When Zen teacher Issan Dorsey was asked to describe the essence of Zen art, he answered, “Nothing extra.”
“Nothing extra” is also of course the essence of Zen living itself: perceiving life as it actually is, as opposed to perceiving it through a bunch of believed narrative filters about yourself, about others, about reality, and so on. These narrative filters are an extra pile of layers that are added on top of the actual experience of life, and they give a distorted view which causes a lot of confusion and suffering. Relinquishing belief in them brings clarity and peace.
This is also the essence of clearly understanding what’s really going on in the world. Like so much else, the approach to the large is the same as the approach to the small, which is to say the approach to seeing clearly in the big picture is the same as the approach to seeing clearly as an individual: you need to learn to look at it without the extra narrative overlay.
Because the news media are controlled by plutocrats who have a vested interest in protecting the status quo upon which their kingdoms are built, almost everything in the news is useless narrative fluff. It doesn’t tell you what’s really going on, it rather tries to influence what’s going on by manipulating the perceptions of the audience. It does this by either (A) distracting from what really matters by focusing on what doesn’t matter, or (B) actively working to manipulate how the audience thinks about a given issue.
When you strip away all the empty fluff and manipulative spin, there are basically only four often-overlapping pieces of information that really matter in the big picture: (1) where the money is going, (2) where the resources are going, (3) where the weapons are going, and (4) where the people are going. When it comes to understanding world dynamics, accurate information about these four things is the only real news you’ll ever encounter. Everything else is empty narrative spin meant to justify, distort, or distract from information about these things.
If you ignore everything else and only focus on finding the most accurate information possible about these four items, you will have an infinitely clearer understanding of what’s really going on in the world than someone who trusts news reporters to walk them through it.
Watch where the money is going because you can trust the raw numbers of financial transactions a lot more than you can trust the stories people are telling. A massive percentage of daily news coverage goes toward analyzing the latest foam-brained gibberish that came out of Donald Trump’s mouth even though we all know he’s going to contradict himself two days later, but the fact that he’s been heavily funded by an oligarch who happens to have been a longtime proponent of the Iran policies this administration has been advancing is much more solid.
Zoom out and watch where the money is going in the big picture and you’ll see that a grossly disproportionate amount of it is moving away from the general public and toward a very small group of people, which we just saw illustrated in the historically unprecedented multitrillion-dollar wealth transfer in the US corporate bailout. If you watch this small group and pay attention to the projects, candidates, think tanks and media outlets they pour their wealth into, you will notice that they exert an incredible amount of influence on all four crucial factors: where the money goes, where the resources go, where the weapons go, and where the people go.
Watching where the resources are going gives you an even clearer image of what’s going on because resources, unlike money, are completely independent of narrative. There is no such thing as “money” without the thoughts that humans agree to collectively think about it, but oil would still be oil even if all humans were wiped off the face of the earth. When you see the US ramping up escalations against Venezuela, ignore the narratives about “drug trafficking” and what a bad, bad man Nicolás Maduro is, and look at what resources lie beneath the ground in that nation to find out what this is really about. Mentally “mute” the soundtracks the political/media class spout about who’s doing what to whom and just watch where the resources are going, and who’s controlling them. That way you’ll be able to discern the powerful from the disempowered and the takers from their victims.
Watch where the weapons are going because those are another non-narrative factor which exerts a huge influence on the world; a bullet will stop a beating heart regardless of what the mind thinks about it. Ignore the irrelevant narrative fluff about where the coronavirus originated and whether or not it’s racist to say “Wuhan virus”, and look at the ring of US military bases encircling China and the way the Marine Corps is shifting its attention onto that nation. Ignore Trump’s gibberish about ending wars and note that he’s been expanding them and increasing foreign troop presence. Ignore the Democratic Party’s nonsense about Trump having loyalties to Russia and watch his administration’s many dangerous nuclear escalations against that nation. Ignore international finger-wagging at humanitarian abuses by Israel and Saudi Arabia and look at who’s still selling them weapons and supporting them militarily.
Watch where the people are going for another important piece of real information that isn’t dependent on narrative. Where are the prisoners? Where are the refugees, where are they going, and what are they fleeing? Where are people moving to, and what do they want?
With each of these four items you can simply watch raw data and ignore all the stories the establishment spinmeisters tell about that data. As long as you make sure you’re getting the most accurate data possible, it’s like you’re looking at a globe and watching lines in four different colors moving around in it from place to place and person to person. And without anyone’s stories tainting your view.
You will notice that there’s a heavy degree of overlap between these four items. You see the weapons moving toward China and you notice that’s the nation with the US hegemony-threatening Belt and Road Initiative (where the resources are moving) and the key player in the US dollar-threatening Shanghai Cooperation Organization (where the money is moving). You see Julian Assange locked in prison (where the people are going) for exposing US war crimes (where the weapons are going). You see US troops illegally occupying Syrian oil fields (where the weapons and resources are going) to prevent the Syrian government from using it to rebuild the nation (where the money is going). And so on.
Nearly everything that makes it to the top of the daily news churn is either propaganda distortion or distracting drivel, and either way you can safely ignore it. Just watch where the money is going, where the resources are going, where the weapons are going and where the people are going, and ignore all the narrative chatter.
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“America’s 700 plus billion-dollar defense budget, riddled with waste while the American people suffer from massive cuts in services and benefits, reeks of failed policy, failed leadership and a failure on the part of the once guiding hand of the West to repeat Reagan’s efforts against the Soviet Union.
That policy failure, one based on following more the myth of Reagan than the facts, has been suicidal. Reagan buried America in debt, destroyed America’s manufacturing base, impoverished America’s cities and flooded the nation with narcotics, the real scandal behind Iran Contra.”
Jan 3, 2020
Under President Trump, the US has faced one disaster after another, Europe, NATO, North Korea, and of course, the Middle East.
Let us catalog a few:
Past this, efforts to squeeze Russia in an arms race has led that nation to develop and, by December 2019 begin deployment of, a series of new weapons that totally turns the tables on American military dominance.
Vladimir Putin’s January 2018 announcement of a series of new strategic weapons has been more than an empty threat. With ten hypersonic vehicles with warheads up to two megaton in place and ten more to be quickly deployed, American efforts at missile defense are shattered for a generation or more.
America’s 700 plus billion-dollar defense budget, riddled with waste while the American people suffer from massive cuts in services and benefits, reeks of failed policy, failed leadership and a failure on the part of the once guiding hand of the West to repeat Reagan’s efforts against the Soviet Union.
That policy failure, one based on following more the myth of Reagan than the facts, has been suicidal. Reagan buried America in debt, destroyed America’s manufacturing base, impoverished America’s cities and flooded the nation with narcotics, the real scandal behind Iran Contra.
The issue of course is moral decline, bullying abroad, oligarchical rule well outside the law at home, dictatorship, propaganda, division, and rot.
Worst of all has been the American opinion, something hidden from the world, one held by many, perhaps even a majority, that Russian leadership around the world is preferred to that of an American government few Americans trust.
From Pew Research:
“When the National Election Study began asking about trust in government in 1958, about three-quarters of Americans trusted the federal government to do the right thing almost always or most of the time. Trust in government began eroding during the 1960s, amid the escalation of the Vietnam War, and the decline continued in the 1970s with the Watergate scandal and worsening economic struggles. Confidence in government recovered in the mid-1980s before falling again in the mid-1990s. But as the economy grew in the late 1990s so too did confidence in government. Public trust reached a three-decade high shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks but declined quickly thereafter. Since 2007, the share saying they can trust the government always or most of the time has not surpassed 30%.
Currently, 21% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they can trust government, compared with 14% of Democrats and Democratic leaners. Throughout Obama’s tenure, more Democrats than Republicans reported trusting the government, though that has flipped since Trump’s election. Since the 1970s, trust in government has been consistently higher among members of the party that controls the White House than among the opposition party. However, Republicans have been much more reactive than Democrats to changes in political power. Republicans have expressed much higher levels of trust during Republican than during Democratic presidencies, while Democrats’ attitudes have tended to be more consistent, regardless of which party controls the White House.”
There is another problem here, that of how a minority party, the Republicans, can control government in the US. From Pew Research again:
“For more than 70 years, with few exceptions, more Americans have identified as Democrats than Republicans. But the share of independents, which surpassed the percentages of either Democrats or Republicans several years ago, continues to increase. Currently, 39% Americans identify as independents, 32% as Democrats and 23% as Republicans.”
Even with a censored press, Americans are more than aware that elections in the US are decided by money, not money which buys advertising or even smears and wild conspiracy theories but rather pays for voter suppression, vote tampering, wide patterns of gerrymandering and outright bribery of public officials, long legalized in the US under “Citizens United,” a 2005 5/4 decision by a rigged Supreme Court.
Thus, when Russia develops new weapons or makes advances around the world, Americans see it as a “safety valve” against aggression and injustice at home and abroad, done in the name of the American people, by the corrupt oligarchical rulers the same American people feel powerless to reign in.
Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe a mature worldview requires skepticism toward power.
Smart upstanding citizens believe the government is your friend, and the media are its helpers.
Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that powerful people sometimes make immoral plans in secret.
Smart upstanding citizens believe the TV always tells the truth and the CIA exists for no reason.
Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that extreme government secrecy makes it necessary to discuss possible theories about what might be going on behind that veil of opacity.
Smart upstanding citizens believe that just because a world-dominating government with the most powerful military in the history of civilization has no transparency and zero accountability to the public, that doesn’t mean you’ve got to get all paranoid about it.
Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe it’s okay to ask questions about important events that happen in the world, even if their government tells them they shouldn’t.
Smart upstanding citizens believe everything they need to know about reality comes out of Mike Pompeo’s angelic mouth.
Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the very rich sometimes engage in nefarious behavior to expand their wealth and power.
Smart upstanding citizens believe billionaires always conduct themselves with the same values that got them their billions in the first place: honesty, morality, and generosity.
Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe it’s important to remember the lies that led up to the invasion of Iraq, and the disastrous consequences of blind faith in government claims.
Smart upstanding citizens believe “Iraq” is a fictional land similar to Narnia or Middle Earth, from the writings of a fantasy author named George Galloway.
Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe Syria is fighting to avoid becoming another Libya in a war of defense against extremist proxy armies of the US-centralized empire, who were given billions of dollars in military support with the goal of toppling Damascus.
Smart upstanding citizens believe Bashar al-Assad is a real-life version of a cartoon supervillain who just started murdering civilians willy nilly in 2011 because he loves murdering civilians, then in 2015 his friend Vladimir Putin joined in because he loves murdering civilians also.
Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the extensive history of US government lies means you should always demand mountains of independently verifiable evidence when they make claims about unabsorbed nations.
Smart upstanding citizens believe Russia literally committed an act of war on the United States in 2016, China is orchestrating a second Holocaust, Maduro is deliberately starving the Venezuelan people because he hates them, Assad is using chemical weapons but only when it makes no strategic sense, Cuban spy crickets are trying to assassinate US diplomats, there’s novichok everywhere, and every noncompliant party in the Middle East is secretly working for Iran.
Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that it can be difficult to figure out what’s going on in a mass media landscape that is saturated with the propaganda of the US-centralized empire.
Smart upstanding citizens believe that all you need to do to ensure you’re getting all the facts is watch television and run screaming from the room if you accidentally flip past RT.
Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the Gulf of Tonkin incident was faked, the “taking babies out of incubators” narrative was a lie, Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, Gaddafi’s rape armies never existed and the Libya intervention was never really about humanitarian concerns.
Smart, upstanding citizens believe it’s better not to think about such things.
Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the latest WikiLeaks publications of internal OPCW documents provide ample evidence that we were lied to about the 2018 Douma incident.
Smart upstanding citizens believe those documents aren’t real because The New York Times never reported on them.
Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that increasing levels of government secrecy are making it easier for government agencies to do unethical things in secret.
Smart upstanding citizens believe that questioning your government makes you a Russian anti-semite.
Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that the billionaire class which owns the mass media has a natural incentive to prop up the status quo upon which it is built, and so construct an environment where reporters are incentivized to always support the establishment line.
Smart upstanding citizens believe that if that kind of conspiracy were really happening, it would have been in the news.
Goodbye Britain. Enjoy your new masters, the Americans. Thanks for Kate Bush and Monthy Python. Sorry for your demise.
Dec 13, 2019
Ladies and gentlemen I have here at my fingertips indisputable proof that egregious election meddling took place in the United Kingdom on Thursday.
Before you get all excited, no, it wasn’t the Russians. It wasn’t the Chinese, the Iranians, Cobra Command or the Legion of Doom. I’m not going to get any Rachel Maddow-sized paychecks for revealing this evidence to you, nor am I going to draw in millions of credulous viewers waiting with bated breath for a bombshell revelation of an international conspiracy that will invalidate the results of the election.
In fact, hardly anyone will even care.
Hardly anyone will care because this election interference has been happening right out in the open, and was perfectly legal. And nobody will suffer any consequences for it.
Nobody will suffer any consequences for interfering in the UK election because the ones doing the interfering were extremely powerful, and that’s who the system is built to serve.
As of this writing British exit polls are indicating a landslide victory for the Tories. Numerous other factors went into this result, including most notably a Labour Party ambivalently straddling an irreconcilable divide on the issue of Brexit, but it is also undeniable that the election was affected by a political smear campaign that was entirely unprecedented in scale and vitriol in the history of western democracy. This smear campaign was driven by billionaire-controlled media outlets, along with intelligence and military agencies, as well as state media like the BBC.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been described as the most smeared politician in history, and this is a fair description. Journalist Matt Kennard recently compiled documentation of dozens of incidents in which former and current spooks and military officials collaborated with plutocratic media institutions to portray Corbyn as a threat to national security. Journalistic accountability advocates like Media Lens and Jonathan Cook have been working for years to compile evidence of the mass media’s attempts to paint Corbyn as everything from a terrorist sympathizer to a Communist to a Russian asset to an IRA supporter to a closet antisemite. Just the other day The Grayzone documented how establishment narrative manager Ben Nimmo was enlisted to unilaterally target Corbyn with a fact-free Russiagate-style conspiracy theory in the lead-up to the election, a psyop that was uncritically circulated by both right-wing outlets like The Telegraph as well as ostensibly “left”-wing outlets like The Guardian.
Just as Corbyn’s advocacy for the many over the plutocratic few saw him targeted by billionaire media outlets, his view of Palestinians as human beings saw him targeted by the imperialist Israel lobby as exposed in the Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby. For a mountain of links refuting the bogus antisemitism smear directed at Corbyn, a lifelong opponent of antisemitism, check out the deluge of responses to this query I made on Twitter the other day.
This interference continued right up into the day before the election, with the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg flagrantly violating election rules by reporting that early postal votes had been illegally tallied and results were “looking very grim for Labour”.
The historically unprecedented smear campaign that was directed at Corbyn from the right, the far-right, and from within his own party had an effect. Of course it did. If you say this today on social media you’ll get a ton of comments telling you you’re wrong, telling you every vote against Labour was exclusively due to the British people not wanting to live in a Marxist dystopia, telling you it was exclusively because of Brexit, totally denying any possibility that the years of deceitful mass media narrative management that British consciousness was pummelled with day in and day out prior to the election had any impact whatsoever upon its results.
Right. Sure guys. Persistent campaigns to deliberately manipulate people’s minds using mass media have no effect on their decisions at all. I guess that’s why that whole “advertising” fad never made any money.
I am not claiming here that the billions of dollars worth of free mass media reporting that was devoted to smearing Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party had a greater effect on the election results than Brexit and other strategic stumbles in the party. I’m just saying that it definitely had a much greater effect than the few thousand dollars Russian nationals spent on social media memes in the US, which the American political/media class has been relentlessly shrieking about for three years. To deny that a media smear campaign the size and scope of that directed at Corbyn had an effect is the same as denying that advertising, a trillion-dollar industry, has an effect.
Which means that plutocrats and government agencies indisputably interfered in the British election, to an exponentially greater extent than anything the Russians are even alleged to have done. Yet according to British law it was perfectly legal, and according to British society it was perfectly acceptable. It’s perfectly legal and acceptable for powerful individuals to have a vastly greater influence on a purportedly democratic election than any of the ordinary individuals voting in it.
A free and healthy society would not work this way. A free and healthy society would view all forms of manipulation as taboo and unacceptable. A free and healthy society would not allow the will of members of one small elite class to carry more weight than the will of anyone else. A free and healthy society would give everyone an equal voice at the table, and look after everyone’s concerns. It certainly wouldn’t tolerate a few individuals who already have far too much abusing their power and wealth to obtain even more.
Western media is spreading fake news and fabricating stories with evil intentions. Western Media is biased and creating unrest and chaos in various parts of the world. Media is being used by the Western world to coerce, influence and achieve their ill-political motives. Unfortunately, Western Media is already dominating and controlling public opinion throughout the world.
Let me give you a particular example of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). BBC reported that the Saddam Hussain regime in Iraq possesses Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). America along with its allies attacked Iraq, destroyed Iraq, killed millions of people, damaged Infrastructure, Power Houses, Telecommunication, Hospitals, Schools, Churches, Mosques, Roads, Industry, Oil Wells, Refineries, etc. Finally noticed that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Later on, the British Prime Minister of that time, acknowledged that the BBC news was not accurate, and information about WMD was not correct. But after damaging a country totally and harming millions of people, pushing Iraq into stone ages, one’s mere apology may not be accepted and may not be forgiven by humanity, irreversible damage to Iraq may never be forgotten by the history.
It is worth mentioning, Iraq was a very stable, oil-rich, and total welfare state under President Saddam Hussain. Education, health care was free of cost to its citizens, plenty of food, variety of food was available abundantly. Electricity was available in all parts of the country in abundance sufficiently. Fuel and items of daily use were available everywhere conveniently. The society was very much stable, satisfied and living a comfortable life. All factions of the society were enjoying harmony and was a tolerant society. It might be possible a few exceptionally politicians opposing the ruling party “Bath” or President Saddam Hussain, were victimized. They might be few in numbers or two digits only. But the vast majority of the nation was comfortable with the rulers.
But after the US war on Iraq, today, people of Iraq are facing a shortage of food, fuel, electricity, medicines, and items of daily life. No free education and health care are provided by the government. The society is extremely polarized, intolerance and factionist are very much common. Terrorism, lawlessness, and chaos are witnesses everywhere.
Is publically apology is sufficient to cool down the suffering of millions of Iraqis? Can anyone ignore the dirty role of the BBC? Is it possible, people of Iraq forget the BBC? Can the victim forgive the BBC?
It is only one example only. The same trick was played in the case of Syria. BBC reported that the Syrian Government possesses Chemical Weapons and is using against rebellions. Western Alliance NATO, under the US leadership, attacked Syria, killed millions of innocent people, displace millions of common citizens, damaged the whole country, and pushed the Syrian into stone ages. Forced the Syrian people to take asylum in the Western World where they are humiliated, especial the women and children are being abused. A huge portion is forced to live in temporary camps within the country, where life is very hard and lacks the basic amenities of daily life. Western World has made the life on common Syrian misery and curse only. While Syrians was a very stable country, may not be very rich, but with all basic amenities available conveniently. Nature has blessed the Syrians with best fruits and vegetables, and traditional Syrian food is one of the important attractions in the region. The people of Syria are very pretty and a superior creature. They can compete any beauty villain in the world easily. The law and order situation was very much comfortable and society was stable and living in harmony.
The same is the case of Libya, where ill-motivated fake News led to the destruction of a sovereign country. A very stable, oil-rich nation turned into chaos and lawlessness. A nation with all comforts and facilities has been deprived of even basic needs of life. A sate with total welfare for its citizens has been changed into a lack of everything like food, medicines, fuel, electricity, etc.
The situation in Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, and Afghanistan is not much different than this. The US admits its role in spreading fake information about Afghanistan and admits its failure in Afghanistan. Pakistan, Turkey, and Iran are on the list and Western World is engaged in a hybrid war, where media is the basic weapon and in some cases over-engaged in spreading fake news and fabrication of stories to create chaos and promote instability.
In Pakistan , we noticed many illegal radio stations operating by Western-funded NGOs, spreading hate, misinformation, and troubles only. Many media houses and individual journalists are hired by Western World and used as front-man or under-cover operation of hybrid war in Pakistan.
Only in the Middle East, around two million people have been killed, several million have been displaced from their homes, either to live in Camps or to move to other countries seeking asylums.
In fact, the world is full of such examples and unfortunately, the developing world is the victim and under direct target.
The recent reports regarding Mike Pompeo regarding lies, cheating, stealing, etc are further confirmation that information is deliberately changed to achieve designed results. The US role in
1970s ‘Operation Condor,’ in which South American dictators systematically tortured and killed dissidents in the region. An estimated 60,000 people were killed by the Latin American states in the clandestine operation, 30,000 in Argentina alone. Another 30,000 were disappeared and 400,000 imprisoned during the Operation. It is now known that the CIA was a guiding hand throughout the whole process, by training and helping military and civilian personnel. “Diplomacy and military strength go hand in hand. They are indeed intimately related. Each relies on the other,” Pompeo also admitted during the conference called “Why Diplomacy Matters.”
Covert operations, ousting democratically elected governments, inciting revolts and supporting transnational companies are run of the mill actions for the CIA, all justified as part of the fight against those who question U.S. interests. Actions that continue until this day. In 2018, one of its offshoots, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) channeled over US$23 million to meddle in the internal affairs of key Latin American countries, under the flagship of “human rights” or “democracy,” which represent a real menace for national sovereignty and the continuity of progressive governments in the region and the world.
These are the only few known facts, there must be much more in various parts of the world similar incidents and fake news or spread of misinformation.
I believe the Western World is misusing Media and the spread of distorted information as an unarmed wing or tool of defense and diplomatic strategies, to achieve their evil goals. It seems Western media is notorious for spreading fake news and the fabrication of stories. They have lost their credibility at all. The intellectuals and people with common sense no more believe Western Media anymore. The credibility of Western Media is challenged and lost recognition among the people having conscious.
I have been traveling internationally frequently and come across many foreigners. Most of them have a very negative impression about Pakistan. But those who have travelled to Pakistan, are very different and praise Pakistan. In fact, media is projecting negative image of Pakistan, however, the ground realities are very different. I do not claim that Pakistan is perfect and everything is ideal, but reject the extremely negative impression posed in the Western Media. There might be many problems in Pakistan but just like other countries, not much different from the rest of world. In some respect, Pakistan is better than many other nations awhile facing few challenges too like other nations. Misinformation and distorted stories regarding Pakistan are part of Western Media war launched against Pakistan.
I understand some of you may disagree with my opinion and maybe offended but at least it may initiate an open debate. Let’s explore the avenues of a common ground where we can seek the truth. The common man is interested only in seeking the real facts and figures. Let’s judge the reports and news on an impartial basis and reach conclusion at our own. With the improvement of technology, and especially with the help of the internet and ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), it is possible for the dissemination of facts instantly. We should conceive the facts with open-minded and be receptive to facts only.
I wish for a peaceful world where justice, freedom, and truth will prevail. Let’s join hands toward this goal and all those willing to achieve this goal, be struggling till the victory. In fact, journalism is a holy profession and must not be politicized. Let the media work for the welfare of humanity. There are many media houses working very well and are serving humanity properly. We must salute them and extend our full cooperation. We must differential among good and bad News agencies or media houses. It is our own duty to judge the good and evil media and should appreciate the positive role of media where ever necessary.
I must offer my heartiest apology if offended a few of you. But willing to find common ground and extend my full cooperation, if it is desired by some of you. Let’s build a better world, where tomorrow should be better than yesterday. Our next-generation must not face the same challenges which we have faced. Love humanity, love peace, seek the truth.
Journalists revealed to me the tactics they use to sell stories painting Venezuela as a socialist dystopia. One described himself as a “mercenary,” explaining how he aims to please his employer’s funders.
It is clear that mainstream US media correspondents are no fans of the Venezuelan government. But rarely do you hear them speak so openly about their biases.
One Caracas-based correspondent now working for the New York Times told me on the record that he employs “sexy tricks” to “hook” readers on dubious articles demonizing the socialist government of Venezuela.
Anatoly Kurmanaev made this revealing comment and many more to during an interview I conducted with him for my PhD and book on the media coverage of Latin America.
At the time, he was a correspondent for Bloomberg, and had just published a very dubious story on how condoms supposedly cost $750 per pack in Venezuela. The misleading article was picked up and repeated across the media.
Describing himself and his colleagues as “mercenaries,” Kurmanaev was unabashed, boasting on tape that he essentially grossly exaggerates stories in the media.
“A couple of times from my experience you try to use, I wouldn’t call them ‘cheap tricks’, but yeah, kind of sexy tricks. Just last week we had a story about condom shortages in Venezuela. At the official exchange rate condoms were at like $750 dollars or something and the headline was something like ‘$750 dollar condom in Venezuela’ and everyone clicks it, everyone is like ‘Jesus, why do they sell it for like $750?’” he said.
Kurmanaev emphasized that his goal was to “hook” readers into a larger story about Venezuela’s purported demise under socialism.
The New York Times’ Anatoly Kurmanaev discussing Venezuela on France 24
“Once you click,” the reporter said, “the average reader is hooked and he’ll read about really important issues like HIV problems in Venezuela, teenage pregnancies, the social impact of lack of contraception, the public health impact, things that I do feel are important to tell the world. But you have to use sexy tactics for it.”
We like to think of journalists as plucky truth-tellers standing up to power. But this notion is horribly antiquated; in reality, most journalists are parts of enormous corporate machines with their own political interests and agendas, often directly linked to those of the US government.
And where Washington has skin in the game, a way to quickly advance in the field is to parrot American government positions, regardless of the facts.
One example of this is Venezuela, where the embattled socialist government of Nicolás Maduro is attempting to govern in the face of crushing US sanctions that are estimated to have killed more than 40,000 civilians from 2017 to 2018 alone.
The corporate media has dutifully ignored the US role in the country’s economic woes, laying the blame squarely at the feet of Maduro, omitting crucial political context on Venezuela’s economic crisis while keeping up a constant flow of content presenting the country as a socialist hellhole.
Don’t you know a hamburger costs $170 there? Well, no, that story was retracted. But condoms cost $750! Also no — we don’t learn until the ninth paragraph of Kurmanaev’s article that a pack of condoms actually cost about the same as it did in the US at the time.
That latter piece of pseudo-news is based on deliberate distortions of the country’s admittedly byzantine currency regulations and has the effect of demonizing the government and socialism in general, advancing the idea that “something must be done” to help them.
Are we to believe that the journalists who deploy these “sexy tricks” don’t know exactly what they are doing?
From Venezuelan prophylactic to whitewashing Bolivia’s coup
On the back of his coverage of Venezuela, Anatoly Kurmanaev has risen rapidly through the ranks of his industry to a post at the supposed newspaper of record, the New York Times, whose editorial board recently applauded the US-backed military coup in Bolivia that ousted Evo Morales.
Generals appeared on television demanding the newly re-elected Morales step down. Their handpicked replacement Janine Añez immediately pre-exonerated security forces of any crimes in the “re-establishment of order”, leading to massacres of dozens of indigenous protestors.
In the New York Times, Kurmanaev soft-pedaled those events as Morales’ “resignation” – not the military coup that had unfolded in plain sight. According to the correspondent’s narrative, which conveniently echoed Washington’s official line, the ouster of Morales left a “power vacuum” that a reluctant Añez was forced to fill with a “transitional government.”
As the Bolivian junta cuts down and jails its opponents in droves, the Times has resorted to increasingly contorted language to avoid using the apparently forbidden term: “coup.”
“Violent protests over a disputed election that he claimed to win, and after he had lost the backing of the military and the police,” was the reporter’s most recent attempt to characterize the events that forced Morales from power.
In whitewashing a putsch and subsequent campaign of repression waged by avowedly racist, right-wing forces, Kurmanaev was far from alone. Across the mainstream spectrum, media outlets have welcomed the coup, framing the military’s ouster of an elected head of state as a “resignation” while downplaying the massacres as merely “clashes.”
Inside Bolivia, meanwhile, the oligarch-owned “sellout press” has been assisting in the roundup and suppression of alternative media.
As The Grayzone contributor Wyatt Reed reported from La Paz, a crowd of journalists harassed and detained an independent reporter, handing him over to the death squads that have been terrorizing the country for the last two weeks, in retaliation for his refusal to tow the junta’s line.
Reed called this “a complete betrayal of what it is supposed to mean to be a journalist.”
The whole time I’ve been in Bolivia I’ve heard about the “prensa vendida,” aka the sellout press. Watch here as they harass an independent journalist, keep him from doing the job they *should* be doing, then hand deliver him to the army!
Anyone who shows this gets shut down.
The whole time I’ve been in Bolivia I’ve heard about the “prensa vendida,” aka the sellout press. Watch here as they harass an independent journalist, keep him from doing the job they *should* be doing, then hand deliver him to the army!
Anyone who shows this gets shut down. pic.twitter.com/wY5dwgu4lS
— Wyatt Reed (@wyattreed13) November 22, 2019
In Venezuela the local media actually led the coup attempt against President Hugo Chávez in 2002. “Not one step backwards!” read the front page headline of El Nacional, one of the country’s most important newspapers. The headquarters of the putsch was at the mansion of Gustavo Cisneros, owner of the Venevisión TV network.
One coup leader appeared on television after what appeared to be a successful operation saying, “We were short of communications facilities and I have to thank the media for their solidarity and cooperation.”
Vice-Admiral Ramírez Pérez told Venevisión,
“We had a deadly weapon: the media. And now that I have the opportunity, let me congratulate you.”
How US media recruits opposition activists
Due to budget cuts, the corporate press has outsourced their Latin America reporting to a collection of unabashed opposition activists.
Francisco Toro, for example, resigned from the New York Times claiming, “Too much of my lifestyle is bound up with opposition activism” that he “can’t possibly be neutral.” Yet Toro is now charged with providing commentary on Venezuela and Bolivia for the Washington Post.
Unsurprisingly, he supports the Bolivia coup and was “elated” when Chávez was overthrown.
Another local Washington Post contributor was Emilia Diaz-Struck, who founded the website Armando.info, an investigative news outlet that runs a constant stream of stories slamming the socialist government and advancing the opposition’s line.
These local reporters, who act as anti-government activists first and journalists second, greatly color the atmosphere of the newsroom, leading to a highly partisan hive mind where supposedly unbiased and neutral journalists unironically refer to themselves as the “resistance” to the government.
Those who do not run with the pack are generally made to feel unwelcome. Bart Jones, who covered Venezuela for the Los Angeles Times, told me that he felt he had to temper what he wrote because he knew exactly what his editors wanted.
“There was a clear sense that this guy [Chávez] was a threat to democracy and we really need to be talking to these opponents and get that perspective out there,” Jones recalled. One even told him “we have to get rid” of the government.
Matt Kennard, who covered Bolivia and Venezuela for the Financial Times (FT), explained how the political slant imposed by mainstream outlets forced even critical-minded journalists into submission:
“I just never even pitched stories that I knew would never get in. What you read in my book would just never, ever, in any form, even in news form, get into the FT. And I knew that and I wasn’t stupid enough to even pitch it. I knew it wouldn’t even be considered. After I got knocked back from pitching various articles I just stopped… It was complete self-censorship.”
‘You are a mercenary in a sense’
“Every journalist has an audience he caters for and in my case, it’s the financial community,” Anatoly Kurmanaev explained. “You are a mercenary in a sense. You’re there to provide information to a particular client that they find important and it’s not good or bad, it’s just the way it is.”
When he made these comments, Kurmanaev was working for the publication owned by Michael Bloomberg, the pro-war billionaire who is today the 13th-richest person in the world, and whose reporters are forbidden from “investigating” his presidential campaign.
With pressure from all sides to serve as stenographers for right-wing opposition movements, many Western correspondents exist in a cultural bubble, almost entirely isolated from the poor and working-class populations that support leftist governments across Latin America.
Western reporters almost universally live and work in the richest areas of capital cities from Venezuela to Mexico, often in gated communities surrounded by armed guards, and rarely venture into the poorer areas where the majority of people live.
Some of the corporate media’s top correspondents confided to me that they could not even speak Spanish for months after they got there, and were therefore unable to converse with the bottom 90 to 95 percent of the population. They are essentially parachuted in to opposition strongholds to work with opposition activists and naturally take that side in the debate.
With all of these factors in mind, the cheerleading across the US press for regime change in Bolivia and Venezuela can hardly be seen as an accident. Too many journalists at corporate media outlets tend to see themselves as the ideological shock troops in an information war against supposedly tyrannical socialist governments.
Passing off regime-change propaganda as unbiased news is all in a day’s work for those embracing their role as servants of the empire.
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Alan MacLeod is an academic and journalist. He is a staff writer at Mintpress News and a contributor to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is the author of Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting.
Featured image is from The Grayzone
When the “virtually unknown” US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido declared himself “interim president” in January, he won instant support from Washington’s global allies as the “legitimate” leader of Venezuela. Western media was soon consumed with a sense of hopeful anticipation that Washington was on the verge of overthrowing another ‘bad actor’ and preparing to pat itself on the back for supporting the cause of “democracy” and “human rights.”
Now, nearly a year later, the sense is one of reluctant resignation and an admission that, despite best efforts, another attempt at ‘regime change’ has failed – and that Guaido’s opposition was not all it was cracked up to be.
In a recent lament for the failed coup, the Wall Street Journal admits that Maduro appears to be “in firm control” and bemoans that the Trump administration had predicted his “imminent downfall” too early. The WSJ admits that the White House showed “excessive optimism” and suffered from what critics called “unrealistic expectations that [US] pressure tactics” would easily force Maduro from power. The newspaper acknowledges that Maduro’s position is secure despite debilitating US oil sanctions and attempted international isolation.
It’s a common pattern and one analysts watching US regime-change efforts around the world know all too well. The same script played out in Syria as Washington and its allies predicted the swift downfall of President Bashar Assad as early as 2012, but are still waiting today, causing Foreign Policy magazine to admit recently that he is now Syria’s “best case scenario” after US efforts to install “moderate” jihadis into power failed.
In Venezuela, US media is even starting to admit that the troubled economy is showing signs of improvement under Maduro, thanks to an uptick in oil exports and increased dollarization, while the Guaido-led opposition grapples with its own corruption scandal, proving to Venezuelans that it may not be an “honest alternative” to Maduro at all.
The WSJ points to the removal of former national security adviser John Bolton (one of Maduro’s “staunchest adversaries”) as part of the reason why US efforts failed. It also points to the eruption of anti-government protest movements across the region, in Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile, which it says allowed Maduro to distract from his own “misrule” and food and medicine shortages. Though there is no mention of how crippling US sanctions directly impacted the lives of ordinary Venezuelans, despite a study showing that they’ve caused “very serious harm to human life and health” including an estimated 40,000 deaths.
Determined not to admit defeat, top US envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams, whose career has been defined by repeated efforts to topple uncooperative leaders in Latin America, told the paper that it was “flatly wrong” to assume things were improving for “precarious” Maduro – but reality seems to tell a different story.
A recent piece published by Bloomberg gives an indication of where US policy on Venezuela may be headed next – and it’s another familiar road. When all options are exhausted and failed, it seems the next step is always to look to Russia for help.
Sources “familiar with the matter” told Bloomberg that the Trump administration is “losing confidence” that Guaido can ever topple Maduro and, as such, is considering “new and more aggressive strategies.” One of those strategies, they said, would be “an attempt to partner with Russia” –an ally of Maduro– in order to “ease out” the leader.
This has echoes of US policy in Syria, too, where Washington repeatedly demanded that Moscow change its strategy and abandon its support of Assad – before eventually seeming to admit that ousting him should no longer be a top priority.
Indeed, there was a time when Western media were suggesting that, under US pressure, Moscow could help push Assad out, too. There were even reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin had asked the Syrian leader to step down. Nothing came of that pipe dream and a US effort to partner with Russia to push out Maduro seems equally likely to fail, since Moscow has remained supportive of the democratically-elected leader and shown no indication that it takes “interim president” Guaido very seriously.
While US media is still largely reluctant to offer the perspective of pro-Maduro Venezuelans or analysts who point out that Washington’s policies have wreaked havoc on Latin America for decades – they are at least finally painting a picture closer to reality.
If you had a couple billion dollars, you could announce your candidacy for president and be taken seriously, even if you were the dumbest person on Earth.
Billionaires should not be able to buy our elections and we’re going to change that.
Let us stop glorifying these greedy scumbags. They need mental health assistance more than your sympathy. By the way, gates did not invent anything, he was given the golden egg by the NSA.
As former British Prime Minister Clement Attlee said, “Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.”
If Gates represents a net negative force in world politics, why does he receive such good press? For starters, he makes sizeable donations to a host of mainstream corporate media outlets.
Last month Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates surpassed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to once again become the world’s richest individual, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Buoyed by an enormous 48 percent increase in Microsoft’s share price this year, Gates has retaken the title he last held in 2017.
That outcome is partially owed to the whims of Donald J. Trump. Microsoft recently surprisingly defeated Amazon’s bid for an extremely lucrative $10 billion Pentagon cloud computing contract that sees the company instantly become one of the world’s most important military and security contractors. This decision, Amazon alleges, was due to interference from the president who holds a personal grudge against Bezos, whose Washington Post has maintained a campaign of “resistance” against him.
Gates was also recently in the news attacking the wealth tax that Democratic presidential nomination candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have proposed. “I’m all for super-progressive tax systems but when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over,” the Seattle native said. (For the record, he would still have over $6 billion).
In response, Warren was apologetic, asking for an opportunity to meet with Gates to explain how much he would pay under the plan. “I promise it’s not $100 billion,” she said. But Sanders has been far more forthright in his opposition to the super-wealthy, categorically stating, “billionaires should not exist.”
Across the media, Gates is presented as one of the “good billionaires”: a warm-hearted philanthropist dedicated to giving away his entire fortune to needy causes. His charitable organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is the largest of its sort in the world, holding over $50 billion in assets. His insight and generosity are constantly emphasized in headlines, as the following examples demonstrate.
“Bill Gates: Philanthropist,” BBC, (2/1/10).
“Why Bill Gates Thinks Ending Polio Is Worth It,” NPR, (5/8/13).
“How Bill Gates aims to Clean Up the Planet,” The Guardian, (2/4/18).
“What Einstein and Bill Gates Teach Us About Time Travel,” NBC News, (5/10/17).
“Bill Gates And Other Billionaires Pledge To Take On Climate Change,” NPR, (11/30/15).
“Bill Gates on ending disease, saving lives: ‘Time is on our side,’” Al-Jazeera, (4/27/19).
“Bill Gates gives $4.6bn to charity in biggest donation since 2000,” The Guardian, (8/15/17).
There are a few problems with that narrative. Firstly, if Gates is so committed to giving his money away, why does he keep getting richer? This is not a trivial question: his net worth has increased from $75 billion in March 2016 to a staggering $106 billion today, according to Forbes Magazine, an over 40 percent increase in three years alone.
It is a sickness of our system that billionaires even exist. The UN estimates it would take 30 billion dollars to end world hunger per year. Gates or Bezos could end world hunger for multiple years. We can’t even comprehend that level of wealth. It’s sociopathic. So I’m not saying Gates doesn’t do good things sometimes, but he should not be viewed as a hero. All billionaires should be viewed as sick in the head. They need mental health professionals to work on them before it’s too late for humankind.”
Linsey McGoey, Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex, UK, and author of No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy, is profoundly skeptical of philanthropy as a whole, claiming it can actually sometimes harm democracy in the long run: “Philanthropy can and is being used deliberately to divert attention away from different forms of economic exploitation that underpin global inequality today” she told MintPress News,
The new ‘philanthrocapitalism’ threatens democracy by increasing the power of the corporate sector at the expense of the public sector organizations, which increasingly face budget squeezes, in part by excessively remunerating for-profit organizations to deliver public services that could be delivered more cheaply without private sector involvement.”
Thus, huge donations give Gates enormous power over the education, health and social policies of entire countries.
As Foreign Affairs noted, “few policy initiatives or normative standards set by the World Health Organization are announced before they have been casually, unofficially vetted by Gates Foundation staff.” In this sense, his wealth is extraordinarily anti-democratic, giving him veto power over the decisions and directions of organizations that should be collectively made by the highest representatives of the world’s population, not by one very rich man. And Gates is far from omnipotent, holding many of the patronizing assumptions about developing countries and how best to organize the world that one would expect a rich American tech geek to hold.
McGoey spells out the problem with this corporate attitude to development:
The Gates Foundation has spent twenty years relentlessly championing ‘business solutions’ to inequality and poverty. Through this corporate approach, Mr. Gates personally and the Gates Foundation more generally have enhanced the power and clout of corporations at every level of decision-making, at the regional, national and international level. The Gates Foundation has helped make philanthropy a handmaiden to corporate power rather than helped to empower the non-profit sector to act as a check on corporate profiteering and abuses of power.”
One example of the Foundation enhancing corporate power is its close relationship with highly controversial pharmaceutical and chemical giant Monsanto Corporation, whom it helped gain a stronger foothold in Africa. It also oversaw a flawed clinical trial of the HPV vaccine in India in 2009, where 23,000 impoverished girls aged 9-15 were exposed to potentially lethal drugs without even their parents’ consent, leading to seven deaths. He is also preoccupied with controlling Africa’s population through family planning, fearing a population boom. As such, he appears almost more interested in eliminating the people who are suffering than the source of the suffering itself.
Gates is also one of the most important individuals leading the assault on the American public education network in the form of charter schools. Charter schools effectively privatize the public school system, where the public continues to foot the bill for the school, but has no influence or say in how it is run. They have not been found to increase test scores, but are very popular with both the private sector and the religious right, whereas the vast majority of unionized public school teachers oppose them. But, as the Associated Press stated, there is “no bigger champion [of charter schools] than Bill Gates,” who has plowed enormous amounts of money into the movement, even funding the pro-charter school documentary Waiting For Superman.
If Gates represents a net negative force in world politics, why does he receive such good press? One reason may be his sizeable donations to a host of mainstream corporate media outlets. For example, the Gates Foundation underwrites the entire Global Development section of the Guardian, and has given the British newspaper over $9 million. Studying its donation database, it transpires it has also contributed over $3 million to NBC Universal, over $4 million to the influential French newspaper, Le Monde, over $4.5 million to NPR, $1 million to Al-Jazeera, and an astonishing $49 million to the BBC’s Media Action program, to name only a few. He who pays the piper, it is said, calls the tune. McGoey claims that the motive of billionaires giving to media organizations is primarily “to help legitimate the spurious idea that large corporate actors can rectify the economic harms and economic inequality that their practices have often compounded.”
Gates himself is the head of a gigantic media empire. We already rely on Microsoft for social media (LinkedIn), entertainment (Xbox), hardware and software like the Windows Phone and Windows OS. The company also owns stakes in media giants like Comcast and AT&T. And the “MS” in “MSNBC” stands for “Microsoft.”
It is a similar story for Jeff Bezos, who, in addition to Amazon’s myriad media ventures, owns the Washington Post, which media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has constantly shown often descends into little more than a propaganda outlet for its boss’s interests. It appears that once billionaires have purchased every worldly material good possible, the only things left to buy are power and influence.
While the media may be full of stories singing Gates’ praises, presenting him as a good billionaire (as opposed to the current president), the reality is that one man with that amount of power, be it political (like Trump) or economic (like Gates and Bezos) has a highly corrosive effect on democracy and society more generally.
While they are portrayed as visionaries, multi-billionaires are often blinkered in other, very important ways. Just as reports about Amazon workers’ poor pay and shocking working conditions were surfacing, Bezos declared that the only way he could see to spend the financial resources he accrued was to explore the solar system and beyond. Sharing the profit with his beleaguered workforce appears to genuinely not have occurred to him.
If we are to move towards a better society, the philanthropy of the super-wealthy must be scrutinized, as all too often, what appears to be a generous gift is actually a calculated action intended to increase their power, image or influence. As former British Prime Minister Clement Attlee said, “Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.” Bill Gates is not just some rich guy who is unsure about paying more tax: he’s a menace to society.
Feature photo | Former Microsoft CEO and co-founder Bill Gates attends the World Health Summit & Grand Challenges Annual Meeting in Berlin, Oct. 16, 2018. Markus Schreiber | AP
Alan MacLeod is a MintPress Staff Writer as well as an academic and writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting was published in April.
If you’re skeptical of western power structures and you’ve ever engaged in online political debate for any length of time, the following has definitely happened to you.
You find yourself going back and forth with one of those high-confidence, low-information establishment types who’s promulgating a dubious mainstream narrative, whether that be about politics, war, Julian Assange, or whatever. At some point they make an assertion which you know to be false–publicly available information invalidates the claim they’re making.
“I’ve got them now!” you think to yourself, if you’re new to this sort of thing. Then you share a link to an article or video which makes a well-sourced, independently verifiable case for the point you are trying to make.
Then, the inevitable happens.
“LMAO! That outlet!” they scoff in response. “That outlet is propaganda/fake news/conspiracy theory trash!”
Or something to that effect. You’ll encounter this tactic over and over and over again if you continually engage in online political discourse with people who don’t agree with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re literally just linking to an interview featuring some public figure saying a thing you’d claimed they said. It doesn’t matter if you’re linking to a WikiLeaks publication of a verified authentic document. Unless you’re linking to CNN/Fox News (whichever fits the preferred ideology of the establishment loyalist you’re debating), they’ll bleat “fake news!” or “propaganda!” or “Russia!” as though that in and of itself magically invalidates the point you’re trying to make.
And of course it doesn’t. What they are doing is called attacking the source, also known as an ad hominem, and it’s a very basic logical fallacy.
Most people are familiar with the term “ad hominem”, but they usually think about it in terms of merely hurling verbal insults at people. What it actually means is attacking the source of the argument rather than attacking the argument itself in a way that avoids dealing with the question of whether or not the argument itself is true. It’s a logical fallacy because it’s used to deliberately obfuscate the goal of a logical conclusion to the debate.
“An ad hominem is more than just an insult,” explains David Ferrer for The Quad. “It’s an insult used as if it were an argument or evidence in support of a conclusion. Verbally attacking people proves nothing about the truth or falsity of their claims.”
This can take the form of saying “Claim X is false because the person making it is an idiot.” But it can also take the form of “Claim X is false because the person making it is a propagandist,” or “Claim X is false because the person making it is a conspiracy theorist.”
I don’t think @bellingcat knows what’s about to hit them now that @caitoz is on their case. Settle in for a few fun months as their entire bullshit narrative on #Syria chemical weapons comes tumbling down. Here’s her opening jab: https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/narrative-managers-faceplant-in-hilarious-opcw-scandal-spin-job-6710730cda01 …
Narrative Managers Faceplant In Hilarious OPCW Scandal Spin Job
Imperialist propaganda firm Bellingcat has published a response to the ever-expanding OPCW scandal, and it’s got to be seen to be believed.
Someone being an idiot, a propagandist or a conspiracy theorist is irrelevant to the question of whether or not what they’re saying is true. In my last article debunking a spin job on the OPCW scandal by the narrative management firm Bellingcat, I pointed out that Bellingcat is funded by imperialist regime change operations like the National Endowment for Democracy, which was worth highlighting because it shows the readers where that organization is coming from. But if I’d left my argument there it would still be an ad hominem attack, because it wouldn’t address whether or not what Bellingcat wrote about the OPCW scandal is true. It would be a logical fallacy; proving that they are propagandists doesn’t prove that what they are saying in this particular instance is false.
What I had to do in order to actually refute Bellingcat’s spin job was show that they were making a bad argument using bad logic, which I did by highlighting the way they used pedantic wordplay to make it seem as though the explosive leaks which have been emerging from the OPCW’s investigation of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria were insignificant. I had to show how Bellingcat actually never came anywhere close to addressing the actual concerns about a leaked internal OPCW email, such as extremely low chlorinated organic chemical levels on the scene and patients’ symptoms not matching up with chlorine gas poisoning, as well as the fact that the OPCW investigators plainly don’t feel as though their concerns were met since they’re blowing the whistle on the organisation now.
And, for the record, Bellingcat’s lead trainer/researcher guy responded to my arguments by saying I’m a conspiracy theorist. I personally count that as a win.
The correct response to someone who attacks the outlet or individual you’re citing instead of attacking the actual argument being made is, “You’re attacking the source instead of the argument. That’s a logical fallacy, and it’s only ever employed by people who can’t attack the argument.”
The demand that you only ever use mainstream establishment media when arguing against establishment narratives is itself an inherently contradictory position, because establishment media by their very nature do not report facts against the establishment. It’s saying “You’re only allowed to criticise establishment power using outlets which never criticize establishment power.”
2/2 No principle is worth nuclear war. This honest reporter, @caitoz, beholden to no ideology or special interest, calls it as it is, not as the #MSM wants to see — https://consortiumnews.com/2019/11/19/25-times-trump-has-been-dangerously-hawkish-on-russia/ …
25 Times Trump Has Been Dangerously Hawkish On Russia
Caitlin Johnstone discredits a CNN listicle on Trump’s “softness” towards Moscow. In fact, she writes, the U.S. president has actually been consistently reckless towards Moscow, with zero resistance…
Good luck finding a compilation of Trump’s dangerous escalations against Moscow like the one I wrote the other day anywhere in the mainstream media, for example. Neither mainstream liberals nor mainstream conservatives are interested in promoting that narrative, so it simply doesn’t exist in the mainstream information bubble. Every item I listed in that article is independently verifiable and sourced from separate mainstream media reports, yet if you share that article in a debate with an establishment loyalist and they know who I am, nine times out of ten they’ll say something like “LOL Caitlin Johnstone?? She’s nuts!” With “nuts” of course meaning “Says things my TV doesn’t say”.
It’s possible to just click on all the hyperlinks in my article and share them separately to make your point, but you can also simply point out that they are committing a logical fallacy, and that they are doing so because they can’t actually attack the argument.
This will make them very upset, because for the last few years establishment loyalists have been told that it is perfectly normal and acceptable to attack the source instead of the argument. The mass hysteria about “fake news” and “Russian propaganda” has left consumers of mainstream media with the unquestioned assumption that if they ever so much as glance at an RT article their faces will begin to melt like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. They’ve been trained to believe that it’s perfectly logical and acceptable to simply shriek “propaganda!” at a rational argument or well-sourced article which invalidates their position, or even to proactively go around calling people Russian agents who dissent from mainstream western power-serving narratives.
But it isn’t logical, and it isn’t acceptable. The best way to oppose their favorite logically fallacious tactic is to call it like it is, and let them deal with the cognitive dissonance that that brings up for them.
Me: This link proves my claim.
Empire loyalist: Eww, THAT outlet? They publish criticisms of western imperialism!
Me: Yeah. That’s why I’m linking to them.
Empire loyalist: No. You can only criticize western imperialism linking to outlets that never criticize western imperialism.
Of course some nuance is needed here. Remember that alternative media is just like anything else: there’s good and bad, even within the same outlet, so make sure what you’re sharing is solid and not just some schmuck making a baseless claim. You can’t just post a link to some Youtuber making an unsubstantiated assertion and then accuse the person you’re debating of attacking the source when they dismiss it. That which has been presented without evidence may be dismissed without evidence, and if the link you’re citing consists of nothing other than unproven assertions by someone they’ve got no reason to take at their word, they can rightly dismiss it.
If however the claims in the link you’re citing are logically coherent arguments or well-documented facts presented in a way that people can independently fact-check, it doesn’t matter if you’re citing CNN or Sputnik. The only advantage to using CNN when possible would be that it allows you to skip the part where they perform the online equivalent of putting their fingers in their ears and humming.
Don’t allow those who are still sleeping bully those who are not into silence. Insist on facts, evidence, and intellectually honest arguments, and if they refuse to provide them call it what it is: an admission that they have lost the debate.
Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either Youtube, soundcloud, Apple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.
Australian-born John Pilger has worked for over five decades as a reporter and documentary film-maker covering wars and conflicts all over the world. In the following interview, the award-winning journalist says the world is arguably at a more perilous geopolitical juncture than even during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 at the height of the Cold War. This is because American “exceptionalism” – which, he points out, mirrors that of Nazi Germany – has developed into a hyper-rogue phase. The relentless denigration of Russia by American and Western media show that there are few red lines left to restrain aggression towards Moscow, as there were, at least, during the past Cold War. Russia and China’s refusal to bow down to Washington’s dictate is infuriating the would-be American hegemon and its desire for zero-sum world domination.
John Pilger also gives his wide-ranging views on the systematic deterioration of Western mainstream journalism which has come to function as a nakedly propaganda matrix for power and corporate profit. He further condemns the ongoing persecution and torture of fellow-Australian publisher Julian Assange who is being held in a maximum-security British prison commonly used for holding mass murderers and convicted terrorists. Assange is being persecuted for telling the truth and for exposing huge crimes by the US and Britain, says Pilger. It is a grim warning of a covert war that is being conducted against independent journalism and free speech, and, more ominously, indicative of a slide towards police-state fascism in so-called Western democracies.
Question: In your documentary film, The Coming War on China (2016), you assess that the United States is on a strategic collision path with China for control of Asia-Pacific. Do you still see the threat of war looming between these two powers?
John Pilger: The threat of war may not be immediate, but we know or should know that events can change fast: a chain of incidents and missteps can ignite a war which can spread unpredictably. The calculations are not in dispute: an “enemy” has barely 12 minutes to decide whether and where to order a nuclear retaliation.
Question: Recently, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China of being “truly hostile to America’s interests”. What in your view is motivating US concerns about China?
John Pilger: The State Department once declared, “To seek less than preponderant power would be to opt for defeat.” At the root of much of humanity’s insecurity is, remarkably, the self-belief and self-delusion of one nation: the United States. America’s notion of itself is often difficult for the rest of us to comprehend. From the days of President Teddy Roosevelt, the “sacred mission” has been to dominate humanity and its vital resources, if not by intimidation and bribery then by violence. In the 1940s, American “war intellectuals”, such as the diplomat and historian George F Kennan, described the necessity of American dominance of the “Grand Area”, which is most of the world, notably Eurasia, and especially China. Non-Americans were to be cast in “our image”, wrote Kennan; America was the exemplar. Hollywood has reflected this with striking accuracy.
In 1945, this vision, or mania, was given a moral makeover with the defeat of Nazi Germany. Today, many Americans believe their country won the Second World War and that they are the “exceptional” human beings. This mythology (reminiscent of Nazi propaganda) has long had an evangelical hold in the US and is the central pillar of the need to dominate, which requires enemies and fear. America’s long history of racism towards Asia and its historic humiliation of the Chinese people make China a perfect fit as the current enemy.
I should add that “exceptionalism” is not only embraced by the American right. Although they may not admit it, many liberals believe it in it, as do those who describe themselves as “left”. It’s the spawn of the most rapacious ideology on earth: Americanism. That this word is rarely uttered is part of its power.
Question: Do you think it is a strange anomaly that the Trump administration has adopted an aggressive policy towards China, yet this American president appears to seek more friendly relations with Russia?
John Pilger: Dividing China and Russia with the aim of weakening both is a venerable American game. Henry Kissinger played it. As for Trump, it’s impossible to know what he thinks. Regardless of his overtures to Putin, the US has aggressively subverted Ukraine and militarized Russia’s western border and is a more immediate threat to Russia than it is to China.
Question: Do you think the impeachment process underway against Trump is tantamount to a coup to get rid of him by the Deep State because of his relatively benign stance towards Russia?
John Pilger: That’s one theory; I’m not so sure. Trump’s election in 2016 disturbed a Mafia-like system of tribal back-scratching, which the Democrats dominate. Hillary Clinton was the Chosen One; how dare Trump seize her throne. Many American liberals refuse to see their corrupt heroine as a standard bearer of Wall Street, a warmonger and an emblem of hi-jacked gender politics. Clinton is the embodiment of a venal system, Trump is its caricature.
Question: You have worked for over five decades as a war reporter and documentary film-maker in Vietnam, elsewhere in Asia, Africa and Latin America. How do you see current international tensions between the US, China and Russia? Do you think the danger of war is greater now than in previous times?
John Pilger: In 1962, we all may have been saved by the refusal of a Soviet naval officer, Vasili Arkhipov, to fire a nuclear torpedo at US ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Are we in greater danger today? During the Cold War, there were lines that the other side dared not cross. There are few if any lines now; the US surrounds China with 400 military bases and sails its low-draught ships into Chinese waters and flies its drones in Chinese airspace. American-led NATO forces mass on the same Russian frontier the Nazis crossed; the Russian president is insulted as a matter of routine. There is no restraint and none of the diplomacy that kept the old Cold War cold. In the West, we have acquiesced as bystanders in our own countries, preferring to look away (or at our smart phones) rather than break free of the post-modernism entrapping us with its specious “identity” distractions.
Question: You travelled extensively in the US during the Cold War years. You witnessed the assassination of presidential candidate Robert Kennedy in 1968. It seems the American Cold War obsession with “communism as an evil” has been replaced by an equally intense Russophobia towards modern-day Russia. Do you see a continuation in the phobia from the Cold War years to today? What accounts for that mindset?
John Pilger: The Russians refuse to bow down to America, and that is intolerable. They play an independent, mostly positive role in the Middle East, the antithesis of America’s violent subversions, and that is unbearable. Like the Chinese, they have forged peaceful and fruitful alliances with people all over the world, and that is unacceptable to the US Godfather. The constant defamation of all things Russian is a symptom of decline and panic, as if the United States has departed the 21st century for the 19th century, obsessed with a proprietorial view of the world. In the circumstances, the phobia you describe is hardly surprising.
Question: How has news journalism, specifically in Western states, changed over the course of your career? You have won multiple awards for your writing and film-making, yet today one rarely reads your articles published in mainstream media even though you are still actively working as a journalist as per your own website?
John Pilger: Journalism wasn’t corporate when I began. Most newspapers in Britain were a faithful reflection of the interests of what was known as the Establishment, but they could also be idiosyncratic. When I came to Fleet Street in London during the early 1960s, then known as the “Mecca of newspapers”, the times were optimistic and the most right-wing newspapers tolerated, even encouraged mavericks, who are often the best journalists. The Daily Mirror, then the biggest circulating newspaper on earth apart from the People’s Daily, was the soldiers’ paper during the Second World War and became, for millions of Britons, their paper. To those of us on the Mirror, it was something of an ideal to be the agents and defenders of people, not power.
Today, true mavericks are redundant in the mainstream media. Corporate public relations is the real force in modern journalism. Look at the way news is written: almost none of it is straight. I wrote for many years for the Guardian; my last piece was five years ago after which I received a phone call. I was purged, along with other independent writers. The Guardian now promotes fiction about Russia, obsessively, the interests of Britain’s intelligence services, Israel, the US Democratic Party, bourgeois gender imperatives and an unctuous view of itself. The paper’s witch-hunt against Julian Assange – part of a campaign which the UN Rapporteur on Torture refers to as “mobbing” – includes fabrication of a kind previously associated with the rightwing Murdoch press; certainly, its cruelty towards Assange is a profanity on the liberal values for which it claims to stand.
Question: You have been a prominent supporter of Julian Assange, the founding editor of WikiLeaks, who is currently imprisoned in Britain awaiting an extradition trial next year to the US on charges of espionage. What’s really behind the incarceration of Assange?
John Pilger: Julian Assange is what journalists should be and rarely are: he is a tireless, fearless truth-teller. He has exposed, on a vast scale, the secret, criminal life of great power: of “our” governments, their lying and violence in our name. Ten years ago, WikiLeaks leaked a British Ministry of Defense document that described investigative journalism as the greatest threat to secretive power. Investigative journalists were rated higher on the threat scale than “Russian spies” and “terrorists”. Assange and WikiLeaks can claim that laurel. If the Americans come for him and incarcerate him in a hell hole, they will come for others, including those journalists who simply do their job. And they will come for their editors and publishers too.
Question: You make the point that Assange shames the mainstream Western media because Wikileaks published damning information exposing huge war crimes committed by the US and its NATO allies in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, while the mainstream media ignored those crimes or give them relatively scant coverage. Does that explain why these media are ignoring Assange’s plight?
John Pilger: There is, at last, a growing realization that the gross injustice against Assange is likely to happen to others. The recent statement by Britain’s National Union of Journalists is a sign of change. The silence must be broken if journalists are to reclaim their honor.
Question: You have recently visited Assange in Britain’s maximum-security Belmarsh Prison where he is being held in solitary confinement. How would you describe his physical and mental condition? You say he is being subjected to a show-trial. Is his mistreatment comparable to what Western media would condemn as persecution under dictatorships?
John Pilger: Julian’s last court appearance on October 21 was effectively controlled by four Americans from the US Embassy who sat behind the prosecutor and passed their written instructions to him by hand. The judge watched this outrage and allowed it to continue. At the same time, she treated Julian’s lawyers with contempt. When Julian, who is ill, struggled to speak his name, she sneered. The difference from a Cold War show-trial was that this was not broadcast on state television; the BBC blacked it out.
Question: With the arrest of Julian Assange and other independent journalists like Max Blumenthal in the US who exposed Washington’s regime-change crimes in Venezuela, and given the silent indifference of Western media, do you think it is a real concern that the US is sliding towards police-state fascism?
John Pilger: Some would argue the slide has happened.
Update: Racist statements come out of the mouth of Bolivia’s self-declared president:
* * *
Jeanine Anez, one of the Bolivian Spanish elite, has declared herself the President of Bolivia. She is one of the elite allied with Washington who accused Evo Morales of rigging his reelection. But the CIA’s Bolivian lackeys who forced Morales to resign his presidency don’t bother with elections. They just declare themselves president like Juan Guaido, the CIA creep in Venezuela, who hoped to unseat Maduro, the elected president, by declaring himself president. Neither Anez nor Guaido ran for the office. They just self-appointed themselves president. The organization of American States, a CIA front organization, accepted the unelected presidents as rightful rulers. President Trump declared the CIA coup to be an increase in freedom and democracy.
As Trump approves of the attempted coup against Venezuela’s Maduro and the successful coup against Bolivia’s Morales, how can he complain about the CIA/DNC ongoing coup against him?
Live by the sword and die by the sword.
The whores that constitute the Western “media” pretend that self-declared “presidents” are the real presidents, and those elected by the people are not. Every Latin American election that does not elect Washington’s candidate is reported by the Western presstitutes as a “disputed election.” It doesn’t matter if the winning candidate gets 85% of the votes. As he is the wrong candidate from Washington’s standpoint, his election is disputed and illegitimate.
Washington paid the corrupt Bolivian military to unseat Morales, the elected president. This has always been the way Washington has ruled the entirety of Latin America. Buy the corrupt military. They will prostitute their wives for money.
In Latin America everyone is accustomed to being bought. Only Cuba and Venezuela and perhaps Nicaguara have avoided this subservience to Washington. With the pressures on them mounting, how long these three progressive regimes can hold out against Washington remains to be seen. I wouldn’t bet my life on their survival as independent countries. Even Russia and China are threatened by regime change, and both governments seem to be in self-denial about it.
It is a mystery why any Latin American country or any country that hopes to be independent would permit any US presence in the country. US presence in a Latin American country or any country precludes any independence on the part of the country’s government. I suppose it is the money.
Latin Americans would rather have Washington’s money than their independence.
In order to have an American presence in Russia, the Russian government accepts all sorts of humiliations. China is the same. Look at what Washington has done to China in Hong Kong. It is extraordinary that the Chinese government was so insouciant that China set itself up for this embarrassment.
Russia’s sizeable investments in Bolivia will now be lost. With the Spanish elite put back in control by the CIA, Russia’s investments will be appropriated by US firms. One wonders why Russia didn’t do more to protect Morales, the legitimate President. If Putin had sent Morales a regiment of Russian troops, the Bolivian military would have stood down, and democracy, instead of American Imperialism, would still exist in Bolivia.
What has happened everywhere in the world is that nothing is any longer important but money. Therefore, everything is sacrificed for money. There is no shame, no honor, no integrity, no truth, no justice.
Maybe the biblical prophecies are true, and Armageddon is our future. Who can say we don’t deserve it.
People like to glorify the rich, the billionaires. I don’t. I think they are a bunch of mentally ill self-centered parasites preventing the evolution of the species! Tax these scumbags out of existence!
NOVEMBER 15, 2019
Bill Gates wants you to know he pays taxes.
“I’ve paid more than $10 billion in taxes. I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes,” Gates told journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin. “But when you say I should pay $100 billion, OK, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over.”
Supposedly Gate was talking about a wealth tax 2020 candidates have supported. But no plan yet proposed would seize $100 billion from the philanthrocapitalist anytime soon. Even if it did, he’d still be one of the richest men in the world, with $7 billion left over.
Gates isn’t the only billionaire who’s worried. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon also has concerns about the rising resentment towards his fellow elites.
“I think you should vilify Nazis,” Dimon told Lesley Stahl, “but you shouldn’t vilify people who worked hard to accomplish things.” Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman, who’s become a fixture on CNBC, recently teared up while complaining about the “vilification of billionaires.”
Why do the feelings of the 600 Americans that constitute our billionaire class suck up so much media attention?
For one thing, billionaires literally own the news. Buying up media companies is a new rite of passage for the ultra wealthy, like the purchase of the Washington Post by Amazon head Jeff Bezos, or TIME by tech CEO Marc Benioff.
They’ll say they’re all about editorial independence, but the truth is billionaire ownership can affect news output. When billionaire Joe Ricketts found out the staff of DNAinfo, a network of city-based news sites he owned, was unionizing, he promptly shut down the entire venture out of spite.
There are more subtle ways in which the rich buy media access. The Gates Foundation, for example, has poured millions in donations into the media over the last several years to raise awareness around the foundation’s philanthropic goals — including its controversial funding of charter schools.
Not all billionaire power is publicly broadcast, however.
In their book Billionaires and Stealth Politics, researchers Benjamin Page, Jason Seawright, and Matthew J. Lacombe documenthow economic elites have banded together to lobby for extremely conservative policies, like cutting estate taxes, opposing regulations on the environment and Wall Street, and gutting social programs.
Because these moves are highly unpopular, they’ve done this work in the background.
That means there’s a network of billionaires aligned with the Koch brothers, who’ve poured hundreds of millions of dollars into anti-labor policies. And Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who changed the media landscape with Fox News. And casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who’s spending his billions shaping U.S. foreign policy.
Their enormous wealth offers them an outlandishly oversized role in our democracy. It’s poisoning both our politics and our media.
So how about a ban on billionaires? Let’s tax away their wealth, but let’s get them off our airwaves, too. Imagine what we’d learn if corporate media didn’t devote entire news cycles to the whims of the rich.
You may not have heard, but for the last several months, the sanitation workers at Republic Services have been fighting for higher wages. “I haven’t had a raise since 2004,” Demetrius Tart told The Guardian. Meanwhile, the company is making a killing from the 2017 tax cuts, and returned more than $1 billion to shareholders through stock buybacks.
The company’s largest shareholder? Bill Gates. Workers took their fight directly to the billionaire, protesting outside a Gates Foundation event in September with signs that read, “Bill Gates treats his workers like garbage.” He ignored them.
Maybe these sanitation workers could get the airtime instead.
Without a mass movement continually pushing and prodding for real change and holding politicians accountable—for their policies as well as their words—our neoliberal rulers assume that they can safely ignore the concerns and interests of ordinary people.
The waves of protests breaking out in country after country around the world beg the question: Why aren’t Americans rising up in peaceful protest like our neighbors? We live at the very heart of this neoliberal system that is force-feeding the systemic injustice and inequality of 19th century laissez-faire capitalism to the people of the 21st century. So we are subject to many of the same abuses that have fueled mass protest movements in other countries, including high rents, stagnant wages, cradle-to-grave debt, ever-rising economic inequality, privatized healthcare, a shredded social safety net, abysmal public transportation, systemic political corruption and endless war.
We also have a corrupt, racist billionaire as president, who Congress may soon impeach, but where are the masses outside the White House, banging pots and pans to drive Trump out? Why aren’t people crashing the offices of their congresspeople, demanding that they represent the people or resign? If none of these conditions has so far provoked a new American revolution, what will it take to trigger one?
In the 1960s and 1970s, the senseless Vietnam War provoked a serious, well-organized antiwar movement. But today the U.S.’s endless wars just rage on in the background of our lives, as the U.S. and its allies kill and mutilate men, women and children in distant countries, day after day, year after year. Our history has also witnessed inspiring mass movements for civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights, but these movements are much tamer today.
The Occupy Movement in 2011 came closest to challenging the entire neoliberal system. It awakened a new generation to the reality of government of, by, and for the corrupt 1%, and built a powerful basis for solidarity among the marginalized 99%. But Occupy lost momentum because it failed to transition from a rallying point and a decentralized, democratic forum to a cohesive movement that could impact the existing power structure.
The climate movement is starting to mobilize a new generation, and groups like School Strike for the Climate and Extinction Rebellion take direct aim at this destructive economic system that prioritizes corporate growth and profits over the very survival of life on Earth. But while climate protests have shut down parts of London and other cities around the world, the scale of climate protests in the U.S. does not yet match the urgency of the crisis.
So why is the American public so passive?
Americans pour their energy and hopes into electoral campaigns
Election campaigns in most countries last only a few months, with strict limits on financing and advertising to try to ensure fair elections. But Americans pour millions of hours and billions of dollars into multi-year election campaigns run by an ever-growing sector of the commercial advertising industry, which even awarded Barack Obama its “Marketer of the Year” award for 2008. (The other finalists were not John McCain or the Republicans but Apple, Nike and Coors beer.)
When U.S. elections are finally over, thousands of exhausted volunteers sweep up the bunting and go home, believing their work is done. While electoral politics should be a vehicle for change, this neoliberal model of corporate “center-right” and “center-left” politics ensures that congresspeople and presidents of both parties are primarily accountable to the ruling 1% who “pay to play.”
Former President Jimmy Carter has bluntly described what Americans euphemistically call “campaign finance” as a system of legalized bribery. Transparency International (TI) ranks the U.S. 22nd on its political corruption index, identifying it as more corrupt than any other wealthy, developed country.
Without a mass movement continually pushing and prodding for real change and holding politicians accountable—for their policies as well as their words—our neoliberal rulers assume that they can safely ignore the concerns and interests of ordinary people as they make the critical decisions that shape the world we live in. As Frederick Douglass observed in 1857, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.”
Millions of Americans have internalized the myth of the “American dream,” believing they have exceptional chances for social and economic mobility compared with their peers in other countries. If they aren’t successful, it must be their own fault—either they’re not smart enough or they don’t work hard enough.
The American Dream is not just elusive—it’s a complete fantasy. In reality, the U.S. has the greatest income inequality of any wealthy, developed country. Of the 39 developed countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), only South Africa and Costa Rica exceed the U.S.’s 18% poverty rate. The United States is an anomaly: a very wealthy country suffering from exceptional poverty. To make matters worse, children born into poor families in the U.S. are more likely to remain poor as adults than poor children in other wealthy countries. But the American dream ideology keeps people struggling and competing to improve their lives on a strictly individual basis, instead of demanding a fairer society and the healthcare, education and public services we all need and deserve.
The corporate media keeps Americans uninformed and docile
The U.S.’s corporate media system is also unique, both in its consolidated corporate ownership and in its limited news coverage, endlessly downsized newsrooms and narrow range of viewpoints. Its economics reporting reflects the interests of its corporate owners and advertisers; its domestic reporting and debate is strictly framed and limited by the prevailing rhetoric of Democratic and Republican leaders; its anemic foreign policy coverage is editorially dictated by the State Department and Pentagon.
This closed media system wraps the public in a cocoon of myths, euphemisms and propaganda to leave us exceptionally ignorant about our own country and the world we live in. Reporters Without Borders ranks the U.S. 48th out of 180 countries on its Press Freedom Index, once again making the U.S. an exceptional outlier among wealthy countries.
It’s true people can search for their own truth on social media to counter the corporate babble, but social media is itself a distraction. People spend countless hours on facebook, twitter, instagram and other platforms venting their anger and frustration without getting up off the couch to actually do something—except perhaps sign a petition. “Clicktivism” will not change the world.
Add to this the endless distractions of Hollywood, video games, sports and consumerism, and the exhaustion that comes with working several jobs to make ends meet. The resulting political passivity of Americans is not some strange accident of American culture but the intended product of a mutually reinforcing web of economic, political and media systems that keep the American public confused, distracted and convinced of our own powerlessness.
The political docility of the American public does not mean that Americans are happy with the way things are, and the unique challenges this induced docility poses for American political activists and organizers surely cannot be more daunting than the life-threatening repression faced by activists in Chile, Haiti or Iraq.
So how can we liberate ourselves from our assigned roles as passive spectators and mindless cheerleaders for a venal ruling class that is laughing all the way to the bank and through the halls of power as it grabs ever more concentrated wealth and power at our expense?
“How can we liberate ourselves from our assigned roles as passive spectators and mindless cheerleaders for a venal ruling class that is laughing all the way to the bank and through the halls of power as it grabs ever more concentrated wealth and power at our expense?”
Few expected a year ago that 2019 would be a year of global uprising against the neoliberal economic and political system that has dominated the world for forty years. Few predicted new revolutions in Chile or Iraq or Algeria. But popular uprisings have a way of confounding conventional wisdom.
The catalysts for each of these uprisings have also been surprising. The protests in Chile began over an increase in subway fares. In Lebanon, the spark was a proposed tax on WhatsApp and other social media accounts. Hikes in fuel tax triggered the yellow vest protests in France, while the ending of fuel subsidies was a catalyst in both Ecuador and Sudan.
The common factor in all these movements is the outrage of ordinary people at systems and laws that reward corruption, oligarchy and plutocracy at the expense of their own quality of life. In each country, these catalysts were the final straws that broke the camel’s back, but once people were in the street, protests quickly turned into more general uprisings demanding the resignation of leaders and governments.
They have the guns but we have the numbers
State repression and violence have only fueled greater popular demands for more fundamental change, and millions of protesters in country after country have remained committed to non-violence and peaceful protest – in stark contrast to the rampant violence of the right-wing coup in Bolivia
While these uprisings seem spontaneous, in every country where ordinary people have risen up in 2019, activists have been working for years to build the movements that eventually brought large numbers of people onto the streets and into the headlines.Sanders’ wildly successful first presidential campaign in 2016 pushed a new generation of American politicians to commit to real policy solutions to real problems instead of the vague promises and applause lines that serve as smokescreens for the corrupt agendas of neoliberal politicians like Trump and Biden.
Erica Chenoweth’s research on the history of nonviolent protest movements found that whenever at least 3.5% of a population have taken to the streets to demand political change, governments have been unable to resist their demands. Here in the U.S., Transparency International found that the number of Americans who see “direct action,” including street protests, as the antidote to our corrupt political system has risen from 17% to 25% since Trump took office, far more than Chenoweth’s 3.5%. Only 28% still see simply “voting for a clean candidate” as the answer. So maybe we are just waiting for the right catalyst to strike a chord with the American public.
In fact, the work of progressive activists in the U.S. is already upsetting the neoliberal status quo. Without the movement-building work of thousands of Americans, Bernie Sanders would still be a little-known Senator from Vermont, largely ignored by the corporate media and the Democratic Party. Sanders’ wildly successful first presidential campaign in 2016 pushed a new generation of American politicians to commit to real policy solutions to real problems instead of the vague promises and applause lines that serve as smokescreens for the corrupt agendas of neoliberal politicians like Trump and Biden.
We can’t predict exactly what catalyst will trigger a mass movement in the U.S. like the ones we are seeing overseas, but with more and more Americans, especially young people, demanding an alternative to a system that doesn’t serve their needs, the tinder for a revolutionary movement is everywhere. We just have to keep kicking up sparks until one catches fire.
The US government armed Osama Bin Laden; it armed Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons to be used against Iran in 1980; it armed the very groups that later became ISIS. Yet we are sold an entirely different yarn by the US government and its lap dog MSM.
Today I have invited James Corbett on the show to very clearly, and once and for all, demonstrate who is actually responsible for the creation and the rise of ISIS.
“Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.” – John Lennon Driven by a desire for accuracy, chef and alternative news stalwart Ryan Cristián has a passion for the Truth. As founder and Editor-in-chief of The Last American Vagabond, he understands that Americans want their news to be transparent, devoid of the opulence frothed out by today’s Corporate Media. A cultured and insightful man with a worldly sense, Ryan’s unjaded approach offers common sense to the individual racked by the ambiguous news cycle – a vicious and manipulative merry-go-round that keeps trenchant minds at a manageable distance from the truth. Avid writer and editor by day, Truth seeker by night, Ryan’s reality defines what it means to be current.
With Bolivia’s former President Evo Morales fleeing for his life to Mexico, the Andean country is on the brink of escalating civil strife and a potential take-over by military rulers. Reports of lawmakers belonging to Morales’ socialist party being attacked by riot police and shut out from parliament, where they still hold a majority of seats, raises fears that Bolivia is descending into the anarchy and dark past of former military dictatorships.
It seems stupendous denial to call the tumultuous events in Bolivia over the past week as anything other than a coup against democracy. But that is what Western governments and media are doing. Denying shocking reality.
With street protests by rightwing and neofascist groups mounting over the past three weeks since Morales won re-election on October 20, the military and police finally warned the president to step down. Morales did so on November 10. He said he wanted to “stop the bloodshed.” If that’s not a coup, then what is?
With incredible double-think, US President Donald Trump hailed the news of Morales’ forced resignation as a “great moment for democracy”. Trump’s celebratory remarks were echoed by other rightwing leaders across Latin America, including Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Columbia’s Ivan Duque, both of whom are close allies of Washington and its policy of hostility towards socialist governments in the region – a region which Washington considers its “backyard” and prerogative to intervene in at will under the aegis of the 19th century Monroe Doctrine.
In an unveiled menacing message to other Latin American governments whom Washington disapproves of, Trump said: “These events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western hemisphere.”
To the list of Trump’s “illegitimate regimes”, we can add Cuba and the recently elected leftwing administration in Argentina, where Washington’s pro-business ally Mauricio Macri was voted out of office last month.
In many ways what happened in Bolivia was a repeat of Washington’s attempted regime-change operation in Venezuela carried out at the start of this year. An elected leader is smeared by an intensive media campaign as “illegitimate”, “authoritarian” and “undemocratic”. Then follows a campaign of orchestrated street violence to destabilize the targeted country. As usual, the people pulling the strings are connected to US government funding, such as USAID, and to Washington so-called “think-tanks”. In Venezuela’s case, the military remained loyal to the constitution and incumbent President Nicolas Maduro. Hence, US subversion of the oil-rich country seems to have failed. Not so Bolivia. Its military and attachés in Washington appear to have been successfully turned to serve US interests.
At stake are Bolivia’s prodigious natural resources of gas energy and minerals, in particular lithium. President Morales transformed the economy during 14 years of successive administrations to dramatically reduce poverty and increase living standards, especially for the indigenous majority who were previously marginalized by a ruling class descended from Spanish colonialists.
Morales became a hate-figure for the oligarchs and their business patrons in Washington. His nationalization of the energy industry and his growing trade and investment ties with China and Russia made him a target for regime change for Washington and the multi-millionaires in Bolivia who despised his socialist policies and elevation of indigenous people’s rights.
Admittedly, Morales caused controversy when he sought a fourth term as president, thus breaching constitutional term limits. But despite Western media claims and that of the Washington-funded Organization of American States (OAS), it seems Morales decisively won a free and fair election held last month. He won by a margin of 10 per cent ahead of his nearest rival.
We can debate the probity of Morales’ extended would-be fourth term, but what seems quite clear and unacceptable is the systematic US-fomented campaign to throw Bolivia into violent chaos and grossly interfere in the country’s democratic process. The irony of Washington complaining about alleged Russian interference in its elections is amplified by the blatant way the US has trashed the sovereignty of Bolivia to instal a militaristic, pro-oligarchic regime whom it desires for its geopolitical and economic objectives.
Amazingly, or perhaps not, the Western media have reacted to the sinister events in Bolivia with an attempt to whitewash and justify what is an egregious subversion.
A New York Times headline this week stated: “Bolivia’s Interim Leader Pledges to ‘Reconstruct Democracy’”. This is a reference to a pro-Washington opposition figure who has appointed a new cabinet.
The Washington Post in an editorial declared: “Bolivia is in danger of slipping into anarchy. It’s Evo Morales’ fault.
A curious distraction opinion piece by Leonid Bershidsky for Bloomberg made the convoluted analogy between Bolivia and Russia, contending that the Russian people and its military will eventually turn against President Vladimir Putin because of his allegedly similar “arbitrary rule.”
It is disgraceful that Western media should seek to cover-up what has happened in Bolivia. By denying that a coup took place, these media are complicit in giving Washington a license to attack or subvert other nations for regime change. Where is international law? Where is respect for sovereignty? Where is respect for democratic rights, peace and security? This is a green light of creeping fascism.
Here’s the crowning irony for Trump and the American corporate media. They can’t, or won’t, acknowledge illegal regime change and coups in Bolivia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria or elsewhere. Because the very same process of subversion is underway in the US itself against an elected president there.
Conspiracy theories are divisive, dangerous, even evil, according to the mainstream media. They cause “violence, including terrorism,” former Obama administration official Cass Sunstein notoriously declared, and the FBI’s Phoenix field office recently reiterated. They’re a way for ignorant people to make sense of the world, academics cry, or a holdover from the caveman era, when primitive man had to suspect enemies around every corner. More recently, they’ve been described as a way for white people to deal with demographic changes.
But conspiracies are everywhere in American politics today in a way that is nearly impossible to ignore. Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s sweetheart deal, given an open-door 13-month sentence despite evidence of abusing and trafficking scores of girls (“he belongs to intelligence,” the prosecutor later claimed he was told), the machinations of the so-called Deep State (“thank God for the Deep State!” ex CIA director John McLaughlin chuckled, live on CSPAN), and the CIA’s fomenting of coups around the world are just the tip of a massive iceberg we are told does not exist except in the minds of crazy or backward people – one on which the ship of state has wrecked itself again and again.
Unable to drive people away from researching secret plots by calling them racist cavemen, academia has revived the word “conspiracism,” a term first coined in the 1980s to describe the pervasiveness of conspiracy theories in politics as a sort of mass psychosis. The not-so-subtle inclusion of the word “racism” might not be intentional, but it certainly doesn’t hurt when you want to slime anyone poking around behind the façade of power – or deny there is such a façade at all.
‘Conspiracy theory’ has become the go-to shorthand in the mainstream media for inconvenient outbreaks of political dissent. CNN’s Jim Acosta applied it to the idea professed by President Donald Trump and many independent journalists that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election on behalf of the DNC. CNN’s Chris Cillizza applied it to Trump’s claim that Google was suppressing conservative news outlets in its search results, a claim echoed by many right-leaning social media users.
But the mainstream media also reported on Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election, and multiple Google whistleblowers have come forward to confirm the search giant does, in fact, suppress right-leaning sources in its news searches.
Meanwhile, truly unhinged conspiracy theories blaming Russia for any vote that doesn’t go the way the US government likes – whether it’s Brexit in the UK or the election of right-wing candidates in Italy – as well as political dissent both abroad and at home – are passed off as real news. Indeed, the mainstream media has spent so much time peddling fantasies like the “Russian collusion” delusion – which dominated headlines for three years in the absence of concrete evidence before dying ignominiously – that trust in ‘journalism’ is at record lows. The abundance of real conspiracies behind many of the turning points of recent history – Watergate, the Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” hoax, and the CIA arming and training terrorist “mujahideen” in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union being just a few examples – is rarely mentioned amidst the endless mockery of those tinfoil-hat loonies who believe the rich and powerful are working together behind the scenes.
Even some mainstream journalists see through the tripe they’re asked to report, as Project Veritas’ recent leak of an ABC reporter calling out a conspiracy to suppress her story on suspiciously-deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein proved. A media apparatus that can’t even fool the people on its payroll is in a sad state indeed.
Powerful people and intelligence agencies who don’t want the hoi polloi probing their misdeeds are aware they have a crisis of credibility on their hands. Even the FBI, in a memo warning agents that conspiracy theorists (like literally everyone else) are dangerous loonies, had to admit that the “uncovering of real conspiracies or cover-ups involving illegal, harmful, or unconstitutional activities by government officials or leading political figures” might be behind the outbreak of conspiracy theorizing that had seized the nation. In other words, conspiracy theories are everywhere because conspiracies are everywhere.
The tradition of labeling ideas conspiracy theories to discredit them is itself a conspiracy – a documented one. The term was weaponized in 1967 in a CIA memo about how to quash criticism of the Warren Report, the product of the government investigation into President John F. Kennedy’s murder. The memo laments that some 46 percent of Americans did not believe the assassin acted alone, and details how the agency might “counter and discredit the claims of the conspiracy theorists” suggesting others were involved. It recommends “employ[ing] propaganda assets to refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose.” The agency had infiltrated mainstream media through its Operation Mockingbird, paying or even planting journalists to push favorable viewpoints, and a flood of articles denouncing ‘conspiracy theorists’ followed, pushing the term into the popular lexicon.
Over half a century later, the CIA’s plan hasn’t worked very well – a 2017 poll found that the percentage of Americans who believe JFK’s death was the result of a conspiracy had swelled to 61 percent. But rather than come up with a new strategy, the media’s narrative managers have simply doubled down on the failed one, expanding the range of opinions smeared as “conspiracy theories” and heaping scorn upon their adherents.
Feature articles still try to shame people , diagnosing anyone suspicious of threadbare media narratives with the societal psychosis of ‘conspiracism.’ It may work to keep inconvenient truths out of the mainstream media, but in the absence of a compelling alternative narrative – one that can’t be disproven by the evidence of one’s own senses (or a few minutes’ research on the internet) – conspiracy-shaming is a weak weapon. People are much less likely to look for conspiratorial explanations if the “facts” presented by the media make sense. But if mainstream narratives continue to decline in believability, pretty soon people will be dismissing establishment journalists as “coincidence theorists.”
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
“…the evidence is glaring that the US has just moved blatantly to destroy the democratic process in Bolivia, to terrorize a nation and blackmail its president to resign. Yet Western media dutifully turn off that narrative to keep chasing their fantasies about Russia. Another illustration of why corporate Western media are more accurately defined as propaganda channels, not news outlets.”
Only days before Evo Morales stepped down as Bolivia’s president audio tapes were published implicating opposition politicians, the US embassy and American senators in a coup plot.
Among those US senators mentioned in the leaked tapes by the Bolivian politicians seeking Morales’ ouster were Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, according to a report by Telesur.
It is believed that the US embassy in La Paz helped coordinate a deliberate campaign of street violence and media disinformation in order to destabilize the Andean country and force Morales to quit.
The whole scenario fits Washington’s standard-operating procedure for instigating coups or regime change against governments it disapproves of. Bolivia’s socialist president Evo Morales was in Washington’s cross-hairs for toppling.
What has happened in Bolivia is similar to the US-backed violent protests which earlier this year rocked the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. Fortunately for Maduro, the Venezuelan military has remained loyal to the constitution and was not turned by Washington’s pressure.
Unfortunately for Morales, however, sufficient pressure was exerted on the Bolivian military and police. When those institutions called for Morales to step down on Sunday, he did so in order to spare his nation from further deadly conflict. “The coup mongers are destroying the rule of law,” said Morales, who was re-elected for a fourth term on October 20.
Several countries have denounced what they see as a coup against the democratically elected leader. Russia, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina have all condemned the subversion of Bolivia’s constitution.
When Morales won the election last month, the Organisation of American States (OAS) alleged “manipulation” of the voting system. Such claims by the OAS were predictable because it has long served as a pro-Washington agency which is vehemently opposed to left-wing governments in Latin America. Critics call it a relic of the Cold War.
The organization has spearheaded international criticism of the Venezuelan government and served to whip up public disturbances earlier this year in that country which challenged the elected president, Nicolas Maduro. The orchestrated coup in Venezuela has since subsided over recent months.
Washington supplies the OAS with 60 per cent of its financial budget. It is, therefore, a tool for promoting US geopolitical interests across Latin America, as amply noted by the Grayzone.
It’s meddling in Bolivia seems to have succeeded, unlike its failed attempts in Venezuela.
The allegations of voting fraud in Bolivia gave immediate fuel for street protests by rightwing groups loyal to opposition politicians. Those opposition factions are linked to the past oligarchic regimes which ran Bolivia before Morales came to power in 2006. Morales was the first indigenous president in a country which has traditionally been dominated by a ruling class associated with Spanish colonialists. His policies gained much international praise for lifting millions of Bolivians out of poverty, especially the indigenous people who had historically been marginalized by the ruling elite.
For the past three weeks, since the election result designated Morales as the clear winner, Bolivia has been convulsed by extreme violence. Protesters attacked members of Morales’ party, burning homes and offices and intimidating journalists from broadcasting the scenes of anarchy on the streets. It is reported that one of Morales’ family relatives was kidnapped at the weekend.
Given the reign of terror threatening to destroy the country, the president was compelled to relinquish power at the weekend.
The implication of US senators colluding with Bolivia’s rightwing opposition to create a climate of hate and fear is straight out of the same playbook for subversion that Washington has used most recently in Venezuela and in dozens of other countries around the world. The coup d’état that occurred in Ukraine in February 2014 leading to a takeover by neo-Nazi parties is just one other example.
The irony is that Washington and its European partners are consumed with accusations made against Russia for allegedly interfering in their political systems. US and European media relentlessly claim with scant evidence that Moscow is running “influence campaigns” to distort elections.
Just this week the New York Times has published yet another report in a recent series of reports alleging that Russia is cranking up interference and meddling in African states.
Meanwhile, the evidence is glaring that the US has just moved blatantly to destroy the democratic process in Bolivia, to terrorize a nation and blackmail its president to resign. Yet Western media dutifully turn off that narrative to keep chasing their fantasies about Russia. Another illustration of why corporate Western media are more accurately defined as propaganda channels, not news outlets.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
Scroll through NEO’s website and you will realize that we have been honest in reporting the problems the world faces on a daily basis. The articles are straightforward: real issues, real people, and real insight.
While we are steadfast in our reporting, more and more journalists are being subject to the most severe form of censorship, some have taken to – self-censorship in order to avoid the wrath of the powers that be. Such arm twisting by the authorities is nothing but a frontal attack on any semblance of a free media.
It is even worse than that—people, in general, are so skeptical of anything written or reported by the mainstream news nowadays. Things have gotten to the point where they don’t believe anything that the MSM says, however, the unfortunate part is that now the lines between mainstream and independent media has also started blurring, with more and more independent media also falling in step with the official government line.
I have a distant relative who now says that she refuses to watch or read any news from any source since it is all propaganda, and this feeling of discontent is becoming widespread.
Mark Twain once said, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.” But the wise Mark Twain could also not imagine the dystopian world we live in today, where the only alternative is not to read anything and not to trust anything, as much of news has been turned into mindless entertainment.
We know what is happening to Julian Assange, and that is no longer real news, at least for most viewers and the MSM. His ordeal, first at his Embassy holdup after jumping bail, and then being turned over to UK authorities is just the start of another horror story. Given his deteriorating health his stay at the prison is putting his life at risk, and even UN Human Rights experts have warned of his health complications.
All that is happening now was predicated by earlier writers. Hence it is time to revisit a bit of ominous literature, as it is not as if we were not warned about what to look forward to in the future.
“Brave New World” vs. “1984” – which won?
The BBC did an excellent adaptation of “Brave New World” many years ago. I don’t think it survived on tape (it was a few years before the VCRs became ubiquitous). I was able to find one that is close, with Aldous Huxley, an interview with Mike Wallace back in the late ’50s which describes the enemies of freedom in the United States.
My first reaction was that of surprise as all that was described seemed so true even in today’s context. He had been able to accurately describe how various bureaucracies, technology, and propaganda methods work in tandem to create a false narrative and distract the people from more real and pressing issues. From his description it becomes clear that the methods being used today to distract us are the same that Hitler used, only now they have become more effective.
To compare and contrast, George Orwell’s “1984”, and Alex Huxley’s “Brave New World”—they both predicted different visions of a dystopian future. What has emerged now is a combination of the two takes on what the future holds, or at least that is what the situation looks like as of now.
People say we are more Huxley than Orwell, but there are some Orwellian methods too, at least for journalists and whistleblowers. Orwell saw a world where fear was used whereas Huxley perceived a world where we will be manipulated in other ways—more effectively and willingly!
It is so very true that Truth has become Treason with the torture of Julian Assange. The powers to be would like us not to consider him a journalist. Truth has never been well received by governments who want to hide it, at any cost, even at the expense of fundamental principles of the founding fathers. But the situation is getting grim day-by-day now.
So, where does that leave us?
The lesson to others is clear: challenge the global US military empire and you will be destroyed.
Politicians are acting as bullies like George Orwell predicted… perhaps. Huxley’s “Soma” drug is allegorical to how people are drugged by devices and perhaps some actual drugs.
In Enemies of Freedom Huxley is exposing how free choice, the rational side of man are bypassed – and how the democratic process is circumvented and efforts made to eliminate what would be informed and free choice. Huxley dives deep into the forces that are taking away freedom, including electronic devices, overpopulation, and materialism.
However, the greatest threat is over the organization of society and the lack of “thinking beings.” The system, including how education is allocated makes sure that those who question the most are afforded the least conducive environment for learning.
Madness in Method
But there are better ways, for instance, aversion conditioning is how “Brave New World” has prevailed over “1984.” Low levels of education, distractions caused by cellphones and mindless computer games, and various forms of modern-day “Soma” are all tools in the hands of governments to keep the minds of the and people distracted and to keep them calm and mindless. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be only a few left who would want to read one, or at least have the inclination and time.
Younger folk have been manipulated into relinquishing virtually any right or privilege as long as they can still keep their video games and smartphones. “Brave New World” depicts a society that bears more than coincidental resemblance to our society today (watch CNN and Anderson Cooper to get a better idea).
But the “Powers That Be” would also prefer that we live in the “1984” society, and they are trying their best to plunge us into that darkness by attacking journalists who describe inconvenient truths.
Huxley summed it up best:
“By means of ever more effective methods of mind-manipulation, the democracies will change their nature; the quaint old forms— elections, parliaments, Supreme Courts and all the rest—will remain. … Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorial. …
Meanwhile, the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit.”
The comparison is made to radio and television fodder “new devices” and now all that he predicted – subliminal projections contained within films. Once you establish the utility of something that is known to work, you can be certain that the technology of it will steadily improve.
How can we preserve the integrity of humans in an age when we are being persuaded below the level of “choice and reason” – not only in how we think but even in our choices for political office. It is no longer a matter of making an intelligent choice for one’s self interests, but falling prey to the manipulations of [MSM] and the manipulations of consumers by Madison Avenue.
A democracy depends on the individual voter making an intelligent and rational choice for what he regards as his enlightened self-interest in any given circumstance. But attempts are being made to bypass that “rational choice” by appealing to unconscious forces below the surface – below the level of choice and reason.
But that is not happening anytime soon but at least we have a modern version of soma with PR, mind control and a new generation of prescription drugs. Soma can even compete with religion; it takes away bad experiences and makes us all happy and content.
All that was written as fiction is now a reality, even genetically engineered babies and a society driving by never-ending consumption. In the quest for the most modern devices, people have become hooked to a reality that does not exist.
It is this generation of low castes who are proven to be clueless and preoccupied with promiscuity that paints anyone who speaks in disapproval as intolerant. Society has been transformed into “a pre-ordained caste system ranging from a highly intelligent managerial class to a subgroup of dim-witted serfs programmed to love their menial work; and of soma, a drug that confers instant bliss with no side effects.”
That drug comes in many different forms – mostly ignorance and is distributed by the manipulated media and corrupt advertisers.
And let us also not forget why it is no longer even necessary to burn or restrict books. As we learned from the newest release, at the movies, of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 –very few among us are actually interested in reading book or truthful news anymore and fewer, in any case, have the critical thinking abilities to understand their true meaning.
“We are not born equal but must be made equal by the fire!”
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
Paul Craig Roberts
Oct 31, 2019
In the 1990s with the Soviet Union collapsed as a result of the communist hardliners’ arrest of Soviet President Gorbachev and Yeltsin serving as Washington’s puppet while Americans and Israelis looted Russia, the neoconservatives called for Washington to overthrow Middle Eastern governments. The neocon scenario for remaking the Middle East was set out prior to the events of September 11, 2001. https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/whose-war/
The neoconservatives said that they needed “a new Pearl Harbor” in order to launch wars in the Middle East. The cover story was to bring democracy to the Middle East, but the real purpose was to remove governments in the way of Israeli expansion (https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1932528172/counterpunchmaga).
Israel’s principal target was the water resources in southern Lebanon. The Israeli Army had tried to occupy southern Lebanon but was sent fleeing back into Israel by the Hezbollah militia. Israel concluded that it would use their American vassal to overthrow Iraq, Syria, and Iran, the governments that supplied the Hezbollah militia. Once the American puppet had overthrown the resistance to Israel’s expansion, Hezbollah would have no financial or military backing and could safely be attacked by the Israeli army, a military force good only for killing unarmed Palestinian women and children.
9/11 was their New Pearl Harbor.
General Wesley Clark, a 4-star US general who was Supreme allied Commander of NATO, revealed on television that a mere 10 days after 9/11 he was in the Pentagon and was told by a general who formerly worked under him that the decision had been made to invade Iraq. This was before any of the alleged and disproven connections between Iraq and 9/11 had emerged from the neoconservatives’ manipulation of America’s presstitute media.
In other words the invasion of Iraq was planned long before 9/11. It was there all ready for a false flag launch.
Gen. Clark said on TV a few weeks later after the Cheney/Bush Regime was bombing Afghanistan that he again saw his former subordinate in the Pentagon. The general held up a memo that “describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off with Iran.” https://www.globalresearch.ca/we-re-going-to-take-out-7-countries-in-5-years-iraq-syria-lebanon-libya-somalia-sudan-iran/5166
General Clark, with 4-stars, was one of the anointed ones. He thought he could tell the truth, but his revelation had no effect. I am surprised that he wasn’t arrested and tortured like Julian Assange for revealing “classified secrets.”
Osama bin Laden, a CIA asset used against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda, a CIA-supported group of fighters used against the Soviets in Afghanistan, were blamed for the 9/11 attack despite bin Laden’s denial. Everyone knows that real terrorists claim responsibility for everything that happens, whether they had anything to do with it or not. It is the way that they build their movement. It makes zero sense for the alleged Terrorist Leader bin Laden to deny a victory unprecedented in history over the “worlds only superpower.”
According to obituary notices from all over the Middle East, Egypt, and Fox News, Osama bin Laden died from renal failure and a variety of other illnesses in December 2001. I published the widespread obituary notices on my website.
Osama bin Laden was a man who died twice. His death in December 2001 did not stop the corrupt Obama regime from killing bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan a decade later in 2011 when Obama, whose first term failure was threatening him with challengers to his renomination, desperately needed a vindication.
We were presented with one. Obama and his top officials were shown fixed in front of a TV screen allegedly watching the US SEAL Team killing an undefended bin Laden. This false claim was a mistake as everyone wanted the film of bin Laden’s death released. Someone hadn’t given the PR event much thought. As there was no film, the Obama regime found itself on the spot. A correction was issued. It was a media false report that Obama and his team were watching a film of the SEALs’ assault on bin Laden’s compound. The replacement story was that they were listening to reports of the attack on bin Laden.
More problems emerged. Pakistani TV interviewed the next door neighbor of the alleged “bin Laden compound” about what he witnessed on the night in which US SEAL forces allegedly landed and killed Osama bin Laden and carried away his body to be buried at sea from a US aircraft carrier.
The next-door resident said that three helicopters flew above and only one landed. The language soldiers spoke from the helicopter that landed was “Pashto.” Navy SEALS don’t know Pashto. There were no Navy SEALs present.
The witness—all of this was on Pakistani TV with links in my archives, assuming that they haven’t been erased by Google or some other servant of the Evil Empire—reported that the occupants of the single helicopter that landed went into the home of his friend, who most certainly was not bin Laden, and returned in 20 minutes. He said that when the helicopter lifted off it exploded. He said there were no survivors, that body parts were all over. He said that the Pakistani military appeared and cleared the immediate area of observers. The witness said that no other helicopter landed.
The US government acknowledged that a helicopter exploded and fought with Pakistan to get the remains of the helicopter returned to the US. The Obama regime claimed that other helicopters landed and conveyed the SEAL team and bin Laden’s body to a US aircraft carrier. The Pakistani eyewitnesses to the scene said no such thing happened. The only helicopter they reported on Pakistani television was the one that exploded, and there were no survivors.
So, how did anyone escape with bin Laden’s body to be dumped into the sea off a US aircraft carrier?
Many problems resulted from this Obama regime false news stunt.
The 2 or 3 thousand US sailors on the alleged aircraft carrier from which bin Laden allegedly was given a burial at sea wrote home that there was no bin Laden burial from their ship. Aircraft carriers, like all navy ships, have people awake all hours of the day and night on watch. A ship doesn’t just close down and go to sleep during which a secret burial can take place.
Moreover, as those of sufficient intelligence asked, why was the undefended “mastermind” senselessly killed when he held so much valuable information? Why was his body disposed of instead of presented as evidence? Why dispose of the body that would prove that the person who died a decade ago still lived despite renal failure and was finally hunted down after a decade and murdered in a foreign country not subject to US law? The presstitutes were not interested in the questions, and neither was the Obama regime.
Without a media, Americans are helpless. There is no voice for them. The CIA knew this, and the CIA’s subversion of the American media gave Washington total power. The only explanations Americans hear are the ones that keep them brainwashed. https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2019/10/27/the-end-of-accountable-government-is-close-at-hand/
Next we heard that the SEAL unit from which the SEAL team was allegedly drawn was loaded into a Vietnam era troop helicopter in violation of the rule against putting all members of a SEAL unit on the same aircraft, and this unarmored ancient helicopter was shot down over Afghanistan with all SEALs killed.
SEAL families raised a stink. They reported receiving messages from their sons that something was wrong, that they felt endangered. The families wanted the explanation why the rule against putting all SEAL unit members on the same aircraft was broken. Why were they flown over hostile territory in an antique helicopter? I reported this information at the time. It has since disappeared from the news. Obviously, the SEALs were asking one another, “were you on the mission that got bin Laden?” And no one was. So Washington had to eliminate the SEAL unit.
Washington produced an alleged SEAL team member who “killed bin Laden” and sent him on a speaking tour. A book was written. A movie was made. The CIA-obedient presstitute media gave high emphasis to the veracity of the false story. Gullible Americans were pleased to hear that Osama bin Laden had been given his just deserts with a second death a decade after he had died from renal failure.
A population as naive as America’s has no prospect of discerning truth from fiction. They are a lost people whose fate is tyranny. And they will think that they live in truth.
Through its control over the media as evidenced by Operation Mockingbird and Udo Ulfkotte’s book ( https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2019/10/27/the-end-of-accountable-government-is-close-at-hand/ ), the CIA has succeeded in turning the American population into Stepford Wives. This serves the Deep State’s domestic control, but Stepford Wives are not a force capable of confronting the Russian and Chinese armed forces. The military/security complex has seized control by turning a proud nation into misinformed sheeple.
This history written in the closing months of the second decade of the 21st century is the last independent history available before the Age of Tyranny.