Sunday, February 28, 2016

Question: What do ISIS and Trump Have in Common? Answer: Both are Backed by US Power.

The American media only mentioned in passing that ISIS had taken over oil fields until Russia started bombing the (white Toyota) trucks transporting oil to Turkey for sale.
Similarly, until today, the American media has indulged in all-day, wall to wall coverage of the Donald Trump phenomenon: a billionaire businessman known for shady deals who galvanizes working class American voters. Today, CNN - the only major channel on news duty Sunday afternoons - had to unequivocally criticize Trump for alleging that he “knows nothing” about white supremacist, David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan, who endorsed him.
  (Note from Wikipedia): The  "Know Nothings" were members of the semi-secret American Party party. When a member was asked about its activities, he was supposed to reply, "I know nothing." Outsiders called them "Know-Nothings", and the name stuck. In 1855, it was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, whom they saw as hostile to republican values, and as being controlled by the Pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, the movement strove to curb immigration and naturalization, but met with little success. Membership was limited to Protestant men.)
Like everything else that Donald Trump has done in the campaign, this slip-up (curiously preceded by “I disavow”), will probably not dent his support, nor is it likely, in the long run (which, in the news cycle is a few hours, at most days) to substantially alter the media’s fawning coverage. Trump is such a ‘good story’, it matters not one whit whether or not he is good for America.
At four-thirty, I tweeted that Trump may have seized upon the Duke endorsement as a convenient way to end his campaign, then I remembered that yesterday a poll revealed that 20% of his supporters believe it was a mistake to free the slaves. 
As for ISIS, like the Taliban whom we supported in order to spoil Russia’s party in Afghanistan (which consisted mainly of efforts to liberate women and try to get some modern industry going, efforts that were condemnable because lead by ‘communists’) we support the latest Islamic avatar in covert ways because it is located on the right end or the political spectrum, pretending to ‘know nothing’ about the fact that it is a dictatorship more brutal than anything to have hit the front pages in decades, (Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot), having expeditiously replaced gas chambers with always ready-to-use head-choppers (as Donald calls them). Our case against ISIS is that it is a ‘terrorist organization’ that could in future take on the Homeland. We don’t mind at all when it inflicts pain on a present enemy such as Bashar al-Assad, whom we want to dislodge from power, or even against the Iran-friendly Iraqi government that we put in place. 
US power is a one-track system that seeks ever increasing control of greater parts of the world.  It is not interested in ‘doing good’, or even in ‘saving the planet’ since there are a myriad of other planets out there, virtually guaranteeing that one of them with turn out able to support life. Until that planet is found and made ready for human habitation, expediency dictates that the few dispense their backing for whatever and whoever is likely to keep the many at bay.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

‘David’ Francis takes on Donald ‘Goliath’

               February 13, 2016
When the leaders of two major religions get together, you can bet something is afoot. The meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kyrill in Cuba is not only a divine signal that the normalization and packaging of the socialist island on America’s doorstep for the enjoyment and profit of the liberal world is proceeding apace. It also signals that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s campaign against what he calls “the degradation and primitivization of Western culture” is bringing the two schools of Catholicism together in what is shaping up as an ecumenical campaign.
I had the privilege of knowing both Raul, Cuba’s current president, and Fidel, the leader of the revoution, between 1963 and 1965, when I investigated the reasons why they and their companions made the revolution. Then - and for a long time afterwards - religion was seen as ‘the opium of the masses’, in Marx’s famous words, cautioning the rule of the few over the many.  
But even before Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia, the official attitude toward religion in Cuba became more relaxed, and I’m certain that although it welcomed increased trade with the West, anything goes capitalism, in which ‘stuff’ is seen as the purpose of life remains abhorrent to most Cubans, making  their country a uniquely appropriate choice for the historical meeting of the two men in white.
Although it will take a while for them to reverse a millennium of collaboration between their respective churches and mammon, it seems clear from Francis’ repeated pronouncements and Kyrill’s support for President Putin, that Catholicism is moving to the side of the many.
                                                                               February 18th
My forecast has just been confirmed in spades:  At a mass on the US border on his last day in Mexico, Francis declared that anyone who builds walls is not a Christian, hitting Donald Trump right between the eyes, in a David/Goliath match. The Donald fired back that when ISIS targets the Vatican the Pope will be sorry he didn’t get Donald to build a wall. Anchors were quick to note that the Pope’s criticism of Donald was as contrary to Christian teachings as the building of walls, but they failed to note that there is already a wall around the Vatican, which is known as ‘the walled city’.
Nor did they appear to notice that the Pope’s scolding shows him unequivocally on the side of the many rather than of the builders of golden towers.
The incident, which is bound to have long legs,  reminded me of the incident in 1944 when British Prime Minister Churchill told Stalin that his country was honor bound to come to the aid of Catholic Poland, and Stalin’s quip: “How many divisions does the Pope have?” become what was probably the Cold War’s only joke.
The biggest irony, however, is that in our day the Pope, the Patriarch, and members of every other clergy, have the equivalent of many military divisions on-line. Doubtless Frances and Kyrill have concluded that if ISIS can influence minds electronically, they can too. In addition, they can fly around the world like so many angels coming to life before amazed parishioners to tell them that 'things' are not what life is about.
Claiming a Russian desire to recreate the Soviet Union, with its satellites in Eastern Europe, NATO has inched its way right up to Russia’s borders, in defiance of President Reagan’s promise to Gorbachev that it would not move an inch from Germany. Putin knows that NATO’s goal is to get at Russia’s treasure trove of minerals but he has no intention of invading the Baltic countries anymore than he took the bait in Georgia in 2008, or in Ukraine, that would provide a pretext for invasion. He is concentrating on changing minds and unlike Stalin, he can count the Pope’s support. 
Christianity started with Jesus’ challenge to the money-changers of the Jewish temple. Inevitably, the sale of indulgences giving rise to a Protestantism that eventually outdid Catholicism in its devotion to Mammon. The industrial revolution, followed by the electronic revolution, created cowboy capitalism, which led to the ‘me’ society, unapologetically devoted to the pursuit of ‘stuff’, in which every human endeavor has a price tag.
On the other side of he planet, from the downfall of the Tzars in 1917, until the election of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Orthodox Church was barely tolerated in a country that officially espoused atheism as it tried to level incomes. During the first post-Soviet decade, under President Boris Yelstin, Russia was inducted into the ‘me’ society, many of its most ardent exponents ending up, with or without their millions, in the West. Luckily, Vladimir Putin was young and fit, for he confronted the mammoth task of more evenly dividing the capitalist spoils among his citizens.  A just published poll shows that half of Russians would favor a return to a planned economy over market capitalism’s free-for-all. By inference, it sheds light on support for a president who while not disdaining comfort, appeals to a more traditional lifestyle, something like the 1950’s America’s two-parent families with dishwashers.  

With the blessing of the Russian president, the leaders of Cuba, and their enlightened southern counterparts, Kyrill and Francis have enrolled their ‘divisions’ in the combat against ‘stuff’ that goes hand in hand with the literal ‘saving’ of the world’s poorest - and the planet.

Project Exodus

The Syrian civil war has revealed inconsistencies in US foreign policy that cannot be attributed to ignorance or incompetence.  Following the never-to-be-truly-elucidated September 11th attacks in New York, the US appears to have ‘foolishly’ taken on ‘nation-building’ in no fewer than four countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and….Ukraine, with Syria still up for grabs.
During that same period, the US has gifted the developed world with a major economic meltdown that had the seemingly unintended consequence of discombobulating a previously flourishing European Union. One thing that can be said about the latter, as well as about Iraq, Libya and Syria, is that these political entities are located on the left-hand side of the ideological spectrum, along with Iran, that found itself victim of all but paralyzing Western sanctions for years under the pretext of its atomic energy program. It so happens that Iran, Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah constitute a ‘frontline’ of support for the Palestinian cause, with Iran accused of seeking to destroy the Jewish state while this latter has recently been known to make overtures to the most ‘right-wing’ Arab state, Saudi Arabia.
Considered in isolation, these ‘facts’ are at the very least disconcerting.  Do they suggest an insoluble conundrum, or does their apparent lack of coherence point to a picture whose ‘size’ renders it imperceptible to geo-political analysts accustomed to dealing with minutiae?
It is no secret that the military/industrial/financial complex whose nerve center is located in Washington is determined to secure the raw materials that will enable it to successfully extend its remit to the entire earth. (And that is why it seeks every excuse to isolate and eventually defeat Russia, with its vast mineral wealth (see Zbig Brzezinski’s 1997 The Grand Chessboard).  But that is only the tip of the ‘iceberg’ - or more accurately,the ‘cauldron’.
By now it will have escaped nobody’s attention that humans are destroying the branch upon which they are sitting: the planet earth. As oil companies continue to obfuscate the truth and earnest activists pursue an all-but hopeless campaign to save Mother Earth, the 1% makes plans to save its members. In forums such as the Bilderberg Conference the discussion undoubtedly focuses on how the elite can first, maintain itself on a dying Earth, then colonize another planet. High-level research into space colonization has been going on for years, as ‘government’ and private sector players frantically pursue the identification of a planet capable of supporting human life.  Ever more powerful spacecraft are being developed, including by the private sector, which has put out a call for volunteers ready to leave earth forever.
Given this context, what would logically be the attitude of ‘governments’ toward the world’s ever expanding population?  Can we assume that Mars, or some as-yet unidentified rock out there will accommodate nine billion people?  Calls for volunteers being in the double digits, not billions, what can be our only logical conclusion? I submit that it is: “The 1% is not going to worry about the 99%.”
The lovely science of austerity has already made the point.  It is spelled out in Surplus American: How the 1% is Making Us Redundant by Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass  If you think my imagination is working overtime, watch Neill Bloomkamp’s Elysium, in which two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live in overpopulated, Earth favelas. Already in the seventies, Soylent Green described a world in which the only food is made of humanely killed citizens. Just as the early French futurist Jules Verne imagined Around the World in Eighty Days in 1873, our cinematographers show us the much bleaker future that technology is spinning for us.
In the interim, between the time when we realize that nothing our brilliant minds can conjure up will save the planet from becoming inhospitable to humans, and the onset of the climate catastrophe (assuming we manage to avoid nuclear war), the fly in the ointment of benign neglect has been the existence of the European Union, that has managed to channel the respective needs of over thirty nationalities into a political entity that provides the highest standard of living ever achieved by humans. Its five hundred million people cannot be allowed to stand as an inspiration to the rest of humanity: it must be destroyed via austerity, Margaret Thatcher’s resounding ‘There is no Alternative’ pointing the way.
As resistance to this project inevitably grows, the 1% must increasingly turn to fascist methods of control, from listening to our conversations and reading our emails to the militarization of local police forces.  (In Soylent Green, food is distributed by heavily armed police, and in Elysium, they play the role of labor overseers…) Hitler perfected fascism in the name of Lebensraum for the German people - room to live. His methods are being updated for The Survival of the Fittest.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Story to Watch: Retired French General Arrested

A former leader of France’s elite paratroopers was among demonstrators carrying small arms arrested in an anti-immigrant rally in Calais organized by the far-right Pegida Party that has spread from Germany across Europe.

Seventy-five year old legendary General Christian Piquemal, an admirer of General Marcel Bigeard who oversaw torture during the Algerian War, is a hero of France’s right-wing National Front Party, which is likely to react forcefully if tomorrow a judge orders him to jail, as required by new anti-terrorism laws. Tensions between the population of Calais and the thousands of migrants trying to cross the Channel to Great Britain could pit right against left in the capital and beyond .