Tweeter & the Monkey Man 2: More Missives to the President-Elect

Written by Chris Floyd 22 December 2016 11511 Hits

I was reading a story tonight about the poison pen letters Donald Trump sent to then Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond about the government-backed wind farms that Trump felt was ruining the scenery of his Scottish golf course. I was struck by one of the many blustering insults Trump hurled in Salmond’s direction: other countries are “laughing at you” for promoting wind farms, Trump declared. This is of course a line Trump has been pushing for decades: that other countries or other people are “laughing at us” for being weak, dumb, etc. etc. It is obviously a notion that occupies his mind: the fear of being laughed at for weakness, failure, stupidity. He can’t get away from this theme, no matter how successful he is: he comes back to it again and again. Suddenly I thought: shouldn’t we join our august president-elect in his anxiety-ridden quest to find out who might be laughing at him? So I took up his favorite mode of communication, Twitter, and sent him the few helpful messages below. I would encourage everyone who is as concerned as I am about the precarious mental health of our impending leader to take up the cause, and tell Trump just who is laughing at him. It’s your patriotic duty.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump Psst, Donnie. Goldman Sachs is LAUGHING AT YOU! They know they'll control you like a puppet. They're LAUGHING AT YOU!

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump Psst, Don! Deutsche Bank is LAUGHING AT YOU! They know they OWN you and can make you jump like a frog on a griddle.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump Foreign banks LAUGHING AT YOU! They now you have no personal power: you're a debt-ridden putz, dancing to their tune.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump People know that Pence & Goldman Sachs will CONTROL you. People are LAUGHING AT YOU about it.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump Hey Don. Did you know people are LAUGHING AT YOU for being Pence's puppet? They say, "Trump's too dumb to know he's weak!"

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump Donald Trumpuppet: controlled by foreign banks, Wall Street & a Indiana huckster. We're LAUGHING AT YOU, Donnie!

Then came word that Trump had appointed ancient corporate raider Carl Ichan to be his “advisor” on corporate regulation — that is, on stripping away the few remaining controls on rapacious wankers willing to devour their own communities and country to gorge themselves. So I offered a couple of more helpful insights.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump Carl Ichan? Why do you need all these 'advisers'? Aren't you smart enough to figure things out by yourself?

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump People are LAUGHING AT YOU for picking all these advisors. "Trump's too dumb, needs people to tell him what to do." WEAK!

 

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Eyes Wide Shut: Flying Blind in an Age of Atrocity

Written by Chris Floyd 20 December 2016 14382 Hits

The end result of every Islamist terror attack (or even alleged Islamist terror attack) is: 1. Heightened authoritarian powers for governments. 2. Demonization of law-abiding Muslims. 3. More money for war-profiteers, since more war is always the ultimate response. None of these outcomes advance the attackers’ cause in any way save one: more repression, demonization and war can lead to more ‘radicalisation’ of the people being repressed, demonized and bombed. Thus the responses, which are always the same, always reward the perpetrators of these atrocities by giving them the only thing they can get from the attacks: recruitment tools.

“So what are we supposed to do then?” comes the angry cry. Well, one thing we could do to begin breaking this deadly cycle is to quit living in a dreamworld and recognize what the actual policies of our governments are, what our governments are actually doing, and the actual consequences of these actual events. We have to be done with the childish notion that our greatness and goodness is forever being assaulted out of the blue by motiveless monsters who don’t appreciate how greatly good we really are.

The taking of innocent lives is an abominable evil. It is never justified. It is not justified when sectarian extremists strike at the West; it is not justified when Western nations take innocent lives, on a mass scale, in Muslim countries. But from our side, there is not even the slightest chance of breaking this deadly cycle if we do not acknowledge the realities of what we have done and what we are doing in the world. Knowledge is the only way out of this impasse — if there is a way out of it.

We could see that the policy of destroying whole nations in military actions based on false pretenses or deliberately exaggerated threats, as in Iraq and Libya, spreads ruin, chaos, violence, extremism, refugees and weapons rippling through many other lands, destabilizing them in their turn.

We could acknowledge the plain and incontrovertible fact that one main cause of the spread of violent Islamic extremism has been our own support — covert and overt — for groups who push this doctrine, when it suits our own geopolitical purpose. This has happened over and over — such as the support for the violent retrograde sectarian extremists in Afghanistan, whom we called “freedom fighters” when it suited our purpose. It happened in Libya, where, once again, we armed and supported violent extremist groups while pretending they were secular moderates fight for Jeffersonian principles of liberty and freedom. It is happening in Syria, where we are arming, funding and bombing on behalf of some of the most virulent sectarian extremists on earth, including al Qaeda, while, again, pretending they are secular moderates. It is happening in Yemen, where for the 15 months, the U.S. government has been directly aiding the religious extremists of Saudi Arabia in a vicious war and murderous blockade that has cleared the way for the resurgence of al Qaeda, just as it had almost been wiped out in that country.

We could acknowledge the plain and incontrovertible fact that these deliberately chosen policies — chosen as the means to pursue various geopolitical and economic goals, none of which have anything to do with freedom or liberty or human rights — have resulted in waves of refugees flooding into countries unprepared for them. They have resulted in further radicalization and repression both in the West and in many Muslim lands, straining and tearing at civic structures, particularly in the latter.

We could acknowledge the plain and incontrovertible fact that as long as our governments pursue the agenda of advancing and maintaining economic and political dominion in the world – by whatever means necessary – then the fallout, the blowback from these policies will continue. It is striking how our savants can recognize this in regard to other countries, but never our own. The assassination of the Russian ambassador in Turkey this week was immediately described as blowback or revenge for Russian actions in Syria. “You see,” said American pundits and politicians, “if you go meddling in the affairs of other countries for your own selfish political ends, this is what happens! You radicalize people and then they come after you!” The very clear implication — and sometimes stated assertion — is that the Russians are “reaping the whirlwind” of their military intervention in the Middle East.

The very same principle applies to Western interventions. But as we all know, one is not allowed to say this. Because of the goodness of our greatness, our interventions are always pure. It is only other countries that pursue amoral policies for their own aggrandizement. If they are met with a violent response to these policies, it’s only what they deserve. But if this happens to us, then we are innocent lambs lost in an unfair world. We are floating in an anxious cloud of learned helplessness, wilful ignorance and historical amnesia. Knowledge is the only way out of this impasse — if there is a way out.

Beginning in the late Seventies, we actively, deliberately helped build, fund and arm a global network of violent sectarian extremists in order to bedevil the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. We did this: we laid the base (or, in Arabic, "al Qaeda") of global jihad, along the lines of Saudi religious extremism. We stoked this jihad network for more than a decade until every single vestige of secular society was destroyed in Afghanistan and the Taliban took over. We worked with and made a hero of Osama bin Laden (whose family had long-standing business ties in America, including with the Bush family). He was written up in American newspapers as a “freedom fighter” in Afghanistan who had put down his guns and turned his hand to good works in Sudan.

We further stoked radicalization in the region when we intervened in a border dispute between Iraq (which we had supported for years, despite its brutal dictator) and Kuwait, whose royal rulers were longtime business partners of the Bush family. (Our former ally, bin Laden, was angered by the presence of U.S. ‘infidel’ soldiers on Saudi soil; he, like the Americans, wanted to see the secular government of Iraq overthrown, but he had wanted it done by Muslim forces. So he turned against his American partners.) We shattered Iraq, imposed sanctions on it which our own leaders acknowledged killed more than half a million children. Finally, in 2003, when the country was not just on its knees but face down in the dirt, we bravely invaded again, citing the presence of weapons of mass destruction which our governments knew were not there, having been given full evidence of their destruction by the man who destroyed them — Saddam’s son-in-law (as reported by Newsweek long before the 2003 war) — and also having found no trace of weapons or a weapons program in years of UN inspections, including a full-scale, wide-open inspection just before the war.

It is very odd that most Americans believed — and apparently still believe —there would be no consequences from this morally insane and strategically stupid policy. No consequence for killing up to a million innocent people (according to the UK government’s method of casualty assessment). No consequence for sending millions of refugees flooding into Syria, a country already greatly strained by a prolonged drought which had wrought massive social upheaval. No consequences for creating a chaos in Iraq where the global jihad movement we helped build poured in and flourished as never before.

But there were consequences, of course. Chief among them was the resurgence of al Qaeda and the creation of ISIS, which had its origins in those highly effective “schools” for radicalization: the American military prison camps in Iraq, with their “strenuous interrogations” (as at Abu Ghraib) and their massive sweeps gathering in thousands of innocent people and letting them languish. Syria cracked further under the strain of dealing with millions of Iraqi refugees and continuing drought. Protests arose, response was harsh, and suddenly the country was awash with money and weapons for a full-scale revolt, with thousands of fighters from the global jihad network flooding in. ISIS gained strength in Syria then moved against Iraq.

The United States deliberately refrained from helping Iraq stop ISIS in this early period; Obama openly told Tom Friedman in an interview that the US held back because it wanted to put pressure on Iraq to get rid of its prime minister, a longtime US ally who had become insufficiently obedient. [The actual quote: "The reason, the president added, 'that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.'"]

So ISIS rolled across Syria and Iraq, capturing oil fields and huge weapons caches, spreading terror and repression with its Saudi-style extremism. When the Iraqis finally obeyed Washington and changed its government — with ISIS not far from Baghdad — then the United States intervened. But only in Iraq; it was content for ISIS to keep raging and growing in Syria, where the US was directly intervening with arms and training for the rebels. Most of the weapons ended up in the hands of the extremist groups who had come to lead the revolt, with the stated hope of establishing extremist sectarian rule in Syria.

And on it goes. ISIS began striking in the West (or claiming to be behind every act of violence perpetrated by a Muslim in the West). The aforementioned ultimate response to terrorism — military escalation — followed, with the US and France and Britain finally attacking ISIS directly in Syria, not just Iraq. The United States was now fighting alongside al Qaeda, as an email from a top aide to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton clearly stated in 2012: “AQ is on our side in Syria.” Russia, citing the need to fight terrorism, also intervened, on the side of the Syrian government. Turkey intervened. The Kurds, who’d borne much of the brunt of the ISIS surge, intervened The country was (and is) being raked over by dozens of armed groups and standing armies, and the most powerful air forces in the world.

Yet people continue to think there will be no consequences from this maelstrom of violently clashing geopolitical interests, sectarian strife and human despair – not just in Syria but across the globe, in all the lands being shaken and shattered by the “War on Terror” and its reverberations. “Where are these refugees coming from? Why should they flee their homes? Why are people being radicalized? Why do they hate us? Why do they [or rather, an extremely small number of them] attack us? Can’t they see we are good? Our president won a Nobel Peace Prize; he’s cool and competent and rational and scandal-free; surely the policies he’s pursued — and continued from his predecessor — must be the right thing to do! Why is all this happening?”

Again, this is essentially the level of understanding one sees across the board in the political and media establishments, and in the public at large. Of course, once Trump takes power, liberals and progressives might again start to see how dangerous and pernicious our policies are and how the principles of blowback — which they now loudly point to in the killing of the Russian ambassador — also apply to us. Or perhaps even this belated understanding (which will be temporary in any case, lasting only until a Democrat is in the Oval Office again) is too much to hope for. Given the present hysterical atmosphere, progressives may well just blame Putin (and his “puppet,” Trump) for everything that happens, and make no effort at all to see the reality of what our own bipartisan policies have wrought: a future of strife, fear, strain, division, insecurity and unfreedom for our own children and the rest of the world.

There is no chance whatsoever that the cack-handed cretins and bloated billionaires Trump is bringing to power will approach this situation with any wisdom or understanding. Of course, there is an outside chance that the kakistocracy will be pulling itself in so many different directions that its Terror War machinations might not be as efficient or rapid as they have been under Bush and Obama and would have been under Clinton. (And none of these worthies have shown any wisdom and understanding either; they’ve all kept implementing or touting the same deadly intervention-blowback cycle.) But make no mistake; Trump and his Whole Sick Crew share the dominion agenda that has held iron sway in Washington since the end of the Second World War. And they are even more unrestrained in their dedication to authoritarianism, demonization and militarization.

Meanwhile, our media continue to manufacture the cloud of unknowing that engulfs us, perpetuating the myth of the greatness of our goodness with their contextless sensationalism in slavering pursuit of ratings and profits, their historical amnesia (even of events within the past few years, or months), the baseless credence they perpetually show to every anonymous emission from the security services or “top officials.” Thus in the space of a few months, al Qaeda goes from being one of the most evil organizations in history to a brave band of Syrian freedom fighters (as noted here earlier this week). Except, of course, when they are not relevant to the geopolitical agenda in this or that particular area at this or that particular time: say, in Libya or Somalia at the moment, or Egypt, or Europe, where they can still be portrayed as evil incarnate. The global jihad movement that the United States actively fostered under Presidents Carter and Reagan in Afghanistan has since splintered into various factions and new groupings beyond any central control; but these factions and groupings are still being used — either overtly or covertly, wittingly or unwittingly — by Western governments to advance amoral geopolitical goals of political dominance and economic profit whenever necessary.

This is what we have been doing in the Middle East and elsewhere for many years, for decades. This is what Bush actually did, this is what Obama has actually been doing, this is what Trump will do. These are the policies, these are the goals. It is demonstrably untrue that these policies are being carried out to advance the cause of human freedom or democracy or even “national security.” These policies have demonstrably made Western nations less secure. Western nations have demonstrably allied themselves with viciously repressive sectarian regimes like Saudi Arabia, with brutal authoritarians like Mubarak and Sisi (and Saddam Hussein for many years). Western nations have demonstrably allied with and/or used as proxies some of the most repellent, freedom-hating sectarian groups on earth. Western nations have demonstrably destroyed society after society in the strategic oil regions, creating hellstorms of chaos where extremists thrive while millions of innocent people are driven from their homes.

Without a clearer understanding of these realities and facts, there will be no change. Liberals and progressives will go on hash-tagging the name of the latest atrocity site. They’ll go on supporting candidates who support the Terror War, who repeat the deadly corrosive myth that “America is great because America is good” — regardless of America’s actual actions in the world and their actual consequences. They’ll go on believing the ever-changing storylines in the “serious” media, where al Qaeda and related extremists shape-shift back and forth from freedom fighters to evil demons and back to freedom fighters again. They will keep failing to emulate the bravery of dissidents they laud in other lands down through history — women and men who stared the evils of their own systems in the face and refused to look away, to rationalize or succumb to the barrage of myths and propaganda meant to silence them. And nothing will change.

No wait, that’s not true. Something will change. In fact, as we can see before our very eyes with each passing day, everything will change, is already changing — for the worse.

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An al Qaeda Christmas: The Touching Tale of How Hate Figures Became American Heroes

Written by Chris Floyd 19 December 2016 11516 Hits

You’re al Qaeda. You’re being supported by the United States in your jihad to impose extremist rule on Syria, but you still have a PR problem; too many people remember all that unpleasant business from so long ago when you blew up a few buildings in the US. What can you do?

Well, first you change the name of your Syrian branch two or three times. You make sure your spokesmen — who actually get respectfully quoted in the US media! — say moderate things in English but speak with genocidal sectarian fury in Arabic. So far, so good. But what if your new US media buddies actually got a peek at how you operate on the ground in Syria — cutting off heads, hoarding food aid, colluding with ISIS, slaughtering religious minorities, oppressing women, etc.? That’s easy: you simply make the zones you control so dangerous for reporters — killing them, kidnapping them, etc. — that they don’t go there anymore. Instead, they “report” on your activities from far away, relying on you to provide their information, telling the story you want told.

And presto chango, that’s how those who murdered Americans have become America’s newest heroes, the brave defenders of freedom in Syria. What’s more, anyone who dares point out the true nature of your organization, and how you operate, are now denounced as apologists for the loathsome Asad regime, or as Putin-lovers, even as traitors! Think of it; just a few years ago, you were the most reviled and hated group Americans had ever known — and now Americans across the media and political spectrum hail you as heroes and defend you from all attacks!

Sure, you’ve lost your foothold in Aleppo, where for years you systematically persecuted people and forcibly prevented them from leaving. But America’s still got your back, AQ! Even when you attack relief convoys in an attempt to scuttle a peace deal that would allow anyone who wants to leave East Aleppo to go free, the American media will fudge the headlines so no one will know that it was you who did the deed.

[And hey, let’s not forget what America’s been doing for you in Yemen! Remember how the Houthis had you on the ropes, nearly ridding the country of your presence — and then the Americans stepped in with their Saudi allies, bombing the holy hell out of the place, choking off food and medicine supplies, destroying the infrastructure for basic survival, killing thousands of civilians and putting millions of people at dire risk of starvation! And suddenly you were back, making great gains, stronger than ever! You simply couldn’t ask for a better friend, could you?]

So buck up, AQ! With the full weight of the American media and political establishment behind you, no doubt there are still great days ahead! In fact, the president has just made it easier for you guys to get even more American weapons so you can carry on your noble quest! It’s just our way of saying Merry Christmas!

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Subversion Blues: Chasing Will-o’-the-wisps While the Junta Gathers Force

Written by Chris Floyd 17 December 2016 10685 Hits

Here’s yet another oddity about our absurd political reality: the news cycle is being consumed with stories about an ongoing effort to undermine our democracy by revealing an ongoing effort to undermine our democracy.

Lest we forget, the current “Kremlin rigs US election” scandal is centred on the emails of Clinton campaign poobah John Podesta, which were obtained and released by WikiLeaks. These emails showed the Clinton campaign's systematic collusion with the Democratic National Collusion to skew the nominating process in her favor with various bits of Nixonian skullduggery (including massive, and successful, efforts to manipulate and co-opt the media into marginalizing, mocking and undermining Sanders' candidacy). Thus Democratic primary voters were not dealing with a level playing field, but one which had been altered in a bid to "rig" the nomination and undermine party democracy. (It also led to the selection of a candidate who, as shown in poll after poll, would struggle to defeat Trump.)

Now, it can be argued that Clinton would have won the nomination anyway; after all, it can't be shown definitively that Sanders would have won without this Clinton-DNC effort to undermine democracy. But equally, it can't be shown definitively that Trump would not have won his Electoral College victory but for the release of the Podesta emails. For lest we forget again, the Podesta emails were NOT the government emails that Clinton was being investigated for throughout most of the campaign and which, thanks to the FBI's effort to undermine our democracy, were a big factor at the very end. Very few voters were likely swayed to vote for Trump by the Podesta revelations about the Democrats’ internal machinations. The fact that Clinton won the popular vote, by an increasingly decisive margin, shows that the revelations didn't hurt her in any substantial way. In order to support the extravagant claims being made for the "devastating" effect of the Podesta emails, you would have to prove that they swayed those 80,000-100,000 Rust Belt voters who actually decided the EC result. I have not seen a single analysis that does this.

In any case, as I’ve said many times before and will keep on saying, if the Podesta emails have revealed a straightforward campaign going about its business, there would have been no scandal, no effect at all from hacking them. If the Russians did it, or Trump did it, or some other nefarious anti-Clinton forces did it, they would have gained no benefit whatsoever from the hacking. It is the content of the emails that made them controversial (to the extent they were; as I said, they didn’t stop Clinton from winning the popular vote).

Clinton lost the Electoral College for one main reason: her campaign made the deliberate decision to ignore traditional Democratic voters in the Rust Belt in favor of pursuing “suburban Republican voters” in key swing states. This was an open, publicly stated strategy of the campaign. But in turn, this strategy meant that the Democrats could not amass a margin great enough to overcome the true undermining of democracy in the 2016 election: the open, “lawful” vote-suppression tactics in states controlled by Republicans. These laws — which the Democrats feebly opposed, if at all — meant that the party started the election with a deficit of hundreds of thousands of votes in those states. Any analysis of political reality — as opposed to well-paid Beltway technocratic tomfoolery — would have shown that Clinton needed to put extra effort into those states; her campaign should have poured more money and resources into them, crafted and vigorously promoted policies designed to address Rust Belt issues and spent weeks of her own time touring those states over and over. Instead, her campaign experts did the exact opposite. They starved those states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, of funds, resources and the candidate’s presence.

I’ll say it again: there WAS a systematic undermining of democracy in 2016. It was carried out in some part by the Clinton camp’s collusion with the DNC and, on a much larger and decisive scale, by the years-long GOP vote suppression campaign. But instead of attending to these genuine — and open — subversions of democracy, our political-media class are chasing Kremlin will-o'-the-wisps that will never be nailed down … even as Trump assembles an earth-raping, liberty-stripping, treasury-beggaring, hate-mongering junta the likes of which this nation has never seen. All the time and energy that could have been spent building a broad front of resistance has now been wasted. Trump will go on his merry way, despoiling and destroying, while Democrats keep stamping their feet and crying, "Putin did it! Putin did it! It's not fair!" And the darkness grows deeper.

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Scoundrel Time: Lessons in Patriotism and Journalism from a Master

Written by Chris Floyd 15 December 2016 10494 Hits

I had a short exchange on Twitter this evening with a national journalist of some note: Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek. In this brief encounter, I learned a remarkable fact: no one can criticize the CIA in any way — unless you actually work for the CIA! And here I thought the purpose of journalism was to, you know, serve as watchdog on government, “speak truth to power,” question, probe, dig for facts and that kind of thing. But nope, that’s not it at all. It turns out only those in power have the right to question, uh, those in power. Everyone else should “go crawl off and watch cartoons” and let the “adults” in power do their work. I have been in journalism, directly and tangentially, for 39 years, but I must admit that I never learned this secret until now. No wonder I never made it to Newsweek!

It began when I replied to a tweet by Eichenwald, questioning his use of the word “misinformation” for information that was actually true, whatever the source of the information might be. I also sought to ascertain the degree of credence he will give to the CIA in the interesting new political arrangement we are about to experience after Jan. 20. I thought I spoke — as is always my wont — with sweet reason. But Mr. Eichenwald seemed to suffer some sort of deep emotional wound from my comments and responded accordingly. Here is the exchange:

Kurt Eichenwald ‏@kurteichenwald
As a reporter, I say this: If reporters say they were not responsible for aiding a Russian disinformation campaign, they are ignorant fools.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@kurteichenwald Whatever their provenance, the emails revealed actual facts. They weren't 'misinformation.'

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@kurteichenwald And if the emails had revealed a straightforward campaign working honestly for its candidate? No scandal, no story.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@kurteichenwald Instead they revealed collusion between 'Brooklyn' and the DNC to skew the nominating process. That was the story.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@kurteichenwald By the way; when the CIA comes to terms w/Trump, which will certainly happen, will you still take their word as gospel?

Cameth swiftly the reply — or replies — from the man his own self:

Kurt Eichenwald ‏@kurteichenwald
@empireburlesque CIA analysts? Yes. Politicians who present the analysis, including those at top? No.

Kurt Eichenwald ‏@kurteichenwald
@empireburlesque Analysts could get a lot more money and a lot more freedom elsewhere. They sacrifice it for belief in duty. And then ...

Kurt Eichenwald ‏@kurteichenwald
@empireburlesque ...ppl like u who have never met one sneers in contempt at people who have more patriotism in their pinky than u do in body

Kurt Eichenwald ‏@kurteichenwald
@empireburlesque ...so when u work in a building that has scores of stars in the front for all of the ppl who anonymously lost their lives..

Kurt Eichenwald ‏@kurteichenwald
@empireburlesque ...in service of this country, u can come back & talk. Until then, go crawl off to watch cartoons. Adults have work to do.

To which I replied:

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@kurteichenwald You are a funny little fellow. I make a point on the authenticity of the emails & their contents, not their provenance, and

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@kurteichenwald you respond with a raging twittersputter full of personal insults and chest-beating holier-than-thou 'patriotism.' That's

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@kurteichenwald not a reply, that's a hissy fit. And I'm the one who's supposed to grow up. Again: a fact that's true isn't "misinformation"

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@kurteichenwald however dodgy its provenance might be. I'm sorry if pointing this out makes me unworthy of the protection of the CIA.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@kurteichenwald But then, facts are stupid things, as another great super-duper patriot once said. Personal insults are always better.

I decided to end the conversation at that point. I suppose I could have made more hay of his astonishing view that the CIA cannot be criticized by any outsider, because we are all pathetic, worthless, cartoon-watching children compared to the heroes of Langley. I could have queried his bold riposte that while he would never question the work of CIA analysts, he would always suspect the politicians who present the analysis. Does this include, er, the politicians who are at this moment presenting the CIA analysis? I might also have recalled Samuel Johnson’s old saw about patriotism being the last refuge of a scoundrel. But I figured the reply, if any, would have been along the same bellicose, belittling, non-responsive lines.

But the important thing is that I learned a lesson in the art of Higher Journalism from one of its noted practitioners. I also learned the true meaning of patriotism: keep your stupid mouth shut and swallow whatever you’re told by your betters. And that’s a lesson for us all, isn’t it? Something we can pass on to our children and grandchildren. Thanks, Kurt!

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Message From the Future: Your Acceptance of Evil Has Condemned Us All

Written by Chris Floyd 12 December 2016 10129 Hits

Sometime in December 2016, a strange transmission began bleeding through, ghost-like, on various computers around the world. It would suddenly appear for a few flickering moments while people watched movies or shopped on-line or looked at social media, then it would fade away. It purported to be “a message from the future” and showed an aged man who claimed he was a “chrono-quantum technician” whose work had been banned by the authorities “to prevent me from doing exactly what I am doing now, at long last — sending a warning to our ancestors.” The message was brief, but it was usually badly garbled by visual and aural static; it took weeks to compile, through crowd-sourcing, the full text. For what it’s worth, the message — minus the brief intro — is presented below.

You are taking a path into darkness. It began years ago, with your acceptance of crimes and inhuman practices on a vast scale. In the late 20th century, your leaders once confessed on national television that they had killed 500,000 innocent children with death-dealing sanctions — then declared this atrocious massacre was “worth it.” Yet there was no outcry, no outrage, no uprising, not even a peep of protest. Indeed, the leader who carried out this massive slaughter of innocent children ended his reign at new heights of popularity and forever after was considered a beloved elder statesman. Your next leader lied brazenly to start a war that killed a million innocent people and led directly to decades of murderous instability in numerous countries. He too ended his days in wealth and comfort and public regard. Your next leader refused to prosecute the crimes of aggression and torture openly committed by his predecessor; instead, he continued his practices, enshrining many of the heinous practices into settled law, waging undeclared war in more than half a dozen countries and personally signing off on extrajudicial murders every week of his reign. By this time, the moral degradation of the people was so complete — they had countenanced, cheered or ignored so many crimes and so much corruption on so many levels — that they easily fell prey to a voracious, half-crazed demagogue and the forces of fascism, feudalism and lawless rule that he brought into power. This was the nominal end of your democracy, but it was already deeply rotted from within — rotted by your years of turning a blind eye to monstrous crimes committed in your name by both factions in your power structure.

Because of your shameful acquiescence, your shallow understanding of the forces that ruled you and used you and manipulated you, your bedazzlement by public image, your astonishing credulity at the transparent lies and hollow, sinister pieties you were fed, we, your descendants, have lived in squalor, rancor, violence and despair all our lives, for generations. There is no hope for us unless you abandon your slavish ignorance, your adherence to partisan fantasies about the factions of the power structure that rules you, and rise up to overthrow it. Bring fearless clarity to bear on the reality of what you have accepted. The murder of 500,000 children. The millions murdered in the wars you started and the wars bred by your wars. Assassination. Torture. Dehumanization and demonization of your fellow human beings, both at home and abroad.

It is your acceptance of these things that has brought you to the final turning point represented by a berserk demagogue’s rise to power. Now there is nothing left for you to do but resist: resist with all your might, with every means at your disposal — but always, always, with the full knowledge of how you came to this place, and your own connivance and collusion in this descent. Keep this in mind as you fight, so that it doesn’t happen again. You are not exceptional, you are not plucked out by God for special favor: you are human beings like all the rest, and like so many human beings in so many societies down through the ages, you have failed to look your own evil in the eye, you have failed to confront and condemn acts that make you shudder with horror when you hear of them committed by  other nations.

Own this knowledge — this terrible, tragic knowledge — and let it guide as you fight the putrescence that past crimes have now brought gushing forth, and as you build something better in the aftermath. Otherwise, you are lost, and we are lost, the world itself is lost.

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In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists

Written by Chris Floyd 06 December 2016 10217 Hits

(UPDATED)

Michael Flynn Jr. is – or WAS, until an hour or so ago – a member of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team. He also serves as chief of staff for his father, Michael Flynn Sr., who has been picked by Trump to be his National Security Advisor. Michael Flynn Jr. is also running a child sex ring in Trump Tower with Nazis and Klan members coordinated through secret codes published in stories on the Breitbart website. Or so I hear. If that’s not true – if Michael Flynn Jr. really isn’t a child abusing Nazi pimp, then it is up to HIM to prove he isn’t. Otherwise, this claim — for which there is no evidence, by the way — will “remain a story.”

This is according to Flynn’s own logic, and that of Trump, his child-abusing pimp of a former boss. (If Trump ISN’T a child-abusing pimp, he must PROVE it, even though there is no evidence that he is). For Flynn — a top advisor to the top advisor to the incoming President of the United States - says he will continue to push the story that Hillary Clinton is running a child sex ring out of a DC pizza parlor until the story is “proven false.”

However, a quick look at the cesspool that is Flynn’s Twitter feed (and the even more ghastly shithole of his account on GAB, where nazi perverts gather in a circle jerk of bile pumping) shows that any evidence offered to disprove the entirely specious “Pizzagate” story is immediately rejected by Flynn and his ilk as “false flags” or “leftist propaganda” or “MSM deceit”, etc. etc. There is, in fact, no way on earth for anyone to “prove” the falsity of the story to Flynn’s satisfaction. Until, of course, Daddy and Trump the child-abusing pimp (if it's not true, PROVE it!) decided Junior was bringing too much media heat and ashcanned him from the transition.

But little Flynn's twitterstorm is in keeping with the Trump Truth doctrine, which holds that you can make any outrageous claim you like without the slightest bit of evidence to back it up — and it’s up to other people to prove that your specious bullshit is not true. This is how Trump injected the poison story of “millions of illegal voters” into the public discourse, forcing people to spend many hours and much energy refuting this bullshit — even as “respectable Republicans” like Mike Pence and Paul Ryan (yes, I know, we are already forty fathoms deep in a sea of toxic sludge when cranks and grifters like Pence and Ryan pass for “respectable” anythings) embrace this outright lie or see no reason to refute it. Why should they? They’ve got power now and intend to hold it by hook or crook, and to wield it to push their own aggrandizement, their racist prejudices, their psychosexual prejudices and their extremist, anti-human ideologies.

But to paraphrase another prime purveyor of baseless bullshit, Donald Rumsfeld, you go to war against oligarchs and fascists with the weapons you have, not the ones you wish you had. So I say let’s pick up the weapon of the Trump Truth doctrine and use it against the scum who have risen to the top of the swamp water. Let Trump and Flynn and little tiny-pants Flynn Jr fight a barrage of bullshit stories about them and their kind — even as we keep telling the truth about who they are and what they are doing. (Just as we’ve been doing with all the crimes of the Obama years.)

Because make no mistake: these fascists, these racists, these witless goobers and giddy slobberers with a child sex fixation will not be satisfied until the objects of their hate fantasies — i.e., anyone who is not a slobbering witless racist — are being attacked in the streets by “patriots” and police. They want lynch mobs, they want repression, they want violence – and they are determined to get it. And they are about to have the resources of the most powerful state in the history of the world in their tiny-fingered hands.

So in addition to all the various solid works of resistance — best exemplified by the water protectors at Standing Rock (but also by anyone who kicks a fascist in the nuts and makes him howl) — let’s keep a steady barrage of bullshit blowing back into the faces of these filth-peddlers.

P.S. Here’s a brief exercise in bullshit-blowback I carried out recently with little teeny tiny Flynn Junior:

Michael G Flynn
Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story. The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many "coincidences" tied to it.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@mflynnJR Until "Trump rapes 13-year-old" is proven false, it remains a story. Ask your dad to look into it, junior.

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@mflynnJR All those pushing #Pizzagate are child abusers trying to divert focus from their own crimes. Until proven false, it's a story!

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@mflynnJR Just checked out your GAB bile. Man, you are one sick racist child abuser. (Until you prove you're not, it remains a story.)

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@mflynnJR Hey Flynn? Is GAB where all the child abusers like you (until you prove you aren't, it's a story) go to ply their sickness?

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@mflynnJR "Trump, Flynn and Flynn Jr are running a child sex ring out of Trump Tower." Until they prove they're not, it remains a story!

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@mflynnJR I hear Flynn Jr runs a child sex ring with Nazis. Until he PROVES he's NOT, it remains a story! That's how it works, right, Mikey?

UPDATE: A few more flytes at Flynn, post-ashcanning:

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@mflynnJR "Source: FBI to probe Flynn/Trump child sex ring." Until proven to be false, it remains a story!

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@mflynnJR "Stories of Flynn/Trump child sex ring prompt sudden firing." Until proven to be false, it remains a story!

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@mflynnJR "Trump canned Flynn Jr to quash Trump Team child sex ring scandal." Until it's proven false, it remains a story!

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@mflynnJR "Mikey Flynn Jr Flees Pizzagate scandal; holed up in crack house with child porn." Until it's proven false, it remains a story!

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Will You Be Free: The Bitter Fruits of War's Harvest

Written by Chris Floyd 05 December 2016 9633 Hits

"When the fear comes around again
And they call for troops to send
To some new war across the sea
Will you be free?"

Recorded 11 years ago -- and the fears keep coming, the troops keep going, new wars keep raging -- and we ain't free.

(From the album Wheel of Heaven. Song produced and music played by Nick Kulukundis. Vocals, lyrics: CF.)

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Tweeter & the Monkey Man: Conversations with the President-Elect

Written by Chris Floyd 29 November 2016 10484 Hits

A further installment of the ongoing political science series, “My Conversations With the President-Elect.”

Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump
@jeffzeleny what PROOF do u have DonaldTrump did not suffer from millions of FRAUD votes? Journalist? Do your job! @CNN

Chris Floyd @empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump What proof do you have that aliens did not replace DonaldTrump's brain with a jar of pickles? If it didn't happen, PROVE IT!

Chris Floyd ‏@empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump What PROOF do u have DonaldTrump did not suffer brain damage leading to millions of DUMBSHIT tweets? Prove it, loser!

Chris Floyd @empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump #WeakLoserTrump already cracking under pressure. Can't take the heat. Ranting like Hitler in the bunker. Sad! Pathetic!

Chris Floyd @empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump #WeakLoserTrump wetting his pants over a little criticism. Can't take it. Cries like a baby. Scared of the job. Shameful.

Chris Floyd @empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump #WeakLoserTrump having a breakdown. #WetPantsTrump not up to the job. Crying & whining. Cowering & quivering. What a goon!

***

Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump
There is NO QUESTION THAT #voterfraud did take place, and in favor of #CorruptHillary !"

Chris Floyd @empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump Prove it, loser. Prove it, crybaby. Prove it, snowflake. Prove it, blowhard. Prove it, coward. Prove it, clownface.

***
Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump
Just met with General Petraeus--was very impressed!

Chris Floyd @empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump Did you ask him about sharing classified material w/ his mistress? Or did you just want to know how hot she was? Creep!

***
Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump
@CNN is so embarrassed by their total  (100%) support of Hillary Clinton, and yet her loss in a landslide, that they don't know what to do.

Chris Floyd @empireburlesque
@realDonaldTrump If CNN 100% HRC, why'd they hire your errand boy Corey and let him spout your BS day after day? Trump rigs media!

***
AN ADDENDUM: CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE VICE-PRESIDENT-ELECT

Mike Pence ‏@mike_pence Nov 26
The tyrant #Castro is dead. New hope dawns. We will stand with the oppressed Cuban people for a free and democratic Cuba. Viva Cuba Libre!

Chris Floyd @empireburlesque
@mike_pence Bold talk for a man in office despite LOSING the vote of the American people. Why don't YOU resign, you undemocratic tyrant?

 

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Smear-Mongering: A Mea Culpa for the Age of McCarthyism 2.0

Written by Chris Floyd 25 November 2016 10925 Hits

OK, I guess I’d better come clean. It seems that I must be a paid agent of the Kremlin. After all, I write for CounterPunch Magazine — for money! I used to write regularly for Truthout.org — for money! I’ve contributed articles to the Baltimore Gazette. I’ve often quoted and linked to stories from the Black Agenda Report. I’ve regularly quoted and linked to articles by prize-winning AP/Newsweek reporter Robert Parry for years. According to the Washington Post, all of this makes me either a paid Kremlin propagandist or a Kremlin dupe. There is no other alternative.

And who says this? A collection of completely anonymous “experts” from a group no one has ever heard of until it materialized for the Post article. The group, PropOrNot, put out a list of publications and websites that are “outlets for Russian propaganda,” a list that included all the venues named above, as well as several others which have been long-time critics of various aspects of American foreign policy. These were all mixed in with obvious propaganda mills and clickbait factories (of whatever provenance).

The story is a smear piece just like Tailgunner Joe and Roy Cohn used to make. It makes a direct equation between dissent and treason, using the crudest, stupidest kind of cod-reasoning: if you have criticized a policy or action that Vladimir Putin has also criticized at some point (even if the reasons for your critique might differ wildly from his), then you are automatically a Russian agent or a “useful idiot.” That’s it. That’s the sole binary in our political world, according to new McCarthyism: either you must accept everything the US government says and does at face value, believe it implicitly and support it whole-heartedly, or else you’re a traitor acting on behalf of the Russkies — or you might as well be.

I remember this asinine stance from the old days, when anyone who opposed the Vietnam War was a commie, when Martin Luther King was obviously motivated solely by Kremlin gold to get the darkies all stirred up. You’d think that our modern progressives would be ashamed to push this ugly line — yet they seem to be its greatest enthusiasts. And so here we are again, in the 21st century — after COINTELPRO, the Church Commission, Iran-Contra, the Iraq War lies, etc. etc., etc.: if you dare question Washington’s line, you must be a traitor, or a fool who cannot possibly think for himself or herself without being spoon-fed by Moscow.

Oddly enough, there is only one kind of critic of US foreign policy that is not regarded as a Kremlin agent: those who criticize Washington for not being even more bloodthirsty and aggressive in its foreign policy. Those kind of outlets never land on our new McCarthyite lists. And here’s another odd fact: PropORNot’s list of those who peddle “fake news” doesn't include Breitbart.com, which is one of the master bullshit purveyors of the age.

Oh well, I’m just glad the Washington Post was a bit more skeptical toward state power during the Watergate era. (Today it would be: “Where did you get this fake news crap about the President and a ‘cover-up,’ Bernstein? Russian agents? What are you, some kind of commie?”) And I guess we can take comfort in the fact that in just a few weeks, it’ll be OK for progressives to be critical of American policy again, once it’s in the hands of Donald Trump.

But what’s going to happen to commie traitor pinko nogoodniks like me? If I write just as scathingly of Trump’s drone wars, deaths squads, covert ops, subversions and White House death squads as I have of Obama’s (and Bush’s), will my flow of Kremlin gold be cut off? I mean, it’s not like ANYONE can ever have a consistent, considered opposition to certain policies and actions no matter who commits them, right? And OMG — what if Putin finds about my critiques of his own brutal policies and actions? Whose list will I end up on then? It's all so confusing! But fortunately, we have the Washington Post and its anonymous experts to guide us through the modern McCarthyite morass.

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Hercules and the Goose: The Pernicious Progressive Appeals to National “Values”

Written by Chris Floyd 24 November 2016 11229 Hits

This article has been making the rounds in UK political circles. It’s a piece from Politics.co.uk by Chaminda Jayanetti: Britain will betray itself for Trump’s coins of silver. British values are being forgotten in the hunt for trade deals.”  I must say, when I read such formulations, my guard goes up immediately.

“British values are being forgotten?” Um, which British values are being forgotten, even “betrayed”? The values displayed in Iraq? The values displayed in Yemen? The values displayed in years of austerity budgets, endorsed by the electorate in 2015? The values displayed in Brexit? The values displayed in decades of arms deals and war profiteering? The values displayed in the revolving door between corporate power and government service, year after year after year, guaranteeing contracts and sweetheart deals for some of the most avaricious, amoral firms on the planet? Which "values," precisely, will be "betrayed" when UK elites cozy up to Trump?

When can we do away with these childish categories at last – "British values," "American values," etc.? In every case, “American values” or “British values” are those values that WE value; any manifestation of other values are dismissed as “un-British” or “un-American” — even if those other values are pervasive and ascendant in our societies for decades at a time. Are some things wrong, or not? Is Trump-style corruption, moral and ethical, wrong, or not? Is toadying up to such degradation wrong, or not? Is aggressive war, as in Iraq, wrong or not? If something is wrong, in itself, what does it matter if it “betrays” someone’s selective idea of what a nation’s “values” might be?

I understand the use of such language as a propaganda tool. I used it myself back in the Bush years — “Aggressive war violates American values; true patriots would oppose this outrage” — as a way to get “ordinary people” to listen to anti-war arguments they might otherwise dismiss. But I’ve come to see over the years that such approaches are useless. These appeals to “patriotism” and “British or American values” are meaningless, because everyone defines these values for themselves. They also bolster the whole idea of “exceptionalism” and moral exclusiveness inherent in the concept of patriotism: “Don’t support the Iraq war (or X or Y); that’s not our values, we’re better than that, we have an inherent goodness that is being ‘betrayed’ by this action.”  Thus we whitewash a multitude of other sins committed by our governments — or embedded in our society. “Oh, it’s only this that ‘betrays’ our inherent goodness, is it?” In response, a good liberal will say, “oh no, we have many other problems — racism, sexism, oppression, economic injustice, supporting tyrants, etc. But deep down we are a good people, with inherent national values that our leaders are betraying by doing X or Y.”  

But even more important is the indisputable fact that in the realm of politics and power, ideas of what constitutes a nation’s “values” can change — reversing polarity almost immediately — once “our” party gets into power. The Obama years provide a stark and painful example of this. Drones, renditions, assassinations (state murder), covert ops, subversion of other nations, supporting coups, mass surveillance, mass deportations, coddling Big Business, off-shore oil drilling, support for Israeli assaults on Gaza, militarizing the police, etc. — so many actions that so many good liberals considered immoral, un-American outrages when Bush was doing them — suddenly became entirely defensible, even noble, when Obama did them. And guess what? Those same liberals will suddenly find these things outrageous once again after January 20, when Trump starts doing them.

You can take other tacks, of course: you can try to convince people that this or that action is wrong or evil or counterproductive on all kinds of grounds. You can appeal to universal, higher-order concepts (morality, decency, etc.) or to realpolitik concerns (this policy is politically unsustainable or will cost more than it's worth, etc.) or even naked self-interest (“if we keep doing X, you’ll end up out of a job/getting killed/poorer/less free,” etc). But the appeal to a nation’s “values” is pointless and even pernicious, I’ve come to think. We create our values by our actions — by what we do, what we countenance, what we resist or protest against. And at any given time, millions of people in a nation will be creating and manifesting a myriad of values — many of them conflicting, some of them overlapping, some of them contradicting, going back and forth in an endless, mixing flow. This is true of us as individuals — and even more true when considering the vast collections of individuals we call nations.

So what is the basis of these “British values” Jayanetti talks of? He writes: “Like the pathetic servile courtiers of a naked king, we prostrate ourselves in the hope of a decimal point of GDP's worth of patronage while ignoring the monstrosities that lie in full sight.” When have UK elites not ignored “monstrosities that lie in full sight” in pursuit of profit and power for themselves? Has he not heard of the slave trade? The whole history of British imperialism? (He could read Late Victorian Holocausts by Mike Davis if he'd like more information on this score.) The Iraq War? The US-UK Iraq sanctions that even the US admits killed at least 500,000 children?

One reads such articles and thinks: What are you talking about? What sandbox are you playing in? (And yes, I'm speaking to my younger self as well.) Who in hell are the “former prime ministers” who must be “spinning in their graves” at the idea of Britain cozying up to Trump for a trade deal? The same ones who, throughout Britain’s history, have “ignored monstrosities that lie in full sight” in order to fill the elite’s coffers? And one wonders, in despair: how on god’s earth can we ever hope to move this world to a better place, to at least loosen if not completely remove the elite’s death grip on power, with such childish notions and historical amnesia? How does it help to make these specious appeals to mythological national “values”? It’s like fighting Hercules with a goose feather.

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