Category Archives: Reblog

Covid-19 has taken away bread and circuses, laying bare the true American empire

This is a simple text copy. If interested and you want to see the original with picture and everything, go here:
https://www.rt.com/op-ed/483675-coronavirus-america-bread-circuses-illusions/

by Michael McCaffrey

Michael McCaffrey lives in Los Angeles where he works as an acting coach, screenwriter and consultant. He is also a freelance film and cultural critic whose work can be read at RT, Counterpunch and at his website mpmacting.com/blog.

21 Mar, 2020 14:28

Regular Americans can no longer numb themselves with sports and gluttony, freeing them to clearly see the malignantly craven ruling class that exploits and despises them. If only they would open their eyes to reality.

Anyone who has eyes to see can clearly make out that America is an addled empire in steep decline that is firmly entrenched in its bread-and-circuses stage. This has been brought into clear focus due to Covid-19. Since there is now a shortage of bread, as supermarket shelves are bare, and the distraction of the circus of sports has been indefinitely removed from the culture, Americans are left with little to distract them from cold, hard reality.

Coronavirus calls US’ ‘world’s richest country’ bluff: Will it cling to busted myths or evolve under pressure?

With no brawls or ballgames to watch, and the fear of potential hunger gnawing at their bloated bellies and brains, and with social distancing leaving them isolated with little but their thoughts as company, Americans will now find it harder and harder to ignore the truth about their country and its deplorably corrupt media, financial, government, education and health care systems, that is staring them in the face.

As the old adage goes, crisis reveals character, and the coronavirus contagion is a crisis of epic proportions that is revealing America to be utterly devoid of any redeeming character whatsoever.

If America were a sane, healthy, and rational country this would be a great opportunity for change to occur…alas, it is not. America is an insane, unhealthy and irrational nation, and so any genuine change is inconceivable.

For example, this crisis has once again revealed the house of cards that is the smoke and mirrors American economy. The American economy has long been rigged through financialization, where stock buybacks and accounting shenanigans inflate the stock market but create nothing of substance for the masses except the illusion of prosperity. Here in America the economy long ago stopped working for regular folks, as evidenced by the fact that despite productivity soaring, for the last forty years wages have remained stagnant, while the cost of living has escalated.

The American Way has devolved into a bizarre reverse-Robin Hood world, where the rich steal from the poor and keep it for themselves. Proof of this is that this Covid-19 crisis will undoubtedly be used, just as the 2008 collapse, as a way for the malicious narcissists in Washington, Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms to come together to assure that all their losses are socialized and their profits privatized. Casinos, cruise lines, airlines, hotels and others are already lining up — including of course the scoundrels on Wall Street — for their taxpayer-funded handout.

Bailing out working- and middle-class Americans, though, is an absolute non-starter for the ruling elite. The upper crust will throw around vacuous catch phrases, like the deliciously ironic “moral hazard,” to make their argument, which is pretty rich considering the vermin on Wall Street and their cronies on Capitol Hill are so morally bereft, it is a hazard to all humanity.

Coronavirus is not nearly as deadly as the cancerous corruption that is endemic in our oligarchic corporatocracy. For proof of that look no further than Nancy Pelosi’s emergency “sick pay” bill, that exempts companies of over 500 employees from paying sick pay — and has a boatload of special exemptions for businesses below that threshold — which leaves all but 20% of workers eligible for benefits. The holes in Pelosi’s bill are bigger than the gaping void where her brain and soul should be.

This corruption of the elites is bipartisan, as evidenced by two Republican Senators, Richard Burr and Kelly Loeffler (who is married to Jeffrey Sprechter, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange), who allegedly took advantage of classified briefings on the impending severity of coronavirus in late January and early February to pull off some slick insider trading maneuvers so they could cash in before the public had any clue what was coming. Both, of course, deny any impropriety.

The egregious economic divide in America is further highlighted by the Covid-19 debate over whether to close schools amidst the crisis. The reason this debate raged on well past the rational time to act is that our education system is not a system of learning but rather a glorified daycare and food delivery service.

Proletarian parents are unable to stay home and raise their kids anymore because it now takes two parents — usually working multiple jobs — to make less equivalently than what one working parent did forty years ago.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, 70% of all students are below the poverty line and rely on the school system for the majority of their meals. In the wealthiest country on the planet, that is absolutely disgraceful. The virus of structural economic inequality isa much more long-term and deadly problem than coronavirus, and the ruling class and their shameless lackeys in the press, have no interest in ever honestly addressing or acknowledging it.

The corporate whores in Congress and the White House (of both parties) also gleefully inform Americans that universal, single-payer health care, which every other industrialized nation in the world already has, is a pipe dream and impossibility.

How about help PEOPLE first? Boeing shredded for seeking ‘tens of billions’ in ANOTHER bailout amid coronavirus pandemic

They tell us they could never ever pay for something so decadent and luxurious as health care, but then they magically pull $1.5 trillion out of their gold-plated assholes in order to stave off a collapse of their own making. It is amazing how the Lords of Finance can make money miraculously appear in order to get things done when it is their exorbitant wealth on the line, and not ordinary Americans’ health and wellbeing.

Coronavirus is a crisis that is revealing the ugly truth about America and the malignant character of its ruling class. The crisis is going to get worse before it gets better, but it eventually will get better. America, on the other hand, will only get much worse, with no hope that it is ever going to get better.

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https://www.rt.com/op-ed/483675-coronavirus-america-bread-circuses-illusions/

Are You Game?

*re-blogging a comment*

The following is a comment received on  ~burning woman~  from Hyperion (Daniel) https://returnofdragons.wordpress.com/ as a reply to my post, “We Improve but we do not Progress” https://ixiocali.com/2020/03/15/we-improve-but-we-do-not-progress/

This isn’t saying that I agree with the basic premise here, but I’m saying it’s well worth considering. Is this our “Third Option” if we are to avoid a man-made “6th extinction? When I speak of “Third Option” I’m referring to the Abrahamic/Christian covenant (an apocalypse, then a new heaven and a new earth) as option #1 or inevitable scientific/technological progress as option #2. Option #3 is the individual self empowerment of all Earthians irremediably changing the nature of the species.  If option #1 is increasingly rejected and option #2 is encountering growing distrust, how do we achieve option #3? This WordPress blogger/contributor/writer dares put some thoughts down.

 Are You Game?
(from Hyperion)

I too am a student of history but I don’t subscribe to the thought we shouldn’t repeat history. We definitely should repeat history because the entire universe to include earth is based on cyclic events. For instance, the seasons of every year since the dawn of humans has repeated as well as night and day. The cyclic nature of humans also means that as we go forward in time we recycle our past. I will admit that these cycles don’t remain stationary but more like a wheel going down the road. Every time a specific spot on the wheel touches the road it is further down the path and a certain amount of time has transpired but it is the same wheel and it will stay in its original purpose until it is worn out and replaced by a new wheel.

What rarely changes is human nature and so, that human nature passed on to every generation will follow it’s nature tho the world has changed, the environment has changed, but human nature remains the same, we simply adapt to our living conditions whether that be environmental or technological or both.

We will go to war with new weapons and the same tactics used for 1000 years. It’s just my belief that progress and improvement of the species has not occurred because our nature has not changed.

I would argue we are so biologically polluted we are devolving instead of evolving. Go there to those helix coils and break the chains of no longer needed human traits of emotion, survival, companionship, and breeding. Break the need for self actualization and search for meaning in a meaningless existence. Burn out the desire for adventure, discovery, and growth of personal wealth by any means. It’s all possible. It could be done today. We have the means to turn ourselves into passive sheep where we can walk past hubris and suffering unaffected. We will feel no need to bind together. Life and death will occur without meaning or consequence. Our numbers will shrink until humans are a rarity on the planet and the earth can slowly heal itself of the horrendous scars and memory of our footprint on the planet. We can do this today or starting tomorrow at 8:00am at hundreds of labs across the world. We don’t now because that solution frightens even the most courageous heart. (That reminds me of Brave New World – comment by Sha’Tara.)

Without that courage to take control we are doomed in every imaginable way and in some ways unimaginable. If we look to the distant past at those species on the planet that five times were wiped out and what preceded (followed?) next, can we reasonably believe that a mass extinction, which is currently in full swing as I write this, isn’t going to affect the human population? Extinctions are historical cycles. Why do we think they won’t repeat even as the evidence shows it is happening now?

 The first thing that must change is how the human mind can not grasp reality that is pure and unadulterated. Our minds are drugs that make up the most far fetched realities and that Is what we believe is true and real. That is why we are doomed. That is why our only hope is to go to those helix coils and change them. We know how. If we do that we will change history and the next cycles will be far different. Are you game?

Extremophiles – from George Monbiot

The “establishment” is fighting hard to maintain its exceptionalism, and it’s playing hardball against environmentalists.  This is one of the best Monbiot articles I’ve ever read.

Extremophiles

Posted: 24 Jan 2020 02:04 AM PST

Anyone seeking to defend life on Earth is now labelled an extremist. Yet the real extremists are those in power.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 22nd January 2020

It’s not an “error” or an “accident”, as the police now claim. It’s a pattern. First, the Guardian revealed that counterterrorism police in south-east England have listed Extinction Rebellion (XR) and the youth climate strikes as forms of “ideological extremism”. Then teachers and officials around the country reported that they had been told, in briefings by the anti-radicalisation Prevent programme, to look out for people expressing support for XR and Greenpeace.

Then the Guardian found a guide by Counter Terrorism Policing to the signs and symbols used by various groups. Alongside terrorists and violent extremist organisations, the guide listed Greenpeace, XR, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, CND, the Socialist Party, Stop the War and other peaceful green and left organisations. Then the newspaper discovered that City of London Police had listed XR as a “key threat” in its counterterrorism assessment.

There’s a long history in the UK of attempts to associate peaceful protest with extremism or terrorism. In 2008, for example, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) produced a list of “domestic extremists”. Among them was Dr Peter Harbour, a retired physicist and university lecturer, who had committed the cardinal sin of marching and petitioning against an attempt by the energy company RWE npower to drain a beautiful local lake and fill it with pulverised fly ash. ACPO sought to smear peace campaigners, Greenpeace and Climate Camp with the same charge.

The police have always protected established power against those who challenge it, regardless of the nature of that challenge. And they have long sought to criminalise peaceful dissent. Part of the reason is ideological: illiberal and undemocratic attitudes infest policing in this country. Part of it is empire building: if police units can convince the government and the media of imminent threats that only they can contain, they can argue for more funding.

But there’s another reason, which is arguably even more dangerous: the nexus of state and corporate power. All over the world, corporate lobbyists seek to brand opponents of their industries as extremists and terrorists, and some governments and police forces are prepared to listen. A recent article in The Intercept sought to discover why the US Justice Department and the FBI had put much more effort into chasing mythical “ecoterrorists” than pursuing real, far-right terrorism. A former official explained, “you don’t have a bunch of companies coming forward saying ‘I wish you’d do something about these right-wing extremists’.” By contrast, there is constant corporate pressure to “do something” about environmental campaigners and animal rights activists.

We feel this pressure in the UK. In July last year, the lobby group Policy Exchange published a report  claiming that XR is led by dangerous extremists. Policy Exchange is an opaque organisation that refuses to disclose its donors. But an investigation by Vice magazine revealed it has received funding from the power company Drax, the trade association Energy UK and the gas companies E.On and Cadent.

One of the two authors of the Policy Exchange report, Richard Walton, is a former police commander. A report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission said he would have had a misconduct case to answer, had he not retired. The case concerned allegations about his role in the spying by undercover police on the family of the murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence. The purpose of the spying operation, according to one of the police officers involved, was to seek “disinformation” and “dirt” on the family, and stop their campaign for justice “in its tracks.”

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has defended the inclusion of XR on the police list of extremist ideologies. But it seems to me that people like Patel and Richard Walton pose much greater threats to the nation, the state and our welfare than any green campaigners. Before she became an MP, she worked for the company Weber Shandwick, as a lobbyist for British American Tobacco. Among her tasks was to campaign against the European tobacco control directive, whose purpose was to protect public health. A BAT memo complained that the Weber Shandwick team as a whole “does not actually feel comfortable or happy working for BAT.” But it was pleased to note that two of its members “seem quite relaxed working with us”. One of them was Priti Patel.

In her previous government role, as secretary of state for international development, Patel held unauthorised and undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials, after which she broached the possibility of her department channelling British aid money through the Israeli army, in the occupied Golan Heights. After she was less than candid with the prime minister, Theresa May, about further undisclosed meetings, she was forced to resign. But she was reinstated, in a far more powerful role, by Boris Johnson.

Our government is helping propel us towards a catastrophe on a scale humankind has never encountered before: the collapse of our life support systems. It does so in support of certain ideologies – consumerism, neoliberalism, capitalism – and on behalf of powerful industries. This, apparently, meets the definition of moderation. Seeking to prevent this catastrophe is extremism. If you care about other people, you go on the list. If you couldn’t give a damn about humankind and the rest of life on Earth, the police and the government will leave you alone. You might even get appointed to high office.

It is hard to think of any successful campaign for democracy, justice, or human rights that would not now be classed by police forces and the government as an extremist ideology. Without extremists such as Emmeline Pankhurst, who maintained that “the argument of the broken window pane is the most valuable argument in modern politics”, Priti Patel would not be an MP. Only men with a certain amount of property would be permitted to vote. There would be no access to justice, no rights for workers, no defence against hunger and destitution, no weekends.

In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, subjected to smears very similar to those now directed against XR and other environmental groups, noted “the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”

Good citizens cannot meekly accept the death of the living planet, as corporations rip it apart for profit. The moderation demanded of us is, in reality, extremism: acceptance of an economic and political model driving us towards unprecedented disaster. If seeking to defend life on Earth defines us as extremists, we have no choice but to own the label. We are extremists for the extension of justice and the perpetuation of life.

http://www.monbiot.com

Re-blog: The Only Truly Civilized People are Anti-War

NOTE: The following is a re-blog from
https://talesfromtheloublog.wordpress.com/2019/12/05/the-only-truly-civilized-people-are-anti-war/

I chose to copy and paste the entire article rather than just leave a link because some readers do not like reading white font on a black background.  I’m still waiting for Lou to change his background… Please go to the above link page if you wish to comment on Lou’s blog, thanks.

The Only Truly Civilized People are Anti-War
Posted by Lou on December 5, 2019

Posted in: AntiwarCivilizationElitesHorrorIdeologyImperialismMoralityPolitical scienceWarLeave a comment

The Only Truly Civilized People Are Anti-War

lewrockwell.com

By Gary D. Barnett   December 5, 2019

“What is left after war is silence: The silence of the death; the silence of the debris; the silence of the birds! After war even the screams of sadness are silent because the pain is in the very depths of the soul!”  ~ Mehmet Murat ildan

“What is left after war is silence: The silence of the death; the silence of the debris; the silence of the birds! After war even the screams of sadness are silent because the pain is in the very depths of the soul!”  ~ Mehmet Murat ildan

Justification for war has taken many paths. All those paths were tainted and immoral, and all those paths led only to death and destruction. There is never a need for war; there is only a want for war. This hard fact is very disturbing to those who have been manipulated through fear to not only support and accept war, but to embrace the very concept of national pride and aggression. This I believe exposes the major failing of man, as the killing of others is also the killing of the human soul.

War knows no bounds. It is indiscriminate in its brutality, in its scope, and in its torturous methods. It matters not who are the victims, whether men, women, children, entire families, communities, or the flora and fauna of nature. It breeds massive suffering, famine, death, and homelessness, and leaves only stark landscapes filled with the lifeless bodies of rotting flesh. It is literally the curse of mankind.

If war were waged in order to solve a legitimate local threat due to an active attack on our soil, it would be self-defense, not war, and would have to end immediately once that threat was squelched. Any force evident after the immediate threat subsided, would be nothing more than pure aggression, and therefore criminal and immoral. Considering that all U.S. wars since the inception of this country have never been due to any direct attack on the mainland, and therefore not self-defense, the entirety of U.S. war history has been one of only barbarous invasion. This is a difficult truth to accept, but until accepted by the masses, war will be unending, and intensely perilous to civilization.

The idea of war is not normally one of the people at large, unless that idea is planted in their psyche due to the trickery of the controlling class. This is normally accomplished by fomenting fear among the common citizenry due to the creation of false-flag strategies of terror meant to cause alarm. Heavy mainstream media propaganda is used to spread lies about alleged monsters from afar. The state can create an enemy simply by false claims and accusations about everything from unfair trade, non-existent weapons production, charges of human rights abuses, and a myriad of other reasons that can lead to regime change operations through aggressive measures. Natural human emotions are easy to stoke, and the general populace is often fooled into a false sense of rage that turns into acceptance of heinous acts carried out by the state.

Elite controllers and the puppet political class seek war in order to gain support in times of popular dissent or disapproval. They seek war to support the banking and corporate class for monetary gain. They seek war to gain territory, whether by actual possession or in order to take geopolitical control. They seek war to steal the natural resources of other countries, and in the process exploit the people for their own gain. And in all cases, mortal invasion by these warmongers is meant to expand empire. Currently, especially considering the U.S., this seems to be a primary factor, as the future of war appears to be in large part based on a global consolidation of power by a select group of oligarchs mainly outside the political arena, but in concert with them.

Many refer to this plot as the creation of a “New World Order,” including some of those responsible for orchestrating this coup. In fact, this seems to be the desired and planned agenda of the fascist oligarchs. Of course, this is almost always attributed by the mainstream to “conspiracy theory,” but then that gives credence to my assertion, as those who scream “conspiracy theory,” a term coined purposely by the CIA, are normally trying to eliminate or marginalize the truth tellers. Actually, the globalization of the politics of control is now in the advanced stage, so a conspiracy is already evident, and is not theory.

It is crucial to understand that war is always about money, power, and control. Without ever being directly threatened or having its mainland attacked, the United States has been at war 93% of its entire existence. How could this be possible since there has never been any legitimate reason to defend this country from aggression at home? This should be a stark reminder to the bourgeoisie who in the past were fooled into supporting state murder, to rethink their undying support for the criminal and murderous policies advanced by this nation-state called America.

There have been plenty of bad people and bad regimes, and countries that have a history of committing heinous acts of war in the past. There is any number of brutal dictators, tyrants, and evil politicians in this world, all with control over military might. But none have ever reached the level of death, destruction, and military presence as the U.S. Empire. This is not pleasant to hear, but it is the truth. With that knowledge, it is time for Americans to stop the terror and murderous wars committed by their own country, because this country is the world leader in violence. It is unethical to condemn the acts of those in other lands when one’s own acts are far more savage and deadly. Common ethics require correcting self before attempting to correct others.

Civilized society requires a peace-loving, anti-war stance. With war, no true civilization exists, as war brings about barbarity, depravity, and inhumanity toward mankind. That is the essence of a cold and heartless society, not one that embraces culture, intellect, art, compassion and enlightenment. Peace and harmony amongst people is the only way to create a civilized society, and one that will sustain and prosper throughout time.

The Best of Gary D. Barnett

The Only Truly Civilized People Are Anti-War

The Enemy Within: Trump vs. the Deep State

A perfect time to post this message from Chris Hedges. I agree that with or without Trump, the path of imperial downfall and associated evils is unavoidable. Only a spontaneous, nation-wide violent revolution can change the course of this slice of history. Think Germany 1933, when Hitler was made chancellor. At that point, anyone could have been a Hitler. The time to prevent totalitarianism and ensuing bloodshed would have been a couple of years before and it would have required another bloody revolution. Likely Germany, then France, would have joined the Soviet Union. International banksterism and ascendant US corporate power wasn’t going to let that happen. They aided and abetted Hitler. Today they are aiding and abetting two ascendant powers: China and Russia as America is being abandoned to become the wasteland of the empire. Be that as it may, let’s look at what this article has to say.  Any highlighting is mine. (Sha’Tara) 

http://www.darkmoon.me
PUBLISHED ON TRUTHSEEKER
By Chris Hedges

Abridged by Lasha Darkmoon with brief commentary
November 11, 2019

(191111-The Enemy Within: Trump vs. the Deep State)

Is Trump an enemy of the Deep State . . . or is he secretly working for it?

“Trump committed political heresy when he dared to point out the folly of unchecked militarism. He will pay for it. The war between the deep state and Trump began the moment he was elected.” — Chris Hedges

Our democracy is not in peril. We do not live in a democracy. (It’s the image of our democracy (that) is in peril.)

Trump’s most unforgivable sin in the eyes of the deep state is his criticism of the empire’s endless wars, even though he lacks the intellectual and organizational skills to oversee a disengagement.

The deep state committed the greatest strategic blunder in American history when it invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. Such fatal military fiascos, a feature of all late empires, are called acts of “micro-militarism.” Dying empires historically squander the last capital they have, economic, political and military, on futile, intractable and unwinnable conflicts until they collapse.

They seek in these acts of micro-militarism to recapture a former dominance and lost stature. Disaster piles on disaster. The architects of our imperial death spiral, however, are untouchable.

The clueless generals and politicians who propel the empire into expanding chaos and fiscal collapse are successful at one thing—perpetuating themselves. No one is held accountable. A servile press treats these mandarins with near-religious veneration. Generals and politicians, many of whom should have been cashiered or put on trial, are upon retirement given lucrative seats on the boards of the weapons manufacturers, for whom these wars are immensely profitable. They are called upon by a fawning press to provide analysis to the public of the mess they created. They are held up as exemplars of integrity, selfless service and patriotism.

LD: The trendy phrase “deep state” appears to be the latest euphemism for international Jewry and their elite non-Jewish collaborators in the big corporations and military-industrial complex. These include the generals, bankers, corporatists, lobbyists, intelligence chiefs, government bureaucrats, technocrats, evangelical Christians, and the fawning presstitutes of the main stream media. All these gentile sycophants of Big Jewry have one thing in common: they are all passionate Zionists for whom the state of Israel is sacrosanct. They would rather see America go up in flames than suffer the loss of a single acre of stolen land in Occupied Palestine. [LD]

(I would caution getting all twisted up over the author’s use of “Jewry” and “Jewish” in this context. This is not a lesson in political correctness, this is an exposé of anti-life elitist collaboration. Substitute “Zionism” for “Jewry” and problem solved. – S’T) 

After nearly two decades, every purported objective used to justify our wars in the Middle East has been upended.

The invasion of Afghanistan was supposed to wipe out al-Qaida. Instead, al-Qaida migrated to fill the power vacuums the deep state created in the wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. The war in Afghanistan morphed into a war with the Taliban, which now controls most of the country and is threatening the corrupt regime we prop up in Kabul.

The deep state orchestrated the invasion of Iraq, which had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11. It confidently predicted it could build a Western-style democracy and weaken Iran’s power in the region. Instead, it destroyed Iraq as a unified country, setting warring ethnic and religious factions against each other. Iran, which is closely tied to the dominant Shiite government in Baghdad, emerged even stronger.

Then there is the fiasco in Syria. The deep state armed “moderate” rebels in Syria in an effort to topple President Bashar Assad, but when it realized it could not control the jihadists—to whom it had provide some $500 million in weapons and assistance—the deep state began to bomb them and arm Kurdish rebels to fight them. These Kurds would later be betrayed by Trump.

Next was Yemen. The “war on terror” spread like a plague from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya to Yemen, which after five years of war is suffering one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. The financial cost for this misery and death is between $5 trillion and $8 trillion. The human cost runs into hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded, shattered cities, towns and infrastructure and millions of refugees.

Trump committed political heresy when he dared to point out the folly of unchecked militarism. He will pay for it. The deep state intends to replace him with someone—perhaps Mike Pence, as morally and intellectually vacuous as Trump—who will do what he is told.

The removal of Trump from office would not threaten corporate power. It would not restore civil liberties, including our right to privacy and due process.

It would not demilitarize the police or champion the rights of the working class.

It would not impede the profits of the fossil fuel and banking industries.

It would not address the climate emergency.

It would not disrupt the warrantless surveillance of the public.

It would not end extraordinary renditions, the kidnapping of those around the globe considered to be enemies of the state.

It would not halt the assassinations by militarized drones.

It would not halt the separation of children from their parents and the warehousing of these children in filthy, overcrowded conditions.

It would not remedy the consolidation of wealth and power by the oligarchs and the further impoverishment of the citizenry.

The expansion of our prison system and of black sites throughout the world, sites where we torture, would continue, as would the gunning down of poor, unarmed citizens in urban wastelands.

Most importantly, the catastrophic foreign wars that have resulted in a series of failed states and wasted trillions of taxpayer dollars, would remain sacrosanct, enthusiastically embraced by the leaders of the two ruling parties, puppets of the deep state.

The impeachment of Trump, despite the enthusiasm of the liberal elite, is mostly cosmetic. The entire political and governmental system is corrupt. Corporate lobbyists write the laws. The courts enforce them. There is no way in the American political system to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, AT&T, Amazon, Microsoft, Walmart, Alphabet, Facebook, Apple, Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin, UnitedHealth Group or Northrop Grumman.

We, the American public, are spectators. An audience. Who will be seated when the game of musical chairs stops?

Will Trump be able to hold on to power?

Will Pence be the new president?

Or will the deep state elevate a political hack like Joe Biden . . . or, God forbid, Hillary Clinton?

And what if the deep state fails?

The war between the deep state and Trump began the moment he was elected. Former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper—both now paid news cable commentators—along with former FBI head James Comey soon would accuse Trump of being a tool of Moscow. Intelligence agencies leaked salacious stories about “pee tapes” and blackmail, plus reports of “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence. Brennan, Clapper and Comey were quickly joined by other former intelligence officials. Their attacks were then amplified by former senior military leaders.

The Russia conspiracy, after the release of the Mueller report, proved to be a dud. The deep state actors, however, were re-energized by Trump’s decision to pressure the government of Ukraine to investigate Biden. Trump, this time, seems to have given his deep state enemies enough rope to hang him.

The impeachment of Trump marks a new and frightening chapter in American politics. The deep state has shown its face. It has made a public declaration that it will not tolerate dissent, although Trump’s dissent is rhetorical and ineffectual.

The effort to impeach Trump sends an ominous message to the American left. Its resources to destroy those on the left are nearly inexhaustible.

There are no internal or external checks on the deep state.

The deep state will further expand the social inequality that has thrust half of Americans into poverty or near poverty, strip us of our remaining civil liberties and feed the rapacious appetites of the military and the war industry.

The resources of the state will be squandered as the federal deficit balloons. The frustration and feelings of stagnation among a disempowered and neglected citizenry, which contributed to the election of Trump, will mount.

There will come a moment of reckoning, as there has during the last few days in Lebanon and Chile. Social unrest is inevitable. Any population can be pushed only so far.

Trump, in the end, is not the problem. We are.

And if the deep state fails to rid itself of Trump it will, however reluctantly, use him to carry out its dirty work.

Original source: Truthdig

“Trump, if he manages to survive, will get his military parades.
We will get, with or without Trump, tyranny.”
— Chris Hedges

We’re Going to the Circus, Mom!

 

Has current civilization become nothing more than an on-going circus? Is everything fake and false? Can anything be believed, or believed in?

“There’s a sucker born every minute!” (a saying associated with P.T. Barnum but was in evidence long before his time. A saying of con men in general.) Have we all devolved happily and become the proverbial suckers of the times? That’s not even a rhetorical question: we truly have.

If you ever watch some political sides of You Tube, watch the numbnuts who follow Trump’s mindless rants and judge for yourself. One of his latest, openly slandering Ilhan Omar, shows his fans mindlessly chanting “Send her back! Send her back!” What sort of creatures are these ignorant Trumpites? The exact same that followed Hitler and made WWII possible. (By the way, most of them died in it too but the rank stupidity of these creatures precludes any reasoning of cause and effect.)

I saw an interview with a journalist commenting on his meeting with the Donald. His comment was priceless: “It’s frustrating interviewing Donald Trump. What does he mean when he uses words?”

Yes… what does Trump really mean when he uses words in his tweets or rallies? Difficult to say isn’t it since everything he utters is a lie – and make no mistake about this: any partial truth is always a lie, in fact it is the perfect lie because no matter which side the numbnuts stand, one can say he’s stating a fact while the other can say he’s lying and both are right.

So you made it to the circus, paid your entry fee, and there he is, as big as life itself: the clown they elevated to circus master, and he’s promising you all sorts of entertainment, all of it so biggly, you’ve never seen the likes before. He gets you in the mood to believe, and when the scraggly, half-starved, hobbled lion show up on stage, you’re in darkest Africa on a safari. You’re the great white hunter and no other great white hunter has ever faced such odds as you are today.

You see, you’re a believer. You paid your fee and you will be entertained as no one has ever been entertained before. The man’s promises are your guarantee, and your willing mind is the provider of this fake reality TV show.

This kind of devolution and submission to spurious trumpery is the way civilization has chosen to go, whether deliberately and mindlessly, and it’s become a global circus.

There are very serious events taking place throughout the world which require equally serious thinking and quest for solutions. Do we continue to choose mindless and destructive entertainment, or do we get serious? Do I even need to ask that?

Check this post out: Jill Dennison reblogs George Monbiot.

We’re Not Laughing Anymore …

Biological Annihilation-a Planet in Loss Mode

 How to introduce such an article? I copied it verbatim from TomDispatch (http://www.tomdispatch.com/) and although I am certainly aware of the devastations being caused by “climate change” I am most certainly not ascribing most of it to climate change.  Rather it is obvious that our standing on the cusp of  an “extinction protocol” has mostly to do with Earthians consistently refusing to consider changing their lifestyles, their obsolete traditions and their belief systems – all of which are guaranteeing the end of civilization.  I therefore must introduce it with these hated words: How about “you” taking responsibility for the state of the world? You will say, “How?” and I can tell you that there is an endless list of effective “hows” by which you can make a difference. But not one of these efforts will mean anything if you don’t become the change you wish to engender.  That’s right: the only way to make change is to become the change.  It begins by caring as if your life and the lives of your loved ones, depended on it.  *By the way, it does*

Obvious question here: How long can we condemn all other sentient life on this planet to massive dieback and not bring it upon ourselves? When does the “bad predator” realize that the prey he killed off was essential to his own survival?   ~burning woman~

Biological Annihilation
A Planet in Loss Mode
By Subhankar Banerjee

If you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening to the nonhuman life forms with which we share this planet, you’ve likely heard the term “the Sixth Extinction.” If not, look it up.  After all, a superb environmental reporter, Elizabeth Kolbert, has already gotten a Pulitzer Prize for writing a book with that title.

Whether the sixth mass species extinction of Earth’s history is already (or not quite yet) underway may still be debatable, but it’s clear enough that something’s going on, something that may prove even more devastating than a mass of species extinctions: the full-scale winnowing of vast populations of the planet’s invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants.  Think of it, to introduce an even broader term, as a wave of “biological annihilation” that includes possible species extinctions on a mass scale, but also massive species die-offs and various kinds of massacres.

Someday, such a planetary winnowing may prove to be the most tragic of all the grim stories of human history now playing out on this planet, even if to date it’s gotten far less attention than the dangers of climate change.  In the end, it may prove more difficult to mitigate than global warming.  Decarbonizing the global economy, however hard, won’t be harder or more improbable than the kind of wholesale restructuring of modern life and institutions that would prevent species annihilation from continuing.   

With that in mind, come along with me on a topsy-turvy journey through the animal and plant kingdoms to learn a bit more about the most consequential global challenge of our time.

Insects Are Vanishing

When most of us think of animals that should be saved from annihilation, near the top of any list are likely to be the stars of the animal world: tigers and polar bears, orcas and orangutans, elephants and rhinos, and other similarly charismatic creatures.

Few express similar concern or are likely to be willing to offer financial support to “save” insects. The few that are in our visible space and cause us nuisance, we regularly swat, squash, crush, or take out en masse with Roundup.

As it happens, though, of the nearly two million known species on this planet about 70% of them are insects. And many of them are as foundational to the food chain for land animals as plankton are for marine life. Harvard entomologist (and ant specialist) E.O. Wilson once observed that “if insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”

In fact, insects are vanishing.

Almost exactly a year ago, the first long-term study of the decline of insect populations was reported, sparking concern (though only in professional circles) about a possible “ecological Armageddon.” Based on data collected by dozens of amateur entomologists in 63 nature reserves across Germany, a team of scientists concluded that the flying insect population had dropped by a staggering 76% over a 27-year period. At the same time, other studies began to highlight dramatic plunges across Europe in the populations of individual species of bugs, bees, and moths.

What could be contributing to such a collapse? It certainly is human-caused, but the factors involved are many and hard to sort out, including habitat degradation and loss, the use of pesticides in farming, industrial agriculture, pollution, climate change, and even, insidiously enough, “light pollution that leads nocturnal insects astray and interrupts their mating.”

This past October, yet more troubling news arrived.

When American entomologist Bradford Lister first visited El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico in 1976, little did he know that a long-term study he was about to embark on would, 40 years later, reveal a “hyperalarming” new reality. In those decades, populations of arthropods, including insects and creepy crawlies like spiders and centipedes, had plunged by an almost unimaginable 98% in El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest within the U.S. National Forest System. Unsurprisingly, insectivores (populations of animals that feed on insects), including birds, lizards, and toads, had experienced similarly dramatic plunges, with some species vanishing entirely from that rainforest. And all of that happened before Hurricane Maria battered El Yunque in the fall of 2017.

What had caused such devastation? After eliminating habitat degradation or loss — after all, it was a protected national forest — and pesticide use (which, in Puerto Rico, had fallen by more than 80% since 1969), Lister and his Mexican colleague Andres Garcia came to believe that climate change was the culprit, in part because the average maximum temperature in that rainforest has increased by four degrees Fahrenheit over those same four decades.

Even though both scientific studies and anecdotal stories about what might be thought of as a kind of insectocide have, at this point, come only from Europe and North America, many entomologists are convinced that the collapse of insect populations is a worldwide phenomenon.

As extreme weather events — fires, floods, hurricanes — begin to occur more frequently globally, “connecting the dots” across the planet has become a staple of climate-change communication to “help the public understand how individual events are part of a larger trend.”

Now, such thinking has to be transferred to the world of the living so, as in the case of plummeting insect populations and the creatures that feed on them, biological annihilation sinks in. At the same time, what’s driving such death spirals in any given place — from pesticides to climate change to habitat loss — may differ, making biological annihilation an even more complex phenomenon than climate change.

The Edge of the Sea

The animal kingdom is composed of two groups: invertebrates, or animals without backbones, and vertebrates, which have them. Insects are invertebrates, as are starfish, anemones, corals, jellyfish, crabs, lobsters, and many more species. In fact, invertebrates make up 97% of the known animal kingdom.

In 1955, environmentalist Rachel Carson’s book The Edge of the Sea was published, bringing attention for the first time to the extraordinary diversity and density of the invertebrate life that occupies the intertidal zone.  Even now, more than half a century later, you’ve probably never considered that environment — which might be thought of as the edge of the sea (or actually the ocean) — as a forest. And neither did I, not until I read nature writer Tim McNulty’s book Olympic National Park: A Natural History some years ago. As he pointed out: “The plant associations of the low tide zone are commonly arranged in multistoried communities, not unlike the layers of an old-growth forest.” And in that old-growth forest, the starfish (or sea star) rules as the top predator of the nearshore.

In 2013, a starfish die-off — from a “sea-star wasting disease” caused by a virus — was first observed in Washington’s Olympic National Park, though it was hardly confined to that nature preserve. By the end of 2014, as Lynda Mapes reported in the Seattle Times, “more than 20 species of starfish from Alaska to Mexico” had been devastated. At the time, I was living on the Olympic Peninsula and so started writing about and, as a photographer, documenting that die-off (a painful experience after having read Carson’s exuberant account of that beautiful creature).

The following summer, though, something magical happened. I suddenly saw baby starfish everywhere. Their abundance sparked hope among park employees I spoke with that, if they survived, most of the species would bounce back. Unfortunately, that did not happen. “While younger sea stars took longer to show symptoms, once they did, they died right away,” Mapes reported. That die-off was so widespread along the Pacific coast (in many sites, more than 99% of them) that scientists considered it “unprecedented in geographic scale.”
Baby Starfish, Olympic National Park. Photo by Subhankar Banerjee, 2015.

The cause? Consider it the starfish version of a one-two punch: the climate-change-induced warming of the Pacific Ocean put stress on the animals while it made the virus that attacked them more virulent.  Think of it as a perfect storm for unleashing such a die-off.

It will take years to figure out the true scope of the aftermath, since starfish occupy the top of the food chain at the edge of the ocean and their disappearance will undoubtedly have cascading impacts, not unlike the vanishing of the insects that form the base of the food chain on land.

Concurrent with the disappearance of the starfish, another “unprecedented” die-off was happening at the edge of the same waters, along the Pacific coast of the U.S. and Canada.  It seemed to be “one of the largest mass die-offs of seabirds ever recorded,” Craig Welch wrote in National Geographic in 2015. And many more have been dying ever since, including Cassin’s auklets, thick-billed murres, common murres, fork-tailed petrels, short-tailed shearwaters, black-legged kittiwakes, and northern fulmars. That tragedy is still ongoing and its nature is caught in the title of a September article in Audubon magazine: “In Alaska, Starving Seabirds and Empty Colonies Signal a Broken Ecosystem.”

To fully understand all of this, the dots will again have to be connected across places and species, as well as over time, but the great starfish die-off is an indication that biological annihilation is now an essential part of life at the edge of the sea.

The Annihilation of Vertebrates

The remaining 3% of the kingdom Animalia is made up of vertebrates. The 62,839 known vertebrate species include fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

The term “biological annihilation” was introduced in 2017 in a seminal paper by scientists Geraldo Ceballos, Paul Ehrlich, and Rodolpho Dirzo, whose research focused on the population declines, as well as extinctions, of vertebrate species. “Our data,” they wrote then, “indicate that beyond global species extinctions Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations.”

If anything, the 148-page Living Planet Report published this October by the World Wildlife Fund International and the Zoological Society of London only intensified the sense of urgency in their paper. As a comprehensive survey of the health of our planet and the impact of human activity on other species, its key message was grim indeed: between 1970 and 2014, it found, monitored populations of vertebrates had declined in abundance by an average of 60% globally, with particularly pronounced losses in the tropics and in freshwater systems. South and Central America suffered a dramatic loss of 89% of such vertebrates, while freshwater populations of vertebrates declined by a lesser but still staggering 83% worldwide. The results were based on 16,704 populations of 4,005 vertebrate species, which meant that the study was not claiming a comprehensive census of all vertebrate populations.  It should instead be treated as a barometer of trends in monitored populations of them.

What could be driving such an annihilatory wave to almost unimaginable levels? The report states that the main causes are “overexploitation of species, agriculture, and land conversion — all driven by runaway human consumption.” It does, however, acknowledge that climate change, too, is a “growing threat.”

When it comes to North America, the report shows that the decline is only 23%. Not so bad, right? Such a statistic could mislead the public into thinking that the U.S. and Canada are in little trouble and yet, in reality, insects and other animals, as well as plants, are dying across North America in surprisingly large numbers.

From My Doorstep to the World Across Time

My own involvement with biological annihilation started at my doorstep. In March 2006, a couple of days after moving into a rented house in northern New Mexico, I found a dead male house finch, a small songbird, on the porch. It had smashed into one of the building’s large glass windows and died. At the same time, I began to note startling numbers of dead piñon, New Mexico’s state tree, everywhere in the area. Finding that dead bird and noting those dead trees sparked a desire in me to know what was happening in this new landscape of mine.

When you think of an old-growth forest — and here I don’t mean the underwater version of one but the real thing — what comes to your mind? Certainly not the desert southwest, right? The trees here don’t even grow tall enough for that.  An 800-year-old piñon may reach a height of 24 feet, not the 240-feet of a giant Sitka spruce of similar age in the Pacific Northwest. In the last decade, however, scientists have begun to see the piñon-juniper woodlands here as exactly that.

I first learned this from a book, Ancient Piñon-Juniper Woodlands: A Natural History of Mesa Verde Country. It turns out that this low-canopy, sparsely vegetated woodland ecosystem supports an incredible diversity of wildlife. In fact, as a state, New Mexico has among the greatest diversity of species in the country.  It’s second in diversity of native mammals, third in birds, and fourth in overall biodiversity. Take birds.  Trailing only California and Arizona, the state harbors 544 species, nearly half of the 1,114 species in the U.S. And consider this not praise for my adopted home, but a preface to a tragedy.

Before I could even develop a full appreciation of the piñon-juniper woodland, I came to realize that most of the mature piñon in northern New Mexico had already died. Between 2001 and 2005, a tiny bark beetle known by the name of Ips confusus had killed more than 50 million of them, about 90% of the mature ones in northern New Mexico. This happened thanks to a combination of severe drought and rapid warming, which stressed the trees, while providing a superb environment for beetle populations to explode.
Dead finch on my porch. Photo by Subhankar Banerjee, 2006.

And this, it turned out, wasn’t in any way an isolated event. Multiple species of bark beetles were by then ravaging forests across the North American West. The black spruce, the white spruce, the ponderosa pine, the lodgepole pine, the whitebark pine, and the piñon were all dying.

In fact, trees are dying all over the world. In 2010, scientists from a number of countries published a study in Forest Ecology and Management that highlights global climate-change-induced forest mortality with data recorded since 1970. In countries ranging from Argentina and Australia to Switzerland and Zimbabwe, Canada and China to South Korea and Sri Lanka, the damage to trees has been significant.

In 2010, trying to absorb the larger ecological loss, I wrote: “Hundreds of millions of trees have recently died and many more hundreds of millions will soon be dying. Now think of all the other lives, including birds and animals, that depended on those trees. What happened to them and how do we talk about that which we can’t see and will never know?”

In fact, in New Mexico, we are finally beginning to find out something about the size and nature of that larger loss.

Earlier this year, Los Alamos National Laboratory ornithologist Jeanne Fair and her colleagues released the results of a 10-year bird study on the Pajarito Plateau of New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains, where some of the worst piñon die-offs have occurred. The study shows that, between 2003 and 2013, the diversity of birds declined by 45% and bird populations, on average, decreased by a staggering 73%. Consider the irony of that on a plateau whose Spanish name, Pajarito, means “little bird.”

The piñon die-off that led to the die-off of birds is an example of connecting the dots across species and over time in one place. It’s also an example of what writer Rob Nixon calls “slow violence.” That “slowness” (even if it’s speedy indeed on the grand calendar of biological time) and the need to grasp the annihilatory dangers in our world will mean staying engaged way beyond any normal set of news cycles.  It will involve what I think of as long environmentalism.

Let’s return, then, to that dead finch on my porch. A study published in 2014 pointed out that as many as 988 million birds die each year in the U.S. by crashing into glass windows. Even worse, domestic and feral cats kill up to 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion small mammals annually in this country. In Australia and Canada, two other places where such feline slaughters of birds have been studied, the estimated numbers are 365 million and 200 million respectively — another case of connecting the dots across places and species when it comes to the various forms of biological annihilation underway on this planet.
Dead piñon where birds gather in autumn, northern New Mexico. Photo by Subhankar Banerjee, 2009.

Those avian massacres, one the result of modern architecture and our desire to see the outside from the inside, the other stemming from our urge for non-human companionship, indicate that climate change is but one cause of a planet-wide trend toward biological annihilation.  And this is hardly a contemporary story.  It has a long history, including for instance the mass killing of Arctic whales in the seventeenth century, which generated so much wealth that it helped make the Netherlands into one of the richest nations of that time. In other words, Arctic whaling proved to be an enabler of the Golden Age of the Dutch Republic, the era when Rembrandt and Vermeer made paintings still appreciated today.

The large-scale massacre and near extinction of the American bison (or buffalo) in the nineteenth century, to offer a more modern example, paved the way for white settler colonial expansion into the American West, while destroying Native American food security and a way of life. As a U.S. Army colonel put it then, “Kill every buffalo you can! Every buffalo dead is an Indian gone.”

Today, such examples have not only multiplied drastically but are increasingly woven into human life and life on this planet in ways we still hardly notice.  These, in turn, are being exacerbated by climate change, the human-induced warming of the world. To mitigate the crisis, to save life itself, would require not merely the replacement of carbon-dirty fossil fuels with renewable forms of energy, but a genuine reevaluation of modern life and its institutions. In other words, to save the starfish, the piñon, the birds, and the insects, and us in the process, has become the most challenging and significant ethical obligation of our increasingly precarious time.

Subhankar Banerjee, a TomDispatch regular, is an activist, artist, and public scholar. A professor of art and ecology, he holds the Lannan Chair at the University of New Mexico. He is currently writing a book on biological annihilation.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Copyright 2018 Subhankar Banerjee