Rapid Fire (UK edition): Send in the Clowns; BoJo in Whiteface; a Glimmer of Hope

Written by Chris Floyd 10 June 2020 31870 Hits

From recent Facebook posts:

1. Feigned Incompetence as a Cover for an Agenda of Extremist Evil
(Williamson can hardly fiddle the science when he can't count to two)

In Covid Time, the UK government has become an endless freak show of third-rate goobers and bug-eyed extremists trying to hide their actual, unconscionable strategy – "Do as close to nothing as we can get away with and let the pandemic 'cull the herd'" – behind a series of threadbare obfuscations which they don't even try to pretend are true. You often hear people declaim in outraged wonder, "They simply *can't* be as stupid as they seem, can they?" My response used to be a shrug and a cynical chuckle, "Oh, yes, they can, and they are!" But I don't really believe that anymore. I don't believe their actions in the pandemic are due largely to stupidity or incompetence. I think, by and large, the people in the government today are acting with studied deliberation to advance the morally depraved agenda they have pursued (often openly) throughout their lives: to destroy the very notion of a greater common good and impose the rule of unaccountable elites.

To do so, they act ruthlessly and continually – and above all, with knowing, deliberate deceit – to degrade and undermine any institution or entity that might offer even the slightest opposition or alternative to their extremist ideology. This includes, most emphatically, the idea of government itself, as a vehicle for enhancing and enriching the lives of ordinary citizens. (In this, of course, they are simply copying – like the witless little toadies they are – their masters on the American rightwing.)

Like their masters, they believe – and have said so, over and over, for years and years – that the only legitimate function of government is to promote the profit and power of the privileged few. They will claim that they believe this blinkered, stunted ideology will produce a better result for the common folk in the long run – but this claim is just another example of their strategy of deceit. Dig deep enough into their own writings, and those of the transatlantic "think tanks" funded by oligarchs and corporations from which they draw their inhumane tropes, and you will find, everywhere, an overarching belief in the inherent superiority of a privileged few (based either on money, genetics, race – or all three) along with an often visceral disgust for the rabble and their unimportant "needs," their stupid aspirations for a better life. No one exemplifies this better than the man actually in charge of the operations of the UK government today, the unelected "advisor," Dominic Cummings. His blog is like a festering cesspit from which the night mind of these depraved extremists bubbles up in raw form.

So while it's always tempting to laugh at their clownish ways, their bumbling, their "gaffes," the reality is not funny at all. Exactly like Trump, they have clowned their way into power, spouting obvious and outrageous lies ("£350 million a week!" "Oven-ready Brexit!"), and are using their buffoonery as a shield and distraction to cover their dangerous and destructive policies.


2. BoJo the Bouncing Whiteface Clown
'I hear you': Boris Johnson to Black Lives Matter protesters

This is the racist goober who called black people – in print, in national publications, in the 21st century – "piccaninnies," wrote about their "watermelon smiles," and said the problem with Africa is that "we're not in charge anymore." His public racism has always been FAR more crude and open than Donald Trump's dog-whistles. It's absolutely sickening to watch him waddle out to read off a few insincere words – knowing he'll go straight back to his minder and controller, Dom Cummings, a eugenicist who believes openly in the genetic superiority of an elite "2%" who should be groomed to rule society. Given the ugly filth that Johnson is happy to spew in public, God knows what he and Dom say behind closed doors. What an abysmal collection of third-rate, evil-minded, death-dealing hacks.


3. A Glimmer of Hope for Tormented Minds
We can no longer ignore the potential of psychedelic drugs to treat depression

This is absolutely vital research, which holds the promise of immense and profound benefits for the human race. It has been put on hold for 50 years, caught up in culture wars, sensationalism and polticization, which meant that reputable scientific institutions were not allowed to follow up on the promising breakthroughs of the 1950s. It's as if research into the proper application of penicillin was simply frozen for half a century after its discovery – think of all needless human suffering that would have entailed. The same thing is true here. I've been following Carhart-Harris's research (and that of others) for some time; it would be unconscionable not to explore the hope it offers for the positive, non-draconian treatment of many intractable and often tormenting mental ailments.

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"Lo-Fi in Lockdown!" Episode Two: After Midnight

Written by Chris Floyd 10 June 2020 30505 Hits

Live music! Film clips! Guest stars! It's a new half-hour of original Americana from Tennessee singer-songwriter Chris Floyd of the Holy Fools. So grab yourself your libation of choice and settle in for some soul-searching and barn-burning in the murky depths of Covid Time! Featuring the incendiary call to action: “Just One Plank (I’m For the Poor”). 


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No More Masks: Pandemic Bares the Rotten Core of Anglo-American Power Elites

Written by Chris Floyd 07 May 2020 22619 Hits

The vile, brutal inhumanity that lies at the core of the power systems in both the US and UK is being laid bare as never before by the pandemic. Today, the UK’s death toll from the virus surpassed Italy’s; but the headlines were filled with stories about a top scientist hit by a sting operation from the hard-right Daily Telegraph. He was targeted because he is seen by the increasingly Trumpist UK right as a figurehead for the lockdown, which the Telegraph is attacking with relentless fury. They cannot countenance any effort to save the lives of worthless peasants if it might possibly inconvenience the lives and profit margins of the elite in any way. 

The “news” about the scientist also obscured the announcement by Boris Johnson’s government of herd-cullers that it will start slashing the furlough scheme that has keep so many hard-pressed Britons afloat during the virus-enforced job losses. The Tory herd-cullers say people are becoming “addicted” to receiving 80 percent of their former salaries. Can’t have that. So when the lockdown lifts (no doubt with the kind of careful planning and wise competence the herd-cullers displayed as the virus first began sweeping through the country), Britons can look to July as the moment when they too, like the Americans, are thrown to the wolves. 

Trump is now giving up all pretense of fighting the virus or even trying to slow it; he actually seems to take a perverse delight in presiding over a world-historical disaster in which his own herd-culling policies have led to tens of thousands of needless deaths across the shattered land. The entire GOP faction of the power structure has lined up with goose-stepping servitude behind this murderous assault on the American people, while the Democratic faction dithers, cowers and chills on vacation, bestirring itself only to vote for “relief” bills that give literally trillions of dollars to the super-rich and corporations while leaving ordinary people with almost nothing — not even protection for their voting rights in a pandemic, not even that one small, pathetic say in determining their fate.

The pandemic has stripped away all facades. We can see the system and its leaders clearly now. After killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people in foreign lands during the last two decades of aggressive war and ceaseless “interventions” (most of which are not even noticed or reported on anymore), they have now turned on their own people. They sit and watch thousands of them die unnecessary deaths, happy to “cull the herd” of the “useless eaters”: the sick, the old, the vulnerable, the poor and the non-white minorities who are dying in vastly disproportionate numbers. 

Both the Trump and Johnson herd-culling governments devote most of their time and energy to massaging the images of their leaders and deflecting criticism of their death-dealing policies. Both were pressured into lockdowns they didn’t want, after word got out that the herd-culling approach they’d adopted was going to lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths in short order. Neither treated the lockdowns for what they were intended to be: draconian emergency measures to buy time while the governments launched furious, all-out efforts for nationwide testing, tracing and quarantine measures, as seen in other nations which suppressed the virus (or, as in New Zealand and Vietnam, essentially defeated it). 

They didn’t do this. At every stage, they have done just enough to get a story in the day’s new cycle saying that they’re doing something, while frontline workers in every field, especially the health services, die like soldiers led to slaughter in the Somme. Of course, Trump has now dropped even this fig leaf: he is now saying openly that people should just go back to work and die by the thousands every single day. And it’s almost certain that Johnson will be saying essentially the same thing soon, although not quite so directly as Trump.

This is who they are. This is where we are. This is what we now can see: the corroded heart of the power system, and the sick, degraded character of the wretches in charge of it.

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Death of a Nation

Written by Chris Floyd 18 April 2020 22448 Hits

Every American should realize: the heavily armed groups – funded and organized by rightwing oligarchs – whom the president is now praising for protesting the lockdowns – WILL be out on the streets, threatening and very possibly killing people if Trump, despite all the GOP vote rigging, loses in November. Yes, that is absolutely where we are now. That's WHY these groups have been funded by the rich, that's why they're being mobilized now.

You can pretend this is not happening; you can go on living in some "West Wing" fantasy of civility and compromise; you can "chip in and get a cool sticker" from old Joe and think everything will be all right in the end. But the rule of law no longer prevails in the land; armed bands of extremists are roaming the streets of the nation, bellowing hatred and waiting for the order to escalate their lawless violence to the next level. You think "it can't happen here"? It's happening right now, in front of your eyes. And worse is coming unless people wake up and stop it from happening.

But where is the opposition? Where is the opposition? They're on VACATION until next month, with 20 million Americans out of work, facing ruin, and armed thugs assaulting state capitols while an authoritarian madman urges them on. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's horrible enough to see your country going down the drain; but it's agonizing and humiliating beyond measure to see it go down without a fight.

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Malevolent Magic: The Voodoo of Exceptionalism is Killing Thousands in the US and UK

Written by Chris Floyd 14 April 2020 25688 Hits

Test-Trace-Quarantine. Countries that follow TTQ have lower death counts from Covid-19 – and their societies and economies have stayed open. For a number of reasons – none of them good, and some of them malevolent – neither the United States nor Great Britain have followed this proven method of tackling the pandemic. As a result, thousands upon thousands of their people are needlessly dying while their economies have cratered, leaving millions of people in dire straits even as their respective governments, especially the US, disgorge vast mountains of public money to protect the private fortunes of elites and corporations. Lockdown without mass testing will not quell the virus; “re-opening” without mass testing will lead swiftly to further disaster, to second and third waves that, absent a vaccine, could be equal to or worse than this initial tsunami. 

The leaders of many nations recognize these incontrovertible facts, and are acting accordingly. But the US and UK — two nations imbued, indeed intoxicated with the notion of their absolute uniqueness and superiority to all others – are acting as if they can magic away the science of the pandemic with the voodoo of their exceptionalism. Addled by this horrifically false notion, they have stubbornly, stupidly and with criminal disregard adopted strategies that have, in the end, destroyed the economies they sought to “save” with their late and lackadaisical approach. They refuse even now to expend the necessary resources to implement TTQ on anything remotely approaching an effective scale. 

The Trump and Johnson governments have simply surrendered to the virus. Both leaders early on expressed their desire to see it “wash over” the populace, to “take it on the chin”; both leaders were told in stark terms that this would lead to mass death on a monstrous scale; both were happy to let that happen. Neither of them made any moves to implement a TTQ approach, despite having months to prepare for the pandemic wave to hit them. Political pressure forced both of them to take, very reluctantly, the half-measure of lockdown without TTQ. They realized that they could not be seen to have surrendered to the virus, although, by only taking half-measures (or less), they have merely masked their surrender, and the heartlessness behind it.

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Death Watch: Dispatches from the Demise of a Nation

Written by Chris Floyd 14 April 2020 21132 Hits

Here are a few Facebook dispatches from the last 24 hours of the ongoing collapse of the American republic:

Donald Trump has just asserted, on national television, that he has total power over America and can rule like a dictator. “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total." And what did the opposition party controlling the House of Representatives do in response to this authoritarian power grab? It announced that ... it was going to extend its already month-long Easter vacation to May 4, "unless there is an emergency." So let's be clear about the Democrats' position. Thousands of Americans dying needless deaths every week because the federal government has abandoned them in the face of a pandemic: not an emergency. More than 16 million Americans thrown out of work and losing their healthcare in just three weeks: not an emergency. An obviously addled, murderously ignorant gangster declaring he has dictatorial authority over the entire country: not an emergency. So can we please ask Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership one simple question: what, in God's holy name, IS an emergency? This is a hard, bitter truth we must swallow: the Democrats have surrendered to Trump and his rapacious cronies. They are not and will not stand up for us, and for the Republic. What an agonizing, unimaginable catastrophe it all is.


One day our descendants, in their dark, diminished world, will tell sad, bitter tales of us, all with this theme: “They gave away paradise to fatten the pockets of the already filthy rich.”


27-year-old grocery store clerk kept working because she wanted to help people. Then she died from coronavirus.
This is happening because the federal government and the US Senate have been captured by murderous clowns and callous operators who literally do not care how many ordinary Americans die, as long as they and their cronies keep making money. They have openly, brazenly declared war on the American people – and if the Democrats do not realize this, and respond accordingly, then the republic is doomed. So, what is the Democratic opposition doing now? Well, old Joe Biden is offering free stickers if you give him ten dollars. And Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats are ... taking a month off. That's it. So let me quote to these vacillating goobers the words of the last American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature: "When you gonna wake up, and strengthen the things that remain?"


Thousands of Wisconsin ballots could be thrown out because they don’t have a postmark
Again, let me say this: there will not be anything remotely resembling a free, open vote by eligible citizens in November. It won't be allowed to happen. The criminal forces now in charge of the most powerful government in the history of humanity are not going to allow us to have a free and open vote, because they know it will end in their defeat. They realize that the people could come out against them in overwhelming numbers, despite all the repression and suppression, so they intend to create a howling storm of chaos to break down the voting system altogether. A criminal gang that is happy to see thousands of Americans die needless deaths and tens of millions plunged into poverty and hunger as long as its top scumbag gets "big ratings" does not give even the slightest damn about your constitutional right to vote. And if the Democratic opposition -- currently on a month-long vacation -- doesn't realize the true nature of this regime and defend the republic with the ferociousness necessary in this moment of maximum peril, then the nation is well and truly doomed.


Trump administration has many task forces — but still no plan for beating covid-19
Although this story buries the lede – "Trump wants epidemic to 'wash over' the country even though hundreds of thousands would die" – it is still a harrowing snapshot of a government in deliberately induced chaos, rife with utter incompetence and in thrall to the whims and mood swings of an infantile fool. It also hints at what I think will be the administration's ultimate strategy: "re-open" the country too soon, knowing that this will trigger another huge spike in death and disease in the fall. Then, when that happens, indeed just letting the pandemic sweep through the unprotected populace, saying, "We can't force people into lockdown again, they won't stand for it, and anyway, we did it once and look what happened: the virus kept coming all the same." They will do what they are doing now: using the needless damage caused by their own inaction and callousness to justify further inaction and callousness. Trump literally, openly doesn't care if hundreds of thousands of Americans die needless deaths, as long as the stock market stays goosed up (with trillions of our tax dollars) and he has "big ratings" for his nightly goon show. What a horribly stupid, humiliating, sickening way for the nation to collapse.

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The New Gathering

Written by Chris Floyd 04 April 2020 18469 Hits

Thinking about the painful absence of physical proximity forced upon us in a time of pestilence, and looking forward to the new gathering when it's finally over. A very rough cut of a song just written.

I’m thinking, my friend, of the meeting
That we will enjoy one fine day
We’ll throw our arms around each other
And hand in hand, we’ll go on our way

And we’ll all gather at the river
Where the sweet water flows by so clear
We’ll laugh and we’ll mingle together
And sing till the morning is here

I still see your face in the distance
You’re walking with me in my dreams
But one day the darkness between us
Will give way to the most joyful scenes


Then we’ll pass around that old bottle
Lip after lip, we’ll share the wine
We’ll kiss goodbye to our troubles
And bring back the heavenly time 


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The Invisible Man: Joe Biden's Deadly Abdication

Written by Chris Floyd 22 March 2020 18643 Hits

Joe Biden's disappearance from public view during an extreme national crisis is one of the most astounding, jaw-dropping abdications of responsibility I have ever seen in a public official -- especially one who might well be the next president. The excuse his aides offer about "struggling to set up the technology" so he can communicate to the public is ludicrous, and insulting in its transparent falsehood. If he is isolating because he might have the disease, he should tell us. If he is simply overwhelmed by the crisis and doesn't know what to do – or even worse, is waiting for his rich donors to tell him what to do – then he should end his campaign now and go into a very comfortable retirement.

Sanders has put his campaigning on hold and is now using his fundraising apparatus to raise millions of dollars for coronavirus relief efforts. He has somehow managed to master the mysterious and difficult "technology" that baffles Biden, and appears in a variety of media every day, with concrete plans for dealing with the crisis and helping ordinary people, while also working flat out with Senate colleagues. You don't even have to support Sanders to see that is entirely possible to communicate directly with the public while coping with an ever-shifting catastrophe. Biden doesn't have to deal with senatorial duties during an unprecedented crisis. He's had all the time in the world to step up and offer a solid, viable alternative to Trump's raging carnage. But he has not. He's hidden from his responsibility, hidden from his calling, hidden from history.

If -- and it's still not certain -- Biden manages to make some kind of appearance on Monday as promised, it will be the first time in six days he's spoken to the nation he is seeking to lead. Six days that have completely changed the world and the country. Six days that the raving liar and lunatic Donald Trump has been allowed to hold the stage alone and spin a false, sinister, self-serving narrative that seems to be taking hold out there, as his poll numbers inexplicably rise. Meanwhile, the presumptive presidential nominee for the opposition party is missing in action, as silent as the tombs that Americans are being thrust into by Trump's corrupt and crazed dithering. These six missing days have been epoch-making in American history and politics, and Joe Biden has bungled them to a tragic and damaging degree. How could he have stayed out of sight during such a time? Why would he do it? Again, it is a staggering, unfathomable, utter dereliction of duty.

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Blowing in the Whirlwind: As Ye Sow, Joe Shall Ye Reap

Written by Chris Floyd 11 March 2020 19415 Hits

Joe Biden’s manifold and manifest vulnerabilities in a contest with the obviously addled but still media-savvy Donald Trump are often offered by supporters of Bernie Sanders as a reason to back their man as the more likely winner.  “Biden will lose,” they say; “if you really want to defeat Trump, then Sanders is the only one who can do it.”

There are strong arguments for that case – not least the fact that Sanders has consistently, since 2015, outdone every Democrat in head-to-head polls against Trump. Certainly, I would rather see Sanders as the nominee. And certainly, I have been railing against Biden in print and on line for more than 20 years, excoriating him as a corporate bagman who has played a key role in inflicting enormous suffering on ordinary Americans with his draconian bankruptcy and crime bill obsessions, not to mention the multitudes of innocent people around the world who have died from the hawkish warmongering policies he has unfailingly supported.

But while I sorely hate undercutting any argument against Biden, I do believe it is possible for old Joe to defeat Trump. Here’s how it’s likely to play out, if Biden is the nominee.

Both he and Trump will lumber around the country for months, dribbling out word salad to adoring supporters who don’t have the slightest interest in what the doddering old men at the rostrum are saying. Both will spout inane and barely coherent platitudes without offering anything remotely resembling actual policies or programs or solutions to the myriad of dire crises we face. Both will have their contentless, incoherent ramblings presented as cogent “debating points” and “policy positions” suitable for “deep analysis” by the shallow savants of the national press. There will be various gaffes, outrages, mini-scandals, along with a crazy quilt of polling numbers changing wildly by the day, even by the hour.

And none of it will matter. America’s electoral politics are so far removed from the actual reality of how power is really exercised in our society – and from the actual state of degeneration our dying society is really in – that it is nothing more than a badly rendered cartoon, a medicine show with clowns and con-men, a white noise machine howling down any genuine thought and feeling. It is, quite literally, sound and fury, signifying nothing: precisely because it no longer has any connection to the true operations of power and the reality of decay.

Trump recognized this first, but the Democrats have caught up. You don’t have to have any real policies. You don’t have to offer any real hope. You don’t even have to make any sense. Most people are so battered by the decay and tormented by the white noise that all they can do is grab hold of some emblematic figure offered to them by the system and project all their hopes and dreams and fears and desires onto them. Even if the offered figures are a pair of doddering, blubbering old men, lumbering around the country dribbling out word salad.

Sanders’ defeat in Michigan will for many signal the end, or the beginning of the end, of his nomination quest. And in the wake of that defeat, Sanders supporters will – very rightly – point out DNC rigging and interference in the campaign, the astonishing series of  “problems” with every vote count that might benefit him, the outsized role that Big Money played (exemplified by new Biden supporter Mike Bloomberg and the Wall Street tycoons that Biden is floating as possible cabinet members), and, perhaps most crucial of all, the fact that Sanders has been relentlessly, ceaselessly, mercilessly demonized and vilified by the media – and by the “liberal” media most of all.

For it’s a fact that most Americans – who get what little political news they care to imbibe from casual glances at the media – will never have heard a single report about Sanders that wasn’t negative in some respect, or in all respects. Again, this goes double for casually liberal Democrats, who get their news and views from the NYT, MSNBC, NPR, CNN, CBS, ABC, WP, etc. There, Sanders is portrayed either as the horned spawn of Chavez and Che, come to ravage your 401k and execute millionaires in Central Park – or else as a unicorn-chasing fantasist with no sense of gritty, savvy realpolitik, which dictates that we must always hew slavishly to the centrist mean. (Whatever that happens to be in any given year – although, whatever it is, it is always to the right of what it was before.)

Sanders has had to wage his campaign with the entire weight of the bipartisan power structure against him: the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Wall Street, the Pentagon, the “security organs,” the national media across the board. The vote counts in caucuses and primaries are obviously being obfuscated or, when all else fails, simply left uncounted in large numbers, as in Texas and California.

But if and when the Sanders’ campaign is subsequently derailed down the road, I no longer think it can be laid entirely at the door of the conniving players in the power structure. The lion’s share, perhaps – but there seems to be something else in the air of Campaign 2020. (Aside from Covid-19.) I think, perhaps, that we have come to such a crisis point on so many fronts that things are simply too overwhelming for most people to process, much less deal with, in any realistic way. Some strange combination of fatalism and magical thinking seems to have taken hold of large swathes of the electorate.

There seems to be the feeling that we can’t really do anything at all about the problems that are bearing down on us like a runaway train – climate disruption and all its ever-rippling repercussions;  the rise of hyper-powerful rich elites manipulating our increasingly hollowed-out institutions for their own benefit; the economic demise of industry after industry, region after region, community after community; the endless wars, covert and overt, with their gargantuan corruption and pointless cycles of violence; the healthcare atrocities that leave millions of people literally begging on the internet to obtain even the barest minimum of medical help, and so on. In the face of all this, many people long to embrace some figure or another who promises us a return to the “status quo”: either some mythologized post-war era when America was “great,” or just back to the Obama years, when things were “normal.”  

Overwhelmed, battered, beset, anxiety-ridden, suffering, confused, many people don’t want to hear that hard work and big changes will be necessary if we are to have a chance for things to get better. They just want to latch on to something that will let them feel – if only for a moment – that the anxiety can go away, that someone up there in the circles of power will take care of it for us. 

This is not the wisest course when faced with overwhelming crises – but it is an entirely natural and understandable one. When you couple this natural reaction to extremity with the aforementioned systematic effort to undermine and thwart the Sanders’ campaign, then it’s not surprising you end up with a blank screen like Joe Biden as your candidate.

And consider this: the blank screen of Donald Trump has now had four years in power, yet still those overwhelming, battering, confusing anxieties have not gone away – indeed, they’ve only multiplied. In this situation, it’s entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that enough people will turn away from the torn screen of Trump and try a new cure for their anxiety. 

So yes, I think it’s very possible for Biden to beat Trump. Because for so many people, it doesn’t matter what Biden says or doesn’t say, how incoherent he is, how many outright lies he tells, how atrocious his record is or how diligently he is serving the domineering elites who have blighted our society to such a degree. It doesn't matter that he has made it clear that he is not going to do anything about climate change, student debt, the healthcare crisis, rampant militarism, police brutality, economic injustice, low pay, ICE, and on and on. What matters that he is a fresh screen where our most unworthy fears and unrealistic hopes can be projected, for a time; where we can forget, for a time, the massive disasters that are looming ahead and pretend that things can somehow go back to “normal.”

Of course, this can only be done by ignoring that it was the previous “normality” that brought us here in the first place – and by ignoring the fact that big changes and upheavals are coming no matter who is elected.  We can’t escape it. The only question is: do we want to try to manage these big changes for the greater common good – or will we just allow them to ravage our lives in the worst way possible while we pine for a status quo of peace and quiet that never was, and thus can never return?

I fear the answer to this, my friend, is blowing in the whirlwind: the one we are reaping after sowing the wind for so many years with so many misdeeds – and which we apparently do not have the wisdom even to mitigate, much less avoid.

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Chill Factor: Wikileaks Trial is a Trump Travesty Aimed at Killing Truth

Written by Chris Floyd 26 February 2020 19609 Hits

It doesn’t matter what you think of Julian Assange personally; his personality is not on trial. He is facing charges for one thing only: publishing incontrovertible evidence of US war crimes in Iraq. If he is extradited to the US and convicted, then every single media outlet that publishes evidence of government wrongdoing will face the same threat. That is the point of his prosecution: to put a chill of fear into every journalist and editor who receives evidence of government crimes.

The extraordinarily brutal treatment Assange is getting even as his extradition hearing goes forward this week is part of the chilling process. Here’s what any journalist who exposes state crimes has to look forward to:

"Day 2 proceedings had started with a statement from Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s QC, that shook us rudely into life. He stated that yesterday, on the first day of trial, Julian had twice been stripped naked and searched, eleven times been handcuffed, and five times been locked up in different holding cells. On top of this, all of his court documents had been taken from him by the prison authorities, including privileged communications between his lawyers and himself, and he had been left with no ability to prepare to participate in today’s proceedings."

Throughout the hearing, Assange is locked in a glass box, forbidden any human contact. Meanwhile, the judge openly derides the defense, interfering with their presentation. Even so, their case was devastating. Using actual evidence from the US government itself, they demolished, point by point, the accusations put forward by the Trump administration. 

The Trump lawyers claim that Assange told Chelsea Manning how to break into the classified computer files that she later released. Yet the US government’s own evidence in its trial of Manning clearly showed she already had access to the files — as did thousands of other personnel — before she ever contacted Wikileaks. Wikileaks played no part at all in procuring the files, which is the heart of the Trump team’s ostensible case.

The second element of the case involves Wikileaks’ release of unredacted documents from Manning. The Trump lawyers claim that Wikileaks knew the release would put agents at risk but did it anyway. Here too the actual facts, again backed up by the US government’s own evidence, are devastating. Wikileaks only published the unreacted files after writers from the Guardian had given away the secret encryption code in a published book – despite Wikileaks’ frantic pleas for them not to do this. After the Guardian writers had published the code, Wikileaks contacted the US government to warn them of the possible dangers. US officials did nothing, leaving agents exposed to any enemy who could now, thanks to the Guardian, obtain all the thousands of files. After the government failed to act, Wikileaks then published the already obtainable files so that any agent named in them could at least know what information was out there on them.

In any case, US government prosecutors themselves clearly confirmed in the Manning trial that, in the end, no US agents or personnel had come to harm from the release of the files. They also confirmed that Wikileaks informed the US government that the encryption code – which Wikileaks had given to the Guardian when working together to release carefully redacted excerpts from the documents — had been broken. It was the Guardian writers and their publishers who actually gave any potential enemy the keys to the classified files. By the US government’s own admissions in a court of law, Wikileaks tried to stop the release of unredacted materials, then frantically sought to work with the US government to mitigate any harm, and only published them after they were already widely obtainable — and again, only in order to mitigate any harm for agents who didn’t know they’d been exposed by the Guardian writers. 

In short, the Trump lawyers have absolutely no case for Assange’s extradition. Their charges are transparently false, and are refuted by the US government’s own evidence in previous trials. But in the end, this is not going to matter. The judge who is the sole decider in the case has clearly made up her mind. In one of several of her extraordinary interventions into the case, she declared yesterday that evidence of the United States government’s own trial against Chelsea Manning could not be used as facts in the extradition hearing. Yes, you read it right. The facts established and accepted by the US government in court proceedings cannot be used as facts in a court proceeding involving the US government. The Trump prosecutors have taken the same line: “Yes, we know the US government confirmed these facts before, but we’re saying that doesn’t matter. The new facts are now the false facts we’re presenting here.”

I don’t know how anyone can call themselves a journalist — or just an ordinary concerned citizen of what are supposed to be the democracies of the United States and Great Britain — and not feel a deep chill, and hot outrage, at these proceedings. American liberals turn a blind eye because Wikileaks published emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton and they believe Assange is an unsavoury character. But again, none of this has anything to do with Assange’s personality or with Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin or any of that. A publisher is being prosecuted for publishing incontrovertible evidence of government crimes. He is facing demonstrably false charges by a government that is openly dismissing its own previous admissions and evidence. He is being openly abused in the prison system. If this was happening to a publisher in Russia or China or Iran, there would be endless outrage across the Western media. But the extradition hearing is getting little or no coverage at all.

If Assange is extradited and convicted of these false charges, then we will have taken another giant leap down the road of authoritarianism. If this doesn’t bother you, then please don’t bother telling us what a “resister” you are. 

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Shades of 68: How Far Will Our Elites Go to Stop Sanders?

Written by Chris Floyd 22 February 2020 18510 Hits

Because I have teenage children who sometimes look to me to give them a sense of hope for the future, I try to be as optimistic as I can whenever we talk of US politics and the possibility of positive change in the nation’s dire situation. The success so far of Bernie Sanders’ campaign is one thing they cling to in hoping that the world they inherit will not be as unrelentingly bleak as it now appears it will be. But in my deepest heart, here is what I truly believe: the bipartisan US power structure will never allow Bernie Sanders to be president, and they will use any and all means necessary to prevent this from happening.

Having been raised in a politically active family, I've followed US politics for more than half a century, and I witnessed the decisive period from April 4 to June 5 in 1968, when clear markers were laid down on what happens to those who are perceived to pose a genuine threat to the power structure. I don't hero-worship Sanders and disagree with some of his stances, particularly on foreign policy. But I do think he poses the most serious, genuine threat to the US power structure that we have seen since that period.

Of course, over the years, more sophisticated, less visceral methods have been developed for removing credible threats to the system. For example, the so-called liberal media – NYT, WP, MSNBC – now act as uncritical pipelines for whatever gaslighting propaganda the intelligence services wish to inject into the political process. This was always true of the establishment press to some extent, but any vestiges of skepticism about the proven ratfucking propensities of the "intelligence community" have long been discarded by liberals. This servile credulity, along with social media & other factors, makes it easier to kneecap a threat to the power system without resorting to the cruder methods of the past.

But Sanders' growing popularity, even in the face of relentless sandbagging and ratfucking, represents an "unknown unknown" for the power structure. Thus, while it remains likely that some combination of their sleeker, modern take-down methods will do the trick, I think we should still bear in mind the lessons of history, and recognize just how far the power structure will be prepared to go to neutralize any substantial, credible threat to its dominance. If you think they’re not capable or willing to resort to the most ultimate measures in this regard, then you are simply, wilfully ignoring the historical evidence of our own lives and times – evidence that of course goes far beyond a single three-month span in 1968.

I should note that in this, as with almost everything I've written about US politics in this godforsaken century, I sincerely hope I'm wrong in my darker view of things. But that said, it's certainly proven true that even the darkest predictions of how things will play out in our wretched era have fallen short, time and again, of the even darker realities as we spiral down further into the abyss.

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