DON’T CALL IT A COUP…

Listening to NPR, this morning, I heard some of the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, including an unbelievable claim from GOP Rep. Devin Nunes… Actually, I didn’t believe it until John Nichols of The Nation reluctantly confirmed it, after a listener called in and asked for clarification.

This is gobsmacking (my gob has been utterly smacked):

Apparently, Mark S. Zaid, the attorney of today’s CIA “whistleblower” Tweeted the following, just weeks after Trump’s election — years before Trump’s impeachment-worthy conversation with Ukrainian president, Zelensky:

“#coup has started. As one falls, two more will take their place. #rebellion #impeachment”

Considering the specific language Zaid uses, I can only conclude that he and his cohorts work for “HYDRA”“If a head is cut off, two more shall take its place.”

(Take that, Marvel! Kapowie!)

And lest we forget…

Journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes were invited by Sec. Clinton in 2016 to accompany her and her staff on the campaign trail, resulting in the following report (which appears in Parnes and Allen’s book Shattered about their experience covering the Clinton campaign):

(Less than a day after losing the election, senior campaign staffers…)

“Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”

Russiagate… engineered? (You don’t say…)

If Robert Mueller weren’t a seasoned political operator and longtime minion of the Bush/Clinton cabal, he might have looked into that.

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THEY SAID IT COULDN’T BE DONE!

At the U.S.-Mexico border, Donald Trump has clearly outdone Barack Obama when it comes to the U.S.’s unmitigated brutality toward would-be immigrants (many of them fleeing conflicts, coups, and authoritarian regimes created by longstanding U.S. foreign policy).

While President Obama deported three million immigrants and refugees (more than all 20th-century presidents combined), put ICE on steroids, and separated children from their parents/legal guardians by the thousands (caging children by the thousands years before Trump would do so), Donald Trump has outdone Obama in myriad ways when it comes to the brutality inflicted on immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border — denying medical care and human rights to thousands, resulting in several deaths.

Trump has taken the draconian template created by his predecessors and somehow managed to make the treatment of these human beings even more cruel — when few immigrants’ rights activists thought it possible (despite our country’s steady trajectory toward neo-fascist policies, following the terrorist attacks of 9/11).

Still, when it comes to the sheer number of deportees, Trump has a long way to go before catching up to the “Deporter in Chief.”

But there is room for a tiny sliver of hope. I am confident that — if the 1% allows a remotely democratic process in 2020 (which they didn’t in 2016) — President Bernie Sanders will end these inhuman practices and bring sanity to U.S. border control/immigration policy.

Let’s hope that day comes soon!

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THE ONLY WAY WE WIN IS BY CHAMPIONING THE GOOD, NOT BY SIDING WITH THE “LESSER” EVIL.

In today’s opinion piece by CODE PINK’s Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J S Davies, the authors — looking at protest movements in Chile, Lebanon, France, the U.K., Iraq, and beyond — pose the question, “Why Aren’t People in the US Rising Up Like Those Elsewhere in the World?”

We did. It was called Occupy Wall Street, and it was a thing of beauty. I participated in demonstrations in Fremont, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Sacramento (made signs, gave speeches, distributed literature, posted blogs, invited friends, donated books/food, collected litter, etc.).

But then President Obama shut us down with his illegal, private contractor-employing, federally-coordinated, 18-city crackdown…

Sadly, Medea and her cohort write that “Occupy lost momentum because it failed to transition…” What a disheartening revision of history that phrase represents, amounting to an apologia for Obama’s draconian response to our peaceful movement. OWS didn’t “fail,” we were brutally crushed.

Burning our libraries, spraying us with pepper spray, firing tear gas canisters into peaceful protesters (including at point-blank range, causing serious injuries), and entrapping OWS demonstrators and journalists, alike (arresting us by the hundreds in NYC alone)…

Obama’s crackdown was more brutal than anything Trump has done, save for at the border — where Obama created the template, caging children by the thousands after putting ICE on steroids (deporting more immigrants and refugees than all 20th-century presidents combined).

So, let’s be honest: The last gasp of democracy in the U.S. was extinguished several years ago, when “Hope & Change” was cruelly twisted into Despair & Continuity, and the most radical, neo-fascist policies of Bush/Cheney were normalized:

- Wall Street’s $16-trillion coup de grace to the middle class and the ascendance of the neocon agenda had been consummated;

- Bush’s cruelly regressive tax cuts had been made permanent — just when they were about to “sunset” for good;

- the Global War of Terror had been expanded to seven nations, as President Obama queued up mass-starvation in Yemen and fundamentally did to Libya and Syria what George W. Bush had done to Iraq, resulting in over 500,000 fresh corpses and over 10 million new refugees (and the rise of open-air slave markets in Libya, following Qaddafi’s lynching);

- a second Mujaheddin army had been created by Washington and Riyadh (together again), with the purpose of overthrowing the Assad government in Damascus;

- habeas corpus, along with the Bill of Rights, had been retired, as indefinite detention, cruel and unusual punishment, and the assassination of U.S. citizens uncharged with any crime had been “legalized;”

- the surveillance-state was normalized, even though Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, had been caught lying to the U.S. Senate about the NSA’s warrantless spying on Americans;

- Posse Comitatus was repealed (henceforth, the U.S. military could be deployed against American citizens on American soil);

- the Smith-Mundt Act was repealed (henceforth, the U.S. government could legally propagandize the American people, here at home… which does a lot to explain the origins of Russiagate);

- the Cold War had been brought back from the dead, and the table set for WWIII (in Ukraine, where Washington’s coup had empowered bona fide neo-Nazis, and elsewhere on Russia’s borders);

- adversarial journalism had been effectively quashed — with the Espionage Act being used against whistleblowers and journalists twice as many times under Obama as under all previous presidents combined (and Julian Assange persecuted and hunted like a terrorist — Obama’s VP, 2019 Democratic “frontrunner,” Joe Biden, actually called Assange a “terrorist,” and Sec. Clinton inquired, “Can’t we just drone this guy?”);

- and the process for nominating Democratic presidential candidates had been thoroughly corrupted and rigged, with the corporatized “Free Press” wholly complicit, smearing and disappearing Bernie Sanders in the service of the oligarchy’s preferred candidate, the “Queen of Warmongers.”

While all this was happening, thanks to the grotesqueness of Republicans, most of the left – including excellent activist groups and genuine progressives — were utterly fucking silent.

(To their lasting shame.)

I guess they were saving their highly-selective outrage for the MIC-hated nincompoop, Donald Trump — a hideous baboon of a person who nonetheless has stalled the neocon agenda and hasn’t done nearly as much harm to the nation and world that his immediate few predecessors did (no thanks to Trump, but mostly because his abysmal predecessors didn’t leave much of value for Trump to damage/degrade, so far as our nation’s institutions are concerned).

Enough with the partisanship! We’ve been divided and conquered thoroughly enough without exacerbating the situation further!

We did rise up. Only the “Good Guy” from the “liberal” party crushed us like ants.

(When are we going to learn that we defeat Trump/Trump-ism not by overlooking and excusing the crimes of comparably evil and corrupt politicians and the neo-fascist deep state, but only by championing The Good: Bernie, Tulsi, AOC, Ilhan Omar and the Squad, Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, Wikileaks, Anya Parampil, Katie Halper, Matt Taibbi, Aaron Mate, Eva Bartlett, Amy Goodman, Max Blumenthal, Naomi Klein, Prof. Stephen F. Cohen, Greta Thunberg… the few brave souls who speak truth to power!)

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LET THE PRIVATIZATION AND PLUNDER OF UKRAINE BEGIN!

When Washington spends billions of dollars to foment a coup, it is simply never, ever, ever about “democracy” or “human rights,” but always, always, always about privatization and plunder.

In this case, as per usual, the vast majority of Ukrainians (73%+) oppose the neoliberal “reforms” being forced on them from without: pension-slashing austerity, reduction of wages, and the willy-nilly privatization of land, water, public utilities, banks…

But at least Bayer/Monsanto, DuPont, Cargill, and the rest of the corporate cartel are happy. That’s what U.S. foreign policy is all about, after all: FREEDOM (of corporate elites) to overthrow democratically-elected governments, to enslave populations, and to loot, loot, loot the resources of other nations.

Ukraine/Russia vs. Washington (in metaphorical terms):

[I’ve been having a constructive dialogue with a very good friend about the Washington-launched, neo-Nazi-dependent 2014 coup in Ukraine that’s destabilized the country, resulting in some 13,000 deaths (according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights). Since the corporate media has done such an abysmal job of covering the coup objectively, I began our conversation by sharing some very good articles by award-winning journalists -- and an excellent interview with America’s pre-eminent Russia expert, Princeton Professor Emeritus Stephen F. Cohen. I wanted to assure that my friend and I were both working with the same basic facts. We’d gotten off to a pretty good start, but along the way, I failed to adequately convey my criticisms of Vladimir Putin, who is a deeply flawed leader, by any standard, even if many of the stories about Russian “aggression” and “murder of journalists” are Western propaganda, blithely pushed by a corporatized media that no longer does much fact-checking or critical-thinking, when it comes to official narratives.

What follows is my latest attempt to clarify my position on Mr. Putin, who I describe as “a personally revolting criminal and genuine bully.”

I’ve decided to share this latest installment of our conversation here, at Invitation2Artivism.com for two reasons: A) It was well received by my friend; and B) it includes fun and informative metaphors, including one based in the Star Wars universe... or should I say “galaxy.” Enjoy!]

Thanks for the mini-festo and your perspective. I think I can address the concerns you raised fairly simply, without getting too deep into the weeds.

My first thought is that I need to communicate more clearly my condemnation of Vladimir Putin. While I reject the notion that Kremlin propaganda has seeped into my thinking, I can see how you drew that conclusion — especially since the propaganda of the West is so pervasive, these days, making everyone who deviates from approved narratives seem suspect (the Western power establishment sees “Putin puppets” and “useful idiots” everywhere, these days, it seems… and the corporate media acts like the protagonist in John Carpenter’s “They Live” — like they just tried on the special/alien sunglasses for the first time, and now they see RUSSKIE AGENTS everywhere!!! Matt Taibbi recently wrote an excellent piece along those lines, following Sec. Clinton’s recent, bizarrely Trump-esque attack on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard).

I understand how you might conclude that I view Putin as the “Good Guy” in this geopolitical scenario, but I want you to know that I truly don’t (and I seriously doubt Prof. Cohen does, either; it’s a matter not of “Good Guys” and “Bad Guys,” but of history, context, the rule of law, self-determination, etc. — all of which put the U.S./NATO in a far worse light than Putin’s Russia).

If I may use a metaphor, from a galaxy that I once loved… a long time ago… not here…

It is a period of intergalactic war. A vile gangster named Putin the Hutt rules over his neighbors (and those in his tiny sphere) with an iron fist. Putin the Hutt is authoritarian, misogynistic, and thuggish.

Many of his enterprises are wholly illegal, and he is a legitimate menace to virtually all who defy him.

One day, the Emperor (in truth, the Dark Lord of the Sith) — terrified as the Rebellion and galactic resistance are gaining steam, with system after system breaking away from the Empire — decides he absolutely, positively MUST (while his empire’s still standing, however unsteadily) take down Putin the Hutt, a frequently defiant independent operator (if occasional strategic ally).

The Empire is obsessed with absorbing and dominating the Hutt’s important system — a long-desired goal, unrelated to any current political context (concerned least of all with the plight of living beings, democracy-promotion, etc.).

Because Putin the Hutt, corrupt though he is, simply won’t play ball. He thinks he’s big stuff and likes controlling his own turf. He still believes in quaint old things like states and sovereignty and resists Galactic Globalization, the Corellia Consensus (which was never anything but an Imperial colonization plan: Total Galactic Domination, authored by that notorious intergalactic neocon, Darth Wolfowitz).

Not only will Putin the Hutt not roll over and simply hand his system to the Empire, he often works with smaller systems resisting the Empire’s predations, defending them!

(But let’s not be naive: Putin the Hutt isn’t defending the Iraqi System, Georgian System, Libyan System, Syrian System, Venezuelan System, or Ukrainian System from the Empire because he’s an altruist, trying to bring goodness and decency to the galaxy. Pfahh! His back to the wall, an Imperial blaster to his head, Putin the Hutt is acting out of basic self-interest, ultimately in defense of his system and his power.)

When the Empire floods the Hutt’s neighboring/allied systems with Stormtroopers and turns them into war zones, Putin the Hutt fights back. Not because he’s a great champion of democracy or human rights — because he’s largely the opposite — but because it serves his own interests and the interests of the Hutts, writ large.

Many legitimate democracy activists celebrated the 2014 removal of Putin the Hutt’s nominal ally, Yanukovych the Fett — legally elected, ironically, in an intergalactically-monitored election — but those poor souls were unwittingly supporting the Empire, the Dark Side, and bona fide Stormtroopers.

What followed the coup was several times worse than the highly imperfect and deeply corrupt system that preceded it, and the population set about reversing it in short order, electing a leader (in a landslide) who unequivocally promised rapprochement with the Hutts.

OR WE CAN SCRAP MY STAR WARZY METAPHOR AND USE YOURS:

“If a bully is taking a bunch of kids’ money on the playground and a coalition of kids (offers protection)…”

If I thought that scenario accurately reflected the reality, I would certainly agree with you — strength in numbers, looking out for the underdog/victims, and all that…

But there is no “coalition.” There is only an even bigger, far worse “bully,” one so menacing and monstrous, so practiced in murder, that the word “criminal” applies better to this sandbox newcomer.

Because NATO is simply a vicious street gang that ultimately answers to sinister, utterly ruthless organized crime bosses, not some “coalition” of other small-medium sized actors, trying to “liberate” sandboxes (sure, that kind of language is in the NATO Gang’s PR, but the group’s history says otherwise).

NATO is the best organized, most heavily armed gang in this or any other schoolyard, and they’ve been bullying the bullies — and the weak (especially the weak) — for as long as anyone can remember. Their methods are coercion, sanctions, starvation, deprivation of medicine/human rights/political independence, etc. They’re a squad of adult rogues strolling onto the junior-high schoolyard to prey on the weak, as they’ve done time and again (always leaving a trail of carnage, chaos, crime, and plunder in their wake).

The NATO Gang sees a genuinely nasty bully occupying a large, important sandbox that the gang’s bosses have long coveted (in fact they want to control all of the sandboxes in all of the playgrounds, but this one has stubbornly eluded them, thanks to sizeable bullies like this one). So, they move in and forcibly eject one of the bully’s nominal allies. They threaten the bully more directly than at any time in recent memory. They arm/finance sandbox Stormtroopers to run amok, and the plunder begins.

The NATO Gang didn’t care that most of the kids in their quadrant of the sandbox voted for the bully’s nominal ally (actually, more of a neutral player, navigating the difficult path between the bully and the NATO Gang, but who needs nuance when we’re dividing the world into “allies” and “enemies”?).

The NATO Gang didn’t mind that they had to rely on outside-sandbox snipers and brutal Stormtroopers to oust the bully’s democratically-elected “ally.”

All the NATO Gang knew was that they’d won a temporary advantage, had the bully on the defensive, and the time had come to plunder all the sandbox kids’ lunch-money and every juice box, toy, and trinket their criminal syndicate desired.

But enough metaphors. You get the point.

I hope you have a better sense of how I view Putin: a Jabba the Hutt-like figure, a personally revolting criminal and genuine bully, whose methods are intimidation, corruption, and violence.

With respect to the source you shared, I sympathize with where Mr. Shekovtsov is coming from, but he is an activist and partisan, and he’s unambiguously sided with the evil empire, on this one. In the second article you linked, Shekovtsov repeatedly refers to explicitly articulated U.S. policies and other established facts as “conspiracy theories.”

Still, I like the basic point Shekovtsov makes about how meaningless the terms “fascist” and “anti-fascist” have become, as when right-wingers call Bernie Sanders a “fascist” for advocating a “government takeover” of healthcare. Such reckless use of language is dangerously unhinged and only degrades the conversation.

But it seems to me that Shekovtsov employs this basic argument solely to obscure the extent to which Russia, Ukraine, and the world are legitimately resisting Washington-imposed fascism.

To be clear, the biggest fascists aren’t the Ukrainian neo-Nazis we’ve been debating, but the Washington-based neocons, who are undoubtedly the most genocidal faction since the Third Reich.

I concede that that assessment probably sounds like hyperbole to a mainstream, 21st-century American, but I don’t see how anyone could objectively see things otherwise: If an alien race had spent the last several decades watching geopolitical events, they would see ONE HUGE BULLY, dominating virtually the entire world and killing millions of human beings along the way… mostly unchallenged, save for Russia and China.

When it comes to sheer lawlessness and large-scale destruction, no other nation comes close. The U.S. is also — thanks to the corporations that have usurped our democracy — the nation that’s chiefly led the war on the planet’s ecosystem, ultimately dooming most life to extinction.

And NATO is that omnicidal corporate mob’s lawless, privateering gang.

(If we really wanted to see a more peaceful world, we would dissolve NATO and transfer much of the military might of the contributing countries — and others — to a democratically reorganized United Nations. The resulting, legitimately international military force would be deployable only when a super-majority of nations authorizes it. But that would be an ideal world. Instead, a Cold War relic has been deployed willy-nilly to bring destruction to nation after nation. Violating the promises of U.S. presidents engaged in diplomacy, serving one faction alone, NATO has destabilized the globe and brought humanity to the precipice of a third World War.)

Consider: Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, freed from the constraints of a multi-polar world following the end of the first Cold War, butchered millions of human beings in Iraq alone, in an unvarnished bid to dominate the globe through sheer force. They employed draconian sanctions (denying potable water to millions), torture, spying and blackmail against allies, ethnic cleansing, mercenaries, resource theft, drones, white phosphorus, and the “Salvador Option” to obliterate a nation of 27 million people, fracturing it along ethno-sectarian lines.

Then, under President Obama, the same faction, the neocons, proceeded to do something astonishingly similar to Libya, and then Syria, resulting in over half a million deaths and over 10 million refugees.

There is simply no analog to this kind of destructiveness in Putin’s behavior.

(The only analog history offers is that of Hitler’s Germany.)

It legitimately terrifies me that many Americans are capable of falling into the same old Cold War, “Us vs. Them” mindset following recent decades of U.S. genocide in the Middle East and elsewhere, with our presidents distinguishing themselves as among the worst war criminals in recorded human history.

My mind boggles and my heart sinks when I see mainstream Americans pointing to foreign “bad guys” (Qaddafi, Assad, Maduro, Kim, Putin, etc.) …after the colossal atrocities that the Clintons and Bush/Cheney inflicted on Iraq… after the Mujaheddin-fueling horror that President Obama unleashed on Libya and Syria… after so much of Washington’s “Democracy Champion” mask has fallen off, revealing the face of pure, unadulterated, white-supremacist, Christian-Dominionist, predatory, patriarchal corporatism.

(I find it revealing that among America’s strongest foreign allies are Israel and Saudi Arabia, two of the most brutal, undemocratic, ethno-sectarian regimes in the world, both with atrocious human rights records. And then there’s post-coup, police-state Egypt, narco-state Colombia, colonized Kuwait, authoritarian Bahrain and Qatar, India under Narendra Modi, post-coup Brazil under Bolsonaro, post-coup Honduras…)

Does my opposition to the worst of the worst mean that I consider Putin a saint or even a halfway decent human being? Far from it. But in a world as messed up as ours, I don’t think we can afford to join in on the mostly groundless hyper-demonization of one of the few world leaders pushing back against humanity’s worst enemies.

At least, not while those fascists are still running amok, setting the table for WWIII, sewing discord, propagandizing the West, overthrowing democracies, rigging elections, and generally reaping massive profits from mass-murder and ecocide.

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THE CONUNDRUM DONALD TRUMP POSES TO 21st-CENTURY LIBERALS: WHICH IS THE ACTUAL “LESSER” OF TWO EVILS (and how many angels can dance on the head of a pin)?

From Chris Hedges’ excellent article:

“The deep state armed ‘moderate’ rebels in Syria in an effort to topple President Bashar Assad, but when it realized it could not control the jihadists—to whom it had provide some $500 million in weapons and assistance—the deep state began to bomb them and arm Kurdish rebels to fight them. These Kurds would later be betrayed by Trump. The ‘war on terror’ spread like a plague from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya to Yemen, which after five years of war is suffering one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. The financial cost for this misery and death is between $5 trillion and $8 trillion. The human cost runs into hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded, shattered cities, towns and infrastructure and millions of refugees.

“Trump committed political heresy when he dared to point out the folly of unchecked militarism. He will pay for it. The deep state intends to replace him with someone—perhaps Mike Pence, as morally and intellectually vacuous as Trump—who will do what he or she is told. This is the role of America’s executive: Personify and humanize the empire. Do so with pomp and dignity. Barack Obama—who speciously reinterpreted the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force to give the executive the right to assassinate anyone abroad, even a U.S. citizen, deemed to be a terrorist—excelled at the game.”

*       *       *

However worthy Donald Trump may be of our unreserved disapprobation, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges is correct when he writes that the Orange One “committed political heresy when he dared to point out the folly of unchecked militarism” and simply won’t follow orders.

(He’s a “baaaad fascist,” as I’ve written before.)

Hedges is also correct when he writes that Barack Obama positively “excelled” at putting a palatable, civilized façade over the true face of our neo-fascist empire, smoothing the way for the neocons after Bush/Cheney had totaled and discredited their despicable agenda — only for Obama, under no public pressure whatsoever, to rescue that genocidal agenda and put WWIII back on track.

Which begs the question…

Would we rather have a personally revolting, dangerously unpredictable lunatic in the White House, a human train-wreck whose blundering vileness has ironically impeded the neo-fascist project (which is why the CIA and deep state are moving his impeachment forward)…

OR would we prefer an urbane, eloquent, careerist Democrat or Republican in the White House, a polished water-carrier for neo-fascism, like “Poppy” Bush, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama — someone who bolsters and expands America’s fascist tendencies while making them mostly invisible (if not in the many war zones our leaders have created, at least in “polite”/Good German circles, here at home)?

Whatever our personal feelings about the candidates’ respective personality issues, should we actually prefer such fascism-advancing establishmentarians to Donald Trump, an admittedly putrescent scumbag who nonetheless inadvertently impedes fascism by his very repugnance and venality?

This puzzle is so extraordinarily difficult to solve that many good liberals have simply given up and decided to reflexively champion the modern Democratic establishment, even though it exemplifies the traditional Republican agenda: neo-fascist, warmongering, election-rigging/voter-purging, journalist-hunting, society-surveilling…

Trump-era liberals, still reeling from Sec. Clinton’s loss to a reality-TV star, venerate George W. Bush, the deep state, our propagandistic intelligence agencies/media, genocidal generals (McRaven, Petraeus, McChrystal, Mattis), and serial torturers like John Brennan, James Clapper, Michael Hayden, etc.

It’s a tragedy — for those individuals, personally, but far more so, for the nation.

(At this point, Trump Derangement Syndrome has birthed a second Cold War, moved the Democratic Party to the GOP’s right, and taken a wrecking ball to what was left of journalistic integrity… save for a few heroes on the margins: Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Katie Halper, Rania Khalek, Eva Bartlett, Robert Parry, Max Blumenthal, and Aaron Mate, whose Russiagate-skeptical reporting earned him the prestigious “Izzy” award, so named for legendary American journalist, I.F. “Izzy” Stone.)

Personally, I don’t have to solve this conundrum, as I find myself incapable of voting for either the repugnant, unintentional fascism-retarder/discredit-er (the Bush/Trump type) or the smooth-talking establishmentarian who puts fascism on steroids and effaces the left (neoliberal Democrats, Clintons, Obama, etc.).

As my history of activism makes clear, I’d rather have a bona fide, anti-war progressive — like Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, or Tulsi Gabbard — in the White House, but the undemocratic oligarchy that’s usurped our republic will never allow that to come to pass… no matter how many Americans attempt to vote such a person into the Oval Office.

After 20+ years of faithfully voting for Democrats, their latest strategic moves — outflanking Trump and the overtly bigoted GOP to the right while embracing the agenda of modern Nazis (the neocons, responsible for millions of deaths since 9/11 alone) — have made it impossible for me to determine which option is truly the “lesser” of two unmitigated evils.

(How many devils can dance on the head of a pin…?)

But I’m done letting fear and personal disgust for Republicans like Trump determine my vote. I’m done voting for transparently evil/corrupt politicians. Period.

However hopeless their candidacies might be in our highly undemocratic state — with its far-right political-media establishment and broken/rigged elections — from now on I’m only voting for the candidates that give me hope, however slight, for a non-fascist future.

BERNIE/TULSI 2020!

Sorry, Clintons. Sorry, Mr. Biden. Sorry, you blood-soaked, neo-McCarthyite tools of the deep state. But you will never again get my vote (the last time I so erred was my 2008 vote for Barack Obama, before he demonstrated himself to be one of American fascism’s all-time proponents… maybe I should’ve seen it coming).

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“USA, the Ground-level View” (now on display at the Sun Gallery in Hayward)


This painting attempts to acknowledge the millions of innocent people who have met violent ends at the hands of ethno-sectarian supremacists in the United States and in the racially/religiously oppressive nations that our leaders, to their lasting shame, have enthusiastically supported: South Africa, Israel, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, India, Ukraine, etc.

I will always be grateful for the works of Spike Lee, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Arundhati Roy, Edward Said, Michelle Alexander, Randall Robinson, Mahmood Mamdani, James H. Cone, Glen Ford, Ta-Nehisi Coates, James Baldwin, and others who have guided me toward a greater awareness of the fundamentally prejudiced, structured inequalities in our nation, especially visible in our country’s policing/sentencing, economics, voting rights, and foreign policy.

Particular thanks are due to Michelle Alexander, author of the acclaimed The New Jim Crow, who taught me that more African-Americans are laboring for pennies in our overcrowded, largely privatized/for-profit prisons — slaving away for corporations from Microsoft to Nike — than were “employed” as slaves at the height of American slavery.

Per studies reported in the L.A. Times, there are more slaves in the world today than at any time in recorded history. I will long remember the horror stories I’ve read about the lives of slaves on modern fishing boats, catching the majority of the fish in our supermarkets… and the legions of child sex-workers (slaves) in the U.S. and beyond… and the many third-world workers who jumped to their deaths from the windows of their sweatshop-prisons, either to simply end their suffering or to escape the infernos consuming their  “workplaces.”

This kind of race-based oppression is standard operating procedure for the USA. Donald Trump, repugnant though he is, is anomalous only in his brazenness. Not in his essential character.

He represents our system all too well.

(Consider the fact that Trump’s three predecessors alone are responsible for the deaths of millions of Arab Muslims, a modern holocaust: Bill Clinton’s potable water-denying sanctions killed over a million innocent Iraqis, as did Bush/Cheney’s illegal invasion of the country; and Barack Obama’s Operation Timber Sycamore flooded Syria with genocidal Salafist militants, provoking a bloody civil war that claimed over 500,000 lives and created over 10 million refugees. And then there was President Obama’s regime-change operation in Libya, culminating in the lynching of Libyan president, Moammar Qaddafi, followed by the rise of open-air slave markets…)

This painting, “USA, the Ground-level View,” hopes to provide the victims’ perspective. It hopes to encourage empathy in the viewer for those who have lost their lives to ethno-sectarian terrorism and plunder, at home and abroad, much of which has been underwritten by our fundamentally white-supremacist, Christian-Dominionist empire.

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THE ONLY CAMPAIGN WITH MORE INDIVIDUAL SUPPORTERS THAN DONALD TRUMP…

Unsurprisingly, it turns out that people of color (especially women), teachers, Wal-Mart employees, Amazon employees, and Starbucks employees — those suffering most under neoliberalism’s decades-long assault on our society — are Bernie Sanders’s biggest supporters… and they’ve come out to support him in record numbers!

While the establishment smears and marginalizes him, regular, working-class Americans love Bernie Sanders and clamor for the policies that he, and he alone, is advocating. That’s why he’s breaking records — the biggest crowds gathered at the primary stage, the most small donors — two consecutive presidential election cycles running!

From the article that first appeared on yesterday’s CommonDreams.org website:

“The presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders said it made political history on Thursday by receiving campaign donations from 1 million individuals in the shortest amount of time.

“‘With 1 million contributors, this is the only Democratic campaign that has more supporters than Donald Trump,’ said campaign manager Faiz Shakir in a statement.

“‘Our strength is in numbers,’ continued Shakir, ‘and that is why Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who is able to say his campaign will rely only on grassroots funding in both the primary and against Donald Trump.’”

*         *         *

Now, compare Bernie’s people-powered campaign to the establishment-blessed campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (71% of whose supporters are white, typically affluent, and mostly male).

Elizabeth Warren has taken millions of dollars from megadonors over most of her political career, and she’s been adamant that she’ll take their money again in the general: “We need a lot of power, a lot of dark money, a lot of super-PACS… We play by the same rules” (as Trump and the Republicans).

Do you doubt Warren said this? Well, see for yourself (the quote I’ve offered comes verbatim from Warren’s recent conversation with Cenk Uygur) — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTypAHOjy8w&t=65s

In other words, in the general election, Sen. Warren has vowed to negate her moral advantage over Trump and get down in the sewer with him, grubbing after the “dark money” and “PAC money” of fossil fuel companies, the private prison industry, charter school magnates, the Military Industrial Complex, PhRMA, AHIP, AIPAC, and the usual parade of parasites.

According to The New York Times, Warren’s “100% grassroots-funded” campaign was built on a $10-million war chest, the vast majority of which came from “billionaires,” “multi-millionaires,” “megadonors,” “old guard power brokers” and “politically connected insiders” — thanks to one lavish fundraiser after another in New York City, Silicon Valley, Martha’s Vineyard, Florida, Philadelphia…

Do you doubt it? See for yourself: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/09/us/politics/elizabeth-warren-2020.html

Only one candidate holds out great promise of defeating Donald Trump in 2020, and his name is Bernie Sanders.

The rest have simply not been vetted. And none of them are as popular in their home state as Bernie is after decades in public office.

It’s not a coincidence that Bernie is also the one candidate with a history of eschewing the corrupting influence of big money on our political system — and the one candidate with a long history of unequivocally advocating for single-payer healthcare, a robust public education system, a reduced Pentagon budget, civil rights for all (including African-Americans and the LGBTQ community), and the most progressive agenda since FDR.

I know that for many Democrats, it has become important to not make waves with the establishment. Many mainstream Democrats are coalescing around the establishment-courting candidacy of Elizabeth Warren. I understand that. The corporate media is promoting her relentlessly, and her campaign has been very slick and smart, like Warren herself.

And in the unlikely event that Sen. Warren proves capable of defeating Donald Trump — overcoming her considerable vulnerabilities in a general election — she would become our first woman president, something that is long overdue.

That would be great!

But her negative favorability ratings are consistently higher than Bernie’s, particularly among independent voters and conservatives. And her history of flip-flopping, political cowardice, and supporting the establishment, especially the Military Industrial Complex and the DNC, will all come back to haunt her in the general election.

So, for those enamored of barrier-breaking and Identity Politics, can’t we “settle” on backing the most popular politician in America — and the most progressive — the one who promises to actually defeat Donald Trump and become our nation’s first Jewish president?

Incidentally, you will note that Bernie supporters don’t go around calling Clinton/Warren fans “antisemitic,” the way we’ve been slandered as being misogynist “bros” — a slur that originated in the Clinton campaign of 2016 and was wholly unsupported by facts…

(For the record, I do not think Warren boosters are antisemitic for not supporting Bernie. I think they’re affluent, white conservatives with liberal affectations, political neophytes woefully susceptible to corporate media narratives, making them largely unsympathetic to the plight of millions of people of color, Venezuelans, Crimeans, Arab Muslims, and poor people, generally. So, to my Warren-supporting friends, please understand that I do not think of you as anti-Semites… You’re welcome.)

But in all seriousness, wouldn’t it be meaningful to have a non-Christian president in the office for once, especially considering the fact that politicized, Christian Dominionists have become the beating heart of the fascism ascendant in America today?

(Mind you, that’s not all Christians, but the Dominionists, specifically, who have emerged as a national political force in recent decades — an American Taliban, only with global ambitions and a history of genocide.)

Rather than robotically chanting “I’m with her!” – referring to the candidate of the warmongering, planet-killing 1% — isn’t it time for mainstream liberals to support the gentle, inclusive, peace-loving candidate… who also, as it happens, polls best with women, people of color, and the downtrodden?

Consider Bernie’s mantra: “It’s not about me, it’s about us!”

Establishmentarian Democrats should consider supporting the candidate of the people, for a change, rather than the candidate of megadonors, corporations, and billionaires.

And with any luck, Sanders’s 2020 running mate will be Rep. Tulsi Gabbard or Rep. Nina Turner, and we’ll have a woman president-elect in 2024 or 2028!

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DID TODAY’S LIBERALS LOVE THE SECRETIVE, CORRUPT PROCESS THAT LED US TO WAR IN IRAQ?

(I didn’t think so.)

So, why should we embrace the same process — initiated by a Bush administration holdover — when it’s led us to a new Cold War with Russia?

(We shouldn’t.)

In the early 2000′s, Dick “Dark Side” Cheney requested “raw” intelligence — unvetted by analysts, kept secret from the professionals — to cherry-pick the claims that supported the neocons’ “WMD” and “al Qaeda-Baghdad relationship” B.S., excluding all contradictory evidence.

Thus, Cheney and his neoconservative inner circle were able to bamboozle the mentally lazy, morally feckless George W. Bush into believing the causus belli for Washington’s illegal invasion of Iraq (which resulted in 1.5 million to 3.4 million Iraqi deaths, according to an analysis by CODE PINK’s Medea Benjamin and Nicolas JS Davies, compiling data from a number of sources including: the peer-reviewed 2006 Johns Hopkins’ study which appeared in the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet; the 2007 study by the British polling firm, Opinion Research Business; the 2011 study by Just Foreign Policy; and the 2015 study by Physicians for Social Responsibility).

In 2016, CIA Director John Brennan did the same thing Cheney had done, only with the intent of convincing President Barack Obama that the Russian government was attempting to interfere with the U.S. presidential election in order to get Donald Trump into the White House.

Brennan was a holdover from the Bush administration. He’d advocated for the use of torture, warrantless surveillance, and rendition, and helped sell the neocons’ bogus case for war to policymakers and the public. When just-elected Barack Obama first tried to make John Brennan, a “loyal Bushie,” his CIA Director, anti-torture and anti-war progressives strenuously objected, and Obama withdrew him from consideration, retaining him as his Deputy National Security Adviser and special Assistant to the President.

In this way, President Obama ensured that Brennan could avoid a messy, far-from-certain confirmation process (“forward looking” Obama, who acknowledged that “we tortured some folks,” bypassed the Senate in order to elevate to new levels of power an unrepentant war criminal from the Bush years).

In his second term, Obama made John Brennan his Director of Central Intelligence, after all (having already conceded much of his presidency to the neocons in his first term, flooding Syria with al Qaeda “rebels” and overthrowing the government of Moammar Qaddafi in Libya).

Per the New York Times, Brennan had already been tasked by first-term Obama with managing the president’s “Kill List.” The Kill List effectively repealed both due process and habeas corpus — allowing any president to target anyone with lethal force, including American citizens uncharged with any crime… on American soil or anywhere else the Chief Executive/Executioner deems necessary.

(So much for the rule of law!)

In his new job, Brennan continued to advocate for torture, illegally hacked the computers of the Democrat-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee investigating CIA torture, destroyed government documents, and continued pushing the neocon agenda, resulting in hundreds of thousands more deaths, in Libya, Syria, and Yemen.

(A John Bolton-like figure, Brennan was one of Obama’s senior-most advisers throughout his presidency, representing a tragic betrayal by the former candidate of “Hope & Change.”)

AND NOW, FOR RUSSIAGATE HOLDOUTS STILL CLINGING TO THEIR CONSPIRACY THEORY, HERE IS THE KEY PART OF THIS STORY (per anti-torture whistleblower, former CIA analyst John Kiriakou, and journalist, Aaron Mate, whose Russiagate-skeptical coverage won him one of journalism’s most prestigious awards, The Izzy, named for the intrepid reporter, I.F. Stone):

In 2016, John Brennan, notorious neocon warmonger and inveterate liar, desperately wanted Barack Obama to believe that Moscow was trying to throw the election to Donald Trump — even though America’s intelligence agencies, including his own, could not support such a conclusion.

So, Brennan, following in the footsteps of Dick Cheney, ordered up some “raw” intelligence to make his case. He bypassed his own analysts and kept his president in the dark, feeding him shit, like a common mushroom… or George W. Bush.

I don’t like it any better than you do, my liberal friends, but facts are facts: Russiagate is a fool’s errand that has only damaged the left and dealt a crippling blow to American journalism, while advancing the neocon agenda and greatly enhancing Trump’s reelection chances.

So, when are mainstream liberals going to stop working for Bush-era neocons and torture proponents, in the service of the far-right’s genocidal agenda?

Despising Donald Trump is not sufficient cause to suspend our critical thinking skills and blithely fall in line behind some of the worst war criminals in American history over a bunch of evidence-free claptrap, with as much legitimacy as “Saddam’s WMD.”

It’s time to grow up and stop treating American politics like pro wrestling. There are villains aplenty, and neither side is pure and good. By and large, both parties work for the same plundering corporations and plutocrats.

Try sticking to principle: Oppose torture-promoting fascists and their baseless wars. That’s as good a place to start as any. Russiagating liberals might find that adhering to a consistent set of values makes for a refreshing change of pace.

Like reading what’s actually in the Mueller Report, partisan liberals just might discover that standing on principle and holding consistent values can be a salutary and salubrious experience, not just a novelty.

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HOW’S THIS FOR COMMITMENT TO OPEN, CIVIL DISCOURSE? (CENSORED AGAIN…)

Enact Universal Healthcare for California just NUKED ME for criticizing their group’s endorsement of Sen. Warren — which blatantly misrepresents her (ever-waffling) position on Medicare-for-All.

Here’s the comment that got me censored and prevented from even “Liking” their posts:

I find it hard to believe that Enact Universal Healthcare for California is defending this longtime establishment stalwart and enemy of single-payer healthcare.

There is simply no way that I can support EUHC when you’re promoting the self-serving lies of one of our movement’s most serious enemies.

From the excellent article by Jeremy Toback, originally published on Medium (that article blocked, apparently, by Facebook):

“Warren’s complete inconsistency on keystone structural reform like Medicare-for-All reveals the jive behind her recent zeitgeist calls for ‘big structural change.’ While Warren has at moments voiced support for M4A, most notably during the second Democratic debate, support and a commitment to win the legislative fight of our lifetime are not nearly the same thing. Warren not only conspicuously neglects M4A in her stump speeches, she still doesn’t have a healthcare section on her website… Six months into her campaign. **Read that again. Given the unprecedented scale of the opposition, Warren’s clear lack of commitment makes it certain that M4A would never happen under her presidency.

“It gets worse. Warren has on many occasions deliberately undermined the healthcare discourse: ‘When we talk about Medicare for All, there are a lot of different pathways. What we’re all looking for is the lowest cost way to make sure that everybody gets covered.’ This is a lie. M4A is existing legislation, with slightly different House and Senate versions, both of which feature specific, guaranteed paths to a single-payer, M4A system. M4A is not, as Warren claims, a ‘concept’ that people interpret in different ways. Nor does the legislation include any of the radically insufficient options she goes on to describe. Warren’s simply making things up to mask her inevitable retreat.

“She doubled down on this different-paths nonsense in the NY Times in June. Then, after she pivoted back to support during the second debate, she once again positioned M4A as a ‘goal’ at a subsequent campaign stop… And went into full equivocation mode in an interview with David Axelrod, where she talked about negotiating ‘the pieces to get there’ with ‘everyone at the table.’ Remember what I said about stakeholders and civil conversations? And now, while I’ve been typing, Warren just Tweeted about expanding ‘access’ to healthcare, which is blatant, ACA-era code for abandoning universal guarantees.

“Warren is a high-powered attorney trained to be specific in her speech. We can be certain that her pivots and obfuscations aren’t rhetorical errors. She leveraged the debate stage to signal support for M4A to a mass audience and has since used less publicized occasions to signal retreat to power donors and brokers. Warren’s blatant dishonesty not only confuses many into believing incorrectly that she supports M4A, it makes more work for those of us committed to winning it. She is in no uncertain terms an enemy of the movement for Medicare-for-All.”

I would add the following about Sen. Warren:

In 2016, she sabotaged Bernie Sanders — the candidate of Medicare-for-All — in order to support the historically racist, deeply corrupt, warmongering candidate of Wall Street and the MIC (Sec. Hillary “(Single-payer) Will Never, Ever Come to Pass” Clinton).

She’s voted for every record-breaking war budget passed during Trump’s time in office, giving a dangerous imbecile more money than he requested to wage war.

She’s sided with Trump on Venezuela sanctions (called a “crime against humanity” akin to a “medieval siege” by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights).

She’s called Julian Assange a “bad actor” who “needs to be held accountable,” making her a threat to all independent, adversarial journalism.

She’s promoted charter schools and school privatization for decades and recently had a charter school proponent introduce her at a California rally.

She’s backpedaled on student loan forgiveness.

She’s refused to support a complete fracking ban (only on public lands), dooming the planet.

She’s taken millions of dollars from corporations, billionaires, and oligarchs, and pledged to take millions more in dark money, PAC money, all monies from all parties, in the general election.

She’s been working overtime to reassure Hillary Clinton and the far-right wing of the party (the Third Way Democrats who’ve endorsed her) that she will not challenge the system.

She failed to support the Standing Rock Sioux, even as she claimed to have Native American ancestry.

She’s promised to “greenwash” the neocons’ wars, not end them.

Her strongest base is affluent whites (71% of her support comes from them), while less than half of her supporters are women. Contrast this to Bernie Sanders’ supporters: Most are non-white; most are women; and his least favorable demographic is white, affluent males (Warren’s best demographic).

She admitted in 2017 that the 2016 Democratic Primary had been “rigged” (duh) and then backtracked immediately, when the party bosses told her to.

In short, as a “progressive” she is a total fraud and as a politician she is a profile in political cowardice, duplicity, and hypocrisy.

That this group — which I have previously supported (never again) — would endorse a lifelong enemy of the progressive movement is wholly discrediting to the leadership of Enact Universal Healthcare for California.

For goodness’ sake (literally), reexamine your position. You’re backing a neoliberal warmonger and obvious charlatan. Elizabeth Warren’s Bernie-sabotaging candidacy spells death for the left.

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Bernie Sanders is apparently getting desperate…

With the rise of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders is apparently getting desperate to raise his profile.

That he would stoop to recording a music video — a cover, no less — is actually a bit sad, but here it is…

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