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Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons

“As to the Apocryphal books, I omit them because I am no papist.” (King James… allegedly)

Midday reading got me pondering the notion of the Bible as a form of “graven image,” ultimately, with temporal bounds and such (leaving aside the question of whether the book was divinely inspired). I found myself contemplating how political considerations have inevitably played a role in the book’s many translations and redactions, over the centuries; and how, even within the faith, there are different preferred versions of “The Bible,” from one sect to the next. (In the 21st century, leading Christian institutions still haven’t managed to agree on a single, unifying Bible… although leading Western-Christian institutions have largely coalesced, it would seem, behind America’s three-decade embrace of neo-fascism, even as Muslims have been slaughtered by the millions and as the planet’s life-sustaining systems are clearly foundering… hooray for blessed corporatism!)

And then the post-apocalyptic film “THE BOOK OF ELI” popped into my head (go figure)… and I realized an unintended irony of the film. Eli’s quest is to deliver a King James Bible, specifically, to those who will properly value and preserve it… faithfully, as he has. But even if Eli’s faith is indeed founded in some cosmic truth, and the book he carries was originally handed down by God Hirself*, the bowdlerized version of the text that Eli is carrying would seem to represent the sort of distortion of The Word of God that CARNEGIE (Gary Oldman’s pathetic, power-crazed villain) has in mind!

In Carnegie’s mind, this book is for crowd control; this book serves the crown; this book is about POWER. This is the Bible Carnegie knows… and desperately wants to possess. With the Apocrypha all but expurgated and Adam’s first partner, Lilith, effectively banished (transformed into a banshee-like spirit of the deep, dark woods) much of the “original” text’s richness is lost in the old King Me version. But something tells me that more than poetry has been lost. I suspect that the book’s more Hellenistic notions — expressionist, empathetic, imaginative, feminine — have been pared down in favor of Christendom’s more Hellenic, militaristic, “heroic,” and patriarchal predilections.

Who benefits? Cui bono? (Sonny Bono? I don’t know, I’m just asking questions…) I’d wager that Mr. Oldman’s villain, Carnegie, would have some excellent insights on this matter.

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* a nod to the dual-sexed Shekala aspect of God (referenced in our Oxford/NRSV Bibles, in the Book of Genesis)

It’s entirely safe to say in March of 2017 that our country, the United States of America, has gone completely off the deep end. Our institutions, public and private, from Washington, DC, to Wall Street, are deeply corrupt and mostly failing, at home and abroad. The Fourth Estate (aka, the “free press”) is dominated by just five companies, following the last two decades of mergers and acquisitions (thanks to Bill Clinton), meaning that we have a monopoly of media control under a handful of Rupert Murdochs: bigoted, right-wing, law-flouting war profiteers, far more concerned with manufacturing consent among the proles than informing anyone. Twenty-one years after the passage of the Telecom Act, hundreds of small-medium media outlets, disproportionately minority-owned, have disappeared entirely, crushed by the few remaining giants… again, thanks to Bill Clinton. As a result, most Americans, including the politicians, can no longer tell the difference between propaganda and news. Ignorance, cultural division, and jingoism in America are at record levels, with respect to the modern/post-WWII period, as we coast on the achievements of previous, freer generations of Americans (the ones who ushered in regulation of banks and businesses, democratic socialism, and taxation of the wealthy — all endangered or extinct policies today).

Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our schools and the U.S. Postal Service are under assault by profiteering privatizers (from Arne Duncan to Betsy DeVos) who couldn’t care less about the education of our children or the constitutional imperative of the USPS, keeping people connected. Our drinking water is less safe than ever, much like our bridges and dams. After over three consecutive decades of unflinching Reaganomics and neoliberalism, the country’s economic foundations and institutions have been badly eroded while its treasures have been plundered. We’ve allowed ourselves to be transformed from a nation of producers to a nation of consumers. The economy has been 66% financialized, producing nothing but titanic wealth for the top “earning” .01% (the investor class), and leaving most workers and society behind. Agriculture and industry have been decimated, along with the middle class, sped by globalization, monopolies/cartels, and “free trade” pacts, which have done nothing but impoverish the country while normalizing working conditions akin to slavery and placing ruthless corporations over elected governments (in case those governments ever get it into their heads to help their own people rather than the sociopathic corporations that prey on them).

As Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges has observed, the corporate coup de tat is complete. All illusions and empty rituals aside, representative government in America is largely a thing of the past, just like upward mobility in our false meritocracy, as the data makes crystal clear (recent studies have shown that the will of the American people, unlike the will of major political donors and lobbies, makes no difference in public policy; and that Europe, even with its entrenched aristocracies, enjoys far greater class mobility than the U.S., where the circumstances of one’s birth determine so much).

And then there’s the imperialism/neo-fascism that America has spent the past decades embracing and normalizing. In 1992, the entire world (and much of America) reacted in horror to Bush Sr.’s Defense Planning Guidance, authored by Paul Wolfowitz (who would go on to become one of the principle architects of the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq, which in all likelihood left over a million Iraqis dead). This announcement of hegemonic intent was called the Wolfowitz Doctrine, and it made explicit Washington’s ambition to administer all global affairs, with no challengers or dissenters permitted, from 1992 until, presumably, the end of time (since the Cold War was over and we’d “won” it, we would tolerate no independent nations: the world was OURS FOREVER). Yes, America’s policy, articulated by Wolfowitz, was that ridiculous… and that terrifying, as Bush’s government merely pretended to rescind it after the nations of the world balked, shouting “Never again!”

Only nothing was truly rescinded — because Wolfowitz represented the vanguard of those the Pentagon’s old guard had dubbed “The Crazies” — radical military extremists who were then taking over U.S. foreign policy… and who’ve run it ever since. They were keen to move past the moral atrocity of the Vietnam War, and make the world safe, once again, for imperial aggression in the wake of 3-4 million dead Southeast Asians and nearly 60,000 dead American soldiers (not to mention all of the psychologically and physically maimed human beings that monstrously stupid war created).

Although The Crazies had flourished under Bill Clinton’s nation-bombing presidency, most of us first came to know them under Bush, Jr. — as the warmongering neocons, who owned outright the first six years of Dubya’s foreign policy. They were the conservative hawks responsible for the butchery in Iraq, the scumbags behind the “WMD” lies (a narrative that conveniently spares all of the neocons’ Democratic enablers, especially Sec. Clinton, who has spent her entire career just as pliant to the neocons’ will as GWB ever was). But the truth is that the neocons have held sway under Democratic and Republican administrations alike. Neocon imperatives killed over a million Iraqis during the Clinton years, too, only most Americans are ignorant of that effect of the U.S.-tailored sanction regime (which, among other cruelties, denied potable water to countless Iraqi civilians).

“The era of big government is over!” Bill Clinton had jubilantly declared, introducing a “new” Democratic Party and a “new” liberalism… but neoliberalism wasn’t liberal at all, in the traditional sense. From that point forward, the United States would have just one political party, with two wings: the “Property Party” representing plutocrats only. And just as the Democrats under Clinton had signaled the demise of the Party of FDR on the economic front (killing the party of workers and organized labor, the party of regulated capitalism and the New Deal), they had also signaled complete surrender on issues of systemically racist mass-incarceration, police-militarization, mass-surveillance, and endless war, which entailed an all-out assault on civil liberties and the Constitution. With regard to such radical right-wing policies, the New (corporatist) Democrats would become just as committed as Republicans to America’s racially-divided, extraordinarily unequal, and societally devastated neo-fascist future. And they were arguably far more effective at ushering in that future than their GOP counterparts.

With the ascent of the Clinton/DLC wing in the Democratic Party, the era of two-party government, with competing agendas and interests, was over. Average people no longer had a champion in Washington, just two different brands of bullshit to choose from, while both parties conspired to rob us blind — and unravel the rule of law — on behalf of corporations. That’s when America began courting fascism in earnest. As the 20th century made clear, fascism is birthed in the fires of broken liberalism — “liberalism” that caters to the conservative/wealthy class while betraying everyone else: warmongering, bankster-abetting, worker-betraying PSEUDO-liberalism (like that offered by post-1980s Democrats, who joined the GOP in every meaningful way possible… when they weren’t outdoing the deplorable, knuckle-dragging Republicans.)

When the Democrats under Clinton embraced the conservative (neocon) agenda, killing millions in the Middle East and beyond — including more than half-a-million babies in Iraq, during Bill Clinton’s tenure — it truly signaled the end of the American experiment in democracy. At home and abroad, there was no longer an opposition to the vampiric oligarchs and Nazi neocons. Unsurprisingly, torture was normalized. Murder of journalists and human rights workers has also become standard operating procedure for the Washington boys, over the past two presidencies. Freedom of speech has become a laughable notion, with the assassination of dissenting Americans (and their children) official policy in the post-9/11 environment, thanks to Bush-Obama, and now Trump. Mass-surveillance to crush dissent was also ushered in, making Orwell’s “Big Brother” look like an amateur, compared to us. And practically every meaningful law and regulation that once gave Americans prosperity, health, and some semblance of liberty has been eviscerated. Posse Comitatus, habeas corpus, and the heart of the Civil Rights Act have been undone, along with most of the Bill of Rights. Cruel and unusual punishments have become commonplace in America. Only the rich retain the rights to a speedy trial and representation… but then we don’t ever charge the rich for their crimes anymore, so it’s kind of a moot point.

The rise of the neoconservatives and the normalization of permanent war are among the more stark signs that America the Beautiful has perished, replaced by something like AmeriKKKa or the Fourth Reich. Although it’s hard to argue against the notion that America was forged in white supremacy and has been imperialist and warmongering for most of our history, America did enjoy a period of around a century, roughly — between the Civil War and the 1970s — during which our institutions were frequently willing to challenge the would be oligarchs and racist rulers, exposing and resisting their worst crimes. Only now, with the passing of the 1980s and the success of the Reagan “Revolution” (a “revolution” of the rich, blessed by Democrats), the oligarchs have won. They’ve run the table, and all the power is theirs, along with most of the wealth, in our once democratic republic.

NEOCONS: The simplest way to understand the neocons is to see them as picking up where the Third Reich left off. They want nothing short of world domination by unrestrained corporate giants (not even American companies, but international predators), and they’re willing to butcher millions to get their way. Sure, they’ve swapped Muslims for Jews, demonizing Islam the way Hitler demonized Judaism, but otherwise they’re cut from entirely the same cloth. They want the end of the Enlightenment and a return to might makes right and the medievalism of the Crusades, only with industrialized methods, like the Nazis had… which explains why the oceans and climate are collapsing. Industrialized mass-destruction, with no checks or balances, is more powerful than an Old Testament god having a hissy fit. Our leaders are the real harbingers of doom, whether modern conservatives and liberals want to acknowledge that reality or not.

And none of this is surprising, as our leaders have been flirting with fascism since the end of WWII. Operation Paperclip, which brought over 1,600 Nazi scientists, engineers, and doctors into the U.S., was only the tip of the iceberg. Top SS and Gestapo figures — with no technical knowledge or value beyond their hatred of Russia and the left — were shielded at the highest levels of our government. Many of them were given beautiful homes and cushy lives in the USA. Others were too hot to handle, so we placed them in South America (Argentina and Bolivia, mostly). Virtually all of them were guilty of appalling massacres and outrages against human decency, but Washington’s shadow operators saved them from ever facing justice for their crimes, because they saw them as useful allies in America’s own bid for world domination. This is why so few top Nazis were ever tried for their crimes: they were Americanized instead and deployed in various theaters across the world, making the world safe for U.S. imperialism.

Washington’s premier power brokers, including the all-powerful Dulles brothers (especially Allen, the CIA spook very likely behind JFK’s assassination), fundamentally shared the Nazis’ ideology and rescued thousands upon thousands of butchering sadists, folding them into Washington’s efforts to launch and prosecute the Cold War. They made a liar out of FDR, who’d promised Stalin we would join the USSR in prosecuting the Nazis, and spiked America’s relationship with Russia for decades to come. Since the USSR’s demise, our senior power brokers no longer feel it entirely necessary to hide their admiration for Hitler and his Reich, as has been documented by the journalist, Jeff Sharlet, in his essential book, “The Family.” Sharlet details his experiences infiltrating the highest levels of “The Family,” the highly secretive, pseudo-Christian, Caucasian-dominated organization that effectively runs the U.S. government, regardless of who the American people elect to office. They are the ultra-rich descendants of the robber barons and the ideological doppelgangers of the Nazis, whom they openly admire. There is nothing they hate more than liberalism, populism, and democracy — which is why they’ve done all in their considerable power to squelch the left at home and abroad.

And not only are the Nazis back (or at least their inheritors), but the robber barons are back, too. Usury is back in a big way, at rates that have been historically criminalized. Keeping individuals and entire nations in massive amounts of debt (where they can never get to paying down the principle) has become the pillar of the global banking regime, what modern economics is all about… in addition to speculation. Rampant speculation is back, crashing whole economies to the ground — which is why such speculation was punishable by death in the 17th century. After learning the hard lessons of the Great Depression, speculation in America was restricted to investment banks — gambling with their own money, rather than the taxpayers’ money — from the time of FDR to the age of Clintonian “Democrats” (conservatives in liberals’ clothing). Only those days are gone. Today, thanks to the modern Democrats’ complete abdication of their historic role, there is no liberal party in Washington advocating a return to regulation of banks and other destructive juggernauts.

And that is the true story of 21st-century America. It’s why the vast majority of employment opportunities have disappeared; why even two incomes barely suffice when just one used to carry an entire family; why education has become corporatized and unaffordable, for most; why unions have all but disappeared; why healthcare is woefully inadequate for all but the wealthy; why our elections are no longer transparent, auditable, or democratic; why being black, Muslim, or Hispanic has been all but openly criminalized; why the most venerable and respected of our “news” organizations have been reduced to nonstop propaganda-appendages of the deep state; why our natural resources are being despoiled and plundered at unprecedented rates; why our institutions refuse to do anything meaningful to combat climate change, even as it is clearly dooming the planet; why fracking has gone gangbusters, even though it apparently causes earthquakes and unquestionably befouls the water supply; why an unqualified, extraordinarily ignorant, and reckless boob is the new president of the United States… rather than an unconscionably evil warmonger who worked only for the MIC and Wall Street (the fix was in, but it wasn’t quite enough to stop the populist backlash that put Trump in the Oval Office).

Not that we’ve anything to celebrate in the establishment’s 2016 defeat, because it’s only a temporary setback for these imperialist goons. They’re co-opting Trump’s presidency as I type these words, forcing out anyone not on board with World War III. In a functioning democracy, Bernie Sanders would be our president, right now, and the nation would be experiencing the kind of course-correction the people have been demanding for over a decade. Only the powers that be absolutely refuse to let anything like that happen. Our owners despise the left every bit as much as Paul Ryan and Hillary Clinton do… which does not bode well for the future.

Do you want to resist the worst excesses and legitimate dangers posed by a Trump presidency? Well, SO DO I — but if our “dog in this fight” is the Democratic Party, maybe we should take at least some interest in its overall health.

(How is that principle not a sound one? Please take a minute to explain it to me, if you think I’m wrong.)

Because by restricting our political expression to transparently partisan and hollow condemnations of the new president — which has only marginalized the left and hardened Trump’s support (as predicted) — we are choosing to send into this gravely serious fight one DOG of a dog, positively riddled with vermin and disease. And that, my friends, is simply not good enough. In fact, it’s easy, cheap, and lazy, in addition to being patently irresponsible. We must do better — and be willing, even, to do a little self-examination — if we genuinely want to win this fight.

In short, Glenn Greenwald’s recently articulated thesis (about how best to defeat Donald Trump) is precisely what I’ve been arguing, these past few months. From his February 9th Intercept article, which also provides evidence, if more were needed, that the 2016 Democratic Primary was rigged by the warmongering, democracy-loathing corporatists who still dominate the party:

“One can spend all of one’s time and energy denouncing Donald Trump. But until the systemic causes that gave rise to him are addressed and resolved, those denunciations will do little other than generate social media benefits and flattering applause from those already devoted to opposing him. Focusing on and attempting to counter the fundamental flaws of the Democratic Party is not a distraction from #TheResistance; it is a central priority, a prerequisite for any kind of success.”

Bingo (was his name-o).

Before reading today’s entry, please give a listen to Glenn Greenwald on last Thursday’s “Democracy Now!” (but bear in mind that this is the miserable SOB* who makes a living saying what I’ve been thinking — only more articulately and with far more authority, facts, and, dammitall, verve).

And now for the truly good stuff…

Gen. Michael Flynn has been defenestrated by the Washington foreign policy establishment for advocating detente with Russia and greater international cooperation against ISIS and al Qaeda. While most on the left will cheer this development, I encourage you to revisit Flynn’s interview with al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan, providing a rare glimpse into U.S. foreign policy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOTiuszCl0c

In short, radical Salafist militants have provided the bulk of the fighters for Washington’s regime-change operations in the Middle East — the CIA’s second Mujaheddin, in effect — responsible for initiating the ethnosectarian carnage in Syria that has left over 400,000 people dead and created over 10 million refugees. Gen. Flynn has been sharply critical of the policies that led to this modern holocaust, which is why he’s been forced out of top government positions in intelligence. Twice now, with Trump today emulating Obama a few years back. More’s the pity.

For those unaware of the myriad ways that President Obama brought to Syria the same kind of devastation that George W. Bush brought to Iraq, this primer on the origins of the conflict includes links to Pulitzer Prize winners and mainstream news sources, including The New York Timeshttp://invitation2artivism.com/?p=944

But back to Michael Flynn and the significance of this moment: The general’s Islamophobic ignorance and partisan foolishness aside, the Trump administration just lost one of its few remaining voices pushing back against the genocidal neocon agenda in the Middle East… and against World War III, if anyone cares. And yet the left will surely celebrate his departure, as the “centrist” neo-fascists who run America’s foreign policy establishment take a major, dissent-crushing step toward co-opting Donald Trump’s presidency entirely — like Obama before him — and bringing a dangerously ignorant president on board the monstrously bloody train that’s been running at full steam since George W. Bush’s time.

“Hooray for our side.”

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*(Figuratively speaking, Glenn… Honestly, I’m just jealous. The truth is that all of us, here at Invitation2Artivism.com, think you’re just the GREATEST! Keep up the outstanding work, stealing my best thoughts and backing them up with exemplary reporting and cogent commentary.)

"On Russia, Trump is a CODE PINK Republican" (Bloomberg)

Jaw dropping: This jingoistic Bloomberg article (linked to photo above) tries to smear Donald Trump by comparing him to CODE PINK — an outstanding peace organization which the “rah-rah” author, Mr. Lake, denigrates and mocks. Even worse, the article recklessly (if predictably) celebrates the few modest concessions Trump has made to the warmongering DC establishment. (Liberals and moderates say they fear Trump’s warlike tendencies, and then condemn him for being “Putin’s puppet” over a bunch of anonymous CIA/DNC claptrap while pushing our unstable new president to get on the WWIII bandwagon! Because more and greater wars will surely bring out the best in President Trump??! Sorry to sound like a broken record, but this evidence-free anti-Russia campaign is the height of self-harming, values-inverting stupidity from self-identified “liberals and moderates.”)

As most Americans have been operating in a vacuum of information — or, more accurately, drowning in a sea of propaganda — with respect to recent U.S.-Russian history, Bloomberg apparently feels free to peddle great gobs of anti-Russia hogwash. How many outright lies are in this trash? I lost count. Under George W. Bush, the expulsion from our corporate media of nonpartisan experts — in all fields — accelerated dramatically, which was considered alarming at the time, but in recent years the absence of experts in American “news” has become the new normal. (Consumers just can’t get enough of Bill Kristol, Judith Miller, James Clapper, and Lindsay Graham!)

For those with open minds, willing to consider the record, I highly recommend the excellent work of Stephen F. Cohen… and I advise that you read Bloomberg and the rest of the corporate media’s similar “reporting” as if you’re holding a copy of The Onion.

It’s getting increasingly difficult to find any objective, rational, informed human beings in today’s America, but here’s one of them, Stephen F. Cohen, America’s preeminent Russia expert (and therefore persona non grata in U.S. “mainstream” news), subjecting himself to a tough interview, where his facts are routinely challenged. If you’re unfamiliar with his written work, I suggest you acquaint yourself with Mr. Cohen today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdCcR8pEm3g

Are we still allowed to discuss what Orwell tried to teach us?

The above video, courtesy of TEDEd’s Noah Tavlin, provides an excellent primer on the difference between simply “authoritarian” and actually “Orwellian.” If we can apply this lesson to our present political situation (even in the current environment, which strongly discourages critical thinking and dissent), I would say that the last two presidents have been authoritarian, in practice. But the worst Orwellian tendencies of our government have grown each year following 9/11 — making President Barack Obama, ironically, more Orwellian, in practice, than his predecessor, whose authoritarian excesses Obama was elected to reverse.

It was, after all, President Obama, whose brilliant use of language made it possible to continue torturing “folks” (including American whistleblowers) and unleashing CIA-armed/trained Salafist terrorist “rebels” on the world (continuing Bush’s monstrous, post-OIF, “Redirection“)… to the effect that hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed on his watch. And most Americans didn’t even fucking notice, even with the resulting greatest flood of refugees in recorded human history. Most believed that the neocon agenda had been rolled back… when it actually had been dramatically expanded (look at what’s happened to JSOC… and Yemen! during the Obama years).

That is Orwellian, indeed.

And even more to the point, it was President Obama who effectively repealed habeas corpus and turned due process-free assassination of Americans uncharged with crimes (and their children) into the “targeted killing of terrorists” (the kid should’ve had “a more responsible father” — IMAGINE IF THAT ZINGER HAD COME OUT OF TRUMP’S ADMINISTRATION!).

We should never forget that it was Barack Obama who championed and signed into law the worst provisions of the 2012 and 2016 NDAAs, which, respectively: ended Posse Comitatus and repealed the Smith-Mundt Act, the longstanding prohibition against propagandizing the American people (2012); and authorized a veritable Ministry of Truth (2016), creating a government office to determine which news is “real” and which is allegedly “fake” (from now on, everything that contradicts the state’s propaganda is officially fake news, thanks to President Obama… with a little anonymized assist from PropOrNot and the neo-fascist hacks at the Washington Post).

As many close observers have noted in recent years, by doubling down on the most authoritarian of the Bush/Cheney policies, President Obama has put in place everything that a would-be dictator could possibly desire, including a surveillance system that would make Big Brother greenly envious. Trump doesn’t need to change a thing, when it comes to the legal framework and lethal programs he’s inherited. Obama did it for him. Nixon’s theory of the Unitary Executive, once considered terrifying and radical, is now the respected, consensus opinion in Washington.

I understand that some people reading this might actually like/admire Barack Obama and imagine him to be liberal — so did I, once — but we on the left have to reconcile ourselves to history if we’re to have any chance of opposing Orwellian authoritarianism, under any president: http://invitation2artivism.com/?p=1491