In his interview with Sharmini Peries (formerly of Democracy Now!), Lawrence Wilkerson has it exactly right: Whether we’re talking about torture overseer/proponent, Gina Haspel, or raging neocon, John Bolton, the key, defining attribute of both individuals is their astonishing INCOMPETENCE. Like most corporate “journalists” today, Haspel and Bolton are grasping careerists who simply do the bidding of the most rabid of our elites.

(AKA, “Yes Men.” Simpering toads.)

Haspel and Bolton are dead wrong about Venezuela, just as they were 100% wrong about torture’s alleged efficacy and the wisdom of invading Iraq.

I’ll admit that it’s good to see Trump finally squaring off, somewhat, with Bolton, and backing off — at long last — from the establishment’s long-term regime-change op in Venezuela. As much as our last few presidents have endeavored to overthrow the South American democracy that sits upon the world’s largest proven oil reserves, there’s no sane way forward.

(To hell with the plundering plans of Pompeo, Abrams, and Bolton — serial war criminals, all. And if an egomaniacal, narcissistic demagogue, like Trump, is what it takes to scuttle their despotic agenda, so be it… though it seems the neocons are still driving the buggy, where Iran is concerned.)

Before closing, I’ll also note that it’s positively bizarre to see Rachel Maddow urging her “liberal” audience toward sympathy with John Bolton, who — per Maddow — is “only a human being” in addition to being a “fearless truth-teller.” (Poor John Bolton has to deal with “Putin’s puppet” in the White House, aka, Donald Trump: the far-right jerkoff who wants to back away from WWIII.)

Unrecognizable Maddow offers her Bolton apologia in the name of Russiagate and xenophobia — still peddling the New Cold War, because that’s all she knows how to do anymore.

Apparently, this is what happens when the party of the “Left” and the party of the “Right” co-mingle and take turns playing the Hawk. In this Good Cop/Bad Cop waltz/Kabuki, it’s the Blue Team’s turn to warmonger and tout the unimpeachable integrity of various neocons and our noble intelligence agencies.

And what a tragedy that represents for so-called liberals (utterly lost, both to themselves and the actual left).

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From the article appearing in

“National security adviser, John Bolton, echoed Rubio’s insistence that Guaido’s actions—supported by group of heavily armed soldiers—’is not a coup.’

“In response, Gerry Condon of Veterans for Peace wrote for Common Dreams, ‘And night is day… Pompeo and Bolton blame the Cubans and the Russians for supporting the democratically-elected president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro… They threaten the Russians with consequences, but they save their bitterest bile for the ‘Cuban thugs.’ Thugs? Who are the thugs? Who are the punks? Who are the bullies? Let me say their names again. Donald Trump. Mike Pence. John Bolton. Mike Pompeo. Elliott Abrams. Marco Rubio.’

“Following a day of chaos sparked by the Guaido-led ‘uprising’—which resulted in dozens of injuries and at least one death—Venezuela’s elected President Nicolas Maduro delivered a speech late Tuesday declaring victory over the ‘coup-mongering far right.’

“‘They failed in their plan. They failed in their call, because the people of Venezuela want peace,’ Maduro said.

“‘I truly believe… that the United States of America has never had a government as deranged as this one,’ Maduro added…”

*       *       *

Once again, Trump’s one value in the White House is that he handicaps the neo-fascist world order erected and normalized by the last several U.S. presidents: the ruthless, warmongering, genocidal, and omnicidal Corporatocracy:

If the Democrats’ refusal to run an un-rigged primary means that we have only two choices for president — an incompetent, inept, overtly racist, neo-fascist Republican or a deftly competent, institutionally racist, neo-fascist Democrat who advances the far-right’s agenda beyond imagining — then we might as well have the incompetent twit.

(That said, my preference, by now, should be crystal clear: As novel a concept as it may be, I’d like a non-fascist president, like Bernie Sanders or Tulsi Gabbard promises to be. Like Dennis Kucinich promised to be… But our thoroughly corrupted system no longer allows for such leaders. The last such leaders we had were FDR and JFK — and how did that go? The deep state attempted to remove FDR in a military coup, which was unsuccessful, thank goodness. But they controlled his successors, Truman and Eisenhower, like obedient puppies. And when JFK came along and tried to restore democratic, humanistic, liberal values to the White House, he was summarily butchered. We haven’t had a democracy since, as anyone who’s been watching closely knows.)

I understand that it’s tough to wrap one’s mind around this perverse truth, but while neo-fascism has advanced most dramatically under smooth-talking, outwardly civilized Democrats, especially Clinton and Obama, the repugnant Mr. Trump has inadvertently helped the world resist fascism — because he takes the mask off what U.S. policy has been for decades.

And now Washington’s second coup against the Chavistas, sought by the last three presidents, has failed.


Will the blustering imbeciles in Trump’s administration make good on their threats to militarily invade Venezuela? I hope not. But if so, that military invasion will fail, just as Bush’s did in Iraq, just as President Obama’s (covert one) did in Syria. And the last smudges of lipstick on the PIG that is U.S. foreign policy will finally be off.

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I listen to Jimmy Dore because I identify with him…

“It was emotionally wrenching for me to see places like DemocracyNow!, The Intercept, The Young Turks (where I work) push RussiaGate. It… destroyed me, kind of, internally, right? It was way worse than the Iraq War for me, because at least during the Iraq War most of the people on the left were awake about it, right? But this was ubiquitous. It was just horrible…”

– Jimmy Dore from his segment “Mueller Report Drops! Aaron Maté Explains”

And here from that same segment is journalist Aaron Mate — just awarded the prestigious “Izzy” award (honoring the journalism of I.F. Stone) for his intrepid RussiaGate reporting — discussing the calamity that’s befallen journalism in America, even at supposedly independent/progressive media outlets:

“I can tell you that I tried to write this stuff at The Intercept. It wasn’t welcome there. I wrote one piece about Rachel Maddow… talking about how she covered Russia more than all other issues combined, and going through and debunking a lot of her conspiracy theories — basically arguing, very politely, that she was a propagandist. That piece did very well, but after that, I was never welcomed back at The Intercept again. And I tried.

“And I thought that… an outlet that calls itself fearless and adversarial would want to put resources to challenging the claims of intelligence officials like John Brennan (Obama’s “Kill List” managing, torture-defending DCI). And challenging this conspiracy theory that was so widespread across the corporate media… but they weren’t interested.”

“…to the Intercept’s credit, they publish Glenn Greenwald, who… pushed back on RussiaGate from the beginning (before I did). It was pretty much him and Bob Parry — the late, legendary Bob Parry (of Consortium News), a legend — so, Glenn and Bob Parry were among the first… Because Glenn has autonomy. He does whatever he wants. And they had nothing to do with what he did.”

(AUTONOMY! What a wonderful word!!!)

“Institutionally, there was a decision. This website that does such great work (they do! I love The Intercept, actually: I think it’s a great website) — but on this key issue, the one that was engulfing our politics… they made a concerted editorial decision to not be aggressive and adversarial, but to be careerist. And to go along with the prevailing narrative — and sort of burnish their adversarial bona fides through Glenn Greenwald, over whom (again) they had no editorial control.

”And that’s why, for example, they also published this really overhyped and overblown piece based on the Reality Winner leak about how Russia was trying to hack into U.S. voting systems. I mean, if you look at the actual document that they based their article on, the document itself doesn’t even show what they said it did…

“It also was basically a spearfishing attack that they were talking about, which they kind of minimized — spearfishing is not a sophisticated ‘hacking’ thing — as illustrated by the fact that whoever was carrying out this supposed ‘massive attack on our election system’ was using a Gmail address, impersonating a voting company with a Gmail address.

“And that’s why, when I had on James Risen… he couldn’t defend the substance of the article. And he hung up on me.”

“My former workplace, DemocracyNow!, which is my favorite news show, has the most noble, has such a noble legacy. And I’ve benefited a lot from it. But their top guest on RussiaGate was Marcy Wheeler, who is one of the most vocal conspiracy theorists out there…

“She also turned in her source to the FBI, who she said played a key role in what she called Russia’s attack on the election. Well, her source and her story are nowhere in the Mueller Report. And we haven’t heard her explain what happened there. And yet, she was treated (by many people) as a sort of a hero for turning in her source. When really, she was actually violating one of the core tenets of journalism: You don’t turn in your source to the government. And now we know, based on the fact that Mueller didn’t go anywhere with it, that it was totally baseless, as was her entire conspiracy theory…

“The fact that even our most noble outlets could drink the Kool-Aid and go along with it, I think really says something about how bad our media culture was.”

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Taking a moment to marvel…

“We come here battling like Bilgesnipe… In my youth, I courted war.” — Thor of Marvel Studios

As much as I respect Infinity War/Endgame — great rides, both — Avengers I remains my favorite in the series. The first time watching it, two-thirds of the way through the film, my cynicism crumbled, and I realized that I actually loved the film.

With its subtle anti-torture, empire-criticizing politics and its magnificent super-violence, it had won me over — even after I’d passed on a number of Marvel Studios’ previous entries and regarded the franchise skeptically.

When Thor of Asgard swooped down to the terrace of Stark Tower to confront his duplicitous brother, Loki (after Iron Man and Captain America had rescued the Shield “Helicarrier” in dramatic fashion, after the Incredible Hulk had kicked Thor’s arrogant, Mjolnir-dependent ass all over the place), I found myself saying, “(Self), this is something extra special. Star Warzy, even.”

By the time Hulky roared Tony Stark’s motionless form back to life, I was metaphorically in hog heaven. And the final, post-credits Shawarma scene, with Bruce nodding (finally at peace) is the ultimate post-movie Marvel moment, IMHO.

When I saw that, I knew I was witnessing cinema history.

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Few Americans know that with the signing of the First Step Act, the preeminent racist scumbag of our times, Donald Trump, has done more to roll back the New Jim Crow than either of his abysmal predecessors (Bush-Obama) came close to doing.

And there’s no point in bringing up Reagan through Clinton, who only advanced modern slavery, incarcerating (and putting to work) well over a million Americans — disproportionately people of color, especially African-Americans and Hispanics — disenfranchising them, confiscating their basic rights, and denying them services related to housing, higher education, and more… years after they’d “paid their debt” to society (and to Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Victoria’s Secret, Proctor & Gamble, McDonald’s Corporation, Fruit of the Loom, ExxonMobil, AT&T, Mary Kay Cosmetics, and other corporate benefactors of America’s captive workforce).

But the truth is that thousands upon thousands of incarcerated people, disproportionately people of color, are now going to be released “early” and have certain of their freedoms restored, thanks to the liberal-reformist crime bill that Donald Trump unequivocally supported and subsequently signed.

Some judicial discretion has been restored. Certain automatic penalties have been repealed. Thousands of prisoners are going to be granted their freedom.

And the president who can take credit for this minor rollback of the draconian “tough on crime” legislation of the 1980s-90s is a nakedly bigoted demagogue.

Talk about ironic!

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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, 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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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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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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