Lords of Misrule: UK Elites and the Rise of Global Feudalism

Written by Chris Floyd 30 September 2020 1968 Hits

I darkly suspect that the UK is entering a long winter of discontent and widespread upheaval, which will likely end with the replacement of the hapless opportunist Boris Johnson by someone even worse: the hardcore, inhumane, hard-right true believer Michael Gove, with the equally inhumane, sinister crank Dom Cummings still running the show. (Cummings, remember, has long been Gove's man, not Johnson's.) Together they will use the chaos and suffering to keep pushing their brutal agenda of "disruption" and "reform" to destroy the ability of government to act for the greater common good. Instead they will continue turning over its functions to cronies in the private sector, who will drain the Treasury in corrupt deals while providing degraded services – or none at all – as we have seen in almost every case of "privatisation" over the past decades and especially during the pandemic.

Gove and Cummings are part of a broader rightwing movement across the world, which has for decades been funded with unimaginable amounts of money (almost always "dark money," hidden and laundered through cut-outs). These extremist ideologues believe that government has only one legitimate function: enhancing the power and privilege of an elite that rules by the "right" of its inherent superiority: either its "superior genes" (as Trump – and Cummings' lordly father-in-law – openly say) or a putative in-born "superior intellect" (as Dom postulates, ludicrously including himself among that number). Money is the main signifier of inherent worth in this barbaric belief system; and being unaccountable to the laws and regulations that restrict the grubby rabble is one of the chief privileges of the elect.

In essence, it's a form of high-tech feudalism, where baronal power centers (oligiarchs, corporations) hold sway over weak and nominal national governments. If you read what the right-wing think tanks (often American in origin) with which Gove and Cummings have long been associated are ACTUALLY saying in the dense, dull prose of their innumerable "policy papers," you'll see that this characterization of their ideology and their aims is no exaggeration. It's an ancient evil – brutal, rapacious rule by unaccountable elites – dressed up in modern form and cloaked in the cynical perversion of rhetoric about "rights" and "freedom" and "sovereignty" and "modernization” and “AI,” etc. They are heartless liars in pursuit of loot and power, and they literally, demonstrably, do not care who lives or dies, as long as they get what they want.

Until we recognize this, until we stop treating these radical, death-dealing, society-wrecking extremists as normal politicians working within the system, we cannot effectively confront them and stop their depredations. They will continue to use the system itself to hollow out government and society until there is nothing left but their little clique, sealed in sumptuous fortresses behind masses of armed guards, lording it over the ruins.

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Power not Piety: Trump Foes Falling for False Narrative on SCOTUS Pick

Written by Chris Floyd 27 September 2020 2318 Hits

I see the GOP is successfully manipulating the narrative once again, drawing in even Trump opponents their web of falsehood that paints the Supreme Court pick as a "religious" issue instead of what it is: the installation of a rightwing hack who, having already helped kill one election, will spend decades entrenching the power of rapacious elites.

The objection to Amy Barrett is not that she's a Catholic. This a fake-news trope being drummed up by Trumpists. Joe Biden is a Catholic. There is a Catholic on the Supreme Court appointed by Democrats. The objection is to the legal positions she's advanced during her brief career on the bench, which almost uniformly chip away and strip away the rights of free citizens in favor of Big Money and government power. The other objection is that she, like Justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh, was part of the legal team that worked successfully to overthrow the will of the American people in the 2000 election by stopping the re-count in Florida, which would have given Al Gore the electoral college majority along with the majority of votes from actual voters that he won.

Working first with state officials in Florida -- that is, with governor of the state, George Bush's brother Jeb, and the official directly in charge of elections, Kathleen Harris, who also happened to be the chairman of Bush's Florida campaign operation -- the Roberts-Kavanaugh-Barrett cabal stopped the recount (with the help of a riot staged by GOP staffers who physically invaded public offices and threatened recounters.) This deeply corrupt usurpation of the democratic process was then upheld by a Supreme Court with two justices who had close family members (son, wife) working directly with the Bush campaign.

Now Barrett, having already taken part in the illicit overturning of one election, is being bullrushed onto the Court so she can rule on another election which Republicans are already openly admitting they will contest, no matter how badly they're defeated at the polls or in the electoral college.

None of this is about religion, or family values or any other hot-button "cultural warfare trope the rightwing hokes up. It's about power: specifically, the power of the elite to hold unaccountable, unregulated sway over American society and its citizens. Barrett, a willing executioner of American democracy in 2000, is being appointed by a man who was not chosen by the majority of voters in 2016 and openly says he will not respect the voters' wishes in 2020 if they vote against him; and she will be confirmed by a Senate "majority" that represents 15 million fewer Americans than the "minority" opposition.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: whatever you want to call the system of power in the United States today, it is not a representative democracy in any sense of the word.

(PS. And if you still think the Democrats will fight any overthrow of the election result by the Republican Party and the GOP-dominated Supreme Court in 2020, see the above reference to the 2000 election. They didn't fight for democracy then and they won't do it now. This is not a pleasant truth, but it is the truth, and we'd better get ready for it.)

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The Surrendered Land: US Institutions Won’t Fight for Democracy

Written by Chris Floyd 26 September 2020 2191 Hits

I follow the novelist A.R. Moxon on Twitter, where his political takes routinely bring genuine insight, wit and moral rigor to the increasing beserkery of our times. But he recently posted an observation, or prediction, that I found I couldn’t agree with, much as I would have liked to. It prompted some thoughts in response that I put up – on Twitter, where else? – not so much in refutation of his point but more as a wider-angle lens on the possibilities that face us in a post-election meltdown. Below are Moxon’s comment and my response, which has been edited and augmented somewhat, since the original was in the terse telegraphese of Twitterspeak.

On Saturday, A.R. Moxon wrote:
For literally millions of us our remaining hope is that the monster is gone in January and I do wonder if Republicans understand how dangerous the desperate fury that will rise up simultaneously all over the country will be, if that hope is thwarted on some cheating ass bullshit. I don’t think Republicans have even seen a riot yet.

My response:
Perhaps. But honestly, who will lead this riot? The Democrats will do nothing but issue a few stern tweets and cry, "Just wait til the midterms!" The media will pen some trembly editorials, then keep broadcasting Trump rants and doing "process" pieces about insider politics in the White House and endless stories on “What do folks in this Ohio diner think about Trump's contentious second term?" 

Obama & Michelle will make some uplifting Netflix shows about hope & unity – while sternly warning people not to "riot" or carry out a general strike: "Engagement, not estrangement: that's the key!" Hollywood/NPR/NYT liberals will follow their lead, while supplying us with lots of clever memes and skits and biting satire about Trump’s comb-over and his ghastly entourage. John Oliver and Trevor Noah and Rachel Maddow will look sternly into the cameras and denounce the latest outrage – then cut to a commercial for some massive corporation raking in ungodly profits from Trump tax cuts and deregulation.

Billionaires like Bezos will keep chasing, and getting, fat government contracts, Facebook of course will be rolling in clover (while continuing to serve as a gargantuan propaganda machine for Trump and fascism). Google and other Silicon Valley giants will keep working on "important partnerships with the government on vital communication and national security issues.” Wall Streeters will keep wallowing in the hot tub. Military contractors will keep practicing their sinister alchemy, transmuting the blood and suffering of human beings into gold.

Meanwhile, those who do take to the streets – in organized actions by unions and other groups or in spontaneous protests – will be beaten, caged, gassed, jailed or shot dead by berserk cops and their militia allies, augmented by DHS goon squads, with the full force of the Justice Department (and federal courts backed with Trumpist hacks) to back up their atrocities.

The god-awful truth is that there are no institutional forces in American life that will stand up to a post-election power grab by Trump. They've already demonstrated this by failing to stand up to his egregious and brazen pre-election power-grabs, and his howlingly obvious, easily impeachable/prosecutable corruption. They have already surrendered, they have already given up on our constitutional democracy, the rule of law, equal justice and the very idea of a greater common good. Our institutions gave up on this long ago, to service the super-rich, the militarist empire & their own comfort and privilege.

So again: where will these riots come from? And if they do arise, how will they be sustained, in the absence of any genuine support from the bastions of civic society, from the political opposition, from any institution on the commanding heights of the system? I desperately hope I'm wrong and we will see a massive outpouring that will overwhelm the tyrant and force our surrendered institutions and political leaders to join with the people or get swept away. I fervently hope this will be the case if (or when) tyranny comes. But at the moment, it is very hard to see this happening.

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Keepers of the Condor: US Role in Evil Network Shown in Soft Light

Written by Chris Floyd 03 September 2020 4509 Hits

Operation Condor: the illegal state network that terrorised South America (Guardian)

Even an otherwise excellent, thorough, damning article on the ghastly horrors of Operation Condor has to paint US involvement in its Nazi-level atrocities in the very best light. The reason the US funded, armed, trained and protected the torture-lords of  murderous rightwing dictatorships was, we're told here, is because poor little American leaders were traumatized by the Cuban Missile Crisis and felt "existentially threatened" by any "leftist" (i.e., non-rightwing) movements in South America.

It was only out of this quaking fear that successive bipartisan US administrations backed the overthrow of free, democratically elected, non-aligned governments across South and Central America, and happily, eagerly participated in a hideous network of murder, torture, kidnapping & trafficking of children. It was only because the most powerful nation in the history of the world, with bristling nukes ringed around the borders of all its adversaries, which was dropping more bombs on one tiny nation that had been used in all of WWII, which was ensconced in riches and economic power beyond anything ever seen in history, was scared that it would be utterly destroyed ("existential threat") unless innocent human beings were thrown out of helicopters into the sea by unaccountable tyrants.

Nothing at all about the documented fact that the US greatly preferred murderous dictatorships south of its border to any free government that even attempted mild reforms of rapacious and unjust economic systems that had looted their people for the benefit of local oligarchs and, above all, US corporations. Forget the “threat” of Cuba-style socialism: even the very notion of mixed economies, modest land reforms, modest social programs along the lines of those of FDR – all of this was to be wiped out in favor of bloated killers and their cronies keeping the loot flowing to the gilded corporate boards back in poor, little, existentially threatened America. And that’s what happened, from the American-backed coup in Guatemala in the 1950s to the Obama administration’s approval of the oligarch coup in Honduras in 2010, which has plunged that nation into a hellhole of gangs and government goons brutalizing the people.

It's the same old story. Even trenchant criticisms of US policy must be couched in terms of benign, mitigating circumstances – as in Ken Burns' Vietnam series, which assures us that all of the US-inflicted horrors in a war that left millions dead were due to "good intentions gone awry." It's remarkable, really: malign intent can be (and is) imputed to every other nation, whose governments are seen as ruthlessly and amorally pursuing the interest of their ruling elites; but the US always, always, acts only out of pure intentions or understandable motives – although sometimes, tragically, our decent, upright elites are sometimes led by their own good intentions into a bit of a mess, through no fault of their own. Yet somehow, they always continue to prosper, no matter how big the "mess" – while millions of innocent people around the world (and today, increasingly, in the US itself) pay the price.

*

ADDENDUM
Again, overall, it's a very good story in detailing the suffering of innocent people under the operation, and it does note that the US was fully aware of all the atrocities being inflicted, and that many of the torturers were trained by the US at the infamous "School of the Americas." But even here, it is quick to emphasize that Operation Condor "was not a US-led operation." No, it was led by dictators like Pinochet who had been installed and maintained in authoritarian power with US support for years on end. But yes, it's true that the US, with admirable magniminity, did allow its satraps to act on their own initiative sometimes – not in anything that might ameliorate the suffering of ordinary people, mind you, but if America's pet dicators wanted to set up a transnational network of murder, torture and child trafficking, that was just fine with Washington ... which, as noted, gave weapons, training, money and full support to the operation, but didn't lead it, oh, my word, no.

But on a separate note and a different issue, the article makes reference to little-known fact that could have great relevance for us today. It's this passage:

"Shortly before I travelled to Chile in March, startling news emerged about a Swiss company that had, for decades, supplied cryptography machines to military, police and spy agencies around the world. The company, the Washington Post revealed, had been secretly owned by the CIA and West Germany’s BND intelligence service. Any messages sent via its cryptography machines could, unbeknownst to the users, be read by the US and West Germany. Among the company’s clients were the regimes in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Uruguay. As the Washington Post put it, the CIA 'was, in effect, supplying rigged communications gear to some of South America’s most brutal regimes and, as a result, in [a] unique position to know the extent of their atrocities'."

Knowing this, any idea that intelligence agencies are not doing the same thing today with web-based cryptography services seems very fanciful.

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The Malevolent Malarkey of Biden's Big "Law and Order" Push

Written by Chris Floyd 02 September 2020 4648 Hits

Biden to Air Nationwide Law-and-Order Ad Condemning Rioters and Looters (NYT)

This is so monumentally, stunningly, agonizingly stupid. Biden is adopting Trump's false narrative about the protests, adopting Trump's language and fighting on Trump's turf, the very issue Trump WANTS to be the focus of the campaign, instead of his own manifold crimes and failures. I can't even process how self-defeating this is. Thousands of Americans are dying needless deaths every week due to Trump's mishandling (and deliberate exacerbation) of the pandemic. Tens of millions are out of work, facing homelessness, ruin and desperation. The Postal Service upon which so many Americans depend is literally being destroyed before our eyes. The rule of law is literally being destroyed before our eyes by a renegade Justice Department run by a nasty thug spreading authoritarian rule for his boss. At every turn, the physical infrastructure and social fabric of the United States is being ripped to shreds, while trillions of dollars are being ripped from the pockets of ordinary citizens and given to corruption-riddled elites. Trump has even publicly promised to destroy the Social Security programme if he is re-elected, threatening every American retiree – now and in the future – with poverty, misery and early death.

THIS is what's actually happening in the country, as a direct result of Trump's policies. No candidate in the history of American politics has ever been given the kind of ammunition Biden has to steamroll his campaign to a huge victory. And what he is doing, at this absolutely crucial time, as the campaign heads into its final few weeks? He's spending $45 million – the biggest outlay of the entire campaign – to adopt Trump's bogus mantra of "law and order" and show he's even tougher than Trump is. He too wants to see every kid who spray-paints "BLM" on a wall prosecuted and sent to prison. He too will use cops, troops, tear gas, armored cars, kidnap vans, rubber bullets and flash grenades on mothers linking arms to protest murder and injustice. And he too will paint an absolutely minuscule number of sporadic incidents of "property damage," in very tiny, concentrated areas of a few cities, as some kind of epidemic of "rioting and looting" – while, exactly like Trump, ignoring that almost every "violent clash" has begun with police forces attacking peaceful protestors.

A week-long, $45 million ad campaign that doesn't even mention the pandemic, doesn't address the actual suffering of actual people from the policies of his opponent: just tough-guy posturing and a few empty bromides about "unity." A whole week blanketing the country with this malarkey, helping Trump keep the focus exactly where he wants it – on the fake news of "cities on fire" – while ignoring the realities of a broken, bleeding nation and its people. It drives one to utter despair. Are they really, actually just going to hand the election to Trump on a platter?

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Show Them the Money: The Respectable Media Enablers of Trump's Monstrous Lies

Written by Chris Floyd 31 August 2020 4911 Hits

Activist Ady Barkan tells top Republican to apologise over doctored video (Guardian)

There is simply no way for any of us to comprehend or adequately prepare for the amount of utterly depraved falsehood that is coming our way in the next two months. It is going to surpass anything that any of us has ever known, anything we can imagine right now. And please remember: almost all of it will be brought to you by some of the most powerful corporations in modern America: the media conglomerates, national and local, who are eagerly taking Trump money to disseminate his arrant, death-dealing lies in his ads; the social networks – Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc – who also gobble up the Trump dollar or else rake in profits by "monetizing" the outpourings of the deranged extremists and organized fascist networks spreading Trumpist filth; the print media, such as the NYT, who continue to pretend we are in some fairly ordinary "horse race" political situation, while slavishly adhering to their cult of "both siderism," which paints a completely false picture of reality when one "side" is actively, openly, gleefully trying to destroy American democracy and literally killing thousands of Americans every week with its deliberate, documented policy of allowing the pandemic to spread. Remember who is actually feeding you these lies, the actual venues through which Trump and his ghastly retinue are poisoning society and destroying our children's future.

And why are these respectable institutions doing this? They just want the money. They don't care that the Trumpists are lying. They just want the money. They don't care that Trump is sending rightwing terrorists into America's streets to kill people and intimidate citizens. They just want the money. They don't care if democracy crumbles, if the rule of law collapses, if millions are made homeless, if hundreds of thousands die from Trump's spread of Covid, if Trump cancels the election or stages a violent coup to stay in power, if the planet itself burns up and dies. They just want the money. Facebook, Google, YouTube, Fox News, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, every network or paper taking money to spread Trump's lies, or treating these lies as if they were anything other than the steaming, reeking filth they are ... they don't care. They just want the money. If you build a system where money is God, where the common good is mocked and scorned, this is where you end up: with a dope-addled, spray-tanned pervert literally sacrificing your children to Moloch.

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Kenosha Goddam: The Rot at the Top Goes All the Way Down

Written by Chris Floyd 27 August 2020 5374 Hits

This is the boy who drove to a town he didn't live in, joining many other armed extremists from outside, with the specific intent of confronting American citizens protesting the shooting of an unarmed man seven times in the back, leaving him paralyzed. This boy and his fellow armed extremists -- who were "violating curfew" just as the protestors were -- mingled with the police before the protest began. The police gave water to this boy and his fellow extremists, praised them, thanked them for coming (and breaking the curfew, which was the excuse for the police to move against the protestors). The police told this boy and the armed extremists that they would force the protestors toward the extremists, "because you guys know how to handle them." (This is the testimony of the extremists themselves.)

The police, having declared the protest for equal justice to be unlawful because the participants were violating the curfew, then used violence to drive the protestors toward the armed extremists – who didn't live in the town, who came armed to the town with the intention of committing violence (as their social media posts showed), and who, again, were just as much in violation of curfew as the protestors.

In the chaos that followed this police riot -- the beatings, tear gas, flash grenades, etc. -- this boy took his weapon and murdered an unarmed protestor. He then walked to the police lines with his hands up, apparently expecting to be arrested for the murder he had committed in plain sight. They let him walk on. A few minutes later, this boy murdered another protestor with the gun he brought, from another state, to take part in a planned action of violence. This boy, who had murdered two people in plain sight on a street crammed full of police, then left the town where outside extremists came to foment violence. He was later arrested at his home, in another state, far from the town where he murdered two people.

Look at this boy. Imagine what kind of vile poison has been poured into his young mind for years by some of the wealthiest, most powerful people in the land -- indeed, the world. Rupert Murdoch, first and foremost. Donald Trump. The Mercers. The Sinclairs. The DeVos clan. The Kochs. The whole network of extremist billionaires funding hate groups and "think tanks" churning out justification for the domination of society by rapacious, unaccountable elites. The Falwells and Robertsons and other con artists growing rich on the utter perversion of the religion they falsely profess. The social media networks that have gleefully and profitably let floods of hatred and lies stream across the globe, day in, day out. The Republican Party – all of them, even the "moderates" like Lamar Alexander or Susan Collins, who have sat by silently as a gangster and his goons took over the US government, who have supported the gangster and Murdoch and the Kochs and the Mercers and all the rest.

This boy – living, like so many, in a violent, hate-soaked, hallucinated reality created, for profit, by the rich and powerful – is fully responsible for the evil he has committed. But I tell you this. Rupert Murdoch is also responsible for these murders. Donald Trump is also responsible for these murders. Lamar Alexander is also responsible for these murders. All those who have weaponized and/or monetized hatred and ignorance; all those who have profited from the denigration and destruction of the very notion of the common good, of human commonality, of the inherent worth of every single human being; all those, throughout "respectable" society, who looked away while these tides of hatred were rising, fuelled by the rich and powerful -- oligarchs and corporations who bribe and fund and call the tune for both parties – all of them are also responsible for these murders.

The murderous rot in this country starts at the top, and it has spread all the way down, into the very minds of our children. We are in a much darker and more dangerous place than most of us can bear to contemplate (myself included). But we must brace ourselves, for we have not yet, even now, seen the worst of what's to come. We must be ready, with eyes open; we must be steadfast, even with despair battering our hearts. And, heeding the words Bob Dylan sang 40 years ago, we must fight, always, to strengthen the things that remain.

*Edited to remove reference to the boy living "hundreds of miles" from Kenosha; his home town was closer than that. Apologies.

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Touch of Evil: The Democrats Embrace War Criminals While Ignoring Millions Seeking True Hope and Change

Written by Chris Floyd 19 August 2020 6023 Hits

Colin Powell to Appear at Democratic Convention (NYT)

I’m sorry, but this is absolutely unconscionable. Colin Powell was a chief architect and abettor of a monstrous war crime that murdered tens of thousands of innocent human beings for no reason. The evidence is overwhelming that he knowingly, deliberately lied in his famous UN testimony about Iraq’s non-existent WMD that convinced so many moderates and Democrats to support the mass murder in Iraq. (This is aside from his direct collusion in covering up mass-murder atrocities by American troops in Vietnam, which is where he made his bones as a “safe pair of hands” for the National Security apparat.)

Yes, I want to see Donald Trump defeated more than anything. Yes, I understand the need for a broad, popular front against this lunatic gangster – and also against the “establishment” Republicans, the Wall Street mavens and huge corporations and oligarchs who enable and empower him and McConnell and the whole party. (Like massive GOP donor Meg Whitman, like Guiliani-employed lobbyist Susan Molinari, like union-bashing, vote-suppressing, ex-Fox News hate-peddler John Kasich – all of whom spoke at the Democratic convention this week.)

But there were 40 million eligible voters who didn’t vote in 2016: people who were turned off by the system but didn’t vote for Trump, who weren’t lured by his siren song of hate, who are out there, ready to be inspired and convinced to vote for a better world. There are millions of young voters newly eligible to vote in 2020. All of these people – who aren't Republicans (“moderate” or otherwise) – are living through a period of unprecedented chaos, fear, uncertainty and breakdown. Why, in God’s holy name, would you “reach out” to actual war criminals, to lifelong Republican hacks who have supported the GOP’s extremist agenda for decades, when you have a cornucopia of voters out there who want nothing to do with the Republicans, but desperately need for the Democrats to show they are committed to a deep, genuine change in a system that has left them so hopeless and alienated and in despair?

Then again, the convention is also going to feature a big speech by Bill Clinton, the Democratic paladin who, by his own Secretary of State’s admission, killed half a million Iraqi children with the murderous sanctions he and Tony Blair imposed on Iraq. (At a time when they knew for a fact that he had no WMD programs, as I and many others wrote about years ago.) The death of these children was “worth it,” said Clinton’s factotum, Madeline Albright, on national TV. So the sad fact is that perhaps the DNC doesn’t see Powell’s collusion with mass murder as a scandal, a detriment, a moral horror to be shunned at all cost; perhaps they see it more as a laudable bipartisan comity on mass murder that they hope to continue in years to come.

In any case, even in realpolitik terms – which we are all adjured to abide by these days, setting aside any notions of morality and justice and common decency we might have – how will dredging up a mass-murder accomplice from nearly a generation ago inspire those alienated from a ruinous system to come out and vote? Any “moderate” Republican ­ – although I defy you to look at the GOP from Reagan and Gingrich to Dubya and Cheney to Trump and McConnell and show me anything that looks like “moderation” ­– but anyway, any Republican out there with a scintilla of conscience and concern for the country is already going to vote against Trump. What need then for these fawning exaltations of mass murderers, torture accomplices and creepy servants of rapacious elites?

Again: I know that we face a moment of maximum national peril. I’ve been railing for the entire 21st century against the bipartisan developments that have led us to this abyss. I am well aware that our corrupted system has left us with only one effective choice to oust the monstrous mafia of Trump, Barr, Pompeo, Miller and all the rest before they plunge the entire country, and perhaps the world, into irretrievable oblivion. And as I’ve said many times before, I will do what I must do in this dire situation.

But if you ask me to like it, I won’t do it. If you ask me to praise the wretched, bloodstained, morally corrupt “choice” I’ve been given, I won’t do it. And if – God grant! Lord, hear my plea! – we oust the filthy gangster Trump and all his minions from power, then I will fight, with everything I have, against the immorality of his successors who think that the mass murder of innocents, the mass murder of children, aggressive war, torture and immiseration is something they are happy to celebrate and be associated with.

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Longing for a Land I've Never Seen Before

Written by Chris Floyd 13 August 2020 4476 Hits

"The time’s gone awry; don’t you understand?
Everything that you knew has turned into sand.
Everything that you thought is no longer true.
The man in the mirror is no longer you."

This is a song I wrote this year with my late father, Edsel Floyd (1930-2011). When he died, I got his old leather-bound Bibles, and found they were marked with starred passages and stray lines – notes to himself, sermon prompts – written in the margins and on random scraps of paper stuffed between the pages. So I've woven some of these together, and some of the themes they sounded, with my own lines and themes to make this song.

 

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“Pre-Fascist” No Longer: Armed Trumpist Takeover of US Cities Begins

Written by Chris Floyd 17 July 2020 7165 Hits

Right now, armed, unidentified federal forces are on the streets of Portland, abducting people off the streets and shoving them into rented vans. These federal goon squads are operating against the express wishes of the city's mayor and the state's governor. 

Trump's acting "Homeland Security" honcho, Chad Wolf, flew to Portland on Thursday to reinforce this uninvited armed occupation by the federal government. With solemn fanfare, Chad unrolled a list of "violent acts" by "violent extremists" to justify the Trumpist occupation: EVERY SINGLE ONE of these "violent acts" involved ... spray-painting graffiti on a building or bridge. That's it. 

In recent days, Trump has ramped up his threats to "take over" what he calls "Democrat-controlled cities" by sending in federal forces, ostensibly to quell protests or fight crime or any number of specious reasons. This is happening right now, on the ground, in real life, in Portland, Oregon. It seems that Chicago – whose mayor is Trump's perfect nightmare: a black woman in power – might be next. 

The Trumpist troops in Portland are, we're told, "drawn from various [unidentified] agencies in Homeland Security." Couple these vaguely defined, unaccountable troops with the vast, militarized, hyper-aggressive forces of ICE, and you can see that Donald Trump now has a huge army of heavily-armed troops and military weaponry under his personal control. You can also see that he is willing to use them against the American people, especially those he considers his political enemies. It seems clear that he hopes to have armed federal troops under his personal control occupying key American cities in the run-up to the election. 

(And if you think these cities have any power to resist a Trumpist occupation, consider that the National Association of Police Organization and numerous other law enforcement unions and groups have enthusiastically endorsed Trump for a second term. Local police forces will gleefully assist any Trumpist occupation.) 

This is not alarmism or "radical" paranoia: it is happening, right now, on the streets of a major American city. But don't take my word for it; listen to this voice from the heart of the respectable Establishment, a United States senator:

“A peaceful protester in Portland was shot in the head by one of Donald Trump’s secret police,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote in a Thursday tweet that also called out acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf. “Now Trump and Chad Wolf are weaponizing the DHS as their own occupying army to provoke violence on the streets of my hometown because they think it plays well with right-wing media.”

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Lo-Fi in Lockdown, Vol 3: The Last Hurrah

Written by Chris Floyd 12 July 2020 6874 Hits

Friends and neighbors, the very last Lo-Fi in Lockdown is available RIGHT NOW for your viewing pleasure, 24/7, from here to eternity. So come join special guest stars Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck, Jim Driscoll, Sky the Wonder Dog and your host, Chris Floyd, for live music, videos (including the world premiere of a studio song by the Holy Fools) and one final half-hour fandango. It's "Lo-Fi in Lockdown, Vol 3: The Last Hurrah." Don't you dare miss it!

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Starmer's 'Sister Souljah' Ploy Falls Flat in a Much-Changed World

Written by Chris Floyd 07 July 2020 7431 Hits

Keir Starmer to sign up for unconscious bias training amid criticism (Guardian)

I find it difficult to believe that a man as capable and intelligent as Keir Starmer did not know exactly what he was saying and why in his now infamous statement. He was consciously trying to have a "Sister Souljah" moment. But this is no longer 1992, so his deliberately Clintonian gesture produced far more pushback than he anticipated. Thus he resorts to "bias training" of the sort we've seen in, say, US police forces for decades, with absolutely no effect. These courses are performative gestures without substance. 

What's odd is that Starmer doesn't seem to realize that this will not mollify people who object to the clear intent of his original statement, nor will it win him any credit with the "center-right" for whom he is striving to "detoxify" Labour and make it worthy once more of the endorsement of Rupert Murdoch, as it was in the glory days of 1997. Like Joe Biden, Starmer, despite his relative youth, seems a figure from a bygone age, unaware of how the political landscape is shifting under his feet, as the world hurtles through a series of unprecedented disruptions: the pandemic, the ever more catastrophic consequences of accelerating climate change, the pent-up rage of generations denied opportunity by austerity and neoliberalism, and people brought to the boiling point by the ever-more brazen injustices of our power systems and their brutal enforcers.
 
However, like Biden, Starmer also benefits from being the officially sanctioned opposition to an especially monstrous government – i.e., from the "we're 2 percent less evil" principle that has guided "centrist" politics in the US and UK for decades now. Which means he doesn't actually have to try so hard to ingratiate himself with a center-right, Murdoch-approved power structure that grows more illegitimate every day. Like Biden, he just needs to more or less stand still in order to look better than the murderous fools in power. There was absolutely no need for him to deliberately and clearly, more than once, denigrate BLM as a "moment," not a movement; nor any need to say that the call to re-cast the care and security of our communities away from the current combative policing model is "nonsense." He chose to make these statements, not from "unconscious bias" (a blame-shifting ploy worthy of BoJo: "Offensive? No, it wasn't me, it was my unconscious bias!") but from a very conscious, very deliberate application of supposed realpolitik in the 1990s style. 

Every sensible person wants to see Johnson gone. But it is entirely legitimate, even necessary to ask if 1990s Clinton-Blair 'centrism,' which used symbolic dissing of minority concerns – and also ended up killing 500,000 children with sanctions then waging a war of aggression – is the best way to do this. After all, what world did this kind of "savvy," realpolitik centrism give us? A world of murderous clowns like Bojo and Trump in power, a world where socioeconomic inequities & state corruption are at unprecedented levels. Why do we want to tread this ground again?

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