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Liberalism's Communications Problem

Liberals in the United States are relatively educated, yet extremely inarticulate when it comes to Trump, his budget proposal, or the U.S. military.

In a typical email, Moveon.org sent out the message this week that nobody should confirm a Supreme Court nominee until it's determined that Trump is a "legitimate president." Until then, the U.S. military should go on slaughtering families for him? And once he's "legitimate" then a horrible fascist Supreme Court nominee should be approved? And what would it take for Trump to become "legitimate." According to the email, it would take proving that Trump didn't collaborate with Putin to rig the U.S. election. According to the linked video, it would take that plus seeing Trump's tax returns, plus proving that Trump is not violating the foreign emoluments clause. All three demands are given a xenophobic slant.

Trump in No Hurry to Staff ‘Enemy of the People’ Offices

By Dave Lindorff


(published originally by FAIR.org)

There Won't Be Another Jimmy Breslin, But We Need More Like Him in the Mainstream Media

By Dave Lindorff

 

There only was and only will be one Jimmy Breslin, and after his death last Sunday at 88, he is no more.

Uh-Oh, there goes the Democrats’ 'Russia Did It' campaign: WikiLeaks’ Latest CIA Data Dump Undermines Case Against Russia Electi

By Dave Lindorff

 

The so-called Deep State and Democratic Party campaign to demonize Russia for allegedly "hacking the US election," and delivering the country into the hands of Donald Trump suffered a huge and probably mortal blow this week with the release by WikiLeaks of over 7000 secret CIA documents disclosing secret CIA hacking technologies.

The Sessions stench: Trump AG Jeff Sessions is Trapped in the Malodorous Maelstrom of an ‘Alabama Hurricane’

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the target of demands for resignation due to his triggering yet another Trump Administration scandal related to lying under oath in the Senate about contacts with Russian officials, finds himself in an ‘Alabama Hurricane’ of his own making.

Has Van Jones Lost His Mind, Or Are Sane People Missing the Point?

A rational and moral person might think of the recent U.S. raid in Yemen this way. Here's one small incident out of a war consisting primarily of a massive bombing campaign that has slaughtered innocents by the thousands and is threatening to lead to the starvation of hundreds of thousands. In this one incident some 30 people were murdered, some 10 of them women and children, one of them the 8-year-old sister of a 16-year-old American boy whom President Obama had earlier murdered just after having murdered his father. There wasn't some Very Important Thing accomplished, such as learning the cell phone number of someone suspiciously Muslim or whatever, that an immoral hack could try to claim justified this incident. This was mass murder.

In the course of this mass murder, one American taking part in it was killed.

The first paragraph above is of virtually no interest to the U.S. media. The second paragraph above is of intense and passionate interest. But there is a very different point that this interest misses. Much of the media coverage suggests that the One American being killed was a very negative thing for Donald Trump. I'd suggest that it was a very negative thing for the man killed and his family and loved ones, but not necessarily a bad thing for Donald Trump or Lockheed Martin. Here's why.

Resume inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice

By Dave Lindorff

 

In the annals of human conflict, the Gulf War of 1991, when the US dispatched half a million troops and a huge armada of ships, planes and tanks into the desert south of Iraq and Kuwait and then crushed Iraqi forces in both those countries in a six-week blitz from Jan. 17-Feb. 28, surely has to rank as one of the most one-sided wars since Hitler’s Wehrmacht marched through Holland in four days in 1940.

More Clapp-trap: Senate Hearing on Russian Election Mischief Again Fails to Prove Anything

By Dave Lindorff

 

            The Russian hacking hysteria in the US media and, surprisingly, among educated liberals (who should know better after years of government lies and deceit, particularly about foreign affairs), is becoming increasingly embarrassing.

Book review/essay: Morally Surviving America’s War on Vietnam

By Johhn Grant

 

The War I Survived Was Vietnam: Collected Writings of a Veteran and Antiwar Activist

New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in "Intelligence" Act

I don't know why we didn't pick playing with live electrical wires and call that "intelligence" instead of the stuff we do. I think I'll stick with calling what the U.S. government does "counter-intelligence." So, here's the latest from the counter-intelligence community.

Section 501 of the Counter Intelligence Act creates a "Committee to Counter Active Measures by the Russian Federation to Exert Covert Influence Over Peoples and Governments."

This is followed by Section 502 which limits Russian and only Russian diplomats in the United States to traveling no more than 25 miles from their offices.

I suspect there may have been a Section 503 in an earlier draft that required CNN to show a photo of Vladimir Putin without his shirt and make fun of him at least once every 4 hours. If so, that section would have been stripped out as unnecessary.

The establishment wants more and more hostility with Russia. Trump wants to ever so slightly tweak the establishment and focus more hostility on China. That shift is obviously not one toward enlightenment. But when there is a chance for better relations between the U.S. and Russian governments, Congress should not be allowed to inject its counter-intelligence.

Of course countering active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence over peoples and governments sounds like a good thing. But it's not a good thing if those active measures do not exist. This is like putting weapons in space to "counter" others doing it, when nobody else is. It's offense under the banner of defense. And offense will be taken.

It's also not a good thing if the active measures (real or imagined) are not countered in the wisest manner. One way to counter assassinations, for example, would be to expose them, prosecute them as crimes, and seek reconciliation. Another would be to empower a special committee to engage in "counter-assassinations."

Contrary to good liberal faith, there is zero public evidence that Russia has been engaging in these activities listed in the Counter Intelligence Act:

(A) Establishment or funding of a front group.
(B) Covert broadcasting.
(C) Media manipulation.
(D) Disinformation and forgeries.
(E) Funding agents of influence.
(F) Incitement and offensive counterintelligence.
(G) Assassinations.
(H) Terrorist acts.

Are there Russian front groups in the United States? Name one. Prove it. Is there covert broadcasting underway? Is that where you broadcast to nobody? Presumably it is where you create television and radio content purporting not to be Russian but actually serving the Russian government. Where is that? May we see a 30 second clip of it, please? Has the media been manipulated? [Apart from this failed effort?] By disinformation and forgeries? Expose one, for godsake, this is an emergency! Don't let those forgeries go on deceiving us a moment longer! "Funding agents of influence" sounds more like overt broadcasting. Russia does do that using Russian television and radio networks (something the United States would never ever engage in!) -- but how will this committee counter those? "Incitement" to what? "Offensive counterintelligence"? Offensive to whom? "Assassinations"? Of whom? Has someone been assassinated? "Terrorist acts"? Wouldn't we, almost by definition, have heard of these?

Now I realize that most people don't give a rat's ass about stirring up hostility with the other major nuclear nation. So, here's another problem with this bill that people may want to object to, as they should. This committee is empowered to do anything the president tells it to, and it sends occasional reports to Congress, not the public. Most, if not all, of the people it counter-intelligently counters will not have anything to do with the Russian government.

The Washington Post has already published a ludicrous but dangerous list of supposed Russian front group media outlets. If this committee does the same, and especially if it does so in secret, what recourse will the falsely accused have? This committee, selected by presidential appointees, will not be publicly accountable.

If the New-McCarthyite Anti-Russia Committee secretly labels you a Russian agent and accuses you of media manipulation, will it then manipulate the media to destroy your reputation? If it accuses you of "disinformation and forgeries" will it "counter" that with disinformation about you and forgeries incriminating you? Will it confiscate your funding as being that of an "agent of influence"? What will it do if it accuses you of assassinations? And will all the Russian agents of influence turn out to be Democrats during Republican presidencies, and vice versa?

Presumably the CIA hasn't challenged Congress to a duel over this new committee horning in on its territory because it's not technically supposed to spread its counter-intelligence domestically. Same with USAID and the rest. And the FBI is not supposed to be at war with foreign nations. But the lines between the military policing of the globe and the police militarization at home are ever blurring. And that's part of what's wrong with this bill. All's fair in war, meaning there is no requirement of fairness. Don't expect any. Resist instead.

Media Complicity Is Key to Blacklisting Websites

By Norman Solomon

We still don’t have any sort of apology or retraction from the Washington Post for promoting “The List” -- the highly dangerous blacklist that got a huge boost from the newspaper’s fawning coverage on November 24. The project of smearing 200 websites with one broad brush wouldn’t have gotten far without the avid complicity of high-profile media outlets, starting with the Post.

On Thursday -- a week after the Post published its front-page news article hyping the blacklist that was put out by a group of unidentified people called PropOrNot -- I sent a petition statement to the newspaper’s executive editor Martin Baron.

“Smearing is not reporting,” the RootsAction petition says. “The Washington Post’s recent descent into McCarthyism -- promoting anonymous and shoddy claims that a vast range of some 200 websites are all accomplices or tools of the Russian government -- violates basic journalistic standards and does real harm to democratic discourse in our country. We urge the Washington Post to prominently retract the article and apologize for publishing it.”

About that legacy, Mr. President: Obama Has a Small Window to Go Out with Some Flair and Excitement

By Dave Lindorff

 

            There is a lot of talk going on among the pundits about how President Obama is leaving no enduring legacy -- that his progressive actions as president, few and small that they may have been, were written in the sand of executive orders, which can and likely will be erased within days of Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Of Veterans and Black Mirror Roaches

If you're a fan of the Netflix show Black Mirror, go watch the episode called "Men Against Fire" before reading this. It's the one about war.

In this 60-minute science fiction show, soldiers have been (somehow) programed so that when they look at certain people they see them as freaky monsters with pointed teeth and bizarre faces. These people look frightening and non-human. They are thought of as objects, not as people at all. In reality they are themselves terrified, unarmed, ordinary looking people. And they have a tool with which to protect themselves, a stick with a green light. It doesn't kill or injure. The stick deprograms a soldier so that when he looks at someone he sees them as they really are without the monstrous distortion.

Of course a deprogramed soldier is of no use to the military. In "Men Against Fire" the military offers a deprogramed soldier two choices. He can re-experience on an endless loop a recent reality in which he murdered helpless human beings, but this time experience it while seeing them as human beings instead of as "roaches" (what the military calls the intended victims made to appear monstrous), or he can be reprogramed and get back to the untroubled work of extermination.

While this story is more fiction than science, some reality breaks into the Netflix drama. During World War I, we're told accurately, a commander beat troops with a stick to get them to shoot at enemies. Troops we're also routinely drugged for the same purpose. During World War II, we're told, also on the basis of actual studies, only 15% to 20% of U.S. troops fired at opposing troops. In other words, 80% to 85% of the Greatest Heroes of the Greatest War Ever were actually a drain on the killing campaign, whereas the conscientious objector featured in the new Mel Gibson movie or, for that matter, the guy who stayed home and grew vegetables contributed more to the effort.

Killing and facing killing are extremely difficult. They require the closest human reality to programing. They require conditioning. They require muscle memory. They require thoughtless reflex. The U.S. military had so mastered this programing by the time of the war on Vietnam that as many as 85% of troops actually fired at enemies -- though some of them also fired at their own commanders. The real trouble came when they didn't remember these acts of murder as the extermination of "roaches" but as the reality of what they were. And veterans remembered their acts of murder on an endless loop with no option to be re-programed out of it. And they killed themselves in greater numbers than the Vietnamese had killed them.

The U.S. military has advanced not an inch in the matter of reconciling its killers to what they have done. Here's an account just published of what that means for veterans and those they know and love. You can easily find another such account every day online. The top killer of members of the U.S. military is suicide. The top killer of the people who live in "liberated" nations during their liberations is members of the U.S. military. This is not coincidental. Veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (only a disorder from the perspective of those who'd like to suppress healthy inhibitions), moral injury (what a veteran friend calls "a fancy word for guilt and regret"), and neurocognitive disorder/brain injury. Often the same individual suffers all three of these types of harm, and often they are hard to distinguish from each other or to fully diagnose prior to autopsy. But the one that eats your soul, the one solved only by science fiction, is moral injury.

Of course science fiction only works when it overlaps with nonfiction. U.S. troops conditioned to kick in doors in Iraq or Syria and view every person inside as a non-human threat don't use the term "roaches," preferring "hadjis" or "camel jockeys" or "terrorists" or "combatants" or "military aged males" or "Muslims." Removing the killers physically to a drone piloting booth can create psychic "distance" aided by reference to victims as "bugsplat" and other terms in the same vein as "roaches." But this approach to producing conscience-free killers has been a spectacular failure. Watch the real suffering of the real drone killers in the current movie National Bird. There's no fiction there, but the very same horror of the roach-killing soldier re-experiencing what he's done.

Such failures and shortcomings for the military are never complete failures of course. Many kill, and kill ever more willingly. What becomes of them afterward is not the military's problem. It couldn't possibly care less. So, awareness of what becomes of those who kill won't stop the killing. What we need is the real life equivalent of a little stick with a green light on it, a magic tool for deprograming members of every military on earth, every potential recruit, every investor in weapons dealing, every profiteer, every willing tax payer, every apathetic observer, every heartless politician, every thoughtless propagandist. What can we use?

I think the closest equivalents to the stick with the green light are passports and telephones. Give every American a passport automatically and free. Make the right to travel inviolable, including for felons. Make the duty to travel and to speak multiple languages part of every education. And give every family in every nation on the Pentagon's potential enemies list a phone with a camera and internet access. Ask them to tell us their stories, including the stories of their encounters with the rarest of species: the newly appearing Unarmed American.

The choice this year is easy: Why No Leftist, Progressive or Liberal Should Vote for Hillary Clinton

By Dave Lindorff

 

            With one week to go in this year’s presidential election -- an astonishing and depressing contest in which the two least-liked and least-trusted candidates in history are the two choices put up by our two main political parties -- it’s time to look at why left and liberal people should not vote for the Democratic Party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton.

All Governments Lie, The Movie

Picture, if you will, video footage of vintage (early 2016) Donald Trump buffoonery with the CEO of CBS Leslie Moonves commenting on major media's choice to give Trump vastly more air time than other candidates: "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS."

That's the introduction to a powerful critique of the U.S. media. A new film screens in New York and Los Angeles this week called All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone.

The website AllGovernmentsLie.com has screening dates, a list of lies, and a list of good journalists who expose lies. The lists on the website are not identical to the content of the film, but there's a good deal of overlap -- enough to give you a sense of what this project is about.

I'd have made various changes and additions to the film. In particular, I'm tired of all the focus on Iraq 2003. This film touches on war lies since then, but still gives that one particular set of war lies prominence.

Still, this is a film that should be shown in cities, homes, and classrooms across the United States. It includes and is driven by Noam Chomsky's analysis of how the media system is "rigged" without those doing the rigging believing they've done anything at all. It's a survey of skullduggery by corporate media. It's an introduction to numerous journalists far superior to the norm. And it's an introduction to I.F. Stone. It includes footage of a presentation of the annual Izzy Award which goes to journalists acting in Stone's tradition.

Public vs. Media on War

A new poll from an unlikely source suggests that the U.S. public and the U.S. media have very little in common when it comes to matters of war and peace.

This poll was commissioned by that notorious leftwing hotbed of peaceniks, the Charles Koch Institute, along with the Center for the National Interest (previously the Nixon Center, and before that the humorously named Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom). The poll was conducted by Survey Sampling International.

They polled 1,000 registered voters from across the U.S. and across the political spectrum but slanted slightly toward older age groups. They asked:

"Over the last 15 years, do you think U.S. foreign policy has made Americans more or less safe?"

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