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Americans are Stuck in Abusive Relationships with Power

Americans are Stuck in Abusive Relationships with Power

And we recently discovered, if it was not known before, that no amount of power can withstand the hatred of the many.

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

Americans are brought up to believe all sorts of myths about the country we call home. We’re told our economy is a free market meritocracy governed by the rule of law. We’re told our civil liberties, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, are inviolable and protected by the most powerful military in the world. A fighting force entrusted with the admirable and monumental task of defending freedoms at home, and democracy and human rights abroad. We’re told we exist in a system of self-government, in which our votes matter and our voices heard. In practice, none of this is true.

The fact of the matter is American citizens in 2018 are just a nuisance for the real power players. Useful as consumers, but increasingly problematic as larger numbers start to ask questions about how things really work. For far too long, we’ve been ignorant and willing accomplices in our own bondage. This allowed the concentrated and unaccountable power that really calls the shots to go for broke in recent decades, with unsurprisingly tragic results.

Only recently have things started to shift. Increased levels of barbarism abroad and corruption at home during the 21st century — under both Republican and Democratic administrations — have shaken many Americans from a long stupor. Irrespective of where you sit on the political spectrum, most people know something’s not right. People don’t agree on the details of what’s wrong, and there’s certainly no consensus on solutions, but increasing numbers of us know something’s very broken.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Amazon is Far More Dangerous and Powerful Than You Want to Admit

Amazon is Far More Dangerous and Powerful Than You Want to Admit

The sneaky thing about Amazon’s increased dominance in so many key aspects of our lives is that much of the perniciousness is hidden. No one’s going to tell you about all the retailers who have gotten pressured or destroyed via its tactics while you’re happily clicking “add to cart” and smiling about 2-day free shipping. In this sense, it can be best compared to the evils of factory farming. Most people just simply have no idea about the immense damage going on behind the scenes as they indulge in incredible convenience and what looks like a good deal.

– From my November 15, 2017 post: Amazon Poses a Serious Threat to Freedom and Free Markets

Today’s post should be seen as an update to last year’s article referenced above. In the months that have followed, I’ve been consistently frustrated by the lack of interest when it comes to the dangers presented by Amazon and its richest man in the world ($165 billion as of last count) CEO Jeff Bezos. The following Twitter exchange is a good example of what I mean:


There are far worse companies- all the defense companies, all the banks, most of the oil companies. They all support endless war and profit from endless war. Amazon does not.

Sure it does. Bezos is on a board advising the Pentagon and Amazon has a $600million contract with the CIA. You’re a smart guy, I’m sure you know this. https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.businessinsider.com/amazon-ceo-jeff-bezos-joins-pentagon-defense-advisory-board-2016-8 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos joins a group led by ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt to advise the Pentagon

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is now part of an advisory board for the Pentagon led by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

businessinsider.com


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Censorship Is What Happens When Powerful People Get Scared

Censorship Is What Happens When Powerful People Get Scared

“Only the weak hit the fly with a hammer.”
– Bangambiki Habyarimana

Anyone who tells you the recent escalation of censorship by U.S. tech giants is merely a reflection of private companies making independent decisions is either lying or dangerously ignorant.

In the case of Facebook, the road from pseudo-platform to willing and enthusiastic tool of establishment power players is fairly straightforward. It really got going earlier this year when issues surrounding egregious privacy violations in the case of Cambridge Analytica (stuff that had been going on for years) could finally be linked to the Trump campaign.  It was at this point that powerful and nefarious forces spotted an opportunity to leverage the company’s gigantic influence in distributing news and opinion for their own ends. Rather than hold executives to account and break up the company, the choice was made to commandeer and weaponize the platform. This is where we stand today.

Let’s not whitewash history though. These tech companies have been compliant, out of control government snitches for a long time. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we’re aware of the deep and longstanding cooperation between these lackeys and U.S. intelligence agencies in the realm of mass surveillance. As such, the most recent transformation of these companies into full fledged information gatekeepers should be seen in its proper context; merely as a dangerous continuation and expansion of an already entrenched reality.

But it’s all out in the open now. Facebook isn’t even hiding the fact that it’s outsourcing much of its “fake news” analysis to the Atlantic Council, a think tank funded by NATO, Gulf States and defense contractors. As reported by Reuters:

Facebook began looking for outside help amid criticism for failing to rein in Russian propaganda ahead of the 2016 presidential elections…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Must Watch Interview – Iraq War Whistleblower Banned from Twitter Tells His Story

Must Watch Interview – Iraq War Whistleblower Banned from Twitter Tells His Story

During my time in Iraq working for the State Department, a time that I initially was a red, white and blue government official, I frequently lied to the media. I lied to them about how things were going, I lied to them about how successful we were. My colleagues and I were contemptuous of them, most of the people we talked to in the media didn’t know enough to ask important questions, most of them didn’t care enough to ask questions and simply jotted down whatever we told them, and it was just remarkably easy to fool them. It’s almost as if they wanted to play along with us.

At one point I described it as they weren’t looking for “the story,” just “a story.” I made some remarks about how many of them were more concerned about looking good in their stand-ups, getting their makeup on straight than looking for details or questioning the lies that the government put forward. 

– Peter Van Buren, Iraq War Whistleblower, banned from Twitter a few days ago

The above quote is from an extraordinary discussion between Daniel McAdams, Scott Horton and Peter Van Buren that occurred yesterday.

Stop whatever you’re doing right now and watch this, it’s that important.

Let’s now get right into why this is so incredibly problematic. Mr. Van Buren claims that he was deleted from Twitter after making a mainstream journalist named Jonathan Katz uncomfortable with what was an obvious joke that no honest person would ever take as a real threat of violence.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S. Tech Giants Are Too Big, Too Powerful and Now Are Running Into Serious Trouble

U.S. Tech Giants Are Too Big, Too Powerful and Now Are Running Into Serious Trouble

Within Google, knowledge about Dragonfly has been restricted to just a few hundred members of the internet giant’s 88,000-strong workforce, said a source with knowledge of the project. The source spoke to The Intercept on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to contact the media. The source said that they had moral and ethical concerns about Google’s role in the censorship, which is being planned by a handful of top executives and managers at the company with no public scrutiny.

“I’m against large companies and governments collaborating in the oppression of their people, and feel like transparency around what’s being done is in the public interest,” the source said, adding that they feared “what is done in China will become a template for many other nations.”

From The Intercept article: Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal

Today’s post will explain why I think the U.S. tech giants are in the early stages of destroying themselves. It will focus on two of the biggest names in the space, Facebook and Google. Both face serious issues that are only now truly coming to a head and rooted in two primary factors, size and politics.

Facebook is further along in the process of being in serious trouble, so let’s start there. The social media company currently has 2.2 billion active users worldwide, which amounts to well over half of all human beings online at the moment (estimated at 3-4 billion). In other words, the company already has a tremendous share of global potential users. Since everybody already knows what Facebook is, you have to assume those who aren’t using it (like me), aren’t using it for a reason.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Centrism is Dead (And It Never Really Existed)

Centrism is Dead (And It Never Really Existed)

It’s a common refrain these days to hear people lament a decline of the so-called “center” in American politics. We’re supposed to look on in horror as “moderate” Republicans and Democrats become an engaged species of liberty-fighting patriots steamrolled by frothing, insane hordes of populist barbarians on their left and right flanks. They’re the voice of reason, lovers of apple pie and staunch defenders of our constitution and all that’s good and right in the US of A. We’re encouraged to run back into the blood soaked arms of establishment politicians like John McCain and Hillary Clinton — the only ones standing between us and the Donald Trumps and Bernie Sanders of the world. The center cannot hold, so we’re told.

It’s a nice story, the only problem is it’s complete and total nonsensical garbage. This mythical “center” is nothing more than a failed status quo attempting to rebrand itself in the wake of being outed as the corrupt charlatans they are. Russia, Trump and  Bernie Sanders didn’t destroy healthcare, bailout criminal bankers and invade Iraq based on fake news. No, moderate Republicans and Democrats did that. The so-called celebrated center did that.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial not to accept their phony terms. What these professional con artists are now marketing as centrism is in reality just entrenched donor-based politics. If you want to call endless imperial wars and the transformation of the U.S. into a rigged neo-feudal hunger games economy centrism, be my guest. I’d call it the result of decades of political apathy during which rapacious donors purchased the political process while nobody was looking. Well we’re looking now, and we’re not too happy about what we see.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Lunatic Politics (Part 2) – It’s Becoming Impossible to Have a Conversation

Lunatic Politics (Part 2) – It’s Becoming Impossible to Have a Conversation

More and more people are becoming aware of and concerned about the level of political dialogue going on right now. We’ve gotten to a point where I’m seeing almost no intelligent debate about any serious issue. Russiagate now consumes such a massive amount of our collective energy, it feels we’ve become nearly incapable of discussing anything else. Even worse, Russiagate has morphed into a creepy D.C. establishment religion where merely demanding evidence for the wild claims being made gets you labeled a traitor or Putin agent. Ironically, average Americans don’t care about the issue.

When Gallup recently asked Americans what the most important (non-economic) problem facing the country today is, the amount of people saying Russia was so low they couldn’t even attribute a number to it.

Think about that. We’re being divided into two camps of increasingly insane and angry people because of hysteria surrounding an issue nobody even cares about. As usual, we can thank mass media for turning this topic into its singular obsession as well as promoting an environment of cultural insanity and stupidity.

As a result, people aren’t having intelligent conversations with one another. They’re just yelling at each other. The dialogue feels more like a political hunger games where people see everything as a linguistic competition of kill or be killed. Language itself has become debased as individuals try to one up each other with name calling and hyperbole. Demonizing and dehumanizing the other side appears to be the primary goal, which will only lead to a very bad place if we don’t take a collective deep breath.

Lunatic Politics (Part 1) – Russiagate is a Religion

Lunatic Politics (Part 1) – Russiagate is a Religion

As the Snowden documents and David Sanger’s great new book and other books make plain, and as U.S. officials are wont to brag, the U.S. intelligence services break into computers and computer networks abroad at an astounding rate, certainly on a greater scale than any other intelligence service in the world.  Every one of these intrusions in another country violates that country’s criminal laws prohibiting unauthorized computer access and damage, no less than the Russian violations of U.S. laws outlined in Mueller’s indictment…

It is no response to say that the United States doesn’t meddle in foreign elections, because it has in the past—at least as recently as Bill Clinton’s intervention in the Russian presidential election of 1996 and possibly as recently as the Hillary Clinton State Department’s alleged intervention in Russia’s 2011 legislative elections. And during the Cold War the United States intervened in numerous foreign elections, more than twice as often as the Soviet Union. Intelligence history expert Loch Johnson told Scott Shane that the 2016 Russia electoral interference is “the cyber-age version of standard United States practice for decades, whenever American officials were worried about a foreign vote.”  The CIA’s former chief of Russia operations, Steven L. Hall, told Shane: “If you ask an intelligence officer, did the Russians break the rules or do something bizarre, the answer is no, not at all.” Hall added that “the United States ‘absolutely’ has carried out such election influence operations historically, and I hope we keep doing it.”

LawfareUncomfortable Questions in the Wake of Russia Indictment 2.0 and Trump’s Press Conference With Putin

Nothing gets the phony “Resistance,” corporate media and neocons more hysterical than when Trump isn’t belligerent enough while meeting with foreign leaders abroad. While the pearl clutching was intense during the North Korea summit, the reoccurring, systematic outrage spectacle was taken to entirely new levels of stupidity and hyperbole during yesterday’s meeting with Putin in Finland.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Where Do You Draw the Line in Today’s Crazed Political Environment?

Where Do You Draw the Line in Today’s Crazed Political Environment?

If you vote for Trump, then you the voter, you, not Donald Trump, are standing at the border like Nazis going ‘you here, you here’.

– Donny Deutsch on MSNBC last week

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

– Friedrich Nietzsche

With each passing day, Trump’s hardcore supporters and detractors become more deeply entrenched in their respective corners and grow more hysterical. With every turn of the news cycle, we see two groups increasingly and equally convinced that only they and their allies can save the nation from total ruin. As someone who isn’t a cheerleader for any politician or political party, it’s fascinating to watch. It’s also made me consider where to draw the line when it comes to political action or commentary.

First off, we need to understand that an increasingly centralized, corrupt and unaccountable government making decisions for 325 million people will be inherently and systemically abusive toward the citizenry. To confront this reality we need resistance, but it can’t be the superficial, purely partisan kind.

Superficial resistance is what you see from establishment Democrats and MSNBC, peddling the fairytale that Trump the person is the problem, not the system itself. In contrast, genuine resistance is admitting and confronting our root problems which are deeply engrained and systemic. It means coming to terms with the fact we’re largely living in an imperial, executive-driven government structure as opposed to a Constitutional Republic. Congress doesn’t even bother to seriously weigh in on war and military operations anymore, essentially outsourcing its most awesome responsibility to whoever happens to be president. Trump the man isn’t our huge problem; excessive, secret and unaccountable government power is.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Myths We Tell Ourselves

The Myths We Tell Ourselves

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.”

Your average mass media pundit regularly decries the fact Americans no longer have trust in the country’s institutions, yet simultaneously refuse to take any sort of responsibility for the situation. Government bureaucrats and other assorted supporters of our decrepit status quo tend to do the same thing. As is typically the case, I’ll take the other side.

Not only do I think it’s completely sane for Americans to have zero faith in their institutions, including but certainly not limited to the three-letter agencies, Congress and the Federal Reserve, I’ll take it a step further and argue we as citizens remain far too naive and trusting for our own good. If nothing else, the recent Justice Department Inspector General’s (IG) report on the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server should underscore the point.

First, there’s the now infamous text exchange between between Peter Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page. The following excerpt is from the Executive Summary of the IG report:

We were deeply troubled by text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page that potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations. Most of the text messages raising such questions pertained to the Russia investigation, which was not a part of this review. Nonetheless, when one senior FBI official, Strzok, who was helping to lead the Russia investigation at the time, conveys in a text message to another senior FBI official, Page, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it” in response to her question “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”, it is not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

American Mass Media and Punditry Remain a Dishonest, Militaristic Embarrassment

American Mass Media and Punditry Remain a Dishonest, Militaristic Embarrassment

When it comes to U.S. presidents, experience has taught me to always assume the worst. Irrespective of what the winning candidate said on the campaign trail, a few things things tend to happen once they’re sworn into office. To name a few, we almost always end up with a further expansion of the imperial presidency, more pointless wars, growth in the surveillance state and continued unaccountable pillaging by Wall Street. The worst trends and elements of society tend to grow no matter who sits in the oval office.

As such, I’m genuinely heartened by those rare occasions when a U.S. president tries to reduce geopolitical tensions and prioritize peace. This isn’t to say such attempts will work out perfectly, or work at all, but in a world in which a hammer-focused American foreign policy tends to see every situation as a nail, attempts at peace should at the very least be supported by those who claim to care about such things.

Nevertheless, here in America we’ve encouraged and rewarded a peculiar class of people who tend to cluster within specialized niches of the imperial economy, namely the mass media and think tanks often funded by military contractors and foreign dictatorships. While these types always cheer U.S. overseas belligerence, nothing gets them clutching their pearls more fiercely than Donald Trump doing something reasonable.

When it comes to U.S. presidents I’m nobody’s cheerleader, but if the executive tries to make the world more peaceful I’ll support it. If they do the opposite, I’ll oppose. As such, I’m on board with Trump trying to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and I’m glad he’s doing it. Naturally, mass media pundits took the opposite approach and immediately resorted to their trademark creepy militarism and ignorance.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Beware Former Central Bankers Telling You to Work More

Beware Former Central Bankers Telling You to Work More

I’m not the only one of course. The financial crisis of 2008/09 similarly shattered the worldview of tens, if not hundreds of millions of people across the globe. I believe that the old manner of doing things as far as organizing an economy and society died for good during that crisis and its aftermath. Sure it’s been shadily and undemocratically propped up ever since, and we haven’t yet transitioned to what’s next, but for all intents and purposes it’s dead. It’s dead because it has no credibility.

– From last year’s post: The Generational Wheels Are Turning

Hard work is fundamental to our continued existence and advancement as a species. I would never devalue the importance of hard work, particularly when combined with intense passion and drive, which leads to extraordinary technological progress and soaring artistic creations. Nevertheless, my ears perk up whenever I hear an older person lecture millennials about how they need to work more just to have a reasonable chance at a retirement compared to generations that came became before.

Yet that’s exactly what happened when I read an article published at Politico by 75-year old Alicia Munnell, and academic who also worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the U.S. Treasury Department under Bill Clinton.

She seems to understand the problem. She notes:

A comparison of millennials (adults currently ages 25 to 35) with earlier cohorts (Gen-Xers and late baby boomers) when they were the same age shows that even though a higher percentage of both millennial men and women have college degrees, they are behind in almost every economic dimension.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Preach Less, Live Your Values More

Preach Less, Live Your Values More

Historically, Google has promoted an open culture that encourages employees to challenge and debate product decisions. But some employees feel that their leadership no longer as attentive to their concerns, leaving them to face the fallout. “Over the last couple of months, I’ve been less and less impressed with the response and the way people’s concerns are being treated and listened to,” one employee who resigned said.

GizmodoGoogle Employees Resign in Protest Against Pentagon Contract

Today’s post will revisit a theme I spent considerable time and energy on last year. Namely, the tendency of human beings to focus on words versus deeds.

In case you haven’t noticed, very few people on social media are out there talking about how much they love exploitation, or admit that they’d unflinchingly put aside all ethical considerations in the pursuit of money and power. In contrast, everyone’s ranting and raving about how great they are, how right about everything their political tribe is, and how morally superior they are to the evil and corrupt “other side.” The problem is someone has to be wrong in a world where everyone’s convinced they’re right.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

May You Live in Stupid, Corrupt and yet Fascinating Times

May You Live in Stupid, Corrupt and yet Fascinating Times

In the old days, America’s top spies would complete their tenures at the CIA or one of the other Washington puzzle palaces and segue to more ordinary pursuits. Some wrote their memoirs. One ran for president. Another died a few months after surrendering his post. But today’s national-security establishment retiree has a different game plan. After so many years of brawling in the shadows, he yearns for a second, lucrative career in the public eye. He takes a crash course in speaking in soundbites, refreshes his wardrobe and signs a TV news contract. Then, several times a week, waits for a network limousine to shuttle him to the broadcast news studios where, after a light dusting of foundation and a spritz of hairspray, he takes a supporting role in the anchors’ nighttime shows.

PoliticoThe Spies Who Came in to the TV Studio

May you live in stupid, corrupt and yet fascinating times.

– Me, paraphrasing a Chinese curse

I’ve been away the past couple of weeks taking a break with my family. I paid attention to the news, but from a distance. As usual, there’s plenty to talk about.

In the last 24 hours alone, we’ve seen political chaos erupt in Italy and hordes of pundits simultaneously lose their minds over the murder of a prominent Russian journalist that never happened. Such is the world we live in. Stupid, corrupt, yet fascinating.

Of all the things I could’ve written about, you may be surprised by today’s selection. It’s a clip many of you probably saw where Richard Stengel (who was Time Magazine’s managing editor from 2006-2013) admits he approves of government propagandizing its own citizens during a Council on Foreign Relations forum. Here’s the clip.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Europe May Fold, but China and Russia See Opportunity

Europe May Fold, but China and Russia See Opportunity

And we recently discovered, if it was not known before, that no amount of power can withstand the hatred of the many. 

–  Marcus Tullius Cicero

Although European leaders are talking a big game about keeping the Iran deal (JCPOA) alive following Trump’s unilateral withdrawal, there’s a good chance nations across the pond, especially the UK and France, will ultimately fold to U.S. demands. This is despite the fact these countries stand to lose far more economically than America. Acquiescing to U.S. imperial demands as submissive client states is simply what Europe does. On the other hand, China and Russia sense opportunity for major geopolitical gains and will not back down.

Political leaders in China and Russia must be licking their chops at the short-sighted stupidity of Donald Trump’s decision to ditch the Iran deal. As mentioned in previous pieces, the Trump administration isn’t just saying the U.S. will sanction Iran from its end, but that it could leverage the global financial system and its dependency on the USD, to punish those who dare defy U.S. policy.

As discussed in the recent post, The Road to 2025 (Part 3) – USD Dominated Financial System Will Fall Apart, this unilateral move against Iran is likely to be a key catalyst in the planet transitioning away from a financial system completely and totally dominated by the USD into a more multi-polar currency world. Trump’s essentially willing to trade away U.S. global geopolitical and financial dominance because he’s obsessed with taking out the Iranian regime.

While Europe may not be willing to make a huge fuss about all this right now, its leaders, and more importantly its citizenry, know exactly what this means. As long as the global financial system is totally dominated and controlled from the U.S. via the USD, no country on earth can be truly sovereign, in terms of economic or foreign policy.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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