at the Center for International Policy Mr. Hartung was a project director at the New America Foundation and a Senior Research Fellow at the New York-based World Policy Institute. He also worked as a speechwriter and policy analyst for New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams and a project director at the New York-based Council on Economic Priorities. 

Play Ball!

The Baltimore Orioles doing baseball spring training back in the old days

It's spring training down in Florida for my favorite team - the Baltimore Orioles.  I was born in Maryland and have followed the Orioles my whole life.  They are projected to come in last place in their division this season - but in baseball (like politics at times) hope springs eternal.

When I used to live in Florida I tried every year to attend a few Oriole games during the spring season.  My son Julian and I would trek across the state on a weekend to catch a game.  It's a bit harder to do these days while living in Maine.

The O's have been in the news this week having had a free agent signing fiasco.  A guy that played for the Chicago Cubs last year (just the kind of player the O's need - good hitter, fast, good defensive outfielder) was just about to sign with the O's and then at the last minute got enticed to return to Chicago for less money.  Last night I read thru 64-pages of fan laments at an O's chat web site.

People ask me how I keep sane doing the peace work I do.  My answer always is baseball and basketball.  Even though professional sports have become corporatized, and even increasingly militarized with all the 'GI salutes' they do at games, I still follow my teams.

The O's did sign a new guy this winter out of South Korea who was the leading hitter in their professional league the last few years.  So Oriole fans will be excited to see Hyun Soo Kim play ball.

Go O's!

Mixed Bag

My Op-Ed published in the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper in Okinawa yesterday along with a bio story as well.  Thanks to Satoko Norimatsu for making the arrangements and doing the translation

  • I was honored to be invited to write an Op-Ed for the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper about my experiences during the recent Veterans For Peace delegation to Okinawa.  Satoko Norimatsu was the person who initiated the whole thing and I was offered an honorarium for the piece but asked it be given to the Okinawan organizing committee that worked so hard to coordinate our visit.  They incurred many costs and deserved the support.  Some others from that trip are also being invited to write O-Eds for the paper as well.  I was asked to specifically comment on several points in my piece including the recent North Korean satellite launch and my own experiences being a GI who became a peacenik in large part because of the anti-war activity at my base during the Vietnam War. We've heard that the right-wing Japanese government wants to shut down the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper because it so strongly supports the vast majority of Okinawan citizens who oppose US bases there.

  • The dysfunctional US presidential primaries get more unreal every day.  The latest news comes from journalist Robert Parry who wrote a piece about neo-con interventionist, and founder of the Project for a New American Century, Robert Kagan endorsing Hillary Clinton.  Parry says:

Kagan, who I’ve known since the 1980s when he was a rising star on Ronald Reagan’s State Department propaganda team (selling violent right-wing policies in Central America), has been signaling his affection for Clinton for some time, at least since she appointed him as an adviser to her State Department and promoted his wife Victoria Nuland, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, to be the State Department’s chief spokesperson. Largely because of Clinton’s patronage, Nuland rose to assistant secretary of state for European affairs and oversaw the provocative “regime change” in Ukraine in 2014.

  • In another election related story Noam Chomsky commented on the surprising progress of Donald Trump's Republican nomination campaign. AlterNet reports:

"Fear, along with the breakdown of society during the neoliberal period," Chomsky said.
"People feel isolated, helpless, victim of powerful forces that they do not understand and cannot influence."

He said economic uncertainty and a loss of social cohesion had also fueled the rise of fascism in the last century — but he cautioned that some current conditions were even worse.

"It's interesting to compare the situation in the '30s [in the US], which I'm old enough to remember," Chomsky said. "Objectively, poverty and suffering were far greater. But even among poor working people and the unemployed, there was a sense of hope that is lacking now, in large part because of the growth of a militant labor movement and also the existence of political organizations outside the mainstream."

  • A big story out of Bayreuth, Germany is stirring lots of talk across the Internet.  That city had made the decision to give CODEPINK the 2016 Wilhelmine-Tolerance Prize in a public ceremony on April 15th in honor of their excellent peace and justice work. But the Israeli Embassy intervened demanding that the city rescind the award claiming that CODEPINK denies the right of Israel to exist and has ties to Holocaust deniers in Iran, allegations made by journalist Benjamin Weinthal in an article published on February 10th in the Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post.  After much consultation the Bayreuth city council, representing eight political parties, voted 23-18 on the Green Party motion to confirm the award to CODEPINK. Those who voted against the Green Party’s motion had made alternative proposals, either to delay the decision pending further investigation, or to grant the money award while at the same time suspending the public award ceremony because of fears that the ceremony might be disrupted by CODEPINK’s detractors. While a few council members criticized CODEPINK in some respects, not a single council member called for revoking the award to CODEPINK. And some members stated during the debate that they felt the attempts to exert outside pressure on them were inappropriate.  

Asked what she thought of all this, retired U.S. Army Colonel and former U.S. diplomat Ann Wright, one of the seven CODEPINK delegates who will be coming to Germany in April, said: "Repeating a lie over and over does not make it true. It is sad and even a bit frightening when many in the media and even some members of the German parliament keep repeating such lies despite all the evidence to the contrary that we have provided. CODEPINK has never made statements denying the right of the State of Israel to exist. But we do insist that Israel stop its illegal policies in the West Bank and Gaza. We are firm that Israel must adhere to international law and also implement true equality for all its Jewish and Arab citizens. Many Jewish Israelis advocate the same positions."

  • The Pentagon is planning the containment of Russia in the Arctic. This was stated by the NATO Supreme allied commander in Europe, US General Philip Breedlove. "We are studying the possibility of the containment of Russia in the Arctic. The claims of Russia do not directly affect the US but they affect three of our allies," the general reportedly said.  He did not specify how the US plans to deter Russia, but remarked [we] "have to do it".  Russia has the largest land border with the Arctic Ocean and due to climate change and melting ice the oil corporations want to drill-baby-drill in that region.  Russia is an obstacle that 'needs to be removed', thus the persistent calls for regime change in Moscow and the eventual Balkanization of the Russian Federation.  Dangerous talk for sure by the US.  Can we begin to understand more clearly why there is so much demonization of Putin happening in the western media? Follow the $$$, follow the oil!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Surround Gangjeong Village with Culture

Fellow Mainer Jason Rawn reports from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea where the resistance campaign against the new Navy base is preparing for the officially opening of the installation.  Villagers and supporters are working to surround the village with culture in order to protect themselves from the near tripling of the local population by naval personnel and their war making mission.

Iconic Catholic priest Fr. Mun helped carve the totems.  He is planning to come to New York City in mid-March for several days of speaking events. 

Jason writes:

Activists are erecting traditional Korean totem poles (jang seung) in Gangjeong village, Jeju Island. Three were put up today in preparation for the official opening ceremony of a US (nominally Korean) war base here tomorrow. Traditionally these jang seung have been used all over Korea to ward off evil spirits and prevent them from entering through village gates. One totem has the message "Gureombi is crying now", and was placed in the village's war memorial, located almost directly across the street from the main gate of the new war base, which is expected to host US Aegis destroyers, submarines, and other war machinery that's part of the US military's "Asia Pivot". The jang seung was designed by longtime activist [Catholic] priest Fr. Mun and three traditional artists. Many local people assisted with the project. Although there was no problem with police, who did their job of keeping people safe by directing traffic, the five foreigners present were asked to take photos and video, just in case. Many Koreans also filmed the events.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Plan B for Syria - More War...

According to Kerry, the partition of Syria becomes an option if the planned ceasefire - due to come into force on February 27th - fails to hold - or if a shift to a transitional government doesn't take place in the coming months. British Conservative party MP Daniel Kawczynski joins RT to discuss this issue.

Want to Stop Refugee Flow? Stop Supplying Terrorists with Weapons

German MP Sahra Wagenknecht (The Left Party) blasts hypocritical behavior of Angela Merkel on Syria - particularly German weapons sales to all sides in the Middle East conflict.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Different Drummer

Putin on the Syria Ceasefire Proposal

Will the ceasefire hold?  Are the US and its allies in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel truly serious about ending their 'Assad must go mantra' or do they just see the ceasefire as a way to temporarily interrupt the Syrian-Russian push against ISIS and al-Nusra terrorist groups?  Do the US and its allies just want to give time for their 'moderate rebels' to regroup and resupply before they continue their attacks against the Syrian people?

This whole US-NATO Syrian take down was supposed to go quick and easy like in Libya which resulted in mass chaos and continued military operations by Washington and Brussels.  The Russian intervention in Syria upset that apple cart.

Watch the bouncing ball closely....

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Deep State & the Death of Democracy

 I've just finished reading the book The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government.  I would say without any hesitation that this was one of the top 3-4 most important books that I have ever read.  I highly, highly recommend that everyone read it.

There is so much I learned from the book and I've been studying the whole US-Nazi connection after WW II for many years - but author David Talbot really wrote a spell-binding book - it's like reading a real life mystery story.  You come away from the book with a very clear understanding how the US became the corporate fascist state that we have today.

The biggest story for me in the book is the one about Reinhard Gehlen.  Talbot writes, "During the war [Maj. Gen.] Gehlen had served as Hitler's intelligence chief on the eastern front. His Foreign Armies East (Fremde Heere Ost) apparatus relentlessly probed for weaknesses in the Soviet defenses as the Nazi juggernaut made its eastward thrust.  Gehlen's FHO also pinpointed the location of Jews, Communists, and other enemies of the Reich in the 'bloodlands' overrun by Hitler's forces, so they could be rounded up and executed by the Einsatzgruppen death squads.  Most of the intelligence gathered by Gehlen's men was extracted from the enormous population of Soviet prisoners of war - which eventually totaled four million - that fell under Nazi control.  Gehlen's exalted reputation as an intelligence wizard, which won him the Fuhrer's admiration and his major general's rank, derived from his organization's widespread use of torture."

To make it quick and simple, Maj. Gen. Gehlen made a deal with Allen Dulles (then running the precursor of the CIA called the OSS) that if he and his team were spared trial at Nuremberg he'd turn over his 'rat line' of fascist operatives throughout Europe and would work for the US.  Gehlen was brought to the US and put through loyalty tests and eventually sent back to the newly created West Germany where he was put in charge of intelligence in the post war 'free' Germany.

Gehlen's post-war operatives across Europe where used to disrupt and destroy left-wing attempts to win electoral victories in European countries (Operation Gladio).  His death squads were used to target the Algerian independence movement. Gehlen and Dulles worked overtime to destabilize the Soviet eastern bloc taking great pleasure in making Stalin hyper-paranoid thus getting him to overreact and launch brutal internal crackdowns on innocent Soviet citizens.

Talbot quotes JFK White House staffer Arthur Schlesinger Jr. saying he was offended by "the notion of American spooks" like Dulles and other leading post-war CIA operatives "cheerfully consorting with people like General Reinhard Gehlen....There was something aesthetically displeasing about Americans plotting with Nazis, who had recently been killing us, against Russians, whose sacrifices [27 million killed during the war] had made the allied victory possible."

 Talbot painstakingly reveals how Dulles used his CIA rat line to set up the JFK assassination in 1963.  One of the key players in the killing of President Kennedy was the CIA agent William Harvey who worked closely with Gehlen's notorious fascist organization, and Gehlen came to consider Harvey a "very esteemed [and] really reliable friend."

In the spring of 1968, soon after the killing of Sen. Bobby Kennedy, Allen Dulles took the time to write to the last Kennedy brother Ted sending his "sympathy and regards".  Talbot reports that Dulles hated Bobby and had used his seat on the President Lyndon Johnson appointed Warren Commission to smash any hopes for a true investigation into the killing of JFK that Dulles had been a mastermind in executing.  Bobby had been privately hoping to expose Dulles and the CIA as the killer of his big brother if he were to be elected president.

Talbot shares that in the fall of 1968 the main social event of the season for Dulles was "the Washington fete in honor of Reinhard Gehlen, the West German spy chief Dulles had resurrected from the poison ashes of the Third Reich.  On September 12, Gehlen's US sponsors threw a luncheon for him, and that night there was a dinner for Hitler's old spy chief at the Maryland home of Heinz Herre - Gehlen's former staff officer on the eastern front, who had become West Germany's top intelligence liaison in Washington."

One could easily say that the US and German fascists had all the bases covered.

Why then have the American people, and the people of the world, been largely ignorant about this ugly history of the resurrection of the Nazi war machine during the post WW II years?  After viewing the above video about the CIA's clandestine infiltration of US and international media it is no surprise that the public has been spoon fed only what the propagandists, disguised as democratic patriots, wanted people to know.  History has been rewritten to suit the needs of the deep state.

In 1977, Rolling Stone Magazine alleged that one of the most important journalists under the thumb of the CIA's media control program called Operation Mockingbird was Joseph Alsop, whose articles appeared in over 300 different newspapers. Other journalists alleged by Rolling Stone to have been willing to promote the views of the CIA included Stewart Alsop (New York Herald Tribune), Ben Bradlee (Newsweek), James Reston (New York Times), Charles Douglas Jackson (Time Magazine), Walter Pincus (Washington Post), William C. Baggs (The Miami News), Herb Gold (The Miami News) and Charles Bartlett (Chattanooga Times). According to Nina Burleigh (A Very Private Woman), these journalists sometimes wrote articles that were commissioned by the CIA's Frank Wisner (director of the Office of Special Projects). The CIA also provided them with classified information to help them with their work.

Operation Mockingbird had a major influence over 25 newspapers and wire agencies. These organizations were run by people with well-known right-wing views such as William Paley (CBS), Henry Luce (Time and Life Magazine), Arthur Hays Sulzberger (New York Times), Alfred Friendly (managing editor of the Washington Post), Jerry O’Leary (Washington Star), Hal Hendrix (Miami News), Barry Bingham, Sr., (Louisville Courier-Journal), James Copley (Copley News Services) and Joseph Harrison (Christian Science Monitor).

The American democracy story is illusion created by what author Bertram Gross called "three piece suit fascism" years ago in his book entitled Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America.  But to emerging democracy movements around the world, brutally suppressed by the CIA and its death squad agents, there was nothing friendly or democratic about these tactics.  Because of the relative affluence of America during this period the public was docile and easily keep under control by the manipulations of the media and the political circles controlled by the deep state.

Now that the American imperial project is crashing and burning the story has begun to emerge and the blinders of deception are steadily falling from the public's eyes.  What comes next is unknown but until the American people learn the real story behind this 'Hollywood democracy' little can change for the good.  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What Happened in Nevada?

Lots of questions in Nevada....did Hillary pull a fast one?

There were numerous stories that Hillary brought supporters from other states who slipped into various caucus meetings without registering ......

Is this the Democratic Party in action?

This is democracy?

See reports from around Nevada here

The Media are Misleading the Public on Syria

Boston Globe

By Stephen Kinzer  

Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. Reporting about carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo is the latest reason why.

For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: “Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it.

This month, people in Aleppo have finally seen glimmers of hope. The Syrian army and its allies have been pushing militants out of the city. Last week they reclaimed the main power plant. Regular electricity may soon be restored. The militants’ hold on the city could be ending.

Militants, true to form, are wreaking havoc as they are pushed out of the city by Russian and Syrian Army forces. “Turkish-Saudi backed ‘moderate rebels’ showered the residential neighborhoods of Aleppo with unguided rockets and gas jars,” one Aleppo resident wrote on social media. The Beirut-based analyst Marwa Osma asked, “The Syrian Arab Army, which is led by President Bashar Assad, is the only force on the ground, along with their allies, who are fighting ISIS — so you want to weaken the only system that is fighting ISIS?”

This does not fit with Washington’s narrative. As a result, much of the American press is reporting the opposite of what is actually happening. Many news reports suggest that Aleppo has been a “liberated zone” for three years but is now being pulled back into misery.

Americans are being told that the virtuous course in Syria is to fight the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian partners. We are supposed to hope that a righteous coalition of Americans, Turks, Saudis, Kurds, and the “moderate opposition” will win.

This is convoluted nonsense, but Americans cannot be blamed for believing it. We have almost no real information about the combatants, their goals, or their tactics. Much blame for this lies with our media.

Under intense financial pressure, most American newspapers, magazines, and broadcast networks have drastically reduced their corps of foreign correspondents. Much important news about the world now comes from reporters based in Washington. In that environment, access and credibility depend on acceptance of official paradigms. Reporters who cover Syria check with the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, and think tank “experts.” After a spin on that soiled carousel, they feel they have covered all sides of the story. This form of stenography produces the pabulum that passes for news about Syria.

Astonishingly brave correspondents in the war zone, including Americans, seek to counteract Washington-based reporting. At great risk to their own safety, these reporters are pushing to find the truth about the Syrian war. Their reporting often illuminates the darkness of groupthink. Yet for many consumers of news, their voices are lost in the cacophony. Reporting from the ground is often overwhelmed by the Washington consensus.

Washington-based reporters tell us that one potent force in Syria, al-Nusra, is made up of “rebels” or “moderates,” not that it is the local al-Qaeda franchise. Saudi Arabia is portrayed as aiding freedom fighters when in fact it is a prime sponsor of ISIS. Turkey has for years been running a “rat line” for foreign fighters wanting to join terror groups in Syria, but because the United States wants to stay on Turkey’s good side, we hear little about it. Nor are we often reminded that although we want to support the secular and battle-hardened Kurds, Turkey wants to kill them. Everything Russia and Iran do in Syria is described as negative and destabilizing, simply because it is they who are doing it — and because that is the official line in Washington.

Inevitably, this kind of disinformation has bled into the American presidential campaign. At the recent debate in Milwaukee, Hillary Clinton claimed that United Nations peace efforts in Syria were based on “an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva.” The precise opposite is true. In 2012 Secretary of State Clinton joined Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel in a successful effort to kill Kofi Annan’s UN peace plan because it would have accommodated Iran and kept Assad in power, at least temporarily. No one on the Milwaukee stage knew enough to challenge her.

Politicians may be forgiven for distorting their past actions. Governments may also be excused for promoting whatever narrative they believe best suits them. Journalism, however, is supposed to remain apart from the power elite and its inbred mendacity. In this crisis it has failed miserably.

Americans are said to be ignorant of the world. We are, but so are people in other countries. If people in Bhutan or Bolivia misunderstand Syria, however, that has no real effect. Our ignorance is more dangerous, because we act on it. The United States has the power to decree the death of nations. It can do so with popular support because many Americans — and many journalists — are content with the official story. In Syria, it is: “Fight Assad, Russia, and Iran! Join with our Turkish, Saudi, and Kurdish friends to support peace!” This is appallingly distant from reality. It is also likely to prolong the war and condemn more Syrians to suffering and death.

~ Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

Sunday Song

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Russia: The 2nd Most Powerful Military in the World?

Russia Insider says:

The venerable Stephen Cohen lays into Hillary, Obama and the NATO military build-up against Russia with RT's Ed Schultz (formerly of MSNBC).

The US and its NATO vassals continue to live in a fantasy land of Russian threats. But Barack Obama apparently can't decide if Russia is a threat or not.

In March 2014 Obama declared Russia a "regional power" which was threatening neighboring countries "out of weakness."

Yet now he says Russia has the "second most powerful military in the world."

Wow, Vladimir Putin has engineered a remarkable climb in Russia's strength in only 2 years.

My view: Add the NATO members to the US total and you get about 60% of world spending on the war machine.  Russia a threat?  Hardly.....

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Land of Greed & Hunger

On the eve of the Nevada primaries, a special presentation of the feature length documentary by Paul Jay reveals Las Vegas as a model of neoliberalism, a tale of the shape of things to come. It's all told through the eyes of a Canadian Blues Brothers act deciding whether they want to move their families to Vegas. It's two performers portraying two actors playing two fictitious characters in a town where everything is a replica of something else.

America is becoming like Las Vegas - a place where you don't have to get to know your next door neighbor....

Hypocrisy in Action - Here Comes Another U.S. Nuclear Missile Test

A previous US ballistic nuclear delivery system launch from Vandenberg AFB

The US will launch a Minuteman-III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) from California to the Marshall Islands some time over the coming weekend.

An Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman-III ICBM is scheduled for take-off between Saturday, Feb. 20 and Sunday, Feb. 21 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

After all the recent feigned outrage about North Korea launching a satellite into space the US will press on by practicing the delivery of a nuclear warhead in the direction of China and North Korea.  There are now 3,600 satellites in space of which about 1,100 of them are still operational and guess who launched most of them? Where is the global concern?

The Pentagon has been using Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands as ground-zero for nuclear bomb and missile tests since the nuclear age began.  How about some international outrage about the environmental damage the US has done to this chain of islands?  How about some screaming and hollering in the corporate media about the provocative nature of these US first-strike ICBM tests? 

The US reeks of hypocrisy.  The US (and its chosen allies) can launch all the satellites they want and test all the ballistic missiles they want because - well of course - they are god's chosen people.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Chomsky Wants You to Wake Up from the American Dream

By David Swanson

If you've just seen Michael Moore's movie and are wondering how in the world the United States got diverted into the slow lane to hell, go watch Noam Chomsky's movie. If you've just seen Noam Chomsky's movie and are wondering whether the human species is really worth saving, go see Michael Moore's movie. If you haven't seen either of these movies, please tell me that you haven't been watching presidential debates. As either of these movies would be glad to point out to you, that's NOT HOW YOU CHANGE ANYTHING.

"Filmed over four years, these are his last long-form documentary interviews," Chomsky's film, Requiem for the American Dream, says of him at the start, rather offensively. Why? He seems perfectly able to give interviews and apparently gave those in this film for four years. And of course he acquired the insights he conveys over many more years than that. They are not new insights to activists, but they would be like revelations from another world to a typical U.S. resident.

Chomsky explains how concentrated wealth creates concentrated power, which legislates further concentration of wealth, which then concentrates more power in a vicious cycle. He lists and elaborates on ten principles of the concentration of wealth and power -- principles that the wealthy of the United States have acted intensely on for 40 years or more.

1. Reduce Democracy. Chomsky finds this acted on by the very "founding fathers" of the United States, in the creation of the U.S. Senate, and in James Madison's statement during debate over the U.S. Constitution that the new government would need to protect the wealthy from too much democracy. Chomsky finds the same theme in Aristotle but with Aristotle proposing to reduce inequality, while Madison proposed to reduce democracy. The burst of activism and democracy in the United States in the 1960s scared the protectors of wealth and privilege, and Chomsky admits that he did not anticipate the strength of the backlash through which we have been suffering since.

2. Shape Ideology. The Powell Memo from the corporate right, and the Trilateral Commission's first ever report, called "The Crisis of Democracy," are cited by Chomsky as roadmaps for the backlash. That report referred to an "excess of democracy," the over engagement of young people with civic life, and the view that young people were just not receiving proper "indoctrination." Well, there's a problem that's been fixed, huh?

3. Redesign the Economy. Since the 1970s the United States has been moved toward an ever larger role for financial institutions. By 2007 they "earned" 40% of corporate profits. Deregulation has produced wealth concentration and economic crashes, followed by anti-capitalist bailouts making for more wealth concentration. Offshore production has reduced workers' pay. Alan Greenspan testified to Congress about the benefits of promoting "job insecurity" -- something those Europeans in Michael Moore's film don't know about and might find it hard to appreciate.

4. Shift the Burden. The American Dream in the 1950s and 60s was partly real. Both the rich and the poor got richer. Since then, we've seen the steady advance of what Chomsky calls the plutonomy and the precariat, that is the wealthy few who run the show and get all the new wealth, and the precarious proletariat. Back then, taxes were quite high on corporations, dividends, and wealth. Not anymore.

5. Attack Solidarity. To go after Social Security and public education, Chomsky says, you have to drive the normal emotion of caring about others out of people's heads. The U.S. of the 1950s was able to make college essentially free with the G.I. Bill and other public funding. Now a much wealthier United States is full of "serious" experts who claim that such a thing is impossible (and who must strictly avoid watching Michael Moore).

6. Run the Regulators. The 1970s saw enormous growth in lobbying. It is now routine for the interests being regulated to control the regulators, which makes things much easier on the regulated.

7. Engineer Elections. Thus we've seen the creation of corporate personhood, the equation of money with speech, and the lifting of all limits under Citizens United.

8. Keep the Rabble in Line. Here Chomsky focuses on attacks on organized labor, including the Taft Hartley Act, but one could imagine further expansions on the theme.

9. Manufacture Consent. Obsessive consumers are not born, they're molded by advertising. The goal of directing people to superficial consumption as a means of keeping people in their place was explicit and has been reached. In a market economy, Chomsky says, informative advertisements would result in rational decisions. But actual advertisements provide no information and promote irrational choices. Here Chomsky is talking about, not just ads for automobiles and soap, but also election campaigns for candidates.

10. Marginalize the Population. This seems as much a result as a tactic, but it certainly has been achieved. What the public wants does not typically impact what the U.S. government does.

Unless the trends described above are reversed, Chomsky says, things are going to get very ugly.

Then the film shows us a clip of Chomsky saying the same thing decades earlier when he was still shown on U.S. television. He's been marginalized along with the rest of us.

I imagine every friendly critic of this film has a #11 to add, and that they are all different. In fact, I can think of lots of things to add, but I insist on mentioning one of them. It's the same one missing from Bernie Sanders' home movie starring Iowa and New Hampshire. Its the thing missing from all U.S. discourse but showing up in Michael Moore's movie as a great difference between the United States and Europe.

11. Dump Massive Funding into Militarism. Why should this be included? Well, militarism is the biggest public program in the United States. It's over half of federal discretionary spending. If you're going to claim that lobbyists are concentrating wealth through their influence on the government, why not notice the single budget item that eats up over half the budget? It does indeed concentrate wealth and also power. It's a vast pot of unaccountable funding for cronies. And it generates public interest in fighting foreign enemies rather than enemies hanging out on Wall Street. It does militarize the police for free, however, just in case Wall Street generates any disgruntled customers.

Chomsky does, of course, oppose militarism. As far as I know he's consistently opposed it for many years. We see B-roll of him in the movie with anti-war books in his office. And discussion of point #1 above mentions the peace movement of the 1960s. How the single biggest thing that the wealthy and powerful do in their effort to expand their power over the whole globe didn't make the top-10 list I don't know.

The film concludes with a call to build mass movements for change. The United States still has a very free society, Chomsky advises. A lot can be done, he tells us, if people will only choose to do it.

~ David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The American Circus

Republican presidential candidate and rich boy Donald Trump has a long history with professional wrestling.  The phony, scripted, snarling world of bloviating wrestlers has become a cheap metaphor for the US electoral arena.  Trump has learned from wrestling how to appeal to the American working class with meaningless emotion and snide remarks disguised as political program. 

Long ago I read that the goal of the ruling oligarchies in the US was to make national elections so unappealing that the public would refuse to participate any longer making it easier for the top 1% to control the nation.

The entertainment value of Donald Trump's so-called presidential campaign well illustrates this mission of turning elections into circus.

Part of me still wants to maintain that the whole Republican circus is also intended to make Hillary Clinton look good to the public.  The oligarchy wants her as president so that she can do like Obama has done - keep the wars going, force austerity budgets and keep the liberals under control.

The System

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What American People Don't Understand

The American people don't understand what happens when you've been invaded by the biggest military on the planet and that you have to fight for every single square centimeter of your country in order to protect your land and your loved ones.

This picture was taken during the Vietnam war when the US ordered the bombing of neighboring Cambodia.  In 1969, President Richard Nixon and his National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, unleashed B-52 carpet bombing for over fourteen months against a people who still tilled the soil with water buffalo. The 3,500 bombing sorties resulted in 600,000 deaths. The American bombing of Cambodia was a closely guarded secret primarily because the U.S. was not at war with Cambodia.

On Sept. 15, 1970 a victim of American bombing, ethnic Cambodian guerrilla Danh Son Huol, was carried to an improvised operating room in a mangrove swamp on the Ca Mau Peninsula. This scene was an actual medical situation, not a publicity setup. The photographer, however, considered the image unexceptional and never printed it. 

Folks all over the world at this very moment are on the receiving end of US bombs - either dropped by Pentagon forces or their proxies.  People are having to find ways to survive while back here in the good ole USA folks are distracted by sports, raucous presidential election debates, TV, and their daily struggles to keep food on the table.

Maybe someday the American people can feel empathy for those around the world on the receiving end of our war machine.  Maybe the American people will figure out that their lives here would be much easier if we were not spending 55% of every discretionary federal tax dollar on the military industrial complex.  Maybe...

You can see alot more of these photos from the Vietnam war here

Playing with Wider War

Lawrence Wilkerson is a retired United States Army soldier and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson is an adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary where he teaches courses on US national security. He also instructs a senior seminar in the Honors Department at the George Washington University entitled "National Security Decision Making."

Responding to Corporate Domination

In this episode of teleSUR's Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein diagnose the problems plaguing US politics, highlighting the dysfunction of a two-party system dominated by corporate interests. 

Scrap UK's Trident Nukes

The UK's Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is causing quote, 'a great deal of nervousness' among NATO officials, that's according to a former head of the alliance. Lord Robertson says concerns have been raised by Britain's allies over Corbyn's vocal opposition to Britain renewing it's nuclear weapons program - which NATO relies on for defense.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Black Liberation Movement Lives

During Black History Month, as the U.S. pays homage to African Americans who have changed the course of history, the establishment shows us a revised version that omits a critical piece: the Black radical political tradition. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Turkey Attacks Syria

The Turkish army has shelled Kurdish targets near the city of Azaz in northwest Syria, including an air base recently retaken from Islamist rebels, with a massive attack. It also hit Syrian forces across the border, according to media reports.

My reading of this is that the Turkey-Saudi-US supported ISIS forces are getting slammed largely due to Russian intervention in Syria.  Turkey-Saudi Arabia are now reportedly preparing to do a land invasion of Syria to save the reeling ISIS forces.

The US (as usual) is playing a confusing game of working both sides.  The US supports ISIS because it wants Assad to fall in Syria and at the same time it sees Russia becoming successful and fears Washington will become irrelevant - so the US agrees to work with Russia on a ceasefire.  Washington essentially is playing the role of a double agent.

See more on this story here

Sunday Song


Friday, February 12, 2016

The Syria Plan

Wars and rumors of wars: The Pentagon has requested an unprecedented budget. What threatens the United States and its allies the most? Is Russia one of those threats, or is it more failed military interventions?

Who Gives the $$$$?

Can we learn to say oil-i-garchy?

In the Merriam Webster Dictionary they say Oligarchy is: Government in which power is in the hands of a few...

To War or Not to War - That is the Question

Maine Veterans for Peace members John Morris (top) and Peter Morgan (bottom photo) joined us in Bath on ash Wednesday for the start of the Lenten season vigils at the Navy shipyard.  We carry on again this coming Saturday at 11:30 am and each Saturday in February through to the end of March. Thanks to the Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm for their Lenten vigil coordination. (Photos by Roger Leisner)

To war
or not
to war
that is the question

Any answer
other than
a resounding 
is too
and insane
to ponder

Why though
war machine
push on
to bomb
and slaughter?

The Massacre of the Innocents
in a technological
of King Herod
on steroids

Where does this
war cancer come from?
How does one lance
this ugly boil 
of endless 
death mongering?

Shall we 
this rush
to war?

Lent is
of penitence

Where are
the church voices
calling for peace
and for turning
the local
sword making factory
into plowshares? 

is the
so deafening? 

Are we
on our knees
because we 
are in prayer
or in an act
of submission? 

This Day in History:  On February 12, 1997 in "Prince of Peace Plowshares," six activists poured blood and symbolically disarmed U.S.S. The Sullivans, a nuclear-capable Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. All were eventually convicted of destruction of government property and conspiracy. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tensions Heating Up Fast

As would be expected when the US-NATO increase their military operations along Russia's border, Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia must respond.  Imagine if Russia or China were deploying troops, tanks, and missiles in Canada or Mexico.  The already hyper-aggressive Washington political apparatus would go ballistic.

In my mind Moscow has been quite restrained under the current US-NATO push toward what appears to be preparations for war.  Russia is being provoked and surrounded and the same thing is happening to China.  Look at US moves in Ukraine, Turkey, Syria, Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.  Look at US military upgrades in South Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Australia.  It's a massive military build-up - and to what end if not war?

Sadly few, including the presidential candidates and vast numbers of their supporters, are paying little to no attention to this Pentagon rush to war.  You would think it would be an issue, as well as its massive costs, at the very time that lead pipes in Flint, closing schools, growing poverty, crumbling roads and bridges, climate change, and health care costs are slamming the people in the face.

The presidential horse race, distracting us from these vital war-peace issues, almost appears to be a key part of this deep state script.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday on Jeju Island

Catholic priests and nuns at the Navy base gate in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea.  

They are there every single day.

Honoring Occupy's Message

  • I never agreed with the critics who complained that the Occupy movement lacked a message.  I watched mainstream media daily repeat the words "We are the 99%" (a sign with that message is still in our front window). It was a strong statement that the ruling 1% is stealing us all blind.  That message resonated loud and clear to me and likely with most people.  Thus it is no surprise that Bernie Sanders has grabbed that theme and folks who feel they have no future are solidly in his camp.

  • But I have no faith in the corporate dominated Democrat Party.  I wrote to Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein this morning forwarding the article by Holly Wood (see below post). I told Jill:  "Have you seen this brilliant piece?  Quite impressive. Keep pushing – I still believe the corporate Dems will sandbag Sanders and these young folks will be looking around – so stay relevant.  I’m sending you $27 today."

  • The power boys are freaking out - this current manifestation of the Occupy message can't be dragged out of some park.  People are now occupying the voting booth and are calling the bluff of the 'democracy builders' that run Washington.  It's going to be fascinating to see how the corporate oligarchy will react next - the young folks ain't paying attention to the editorial writers at the New York Times and Washington Post.
  • MB and I watched Trump's speech last night after he won the New Hampshire Republican primary.  Big talking, say nothing, ego-centric, illogical to thinking humans, greedy, and selfish.  I remarked that his campaign is the perfect symbol for the collapsing US empire. 

  • Robert Parry at Consortium News writes about the horse race today with these words:
 Hillary Clinton (like Jeb Bush) faces the misfortune of running a legacy campaign at a time when the voters are angry about the legacies of both “ruling families,” the Clintons and the Bushes. Though Sanders is a flawed candidate faulted for his muddled foreign-policy prescriptions, he (like Trump) has seized the mantle of fighting the Establishment at a time when millions of Americans are fed up with the Establishment and its self-serving policies...If Clinton continues to stumble, there will be enormous pressure from Democratic leaders to push her aside and draw Vice President Joe Biden or perhaps Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the race.
  • We had our first Lenten vigil at Bath Iron Works today.  Thirteen folks joined us across from the administration building at the shipyard.  We got quite a few car honks (even some from workers) - I think people like our message that rail systems and wind turbines should be produced instead of more death inducing Navy destroyers.  We return again each Saturday all through Lent (Feb 13, 20, 27 and March 5, 12, 19, 26) from 11:30 am to 12:30.

  • A wonderful surprise appeared in the Global Network's post office box yesterday.  An unsolicited grant in the amount of $25,000 came in from craigslist Charitable Fund.  This is the 3rd year in a row that this donation came to us.  The support from craigslist has really made it possible for us to expand our international outreach.  In the attached letter the Charitable Fund wrote, "Your mission and good work are appreciated."  We are grateful for their support.

Feeling the Yern: Why One Millenial Woman Would Rather Go to Hell Than Vote For Hillary

I am not an enthusiastic supporter of Bernie Sanders largely because of his tepid foreign policy pronouncements.  But I must give him credit for taking on the big $$$ from Wall Street - he's done well to give voice to the Occupy movement's articulation of the need to end the power of the 1% who literally own the country and much of the world.  This article below by Holly Wood is one of the best things I've seen written in years and god do I ever love her satire and her truth telling.  Enjoy.

By Holly Wood
February 8, 2016
The Village Voice

There seems to be no shortage of bizarrely sexist assumptions as to why I, a Millennial feminist, am not voting for Hillary Clinton. But speaking as a Millennial feminist, let me assure you: None of them is accurate. But the reason for my political disaffection is plain: There's no persuading me that the Democratic establishment — from where it sits now — has the capacity to represent me, or my values.  
Stumping for Hillary Clinton this weekend in New Hampshire, hedge fund manager Madeleine Albright squawked, "There's a special place in Hell for women who don't help each other."

When the Democratic National Committee chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was asked earlier this year why she thought Millennials resist Hillary Clinton, she casually threw them under the bus. "Here's what I see," she groused. "A complacency among the generation of young women whose entire lives have been lived after Roe v. Wade was decided."

Asked a similar question by Bill Maher this past Friday, women's-rights icon Gloria Steinem cawed, "When you're young, you're thinking, 'Where are the boys?' The boys are with Bernie."

There seems to be no shortage of bizarrely sexist assumptions as to why I, a Millennial feminist, am not voting for Hillary Clinton. But speaking as a Millennial feminist, let me assure you: None of them is accurate. Granted, the span of my political biography is only as long as it took Howard Dean to go from human rights crusader to insurance lobbyist. But the reason for my political disaffection is plain: I've spent my entire Millennial life watching the Democratic Party claw its way up the ass of corporate America. There's no persuading me that the Democratic establishment — from where it sits now — has the capacity to represent me, or my values.

And I'm not alone. According to a 2013 poll by Harvard's Kennedy School, three out of five of my peers now believe politicians prioritize private gain over the public good. When young people open to gauge just how cheaply our futures trade these days, are we being cynical, or just realistic?

If Millennials are coming out in droves to support Bernie Sanders, it's not because we are tripping balls on Geritol. No, Sanders's clever strategy of shouting the exact same thing for 40 years simply strikes a chord among the growing number of us who now agree: Washington is bought. And every time Goldman Sachs buys another million-dollar slice of the next American presidency, we can't help but drop the needle onto Bernie's broken record:

The economy is rigged.

Democracy is corrupted.

The billionaires are on the warpath.

Sanders has split the party with hits like these, a catchy stream of pessimistic populism. Behind this arthritic Pied Piper, the youth rally, brandishing red-lettered signs reading "MONEYLENDERS OUT." If you ask them, they'll tell you there's a special place in Hell for war criminals who launch hedge funds.

Last week in Iowa, Sanders proved his bleak candor is every bit as appealing to American voters as Hillary's enthusiasm for tweakmanship. Especially among the youth. According to entrance polls, Millennials backed Comrade Sanders over Neoliberal Clinton by a tidy 70-point margin. And in New Hampshire, the most recent UMass poll has Sanders taking 89 percent of the state's Democrats under 30.

But these numbers should not surprise you. According to a YouGov poll conducted last week, people under 30 are more likely to say they support socialism than capitalism.

Capitalism, as Vonnegut explained, is "what the people with all our money, drunk or sober, sane or insane, decided to do today." We've just spent a lifetime watching capitalism buy itself a government. And I'll be frank: It's not working well for most of us. Drones make orphans in our name. Our friends will die indebted. We are poisoning our own well.

The spectacle of our government's being bought is so obvious, even the youngest among us can see it. "With Hillary," eighteen-year-old Olivia Sauder told Times reporters at the Iowa Caucus, "sometimes you get this feeling that all of her sentences are owned by someone."

Ding, ding, ding.

Having once been marked by the Onion's A.V. Club as a "hyper-articulate radical feminist communist," I feel uniquely qualified to pour you a rich cup of cold-brewed truth here: The kids are lit. And yet despite our frank rejection of establishment politics, establishment media waste no time swooping in to lecture us about our cognitive defects like so many pedantic barn owls.

"Stay sane, America!" hoots David Brooks for the Times, going on to equate voting one's conscience with voting for overt fascist Donald Trump. It's plainly bananas, says Brooks, to waste a primary vote on a man threatening disestablishment. There's no way he can win.

Yet according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on February 5, Bernie has 42 percent of the national Dem vote to Hillary's 44 percent. "Democrats nationwide are feeling the Bern as Senator Bernie Sanders closes a 31-point gap to tie Secretary Hillary Clinton," says Quinnipiac's assistant director Tim Molloy in Friday's press release. And according to Gallup's January numbers, Sanders's net favorability among Democrats is actually four points higher than Hillary's. By most poll estimates, Dems say they are just as, if not more, likely to vote for Bernie as Hillary against any Republican front-runner.

But David Brooks is just one gassy bird in the barn. I've got a stack of editorials here telling me how insane and delusional I am, each more insulting to my intelligence than the next.

My favorite owl pellet comes from Alexandra Schwartz, writing for the New Yorker, who claimed Bernie's incessant talk of Wall Street fuckery is somehow outdated: "When [Sanders's] campaign tweets that it's 'high time we stopped bailing out Wall Street and started repairing Main Street,' you have to wonder," writes Schwartz, obtusely, "why his youngest supporters, so attuned to staleness in all things cultural, are letting him get away with political rhetoric that would have seemed old even in 2012."

What a charmed life Alexandra Schwartz must lead to think that the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression should resolve itself according to the needs of the news cycle. But believe it or not, the poors have not yet moved on from being gobsmacked by a globally devastating market collapse. Freedom from the burdens of financial ruin is a privilege I imagine millions of Americans wish they could share with New Yorker staff writer Alexandra Schwartz.

And what did the great tawny-bellied Paul Krugman have to say to the nation's waywardly progressive? "Sorry," he pecked in his Times column. "There's nothing noble about seeing your values defeated because you preferred happy dreams to hard thinking about means and ends." Pausing to cough up a mouse carcass, he chittered on: "Don't let idealism veer into destructive self-indulgence."

I'm trying to imagine an eighteenth-century Krugman admonishing a young Thomas Jefferson against letting his happy dreams of liberty veer into self-indulgence. For good reason, American historians seem unimpressed by owls counseling restraint in the face of corruption and oppression.

If anything concerns me at this pivotal moment, it's not the revolutionary tremors of the youth. Given the Great American Trash Fire we have inherited, this rebellion strikes me as exceedingly reasonable. Pick a crisis, America: Child poverty? Inexcusable. Medical debt? Immoral. For-profit prison? Medieval. Climate change? Apocalyptic. The Middle East is our Vietnam. Flint, the canary in our coal mine. Tamir Rice, our martyred saint. This place is a mess. We're due for a hard rain.

If I am alarmed, it is by the profound languor of the comfortable. What fresh hell must we find ourselves in before those who've appointed themselves to lead our thoughts admit that we are in flames? As I see it, to counsel realism when the reality is fucked is to counsel an adherence to fuckery. Under conditions as distressing as these, acquiescence is absurd. When your nation gets classified as a Class D structure fire, I believe the only wise course is to lose your shit.

The reason Wall Street is dropping zillions of quarters into Hillary's Super PAC-Man machine isn't because it wants change — it's because Wall Street sees revenue in her promises of keeping things much the same. Under Hillary, our prisons will continue to punish for profit. Our schools will continue to be sold off to private contractors. And despite 87 percent of Democrats standing behind universal health care, Hillary insists it will "never, ever come to pass." Not from her, I guess, since she's taken over $13 million from the health care industry.

We really can't, America, says Hillary. Nope. Not ever. We are a powerful nation, kids, but one run by the Great Market God. Leave your moral gag reflex at the door. Close that pesky Overton window, won't you? And be a doll and bolt those tables to the floor. You'll love the moneylenders, dear. I do. Hell, my daughter married one!

"Want a selfie?"

No, young heroes, mind not the barnshitting owls. And I insist we take a pass on contracting foxes to assess the holes in our fence. Abandon no hopes, America. We have important work to do. This democracy will not save itself.

"The note of hope is the only note that can help us or save us from falling to the bottom of the heap of evolution," sermonized Father Guthrie, musing on what got him through the Great Depression. "All a human being is, anyway, is just a hoping machine."