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Magda Hassan Wrote:
Peter Lemkin Wrote:The Deep State's Hatred of Trump Is Not the Same as Yours

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They look like two vultures waiting to move in and scavenge the corpse. Waiting...waiting...

What's going on now is reminiscent of Roman politics and culture in the time of Caesar.
Peter Lemkin Wrote:The Deep State's Hatred of Trump Is Not the Same as Yours

Posted on Mar 2, 2017

By Paul Street
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Jim Lo Scalzo / Pool image via AP
Last October, three weeks before the presidential election, I wrote an essay for left progressives titled "The Ruling Class's Hatred of Trump is Different Than Yours." People on the left, I noted, loathed the white-nationalist, quasi-fascist Donald Trump because of his sexism, racism, nativism, authoritarianism, militarism, "law and order" police-state-ism, anti-intellectualism, his regressive arch-plutocracy, fake populism, climate denialism and promise to "deregulate energy" and thereby escalate the petro-capitalist, greenhouse gassing-to-death of life on earth.
The establishment's contempt for the orange-haired beast, I noted, was different. The nation's unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money and empire were perfectly willing to live with most, if not all, of what the left hated about Trump. After all, I reasoned, they'd been backing or tolerating most or all of those terrible things under presidents from both major United States parties for decades.
Trump, I wrote, faced ruling-class disdain because he was considered bad for transnational capital and the American empire. For the most part, the "deep state" masters who backed Hillary Clinton did not appreciate The Donald's blustering promises to roll back the neoliberal "free trade" agenda in the name of the forgotten working class. The foreign policy and "national security" establishment especially hated his criticism of Washington's long march toward war with Russia.
They did not relish the related threat Trump posed to Brand America. It is longstanding, bipartisan, U.S. ruling-class doctrine that this country is the world's great beacon and agent of democracy, human rights, justice and freedom. American reality has never matched the doctrine, but smart rulers knew that it would be especially difficult to align those claims with a president like Trump.
As a presidential candidate, Trump openly exhibited racist, nativist, sexist, arch-authoritarian, police-state-ist, Islamophobic, pro-torture, and even neofascist sentiments and values. "If our system of government is an oligarchy with a façade of democratic and constitutional process," the veteran congressional staffer Mike Lofgren wrote last summer in the preface to his book "The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government," "Trump would not only rip that façade away for the entire world to behold; he would take our system's ugliest features and intensify them." They also had policy differences with Trump's "isolationist" and "anti-trade" rhetoric. That is why the nation's economic and foreign-policy elites preferred Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio over Trump in the Republican primaries and Hillary Clinton in the general election.
Flash forward to the present. Horrified at the rise of an Insane Clown President who evokes chilling echoes of classic fascism, millions have taken to the streets. The issues that concern the swirling, record-setting crowds that have arisen from coast to coast are evident on their homemade signs.They include women's and civil rights, climate change, social justice, racism, nativism, the police state, mass incarceration, plutocracy, authoritarianism, immigrant rights, low wages, economic inequality (the top tenth of the upper U.S. 1 percent now owns more wealth than the nation's bottom 90 percent), hyper-militarism and the devaluation of science and education. The marches and protests are about the threats Trump poses to peace, social justice, the rule of law, livable ecology and democracy.
Meanwhile, the national corporate media and the U.S. intelligence community have been attacking Trump for a very different and strange reason. They have claimed, with no serious or credible evidence, that Trump is, for some bizarre reason, a tool of the Russian state. The charge is as wacky as anything Glenn Beck or, for that matter, Trump (former leader of the preposterous "birther movement"), used to say about President Obama. Citing vague and unsubstantiated CIA reports, The New York Times, The Washington Post and many other forces in the establishment media want Americans to believe that, in Glenn Greenwald's properly mocking words, "Donald Trump is some kind of an agent or a spy of Russia, or that he is being blackmailed by Russia and is going to pass secret information to the Kremlin and endanger American agents on purpose."
Beneath the wild and unsubstantiated charge that Trump is some kind of Moscow-controlled Manchurian president is a determination to cripple and perhaps remove Trump because he wants to normalize U.S. relations with Russia. Why, you might ask, would smoothing things over between Washington and Moscow be a terrible thing? It wouldn't be for everyday Americans who don't want to see themselves, their children and their grandchildren blown up in a nuclear war over, say, Ukraine (where the Obama administration provocatively helped create a fascist, NATO-affiliated regime on Russia's western border) or Crimea (where the vast majority of the population welcomed reversion to Russia).
The U.S. power eliterooted in key deep-state institutions like the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Atlantic Council, the Brookings Institution, The Washington Post and The New York Timesthinks differently. As Mike Whitney recently explained on Counterpunch, Trump's failure to grasp the necessity of the New Cold War with Russia "threat[ens] … Washington's broader imperial strategy to control China's growth, topple Putin, spread military bases across Central Asia, implement trade agreements that maintain the dominant role of western-owned mega-corporations, and derail attempts by Russia and China to link the wealthy EU to Asia by expanding the web of pipeline corridors and high-speed rail that will draw the continents closer together creating the largest and most populous free trade zone the world has ever seen. … The economic integration of Asia and Europe must be blocked to preserve Washington's hegemonic grip on world power."
This is CFR-led, U.S. "Open Door" Imperialism 101.
Don't be fooled by how much CNN's anchors enjoy broadcasting images of mass anti-Trump popular protests. The U.S. imperial, financial and corporate establishment doesn't care about the plight of the Standing Rock water and climate protectors, livable ecology, Muslim communities, Latino immigrants, Black Lives Matter activists, poor blacks, civil liberties, the working class (white and nonwhite) or Trump's recent, insane, budget-busting call for a 10 percent increase in the U.S. military budget.
The Trump presidency is a problem for the American establishment for some very different reasons. He's a public relations and marketing disaster for Brand USA. How do you sell the United States as a great model and agent of freedom, democracy and cultural diversity when its visible state is captained by vicious, white-nationalist authoritarians like the Twitter-addicted "thin-skinned megalomaniac" Trump and his quasi-fascist "alt-right" Svengali, Steve Bannon?
Trump is seen by many American elites as too stupid, narcissistic and crude to head the world's most powerful nation. It's an understandable concern. As The New York Times noted, Trump "spent the first 48 hours of his presidency bickering about the size of the inauguration crowd."
We've never heard a U.S. president say anything as dangerously idiotic as what Trump proclaimed to the nation's governors on Monday while calling for an over-the-top and dead-in-the-water increase in the Pentagon budget. "We have to start winning wars again. … We never win," said the new commander in chief, who stands atop a giant nuclear stockpile (the U.S. owns more than 5,100 nuclear warheads) with the capacity to blow the world up many times over. "When I was young, in high school and in college," the Vietnam-era draft dodger added, "everybody used to say we never lost a war. America never lost. Now, we never win a war."
Talking so flippantly and childishly about wars and the nation's need to "win" themthis without even referring to any purportedly legitimate war aims in the nuclear erais beyond the ruling-class pale. It's not that the establishment is pacifist or squeamish about killing people. Far from it. The American empire's body countruns into the many millions over the last half-century alone. But Trump's juvenile language makes the U.S. look all too transparently like a recklessly daft rogue state, not the wise and "indispensable nation" it has long been purported to be.
Recall Trump's talk to the CIA on his first full day in office. In a rambling speech broadcast on CNN and other cable news outlets, he complained like a petulant junior high student about the media's supposed underestimation of the number of people at his inauguration. Then he told stone-faced senior intelligence officials that the U.S. might get another chance to go into Iraq and "get the oil."
The world shuddered two weeks ago when a U.S. Army officer posed for a photograph with a wealthy patron at Trump's Mar-a-Lago golf resort while carrying the "nuclear football"the suitcase that carries the launch codes for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The new president is going to spend many of his presidential weekends at his opulent Mar-a-Lago resort, where the membership fee doubled to $200,000 after he was elected, and members now have new rules to follow.
George W. Bush also was over his head in the White House. Still, with his longstanding, ruling-class, establishment pedigree and his history as a graduate of Yale's secret Skull and Bones society, he had the decency and, well, the class, to know his limits and place. He subjected himself to certain rules of conduct imposed by his vice president and other more competent and knowledgeable handlers.
The malignant narcissist and Twitter-addicted Trump is a different breed. He might be able to clean himself up enough to read a semicivilized and half-conciliatory speech to Congress (earning thereby a fantastic description as "presidential" from the noted sycophant Van Jones). Still, he seems unable to stop himself from doing and saying things that shred the veneer of a wise, far-seeing and benevolent American empire.
Then there's been his related failure to grasp the necessity of focusing his dangerous imperial energies on Russia.
Has Trump and/or the people around him gotten the message on Russia? Perhaps. He agreed to get rid of his incompetent and insufficiently anti-Russian national security adviser, Michael Flynn, under establishment pressure. Flynn's replacement is Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who views Russia as a "hostile revisionist power" that "annex(es) territory, intimidates our allies, develops nuclear weapons, and uses proxies under the cover of modernized conventional militaries." Two weeks ago, the White House said Russia needs to return Crimea to Ukrainea preposterous statement that may reflect a newfound willingness for play along with New Cold War rhetoric. In his first annual address to Congress on Tuesday, Trump signaled strong support for Russia's great antagonist, NATO.
Still, don't expect the Trump-as-a-tool-of-Russia talk to go away. It's too irresistible for Democrats to drop. Besides working to delegitimize Trump (something Democrats hope to turn to their advantage in 2018 and 2020), the blame-the-Kremlin narrative helps New Cold Warriors atop both reigning parties keep the heat on Moscow. It helps them hedge in Trump's lingering promise of rapprochement with Russia.
At the same time, the Russia card helps the corporatists atop the Democratic Party avoid responsibility for blowing the election. After defeating the progressive Democrat Bernie Sanders (who would have defeated Trump) in dubious ways, the neoliberal Democrats ran a hopelessly wooden, Wall Street-captive and corruption-tainted candidate (Hillary Clinton) who couldn't mobilize enough working- and lower-class voters to defeat the hypernoxious and widely hated Trump. The "Moscow stole it" story line is a fancy version of "the dog ate my homework" for a dismal, dollar-drenched Democratic Party that abandoned the working class and the causes of peace, social justice and environmental sustainability long ago.
The moneyed masters in charge of the "inauthentic opposition" party (the late, left-liberal political scientist Sheldon Wolin's all-too-accurate description of the Democrats nine years ago) would rather not take a long, hard and honest look at what that political organization has become. It does not want to concede anything to those who dream of turning it into an authentically progressive opposition party. The "Russia did it" imputation works for establishment Democrats hoping to stave off demands from more progressive and populist types (who recently came close to claiming the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee) in their own party. So much better to blame external others for the richly deserved near-collapse of their party at all levels.
The Russia card also has proved tempting to U.S. progressives who should and may know better. Their understandable passion for seeing Herr Trump humiliated and removed from office has led some of them down a disturbing path. As Gareth Porter has noted, "Many people who oppose Trump for other valid reasons have seized on the shaky Russian accusations because they represent the best possibility for ousting Trump from power." It's a big mistake. Porter reflects and warns:
But ignoring the motives and the dishonesty behind the campaign of leaks has far-reaching political implications. Not only does it help to establish a precedent for U.S. intelligence agencies to intervene in domestic politics, as happens in authoritarian regimes all over the world, it also strengthens the hand of the military and intelligence bureaucracies who are determined to maintain the New Cold War with Russia.
Those war bureaucracies view the conflict with Russia as key to the continuation of higher levels of military spending and the more aggressive NATO policy in Europe that has already generated a gusher of arms sales that benefits the Pentagon and its self-dealing officials.
Progressives in the anti-Trump movement are in danger of becoming an unwitting ally of those military and intelligence bureaucracies despite the fundamental conflict between their economic and political interests and the desires of people who care about peace, social justice and the environment.
Do serious progressives committed to democracy, peace and social justice really want to lie down in the same warmongering and pro-surveillance bed as the CIA and the Pentagon? Doing so is bad for their souls and moral integrity. It's also bad for democracy and for peace to help empower and legitimize the imperial system's unelected and infamously nefarious deep state "intelligence" bureaucracy, "maybe the only [Washington] faction worse than Donald Trump," according to Greenwald.
As Whitney wisely counsels, "Leftists should avoid the temptation of aligning themselves with groups and agencies that might help them achieve their short-term goal of removing Trump, but ultimately move them closer to a de facto 1984 lock-down police state. Misplaced support for the deep state Russophobes will only strengthen the national security state's stranglehold on power. That's not a path to victory, it's a path to annihilation."
Take to the streets (and highways, town plazas, fossil-fuel extraction sites, shop floors, assembly halls, airwaves and airports, etc.) against Trump, by all means. But also take to the streets against the grim neoliberal Democrats who opened the barn door for his dangerous presidency and against the unelected "deep state" interests working always to increase the ever-upward concentration of global capitalist wealth and power. We don't want to bring Trump down just to help install an administration more properly suited to selling and otherwise advancing American empire, inequality and ecocide.

An excellent article that, for me, highlights the core problem of people who mindlessly support the anti-Russia and pro IC fakery - the danger is that they're digging their own graves. It's short term craziness.
New details have emerged on the Trump administration's plans to slash the Environmental Protection Agency. According to a leaked copy of the EPA's 2018 budget, the agency's overall budget would be slashed by 25%. Staffing would be reduced by 20%, or by 3000 jobs. The plan calls for the complete elimination of EPA programs on climate change, toxic waste cleanup, environmental justice, and funding for native Alaskan villages. It would slash funding to states for clean air and water programs by 30%. New EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt appeared to downplay the severity of the cuts in a speech Thursday to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
SCOTT PRUITT: In this budget discussion that's ongoing with Congress, it's a just starting, so there are concerns about some of these grant programs that EPA has been a part of historically. I want you to know that with the White House and also with Congress, I am communicating a message that the Brownfields Prgram, the Superfund Program, water infrastructure, WIFIA grants, state revolving funds, are essential to protect.
AMY GOODMAN: The proposed cuts to the EPA's budget come as the Trump administration's vowed to roll back Obama-era EPA actions, including major climate change regulations like the Clean Power Plan and climate change research. On Tuesday, Trump signed an executive order to begin the process of rewriting the 2015 water jurisdiction rule known as Waters of the United States, a law opposed by many conservatives. The act gives the federal government broad authority to limit pollution in major bodies of water as well as in streams and wetlands that drain into those waters. This is President Trump speaking at the signing of the order.
PRES. DONALD TRUMP: The EPA's so-called Waters of the United States rule is one of the worst examples of a federal regulation, and it has truly run amok and is one of the rules most strongly opposed by farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers all across our land. It's prohibiting them from being allowed to do what they're supposed to be doing. It's been a disaster. The EPA's regulators were putting people out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands. And regulations and permits started treating our wonderful small farmers and small businesses as if they were a major industrial polluter. They treated them horribly.
AMY GOODMAN: All of this comes as the White House continues to grapple with its position on the Paris climate agreement. Trump vowed on the campaign trail to back out of the Paris deal, a promise that senior adviser and climate-change denier Steve Bannon is urging the president to keep. However, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former head of Exxon, said during his Senate confirmation hearing in January, he hopes to stay in the climate pact. Well, for more, we're going to Washington, D.C., where we're joined by two guests. Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. And Bill Becker, Executive Director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. We welcome both of you to Democracy Now! Wenonah, let's begin with you. What about the slashing of the EPA programs and staff?
WENONAH HAUTER: Well, it's outrageous. And I think we have to put it in context. The slashing of staff would put the number of employees down to about 12,400. In 2010, there were 17,000 employees. So, we've already seen sharp cuts of the EPA budget from $10 billion in 2010 to now it would be $6 billion. It also takes the number of EPA employees down to about 1985 levels. And we should be clear that 90 percent of EPA programs are run by state agencies. Half the staff is located in regional offices. So, Scott Pruitt is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He said during his hearing that he believed that the states should be enforcing environmental laws, and yet they are cutting the budget so that the states will not have the funding to be able to keep our most precious resources clean.
AMY GOODMAN: Waters of the United States Rule. Talk about the significance of this, Wenonah.
WENONAH HAUTER: Well, I think most Americans believe that safe drinking water is important. They want their tap water to be safe to drink. If there are chemical pollutants going into the small streams, they eventually reach a large body of water that in many cases is going to be used for drinking water. And The American Farm Bureau has been one of the largest lobbyists against anything to do with protecting water bodies. And they really represent, not small farmers, but agribusiness and the chemical industry. And so, this is really going to be devastating to drinking water, along with the other cuts that we're going to see.
AMY GOODMAN: you are head of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. How is the air we breathe affected by these proposals?
BILL BECKER: It's going to be overwhelming. It's going to rip the soul out of state and local governmental implementation. There are more people who die from air pollution today, 40,000, than from almost not only every other environmental problem, but most other social problems we face. As many
AMY GOODMAN: Like terrorist attacks.
BILL BECKER: Like terrorist attacks, like drunk driving, like gun violence. And yet we simply don't have the luxury of sweeping these budget cuts under the rug and ignoring them. There are three basic problems with the budget cuts. Number one, as Wenonah said, it slashes the EPA staff and the EPA budget by 20 to 25 percent. That's unsustainable at a time when we need EPA to be the backstop. Second, as you pointed out in your preliminary remarks, this budget cuts eliminates 38 very important bipartisan successful programs ranging from Brownfields development to reducing diesel emissions from trucks and from construction equipment. It eliminates almost entirely money that goes to the Great Lakes. It eliminates the radon program. And finally, Wenonah was getting to this, at a time when President Trump and Administrator Pruitt are saying, let's get regulation out of Washington, D.C., away from EPA, and give it to the states, in the same breath, they're cutting the federal grants to the states to do this work by 30 to 40 percent. That's unacceptable. And the bottom line, if these cuts go through, we can almost guarantee with certainty that there will be more premature deaths and more sicknesses throughout the country. The public should be outraged at that.
AMY GOODMAN: Wenonah Hauter, this battle in the White House over whether to withdraw from the, from the Paris Climate Accord with Steve Bannon, the white supremacist, white nationalist Senior Adviser of President Trump on the one side, and interestingly, Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, Secretary of State, now, on the other. Can you talk about this in this recent revelation of a film that ExxonMobil put out on climate change decades ago? We already know about their decades cover-up of their own research on the threat of climate change and human involvement in it.
WENONAH HAUTER: Well, first of all, I'm not too surprised to see the Trump administration talking out of both sides of their mouth. We know that Steve Bannon is strictly ideological. In fact, wants to destroy the environment and many people in it. Rex Tillerson, when he was CEO of Exxon, actually supported the Paris agreement. The Paris agreement did not have hard targets or sanctions. The most concrete thing in the agreement was to use measurements that each signatory would use measurements that could be verified going forward. So, Tillerson wants to have a seat at the table, as he said. And doesn't want to appear to be as strident internationally. But we should be clear that we need to do a lot more than be one of the signatories to the Paris agreement. And of course, there is now some talk that Congress would actually make it a treaty and there would have to be a vote in Congress, which is nonsense, since it isn't actually a treaty. Now, as far as the Shell film from 1981.
WENONAH HAUTER: Yeah, I'm sorry, 1991, "Climate of Concern." It laid out many of the problems that we see today: climate refugees, famine, the erratic weather. And so, it's not too surprising that shell put out this film at that time because we know that from the 1960's, at least, Shell, Exxon, Chevron, the American petroleum Institute they were meeting they were talking about science. They were hiring scientists to do climate research so that they could be on top of policies related to climate. What they didn't do is stop using fossil fuels that used that science for their propaganda machine to continue investing, as shell has in the tar sands, in supporting lobbying machines like ALEC to lobby against the policies that would actually protect us against climate change, which really is the most pressing issue that we face going forward.
AMY GOODMAN: We have to wrap up, but, Bill Becker, I wanted to ask you, are these done deals, slashing the staff by 20 percent, slashing the climate justice area of EPA and all the other issues that we have been talking about? Is this a done deal? Does the public have any involvement?
BILL BECKER: It is not a done deal if we can help it. I was one who received a copy of the leaked document. And my goal was to shine as bright a light on the details of this document so that other groups Wenonah's group and many, many, many, other groups, including Congress can weigh in and allow the public to understand that the air they breathe, the water they drink, can be hazardous to your health and it takes money and staff, not only at EPA, but at the state and local governmental agencies to protect public health. These were laws set by Congress. They were to be administered by state and local agencies with EPA oversight. And we will do everything in our power to try to restore these recommended cuts. And fortunately, we have already heard from some congressmen and senators, Republicans included, that these cuts simply in many instances are not sustainable. And we're going to work to make sure that they are not going to be cut.
link to that document

Trump Administration Weighs Separating Mothers From Children at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Posted on Mar 4, 2017
By Nika Knight / Common Dreams
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The U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Ariz. (Flickr / CC 2.0)

As the Trump administration continues its mass deportations apace, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering ramping up anti-immigration policies even further with a new rule that would separate mothers from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
That's according to Reuters, which cites three unnamed government officials who had been briefed on the proposal intended "to deter mothers from migrating to the United States with their children."
Reuters reports:
The policy shift would allow the government to keep parents in custody while they contest deportation or wait for asylum hearings. Children would be put into protective custody with the Department of Health and Human Services, in the "least restrictive setting" until they can be taken into the care of a U.S. relative or state-sponsored guardian.
Currently, families contesting deportation or applying for asylum are generally released from detention quickly and allowed to remain in the United States until their cases are resolved. A federal appeals court ruling bars prolonged child detention.
President Donald Trump has called for ending "catch and release," in which migrants who cross illegally are freed to live in the United States while awaiting legal proceedings.
Such a policy "could create lifelong psychological trauma," Marielena Hincapie, executive director at the National Immigration Law Center, told Reuters. "Especially for children that have just completed a perilous journey from Central America."

Donald Trump's Greatest Allies Are the Liberal Elites

Posted on Mar 5, 2017
By Chris Hedges
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Mr. Fish / Truthdig

The liberal elitesfrom Hollywood and the Democratic Party to The New York Times and CNNa group that bears significant responsibility for the death of our democracy, now hold themselves up as the saviors of the republic. They have embarked, despite their own corruption and their complicity in neoliberalism and the crimes of empire, on a self-righteous moral crusade to topple Donald Trump. It is quite a show. They attack Trump's "lies," denounce executive orders such as his travel ban as un-American and blame Trump's election on Russia or FBI Director James Comey rather than the failed neoliberal policies they themselves advanced.
Where was this moral outrage when our privacy was taken from us by the security and surveillance state, the criminals on Wall Street were bailed out, we were stripped of our civil liberties and 2.3 million men and women were packed into our prisons, most of them poor people of color? Why did they not thunder with indignation as money replaced the vote and elected officials and corporate lobbyists instituted our system of legalized bribery? Where were the impassioned critiques of the absurd idea of allowing a nation to be governed by the dictates of corporations, banks and hedge fund managers? Why did they cater to the foibles and utterings of fellow elites, all the while blacklisting critics of the corporate state and ignoring the misery of the poor and the working class? Where was their moral righteousness when the United States committed war crimes in the Middle East and our militarized police carried out murderous rampages? What the liberal elites do now is not moral. It is self-exaltation disguised as piety. It is part of the carnival act.
The liberal class refuses to acknowledge that it sold the Democratic Party to corporate bidders; collaborated in the evisceration of our civil liberties; helped destroy programs such as welfare, orchestrate the job-killing North American Free Trade Agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, wage endless war, debase our public institutions including the press and build the world's largest prison system.
"The truth is hard to find. The truth is hard to know. The truth is more important than ever," reads a television ad for The New York Times. What the paper fails to add is that the hardest place to find the truth about the forces affecting the life of the average American and the truth about empire is in The New York Times itself. News organizations, from the Times to the tawdry forms of entertainment masquerading as news on television, have rendered most people and their concerns invisible. Liberal institutions, especially the press, function, as the journalist and author Matt Taibbi says, as "the guardians" of the neoliberal and imperial orthodoxy.
It is the job of the guardians of orthodoxy to plaster over the brutal reality and cruelty of neoliberalism and empire with a patina of civility or entertainment. They pay homage to a nonexistent democracy and nonexistent American virtues. The elites, who live in enclaves of privilege in cities such as New York, Washington and San Francisco, scold an enraged population. They tell those they dismiss as inferiors to calm down, be reasonable and patient and trust in the goodness of the old ruling class and the American system. African-Americans have heard this kind of cant preached by the white ruling class for a couple of centuries.
Because the system works for the elites, and because the elites interact only with other elites, they are mystified about the revolt rising up from the decayed cities they fly over in the middle of the country. They think they can stuff this inexplicable rage back in the box. They continue to offer up absurd solutions to deindustrialization and despair, such as Thomas Friedman's endorsement of "a culture of entrepreneurship" and "an ethic of pluralism." These kinds of bromides are advertising jingles. They bear no more connection to reality than Trump promising to make America great again.
I walked into the Harvard Club in New York City after midnight on election night. The well-heeled New York elites stood, their mouths agape, looking up at the television screens in the oak-paneled bar while wearing their Clinton campaign straw hats. They could not speak. They were in shock. The system they funded to prevent anyone from outside their circle, Republican or Democrat, from achieving the presidency had inexplicably collapsed.
Taibbi, when I interviewed him in New York, said political power in our corporate state is controlled by "a tripartite system." "You have to have the assent of the press, the donor class, and one of the two [major] political parties to get in," said Taibbi, author of "Insane Clown President: Dispatches From the 2016 Circus." "It's an exclusive club. It's like a membership system. They all have to agree and confer their blessing on the candidate. Trump somehow managed to get past all three of those obstacles. And he did it essentially by putting all of them on trial. He put the press on trial and villainized them with the public. I think it was a brilliant masterstroke that nobody saw coming. But it wouldn't have been possible if their unpopularity hadn't been building for years and years and years."
"It's a kind of Stockholm syndrome," he said of the press. "The reporters, candidates, and candidates' aides are all thrown together. They're stuck in the same environment with each other day after day, month after month. After a while, they start to unconsciously adopt each other's values. Then they start to live in the same neighborhoods. They go to the same parties. Then it becomes a year-after-year kind of thing. Then after that, they're the same people. It's a total perversion of what's supposed to happen. We're [the press] supposed to be on the outside, not identifying with these people. But now, it's a club. Journalists enjoy the experience of being close to power."

At first the press, especially the television press, could not get enough of Trump. He received 23 times the coverage of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who spoke about things that do not make for great televisioninequality and corporate corruption. Trump brought in the advertising dollars. 2016 was CNN's most profitable year. Then, alarmed at Trump's ascendancy, the press set out to destroy him. The press applied its Darth Vader Force choke. It did not work. They tried it again and again. The Force had deserted them.
"When a candidate makes a mistake and steps in it[2004 presidential hopeful] Howard Dean is the classic example, the screamthen they [TV news shows] replay it every hour, 100 times a day," Taibbi said. "The critical part is that Dean was already in violation leading up to that moment. He was not the right person because he was anti-war. He got his donations from the wrong people. He makes the mistake. The press pig-piles on the person just instinctively. All this negative attention. The candidate freaks out and apologizes. He disappears for a while. He tries to soldier on. The next thing you know, there's a Page 16 story: Candidate exits the race. It's a script. But it didn't work with Trump."
The press, like the Democratic Party, is an appendage of the consumer society. These institutions are not about politics or news. They are about imparting an experience. They create political personalities, marketed as celebrities, to make us feel good about candidates. These manufactured emotions, the product of the dark arts of the public relations industry, determine how we vote. Issues and policies are irrelevant. It is marketing and entertainment. Trump is a skillful marketer of his fictitious self.
"When you work in that environment long enough you unconsciously become an agent for whatever that commercial strategy is," Taibbi said of the press in our corporate-run political theater.
"What we call right-wing and liberal media in this country are really just two different strategies of the same kind of nihilistic lizard-brain sensationalism," Taibbi wrote in "Insane Clown President." "The ideal CNN story is a baby down a well, while the ideal Fox story is probably a baby thrown down a well by a Muslim terrorist or an ACORN activist. Both companies offer the same service, it's just that the Fox version is a little kinkier."
The pseudo-events on television displace reality. This is how a reality star becomes president. Sixty million people think Trump's manufactured personathe predominate tycoonon "The Apprentice" is real. Our perception of the truth is determined by what appears on the screen. If an event is never broadcast, it somehow never happened. The electronic image is the word of God. The corporate state controls most of what is seen and heard on television, what ideas and events can be discussed in the mainstream media and what orthodoxies, including neoliberalism and the war industry, must never be questioned. We suffer an intellectual tyranny as pervasive as that imposed by fascism and communism. Trump, who is as gullible as the most habitual television viewer, exemplifies our cultural and political death. He is no more "authentic" than Hillary Clinton. But he appears on our screens as more authentic because he is more deeply embedded in the medium that controls our thoughts. He is what is vomited up from the perverted zeitgeist of a nation entranced and dominated by electronic hallucinations.
"People have this idea that Trump has no connection with the common man,' but he does," Taibbi said. "He has exactly the same media habits that ordinary people have. He believes the stuff that he reads on the internet and watches on television implicitly and unquestioningly. That is what gives him that connection with people. He thinks like they do. He has the same habits they have. A classic example is the thing with the so-called 3 million illegal … voters. He reads that, probably in an Infowars story, it's policy like two minutes later. He doesn't go through the process of asking himself if it's untrue. He's a perfect consumer in that respect. That's what makes him so dangerous."
"[George W.] Bush was child's play compared to what we're dealing with now," Taibbi said. "Bush was a puppet. He was a vehicle for a very familiar form of right-wing capitalist politics. This Trump thing is totally different. Trump really is the actual engine behind this phenomenon during the entire campaign. There were no people behind the man, I don't think. The presidential campaign has no relation to the issue of whether or not you can govern effectively. The campaign is a television show. The values that decide whether a person becomes a candidate or can't become a candidate are more or less arbitrary. It has a lot to do with the commercial value of the candidate. You can't have an unentertaining candidate because the press needs to make money. They will unconsciously gravitate towards someone who does what Trump does, which is get [website] hits and eyeballs and ratings."
Trump's popularity increased the more the establishment condemned him. This would have sent a profound and disturbing message to anyone not as clueless as our liberal elites. They did not get it. They thought they could trot out Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Hollywood celebrities and get the rubes to fall for their routine one more time. They thought the country would again obey.
The liberal class, by embracing neoliberalism and refusing to challenge the imperial wars, empowered the economic and political structures that destroyed our democracy and gave rise to Trump. Multiculturalism, when it means, to use the words of Cornel West, nothing more than having a president who is a "black mascot for Wall Street," betrays the disenfranchised and endows the ruling elites with a false progressivism, a false humanism and a false inclusiveness.
Hillary and Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and the current Democratic Party leadership designed and built the massive system of imprisonment, essentially ended welfare, expanded our wars and pushed through NAFTA. They destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of poor and working-class families and are responsible for the mounds of corpses in the Middle East. Yet these liberal elites speak as if they are champions of racial and economic justice. They appear in choreographed pseudo-events to demonstrate a faux compassion. Now they have been exposed as fakes.
A genuine populism, one defined and often articulated by Bernie Sanders, could sweep the Democratic Party back into power. Regulating Wall Street, publicly financing campaigns, forgiving student debt, demanding universal health care, bailing out homeowners victimized by the banks, ending the wars in the Middle East, instituting a jobs program to repair our decaying infrastructure, dismantling the prison system, restoring the rule of law on the streets of our cities, making college education free and protecting programs such as Social Security would see election victory after election victory.
But this will never happen within the Democratic Party. It refuses to prohibit corporate money. The party elites know that if corporate money disappears, so do they. The party's hierarchy, pressured by Obama and the Clintons, elevated Tom Perez over Keith Ellisonwhom a major donor to the party, Haim Saban, condemns as an "anti-Semite" because of Ellison's criticism of the Israeli governmentto head the Democratic National Committee. They will press forward repeating the same silly slogans and trying to use the now ineffective Force choke on their political enemies. They may have lost control of the Congress and the White House and hold only 16 governorships and majorities in only 31 of the states' 99 legislative chambers, but they are incapable of offering any meaningful alternative to neoliberalism and empire. They are devoid of a vision. They can only moralize. They will continue to atrophy and enable the consolidation of an American fascism.
Fyodor Dostoevsky excoriated Russia's bankrupt liberal class at the end of the 19th century. Russian liberals mouthed values they did not defend. Their stated ideals bore no relationship to their actions. They were filled with a suffocating narcissism.
In "Notes From Underground," Dostoevsky lampooned the defeated dreamers of the liberal class, those who preached goodness but lived in moral squalor. These defeated dreamers denounced the social and cultural depravity they had largely created. They had an open disdain for the uneducated, the poor, the working class, the lesser breeds beneath them. And in the end they ushered in a moral nihilism to empower a dangerous class of demagogues, killers and fools.
"I never even managed to become anything: neither wicked nor good, neither a scoundrel nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect," the Underground Man wrote. "And now I am living out my life in my corner, taunting myself with the spiteful and utterly futile consolation that it is even impossible for an intelligent man seriously to become anything, and only fools become something. Yes, sir, an intelligent man of the nineteenth century must be and is morally obliged to be primarily a characterless being; and a man of character, an active figureprimarily a limited being."

Hedges is one of the very best political writers around today.
They just released the 'new, improved, kinder, gentler Muslim Ban' is as bizarre as the first one and the ACLU took only 20 minutes to say they'd take this one to Court too. So many strange features along with the old strange and ugly features. They removed Iraq - a 'logic' that fails by their own twisted logic. They signed it today, but it will come into effect in ten days - also a 'logic' that fails by their own twisted logic, as any terrorist would buy a ticket and enter in the next nine days. As I understood it, anyone with a visa who was enroute when the ban took effect on the 16th would be allowed in, but anyone who had a valid visa who did not begin their travel by the 16th would not...again failing the sanity test. I think it will be knocked down in the Courts much as the first one and the Administration will have egg on their faces again. :Hitler:
Peter Lemkin Wrote:They just released the 'new, improved, kinder, gentler Muslim Ban' is as bizarre as the first one and the ACLU took only 20 minutes to say they'd take this one to Court too. So many strange features along with the old strange and ugly features. They removed Iraq - a 'logic' that fails by their own twisted logic. They signed it today, but it will come into effect in ten days - also a 'logic' that fails by their own twisted logic, as any terrorist would buy a ticket and enter in the next nine days. As I understood it, anyone with a visa who was enroute when the ban took effect on the 16th would be allowed in, but anyone who had a valid visa who did not begin their travel by the 16th would not...again failing the sanity test. I think it will be knocked down in the Courts much as the first one and the Administration will have egg on their faces again. :Hitler:

I thought the removal of Iraq and the reduction to 120 days for Syrians curious also. According to the Indy, the 7 nations were nominated because they refuse to cooperate with US immigration requirements for purposes of vetting incoming travellers.

The whole thing is bizarre - including the fact that the 7 nations were originally nominated for restriction by Obama, a stipulation that sailed through without comment at the time.