Calling out “progressives” peddling establishment B.S. — still trying to sideline Bernie (and Tulsi) with baloney…

Bernie Sanders has gotten too big for the establishment to simply ignore. Indeed, that had happened by the time the 2016 Democratic Primary was even half over — when the corporate media pivoted from ignoring Bernie entirely to slandering his name with calumnies authored and disseminated by Sec. Clinton’s very own “Karl Rove,” the notorious spreader of lies, Mr. David Brock.

Here is just one example of Brock’s handiwork:

“The dossier, prepared by opponents of Sanders and passed on to The Guardian by a source who would only agree to be identified as ‘a Democrat,’ alleges that Sanders ‘sympathized with the USSR during the Cold War’ because he went on a trip there to visit a twinned city while he was mayor of Burlington. Similar ‘associations with communism’ in Cuba are catalogued alongside a list of quotes about countries ranging from China to Nicaragua in a way that supporters regard as bordering on the McCarthyite rather than fairly reflecting his views.”

(Three years later, in 2019 — despite the formal end of the Cold War and the Soviet Union’s 1991 dissolution, despite Gorbachev and Reagan’s summit, despite Bush-Obama’s frequent cooperation with Vladimir Putin — it seems that the U.S. political-media establishment simply refuses to let McCarthyism die… or the Cold War, for that matter. Similar McCarthyite smears would be launched at Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s candidate for president, and, of course, Donald Trump, helping the neocons launch the New Cold War following Sec. Clinton’s improbable loss to an obvious degenerate, fake-billionaire, and star of reality-TV.)

Returning to the source of such smears, that ratfucker par excellence, David Brock…

A confessed liar and a despicable one, Brock is the rightwing slander-merchant whose “a little bit nutty, a little bit slutty” character assassination of Anita Hill helped confirm serial sexual-harasser Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court — with a considerable assist from then-Senator Joe Biden (aka, Uncle Gropey). From his 1990s work for the rancorous Arkansas Project to his malicious takedown of Prof. Hill to his scruple-free service to the 2016 Clinton campaign, David Brock has demonstrated an unflinching willingness to manufacture grody fabrications on behalf of right-wing conservatives.

And since a media blackout of Bernie Sanders (of the late-2015/early-2016 variety) is simply not an option this time around, the establishment is doing what it can to recycle some of Brock’s 2016 smears: “Bernie is doddering,” “Bernie alienates people of color,” “Bernie only appeals to misogynist young white men,” “Bernie tolerates sexual harassment by his staff,” “Bernie is too extreme to appeal to the mainstream,” “Bernie is a whackadoodle socialist,” “Bernie is the progressive equivalent of Donald Trump, an angry, dangerous demagogue with bullying, lunatic followers…”

Yes, we’ve heard it all before, slime-peddlers. Years later, we’re hearing it all again: aimed at Bernie (more cautiously, this time around) and at Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the only other progressive in the 2020 race (and the smears against Gabbard have been no-holds-barred, much like the 2016 smears against Sanders).

But what has been most disheartening — and tragic — has been the dogpiling of nominal progressives who have willfully joined in on the fusillade of lies aimed at genuine progressives.

In 2016, Sec. Clinton didn’t have to rely solely on the mainstream media: NBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, the Washington Post, New York Times, Politico, The Guardian, etc. While the corporate behemoths did plenty to spread Brock’s slander, their efforts were greatly magnified and augmented by a slew of once-progressive outlets and individuals: The Nation (especially Joan Walsh), Mother Jones, Slate, DailyKos, Gloria Steinem, Tom Hayden, Dolores Huerta, Rep. John Lewis, and others. Markos Moulitsas went so far as to declare his site a “pro-Clinton only” hub, purging all Hillary critics, no matter how popular their work or how long they’d been contributing.

And here we are again. In the 2020 cycle, we have seen The Nation’s Eric Alterman reviving the old attacks on Bernie Sanders. And we’ve seen The Young Turks, Jacobin Magazine, and The Nation, among others, repeatedly attacking Rep. Tulsi Gabbard with outright slander, including gross distortions of her record. The establishment’s entire 2016 progressive-smearing playbook is being thrown at Gabbard, who the oligarchs seem to fear even more than Sanders. But on the hopeful side, the backlash against these malicious attacks has been every bit as vehement as it was when progressives were forced to defend Sanders in 2016 (check out the comments responding to The Nation’s anti-Gabbard hit-piece — their readers are livid at the writer’s willingness to parrot ratfucking lies against the best anti-war presidential candidate since Rep. Dennis Kucinich).

The latest hit-piece comes from the editor of The Progressive, Ruth Conniff. Yesterday, on CommonDreams.org, a progressive hub for news, I took issue with Ms. Conniff’s latest offering, in which she subtly disparages progressives’ best hope for defeating Donald Trump in 2020 — while promoting, simultaneously, a host of “centrist” Democrats who will clearly not fight for single-payer healthcare or a Green New Deal… and will almost assuredly lose to Donald Trump.

(I single out this piece because it is illustrative of the way the establishment-left is coming at Bernie differently, this time around. In contrast to the vitriol they spewed at Bernie in 2016, they’re tiptoeing in 2019 because they know how popular Bernie has become. But the smears are basically the same, even if their approach is more subtle.)

My response to Conniff’s article is as follows:

You can always count on Ruth Conniff to toe the party line and peddle establishment talking points:

1. She makes sure to hit Bernie with some ageism (echoes of 2016);

2. She follows the establishment playbook precisely, talking up Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren’s “support” for Medicare-for-All (even Klubuchar’s!) when the truth is that both of those frauds have signaled their willingness to simply shore up the ACA and back off of single-payer (signaling surrender before the debate even begins, classic neoliberal “Democrats”);

3. Conniff fails to mention Harris’s “New Jim Crow” policies (including her initiative to incarcerate parents of truant students and her efforts to keep prisoners incarcerated longer than necessary in order to keep disproportionately black and Hispanic Americans slaving for corporate America and fighting fires for pennies an hour);

4. She glosses over the blatantly rigged 2016 primary and neoconservative Sen. Warren’s shameful betrayal of progressives, backing the most corrupt Wall Street toady in the history of Democratic presidential politics (also a member of the neocon vanguard, as extreme as Dick Cheney on foreign policy, and historically a greater enemy of people of color than even Trump, as Michelle Alexander and James Rucker noted in 2016 – one of the first to practice “Birther” politics against Obama in 2008, the welfare-slashing, “super-predator” hunting, prison population-doubling “co-president” who insinuated that Barack Obama might not be a Christian, and said flat-out that she is the candidate of “hardworking, you know, white, people”);

5. Conniff brings up the old “Bernie Bro” smear contrived by the Clinton folks, alleging his supporters were unusually bellicose, misogynistic, and bullying – when it was the Clinton people, a sea of belligerent bots, who constantly resorted to ageism, sexism, insults, and old school ratfucking slander, with David Brock following in Mark Penn’s footsteps (the senior Clinton campaign adviser and longtime confidante who tried to tarnish Obama with ghetto-izing drug references and worse in 2008); suddenly Bernie appealed only to “young, white males” and was never a part of the Civil Rights movement;

6. She regurgitates the vile slander that Sanders’ message of economic justice “helped elect” the vile Donald Trump (BS! Sec. Clinton elected Donald Trump all by herself, after spending 2016 cheating her party’s base, giving them the finger, “I’m winning!”, and running well to Trump’s right, with regard to regime-change wars, “No-Fly zones” risking WWIII, Russiaphobia, slavery normalizing/sovereignty-effacing/regulation-nullifying “trade” pacts, the restoration of Glass-Steagall, and more);

7. Conniff repeats – in her thesis – the establishment trope that Bernie will never be able to appeal to rural America, when the polls consistently show that he is one of only two left-of-center politicians who can draw independent and GOP voters away from Trump’s base (the other being Rep. Tulsi Gabbard); and yet,

8. Even though Conniff says Bernie’s problem is with rural Trump whites, she incoherently repeats the canard that Bernie has his work cut out for him if he’s ever to “shore up his support among black voters” – more repetition of the Clinton campaign’s baseless 2016 smears; Conniff fails to note that Bernie’s strongest demographics, respectively, are black Americans and Hispanic Americans, among which groups he polls far better than white males (white males being one of his worst demographics, despite being the most popular politician in the country; Bernie also is viewed more favorably by women than men, not that Conniff has noticed); and finally,

9. Conniff follows the establishment playbook to a “T,” talking up charlatans like Warren, Booker, Biden, and Klobuchar – who in her eyes have all “moved left” (not just posturing to draw votes from Bernie) – and fails to mention the most progressive, viable, Trump-defeating candidate in the 2020 race: REP. TULSI GABBARD.

Conniff is supporting Sen. Warren, that much is clear. She seems to prefer the longtime Republican who hung with Reagan and Bush Sr. through their entire monstrous 12 years in office. She likes the “progressive” Warren, who remained a Republican throughout most of Newt Gingrich’s career, back when he was partnered with Tom DeLay, dismantling the nation’s media ownership rules, Wall Street regulations, and other democratic institutions with that other “progressive,” Bill Clinton.

Conniff champions the supposed “anti-Wall Street” crusader (grandstanding fraud) who chose to back Wall Street’s favorite minion when the chips were down, a primary was being stolen, and America had the chance to elect the most progressive, FDR-like candidate in generations. That was when Warren exposed herself as an utter charlatan – ignoring the fact that she has long been a supporter of regime-change wars and neoconservative foreign policy, AWOL on NSA spying, GITMO, the persecution of whistleblowers and journalists, and more…

Establishment voices will always regurgitate establishment talking points. Why Ms. Conniff gets to do that here, on a progressive website, is a mystery to me.

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WHO’S AFRAID OF “ISLAMO-FASCISTS?” NOT THE SECURITY STATE WHICH FUNDS AND ARMS THEM, DIRECTING THEIR INVASIONS OF NATIONS THAT RESIST U.S. HEGEMONY.

From Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges’ article:

“From the CIA’s funneling of over a billion dollars to Islamic militants in the 1970s war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union to the billion dollars spent on training and equipping the radical jihadists currently fighting in Syria, the United States has repeatedly empowered extremists who have filled the vacuums of failed states it created.”

…“The radical jihadists… are often deliberately armed and empowered by the U.S. national security apparatus, along with Israel, as a way to pressure and topple regimes deemed antagonistic to Israel and the United States. Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, in audio leaked from a closed meeting with Syrian opposition activists, admitted that the U.S. had used Islamic State (IS) as a tool for pressuring the Syrian government. He also acknowledged that Washington’s complicity in the growth of IS in Syria was the major cause for Russian intervention there.”

…“Israel seeks to create buffer zones between itself and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. It sees its neighbor Syria, because of its alliance with Iran, as a mortal enemy. The solution has been to cripple these traditional enemies by temporarily empowering radical Sunni jihadists and al-Qaida. There are numerous reports of Israel, along with the United States, using its aircraft and military in Syria to aid the very jihadists Washington and Jerusalem claim to want to wipe from the face of the earth.”

…“The corporate state, its legitimacy in tatters, seeks to make us afraid in order to maintain its control over the economic, political and military institutions. It needs mortal enemies, manufactured or real, at home or abroad, to justify its existence and mask its mismanagement and corruption. This narrative of fear is what Antonio Gramsci called a ‘legitimation doctrine.’ It is not about making us safe—indeed the policies the state pursues make us less secure—but about getting us to surrender to the will of the elites. The more inequality and injustice grow, the more the legitimation doctrine will be used to keep us cowed and compliant. The doctrine means that the enemies of the United States will never be destroyed, but will mutate and expand; they are too useful to be allowed to disappear.”

*          *          *

Thank you, Mr. Hedges!

I’ve been trying to draw attention to Mujaheddin 2.0 for quite some time, myself. Thanks to the essential reporting of multiple-Pulitzer-winner Seymour Hersh (way back in 2007), I had the sense to investigate the origins of the conflict in Syria in its earliest days, long before half-a-million Syrians had been needlessly butchered and 10 million Syrians had been turned into refugees.

In 2012, I created a resource-rich primer on the origins of that wholly unnecessary conflict, shedding light on the manner in which Washington and Riyadh had brutally appropriated Syria’s non-violent “Arab Spring” moment, flooding a nation at peace with suicide-bombing, head-chopping, genocidal Salafists… plunging Syria into years of war and horror.

Two years ago, I documented that Danielle Pletka, the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute’s most prominent public face, has, in fact, admitted that Washington, DC, effectively “subcontracted” its regime-change operation in Syria to Gulf dictatorships — knowing full well that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the world’s top sponsors of al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups.

In that same blog post, I noted that even The New York Times has reported on ISIS’s use of chemical weapons “at least 52 times” in Syria and Iraq. While the corporate media has endlessly repeated the unproven allegations that Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons in this conflict — allegations that have rarely, if ever, been investigated (allegations that President Obama’s top people advised him were unsupported by any “smoking gun” evidence) — they have rarely noted the scores of times that Washington’s foot soldiers in Syria have used such weapons.

Good journalism about the Syrian conflict is rare, indeed… but I’ve been trying for years to bring the best reporting I’ve found to the attention of my readers.

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Helpful, carefully considered verbiage for respectfully unsubscribing from the DNC’s e-mail list…

Seeing as I’ve had to “unsubscribe” from the mailing list of the Democratic National Committee at least six times in the last week — having to compose, each time, a new “Reason for Unsubscribing” message — I have decided that it might be helpful to have some text on hand for the next time I have to unsubscribe from their list… since they routinely ignore that request and more e-mails are surely coming.

Feel free to use the language from my latest “unsubscribe” message the next time you have to unsubscribe from the DNC:


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At CNN, journalism is not Job 1 (a nonpartisan analysis)…

CNN is the epitome of corporate news and they typically do the bidding of the corporatocracy and our neo-fascist, white-supremacist establishment. They marginalize the most authoritative experts and all independent voices in favor of industry mouthpieces and government flacks. They systematically obscure the most pressing issues of our time and promote the narratives of the MIC, PhRMA, AHIP, the American Petroleum Institute, AIPAC, Wall Street, etc. — generally at the expense of journalism, the marginalized, democracy, the environment, and world peace.

CNN’s birth virtually coincided with the selling of the first Iraq War. They pushed propaganda every bit as bad as FoxNews, including the “babies tossed from incubators” nonsense hatched in a Western PR firm, sold by the Kuwaiti ambassador’s daughter.

Then, as now, they did not subject warmongering claims to scrutiny, but promoted them 24/7. They did not, of course, cover the fact that GHWB (Bush I) had given Saddam the “green light” to invade to Kuwait — that it was a trap designed to lure Saddam’s forces into Kuwait and ultimately give the U.S. military bases in Iraq (following the attack on U.S. troops secretly based in Saudi Arabia, Washington and Riyadh wanted our troops out of the KSA). CNN also downplayed the fact that Kuwait had been “slant drilling,” effectively stealing Iraq’s oil. Instead, CNN favored the warmongers’ “Saddam is Hitler” refrain… a comparison that was patently insane and completely detached from any reading of history.

CNN covering the Iraq-Kuwait story’s key facts — rather than pushing baseless warmongering propaganda — would have been JOURNALISM. But that’s not primarily the business they’re in. The primary business they’re in is promoting the U.S.-based corporatocracy and its interests — at the expense of all else, including the lives of every living thing on Earth.

(All of this should come under the category of “DUH!” — but in the age of partisan reality-TV “news,” Americans have chosen sides and gotten all defensive… when the truth is that CNN/MSNBC/FoxNews, etc., are all in the same business and represent the same interests. The rest is mere branding. Duh, duh, DUH, for Chrissakes!)

Even so, while CNN is badly corrupt from a journalistic standpoint — and a dedicated agent of history’s worst empire — they do plenty of reliable, decent reporting. I readily concede that fact. While their anchors are vacuous, amoral careerists, they actually employ dozens of real reporters. It is their editorial policy that makes so much of their programming worthless.

As Jon Stewart said for years, CNN promotes “he said, she said” debates without sorting out the facts for their viewers, effectively propagandizing and dividing Americans while failing to illuminate important stories. Jon Stewart’s excellent Daily Show skewered CNN mercilessly for routinely promoting warmongering, neoconservative claims without investigating them. And on that front, in 2019, they’ve only gotten worse. Like MSNBC and FoxNews, they put one “analyst” after another on their programs, without revealing that they are HIGHLY PAID employees of neocon think tanks, the MIC, PhRMA, and other industries. It’s called dishonest reporting in the service of modern fascists.

My primary objection to their corrupt model of “journalism” is that CNN peddles pro-corporate propaganda that destroys millions of lives, through war, environmental destruction, and other forms of corporate predation.

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TRUMP’S REPUGNANCE IMPEDES WASHINGTON’S IMPERIAL AGENDA IN VENEZUELA… AND IT’S ABOUT TIME!

Thank goodness for independent journalists, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations, and the vast majority of nations refusing to go along with Washington’s regime-change operation in Venezuela.

From George W. Bush to Barack Obama to Donald Trump, what we see in U.S. policy toward Venezuela is yet more continuity — a superpower-nation with a history of overthrowing democracies and installing dictators in South America, Central America, and beyond — hellbent on controlling the nation with the world’s largest proven oil reserves.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the history.

Using convicted Iran-Contra figures Otto Reich and Elliott Abrams as his point men, George W. Bush tried his military coup in 2002 — against the most popular leader in the hemisphere, Hugo Chavez. But the Venezuelan people reversed that coup in a matter of days. The U.S.-appointed “president,” Pedro Carmona, had — like Juan Guiado today — promised to privatize Venezuela’s oil… after he’d announced his intent to dissolve the Venezuelan National Assembly and Supreme Court.

Here’s Noam Chomsky on Amy Goodman’s excellent DemocracyNow! program in 2006, describing Bush’s coup attempt and the way the U.S. media and private press in Venezuela routinely described Chavez as a “tin-pot dictator” (quite similar to the way today’s neo-fascist media portrays President Maduro as a “dictator,” all evidence to the contrary):

“From 1998 to the present, support for the elected government (in Venezuela) has increased sharply, in pretty dramatic contrast to almost all of Latin America. There are some increases elsewhere. And, in fact, Venezuela leads the continent in support for the elected government. That’s probably why it’s called ‘anti-democratic’ and ‘authoritarian’ and, you know, ‘dictator,’ and so on and so forth.

“The rhetoric here is kind of interesting. There are authoritarian tendencies, undoubtedly, but the picture of Chavez as a ‘tin-pot dictator’ — has ‘destroyed freedom of press’ and so on — that’s the standard line also in the right-wing press in South America, and believed, in fact, completely inconsistent with the facts.

“I mean, take, say, freedom of the press. As you know, there was a coup in Venezuela in the year 2002, supported by the United States. The government was overthrown. It was taken over by Pedro Carmona, a rich businessman, who immediately dissolved Parliament, destroyed the Supreme Court, got rid of the Attorney General’s Office, the public defender. Every vestige of democracy was instantly demolished.

“U.S. strongly supported it. The Venezuelan private press, the press, strongly supported it. One of the people who supported the coup was the opposition candidate in the last election. Just another — other supporters of the coup were a group called Sumate, the group that the U.S. provides aid to for what’s called ‘democracy building.’ So the coup was supported by a substantial part of the elite in the society that was backed by the United States, destroyed the democratic system.

“It was quickly overthrown by a popular uprising. U.S. had to back off. But what’s striking is that the newspapers continue to publish, still continue to attack the government. Rosales, who supported the coup, ran in the election. Sumate, which supported the coup, is functioning, the main recipient of U.S. ‘democracy-promotion’ funds.

“Just imagine that that had happened in the United States. Suppose there was a coup that overthrew the government, supported by the leading press, you know, by political figures and so on. Would the press continue to function? I mean, would the supporter of the coup be the opposition candidate in the next election? I mean, it’s unimaginable. They’d all be lined up in front of firing squads. But this is the ‘tin-pot dictator’ who’s ‘destroying freedom of press,’ not the first time. But these are quite important developments.

“And what they illustrate is a decline in the — first of all, a move towards integration, independence and authentic democracy with mass popular movements and participation and so on, all extremely important, but also along with it goes a decline in the methods of domination and control. I mean, the U.S. has dominated the region for a long time with two major methods: one of them, violence, and the other, economic strangulation, economic controls. And both of those methods are declining in efficacy.”

Fast-forward to 2015… President Obama, following in Bush’s footsteps, declares Venezuela “an extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” and levies sanctions on the country. Obama’s sanctions are the beginning of the “economic strangulation” of the country (using Chomsky’s phrase) — which the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights has since declared “crimes against humanity” comparable to a “medieval siege.”

Two years later, Washington supports the 2017 “protests” marked by terrorist violence in the streets aimed at supporters of the Maduro government. Mr. Guiado’s faction — the recipient of $40-50 million annually from the U.S. — plummets in popularity after setting fires, assaulting civilians, and stringing barbed wire across highways, killing scores of people (in an act of modern lynching, they also burn to death in the streets Orlando Figuera, an Afro-Venezuelan supporter of the government… American politicians make no mention of this atrocity).

In 2019, Donald Trump has picked up where Bush and Obama left off… only he, too, is failing. Spectacularly.

The coup against Venezuela’s legitimate, democratically-elected government has not worked. The sabotage of Venezuela’s economy and cyber-attacks on Venezuela’s power grid — along with the political stunt of trying to blame U.S. “aid” truck fires on Maduro’s government — have failed. That’s why Mike Pence’s puppet, Juan Guiado, is explicitly inviting U.S. military intervention in his country, even though nearly 90% of Venezuelans oppose that escalation.

The United Nations has invited independent journalists to present their findings after spending weeks investigating the situation in Venezuela. And those journalists are saying what I’ve been saying for years now: Donald Trump is far easier to rally public opinion against than his Democratic predecessor… and that is useful.

While President Obama continued Bush’s abhorrent policies in South/Central America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East — supporting right-wing thugs, neo-Nazis, and Salafist militants including al Qaeda (resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Syria alone) — he did so with great personal dignity and a modicum of restraint. When Obama occupied the Oval Office, the world found it difficult to resist Washington-led neo-fascism.

(And the liberal class failed to notice Obama’s reinvigoration of the neocon agenda and his escalation of the Bush/Cheney assault on civil liberties and democratic institutions.)

But the world of 2019 has Donald Trump to rally against — a patently repugnant figure incapable of hiding Washington’s monstrous policies behind sweeping rhetoric, an unearned Nobel Peace Prize, and a pretty face.

The mask is off, indeed. And that’s a big advantage for the millions of people, including a handful of Americans, resisting modern fascism.

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THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST IGNORED BY RUSSIAGATING (FAUX-) LIBERALS…

“At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Once upon a time, there were actual liberals in the United States of America.

This noble breed, now all but extinct, reflexively doubted the unsupported claims of warmongering politicians and America’s serially dishonest intelligence agencies. They viewed with derision dangerously rabid McCarthyites like Roy Cohn, Richard Pipes, William Casey, and Richard Nixon. And they admired Americans like Joseph N. Welch, the chief counsel of the U.S. Army who courageously responded to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s communist witch hunt — the witch hunt of a previous era — with the rebuke: “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Indeed, Sen. McCarthy, the raging alcoholic and moral monster, had none. And before long, like the RussiaGating degenerates of today, he was utterly discredited, his wild, ever-changing allegations disintegrated.

Today’s version: “Russia hacked the election… well, no, but they colluded… well, no, but they interfered… well, with a few Facebook ads, possibly… 25% of which were never seen (period)… 56% of which appeared after the election… the majority of which were apolitical in nature… none of which have been linked to the Kremlin… well… well, shit! All we’ve done is help Trump, quash progressives, damage journalism, and help launch the New Cold War.”

Today’s nominal liberals would have Joseph Welch declared a “Kremlin asset” and drummed him out of public life for daring to challenge the dominant narrative of the warmongering far-right. Facebook, Twitter, and Google would have Welch removed from their highly censored, establishment-kowtowing platforms. Some Democratic politicians would demand an investigation of the principled man’s suddenly manufactured “Russian connections,” while others would joke, half-serious, “Can’t we just drone this guy?”

(Now, there’s a fascist for you!)

Today’s liberal class — a group-thinking, jingoist mob — dismisses RussiaGate skeptics out of hand, no matter how distinguished or credible they are. No matter how eloquent, substantive, and authoritative they are. Fingers in their ears, blaring “la la la,” today’s liberals faithfully return to the neoconservative/intelligence agent-staffed echo chambers of MSNBC, CNN, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg News, and the Koch brother-dominated Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Today’s liberal class prefers the unhinged ravings of Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann to the brilliance of Noam Chomsky and the scholarship of Princeton University Professor Emeritus Stephen F. Cohen. They follow the late-night punditry of misogynist bigot Bill Maher and partisan parrot Stephen Colbert rather than the acclaimed journalism of Robert Scheer, Glenn Greenwald, Aaron Mate, Robert Parry (RIP), Katrina vanden Heuvel, Chris Hedges, Max Blumenthal, and Seymour Hersh.

And they pooh-pooh the terrifying and well-documented reality that RussiaGate has brought U.S.-Russia relations to an all-time low. Apparently, the growing threat of nuclear Armageddon doesn’t register even the tiniest “blip” on their radars. Nothing does, as long as they can continue fueling their hatred of Donald Trump — on whatever basis, it matters not — as long as they can imagine Trump’s impeachment at the end of the rainbow.

(Wankity-wank, wank…)

All of this makes today’s “liberals” the most reckless, blithe warmongers in modern U.S. history — more pro-war than the GOP, by far — and far more inclined to believe the corporate media and U.S. intelligence agencies than Republicans are, per recent polling conducted by the Gallup and the Knight Foundation.

Today’s nominal liberals are the new McCarthyites. Every bit as rabidly xenophobic as their predecessors, only draped in the cloak of Identity Politics as well as the flag… even as they routinely champion genocidal neocons, serial racists, and right-wing torture-advocating propagandists like James Comey and Robert Mueller.

It is for these reasons that I have had a falling out with the center-left “Blue No Matter Who” crowd. This falling out has been very painful to me, and costly, in my personal life.

But I refuse to back down or conform.

I remain a liberal in the classic mode: anti-war, skeptical of U.S. intelligence agency pronouncements, dedicated to good journalism and good scholarship, and inclined to subject all sources of information, even those I’ve trusted in the past, to rigorous doubt and unsparing questions.

Perhaps I’m being smug, but I can’t ever picture myself supporting the propaganda of the far-right — David Frum, Max Boot, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Robert Mueller, Wolf Blitzer, Hillary Clinton, Jeffrey Goldberg, Richard Perle, et al.

Not now. Not ever. (As little as I care for the word, those people are downright EVIL.)

And that is why I have endeavored to use this platform to promote the marginalized voices of the reasonable and rational — anti-war activists, progressive politicians, brilliant journalists, and erudite scholars — all of whom have been systematically marginalized and smeared by the “mainstream” media (corporatized and corrupted by the neo-fascist .001%, especially since the passage of the incomparably destructive Telecommunications Act of 1996, signed into law by Bill Clinton).

Because the dangers are real, and they threaten all of our futures.

While I’ve recently quoted the brilliant Noam Chomsky and the incomparable Glenn Greenwald — debunking the ludicrous notion that Trump has governed like “Putin’s puppet” when, in truth, Trump, the malleable, amoral buffoon, has dramatically escalated Washington’s war on Moscow — I’d like to highlight the perspicacious words of a few others today.

1. Here is Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Chris Hedges, on the ratcheting up of tensions between Moscow and Washington and the suicidal damage that RussiaGate has inflicted on journalism in America:

“The Trump administration has carried out policies that, rather than serve Russian interests, have further antagonized our relationship with Moscow. It has imposed sanctions. It is openly attempting to overthrow the government of a country that Russia supports, Venezuela. It is attempting to block the sale of Russian natural gas to Europe. It has sold weapons to Ukraine, a foe of the Kremlin. It has armed insurgents in Syria and carried out airstrikes, even as Russian troops seek to prop up the Syrian regime. It has withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. But facts matter little to Russian-conspiracy theorists.

“It is not only Trump who has obliterated the line between fact and fiction. It is the press. It hyped and reported allegations it never investigated or confirmed. And by doing this, repeating failures of the kind that appeared in its coverage of the invasion of Iraq, it has committed suicide. A nation that lacks a functioning press becomes a tyranny. This is not Trump’s fault, but our own.”

2. And here’s celebrated journalist Matt Taibbi, discussing the massive damage that RussiaGate has done to journalism:

“We won’t know how much of any of this to take seriously until the press gets out of bed with the security services and looks at this whole series of events all over again with fresh eyes, as journalists, not political actors. That means being open to asking what went wrong with this story, in addition to focusing so much energy on Trump and Russia.

“The WMD mess had massive real-world negative impact, leading to over a hundred thousand deaths and trillions in lost taxpayer dollars. Unless Russiagate leads to a nuclear conflict, we’re unlikely to ever see that level of consequence.

“Still, Russiagate has led to unprecedented cooperation between the government and Internet platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, all of which are censoring pages on the left, right, and in between in the name of preventing the “sowing of discord.” The story also had a profound impact on the situation in places like Syria, where Russian and American troops have sat across the Euphrates River from one another, two amped-up nuclear powers at a crossroads.”

3. And finally, here’s Princeton University’s Prof. Stephen F. Cohen (only America’s preeminent scholar on Russia) detailing RussiaGate’s drastic erosion of U.S.-Russia relations:

“The new US-Russian Cold War is more dangerous than was its 40-year predecessor that the world survived. The chances are even greater that this one could result, inadvertently or intentionally, in actual war between the two nuclear superpowers. Herein lies another ominous indication. During the preceding Cold War, the possibility of nuclear catastrophe was in the forefront of American mainstream political and media discussion, and of policy-making. During the new one, it rarely seems to be even a concern.”

Prof. Cohen continues:

“…by fall 2018, current and former US officials were making nearly unprecedented threats against Moscow. The ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, threatened to ‘take out’ any Russian missiles she thought violated a 1987 treaty, a step that would certainly risk nuclear war. The Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, threatened a naval ‘blockade’ of Russia. In yet another Russophobic outburst, the ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, declared that ‘lying, cheating and rogue behavior’ are a ‘norm of Russian culture.’”

Adding:

“Now another Cold War front has also become more fraught, the US-Russian proxy war in Ukraine having acquired a new dimension. In addition to the civil war in Donbass, Moscow, and Kiev have been challenging each other’s ships in the Sea of Azov, near the newly built bridge connecting Russia with Crimea. On November 25, this erupted into a small but potentially explosive military conflict at sea. Trump is being pressured to help Kiev escalate the maritime war—yet another potential trip wire. Here, too, the president should instead put his administration’s weight behind the long-stalled Minsk peace accords. But that approach also seems to be ruled out by Russiagate, which by October 6 included yet another Times columnist, Frank Bruni, branding all such initiatives by Trump as ‘pimping for Putin.’

“After five years of extremism, as demonstrated by these recent examples of risking war with Russia, there remained, for the first time in decades of Cold War history, no countervailing forces in Washington—no pro-détente wing of the Democratic or Republican Party, no influential anti–Cold War opposition anywhere, no real public debate.”

Actually, Professor Cohen’s entire article is essential reading, IMO: https://www.thenation.com/article/cold-war-russia/

I would literally fall to the earth and kiss the ground in thanks, if only America’s liberal class could return from the brink of insanity and once again embrace the wisdom of those they once venerated. If liberals again championed journalists over propagandists it might actually give me hope for the future.

Let’s hope that day is coming soon.

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“PUTIN’S PUPPET” and the “QUID PRO QUO”

And now a few words from Noam Chomsky on the subject of the alleged “Quid pro quo” between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump:

“(Quid pro quo)… Of what? The ‘quid pro quo’ is that he’s increased military action on the Russian border? He’s created a huge military expansion — of the military budget aimed at Russia. He’s pulled out of the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) treaty, which is a major threat to Russia. What’s the ‘quid pro quo?’”

Adding…

“There’s been a focus on (what I believe are) marginalia… Take, say, the huge issue of interference in our pristine elections. Did the Russians interfere in our elections? An issue of overwhelming concern in the media. In most of the world, it’s almost a joke. First of all, if you’re interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts — weighs in the balance — as compared with what another state does… openly, brazenly, and with enormous support: Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done.”

Chomsky again:

“If you’re concerned with our elections and how they operate and how they relate to what’s happened to a democratic society, then taking a look at ‘Russian hacking’ is absolutely the wrong place to look.”

Chomsky, once more:

“For a long period, way back, U.S. elections have been pretty much bought. You can predict the outcome of a presidential or congressional election with remarkable precision simply by looking at campaign spending.”

*       *       *       *       *

Now, here’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Glenn Greenwald, debating David Cay Johnston on this morning’s DemocracyNow! program:

“And as for him being a Russian asset, it’s so irresponsible to say that, because the reality is that the conflict between the U.S. and the Russians are at a worse and higher level than they’ve been in many years, probably decades.

“How can you say Donald Trump is a stooge of the Kremlin when he’s right now trying to remove one of Vladimir Putin’s client regime states in Venezuela? Or when he’s trying to bully Angela Merkel out of buying Russian natural gas, probably the thing that’s most important to the Russian economy? Or when he sold lethal arms to the Ukrainians, something Obama refused to do on the grounds that it would be provocative to Russia? Or when he bombed Putin’s client state in Syria? Over and over, the Trump administration has taken actions far more adverse and aggressive and belligerent to the Russians than the Obama administration did. That’s why this whole narrative that Trump all along was being blackmailed by Putin, that he’s an asset of Russian intelligence, this is idiocy. It is completely irrational. It is contrary to all facts.

“And Bob Mueller’s investigation, who spent 22 months examining that core question—what is the relationship between Trump and the Russians?—concluded that there is no relationship. It’s time to stop these dangerous conspiracy theories that are ratcheting up tensions between the two most dangerous countries on the planet. The reality is, the Trump administration has been constantly belligerent to Putin, has constantly acted adverse to the Kremlin’s interests, and there’s zero basis for thinking or believing or finding evidence to assert that Trump in any way is beholden to Vladimir Putin and to Russia. The whole thing has been a joke and a fairy tale from the start.”

[I guess Trump must be one of those demon-possessed varieties of “puppet” -- like if “Lamb Chop” suddenly butchered Shari Lewis and covered her with mint jelly... or if “Howdy Doody” suddenly took a hacksaw to “Buffalo Bob” and roasted him on a spit. But one can never be belligerent enough for today’s xenophobic “liberals” -- everywhere they look, they see the bristly paw of the Russian Bear... and not even a shadow -- not ever -- of the domestic oligarchs who’ve degraded our elections to the point that they are the most corrupt in the Western world, per a 2016 Harvard University/University of Sydney study. (But what do those academic pinheads know? They don’t even mention the Russkies once! All they talk about is massive voter disenfranchisement, unaccountable dark money, and hackable, unauditable voting machines that produce results which would trigger an automatic recount in most of the civilized world... What a half-baked, peer-reviewed “conspiracy theory!”)]

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ANOTHER IMPORTANT EXPLICATION OF THE KEY DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS…

Those who claim that there is no difference between the GOP and the Democrats are clearly mistaken, for that is hardly the case.

The GOP exists to throttle and suppress the best and noblest impulses of the right while assiduously doing everything possible to serve the mass-murdering, freedom-extinguishing corporatocracy that rules us all.

The Democrats exist to throttle and suppress the best and noblest impulses of the left while assiduously doing everything possible to serve the mass-murdering, freedom-extinguishing corporatocracy that rules us all.

Both parties are wholly corrupt, massively anti-democratic, and dominated by careerist sociopaths who work for the white-supremacist, corporate empire that since the 1980s has dismantled the rule of law, created more refugees and slaves than ever before in human history, revived fascism, and all but destroyed the ecosystem… endangering the future habitability of the planet and kicking off the Sixth Mass-Extinction event, while our oceans acidify and icecaps melt.

Both parties encourage their bases to battle each other and ignore the systematic war our government has been waging on America’s once-democratic institutions: our campaign finance and election systems, the free press, the judiciary, public education/parks/libraries, functioning infrastructure, the social safety net, and the middle class.

Both parties’ faithful partisans expend all their energies on hating those they are encouraged to hate, while Wall Street plunders our society for trillions. When the latest Princeton University study reveals that America is no longer a democracy, but an oligarchy, they go on fighting each other. When Pew polling results confirm that the United States is viewed (more than any other nation) as the greatest threat to world peace, they go right back to reflexively trusting in the CIA, Pentagon, Washington, DC, and the corporate media — which Noam Chomsky has called out for “uniformity and obedience” that “any dictator would admire.”

Our leaders torture, overthrow democracies, prop-up and arm dictatorships, flood non-compliant nations with neo-Nazis and terrorists, assassinate citizens with no due process, and invest trillions in war and “usable” nuclear weapons while mocking as heretics any who speak of dialogue and diplomacy with our adversaries. And when the latest Harvard University/University of Sydney study shows that America’s elections are the most corrupt in the Western world, the partisans do not appear to notice. Although the GOP and Democrats have blatantly rigged one election after another in recent decades — while pointing to “illegal aliens” and “Russian meddling” — their obedient partisans have unquestioningly swallowed those paltry, xenophobic lies and resumed dividing and conquering America and the world on behalf of the most destructive regime in human history.

But there are important differences between the parties, the chief one being that the Democratic Party has been far more successful, in recent decades, when it comes to duping the center and brutally suppressing its base — far more successful than the GOP when it comes to pushing the corporatocracy’s neo-fascist, environment-collapsing agenda.

While the GOP is more overtly fascist and morally repugnant — with its overt homophobia, misogyny, and racism — the Democratic Party is the wing of the duopoly that continues pushing the Overton Window to the right, usurping every position the corporatist far-right once held (passing laws the GOP never could)… while throwing many poisoned bones of hollow Identity Politics to fear-addled, culturally “superior” rubes.

(Mind you, the GOP’s base has its own problems with moral “superiority,” linked to the deformation of Christianity in America into a fascist, racist, militantly authoritarian entity that is the very antithesis of Christ’s teachings. There are rubes aplenty in this myopic, reactionary, barely literate land of ours.)

But again, here is the key, most critical difference between the two parties in our corporatist duopoly:

One party has done nothing but discredit far-right fascism in recent decades (the GOP), while the other party (the Democrats) have made far-right fascism fashionable and palatable to the masses in recent decades, aligning the center-left with the policies of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bush/Cheney, John Bolton, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, Wall Street, the fossil-fuel industry, the Brookings Institution, PhRMA, Monsanto, and the Military Industrial Complex.

While, the GOP’s base is unruly, anti-war, libertarian, agitated/reactionary, and bigoted in the extreme, the Democratic Party’s base is obedient, pro-war, complacent/comfortable, and subconsciously bigoted (mostly against conservatives and Southerners, but also blithely indifferent to The New Jim Crow and the present anti-Arab-Muslim holocaust… if we are to judge them by their actions, that is).

While the anti-intellectual, less literate classes prefer the Republican Party, the more thoughtful, educated, and compassionate Americans prefer the rhetoric of the Democrats — while completely missing the big picture: the GOP and Democrats are devoted partners in a completely fucked marriage made in hell. Both aggressively serve the same despotic masters and are always willing to iron out their differences in the interests of the serially racist, warmongering top .001%.

The one priority they both share is their unflinching service to modern fascists.

But that doesn’t make them “the same.”

(And who ever said they were identical in the first place? That’s just another straw man intended to discredit America’s few remaining critical thinkers, those who put principle before party.)

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TRUMP’S RACIST/IMPERIALIST COUP ATTEMPT IN VENEZUELA IS FAILING… THANK GOD.

While even mainstream liberals have supported the racist, imperialist coup in Venezuela — and the transparent propaganda of our woefully corrupt corporate media and the Trump administration — America’s few remaining progressives have championed the respected independent journalists who have given voice to the Venezuelan majority: the mestizos and Afro-Venezuelans whom the corporate media has worked overtime to disappear from our national discussion.

Millions of Venezuelans have voted to elect President Nicolas Maduro, whose party has won 23 of Venezuela’s last 25 national elections in transparent, auditable, internationally monitored elections that Jimmy Carter once called “the best in the world.”

Yet the U.S. political/media establishment has responded to the Venezuelan majority by naming its own preferred “president” and seizing even more of Venezuela’s wealth and assets, preventing much food and medicine from entering the country — in what the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights has called a “crime against humanity,” likening U.S. sanctions to a “medieval siege,” emphasizing that Washington is using starvation as a weapon of war.

Despite the devastating effect of massive, multi-pronged economic sabotage — orchestrated by Venezuela’s imperialist/racist/predatory foreign enemies in Washington, DC — the government of Nicolas Maduro has been subsidizing food and other aid to the Venezuelan people (contrary to Western propaganda), as documented in the videos presented to the United Nations by two of America’s few remaining independent journalists, Max Blumenthal and Aaron Mate.

After the last two decades of assassination attempts on Venezuela’s chosen leaders, extreme violence aimed at Venezuela’s robust democratic institutions, and coordinated economic sabotage, none of this is surprising… except to those who blithely gulp down MSM/government propaganda.

But the rest of the world, 75% of which opposes this coup, knows better.

While Reuters, CNN, the AP, and the New York Times have followed FoxNews into the dark universe of neo-fascist “journalism” — uncritically regurgitating official propaganda in support of war and corporate rule — America’s finest independent journalists have consistently gotten this story right… that is why they’ve been given a platform at the United Nations. In a badly corrupted media environment that does little more than “manufacture consent,” they are truth-tellers. A rarity.

(The non-corporate media, all that remains of the free press, have been getting this story right from the beginning. They’ve even forced the New York Times to correct the record about the U.S. “aid” trucks the Colombians and right-wing exiles tried to ram through the border… and then set on fire with their Molotov cocktails.)

Kudos to Max Blumenthal and Aaron Mate for exposing themselves to vicious smears, simply because they’ve given voice to 80% of Venezuelans — especially the poor and oppressed who have supported the Chavista movement from the beginning.

While many nominal liberals spout empty platitudes about their support for the media — while championing those who have degraded and corrupted the institution while demonizing independent journalists — there remain a number of us who legitimately value honest reporting and side with the vulnerable instead of the powerful.

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Yes, Virginia, there really is a racial dimension to the U.S. coup in Venezuela…

When 100,000 wealthy, white Venezuelans march on the streets to protest Maduro’s government, the corporate media splashes images of their marches everywhere. Good for them! Protest is a healthy thing, and the vast majority of these marches have been peaceful, unmarred by violence committed by the protesters or the state.

After all, this isn’t Occupy Wall Street we’re talking about — a peaceful protest movement violently crushed in an illegal, federally-coordinated, 18-city crackdown: they burned our libraries, tore down our encampments, and arrested hundreds — blasting pepper spray in our faces and firing tear gas canisters into protesters at point blank range. I’ve seen the bruises myself, having spent time at several OWS camps.

But when half a million Venezuelans of color protest against the Washington-backed coup, the MSM declines to cover their actions. Few Americans see the images of the Maduro government’s throngs of peaceful supporters, the indigenous and dark-skinned, those of African descent.

The MSM, which feigns outrage at Trump’s racism, has unequivocally sided with the wealthy, white Venezuelans who call themselves “Spaniards” and routinely called dark-skinned, curly-haired Hugo Chavez, the most popular leader in the hemisphere before his untimely demise, “MONKEY.”

In the coup-supporting Western media, the vast majority of Venezuelan people are disappeared, as if they simply don’t exist. That is what this coup is about: erasing two-thirds of Venezuela’s population — the millions lifted out of poverty by Hugo Chavez and his movement — because the Chavistas have stood in the way of the Koch Brothers, Goldman Sachs, and British Petroleum, slavering to get their tentacles on the world’s largest proven oil reserves.

(The Chavistas have had the temerity to channel the profits from their nation’s top resource into social programs that aid the poor. They cut poverty in half, rose literacy to over 90% for men and women, reduced infant mortality, and instituted land reforms that have protected the rights of the indigenous. They also put in place a people’s constitution, ratified by the citizenry, and created an election system that Jimmy Carter has called the best and most transparent in the world.)

I highly recommend Jimmy Dore’s two-part interview with the BBC’s Greg Palast, following his recent visit to Venezuela.

Palast has spent much of his career as a journalist exposing the schemes of white-supremacist conservatives to disenfranchise people of color, stealing one election after another. He covered the GOP’s theft of the 2000 presidential election, which required the purging of tens of thousands of African-Americans from the voter rolls in Florida. More recently, he covered Georgia Republicans’ theft of the governor’s race in 2018, thanks to Brian Kemp’s purging of hundreds of thousands of African-Americans from the voter rolls.

Today, Palast is focused on the Washington-instigated coup in Venezuela — which, if successful, will invalidate the votes of some eight million POC in that country, mestizos who’ve been resisting foreign-supported oppression ever since their movement won power 20 years ago.

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