Creating a better world through words and images

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

In the early 2000’s, the corporate media, virtually in lockstep, told us that Saddam Hussein had “WMD” — systematically burying all evidence to the contrary. All skeptics and dissenters were purged, including the NYT’s Pulitzer-winning journalist, Chris Hedges. And, as if to illustrate the one true priority of corporate “news” — propagandizing the American people — MSNBC fired Phil Donahue for questioning the WMD claims, even as his show was the top-rated on their network.

And over a million Iraqis died unnecessarily, thanks to that unconscionable and massive dereliction of journalistic duty.

The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, NPR, and their ilk provided us with a graphic demonstration of just how corrupt the Fourth Estate had become in the USA — corporatized state media, utterly subservient to the oligarchy and Military Industrial Complex.

Today, following an unprecedented war on investigative journalism (initiated by Bush/Cheney, accelerated and normalized by Barack Obama, continued by Donald Trump), matters are considerably worse. Leading news organizations have become mere propagandists for empire, simply repeating the warmongering claims of anonymous intelligence agency spooks and government officials, re: Russia, Wikileaks, Venezuelan President Maduro, Syria’s Assad, and more.

More often than not, today’s MSM doesn’t just bury countervailing claims, it fails to report them entirely. Just as it largely failed to report the CIA’s Operation Timber Sycamore, itself: the regime-change op predicated on flooding Syria with tens of thousands of al Qaeda butchers, Sunni militants keen to unseat Assad and deprive Shi’ite Iran of a key ally (Mujaheddin 2.0, backed by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, trained and coordinated by the CIA).

Having learned no lessons from the run-up to our illegal war on Iraq, many Americans seem to accept — without compelling evidence — the claims that Bashar al-Assad has “gassed his own people.”

Following the 2002-03 media debacle that led to the invasion of Iraq and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents, that is truly shameful.

Adhering to the same journalistic and political malefactors who have repeatedly lied to us before, many Americans simply believe the propaganda — even as several credible skeptics have emerged, from legendary journalist, Robert Fisk, to former U.K. ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, to U.N. lead investigator, Carla Del Ponte, who after finishing her 2013 fact-finding mission to Syria said the following:

“Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals, and there are strong, concrete suspicions, but not yet incontrovertible proof, of the use of sarin gas. This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”

(The New York Times has also reported that the anti-Assad “rebels” used chemical weapons scores of times in Iraq and Syria over just a few-year stretch.)

And now, evidence has come to light that the United Nations’ agency for evaluating the WMD allegations, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), has been politically compromised, burying its own analysts’ conclusions that the latest chemical weapons attack in Syria was “staged.”

Aside from the fact that he’s been winning the war decisively with conventional weapons, there are hundreds of good reasons to doubt the claims that Bashar al-Assad has resorted to the use of chemical weapons in this conflict.

While voicing such doubts does not absolve Assad of other serious war crimes, it’s fair to ask why Syria’s leader would cross the one “red line” that would guarantee heightened U.S. involvement and potentially reverse the tide of the war? Why would this clearly intelligent leader do something so blatantly stupid and unnecessary, when already his regime had all but assured itself of victory?

One doesn’t have to be “anti-war” or a fire-breathing “isolationist” to regard these WMD claims — coming from the usual suspects, a parade of war criminals — with extreme skepticism.

One simply has to have an ounce of human decency, knowing that taking at face value such unfounded, dubious claims could well lead to an escalation of yet another Washington-provoked Middle Eastern conflict — claiming hundreds of thousands of more innocent lives — once again, on a pack of lies.

And yet most Americans, including members of the liberal class, apparently have become neocon true believers, as hawkish as any Bush/Cheney Republican. As blithely willing as any MAGA moron to believe despicable things about foreign leaders, thanks to a fundamentally Orientalist mindset.

I highly recommend the following exchange between one of America’s few remaining adversarial journalists, the latest “Izzy” Award recipient, Aaron Mate (formerly at Democracy Now!) and respected arms expert, MIT professor Theodore Postol.

In addition to laying out credible doubts about specific claims against the Assad regime, Postol notes just what has happened to journalism in the U.S. in recent decades:

“It’s a farce. What’s shocking is the news media today has done such a poor job asking questions about this. When I used to work with news media, 30 years ago, say, I’d get into the papers quite a lot with my work. And every reporter I worked with who was good — and there were lots of them — the first thing that would happen when I called them up and said, ‘Look, there’s an issue here that you may want to think about an article for,’ the first thing they’d ask me is, ‘What’s behind what you’re saying?’ In other words, can you show me, can you prove it to me, can you give me the evidence? That’s good! That’s the right thing any journalist should do when they’re confronted… when a story is proposed to them or when they think there’s a story worth looking into.”

“That doesn’t happen anymore.”

Bush-Obama’s methane legacy — “Freedom Gaschoking the biosphere

From the article:

“Between 2005 and 2015, fracking went from producing 31 billion cubic meters of shale gas per year to producing 435 billion cubic meters.

“Nearly 90 percent of that fracking took place in the U.S., while about 10 percent was done in Canada.”

Like domestic oil production, hydraulic fracturing exploded under President Obama — spearheaded by Sec. Clinton’s efforts to spread this uniquely destructive fossil-fuel to the rest of the world: https://www.theguardian.com/…/how-hillary-clintons-state-de…

But no one should have any illusions that Donald Trump is any better than Obama on this front. As with so many policies, Trump has picked up right where Obama left off: http://invitation2artivism.com/?p=3489

“Freedom Gas” or “bridge fuel” — either way, the duopoly works only for the omnicidal oligarchy that’s overthrown our democracy.

As citizens of the world and members of the human race, we are morally obligated to resist the destruction of our planet’s biosphere. It’s up to us to reform our governments, holding all politicians accountable (not just the personally ugly, less educated ones) — either that, or quit pretending to have any morally-grounded, reality-based objections to the presidency of Donald Trump.

Russiagate = supporting the neo-fascists behind the genocide of millions of predominantly Arab-Muslim civilians (under Trump’s three predecessors alone: 1+ million under Clinton, 1+ million under Bush, 500,000+ under Obama) in order to convey to one’s bourgeois peers one’s purely symbolic condemnation of racism.

Mathematically expressed: Russiagate = omnicidal fascism + a facade of “liberalism” (protecting the mind-bogglingly amoral, despotic, and destructive agenda of the (patriarchal/white supremacist/Christian Dominionist) American oligarchy that’s spent the last six decades eradicating the rule of law, normalizing global war, and initiating the collapse of the planet’s ecosystem, ushering in the Earth’s Sixth Mass-Extinction event).

Note: The ability to believe and become passionate about Russiagate’s central claims — and to characterize Trump as some kind of an anomaly in U.S. politics — is predicated on one’s near-total ignorance of decades of astonishingly destructive U.S. policies… and politicians, many of whom have been far more effectively (and overtly) racist — and considerably more destructive — than Donald Trump has been, to date, deplorable demagogue that he is.

Katie Halper continues her great reporting on U.S. politics, noting how the corporate media systematically misreports polling data in order to cheat progressives and elevate establishmentarians like Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg.

(Echoes of 2016, with the 1% pulling out all of the stops to morph journalism into sheer political shilling, blatantly campaigning for the oligarchs’ preferred politicians — and smearing anyone remotely progressive — in order to help the 1% rig our elections for Trump’s ideological and moral equals… like his old family friend, the equally corrupt, primary-rigging, serial racist warmonger, Hillary Clinton.)

The “liberal” (corporate/far-right) media and “liberal” institutions, like the post-1980s Democratic Party, have only one mantra in the 2020 election cycle, the same one they’ve had for years, nakedly exposed in 2016: destroy progressives (no holds barred, no laws or concerns for democracy or fair play applicable).

This is why we can’t have nice things.

More proof that the “Russian puppet” meme will never die, no matter how many times Russiagate is debunked

Recently, the 45th President of the United States gave a speech before a group of teenage (high school) “deplorables” gathered for a conference in Washington, DC — with Trump standing before a massive image that was subtly designed to portray him as a treasonous agent of Moscow!

Trump Pranked! The #McResistance Lives! Green New Deal... *not* imminent.

(photo by Alex Wong/Getty)

Yes, it’s all true.

Amusingly enough, on the giant screen behind Donald Trump at this conference for young conservatives was a mock version of the official U.S. government seal featuring the words “SEAL OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES” circumscribing the image of an eagle.

Only the eagle behind Trump on this seal was a two-headed eagle — borrowed from Russia’s state seal (with a couple of clever modifications: 1) there’s a wad of cash in one of the eagle’s taloned claws and some golf clubs in the other; and 2) the “Latin” phrase across the banner reads “45 es un títere,” or “45 is a puppet” in Spanish).

Displaying the modified seal behind the president was clearly someone’s idea of a prank, zinging Trump for being a “Russian puppet.”

(Hilarious. “Saddam’s WMD” level hilarious.)

Neither the event’s hosts nor anyone on the President’s staff noticed the subtly transformed “official” seal behind the speaker.

Nor did the speaker, himself.

Ever the buffoon, Trump gave his speech in front of an image designed to humiliate him. (He even missed the fact that it had his number on it: 45.)

The pranksters (whoever they are) used the hybrid U.S./Russia government seal image created by Bush/Cheney enthusiast and “former” Republican, Charles Leazott, a hard-right conservative who believes in Russiagate with all his heart… or at least in the conspiracy theory’s ability to politically damage Donald Trump (when it’s obvious that Russiagate has done the opposite, benefitting the far-right dramatically and increasing Trump’s chances for reelection… all while bringing us closer to WWIII).

While Trump and his people’s obliviousness to the practical joke is nearly as amusing as it is sad, it’s still notable (and equally depressing) that the #McResistance continues to be led by current and former Republicans, especially the Bush/Cheney crowd (including Robert Mueller, David Frum, William Kristol, Michael Hayden, John Brennan, and James Clapper): modern fascists pushing a third world war over a bunch of warmongering, neo-McCarthyite propaganda — propaganda that began as a reprehensible presidential candidate’s excuse for losing to a reality TV huckster.

This is what happens when the center-left bets the progressive farm on neocons, intelligence agencies, and current/former Republicans.

#McResistance, propaganda, and war have triumphed over diplomacy, journalism, and any semblance of actual resistance to the rise of neo-fascism.

So much for the progressive agenda! So much for a Green New Deal

From the excellent CounterPunch article by Rob Urie:

“Two years plus of taunting Donald Trump from the right has left the left holding the baggy for untethering his steely anti-interventionist resolve from the hitchin’ post. And while it’s proper to question the metallurgical integrity of said resolve, he did ask questions in his run for President that landed like an oriole’s chide at Spring’s late arrival apropos the American military’s history of cluster-fuckery.”

*       *       *

It’s a sad state of affairs when only one presidential candidate in 2016 acknowledged the existence of Washington’s second “Mujaheddin” army (created after the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq for the purpose of regime-change operations guided by the U.S.) — and it was Donald F’g Trump!

But after President Obama needlessly rescued Bush/Cheney’s radical agenda in his first term, the neocons reunited with their first love, the Democratic Party, which they have since overtaken — save for a few members of “The Squad.”

And that is why the liberal class is so lost and disoriented, right now: they’re “resisting” Donald Trump by championing the warmongering agenda of modern Nazis. While the mainstream-left slept, the worst war criminals under Bush/Cheney were rehabilitated and raised to new levels of power by President Obama. Torture, rendition, indefinite detention, mass-surveillance, domestic propaganda, and due process-free assassinations were all normalized, as was the Global (permanent) War of Terror.

The uniforms have changed, but the neocons — associated with the GOP during the Bush years — emerged from the Obama era more powerful than ever, and more closely affiliated with Democrats than Republicans. (They had, after all, had their way with Obama almost as much as Bush, instigating wars in Libya, Ukraine, and Syria; erecting siege-like sanctions regimes against Venezuela and Iran, paving the way for future confrontations; unleashing genocide in Yemen, putting millions of innocents at risk; birthing RussiaGate, inviting global war…)

Today, with the duopoly’s backing, the neocons still seek total control over Donald Trump, with varying degrees of success. But Trump, like President Obama, is not fully on board with the neocon agenda (distinguishing both presidents from Sec. Clinton and most of today’s Russia-gating “liberals”).

Ironic as it may be, Donald Trump — like Obama before him — is feebly, sporadically resisting the fascist elements who’ve largely run the U.S. since 1963, following their murder of President Kennedy.

Imagine if the “left” in 2017 had rallied around Trump’s few liberal and statesmanlike impulses — while fighting his regressive domestic policies and court appointments, tooth and nail — instead of lining up behind the modern equivalent of Nazis and pushing for WWIII over a bunch of inflated, generally risible claims (comporting themselves just like a reactionary, partisan mob of conservatives).

Donald Trump wouldn’t be poised for reelection today. And John Bolton wouldn’t be anywhere near the White House.

Talk about lost opportunities!